“For I know the plans I have for you," says the LORD. "They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope"
There have been occasions in my life when I felt I was living a bad dream…a nightmare that I wished would disappear. There have also been occasions when life seemed so incredible that it was like a fantastic dream that I didn’t want to end. I have lived through one occasion that was both.
Many years ago, our third child became sick. We had travelled to visit family for Thanksgiving and our young son developed a cough. His cough grew worse until we decided to shorten our trip and return home.
As we drove home, our son grew pale and refused to eat or drink. We arrived home late on Friday afternoon. I stayed with our other two children while my husband drove our son to the hospital. We thought that he was dehydrated and would be back to normal after receiving IV fluids. That wasn’t the case.
Our baby was severely dehydrated. He had pneumonia in both lungs, and his oxygen levels were very low. He received care immediately at the emergency room. He was very ill. I called family members asking them to pray.
A short time later, my husband arrived home…without our son. Our son was so sick that he was being airlifted to a nearby hospital with a pediatric ICU. My husband wasn’t allowed to accompany him on the flight. The doctors weren’t sure our son would live through the night.
My husband and I got on our knees and prayed for God’s mercy, realizing we had to accept whatever the outcome. My husband drove to the hospital; I remained home with our other children.
I prayed through the night. I was pregnant with our fourth child and as the long night hours passed, I could feel the strong kicks of our unborn child. With each kick, the Lord seemed to whisper, “I am the God of life.” God reminded me that He was with us.
The next morning, I hurried to the hospital. Our son had lived through the night! I sat in his intensive care room, holding his little hand and listening as the beeping monitors marked each beat of his heart.
When our son was moved to a regular patient room, I watched as he played in the hospital crib. Repeatedly, I gave thanks to God for sparing our son’s life.
When we left the hospital with our son in our arms, it seemed like a dream too good to be true. The nightmare had passed. The good dream was our reality.
When God’s people, the Israelites were taken captive by the Babylonians it was a nightmare come true. Because of their idol worship, God disciplined His people. But God never left them or forgot them. He promised them that after a time of captivity, He would deliver them. He told them through the prophet Jeremiah,
"For I know the plans I have for you...Plans for good and not disaster, to give you a future and a hope"(Jeremiah 29:11 NLT)
Psalm 126 was probably written when the exiles of Israel returned to their homeland some 70 years later. Verses 1-2 reads:
“When the LORD restored His exiles to Jerusalem.
It was like a dream!
We were filled with laughter,
And we sang for joy….”
Sometimes our living nightmares change our reality, but God remains faithful. He may not answer all of our questions about why or what if, but He remains with us, just as He remained with His people when they were in a far-away land and when He brought them home again.
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.