He has made everything
I had my white activity tracker watch; she had her silver, stretch band Timex Indiglo. We both wore our watches every day. And we were both in the rehab hospital. She was the patient; I was the family member in town to help care for her and to make sure she knew that she wasn’t alone.
My mother-in-law and I had never really gotten along, I am sorry to say. I’m not sure if it was because we had very different personalities or if it was because I had married her third-born and youngest son. Or maybe it was just extenuating circumstances and family dynamics. Maybe it was all of the above. But, for over 30 years, the amount of time that I had been around, since being engaged to and marrying her son, she and I had not really gotten along.
We had experienced some good moments. But, in a span of three decades, to have only had a few good moments is sad, to say the least. So, when I showed up to see her in the hospital, along with her son, my husband, on the evening of Mother’s Day, I wasn’t sure how she would respond. She welcomed us both.
We told her “goodnight,” as the lights in her room were already dimmed for the end of the day, and assured her that we would see her the next morning. I wondered what the next morning would be like as well as the next two weeks, when I would be left as the only family member in town to help care for her.
My mother-in-law had suffered a stroke a little over a month earlier. She had endured the additional trauma of the death of her second husband two weeks after her stroke. Though she was making tremendous progress in her recovery and functionality, the progress came to a screeching halt when she had a second brain hemorrhage, which meant a second trip to ICU and starting all over again at the rehab hospital.
The rehab hospital is where I first saw her. It is where I would begin learning how to interpret her garbled language. Her speech was what the brain hemorrhages had affected most. Though she had regained a lot of speech ability working with speech and occupational therapists after her initial stroke, she was now back at the starting line all over again.
Not being able to speak clearly or be understood was very frustrating to her. I decided that I would seek to be a patient listener to try to help her communicate. After 30 plus years of knowing one another, thus began our friendship.
During the compressed time of two weeks, I would visit my mother-in-law at least twice a day in that rehab hospital. I would sit with her in the dining hall while she re-learned how to use eating utensils. I would push her wheelchair down to the physical therapy room. I would sit with her in the evenings by the large window in her room, overlooking a pretty park. I would read to her from her devotional or from the book, “Mary Poppins.” Sometimes we would just sit on the side of her hospital bed and hold hands. She confided her secrets to me, all be it in her garbled language, but I could understand a lot of it. At least, I could definitely understand her sentiment when she apologized for her part in our relationship difficulty. Each night, I would tuck her into her bed, say a prayer over her and kiss her goodnight.
Our friendship over the next couple of months would be beautiful and meaningful to us both. It would be precious to the two of us and to my husband as well. Unfortunately, the brain hemorrhages in my mother-in-law’s head would continue to occur. She would pass away just two months after our friendship began.
While I was sad that we had so little time together, so to speak, I am also grateful for the healing that took place, not only in the relationship between the two of us, but also in our family.
The Old Testament book of Ecclesiastes tells us that “there is a season and time for every matter under heaven” (Eccl. 3:1). It also tells us that God “has made everything beautiful in its time” (Eccl. 3:11). For my mother-in-law and me, our best season and most beautiful time was at the end of her life. But I am oh-so-grateful that we had that season. It was a miracle orchestrated by our Heavenly Father!!
So, if you have some difficult relationships in your life, take courage and have hope! God is in the making-everything-beautiful-miracle-working business. All He wants from us are willing and humble hearts to work with Him.
I vividly recall being in the shoe department of a retail store when I heard a child call out, “Mommy, where are you?” In a peaceful, reassuring voice the child’s mom replied, “I’m right here, follow my voice.” The mom continued to guide the child with encouragement until the reunion was obvious to those within earshot. “Mommmmmy!”, said it all.
I have replayed this scene, in my mind, many times. It always makes me think of my relationship with the heavenly Father. As His child, I desire to hear His voice speak to my heart and guide me.
One of the first verses I memorized was James 4:8, “Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you” (ESV). Some translations say to “Come near to God.” My desire is to come running into my Father’s outstretched hands, but I must be honest, I don’t always do that. Even this morning, as I sat down to read my Bible, my mind was all over the place. The rapid, random thoughts brought me to the point of anxiousness. I was trying in my flesh to make order of my thoughts. Finally, I drew near...
I followed the example the Lord made known to the prophet, Jeremiah, “Call to Me and I will answer you” (Jeremiah 33:3, ESV). I called out in prayer for Him to help me concentrate. As I started praying, He quieted my soul. Was there something magical about it? No! But, by faith, I chose to believe He would do what He said He would do. I called. He answered! The author, Evelyn Christenson, of “What Happens When Women Pray”, would have called my prayer an “SOS” prayer. I definitely needed help!
Thankfully, with my mind quieted by the Lord, I could now draw near by approaching Him in The Word. It is here that He speaks to our hearts. I have heard some people say, “I wish He would speak to me when I read my Bible!”Our Lord longs to speak to each one of us through His Word...even more than we want to hear from Him!
On the inside cover of my Bible, I have written a few quotes from Andrew Murray’s book, “ The Inner Chamber and the Inner Life.” These words are a wonderful reminder to me as I open the Word of God.
“The Word of God is a living Word. It carries a divine quickening power in it.”“These words are full of the life of God. God is in them, and makes His presence and power known to them who seek Him in them.”
Lord, today, may we each choose to draw near to You. And may we hear You speak to our hearts through Your living Word.
A couple of months ago, a friend in my neighborhood told me that she had spotted a bald eagle on several occasions. Because I had never seen an eagle in our area, I doubted that she had actually seen one. I had no reason to doubt what she saw as she knows a lot about wildlife and is very trustworthy. When I decided that she was telling the truth, I quickly became envious that she had seen an eagle and I hadn’t. I wanted to see one, too! How come SHE ALWAYS gets to see a bald eagle and I NEVER EVER get to see one? It’s not fair!!!! Yes, in my mind, I was definitely a whining child!!
Well, as a child does, I quickly forgot about an eagle. I never took steps to find one; I never looked up when I was walking outside and I never inquired as to where she spotted the beautiful bird. My actions indicated that seeing an eagle wasn’t really important to me and truthfully, I wasn't expecting to see an eagle.
On New Year’s Day, my husband and I were out for a drive and we were stopped at a traffic light. I looked up and spotted a bird that I had never seen before. I poked my husband and told him to look up in the tree. He confirmed my suspicions - that bird was a BALD EAGLE. I was so excited! I finally got to see this amazing creature!!! IT WAS MY VERY OWN BALD EAGLE!
I was an elated child, and at that moment, I felt the words of the Lord speak to my heart, “You have not, because you ask not” (James 4:2, NIV).
WOW!! I hadn't even thought about praying and asking the Lord to see a bald eagle. However, in the Lord’s kindness, and in His timing, He showed me one. By doing so, He reminded me of several things I am currently facing that I’m trying to figure out on my own. Why do I repeatedly fall into the trap of trying to do things on my own - without asking the Sovereign One who loves me with an unfailing love (Exodus 15:13, NIV)?
In Scripture, we read “this is the confidence we have in approaching God; that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And if we know that He hears us-whatever we ask-we know that we have what we asked of Him” (1 John 5:14,15, NIV). Once we pray about something according to His will and with right motives (James 4:3, NIV), we have the confidence that He is listening to us and we are to “wait in expectation” (Psalm 5:3, NIV) for HIs answer.
After seeing my very own eagle, I am not only praying more fervently and asking the Lord more specifically what His perfect will is, but also, I am looking up and expecting to see His answers.
Weekly Memory Verse
This is the confidence we have in approaching God; that if we ask anything according to His will,He hears us. And if we know that He hears us -whatever we ask-we know that we have what we asked of Him.
1 John 5:14-15, NIV.
Do not gloat over me, my enemy!
Thought I have fallen, I will rise.
Though I sit in darkness, the Lord will be my light
Micah 7:8 NIV
Logan's Flipping Failure
My oldest son Logan has an impressive talent, he can stand flat on his feet and do a full back flip. He began learning this flipping ability at age seven. I was inside the house while he was playing on the swing-set outside, I heard him call out, “Mom come watch me”. I stuck my head out the screen door as he climbed to the top of the swing-set. I thought he was going to show me how he could cross the monkey bars. Instead, before I could stop him, he did a front flip about 5 feet off the ground landing flat on his back. I ran over to discover he had knocked the wind out of himself. This was a new experience for him, and he looked at me with wide eyed terror as he squeaked out, “Am I going to die?”.
Logan’s flipping failure, and his ability now reminds me of
Micah 7:8 (NIV) “Do not gloat over me, my enemy! Though I have fallen, I will rise. Though I sit in darkness, the Lord will be my light." When we trust Jesus as our Savior we become children of God (1John 3:1). We can never be bad enough to lose our status, or good enough to earn it. It is by God’s grace and mercy through the death and resurrection of Jesus that we belong to Him for eternity (John 3:16, Romans 6:4-5).
But learning to follow Jesus can be painful and there are times when our sin will stagger us and leave us feeling like we got the wind knocked out of us so to speak. Honestly, as women, wives and/or mothers there are things we do that bring guilt and shame. Things like losing my temper with my kids because we are running late for an appointment because I was on FaceBook and lost track of time. Or treating my husband with disrespect when he is standing with the fridge door open and asks “where is the mustard?”, as I spot it from 10 feet away. Or when I am driving down the road with my kids in the backseat, singing my favorite praise song at the top of my lungs and a guy pulls out in front of me and I yell “watch what your doing jerk” as I speed past and cut him off. Yup there I am flat on my back!
Micah 7:9 goes on to say that “because I have sinned against the Lord I will endure his wrath.” But this is great news because Romans 8:1 says “There is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” The enemy wants to fool us into believing that because of our sin we are doomed to be failures. He whispers all kinds of things like “you’re a terrible mother”, or “I can’t believe you call yourself a follower of Christ when you act like that." He does this to keep us flat on our backs.
Yes, God does not take sin lightly, He hates it and He wants His children to live free from sin, so He will discipline us. But even this is good because Hebrews 12:5-11 tells us “the Lord disciplines those he loves” because we are his children and He wants to teach us to avoid the sin that weighs us down.
As a 7 year old boy, Logan laid on the ground barely able to breath after his failure. But he did not stay there, he got up and kept trying (although it was many years later before he tried it from that height again). Today it is one of his favorite tricks! I think that is what the Lord wants us to do in our failure, he wants us to get up and say, because of Jesus “Do not gloat over me my enemy, for though I have fallen” all praise and glory to God, “I Will Rise!”
**Here is a video of Logan flipping, as a disclaimer I do not condone this activity and no animals were harmed in the making of this video!
Weekly Memory Verse
Micah 7:8 (NIV)
Do not gloat over me my enemy!
Though I have fallen I will rise.
Though I sit in darkness,
the Lord will be my light.
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My soul waits silently for God alone,
I remember a time when I was a little girl and my dad was away on a business trip. He told me in a phone conversation one night that he was bringing a surprise home for me, something I had always wanted.
I hung up the phone and ran joyfully off to my bedroom knowing exactly what my dad would bring me…a monkey, a real live monkey to have as my very own pet. That had to be the surprise because I had always wanted a monkey of my very own.
I waited with great anticipation for Daddy to arrive home a couple of days later. I was so excited! I had been thinking about that monkey almost every moment of every day since that phone conversation. It seemed too good to be true…a dream come true…my very own monkey on his way to me.
My dad got home, and I couldn’t wait to hug that little monkey! As my father was unpacking his bag, he pulled out a long box. The long box did not look like it contained a living, breathing monkey to call my own…still my hopes were high. As my father proudly presented me with the gift that he had brought his little girl, his tomboy little girl, I might add, I slowly began to realize that the gift I had waited my entire life for was not in his suitcase…there was no monkey.
Instead of a monkey, my dad gave me with a chin up bar that I could affix to the door jamb leading into my bedroom. True, I had seen television ads and thought it would be cool to own one. But when my dad had told me that he was bringing me something that I had always wanted, a chin up bar had not come to mind.
I forced a smile as I accepted the “surprise” from my dad. But on the inside, I was profoundly disappointed. Chin up bars and monkeys don’t compare when you’re talking about “always wanted” kinds of gifts. My expectations of a real, live, funny little monkey had been so high, it would take a while for me to get over the disappointment.
The profound disappointment I felt that day is maybe why I remember the incident. But I do remember. As an adult and parent, myself now, I realize how totally unrealistic my expectation had been. I also recognize that it would not have been a wise or prudent thing to have given me a monkey as a pet.
I never told my dad about the “surprise” I had truly hoped to receive. I didn’t want him to know of my great disappointment. That incident has taught me much about myself as I have reflected on it over the years. For one thing, I can have a pretty fantastic imagination that is far removed from practicality and reality. For another, I can have great expectations that have sometimes led to great disappointment…all because my expectations were misguided and dependent on others in an unhealthy way.
Psalm 62:5 encourages us that our expectations should be grounded in God alone: “My soul, waits silently for God alone, for my expectation is from Him.” (New King James) The Message version reads, “God, the one and only—I’ll wait as long as He says. Everything I hope for comes from Him, so why not?
I still have a fantastic imagination; I think it is a gift from God. But, my hope and my expectations in life need to be anchored in God. He knows everything about me and has good plans for me. He knows the true deepest desires of my heart and He can fulfill them in ways I cannot even imagine. As we head into a new year, we can put all our hopes and dreams and expectations into God’s capable and loving hands. He is BIG enough to handle them all. Happy New Year!
My precious husband, Bill, and I have been planted in Fort Myers, Florida for almost 35 years. As a newly married couple, God most graciously had placed people in both of our jobs to share Christ with us. Its hard to believe it has been almost 34 years since we asked Jesus into our hearts! Bill and I have been blessed with four children, 3 daughters, then a son. These blessings came quickly, all within 6 years!! During these years I'm so thankful I was able to be part of women's ministry classes at our church, helping me to grow in my walk with Him. Then came the day when I was asked that question that stretched me way outside of my comfort zone...will you teach a class? Its hard to believe that I have now been teaching more than 20 years. Bill and I love to travel, most of the time going to visit our 9 grandchildren, oh ya, and their parents! I also love reading, walking and hanging out with some very special young moms in Beloved that bless my socks off!
Julie is a Kansas girl who resides in sunny Southwest Florida. She's been married to her husband Sean for 23 years and they share two boys ages 21 & 17. She enjoys baking and biking, but her absolute favorite thing is snow skiing which is a little difficult to do in a sandy 80 degree land.
She became a follower of Christ at age 10. She loves studying and teaching God's Word. She has a passion for encouraging moms to love and follow Jesus.
Beth grew up in a loving home; however, in her early 20s she faced a very lonely time. During that time, she cried out to God and asked “If You are real, please show yourself to me!” God met her where she was and she trusted in the Lord Jesus at that time. Her life verse and desire is “no matter what happens, to conduct herself in a manner worthy of the gospel.” Philippians 1:27
Beth now resides in Tampa, Florida with her husband Larry. The Lord has blessed them by blending their family of five children. They currently have eight grandchildren and are hoping that there will be more grandchildren in the future.
Donna accepted Jesus as her Savior at the age of nine and has been amazed at God’s goodness and faithfulness throughout her life. She has been blessed to have had many mentors through each season of life, who have shown her what trusting God looks like. Donna and her husband, Bryan, make their home in central Arkansas. They have five grown children and are grandparents to wonderful grandchildren. Donna enjoys spending time with her family, laughing with friends (usually over coffee), going for long walks with her husband, and reading a good book (which may also be accompanied by a cup of coffee).
Sarah is a true Florida Cracker. She was born and raised in Southwest Florida. At the age of 6, Sarah accepted Jesus as her Lord and Savior, and she hasn't looked back since. Hebrews 13:8 is one of her favorite verses, "Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever." Eating delicious desserts, spending time with her family and friends, and teaching people about Jesus are a few of the things she enjoys to do in her spare time.
Sarah has been married to her best friend and husband, Brandon, for 7 years. They have been blessed with one beautiful, determined son, Asher, who keeps them on their toes. Sarah and her family live in the Tampa area. They love exploring their community together, family hugs, and eating pizza whenever possible.
Katie Flint just recently moved back home to Fort Myers, Florida with her husband, Ryan and two children, Collins and Madden. At the age of 5, Katie accepted Jesus Christ to be the Lord and Savior of her life, after attending Vacation Bible School. Through each phase of her life, God has shown her that He alone is trustworthy. The verse that has been her life source is Psalm 46:10- “Be still and know that I am God.”
She is a stay-at-home mom and enjoys exercising and baking. She has been married to her husband Ryan for almost 9 years, who is her high school sweetheart. They enjoy trying new restaurants, family trips to the beach, and relaxing at home.
Marsha grew up in a small rural town in upstate New York. In 2006, after finishing college, she moved to sunny SW Florida where she met her, now husband, Shawn. Together they enjoy spending family time with their two fun-loving toddler boys Zachariah and Kairos.
Marsha enjoys living an active lifestyle, which is helpful, considering that her favorite hobby is baking.
Though she attended church as a child, Marsha was not saved until adulthood when her eyes were finally opened to the love and mercy of Jesus Christ.
Since being saved, God has placed a loving burden on her heart to share the truth about God’s healing grace with those who may feel like forgiveness is not possible for them.