Wednesday, October 25, 2017

The Brown Family - Three Years Later

"Bless the LORD, O my soul: and all that is within me, bless His holy name.
Bless the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits:
Who forgiveth all thine iniquities; who healeth all thy diseases..."
Psalm 103:1-3

Remember the Brown Family?
They first came into all of our lives in early August of 2014, when I received a prayer request from my dear friend, Priscilla, shortly after the Brown family suffered a horrible car wreck.
You can read the original post here.

If you click here, you can read The Inner Views of Shyla Brown,
and, in this same post, you will find links to all of the update posts that tell the story of their long and difficult journey since the accident.

It has now been over three years since that devastating day,
and I wanted to post a long-overdue update.

With Shyla's permission, I am going to share the update through her own words in an email she recently sent to me.
(Shyla's words are shown in brown italics.)

Wednesday, Aug. 2, 2017, marked 3 years since our accident first happened.  

Each row from left to right is Makeya, Max, and Neveya. The top row pictures were taken just months before the accident.
The middle row pictures were taken a week or two after the accident.
The bottom row pictures were taken recently.

I am showing you these photos not to make you cry, but to show you how far my babies have come.  Farther then even doctors thought possible.  I want to show you the smiles that are still on their faces.  Know that no matter what you go through in life you can get through it with God on your side.  

Makeya, Max, and Neveya Brown

Makeya is starting to get very independent.  She can dress herself, except maybe needing a little help pulling up her pants all the way.  She is starting to learn how to transfer herself.  She is able to hold herself in a sitting position for longer periods of time without falling over.  She is getting stronger and stronger every day.  One thing she has never stopped doing is smiling.  She has never given up.  If she tries something and fails, she just tries again and again until she can. 

Steven, Shyla, Makeya, Neveya, and Max Brown
In case you can't read the words, the messages say, 
"Doctor said it would never happen."
"We prayed."
"Max fought."
"God answered."
"The trach is coming out!"

Max has definitely come a long way.  Back in 2014, we were told he would need the trach for life because he would need the vent to breath.  He has had a lot of setbacks in the last 3 years, but with every step back ,he went 2 steps forward.  On August 25,  2016, he went in for a sleep study that determined he no longer needed the vent.  On June 19,  2017, the doctors removed the trach.  We had a little scare the next night after the trach was removed, but the trach was able to remain out.  He still has a hole in his neck where the trach was, but it is closing.  They want it to close as much as possible by itself.  He goes back in October, and if it is not all the way closed, they will stitch the rest up.  

God has proven those doctors wrong so many times with these two,
 and I know He will continue to do just that.  

Neveya, Shyla, Makeya, Steven, and Max Brown

My Neveya is a big help.  She tries to help her brother and sister all the time. 

There is not much change in Stevens leg, except maybe the fact that he has learned to deal with the pain because he does not like wearing his brace.  He still has to wear it every now and again when he overdoes it. 

Through "Lane Bryant's Wish to Parent" program, little Makeya's wish to take her mom to Disney World came true!

Steven, Max, Neveya, Shyla, and Makeya Brown,
along with Disney Princess, "Belle", of course!

As you will remember, Steven and Shyla's dear, little 5 year old son, Quinton, lost his life in the accident.
This is a beautiful quilt Shyla's aunt is making for her, using Quinton's clothes.

The pictures below are so precious and speak a thousand words!

It has been an amazing blessing for me, personally, to get to know this precious family
and to watch as God has come on the scene for them, time after time, and brought them to where they are today.
To read about my personal visit with them, click here.

I will never forget standing there with Shyla beside little Max's bedside,
sensing her deep heartache,
and how, together, we prayed a desperate prayer, begging God to spare her little boy's life.
Here it is, over three years later, and I have no words to express the gratitude in my heart to God for hearing and answering that prayer and the many other prayers that have been prayed on their behalf.
He is a faithful God, who "is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us..."  (Ephesians 3:20)

I believe that a major component of "the power that worketh in us..." has to do with Holy Spirit inspired, anointed, and appointed intercessory prayer.
There is no way on earth we could ever put come close to comprehending the power of prayer.
God absolutely answers the cries of His children, and "the effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much."  (James 5:16)

Many of you have followed the Brown family's story from the very beginning.
Thank you for every prayer you have prayed for them!
Please do continue to keep them on your prayer list, as the challenges they face on a daily basis are enormous.
I cannot imagine how difficult life is for Steven and Shyla, having not just one, but two young children who are paralyzed and wheelchair-bound, but I still believe God is not finished with their healing process!
I still believe He has the power to completely heal them and make both of them walk again!
We still serve the same God who walked this earth and who spoke to the lame man and said,
"Arise, take up thy bed, and go unto thine house."  (Matthew 9:6)

"Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever."
Hebrews 13:8

God has performed miracle after miracle for this dear family, and I believe, with all my heart,
there are more miracles to come!!

In closing, I would like to re-quote Shyla's encouraging words from above,
"Know that no matter what you go through in life, you can get through it with God on your side."

Profound truth spoken from the heart of a wife and mother who is living proof.

Sunday, October 22, 2017

Depth Perception

"Draw nigh to God, and He will draw nigh to you."
James 4:8

I apologize for my infrequent and sporadic blog posting these days.
Our lives are turned completely upside down right now,
and, to tell you the truth, I find it hard to find time, inspiration, hope, or even the amount of energy required, to pour into what it takes to write.
I don't ever want this blog to be about anything other than what God wants.
Idle chatter or "fluff" has seldom been the luxury here.
I have several drafts sitting in my unpublished folder, and this is one God keeps bringing back to my, I took the time this morning to get alone with Him and finish this post.
I hope it brings encouragement to you, dear friends.

Right next door to Mom and Dad Smith's house is the wide, rolling field shown in this picture.

Beyond the field are mountains.
The neighbor who owns that field lives in a big, white, two-story farmhouse across the road and is a cattle farmer.
Oftentimes, at night, I hear them lowing.
I can't explain why I find the sound comforting.
I suppose it is that peace that comes when anxiety darkens the already blackened sky,
and I feel a sense of solace knowing there is life going on around me, in spite of the darkness.
It somehow reminds me that no matter how dark things get, life goes on.

Sometimes, I stand near the fence that separates the two properties or I look out the bedroom window, and I peer way off in the distance to see the silhouette of a solitary cow.

From where I stand, the cow looks so small.
In reality, it probably weighs around a thousand pounds.
The amazing thing is that if I were to climb through the fence and walk across the wide expanse,
the closer I would get to the cow, the reality of its size would become more apparent with each step.

Through my entire walk towards the cow, its true proportion and dimensions never change.
The thing that continually changes as I approach it happens in me, not the cow.
It is all about depth perception and how far I am from the object I am looking at.

Depth perception -
the ability to perceive the relative distance of objects in one's visual field

It kind of reminds me of God and my perception of Him.
The closer I get to Him, the bigger He appears to me.
That's because He IS big.
In I Kings 8:27, King Solomon said,
"But will God indeed dwell on the earth? behold, the heaven and heaven of heavens cannot contain Thee; how much less this house that I have builded?"

The heaven and heaven of heavens cannot contain God.
He is just that big.

In Isaiah 66:1, we read,
"Thus saith the LORD, the heaven is My throne, and the earth is My footstool..."

That's a mighty big God.

The only time God appears small to me is when I drift away from Him and try to view Him from afar.
It is not that He is any smaller than He has ever been.
It is just that when I am too far away from Him, the distance between us causes my depth perception to make Him appear small to me.

Just like that cow on the hillside....1,000 pounds the whole time,
but reality is misrepresented by the distance between the cow and me.

For some reason, the farther I am from Him, the more tempted I am to keep walking in the same direction, and the harder it seems to turn around.
A drift away from God is a downward slope.
Each step taken in the wrong direction not only seems a bit easier than the last,
but each wayward step makes Him appear smaller and smaller.
The farther away He seems, the more hope wanes.
When I see God as small, I start to panic and fear that He will not be able to be the Savior, Defender, and Comforter I so desperately need.
When I start to panic, I have a very bad tendency to start trying to take matters into my own hands.
Never a good idea.
The only way back to the reality of God's magnitude is to put forth the required effort to start taking steps towards Him...

...not farther away from Him.

See the difference?
See how much smaller the neighbor's barn appears when there is greater distance between me and the barn?
This was actually a matter of zooming in with Kevin's cell phone camera,
but you get the picture.  (Pun intended.☺)

That barn never moves.
It never diminishes or increases in size.
It looks really big when I "draw nigh" to it, and as I "draw nigh", my perception of it changes.
The closer I get, the closer it truly is, in reality, to me, almost like it is meeting me in the middle.

In my alone time with Jesus this morning, He took me to this verse,
"Blessed is the man whom thou choosest, and causest to approach unto Thee..."
Psalm 65:4

Oh, to be chosen by God!
To be wooed by His precious Spirit to a place closer to Him!
Is there any higher call?
To be feel the compelling pull to approach unto the Most High God!
Blessed indeed!

James 4:8 says, "Draw nigh to God, and He will draw nigh to you."
I have found this promise to be true innumerable times throughout life, but I never saw this Scripture in the light of depth perception.

God is still on the throne.
He always has been.
He always will be.
He is the one constant in this life and the next.
He is steadfast.
(Everywhere at the same time.)
(Having all power - able to do anything.)

The closer I get to Him, the more I realize all of this.
When I drift too far in the wrong direction, truth becomes obscure, because my perception of Him is skewed.

The reality is that He is in control.
He sees every part of our lives, down to the most minute, intricate detail.
Though we are often knocked off our feet by shocking news or trials that hit us "out of nowhere",
nothing surprises God.

Recently, He spoke these words to me.
"Child, I winnow your path.
I only allow certain things to remain there.
You see the bad things I choose to leave.
You do not see the bad things I choose to remove."

Let that sink in, my friend.
Ponder that.
It has brought an incredible depth of peace to my heart.

to remove (something, such as chaff)
to get rid of (something undesirable or unwanted)
to separate desirable and undesirable elements

God is going before us, winnowing our path, clearing out the things He does not want us to have to deal with.
He never promised He would remove every bad thing.
He never said we would walk through life with never a care,
never a heartache,
never a pain.

It's easy to forget these things when we drift too far from God, and our perception of Him is distorted.

The truth is, God is WAY bigger than we are.

"For My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways My ways, saith the LORD.
For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts."
Isaiah 55:8-9

The closer we move towards God...
the more we bask in His presence...
the longer we dwell there...
the more our perception clears, and we come to realize the absolute truth.

King of the World - Natalie Grant

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Another Precious Mug Exchange - Fall 2017

"As cold waters to a thirsty soul, so is good news from a far country."
Proverbs 25:25

I cannot begin to say how much Stephanie's Mug Exchanges have meant to me.
It is SO much fun to meet the new friend you are to send a mug to, to see what they like, and to go out shopping to try to match up some neat goodies with the things they tell you about themselves.
The sending is just an absolute ball, and the receiving?
Well, let's just say that opening up a package, lovingly put together by another, completely different new friend, who did their utmost to make your package just as special as the one you sent out...
is just a HUGE blessing and joy!

We were heading out of town, and I wasn't sure if the package from my mug partner would arrive 
before we left.  
I had resigned myself to wait until we got back home, 
but, guess what happened?
The very day we were leaving, the package arrived!!!
There it was!
In all its glory!
Oh, my!
I was SO happy!!!!
I was like a kid in a candy store!

Zach opened the box for me as we traveled along, and this, dear friends, 
is what he found tucked ever so carefully inside!!!!!

A precious stationary box, lovingly made and decorated by my dear mug partner, Amy, and her son.
Lavender is my favorite color, so you can imagine the "oohing" and "ahhing" that was going on in the car when Zach pulled this beauty out of the box!
SO much love and thought went into this!
And, to think that her son helped her with it made me think of dear Zach and how he constantly helps me with things like this and is such a dear comfort and blessing, and well, I was just overwhelmed, and it all just reduced me right down to tears!
Not only is the outside of the box just beautiful, 
but, in addition to the outer loveliness, just look at what we found inside.

Amy and her son added beautiful lace to the mirrored lid,
included two writing pens...

...and when we lifted the wooden compartments, 
we found the loveliest note cards underneath!

 Not only are the note cards adorable,
but we found that the inside of the darling cards are imprinted with one of our favorite Bible verses ever!

Oh, how wonderful!
How did my new friend know just exactly what to include in this amazing box?
It was like she has known me for years!!

I recently had a birthday, and my dear, sweet, loving, thoughtful husband and son bought 
something for me that I have wanted for oh, so long!!!
A KEURIG!!!!!!!
I cannot begin to tell you how much not just I, but all 3 of us, have been enjoying using it!
SOOOO, imagine my joy and squeals of delight to find this sweet box of pods in the box!!!!
And, in one of my favorite flavors, to boot!!!!

Next, we moved on to one of my favorite, favorite ways to sweeten.
I use honey a LOT, since I have pretty much cut out almost all white, refined sugar.
I have no words to express my love for this ooey, gooey, golden goodness!
Especially, any local is the absolute best!
As we all know, it can get a tad expensive, so this huge 1 lb. jar just majorly blessed my heart.
I don't usually use much at a time, so this should last me for a long time.
I LOVE sweetening my coffee with half & half and HONEY!!!!!
So delicious, and I will think of my new friend, Amy, each time I open this jar of lusciousness!!

Zach kept pulling out stuff...I wondered when the flow of goodies would end!!
My pulse quickened as I saw something else lavender!!!!!!!
It has to be the sweetest gift box ever!

I instantly fell in love with the box....but, oh, my!!!
Wait until you see what was inside.

A wooden cross!!!!!

Dear Amy did not know, but lately, in correlation with the heavy events of our lives, God has repeatedly brought "crosses" across my path....through various channels.
It happens in ways that are so pronounced, it is completely evident that God wants me to notice the significance.
So, when Zach opened this box to find this dear wooden cross inside, 
I was nearly speechless.
(You know that doesn't happen to me very often.☺)

Amy said her daughter picked it out for me.
Bless her sweet heart, that girl was following a major prompt from the precious Holy Spirit.
Only He knew how much I would need this...especially, right at the time I received it.
Bless Amy and her daughter and son!

And, that's not all!!!!
As if all this wasn't enough, oh, my, are you ready for this?
Last, but definitely not least......

I can NOT begin to tell you how much I love, love, love, love, LOVE this mug!!!!!!!!

It is so dainty and feminine and delicate, and I am just crazy about it.
Oh, my word, it has become my new favorite!!!!!
And, it is BIG!!!
So, it holds a LOT of coffee, at a time.

I want to mention an added blessing in this box....Amy probably doesn't realize how much it meant to me.
She had wrapped the breakable goodies in two homey, dish towels that I just love!!!!!
It is the little things that matter most.

And, guess what was on the front of the note card Amy included in the box?
Any guesses?????

A beautiful cross, of course, with a sweet, heartfelt note written inside and signed like this...

A big thank you to Amy and her dear children for all of the love, thought, work, and energy they put into every, single thing in this box!!!!

May God bless and return every, single act of kindness back to them a hundred fold!!!

And, another huge thank you to Stephanie for another amazingly blessed mug exchange!!
I am so grateful to you, my friend.
You put so much into this, and, you, yourself, are such a gift to us all!!!
God bless you over and over and over again.

Thank you, sweet readers, for stopping by here to visit.
You are so special and dear to my heart.