As I walked along with my one-year-old granddaughter today, I was overwhelmed with love and gratitude. I am so thankful that God chose me, first, to be my baby girl’s mama and now this baby girl’s grandmama.
I see little pieces of many generations all melded together into one beautiful work of art. Each time I see the twinkle in her sparkling blue eyes and the joy that fills the room every time she smiles or giggles, I see the perfect blend of all the goodness of all the generations who came before her, all wrapped into one little bitty joy-filled package.
It makes me sad to know that, in this broken world that just continues to get more and more broken, it won’t be long before the enemy tries to snatch the joy from her. But, as her grandmother and a Christian, I pledge to do my part to help teach her that the joy of the Lord has nothing to do with what happens around us. In fact, the joy of the Lord abounds despite what happens. Hard stop. Read that again. The joy of the Lord abounds despite what happens.
Let me keep it real, though. Unfortunately, I’m not walking around emanating joy 24/7. I’m still a work in progress, too. I don’t always succeed at feeling or expressing the joy of the Lord when bad things have happened. Trust me, our family has had our fair share over the generations, and I used that as an excuse to not draw closer to God for many years.
Thankfully, though, He makes a way to bring good out of whatever evil throws at us. He never gives up on us and that means He never leaves us. I have seen this so many times in my own life and that is why I am a full, devoted believer of Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior. I need to experience things personally, and, mercifully, the Lord understands that and obliges. But it’s also good to take His Word for it to begin with.
The Bible says in its very first chapter, in Genesis 50:20, “As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good in order to bring about this present result, to preserve many people alive.”
And, in Romans, 8:28, His Word says, “And we know that God causes all things to work together for good for those that love Him, to those that are called according to His purpose.”
Trusting the Words in scriptures such as these is what brings us the Joy of the Lord; an unyielding joy that
radiates from us, just like it does my one-year-old granddaughter; a joy not dependent on circumstances.
Lord, I praise your patience with me as I learn from and grow in Your Word and in the Holy Spirit. Thank you for never giving up on us and for pursuing each of us as if we were the only person on the planet. And thank you for the beautiful gift of family, children and grandchildren. May You always remain at the center of our lives and may Your joy follow us throughout our generation and the generations to come.
In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen and Ehmen.
I love reading through my Dear God Journals. He always seems to bring me back to just the right entry for the present moment I’m breathing in. I share in case in helps someone else. Love God and love others as you love yourself Happy Saturday, Y’all!
April 15, 2018
On the surface, it is a dreary, sleepy morning. I awoke to rolling thunder in the distance and now a
rather harsh rain is falling. Of course, with the skylights in my living room, the rain always sounds pretty intense, I imagine much like it does on a tin roof. I have always heard that many people find rain on a tin roof comforting. I’m not sure about that. The sound can sometimes be deafening. It definitely takes some getting used to. Still, even with all the noise, here I sit, safe, sound and dry, tucked away comfortably in my bed, writing you. Now, that is comforting! Insert peaceful sigh, here. I can feel you all around me, Lord. Welcome to my humble abode. Come on in and stay awhile. I love you.
Dear Child of Mine,
I love you, too. I love being in your presence as much as you love being in Mine.
It is a beautiful morning. Listen to the birds just outside your window. Can you hear them singing My praises? They are thanking Me for the rain as they know rain is a necessity of life; a gift from Me to all of creation. When the sun is shining, they thank Me for that, too, as it is also a gift.
You see, child, the birds get it. They understand that I will take care of them, no matter what. They live each moment, come what may. They trust Me to provide and protect. That is how I want you to live as well.
Come what may is a very difficult concept for you. It unsettles you like the roaring noise the rain makes on your skylights or a tin roof. What I want you to understand, my dear one, is that I am like the roof. I am the one that takes the beating so that you can remain safe and dry. I cover and protect you.
As for the sound, I hope you, too, will find comfort in it from now on. Let it be an audible sign to you that I am your protector and provider; that I will never leave nor forsake you. Listen, do you hear it? That, my child, is the sound of true love and devotion. Close your eyes and drink it all in. Live in the moment. Trust. I’ve got you covered. Today and every day, come what may.
Writer’s Note: Though it has been awhile since I have immersed myself in His Presence, conversing via the blank page, I have–this very week–once again discovered that He is always waiting and willing. He loves us, y’all! He really, really does!
Amen and Ehmen!
It’s amazing how many times and how many ways the Holy Spirit tries to get our attention. But, what’s more astounding, is the lengths some of us will often go to ignore Him.
Sometimes He whispers and sometimes it’s as if He is standing on the runway of life, trying everything to wave us down and get us to the right place. But how do we often respond? If you are like me, you sometimes look the other way and then come up with every excuse in the book for your state of total oblivion.
“Sorry, I didn’t see you,” you say, knowing full well both of you know that’s a lie from the pit of hell.
“I don’t have time right now,” you whine, knowing deep down that His timing is always perfect.
And, sometimes, you question Him or, worse yet, just downright ignore Him
We’re human. We all do it at some point. Some of us, more than others. But we are warned, this is a very dangerous practice, particularly when we do it for too long. For, if we do it too long, our hearts can become hard of hearing.
I cannot imagine forever living without the two-way communication we get when we accept Jesus and His Holy Spirit comes to reside in us. What comfort there is in knowing that we are never alone. No matter what is going on around us, He is there to guide us and give us wisdom, to protect us, to comfort us and to empower us to share our God-given talents and gifts with the people of the world so that they, too,
can see Him through us; so that they, too, will want to partake in the joy and power that comes from knowing Him.
In being completely transparent, I have been very sporadic in allowing the Holy Spirit to fully guide me during the tumultuous parts of my story that have unfolded over the past few years. Don’t get me wrong here, though, He has been with me every step of the way during this time, comforting me and giving me everything I need. Thankfully, no matter where we are, He is always all-in with us. The real beauty happens when we are all in, too!
This morning, as I breathe in all the peace and love that He has to offer me, I desire to bring myself to that same all-in status. I want to hear and feel every word He has for me; I want to embrace every bit of direction; every bit of promise and light and hope and joy and love.
Stop with me for a moment. Turn off all screens, close your eyes and breathe Him in. His breath is healing and full of abounding energy. It is rhythmic and melodious like a beautiful symphony. What’s that I hear? Ahhhh, it’s the clock keeping time, synchronizing its rhythm too. Oh, and the sweet birds outside the window are joining in the chorus.
What do you hear?
Breathe. Breathe. He loves us so much. Thank you, Lord.
Amen and Ehmen.
Oft times when I am driving, I choose to drive in silence; opting instead to spend time in prayer. Yesterday was one of those times.
As I headed up the interstate for an appointment in a neighboring city, I continued a prayer that started pretty much after I got laid off in November; a request for holy guidance to whatever most meets God’s purposes for me as well as my financial needs. And, though I feel confident that God is leading me and that the right opportunities are being revealed and validated, the truth is I still have moments of doubt. I’m human.
A glimpse of that humanness presented itself yesterday and I was convicted before I could even finish my opening sentence. These are the words that came from my heart, “Lord, I need You to…”
I came to a screeching halt mid-sentence as the Holy Spirit kindly flipped on the light switch for me. Was I actually about to tell God what to do? Was I really going to tell Him what is best for me? I mean He’s not a genie in a bottle. He’s not my slave. He’s not my employee. He’s the Almighty. The Maker of Heaven and Earth. The Maker of me. He’s the Alpha. The Omega. And he’s the Beginning and the End.
Thank goodness the Holy Spirit waved me down and, instead of me finishing a sentence drenched in complete obstinance, I began to profusely apologize to the Father.
What He reminded me of in that moment was this: I may want God to do a certain thing for me, and I can always ask, but what I really NEED is Him. Plain and simple. I NEED God and His plan and His will for me. Period.
If what I desire falls within that will, then nothing can stop Him from giving it to me. No ifs, ands, or buts about it. There is no chance in Heaven or on earth, that something I really need is not in God’s will for me. My job is to stay in His Presence; to follow Him and His lead and love Him with all of my heart, mind, and soul. He really does know best and He is always there for us, even when we are being stubborn.
Indeed, though my prayer session started out a little rocky, it ended with me feeling more loved, more cared for and more secure than ever. Thank You, God, for always, always being there and never giving up on my stubborn self.
Amen and Ehmen.
And the Word of God says:
“You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it.” John 14:14
“If we ask for anything according to his will, He hears us.” John 5:14
I couldn’t sleep last night and decided to Continue reading
Though I know in my soul that God is in control, I can’t help but feel off-balance these days. In a two-week span, I lost a job and co-workers that I loved dearly followed by the loss of my dear mother, the last of my parents. Those who know me probably remember my father was murdered when I was a child.
And, so here I sit, an unemployed orphan. Maybe that sounds a bit melodramatic, but, even at almost 60 years old, there is really no world nor age group in which that doesn’t sting. A lot. As a caregiver for my mom for the past five or so years and as one who was deeply invested in the hospice volunteer program which I had built from the ground up, these life-altering events left me shell-shocked, particularly in the slow-crawling few days following mom’s funeral planning and funeral.
I nestled myself in the joy that radiates from my beautiful grandbaby for a couple of days, but when she was back at home with her mama and daddy, I was right back in the land of the lost. I know there is plenty I should and could be doing, but I feel stuck; suspended in time.
And, so here I still sit. An unemployed orphan trying my best not to feel sorry for myself; trying my best to not be anxious, but to cast all my cares upon the Lord, as today’s bible verse from 1 Peter, 5:7 so reminds.
I know that I know that the Bible is true and that God is with me no matter what. But, because of that, I have also been beating myself up about feeling sad and lost. I guess you could say I have been grieving grief. I began to wonder if sharing such raw feelings might make myself and others question my loyalty to and faith in God?
Fortunately, I was not allowed to wonder that for long as His beautiful still, small voice rang out not so quietly in my heart.
He reminded ever so gently that I should never hide my sadness or my grief or even my momentary feelings of being lost. Our Savior, was himself, as Isaiah 53:3 describes, a “man of sorrow and acquainted with grief.”
And He, in fact, cried. Not once; not twice, but three times in scripture, He cried. Look it up in John 11:35, Luke 19:41 and Hebrews 5:7-9. Each is near the end of His life and each shines a light on what matters most to our loving God. He is “touched with the feelings of our infirmities,” according to the writer of Hebrews 4:15.
It’s perfectly okay to grieve losses. It’s a part of being human. It’s okay to feel lost, as long as we don’t stay there forever and as long as we remember that we always have HOPE in the Lord. I may not be able to see the big picture yet, and I may still feel sad and worry, but in my heart of hearts, I know that I know that God is indeed in control and has a plan for me far better than any plan I could ever muster.
I also know that I should rejoice in the many blessings that surround me—praying friends and a praying, loving daughter and son-in law that have my back no matter what; a beautiful granddaughter to carry on my mom’s legacy and name; and, above all, a Father who calls me His child and wants only His BEST for me.
As far as the job, I don’t know exactly from where my next paycheck will come, but I KNOW Him and, just as He has always done, I KNOW He will come through, making sure I wind up in the place that I am needed most.
Thank you, God.
Thank you for the incredible memories of my mom and for the knowledge that she is finally out of her suffering and in Your Presence. And thank you for always, always standing in the gaps, no matter how wide they may seem to me. Nothing is impossible for You; nor for me when I walk with You. I love you, Father, and I am beyond thankful to be called Your child. I will never refer to myself as an orphan again, because I am not now nor will I ever be without You.
–Amen and Ehmen
My mama loved hummingbirds. In fact, one of her very favorite pastimes was sitting in her recliner and watching as the little cuties dipped, dived, swooped and hovered while sipping the sweet nectar we prepared and put in the bird feeders hanging just outside her window.
She could tell you which little birdies were repeat visitors from previous years and which ones were new to the neighborhood. She could tell you which were the most aggressive and which were a little on the sweeter side like the nectar they enjoyed.
But, for me personally, perhaps the most memorable thing about my mother’s love for hummingbirds is the times when they were absent. I will never forget that day in May 2020. Like pretty much everyone on the planet, the pandemic was taking a toll on my mama, and she wanted nothing more than to see her beloved hummingbirds once again dancing in the air around the feeder. But, for some reason, sans the two that visited a few times that March when the feeder first went up, there had been no little bird visitors that year.
She was so disappointed, and I was disappointed for her. So, on the morning of May 15, 2020, as she sat sleeping in her chair, her face turned towards the window as if she had fallen asleep looking for her little friends, I began to pray and asked God to please send her a hummingbird to brighten her day.
Sure enough, just a few hours later, as I delivered her some lunch, she was beaming as she excitedly announced she had finally seen a hummer! Was it a coincidence? Absolutely not! That was all our loving Creator. When I told her about my prayer, she sat smiling for hours, a few tears of joy trickling down her cheeks. You could tell she felt His love. I did too
The birds disappeared again after that day, but I think that, too, was by design, giving Him another chance to show the two of us just how much He really cares about us. Fast forward to July of 2020. Mama had not been feeling good for several days and I was very worried. She had some cold symptoms and, of course, COVID was top of mind. So, as I was outside on my lawn tractor mowing the grass, I began to pray fervently.
I asked God for protection for her, for Billie and the sweet baby we had recently learned she was carrying, for my brother who was fighting cancer, and for me and all my family and friends. The pandemic had been so overwhelming. As I prayed, I also asked God if He could send us a sign that everything was indeed going to be okay. Then, I decided to be even more specific. I still remember the words that came from my heart: “Lord,” I prayed, “please let mom see a hummingbird. When I have asked before, You have always faithfully sent her one, so will you please send at least one more?”
I came back in the house and honestly forgot about it until the next day when I went into her room to check on her. As I stood in front of her asking what she wanted for breakfast, she began to grin from ear to ear.
“Oooooh, I forgot to tell you, I saw a hummingbird yesterday. It’s the first one I’ve seen since May,” she said. “It was just the one, but he seemed to really fill up at the feeder and hovered in front of the window for a while.”
I could hardly speak. This time tears rolled down my face as I told her about my prayer. We both felt Him whispering in our ears, “It’s going to be alright. I’m here.”
Today, the day after we laid her to rest, I still hear those words, “It’s going to be alright. I’m here.”
I love you, mama.
As I stood outside this morning, I got a sense of déjà vu. My body did not move an inch, but my heart and mind whizzed through this past year to a day last November that looked pretty much just like today. The sky was clear and blue, and the air was just the right amount of cool.
The morning of your memorial, I remember leaning against my car and taking a few deep breaths, drawing in the peace that surrounded me. It was if nature itself was taking pause to salute your life. The leaves twisted and twirled to the ground, landing in silence. The birds held their whistles, and the squirrels and chipmunks treaded so softly across the leaves, you could almost hear their breath. The peace welled up from within and exploded without.
That same peaceful silence returned at your celebration of life service. Again, nature seemed to take pause to salute you just as the men dressed in their Navy blues slowly raised their white-gloved hands in patriotic gratefulness and reverence. Soft sniffles and cries became the audible sounds of hearts not ready to say goodbye and perfectly harmonized with the faint and gentle sounds of the water moving across the rocks in the river below. Your river. Your home. A pandemic may have caused the change of venue from the memorial chapel to the riverbanks of your own backyard, but I’m here to tell you it was absolutely perfect.
I can also tell you this, big brother. When the sound of that bugle began filling the silence with Taps, it was one of the most moving moments I have experienced in almost 60 years of life. The melodic notes that once signaled the end of the soldier’s day perfectly and gracefully signaled the time to symbolically lay you to rest. A silent hero, humble and true, your work on earth was now done and done well at that.
I know it has taken me a little while to be able to put pen to paper, but sometimes when something overwhelms me, it just has to marinate inside a bit. Today, the day before the anniversary of your passing, I want to say thank you, big brother, for being just that—a big brother. Thank you for standing up for me when I was too young to stand up for myself. Thank you for being there every single time I needed you as I became an adult. When life slapped me down, I always could count on you to help pick me back up. I hope I was able to do that for you in at least some small ways over the years. Thank you for opening up to me and for the special bond that we shared as adults. And thank you for being good-looking, especially since I am realizing more and more just how much we actually favor
Most of all, however, thank you for your heart and for your dedication and loyalty to your country and to your entire family.
It was not long after Gary died, that you were diagnosed with multiple myeloma, a frightening disease on its own, but completely devastating when combined with all the other health issues which had plagued you for decades, most of which were probably attributable to Agent Orange.
I watched from the sidelines as you fought like your life depended on it. Of course, your life did depend on it. But, IT wasn’t the real reason you did anything that you did. You fought these diseases with every fiber of your being, not for yourself, but for others, like your wife, and mama, both of who had already been battered by overwhelming loss.
You valiantly fought and bravely endured, just like you did on the blood-drenched soil of Vietnam.
Once a hero, always a hero, I guess.
I love and miss you, Stan. Save my seat at the table.
Writer’s Note: The following is a true story of God’s faithfulness and kindness in the face of a difficult time in life. It is a true story of answered prayers and of people allowing God to use them. If you ever feel a nudge from above or have a thought that perhaps doesn’t exactly make sense, follow your gut. There is no telling what story God wants to write. Amen and Ehmen. –Brenda.
Erin had long dreamt of her mother seeing her walk down the aisle in her wedding gown. She dreamed of her mom sitting on the front row and watching as she said “I do” to the man they have both grown to love so much.
But there was one huge problem. Her beloved mother is terminally ill and likely won’t make it to the October wedding they have been planning.
Enter Serenity Nurse Case Manager Erica and CNA Nicole. A week earlier, they both were at the patient’s home to check up on her and, as she showed more signs of decline, they discussed her situation with Erin. Seeing the devastation that registered in Erin’s eyes as she realized her mom probably wouldn’t get to see her get married, Erica and Nicole made a suggestion.
“Why not get married next week here in the living room,” Erica inquired.
With Erin’s agreement, Erica and Nicole got busy planning the July 1 event. They shopped for decorations and flowers and called in Robbie, Serenity’s chaplain, to officiate the ceremony. They also called me, the office’s volunteer coordinator, to arrange for a wedding cake which volunteer cook-extraordinaire Barbara was happy to bake.
Everyone was thrilled to help make this special day happen, but no one more than me. Afterall, I had already seen first-hand as God divinely intervened to match this beautiful family with Serenity in the first place.
Rewind to a Friday morning just a few weeks earlier when my phone alarm twirped and tweeted a reminder that I had a long overdue eye appointment later that day in Macon. Realizing I had completely forgotten and already booked my day with patients, I made a mental note to call and cancel and went about my day.
After visiting patients in Byron and Lizella, I made my way to Macon to see my next patient, but on the way, that patient’s wife called and asked if I could delay my visit by an hour. About that same time, a second reminder for my eye appointment popped up on my phone, reminding me not only of my impending appointment time, but also that I had forgotten to cancel it. About that same time, I also realized that I was just a few minutes away from the doctor’s office. Fate seemed determined to get me into that exam chair.
I headed over to the appointment and jumped out of the car to head inside. After closing the car door, however, I felt a nudge to reopen the door and grab my Serenity nametag. I always take it off in the car because it makes the seatbelt more bothersome and, though I obviously didn’t need to wear a name tag to go into a personal appointment, something just told me that on this day, in this office, I indeed needed it. Not one to ignore such nudges, I obliged and clipped it onto my shirt as I walked inside.
After being shown to the exam room, I was soon joined by one of the doctor’s assistants. The assistant, who introduced herself as Erin, sat at a nearby desk and began asking questions to gather information. She paused, however, when she turned and faced me.
“You work with Serenity,” she asked softly. The question consisted of only four words, but her tone made it obvious that there were a lot of feelings behind it.
“Yes, I do. Do you know us?”
“Well, I, I guess you could say that,” she stuttered quietly. “My mom has cancer and her doctors feel it is time to call in hospice. They suggested either Serenity or another hospice here in town.”
“I have been reeling ever since they uttered the word hospice, and I had no idea which one to call. In fact, I prayed all night last night, pleading with God to give me a sign and help me take the right next step,” she continued, tears welling up in her eyes. “You are obviously that sign.”
As I listened to Erin’s words, I knew at once that the events that brought me into the office and the still, small voice that led me to put on my nametag, was far from coincidental and I eagerly shared with them with Erin.
“And you weren’t supposed to be my patient, but the other girl had to leave,” she said, exhaling a deep sigh of relief as she experienced her prayer being answered in real time.
Erin signed her mother up with Serenity the next day and, as is so often the case, the Serenity team quickly became like family to her and her mother. They care for the patient’s every need and aid and advise Erin all along the way, including helping throw her this beautiful impromptu wedding so that her sweet mama could see her say “I do.”
And what a perfect ceremony it was.
Though disease has diminished Erin’s mama’s ability to communicate verbally, it was obvious that she was deeply touched. There was a glisten in her eyes and an almost palpable air of love that circled bride and groom as they took her hands into theirs.
“We can never thank you all enough,” Erin said, leaning in to kiss her mama on the cheek. “Thank you for letting God use you and for being the answer to my prayers.”