Following God with Courage

"This is my command--be strong and courageous! Do not be

afraid or discouraged. For the LORD your God is with you wherever you go." -- Joshua 1:9 (NLT)

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Endings, Beginnings & Puppy Training


I had a lovable hound dog, Copper, for eleven, short years.  Copper was a wonderful gift from God that I did not pick for myself.  God taught me a lot about Himself and His faithful love through that dog.  The chapter of life that Copper, God and I went through was rich and full with plenty of its share of ups and downs.  Some of life’s greatest joys (marrying the love of my life and my best friend, the birth of my son) and greatest heartaches (watching my son go to be with Jesus) were shared in that chapter.  We had a very special bond, and my heart was broken when Copper had to go.  I was not ready for that story to end.  I wanted God to let me keep my gift and physical comforter and keep learning those sweet lessons on faithfulness and love.  However, God said it was time to move forward.  The Copper chapter was ending.


After Copper was gone, I did not want another dog any time soon.  I knew I enjoyed being a dog owner and would eventually want another dog, but I wanted to wait a while, possibly a few years, savor the memories, and in a way, hold onto the old.  However, God had other plans in this as well.  So, He gave me another dog and the Lily chapter begins. 

Lily is so incredibly different from Copper.  She is full of energy with selective hearing and does not really come across as cuddly or loving.  It’s snips, jumps, and more training after a hard day of work.  I still miss the Copper days of hugs and snuggles.  Copper was very laid back and easy going and gave lots of hugs, especially toward the end of his life.  It would be easy to get angry at Lily because she does not act like Copper, but once again I am seeing God show me some things about Himself and myself through this different, energetic dog named Lily.

She is a working class dog, a shepherd by breeding, an Anatolian Sheppard/Great Pyrenees mix to be precise.  Have you ever thought about how many references there are to shepherding in the bible?  That’s a thread to follow on another day, but I’m starting to ponder it.

Puppy Training:

I have been watching videos and reading everything I can on how to train Lily to be a balanced and well behaved dog.  We want her to be able to live with us - that includes being able to go on vacations, go to the beach, and mingle with guests when they come over. 

She is incredibly smart.  I mean, she is pure impressive.  However, she is also very strong willed with that selective hearing.

One day last week, while I was working on training her through running her, I was also praying, and it was like God asked me if I was listening to what He was saying through this puppy.  The following is what I heard.

When I am training Lily, I know where I am going, and I know the best and safest route.  I don’t stop and ask her opinion or which way she wants to go.  Similarly, God is my leader.  He knows the best and safest route for me to go, and I must trust His leadership. 

When I am training Lily, I do not act like I care about her wishes or how she feels.  I don’t ask her opinion or let her lead part of the time.  However, I do care very deeply about her well being, safety, and feelings.  I love it when I catch a glimpse of love, thanks, and admiration in her gaze as we run. 

Just because God is not letting me chose the path I want (and right now I would not pick the path we are headed down) does not mean that He is unconcerned.  Sometimes He leads beside the still waters.  Sometimes He leads through the valley of the shadow of death.  Either way, He is a caring and strong leader worth following, and He delights in my looking to Him with thanksgiving and admiration.

I need to trust my alpha leader the same way I am asking Lily to trust hers.

Until next time.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Let the Praise Music Begin!

Jesus Washes Over Me... 

I find myself avoiding music.  
I find myself walling myself in with focus on duties...
Work, laundry, cooking, housework...
Upbeat that doesn't reach deep inside...
Celebrating every small accomplishment...
Avoiding music and real emotions...

Then I force myself to listen to what I was avoiding.
I choose to praise no matter my circumstances or emotions.

Then Jesus washes all over me.
Then the tears start.

I wish I could hold Nehemiah again.
I wish I could see his little lips go "Ohhhh" 
as I tell him stories and sing him songs
about how wonderful Jesus is.

Then Jesus washes over me like a wave.
Then He soothes me like a salve.
And I realize...
Ohhhhh, how true the songs were.

As Jesus washes over me...
As the tears flow....
I realize just how really, truly wonderful Jesus is...

I am sad,
and I am happy...
Jesus is so, so very, very.... 

He is all I promised Nehemiah He was.
And one day... 
I will live with them.

Sunday, March 31, 2013

Easter 2013

With Easter on the horizon, my thoughts and emotions have been all over the place.  I want tomorrow to be a Holy experience with God, but it is hard for me because last year was such a hard, yet, special Easter.  I fear that all others will pale by comparison.

Last year, Nehemiah was in the hospital in Birmingham.  Josh was in Mobile having gone back to work and having become sick with a stomach virus and unable to come see Nehemiah and I.  Last year on the eve of Easter, I was splitting my time between the Ronald McDonald House and my son’s hospital room in the RNICU. 

But, last year was such a very special year.  God was so very, very near to me as I told my son of the baby that was born a little baby like him but grew to be a big man like Daddy and died on a cross so we could all go live with him & his father in a wonderful place one day.  I felt like I could reach out and touch God because He was right there in the room with me, and I never felt alone.  I missed Josh and my family tremendously, but I did not feel alone. 

This year is so very different.  Josh and I have spent the day together.  We had a relaxing morning lazing around and eating pancakes.  Then we cleaned house together, and finished the day off with a date to one of our favorite restaurants.  There is a part of me that feels like I should feel so much more blessed this year than I did last year because things are going “good” this year.  But, I know that last Easter was an especially BLESSED Easter. 

I have spent a lot of time over the last year thinking about what “blessings” are and what we really pray for when we pray for blessings.   In her song “Blessings” Laura Story sings:

When friends betray us

When darkness seems to win…'Cause what if your blessings come through rain dropsWhat if Your healing comes through tearsWhat if a thousand sleepless nights are what it takes to know You're near
Is the revealing of a greater thirst this world can't satisfy
What if trials of this life
The rain, the storms, the hardest nights
Are your mercies in disguise”.
What if my greatest disappointments or the aching of this life

I have spent a lot of time thinking about that.  The first time I heard the song, I knew there was a message there that resonated with me.  Blessings did come to me in the form of events that caused me to shed a lot of tears.  I had to wonder if that was what blessings really were, and I struggled with anger when I thought that it was. 

We pray for blessing because we want good things for us and good things for our family and friends.  We pray for blessings because we want to be happy and we want the difficult time to end for us and our loved ones, but what if God has something else in mind?  So, I turned to scripture, and this is what I found Jesus teaching about blessings:

“God blesses those who are poor and realize their need for him,
    for the Kingdom of Heaven is theirs.
God blesses those who mourn,
    for they will be comforted.
God blesses those who are humble,
    for they will inherit the whole earth.
God blesses those who hunger and thirst for justice,[b]
    for they will be satisfied.
God blesses those who are merciful,
    for they will be shown mercy.
God blesses those whose hearts are pure,
    for they will see God.
God blesses those who work for peace,
    for they will be called the children of God.
 God blesses those who are persecuted for doing right,
    for the Kingdom of Heaven is theirs.”  --  Matthew 5:3-10

And, it occurred to me that the things God blesses and the blessings he bestows are not really what I am most often thinking of when I pray for blessings. 

It caused me to stop and think more as I pray.  When I am thinking of praying for God to bless a friend, do I mean help them be humble, help them hunger and thirst, help them work for peace, mourn, or be persecuted for doing right?  Not usually.  I usually mean to ask God to take some of the burden off of them and to make their life easier, but maybe I should pray for them to experience God in the blessings He knows to be best for them. 

I mean I would like for my life over the last year to have turned out differently.  I would have loved to have spent last Easter and the last year at home with my wonderful husband and beautiful son.  I still physically ache for Nehemiah.  But, if we had gone home from the hospital in February and all been healthy, I probably would not have experienced God on the level that I did.  I probably would not have felt Him so real in the room with me.   I would be a different person, and I would not have the testimony of how very true that verse four is when it says those who morn will be comforted.

This year, Easter means THANKSGIVING to me.  Thanks to Jesus for coming to this earth and enduring all He did so I can go live with Him and my son one day.  Thanks that he gives me comfort and strength to carry on here on earth while I wait for the time I can go live with Him.  Thankful that He lived and died and arose... very, very thankful.

Happy Easter, everyone.  

Saturday, February 23, 2013

103 Things I Love About My Husband

I usually write this list for our anniversary.  This year after the death of our son, I have been a little slow on getting things done.  Sorry, My Love.  It is not a reflection on my love for you.  It is just a side effect of how I was wounded when our precious Nehemiah went to live with Jesus.

103.  The way he smells after a shower.
102.  The way he hugs me tight in bear hugs.
101.  The way he likes to hug me.
100.  The way he prays over me.
99.  The way he cries when he worships God to Rich Mullins.
98.  The way he desires to provide for our family.
97.  The way he takes his word seriously.
96.  He loves sci-fi.
95.  He reads to me.
94.  He likes to play games.
93.  He is not competitive when he plays games with me.
92.  His kiss.
91.  He loves my iron skillet Brussels Sprouts.
90.  He likes my artichoke chicken.
89.  He loves my roasted asparagus. 
88.  He raves over my salad dressing.
87.  He encourages me to paint.
86.  He raves over how wonderful all my craft projects are.
85.  He likes my paintings.
84.  He thinks my paintings should be worth a lot of money.
83.  He buys me paints.
82.  He surprises me with flowers.
81.  He encourages me to sew.
80.  He cares about my dreams.
79.  He really loves God.
78.  He reads his bible every day.
77.  He likes NCIS.
76.  He likes Star Trek.
75.  He loves his mom.
74.  He loves his sisters.
73.  He's best friends with his borther.
72.  He makes me a priority.
71.  He texts me a hundred times a day.
70.  He Google Chats with me.
69.  He video chatted every night when he couldn't be with Nehemiah and I in Birmingham.
68.  He cares if I have had a bad day.
67.  He loved Nehemiah.
66.  He supports my grief over Nehemiah... even the ways that are different than his.
65.  He grieves Nehemiah with me.
64.  He values his friends.
63.  He loves making stuff.
62.  He loves fixing stuff.
60.  He changes the oil in my car.
59.  He fixes my car's breaks.
58.  He respects my dad.
57.  He likes my brother.
56.  The way he is Susanna's special uncle.
55.  The way he laughs with Leah.
54.  The way he loves his nephews.
53.  The way he supports me in supporting my friends.
52.  The way he supports my love of my nieces.
51.  The way he took care of me when I was pregnant.
50.  The way he fixes me breakfast in bed.
49.  The way he is excited to tell me everything.
48.  The way he shares his day with me.
47.  The way he takes my side.
46.  The way he loves my family simply because they are my family.
45.  The way he lets me love Copper.
44.  The way he helps me take care of Copper.
43.  The way he is proud of his sister.
42.  The way he is proud of the accomplishments of his friends.
41.  The way he is learning to be a better man... growing in God, getting stronger.
40.  The way he supports the things I do to try to better myself.
39.  The way he leads us to church.
38.  The way he loves our Sunday School class.
37.  The way he helps me be early to church on the days I teach Sunday School.
36.  The way he helps me study to teach Sunday School.
35.  The way he has my back in any life situation.
34.  The way his skin feels.
33.  His eyes.
32.  His hands.
31.  The way he rubs my head when I have a headache.
30.  The way he held Nehemiah.
29.  The way he loved watching me hold Nehemiah.
28.  He tries to buffer my stress.
27.  The way he read to Nehemiah.
26.  The way he loved to hear me sing to Nehemiah.
25.  The way he helped me nurse Nehemiah.
24.  The way he stands so strong for things he believes to be right.
23.  The stand he takes on movies.
22.  The stand he takes on TV shows.
21.  The stand he takes on book content.
20.  To hear him sing in church.
19.  The compromises he makes over music vs. TV in the evening.
18.  The way he lets me decorate.
17.  The way he wants to make our house and home a reflection of us.
16.  The drive he has for quality workmanship.
15.  The way he cleans the floor.
14.  The way he helps in the kitchen.
13.  The way he does the laundry.
12.  The way he really wants to get me all the things I need or want.
11.  The way he likes the beach.
10.  Biking with him.
9.  We love the same restaurants.
8.  Worshiping with him.
7.  Hearing him talk about the latest thing he read in the bible.
6.  The way he helps me set up for Saturday programs.
5.  He volunteers at my work just for me.
4.  He thinks I am the best at my job.
3.  Swimming with him.
2.  His love of sunsets.
1.  The way he out of the blue just says, "do you know I love you?"

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

2013 New Year Goals

2012 has come to an end.  My Love and I wish it a bittersweet farewell.  2012 held extremes in highs and lows for us.  We experienced the blessed joy of the birth of our first son along with the soaring joy of holding him in our arms.  Then we experienced the deep, deep sorrow and pain of his leaving us to meet Jesus face to face.  So, we say, “Farewell 2012.”  We will always remember 2012 with a mixture of fondness and heartache, but we are ready for the hope of the unknown of 2013.

I do not usually set New Year resolutions or goals.  I have used it as a time to evaluate my devotional time and to get back on track after what might have slipped during the November/December Thanksgiving/Christmas hectic schedule, but as I seek healing and recovery from 2012 in 2013, I have decided to do things a little differently.  This year, I am setting New Year Goals.  As I do so, I am looking at the priorities I want in my life.  As 2013 starts, I want to take the opportunity to check my priorities and set reasonable goals for achieving a lifestyle that reflects these priorities.

That said, HAPPY NEW YEAR!  And, here are my 2013 Goals:

  1. Read two full chapters (one from the Old Testament and one from the New Testament) from the bible and ask God what He wants to say to me everyday.
  2. Thank God for at least 10 things everyday.
  3. Pray for My Love and our marriage every morning and evening.
  4. Purposefully do at least one special thing each week to make My Love a priority and show my love for him.  Be creative with it, and do a variety of things throughout the year. 
  5. Do at least one thing a week to pamper myself or just for my enjoyment because I am special to God.
  6. Integrate principles from Messies Anonymous ( to organize our house, improve the flow of our house, and lesson the stress of housekeeping for My Love and I.
  7. Make exercise like going to work, eating breakfast, and brushing my teeth.  That is, make it something that I just do everyday.  Stop thinking of it as an extra something.  It makes the rest of my daily activities easier and hurt less.  It is necessary.
  8. Pray daily that I reflect God and honor Him in how I do my job and relate to others (staff & public) at work.
  9. Evaluate all the "Rules" that I live by:  are they biblical, are they beneficial to both Josh and I, why do I think I "have" to do this.
  10. Seek ways to show my love and appreciation for all the wonderful people God has placed in my life.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Happy Birthday, Nehemiah

Three months ago today God blessed us with a beautiful son we named Nehemiah.  Hard to believe it has only been three months.  Our lives were so forever changed by God through him.  Thank you, Jesus, for Nehemiah.  Give him a kiss from Mommy and Daddy.

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Friday, May 25, 2012

Keep asking ...

I have been having a bad week.  I was ready to give up and crawl in a hole.  I did not feel God.  I miss my sweet baby.  And, I just did not feel connected to My Love.  But, a friend reached out to me and shared this scripture.  I read it and asked again for a touch from God and for His help in connecting with My Love.  He answered with a great night with My Love and the strength that connecting with him brings, and I feel I might can face another day.  I am still begging Him [Jesus] to stay close to me and to ease the pain, but He gave me hope just when I was ready to give up and crawl in a hole.

Thank you God for the answered prayer, thank you for strength from my husband, thank you for my husband, and thank you for using my friend to reach out to me with your word.

Scripture :

Luke 11:9-10 New Living Translation (NLT)

“And so I tell you, keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for. Keep on seeking, and you will find. Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened to you.  For everyone who asks, receives. Everyone who seeks, finds. And to everyone who knocks, the door will be opened."

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