Saturday, April 18, 2009

Hope on the Train Tracks

I got an email a while back where apparently Rick Warren, author of The Purpose Driven Life, was being interviewed. It was a very interesting interview but one thing he said struck me and stuck with me. He said that he used to view life as like a type of roller coaster going through hills and valleys, but now after the great success of his book coming at about the same time as his wife's diagnosis of cancer, he views life as a set of railroad tracks, running side by side, parallel to each other. With every praise in our lives right now, we do have something to pray about and with every prayer request we all have a blessing to be thankful for. Running side by side, parallel to each other.

I want to stop right there and say that I want to dedicate this post to Katie Leach and her amazing parents, Ashley and Ron. Folks, this family has more than their share of prayer needs. For those of you new to my blog, Katie is a 6 1/2 year old, sweet angel girl who recently had a FOOTBALL-sized tumor taken out of her abdomen. She also had a small spot on her lung that was cancerous. Yet, to read Ashley and Ron's posts on their Facebook group page, they are so faithful! They have counted their blessings amidst the prayer needs. They have been completely honest and open about what they are going through with their sweet child - things I personally can't get my brain to wrap around. I don't know Ashley, Ron, and Katie personally. I've never met them face to face, but they are in my heart and a part of my family much the same way that my characters in The Heart's Journey Home have become real, true, honest to goodness friends of mine. This is a part of Ashley's latest post. I think you'll easily see how I've come to love this family so much: There is relief in my heart and a renewed hope that Katie will be able to tell this amazing story of hers to anyone who will listen. There's a song that keeps running through my head these days (actually one of many) that says that "we can pray with hope." I studied the word "hope" some time ago and learned that "hope" does not mean just wishful thinking, as we sometimes use it. It is a confident expectation that God will fulfill His promises. That's what I feel: a confident expectation that God will do as He's promised. So, yes, I pray with expectation that God will work ALL this for our good; that He will remain faithful to His own character and love toward us; that His glory will be shown in my Katie's life. Thanks for praying with the same hope, even when Ron and I cannot. I truly believe Katie's "bounce-back-ability" is fueled by your prayers. You are quite the team! And we are so very grateful! I pray God's blessings for you, too, as you've somehow opened His storehouse for us! Ashley and Ron, if only you knew the storehouses YOU'VE opened for US through this journey you've been on. I for one have begun to see each and every day with a new clarity. So thank you!

Okay. I got that much written last night before I fell asleep! Isn't that terrible?! So, now time is of the essence. I'm going to get through this as quickly as I can and still do justice to all of the prayer concerns on my lists, but I have to also get some work in on The Heart's Journey Home before Ali's softball game this afternoon and right now the girls are actually behaving nicely. Opportune time!

Status update on The Heart's Journey Home: Progress is still good but slow. I got over 800 words done Thursday night which was really great progress for me on a school night, but then last night I fell asleep before I could open the file so tonight I have some makin' up to do. And I will. My deadline is May 1st - less than 2 weeks away. It's slightly nerve wracking. I'm not for sure but I think every author gets nervous as it gets closer to their deadline. My biggest "issue" is that I want it to be perfect NOW, even before editing, and it won't be. I've really got to put that out of my mind and JUST WRITE! After my manuscript is turned in and we begin editing it, the real fun begins - cover design, the editing process itself (isn't it always such a great feeling to make something good even better?!), and all of the little extras that The Heart's Journey Home will include. Oh, you'll love it and I'm beyond excited! I feel like a kid two days before Christmas!!! Really!

Moving on . . . You might have noticed I changed the list of Prayer Concerns to two lists. I was starting to feel like I was getting so many requests and I'm pleased with that. I want to be able to serve you all in this way, but I didn't want any of the requests to get over looked on a growing list of prayer concerns. I didn't want to take off the requests for those who've lost loved ones because the grief process is a long one and comes in waves. Someone may very well need more prayer 6 months after their loss. So I put them on a separate list and intend to keep them on the list for a year. Please pray mightily for those individuals. I don't have updates on any of them - what really can be said? As for the rest of the list, I am going to go down the list and update you on the ones I have updates on, but first let me bring your attention to a concern I just added yesterday:

Trey Grant is a friend from our church. He's a husband and a father of two girls (the oldest is my Alison's age) and a baby boy born this past summer. Trey was in a very serious motorcycle accident. From what I understand, he sustained a brain injury, skull fracture, broken sternum, and many other broken bones. He HAS moved his legs so that is a good sign, but as of last night they had him in an induced coma. Please pray for Trey and his family.

My granny, Betty Moltz, was recently readmitted to the hospital with fluid retention in her legs. She is very weak trying to recover from her mild heart attack. Please pray for strength for my granny and my grandpa who has been wonderful at taking care of her during this time - a true role reversal after 60+ years of marriage.

Time for not one but two HUGE praises! Both of the missing persons on the list - Dave Dean and Leif Sherry - HAVE BOTH BEEN FOUND ALIVE AND SAFE! Praise God!! Please continue to pray for them for hope and healing as I believe both men have some issues to work out.

Ethan Bibb is an 8-year-old who recently underwent surgery to remove a brain tumor. Unfortunately, the tumor was cancerous and the doctors discovered the cancer went down the poor baby's spine. Ethan needs a lot of prayer, as does his mother and father, Robyn and Farris, and sister Lana. Ethan is in an immense amount of pain. If you have a facebook account, please join the group Prayers for Ethan Bibb and follow the link provided to his Caring Bridge site. Leave them a note of encouagement. They SOOOO need it! According to the last update on the Caring Bridge site, he will be starting radiation on Monday and hopefully that will help a lot with the pain. Please lift this "Small Soldier" up to the Lord in prayer and let your hope or "confident expectations that God WILL fulfill His proimises" cover Ethan and his family.

I took off Mr. Fred Gross because he has been doing so well the he and Ms. Esther have traveled to Texas recently! Praise God for that!! I also removed my sister Julie and bother-in-law Jon Roeder as their sweet little Kaylee Ann is doing just fine. I can't wait to see them and love on that gorgeous little angel baby. June can't get here fast enough for that!!!

Katie Leach has started her chemo and according to her mama and daddy, is doing great! Seriously, if you haven't joined the group, Praying for Katie Leach, on Facebook, do it. This amazing family has changed my life and I truly love them! Please pray for continued healing for our sweet Katie. Pray that the world can one day know a faith like this family has! What a wonderful world this would be! Love and prayers go out to you, Leach family and especially to you, Angel girl! :o)

Kelly M is the daughter of one of the fellow authors at Sheaf House. The last report I received is that Kelly is in constant pain. Please, please pray about this for them. Kelly has a young daughter that is torn up to see her mama in such pain and of course Kelly's mama is torn up to see her daughter in such pain. Something HAS to be done for Kelly. Please, pray for hope and HEALING for her!

2-year-old Lilly with lukemia is receiving maintenance chemo for another 9 months or so but the report is that she is doing well. Praise the Lord! Please continue to pray for her, that God will remove this disease from her little body PERMANENTLY! That is my "confident expectation"!

Logan West is a 12-year-old that was recently added to the list. It sounds like he is having problems with his platelets dropping. From the information I received, he was rushed to the hospital three times with excessive bleeding. His mother is frantic, and I'm fairly confident that she has a constant knot in the pit of her stomach. It's how I was with my Olivia. Bleeding and issues with the blood is very, very scary stuff! Nancy, if you read this, please have Logan's mother email or call me with any new information. In the meantime, my friends, please pray Jesus' own words over Logan: "This is my blood given for you."

Mark Frohock is a friend of my publisher, Joan. Mark has been diagnosed with Stage 4 lung cancer that has mestacised to the bones in Mark's spine, the lymph nodes, and the liver. He will start this Monday. Sounds not very good, but our God is bigger than any kind of cancer. They gave percentages, but I'm not going to report that. Mark is an individual, not a statistic (I learned that from the family and friends of Ethan Bibb - I learn so much from all of you!) and God IS still in the miracle business! Please pray MIGHTILY for Mark, his wife, Tillie, and his children. Pray with CONFIDENT EXPECTATIONS THAT GOD WILL FULFILL HIS PROMISES! Pray, friends, pray!

Ned Oeder, suffering from liver cancer, went to the Cleveland Clinic yesterday. I haven't heard yet the outcome of the visit, but I know that over Easter weekend he had to go to the hospital because of complications with his blood. I'll have an update on our friend, Ned, soon. In the meantime, please lift him up to the Lord. Pray for healing and HOPE!

Yesterday there was a benefit dinner at our old high school for my best friend, Patty Smith. I couldn't be there, naturally, so I'm waiting anxiously to see how it went. My mom went and said it looked liek they had a good turn out and she said Patty looked really good, too! Yesterday before the dinner Patty said she was just a little achy. I suppose that is to be expected when your body's fighting such a battle! Other than that, she seems to be doing well! Please pray for continued HOPE and healing for my very best friend! I love her so much and I WANT HER HEALTHY!!!

Oooo, oooo, oooo. I just couldn't wait to give you this update! Robin Baughman, the 40-year-old mother of 4 that was diagnosed with STAGE 4 cancer in her brain, breast, and lung, IS CANCER FREE IN HER BRAIN!!! Her one lung is completely clear now and the breast cancer seems to be only an outer ring of cancer cells attached to a fatty tumor. The doctors are still concerned enough to begin radiation soon, but, my friends, THAT IS GOD! There's nothing else to say! When my friend Shelly brought Robin to us as a prayer concern there was minimal hope. Just look what our God can do! Just look!!! (Whew! It moves me to tears that I love and serve such an awesome God!) Please continue to pray for Robin for HOPE and healing. The next update I want to give you is that our friend, Robin, is cancer free. That is my confident expectation!

That is an excellent way to end this post and so, until next time . . .
Love, blessings, and HOPE to you and yours,

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Happy Easter!

Happy Easter, dear friends! I'm so thankful for what the Lord did for me on this day all those years ago! I'm so thankful for His healing hands continuing to be on my Olivia and for His guiding hands to constantly be there in my life. I SOOO need Him!

Today I am also thankful to you for supporting me and visiting my blog often. I check the stat counter regularly and just over the past week the number of visits has grown like I never imagined it would! I've also received several new subscribers and I just feel so blessed to be able to serve you in some small way - whether I leave you with an inspiring thought or entertain you with a chunk of reading material, but always to list your prayer concerns and updates.

I have to be completely honest with you and tell you that, though I feel strong in spirit right now, my human body is struggling. I am very, very tired. I'm working very hard on meeting my deadline while trying to fulfill my duties as a mama, wife, teacher, friend, etc. and now I'm just plumb tuckered out. I'm not complaining. I love every aspect of my life. There's nothing in this world that I love more than my babies and my husband. Teaching and writing somehow compliment each other and fulfill me like no other occupation could. But I need more time. From now until I meet my deadline, my posts will be short with an occasional snippet or inspirational word and I will add prayer requests and updates as I get them so I won't forget any. Please forgive me, but this is all I'm going to leave you with tonight. Please, check the list of prayer concerns as I've added a few.

Serving you the best way I can,

Friday, April 3, 2009

Making Progress, S-L-O-W-L-Y but surely!

To recap for those of you that might be new to my blog, in February 2010 my very first novel, The Heart's Journey Home, is scheduled for release by Sheaf House Publishing. It a story of a young widow who returns to her small Ohio hometown with her spunky, seven-year-old daughter. It's really about how the Lord guides your path in life and often when you think He's going to lead you one way, He leads you in a completely different direction. And it's about all the healing a heart can do with the Lord's help along that journey. My completed rough manuscript is due to my publisher by May 1st.

I am down to 27 days before my deadline and I averaged about 200 words/day this week. That's not good. I'm not exactly sure how much I need to add to that word count to meet my deadline, but I need more than 200/day. The story is all right there. I just have to get it down and that's actually the hard thing right now. My fingers just won't type fast enough and here lately with everything we've been through with Olivia and teaching all day long my brain has moments of lapses where I can't get the words from there to my fingers or I can but my fingers are just too tired to move! *Sigh* So I'm gonna make this post super quick so I can get to writing tonight. Ali's already asleep, Livi isn't far behind, and Chris has to get up really early for work tomorrow morning so he'll be going to bed soon, too. Then it'll just be me, my dog, and my laptop. Ahhh. Now, let's see. About two more cups of coffee and I'll be all set for a l-o-n-g night.

So, do you want a snippet? I recently wrote another scene that I'm in love with and it's because it's another scene between Adam and Grandpa Clayton. (For you newbies, if you go back a few posts, you'll find the first scene between Adam and Grandpa Clayton where Adam is just beginning to wonder about Christianity.) In this scene, Adam is exploring further, and Grandpa Clayton (who is Kate's grandfather, not Adam's) reveals more of his faith journey. For this scene, I had to research the attack on Pearl Harbor and have become deeply moved by the events that day and the impact it had on what is truly the greatest generation of all time. It was a ridiculously high price to pay, but the events of that day made this great country even greater. More than anything, I love, love, love the stories our grandparents have to pass down from generation to generation. I'm reminded of the stories of my Grandma Dominick when she performed with her family band. She sang, danced, and played the saxophone. Once, I think, she danced in roller skates on a drum! I believe there's even a picture of it! My Granny and Grandpa Moltz have been married for . . . oh gosh, I'm gonna mess this up . . . about 61 years or so and they are still so in love. They have a wonderful legacy to pass down especially in this day and age. Chris's grandfather talks of the 1932 basketball team that he was a part of that went to state and won the championship. He is so proud of what they accomplished as a team. And I am so proud of my heritage and the heritage I married into.

As a teacher, I often I feel like I learn more from my students than they learn from me. As a writer, I feel the same way about my characters. Grandpa Clayton has taught me so much about our country's history, about life, love, and loss, and about the undeniable importance of having a real relationship with the Lord. I hope I told his story well enough for you to experience some of Grandpa Clayton's gentle wisdom. It's long. Probably the longest one I've posted thus far. I hope it's good enough to keep you reading. Please keep in mind that, even though it's long, this is just a snippet. There may be a line or two that you don't fully understand because it refers to something mentioned in a previous scene. (For example: Chloe is Adam's daughter and his ex-wife lives in Chicago and Madeline is Kate's daughter.) Also, this is an UNEDITED version. It may change slightly (or drastically) between now and publication. Also, feel free to make a comment. You're input makes me a better story teller. And Sha, I want to thank you for the comment you left me after my last snippet. There really wasn't a better compliment you could've given me and I so appreciate your support. Now, without further ado . . .

Adam pulled into Kate’s driveway, shut off the engine and grabbed his grandfather’s Bible from where he stashed it under the seat. He and Chloe climbed out of the truck and the very next second Chloe ran off to play with an eagerly awaiting Madeline. Adam, on the other hand, wasn’t in that big of a hurry. He spotted Grandpa Clayton sitting in a lawn chair under a sprawling oak and, though Kate was no where to be seen, he moseyed across the yard in that direction.

“Nice day, isn’t it?” Grandpa Clayton said when Adam drew near.

“Sure is.” Although the older man wore a light weight jacket, Adam was comfortable in his t-shirt and jeans.

“Katey’s in the house brewing a pot of coffee. She’ll be out in a little while.” Grandpa Clayton gestured at the empty lawn chair next to him. “Have a seat. Make yourself comfortable.”

Adam didn’t know if he could shake enough of his edginess to qualify as comfortable, but he took a seat anyway.

Grandpa Clayton patted the arm of the chair with the palm of his hand. “That was a good game last night.”

“Thanks.” Then astonishment hit him over the head. “You mean you were there?”

“Nah. I listened to it on my old transistor radio. I don’t make it to too many away games anymore, but Katey and Maddie went with Jane and her family.”

“The boys have been working hard. They really want to win a state championship.” Adam really wanted it, too, but he left that side note out.

“Think you’ll bring home the trophy this year?”

Adam was silent for a moment. He wished he could confidently say yes, but he just didn’t know. “We still have to clinch play offs.” Adam shrugged. “Our team is good, but there are a lot of good teams in our division this year.”

Grandpa Clayton nodded, his bottom lip protruding just a bit. “Well, Adam, I’m guessing you didn’t come over here to talk football.”

Adam leaned forward, resting his forearms on his knees, and he rubbed his hands together. “You’re right. I didn’t.” He took a deep breath and decided to jump right in. “The last time I was here you said that faith is when a person makes the choice to believe even when it doesn’t make sense.”

“That’s it in a nutshell.”

“I need to know more about it.”

“Gotch your Bible?”

Adam held it up.

“Turn to Hebrews 11:1.” Grandpa Clayton gave the instructions and then waited.

Adam opened the front cover, skimmed the table of contents until he found Hebrews, and then flipped to the page number. Finally finding chapter eleven, he began to read. “It says, ‘Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.’”

“In other words, faith is made up of what we hope for and believe in, but can’t see with our eyes.” Grandpa Clayton tapped on his chest. “Faith is kind of like seeing with your heart.”

“Simple as that.” Adam shook his head. Seeing with your heart? How is that even possible?

“I suppose for some it’s as simple as that.” Grandpa Clayton looked at Adam. “But everyone I know has had their struggles.”

“Including you?”

“Oh, sure. Surviving the attack on Pearl Harbor made me question a lot of things.”

Adam stared at Grandpa Clayton in awe and utter amazement. “You were involved in the raid on Pearl Harbor?”

“’Fraid so.”

Adam sat on the edge of his seat, not wanting to pry, but hoping Grandpa Clayton would share some of his experience.

After a few minutes, Grandpa Clayton cleared his throat. “I was a young man in 1941, not that long out of high school, full of myself and empty of the Lord, though I was raised in a church-going family, mind you. Well, I arrived in Pearl Harbor just after Labor Day and I was assigned to the USS Vestal, a little repair ship. Our job was to upkeep all of the other ships. Not a fancy job, but I was proud of the Vestal and the crew that I was a part of.” Grandpa Clayton wore a reminiscent grin. “They were a good group of fellas. Secretly, though, I couldn’t help being just a little bit disappointed that I wasn’t on the Arizona or one of the other battleships where all of the action was. You know the grass is always greener on the other side, right?”

Adam gave a little snort. “Yeah, right.”

“Well, by the time my buddies and I finally crawled out of bed that Sunday morning it was somewhere around a quarter ’til seven. I wasn’t feeling very well, no doubt a result from our late night ashore.” Grandpa Clayton elbowed the air near Adam and Adam chuckled. “So I skipped breakfast. As I made my way very slowly to the bathroom, I remember thinking that if I’d been here in Harvest Bay with my mother and father, with the time zone difference, we’d have already been to church and home by then, and I knew Mother would’ve been disappointed that I was headed to the bathroom to sober up instead of cleaning up for church.”

Adam nodded. He understood that all too well.

“About an hour later, just before eight o’clock, we heard the alarm sound from General Quarters, but we didn’t think much of it. We just thought, odd as it was, that someone was holding a drill . . . until I heard the planes flying unusually close. When I looked out my porthole and saw a big red ball on one of the planes’ wing, I knew it wasn’t just a drill.”

Adam sucked in his breath. “What did you do?”

“We’d all trained for this, but for a minute or two no one really knew what to do until our commander started shouting orders. ‘Man your stations! Man your stations!’ The station I was responsible for was the three inch gun. The other gunners and I got to our stations lickety split, trying to prepare ourselves for what was about to happen. We didn’t have long to process it. Right about the same time we began firing our weapons we felt the ship shudder and rise out of the water just a bit.”

“You were hit, weren’t you?”

“Yes, indeed. Twice. Once on the port side and once on the starboard side. History experts say that the bombs were meant for the USS Arizona moored inboard of us, but it didn’t really matter. We were taking on water fast, and I knew there were men hurt, maybe even dying, below the decks.” Grandpa Clayton let out a little sigh. “But I couldn’t think about that. I had my own problems. After three rounds of firing, our gun jammed. The commander barked at me to go get more ammo while the rest of the crew worked on clearing the jam. I followed the orders without question.” Grandpa Clayton shrugged. “That’s just what you do in the service. But I had a lot of questions after it was all said and done.”

Adam thought if he sat any closer to the edge of his seat, he’d fall out of it. “Why?”

“Well, as I already said, the USS Arizona was moored inboard of us. We were scheduled to service her from December sixth through the twelfth.” Grandpa Clayton gave a humph and shook his head. “As I was heading back to my station, a bomb hit Arizona in one of her magazines. That explosion ignited adjacent magazines and resulted in a blast so powerful that it blew our commander and my fellow gunners right off our ship!” Grandpa Clayton’s boney shoulders fell. “I saw the whole thing. Despite the intense heat, I ran to the side of the ship. Oil had leaked into the water and was burning. There was no way any of them could’ve survived. I had permanent hearing loss from the explosion, received some burns, and a few cuts and scrapes.” Grandpa Clayton’s gravelly voice wavered. “But that didn’t compare to the pain I felt for my shipmates.”

Emotion rose in Adam’s throat and he swallowed hard against it. “I’m so sorry.”

“I was, too, not just for my crew and me but for all of the men on Arizona and the other ships moored on Battleship Row. Over two thousand men died, eleven hundred on the Arizona alone.” Grandpa Clayton wiped a hand over his mouth and down his clean-shaven chin. “I was sure I got a glimpse of hell that day.”

“Is that when you turned to God?”

“Nope. No, I turned farther from Him. Under such horrifying circumstances, some people aren’t able to think clearly. For a while, I questioned whether God even existed because in a young man’s mind it didn’t make sense how a loving God could allow such devastation and destruction to happen.”

“I can understand that.”

Grandpa Clayton gave his signiture nod. “I thought you might.”

“So, what happened?”

“Oh, well, it was utter chaos on the Vestal. With the commander overboard and our ship going down, others began abandoning ship, saving themselves, but for some reason, I couldn’t. I guess I was in shock because I couldn’t do much of anything. I can’t say what would’ve happened to me standing out on the deck an easy target, but,” Grandpa Clayton slapped his palm on the arm of the lawn chair, “by the grace of God our commander climbed back onto the ship.”

“No way!”

“It’s true. It didn’t even look like him at first, he was so covered in oil. But when he started barking at those of us who were left to return to our stations and prepare to get underway, we knew it was him. So, we cut loose of Arizona. With barely enough steam pressure to turn over our engine, we puttered up to safety and beached the USS Vestal.”

“That is an amazing story.”

“It’s more than a story.” There was a sad look in Grandpa Clayton’s eyes and Adam was instantly sorry for his thoughtless remark.

After a brief moment of silence, Adam said softly, “Your faith seems so strong now. How did you get from there to here?”

Grandpa Clayton slid his gaze over to Adam. “The love of a good woman.”

Adam glanced at the house just as Kate emerged carrying a steaming mug and all of his senses involuntarily came alive.

“My Bonnie was a nurse at the hospital on the base. I finally went to get checked out when the ringing in my ears wouldn’t stop. She asked me if I minded if she prayed for me. The foolish boy that I was told that pretty young thing that she could do whatever she wanted, that it was still free country for the time being.” Grandpa Clayton chuckled as Kate approached and handed him his cup of coffee. “Thanks, Katey.” He took a cautions sip.

Adam hopped up. “Here, Kate. Take my seat.”

“That’s okay. I’ll get another chair from the garage. Be back in a jiffy.” Kate turned and headed back toward the house.

Adam couldn’t keep himself from watching her go.

Grandpa Clayton cleared his throat. “As I was saying, when my Bonnie laid her hand on my shoulder and earnestly prayed for me, a stranger, my soul stirred. Despite all of the death and destruction, there was a sweet, little glimmer of hope. For about two weeks I kept going back to see her with fake pains in my back or knee or whatever I could think up until I finally got up the nerve to ask her out on a date.” Grandpa Clayton smiled staring off into another place and time. “She told me yes, but she would have to pick the time and place.” Grandpa Clayton turned to Adam with a twinkle in his eye. “Do you know where we went on our first date?”

Adam shook his head.

“We went to a young adult Bible study that she was leading at her church and then out for coffee afterwards.”

Adam grinned. That sounds just like Kate. But then his expression fell slightly as he questioned Grandpa Clayton’s, and, in all honesty, his own motives. “So you became a Christian for your wife?”

“No-o. No, no, no. You can’t become a Christian for someone else. I became a Christian for me but it was because of Bonnie. Sometimes the Lord brings people into your life who will very gently take your hand and lead you to Him.”

Adam redirected his gaze to Kate, crossing the lawn with a chair that matched his and Grandpa Clayton’s. “I’m beginning to see that.”

“That’s good. You’re seeing with your heart. That’s a start.” Grandpa Clayton looked thoughtful for a moment. “You know the old saying, ‘Everything happens for a reason?’”

Adam nodded.

“Well, it’s true. The Bible promises us that God uses all things for His good. All things. As terrible as that December day was, there was good that came out of it – in our nation, in the world, in my life. Because of what happened, I met Bonnie, and the forty-two years I spent with her were the best years of this old man’s life. It took a long while, countless evenings of Bible studies and a whole lotta prayer, but she helped me grow to have a solid relationship with the Lord.” Grandpa Clayton’s eyes became misty and Kate laid her hand over his. “And when He called her home twenty-four years ago, I still had that relationship to bring me peace and comfort.” Grandpa Clayton shrugged. “If ya ask me, that’s what faith is about.”

Adam’s gaze fell to his beaten, worn tennis shoes. He could never have a faith like Grandpa Clayton’s and he couldn’t stand the thought of letting Kate down, not to mention Chloe and the rest of his family. “I . . . I don’t have it in me.”

“Yes, you do.”

Adam stared at Grandpa Clayton. “How do you know?”

“It says in Romans chapter twelve verse three that ‘. . . God has dealt to each one a measure of faith.’ The hard part is done for you. The seed has already been planted. Now all you have to do is grow it.”

“And how do I do that?”

“First, you have to make the commitment to believe without seeing even when it doesn’t make sense, to trust in the Lord when you don’t understand. Then, just keep doing what you’re doing now – read your Bible and ask questions when you need to. It would be good to attend church to worship and fellowship with other believers.”

Adam shoved his fingers through his hair. Commitment? Church?

Kate leaned forward. “Just take it one step at a time. It’s a journey, Adam. A marathon, not a sprint.”

Adam looked at Kate suddenly very aware that she didn’t enter his life by some crazy coincidence. Driving from Nashville, she’d had five hundred miles for a flat tire to occur, yet it happened just a few yards from his parents’ house. Was that God? The corners of Adam’s mouth turned up. “One step at a time, huh? I think I can do that.”

PRAYER REQUESTS: I've gotten some more heart wrenching requests, guys. This first one is the grandparent of a sweet little girl in my class. Please pray for Janet Kraski. It was recently discovered that she has a mass on her brain. From what I understand she'd been having some memory loss and having a hard time making heads or tails out of simple tasks such as counting Monopoly money. She went in for some tests and that's when they found the mass on her brain. They are scheduled to do a craniotomy on Monday morning to remove and then biopsy a baseball sized tumor. Please pray for the strength and peace for Janet as she is awaiting surgery. Pray for a soft, fuzzy blanket of comfort to be wrapped around her family, including the sweet child in my class, who is not fully aware of all of the details. Pray for the doctors that they will have wisdom and discernment to know exactly how to treat this tumor. Please pray with all of your might that this tumor NOT be malignant. I will update you on this as soon as I get an update.

I also need you to pray for a distant cousin of mine. Her name is Verona. Her mother was my grandfather's sister. I have recently learned that Verona's daughter, Marissa, has passed away from Parkinson's. Please pray for peace for Verona and her family. Pray for the kind of peace that fell upon the raging waters when Jesus simply lifted His hand and said, "Peace, be still."

UPDATES: Many of you have become a member of the group on facebook, Praying for Katie Leach, so you may already know that our Katie is having a surgery on Monday to remove a spot on her lung. Please pray right now that this spot is NOT cancerous. Pray that these excellent doctors cannot even find the spot! Wouldn't that be something?! I wanted to put this picture of Katie on here so you'd know exactly who you are praying for. Isn't she so sweet?! Look at that angel face. Ashley said in a recent post that Katie is already working on coordinating her hats with her clothes. This entire family is remarkable. I get on facebook daily and check Ashley or Ron's daily posts and am unceasingly amazed at the faith they have shown through this ordeal with their sweet baby. If you have not yet become a member of Praying for Katie Leach, I encourage you to do so. You won't be sorry! I'll bet you'll quickly grow to love her as I do.

PRAISE REPORT: This is new. I don't know why I haven't added it sooner because it is SOOOO important to praise our Lord. I have had an amazing thing happen to me this week that has truly been a gift from God. There's no other way to put it. Through 1 letter that I got via snail mail, I found and connected with six family members on facebook whose mother or grandmother was a sister to my grandfather. (One of them lives only about 30-40 minutes from me!) My heart feels so full to have this new family that I'd only ever heard of. It's my heritage. It's part of who I am and I'm so thankful to have them.

Finally! We've come to the end of this post! Whew! Please keep your eyes on this computer screen until we've come to a complete stop. I hope you've enjoyed your stay here and thank you for riding this ride with me! :o) Until next time, love and blessings to you and yours!