Rainbows are very special to me.  When I see them, they remind me of a time in my life, when I was distraught, and a Rainbow reminded me of God’s love and care for me.  It reminded me that God was for me after the storms of life.

I’m sure many people have stories like mine– where they date someone when they are young, the relationship falls apart, and one or both are left with broken hearts.

I was like many people, I thought my heart would be broken forever, and I would always feel sad and dismal. 

I was very fortunate to have people who loved me who told me their stories so that I would realize my life was not over.  My dad told me about a girl he dated, that he thought he loved, before he dated my mom.   He said at the time when they broke up, he was heartbroken, but God had someone for him that was a much better match for him.  (My parents were married for 52 years, and everyone who knew them, recognized the love that existed between them.  They loved and served each other, and the last 5 years of my Dad’s life, my Mom was my Dad’s caregiver, caring for him after he had had a major stroke.  We saw my parents live out their love for each other for better or worse, and it was so real and so romantic.)

One day, when I was particularly blue, my mom’s friend came to visit.   She noticed my sadness and started talking to me.  She ended up telling me that she had been married and divorced before.  She said it was the hardest thing she had ever gone through—the sense of betrayal and rejection—and wondering if her life was now over.

While we were talking a rainstorm had been taking place outside.  My mom’s friend told me that she became a Christian because of her first marriage breaking up.  She realized that God loved her and would never leave her, never betray her.  Then – she later met her 2nd husband.  They married, had two children, and they have been married for over 50 years now.

After the rain stopped, we went out on my parent’s front porch.  We looked up into the sky and there was this beautiful rainbow and the sun was shining through it, bringing out all the colors.  My mom’s friend looked at me and said, “This is your promise from God that you will never have to go through anything so traumatic again.”

When I went back to college in the fall, I arrived on my dorm floor and all the doors had rainbows on the doors.   In my mind, I heard my mom’s friend say again, “This is your promise from God that you will never have to go through anything so traumatic again.” 

6 months earlier, I had decided to trust Jesus to be my Savior, and to follow Him.  I got involved in a bible study at college and started to learn about what God wanted me to know about living life.

I realized that God wanted to fill my life with His Spirit.  He wanted me to know and experience His love and forgiveness.  He also wanted to protect me and provide for me.

He wanted to protect my heart from being broken again.  He wanted to protect me from diseases.  He wanted to protect me from a pregnancy before I was ready and able to handle a responsibility of a child.

He wanted to provide for me a husband I could trust.  He wanted to provide for me a husband who had character.  He wanted to provide for me a husband who would be a good father to our children and someone who would help me raise those children.

(In reading over what I just wrote, I am struck anew with the fact that—that is exactly what God did provide for me through my husband of over 30 years.)

I believe that God has a heart to love us and want the very best for each of us, and when we come to His Word and what His word is telling us, we need to read it with that in mind.

Jesus talks about this when He tells us that if anyone hears His words and listens and obeys, they are like a man who built his house on the rock, and when the rains came and the storms came, (rains and storms always come in life), the house stood firm.   On the other hand, if one does not listen to Jesus, they are like a man who built his house on the sand, and when the rains and storms came that house was destroyed.

God does not want our house—our life to be destroyed—that is His motivation.  He loves us—He wants the best for us.

If we haven’t been listening to Him, we can start.  The God I know is a genius at rebuilding houses that have been destroyed – and putting them on a solid foundation.   It is never too late to cast oneself into the Hands of a loving and forgiving God and ask for a new beginning. 

That is what I see when I look at a Rainbow, I see a promise from God after the storms of life, that we will never have to go through that destruction again, when we build on Him and His foundation.

So Be Encouraged!!

Yes, Jesus loves you!

I’d like to tell you about the times I’ve experienced Jesus’ presence.  These were times when I was scared and felt alone or bereft by grief. 

The first time I am truly aware of experiencing Jesus’ presence in a very extraordinary way was when I was 27.  I was single and on staff with Cru.  I was on a break before heading back to my assignment and staying at my parents.  I had gone to see my eye doctor.  He looked into my eyes, called an eye surgeon, and within the hour, I was being seen by an eye surgeon.

I knew there was something wrong with my eye, but I didn’t know what.  The eye surgeon, looked into my eyes, told me I had a detached retina, swore, then walked out of the room.  I was alone in the room, and so scared.  I didn’t know what would happen next.  Suddenly, I felt Jesus’ presence by my side.  I didn’t see Jesus, but He was there.  I was flooded by peace and strength.  Jesus said, “You’re going to be all right.  Your eye will be all right.”  I didn’t hear this in an audible voice, but it was so clear, I might as well have heard it that way.

Then the eye surgeon came back and told me that he was sending me to another eye surgeon.  He told me I would probably lose sight in my eye, maybe both eyes.   However, since experiencing Jesus presence, I was no longer afraid; I was calm and reassured.

I went down to the Detroit area, and had eye surgery done by a kind doctor.  He was encouraging and told me we were going to get the eye taken care of right away.   He did an amazing job, and I have almost 20/30 vision restored in that eye. 

 Every year when I go to my current eye doctor, he makes a comment about how astounding it is that I can see as well as I can out of that eye.   Jesus has healed blind people many times, and I think Jesus prevented me from going blind.  He bestowed his grace and mercy upon me.

 I have also experienced Jesus’ presence, when I’ve gone through labor and delivery.  Every single time, I have been apprehensive, (as most moms will tell you—each time is different, so you kind of know what to expect, but at the same time you don’t.) But the first time, the first time, I was terrified.  I don’t know why childbirth preparation classes show videos of other women giving birth, screaming at their husbands, in utter agony.   These videos do not help the fear factor of birth.  They just make it worse.  I kept praying over and over again, “God if you can make labor better for me than those women, I saw give birth, I would really appreciate it.”

Of course, I was not alone.  My husband was with me, and my sister, who is a labor and delivery nurse, was with me.  What comfort I drew from them!  My sister had already had 3 of her children and was 6 and 1/2 months pregnant with her fourth when she came to help me.

  I think my sister’s presence was equally helpful to both my husband and I.  She had been through this herself and as a nurse, and we drew on her experience and knowledge.  However, there was a point where my courage was flagging and at that exact point, I experienced Jesus presence once again.   I honestly don’t know how I would have gotten through labor and delivery as calmly as I did, without Jesus giving me His strength.

When I was in labor with Sean, (my third child), I experienced Jesus’ presence again.  It was a particularly grueling and painful labor.  I wanted to scream and yell and give up, and Jesus showed up.  He got me through.  He gave me courage when I had none left.

  In the past 6 ½ years since Sean has been gone, I have experienced Jesus’ presence so many, many times.  Usually it is when I am in the depths of grief and I think I can’t bear any more pain, that I experience Jesus by my side.  Often, He will comfort me with words of love and reminders that He is with me. Often, He is silent and listens to my grief.  He brings me His strength. 

For a long while, when our family would go to church, every worship service, we would be standing in the back row of church, crying during the service.  During those times, I would experience Jesus standing with us, throwing His mantle over us.  

It’s funny—something that hardly ever happened—experiencing Jesus’ Presence– is something that occurs rather regularly now.  Scripture is true, “The Lord is near to the broken-hearted.”

I hope when you are at your lowest points and you’re scared and alone, that you experience Jesus’ presence and intervention in your life—that you experience God’s grace and mercy and His miraculous blessings of life.   If you do, you will find what I have, God shows up for us — because He is such a great God and His grace and mercy are limitless; His love is unconditional.  Jesus cares for us. “The Lord is near to the broken-hearted, and He saves those who are crushed in spirit.”  Psalm 34:18

I know when someone shares their God stories with me, I can be tempted to compare myself to them and come out on the losing side of the comparison. I did not share these stories for that reason. I know Jesus did not show up for me, because I’m all that great. Jesus showed up because He is love. He is love to me and He is love to you. He simply loves us. If sharing my story, can help anyone know in a more tangible way–“Yes, Jesus loves me”–then I’m happy to share my story. I’m happy to encourage us to know that Jesus is real, and Jesus does love us. 🙂 So Be Encouraged. 🙂

My Valentine’s Day Gift

Last night I received a gift.  I got to live a few moments of being Sean’s mom again.  I know it was a dream.  I very seldom have dreams where I see Sean.  I can remember less than a handful in the past 6 ½ years.   Each dream when I see my son is a gift.  Even if I dreamed of Sean every night, it would be a gift, but I might not be a functioning human being, if that were the case, as each dream is so emotional and carries a price.

In this particular dream, we were at an event at church.   It was an event for the children.   A bunch of younger boys were laying on the floor, listening to a story.  All of a sudden there was a tussle, and I looked down in the crowd of boys and saw my son Sean, who was only 7 or 8 in the dream.  He had just got wacked in the face, and his nose was bleeding.  He was trying valiantly not to cry.

While yelling at the boys to stop, and glaring at them, I reached down, grabbed Sean, comforted him with a hug, and started dealing with his bleeding nose.

In other words – I got to mother him.   For those few moments in time when I was dreaming, I got to be Sean’s mom once again.

Now it seems that all my children—are ages, where it isn’t simple to be a mom.  Gone are the days of hugs and kisses that solve almost every problem.   I don’t always know what to do.  I spend a lot of time praying and asking for wisdom, then coming to the conclusion that for most of my children, my role now is to just love and let go.   So much harder to do than it sounds.

If Sean were here on this earth, he would be 22 years old, probably getting ready to graduate from college.   I can picture what he would look like in my mind’s eye, how he would have grown and matured.  When I look at my oldest son, and my youngest daughter—I see glimmers of Sean.  I see glimmers of him, in my nephew.  I see his wonderful spirit in my grandson.  How grateful I am for the real moments that have come my way of getting to hug and comfort children again through my grandchildren and great nieces and nephews.

In my dream, Sean was 7 or 8.  Young enough to hug and comfort, young enough to mother.

It’s funny—in real life, there were so many moments for mothering—for hugs and kisses and let’s put a bandage on that, that they all kind of run together into one vague memory.

Now I have a memory—it is not a real one—but it represents one of the many, many memories that is now less than distinct.  

That is a gift, to now have a memory of mothering Sean, that I can savor, and which my broken heart can hold fast . So, thank you God.  Happy Valentine’s To me!!

Hobbes–Sean’s cat

This is one of our cats, named Hobbes.  He was actually Sean’s cat, and so is very dear to us.  He is a connection to Sean we get to pet and cuddle and love every day.

Hobbes, has quite the backstory.  He isn’t the first Hobbes, he is Hobbes the 2nd.

After my oldest daughter had prayed for and gotten a baby sister, she decided to also pray for kittens.  I had already told her that “No, we weren’t not going to have cats, as we have allergies to them.”  She decided to go over my head and appeal to a higher authority.

Not too long after my daughter asked me for kittens, a stray mother cat was found in a storage area of our property with 4 newborn kittens.   Our next-door neighbor is considered our neighborhood cat expert, and she helped us to know what to do, and how to feed the mother cat, who was somewhat feral. 

My husband loves babies of all kinds, even of the cat variety, and before I knew it, each of our children had claimed one of the kittens, with our oldest and youngest sharing ownership of one of the cats.  (Our youngest was 1 and our oldest was 15—and they seemed happy with that arrangement—knowing that our oldest would be moving out of the house fairly soon.)  We told the children that the cats would have to be outdoor cats, because of our allergies.   The mother cat was continually trying to sneak those babies past us and into our house.  It was quite an amazing act of mother protection to see.  We did not let her bring them into the house, but we have found that over the years, our cat allergies have gotten better, and our cats have become more indoor/outdoor cats.  Our next-door neighbor helped us with where to go for neutering and shots, as again, we were pretty new at this.  At the time she was volunteering with a cat neutering program and so we were able to get the cats neutered for free.

One of Sean’s favorite cartoon strips was Calvin and Hobbes, so it was no surprise to anyone that Sean adopted the orange kitty and named him Hobbes. 

Then the year before Sean died, Hobbes died.  We knew he was sick, but when we took him to the vet, they could not determine what he had.  I remember being in the vet’s office and crying and crying over this cat.  I had never reacted to a pet’s sickness like this before. Hobbes death hit all of us, very hard.  I kept crying and crying over his death.  This Hobbes had lived for 5 years.

Then the summer before Sean died, my husband and I and our youngest child were in a fruit and vegetable stand, and there were two orange tabby kittens.  They were from the same litter and were available for adoption.  One of the kittens looked just like Hobbes the 1st.  Our daughter pleaded with us to adopt them, and we found ourselves bringing these kitties home. 

We told Sean that we wanted to adopt one of the kitties for him.  He named the new kitty, Hobbes the 2nd.  A few months later, Sean was gone.

Hobbes the 2nd is now almost 7 years old.  He is the most privileged and pampered cat we have.  He gets wet cat food every day.  He can come and go as he pleases.  Even though he is so pampered, he is so polite.  He never jumps up on my counter tops or tables.   In many ways, he reminds of us Sean—who  was also incredibly polite.  Sean also used to love studying everything about Asia.  For many years, we had some neighbors who were Asian, and whenever we couldn’t find Hobbes, we would go looking for him at their house, and sure enough, he was always there.

Hobbes will come and cuddle with us when we are sad and need a friend.   Maybe we love our pets so much, because our pets give us so much, in their silent, unconditional companionship. 

In the very beginning, God gave us human beings, stewardship over the planet and animals.  We had a deep connection from the very beginning.

In our life, we have taken comfort in the company of pets and grieved the loss of our pets.  Twelve years ago, a little girl prayed for kitties and our lives have never been the same since.   So, here’s to you Hobbes and all the rest of our pets, what gifts you all are!!