Monday, April 18, 2011

The Shelf

I feel as though I have been on hold for five years. Maybe longer. I feel as though God picked me up, gave me one quick hug and placed me on a shelf then turned His back, turned off the light and closed the door. For three of those five years I was content to stay perfectly still and perfectly quiet on that shelf. It felt right, it felt safe. Then about two years ago the shelf became dusty, the air stifling, my bones stiff and I began to want to change positions. I began to miss the light so I cracked opened the door just a wee bit. The light was a little uncomfortable and blinding after so long on the dark shelf. The little whiff of fresh air that came in through the crack caused me to breathe a little deeper. The warmth that came in felt good and I began to yearn for more. But yearning is not doing. A feeling of a little loneliness crept across my heart and I called out to God--remember me? Did you forget me on this shelf? Are you ever coming back?

Oh I know you're protecting me in here. I know you promised never to leave me so I know you're around here somewhere. I hate to be a pest, but now might be a good time to show me your presence--I miss seeing you--did you miss me? We used to be so busy together. We never had a moment to think, to breathe, to feel. I don't know about you but those times really wore me out. I did need the time on the shelf, but I never meant for you to go on without me. Did I disappoint you; did I disobey you?

 "But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint." Isaiah 40:31

That's what the shelf has been about! Waiting. Waiting upon the Lord. You knew my strength was gone. Years of trying to be that Godly woman, wife, mother, ministry leader were exciting and gratifying but tiring. When taking care of a mother with Alzheimer's and a father-in-law with terminal cancer were added in, the tiredness turned to exhaustion. The exhaustion turned to illness--diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure. I needed a waiting time and place but I didn't know how to get there and I didn't think Christians were allowed to go there. I just kept slipping down further into a pit of despair and I couldn't find a way out.

 "He brought me up also out of a horrible pit, out of the miry clay; And he set my feet upon a rock, and established my goings." Psalm 40:2

But then God...heard my groanings and understood every feeling I could not express. But then God...moved me thousands of miles from everyone and everything I knew and loved. But then God...allowed my mother's Alzheimer's to get so bad she could not live with me any longer. But then God...gave me an empty nest and gave my husband a job that took him away from home during the week. He put me on the shelf--the quiet, peaceful, safe, secure shelf. He showed me on that shelf in the quiet days and nights just how tired and numb I was but more importantly, He showed me that it was o.k. to stay there until I felt better and stronger.  He taught me something I was never good at before--He taught me to wait. The world didn't end. My children and grand children's lives were not put on hold until I could help them with it. My mother still needed help but I learned to allow other's who were trained to help me with her. I missed my husband and he missed me but our marriage grew stronger and more loving. He let me see that He really didn't need me to help Him heal abuse victims (my ministry), but He gave me peace to know that when He restored my strength He would use me again. God showed me that I was His daughter and therefore He would take care of me just as I told others He would take care of all of their needs. He lavished love on me by letting me just rest. He didn't value me because of what I could do for Him but because of what He had done for me. Jesus did it all!

After I cracked open that door and called to Him, He answered. He brought me into a time of prayer. The next two years were years of preparation. Everyday He allowed me more and more time to commune with Him--pray and wait for His answers, a luxury I had never had a lot of. I don't believe in "magic" but that is the word that most will understand--these years were "magical".  How amazing that the God who created everything would take the time to hear my prayers and to care enough to answer each one! Each answered prayer did make me feel as if I was soaring with eagle's wings. Finally, in His timing, I was ready to come off of the shelf.

In His gracious goodness the Lord allowed my husband and myself to move back to a place where we are known and loved, where we met Jesus and served Him for the first time, where we met each other and married and raised our children and watched each other grow older and dearer. I don't know all of the reasons He has allowed this; I only know that He has renewed my strength, He has given me back my joy and excitement to serve Him.

I also know that there are so many of you out there who are just tired--worn out and weary. Your joy has worn thin from years of caring for others and keeping your family's going. It's difficult for you to get up in the morning or make decisions or keep up the pretense that your life is fine. Please believe me when I tell you that God sees you and knows how difficult your life is right now. He doesn't want you to bear these cares and feelings on your own. He is there for you. Contrary to what you might firmly believe, He really doesn't need you to keep everyone and everything together--that's His job. He wants you to surrender. Surrender the control to Him. For some of you that thought is terrifying so I challenge you today to surrender just one tiny problem to God. Ask Him to take control of it and leave it with Him. Watch and see that the Lord is good and can be trusted. No matter what your circumstances look like don't take it back. Leave it with the Lord--WAIT upon the Lord and feel the freedom He gives you. Then next week give Him one more thing, then one more until you have cast all of your cares on Him. At that point you will understand how waiting on Him has set you free to soar like an eagle and run the marathon of life without fear or fatigue.

Thursday, March 17, 2011


The world is watching sadly as the tragedy in Japan continues to worsen. First the 9.0 earthquake, then the Tsunami and now the nuclear disaster. We see the total devastation of what once was thriving towns and cities. We see the horror and sadness on the faces of the survivors as they search for their homes, their possessions and, most tragically, their families. There are thousands missing, thousands dead and the lingering questions of when will help arrive, when will we have food, water, warmth and shelter? In so many eyes we see the blank stare of shock, tears of a broken heart.

When the pictures first starting coming on the news I couldn't help but think of the last time there was this kind of devastation in Japan. No, I wasn't even born when the American bombs exploded and thousands died in one moment. Still, I was all too familiar with the event. My Father had been a Japenese prisoner of war in World War II for three and a half years. He had been a part of the infamous Bantan Death March. He had been tortured and starved and left for dead. When the atomic bomb killed so many Japenese it had also set my Father free. He returned to America weighing 89 pounds with the after effects of malaria, severe frost bite, toes amputated (without sedation), and ravages to his body that he never recovered from.

We were not allowed to eat rice or any other Japenese food, never allowed to purchase a product made in Japan (which was very difficult to avoid in the 60's and 70's), never allowed to discuss his experiences but always having to live the results of his nightmare with him. When he spoke of the people of Japan he used racial slurs and he meant them and who could really blame him? My Father had paid with his blood and physical and mental health for the right to hate the people of Japan.

I never really had to question my position on the people of Japan. From time to time I would hear something about the war and I would feel anger rise up. I knew I had taken on my Father's battles because I loved him so much and respected him. He was a genuine American hero. A few years ago my husband confronted me about my bitterness towards the Japenese. I am a Christian and as such I know that I am to forgive and release my bitterness to the Lord. At first I was defensive and once again told him of what "they" had done to my Dad. He listened lovingly and did not condemn me but asked me to pray about it. I did. God began to show me that I had no right to hate them. Yes, to hate what his captors had done to him but to see them as God sees them. Yes, they were America's enemy in the war but they had also been an enemy of God's--just as I was before I was saved--no difference! They had committed un-thinkable sins against my Father and countless others but then again, I had committed un-thinkable sins against my Father God and others before I surrendered to Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior. By man's measurements they had done so many worst deeds then me but by God's measurements we were the same--sin is sin. The Lord reminded me that He has called all of His children to preach the Gospel, to go out and tell His story, to make disciples for Christ to teach others of His love and sacrifice for our sins. How could I hope to ever even pray for their salvation much less go and tell them about Him if I harbored hate, unforgiveness and bitterness against them? God's vision of the people who tormented my Father was one of love. He loved them exactly the way He loved me and He did not desire that they perish without becoming His children. His word says so. His character and attributes say so. If there was punishment to be dealt out it was His and only His right to punish--not mine.

Now years later, long after I repented, I see the images on the t.v. I see old men wandering aimlessly among the skeletons of the buildings and I think they certainly would have been old enough to have been in the war. It is not out of the realm of possibility that one of them could have been one of my Father's jailers and all I can feel is great compassion and pity. My eyes fill with tears as my heart feels their pain and loss. I fall to my knees and I ask my heavenly Father to please help them. If I could get on a plane and go to them I would--I long to help them. To give them the food they would not give my Father, to bind the wounds they left to fester, to give them shelter from the horror to give them clean water when they thirst and the warmth of a blanket. I am loved by God and I know Him personally because of Jesus. I want them to hear of Jesus, to be saved and to spend eternity as my brother--as my Father's brother.

Matthew 25:34-46

34 “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. 35 For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36 I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’
   37 “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38 When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39 When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’
   40 “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’
   41 “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. 42 For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, 43 I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.’
   44 “They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’
   45 “He will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’
   46 “Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.”

Please join me in praying for the people of Japan!

Friday, February 18, 2011


"The Christian faith is meant to be lived moment by moment. It isn't some broad, general outline--it's a long walk with a real Person. Details count: passing thoughts, small sacrifices, a few encouraging words, little acts of kindness, brief victories over nagging sins." Joni Eaeckson Tada

I started this blog as an outlet. I was, and am, going through a transition time in my life and I needed to express my feelings about it and so many other things that I prayed the Lord would use in other women's lives. I have had the feeling for a long time now that we, as Christian women, do not fully follow the teachings of Titus 2:3-5.

"Likewise, teach the older women to be reverent in the way they live, not to be slanderers or addicted to much wine, but to teach what is good. Then they can train the younger women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled and pure, to be busy at home, to be kind, and to be subject to their husbands, so that no one will malign the word of God."

I prayed that the Lord would give me the words in this blog for that purpose.

As I began writing this blog it became apparent to me that He had a different purpose for calling me to write again. Hopefully you will be able to find somewhere in my ramblings encouragement to adhere to Titus 2:3-5, but I think, more importantly, we can discover together that it is a journey to Titus 2:3-5. Yours' will be different then mine but we can travel together towards it. We don't have to chart new territory constantly, we can pick each other up when we stumble and fall, we can encourage during those dark times of discouragement, we can pray for each other when there is doubt or fear or anger or remorse. We are called to be sisters--we need to start acting like sisters.

I'm probably the last person in the world who should be writing about being a sister. I'm an only child, I had only one daughter--I could write a book on what it's like to be an only child, but how do I know anything about sisters? What I have learned through the years has come mostly from observing. My mother had five sisters, three are still living. Not one of them had the same personality. They shared few of the same attributes, some had brown eyes, some blue, one green. They were brunette, blond and red headed. They were short and tall, small and medium framed. They lived different lives. One married to one man until his death, the others married and divorced. Some lived in near-affluence, others in near-poverty. Yet from these women I learned what it meant to be strong, to be generous, to be loving, to close ranks and defend your sister against anything or anyone. I learned to trade recipes and cleaning solutions. I learned how to manage money and mis-manage money. I learned how to dress, how to put on make-up, how to attract a man. I learned that people respond to honey more then vinegar and that everyone loves to be really listened too (although that was not a strong attribute in our family), that gossip was fun and that family sticks together no matter how mad you get with them. Without ever saying a word they taught me what a woman should do and be--in our family.

Then I got saved and a whole new group of sisters came into my life. Not born of the same mother, but born again of the same Heavenly Father. I was very timid about joining in with these women. They seemed so sweet and so good. I thought they couldn't be true. I feared that when I left the room they would begin to talk about me. They prayed so earnestly and knew so much scripture. Maybe I wasn't good enough for this sisterhood. I stayed to myself most of the time. I was a divorced single mother of three. It appeared these women had been married and loving their husbands forever. I felt more like a step-sister (in the fairy tale meaning) then a real sister. Little by little the Lord began to draw me into this group of sisters. First by listening to Christian women speakers on the radio, then going to a women's group to hear a study I was interested in. Then He did the most amazing thing. He put a ministry on my heart for abuse victims--women abuse victims! I tried to just hand it off to the women's ministry at my church. I told the leader there that I would help organize it and get the material for it but she said only if God was calling me to teach it. I couldn't say no.

As Corrie ten Boom said, "Peter said, "No, Lord!" But he had to learn that one cannot say "No" while saying "Lord" and that one cannot say "Lord" while saying "No".

When I said yes to Jesus, to the ministry for abuse victims that He gave me, I began to finally be in a sisterhood of God. Week after week as I sat in a classroom with injured survivors and watched the Lord walk among us and heal us, I began to understand. He used all of the things that I had learned growing up with my amazing Aunts and He fine tuned it with His truths of what a Godly woman looks like. She is not a robotic super woman with a bow on her head. She is one of many beautiful Princesses of God. She might have brown or blue or green or grey or speckled eyes. She might be tiny or fluffy; tall or short; a beauty queen on the outside or gorgeous on the inside. She could be rich or poor or anywhere in-between. She might be the one who prayed amazing prayers or she might be the one who could only manage to say "please help me Lord". She could have memorized every scripture and read her Bible through and through every year since she was 17 or she just might be the one who jumped for joy because some caring woman just donated a brand new Bible to her or she might even be the one who after thirty years of shame finally admitted that she never learned to read and had never been able to read one word of scripture but still knew that she loved His word. A Christian sister may not start off dressing a certain way, talking a certain way or acting a certain way. A Christian sister starts with the act of giving up her life to Jesus. She doesn't have to understand it all, she just has to understand that she's been one way--a sinner--and when she surrenders to Jesus--He will forgive those sins and start to teach her another way, His way; and while He's lovingly teaching her, He brings these amazing women into her life that He has already taught some of those same lessons to. He doesn't want us to be observers the way I observed my Aunts and Christian sisters right after my salvation. He wants us to be participators in each other's lives.

"Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God." 2 Corinthians 1:3-4

He wants to use us to instruct each other, encourage each other, love each other. He cannot use Christian men for this particular part of our growth so we as Christian women must make ourselves available to Him for this work. Chronological age has nothing really to do with our Titus journey. A fifty year old new Christian woman can be taught much from a loving twenty-three year old sister who has walked with Jesus for years. Because Jesus valued women and thought of them as equal in the kingdom of Heaven, He has given us roles and the means to accomplish those roles. He needs us to be sisters involved in each other's lives. He needs us to say yes when He calls us to speak a word of encouragement or challenge or just to relate to another sister's suffering. I encourage you to use this blog for that purpose. You don't have to know all there is to know about being a Christian, you don't have to be considered a prayer warrior or an authority on scripture. Come as you are, just as you came to the cross. The Lord will make sure that you are coming with a gift and a purpose that someone else needs to share.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Only Children

"God loves each of us as if there were only one of us." St. Augustine

I've often laughed that I raised three only children. I am an only child. It's been easy at times to understand the concept that God loves each of us as if we were His only child. Possibly a little self-absorbed, but easy. When I pray I just know He is listening intently to what I am saying and really caring about the answer to my prayers. That "feeling" has made it much easier to go to Him in prayer, to expect to see the answers to those prayers. If I step back from that easy relationship and look at the complexity of it all it really is too much for me to comprehend.

There are so many of us, there are so many problems and concerns and cares--how can He hear my singular prayer about my minuscule problem? That's when I think of my own children. They are all so different. They lead very, very different lives and have their own unique problems and concerns. Some they share, some I can only imagine or discern. Yet each of my children's lives are of utmost importance to me. I want to know if they are happy or sad, if they are getting enough rest and food, if their relationships are fulfilling or stressful. I want to know that every step they are taking in their lives is leading them on a journey that will be satisfying as they look back. I want to see them become caring people to the less fortunate, sensitive to the hurting and loving to the unlovable. I want them to freely communicate their cares to me. I desperately want to see them in a relationship with the Lord that will sustain them for all of eternity. When I think on these things I realize how God thinks of each of us. If I, a mere mortal mother, have these feelings for my own children how much more the eternal God must have for His children!

"He is always thinking about us. We are before His eyes. The Lord's eye never sleeps, but is always watching out for our welfare. We are continually on His heart." C.H. Spurgeon

"Even before God created the heavens and the earth, He knew you and me, and He chose us! You and I were born because it was God's good pleasure." Kay Arthur

Can you imagine that? I can on a finite level, but only because He so graciously put those same feelings on a smaller scale in me for my own children. Have you known that kind of love? Did your parents listen and love and care? Did you know that when you talked they really, really listened? Or, maybe you can relate as I do, because you know the depths of love you have for your children. No matter what your experiences, no matter what your past, I hope this new year brings you to a place with God that you want to draw closer then you ever have dared before. If you have had no relationship, I hope you will begin. James 4:8 says, "Draw near to God, and He will draw near to you." We draw near to God when we understand and accept John 3:16, "For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life." God made the way for those of us who are so imperfect to draw near to Him in all of His perfection through Jesus Christ, His Son.

If you have accepted Christ as your Savior but you still don't feel the closeness, you still don't feel like an only child in His kingdom of so many children; I pray you will continue that drawing near by reading His word, the Bible. No matter how inferior you feel today or how many doubts you have that God could care about you in so personal a way, I pray that you step out in faith by praying--casting all of your cares and concerns upon Him. Talk to Him! Start a prayer journal, write down the prayers AND the answers to your prayers that He provides you. I think you will be astonished by the depths of His caring, the abundance of His love. Then I hope you will share with us your journey.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011


"We spend our lives dreaming of the future, not realizing that a little of it slips away every day." Barbara Johnson

When I was young I was such a dreamer! Our family was part of the great middle class that came to be after World War II. My father was one of the young soldiers that enlisted right out of high school. He left the family farm where he had known poverty and saw people and places he had only read about in his small town library. When he did return he quickly married a very young girl from a tiny, tiny Texas town and together they began a life of travel and parties and upward mobility. I never lived the life they had grown up in. I grew up neither rich nor poor--in the middle. I loved to read books about other lands and other lifestyles. Television was a huge part of my home life. I grew up in America; the land of opportunity, the land where dreams could come true if you worked hard enough for them. So I dreamed.

As a little girl I dreamed of being Miss America, of being a movie star, of living a life of glamor in New York City. In my angst filled teenage years I dreamed of boys, marriage, babies but also of being a hippie and living in a commune, of protesting in Washington D.C. and making a difference in the world. I dreamed of singing like Joanie Mitchell, dancing Swan Lake and winning an Academy Award--the world was exciting and filled with promise.

Somewhere along the years the dreams got smaller and smaller until one day in my forties I realized they had disappeared. I no longer dreamed of my future and what I might be able to achieve if I just worked hard enough. Had I gotten to a place of contentment or complacency--or defeat? I looked backwards alot now and in the dark times I was looking back at all of the dreams that had not come true. I hadn't done any of the great things I had dreamed of in my youth. I had married and raised children. At the time that seemed to be all I could handle.

Now, the children I raised are gone. They are in that period of life where they are trying to achieve their own dreams. I see it in the way they live their lives. They are very busy people. I tried the other day to think about dreams I might want to revive for the balance of my life. I had a hard time thinking of any. Then I read the quote by Barbara Johnson and it made the light bulb go off. I really don't want to spend the remainder of my days dreaming. So much time has already slipped away. For the time left I want to just trust. Trust that my Heavenly Father will achieve those things in me that He planned before I was even born. Trust that I'm not going to miss anything that He has for me. Trust that, if I'll just surrender my plans and dreams to Him, He will guide my life and give me the desires of my heart. I want to build my future on trust not dreams because in that trust are the promises.

"For I know the plans I have for you--declares the Lord. Plans for your welfare, not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope." Jeremiah 29:11

He always knew His plans for me--and for you. He always knew that I wasn't going to live an amazing life in New York City, but He knew that two of my children would. He knew I wasn't ever going to be a hippie and work to change the world, but He knew that my oldest son would. He knew I wasn't going to ever win the Academy Award, but He knew that my daughter would be an amazing actress who might. He knew His plans for me were to raise children who would be so much braver and brighter and that they would do amazing things that I could only dream of. He knew He would give me spiritual children to nurture and love and one day those spiritual kids would do so much more then anything I could dream of accomplishing. He knew that these things would bring me more joy and fulfillment then any of the silly dreams I had dreamed on my own.

I'm in this new stage of my life--not wasting an instant dreaming of what I'll be one day, but trusting the Lord for each day, for each moment. I want the balance of my life to be exactly what He wants it to be. I want to accomplish all that He has for me to do. I want to be the "good and faithful servant" and to trust Him for the results.

I know there are some of you who are reading this who have had your dreams crushed and destroyed--maybe even today. I know how badly that hurts and I'm sorry that you are going through that pain, but I want you to know that you aren't going to miss "it". "It" may not look like the dream you have been dreaming--mine certainly didn't--but "it" will look exactly like God's plan for your life from the beginning. His good and loving plan for you. If you've been struggling and trying so hard to be or to earn or to achieve and you just can't get there, please know that there is another way--a better way--God's way. Trust His word, hold on tight to His promises. What does He promise you? If you are His child--you've prayed and asked Him to forgive your sins and to be your Savior--He promises you Jeremiah 29:11 and so much more!

Saturday, January 1, 2011


Hopefully there will be enough time tomorrow to write another post but I could not pass up this opportunity to wish you all a HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!! We just celebrated on the east coast of the USA. It is so exciting to me that we now have readers of the blog from every continent except Antarctica and I just praise the Lord for each of you! I pray most of all that you know my Savior Jesus Christ personally and that if you don't, this new year will be the year of your salvation! THAT would be something to celebrate! If you have time, please post comments about how you celebrated this new year, or about your salvation experience or your walk with the Lord last year. If God gives you one, you could post a prayer for the new year!

As I posted in Facebook today: 

God bless each of you as we ring in the New Year, the new decade and the new beginnings in our lives! "For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." Jer 29:11

Monday, December 27, 2010

Unexpected Christmas

"I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you." John 14:18

"Do we not continually pass by blessings innumerable without notice, and instead fix our eyes on what we feel to be our trials and our losses, and think and talk about these until our whole horizon is filled with them, and we almost begin to think we have no blessings at all?" Hannah Whitall Smith

How was your Christmas? I hope you received all that you had hoped for. I hope you were surrounded by love and family and that you ended your day of celebrating Jesus' birth with full tummies and hearts. I can almost be certain that some of you who are reading this did not have the Christmas you had been dreaming about. I know mine did not go exactly as I had planned--in fact it went pretty much exactly the opposite of the way I had it planned and there were moments when I thought it was completely ruined. I wanted to cry or scream or both. It's my own fault. I paint the pictures in my head with too vivid of colors. I forget that when real people are involved the colors will mix together and overlap and the picture will at times be muted and at times be blurred and at other times look like a Jackson Pollock original.

My husband and I woke up really early to drive the hour to pick up my Mother and then drive the two hours to my youngest son's home. His house was already filled with so many that I love--both my sons, their wives, my granddaughter and new grandson. My daughter was on her way. As the house filled with the smells of the Christmas feast we were about to have and the area around the tree exploded with gifts to be opened I looked around with such contentment. Maybe the picture wasn't exactly what I had imagined, but it was pretty close. We ate our meal. Gift opening would come next and I could imagine the happy faces as each opened presents that had been picked out intentionally and with love for each one. Then I heard a fearful voice coming from the restroom. My mother was screaming for me to come help her. I entered to find blood everywhere and my 82 year old mother shaking violently. Isn't it strange that when we are confronted by things like this so often the Lord just seems to slow our hearts down and helps us to remain calm? Well, He does that for me anyway. I'm always calm when calamity strikes and then when it's over, I usually fall apart. When I say there was blood everywhere, I mean there was a LOT of blood. She had told us earlier that when she woke up that morning there was a lot of blood on her pillow and that her nurse's aide where she lives said it was a nose bleed. Her nose was bleeding again, but not like any nose bleed I had ever seen. My daughter came into the restroom and panicked. My son who's house it was immediately thought she would die right there in his home on Christmas morning. My husband, the voice of reason, said it's a bad nose bleed, let's apply pressure and stop the bleeding and she'll be o.k. I could see that the kids were too afraid so I said I thought we better take her to the hospital. We did. We spent hours in the emergency room on Christmas Day in New York City.

By the time we reached the hospital the bleeding had indeed stopped as the voice of reason had said but because she had so much blood on her and because she is elderly, they put her in a wheelchair and wheeled her right in. She was seen very quickly and the doctor confirmed it was just a bloody nose probably caused by her heater drying out the air in her apartment this time of year. He decided he would check out her blood to see if it was too thin or if she had lost too much so the two kids who had accompanied us went back to the festivities and my husband and I waited. As my daughter left she took a picture of her grandmother and put it on Facebook with the caption "Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer!".

I am ashamed to say that at that moment my thoughts were not God's thoughts. I felt resentment that I was in the emergency room of a New York City hospital on Christmas instead of celebrating with my family. I wanted the doctors and the lab technicians to hurry--I felt robbed of precious moments and invaluable time. I almost felt panicked that I was loosing seconds that I would never be able to get back and I needed each one of those seconds--I really, really needed them! This was one holiday that my empty nest was going to be full again, when my quiet life would be filled with noise and laughter again and I was missing it all to care for the mother who was seldom there when I was a child to care for me.

I've cared for my mother since my father died--21 years ago. At first, it was just taking care of paying her bills because my father always did that. Through the years she needed more and more care until finally she was diagnosed with Alzheimer's and she had to move in with us. My whole life the role of mother and child had been reversed. She never seemed to grow up and I had to grow up too quickly. We were never close, never bonded, never got along for any length of time. Despite that, rarely a day has gone by that I have not called her to make sure she was all right. I made sure that my children were around her as much as possible--they have always adored her. I accepted the responsibility of taking care of her because I knew it was expected of me. Somewhere along the journey of taking care of this woman who really only invoked anger in me because of her neglect, I began to see her through the Lord's eyes. I began to enjoy hearing the stories of the past that Alzheimer's had made so vivid to her. I began to excuse the things that in the past I had found inexcusable in her. She started telling strangers that I was her best friend and I thought, o.k., I can handle being her friend and caring for her as unto the Lord. The amazing thing was that in learning to care for her the Lord began healing me of the hurts and bitterness of the past.

But now we were in the emergency room and the images of being a child and having my own nose bleeds and only my father to comfort me and take care of me. The resentment stirred up because I could not be with my own children that I had tried to nurture in all of the ways that she had failed to nurture me. Why God? Just as the tears started to run over the brim of my eyes He literally opened my eyes. Here I was in a hospital on Christmas day surrounded by nurses, doctors, technicians, janitors and aides who were not home with their loved ones. They had been cheerful to us from the moment we got there. They had served my mother without a thought of their own losses. She was a stranger that needed their help and they were giving their best gift of care to her. I took another look at my mother laying on the hospital bed and asked the Lord to please forgive me and change my heart; to please help me to minister to her with love and patience and to show the people at this hospital His love through me. I knew at that point that He would give us the time we needed to all be together; that He would work it all for our good and that was enough--more then enough to bring me peace.

Shortly after that prayer the doctor returned to tell us all was well with her blood and shortly after that she was dismissed. As we left the hospital we were able to wish all of the workers a Merry Christmas with real joy in our hearts. By the time we eventually got my mother back to her home my heart was thankful for each moment we all shared, each kiss, each hug, each joy-filled laugh. I could not tell you what each person received for a Christmas gift--I don't even care--this Christmas will always be precious to me because God shook my perfect Christmas up like a snow globe. He shook up the control I was unknowingly trying to exert to make Christmas fit into my box, he shook up feelings I thought I had long ago conquered but were still under the surface making me sick and sad. He let the snow come (figuratively and literally) and settle on my life and the scene that was left after all the shaking up was so much prettier then the scene He could see in me before.

If your Christmas wasn't exactly what you had hoped for. If relationships were difficult or hurtful. If all you feel is empty or angry or resentful when you know that you should feel peaceful and loving and thankful please remember that God knows what you are feeling and He cares. Sometimes He even has to show us what we are feeling and He'll do that for you because He loves you and He really, really wants to heal you. As He reminds us in John 14:18, even if our earthly parents are not here for us for whatever reason, "I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you."