Monday, May 31, 2010

Emotions Running Wild

Whew! What an emotional couple of weeks it's been! For a lot of reasons, really, but the end of the school year is always emotional for me and, in addition, this year my baby graduated from Kindergarten. What a special little girl! I'm so ridiculously proud of my Olivia!!! Livi's graduation reminded me of two things: #1, time goes WAY TOO FAST and #2, chapters close, everything on this earth MUST come to an end.

Okay, so I'm gonna get right to the prayer requests and updates because this also is part of the reason why the last couple of weeks have been so emotional.

UPDATES: I'm so sad to report to you that our 9-year-old friend, Ethan Bibb, went Home on May 16th. He battled his cancer bravely for about 15 months. I didn't know Ethan personally, but I'm telling you, he moved an entire town like I've never seen before! A whole town uniting in prayer is a beautiful thing, even if the reason is unbelievably heartbreaking. This was really hard for me to deal with as a teacher because he was about the same age as my students (including my Alison) and my students prayed diligently for his healing. How do you explain this to a third grader when I don't understand it myself??? Somehow, though, my class handled it with the faith of a child - okay, so he's in Heaven now. In fact, when I told my girls, my Livi said, "So you mean Ethan's happy but his family is sad?" Yeah, that's about right. That's not to say the kids weren't shaken a little. They just were at peace. It's the only way I can explain it. His family I'm sure is doing about as well as can be expected. It was very bittersweet because at the services, I'm told, they were given one last gift - a rainbow. Not just any rainbow, but a double rainbow. From what I understand, Ethan wrote a story with the help of a family friend, called Ethan's Rainbow. It was touched upon at his service and as the family and friends left, they were greeted by a beautiful double rainbow! Isn't it amzing how even in our darkest times, God will give us signs of His amazing love for us? I'm going to see if "Ethan's Author", as she is so lovingly called, will make a guest appearance on here to elaborate on what a special gift that was. I can't do it justice. In the meantime, please pray for Farris (daddy), Robin (mama), and Lanna (sister) Bibb in the weeks and months ahead as I know they will go through waves of grief. I can't imagine what they are goign through. I just can't wrap my brain around it. I'm praying for them to find strength first in the Lord and secondly in each other and for them to experience a peace that passes all understanding - one that could only possibly come from our Lord. If you've been through the loss of a child, you would know even more specifically how to pray. Please, leave a comment to give us some insight. But above all else, just pray for these precious people!

Also, just as heartbreaking, our friend Tyler, has lost his battle with cancer jus a few days after Ethan. He was almost 3. I'm really at a loss for words for this one. I've been shaking my head for two weeks now. 3 years old! That doesn't even make sense! But I've learned that it is when we continue to trust the Lord WHEN IT DOESN'T MAKE SENSE that exhibit true faith. I'm being honest here, I have a hard time with this. I'm a very cause and effect type person. When my girls make a bad choice, my first question to then (whether right or wrong of me) is, "Why did you do it?" When things happen like an innocent baby getting cancer and dying from it, I want to know why. We can't know why. That's just life and life just happens sometime and often it stinks royally, but I am choosing to trust our Lord. My prayer for Tyler's family is that they are leaning on our Lord right now, too. I pray that they will draw close to each other and to the Lord through this very difficult time.

Also, please pray for Robin Baughman, who is nearing the end of her battle with cancer and is struggling with leaving her young children. I guess she needs peace more than anything right now. Peace, assurance of her salvation, and the hope that Jesus himself spoke of in John 11:25, "I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live."

Please pray for my sister, Karen Pantaleo, who miscarried at 12 weeks. Obviously, she's taking this loss pretty hard. My prayer for her is also that she will draw close to the Lord through this unique grieving process and that her faith will be strengthened in a way it couldn't be otherwise.

Please pray for my friend, Krista Phillips, whose baby DOES have significant heart problems which will require surgeries after birth and later on, too. Krista appears to be holding it together well, but I can only imagine the worry that must constantly lay on her heart for her baby. We need to pray for Krista and Scott and especially for Baby Annabelle.

Now for NEW PRAYER REQUESTS: Please pray for 15-year-old Rachael Barman who was recently diagnosed with melanoma in her eye and will be starting radiation on the 11th. How scary that must be for her! And I know her parents are worried. Please pray for quick and complete healing. Pray for wisdom for her doctors. Pray for peace for her parents and a comfort that can only come from the Lord for our precious Rachael.

Also, I need you to pray for the family of 18-year-old Sierra Barrier who was killed in a car accident late last week. Pray for her family as they try to make sense of this tragedy. Pray that they will rely on their faith. Pray that through this loss they will grow in the Lord, pour themselves into Him until He is all they can think about.

Really that is what we all should be doing everyday anyway, isn't it? I admit, the hustle and bustle of my everyday life (And there is no time more hustling and bustling than the end of the school year!) sometimes get in between me and my Lord. If this heavy list of prayer requests have taught me anything it's that the hustle and bustle should be my second thought, and that's exactly what I'm gonna spend this summer working on. How about you???


Saturday, May 8, 2010

It Is Time

For what, you might ask? It is time for my second "What a Difference You've Made in My Life" contest! For those of you that have read The Heart's Journey Home, you might've noticed at the front of the book the bios of Cassie Ground and Dan Olien and, a little farther on in the book, met their characters. A few summers back I ran this contest, wondering how it would go, and I'll tell ya, it's been a wonderful blessing to me! Cassie's aunt nominated her and Dan's wife nominated him. Through their memories and stories I feel as if I got to know Cassie and Dan. Their families became friends that I will always cherish. Actually getting to meet Brenda and all of Cassie's beautiful family was the highlight of my trip to Ohio this past March. Hopefully they would say they've been equally blessed.

So, I'm doing it again. Beginning tonight at midnight CST (which would be Mother's Day) and ending at midnight CST on June 21 (the day after Father's Day) I will be taking nominations for the person/people who've made a profound difference in your life. All you have to do is send me a personal message through facebook or email ( telling me about the person/people. You may nominate a male AND a female - thus beginning it on Mother's Day and ending it on Father's Day. I just thought it was appropriate - but NOT two of each. Monday morning, June 21st, I will draw a name from the list of females and one of the list of males. Those two individuals will have their bios in the front of The Heart's Lullaby and they will be a MINOR character in the book. That's all there is to it! So what are you waiting for??? :o)

Last time I did this, I told you who I would nominate if I could and they were my daughter, Alison, and my daddy. So I suppose I should do the same this time, too, eh??? For the male nominee, I would have to pick my husband. Chris is just an amazing person, which isn't too surprising because he comes from an amazing family. He's a wonderful father. He reminds me a lot of mine, actually, in the fact that he plays with the girls even when I know he doesn't really feel like playing. He does a much better job at that than me. It's too easy for me to forget to I won't have my girls little forever and it doesn't take long to play a game of Rummy but it means a lot to them. (He wrestles with them a lot, too, as you can tell by the picture!) He works very hard to provide for us and to maintain our humble little house. And, most of all, he's always supported my dream of writing. He understands it like no other because he is a writer and he sets a good example for me by his perseverance and determination. He's just "the one". God hand picked him for me and I'm so thankful.

My female nominee would be my very best friend in the whole world, Patty (Spears) Smith. Here we are in our Senior year of high school. That was prom, I think. Patty would know. She remembers everything about high school! And here we are at our 15 year reunion this past October. I only just realized the color scheme was just about the same! But that's the thing about Patty and me. LOTS of things have changed over the years, but not our friendship. If anything it's only gotten better, stronger. Patty made high school bearable for me. I was teased and picked on, but I knew that if Patty was there, I had someone on my side. We were inseparable. Our poor English teacher tried to keep us apart by putting us on opposite sides of the room, but we'd find a away to sit by each other again. Imagine her surprise and maybe dismay when we drew each other's name for a class project! :o) After high school, we just slowly drifted apart, I'm sorry to say. Still, all along, even though the phone calls and letters grew fewer and farther between, I knew she was there. Then one day a few years ago now, my mom heard from another classmate that Patty had cancer and that she was having a hard time with it. When Mom told me I just had to get back in touch with her . . . and I did! And I haven't been out of touch with her since! Rarely a day goes by that we don't text or message each other on facebook. She's taught me more about true faith than anyone else. I don't think she'd mind me telling a little of her story in hopes that it gives someone else hope. Patty was married shortly after high school and had a son. Unfortunately, her marriage ended. Fortunately, the PERFECT guy for her came along a few years later. It was FIVE MONTHS into this blessed marriage that they found she had a rare form of ovarian cancer. I can't say everything she's been through, and is still going through, with it, but she is always thanking God and praising Him for the good reports AND THE NOT-SO-GOOD ONES! With all she's been through, her attitude is so uplifting that it makes me feel like a better person just to be around her. Her husband Ken and his three kids just magnify the positive energy. And in the midst of juggling her son, his kids, and cancer stuff, they adopted the most precious boy you'd ever want to meet. My in-laws invited them over for Olivia's birthday party because I was so busy I didn't know if I'd get to spend any time with her otherwise and everyone there, most of whom had not met them, were so touched by her and her family. Her faith and strength, kindness and compassion, her nurturing spirit and forgiving nature, everything about her is exactly what I wish I could be. I just love her.

PRAYER REQUESTS: Please pray for the people in Nashville and the surrounding areas. I cannot tell you what devastation so many has seen here in the past week with the flood. If you haven't seen pictures Google it. It has been one of the two worst thing I have ever seen in my life.

Don't forget to get those nominations in and TELL ALL YOUR FRIENDS! Also, leave a comment with last week's post right below here and you'll be entered to win Shawna K. Williams's book No Other. That contest will end this Friday the 14th.

To my mom, if you're reading this, happy Mother's Day! I love you very much! And to all the other moms that had touched my life in one way or another I hope you have a very blessed day!