Sunday, August 31, 2008

A Week and a Snippet

I hope everyone is having a fantastic Labor Day weekend! I wanted to remind everyone that you have ONE WEEK left to get your nominations in for my "What a Difference You've Made in My Life" contest. Don't miss your chance to honor the male and female that has profoundly impacted your life. I have had some incredible nominations that have deeply touched my heart and I thank you for sharing. Next Sunday I will put all of the nominations I've received in a "hat" and draw one male and one female to be honored in The Heart's Journey Home.

Now I know you all have patiently listened about gallbladders and babies and how I'm going to be participating in Soul Walk on September 27th ( without receiving even one little snippet of The Heart's Journey Home so tonight I am going to reward you. I believe that last snippet I posted got you more familiar with the character Nathan. This unedited snippet will give you some insight on Adam. In this unedited snippet, the Holy Spirit is knocking on the door of his heart, but he's not ready to open up. For your information (and for easier reading) Kennedy is Adam's sister, Chloe is his daughter, and Ian is his best friend. Of course you all know who Kate and Madeline are - the heroine and her daughter. This snippet is taking place at the local ice cream shop after a youth soccer game. Oh, and I always include in bold print that you are reading unedited snippets because once this manuscript goes through the editing process, some of the scenes that you are reading may be slightly changed or possibly cut altogether. *Shrug* It's just a part of it. But I hope you like reading about my friend, Adam. Make sure to leave me a comment and let me know. Now without further ado . . .

Frosty Jack’s was already hopping by the time the girls on the soccer team flooded in for their victory ice cream treats. Adam gave Chloe a couple dollars and watched her flow into the small square building with the river of small blue jerseys speckled with parents and friends. Then he found a nearby picnic table to wait for her.

“You’re not getting ice cream? Are you feeling okay?”

Without having to look, Adam knew that teasing tone. He’d heard it from the moment his kid sister learned the art of sarcasm nearly twenty years ago and he smiled. “Hey, Ken. I’m fine, just not hungry.”

“I’m not hungry either but that’s not keeping me from enjoying two scoops of Chocolate Espresso Bliss.”

Adam laughed. “Okay. I’ll have what you’re having.” He slipped his wallet out of his back pocket, pulled out a ten, and held it out to Kennedy. “And it’s on me.”

Kennedy pushed it away. “I’ve got it, big brother.” Her expression softened and she gently placed her hand on his forearm. “After last night, I’d say you deserve a treat.”

His gaze fell to her hand for the brief moment before she turned and headed toward the building. Kennedy knew him better than any of his brothers did, maybe even better than Jane and Ian did. But this time she had no idea what turmoil was churning inside him.

Of course, he was disappointed that Harvest Bay lost the football game. He wanted to win every game; he didn’t coach to lose. In his mind, football defined him. Each loss, albeit few and far between, was a personal failure. Today the let down was magnified by the feeling that he was sitting the bench in another game – life.

To Adam, sitting the bench was even worse than playing in a losing game because there was no chance for him to throw a miraculous pass to shift the momentum of the game. At this point in his life, he felt he needed to let a Hail Mary fly into the awaiting grip of a reliable receiver, but he was helpless. He had to get in the game, but he didn’t know how. He wondered if the “Coach”, as forgiving and merciful as He claimed to be, would even want him after missing so much of the game. He wanted to learn more about the specific stipulations of playing on God’s team, but he was ashamed to ask anyone.

He looked up in time to watch Kate and Madeline come out of the building and find their family at a picnic table a few yards away.

Madeline caught his gaze and waved, a wide, chocolatey grin on her face.

Adam brightened and waved back, hoping Kate would look his way, but she didn’t. He briefly thought about asking her to help him understand Christianity. She wouldn’t judge him, he was sure of that. But what if she thought that he was using it as a means to get closer to her. Just a week ago, that might’ve been something he’d do when his main goal was to win her over. What exactly changed in one week’s time, he didn’t know, but watching her now he only wanted her happiness . . . and his.

Adam wanted the joy that his mother and father knew. He was skeptical that it was solely a result of Christianity, but what if it was? What if that was the foundation that everything else was built upon? Adam could feel his shoddily built life gradually become rickety, but he had no idea how to make it stronger while keeping the crucial areas (Chloe and his career) intact.

“Don’t worry, buddy. I’m right here.”

Adam looked up questioningly to see Ian settling into the bench across from him. “Excuse me?”

“You look like you just lost your best friend. I was just letting you know that I haven’t gone anywhere.”

Adam shook his head a small grin on his face. Ian was the biggest crack-up he knew. It was no doubt the reason that he and Jane had such a great relationship.

“So, what’s up?”

Adam scrunched his brow. “Nothing. Why?”

“You look like you have a lot on your mind.”

Adam shrugged. “Football, I guess.”

“You can’t fool me, bro.”

“I’m not . . .”

“Jane said that Chloe made a comment last night about you acting weird. That little girl is worried about you . . . and so am I.”

A hunk of Adam’s heart cracked off and fell to the pit of his stomach. He never wanted Chloe to worry about him. He tried his hardest to hide his true feelings from her. Adam looked into his best friend’s face and saw the concern in his eyes.

Adam’s gaze fell to his folded hands on the table top. He exhaled slowly. “You own the most successful construction company in the area. How do you fix a shaky foundation?”

Ian stared at Adam for a minute. “This is about your house?”

“Not exactly, but I have to know.”

“Okay. Well, there are several different methods, but basically you would have to drill holes around the house with an auger, place steel bars or pilings in the holes, and then pour concrete into the holes. After that cures for several days, the home has to be jacked and leveled and once the home is leveled, all the voids under or around the foundation are filled. That’s the simple version.”

“So it’s possible to strengthen a foundation without destroying everything you’ve already built on it?”

“Sure, but the sooner you fix it the better. A weak foundation is nothing you want to mess around with.”

Adam nodded filled with a sense of urgency. “Thanks. I’ll keep that in mind.”

PRAYER REQUESTS AND UPDATES: This week I have two prayer requests from opposite ends of the emotional spectrum. Please pray for the family of Michelle Butler-Keegan. From the information I received, she was a very physically fit 36-year-old woman with two children who had a brain aneurysm while playing in a softball game. I know the questions, the disbelief, and the raw shock that one goes through when an absolutely perfectly healthy loved one is taken from this world. It just isn't supposed to happen that way, right? Please pray mightily for this family, but especially these children who without a doubt are missing their mother. Also, I want to lift up my cousin, Sarah Grundler, who is going to be having Baby Marina ANY DAY NOW! She was taken to the hospital this evening because they thought her water had broken and she is having contractions, but, alas, as is often the case, her water hadn't broken and they sent her home to . . . WAIT! Please pray for patience for Sarah during these next few days, for a safe, smooth, uneventful delivery, and for Baby Marina to be a healthy baby! I heard from Mrs. Crain this evening that Don Crain is doing much better after having his gallbladder removed on August 21st, that he's "beginning to feel human again!" :) Upon hearing this good news, I'm removing Mr. Crain from our list of prayer concerns. Unfortunately, that's the only update I have to report right now. Please continue to pray daily for those who are named on this list, my prayer warriors! And remember, if you or someone you know has a prayer concern (even if it is unspoken - God knows all of our needs after all) please email me personally through my profile and I will be more than happy to post it. There IS power in prayer!

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

The Race

The Olympics are over.

Our family thoroughly enjoyed watching and rooting for America with pride, although a couple of times Ali and Livi chose to root for another country based solely on the name of the competitor. For example, Alison and Olivia, who absolutely ADORE Hannah Montana and Miley Cyrus who plays Hannah Montana, decided to root for Hannah Miley, the swimmer from Germany, I believe. *Shrug* Go figure. But regardless of who we were rooting for at the moment, the thrill of the competition was understood - the thrill of who would finish the race, whether swimming or track and field, the marathon or the bicycle race. Even the beach volleyball, basketball, and gymnastics could be viewed as a race - a race of stamina and endurance. How much longer could Misty May and Keri or Kobe Bryant and the Redeem Team dominate their opponents? Or how many more flips and twirls would Nastia have to nail before she received a score that put her on top? (As far as I know, that one is still being investigated. Hmm.)

Yes, the Olympics are over, but the RACE is not. Far from it!

Do you think I've lost my mind? Or that I'm at least slightly confused? I'm not. I'm talking about the race that we are running as CHRISTIANS.

Let me define the race for you: The opponent? Satan, of course! The finish line? The end of our life here on this earth. The course? Where ever you go in the course of a day - work, school, the grocery store, your own home, etc. The goal? To spread the Good News of the Gospel. And the prize? (This is the best part!) SOULS FOR JESUS! 1 Corinthians 9:23-25 says, "I do all this for the sake of the gospel, that I may share in its blessings. Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last; but we do it to get a crown that will last forever." That is what this post is all about. That is what our life as a disciple of Christ is supposed to be about. That is what I want to make my life about - to "run in such a way as to get the prize".

Now those of you who know me know that I'm certainly not an athlete and by no means fit to run in a race, but on September 27th I am participating in Soul Walk here in Nashville. It is a noncompetitive 5K (3 mile) walk in which the purpose is to raise funds for local and international mission projects. The mission of SoulWalk is to mobilize Christians to walk and pray for the salvation of family and friends while raising support to share the message of the gospel around the world. I am walking for the school that I teach at and my girls attend, Heritage and Hope Academy, AND for the people in our fallen world who really, really need to hear of the hope that we have in Jesus Christ. Soul Walk is splitting the funds that I raise 50/50 with our school.

Now, I have the perfect opportunity to hop up on my soapbox and state my viewpoints on the importance of Christian education but I'll spare you . . . for today! :) The bottom line is this: the ONLY thing more important in this life than a good, quality education is developing a relationship with the Lord. I very strongly believe that. I know first hand the difference that having a relationship with the Lord has made in my life. I've seen the wonderful way it is affecting my girls, even at four years old! As you can imagine, with our economy the way it is right now, it is a huge sacrifice for our parents to send their children to this school, and yet they understand the need, ESPECIALLY in this world we're living in today, for their children to receive a quality Christian education. It is the desire of our school administration, faculty, and staff to raise money from outside sources. Thus, I am walking!

Please, please, please support me in this endeavor. To view my personal web page and to make a monetary donation go to: I certainly understand if you can't make a donation at this time and simply ask that you please pray for me and for all of His lost sheep that I will be walking for. By supporting me, you are supporting this cause, and therefore, indirectly, you are walking right along with me! Thanks for the company! :)

PRAYER CONCERNS AND UPDATES: This week I need to add my cousin Laura Marske, who is recovering from an emergency appendectomy. Please pray for strength and healing for her. Please pray for Soul Walk '08 and for me as I have been nursing a hurt ankle for a while now. Carson Starks is adjusting just fine and I believe his mama, Laurie is, too, so I took him off of our prayer list. And I'm very happy - no, more like ecstatic, to report that my little girl, Alison Stephens, is doing great with her CPAP machine! Yay! I'm taking her off of the list also. As always, if you or someone you know has a prayer concern (even if it is unspoken - God knows all of our needs after all) please email me personally through my profile and I will be happy to post it. There IS power in prayer!

P.S. As I'm getting close to the deadline of my contest and my own personal deadline for the completion of The Heart's Journey Home, an update and snippet will be coming soon, so stay tuned!

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Gall Bladders, Babies, and Butterflies

Are you scratching your head at this title??? I would be, too, except for the fact that those three things have seemed to have become dominant topics in my life and in the lives of my family and friends. The first two are prayer requests and updates.

If you remember, my friend from school, Alicia Sharpton, has been on the list of prayer concerns for a few weeks now as she has been recovering from gall bladder surgery. I spoke with her today and she said that while she is still tired, she is feeling better and getting into a routine at school. She said that she wanted me to take her off the list to make room for others. So . . . I'm taking one gall bladder patient off and putting TWO on! Please pray for Grace Burris, who had surgery yesterday (8/19), and Don Crain, who will have surgery tomorrow (8/21). Grace, a first year music teacher, is the grown daughter of our Kindergarten teacher. This procedure (or should I say the timing of it) has been especially hard for Grace because this is the second week of her first year of teaching. She, like her mama, is very dedicated and she is extremely worried about her students and missing so much school so early in the year. Mr. Crain is the husband of our first grade teacher and is a little uneasy about this procedure because he is so healthy and has had very few procedures done in the past. Please pray for God's healing touch on both Grace and Mr. Crain.

Onto babies . . . I talked to my sister, Julie Roeder, yesterday and she is doing very well! She is about 9 weeks and the baby seems to be doing fine so far. She had an ultrasound and was able to see the baby and get the heartbeat which she said was about 180 bpm! She is due March 21st. Her three-year-old, Mallory, is very excited to become a big sister. She is also excited to be starting preschool next week. Please continue to pray for Julie and her husband Jon and little Mallory as they all prepare for baby Roeder. Pray for a safe, uneventful pregnancy and for a healthy, happy baby to come in March.

I promise this will be the last time I talk about butterflies, but so many of you were touched by the story of Johnny and June that I just had to blog about our experience in the classroom today. I took four caterpillars to school in a small aquarium for my class to watch. Unfortunately, they went into their cocoons shortly after school started. But today that didn't matter. After watching what happened with Johnny and June, I knew we had one that was about ready to come out of its cocoon so I had one of my students on "cocoon watch" today. Well at about 9:30 this morning we were reading an excerpt from The Little House in the Big Woods and we noticed the cocoon was wiggling a little. Well, wouldn't ya know, while we were standing there watching it wiggle, the cocoon split open, and that brand new butterfly came squirming out right before our eyes! My students and I saw the whole thing! I couldn't believe it! It was amazing! I took it down to show Alison's class and her teacher told me what I wanted to share with you tonight: She had heard that if you help a butterfly out of its cocoon, it'll never be able to fly. It needs to wiggle and squirm and struggle and push its way out of the cocoon for its wings to be strong enough to fly. Oooo. That gives me chill bumps now just to think about how closely it parallels with, not just the children that I teach, but all of us who have ever gone through a hardship. When we are faced with trials, we have to wiggle and squirm and struggle through it. Yes, we have those special people that we can turn to for advice or just for a comforting shoulder to lean on, but they cannot go through our trials for us. WE have to go through it and WE are stronger for it! And in the end, we find that WE CAN FLY!

Monday, August 18, 2008


Just a quick update on our babies listed under prayer concerns - Lilly, Tyler, and my baby, Alison.

I got word that Lilly is back at home, beginning weekly treatments, and doing very well. Still I can't imagine myself going through lukemia let alone a two-year-old, can you? Please pray for continued healing for little Lilly.

Tyler has gotten through his chemo and is now done for 21 days before he has to go through it again. He's had 2 blood transfusions and he has to have a bone marrow transplant. He was going to be able to go home yesterday if his fever is went away and I never found out if he indeed did get to go home. But the poor baby is in so much pain, he screams if anyone even touches him. I would think Tyler's parents need prayer for strength and a peace that passes all understanding right now just as much as he needs prayer for strength and healing. I know it would just about do me in to see either of my girls have to suffer like that. Please, if you get a second today, pray for Tyler and his parents.

My Alison is doing well with her CPAP mask. We're still waiting for the smaller mask to arrive, but Apria came and adjusted the air pressure so that she can tolerate it now. She's a trooper. Obviously, she'd rather not have to be hooked up to a machine at night, but she doesn't complain. And I'm SO glad that her growing body is now getting the oxygen that it needs at night.

Oh, and one last thing: Johnny came out of his cacoon Saturday morning. It was an experience we'll never forget! (For more info, read my last post, "A New Creation".)

As always, if you or someone you know has a prayer concern (even if it is unspoken - God knows all of our needs after all) please email me personally through my profile and I will be happy to post it. There IS power in prayer!

Friday, August 15, 2008

A New Creation

The most amazing thing happened to my little family this evening.

It all started on (or around) Sunday, August 3rd, almost 2 weeks ago. Chris went out to pick tomatoes in our little garden and he noticed these bright green and black caterpillars all over our dill plant. Well, we all had to go out to see these little buggers, especially Ali and Livi who seem to be extra inquisitive about creepy, crawly creatures. We looked and watched and examined and looked some more. There were probably 20-25 caterpillars on our one dill plant! So, I suggested getting a good ol' fashioned mason jar, poke some holes in the lid, and put a couple fat guys in there so we can bring them in the house, research them, and watch them. I got on the internet and discovered that our cats were black swallowtails and that they ate, obviously, dill, parsley, and other plants from that family of herbs. The website said that they made pretty good little pets, despite the fact that they were eating, pooping machines! (Yes, caterpillars poop . . . a lot!) And they did make fun pets! We got rather attached to the little, wormy fellas. We even named them - Johnny and June!

Well, Johnny and June provided us with quite a bit of entertainment for just a few days before we looked and June had already formed her chrysalis! How'd we know it was June? Because June went first. Anyway . . . Johnny was in his cacoon just a day or two later, and then they weren't quite so fun anymore. They weren't doing anything . . . or were they?

Tonight the girls and I got home from school, had supper, and started getting ready for bed. We never even looked in the jar. Then, as we were getting ready for bed, something was mentioned about Johnny and June coming out of the cacoon and little Olivia said, "One is already a butterfly."

"No, honey, not yet," I said dismissing the comment. Olivia is 4-years-old. She comes up with lots of crazy ideas!

"Well, let's go check them," Chris said. He went out with the kids to look at the jar and the next thing I know he's yelling for me to come look.


It was so special. All four of us took her out to the porch and carefully got her out of the jar. We all held her and marveled at this wonderful new creation. I absolutely had to get some pics of this awesome thing we had gotten to experience as a family so here are my two girls with June, our new butterfly friend.

And, of course, I spent some time dwelling on the parallel between our new butterfly friend and Christians. 2 Corinthians 5:17 says, "Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!" What promise and hope we have in Christ! Isn't it wonderful?!

My character Kate experienced the Lord's promise and hope in a very special way when she was at the end of her rope. After distancing herself from the Lord after the tragedy of losing her husband, she knew she was sitting on a fence and she had to choose a side. Well, she chose the right side. Obviously, I can't reveal the hows, whens, and whys of her return to the Lord, but I will share my unedited, emotional scene that took place afterwards:

She quietly opened her front door and stepped out onto the small porch. It was a beautiful early September night. The slightest hint of foliage floated along on the crisp breeze and Kate pulled her flannel house coat tighter around her. The black sky was a sea of stars, and a perfect crescent moon made it look like someone in Heaven was smiling down on her. She fancied the idea that it was Ryan or maybe her grandmother. Maybe it was even God.

She walked out into the yard, her bare feet becoming wet with dew, and she began to twirl and sway and spin just like she used to when she was Madeline’s age and she was a make-believe ballerina. She put her arms out and spun around until she collapsed on the ground laughing. Lying in the wet grass of the same yard she’d played in for years, she could begin to see God’s hand in her life. The way her house, her job, and the support group all came together for her was definitely not a coincidence.

“They say that You can make good come out of the worst circumstances. I still don’t know how You can make anything good come out of Ryan’s death, but . . .” Kate’s voice trembled. “I trust You.” The dam burst and she began to weep. “I trust You . . . I trust You . . . I trust You . . . I trust You . . ."

PRAYER CONCERNS AND UPDATES: I don't have any new prayer requests this evening, but I have several updates: Patty Smith, my dear friend from high school, went home from the hospital after a hard chemo treatment and is feeling much better. Please continue to pray for her and her restored health. My grandma, Angela Dominick, is also home from the hospital and is slowly on the road to recovery. Continue to pray for her as she has had her very independant lifestyle altered considerably. Carson Starks did great during his first week of day care. Laurie, his mom, said that he was happy to be there . . . but even happier to see her come back for him. I know that is a great feeling as a mama. Laurie has to be out of town this coming Monday and will be away from him and her other two kids. Continue to pray for little Carson during these times of transition, and also pray for Laurie for safe travel and a peace that passes all understanding. If you or someone you know is in need of prayer (even unspoken prayer requests) please contact me personally through my profile and I'll be happy to include you or your friend on our list of prayer concerns.

Until next time . . . I'll be here waiting on Johnny! :)

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Just 4 Weeks Left!

That's right. In just four weeks from today the "What a Difference You've Made in My Life" contest will be over and I will pick two names - a male and a female - from a hat to be honored in my upcoming book, The Heart's Journey Home. If you have not submitted a nomination, NOW'S THE TIME! I'm so excited about this and I hope you are, too. I believe it will be a blessing to the lucky male and female and those who nominated them. It has already been a blessing to me getting to hear your personal, very touching stories and I so appreciate you sharing them with me.

School has officially started for the year and I'm very glad to be getting back into a regular routine. Today at church my dear friend, Sue (who has been an incredible help to me with the development of The Heart's Journey Home), asked me how I was coming with my 400 word/night goal. LOVE the accountability! Thanks, Sue! :) Honestly, the past few days (actually about a week, I guess) have been pretty tough getting my classroom set up, planning lessons, and paying careful attention to all of the minute details that go into a successful school year. But now we are in a regular schedule (at school and at home) and in just a day or two I fully intend to get back to the 400 words/night, if not more!

In celebration of getting back into a routine and focusing on that goal until I have a completed manuscript, I thought I'd give you an unedited snippet this evening. (Please, keep in mind, this is just a snippet. It will not reveal the extent of different relationships involved. I have to keep you guessing, don't I?) Several of you have mentioned that you want to know more about Nathan Sterling, the brother of Kate's deceased husband, so . . . it gives me great pleasure to introduce you to Nathan!

. . . Nathan returned the farewell and hung up his phone. He sat motionless for several minutes, his eyes growing misty as the reality of the situation set in: Kate was creating a new life for her and Madeline, and while his heart was filled with pride for her, it was heavy with loneliness.

There was a time in his life when he would have chalked this situation up as just another amicable end to what could have been a wonderful relationship, but then again Nathan never actually loved the women that he had dated. Before experiencing the love of Christ, the only people Nathan ever really loved were Ryan and himself.

Nathan’s mother had died when he was four-years-old and Ryan was just a baby, and their congressman father was too busy to raise two young boys, so Nathan and Ryan were cared for by their maternal grandmother, who did the best she could.

Ryan made the adjustment well and later on in life he found it easier to open his heart to the Lord and to others.

Nathan struggled with relationships. Basically, he didn’t have a need for them and for a long time he liked it that way. With a hard heart and the determination of a prize fighter, no one could get in his way of becoming successful in society’s eyes . . . until Ryan and Kate helped him to see that his status didn’t necessarily make him a success in the Lord’s eyes.

Now Nathan knew that God wanted more for him than the meaningless flings that worked out well for his career but left him feeling unfulfilled. He desperately longed to dedicate his whole life to loving Kate and Madeline, but he was afraid he was too late. While he was glad that they were in the beginning stages of moving on, he understood that their life in Harvest Bay would never include him if he remained in Nashville.

He also knew it could take months for the state to process the application for a license to practice medicine in Ohio.

“Lord, I know that anything is possible with You, but I believe it’s going to take a miracle to move me to Harvest Bay and back into Kate’s life.”

PRAYER CONCERNS AND UPDATES: I received 1 new prayer request. Cynthia Denning is a physical therapist who is undergoing chemotherapy for cancer in her spine and elsewhere. Please, lift her up to the Lord in the days and weeks to come. I'm also going to add my little girl, Alison Stephens. She just received her CPAP machine this past Thursday. There are a few adjustments that need to be made with it (she needs a smaller mask and a lower air pressure), and then it'll probably take her a little while to adjust to sleeping with an apparatus strapped to her head. Pray that this will be a smooth adjustment for her and she'll begin to finally get the rest that a growing, active seven-year-old needs. My dear friend from high school, Patty Smith, started chemo this past Friday and when I heard from her today she said she was pretty sick from it. Please, please, please keep praying for Patty. I spoke with Carson Starks' mama on Tuesday at our Open House and got to hold and make goo goo faces at that sweet angel boy! Laurie said that, as expected, Carson's first day of day care was much harder on her than it was on him! I'll keep him on our list of prayer concerns until I get an update that everyone has made that adjustment! :) I took my friend, Alicia Sharpton, off the list too soon. She is still healing and getting her strength back from gall bladder surgery. Please, continue to pray for her while her body finishes its healing process. If you or someone you know is in need of prayer (even if it is unspoken), please email me personally through the contact info in my profile and I'll be more than happy to add them to the list of prayer concerns. There is power in prayer!

One last thing tonight: my very good friend who I teach with, Jana, had a birthday in Friday and . . . um . . . I forgot it. Oops! Aren't I a terrible friend?!? Hopefully she will forgive me and this big HAPPY BIRTHDAY, JANA! (along with a birthday lunch that I'm bringing her tomorrow) will patch things over nicely! :)

I also wanted to wish my Mom and Step-dad a very happy anniversary on Tuesday! Hope you guys have a great day together! Love you!

Monday, August 4, 2008

It Is Well With My Soul

It was about a year ago that I heard the story behind the beloved hymn for the first time and now I can't even think of the hymn without my eyes welling with tears. It Is Well With My Soul was written in 1873 by Horatio Gates Spafford and tonight, instead of a snippet from The Heart's Journey Home, I'm going to tell you his story . . .

Spafford was a blessed man and enjoyed a wonderful life. He had a lovely wife, Anna, a son, whose name isn't documented, and four beautiful daughters, Tanetta, Maggie, Annie, and Bessie. A successful lawyer who'd invested heavily in real estate in the rapidly growing city of Chicago, he was able to provide his family with a very comfortable lifestyle. Best of all, he was a Christian and a close friend to evangelist Dwight L. Moody, but as is the case with most Christians (to varying degrees, of course), his faith would soon be tested.

The first blow came with the death of his son in 1871. I haven't found much documentation on what exactly happened, but all accounts state that while Spafford and his wife were grieveing for their son, Chicago was devastated by a great fire in October 1871. The fire burned from Sunday evening to early Tuesday, killing hundreds and destroying about four square miles of the city. It was categorized as one of the largest U.S. disasters of the 19th century. One look at this picture of the aftermath, and I'd have to agree! Obviously, this fire ru­ined Spafford fi­nan­cial­ly, destroying almost everything he owned.

Two years later, in 1873, Spafford decided his family should take a vacation and get away from the devastation that they were still recovering from. Knowing that his friend, Dwight L. Moody, would be preaching in England in the fall they made that their destination. Delayed because of business, he sent his wife and his daughters ahead of him. On November 21, 1873, while crossing the Atlantic on the steamship Ville du Havre, their ship was struck by an iron sailing vessel and two hundred and twenty six people lost their lives, including all four of Spafford's daughters. Somehow his wife, Anna, survived. On arriving in England, she sent a telegram to Spafford beginning "Saved alone." Can you imagine the emotions they both were feeling as the parents of these beautiful girls? As a husband and wife going through yet another crisis and on opposite sides of the ocean?

Finally, sev­er­al weeks lat­er, as Spaf­ford traveled to be with his wife in England his ship passed near the spot where his daugh­ters died. I ask you, what would you have done in that moment? Me? Scream, maybe. Shake my fists at the heavens and shout how unfair it was that my babies had died what I'm guessing to be an agonizing, terrifying death in the middle of the Atlantic. But, inspired by the Holy Spirit, Spafford wrote the words to It Is Well With My Soul. What a wonderful testimony and legacy he left for us Christians that while his heart was breaking with an intensity I can't begin to imagine, he wrote the lyrics to a song that speaks of the eter­nal hope that all be­liev­ers have, no mat­ter what pain and grief be­fall them on earth!

It has several verses, too many to include all of them, but for those of you that don't know it, here are the lyrics to the first two verses. I promise you'll never think of this song the same again:

When peace, like a river, attendeth my way,
When sorrows like sea billows roll;
Whatever my lot, Thou has taught me to say,
It is well, it is well, with my soul.

It is well, with my soul,
It is well, with my soul,
It is well, it is well, with my soul.

Though Satan should buffet, though trials should come,
Let this blest assurance control,
That Christ has regarded my helpless estate,
And hath shed His own blood for my soul.

Which leads me to PRAYER CONCERNS: Part of the reason I chose to tell you Spafford's story tonight is because I received two prayer concerns today that are deeply disturbing to me. The first is a 2-year-old boy named Tyler. My sister who is an x-ray tech (sorry, Jules, if I got your exact title wrong) had to do a cat scan on little Tyler recently (thus, because of privacy laws we don't have his last name, but God knows him!) and they discovered that this precious little child has cancer in his liver. There are also spots on his heart and scull, and it's in his bone marrow. Apparently he started chemo yesterday but the doctors and specialists only give him a 30% chance to live. Also, a friend that I work with asked that I add his friend's 2-year-old little girl, Lilly, to the list of prayer concerns. Sweet little Lilly has just been diagnosed with lukemia. I'm sorry, but this DOES NOT make sense to me! How can something like this happen to children barely older than a baby??? Father God, I'm praying right now, with tears streaming down my face, that You heal this little boy and girl. You are the Great Physician, God! You knew Tyler and Lilly when they were in their mother's womb and You know how many hairs are on their sweet little heads. You know how to heal them! Be with Tyler's and Lilly's parent's, Father. I can't even begin to imagine what they are going through. Give them a peace that passes all understanding - the kind of peace that Spafford had even after he had lost everything. Most of all, Father God, if these families don't know You, let this trial be the reason they come to You and fall on their knees at the foot of the cross. Amen.

Whew! Sorry about that. *Wiping eyes.* I can't help it. Kids get to me.

The other prayer concern is for a young lady by the name of Amber Grant. Amber has made some bad choices and has gotten involved with a boy that has turned her away from God's truth. Her mother and father are afraid they've lost her completely. Please pray that God will reveal His grace and mercies to Amber in such a way that she will know without a doubt that it is Him calling her back. Pray that her parents will know what to say and when not to say anything at all, when to push and when to give her the space she needs to figure things out. It is so hard being a teenager today - wanting to be an adult but still so much a kid. Pray that Amber finds her way home.

Updates: My very dear friend from high school, Patty Smith, will most likely be starting chemo this Friday. Please continue to pray for her - for strength, for peace, for healing.

If you or someone you know is in need of prayer (even if it is an unspoken), please email me personally by clicking on my profile and I will be happy to post your prayer request. Also, send updates, so I can update our prayer warriors out there.

Friday, August 1, 2008

Prayer Updates

Just a quick update: My friend from schoool, Alicia Sharpton, is doing very well following her surgery. I saw her today and she looks great! So I took her off my list of prayer concerns.

Please pray for Carson Starks these next several weeks. Carson is the sweetest little angel of a baby boy who was born last school year to the parents of one of my former students. Carson has Down Syndrome and is going to be starting his first day of day care next week. I know his mama, Laurie, will greatly appreciate you thinking of him during this time of transition and lifting him and his caretakers up to the Lord!

If you or someone you know is in need of prayer, please feel free to email me (you can find my address through my profile) and I will be more than happy to add the name(s) to our list of prayer concerns.