Saturday, December 27, 2014

A Tale Of Four Christmas Miracles

"Now unto Him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all we can ask or think, 
according to the power that worketh in us..."
Ephesians 3:20
(KJV)

Our God is still in the miracle-working business.
He is still in control.
He still answers prayer.
He still defies the logic and predictions of man.
Faith in Him still moves mountains...and changes the most hopeless of situations.

Sometimes, we have our eyes so focused on BIG miracles,
we overlook the smaller miracles God sends our way.
We fail to praise Him for the things He does for us.
just because He doesn't do them the exact way we want Him to or think He should.
We completely miss the gifts He places in front of us
simply because they are not packaged the way we expect them to be.

Psalm 103:2 says, 
"Bless the Lord, oh my soul, and forget not all His benefits."

It occurred to me that God, in His infinite mercy, sent some very special people we have all been praying for some very special presents this Christmas.

Over the past several months, I have often posted prayer requests to this blog...
and several others.

While I wish I had even better news to share, 
I wanted to post updates on the four above-mentioned prayer requests,
and share with you about four Christmas miracles our amazing and awesome God performed on their behalf.

A word of warning...
you may want to grab a box of tissues before you read this post or watch these videos.
I sit here now, as I write, unable to stop the flow of my tears,
after finishing watching the video of Makeya and Max Brown.

Dear Lord, have mercy.
This precious family has suffered more in the past four and a half months
than most people ever suffer in a long lifetime.
From the moment on August 2nd that I first received the prayer request for them, 
their story has gripped my heart in a way that cannot be ignored.
So many of you have faithfully carried a prayerful burden for them.
You have prayed, but you have gone beyond just prayers.
You have reached out, donated money, sent cards and gifts, 
left comments here, emailed privately, and shown the love of God in so many ways.

I believe with all my heart that the power of God is what has brought this family this far.
When I think of the Browns, I often think of the Scripture found in Deuteronomy 33;27,
"The eternal God is thy refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms."

What other force could be strong enough to carry them and the weight of this burden?
For those of you who are reading about them for the first time, 
the original post, along with all of the updates about them, are available here.


After four long, extenuating months in the hospital, 
Makeya and Max were finally able to go home just in time for Christmas!!
God gave them and their family a Christmas miracle all their own!


It is precious, yet so heart wrenching to see Makeya holding Quinton's picture
and to know he is no longer with them.


I am inserting an update from Shyla here, with her permission,
written the day after Makeya and Max spent their first night back at home.

"Well, the first night was a success. 
We had one thing pop up on us, though. 
We did not receive a nebulizer for my son's breathing treatment. 
Thanks to my father-in-law, we got one up here until they bring us his. 
Max woke up this morning with no secretions which is good because he usually had a lot of secretions in the morning at the hospital. 
He also slept all night long until we woke him up at 8. 
At the hospital he always woke up about 4."

Now, for the video that made me cry....


If video doesn't load, click HERE.
This family needs our prayers, dear friends....now, as much, if not more than ever before.
The daily challenges, to me, seem near-insurmountable.
The task ahead seems overwhelming.
In many ways, their main trail has just begun.

If the Lord lays it upon your heart to help them, financially, 
there are two ways to donate.
1.  An account has been set up for this purpose at a local bank.

Please mail donations to:

Citizen's Deposit Bank & Trust
P. O. Box 9
Vanceburg, KY  41179
Please write "For Brown Family" on the memo line of check.
OR
2.  You may donate online by clicking HERE.

May God richly and abundantly bless each of you for your kindness, 
generosity, love, and compassion to this hurting family. 


**********************************************
Doctors predicted that Lauren Hill would not live to see Christmas Day.


However, God had other plans.
He had a miracle in store for Lauren.
Prayers ascended from literally all over the world on her behalf,
and Lauren, by God's miracle-working power, was able to enjoy another Christmas with her family!!
She has also been strengthened to play in, not just one, but four college basketball games!

Lauren's goal is to raise one million dollars for cancer research.
As of this writing, $751,554.94 has been raised!!
Each time I have gone back to check and make sure I am posting the latest, most accurate information, the numbers have increased, so it appears that there is a continual flow going.

Wouldn't it be amazing for Lauren to see her goal of $1,000,000 reached?

If you would like to donate to this cause, please click HERE.

You may want to break out that tissue box again before watching this video,
as it will also most definitely jerk the tears.



If video doesn't load, click HERE.

To find more links about how to contribute to Lauren's cause,
to obtain the address to mail her an encouraging card,
to keep up with her Facebook page,
and to read an article about Lauren, click HERE.

Please continue to keep Lauren and her family in your prayers.

To read all posts about Lauren, click on the links below.
************************************************
After starting Hospice care, Jimmy Neff has continued to decline and grow weaker.


The Hospice nurse has predicted that Jimmy doesn't have much longer to live.
But, God, in His infinite mercy, allowed Jimmy to be with his family for one more Christmas.
He was able to sit up in the living room and enjoy visitors as they came and went throughout the day.
What an amazing gift from God!

Memories of this Christmas will linger long in the hearts and minds of my brother, David,
(Jimmy's step-dad), sister-in-law, Dorothy, (Jimmy's mom), and all of his family and loved ones.

To read previous posts about Jimmy, click the links below.
********************************************
Connie Flanders has been hospitalized since the middle of September,
and has had many close brushes with death.


She nearly died as recently as the early morning hours of 12/21,
when she had to have another emergency operation,
but, God in His great mercy, defied death and brought her through one more time.
By December 23rd, she was off the ventilator again!
Chris Thompson wrote that Connie would be able to be awake and see her family on Christmas Day!
Even though she wasn't well enough to be home, God sent the miracle of extended life.
What a gift!

To read previous posts about Connie, click the links below.

*******************************************
Things could have turned out differently in all four cases.
But, God mercifully allowed the Brown family, Lauren, and Jimmy
to be in their own homes with their families this Christmas,
and He permitted Connie to live and be awake enough to see her family on Christmas Day.

At the onset of the accident, there was a chance that both Makeya and Max would not live.
During the aftermath, there have been many scares, bumps, and setbacks.
But, each and every time, God has answered our prayers and pulled them through.
We have witnessed Divine intervention over and over again.
If you go back and read through the 25 posts about the Browns,
you will see what I mean.
Things would seem to be going in the right direction, when out of the blue,
something else would unexpectedly go wrong.
As recently as the December 10th post here, I was pleading for prayer for Max,
as he had contracted pneumonia and was back in ICU,
and for Makeya when her sugar dropped, and she had to be hospitalized again.
The next thing I heard, they were both much better and plans were being made for them to go home!

According to doctors, Lauren would not live until Christmas, but she did.
As Jimmy's condition continued to deteriorate, it has been very "touch and go",
and no one knew if he would see Christmas Day, but, by God's grace, he did.
Connie Flanders nearly passed away on 12/21, but she was awake in time for Christmas,
just four days later.
None of this is coincidence.

I have prayed for bigger miracles.
I'm sure you have, too.
From the bottom of my heart, I wish things could be different for all of them.
I long to hear that Max and Makeya are completely healed,
that they are both walking again, with no need for wheelchairs,
that Max is completely off the ventilator,
that both Lauren and Jimmy are totally healed and cancer-free,
and Connie is completely recovered and back home with her husband and daughters.

This is what I wish I was writing about tonight.

But, even though God has not seen fit to answer those particular requests,
He has chosen to bless in so many other ways.
Sparing their lives until Christmas 
was miraculous and gracious of our loving Lord.
For these and so many other overlooked miracles, I give God praise!!


Thursday, December 25, 2014

Merry Christmas 2014!!

"And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying,
Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace, good will toward men."
Luke 2:13, 14
(KJV)

Merry Christmas!!


From the Smith house to your house,
we wish you these things...
special times with family, making brand-new memories to cherish,
sounds of laughter that rings loud and echoes long,
enough of everything you need,
and a fresh, new appreciation for the precious Christchild born so long ago.

Aren't you thankful He came?
Even though He knew He was born to one day die for our sins,
He chose to come anyway.

We pray that you feel His sweet presence especially close to you on
this Christmas Day!!

Much love to all,
The Smiths


Thursday, December 18, 2014

Max & Makeya Will Be Home For Christmas!! UPDATE on Baby Obed, Connie Flanders, & Jimmy Neff

"But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ."
I Corinthians 15:57
(KJV)

Yes, you read that right!

Max and Makeya are going home today!!

Once again, God came on the scene, and He has answered the many prayers you have prayed for these two children.
Max improved, to the point that he was able to graduate from therapy 
and to be able to go home in time for Christmas!



How great is our God!!
I can't even imagine the joy in the hearts of Steven, Shyla, Shiela, and their other loved ones.

And while their hearts are filled with overflowing joy, 
the task that lies in front of this dear family must seem completely overwhelming.
How their lives have changed since they left their home on August 2nd!
Now, after over four months of hospitalization, not only must they acclimate themselves to life outside the hospital walls, but they must face that life without the smile and love and presence of their little five year old son, Quinton.
I am sure when they left home that August day, they never dreamed how much their lives would change and the nightmare they would endure before they ever stepped foot back into that familiar space.
Their lives will never be the same, and now, they face the aftermath,
with two little ones who are paralyzed and in need of continual care.

I am copying Shyla's words from December 10th here...

"Max is back to his regular settings on the vent, and he is doing a lot better. 
Thank you everyone for the prayers.
 Keep them up."

and from yesterday....

"Last night was rough for me because I had to leave the hospital to get things taken care of
 before we go home, including the house's electric checked for Max's vent, 
my van put in my name and insured, and then back up here at the hospital. 
It was the first time I have been back in LC since my baby boy was laid to rest. 
Today was the first time I have been in my house since Aug 2nd, and that was very hard. 
I am back up here at the hospital now doing the last things we have to do before he goes home, which is the 24 hr care. 
He took and passed the car seat test today,where he had to sit in a car seat for 3 hrs. 
As long as the ambulance people don't have an emergency, we will finally be leaving this hospital on Thursday at 1:30 pm."

The future must loom like an insurmountable feat in front of these parents.  
It occurred to me today, as I began writing this post, that the Brown family probably needs our prayers now as much, if not more, than ever before.
There is an odd sort of "letdown" that falls after someone has been in "survival" mode for an extended period of time, then must walk forward and leave the familiarity of it behind.
There is a feeling of insecurity, knowing they have to deal with these extenuating medical circumstances, on their own, without a nurse being instantly available, at the mere push of a button.
There is the emptiness that fills up the atmosphere, caused by the stark realization that a familiar voice no longer echoes off the hallway walls of their home.
There will be reminders of Quinton everywhere they look.
The reality of his loss will sink in now....more staggeringly than it has yet.

This is what life will now look like.
This is their new "normal".
Accepting it will be the most difficult stage of the process.
Healing will take a long time.
Not to sound hopeless, but in reality, they will never fully recover.
Because something precious has been removed from their lives,
and no matter what they are given from this point forward,
the void of his loss will remain.

Bless their dear hearts, to say their challenges are daunting seems like a very insufficient choice of words.
After all they have been through, it is now that their biggest trials begin.
I can't imagine how scary some of this must be.

Christmas is right around the corner, and I am sure it will be very bittersweet for them.
They will, no doubt, continually compare life this Christmas to what it was like last Christmas...
and Christmases before.

As you hurry about, doing what needs to be done this Christmas,
please keep the Brown family in your thoughts, and most importantly, your prayers, 
will you?
Pray that God will send needed comfort in every moment of overwhelming grief,
that He will give strength for each new challenge-filled day,
that He will hold them extra close and enable them to accept life as it is now,
and that He will continue to heal Max and Makeya. 

I don't know about anyone else, but I am still not giving up on their complete healing.
Just because they have been sent home and doctors have reached their full potential of a cure,
does not mean our God is finished with this miracle.
I still believe He will confound us all by raising them up and allowing them to walk again.
I know...it sounds far-fetched and unreasonable, 
but this is GOD we are talking about, friend.

The God Who created the Heavens and the Earth and Who holds the universe in place
by only His Word.
The God Who parted the Red Sea and allowed His children to safely walk across to a place of freedom.
The God Who became one of us on that first Christmas night,
Who walked and lived and breathed in a human body for 33 years,
Who was scourged, mercilessly, under the hand and whip of a burly, hard-hearted Roman soldier.
Every stripe left upon His precious wounded, mutilated-beyond-recognition body
was for the purpose of our healing....for Max's and Makeya's healing.

Jesus suffered, that we might be healed.

"...He was wounded for our transgressions,
He was bruised for our iniquities:
the chastisement of our peace was upon Him,
and with His stripes we are healed."
Isaiah 53:5

As He suffered, He knew there would one day be a little 2 year old boy named Max
and a little 6 year old girl named Makeya, and an innumerable multitude of others,
who would be severely wounded.
So, He stuck it out.
He suffered.
He did what He had to do.
To make a way for them to be healed.

God's thoughts are so far above our thoughts.

"For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways,
and My thoughts than your thoughts".
Isaiah 55:9

I don't know what His plan is for these dear children.
But, what I do know is that God is not limited...in any way.
He is not hindered....except by our lack of faith.

"And He did not many mighty works there because of their unbelief."
Matthew 13:58

God has the power.
We must believe.

I know I have asked many, many times before, but at the expense of sounding like a broken record,
and at the risk of over-trying your patience, I put before you a repeat petition.
Will you please seek God's will about possibly sending the Brown family a blessing this Christmas?

Now that they are home, they will face many new needs.
We all know bills do not stop pouring in, just because life has been rearranged
and employment has been suspended.
Life goes on....and so do the expenses.

I know there are a lot of needs in each one of your individual circles,
and sometimes, we feel that donating to one more cause, no matter how deserving,
would be one too many.
But, just in case you feel the Spirit of God leading you, 
I will, once again, include instructions for ways to bless the Brown family.

If  anyone would like to send the Brown family a card of encouragement,
please contact me, and I will provide the mailing address to you, individually.

If anyone would like to make a monetary donation to this family,
there are two ways to donate.

1.  An account has been set up for this purpose at a local bank.

Please mail donations to:

Citizen's Deposit Bank & Trust
P. O. Box 9
Vanceburg, KY  41179
Please write "For Brown Family" on the memo line of check.
OR
2.  You may donate online by clicking HERE.

You can read the original prayer request post and each update by clicking the links below.


***************************************************************
Baby Obed continues to slightly improve, praise God!!


This is his Daddy, Travis' latest update...

"Obed’s cardiologist appointment went well.  He currently weighs 10 lbs. 10oz.  She increased his medicine just a bit due to him retracting slightly while breathing. Our next scheduled cardiologist appointment is on Dec 31st, so I guess that means he will not be having surgery this year!  
I’ll let you know if anything changes.  Thanks again for praying…"

Did you hear that, folks?
NO SURGERY THIS YEAR!
God has answered our prayers, thus far!!!

Let us not become weary in interceding to God on behalf of this precious, little one!!
Please keep praying and believing God for no surgery...EVER.

Jesus said, "According to your faith, be it unto you."
Matthew 9:29

So, if we believe Him for no surgery, can we not expect that He will grant our request?

Maybe I am just plain too simple-minded to just believe and take things at such face value.
But, I still believe that if we have faith the size of a grain of mustard seed, 
we can speak to a mountain, tell it to move, it will move, and nothing will be impossible unto us.
(Matthew 17:20)

To read previous posts about Baby Obed, please click on the links below.

*********************************************************************
Connie Flanders endured a five hour surgery on Friday.
It was probably the most extensive operation I have ever personally heard about.


Still hospitalized after over three months, 
Connie continues to need a LOT of prayer.
Her road to recovery will be long and hard to tread, 
but we know God is able to bring her through,
and our faith relies on that.

To read previous posts about Connie, click on the updates below.


*********************************************************

Jimmy Neff is now under Hospice care at home.


His condition continues to worsen.
Please pray for peace and strength for Jimmy,
my brother, David (Jimmy's step-dad),
my sister-in-law, Dorothy (Jimmy's mom),
his siblings, David, Naomi, and Melissa,
and all other family, loved ones, and friends.

To read previous posts about Jimmy, click on the updates below.

UPDATE #2,
UPDATE #3,
UPDATE #4,
UPDATE #5,
UPDATE #6.

**********************************************************
Christmas will be very different and difficult for so many this year.
Please pray for all who are hurting, both physically and emotionally,
and who will not be able to rejoice this Christmas season.

Do you ever become weary from the burden of so much suffering...
both in your own life and in the life of others?

The Apostle Paul put it this way,
"If in this life only we have hope in Christ,
we are of all men most miserable."
I Corinthians 15:19
(Emphasis added)

Aren't you thankful we have a hope beyond this life?
That this life is not all there is?

Aren't you glad that there will be a day when all of the suffering of this life will have passed away,
and we, as Christians, will have inherited a Heavenly home, void of all sadness?


Click here if video doesn't load.

Revelation 21:4 says,
"And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes;
and there shall be no more death,
neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain:
for the former things are passed away."

Even though this life is hard and there are many burdens that weigh down our spirits,
many moments of pain and anguish and grief and misery,
God gives sufficient grace and assures us that it is better farther on.



Click here if video doesn't load.



Click here if video doesn't load.
Please keep praying, and
press on, dear friend, press on!


Sunday, December 14, 2014

Are You Wounded This Christmas?

"For I will restore health unto thee, and I will heal thee of thy wounds, saith the LORD..."
Jeremiah 30:17
(KJV)


It is an amazing thing to see.
As I watch, I am learning things I have never noticed before.
I don't suppose I have ever had a wound this deep...
at least not one that is so physically-visible,
so I have never before witnessed such an observable demonstration of the actual healing process.
Psalm 139:14 says,
"I will praise Thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made:
marvelous are Thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well."

"Fearfully and wonderfully made" indeed.

Watching this process unfold has started me thinking a lot about healing.

Human skin has three layers.
Humor me, if you will, while we ponder them in a bit of detail.
There is a moral and underlying spiritual learning opportunity
behind this skin anatomy lesson, I promise.

Isn't there always?

Without getting too technical, let's talk about this.

Skin Layer #1 - The Outside Layer, called the epidermis,
is the skin that you can see.
It covers the other two skin layers, creating a waterproof barrier
and concealing all that is underneath.
It is a canopy that protects and shields, but is fragile and definitely not impenetrable.

Layer #2 - The Middle Layer, called the dermis,
is that second layer, right under the epidermis.
According to WebMD, it is comprised of tough connective tissue, hair follicles, and sweat glands.

Layer #3 - The Inmost Layer, called the hypodermis,
is the deepest layer, way under the surface, where no eye can see.
It contains more connective tissue and also fat.
.
There are several categories of wounds and injuries that can happen to the skin.

An abrasion is the least invasive, usually only affecting the epidermis.
A laceration goes deeper, damaging and tearing both soft and hard tissue,
penetrating through the epidermis, the dermis, and sometimes even the hypodermis.
Puncture wounds penetrate, often reaching all three layers, also.
A contusion is a bruise that damages underlying layers, but often leaves the epidermis unpenetrated.
You get the picture.

To get a mental image of my recent injury,
picture the spot that lies between the bottom of your fingernail and the first finger joint.
The blunt impact of the metal vending machine flap slammed down onto that section,
wedging it between the flap and the metal in the frame around the flap window.
I, in sheer panic, pulled my finger out from between the two metals,
and in the process, tore what the doctor called a "trench",
literally ripping all 3 layers of skin and tissue in the process.
On a finger, there isn't a whole lot of distance from the epidermis to the bone.
I seriously think the depth of this wound nearly reached the bone.

At any rate, the wound was deep,which has given me a clearly-visible view
of how this whole healing process works.

Again, I say, "Fearfully and wonderfully made", indeed.

It is amazing to watch the three layers of skin regenerate.
Right now, I would say that the hypodermis is completely closed.
Praise God, there is no longer any seepage, and that layer of the wound is covered by a fresh,
brand-new layer of skin and connective tissue.

The dermis, also, seems to have, at least partially, reconstructed.
That top epidermis layer, not so much.
You can still visibly see a great divide from where that layer of skin starts on each side of the wound.

This wound is highly visible.
I can watch the healing unfold.
But, what about those wounds on the inside?
What about the hurts that never show?
How about the deep trauma to the heart from the puncture wound that accompanied his words,
"I'm leaving.  I don't love you anymore."
The sting of the laceration at the accidental discovery of his infidelity.
The biting abrasion of your best friend's voice putting you down,
when she mistakenly thought you were out of earshot.
The contusion of hearing your father's proclamation that you will never amount to anything.
The shame of last night's regrettable, spontaneous, unplanned indiscretion.
The guilt-laden memories of childhood abuse.
The realization of deception when the empty pill bottle, used needle,
or dry beer can is unexpectedly discovered.
The scenes that play over and over and over again in your mind of watching the last, labored rise and fall of your parents' chest,
along with the resounding echoes of, "She's gone", "He's dead", and "It's time to go".

These, among countless others, are some deep, deep hurts.
Wounds that cannot be seen, but so real and intense that they take your breath away.
Deep, overwhelming, devastating wounds.
Wounds that may never completely and entirely heal.

Here is a list of eleven things I am now discovering and have previously learned about healing....
both during the closing of this finger wound and through other traumas of life.

1.  Healing takes time.
It absolutely cannot be rushed.
Unless God chooses to send immediate healing,
which I absolutely believe He can do and still does,
the hurt is not going to go away overnight.
We may as well settle in and wait...for His timing.
All of the crying, complaining, and trying to hurry this are to no avail.
There is a set time that this is going to take, and it will not happen a moment sooner.
Period.

2.  Healing is a process.
It has to happen in a certain order.
The epidermis is not going to grow back first, leaving the two layers below unhealed.
The deepest part heals first.
Then the middle.
Then the superficial part.
It is going to happen in this manner, and there is no way to alter that.
It's best to just let it run its natural course and go with it.

3.  Wounds cannot be undone.
I can't go back to 5 seconds before the flap snapped and make an alternate choice.
Boy, do I wish I could!
I would have taken a pass on the stuck Doritos bag, let me tell you.
Life is not like one of those movies that gives the viewer the option of choosing an ending,
based on their personal preferences.
Life is lived once, and it cannot be relived,
no matter how we wish we could go back and change things.
Once a wound is inflicted, the affected area is forever altered and will never be the same.
Once a wound happens, the injury can heal, but it cannot be reversed.

4.  Hurts are real and need to be validated.
I could stand here all day long and tell you that I did not get hurt,
but the fact is, there is a still somewhat gaping wound that would disprove my claims.
The protective layers were compromised,
the injury happened,
and this hurt is real.
Living in a state of denial will not change the facts.

5.  Wounds need to be tended to.
Pretending this never happened would be unwise.
Letting it go would present the potential for complications.
This has to be dealt with.
It needs to be examined daily,
and thoroughly and frequently cleansed and nurtured.
The consequences of neglecting this wound could be serious, even life-threatening.
Care of it has to be a priority.

6.  Re-injuring an old wound delays healing.
One day, I was rushing, as usual, bounding up the basement steps full-speed.
When I reached the top of the stairs,
without any remembrance or thought of the wound, I pulled the basement door open,
forgot to pull my hand out of the way first, and firmly scraped the door directly across the injured finger!
OUCH!
It took my breath away....I nearly fell to the floor.
Even though my finger was bandaged securely, the impact penetrated all the way through,
re-opening the barely-begun-to-heal wound, causing it to bleed again,
and setting the healing process back considerably...nearly all the way back to square one.
I could have kicked myself for being so careless.
Because the restorative process had to start all over, it will now take even longer to heal.
Silly me.
Things happen.
Sometimes it is of our own doing and because of our own recklessness that our healing is delayed.
Sometimes it isn't.
Life isn't always kind, nor does it always lighten up when we are down.

7.  Failure to adhere to tried & tested advice is unwise. 
"Don't get this wound wet.
Make sure you keep it dry.
If it gets wet, it will not heal.
You need to make sure it is completely dry before you re-bandage it each day.
Moisture breeds bacteria."
I heard what was being said.
I knew they were right.
But, surely a little dish water wouldn't hurt, right?
There were lots of chores to be done....
chores that involved keeping hands in water.
I had to pull my own weight.
After all, the whole reason I was there was to help, right?
Justifying rebellion to good advice is the height of foolishness.
It is just plain not a good idea.
Professionals who have studied wounds and healing know more than I do about this sort of thing.
It would be in my best interest to listen to the voices of reason and experience.
Enough said.

8.  Everyone's recovery time is different.
"This should be completely healed in a week", he said,
in a calming, reassuring, gentle voice.
"That's great!", I replied in relief.
It's been a month today.
There have been bumps in the road...
a cellulits infection (I know...my fault),
a harsh re-injury (ahem....point taken),
insufficient time to make it a priority (total foolishness on my part).
There could be other underlying reasons for the sluggish recovery.
Who knows.
My point is...not everyone heals at the same pace.
This is where the need for grace and mercy and understanding comes in to play.
We need to be kind to ourselves...and to others....while grieving and recovering.
The time needed to heal largely depends upon the severity and depth of the wound.
A simple abrasion heals a lot faster than a deep puncture wound.
Overhearing unkind words will probably heal a lot faster than losing your Mom.
Don't rush yourself.
Be kind, and allow yourself room, time, and the luxury to just be and breathe.
Sometimes just getting through the day is all you can muster,
and believe me, that is okay.
Don't compare your reactions and time needed to heal with anyone else's.
We are all unique, and every wound is exclusive and particular.
I love the verse in 2 Corinthians 1:3, where the Apostle Paul refers to our Lord
as "the God of all comfort".
His scope of healing virtue covers every, single one of our individual needs for comfort.
Isn't that amazing and wonderful?

9.  Bitterness is a waste of time and energy.
What's done is done.
It happened.
It left an aftermath that cannot be ignored.
Hating someone for what happened is pointless.
Two wrongs will never make one right.
Lashing out at God for allowing it isn't smart...
He is not to blame.
If you choose the prison of unforgiveness, you are the one who ends up in the cell.
Opting to hold a grudge doesn't punish the person who hurt you.
The wound has to be dealt with, so the sooner we accept that and start doing what needs to be done,
the better.
We can be our own worst enemy.
We can block our own healing.
Bitterness only delays and impedes the healing process.

10.  Just because one stage of healing has taken place
doesn't mean it won't need to happen again.
Sometimes, it is one step forward, two steps back.
Sometimes, it is one good day, then two bad days in a row.
Sometimes, you have to feel worse before you can feel better.
When Mom died in 2012, I extensively studied and researched grief.
I wanted to know and understand the stages,
what order they came in,
what was expected of me during each stage,
and all sorts of things.
I had already experienced the deep grief of the loss of a parent in 2000,
when God called Dad home to Heaven.
I remember feeling like I could or would never survive losing him.
At that time, Kevin and I were finally expecting a baby, after many years of infertility struggles,
and there was so much on my mind.
I never thought, then, to study the grieving and healing process.
When Mom died, things were different.
I wanted to thoroughly understand what was going on inside of me,
and I wanted to know what to expect.
Research taught me that, according to the American Psychiatric K├╝bler-Ross model,
there are five emotional stages of grief...
denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance.
Every, single one of these stages must be walked through in order to completely heal.
Through personal experience, I have found you may need to walk through any of the stages more than once.
Sometimes, they are overlapping, and you will find yourself experiencing more than one stage at a time.
For instance, I had the misconceived notion that once I got through the anger stage,
it was a done deal, and I would never have to deal with those emotions again.
I couldn't have been more wrong.
The thing is, there is no rhyme or reason to grief and healing.
You may completely walk through stage one in its entirety,
move on to stage two, then find yourself back in stage one,
at the drop of a hat...
or the hearing of the firsts chords of a song,
or the familiar smell of a passing stranger's perfume,
or the sight of the color lavender.
Just flow with it.
Let it happen.
Feel.
It is all necessary.
Don't try to skip over the ugly parts...
the parts where you are unable to get out of bed,
where getting out of your PJs or brushing your teeth requires more of you than you are capable of giving,
where you want to just be left alone.
Grief and wounds are not pretty sights to see.
They are dark and morose and sometimes grotesque.
But, every step back towards the light is entirely necessary.
Live it.  Walk it.  Allow it to happen.
God understands, and He extends a continual stream of grace.
There will be setbacks.
Expect them.
Grief and wounds are multi-faceted, and so is the healing process.
Every dimension of it must be sustained.
Don't punish yourself or keep records of how many times you've walked through a particular stage.
It is all needful...
and normal.
It is what it is.
Let it be.

11.  Wounds leave scars.
There is a certain part of this finger wound that is deeper than the others.
It is right near the first joint where the finger bends,
and, as I think of it, this is where the impact of the metal landed first and hardest.
The rest of the wound came about during the process of freeing my finger.
I keep noticing that, as the skin grows back over the wound, it is thicker in this area
and looks sort of strange and raised up when you look at it from a side-view.
I probably over-obsess about it, but as I was talking to my sister, Sandi,
she mentioned that maybe it looks this way because of the scar that is forming.
I believe she is exactly right.
This deepest wound is taking the longest to heal
and is requiring the thickest layer of regenerated skin to cover.
When it is all said and done and completely healed,
I believe the scar in is area will be most pronounced and noticeable.
Scars are visible proofs of past injuries and hurts.
They provide evidence that there was once a trauma to a certain area.
Scars become a permanent part of us....a perpetual reminder of what we have been through.
Scars create layers of protection and provide a defense and covering
for areas that were previously open and vulnerable.
We all have scars, don't we?
Some are on the outside...conspicuous and obvious, making us wince as we look at them
and recall how they came about.
But, what about the inside scars?
The layers of walls that have automatically built around certain parts of us,
creating shields against future hurt.
One of my favorite songs was written by the late, great, and talented Christian songwriter,
Dottie Rambo, and is called, "Tears Will Never Stain The Streets Of That City".



If video doesn't load, click here.

Read the words of the first verse, if you will.

"If I could count all the tears that have fallen,
It would seem like an ocean to me;
And if my heart had a window you could look through,
Oh, the pain and scars you would see!"

Do these words resonate as being true in your life?
Who among us couldn't sing this song from the heart?
Life has a way of inflicting wounds that leave a trail of ugly scars
that remain long after the wounds are healed.

How is it with you, my friend?

Are you wounded this Christmas?
Is your heart broken?  
Do you feel alone?  
Are you facing some extenuating, hard-to-tunnel-through circumstances?  
Perhaps you are ill or walking through the valley of the shadow of a loved one’s illness and imminent passing.  
Oftentimes, when a loved one is faced with an extensive, terminal illness or condition,
or when the conclusion of a marital relationship is inevitably imminent,

the grieving process begins long before they actually pass away or the marriage ends.
Maybe you have lost someone dear throughout this past year and are still in the throes of deep grief.  
Perhaps there is a wayward child in your life for whom you pray continually and long for and miss.  
Maybe you have lost your source of income, and along with it, your sense of worth.  

In this life, there is immeasurable potential for pain,
 and there are countless reasons you may be sad this Christmas.  
Going through hard places can make the holidays the complete opposite of merry and bright.  

It is for these very reasons Christmas happened.
  
It is for this express purpose that Jesus came.


“To preach good tidings to the meek, to bind up the broken hearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives and the opening of the prison to them that are bound, to comfort all that mourn, to exchange beauty for ashes, to trade the oil of joy for mourning, to extend the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness.”
Isaiah 61:1-3

Jesus loves you, my friend.  
Right where you are.  
He will never leave you nor forsake you.  

He came on that first Christmas night to stay always…close at hand and by your side.

Whatever your circumstances this Christmas, our prayer is that you will feel His arms around you, holding you close, as Mary held Him near to her heart that night so long ago.  
If there is a specific reason you would like us to pray for you, please feel free to get in touch
by clicking here.

Thinking of you this blessed season, 
and hoping you know how very much you are loved!