Archive | Pain RSS feed for this section

Red Sea, Gall Bladder & a Hurricane

9 Nov

You are my hiding place;
You will protect me from trouble
and surround me with songs of deliverance.
Psalm 32:7

 

The offer to buy a companion ticket expired Aug 30.  In true form, my daughter and I made our decision that final day, purchasing two airline tickets to Indianapolis for the end of October.  Excited to introduce our new little one to extended family and friends, we were making it a ladies’ weekend away, since 6 month old Lillianne can fly free until she’s two years old.

Flying to Indy!

My mother did some strategizing of her own as she scheduled her foot surgery for nearly a month before our anticipated arrival.  Once Mom got settled following the procedure, all was well as she adjusted to hobbling around the house with her left foot encased in the boot.  After a couple weeks, I did begin to take notice that Mom sounded really tired and she often mentioned that there was discomfort in her abdomen that would come and go. Then just a week before our flight, it became very apparent that Mom was in a great deal of pain.  So those whose watch she is on, on a regular basis, took her to several doctor appointments and tests, coming to the conclusion that it was likely her gall bladder giving her fits, and that surgery was a great probability.  As Kim and I did our final packing for the trip, we switched clothing around for hospital and home instead of friends and family, restaurants, and church.

A few years ago, a dear friend of mine was going through difficult days when a Pastor friend called her out of the blue and asked what was going on.  God laid my friend on her heart, and she knew she needed to call and find out how she should be praying.  We were completely in awe of God’s hand in her life at that exact time, so we named that a “Parting of the Red Sea Moment”… a moment when only God could literally move the sea, or move someone to make a phone call, or to coordinate a much-needed surgery with a pre-scheduled visit.  My oldest brother, Jay, was on vacation all week … a week set aside to cut firewood for the upcoming winter … placed in the books at the Martinsville Post Office back in December 2011.  Tim’s sister, Amy, was cleared 2 weeks prior to have Friday off from work in order to spend the day with us girls and have lunch with her mom. Instead, she was able to sit with us at the hospital during my mom’s surgery, bringing us lunch, Mountain Dew, and lots of laughs!!  God was dishing out Red Sea Moments left and right!!

Mimi Wells with 4 of her 7 great grandkids
A’yden, Leyton, Jaxon, and Lillianne

What a privilege it was for me to be caregiver for those few days we were in town.  Before settling down to bed each night, Mom and I would pull up my Facebook on my  iPhone and read all of the sweet comments from dear friends and family … from 20 different states and 2 countries!!  It was like opening a mailbox full of get well cards, knowing that they had been thinking about her and praying for her!    Each day was a new day, gaining more strength, reclaiming her lost appetite, looking more rested, and feeling better.  Family times were extra special, as babies Lillianne, Jaxon, and Leyton (all second cousins, within 4 months in age) were introduced to one another, mommas and daddies compared stories, and Great Grandma (Mimi Wells) had several photo shoots with the children.

The first night we were at my Mom’s, my husband called and briefly mentioned something about a big storm coming up the east coastline … wanted to know if I had been listening to the weather.  I laughed at his silly question, thinking back over the extremely eventful day.  With surgery scheduled the following day, there was no thought about a storm and very little time to watch TV.  Sometime on Saturday, the realization hit us that our return flight into Baltimore could very possibly be cancelled due to Hurricane Sandy.  We literally spent 2 hours on hold that night with the airline, waiting to ask questions about cancellations, refunds, and rescheduling.  If we made the decision to not fly, then it would cost us.  If we waited on the airline to cancel the flight, then we could rebook at no cost.  We decided to trust the airline … if they choose to fly, then we would be along for the ride. So, on the way to the airport, we received the recorded message that our flight into Baltimore was cancelled.  Knowing that our hubbies were back east, weathering the storm alone (Troy had Cole’s assistance!), we were disappointed but yet relieved to not be sharing the same air space as the hurricane.

The first unexpected day was pretty much a wash, literally, as we were glued to the Weather Channel, watching the reports of flooding, fire, wind, power outages, and extreme devastation.  Having friends and family in the path of the storm was unsettling, knowing that our own homes could be damaged or be without power for days.  But as the hours passed, so did the winds and rain.  Grateful reports from home came in that there was no loss of electricity and that all was ok.  The brunt of the damage was closer to the shore … our beloved New Jersey beaches, the gorgeous homes and communities where we visit each summer ~ much of it flooded and destroyed.

Our last day with Mimi Wells was a productive one as we were determined to turn off the Weather Channel and work on some projects that we had already started for her.  By the day’s end, we were all packed again, ready and hoping for an early morning flight back home.

I often write about my personal relationship with God … how He and I have a special vocabulary, and He literally speaks to me through His Word.  A couple of days before our scheduled flight to Indy, my morning devotions had me reading in Lamentations 3 …

I remember my affliction and my wandering,
the bitterness and the gall.
I well remember them,
and my soul is downcast within me.

 

Yet this I call to mind
and therefore I have hope:
Because of the LORD’s great love we are not consumed,
for His compassions never fail.

 

They are new every morning;
great is Your faithfulness.
I say to myself, “The LORD is my portion;
therefore I will wait for Him.”

 

The LORD is good to those whose hope is in Him,
to the one who seeks Him;
it is good to wait quietly
for the salvation of the LORD.
Lamentations 3:19-26

 

Those 2 days before our trip, I knew right then and there that it was Mom’s gall bladder … and that my God was telling me that He had it all under control.

A few days later, before getting out of bed the morning of Mom’s surgery, I snuggled up next to her, and I prayed for her.  I asked God to guide the doctors and nurses as they tended to her that day, and thanked Him for parting the Red Sea so I could be there with her.  Just minutes later as I was having my devotions, Our Daily Bread had me reading in Joshua 2.  My heart began to soar as I read verse 10, knowing that once again, my personal and loving God was shouting to me “I LOVE YOU DEBBIE!!”

We have heard how the LORD dried up the water of the Red Sea
for you when you came out of Egypt, …
…for the LORD your God is God in heaven above and on the earth below
.
Joshua 2:10 & 11

Four days later and wondering if it was really safe to be flying home, my devotions were in Psalm 32.  Verse 7 jumped out at me …

 You are my hiding place;
You will protect me from trouble
and surround me with songs of deliverance.
Selah

With confidence, I shared the verse with Kim and reassured her that despite the storm and the unsettled weather still along the east coast, God was safely going to take us back home.  Thank you, Father, for loving us so!

That Wednesday was an uneventful day … Lillie travels like a pro, taking everything in stride … flirting and smiling at anyone who looks her way.  Once landed in Baltimore, her eyes sparkled even brighter as her big brother held her hand all the way home.

Since we’ve been back home, Mom has gotten the pin out of her toe and is slowing making progress in getting out and walking without the protective boot.  Her small incisions from the gall bladder surgery are healing and she is regaining strength and hopefully putting some meat back on her frail little body.  I’m so looking forward to spending more time with her over the Christmas holiday … every moment with my momma is a precious moment!

Our hearts are still hurting for those still suffering from the effects of Hurricane Sandy.  Tim’s youngest sister and her family live on Long Island, just 4 blocks away from having lost everything.  Their everyday routines have been disrupted as the simple things like gas, groceries, and errands are no longer simple.  Our pastor friends, Del and Patsy Bieber in Tom’s River, New Jersey report that Samaritan’s Purse has set up headquarters in their parking lot, and that their church is very involved in the care of people in their area.

As we all think back over the events of the last few weeks, including the election just a few days ago, won’t you join me in continuing to pray for people everywhere whose very existence has been ravaged by the storms of life?  God wants to wrap His arms of Love, Mercy, and Hope around each of us … not just in His Red Sea Moments, but all the time.

Until next time,
Debbie

My hope is built on nothing less
Than Jesus’ blood and righteousness.
I dare not trust the sweetest frame,
But wholly trust in Jesus’ Name.

On Christ the solid Rock I stand,
All other ground is sinking sand;
All other ground is sinking sand.

When darkness seems to hide His face,
I rest on His unchanging grace.
In every high and stormy gale,
My anchor holds within the veil.

His oath, His covenant, His blood,
Support me in the whelming flood.
When all around my soul gives way,
He then is all my Hope and Stay.

When He shall come with trumpet sound,
Oh may I then in Him be found.
Dressed in His righteousness alone,
Faultless to stand before the throne.

** The header photo was taken at Avon-by-the Sea, New Jersey … August 5, 2012.

Advertisements

Renotta

7 Jan

 

 

He will wipe every tear from their eyes.
There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain,
for the old order of things has passed away.
Revelation 21:4

 

I’ve known her since we were young girls … her two older brothers and their families attended my church in Indianapolis.  Her beautiful long red hair and bright smile always caught my eye whenever she and her parents came to visit on a Sunday morning.  We both grew up and life took us both down different roads, but whenever our paths would cross, there was always a warm and welcomed embrace.

 

A few years back, news of Renotta and her family going to Peru as missionaries tweaked my interest.  Experiencing the ache in my own heart for missions, I was excited to know that Renotta was answering the call of God upon her life … with her family in tow.  Somehow I acquired a bookmark with a King family photo on the front, complete with names … requesting for prayer as they ministered as Area Strategy Coordinators for Peru and Bolivia.  The back has been used as scratch paper for notes a time or two, but the bookmark remained in the front pocket of my Bible for the past several years.  It is now in a prominent place of honor … marking my spot as I read through the Psalms in my daily devotions…and a reminder to continue to pray for this precious family.

 

How exciting when Renotta and I bumped into each other in the hallway of Springdale Nazarene Church a few years back!  She and her family had just returned from the mission field and began attending the same church that we were in Cincinnati.  We stood there for several minutes trying to catch up and reconnect after so many years.  It wasn’t long before we were ‘friends’ on Facebook, giving us both the opportunity to look on the inside of family life, including the joys of being Meemaw and Grami!  

 

During the summer of 2009, cancer began to take Renotta and her family on a journey which ended at the gates of Heaven just a few days ago on January 3, 2011.  For her precious family and the friends who traveled the weary and often frightening road together, Jesus will continue to hold, carry, and guide them as the days turn into weeks, months and years.  On the other side of those pearly gates, cancer suddenly lost its grip on Renotta as she grasped the nail-scarred hands of her Jesus, rejoicing and worshipping the One that has truly given her Life. 

 

As I have browsed through pictures and notes which have been posted on Facebook, I believe that a few others were feeling the same twinge of marvel … and envy, if you will, that I was feeling … of the fact that Renotta has seen the face of Jesus.  Here is one of the comments …

“Oh how you are loved!  My heart is overwhelmed ~
Oh to see Christ face to face!
Father, thank you for Renotta!”

And someone else posted the words to a beautiful song sung by Sandy Patty ~
Another Time and Another Place …

I’ve always heard there is a land
Beyond the mortal dreams of man,
Where every tear will be left behind
But it must be in another time.
There’ll be an everlasting light
Shining a purest holy white,
And every fear will be erased
But it must be in another place.

I’ve grown so tired of earthly things
They promise peace but furnish pain,
All of life’s sweetest joys combined
Could never match those in another time.
And though I’ve put my trust in Christ
And felt his Spirit move in my life,
I know it’s truly just a taste
Of His glory in another place.

So, I’m waiting, for another time and another place…
Where all my hopes and dreams will be captured
With one look at Jesus’ face!
Oh, my heart’s been burnin’,
My soul keeps yearnin’,
Sometimes I can’t hardly wait
For that sweet, sweet Someday …
When I’ll be swept away
To another time and another place.

Renotta has reached Another Time and Another Place!  She has at last been reunited with her mother, and has joined my own Daddy, my grandparents, other loved ones and friends who have crossed the Great Divide … and they are gathered around the feet of Jesus Himself!  Renotta now knows what I can only imagine …

I Can Only Imagine by MercyMe   Click to listen


I can only imagine … what it will be like
When I walk by Your side

I can only imagine … what my eyes will see
When Your face is before me
I can only imagine

Surrounded by Your glory, what will my heart feel
Will I dance for You Jesus or in awe of You be still
Will I stand in Your presence or to my knees will I fall
Will I sing hallelujah, will I be able to speak at all
I can only imagine

I can only imagine … when that day comes
When I find myself … standing in the Son

I can only imagine … when all I will do
Is forever, forever worship You
I can only imagine.

Until next time …
Debbie

 

 

 

The Fork

4 Sep
 
 

 

Those who sow in tears will reap with songs of joy.
He who goes out weeping, carrying seed to sow,
will return with songs of joy, carrying sheaves with him.
Psalm 126:5-6

 

It’s September 4th…a special day marked on my calendar.  Today is the first Saturday in our new residence in Pennsylvania.  No alarm clock to wake up by with no real agenda … except to keep unpacking boxes and to make this house our home.  Sigh … the tearful good-byes, the long trip on Thursday, and the stresses that accompany the initial move seem a bit distant right now as I sit out on the screened-in porch, enjoying the recent welcomed change of temperature and some Constant Comment in my Schnauzer mug.

On Facebook, I named the photos taken and posted during the last couple weeks “Crazy Last Days at Higher Ground”.   That really says it all.  Packing and working, sleeping very little, and spending some last minute cherished moments with friends and family … non-stop!  This past Monday evening was a special edition of Munchy Monday when the girls threw a ‘See you Later’ party for me.  The usual spread of delicious food, warm hospitality, and fun fellowship was blended quite heavily with lots of tears, prayer time, and gift giving.  At one point in the evening, long past the time of dinner and dessert, plastic forks were passed out and each lady held hers in her hand while this story was told to us …

A Woman and a Fork  

 
There was a young woman who had been diagnosed with a terminal illness and had been given three months to live. So as she was getting her things “in order,” she contacted her Pastor and had him come to her house to discuss certain aspects of her final wishes.  

She told him which songs she wanted sung at the service, what scriptures she would like read, and what outfit she wanted to be buried in.  

Everything was in order and the Pastor was preparing to leave when the young woman suddenly remembered something very important to her.  

“There’s one more thing,” she said excitedly.  

“What’s that?” came the Pastor’s reply.  

“This is very important,” the young woman continued. “I want to be buried with a fork in my right hand.”  

The Pastor stood looking at the young woman, not knowing quite what to say.  

That surprises you, doesn’t it?” the young woman asked.  

“Well, to be honest, I’m puzzled by the request,” said the Pastor.  

The young woman explained. “My grandmother once told me this story, and from that time on I have always tried to pass along its message to those I love and those who are in need of encouragement. In all my years of attending socials and dinners, I always remember that when the dishes of the main course were being cleared, someone would inevitably lean over and say, ‘Keep your fork.’ It was my favorite part because I knew that something better was coming…..like velvety chocolate cake or deep-dish apple pie. Something wonderful, and with substance!’  

So, I just want people to see me there in that casket with a fork in my hand and I want them to wonder “What’s with the fork?” Then I want you to tell them: “Keep your fork, the best is yet to come.”  

The Pastor’s eyes welled up with tears of joy as he hugged the young woman good-bye. He knew this would be one of the last times he would see her before her death. But he also knew that the young woman had a better grasp of heaven than he did. She had a better grasp of what heaven would be like than many people twice her age, with twice as much experience and knowledge. She KNEW that something better was coming.  

At the funeral people were walking by the young woman’s casket and they saw the cloak she was wearing and the fork placed in her right hand. Over and over, the Pastor heard the question, “What’s with the fork?” And over and over he smiled.   During his message, the Pastor told the people of the conversation he had with the young woman shortly before she died. He also told them about the fork and about what it symbolized to her. He told the people how he could not stop thinking about the fork and told them that they probably would not be able to stop thinking about it either.   He was right.

The best is yet to come!  How I appreciated that simple act of encouragment  as I sat there surrounded by my precious friends and co-workers.  I’ve experienced moving far away a few times already, and it is very difficult on my heart to leave friends and family behind.  But it is receiving text messages like this one that helps cushion the ache …

“Four years ago you came to Higher Ground. 
Three years ago my life took some pretty crazy turns. 
It took me awhile but I ended up just where I needed to be. 
God is at work again, as you leave us to touch the lives of others.”

I’m grateful for the blessed opportunity to serve and to love while at Higher Ground … and I look forward to the same privilege, honor, and responsibility throughout the rest of my days.  Won’t you join me in picking up the fork and saying “the best is yet to come!”

Until next time,
Debbie

I lift up my eyes to the hills–where does my help come from?
My help comes from the LORD, the Maker of heaven and earth.
He will not let your foot slip–he who watches over you will not slumber;
indeed, he who watches over Israel will neither slumber nor sleep.
The LORD watches over you–the LORD is your shade at your right hand;
the sun will not harm you by day, nor the moon by night.
The LORD will keep you from all harm–he will watch over your life;
the LORD will watch over your coming and going both now and forevermore.
Psalm 121

 

 

 

Shattered … Yet Restored

21 Mar

 Find rest, O my soul, in God alone; my hope comes from him.
He alone is my rock and my salvation;  he is my fortress, I will not be shaken.
My salvation and my honor depend on God; he is my mighty rock, my refuge.
Trust in him at all times, O people; pour out your hearts to him,
 for God is our refuge.
Psalm 62:5-8

 

The past few days have taken my family on an unexpected journey in the event of my mother falling on Wednesday afternoon.  X-rays revealed the startling diagnosis of a shattered elbow.  Extreme swelling necessitated a slight delay before surgery, which the orthopedic surgeon scheduled for Saturday afternoon.  Dr. Ralston explained that he would go in, clean up all of the fragments of bones that had shattered, and reconnect the tendons to a different bone, giving back full mobility and use of mom’s right elbow.  He called this restoration surgery. 

After a couple hours, the doctor reported to the family that the surgery was a success.  Due to the fact that mother’s stomach reacts so adversely to pain medication and anesthesia, even with the help of finagrin and other aids, she endured a most miserable night and early morning.  However, the power of prayer prevailed and the Lord removed the nausea that usually lingers for days.  After she and the nurses were entertained by that little brother of mine, mom was sent home to recuperate.  The next scheduled visit to the surgeon is in one week, with routine visits to follow until she is completely healed.

Shattered.  What in your life has been, or is shattered?  This word is extreme. The doctor explained that there are good breaks and there are bad breaks.  Mom’s was not only bad, it was shattered.  What was normal, whole, and functioning suddenly became severely broken into pieces.   Can you relate?  Is it a marriage that is ending in divorce or possibly a relationship involving drug and alcohol abuse?  With the downturn of the economy, it might be a shattered career.  An unexpected illness or a sudden death … or memories of childhood abuse that surface from time to time, shattering years of suppressed feelings.  Whatever it is for you … and for me, there is hope. 

 Show me your ways, O LORD, teach me your paths;
guide me in your truth and teach me,
for you are God my Savior, and my hope is in you all day long.
Psalm 25:4-5 

We wait in hope for the LORD; he is our help and our shield.
In him our hearts rejoice, for we trust in his holy name.
May your unfailing love rest upon us, O LORD,
even as we put our hope in you.
Psalm 33:20-22

Restoration.  The process will take time and it will be painful.  It all begins with trust and acknowledgement in the Great Physician who promises to restore and make you strong, firm, and steadfast.

Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding;
in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.
Proverbs 3:5-6

And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while,
will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast.
To him be the power for ever and ever. Amen.
1 Peter 5:10-11

My mom’s accident happened as Tim and I were literally driving out of town for a 2 week vacation.  Time was already requested off from work, our grandson’s first birthday was being celebrated in just a few days, and our cruise to the Bahamas paid in advance and the confetti was waiting.  My siblings knew all of this and supported us in our decision to keep driving east, but my heart still ached for my mother and the pain she was enduring.  Shatter wasn’t directly a personal experience for me on Wednesday, since my world quickly consisted of precious Cole kisses and little boy love.  Nonetheless, my spirit was preoccupied with concern as I stayed in contact with family as much as possible during those hours of urgency, and my heart remained prayerful.  Maybe you know someone whose world is being shattered and you are compelled by God to carry them in prayer …

We were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure,
so that we despaired even of life.
Indeed, in our hearts we felt the sentence of death.
But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead.
He has delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us.
On him we have set our hope that he will continue to deliver us,
as you help us by your prayers.
1 Corinthians 1:8-11

Life is full of moments … good ones and bad ones.  Some of the good ones are really special while some of the bad are those that shatter.  Please join me today in seeking the One in Whom we find hope, restoration, and healing in our time of extreme pain.

Till next time,
Debbie