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Everything Changed

Stuffed Silly CeCe    My 13 year old daughter, Secilya, is a budding young writer and wanted to share her experience and perspective on that awful day we lost our beloved James. She’s a precious young lady and I praise Father God for blessing me with her (and her sisters and brothers) every single day.

Everything Changed

By Secilya 

Have you ever had one of those days? One where if you had done something different, something would not have happened? This was one of those days; One that turned my whole world upside down.

I woke up on July 4th 2009 feeling excited about that day. My family was coming over for the Fourth to swim with us and set off fireworks and have a good time. I put on my swimsuit and ran into the kitchen to eat breakfast. “Secilya it’s a little early to be wearing your swimsuit.” I looked up to see mom holding my baby sister Darbie. I smiled and ate my breakfast a little slower so as to avoid choking. My sister Ellie and my brother James walked in wearing their swimsuits and sat down with me. As soon as we finished we ran outside so we would be hot and the water would feel welcoming to us. Have you ever been to Mississippi in the middle of the summer? It feels like you’re a chicken being cooked rotisserie style. When we went outside we looked next door and saw our dad and Papa Hal fixing the fence around the pool. I think the sound could have been heard miles away. But it did not bother us. We climbed onto the trampoline and jumped for awhile. Dad came back and began to barbecue some burgers. After about a few minutes, mom came out with Darbie and began walking next door.
“Race you!” Ellie said and all three of us began running. We walked inside the house and grabbed everything we could carry. This included goggles, sinking toys, floaties, and one of those mattresses that float. The water was dark and murky because the pool had been drained a few days ago because it was being converted to salt water and we use well water. We through our things into the pool and jumped! I helped Ellie and James put their water wings on and they helped me with mine. (Yes. I was nine and didn’t know how to swim.) While we swam our Papa Hal and Hebert continued to fix the fence. Our cousins, Andrew, Jean and Bubba where swimming with us. After awhile I had to use the bathroom. Before I ran inside I told James to stop running around the pool. “Okay!” He said in his cute and squeaky voice.
Do you remember what I said before? How if you had done something different everything might have changed? Thinking back on it, I wish that I had waited a few more minutes before leaving the pool.
When I came back something felt wrong, though I could not tell what. I stood there, looking around trying to find what was out of place. The dog was running around, Ellie and my cousins were still swimming and the fence was still being worked on. Then it hit me. Like someone had punched me in the gut as hard as they could. Where was James? I dismissed the worry and told myself that he must have gone inside without me noticing. I got back in the pool. I swam around for a few minutes when I heard mom scream “Where is James?” I began to worry and ran inside hoping to find my five year old brother.

But I didn’t. I thought for a minute. Maybe he went next door. I ran as fast as I could next door where my dad was barbecuing. “Did James come over here?” I asked as I gasped for breath. “No.” This time my heart began to race. I turned to see Ellie and Andrew walking over. “He’s not here!” I shouted. My dad began running leaving our lunch un-attended. I was running next door when somewhere in the back of my mind I heard a voice say “You know where he is.” When I approached the house, I could see through a hole in the fence, Hebert coming out of the pool holding a lifeless body. “Oh, no.” I said.

My dad pushed me inside the house where the other children were. He was calling an ambulance. The police arrived within minutes. James was put in the ambulance and mom rode with him. Dad got in his car and followed them. I sat down in a chair and began to cry. No one noticed me and I was kind of glad. I didn’t want to talk. I just wanted to cry. After a while I felt a little better. I sat down to eat some watermelon. It was about three in the afternoon and all I had eaten was eggs that morning. About half way through my grandmother pulled up. She walked inside and told us to get dressed. She was mad because dad had left us at home instead of bringing us to the hospital. I didn’t want to go but I went anyway. While we were in the car, my grandmother (who I call Maga) told us that James was airlifted to the children’s hospital in Jackson.

When we got to the hospital I saw my dad sitting there with his parents. Noni and Papa Hal. I sat down and waited for what seemed like years. My mom came out of the room where they had James and said we could go see him. I will never forget what I saw. A little boy with tubes coming out of him, his skin had a yellow color. He didn’t look like James. Beside him he had a toy ambulance that had lights that flashed. I wanted to cry but decided not to. I had to be strong, for James. I began telling him about him flying in a helicopter. He always wanted to fly in one.

After a few minutes, I walked back to the waiting room. The doctors whisked James away to another room and mom followed. Nana and Pappy (Mom’s dad and her stepmother) came from North Carolina to the hospital. I don’t remember much except that they took us to a movie, Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs. We had been at home for two days, when mom and dad came home. I walked outside and saw Maga sitting in the rocking chair crying. I was confused. Where was James? Mom and Dad called me and Ellie and asked us to walk with them. As we listened to them talk I began to realize what was wrong. I let out a scream and began to cry profusely. James Timothy died July 7th 2009.
For the next few days, mom and dad began to look around cemeteries for a place where they could bury James. I was at home with Ellie making lunch when they came home. Dad took me to a mall in Monroe to pick out dresses for me and Ellie. I picked brown ones with pink accents. My cousins Josh and Julia came from Baton Rouge, along with the rest of their family. I manly stayed with my best friend Abye and her family. After awhile we buried James. We didn’t stay long; mom couldn’t take anymore and climbed in the van with Darbie. Ellie, Daddy and I climbed in and buckled up. I began to cry hard on my Mother’s lap. She comforted me the best she could. Before we left I spoke to God in my mind. “I hate you. You could have saved him and you didn’t. I will never forgive you”

I bet you’re thinking “That’s the end of it, Right?” Wrong.

On July 20th (My birthday) My Great-Grandfather died. Then eight days later, we had just gotten lunch at Wendy’s and were driving home. I was in the back seat with Darbie and I dropped my toy. As I reached to grab it I heard mom scream” LOOK OUT!” I looked up in time to watch our van collide with a dark blur. The impact knocked me out but I could still hear what was happening. We were in a ditch. At first everything was fine and I sat there until I felt something drip on my leg. It made me open my eyes and see a red liquid on my leg. Blood was splattered on Darbie’s car seat. I reached up and felt the blood flowing from my nose. My mom got out of the van with napkins and held them to stop the blood flow. After a few minutes an ambulance arrived. They placed a collar around my neck and laid me on a stretcher. I was rushed to the hospital and changed into one of those nightgown thingies. I was placed in a large machine and was instructed to hold my breath for insane amounts of time. Then I went home. I found out that I had shattered my nose and needed surgery to fix it.

Crazy, huh? I bet you’re wondering how I fixed my relationship with God. Well the truth is; I didn’t, at least not for awhile. About a month or so had passed. My nose was fixed and everything was fine, except I felt funny. I expected to feel funny after everything that had happened, but it was more like a longing. I realized that I had not prayed since James had died. My spirit wanted to but my heart was still grieving and still angry. I didn’t plan to go back to God until I heard a song playing on my radio. I bought wow Hits 2009 for my birthday. One of the songs was I wanna set the world on fire, by Britt Nicole. I woke up in the middle of the night and heard that song. Well actually, I was dreaming I was being chased by a T-Rex in a baseball park and I ran in a building where the seat glowed purple and made noise when you touched them. I heard that song playing and something about it made me snap; Like waking up from a strange dream. The fact that she loved God so much as to want to give everything she had to show her love for him made me realize that God loved me as much as he loved James. I sat on my bed and began to pray. I asked for forgiveness for turning away from God, and you know what? I saw James in my dream that very night.

I’m not sure how it all works, but I know it was really James. We played together and we had so much fun! When I woke up, I felt like I got to finally say goodbye to James and I knew he loved me as much as I loved him. I knew deep inside that there were more things to come for me and for James, and that I had to continue to trust God. Maybe I won’t always understand things and maybe they won’t always feel good, but God always has the best plan and I’m so glad I’ve learned to trust Him again.

Headstone 2011

 “How many kids do you have?”

It’s a common question asked between adults in all walks of life and it seems to be an innocent, generic and non-invasive conversation starter when you find yourself interacting with someone you don’t know very well. For the grieving parent though, this is one of the most horrifying and, to say the least, awkward questions we will be asked for the rest of our lives. Instantly we’re pinned between equally overwhelming desires – to recognize our child who has passed and keep them alive by keeping their memory fresh and to not expose intimate details of our private lives with every stranger who happens to cross our path.

There are several options you can choose from and no one way is right or wrong; there’s only what’s right or wrong for the individual parent. I’ve even found that each interaction might find a different option that feels right in the moment.

1. Spill the beans. Tell them everything; every detail of the events that lead up to, during and after your child’s passing. Sometimes you just have to let it all out.

2. Tip of the iceberg. Tell them you have a child who has passed on, but gloss over it as quickly as possible. You’re not looking for sympathy, but you just can’t leave it out altogether.

3. Concealed in the counting. Another option is to simply rattle off the number of children you’ve given birth to and an account of their current ages, including the age your child would have been if their Earthly journey had continued. Only you know and it still gives honor and recognition to your child.

4. Out of sight, out of mind. For some, it’s just too painful to mention their child at all. They mention the children who have survived or, in the case of only children, simply say they have no children at all. For some, this is less painful than recognizing the existence of the departed child. Or, maybe the situation simply calls for discussion of living children only for technical reasons.

This summer will mark four years since our sweet James Timothy left our home for his heavenly home, following a drowning accident in July 2009. Just a few weeks ago I found myself in group of unfamiliar faces, making small talk, and being asked how many children I had at home and their genders and ages. I hadn’t anticipated this moment and hadn’t prepared myself to give an answer. Before I knew it, I was awkwardly fumbling my words and tripping over sudden uprising emotions. As a parent of a heavenly resident, you might mention your departed child because you simply enjoy talking about them; it keeps them alive and active in your heart in your family. Talking about our passed on children helps their siblings remember them or, in some cases, get to know them. More often than not, we’re not looking for sympathy when we mention our child is no longer with us. We just want you to know they exist.

However, sometimes social situations are so casual that you might not feel right in weighing down the lighthearted conversation with such a heavy topic. Most of the time, people are just making conversation. They’re not trying to get to know you or share a connection. They’re just trying to pass the time. You may see these people very rarely or never again. In that moment, you find yourself having to feel the heaviness of each possible response and measure it against the weight of the conversation and situation. You want people to know your child exists, but you also don’t want to drag down an otherwise pleasant exchange with the burden of your revelation.

So the next time you’re talking to a random person and they seem to fumble awkwardly over such a simple question as, “How many kids do you have?” – Consider that may be a very cumbersome question for some people and forgive them while they adjust the weight.

Love Your Neighbor

Of all the commandments given to us by Our Father, they all can be summed up into one, two-part commandment – Love{agape} God with all your heart, all your soul and all your mind and love{agape} your neighbor as yourself. {Matthew 22:36-40}

Who is our neighbor? Neighbor has two very broad definitions – it can either mean someone who lives near you or it can simply imply ‘your fellow man’. It’s safe to say that God expects us to love all people because He made all people and He is love and expects us to be conduits of His Love.

Have you ever noticed that, in most cases, it’s really easy to be patient, gentle, kind and loving to complete strangers? You offer a smile, a wave, a friendly word to the cashier, bank teller or barista and most of the time it’s not even difficult. Wow, so this ‘love your neighbor’ thing must be pretty easy then huh? 

What about your friends? Are you gentle and kind with them? What about your very best friend? Do you ever find yourself ‘getting comfortable’ in that friendship and not always putting your best foot forward, letting your hair down and letting how you really feel come out because, if we can’t be ‘real’ with our friends then who? What about your family? How ‘real’ do you get with them? When you interact with your parents, siblings, spouses and children, do they see how you ‘really’ feel? Is that an expression of God’s love; or an outlet for the anger, frustration, disappointment and failure to flow? How do you respond when your husband doesn’t pick up the milk you asked him to pick up on his way home from work? If your child brings home an ‘F’ or refuses to clean their room, what’s your reaction? Of course you should correct your child or communicate disappointment to your husband, but those messages should not be laced with poison either. Does God correct us with a little bit of poison in His love? NO! What if your lunch order is wrong and you have to take it back? How many times have you screamed at the cook and called them lazy, stupid or good for nothing? I hope most of us are answering that we’ve never acted that way in public, but I’m sure there’s more of us than we’d ever admit that have reacted this way to our spouses, children or other close loved ones. Have you ever wondered why you treat total strangers with love and respect but find yourself venomous at times with your immediate family?

What if ‘love your neighbor’ means, first and foremost, to learn how to express God’s Love {agape} to our immediate family, living in our home? Maybe our first priority in this life is to simply walk in love with our parents, siblings, spouses and children in that gentle Godly way, regardless of the expectations we had that we perceive they’ve failed at, how unfair we’re being treated by them, how heavy the burden is to love and care for them or how hot their tempers are?

Why should strangers get our very best but the people who we love the most, who love us the most and will be in our lives for our entire journeys (hopefully) get the bottom of the barrel? Why? Possibly because we have yet to ‘be real’ with God about our behavior and ask Him to fill us in those deepest places with His love. We need to pursue with a passion to ‘Seek first the Kingdom of God’ so that ‘all these things’ – the fruits of the Spirit {Galatians 5:22}, reflections of God’s Agape Love {1 Corinthians 13: 4-8} will radiate from us like a beacon in the dark! Women need to ask God to mold us into a Proverbs 31 woman so our worth will be ‘above rubies’ and evident to all and men need to pursue to be made into the examples set forth in 1 Timothy 3 and the book of Titus. When we received salvation, it meant more than a ticket to heaven. These are the qualities, characteristics and life-preservers salvation gives us in this earthly life. We must go to God and ask Him to ‘work out’ {Philippians 2:12-13} the salvation that He put in us so that the fruits of His Spirit will shine and our gentleness will be evident to all! {Philippians 4:5} Yes, we are absolutely called to be a light to the world and to Love every human with the Agape Love of God – but first and foremost I believe we’re called to Agape Love our immediate family. They are our training ground for the rest of the world – if we fail at home, how can we succeed in the world? If we can’t seek God’s face and ask for His reaction to be ‘our’ reactions in the face of the harshest treatment from the people we love the most, how can we really expect to be a genuine and sincere example of God’s Agape Love to the rest of the world?

 

 

 

 

Every year, kids around the world reach an age where they want to know the truth about SANTA; and soon they also reach an age where they are ready to know the inside story about Christmas. It seems you’ve been growing up, showing responsibility and maturity, so now you’re ready for the whole story!

No one knows for sure how Christmas began, or why. Oh, there are those out there that will insist they know – they’ll tell you they read a book or that someone told them a story so now they know the beginning. The truth is, Christmas began thousands of years ago, long before anyone alive today –

Or even   their great – great grandparents! Books have been written since the beginning of time but only one book to we trust to be pure and perfect truth; the Bible. Every other book is written from the perspective of the author, not necessarily the perspective of truth. Some people believe Christmas began to celebrate Baby Jesus’ birthday. Others believe Christmas is a time to worship pagan gods of the sun and winter solstice. Still, others believe it started out pagan, but Christians adapted it to be about Baby Jesus. The truth is, Jesus was born during The Feast of Tabernacles during Rosh Hashanah, which happens in the September – October area. Rosh Hashanah began thousands of years before Baby Jesus was born and the Jews were already celebrating that Feast time of Harvest. Christmas is a time to celebrate all the things given to us with the birth of Christ – redemption, salvation and restoration. Whether Christmas began before the pagan’s began to worship winter, or as a way to counter them, there’s only one thing that matters – Christmas is an opportunity to be a beautiful example of everything Jesus gave us through his life and death.

 

“So whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.” – 1 Corinthians 10:31

 

Jesus died to unlock the doors of heaven, releasing God’s Blessings on the entire Earth, if we so choose to open our hearts   and receive it. Those open doors allow our prayers to flow freely and be heard by God Almighty, helped along only by His Holy Spirit.  Jesus said that if we love Him, we will take care of widows and orphans – people too poor and unable to take care of themselves. We should give freely of everything we have to give to care for those who cannot care of themselves; because we are loved by God and He provides more than enough for our own needs, we can allow His love and blessings flow through us, to them. Now let’s fast forward a few thousand years or so to a kind and good man who would come to be called, Saint Nicholas. None of the ancient writings agree on where Saint Nicholas came from, what great things he did or when he lived, exactly.  We know that in every culture for many centuries, there has been a legend of a Saint Nicholas who worked miracles and gave gifts, always in secret. The Bible says:

 

“Watch out! Don’t do your good deeds publicly, to be admired by others, for you will lose the reward from your Father in heaven.” – Matthew 6:1

“When you give to someone in need, don’t do as the hypocrites do–blowing trumpets in the synagogues and streets to call attention to their acts of charity! I tell you the truth, they have received all the reward they will ever get.” – Matthew 6:2

“But when you give to someone in need, don’t let your left hand know what your right hand is doing.” – Matthew 6:3

“Give your gifts in private, and your Father, who sees everything, will reward you.” – Matthew 6:4

 

Regardless of when or where Saint Nicholas lived, his secret expressions of God’s Love impacted the world so deeply, that we continue those traditions even today. Over time, those traditions have evolved. Satan saw the opportunity to create greed in the hearts of the recipients so they would never be satisfied with whatever gifts they were given. At first, gifts were only exchanged secretly with orphans and poor children, like Saint Nicholas did, and this created jealousy in the hearts of the children of the wealthy. Soon the stories of Saint Nicholas and his charitable gifts of compassion were embellished more with every telling and eventually he came to be called, Santa Claus. Toymakers, with hearts full of greed and strife invented Santa Claus and encouraged children to beg their parents, and Santa, to give them more and more gifts because it made the toymakers a lot of money. Eventually people forgot about the Love of God Saint Nicholas worked so hard to express – the true Joy of Christmas. People are forgetting to help the poor, orphans and widows. They forget that a true GIFT is one given in secret.

 

That’s why you’ve been recruited to keep the Joy in Christmas. It’s up to those who know the truth to live out loud and put God’s Love in action, for God’s glory only, and not our own. We can remember what Jesus asked us to do, what Saint Nicholas did, and what SANTA could mean, if we keep the true meaning in our hearts.

 

SANTASpiritual Awareness Nourished Through Anonymity

 

How could S.A.N.T.A. teach us to be spiritually aware? Often times, we start in January keeping an eye on the special people in our lives, getting an idea of what their deepest needs and desires are, in order to get them a wonderful gift next Christmas. It is an act of God’s Love to think of others and how to bless them! That’s a wonderful seed that God’s Holy Spirit can Nourish and grow into an Awareness of the needs of many people in your community or around the world and become aware of the many opportunities available  all year long to give of yourself or other resources to express God’s Love all the time, Anonymously.

 

God Bless Y’all! Merry Christmas!

Prayer effects generationsIt couldn’t have been a more perfect day if I had created it myself. The sky was clear blue, the clouds fluffy white.  Green trees jumped out in stark contrast to the picturesque blue sky but were dwarfed by the skyscrapers from a big city that teased the horizon. Wind blew my hair into my face and I remember the welcomed chill it brought my sun drenched skin as I pushed my daughter in a swing. My daughter, I suddenly noticed, was very beautiful and growing too quickly as children tend to do. She was eleven now and but wanting me to push her in the swing. I wanted to protest an argument that she was too old but something in the distance caught my attention instead. When I raised my hand to shield my eyes from the harsh sun something new was in the sky to match the distant hum. My eyes tried hard to focus, both from practicality and disbelief. Were those old war planes flying through the giant city in the not-so-distant distance? All around me parents who had just been enjoying serenity with their children in a peaceful park began to scatter like ants, screaming hysterically. I looked up again at these foreign objects, these planes that appeared to be from WW2, and noticed that now bombs had begun to fall to the ground, shaking the very earth with every impact and obliterating this quintessentially perfect day. Frantically, my eyes searched for any plan of escape. Deep inside, in my heart of hearts, I had a sense of certain doom. I knew that there was no escape, that no plan would work and without a doubt we were going to die. That’s when an elevator shaft, for lack of a better term, came straight up from underground, almost directly beneath me. Instantly other park-goers began to fill the tiny capsule and I ran to claim a space for myself and my daughter, still knowing this plan wasn’t going to help us any but knowing I couldn’t do ‘nothing’.  As the elevator doors began to close, fingers appeared inside the disappearing opening, wrapping around the door and effortlessly opening them again.  An eerie sense of peace and calm filled the air and it’s possible that “time froze” because no one else seemed to notice this new person or move in any way. Standing in front of me was a handsome yet average looking man in blue jeans and a plaid shirt. As I took in his general appearance I was surprised to see a giant pair of wings behind him that were so white they were almost transparent or perhaps the color of pearls. He caught my eyes with his and held them in his command before he said boldly, quickly and matter-of-factly, “Meshele, this is the beginning of The End. You better get right with God.”

In the distance the sound of bombs impacting the earth began to morph into a less of a jolting sensation and more of an annoying ringing sound. It pierced the air like an air raid siren that had been neutered, “Ring, Ring, Ring. —  Ring, Ring, Ring. —  Ring, Ring, Ring. —  Ring, Ring, Ring. —  “

As I began to come out of this deep sleep I still couldn’t separate dream from reality. The only thing I was sure of is the emasculated air raid siren was reality and it was somewhere in my house! I checked the radio in my bedroom, but the power was off. What about the alarm clock? No, it was never set. It must be the TV then. Someone must’ve left it on all night. I attempted to make my way down my small apartment hall but still couldn’t comprehend if I was still dreaming or if I was, in fact, really walking down my hall. Relentlessly the ringing continued, but the TV proved innocent since it was turned off as well. Finally I found the direction the ringing was coming from: The kitchen! Sleepily I made my way there and found the ringing between the microwave and the fridge – The Phone! By now I was beginning to get an inkling that I might be awake but it would still take some convincing. When I answered the phone though, what I heard didn’t give me much to work with.

“They’ve bombed the Pentagon! They’ve bombed the World Trade Center! They have attacked us! America is at war! Turn on your TV!” It was my mother calling from five states and one time zone away, unaware I had been enjoying a rare morning of sleeping late. I turned on my TV and on every channel were the images that are seared into the hearts and minds of every true Patriot, to this day even ten years later. It was September 11, 2001. As the reality began to set in and separate from the dream, I began to tremble and cry. I told my mom, “I just dreamed this! I just dreamed this!” It was more than I could handle. I had never had an experience like this before, in fact you might call my life almost ‘spiritually uneventful’ up until that point (and sadly for far too long after the point as well.) I was no one. I AM no one. I’ve never done anything that anyone could even sugar coat to imply that I had done anything to further God’s Kingdom or even help humanity. I was a young girl, married to the wrong man whom was NOT a man of God to say the least, had a one year old and a baby on the way. I was too busy trying to figure out my own life and why it wasn’t working to pay much attention to God or ‘His People’.  The only thing I had going for me is a promise God made my mother when I was a newborn. She promised to teach me about Him the best she could if He promised I would make it to heaven. Ultimately, that’s all she wanted for me and she made sure that promise was ‘sealed by the Blood of Jesus’ before I was even weaned. I grew up to make a lot of horrible choices and I wound up down some pretty dark paths, even after this dream, but that promise surrounded me like a cloak. God lead me out in His perfect time (and when I learned to allow Him to take the lead). Pray over your children. It makes all the difference in the world.

All we need is Jesus and His Grace, NOT LAW. We’ve had some rough times in our journey on this Earth but there are harder times still ahead. God wants us to know that He will always protect, regardless of what the circumstances and evidence try to prove to us. He also wants us to know that He promised this evil would not thrive infinitely on the Earth and that He would put a stop to it one day, in His perfect time, and that day is drawing near. It’s time to put away whatever guilt or condemnation you feel and embrace acceptance. The Bible is full of imperfect people, people who had affairs, lied, stole and murdered, who were embraced, accepted, loved and forgiven. God’s about heart modification – not behavior modification! The Law has been fulfilled by Christ and there’s no need to earn your place before God! Just accept His love and forgiveness. When thoughts come into your mind that tell you that you are disqualified from God or a hypocrite, remind yourself those are lies and that you are loved, accepted, forgiven and that God ENJOYS conversation with YOU!

Be loved!

Brave enough to hope?

No one has ever accused me of being any kind of math whiz but even I know that you can’t get something from nothing.  If you hope for nothing, faith will produce nothing.  Faith is the evidence of things hoped for. 

What is hope, after all? When we think of hope we think of a feeling more akin to wishing than believing. You might say, “I hope I get a better job.” but inside you have a feeling of uncertainty. Immediately your mind begins to list all the evidence to support your insecurities such as, “The economy is bad. The job market is weak. I’m too young. I don’t have education or experience. I’m too old. I’m very slow and on my way out.”

There’s not much hope at all in that, is there? This is not what the Bible means when it promises you that ‘hope will never disappoint.’

In 1Corithinans 13: 13 it says “These three remain: faith, hope and love but the greatest of these is love.”  God is Love, Faith is the evidence of things hoped for and hope is a joyful, confident, expectation of good. You can have faith and have no good fruit produced if you are not hoping for anything good. Worldly hope is not Bible hope! It doesn’t matter what the evidence against your hope is, GOD is faithful to provide! When God told Abraham he would be a father in his old age and once he finally received that prophesy from God, the Bible says Abraham “hoped against hope!” He had a joyful, confident expectation of good in his life against his doubt and insecurity and his faith is what produced the evidence of that hope:  Isaac.  

Imagine you’re making a loaf of bread. You mix all the ingredients together in a bowl and knead the dough and it’s ready to go into your pre-heated oven. If you leave it on the counter it will continue to rise but eventually it will collapse and dry out. Your oven is pre-heated, working and ready for baking but if you never put the dough into the oven it will never become bread. The ingredients are the desires of your heart; the good things you want to see happening in your life.  The kneaded dough is your hope; your joyful, confident expectation of good.  You may have a wonderful batter and hardy dough but without the oven there will still be no bread. The oven is your faith; however hot your oven is represents how strongly you believe that God is a GOOD God. It can be red hot and ready to go but without any dough there will still be no bread.  Sometimes it takes a lot of courage but if we’re brave enough to put our dough in the oven, risk getting burned but hoping against hope anyway, we’ll have a beautiful loaf of bread! Somewhere along the way we realize there’s a timer on the oven that keeps the bread from getting burned; a Bible promise in Rom 5:5 (NKJV) – Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us.

The bread represents Jesus Christ. John 6:35(NKJV) – And Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life. He who comes to Me shall never hunger, and he who believes in Me shall never thirst.” When we take communion we discern the bread to represent Jesus’ body. In Hebrew the town of Bethlehem, where Jesus was born, translates ‘House of Bread’. When we are ‘hungry’ and we seek the Bread of Life, we are ‘seeking first the Kingdom of God’ and part of the many ‘things that will be added to you’ are the ingredients, the dough and the oven, just to name very few.

Ask and it will be given; Seek and you will find; Knock and the door will open! “

Ask continually, persistently, without ever stopping! NAG GOD with a heart of Thanksgiving (there’s a trick for ya!)

Every mother knows that if a small child has gone more than 45 minutes without a snack they behave as if it’s been three days since they’ve had a crumb! They’re at your feet begging for something to eat. The Bible mentions several times to come to God like little Children, not with a whimper or a wine, but with the boldness to ASK for some bread when you’re hungry, the courage to hope and put the dough in the oven and the determination to not give up until the timer goes off and you’ve got it!

July 28, 2009

What Satan means for evil God turns to Good!

Today marks another major event in the nightmare that we lived the entire month of July 2009. We spent July 4 – July 7, 2009 at the PICU at University of Mississippi Medical Center after James’ drowning accident. Those few days felt like months.  On July 11 our families’ gathered to lay sweet James to rest, say our goodbye’s and begin to learn how to move forward.  James’ oldest sister turned 9 without him that year on July 20 and in the wee hours of that morning my grandfather passed away after many years of battling illness.  It’s just like Satan to ‘hit you while your down’ and on July 28, 2009 he tried to do just that. He saw already that his plan to destroy us by taking our five year old son wasn’t going to diminish our faith in Daddy God. This time God gave me a dream.

In the dream I answered a knock at the front door to find two police officers.  I don’t remember what they were saying but they pointed ‘down the road’ from our house. Suddenly it was as if I was a bird and I sort of flew to where they were pointing. About a mile down our country road there is an intersection between some fields. At that time where was heavy construction taking place and semi trucks were constantly traveling back and forth. All I could see was one of these trucks as if it had been pulling out from the dirt road of this field and I assume it collided with my husband’s work truck. What I saw was my husband lying on the pavement, no medical personnel around him, only police officers. I assume he was dead because he laid there so still and I began to scream, “God I can’t do this! I can’t lose this much! Please don’t do this to me!”  I’m not sure entirely what my words were but these were the gist. That’s when I woke up. The air in my lungs seemed to have turned to stone even after I was awake. I couldn’t stop crying. I have nightmares all the time and this was nothing like a regular nightmare. If you’ve ever had a spiritual dream you understand how the lines between dream and reality have lost their definition even hours after waking.  It had to be three in the morning but there was no way I could sleep. I paced the house and I prayed for God’s protection and peace. I took authority over Satan, death and every weapon that he may attempt to throw at me and reminded him that we are Children of God and his tricks had no place in our lives. Within an hour, maybe less, I felt complete peace and I was able to go back to sleep.  To me, the ability to have peace and go back to sleep is evidence of God’s mighty work at play in our lives.  

When I woke up I had forgotten entirely about the dream. I sent my husband off to work like any other day and never thought twice about it. Oddly, he called mid morning to say that he was done working for the day and would be coming home. After he got here we decided to run some errands and take advantage of his free time. Later that afternoon we were traveling down the highway and we were nowhere near an intersection but a driver in the other lanes suddenly decided to make a left turn. He never merged into the turn lane, put on his turn signal or gave any indication he expected to turn – he was simply driving straight and then suddenly in front of us.  Later he would never give an explanation of why he suddenly decided to turn in front of us. I was 15 weeks pregnant and our three other children were with us as well. Our oldest child was wearing her shoulder belt improperly so she hit the seat in front of her that had a plastic handle on it – it shattered her nose. We all went to the emergency room and praise God alone, no one else was injured. It was on that day during the ultrasound exam to be sure the baby I was carrying was fine that the sweet ultra sound tech told me indeed we were having a boy! We had all girls except for James and we had prayed on Mother’s day, the day I found out I was pregnant again, for a brother for James.  It was an amazing moment for me to learn I would, indeed, have the brother James had prayed for; the brother he professed he would play with every night at bed time; the brother he prophesied the Angel of God had told him would be named John.  

It may be hard to believe but I never thought about that dream until several days or even a week after the accident.  When I did remember it, it sent chills down my spine. I knew without a shadow of a doubt that Satan meant for much more to take place – not just that day but when he took James as well. It gives me great pleasure to dwell in the secret place of the most high, abide in the shadow of the Almighty and to dance in the victory my Daddy God already accomplished for us! It’s only because Daddy God is a wonderful God and because he LOVES me, my husband and my children that we can hold our heads high and walk in victory!

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