How blessed we are to have friends who lift us up, who speak truth to us, who listen, give advice, encouragement and their constant prayers. This is richness; this is true treasure to have such wonderful women in your life.

Saturday, August 27, 2016


By Guest Author, Jackie Hempel

All I was trying to do was make memories. Instead I watched the sweat drip down the sides of his little angel face while he held out that tattered sunflower. He was hot. I was too but not to the extent he was. His legs are little ovens in the slippery New England summer. I saw that bead of sweat drop and my breath caught. In an instant the heart raged forth, even if for a second, I recognized it. Ive known it before, worn it like a garment in certain seasons of life. What were you thinking God? 

A mom friend on Facebook posted some beautiful pictures of a sunflower field at a nearby farm and I thought, I could pull that off too. And I did. Except it was hard and broke my heart a bit and most of the sunflowers were dead. Which had me reflecting on the story God has called me into and had me questioning Him all over again. Like an ebb and flow of the tide. We are fine, and then sometimes we arent. Why my sweet boy? Did I do something wrong? Did you see this happen God?

In those moments when I see the beads of sweat dripping down his face, falling to the earth, creating mud not flowers, theres nothing beautiful in that moment. And I struggle with understanding how He is bringing good out of a little boy who needs clunky, hot prosthetic legs to run like the wind.

In our text this week, author Angie Smith discusses Fear of Gods Plan for My Life and I have to wonder how many of us feel this way, afraid of His purposes for us, feel like weve gotten the short end of the stick. Blind to the blessings, overly aware of the hurts, griefs and valleys? You see, dear friend, I want to believe that the God I serve is good. That although his ways are not our ways they are still better than my ways will every be, but in those moments, those tiny seemingly insignificant moments, when sweat gets swallowed up by the parched ground, I think to myself, Lord! Feet. You make them every day. How hard is it? And then the evil sneaks in, slyly at first and then with triumphal roar screams, I could have done this better myself. Like I have the power to form the precious life in the womb. And His question to Jonah, do you have good reason to be angry calms the storm. 

We all get to a place where we realize our ways truly arent His ways. We question Him. We begrudge Him. We wonder. We wonder about the holes in our lives, the hurts, emptiness where there should be fullness, abnormal where normal reigns. The relentless sun shines light in the crevices we have in our own lives, and on the abundance that everyone else seems to have (pg 137) and we think, even if momentarily, that we could do it better ourselves. And we do well to remember the question and relinquish our hold on our lives to Him, recognizing humbly that this is His story.
Theyre bent and broken and bruised. Theyre missing petals lost to missteps and tumbles. He still has trouble walking on bumpy ground. Theyre worn but still trying to be lovely. And they sit in my living room reminding me that life is bent and broken and bruised and were all still trying to be lovely. To believe that Gods plan for our lives is better than our ways could ever bethat is a place where I want to stay.

Friends, do not this day, fall into the temptation to believe that you can do it better, that you would be the better God. Choose to be reminded of your place. With lowly humbleness remember what Angie Smith reminds us so gracefully of, a constant dying to self which leads us into trusting the Father. Commit your life to walking beside your Lord, remember the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross for all the brokenness around us. For the pain we have known, the questions that we have and the hurts in our hearts. Choose a place of worship where you hear His love falling around you like a summer storm, beating away the questions and the pursuit of control. Hand Him the reigns and fear not Gods plan for your life.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

The Boys Were Here!!!

Haven't heard from me in awhile???  Well, I have a good excuse.  My grandsons came for a visit:).  Nate (5) and Evan (3) came to "Nana and Papa's house" while their parents went on a well deserved vacation up the coast of California.  All I can say is "No wonder they looked so relaxed and refreshed on those Facetime calls this week!!"

Phew!  Those boys are B U S Y!  There isn't a mud puddle that isn't bathed in, a bug that isn't captured, an obstacle that isn't scaled. 
My two Australian Shepherds, Livvie and Luna, were in heaven!  Two little boys who were equal to their level of energy!!! 
And let me just say, when little boys are visiting, you hear yourself saying the weirdest things like:  "Don't use that saw on the entertainment center!"  "Yes, I did see the bubbles you made in the toilet."  "No, you can't climb to the top of the windmill."  I had forgotten that you are constantly in a state of "high alert"! 

I honestly had good intentions of sitting down at night and writing this past week's blog post, but that did not happen.  These boys got up at 5 am!!!! 
By the time everyone was bathed, snacks eaten, snuggled up,  books read, prayers said, and one last drink of water given...I was D O N E.  I couldn't even think a word let alone write one!!

Yesterday we dropped the sweet grandboys off with their other grandparents, and I drove away with a lump in my throat.  As crazy as those days were, I loved every minute and look forward to the next time.

So this is my LOOONG excuse for not getting the blog post done and my encouragement to you young moms:  YOU ARE AWESOME!!!!!!  That you can do ANYTHING other than mother your little ones is superhuman, and I salute you!!!  

Tomorrow I have a treat for sweet, dear friend Jackie Hempel has written the blog post for this week.  Believe me!  You will not want to miss this post!!  Check out her blog Many Lovely Things here.  You will love it and her guaranteed!

Blessings to you!!!



Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Casting Stones-The Fear of Our Past

I had taken this heartbreaking call a hundred times before from this sweet, beautiful sister in Christ.  She was sobbing on the phone; inconsolable and grief-stricken over a baby she had aborted nearly forty years ago.   

As in many of these stories, the man who was pressuring her into abortion left her a short time later.  All was not lost though.  She met a wonderful man and had two handsome boys; and, in the midst of this life as a young wife and mom, found the Savior of her soul.  All should be well, shouldn’t it?

A black cloud settled over this woman’s life, and the voices whispered:  “That little one you threw away…that was your daughter…your only daughter.”  “She would be ten now…sixteen…eighteen…twenty-one.”  She would be graduating high school…going to college…getting married…raising a family.”   Then would come the moments the loss, grief  and guilt were overwhelming, and I would get a call.

Each time I would listen as she would talk of the latest counseling, the new anti-depressant medications, the frequent dreams she had that tormented her of a beautiful little girl running in the yard playing, smiling up at her with pure love and adoration.  She tried everything.  She named her little girl and even had a memorial service for her through a group trying to help women overcome this kind of loss in their lives. She had her daughter’s name tattooed on her ankle, went to work at a Right to Life clinic in her town.

Why did this deep sorrow and regret keep welling up within her?

This week we are talking about the “Fear of My Past Catching Up to Me.”  Our author Angie Smith entitled this chapter:  “The First Stone” and retold the story of the woman caught in adultery from the Gospel of John.   I wonder…did this woman think she deserved to be stoned?  You see, I think many of us believe we deserve to be “stoned’ and if someone else doesn’t stone us, we will stone ourselves.

This is what was going on with my lovely friend.  She had accepted God’s forgiveness for all of her sins…except this one.  She deserved punishment…She deserved a “stoning,” so she spent years not only tormenting herself, but trying to pay the price.  “If I do this one next thing, that will be enough.”  Except it was never enough. 
It can NEVER be enough…no matter what we do.  We can never do enough or punish ourselves enough to make up for what we have done.  We hear this truth sung in songs, preached in sermons, written in Christian books over and over:  “Christ is enough.”  But even as Christ followers we have to face an ugly truth:  We do not believe Christ’s sacrifice on the cross was enough for this one special sin of ours. This is the ONE that cannot be redeemed by His love and power.   So we add our works to His Great Work to try to find our own peace and when that doesn’t work, we begin the “stoning” of ourselves with regret, “if only,” guilt and even self-hatred. 

It is when we finally see Christ for Who He Is and what He has truly done, that the weight of our “special sins” fall off, and we can finally feel completely forgiven and redeemed.  I love this line in the Mercy Me song “Dear Younger Me”:  “…you were never meant to carry this beyond the cross.”  We were never meant to carry our sins..any of them…beyond the cross.  The song goes on to say these beautiful words:

Dear younger me
It’s not your fault
You were never meant carry this beyond the cross

You are holy
You are righteous
You are one of the redeemed

A brand new heart
You are free indeed

My friend?  I praise God that she finally came to see that her Lord, He had covered her sin once and for all.  SHE DID NOT HAVE TO DO ONE MORE THING!  She was holy!  She was righteous!  Her entire life redeemed!  She was finally free from the hold this sin had on her heart and mind.

He…our Jesus…IS truly enough!!!

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Hannah's Story

by guest writer Susi Rowley

Seventeen years ago this month my life was changed forever.  My brilliant, nearly four year old daughter, Hannah, was diagnosed with leukemia. The fact that statistics said she had an 80% chance of survival up to five years wasn't comforting to read, even when told by the staff at CHLA (Children’s Hospital of Los Angeles) or to hear repeatedly from our friends and family. Yet I heard it often. A 20% chance my amazing Hannah would die was no comfort at all.  At that time, I had been a Christ follower for eighteen years and little Hannah had given her heart to Jesus just three months earlier.


Over the next four years and nine months, the fear and reality of death was all around us. The Lord brought so many families into our lives, most of whom had children given about the same odds for survival as Hannah; however, many of these precious babes died.


How do I keep going with death and sadness all around? First, I wholeheartedly believe that our family, including Hannah, was put in that hospital "for such a time as this.” It wasn't fun or easy, but minute-by-minute we as a family chose to let the Lord be glorified in each situation.


That being said, seeing the Lord seemingly ignore our plea for help and call our amazing gift home to be with Him, while she suffered the unimaginable pain of an intestinal infection and leukemia ravaging her little body, broke my heart. It hurt to breathe. It hurt to think that the Lord was going to be more glorified in Hannah's death than He was in her life.

She was so very loved in her short eight and a half years. Once she got sick, God's people loved our family incredibly well. People all around the world were praying for Hannah, which meant they were drawing closer to the Lord through her journey. She once told me she would live a life of sickness if it brought glory to her Lord. She also used to encourage me to remember that if the Lord chose to take her home with Him, she would be in the presence of the Most High God, and I should rejoice and not be sad. (She also prayed fervently for several moms she knew who had lost their children to cancer and weren't able to minister to their other children due to the grief they were experiencing, and she certainly didn't want that to be me.)

The truth is God can't be glorified in the "why.” Picture your own child begging to go play at the park, "daddy is on his way home and mommy has to make dinner, maybe tomorrow" you say. However, no answer you provide is sufficient for your little one who only wants to hear you say, “YES.”  If I repeatedly ask God why, even if He gave me a legitimate answer, my response would still be "but why"? I would be responding just like my child's response to me. No answer God gives me will make sense.

We simply need to cast our fear on the Lord and trust Him for the strength to go through whatever valley may come our way. You WILL NOT have the strength ahead of time. Stop worrying about the "what ifs.” Only if a tragedy hits your family, will God flood you with the strength to go on. Fretting over all that "might happen" or "could happen" won't bring glory to God and will hinder your ability to serve and minister to your most precious gift…your family.

Hannah has a beautiful younger sister who is currently in Guatemala on a mission’s trip; she is also praying about serving on a ten-month mission trip in early 2017. It would be so easy to quench her desire to serve the Lord because of fear of losing our Abigail. My husband and I have purposed in our hearts to trust the Lord on her behalf and not let the death of our first child cause us to hold Abigail back from God's calling in her life. We also have seen first hand that we can't choose to live or die. We can however wholeheartedly trust in the One who holds the keys to life and death.

The Lord was with us in that hospital room in the final day of precious Hannah's life. He hadn't abandoned our amazing little girl in her greatest hour of need. She was awake and alert and in unimaginable pain yet she suffered holding onto her faith until the very moment she reached over my direction looking far above and beyond my eyes, smiled the most beautiful smile I had ever seen and said "I'm in, I'm in.”

 I believe that death isn't in our DNA. Because God created us as eternal beings and death only came after the fall, dying never sits well on our hearts. Even if a loved one lives a long life, we don't want them to go and miss them terribly after they are gone.  I always told my girls that death is the devil's last-ditch effort to get us to denounce our Savior. Many times and certainly in Hannah's case, the horrible suffering is just the devil working overtime. We give glory to God in and through our suffering. Oh, the crowns my little girl must have received when she entered into the presence of her God! We made a pact that day that we would meet her at the Tree Of Life... We truly have a little treasure in Heaven, and Heaven is a very sweet place for our family.

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

A Different Way to Consider Death

If you have ever been to a baby shower or sat in a obstetrician's office, you've heard them...labor and delivery stories.  Oh, my goodness!  How we love to tell our stories of those life-changing moments.  Having six of those experiences myself, I have heard my fair share of "birth stories."  Like the roommate I had in the hospital after my very first 36 hour labor with son #1 (It is a miracle of God I ever had another!).  As I lay in my hospital bed the color of the sheets, she calmly looked over at me with a smile on her perky face and told me:  "Oh, my gosh!  I barely made it to the hospital!  I had a little backache a couple of hours ago and had NO IDEA I was in labor until I felt a little cramping and the need to push."  Say what???  A little cramping?????
I had changed my mind half-way through the birth process with my son and told the nurses:  "I am going home.  I've changed my mindI don't want to have a baby anymore."  See ya later!  NOTHING could be worth what I was going through.

But I was wrong.  The minute they put that darling, beautiful boy in my arms, I would have done it again...right then.  That is exactly why I had five more after Peter...I knew the joy.

Death is much like birth.  In fact, sometimes I think it is exactly like birth.  Just as with births, there are all kinds of "death stories."  Some are easy and peaceful...some painful and long, but in all there is a "birth" from one world to another.  For those who have loved the Lord Jesus and accepted His sacrifice in place of their sins, there is a "birth" from this dark world into the Light of His glorious presence where there is no more pain, no more fear or anxiety...a new life of pure peace and joy.  Those of us who know Him, no matter how difficult our death,  we will exclaim with joy, "Oh, this is worth it!!!" is as difficult to wrap our minds around this as it is for an infant in the womb to yearn for a world that he has never seen or experienced. 

The reality is for those of us who know the grace of Jesus in our lives, to God, our good Father, death is a welcoming home.  It is our birth into His loving presence and arms. 

Come to think of it, it makes complete sense that Jesus called this new life in Him being "born again!"

If you don't know this Jesus who has made a way for you to perfect joy, peace, and love in the presence of the Father, it is NEVER too late, nor are you ever too far gone.  How He loves you and waits for you to accept this free gift of new birth into TRUE life. If you cannot find someone to talk with about Jesus, you can message me here.  Or click on the link to  join the DV Women's Ministry Facebook Page where you can find a group of loving and compassionate women who would love to answer your questions and give support for your walk with Christ.

If we could grasp the truth of death and what it means to to those who follow Jesus as Lord, we would not fear death.  C. S. Lewis puts it this way:  

“Has this world been so kind to you that you should leave with regret? There are better things ahead than any we leave behind.” 

Well, my sisters, (and occasional brothers:) this is a tough subject to tackle for all of us.  My hope is that as we think of Truth...His Truth..that our fear of death will fall away, so we might live this life with JOY!

Speaking of "joy,"  I have asked one of the most joyful people I know, my dear friend, Susi, to write a post for this week on "The Fear of Death."  I have watched Susi and her family live out a life of hope and joy AFTER losing their daughter,Hannah, to cancer.  You won't want to miss "Hannah's Story" tomorrow on the blog!!!!

Blessings, sweet ones!!!