Sunday, September 23, 2018

Forget Skinny, Find Healthy

I have to admit since writing my last post about finding Skinny Susan I've had subtle reminders of who that girl was.  When Skinny Susan was in high school all she wanted was to NOT  be Skinny.  She wanted to gain weight.  She didn't want to hear those rude boys say she had "chicken legs".  She didn't like being asked if she was anorexic.  She was a young girl who ate snickers every day at lunch just hoping to add weight.  So, let's forget Skinny Susan; she is in the past.

Present day Susan, "me" grew up.  I put on that weight I always wanted.  I'd say I got a little more than I bargained for over the past 10 years. I take full responsibility. It's all my fault because I love cake!!! Any cake will do; cupcakes, cheesecake, sheet cake, round cake, cake!!! So, in a nutshell, my love for cake and lack of movement has brought me to this point of weight gain.

Now I need to do something about it.  I have to create a new Susan, a healthy one.  A Susan who can balance out what she eats with exercise.  Moderation!!! Since posting my last blog I have a friend who is going to start walking with me.  I have been told of excellent books that help with a lifestyle change and not a diet (note* I'm not knocking diets.  If you are on a diet, good for you and best wishes).  I am trying to find what will work for me.  I've read that weight loss and hormones go hand in hand so I will research that aspect of weight loss.  I am going to read a book called, Eat Right 4 Your Blood Type by Dr. Peter J. D'Adamo recommended by my aunt.  I came across a blog called, Runs for Cookies and the author really inspired me in her weight loss journey.  She is on facebook if you want to type in Runs for Cookies and check out her inspiring journey.

My goal is to get educated on what I can do to do make a change and then to make it!! Thanks for your prayers and encouraging words.  Once I figure out my plan I'll share it. If it helps me reach my goals for a stronger, healthier Susan then I've succeeded.  I want to be the best wife, mother, daughter, aunt, Sunday school teacher and friend that I can be.  Being healthy is key!!!

Go be a blessing . . . 

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Where is skinny Susan?

All of my life I was skinny.  In high school, I was asked if I ever ate? Goodness, I ate.  My dad and I would go to the Beacon Restaurant and I could eat a hash-a-plenty and then split a banana split with him. I ate, but my metabolism must have been 'out the roof' because none of the food caused weight gain.   I weighed a whopping 98 pounds when I graduated high school.  I weighed in at 104 when I got married.   Right after delivering a beautiful, healthy 7 pound 1-ounce baby girl, I weighed 117 pounds.  All of this took place prior to my 29th birthday.  Then my 30's came and my weight began to creep up just a little.  Toward the end of my 30's I encountered some anxiety and panic episodes, so I started taking Lexapro.   Lexapro was a lifesaver in helping me maintain the mental balance that I needed, BUT it also helped me gain a TON of weight.  I don't regret taking it, but I wish I could have kept a better handle on my weight.

I sit here now, in my late 40's wondering where Skinny Susan is? I weigh the most I've ever weighed in my life.  I am tired of being tired and I want to make a change.  I have tried diets and failed. I've drunk the shakes and counted calories without success.  I know me; diets don't work.  I want to find a balance of moderation in the foods I eat and daily exercise.  I need to make a lifestyle change that I can grow old with, not a fad diet that I will just quit.

Pray that I will find what works for me. Pray that I will be consistent.  I'm going to research and pray and ask the Lord to guide me on this new journey.  I am an active person and keep busy. I am teaching in the 3 years olds at church with Mrs. Julie and she runs circles around me. I have to step up my game to keep up with her and those precious kids. I pray that I can make a few lifestyle changes that will put me in better health, give me more energy and allow me to fit back into a size 6 !!!  If you are struggling with weight issues and have any tips or would like an accountability partner just message me and maybe we can help each other.  Life is a journey and we are not on it alone.

Go be a blessing . . . 

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Believing in Jesus is not about religion, it's about a relationship.

To my friends who don’t care to have anything to do with religion, please hear me.  Forget about religion and think about a relationship.  I understand where you are coming from and your skepticism.  You have observed a variety of so-called “Christians” living in several different ways.  You wonder why one attends church weekly and yet you hear them gossip.  Another hardly ever goes to church but says they are praying for you.  What’s a person to think? Let me tell you that both of these people are Christians. We are imperfect people living in a sinful world. Jesus came to save us from ourselves (our sins).  He was born from the Virgin Mary and lived a sinless life.  He willingly died on the cross for our sins and was buried in a borrowed tomb, three days later (as the bible says) He rose to life and is alive now.  Stop a minute and let that soak in.  He did all of that for me and you and all He wants is a relationship with us.  I have been a follower of Jesus for many years and during that time I have suffered my share of loss, heartache, and pain, but I have also known deep love and forgiveness.   Today I am asking you to reach out in prayer to Jesus.  He created you and He loves you more than you know.  Take a moment to think about how much you love your child, your spouse, or your parents; the love that you feel for them is just a fragment of how much Jesus loves you.  I guess what I’m trying to say is if you want nothing to do with Jesus because of how you have watched people live; then stop watching them.  Jesus didn’t call us to follow men but to follow Him.  Pull up the bible app on your phone or grab that bible your granny gave you and read about Jesus for yourself.  Talk to him, He will listen and you will be glad you did.  Satan who is very real wants you to believe his lies and to feel shame, guilt, and sadness.  He would like nothing more than for you to believe that you don’t need Jesus. Trust me, Jesus is ALL you need. He is waiting to hear from you, will you accept Him?  I am praying for all who read this, but especially for my friends, who don’t  know  Jesus.  He’s not just some story people in church talk about; He is real. Don’t give up on Jesus because people have let you down; He deserves better and so do you.   

John 3:16 “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only Son, that whosoever believes in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”
1 Peter 1:8-9 “Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the end result of your faith, the salvation of your souls.”
Romans 3:23-25 “ for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,  and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.  God presented Christ as a sacrifice of atonement, through the shedding of his blood—to be received by faith. He did this to demonstrate his righteousness…”

Go be a blessing ...

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Do you believe the lie?

     Do you ever feel like you're the last one to "get on board"? I have to say I am that person.  Quick example; years ago there was this big production about Team Edward and Team Jacob, you may remember? ( I can't help but smile as I type this) if you've never seen the movie you won't understand what I'm talking about, so forgive me.  I'm not one to go to the movie theater often and I had no interest in reading that popular book about vampires.  I was pretty much out of the loop on all of that stuff.  My friends were posting on Facebook whether or not they were on Team Edward or Team Jacob.  With no knowledge of the movie I interjected that just from their physical looks; I would have to be on team Jacob.  He had those muscles and that tan!  I really wondered how anyone could be on Team Edward; his pale look alone did not appeal to my eye.  Okay, fast forward to last fall.  I'm flipping TV channels and I see this girl sitting in a school cafeteria and she asks her friends who the guy is walking in the door?  He gave her an uninterested look and somehow I was hooked.  Not only did I sit down and continue watching that movie, I had to find someone to loan me the other movies so I could watch what happened next. Thank you Amy Solesbee and Pam McGinnis for loaning me your copies.   I ended up buying the entire Twilight Saga and now I fully get the team Edward/ team Jacob thing.  I get why these moms took their daughters to the midnight showing of New Moon.  7 years later and I am finally "on board" with this whole vampire thing. I now know I would have been 100% on Team Edward.  It has come to be one of my favorite movies.  I love the purity of their passion and the dedication Edward and Bella had for each other.  I wish I would have been one of those moms back then and seen it on the Big Screen ( how exciting it must have been).  Ok let me get back to my point; I am always the last one to get "on board".  I guess you could call me a skeptic.  I don't like to follow the crowd or go with what's trendy.  You can take one look at my closet and see that. You'll find navy blue, gray, black and a few dashes of color.  I own a hand full of clothes and if you were to see me every day for 2 weeks you'd know the 5 Life is Good t-shirts that I wear on rotation.  I am a stay at home wife and mother.  I work for myself and clean for one family once a week and another family once a month.  I read, I journal, I send encouraging cards, I pray and I take care of people.  That is who I am and what I enjoy.  It's a simple life and I like it.  Don't get me wrong I have aspirations of writing a book.  I don't know what topic, but if it's the Lords will; He will fill in those details.  Honestly, my reasons for writing a book are a bit selfish.  I want to write a book to encourage others, but also so I can autograph them :)  Yes, I want to write something to help others, then I want the joy of writing the reader a special note and autographing it.  That is what I look forward to the most. How's that for honesty? 

Another "hip thing" that I am just now coming "on board" with is the show Fixer Upper with Chip and Joanna Gaines.  Chris and I stumbled across it one Saturday while flipping channels and I was hooked.  I not only loved their simple and elegant designs, but I loved how they openly love each other.  It's apparent they are a Christian couple and have a heart for others and family. I decided to "Like" their page on Facebook and watched a short, yet eye opening video from Joanna this week.  She talked about growing up as the child of a Caucasian father and Korean mother and how she never thought of herself as being different until the kids in the school cafeteria stared at her.  After feeling like all eyes were on her, she said she went to the bathroom and locked herself in the stall. She went on to say, that was when she believed "the lie was sown, that who she was, wasn't good enough." Oh my goodness !!! When I heard those words I was taken back to my day, when in the D.R. Hill Middle school cafeteria< as a 7th grader, a girl who lived in a brick house in Duncan asked me where I lived?  I told her that I lived in Startex.  She then asked what kind of house I lived in and I said a wooden, two-story house.  At that moment, she laughed and commented to the others that I lived in a wooden house.  She made it sound like living in a wooden house was a bad thing.  That moment is when my lie was sown, when I too, began to feel like I wasn't good enough.  I knew Startex was a lower income Mill Village and Duncan was the community of brick homes and in-ground pools.  My dad worked in the mill as a loom fixer and her dad had an executive job and worked in an office.  Even though my parents worked hard and provided all of us kids with name brand clothes, dance, piano, guitar and even horseback riding lessons.  My mind couldn't get past the lie I was told that day.  She didn't tell me the lie ( bless her heart she was believing a lie too), it was Satan. He wanted her to think she was better off than me because of where she lived.  He wanted me to believe I wasn't as good as she was or the others in her neighborhood because of where I lived. He is subtle like that, striking when you don't even realize it.  
      I don't know exactly when I stopped believing that lie.  I guess sometime in high school I was confident enough in my walk with the Lord that I realized life was more than where I lived.  When I'd go to my Acteen's group at church on Wednesday nights and see the places those missionary's would visit I became very thankful for our mill house. It wasn't the fancy brick house of Duncan, but it was enough.  I knew people in my community who lived in poverty and I watched my parents help them on many different occasions.  My dad and I would buy groceries for a local food bank and I can remember going with him to deliver the boxes of canned goods.  My mom took an unwed mother under her wing and bought her a gown, robe and slippers to take to the hospital when her time for delivery arrived.  She also bought formula and baby clothes for that baby. I knew we were not rich, but we had compassion and love for others.  I wanted to have an in-ground pool and I wanted to have the latest trendy clothes, but that wasn't part of the Lords plan for my life.   It's funny, it wasn't part of His plan then or now :) I have to laugh because I'd still like to have an in-ground pool.  God has a great sense of humor with me.  I love Him.  He knows what I need and what I don't need.  What in the world does all of this mean? What is my point today?? Oh yeah, I want to know if you believe the lie? 

Satan comes only to steal, kill and destroy.  He wants to steal your joy, don't let him!  He wants to kill your desire to love others, to do good, or whatever it is that he is working on in your life.  Don't let him!  He wants to destroy you, your family, your life.  Don't let him!!! Don't believe the lie Satan is telling you today.   What you can believe is God's word.  He tells us in 2 Thessalonians 3:3 "But the Lord is faithful, who will establish you and guard you against the evil one."  For a season, I believed the lie and Satan hasn't stopped trying to spread others.  We have to purposely believe in our hearts and realize the truth that is only found in Jesus.  I want you to know the truth.  Accept Jesus if you haven't and follow Him.  Don't wait to get "on board" with Jesus.  Trends come and go, friends come and go, but the Lord will be with you always.  It's simple; John 14:6 "Jesus answered, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me." Rebuke Satan and he has to flee.  Call on the Lord and He will answer. Get "on board" with Jesus and stop believing the lie !!! You are good enough, as a matter of fact, you are a priceless, one of a kind masterpiece !! 

Go be a blessing . . .

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

One mystery after the next ...

I have always been an open book, but lately I have kept some things private. For months I have struggled with what I thought was low blood sugar.  I would feel faint and assume that if I just ate something I'd feel better.  A few years ago my doctor had me test my blood sugar daily for 2 weeks.  I had to record everything that I ate and what my sugar levels were.  My sugar levels seemed to be where they needed to be, but to be safe my doctor decided to do a 3 month A1C test.  I enjoyed the sweets of Halloween candy, the bulk of Thanksgiving foods, my birthday cake and Christmas treats. Yes after the three months of October, November and December he checked my A1C and again it was good.  I was thrilled to find out that I was NOT a diabetic. I kept the testing kit and from time to time would check my sugar ( just for curiosity).  Fast forward to last summer when I began struggling with a faint feeling.  Sometimes it would happen after I stood up or when I finished working out. Sometimes my sugar would be low and I'd eat and feel somewhat better; other times it would be normal.  I pursued my doctor and had blood work on 2 occasions, an  EKG. We really chalked it up as low blood sugar and left it at that. I was not satisfied as the holidays came around and I found that Olivia was having to go out and buy most of the Christmas gifts as I didn't have the energy.  Once the new year rolled around I decided to make some changes and get to the bottom of this health mystery.  I was considering going to a new doctor and having fresh eyes check out my symptoms.  I guess that's what needed to happen since I ended up with a trip to the cardiologist and another EKG.  Since my brother Jeff passed at 53 of a massive heart attack he wanted to do the heart cath that I had last week.  It wasn't a bad procedure and the staff took good care of me.  I especially liked nurse Chuck who brought me a Klondike bar when I got back to recovery.  The cardiologist said I had no blockages and my vein/arteries look great !!  I was thrilled to hear such good news. That still doesn't explain why I feel the way I do, but we are working on ruling out my heart.  Now I have to wear a heart monitor for 30 days, then return to the cardiologist to go over the results.  This is step two in the process of trying to solve my health mystery; trying to figure out why I feel faint at random times and why I have low energy when I really shouldn't.  For instance a trip to the grocery store wears me out; I don't think it should.  Speaking of grocery shopping, let me interject a funny story right here.

My 16 year old daughter got a snake for Christmas. Yes, I always said that we would NOT have a snake in our home and I told her when she left for college she could get a one.  Well back on December 19th I found myself at Immediate Care.  I had walked a mile and half that morning, had scrambled eggs, tomato and almonds for breakfast. I rested for about 30 minutes then got in the shower.  No sooner than I got in the shower I felt like I'd pass out.  I had to hop out fairly quickly and sit down. My stomach was out of whack and I was nauseated.  I asked Chris to take me to Urgent Care where they did an EKG and other tests. The results were normal and the doctor said I could have had an episode of Vasovagal. She gave me some tips and told me to follow up with my family doctor.  Olivia had driven over to the Immediate Care office and was waiting when Chris and I came out.  She saw that I was okay and wondered if we'd follow her over to Pet Smart to see something ( a snake) she wanted for Christmas.  Oh my goodness !!! Was she kidding me? I just had my heart checked and she's asking for a snake !!! I had planned to sit in the car, but when I found out she wanted a snake I had to make the effort to go inside and check this out.  Once I saw how small the snake was (it looked like a glorified, colorful worm ) I gave my okay for the purchase ( I was ready to get back home).  So it turns out Ember the snake didn't bother me as much as I thought he would and I have come to "like" him.  I've even held him.  He is in a locked, glass aquarium with two lights on top.  Just recently one of the lights got moved from the spot it should have been sitting on.  Due to that movement it warped the lid, thus making a very small opening.

Fast forward to this past Saturday and my first trip out since my heart cath.  I was in Ingles with Chris shopping for a few grocery items.  I had gotten tired and was actually sitting on one of the food counters when my cell phone rings.  It was Olivia so I answered it.  She began with, "Mom we have a really big problem here at home"?? I asked her to tell me what was going on so she said she went to take Ember, the snake, out of the cage to show her friend Kacey ( my other daughter :) but Ember was no where to be found.  She said she took all of the bedding out of the cage and looked everywhere.  I told her to keep looking and we'd be home soon.  Remember how grocery shopping wears me out on a good day? Yeah, well at this point I really needed to go sit down.  We came home and I looked through all of her drawers (unfolding clothes to see if Ember had curled up somewhere warm) no luck !!! Day turned into night and we were going to sleep not knowing where the snake was hiding.  Olivia slept in her room with the door shut so Sunny our cat couldn't catch and kill Ember while we were sleeping  ( remember this was her Christmas gift and it, nor the aquarium came cheap), we wanted to find this snake for more than one reason.  Smart Olivia googled what to do when your corn snake escapes.  It said to put a heating pad on the floor with food and water for your snake and then put baby powder around the edges.  This way if the snake comes to eat you will see his trail.  So she did that and sure enough Sunday morning the food she left for him was gone and there was a trail, but we did not find the snake.  We did, however, know that he was in her room, he was alive and he did eat.  That was Sunday morning.

Sunday evening Chris and I drove to Washington Baptist Church in Pelzer to hear Charles Billingsley sing.  He is one of our favorite singers.  I usually call the church or venue that he is coming to ahead of time to see if it's a ticketed event.  This time since I'd been in the hospital and had a crazy week I didn't do that, we just went.  Well, when we got to the church there was a long line waiting to get inside.  I heard the woman in front of me talking about her ticket.  I tapped her shoulder and asked if this were a ticketed event and she said yes.  I asked if you could buy tickets at the door and she said did not know.  She said they had a few they were selling in the foyer that morning.  I looked at Chris and said, what are we going to do? A few moments later I over heard a man behind me saying he had two extra tickets.  I turned and asked to buy them and explained how we had driven almost an hour to get there and didn't know we needed a ticket.  He was so kind he just gave them to us.  We tried to pay him, but he said he was glad we could use them ( it was a divine appointment he said).  So he handed us two tickets worth $14.  We proceeded to the concert and had a wonderful evening.  He was a blessing.

We drove home and got in close to 10:00 p.m.  Since it was bedtime I went to change out from my day heart monitor to my night one. The picture on the left shows the monitor on the charger and the tape that I have to place on my chest ( I keep them charging next to my bed).  They snap on and off and I wear it just above my heart. The tape stays on for 3 days, but I change the monitor's out twice a day.  It's a little painful snapping the new ones on, but it's what I have to do for 30 days.  Here's to much information, but it's what makes the story funny. I was standing next to my bed with only my panties on (I was about to put on my gown), but I had to switch out the monitor first.  As I am standing there unsnapping the day monitor, Sunny our cat comes by and is very interested with something under my night stand.  I immediately called Chris to come and bring a light.  I proceeded to take care of changing out my monitor while he finds the snake in the corner. I called Olivia to come get her pet.  So I am half naked with a heart monitor on while she is retrieving a snake from not only our bedroom, but under MY night stand.  Lord help me. LOL  The night before Sunny had slept close to my head ... I am really thankful for my cat.  I think he's looking out for me.  It will be interesting to see what kind of results were recorded on my heart monitor that night.

So this is long and personal and quirky, but it's my life.  I love Chris and Olivia and all of our pets and crazy days.  I am so thankful for them. Chris has been by my side and taken such good care of me through all of this.  Sweet Olivia has folded laundry, ran errands, and even blow dried my hair for me.  I am a blessed woman.  My face book friends sent so many sweet and encouraging posts, texts and private messages.  I even got some snail mail ( which I love)!  I can't remember when I have felt prayers more than during this time.  I am so grateful to each person who has prayed for me.  Thank you from the bottom of my excellent heart.

Much love and prayers for you always,


P.S. That opening on the snakes cage has been duct taped !!!!

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Fruit of the Spirit

Grace and peace to you my reader,

Today my mind has turned to the Fruits of the Spirit.  Love, Joy, Peace, Long suffering, Kindness, Goodness, Faithfulness, Gentleness and Self-Control.   Recently I received a message without a greeting or an ending (oh it wasn't rude, but it wasn't very personable either). I thought to myself; "why bother to even send me that?"  I began to think about how that person could have had a bad day or was in a hurry (things like that happen to all of us).  I prayed and asked the Lord to take away the negative feeling I was experiencing. At that moment the Lord brought the fruits of the Spirit to my mind.  I immediately looked them up and printed them.  I think everything happens for a reason, so I decided to go with it.  On that day I had to send many emails to people I didn't know.  Our daughter attends school out of our district so every year I have to email people in both school districts to get her released from one and accepted to the other.  It's quite the task of calls and messages.  Anyway, I made sure each email had a positive greeting and a sincere closure.

Fast forward to today; I was reading in my Sunday school booklet and the subject of greetings were mentioned.  John wrote in Revelation 1:4-5  "Grace and peace to you from Him who is, and who was, and who is to come, and from the seven spirits before His throne, and from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, the firstborn from the dead, and the ruler of the kings of the earth." I learned that the greeting grace and peace was common in the letter's of John's day.  Wow, what two powerful and wonderful words to use in greeting someone.  True grace and peace can only come from God.  What an awesome reminder to me.  Isn't God so good?   In our fast paced world taking time to be courteous is a valuable attribute to practice. Goodness knows I've learned my lesson.  Does that mean I'll never mess up? No, but I have been reminded to make an effort.

I know that I am not as friendly as I used to be (insert sad face). Yep, it is true.  I find myself moody at times and wonder if it has to do with my age,  being pre-menopausal, or my hearing loss (which is often frustrating).  Whatever the reason this little incident, which is really just a little incident, has opened my eyes anew to the Fruits of the Spirit.  I have been challenged to strive harder to live those characteristics out.  I am going to work on my attitude and being kinder and gentler.  I know we live in a different world, but good manners never go out of style.  I pray that I will learn Galatians 5:22 and live in a way that is pleasing to the Lord.

Grace and peace to you.

Blessings !!!

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

The Lord has spoken

God is good, all the time. It was not His will for Tammy to come live with us.  We are heartbroken, but we believe the Lord's hand is upon us.  So many of you have been praying with us and for us and we thank you.  The Lord is faithful and good.  His mercies are new every morning.  He is my rock and my sustainer.  He is everything we need.  He is good.  I thank Him for this journey.  Now I can stop calling adoptions once a month to only be told to wait.  Now I can stop wondering if today will be the day that we will get that call. It's finished, it's over.  That's it !!! In one, 2 minute phone call our year of waiting was over.  So we will continue to do what we've always done and now with even more experience ... we will trust the Lord and seek His plan. 

Thank you for your prayers, cards, texts, emails and calls of encouragement during this time of grief. God is healing our hurt and we are moving on with life.  At this point we have NO plans to pursue adopting another child.  We only got our license to specifically adopt her.  If the Lord sees fit to change our hearts then so be it, but just to let you know that is not OUR plan. 

Life has many different seasons for us to go through; the Lord is teaching me to choose to embrace each one as an opportunity to seek Him and get to know Him more. He loves me, my family, Tammy and you.  He's ways are higher than our ways and His plans are the best. 

 I love this old hymn:

'Tis So Sweet to Trust in Jesus

  1. ’Tis so sweet to trust in Jesus,
    Just to take Him at His Word;
    Just to rest upon His promise,
    And to know, “Thus saith the Lord!”
    • Refrain:
      Jesus, Jesus, how I trust Him!
      How I’ve proved Him o’er and o’er;
      Jesus, Jesus, precious Jesus!
      Oh, for grace to trust Him more!
  2. Oh, how sweet to trust in Jesus,
    Just to trust His cleansing blood;
    And in simple faith to plunge me
    ’Neath the healing, cleansing flood!
  3. Yes, ’tis sweet to trust in Jesus,
    Just from sin and self to cease;
    Just from Jesus simply taking
    Life and rest, and joy and peace.
  4. I’m so glad I learned to trust Thee,
    Precious Jesus, Savior, Friend;
    And I know that Thou art with me,
    Wilt be with me to the end.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

"I can't find my mom."

We began a journey back in the spring of 2010 to become foster parents.  We went through a long paperwork process and before our certificate arrived in the mail we brought our first foster child home.  Her name was "Tammy" and she was 5 years old.  She started calling me momma and Olivia sister right from the start.  We picked her up from DSS and took her over to our church to meet Chris, who she immediately called daddy.  Chris was working on our missions conference and I was homeschooling Olivia, so it was a day we could all be together to greet her for the first time.  I can still see her peeping out from the cubical to get a look at us, the new foster family that was taking her home. She was our first foster child and we were her first foster family. For 9 months she was ours.

Time passed and her mom completed the treatment plan given to her by DSS. "Tammy" went back home to live with her mom.  I can remember that day in the DSS parking lot when I hugged her and told her bye.  Thankfully I knew where she lived and had a good enough relationship with her mom that we could keep in touch and still check in on her from time to time. After 10 months back with her mom she returned to DSS care.

I was scrolling facebook and read a horrible news headline about a mother chasing a daughter with a hammer and immediately recognized the mug shot as that of "Tammy's" birth mom.  I called DSS and found out she was ok and at the shelter.  I asked if we could come pick her up and they said yes.  So we brought her home again.  Then after only 6 months she was moved to another foster home at our request. Let me explain.  Since she came into care for abuse I was under the impression that her mother's rights would automatically be terminated and she would need to be adopted soon.  We were only licensed to foster and adopting wasn't exactly in our radar at that time. Fostering was still new to us.  On top of those facts, a couple of major issues were going on, "Tammy" acted as if she wanted to be my only child.  Well, we could not adopt her quickly and she certainly could not be an only child so I asked DSS to please find her an adoptive home. At that time we had a peace about that decision and thought it was best for her.  DSS found a wonderful family and she moved in with them in September of 2012. We developed a friendship with this family and was able to continue to stay in touch with "Tammy".  She is currently still with them.   

Fast forward to February 2014. "Tammy" came to spend the day with us and ended up staying the night and going to church with us.  She and Olivia played Barbies and we all went fishing and it was like she never left.  But she did leave and at my request.  DSS ended up giving her mother another "treatment" plan and so two years passed before her mother's rights were finally terminated in September of 2014. I never dreamed it would take so long. I never knew she'd remain in foster care that long. She was our first foster child and all of this has been a learning experience for us. After that weekend stay in February I can still remember us driving her back to her current foster family.  When we left her, I cried in the car all the way home.  My heart was stirring. 

I contacted a friend from church who was one of "Tammy's" teachers.  I told her about the visit and how my heart was feeling.  She messaged me that she had seen "Tammy's" picture in the adoption profile newsletter.  I was in shock!  I asked her to send the link to me so I could see for myself.  I showed it to Chris and Olivia and then we began to pray. We asked the Lord, could it be that all of this happened for a reason? Can we bring her back home? We prayed over the idea of adopting her.  We all felt like the Lord was giving us another chance to be the family she needs. Yes, we had issues before and I'm sure there will be issues again, but what this time apart has taught me is that my love for her is stronger than any issue. If we didn't care about her we wouldn't have kept in touch with her all of this time.  I asked the current foster mom if they were going to adopt her and even though it was something they considered strongly, she said no.  Nothing was standing in our way and time seemed to be on our side. 

We began the process of filling out forms, getting physicals, TB tests, updated shots for us and our pets.  We had a home inspection, fire inspection, a home study interview (where a stranger comes to your home, looks around and asks lots of questions).  We wrote out everyone in our family's life history.  We had to ask four life long friends to take the time to write up personal references on our behalf. For months we went through appointments, back ground checks, and fingerprinting.  Needless to say it was not a quick, cheap or easy experience, but certainly worth it.  So 4 months later we finally had a license to adopt and we were approved to be one of the candidates to adopt "Tammy".  I was told a selection committee would meet and they would let us know if we are chosen or if another family will get to be "Tammy's" forever family.  So we've been waiting and wondering ever since. 

One thing we found out after we became a candidate to adopt her was that we could not have any more contact with her during this process. That is really hard. She must wonder why we aren't in the picture anymore. DSS says it is so she won't develop more of a bond with us.  Please, she already has a bond with us.  We love her and she loves us. Bonds that we create with any person don't just go away, not for us and certainly not for foster children.  I was told after giving her a birthday gift that I was not supposed to do that.  We can't tell her we are trying to adopt her, so if we don't give her a gift wouldn't it make sense that she'd wonder why?  What if we aren't the chosen family? Then we've just missed another year of her life.  I asked for permission to give her a Christmas gift, but was told no.  So again, she's probably wondering why.  I understand wanting to protect her, but without giving her all of the facts she doesn't have any way to understand.

I am a person who believes everything happens for a reason.  I have to trust the Lord's plan and timing.  He sees the big picture and I don't.  You know they say it takes a village to raise a child.  I want to ask all of you reading this to please pray that the Lords will for her life will be done.  I hope and pray it is His will to give all of us another chance.  Our family knows what her mom, dad, aunt and cousins look like.  If we get to adopt her and all of us are out at the mall or in a restaurant and her mom or dad or aunt walks in I will recognize them and be able to act accordingly.  I have been to the home she remembers with her mom.  I can help her remember the good and deal with the bad. We know her history.  We are part of her history. We are not perfect, but we can give her love, encouragement and safety.

This past Sunday she and her foster family came to our church with some friends of theirs.  As Chris and I were leaving the sanctuary "Tammy" walked in with her foster brother and a friend.  She said, "I can't find my mom" referring to her current foster mom.  I told her that their class was probably running late and she'd be down soon.  We got to hug her and Chris and I went on to our class.  As we walked down the hall those words kept ringing in my ear, "I can't find my mom", bless her.  She's had 3 mom's so far and I pray adoptions/DSS will quickly "find her mom" and give that precious child some peace.  Please join our family in praying the Lord's will for her life.

Pray that 2015 will be the year she comes home and we all start anew !!!!  Pray, please pray.

Monday, January 26, 2015

By faith . . .

In Hebrews chapter 11 verse 1 we are told, "Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen." Verse 7 tells us that; "By faith Noah, being divinely warned of things not yet seen, moved with godly fear, and he built the ark and saved his household..." By faith Abraham, obeyed when he was called to go out to the place which he would receive as an inheritance even though he didn't know where he was going. By faith Sarah conceived and had a baby even though she was past the age of child bearing.  Right now we are acting on faith at our house.  No, we aren't building an ark, or traveling to an unknown land and this old gal is certainly NOT having a baby.  However, we are preparing for the unknown by getting our foster room ready for "Tammy".  She was our first foster child and many of you know we put in to adopt her last year.  It took time to go through the process, but we got our license and we were approved to be one of the families for consideration.  Her parents rights were terminated in September and adoptions is in the process of choosing her forever family.  We would love to be that family.  We'd love to bring her home. I called adoptions before Christmas and was told that as soon as the committee meets they will let me know whether or not our family has been chosen.

Waiting is never easy, but this has really been difficult.  Once we put in to adopt "Tammy" we found out that we could not see her anymore.  No more overnight visits or trips to the lake or even out to dinner.  We were told that we should not tell her that we are trying to adopt her either. So she doesn't know why we can't see her.  I know she must wonder what is going on.  I can't help but think what was going through Sarah's mind; she must have been afraid and concerned to think of carrying and birthing a child, but she did it.  She had faith and she trusted the Lord's plan.  Noah had never seen rain, but that didn't stop him from buiding the Ark.  By faith . . .

Last week Olivia and I talked about cleaning out the closet in "Tammy's" room and fixing things up.  There are many toys stored in there that she'd enjoy playing with as a 10 year old, but many would seem like baby toys.  We thought we'd box up the baby toys and put them in the attic.  I had to take Olivia to the doctor on Wednesday and it just so happened that the X-ray tech had several boxes that were in her way.   As she and I made small talk about cleaning out she insisted I take her extra boxes for our project.  What a blessing!  Olivia felt sure that was a sign that yes, we should clean out the closet and get that room more age appropriate for "Tammy".  While we were working in her room, a friend posted a picture of a really cute bedroom suit for sale on facebook.  Even though our foster room had a nice twin bed and furniture, the bed for sale was a double bed and looked more like a "big girl" bedroom group.  We were able to buy it and set it up this weekend.  Olivia made "Tammy" a personalized memory board with her monogram and pictures of all of us.  The room looks great !!!  By faith . . .

We don't know if she'll ever get to come home and see this room.  We don't know if we'll be the chosen family.  What we do know is that, by faith, we are preparing for her return.  We asked her foster mom last week to find out what color room she'd like if she could pick any color room and she said baby blue.  Baby blue is the color of the room we are preparing for her.  It is the room in our home that used to be her room.  It's the room she remembers, and the room she wants to return to. 

We don't know if the adoptions selection committee will choose us, but by faith we are ready.  We have gotten our adoptions license, we have prayed, we have asked others to pray and now all we can do is wait.  Jesus knows the plan He has for her life and our lives.  We have to trust His plan.  Please pray with us as we continue to wait.  Pray that all of our hearts will be seeking the Lord's will.  Pray for "Tammy" as she must be filled with so much uncertainty and fear as to her unknown future.  Pray that the Lord will give her peace and joy and understanding.  We love her and we'd like nothing more than to bring her home.  We are the first family she came to after leaving the only home she ever knew.  We want to be her forever home.  We love her and we covet your prayers for all of us. 

From the heart of a hopeful mom. 

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

What does it mean to keep Christ in Christmas?

     What exactly does it mean when people say they are keeping Christ in Christmas? I mean, come on, He IS Christmas, right? How can you not keep Him in Christmas? If it wasn't for Jesus there would be no Christmas. Or they say, "Don't forget the Reason for the Season".  As Christians we know Christmas is the day of Jesus' birth, but sadly the world doesn't. We have to show the world who Jesus is and why He came.  We have to be the light in this dark world. We have to work to keep Christ in Christmas because the world wants to take His name off of everything. 

     Is it wrong to have Santa at Christmas? You do realize that you are lying to your children during one of the most holy months? Ok, I have to insert an LOL here. I loved the idea of Santa when I was growing up. I am glad my parents and brothers lied to me. It was fun to believe.  I'll never forget the year we bought our daughter a Barbie doll house. That thing was huge and mom had to come over with her power drill to help me put it together. We hid it and the box it came in, out in our storage building until Christmas Eve. After Christmas was over and we were putting our decorations back out in the building I kind of forgot to throw out the box. Well, one day Olivia came in from playing and she had found the box. She asked me why it was in the building if Santa had brought her the doll house. I'll never forget what I asked her, I said, "Do you want to hear the truth?" and she said yes. So that ended the Santa lie at our house. Hmmm, the thrill of waiting until she was asleep and making the trek in the dark with hidden gifts from the outbuilding was over.

   What about the trendy "Elf on the Shelf"? Apparently this stuffed Elf is supposed to be positioned in your home to watch your children, so he can report back to Santa if they are naughty or nice. I know some don't use the Elf in that watchful way. Some just have him pooping peppermint in the toilet or hanging from the Christmas tree. It is a fun way for them to interact with their children on the days leading up to Christmas morning. I've heard some say it's a terrible thing because you are making your children have good behavior for Santa and in return they will be rewarded with gifts.   I have a teenager so it's not an issue at our house. Goodness knows I am very thankful he wasn't around when my daughter was younger. The thought of having to come up with creative activities for him to get into gives me a headache. I am NOT knocking those of you who enjoy your Elf, I just know it wouldn't have been a cute thing at our house.  He would have remained true to his name, Elf on the shelf,  with dust on his shoulders.

     Getting back to Christmas.  Oh, we are still talking about Christmas right?  Santa and the Elf are a big part of the way the world celebrates Jesus' birthday.  What happens when your birthday rolls around? Do you get cards in the mail and calls from family and friends? What does Jesus get on His birthday?  I wouldn't say giving gifts to each other is like giving a gift to Jesus (even though that's what we do on His birthday). I think taking the time to pick out a gift for a family member or friend is a sweet act of kindness and I am sure the Lord does not frown on that act. I do, however, think that we could give a gift to the Lord by giving to someone in need. Maybe pack a shoebox, donate money to Toys for Tots, help Veterans, or volunteer at the shelter. I think when we do as Matthew 25:40 says, “The King will reply,  ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’ Doing for those in need is like doing for Jesus. I think that is one way to celebrate Christmas.

     As believers, followers of Jesus Christ, we should celebrate His birth 365 days a year, not just on Christmas Day. So how are you going to celebrate the birth of the One and Only Savior of the world? Are you going to Keep Christ in Christmas? Will you remember that He is the Reason for the Season? For me personally I love Jesus. My actions and the words from my mouth don't always show the depth of love that I have for Him. You only see a small part of who I am, but He knows me. He  knows my thoughts and the motives of my heart. He sees the sin in me, yet He loves me. What does Jesus want from me? What does He want for His birthday?

     Jesus commands us in John 13:34 "A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another." It's hard to love one another.  Honestly some people really get on my nerves.  I get upset when people want to take Christ out of Christmas.  People don't want Jesus mentioned anywhere. Recently a football player was on the news and when he started talking about Jesus, they cut him off and blamed technical difficulties. Please, we are smarter than that! There is power in the name of Jesus and one day every knee will bow and every tongue confess that He is Lord. Can I get an Amen?  

    Jesus loves you so much that He was born of a virgin on Christmas Day. He lived a sinless life and died on a cross for you and me. He was buried and three days later He arose. Jesus is alive !!! He is in heaven. He tells us in His word in John 14: 2-3 "In My Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also." Jesus is the best gift at Christmas and all year. If you haven't received His gift of eternal life, don't wait. Ask Him to be your Savior today.  You are the only gift Jesus wants and He is the only gift you need.

I want to wish you and your family a very Merry Christ filled Christmas !!!!

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Go and Tell

Wow, what a load on my mind today. I just read Charles Stanley's In Touch devotion and it was about sharing the good news of Jesus with others. On October 17th I found out that a longtime family friend was in the hospital in very bad health, to the point of possible death in a short amount of time. I had an urgency to go visit this person because I was unsure of his salvation. Chris and I went to the hospital on the 19th. The man before me looked as I remembered but thinner and older as time takes it's toll. He knew who I was and spoke few words. Golf was on TV and I asked if I could turn it down. He turned down the volume and I moved to the other side of the bed to sit down. Chris was sitting there too. I knew I wanted to ask him about his relationship with the Lord, but I kept finding myself asking him if I could straighten his pillow or feed him the Jell-O that was in front of him. He said no, he was ok. I asked him if we could pray for him and he said that would be fine. I had tears and kept wondering if the Lord was ever going to give me the words to say to find out about his salvation. My mind was spinning and I was trying to pray silently. That's when my God fearing,  Chris took over and told him about the Lord's plan for all of us to come to know Him as savior. This frail man said that he had done that. Chris asked a few more questions and he said he had a relationship with the Lord. Chris went on to ask if he could pray with him and he said yes. Chris said can I hold your hand and this man moved his hand from the cover and I watched as their two hands came together and I placed my hand on top of theirs. Chris prayed, I cried. We told him that we were praying for him and his family and we left. He was moved to Hospice house the very next day. I have the hospice house number right here  next to the computer and was about to call to check on him when I got a text from a friend that he passed last night. People we have to be ready and we have to tell others about Jesus. I had no part in his salvation, nor did Chris, we were just obedient to the call to go see him. Oh if my heart only had an urgency for other lost people who aren’t on their death bed.  I have been convicted this morning. 

We can't wait to tell someone about the Lord. I went to see him because I was told he was dying. Y'all we are all dying in our sin. I stood by a dying mans bed and could not tell him about Jesus' love for him. The words would not come!!! However, Chris took over and he made my heart proud.  What I have learned is that God gives each of us spiritual gifts to use and He equips those He has called at just the right time.  Chris Neal has the gift of sharing and he covered all that needed to be covered. Even though I knew all that Chris said, those words just did not flow so easily from me at that point in time. I'm an emotional being.  I am not a speaker, I am a writer.  I will be typing up the gospel soon to share with many children and teens who will come to our door on Halloween.  That is one way I can share the love of Jesus.  My blog is another way I share the gospel.  My point is we all have our own way to share Jesus.  We all have spiritual gifts and can make a difference in our own way. Find your way to share Jesus and do it !!! That's all He asks.

I am thankful for a savior who never leaves us and who sent His Holy Spirit to guide us and nudge us and help us along this journey of life.  Death is just the beginning of eternal life for the believer.  Either way we win.

I am going to take a few moments to pray for each of you who reads this and I am going to ask the Lord to show you how He wants to use you today.  If you want to share over the next few days, please do. 

Go be a blessing . . .

 "Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Amen. Matthew 28: 19-20

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