Categories
Musings My Kids

Is it Wrong to be Proud?

Years ago a friend approached me and told me I was wrong to use the word “proud” when I wrote articles because it is not a godly attitude. I didn’t immediately disagree with her because I wanted to think it over. Many times over the years I’ve reflected back and each time I have decided to stick with my word – a word that perfectly expresses how I feel at times toward another person, especially my children or grandchildren.

I don’t use the word “proud”  in a way that causes the reader to think that I am exalting myself or putting myself above others. I merely use it to express how I am grateful for some progress or behavior in someone I care about. Someone once said that to be proud of your son or daughter meant that you were glad that child was yours and no one elses. I think that’s a fair description of the pride I’m talking about.  I’ve spent many years very proud of my children and many years hanging my head in sadness over them. Since we have 15 children, many of whom are special needs, you can imagine the things we’ve experienced as their parents. But today I am focusing on the good things – just because I can.

Let me tell you some things I’m proud of – some things my kids have done to generate that peaceful goodwill feeling of pride – a happiness that God made me their Mom. A happiness that I’ve seen fruit of my efforts to raise them for God’s glory. Many of my kids have made their share of mistakes and caused all sorts of consequences to fall on themselves and their family. But today, I’m reflecting on the recent events that for this moment in time, I am swelled with pride. If that is a sinful attitude in the eyes of my reader, then I guess I’m guilty without excuse. I think it is a good thing to be proud of your children. Here are a few blessings I’m counting today – my 5 oldest daughters.

April is such a good mom. I choke up every time I think about her with my grandsons Isaac and Hudson. To watch her parent is something that makes the world OK. What a blessing to see the love she has for those two little boys that I so adore.  She’s the one who was always there, like my shadow that is there every time I turned around…even on the dark days. 

Lauren has turned her heart toward her God. He showed Himself to her recently and she saw Him for the first time in all His glory. What an event! We talk by phone often and most of the time we share about how good God is and how He’s working in her life. God was kind to both her and me when He took her out of the world and planted her in my lap. 

Katie is like a porcelain vase that sits on the shelf reminding me of all the beautiful things God has created for my enjoyment. She’s the one who reminds me that there is a quiet consistency in God’s love. I smile in my heart every time I think of her because she is a tried and true child of God who is a perfect example of God’s loving heart.  To this day, I can say she has never grieved my heart.

Devin is a good example of God’s grace because of what she’s overcome. Her beginnings could have caused the strongest man to fold, but not her. She found herself a kind hearted husband and has built herself a life out of the ashes. Her desire to have and be close to family is very encouraging to me. When I wonder if we’ll ever be one tight/solid family, I think of Devin and what she’s accomplished.

Marissa has found her sweetness. When she was younger I saw a sweetness in her that I knew some day would mark her as special. As a teen she was never content to just be near, often times she would find the little corner left on my chair and park herself right there. Today I found that sweet girl again when she called me to let me know that she was reaching out to encourage her brother. Wow. She’s really grown.

I could go on and tell you about how Levi has helped me with the house today or how hard Jacob has worked these past few weeks for college money. Or I could write of how Jesse  respectfully listened to my counsel on the phone earlier, or even about the three “out of the blue” presents Jillian gave me yesterday, but I won’t. I’ll save that for another day. For now, this moment in time, I sit here with my white chocolate flavored coffee and chocolate chip Chewy Dipps granola bar, blogging and basking in God’s goodness.

Tomorrow is another day. Tomorrow I have to endure a bitter sweet moment when I take Jillian to the airport and have to return home without her. But that’s tomorrow. I’ll wait and deal with that tomorrow – there’s too much good stuff to dwell on today.

Categories
Family Events Humor

Yo’ Mama Wears Army Boots

With the help of my son, Andrew, this slam has become a reality in our family.  April, Lauren, Katie, Jesse, Devin, Marissa, Andrew, Nathaniel, Daniel, Mollie, Jillian, Jonathan, Jacob, Levi & Caleb…your Mama DOES wear Army boots – well, Marine boots, that is. Thanks, Andrew, for the boots. They really came in handy!

Our family has rogued the corn fields for the last several summers for college money and since our boys went to Camp CoBeAc this week, the last field was left for Mark to do on his own. I saw this as an opportunity. You know that expression, “Problems are just opportunities turned inside out”? Well, I decided that since the boys were gone, it would be a good opportunity for Jillian to make some money for college. She had elected to work at Meijer for the summer rather than do fields – since rogueing is quite the distasteful chore. I had tried to talk her into it only to be given the brush off. Well, I decided to make her an offer she couldn’t refuse! I told her that if she’d work the 263 acre field, I’d work alongside her and donate all of my earnings to her college account. Ha ha! She couldn’t turn that one down since working at Meijer hasn’t gotten her the $$ she’s needed to go back to college in the fall.

Of course I had to have Mark take a picture of me in the field to prove to all my kids that I really did get out and rogue the field!  This was supposed to be a vacation for me, since the boys are out of town for the week, but I decided that you can’t pray and ask God for $$ and then turn down an opportunity to make a lot of it in a short amount of time. I had to talk Mark into letting me do it, but he eventually relented and I think I surprised everyone! I got tons of comments from my kids, saying they “won’t believe it ’till they see it” on facebook. So here’s the picture to prove it – I worked 15 hours trompin’ through the field with a bean hook, cutting down rogues. Since I went into it with the thought it was going to be horrible, based on all the whining and complaining of past years by my kids about how awful a job it was, I was pleasently surprised that it wasn’t as awful as I thought it would be. Of course God was gracious enough to me to answer my pleadings that it not be too tall, or too hot, or too full of bees and other bugs. I had pleasant company, and a nice breeze both days. The second day we hired AJ and Ross to help and they were great workers. It was the biggest field we’ve ever been assigned.

Just call me Ma Podunk!

corn crew

Categories
Musings Spiritual Truths Things I've Learned

Brow Beating Believers

The path I have chosen with God’s direction has been enlightening. I have learned many things, especially the past few years. After 20+ years of dealing with “interesting children,” I’ve seen my share and then some of children tied up in a world of sinfulness. Not only have they sinned in record measures, but they have been sinned against in ways that would cause even the most experienced sinner to blush. I’m talking about the kids who were adopted out of families that did not regard them as precious jewels the way Christ does. They were broken as small children and grew up with that reflected in their behavior and thought processes. Nearly all of my children who were violated as small children by their birth families have fallen into great vast pits upon leaving our home and striking out on their own. Yes, you can sit back and judge them – or you can have great compassion for a fellow human being who experienced the worst the world has to offer and is trying to make sense of it. Sure, they could have leaned on the One who created them and could have trusted and obeyed Him, but for some reason their view was so darkened they were not able to look up at the light at that point in their lives. It is not for me to judge, though I have tried to reason the “why” of it all.

We tried to make up for all the “bad stuff” that they had experienced prior to coming into our home. It was certainly our intention to do so, but for some reason we were not enough. We gave them a safe home that had proper education, both spiritually and mentally, love and concern along with the discipline to train them in the right way to live. Did it “take?” No, not for the ones who were resistant to such things. But it was planted in their heads. That’s the key.  We’re beginning to see that for some of them, when the time is right and they’ve discovered that the world has nothing for them, they know where to look when they decide to seek God and all He has for them.

It’s obvious to everyone what a parent’s stand ought to be in the midst of their children’s life’s journey. They support the good decisions and don’t support the bad ones. They seek the best for the child. When sinned against, they are to be willing to forgive if the child is genuinely repentant. That doesn’t mean the parents have to support them when they aren’t living right, but they pray for them and give godly advice when asked. They don’t brow beat them or slander their name. They sit quietly by and wait for the child to see the light and welcome them back when they do. They do their best to advise them and try to teach them to keep their paths straight. If the child gets off the right path, the parent does not go off with them. They continue on, waiting for their child to return. If the child is living at home, the parent is to grab them and put them back on the right path in any way God directs them to do so. I’ve told my adult children that they have the right to choose whatever path they want to walk down, but to not expect me to go down with them, for I too have a responsibility to walk with God in the way He directs me.

But what is the responsibility of those who are not family, those who the child has sinned against? If they are believers, then their responsibility is the same. The only exception is deferring to the parent for discipline. Compassion ought to rule. We are in God’s family. Too often I have seen my children offend or sin against another believer and receive the same amount of offence right back. If we consider ourselves mature believers, then we ought to return love and compassion, not seek to “make them pay.”  We ought to consider what is the best for that child, not recompense for our offended pride. Brow beating someone into submission out of our so called spiritual standing as authority is not love. The desire to capitalize on their sin is as bad as the original sin we were considering. It is prideful arrogance – showing we care more for our hurt feelings than the offender’s welfare and spiritual needs. To not offer forgiveness and reconcilliation when there has been repentance is to curse the love of God. If the love of God dwells in us, we will love others. If it does not, we will allow our selfish desires to walk all over those we consider less than us. It is then at that point that we become the offender and turn God’s attention off the sinner and on to ourselves. That is not a place I would ever want to be.

John 8:7  “So when they continued asking him, he lifted up himself, and said unto them, He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her.” 

Galatians 6:1  “Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted.”

Matthew 18:6 “But whoso shall offend one of these little ones which believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea.”

Categories
Political

The Parental Rights Amendment

A parent’s right to raise their children as they see fit is a time-honored American tradition, but today it is being threatened. The Supreme Court’s Troxel v. Granville decision in 2000 undermined a 75-year heritage of Constitutionally-protected, fundamental parental rights, which 8 of the 9 justices abandoned. At the same time, a growing body of international law fuels activist judges to legislate foreign standards from the American bench, while treaties such as the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child would subject parental decisions to government oversight and international review.

Rep. Pete Hoekstra (MI-2) has proposed HJR-42, the Parental Rights Amendment, to stop the erosion of parental rights in American courts while simultaneously defending our laws from international invasion. Please, visit parentalrights.org to learn more about the Amendment, and to join their email network by signing the petition to protect parental rights.

Categories
Adoption Family Events My Kids Notable Acts

My Eyes Were Opened

p1010014There is a camp called Midcourse Correction Challenge Camp  that a lady on my Adoption Support Yahoo group told me about. I was skeptical because it’s only 46 hours long and I’d never heard of it before. I’ve spend 100+ hours on the Internet searching out Christian resources for families like ours that needed help with their special needs kids.

How could a boot-camp type of weekend ever change my kid? We’d had years of tough times…how can they promise me results when I’ve worked with him for years and was never able to get through to him? I’m going to let him tell you himself. Let me introduce you to Jonathan – adopted at age 6 months, 17 years old, 12th child out of 15 in our family. He’s the one in the picture in the back row. I blanked out all the other faces since it wouldn’t be appropriate to show them. Below is his story.

The Way My Life Used to Be and What it is Now

I guess I can start out by saying God is good. For the past 6 months I have not been doing too well. I have been doing bad things and have been going down hill since. I’ve been disrespectful, disobedient, rebellious, etc. to my parents and thinking I was the only one that was right. I have been a fool, doing the same things over and over again and getting in trouble for it. This is where every thing changed. My mom was talking to a lady and found out about a camp called Midcourse Correction Challenge Camp – it was just like a boot camp and it was hard for me physically but I made it. I passed and I graduated during the process.

I was there and God spoke to me. I learned to listen to authority, not be disrespectful, and not be a fool, so in the process I learned a lot. Most importantly, my eyes were opened and I got saved. I am a totally different person. I’m a newborn Christian and I’m the most excited person ever. I’m so glad I went and I encourage you from my heart – if you are one of “ME” or what I used to be, or if you know someone like that, I strongly encourage you to go to Midcourse Correction Challenge Camp. It will change your life just like it did mine, but it’s your choice, so choose God and your life will be totally different.  ~ Jonathan

This makes five of our children that have been saved since June of last year. Wow. “I stand amazed in His presence.”

Categories
Musings

The “Wright” Kind of Correction

Over the years we’ve seen different reactions to some of our children’s behavior. I always hesitate to say such things as “my children’s behavior” because it conjures up in your mind a picture that all of my children have been difficult. That is by no means the truth. I have had children who have been compliant and respectful of our parental authority trying their best to be a blessing. So when I start out a posting like I did above, please understand I am not referring to all of my children. Also do not assume we do not love our “difficult” children, or wish them ill in any way. I am just stating the facts so that I may bring across a truth that I have learned or because I wish to encourage others to remain faithful and not lose heart if they are in the midst of trial with one or more of their children.

It’s pretty typical to get a reaction of, “Oh, you have such a nice family.” That’s a reaction of someone who sees us for the first time. They haven’t gotten to know us or had much interaction with us. Of course the statement is true, for we have had many wonderful times together as a family.

After they get to know us a little better and see some of our difficulties, we’ll hear something like, “Oh, but what you are doing is such a great thing, don’t get discouraged over the tough times, you are doing this for the Lord and He is pleased.” These are the ones who have seen some difficulties and give us encouragement because they see we’re doing something they’d never consider doing.  These people get misty when thinking about what could have happened to our kids if we hadn’t pulled them out of the world’s system.

Then when people are affected in one way or another by a misdeed of one of our children, we’ll see one of two different reactions. I’ll give you an example of something we experienced about two or three years ago.  I was out of town for a missionary event and someone took over my classroom. One of my boys was called a “girl” by the substitute in jest. She didn’t know it was a sore spot in his life because his brothers had been unkindly taunting him in that way for years. This had been something  we’d dealt with over and over in our family but hadn’t gotten victory over yet. This boy ran down the hall in anger and bumped into one of our teachers, Mrs. Wright, without apologizing. Of course then she called him back and corrected him, but she didn’t receive a proper repentant attitude from him. She decided to pray with him because she was disappointed in his wrong spirit. When I came back, she discussed it with me and I looked into it. When I discovered the story behind the behavior, Mrs. Wright understood and then felt bad for him. She called him back into her room and talked to him about it and acknowledged that she understood and then instructed him on what a proper behavior ought to have been, removing the demerit she had given him earlier (which had been his third one, leading to a detention). She had expressed her love in her correction. 

Her loving heart administered correction and even though it wasn’t received right away, she still cared enough to check into it and amended her correction later when she found out the source. In our experience, most people administer the “punishment” without care over the catalyst that caused the behavior. After all, we all ought to respond correctly even when we have been wronged. Yes, this true, but compassion added to the mix will bring the child closer to God. Harshness and an unloving attitude in correction will only drive a child’s heart away. To this day all my sons love and respect this lady because they saw her good heart.

I just asked my son if he remembered the incident and he said “Yes,” with a smile on his face. My boys love Mrs. Wright to this day and consider her one of the kindest adults in their life. Comments we get from this type of person are usually like, “God will bless you for being faithful, don’t get discouraged.”

Here is the next example. This one represents a lack of love when dealing with my children. One of my sons was kicking a ball in the gym that was hitting the ceiling. He was told not to do it but did it again anyway. He was told to stand by the wall and that he would be taken to his parents. When he started to walk out with the other kids at the end of the activity, he was picked up and thrown against the wall and chewed out for being disobedient. That was years ago and everyone who witnessed the scene remember it very well to this day.

I just asked my son if he rememberd the incident I described above and he said “Yes,” and then said with a less than cheerful face, “I never did know why he was so mad.” Comments from this type of person would be like “Those kids are so bad, I wish the parents would train them better.”

Romans 12:14-20 “Bless them which persecute you: bless, and curse not. Rejoice with them that do rejoice, and weep with them that weep. Be of the same mind one toward another. Mind not high things, but condescend to men of low estate. Be not wise in your own conceits. Recompense to no man evil for evil. Provide things honest in the sight of all men. If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men. Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord.  Therefore if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink: for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head.”

A vengeful attitude of, “I’ll make them pay,” will not bring God glory or benefit the one being corrected. It will only cause bitterness and hatred, especially in a child. But a loving attitude of, “I want you to see that what you are doing is wrong so you can become better through it,” is a way of showing God’s love and bringing them closer to a better understanding of that love. I call that the “Wright” way to correct. Of course we can make that statement with our mouth, but too often our actions do not match our words. We need to be careful that we execute judgment in a way that shows we desire restoration.

God has given me many such incidents to learn from and has changed my perspective through the years. I often struggled to have a proper spirit when correcting a child who would repeatedly choose to defy the rules and purposely sin against others. It’s been a hard road to travel and I have not always been successful in reacting as I should. It is true that hindsight is so much easier to learn from.  I shutter to think of all the opportunities I missed to show God’s love to others around me. But I have also determined to look for those who need encouragement and to be the one to give it. Of course I cannot justify sin or walk down the road of destruction with others, but if they step off that road and need assistance, I want to be the one God used to offer it. There will be many who don’t want help, but there will also be many who need it and would greatly appreciate a helping hand. Too many years I walked around wishing someone would see my pain and heartache and offer the healing balm of acceptance or support. If we truly are beloved of God because we have chosen to be a part of His church, then we need to make it a safe place where others can find rest. I have never received one unkind comment from anyone “in the world” about my children. Unfortunately that has not been the case in the Christian realm. I want to be like Mrs. Wright who was so kind to my erring son that day a long time ago. I want to be remembered with a smile by a child that happened upon me while in he was distress.  That’s what we call the love of Christ.

Categories
Musings

The Grapefruit

In a Bible study that I frequent, we all were told that we need to be transparent to be of help to others. I have taken that challenge seriously. I am going to continue to open my heart so you can see what’s inside. I will try to do so without using names or any identifying information – for it is not my desire to hurt others. It IS my desire to show others my experiences – to be an encouragement. Perhaps if others see what I live through, how I doubt, where my mind wanders, or even my mistakes, then perhaps they’ll be encouraged that their life is normal – especially when it is full of disappointments, heartaches and loveloss. 

I want to dispel the myth that if we pursue God our life will be perfect or easy. Too often we look at others who are in a position of leadership in the church and say to ourselves, “I could never do that.” Or we look at other families and wonder why we can’t be happy like them or have a noticable hand of blessing on our life like they do. Well, I’m here to tell you that if you do choose to pursue God, it will not be a bed of roses. But, you will have the confidence that He is pleased with your offerings to Him and will protect you from the world in a way that brings Him glory and your good. An abiding Christian life is not smooth, but it promises peace and contentment in Him. I wouldn’t trade that for the world – literally. If you put yourself out there to serve Him, you will have pain and heartache but the alternative is a life without purpose and God’s favor. Hopefully along the way you will receive God’s blessing for your lifestyle of godliness, but there are no guarantees when or how they will come. You may have to look for them, but they will be there.

Here’s one of the looks into my life that isn’t so pleasant:

I just can’t keep up. One day I’m a great mom and should receive the blessings of God on my life for the sacrifices I’ve made.  The next day I’m the worst thing that ever walked the earth and should be put down to save others from having to be exposed to me. I guess I’ll just have to accept the fact that some people will hate me. I don’t really understand why, but I still need to accept it. I have to cling to the fact that some day all will be revealed. I have to realize that though I may love someone, they won’t necessarily love me back. I also have to accept the fact that though I did the best I could with God’s help, maybe it wasn’t enough. Sometimes I just have to choose God and let the rest go.

One last thing that maybe will confuse you even more. I just went through a really hard thing with a couple of people in my life – one through email and one on the phone not an hour later. The boys knew it and were staying out of the room to let me deal with it. When I was talking to Mark on the phone about it afterward, Levi, my 17 year old son, asked if he could have a grapefruit and I told him go ahead and then asked if I wanted one. I told him, “No thanks, there are only two,” indicating to him that I thought Jacob might want it. Then he said as he started to hand his to me, “Oh, do you want me to peel you one?” I know that sounds like a small offer, but if you knew how we peeled our grapefruits you’d see how that was such a wonderful thing to offer to do for me.

grapefruit1We first cut off the skin and then take about 15-20 minutes to peel every single piece of the skin so only the fruit juice “sacks” are left. It is a glorious experience to eat a grapefruit like that. Levi and I sat down one school morning and spent about a half an hour doing it together. I told him it was OK, we could just call it Science class. VBG!  He was discovering the tiny sacks of fruit juice and we were reveling in it together. So for him to offer to peel me one was so touching to me that I just started bawling! Then I told Mark I was bawling because when I go through a really hurtful time and someone is nice to me it makes me cry. Poor Levi was standing there with this confused look on his face like he was at a loss – here I was bawling my eyes out because he offered to peel me a grapefruit.

Our life has been very hard for about 6 weeks with many situations and trouble coming our way. It’s been hard dealing with it because it seemed that almost every time we reached out for help we were denied one one way or another. There have been a few people that have helped, and for that I am very grateful to God for. We would have lost it a long time ago if it hadn’t been for them. The thing is, the problems just keep rolling in. Each phone call, each email that I get lately strikes fear into my heart – and even though I know satan is the author of fear and is trying to destroy our family, it doesn’t negate the fact that we have been receiving very painful news over and over – like in the Biblical account of the life of Job, with one thing after another threatening our family. I am anxious for this time in our life to be over, but it doesn’t seem to be happening very quickly. But for now, I need to rest in the good things God sends to me to keep me going. I’m going to go eat my grapefruit.

Categories
Musings

Job’s Friends – Part 1

In times of trouble, most people tend to reach out to others for comfort or assistance. Over the years we learned not to even try, for there was none to be had. I can’t count the number of times we’ve gone to evangelists, special speakers, Bible teachers, pastors, etc.  for advice on how to raise our difficult children and been met with the same ol’ answer, “I don’t know what to tell you.” It never failed. So we just quit trying. Now this is not to say that the people weren’t kind hearted or knowledgeable about Scripture. On the contrary, they were usually very learned, compassionate people. That’s why we went to them to begin with because we sensed in them a good heart. But what we were asking was out of the ordinary.

I remember one time in particular when we were at Northland Family Camp, there was a speaker there that outlined the four steps in discipline: a look, a word, discipline, separation. First we’re to give them “the look” to let them know they were out of bounds in their behavior. Many children stop here and change their behavior. Some require the next step: verbal correction. If the child continues on, then we are to administer correction, whether that be spanking, time outs or whatever is deemed necessary and appropriate. He went on to say that if nothing works and the child seems to be unable to take any type of correction, then the parent must consider other means – whether that be kicking the older child out of the home, or finding a children’s home for the younger child. There is Biblical basis for his message, but we wanted to know what to do with children who were like ours, the mentally or emotionally damaged child who don’t seem to have the ability to learn through conventional “disciplinary measures.” It’s not unusual for a Fetal Alcohol Affected child to either not understand or remember a disciplinary measure. These children live in the moment and struggle with reasoning and personal application of instruction.

To them, “the look” was a challenge to be more crafty or sneaky. It’s affirmation that they are slipping up and need to be more careful about how they plan their next gig. The spoken word is just fluff in their eyes – it’s another warning that they were caught and need to be more careful next time. It’s a warning that they’re about ready to be punished and have pushed the limits, to back off and try again later when no one is looking. The third step, the discipline, is something to be endured and tuck away in their memory that no adult can be trusted and they must just endure so they can get on with their life. It doesn’t change or teach them, it’s just another bump in the road. They look at it as an expression of just how dumb adults really are and affirmation that they are to be hated. It didn’t matter that we weren’t the adults who failed them prior to coming into our home through adoption – all adults were alike in their eyes.

We were in a whole different ball game than most parents and were seeking advice on how to throw the next pitch. But no one knew, so we stopped asking. We grabbed our Bible and tried to glean as much information and wisdom as we could find. It withstood the test of time, obviously, for it is the beginning of all things and the hope in all situations. But it wasn’t necessarily an easy path to take. There were no true stories or parables that fit. We couldn’t find any verses that dealt with raiding the food pantry at night to steal food or what to do when a child drew pictures on the bathroom wall with their own waste. It didn’t tell me what to do when a child’s head turned around in circles…OK, that never happened, but I was expecting it to!  It didn’t tell me how to deal with the every day things that are so absent from normal households. Yet it gave me principles to go by and the assurance that our loving Father was there to guide us. We had to learn to walk in the Spirit and hear that still small voice in the din of everyday life with 15 little ones all vying for my attention – good or bad, it was all the same to them!  Of the 15 children, 13 are adopted and 12 were special needs. That means we only had three who had a proper view of life, untainted from the world, and the rest, well, you get the picture.  Needless to say, if the preachers and teachers didn’t have the answers, who would?   To be continued…

 

Categories
Musings Notable Acts

The Greatest Gift for Christmas

There have been many Christmas gifts that have been wonderful through the years, but this year there is one that particularly stands out in my mind. It is one that rests on my mind daily and could not be shaken off if I tried – not that I would want to, for it is a gift that I have desired for years.

Recently I received bad news that threatened to take my peace.  I think disappointments are the hardest for me to live with – for the death of a dream has always been hard for me. I must also admit that the greatest things in my life have come directly after the death of a dream. I find myself tooling along in a happy state, encouraged and hopeful and then bang! The dream is ripped in two and I’m left in the middle of a sad, empty, cold room all alone with no light.  (When I say “I”, I’m including my husband. We take life’s ups and downs together as one person. Along with us has always been my mom – even when she didn’t have an answer, she was always present.)

But this time was different. I can barely believe it myself.  This time, little by little there began to be light. Then a little heat. Next I saw various people I knew sitting near me encouraging me to look up – to see the Savior’s shining face giving hope. I wish I could say I expected it to happen. But I never thought it would. In the past the cold empty room was a sure thing, something that I was used to, something that was familiar. Just me, the Word and nothing else.

But this time was different. It was so different that I feel like I’m living in a different world. Why was it different? People. People made it different and I don’t know why this time it all changed, but it did. I know God did it, but I don’t know why He did it this time. Before it was just Him and me. This time it was Him and me, four daughters, one son, two sons-in-law, one nephew and a niece, a brother, pastor, 5 friends and 4 strangers. Wow.  This time it was different.  It’s like God grabbed people and said to them, “Hey, go walk beside them, they need you right now.” Wow. God did that for me. If you are one of the four daughters, one son, two son-in-laws, one nephew and a niece, a brother, pastor, 5 friends and 4 strangers . . . thank you. I like this new world that God has given me now that you are in it.