Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Serving God by Serving Others


    Rick Warren once wrote,"The only way you can serve God is by serving others and helping others in need."  I have personally experienced the love of God as my family and friends have helped me this week following my lung surgery.  So many wrote on Facebook that they were praying for me, sent cards, called, and visited -- it really gave me great comfort to know that God was hearing from California to Massachusetts to Florida and even Ukraine. Prayers were answered and the surgery went well.
    I came home from the hospital on Saturday and found more cards and flowers and a "Welcome Home" cookie.  Sam gave up his recliner so I could have a comfortable place to sleep. I made a list of things I needed to do -- I am a list-maker -- and my daughter saw the list on the table and quietly checked off every task as she completed it. I decided to try sleeping in our bed on Sunday night. Sam was afraid he would disturb me, so he made a bed on the floor beside me so he could hear me if I needed anything. At 3:00 a.m. I had to wake him to get my pain pills and he kindly brought me the pills and water. I told him to get in the bed, but he said he had slept in a bunker before and didn't mind sleeping on the floor a bit.
    The next morning he brought me a hot cup of cappuccino while Sara whipped up some biscuits and gravy and brought it to me in bed.  This afternoon a couple from church came over and brought a big pot of soup, corn muffins, and blueberry biscuits.  Someone else is bringing supper tomorrow, and I am feeling a little overwhelmed by all the expressions of God's love.
       I even had a FaceTime call from my son in Memphis -- he wanted to let me watch as he set off fireworks for the 4th of July!  It seems that everyone is contributing to my recovery, and I am so grateful to be the recipient of so many blessings. I think God must be pleased to see his children offering their time and talents to help someone in need.

Serving God by Serving Others


    Rick Warren once wrote,"The only way you can serve God is by serving others and helping others in need."  I have personally experienced the love of God as my family and friends have helped me this week following my lung surgery.  So many wrote on Facebook that they were praying for me, sent cards, called, and visited -- it really gave me great comfort to know that God was hearing from California to Massachusetts to Florida and even Ukraine. Prayers were answered and the surgery went well.
    I came home from the hospital on Saturday and found more cards and flowers and a "Welcome Home" cookie.  Sam gave up his recliner so I could have a comfortable place to sleep. I made a list of things I needed to do -- I am a list-maker -- and my daughter saw the list on the table and quietly checked off every task as she completed it. I decided to try sleeping in our bed on Sunday night. Sam was afraid he would disturb me, so he made a bed on the floor beside me so he could hear me if I needed anything. At 3:00 a.m. I had to wake him to get my pain pills and he kindly brought me the pills and water. I told him to get in the bed, but he said he had slept in a bunker before and didn't mind sleeping on the floor a bit.
    The next morning he brought me a hot cup of cappuccino while Sara whipped up some biscuits and gravy and brought it to me in bed.  This afternoon a couple from church came over and brought a big pot of soup, corn muffins, and blueberry biscuits.  Someone else is bringing supper tomorrow, and I am feeling a little overwhelmed by all the expressions of God's love.
       I even had a FaceTime call from my son in Memphis -- he wanted to let me watch as he set off fireworks for the 4th of July!  It seems that everyone is contributing to my recovery, and I am so grateful to be the recipient of so many blessings. I think God must be pleased to see his children offering their time and talents to help someone in need.

Saturday, June 25, 2016

I Am Not Brave


    I. Am. Not. Brave.
     There are lots of things that scare me.  Speed, heights, snakes, rats, airplanes -- even little mice. This week I picked up a big ol'snake in my driveway with a shovel and put it in the empty trash can nearby, and people called me brave.  But I am not brave.  I was too scared to let it crawl around in my yard, and too scared to kill it because then there might be 2 pieces of snake crawling toward me.!! Beside, I didn't  want to see snake guts either. So I shoveled it up and dropped it into the trash can to wait until my for real brave husband to come home and get rid of it.  So no, I am not brave.
     And now I am facing a very scary surgery next week, but with 3 days to go, I still have an incredible peace. I am not lying awake at night or hyperventilating -- it is the strangest thing!  The only explanation is -- God.  There are lots of people praying for me -- not just saying it, but really sincerely making a commitment to pray.  And as I have been working through my journaling Bible, there are so many verses that seem to be written just for me.
        One of my husband's favorite actors, John Wayne, said "Courage is being scared to death...but saddling up anyway."  John Wayne, by the way, also had lung surgery. So, I am saddling up, facing what has to be done, but with a peace that passes understanding.

Sunday, June 12, 2016

A Little Taste of Heaven

     I drove from my home in North Carolina to my childhood home in West Virginia this weekend.  The event was my 50 year high school class reunion.  It has been 10 years since the last one, but there were some who had never come to any of the previous reunions, so we had not seen them since graduation 50 years ago. It was a wonderful evening of renewed friendships. There was a lot of laughing and hugging -- we spent the evening sharing memories and catching up with each other.  Some were hard to recognize, but some didn't seem to change at all. One boy who was a total goof-off in high school came over and shared his testimony with me then sang "Blessed Assurance" to me. God had certainly changed his life since high school!
       Some had lost children and spouses, some had lost their health.  And there was a chart with the names of the 27 who have died since graduation.  It was hard to see all those names of boys and girls from our class who were gone too soon.
       Many of us had come a long way -- Florida, Missouri,  North Carolina, Louisiana -- and we were disappointed that many local classmates didn't choose to come.  There were name badges waiting for some who were not able to come at the last minute, because of sickness or death in the family.  We signed cards and taped a video to share with some of those.
       A couple of my friends and I were still talking while the restaurant was being cleaned. We met again today and talked for over 3 hours, then continued the talking at one final gathering tonight. We were all so glad to be together again.
        As I was driving home, I was thinking about what heaven must be like.  I wonder if there will be hugging and laughing and celebrating when we see our loved ones.  Will we be sharing our testimony  about how God brought us through? Will we talk and talk to those loved ones without thoughts of a meal? Will we sing, "This is my story, this is my song..."  Will we feel disappointed when  some friends are not there? Or regret not giving a personal invitation to those who didn't know how great it would be?
        As much fun as I had this weekend, I know it can't compare st all that God has prepared for those who believe! But I felt like we experienced a little bit of heaven tonight!

Monday, May 16, 2016

Strengthen your Brothers


          I read a verse in my Bible today that I don't remember reading before.  It was when Jesus was talking to Peter in Luke 22, fortelling his denial, and he said, "And when you have turned again, strengthen your brothers."  Jesus knew Peter was going to go through a difficult time when he denied Christ, but when it was over and he was forgiven, Jesus wanted him to "strengthen your brothers." Peter's failure was devastating to him, but today's believers are encouraged and strengthened by reading how Peter overcame this failure and became such a strong disciple.
         This made me think of the times in my life when I was going though some really difficult spells, but later I was able to "strengthen the brothers" by sharing my story of overcoming trials.  At the time  I was going through each stressful period, I had to do a lot of praying and was often very discouraged, but the Lord always heard my prayers and restored my soul.
          Our years in the Army gave me lots of stressful times. Watching your husband go off to war is a hard thing. Not only do you have to deal with fear for his safety, but you also have the daily life struggles of the broken washer or flat tire or sick kids to handle alone.  But after I had been through it a time or two, I was able to comfort and counsel other young wives.
         My sweet but impulsive ADHD kids gave me lots of trials -- I could write a book!! But my experiences raising them helped me encourage other moms who were struggling with the same problems. I knew what it was like to get bad notes from teachers -- I had been there -- and because of those experiences, I was a more understanding teacher.  Parents of my problem kids listened to my stories and it gave them hope.
          I also know what it is like to face cancer, Alzheimer's, and the death of my parents.  Those days were so hard -- but again, because I have been through it, I have been able to empathize and provide some comfort and encouragement to others who are facing these difficult times.
          It would have been nice to live a life without problems, but it looks like God expects us to use our hard times to help others get through their hard times.  Psalm 30 says, "Weeping may tarry for the night, but JOY comes in the morning."  And in Psalm 46 I read "God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble."  God has been with me through every situation, and if my problems can help me strengthen my brothers, then that is a blessing for both of us.


Sunday, May 8, 2016

Still missing my Mother




You would think I would have stopped missing my mother by now. She was 70 years old when she died in 1997.  That's 17 years. I don't cry when I pass the Hallmark Store around Mothers Day anymore, But I still wish I could send her a card or call her on the phone.
I'd tell her how proud I was to be her daughter.
 I'd thank her for faithfully lifting me up in prayer. I think that's one thing I miss the most -- knowing that someone is praying for you every day gives great comfort.
I'd ask her about a few recipes -- I always used to call when I was fixing supper and forgot how to make one of her yummy dishes.
I'd thank her for always fixing all my favorites at Christmas, even when she wasn't feeling well.
I'd tell her all about her wonderful grandchildren. No one thinks they are as special as their Grammie. She would be so proud of them.
I'd thank her for all the times she came to see me -- even in Alaska -- even when the chemo had sapped all her strength. Just having her at my house, even when she was too sick to get up -- just filled my house with sunshine.
I miss her celebrations and picnics, and her voice in the church choir, and the fragrance of "Passion"  that she always wore. I miss the big family gatherings around her table  -- and laughing until we could hardly breathe. I miss her soft hugs. I miss the stories she read over and over to the grand kids.
I miss seeing her reading her Bible every morning when we got up -- she was always an early riser.
I wish I could ask more questions about trees and flowers and family history.  She knew so much!
She was such an example to us -- always encouraging -- and alway ready to go shop or eat out or go to church. She truly had a servants heart, but she also had mine. I am thankful for the promise of Heaven! A mother's love it truly a gift from God.

Monday, April 18, 2016

Waiting on the Lord

           Waiting has never been one of my best things.  When Sam was in the Army, he would call to say we had orders to move -- to Alaska, to Germany, back to Fort Bragg -- and I drove him crazy with a million questions. Where will we live? What can we take? Questions that he could not answer yet, but I wanted details, and I wanted to know now.
           When we lived in Fairbanks, we were told not to plant our gardens until June 1. But I was in a hurry -- it was a long winter and I was ready to plant.  So I planted on May 30.  And the frost that night killed them all.
             I was thinking about that this morning in Sunday School class as we read about Sarah in the Bible.  God promised a child, but since she was really old, she didn't wait for God's timing -- she gave Abraham her servant so she could have a child. Now, I really relate to Sarah, because I was 40 when I was pregnant with my youngest child and I thought I was pretty old. I can imagine that I would have had a lot of trouble waiting too if I had been in her shoes. But as you probably know, her plan did not work out well at all -- in her hurry, she made the situation a lot worse. God had a much better plan.
               Because my yard is shady, my flowers are always late to bloom.  I mean, really late -- everyone else has a beautiful blooming yard, and I don't even have buds yet. But on the way to church this morning, I noticed a lot of brown azaleas.  They bloomed early, and the frost last weekend ruined the lovely blossoms.  But my late bloomers just opened today, so I am enjoying wonderful azaleas while all the others are dead.

                So I am learning the value of waiting.  And at this time of my life, I'm wishing time would slow down.  It seems that the years have flown by and as my 50 year class reunion approaches this summer, I just can't hardly believe that those boys and girls from my senior class are now senior citizens.
                There's a poem written by Ruth Bell Graham, one of my favorite authors, that I totally relate to now.  It is called "Time, Wait!"

     
        Psalm 37:7 says "Be still in the presence of the Lord, and wait patiently for Him to act."  That has not been easy for me. I've heard the term "Be in the moment" recently -- referring to being engrossed in your electronic device or thinking about the past or future -- being so preocupied with other thoughts that you don't take time to enjoy the current moment.  I am trying to learn to enjoy the moment -- I don't know what the future will bring, but I am so grateful for today!!

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Memories of my Memaw

      Today I drove to Charlotte to take some cake decorating tools to Andrew at college.  It was a pretty drive with lots of white and pink trees in bloom along the highway,(AAHH_CHOOO!)  But occasionally I would catch a glimpse of a purple Wisteria -- my favorite.  Every time I see one, it reminds me of the Wisteria in my Memaw Frazier's yard.  Memaw has been gone for nearly 50 years, but I had a couple hours to think about her as I drove, and I realized that I have talked a lot about Grandan to my kids -- he was still living when the girls were little, but Memaw died while I was in college and I really haven't told them much about her.
      She was the oldest daughter in her family -- she had about 10 younger brothers before the only other girl was born, and she had a pretty hard childhood, helping raise all those boys.  Then she married Grandan and had 5 children of her own -- the 4th one was my mother.
       I was her oldest granddaughter, and we lived close to her, so I probably have more memories that the rest of the grandchildren.  Memories of muffins and cookies and feasts at her house. Memories of her coat with the fur collar that she wore to church -- Grandan teased her and said it was mouse fur.
      I remember her pet groundhog, "Chuckie" who lived under the house.  My mother caught him one day on the way home from church, and gave him to Memaw. She tamed him and he would crawl up on her lap and around her neck.


Memories of her working in the garden wearing this sunbonnet.


The Bible she gave to me when I was 11 years old, after I was saved and baptized.


I carried it with my bouquet on top when I got married.


When I turned 18, she gave me this gold pin as an heirloom to give to my oldest granddaughter when she turned 18.  It was made from a $10. gold piece that was in her dad's pocket when he died.  But since I have no granddaughter, I get to keep it a while longer!



          She said she wanted me to have her good dishes, so Grandan gave them to me after she died.  I really don't know how she managed to have all these pretty dishes -- none even chipped or cracked -- or where she got them.  And there is no one left to ask.
           Memaw started showing signs of memory problems when I was in high school.  I remember Grandan calling Mother late one night because Memaw didn't recognize him and was upset at the strange man in her bedroom.  It gradually got worse, and  Grandan had to put a lock on the inside of the door because she was always trying to "go home" even though she had lived in that house for about 25 years.  She would say,"That old man (my grandan) won't let me go home and my daddy is going to be mad at me!"  Soon we had to have someone -- usually my younger brothers-- stay with her all the time that Grandan needed to go somewhere. It was so sad -- every time we told her that her parents were dead and she couldn't go home, it was like the first time she heard it.



Grandan was thrown from a horse when he was in his seventies -- what a man!! -- and I went to live with him after college.  One day I was snooping around -- as usual -- and imagine my surprise when I saw this written in this old book!



   It is full of recipes and poultices and cures for everything from a cold to Gonorrhea -- I don't plan to ever use that one!!  Written in 1887 and such a treasure!


 
        While I was living with Grandan, I often used Memaw's wooden spoon -- it was perfect for stirring, and I told Grandan how much I liked using it.  When I got married, he wrapped it up with newspaper and a rubber band and gave it to me.  Another treasure.
         I am grateful for my memories -- isn't God good to bring someone to mind after all these years?  Memaw went to Heaven such a long time ago -- next week will be 48 years.  But as I look around my house, I feel blessed to have all these things that spark memories of my sweet Memaw  and her beautiful Wisteria bush.

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Lots of good news and a little bad

        As all my Facebook friends know, I have been dealing with some thyroid issues for a while.  I feel perfectly fine -- excellent, in fact.  But I still have to go for check-ups in Winston-Salem ever since I had thyroid cancer 18 years ago.  Two years ago, I had a recurrence of thyroid cancer in a lymph node in my chest.  How in the world it got there I do not know -- after 16 years of good reports.  So, after a biopsy, I had a massive dose of radioactive iodine to kill it.  All seemed good -- the thyroglobulin (tumor marker) number went way down from 180 to 5 and I thought all would be happily ever after.  But this year the number started creeping up again -- 10 then 26 then 39 -- and it is supposed to be less than 1. So we started the process again -- stop taking my thyroid replacement medicine, go on a low iodine diet -- no dairy, no restaurant food, nothing from the ocean, etc etc.  Mostly ate egg whites, unsalted nuts, cauliflower soup and oatmeal. Yum.  A few days before the scan date, I found out that I could eat oreos, so that changed my attitude a lot!

       My scans were scheduled for this week, I took a tracer dose of radioactive iodine and they scanned everything and found nothing.    
Good and bad news -- good nothing was there, but bad that they didn't find where it was hiding.  So today I went for more scans -- they shot radioactive sugar in my vein for the PET scan and wow! Getting my sugar fix was never like that!! Then they did a ct scan, so I have spent a LOT of time strapped onto a bed with machines taking pictures of me.  And here is the little bit of good and bad news.  Bad is that they found cancer again in the same spot.  Evidently the zap 2 years ago did not completely kill the thyroid cancer, and it has once again started simmering in there. The good news and maybe bad, too -- is that the dr decided not to give me the radioactive iodine again because it did not completely do the trick last time -- and it messes with my salivary glands so I I don't have enough spit these days. (Good news -- I don't drool on my pillow)
       So, since my dr, who TEACHES endocrinology at the medical school, has not seen anything like this before -- I am special!! -- he will make an appointment with a surgeon to see if he wants to biopsy it or try to pluck it out or shoot radiation at it -- or somehow get rid of it.
      Good news -- I can eat whatever I want and don't have to stay away from people or wipe everything down with Lysol.  AND I get to go to church for Easter!! And there is a praline in the freezer with my name on it.! I already stopped at MacDonald's and got a big ol milkshake on the way home.
      But here are the Godwink parts of this.

  • While we were in Florida last month, our cousin Terri gave me a CD with a song called "God is On Your Side" that has been a perfect song for this time.  The words say "You can make it.  Don't quit.  God can handle it. He's on your side." I've been listening to it all month, but it was REAL good as I drove home today.
  • A couple months ago when Sara started her diet, I ordered her a bracelet that said "I will never give up"  It didn't come for a long time, so the company sent another -- then the first one came, too, and they said just keep it.  So I will be wearing it.     
  • I was listening to a sermon by my nephew-in-law, Zach Maddox this week, and he was encouraging church people to share their concerns, and not just keep it to yourself.  So Facebook has been full of an army of prayer warriors.  And my choir.  And my church.  and my chorus. And my school friends. As I was trying to lie still on that cold little table during all those scans, it was a great comfort to know how many people were praying for me.
  • As I was driving home, I was hoping to see my music minister and friend, Jimmy P. but it was 4:30 when I drove through Granite Falls.  I decided to take a chance -- and there was his truck, all alone in the parking lot.  He normally would have left at 2:30, but today he had some things to do and was still there.  I wanted to tell him the news that I would be in the choir Sunday -- no radiocactive iodine -- and also tell him the not so good news.  He is such a comfort -- he prayed for me right there and I left feeling a great peace.                                                                      So, my dr and I are highly optimistic that this thing can be taken care of. I AM NOT WORRIED!!  There will be more tests and doctor visits, but it is just an inconvenience -- the cancer is obviously not very aggressive since it has been stewing for 2 years and it took a ton of scans to even find it. But I thank everyone for praying -- no sad faces -- it will NOT kill me!!             Lets celebrate Easter -- He is alive!!

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Purple Heart


                                 
   
         Forty -eight years ago today, March 16, 1968, while I was enjoying life as sophomore at West Virginia University, my future husband was lying wounded in Viet Nam, waiting for morning so a helicopter could medivac him to a hospital and safety.  He and about 90 other paratroopers had been dropped off for a mission that turned deadly when that small group of men found that they were facing a whole battalion of enemy soldiers.  Sam said that about midnight they detected movement while he was on patrol and about that time he was hit and was seriously wounded.  He was attended by a medic during that long night.  He has a deep scar running from his hip to halfway down his thigh -- he would spend 2 months at a hospital in Japan before returning to Viet Nam. He was awarded his purple heart while in the hospital bed.

       A couple months ago, our pastor asked us to look back at God's providence and protection in our lives.  He suggested that it would be good to write it down and reflect on how God had provided for us in the past.  Lying in the jungles of Viet Nam, hurt and bleeding -- how could that be God's protection?  Well, as Paul Harvey used to say, here's "the rest of the story."

      A helicopter was able to land the next morning at pick Sam up so he could get medical treatment.  But not long after that, his unit was attacked by a battalion of NVA/VC and many of the American soldiers were wounded or killed.  Several men in Sam's unit were killed, including his platoon leader and the medic who had treated his wounds. His commander, Capt. Paul Bucha would receive the Medal of Honor for his heroic actions during the battle. If Sam had not be wounded, he likely would have his name on The Wall along with the other young men in his unit.
      
Psalm 105:4,5 says "Look to the Lord and His strength. Seek his face always.  Remember the wonders He has done." So today, as I remember the wonders He has done, I give thanks again for God's providence and protection.