Sunday, December 28, 2008

Hanging On a Little Bit Longer!

What, you may ask, am I hanging on to??? The answer, my friends, is CHRISTMAS! At this time of the year, it seems everyone is ready to start UNdecorating, take down the tree and the lights, put all of the ornaments carefully back in their Styrofoam containers and then into their boxes, stash the old year and all of the events that took place during that time frame in a folder in the picture program on their computer. And usually I'm one of those eager individuals, but not this year. Maybe it's because the time leading up to Christmas seemed especially busy this year. I don't know, but it makes me sad to think of taking my pretty tree down.

Now I know you're saying, "Decorations are just decorations, but we can keep the spirit of Christmas alive all year long." And that's true, and, for the most part, I do, but I really like the lights and the garland, the stockings and the big red bows. They make me happy. And I was VERY happy this evening!

This evening we went to the Gaylord Opryland Hotel tonight with my very best friend from high school, Patty Smith, and her precious family. It was a very special time being with Patty and her family, but it was also special because the Opryland Hotel knows how to do Christmas! If you ever get the chance to visit Nashville at Christmas time, you must put this hotel on your "to-do" list. It is truly amazing! The lights are unlike anything I've ever seen anywhere. Chris and I have been there in Christmas's past and have, of course, been delightfully impressed with the display, but this year to add to it they actually put up a beautiful, ENORMOUS nativity! I was like "Hallelujah! Yes! The victory is ours!" The picture at the right is of Ali and Livi in front of Joseph and Mary on their way to Bethlehem. Below is the full nativity. It's hard to fully appreciate the beauty of it in this picture, but it was exactly what I needed to battle the "after Christmas let down"!

I had a wonderful visit with Patty. I am amazed and inspired by my friend - the struggles she's endured and the strength of her faith through it all. I'm so proud to call her my friend . . . I'm even prouder that she calls me her friend! I love you, Patty! And, Patty shared some great news with me. She recently had a CAT scan that revealed that the specific cancerous spots the doctors have been closely watching are GONE! That's right! GONE! Praise the Lord for the wonderful work He is doing in my friend! Patty still needs your prayers because her blood work still indicated that something is there. She will continue with her regular chemo treatments until her blood work is normal. But we Christians know that the Lord could make that happen right now! Keep praying for healing and strength, healing and strength!!!

My girls made a new friend tonight - Patty's step-daughter, Aubrie! Patty has a wonderful, blended family that maybe I will tell you all about one day if she will let me, but for the time being, I wanted to share this beautiful, talented young lady with you. The thing that impressed me first about Aubrie was that she immediately went to my girls' rooms to see their toys from Santa - she validated my girls and what is important to a 7-year-old and a 4-year-old, even though she is getting ready to drive. Aubrie made my little girls (who now want to grow up to be Aubrie!) feel special and important. That in itself is a wonderful gift! Thank you, Aubrie! Then I was blown over by her singing voice! I don't know for sure how angels sing, but I imagine that Aubrie sings just like them! She has won talent shows and probably more competitions that we didn't get to talk about because she was so focused on my girls and NOT on her! Which was another thing that impressed me about Aubrie - she is so humble! Maybe too humble. While we were walking along (getting lost) in the hotel she so easily compared herself to the teeny tiny cheerleaders who were there for a competition. I pray that Aubrie knows what a gem she is in this fallen world we're living in, what a wonderful role model she is for little girls like mine. In her heart I'm sure she knows because Ken and Patty have done such a good job instilling Christian values into her. The Lord has big plans for Aubrie, and I just can't wait to see what they are!

I've so enjoyed spending time with my family this Christmas. Chris, Ali, and Livi are such gifts to me! I wish it hadn't gone so fast this year - wish I could just bottle up that time and pop it open whenever I need a haven from this crazy world. Next year will be different, as every year is. My girls are getting older and I wonder how long will that child-like magic last? I'm hanging on a little bit longer - with two hands! :)

Monday, December 22, 2008

Miraculous Conversion

What a busy time of year this is! So sorry for not posting sooner. (I especially apologize to Deanna and Mom who have shared prayer requests with me.) This past week has been CRAZY - fun crazy, though. Christmas crazy. We had our school Christmas program on Thursday which was so fabulous and then our church Christmas program was last night which was also very special. Ali was in both of them and Livi was in the church Christmas program (adding to the comedic relief, no doubt!). I want to real fast give a shout out to my dear, sweet friend, Ashley Bolger, who is the director at our school AND church (I'm so blessed!). She absolutely does NOT get the credit she deserves and, really, if you have kids, what would Christmas be without having the pleasure of watching them in a Christmas program??? Ashley, I don't know how you do it every year. You are an angel and I'm so, so happy that you are one of my bestest friends!!! Now relax and have a merry Christmas with that new, sweet baby boy! :)

Now, onto my topic: Miraculous Conversion. It's is really self explanatory, I think. According to Mr. Webster, "conversion" is: the act or state of changing to adopt new opinions or beliefs; a formal acceptance of a different religion. You see it all the time at this time of year. Just about every single made for T.V. movie is about some cold-hearted scrooge who through new found relationships discovers the TRUE meaning of Christmas and is changed forever. My very favorite example is who else but the Grinch! Now, his grinchiness may not have totally been his fault - he had a medical condition. According to the tale, his heart was two sizes too small. But when he heard the Who's down in Whoville singing a sweet song on Christmas morning AFTER they had discovered that he'd stolen everything in the town he had the thought that maybe, just maybe Christmas was about more than packages and, well, stuff. Then the miracle of all miracles occurred! In that instant, his heart grew 3 SIZES and there was quite obviously an overflow of joy in his eyes! (Either that or he had to go to the bathroom really bad!) Now, I'm poking fun at a classic children's Christmas tale, but the question still remains: Why are there so many tales of changed hearts and converted souls at this time of year???

I'm just gonna take a stab in the dark with this one and offer a simple-minded possibility: BECAUSE JESUS CHANGES PEOPLE! How could He not? I saw a banner this season that states that we cannot separate Jesus' cradle from His cross. He was born to die! To me that is a hard concept to digest. There is so much that I want to do in my time here on this earth that I can't fathom being born just to die. Of course, during His short time in human flesh, Jesus taught people how to live, how to love. He healed people. He gave people hope. He gave them something very special to believe in. And, amazingly, He still does all of this today through Scripture and through the Holy Spirit. But the very bottom line according to John 3:16 is that Jesus was born a sweet, innocent, baby boy just to save all of humanity from Satan's evil, nasty clutches.

So, Jesus changes people. But why do we want to watch story after story on the Hallmark, Lifetime, or ABC Family channel of the power of the Christmas goodness? I'm going out on a limb again with my own opinion on this, but I really believe that on the whole humans want . . . no, CRAVE, the warmth and tenderness that can only come from the Lord. And they crave stories of His love. And I think they want to believe that people can, and do, change for the good. Maybe I'm naive, but I believe that everyone wants to be loved unconditionally. Everyone wants to feel wanted and appreciated and admired. How much more could Someone love, want, appreciate, and admire us than to sacrifice His one and only Son just so that we won't ever have to die? I get a lump in my throat every time I ponder the depth of God's love for me. I'm so unworthy.

I confess. I love watching those sappy, heartwarming movies of miraculous conversions. Even more, I LOVE reading a great novel that tells the story of a character(s) in the midst of a spiritual journey - working out issues, and finally seeing the Lord's hand through the struggles in their life. Is there anything more satisfying than witnessing someone (either in real life or fiction) FINALLY turn their hearts back over to the Lord?!?! Makes me want to shout, "Hallelujah! Yes! The victory is ours!" I hope I can do that for you in The Heart's Journey Home. One of my characters will go through a slow, somewhat painful conversion process with the help and guidance of a wise, old mentor. This has been a tender part for me to write because it is a very tender topic and I want more than anything to make this character believable and easy for all of my readers to relate to. I just pray that I am able to illustrate even a fraction of the Lord's goodness and mercy through this character's situation and that at the end my readers are saying, "Hallelujah! Yes! The victory is ours!"

PRAYER REQUESTS AND UPDATES: Again I apologize to Deanna and to my mom for not getting these up sooner. Please pray mightily for Deanna's friends, Kristin and Jason. Kristin has Marfan's Syndrome. According to the small amount of research I've done, Marfan's Syndrom affects the connective tissue in the body and therefore can affect many areas of the body. Unfortunately, Kristin's heart has been affected. A few years ago she spent two months-plus in the Cleveland Clinic after a heart surgery that was only supposed to have her hospitalized for five days. Fortunately, she recovered well, but is now faced with another surgical procedure that she was supposed to have scheduled this past Thursday at a doctor appointment. I'm sure Kristin and her husband, Jason, must be feeling some anxiety so I'm asking you to please pray for the Lord to cover Kristin and Jason in a peace that passes all understanding. And, Deanna, if you're reading this please post a comment on how the doctor appointment went and if you have any new information regarding procedure date and time. Thanks! Also, please pray for my mom, Donna Otto. She has been layed off until at least the middle of January. Her specific prayer request is that it does not last longer than that. Please pray that the Lord is merciful and that this can be a BRIEF time of much deserved rest and renewal for her. Updates: My step-dad, Tom Otto, is feeling much better and is back to work! Thank you for praying for him! My best friend from high school, Patty Smith, is doing well with her chemo and is actually planning a trip to Tennessee later this week! Yay! I can't wait to see her! On a side note, I'm not adding this to my list of prayer requests, but please say a prayer for my step-mom, Shirley, my sister, Bonnie, my Grandma Dominick, and me tomorrow. On the 23rd it will be 8 years since my daddy, Frank Dominick, went to "live with Jesus", as my nephew had said on that day. Time has done a lot to heal our broken hearts, but the loss we all feel is still so great. *Shrug* I just miss my daddy.

I hope you all have a very merry and memorable Christmas and a blessed New Year!

P.S. Mrs. Alber, I got your tag. Thank you! I will post on it later in the week . . . after I've had time to think of 6 interesting tid bits about average, ordinary ME!

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Heavenly Peace

As a teacher, I love to research the story behind different subjects - you know, "the rest of the story", as Paul Harvey would say. (Unless, of course, it's the "story" behind one of my students' missing assignments! Grrr!) As a writer, I particularly love researching the inspiration behind written works, especially novels and songs.

Just this past week, my students and I researched the story behind "Silent Night" and I found some very interesting tid bits revolving around what is probably the most well known Christmas carol of all time.

First of all we found out that it's OLD! The lyrics were originally written in German 192 years ago by an Austrian priest, Father Josef Mohr. The melody came two years later by composer and primary school teacher, Franz Xaver Gruber, and was originally slightly different than the version we all know and love.

We learned that "Silent Night" was first performed with guitar accompaniment in the Church of St. Nicholas in Oberndorf, Austria on Christmas Eve 1818. It is supposed that the church organ was no longer working, possibly due to flooding that ended up destroying the church, so Mohr and Gruber composed a song that would be every bit as moving on the guitar as on the organ. I think they succeeded, don't you? Since then "Silent Night" has been performed with the accompaniment of a wide variety of instruments and even a cappella. (By the way, the picture above is that of the Silent Night Memorial Chapel which was built where the Church of St. Nicholas once stood after it had been torn down. Isn't it beautiful?!)

This research led us to the story of the "Christmas truce". I'm sure many of you have already heard this story, but it touched my heart so deeply I want to recap for you. It was Christmas Eve 1914. The whole world was in upheaval as we were in the midst of World War I, but on that particular night, the German troops began decorating the area around their trenches by placing candles on trees. Imagine! Decorating in the middle of war! They continued the celebration by singing Christmas carols, most notably "Stille Nacht", or as we know it, "Silent Night". The carols floated through the stagnant air, which I'm guessing reeked of gun powder and . . . well, death, and before long the British troops in the trenches across from them responded by singing English carols. The two sides continued by shouting Christmas greetings to each other. Soon thereafter, there were calls for visits across the "No Man's Land" where small gifts were exchanged — whisky, jam, cigars, chocolate, and the like. The soldiers exchanged gifts, sometimes addresses, and drank together. There are even stories of football matches that took place between the opposing forces! The truce also allowed a breathing spell where recently-fallen soldiers could be brought back behind their lines by burial parties. Proper burials took place as soldiers from both sides mourned the dead together and paid their respects. Against the orders from higher ups, the artillery in the region fell silent that night, and in the name of human kindness and decency, enemies came together to celebrate our Savior's birth! That gives a whole knew meaning to "heavenly peace".

PRAYER REQUESTS AND UPDATES: I have one new prayer request that came to me a few days ago. Please pray for new mama and daddy, Jennie and Garth, and especially their amazing miracle baby Nicholas. The detail that I have are as follows: Jennie's water broke at 23 weeks gestation, and Nicholas was born at 25 weeks. Sweet baby Nicholas remains in the NICU and is making strides every day. He had the benefit of in utero steroid shots to help with his lung development (isn't our medical field amazing!) and Jennie recently got to hold him for the first time. He is off the ventilator. And the hope is that he will be able to come home before his due date, Feb. 26. So things are looking up, but sweet Nicholas still has a long road ahead of him. Please, please pray mightily for Nicholas' continued growth and development. I believe that the Lord has big plans in store for this sweet baby. Pray for the doctors, nurses, and any specialists Nicholas might need. And please lift up Jennie and Garth during this time of complete and utter joy, yet gut wretching concern. I remember the emotional rollercoaster very well when my firstborn, Alison, came into this world. My heart just soared to hold her and look into her precious face, yet I was bracing myself for all of the challenges I knew she would have to face since she was born with a cleft palate. It can be draining. I pray that Jennie and Garth's spirits are heightened exponentially with every little milestone that is met in the days to come. I pray for strength and patience and the comfort that only our Lord can provide.

I have an update today also. My step dad, Tom Otto, is feeling much better. He had a minor procedure done this past Thursday and it went very well. I want to keep him on our list of prayer concerns for one more week as he recovers. 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!

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Egg Nog or Hot Chocolate???

Well, I thought since my last post might have gotten filed under the "downer" category, I'd liven things up this evening and maybe even give you something to think about. The sweet Senior from our school that I've mentioned in past posts "tagged" me (actually I asked her permission to use her idea first and then she just tagged me) and I think once you're tagged you get to copy and paste the questionaire into your blog and then answer the questions and tag someone else to do the same. Is that right, Hannah?

I am going to "tag" two people. I guess that's allowed because Hannah did it. I'm tagging my good friend and mentor Ramona Richards and my buddy from my writer's group, Krista Phillips, who is a gem of a writer just waiting to be discovered. Please check both of their blogs out under my blog list and please check out Hannah's under the tab Set Apart For The Grandeur Of My Master. She is truly a very special young woman.

Now, (drum roll, please!) onto the Christmas Questionaire . . .

1. Egg Nog or Hot Chocolate? I love egg nog!

2. Does Santa wrap presents or just sit them under the tree? He sits them under the tree with a big bow and a tag with either Alison or Olivia's name on their toys.

3. Colored lights on tree/house or white? Colored lights definitely!

4. Do you hang mistletoe? Nope! Chris and I don't need it! ;-)

5. When do you put your decorations up? Within a day before or after Thanksgiving.

6. What is your favorite holiday dish (excluding dessert)? Hmm . . . I'd have to say my ham. Simply Delicioso!

7. Favorite holiday memory as a child: So many! I remember the year that Santa came early because my youngest sister was very close to being born. I think Mom called Santa because she didn't want him to come and have us not be there. I remember the year we drove to my dad and step-mom's house in Michigan in a BLIZZARD! That was a little hairy, but it's funny how now that I'm an adult, all of my holiday memories are special.

8. When and how did you learn the truth about Santa? What do you mean "truth"? I still believe in Santa! ;-)

9. Do you open a gift on Christmas Eve? Yes. We usually start a few days before Christmas and let the girls open one a day. We find they're a lot less overwhelmed on Christmas Day if we do it that way. And plus, it just get too durned exciting! I JUST CAN'T WAIT!!!!

10. How do you decorate your Christmas Tree? We have one tree in our living room decorated with multicolored lights and tons of precious keepsake ornaments that the girls have made or that have been given to us by family members over the years. I love looking at the ornaments every year and recalling all of the memories that go along with it!

11. Snow! Love it or Dread it? LOVE it! It's one of the two things I miss about Ohio. (The other is our family, of course!)

12. Can you ice skate? I could when my ankles were healthy. I haven't been on skates since I injured my right one so I'm really not sure.

13. Do you remember your favorite gift? Yes! When I was, oh, probably around Alison's age (7) my mom made me a yellow two story doll house for my glamor girls (the equivalent of a Polly Pocket). It was sah-weet! If I remember correctly, it was hinged and I think it even had working lights, didn't it, Mom? I remember I actually found it snooping around in Mom's closet! She said something to cover it up. Then Santa hid it behind the tree under my mom's red and white afghan. Too funny! I also loved my first Cabbage Patch doll, Daniella, that Santa brought me at my dad and step-mom's. She had dark brown long pig tails and came in a yellow dress with a little pink satin heart stitched on it. I loved her!

14. What is the most important thing about the Holidays for you? Going to church, reading the Christmas story, and watching my girls open their gifts. Joy, pure joy.

15. What is your favorite Holiday Dessert? Probably our "Happy Birthday, Jesus" cake that the girls help me make every year. Sometimes it tastes just okay - a little dry or whatever - but we have fun and make memories making the cake! Ooo, and I LOVE the Holiday Peppermint icecream from Purity Dairy. I start craving it before Thanksgiving and can eat it until Valentines Day!!!

16. What is your favorite holiday tradition? Probably opening presents and then calling everyone on the telephone to thank them and wish them a merry Christmas.

17. What tops your tree? An angel that lights up. She's 14 years old and she's gorgeous!

18.Which do you prefer giving or receiving? Giving, hands down.

19. What is your favorite Christmas Song? I love all of the traditional songs and carols. Oh Holy Night was actually played at mine and Chris' wedding which took place 10 years ago this coming Friday so it holds a very special place in my heart. But my all time favorite ever is (drum roll again, please!) Little Drummer Boy.

20. Candy Canes​!​ Yuck or Yum? From Dec. 1-31, yum. Every other time of the year, YUCK! :)

21. What do you want for Christmas? A million dollars! LOL! But I'll really be very happy with a quiet, peaceful day with my husband and two little girls who are tickled at what Santa has brought them!

22. Do you attend an annual Christmas Party? Yes, one for our school faculty, one for my students during the school day (Of course I attend it! I'm the teacher!) and one for church.

23. Do you dress up on Christmas or wear PJs? Not PJs, but casual lounging pants and t-shirt. On Christmas Eve we get all fancied up for church and sometimes dinner if Chris isn't running too late.

24. Do you own a Santa hat? Yes. We have 4 in this house! Two are actually purple FedEx Santa hats!

25. Who do you normally spend Christmas with? Chris, Alison, and Olivia.

That's it! Hope you liked reading about my holiday traditions and memories. It's really fun to think back on Christmas' past. How about you? Any of these little questions make you think of a fun tradition or memory that you have? Please, share!

I'll be blogging again soon. Until then, please continue to pray for those on our list of prayer concerns. Happy Advent to you all!

Thursday, December 4, 2008

It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year?

Of course it is! This is an exciting time of year, full of eager anticipation for kids and adults alike. It's a cheerful time of year - who in the world couldn't possibly have cheer in their hearts with all of the lights, decorations, parties, and happy tunes pouring out lyrics such as "It's the most wonderful time of the year" and "It's the hap-happiest season of all."

The answer is: a lot of people. The reason? Life. Life doesn't go on vacation just because we do. It causes a powerful chain reaction: "life" happens (death, illness, divorce, financial struggles, etc.), that leads to the inevitable change in holiday traditions and rituals, and the leads to the feelings of loneliness, despair, maybe anger or other feelings of hurt and anguish. The question, "Why can't it be like it was back when . . . ?" I think can be the most damaging one to ponder and yet most of us can't help but ask it occasionally.

I ask it. Not a lot, but every now and then, I remember the magic Christmas held for me when I was about my girls' age. Then again, sometimes I just wish I could go back 9 years and enjoy that particular Christmas a little more. Why 9? Because this year on December 23rd (yes, two days before Christmas) it will have been 8 years since my daddy went to celebrate Christmas with Jesus Himself.

Now, I don't mean to drag you down or make you not want to come back to visit because I'm blogging about gloomy topics. I certainly don't want you to feel bad for me because one thing I've learned is that there IS hope and that Christmas IS hope. I LOVE the hope that came to us that first Christmas! I also know that time has a certain way of taking situations and putting them on the other end a kaleidoscope. Have you ever looked through a toy kaleidoscope? The image on the other end fades slightly as these beautiful stain glass-type patterns form, changing with the twist of the end, each uniquely beautiful. With time (sometimes a whole, whole lot!) the initial heartache fades as you enjoy beautiful new creations. My beautiful new creations? Alison and Olivia, of course. They are so much fun and I've found that some of that child-like Christmas magic comes back to me as I watch them every year. I have many, many other blessings, too. My life is very good. The same as it was 9 years ago? No, and it won't ever be that way again. And for me, personally, that is what will sometimes catch me off guard in my weak moments - the ever again part.

This Christmas is shaping up to be one of the "hap-happiest" that we've had in our household for, well, 9 years. But my heart is terribly burdened this year for those who are hurting. You all know someone. Maybe it's you. The loneliness at this time of year can just become unbearable and my heart is so heavy for the lonely. Maybe it's because my main character, Kate, in The Heart's Journey Home, is going through this very thing and I'm just so saddened for her. Please, keep those that are hurting this holiday season on the top of your prayer lists. Pray for supernatural joy and peace to fill their hearts. Oh, and if you have time (I know everyone is super busy during this time of year with Christmas programs and parties) visit someone who might be alone during the holidays. I promise that they won't be the only one whose day is brightened! :)

PRAYER REQUESTS AND UPDATES: Many of these requests and updates are of people who are hurting and it is because of them that I wanted to blog on the "holiday hurting". Deb Clay and her family recently lost her seventeen-year-old daughter, Krista, in a car accident. Krista was not driving - her boyfriend was and he survived. Unfortunately, I don't know his name, but he desperately needs prayer as does Deb. I could not imagine tuying to make it through one day, let alone the holidays, without both of my girls. Please cover her family and this young man in your prayers for peace, comfort, and supernatural strength for the days ahead. Also, please pray for Jen Morris, who just lost her husband. He apparently had medical issues regarding his heart and was on a transplant list, but didn't get a new heart in time. He left Jen and their three young children. Pray for this young family. Please pray for strength for Jen to be everything to her three children that they will now need and to have enough left over to get her through each day. Please pray for peace and comfort to fall on them like a warm and fuzzy blanket in the days, weeks, and months ahead. This is a prayer request AND an update: Phyllis Gentry has been on our list of prayer concerns because of an injury to her back. Fortunately, her back is much better, but unfortunately she just unexpectedly lost her husband. He had been suffering with MS, but no one expected that he would be taken so quickly, least of all Phyllis and she is taking this loss extremely hard. She needs prayer for strength to make it through each day until this shock wears off. Then she will need prayer for peace and comfort, for the companionship of the Lord to sustain her during her lonely times. Also, I want to add my step-dad, Tom Otto, who has not been feeling well. Please pray for healing for him and pray for the doctors that he will be seeing to have wisdom that comes from the Lord, that they will treat him effectively and efficiently. More updates: My grandma, Angela Dominick, who fell and broke her hip several moths ago, is doing much, much better! Praise the Lord! She is actually gone back to work at ToysRUs for a few hours a couple days a week. Of course, that has helped her a lot because she doesn't like to sit still for too long! :) Please pray for continues healing and a full recovery for Grandma! Kelly M., the daughter of a fellow author with the publishing company who is putting out The Heart's Journey Home, had gall bladder surgery today. I haven't heard an update from her mother yet, but Kelly has been very ill for a very long time, so please pray that this surgery was successful and that this poor young woman can finally have some relief! My dear friend from high school, Patty Smith is going in for another round of chemo tomorrow. Please pray for her for strength - physical and mental. She has been very strong through this (that I've seen anyway), but I'm sure she has her moments as I'm sure any wife and mama would. I just pray healing over her body and strength for her spirit. Kim Baird, is a single mother of two teenage boys who was recently diagnosed with breast cancer. Just a few days ago, she was informed that genetically she has a certain chromosome that would make chemo ineffective and actually harmful so it is NOT an option. She will have to undergo surgery and then they will go from there. Please pray for the supernatural healing of Kim. No chemo or medicine or doctor can even come close to the mighty work that the Lord can do! Pray for Kim to have the strength she needs to take care of her boys and most of all herself in the days ahead. Pray for peace and joy for Kim and her family this holiday season as they look forward to the miracles the Lord has in store for her. Robin Baughman, the 40-year-old mother of 4 who was diagnosed several months ago with stage four cancer in her brain, breast, and lung, is responding to treatment! Her brain has healed enough after emergency surgery to start chemo for the spots in her breasts and lungs and those spots are responding to the chemo! Please pray mightily that the Lord will heal her completely and restore her health. I am praising the Lord right now for the healing that has already taken place in Robin's body! It has been three months since Larry Harris checked into the hospital to have his bypass surgery and about ten weeks since he's been home. While he's obviously still not 100%, he has not had a major problem since coming home. He has a lot of restrictions—and a huge deficit of energy—not to mention a very weak immune system, but he and his lovely wife, Kathy, are adjusting to this new life style. He began cardiac rehab two weeks ago so please pray in the weeks to come that the rehab will continue to strengthen his heart and that his health will be restored. As always, if you or someone you know is in need of prayer, email me personally through my profile and I will be happy to add them to our list of prayer concerns. There IS power in prayer!