The Gift of Hind Sight

I love this blog, as I give specific ways that God provided for us!! I hope it will encourage you!!

Encouragement for you!!

Do you ever look back, and see the hand of God in your life,
taking care of you, providing opportunities, guiding you and directing your
path? I call this the gift of
hindsight.

When I look back it
is so clear to me, how God took care of us, but when I was living that moment,
it wasn’t clear at all. I think one of
the reasons for this, is that I have my plan, and when that plan gets derailed,
I feel frustration, disappointment and sometimes despair.

I’d like to share with you some of the ways God provided for
us, to encourage you. God is the same,
yesterday, today and tomorrow– (Hebrews 13:8). He can be counted on. We, however, are all different from one another. The Bible calls us the Body of Christ.
(Romans 12:4,5: Just as our bodies have
many parts and each part has a…

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September 23, 2013

September 23, 2013

This day is etched into my memory.  We buried our son on this day.  After, a week of being surrounded by wall to wall people, the burial was relatively small, just a few close friends and family.  We stood in a circle around the grave-site each of us carrying a white rose.  We went around and shared memories of Sean. 

I shared that I was happy that my husband and I had made the decision so long ago—that I was going to stay home with the kids, and that we were going to home-school.  I felt that I really did savor the moments with my kids, and now that the moments with Sean were gone, I did not have regrets – about that at least, (I had other regrets), but about that I did not.

A few of our friends, sang and played the guitar.  We sang,  “Who am I” by Casting Crowns.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C53GgUJ6y-Y

Towards the end of our time, I noticed that my mother-in-law and sister-in-law had moved away from the group to take a phone call.

When we arrived back at our house, we were told, that my father-in-law had passed away.  My husband’s family lives on the East Coast of the U.S. and my father-in-law had recently been placed in a nursing home for Alzheimer’s. 

My husband lost his son and his dad a week apart.

We found ourselves packing and traveling out East to get ready for my father-in-law’s funeral. 

Sean and my father-in-law were close to one another.  They shared a similar sense of humor—the quick Irish wit—with the lightening comebacks that never fail to bring laughter into the room.  It seemed everyone wanted to be their friend. 

My father-in-law was a lawyer, which was a great fit for all his verbal skills.  Sean did not know yet what he wanted to be.  He was greatly influenced by a youth pastor, and he thought he might want to go into the ministry. 

My husband shared at my father-in-law’s funeral that the quality that his dad really possessed was the desire to help others.  He grew up in the depression where people needed to rely on each other to survive, and when he became a lawyer, he used those skills to help others in need.  Sean shared that quality of his grandfather’s—he really wanted to help others.

Every year for the past few years, my husband’s cousin, (their moms are sisters), shares his condolences of the day with us.  We share ours with him.  His dad passed away on September 23rd also. 

September 23rd is the day our son was buried, my husband’s Dad passed away and his Uncle passed away.

I don’t know what that means.  But I don’t believe in coincidences.  There is too much pattern to life. 

Jesus said that all the worry in the world will not add a single hour to our life. Matthew 6:27   Does that mean we become fatalists and stop taking care of ourselves and do unwise things?  No, not at all.  It does mean, that we need to think beyond this life.  Just as we prepare for retirement and trips, we need to prepare for the life to come.

How do we prepare? 

  1.  Have a relationship with God.  It is an eternal relationship.  It is called eternal life. John 17:3
  2. How do you have this relationship?  Ask—you just need to ask.  Acts 2:21
  3. Praying is another word for talking with God.
  4. God says, “to as many as received Him, even to those who believed in His name, He gave the right to become children of God,” John 1:12
  5. This is a suggested prayer, “Lord Jesus, I need You.  Thank you for dying on the cross for my sins.  Come into my life.  Thank you for forgiving my sins.  Make me the kind of person You want me to be.”  
  6. That’s it.  If you ask, Jesus will come in.  He will forgive your sins.  He will give you eternal life.

Here is a link that will explain more about this.

https://www.cru.org/us/en/how-to-know-god/would-you-like-to-know-god-personally.html

If you have asked Jesus to come in, let me know!!    So, I can be encouraged!!

Today–September 17,2019

Today marks the 6th anniversary of our son Sean’s death. Sean was out riding his bike, when he was hit by a car. He was declared dead a day later. Sean’s death was an event for which we did not plan, we could not control, an event that we could not even imagine. Sean’s death rocked and still rocks our world. It made me look at beliefs I thought were solid.
Being Sean’s mom has taught me so much, about life, about myself, about God

I am a pretty fearful person — I think because I don’t want to experience Pain, and I don’t want my children to experience Pain. When Sean was alive he did not seem to be afraid, of anything. He would do the most daring things — completely and utterly without fear — which sent fear through me — more times than I can remember.. When he was three years old, we gave him one of those battery driven motorcycles for Christmas. Sean got on it, and was immediately disappointed that it didn’t go faster! I would say that Sean was always pushing his limits, but Sean did not seem to be aware that he had limits.

Sean lived life with such abandon, with such joy! I would often look at him with wonder, as he saw life so differently than I did. He wanted to live and he wanted those around him to live with the realization that we might never get to live that moment again. He was continually encouraging us to jump into life, to engage with each other, to not be afraid!!

After, Sean died, I was thrown into a crisis of faith. How could God have let this happen to my son? I thought God would protect us and provide for us. Indeed, He promised in His Word that He would protect us and provide for us. However, Jesus also said, “in this world, you shall have tribulation, but be of good cheer, for I have overcome the world.”

Which lead me to question: Did Jesus really overcome the world? I know Jesus is a recognized historical person — He did live on this earth. But did He rise from the dead? Was He who He said He was when He told His disciples that He and the Father were One, and if they saw Him, they also saw the Father. Was He God in human flesh? Did His one death, pay the penalty for all our sins? I thought of our sins — the sins of humanity — our greed, anger, malice, slander– the sins of our heart which lead to murder, rape, wars, corruption. All the ways we hurt each other. Were we really forgiven for these things? Because of Jesus’s death and resurrection — were we forgiven and would we have eternal life?

What I found was–Yes, Yes, there is so much Evidence for all these things. But these gifts must be received by each of us individually for us to experience God’s love and forgiveness on a personal level. (I suggest reading Josh McDowell’s books, ( https://crustore.org/shop-by-ministry/josh-mcdowell.html), or Lee Stroebel’s books, ( https://leestrobel.com/books), to begin an investigation into the same things.)

In confirming my faith, I have become more aware of God’s presence in my life. I have felt His presence and love when I’ve been in the depths of pain and grief, and His presence when I’ve been at the heights of joy. I have experienced God’s protection and provision in the midst of experiencing trials, tribulations, suffering and pain. I have learned that our God does not lie, and all His word can be trusted. He is truth. He is the Word of God. He is the lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world. I hope this testimony will help any person reading this who may want a relationship with God, or need encouragement in their relationship with our Lord. I hope it provides comfort to anyone in crisis. I hope you’ll be encouraged!!

Grieving Sean

Our family is approaching the 6th anniversary of Sean James Stanton’s death.  I remember reading a blog written by another mom who lost their daughter, 6 years after she lost her.  She said it was still hard, still traumatic for their family.  I concur with her.  It is still hard, still traumatic. 

When it gets close to this anniversary, I find myself crying.  Sometimes, something triggers the crying—a book, a movie, driving down the road, a thought.  It could be anything, it could be nothing. 

 One of the books about grief that we read, used an illustration of waves of grief coming over you.  Sometimes they are so big and powerful, they knock you down, and you wonder if you are going to drown in that wave.  I miss Sean so much sometimes, it hurts, and hurts and hurts.  Indescribable pain.  The worst pain I have ever experienced. 

That pain became all encompassing.  It defined life for a while.  But God throws lifelines.  One of those lifelines was a couple who met with Rich and I for more than a year on an almost weekly basis.  They gave us books to read and listened to our anguish.  They showed us God’s grace and faithfulness. 

Other lifelines were longtime friends who walked with us, taking our children on excursions, and just being our friends.  Also, my family, especially my mom and my aunt (who had experienced great loss in her lifetime), showed up frequently to help with thank you notes and to be with us.  Our sweet neighbor organized meals for us for the first few months after Sean’s death.  Wonderful friends and strangers brought us meals.  There are so many people who reached out to us, to help us through this time.

One of our most significant lifelines were our children.  They needed us.  We found purpose in meeting their needs.  As we showed love to our children, we saw God’s love for us. As we cared for our children, we saw God’s caring for us. In the midst of our weakness, we saw God’s strength. I think it is significant that helping others, in particular our children, was a key component to returning to the land of the living.

The pain is still there; the grief is still there.  I don’t expect it to be gone.  There is no going back to life the way it used to be.  Really, there never is going back for any of us, there is only going on.

We put these verses on Sean’s grave site as they represent his life on earth, and his faith.  Galatians 2:20, 21: “My old self has been crucified with Christ.  It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me.  So, I live in this earthly body by trusting in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.  I do not treat the grace of God as meaningless. For if keeping the law could make us right with God, then there was no need for Christ to die.”  

I wish you could have met Sean, if you have not met him.  If you have met him, could you leave a comment about what he was like to you, for those who have not met him.   

This is my comment: “Sean was filled with life.  He radiated joy.   A mom told me that the week before Sean died, her special needs son ran up to Sean and gave him a hug.  Sean hugged him back and asked him how he was doing. Sean was such a cool kid, and Sean was kind.  So many friends and family have told us that they could count on Sean to be kind to their children.  Sean truly lived out Galatians 2:20,21!

I don’t know if there is any encouragement in reading about the loss of a child, except this—to remember that each child is a gift from God and to encourage you to love— like there is no tomorrow.

The Gift of Hind Sight

Do you ever look back, and see the hand of God in your life, taking care of you, providing opportunities, guiding you and directing your path?   I call this the gift of hindsight.

 When I look back it is so clear to me, how God took care of us, but when I was living that moment, it wasn’t clear at all.  I think one of the reasons for this, is that I have my plan, and when that plan gets derailed, I feel frustration, disappointment and sometimes despair.

I’d like to share with you some of the ways God provided for us, to encourage you.  God is the same, yesterday, today and tomorrow– (Hebrews 13:8).  He can be counted on.  We, however, are all different from one another.  The Bible calls us the Body of Christ. (Romans 12:4,5:  Just as our bodies have many parts and each part has a special function, so it is with Christ’s body, we are many parts of one body, and we all belong to one another.)  In other words –We have different purposes because we make up different parts of the “Body of Christ.”  So, when I share my story, please look at what God is doing and what is true about Him.  I hope you don’t compare yourself to me or judge me—as we were made differently, for different purposes.  We are both needed, we are both necessary, we are both loved, but I may be the mouth of the body, and you may be the eye.  Would you really want to live without either one?

So, here goes—When my husband and I were young parents, God was leading us to do something we thought rather drastic.  He was leading us to trust Him for our finances, and for me to stay home with our children.  We had both graduated from college.  We had careers, yet we were going to live off one income and I was going to be the one to stay home.

 My husband really wanted to start his own Construction Company, but he didn’t think he had enough experience, so, he took a job as a Resident Hall Director at a University, (which included housing and food–making it easy for me to stay at home with our child), so that he could get another degree, making him more marketable in the professional world.  Then a year into the job, the University closed two of its dorms and my husband lost his job.  At the time, we were devastated.  We had our plan– and that plan was changed.

My husband was offered a job by a local construction company.  He was offered $6 an hour, which was a little more than minimum wage at the time.  When we prayed and asked God about what we should do, it seemed clear that this was the way God wanted us to pursue my husband’s dream of having a construction company.

We didn’t know how we were going to live on the wages, my husband would be making.  Yet God was clearly asking us to trust Him and depend on Him.  He was asking us to walk by faith.   So—we did.  It felt a bit like free falling, but as we walked with God, it became clear why He was the rock– the foundation, we could stand on.  (Matthew 7:24-27)

 Our first concern was housing—where could we afford to live?  Well, the people my husband worked for had several rentals, and they were willing to rent to us.  The apartment was a bit expensive for our current salary, but for apartments in the area, it was very reasonable, I think we paid $440 dollars a month.

Our second concern was food—we had a very small budget—I think it was $30 a week for groceries, (this was 26 years ago—but that was still low at the time.)  I learned to use 1 chicken to make three different meals—roast chicken, chicken pot pie, and chicken soup.  I made everything from scratch, because it was less expensive.  I would make up a menu for the week, write down my grocery list, and estimate how much everything was going to cost.  I would go to the store, and time and time again, the things on my list were on sale that week.  Coincidence—I don’t think so—I think that was God’s graciousness to us.

 Our third concern was clothing.  We didn’t really buy new clothes at this time, we used what we had, later however, when money wasn’t quite so tight, we would shop at discount stores, second-hand stores, and garage sales.  Our family would give us gifts of clothes and family and friends would give us hand-me-downs.   We weren’t and aren’t too proud to accept hand me downs, and we gave and give away a lot of hand-me-downs too.  God has used these support systems to help meet our needs many times, and hopefully has used us to meet others’ needs as well. 

One of the biggest gifts from God at this time of our lives was a house we could afford to own ourselves.  We had been renting since we were married, and we really wanted to have our own home.  My husband had been taking side jobs outside of his regular construction job, and we saved this money to make a down payment on a house.  However, we knew it would take an act of God to bring us a house that we could afford to live in.

Then a friend of mine told me about a house that had been given to our church.  It was over a hundred years old, and it needed everything—roof, furnace, electrical and plumbing.  It had layers and layers of wallpaper on the walls.  It had great bones: beautiful hard wood floors, 11-foot ceilings, deep base boards—truly a diamond in the rough. 

This house became our first home.  We could afford this house; we bought it for $27,000!!  It was less expensive to live in this home than it was to rent.  We had enough for the down payment and enough to reroof the house!   My husband traded labor with a plumber and electrician, so we paid nothing out of pocket for our house to be replumbed and for a new electrical service.

Then we bought a furnace for $50!!  My husband was putting a new addition on a house, and the house needed a new furnace for the extra square footage, so the owner sold us their older furnace for $50.

These are just a few ways that God graciously provided for us and blessed us!!   Within three years of my husband taking the job in construction, we started our own construction company.  We have been in business for 24 years!!

 I am glad that when I look at the past, I see God leading us, and I see us following God.  Sometimes I see us following grumbling and complaining.  Sometimes I see us following, in great pain, but still following. Sometimes, I see our disobedience and rebellion—when we thought we knew better than God did and went our own way.   Many times, I see God carrying us, because we had no strength.

I am grateful for the gift of Hindsight, that allows me to see God’s will being played out in our lives.  God tells us to look back and remember His works and His acts, (1 Chronicles 6:12),  so when we are faced with faith hurdles in the present, we remember how He helped us jump those hurdles in the past and trust Him in the present as well.

 I hope that in sharing our stories, it will encourage you in your own walk of faith, to look back at how God was faithful to lead you and provide for you, so that you can continue to follow Him in your life today.

So Be Encouraged!!

The Gift of Work

In honor of Labor Day, I wanted to write about my husband Rich, and his work as an on-call firefighter and a first responder.

Last September, Rich responded to a fire, and when he was on the second floor moving to push out an air conditioner that was thought to be the start of the fire, he fell through the floor with one leg, and caught his fall with the other knee, severely injuring that knee.

Rich has not been able to work all year.  Finally, after surgery and physically therapy and exercising his knee consistently and faithfully—Rich has received the ok of his doctors to return to work!!

What a blessing!!  One for which we are so grateful!! 

24 years ago, Rich saw that the City was looking for more on-call firefighters.  He applied, went through the hiring process and was hired!!  I think it was the fulfillment of a dream for him to be a firefighter.  He loves it!  He is an action-oriented guy, and he loves to help people, and firefighting and being a first responder allows him to do what he was designed and created to do. 

I admit that it has not been an easy road for us. Rich is on call, 24/7– some weeks, the pager goes off in the middle of the night, on almost a nightly basis.  Sometimes the pager goes off when we are sitting down for dinner, and Rich won’t be able to eat for hours and hours.

There is also a concern that each time Rich leaves to fight a fire, it could be the last time I see him.  (Since our son Sean died, we have realized that this is true for all of us, not just those in a dangerous job.)

Rich and the other firefighters and their families make huge sacrifices for them to serve their communities.   In the past when Rich was injured in a fire, (for example, once a ceiling fell on him, breaking vertebrae in his neck)– he was given workman’s comp until he was healed and could return as a firefighter, (and also to his second job as a builder/carpenter.)  This is what Rich was told would happen when he was hired to be a firefighter.

However, this past year, that didn’t happen.  The insurance company wanted the City to do the same thing with the part-time guys that they do with the full-time guys.  The full-time guys go on light duty, instead of going on worker’s comp. They get all their regular hours, making the same amount of money they usually make.  The insurance company that the City uses, said to do that to the part time guys, but only at their part time hours.  Therefore, guys like my husband who are self-employed, and can’t return to their normal jobs, are put at risk of losing everything, by this practice.

One of the things Rich told me over and over this past year, when I would start getting anxious about the future, is, “God is the One who takes care of us, not the Fire Department.  God is the One who has our back.”

One of the verses we have repeated to each other over the years is Matthew 6:25-34: “That is why I tell you not to worry about everyday life, whether you have enough food and drink, or enough clothes to wear.  Isn’t life more than food, and your body more than clothing?  Look at the birds.  They don’t plant or harvest or store food in barns, for your heavenly Father feeds them.  And aren’t you far more valuable to Him than they are?  Can all your worries add a single moment to your life?  ….. So, don’t worry about these things, saying, “What will we eat? What will we drink? What will we wear? ….. your heavenly Father already knows all your needs.  Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and He will give you everything you need.  So, don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries.  Today’s trouble is enough for today.”

When I first saw the movie, “Jesus”, I was struck when I heard these words.  I thought—You really must be God to tell us humans not to worry about food, life, clothing—we are all so worried.  You really do view these things from a completely different perspective!!

I am so grateful for this year, and for all the years when God was faithful to teach us these lessons from His perspective.  Over and over again, He has shown us, He can be trusted.  He will take care of us.  He will provide for us.    We don’t need to worry about money, or clothing, or shelter.  He will take care of us.

When my children were young, I read them a book about George Mueller, (1805-1898) a man who was a Pastor in England.  People were very poor. They worked 7 days a week, just to exist.  They didn’t have time to go to church on Sunday.  Pastor Muller wanted to teach the people that God would take care of them, if they stepped out in faith, in even a small way—God would meet them.  Pastor Muller started orphanages, to demonstrate how God takes care of His people.  In his lifetime, he built 5 orphanages, caring for over 10,000 orphans.  He wrote down all the needs of the orphans and waited for God to do what God does—take care of His children.  He wrote down all the answers to those needs.  God showed up, over, and over again, one miracle at a time. 

Sometimes, I have done the same thing–written down what we were trusting God for, and then the answers.  Even when I haven’t written it down, God has shown up and taken care of us, time and time again.  I know it feels like free falling to let go and trust God.  (It is a little like the movie where Indiana Jones had to walk across the canyon, and it looked like when he took the first step, he was going to fall, but, in reality, there was a bridge across the canyon.) 

This past year, God has continued to hold us up. He has been our bridge across the canyon.  He has held our hands and brought us through this year. He has not let us go.   He won’t let go of you either.

  So Be Encouraged!!