The Safest Place To Be

I started my “Encouragement from Katie” blogsite a little over 4 months ago.  I have written some stories detailing  the times when I have relied on God’s strength and guidance in my parenting, and that is the purpose of this blog—to encourage young moms to look to God for the answers and strength in their mothering role.   However, there were times when I did not do this.  There were times I was angry, frustrated, fearful, or anxious and I acted out those emotions.  I remember a time when I expressed fear, and then anger, in the space of a heartbeat.

At the time, I was a mom with just 4 children (I would have a fifth- 7 years later); their ages were: 8 years, 4 years, 3 years and 11 months old.  It was time for our church’s VBS and I was helping with it.  I dropped off my 11-month-old with a friend, who also had an 11-month old baby.  She watched our babies while I took the 3 older children to VBS.  At the end of VBS, I loaded up the children in our mini van and ran back in the church to grab something I had forgotten.  Then— I came back out to the van, got in and drove off.  I parked at my friend’s home and went in to get my baby.  I came back out and noticed that my four-year-old was not in the van.  I thought he had gotten out and was wandering around the neighborhood.  I started calling for him, yelling his name one minute, and crying his name in the next.

My friend’s husband looked at me in amazement—I seemed like a woman gone berserk—yelling, then crying, then yelling, then crying.    I was demanding that we call the police and the fire department.  He said, “Why don’t we call the church first, maybe he’s at the church?”   “No”, I snapped back, “I put him in the van, he must have gotten out at your house, and he’s wandering around the neighborhood.”  

“Well”, he said, “let’s just call the church first.”  Eventually, I agreed, and we called the church.  Yes, my child was at the church.  He had gotten out to use the bathroom, and I had not noticed when I got into the van.  Even now, when I remember that story, my heart starts pounding and the adrenaline starts rushing through my body at the terror I experienced when I thought my child was lost.

Why do I recount this story?  Because—this is what life is like isn’t it?  Life is going along, and then something that we don’t expect happens—and how do we react?  I don’t and haven’t always reacted well.  The first thing I thought of, in the situation I just recounted, wasn’t God; I did not call out to Him to save my child.  I tried to deal with the situation myself—and in relying on my own resources—I vacillated between terror and anger. 

Perhaps, you can relate.  Perhaps you too, try to deal with your life situations with your own resources, not turning to the Lord.

I have just recounted one story, yet, over the past 27 years of being a mother—my life is filled with many stories, many moments.  

I have seen that being a mother has taken everything I have and more.  It has brought out my worst self, and my best self.  Like most mothers—I would willingly lay down my life for my children—-yet get annoyed with them for the smallest of offenses. 

Fortunately, I have a Father who is the most patient of teachers, and He continues to give me lessons on how to love, until I learn.  He is the most consistent, faithful, love-motivated teacher there is.  His goal—to make me Holy, (whole), like Him.   I came to Him broken, and He—He is fixing me.  He is teaching me to love, like He loves.

It does not happen overnight, or in a month or in years—it takes a lifetime—it takes believing God and acting out what He shows me to do.   

Just recently, I had another incident where I reacted from emotion.  I thought I was beyond doing such things, but I am never beyond those things, because I will always need God.  Whenever I think, “I’ve got this.”  Life will throw me a curve-ball, and I will realize once again, “No I don’t have this, and God, please—HELP!! 

Being a mom, has taught me how amazing God’s grace truly is, as I am continually leaning into Him to just take the next step, when my strength has given out.  If that’s what you are learning as well—you are in a good place—you are in your Father’s hands—the safest place to be.

So Be Encouraged!!

Thank you Grandmom!!

7 years ago, in the month of November, my 93-year-old Grandmother passed away.   My Grandmother’s life is fascinating to me.  Her mother was Irish and sought a new life in the new world by traveling on a ship when she was 18.  She must have been very brave to make the journey by herself, but I believe she was looking for a better life for herself and her future family. My Grandmother was eight years old when her mother died, and she was sent to live with a foster family.  I am so grateful to this family for opening up their doors to foster children, and so grateful to foster families and families that adopt. What a gift they are giving so many caught in tragic situations!!

My Grandmother married young and she and my Grandfather had 4 children, survived the depression and WWII, and they saw their only son fight in the Vietnam War.   They had 17 grandchildren, 41 great grandchildren and so far– 26 great-great- grandchildren.

After 60 years of marriage my grandfather died, and my grandmother lived for another 15 years as a widow before she too died.

Not long before she died, I visited her, and we had a remarkable conversation.  We talked about a book I had read, called, “Heaven is for Real.”  I had seen the father and son interviewed by Katie Couric, and my Grandmother and I talked about this book and about Heaven.  My Grandmother said that God was telling her not to be afraid, that He would be with her helping her step from one life to the next.

I think that my Grandmother showed great bravery, just as her mother did when she left her home and crossed an ocean looking for a better life.

Sometimes, the ones who go before us show us what faith looks like, so that when we need to step out in faith, we know how to do so.   If my great-grandmother had not stepped out in faith, and left Ireland, the rest of her family would not be experiencing the great blessings of living in the New World. 

My Grandmother did not know what awaited her on the other side of this life, but she believed that she would see Jesus, that she would be in His presence, and she was clinging onto this belief and sharing this faith with me.

My Grandmother was a woman of strong opinions and a strong will.   However, she trusted in Jesus to save her and to forgive her.   Jesus isn’t expecting us to be perfect before He accepts us, loves us and forgives us.  Jesus accepts us, just as we are.  That’s what my Grandmother has shown me.  So, I celebrate her life—I’m thankful for her life.

Happy Thanksgiving Everyone!!

** Photo Courtesy of David Pizzoferrato

Encouragement from Katie M. Reid, author of Made Like Martha

In some of my previous blogs, (The Gift of Laughter, and Grace is Unfair), I made references to the story of Mary and Martha in the Bible.  I am honored to present the thoughts of author, Katie M. Reid, on the story of Mary and Martha.  Katie Reid has written the book, Made Like Martha, and has some encouraging insights into this story.  I think she is really going to help us to understand God’s grace and love towards all of us as women, whether we are—Made like Martha or like Mary.  Katie is also the wife of Adam Reid, Head Pastor at Central Church, and the mother of 5 children!!

1. Why do you think the story of Mary and Martha in Luke 10 causes so many women to feel guilty? Since Jesus told Martha that she was worried and distracted and that her sister Mary had chosen what was better, we often feel guilty for being wired like Martha. We feel like Mary was the poster child for getting it right and that Martha was discounted because she was worried and distracted. In John 11:5 we see that Jesus loved Martha and her siblings. His correction wasn’t a scolding but an invitation to walk in freedom instead of fret. Many of us have tried to shed the skin of efficiency because we’ve misinterpreted this passage to mean there is something wrong with being made like Martha.

2. We usually assume that Jesus was criticizing Martha for working too hard. Would you say that is true? I don’t think Jesus was criticizing Martha’s work ethic here. In fact, unless He was going to multiply loaves and fish, fast from a meal, or have a late dinner, someone had to prepare the food. Instead, Jesus addressed Martha’s heart in Luke 10. He wasn’t asking her to stop being a doer, but He was reminding her that she was a daughter too. We assume that Jesus was asking Martha to sit down physically like Mary was, but what if He was inviting her soul to rest—even while she continued working? In John 12:2, we see that Martha is serving again, yet Jesus does not correct her this time. Here, Martha serves from a place of strength and peace instead of a place of striving and stress.

 3. What drew you to write a book about the story of Mary and Martha? What is unique about your interpretation of this story? If Martha had a fan club, I would be president of it. I so relate to Martha and her ultraresponsible ways. For years, this passage in Luke 10 bothered me. If nobody works, nobody eats, right? I really wanted Jesus to tell Mary to get up and help her sister out. But upon closer examination, I realized how much Jesus loved Martha and wanted her to know that too. He wasn’t asking her to neglect her responsibilities but to trust Him to care for her. Made Like Martha is written for those who love checking things off their to-do lists and who may feel some angst when they read this account in Luke. It is written from the perspective of a doer for other doers (although Mary-types are enjoying it too…it is helping them understand their Martha-friends better).

4. You write in your book, Made Like Martha, that many of us assume that God is mad at us or disappointed in us. Why do you think that is? When you view the world through the lens of perfectionism, you often feel frustrated with yourself and others (and even God) for things not turning out like you want (or expect) them to. For almost forty years I felt like God was mad or disappointed in me. I was expecting myself to be flawless, which is completely unrealistic. It was a losing battle. BUT, God knew, because of our sin, that we could not attain perfection apart from His supernatural intervention. So God sent His unblemished and only Son to die for our sins (past, present, and future) and rise again. If we choose to believe in Jesus as Savior and confess Him as Lord, we are made clean; perfected, because of what Christ did on our behalf. For me, the healing came when I realized that Jesus satisfied God’s wrath for sin and that His love for me was not based on whether I succeeded or failed. If we are in Christ, our position in His heart is secure. He loves us…even when we are shortfused, whether or not we have a quiet time, even in the midst of tackling our to-do lists.

Thank you so much for your thoughts Katie Reid!!   You have blessed us with your insights!!

We are encouraged!!


In my last blog, Life is Hard and Unfair—not a very encouraging blog by the way—I was very sad about my niece suffering from cancer.  Sometimes when I read the Psalms, the author will start out extremely distressed about the circumstances of life, and then, at the end of the Psalm, the author is praising God, remembering who God is, remembering all the ways God has protected and provided and been a refuge in stormy times.

I kind of did that in “Life is Hard and Unfair“— I reminded us that Jesus has a new home free of pain and suffering for us, apart from this earthly home—but I did not encourage us in this earthly life. I think that kind of encouragement is so needed. In Psalms 27:13 it says, “I would have despaired, unless I had believed, that I would see the goodness of the Lord, in the land of the living.” In other words–if I did not have hope in this life on earth, that I would see God’s goodness, I would despair.

So—I’d like to tell a story—a story that I hope will help encourage.

In the year of our Lord, in 2000, I lost my dear, dear friend to breast cancer.  She found out she had cancer when she was pregnant with her 5th child.  She died 5 months after her 5th child was born. 

I was devastated, as were many other people.  My friend was funny and full of faith, and she was greatly missed.  She still is greatly missed, and she died over 19 years ago.  She knew God and when she died, she left this home for her heavenly home.  I know I will see her again in the next life, and that comforts me. But what about the family she left behind?

Her husband was and is full of faith.  He decided that he would stay home with their five children, one of whom was an infant.  God graciously provided for him to stay home with them, and then God also gave him another wife, four years after his first wife—my friend– died.   Then God gave him another job, to help provide for his family.

His second wife was and is an absolute treasure, kind, compassionate, giving, a hard worker, a friend to all who meet her.  She is a great wife and a fabulous mother and she has blessed her family and their church and community over and over again.

Here is one example of the Hand of God working: God brought together the daughter of my deceased friend and the daughter’s husband, (who grew up and lived in Alaska), through this connection with the daughter’s the daughter’s husband is her stepmother’s first cousin.   (I know–I’m trying not to use names, and hope I’m not confusing you too much with my pronouns and descriptions. 🙂 ) Would the two have ever met without this connection? – We will never know.  We know they did meet, and they now have 3 beautiful children.

This wonderful second wife was also the gifted, amazingly talented violin teacher to my daughter Julia—(read “Julia’s Gift” to find out more about this story)—who helped my daughter learn to play the violin and helped Julia’s heart to heal as well.  She also teaches many others on the violin and has been the conductor for a youth orchestra that she started.

When I look at this story, I am reminded that God has a plan, and God’s plan is so, so, so good.  God’s plan unfolds like a great tapestry.  From the topside, the tapestry is beautiful and majestic.  From the bottom side, it is a bit messy, threads may be hanging—it is not at all as beautiful as the topside.

Sometimes, we people are looking at life from the bottom side and it looks messy, we can’t see the pattern, and things look like they are happening without a reason.

However, sometimes, God gives us a glimpse of the topside, and it is an amazing sight.

I want to encourage you, that if you are in one of those times where things seem happenstance, and messy, and you are discouraged, to remember this story.  It is just one.  If you ask an older person of faith—they can give you so many more stories where God’s plan is so evident.   I promise you will find yourself looking up and praising God and remembering just Who He really is.   This story reminds me of the truth of God’s word—Romans 8:28:  For God causes all things to work together for good, to those who love God and are called according to His purpose.  And also:   Psalm 27:13-14:  I would have despaired unless I had believed that I would see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.  Wait on the Lord, be strong and let your heart take courage, wait on the Lord!!”

He knows what He is doing.  He has a plan.  We have the privilege of seeing it unfold!!

So Be Encouraged!!

P.S. Just tonight, my niece told us that the tests came back, and she is cancer free!! We are so, so happy!! Thank you God!! (See–just like a Psalm–I’m ending this writing in Praise!!)

Life is Hard and Unfair

Life is hard, and life is unfair.

Have you ever compared your life to someone else’s, and their life seems picture perfect—great marriage, great kids, great house, great jobs, great—everything.  Then a few years down the road, things have changed, life has hit, perhaps cancer, perhaps death, perhaps divorce, perhaps job loss, or house loss, or loss of any kind.

Life is no longer kind –and in fact life is hard and downright unfair.

I can tend to think when things go well in my life, that God really loves me, and when things are going badly, that God doesn’t love me.

Both thoughts are not true.  The Bible tells us that sometimes, evil people have a great life, and that sometimes, righteous people suffer.

And I want to know:  why? 

When our son died, I wanted to know, why?  Did we somehow do something terrible—did we somehow deserve this?  Did we not have enough faith?   Is there something we could have done to prevent or control Sean’s death from happening?

Right now, my niece is battling cancer.  She has six children, the youngest is still a baby.  We cry out to God to heal her, to make her whole, to keep her here on this earth to raise her children.   Why, we ask? Why her?

We probably each have our own “why’s” for ourselves or our loved ones.

If you are wondering if I am going to answer these questions, the “why’s”, I am not.

I don’t have all the answers or even some of them.  I do know that I have stopped asking “Why me?”  and started asking, “Why not me?”   Why do I think that somehow, I should be exempt from the suffering and hardships of life?  Why do I think that I am entitled to a pain free life?

Jesus went to the cross to save us from ourselves—from the consequences that we have each earned for our sin.  That means we now know the Eternal One—– eternally.  This life is not all there is.  There is another life after this one.  One where sin and sin natures are not allowed to enter—where evil is not allowed to enter—so pain, suffering, heartbreak, trauma and tragedy are not allowed to enter. 

However, all those things are in this life—sin, sin natures, evil, pain, sickness, heartbreak, and death.  So, there will be suffering—not for just some, but for all.  Anyone who tells you differently, is selling you something.  The Bible never says that.  Instead—Jesus tells us, “In this world you will have tribulations, but be of good cheer, for I have overcome this world.”  He has overcome this world—He has overcome the pain, the suffering, the unfairness, the hardness, the evil of this world.

What does that mean?  It means He is with us, He is for us, He is dwelling among us.  He loves us.  Nothing will separate us from the love He has for us—not death, not this difficult life, not evil, nothing, nothing, nothing will separate us from Him!!   (Romans 8:28-30)

So Be Encouraged!!

October 21, 2019

This is the Ten Year Anniversary of my Dad’s Passing. I would like to share a Christmas Letter, I wrote almost 10 years ago in honor of my Dad.

Dear Family and Friends, Christmas 2009
This year, my siblings and I lost our Dad. Our mother lost her husband of 52 years. Many of you lost a brother, brother-in-law, uncle, Grandpa, cousin– a friend.
I’ve lived long enough to know that not all Dads were like mine. I was one of the lucky ones. I had a Dad who was involved and committed to his family: he loved his wife, children and grandkids. My Dad wasn’t one of the lucky ones. He overcame a very painful childhood. He wanted things to be different for his own family, and it was— in large part because of his faithful helpmate and soul mate—my dearest mother.
So many of my childhood memories involve my Dad doing things with us, taking us skating, sledding, camping, and swimming. When I was in High School I decided to join the track team– my Dad ran with me every day to get me in shape for the track season. My Dad was a great runner himself, and in many ways I think my Dad was trying to get me ready to run the race of life. We would run, and he would tell me stories, trying to impart his own passion and drive into my approach to running, into my approach to life.
It was my Uncle Jimmy, not my Dad, who told us the story of my Dad running in the State finals. He was the only white runner in the race. The other racers turned to him, and said, “Hey white boy, what are you doing in this race.” My Dad replied with a grin, “You’re about to find out”, and he went on to win the race.”
My brother Patrick summed it up so well, he said Dad has taught us and trained us in so many ways to live life. My brothers got to be with my Dad when he died, and Patrick said that Dad had one more lesson to teach them, he taught them how to die– he wrote the last chapter for them on how a life should be lived.
The biggest lesson my Dad taught me was to never give up. Our sins and failings may bring us down, but they don’t have to keep us down. My Dad was a man of faith; he learned to receive God’s forgiveness and extend it to others. This was not easy for him–sometimes the hardest person he had to forgive was himself.
The night that he died, I sensed my Dad’s presence, and he was so happy. My Dad came to say goodbye. He was finally going home—to his true home, he had finished his race, and he had finished it well.
Whenever I go to a funeral and see the body—I am struck with the fact that all of us are “living souls”. That is what the Bible calls us. It is so apparent to me that the soul of the person has passed on.
God is offering each of us “living souls” an eternal relationship with Him. He wants to give us the gift of His love and forgiveness. This is the true gift of Christmas— “The wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ, our Lord.” Romans 6:23 What we have earned is a spiritual death, because we have each sinned against God and each other. Instead of what we have earned, God desires to give us an eternal relationship with Him—Jesus’ death took away the penalty of that spiritual death and replaced it with life. But like any gift—it must be received for it to become truly ours.
In so many ways, my earthly father taught me this. I could never earn the love he freely gave me—but to experience that love, I had to receive it as the gift it was.

On another note–October 21st is my husband’s dad birthday!! I wrote about my husband’s dad in the blog titled September 23, 2013.

The biggest lesson, I have learned from both of these dads–is the lesson of forgiveness and perseverance. They both finished their races in life. They finished well. I think that is so encouraging, as it is a testimony of the faithfulness of God. We can be encouraged by those who have gone before us–for if God was faithful to them, He will be faithful to us!! (Philippians 1:6)

So Be Encouraged!!

Grace Is Unfair

Grace Is Unfair

Last week, in my blog, The Gift of Laughter, I referenced the story of Mary and Martha—and I received a comment on this story that got me to thinking about why this story was included in scripture. (In John 21: 25, it says: “Jesus did many other things as well. If every one of them were written down, I suppose that even the whole world would not have room for the books that would be written.”).  God inspired what scripture would be written. (2 Timothy 3:16)   I think God had a specific reason to include this story.

  It reminded me, of another story in scripture that is referred to as the Prodigal Son, found in Luke 15:11-32.  In The Prodigal son  story you have two siblings, one, (the older sibling) stays and helps his Father, and one, (the younger brother), took his inheritance, blew it on partying, than was poor and starving, so he comes crawling back to his Dad, and his Dad welcomes him profusely—throws him a big party, hugs and kisses him, and the older brother is thinking, “Wait a minute—I stayed, have worked faithfully for my Dad, and this loser gets the party—How is that fair?”  This is my paraphrase—for the exact translation, check out Luke 15.

In the case of Mary and Martha, (this story is found in Luke 10: 38-42), Jesus and his band of 12 disciples come to their home, (probably unexpectedly), but Martha knows her role—she know she is in charge of feeding 13 extra people, (and maybe more), as Jesus traveled with quite a group at times.  So, Martha starts bustling—it is all hands-on deck to feed the guests.  Middle Eastern/Asian culture was and is very hospitable, and guests must be treated to the best.  For example: just a week ago, my daughter and I went to the home of some friends, who are from Bangladesh, to borrow some items for a Geography Fair.  They were doing us a favor by loaning us their things—yet they treated us so beautifully, served us some refreshments, and talked so kindly to us. 

 Martha, (having been trained to serve food to guests), starts making food for Jesus and his disciples, and she expects her sister Mary to help.  Mary does not help.  She sits down and listens to Jesus.  How aggravating for Martha!!  In fact, Martha is so aggravated that she appeals to Jesus, as she is certain Jesus will agree with her—and then He does not! Wow!!

Which brings me the title of this blog – Grace is Unfair!!

I think all these stories were about Grace.  Grace is a gift that we receive that we don’t earn, and we don’t deserve.  When people receive a gift for free, those who thought they worked to earn that gift, and so deserve that gift are upset. Jesus’ people thought they had to work to earn God’s acceptance and approval.

Jesus was trying to teach His people, about GRACE. 

 Jesus’ people had laws and rules—given to them by God—and they thought that if they kept these laws, they were acceptable to God and approved of by God— Jesus is trying to teach them a new lesson.  Jesus is trying to tell them and us, “You can’t do enough to be acceptable to Me—for I am Holy.  You may think that you can be approved– by keeping all these laws, but you are not learning the lesson I wanted you to learn.  I want you to learn these laws are impossible for you human beings to keep perfectly. In fact– you keep breaking my laws and presenting sacrifices in order to be forgiven.  Now—I am going to be the Lamb of God—that takes away the sins of the world—the one and final sacrifice for your forgiveness.  This is GRACE, it is a gift from God, not because of your works, so that no one can come to Me and boast— (because I did this—or that)—I deserve a relationship with You.  A relationship with Me is a gift. (Ephesians 2:8,9)

 Jesus is trying to teach us about GRACE, by using these stories.  Martha is used as an example of how we can all try to do what we think Jesus expects us to do, but it may not be what He wants us to do at all. He wants us to rest in Him, enjoy our relationship with Him.  (Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden and I will give you REST.   Matthew 11:28)  Mary is an example of resting in Jesus, enjoying our relationship with Jesus.  This is the gift Jesus wants to give each of us.  Often, resting in Jesus, will mean, finding out what Jesus wants us to do, before we do it.  (Not making assumptions about what His expectations really are.)  For my story about how my husband and I did this—see: “The Gift of Hindsight.”)

In the Prodigal Son—The older son is used as an example of the person who is faithful, loyal, working for God/Dad, (the Dad is used as an example of who God is, in this story), and older brother thinks he has ‘earned’ his relationship with his Dad and ‘earned’ a reward.  The Dad tells him—”you did not have to work to ‘earn’ a relationship with me—you ‘are’ my son.  That is your position.  All these years, we have had fellowship with one another, working with each other, being with each other.  That has been our reward, that has been our gift.  Your brother was lost, he was not apart of our fellowship.  In fact, he was dead, and today, he has come back to life!!  This is worth celebrating!!  Celebrate this with me, my beloved son!!”—this is my paraphrase. J  Actually, the Dad in the story said, “Son, you have always been with me and everything I have is yours.   But we had to celebrate and be glad, because this brother of yours was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found!

So what about all these laws God has given us—in Galatians 5:18,22-23, it says— “If you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law……The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control, against these things there is no law.”   In other words, if God’s Spirit is leading you and producing these fruits in you—you are not under the law, because you will be living out all the things the law tried to help you do.  Jesus says all the law can be summed up in, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, mind, strength and soul and Love your neighbor as yourself.” (Matthew 22:36-40)

In other words—it’s all about Love—love for God, love for others.    So simple, so hard, Grace is so needed!!   And that’s Jesus’s message— “You all need Grace.  You all need Me.  You all need a Savior.  You all need The Spirit to lead and guide you.  I know what you need.  Just come to Me, and I will give you what you need.  You don’t have to do this on your own!!

If that isn’t something to Be Encouraged About—I don’t know what is!! 

So Be Encouraged!!

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. 

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. Click here.

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

The Gift of Grace

When I brought my firstborn home from the hospital, I taped a poster next to the changing table that had visual instructions of how to change a diaper, how to give a bath, how to take care of the umbilical cord.  For the next few weeks, every single time I had to do one of those things I would study that poster as if it held the secrets of the universe.

When my first born was a few months old, he stubbed his toe, jumping in a jumping chair.  I bawled my eyes out.  I was devastated with his little injury.

Forward 21 years—I was preparing to teach a class, (for a homeschool co-op), my husband was home from work, and Sean, our sixteen-year-old was leaving to go for a bike ride.  Sean wanted to be a bike racer, and frequently went on training bike rides. 

My husband is a first responder and firefighter and wears a pager.  We heard the pager go off about 15 minutes after Sean left for his training ride, stating that a bicyclist had been hit by a vehicle.  My husband knew it was where Sean was planning on riding, so he shot out of his chair, and was out the door, yelling, “Try to contact Sean on his cell phone.”   I called and called, sent message, after message.  Then I got a call from my husband. 

“It’s Sean.  Take the girls to Gail’s and meet me at the hospital.”  I called my friend, Gail and took the girls to her house.   I tried to reach our son who was with his track team.   I met my husband at the hospital and was told that Sean would be medevacked to Hurley in Flint.  I held Sean’s hand as they wheeled the stretcher to the helicopter.  I could have sworn, Sean was squeezing my hand as hard as I was squeezing his.  I kept repeating to Sean, “It’s Mom, I’m here with you, I’m here with you.”

My husband and I drove down to Flint from Mt. Pleasant.  As we did so, I called my mom who lived only 20 minutes away from Flint, asking her to go to the hospital, and to call my sister and brother-in-law who lived in Grand Blanc and ask them to go to the hospital as it would take us at least an hour and a half to get there.

During this entire time, a calmness descended upon me.  I was completely calm and at peace and an amazing strength descended upon me.  The calmness stayed as my friend Leah called and asked Rich if we  wanted her to drive the kids down, (by this time we had gotten a hold of our son with the track team and he was home), and without thinking, I just said— “yes, bring the kids down, have them prepared to spend the night, and yes, bring clothes for us.”  Then I told her where to find our necessities.  I was making decisions without wavering, without even thinking, again, it was as if Someone else was talking and walking through me. 

 Our eldest son and wife came from Monroe.  Family members started arriving.  Friends started to arrive.   Through it all, I remained by Sean’s side, thinking in my mind—I need to be with him as much as I possibly can, I might never get to be with him on this earth again.  I continually sang to him and touched him. 

People were wailing when we were told the news that Sean was brain dead.  I was calm.   I remained calm during the planning of the events—donating Sean’s organs, planning the visitation and memorial service.   I remained calm when I spoke at the memorial service.  I spoke, my husband spoke, and our children spoke—we were all calm.  When I look at the video—(a friend of ours took it and posted it on YouTube,—so people who weren’t able to get to the service could see the service),  I see again the Hand of God at work, there is no other way to explain the power and peace emanating from us.

This past year, I was describing this experience to some friends.  We were all talking about a time when we were brave, and I said, this was my time, but it wasn’t my braveness, as I felt like I was literally being picked up and carried.

 Sean went to a few local youth groups, and a youth pastor came to the hospital with his dad, who was the senior pastor, to pray with us.  The youth pastor did a sermon this past year that a friend sent me— in it he talked about how he would hope to respond the way I did if he were ever in a similar crisis.  When I heard him, I thought—but that wasn’t really me—that was God, carrying me.

I’ve had people tell me how strong I am.  I usually just nod my head.  Inside, I think, no, I’m not strong— I have been beset by anxiety and fear, that is God carrying me.

I remember reading the book, “The Hiding Place” by Corrie Ten Boom.  She was in a Nazi Concentration Camp.  She relayed a conversation she had with her father, when she was very young, wondering how she would be able to endure if she ever had to go through a difficult time.  Her dad told her that when they rode the train, he held onto her ticket until she needed it, then he gave it to her.  He said, that’s what God does with His grace.  He gives it to us when we need it, at the time we need it.

I have experienced this.  God gave me His grace, just when I really needed it.  He gave me His strength at the time I needed it. 

I sit here writing this, crying, feeling such pain.  I’ve been here before.  I’ll be here again—in a state of utter pain.  It still hurts to remember the events of that week. 

However, when I remember, I remember being in that state of grace, where I was wrapped in the presence of God, the One who has promised to never leave.  Hebrews 13:5   He now holds my Sean, and death does not hold Sean.  Our Lord has overcome death and sin.  1 Corinthians 15:57

I am encouraged when I remember these things. I am encouraged, knowing that when I need His grace, He will be there, He will show up.  He has promised this grace to us.  He has said, “….My Grace is sufficient for you….”  2 Corinthians 12:9   I am here to say, “Yes, during the worst times of your life—His Grace is enough.  He is enough.”   So—Be Encouraged!!