A Father’s Sacrifice

This is my devotion that posted today on http://www.christiandevotions.us; you can read many wonderful devotions on this site daily.

Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others. Philippians 2:3-4

As a young child, fried chicken, mashed potatoes, and homemade gravy was our Sunday meal. Today, I still crave my mama’s fried chicken—a dish I can’t duplicate. Maybe it was the little can of grease sitting on the stove that gave it that extra flavor.
Years after the passing of my father, I mentioned to my mom how I couldn’t believe Dad really liked the chicken backs. A huge grin covered her face. She said, “He didn’t, but he ate them so you kids would have the best pieces.” That day, I saw a tiny glimpse of the sacrifice my father had made over the years.
The central event of the Christian faith is Jesus’ death on the cross. His Father’s sacrifice to all of us so we would have the best. He paid the price for our sins. Through His grace, we are allowed to have a relationship with the Father. Jesus’ death and resurrection are the only things that allow us to enter heaven.
My dad sacrificing his wants at our Sunday meal was the central event for me at our dinner table. Unfortunately, for years that sacrifice went unnoticed.
Let’s all remember the great sacrifice our Father in heaven made for us. I can’t even begin to imagine the magnitude of that sacrifice.

 

#Know Who You Are-Live Like It Matters by Tim Tebow, –Book Review

#Know Who You Are Live Like It Matters by Tim Tebow

This is a book review I wrote for the Baptist Standard online magazine. A wonderful book.

Readers will recognize sports icon Tim Tebow as Heisman Trophy-winning football player at the University of Florida—former NFL quarterback and now an outfielder with the New York Mets. Tebow shares his heartfelt journey of loving Christ, no matter the cost.

Tebow’s message, “The only identity worth having—is found in Jesus Christ,” is seen throughout the pages of Know Who You Are-Live Like It Matters. As he shares his successes and failures, readers are drawn into the events of his life. Tebow journeys back to his childhood and introduces his parents, emphasis the significance of family.

This book is intended to speak to the heart of home homeschoolers. Even so, being more than 60 years old and stepping out of my comfort zone with a new adventure, I was encouraged and reminded our identity is from Christ and not from this world.

The author guides readers through thirty-six lessons. Each begins with a Bible verse and concludes with the opportunity to journal thoughts, feelings, and opinions. The interactive guide is set up in four parts with nine lessons each.
It is a great resource for discovering or confirming our identity in Christ. In a world searching for significance, readers are reminded our identity is from Christ and Christ alone.

Creation Cries

This is my devotion that posted on http://www.christiandevotions.us today.

 

I stand in awe at the unending beauty of God’s creation.
A towering evergreen, a tree stump, or a fluttering hummingbird, each tell their own story. As I walk the beaten paths of a state park, I see visitors with cameras in hand documenting their stay. The captured beauty will soon be pasted in a scrapbook or transform a plain wall into a colorful mosaic.
Sadly, the forest tells another story. Visitors who view a healthy tree as firewood. Campers who rush away, forgetting to extinguish the embers. Hikers who mark the trails with liter. Homeless who take shelter among the pines. These narratives are visible to the world, and the pain is felt by many.
Consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. The Creation waits in eager expectations for the sons of God to be revealed. I rejoice in these words from Romans and lean into the hope that creation will be liberated from man’s disrespect. Nature will be magnified when we get to heaven, and creation will be free from the hands of our neglect and abuse—free to sing.
We have hope in the message that God will liberate us from the bondage of this earth and that we will stand in awe of a place we can’t imagine. Until God returns, let’s care for this beautiful earth. Be mindful of the discarded gum wrappers and cigarettes butts that dot the land.
Your actions can change the landscape of God’s creation

 

 

The Journal Box

This is an article I wrote for the Care Connection Magazine.                                                                                                                The Care Givers Ride
As a child, I would write in my diary, then as a young adult, I would fill the pages of decorated journals. All those adventures and emotions are now trashed.
However, I started writing once again, but now I call it journaling. I believe journaling is the voice we can use to travel into the caverns of our heart.
As caregivers, it is important to have a safe place to visit. We spend so much of our time providing for our loved ones— creating a safe place for them. We sometimes forget about “us.”
I would like to share several pages from my journal.
April 26 2004
“I love flipping through cooking magazines, day dreaming about the wonderful meals I am going to prepare. However, I know it is only a dream. I barely have time to get a batch of pancakes thrown on the griddle, before my duty as a caregiver pulls me in another direction.
May 7 2012
Two more flips of the calendar will greet me with my 63rd birthday. Billy is only 2 years older than I am. I lost the brother I knew in 1987.He cannot change the fact 25 years ago someone kicked him in the chest and the life he knew is forever gone. He struggles daily to accept his imprisonment. Remnants of bull riding and serving his country decorate his room and overshadow the tubes that hang from his distorted body.
I haven’t always been the care taker of Billy. It doesn’t seem that long ago I questioned Mom’s decision to bring her total care son home from the nursing home. Mom died a little over eight years ago. I now fill that role of primary care taker. Yes, friends and family warned me of burnout and reminded me “You have a life of your own”. My first thought was to run away. I just spent the last 6 months caring for my dying mother. I wanted nothing more to do with sickness and responsibility. I tried to convince myself Billy would be better in a nursing home. But, something tugged within, an invisible string running through me—binding love, duty, faith. It runs deeper than I can imagine, reasoning and logic hold no power over this force. I now know what unconditional love is all about. I had a choice to walk away and give the responsibility to someone else. To my surprise I chose the role of the caretaker. When I enter Bill’s room I escape the reality of my world. I leave my to do list on the kitchen table. Gunsmoke and I Love Lucy re-runs entertain us. We recall old childhood memories and laugh together. For a moment, Mom, Dad and our oldest brother dance in our laughter then quickly return only to a memory. I wish I could say I never grumble about the work and responsibility, but I can’t. This choice can’t be justified to the outside world nor does it need to be, it is a connection between brother and sister that has no boundaries. Bill’s slurred words, “thank you, thank you” warm my heart.
August 10 2014
!! Hospice
December 18 2014
As I write Christmas cards to my friends, something is missing, for over ten years I always signed my cards, with Billy’s name also. This is the first year I cannot.
There is a going to be a lot of firsts for me this coming year, the first Christmas not buying “Big Red” or gathering in his room around his bed playing a silly word game.
Billy died sept 4th and his death has left a hole in my heart, a disjointed feeling. He was more than a brother he was an extension of me, you see I have been his voice for over ten years. I chose his clothes daily, his tv shows, the time his light would come on and the time his light would go off. My total care brother and I merged 27 years earlier when an accident left him  total care.

That is where I am now, stepping into the emptiness. This pain and emptiness would be black if I didn’t have the light of Jesus to guide me through. Jesus mourned for his friend John, so I know nothing is wrong with mourning—my care giving ride has ended.
Compassion fatigue is often the silent pain caregivers carry deep within,

Last week I wrote about stepping out of my comfort zone.
But this morning I see it from a different view. Why God would choose a poor Texas girl with a speech problem to write about his daily provisions and mercies still amaze me. And now I am stepping out of my comfort zone and sharing my testimony with others. Last night, I shared my journey with ten strangers. I spoke about giving God 100 percent of my tears and fears when I didn’t think I could go. I was so encouraged with the warm affirming response I received from these ten women.
I was nervous on the way to the meeting, but I soon remembered friends were praying for me. So today, as I reflected on the affirmation from the ladies and how my story touched their hearts, I realized that I had been lying to myself, when I said, “I am stepping out of my comfort zone.” If I am with Christ, how can I be stepping out of my comfort zone? He is my strength.
As I prepare to share my testimony/book with Hope Springs Mother and Daughter Tea this coming week, I will hold fast to the knowledge God is my comfort zone and His arms will be surrounding me as I share my story.

The Stranger with a Hug

During the Christian Writing conference, our instructor gave us an assignment. A five minute writing prompt. The word was “stranger.”

Here is an excerpt from my writings: “A stranger to some could be considered dangerous, but to others it brings a new friend, a new adventure. I hope I can look into each strangers face and see what Jesus sees. I hope I can accept the gift the stranger has for me.”

My “stranger with a hug” encounter. While nervously waiting for my appointment with the publisher, a lady put her hand on my shoulder and said, “You will do good.” She quoted a Bible verse, then hugged me. I relaxed and attended my meeting with confidence, knowing God was with me.

Thanks to the lady in a crowd of 200 who saw me.

How a stuffed dog and a drunk driver strengthened my faith

 

How a stuffed dog and a drunk driver strengthened my faith

 

As a child, I would write in my diary, then as a young adult I would fill the pages of decorated journals. All those adventures and emotions are now trashed.

 

However, one batch of my scribbles remain, my book, “The Unbreakable Cord.” My daughter’s car accident inspired the book. At the time, the events were so overwhelming, I isolated myself from my feelings and emotions. Using a stuffed dog, Woody, as my voice, I began journaling. I gave the little fluffy dog a personality and I channeled all my fears through him.

 

Different genres fill the writing field and the same is with caregiving. To the viewers, our life looks like a fiction movie. But, we live the suspense pages of our nonfiction journey. Writing my first book was like my years of caregiving— overwhelming.

 

When I decided to publish my book, someone told me, “You should choose the fiction genre, no one will believe that many things can happen to one family.” It took fifteen years to transcribe my scribbles into my nonfiction book, The Unbreakable Cord.

 

My new blog, The Caregivers Ride, shares my experience of writing and the involvement of being a caregiver. You may wonder how the two are similar. Looking back, they seem the same, not the experience, but the fear, the questions, and the doubts. Stepping into the world of punctuation was as new to me as stepping into the world of caregiving.

 

Some of you are in the beginning stage of your novel, while others are writing the last chapter. Maybe you story is a short story. For others, their caregiving journey is a series, with one character leaving to only be replaced with another.

 

The main characters of my suspense book were a disabled brother, an injured daughter, and an ageing Mom. They danced and cried on the pages of my journal.

 

So, in this blog, I am using punctuation to ride through the caregiver’s heart. Punctuation marks tell the reader when to speed up, slow down, when to stop and even what to expect coming. I’ve blogged about the question mark; the exclamation point and the comma.

 

However, today, I am setting aside the punctuation marks and writing about how I chose my titles.

 

The title of my blog, The Caregivers ride, relates to my experience of caring for my disabled brother. A photo of my brother riding a bull hung in his room until his death. But my brother’s accident wasn’t from a bull ride but a bar fight. Maybe it was easier seeing a photo of a bull rider than a bar fight. Realizing life is a ride, no matter if you are learning the craft of writing or the skill of caregiving.

 

For my book, I had many working titles. but when I submitted my manuscript I reflected on the one consistent theme throughout the book. Hebrews 13:8, Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever.” His love is unbreakable. So, my new title, The Unbreakable Cord was born.

 

For me, the experience of caregiving and writing were the same. I could only do my best. I know for myself, focusing on one chapter or one doctor’s visit was all I could manage on some days. I surrounded myself with support groups both in the caregiving field and the writing field. I hired helpers and editors. As time passed, questions became less and I moved into each assignment with a little more confidence. However, the work didn’t stop.

 

My hope is no matter how many rejections notices come in your mail box or how life invades your space and you can’t find time to write the book trapped within, you will hold tight to the cord that never breaks.

 

I suggest using your appointment book as your journal. Use a punctuation mark or an emotion icon to note the feeling about that day, that doctors visit, that loneliness, that writers block. Then when you have five-minutes free time open your journal and expand your feelings. Write from the heart, journaling is a rough draft and is for your eyes only. Who knows maybe one day your scribbles will become a book.