"I hope something good happens to you today."
I could not stop staring at the little words on the window of the side of the car beside me as I waited at the stoplight. It was as if the message was just for me, speaking a little whisper of hope after a terrible morning, the third day of literally a "yucky" week all around. I did not know how much more I could take of any more bad news, sickness, and other things just filling my life with craziness. The tears had poured down in anger and frustration, leaving my eyes a red mess, but I didn't care anymore. I just wanted God to step in and give me peace again. I just wanted a little kiss from heaven to know that He was still there, holding my right hand just like He promised.
That's when I saw the little sign. As I read it over and over again, a little spark of hope lit inside me. I prayed, "Please Lord, I really would like something good to happen to me today. Please Lord, I really need it." There had to still be good out there and the truth was, God was still good even though life seemed anything but good at the moment.
The lunch hour was long and my patience was thin. A little beep on my phone signaled someone had messaged me. I had a minute to stop between putting nuggets and warm-ups into the warmer for students' lunches so I checked my phone. It was from my friend in Israel, my old pen pal I had not heard from in a while. She wrote me a long message of how she was doing and all that God was doing in her life. She reminded me that God had not changed and He was still good. We could hold onto His promises and trust Him to do great things just like He did in the past. He will continue to do the same for us now. It was a message of hope and encouragement, something that made the little flame of hope inside me grow a little stronger.
Joe was home with a stomach bug and we had church that night so I decided Chinese sounded good to me. It was while I was eating I thought that I should go downstairs and find a large envelope for something I needed to bring to church with me. It was an odd thought but after dinner I went down and was sorting through the shelves when I stumbled upon something that I really needed to see - it was some old files from years ago that I had been searching for to help with some of the "issues" at hand. Again, the little flame of hope began to burn brighter and it was like God said to me, "See, I am still here, holding your hand. I heard your prayers and I am watching out for you. Child, you are mine and I will always be here beside you." That little folder set the flame ablaze again.
When I got up today I had a song in my heart. I felt the flame of hope burning once again. The morning didn't seem so terrible though things have not really changed, but God's got this. And He showed me, through the littlest things, that something good did happen to me that day - little whispers of love from heaven were given to me reassuring me that because I am His child I can trust in Him.
Hello! I am so glad you stopped by to visit me today. I created this specific blog to encourage you and help give you some peace and comfort through music. Music is very powerful. What you listen to can affect you in so many ways, both good and bad. What you need today is to fill your mind with lots of good and peaceful thoughts, and know that God is still good - He is always there, holding our hand. So, check out a few of the links below and find some of my favorite songs that always bring comfort to my heart:
That's What Grace is For
I Need Thee, Lord
He Is There
Know He Cares
Middle of My Storm
He Already Sees the Rainbow
The I of the Storm
When I Can't Speak
You Are Good
Redeemer of the Rain
God is Good
Go Down Again
There is Hope
Even in the Valley
My beautiful, fluffy, flame-point little boy.
He had been easy to name, just a few days after he was born that November morning. His little ears and nose had stayed pink while his brother's and sisters' ears and noses had turned a dark brown. We didn't know if he was a boy at the time but it seemed fitting to me no matter what he was. The name Pinky had been a family name over the years, seeing that my maiden name was Pinkham. My dad had been called Pink by my grandmother as he grew up, and my brother had been called Pinky by his friends during high school so I liked the idea of carrying on the family name.
The kittens' soft little mews melted my heart as I watched them learn to find their feet and stumble around inside the closet where their mother had made her cozy nest. Their sweet little faces would peer up at me when I would pop my head in to see how they were doing, even though they still couldn't see since their eyes were closed. We did lose one of them shortly after they had been born and I wanted to make sure the others were doing okay since I didn't want to lose another one.
It was about three weeks or so later when I started to notice something strange. I began to find little Pinky in odd places around the bedroom, far away from the nest of other kittens. They were not quite old enough to stray that far from "home" but I figured he might be the more adventurous type who wanted to see what the big world was about. I always quickly scooped him up, placing him back with the other ones. His mother, Kia, always licked him vigorously, but later on I would find him under the bed or dresser again. I grew concerned because it appeared that he was not eating. He seemed to be getting weaker by the day. I tried giving him a bottle but he refused to drink it. I decided to take him to the vet to see what was going on. They found him very dehydrated so they gave him a hydration treatment to help give him a boost. They also said he had an odd sickness that attacked his nervous system and it was affecting his brain and his ability to walk. They weren't sure if he was going to make it but they gave me a little tube of high protein gel that I could feed him, if he would take it.
He had reached a a scary point and was close to the brink of death. I was determined to do whatever I needed to do to help this little guy survive. With the extra hydration in his body, he began to feel hungry again. It did not take him long to discover that he liked the protein gel and he would quickly lick it off my hand looking for more. He also started taking a bottle and every two hours I faithfully fed him milk and gave him the gel as much as I could in between. After he had eaten I would set him either in a basket where he would curl up in a blanket or sometimes I placed him back in his nest with his brothers and sisters and he would cuddle with them. Kia never let him stay long though and it broke my heart to see her reject him. I did everything in my power to be his surrogate mother and be there when he needed me.
There was one last scary morning when I woke up to find him turning in circles near the closet door. I thought it was the end. Tears streamed down my face as I got down on my hands and knees beside him.
"Oh, Pinky," I said. "Be strong! Don't give up! Keep fighting. I want you to live!"
And live he did.
It was a very exciting day when we decided that we would keep him. Our older cat, Tiger, had not been doing very well and we knew he did not have much more time on this earth. Plus I had worked so hard to bring Pinky from the brink of death that we needed to keep him. I had connected with his heart and did not like the idea of having him leave our home. And besides, how could we sell him to someone knowing the issues he had? The lack of nourishment had caused him to lose some brain cells and he was not totally normal. He was our special kitty now. So, that night, after Joe and I had discussed the idea of keeping Pinky, Joe announced to the kids who were all tucked into bed, " We are going to keep Pinky! He gets to stay with us!"
I can still hear the cheers of excitement from the children as their feet thundered down the hall as they ran to hug Pinky in happy delight. They didn't care that he was different. He was our kitty and they loved him.
Pinky lived a great life. He was so beautiful, with those big sky blue eyes and his long, white soft-like-ermine fur. He became quite attached to Caleb, who loved carrying him around his neck like a little lamb. I am totally convinced that Pinky had some ragdoll in him because the things he let Caleb do to him confounded my mind. And if Pinky did not like something, he would complain and get mad but it only took a minute for his brain to reset and suddenly all was right in the world for him again.
Kia, his mother, was a bit confused as to why her son was still around though. She had tried over and over again to kick him out of the nest because of his sickness, yet he was still here. Even when the other healthy ones were gone, Pinky still remained in her territory. She often hissed at him, letting him know she didn't want anything to do with him, but there were times when I would find him curled up with his mother, and with Maysie, our much older cat who lived in the house too.
Some people did not like Pinky though, especially as he grew older. Like I said, he did have some strange things about him, like his love of soft pillows. It was a bit awkward at times but there were times when he was really sweet. He always slept at my feet every night and I loved seeing his little face peering out the front door when I would drive into the driveway.
Pinky was also popular at school during Caleb's high school years. The little mew that Pinky always made became a common call among the high schoolers and he was even mentioned in the valedictorian's speech during graduation. Pinky had become famous!
It was during the last year that I noticed Pinky was seeming to lose weight. He had always been thin, and oftentimes he struggled with his food, eating his dry food with his head cocked to the side as he tried to chew the hard pieces. He loved to eat the meat I was cooking during dinner, sitting near my feet so he could get some cooked chicken or hamburger that I would drop for him to snack on. He was my kitchen buddy and I enjoyed his company.
I took him for his yearly vet visit and they informed me that he had the start of kidney failure. I got a very disturbing feeling inside me that day, and I had a feeling that this would be the last time I would take him to the vet. It made me very sad to think about. They said to put him on a special cat food diet, low in phosphorous and high in protein. I tried to get him to eat it but he much preferred real meat over that canned stuff. I didn't blame him. Real meat was much better in my opinion.
I noticed that he stopped coming into the kitchen. He wasn't coming in at all anymore for any food. He did have water dishes all over the house and he constantly ran from one to the other, lapping up the water over the course of the day. He always walked away with a little drip on his chin which we called Pinky's drip lip. It was a rare thing to see his chin dry. He often cried, deep throated Siamese cries as he sat over his water. We could not figure out why he was crying and it would wrench my heart every night I heard it. I tried giving him fresh water, making it go as high in the bowl as it possibly could. As time wore on the cries grew weaker as he grew weaker. I grew desperate. He had to eat something! I tried giving him tuna water, which he sampled but didn't take much. I wanted him to fight. I wanted him to live like he had when he was a kitten. He was only twelve so he had more time, didn't he?
But we all have our time. This week we had to make that tough decision and ask ourselves if it was Pinky's time. What was the best thing for him? I didn't want to see him suffer. He was keeping more to himself now, sitting in the middle of my winter village, looking like a small snow covered mountain, with sad, cloudy eyes. He no longer came onto our bed to sleep beside me. He no longer woke Joe up at 4 am to get him up to feed him anymore. He had grown so weak that even the slightest cough knocked him over. It was very hard to watch.
Last night, Wednesday evening, I was working downstairs at my desk when I heard a noise. It was Pinky. He had come down and tried to get up on the desk but didn't have enough strength to jump up. I lifted him up and he sat close by me as I worked. I noticed he was shivering so I placed him on my lap, with the heater close by so it would warm his cold bones. He stayed for a few minutes enjoying my company then went back on the desk and sat in a basket close by. He had a foul odor coming from him and I knew he was saying goodbye. He had come down one more time to thank me for trying my best to give him the best life that he could have. He was saying it was okay to let him go. And my heart broke.
After that, he hid in our shower and then spent the night in the cat tree, curled up in a little ball. I did not think he was going to make it to see the morning, but there he was, still hanging on to one little thread of life.
Joe took him to the vet today. Everyone had said their goodbyes last night but it was not easy for Joe to make that drive. We have lost a lot of animals over the course of our marriage, but this was by far the hardest. He was the one we had connected with from the day of his birth. As I walked around collecting all his water dishes, tears poured down my cheeks. I will miss that little boy. I'll miss seeing that little gallop of his as he ran down the hall...feeling him walk over me at 4 in the morning....seeing Caleb give him walking lessons in the living room... the list goes on. But it was time. We had done our best. He wasn't suffering anymore. And he will forever be in my heart.
When you choose to take in a pet, you are choosing to love that animal forever, no matter what oddities or strange quirks they may have. It is a sacrifice of sorts, giving up yourself to love that animal friend through better or worse. And I will continue to love our kitties that we still have but I will never forget those blue eyes and that lovely face of the beauty we called Pinky.❤
My mother-in-law saw this story in the paper today! As we sit inside watching tropical storm Henri come blowing through, it's nice to know that my son's reputation and our company is getting good reviews out there. The funny thing about reading this is the fact that I had those same thoughts cross my mind when I was recently watching a video of a nest being removed. It made me feel sad. But safety first, right?
Sadness removing hornets nest
“You have a big hornets nest on that low branch of your maple tree hanging over the driveway,” my daughter Peg reported one day last week when she came to visit. She took a picture of it with her iPhone to show me and, sure enough, the nest was almost as big as a basketball. And it had been built when nobody was aware of it. Round, light grey and papery, it was a classic example of a perfect nest of its kind, and I wished that it was in a safer place so we didn’t have to deal with it.
When my sons found out about it, they said I should have someone come and remove it because hornets are vicious and unpredictable in their instinct to protect their nest. I knew I would have to get it taken care of but that nest was really an amazing creation, a true work of art built by a colony of fierce insects wanting only a safe place to bring up their young. I shouldn’t personify a nest of hornets but when you think of a queen bee setting up housekeeping with her horde of females collecting insects, caterpillars and nectar for the drones to help feed her young, it seems almost cruel to destroy the nest. If it were higher up in the tree, it might not have presented such a problem. But any truck or van coming into the driveway would probably brush against that nest and disturb the inhabitants so an unsuspecting visitor coming along next could be badly stung. Already they were buzzing just over our heads when we went out to get the mail from our mailbox.
The only thing left to do was to get someone to take down the nest.
My fearless neighbor Shelly across the street had dealt with a nest of her own when a colony of hornets built one on a branch over her pumpkin patch. She kept getting stung every time she went out to weed. She fiercely sprayed that nest, cut it down and destroyed it all by herself. She offered to come over and take down mine but I thought she was lucky that first time and I didn’t want her to risk being badly stung by my bees.
Once again I asked Wayne Daly who takes care of my lawn and shrubs to recommend someone and he said Family Pest Control of Wallingford could do the job.
Shortly after we called them, a young man named Caleb, whose grandfather had started the business which his father now runs, showed up to deal with the bees that he confirmed were bald faced (or white faced) hornets.
He donned a full bee suit, pulled down a stepladder from on top of his truck, sprayed the nest, clipped it off with loppers, and sprayed it again once it was down. He also sprayed the area where it had hung. He said any hornets flying outside the nest would return to the spot and if the nest was gone move on or ingest the spray and die.
Because I know that hornets and wasps are also pollinators, (though not as efficient as honeybees whose bodies are furrier and carry away more pollen) I felt guilty about having that nest destroyed. If it had been on a higher branch, I would have let it stay there. But low as it was, I couldn’t risk letting anyone inadvertently disturb it and get badly stung.
My neighbor Shelly, who had watched, with interest, the whole operation from her home across the street, had one thing to say about the whole process and that was “Maybe I should get a bee suit like that!”
By Phyllis Donovan (Record Journal)
Originally, the title of this blog was going to be "A Very Special Valentine" because it was back on February 14th when God revealed something that made me very emotional and overwhelmed with His love and presence. It was an experience that was simply amazing yet so hard to put into words. I am going to do my best to describe that day, which in fact was the conclusion to a very long journey. A journey that began well over twenty years ago.
I came up with the idea for the story (though the Mystery Girl had a different title back then) and wrote about half before I put it away. I got married, had my children, and dealt with all the ups and downs that life brings. It just was not time for the story to come out. Sometimes it is hard to see God's perfect plan and timing and it is so easy for us to get impatient when we do not see progress. That was me. I could not figure out why it just was not coming together. I wondered if I was even supposed to write it.
Then about six years ago I pulled out what I had written and began reworking the main idea, merging another story with it to make it more interesting. I came up with the title around that time too. It was a phrase that had a very personal meaning to me and I wanted to get an important point out to the young teens who might be struggling with the same issue of their identity in Christ. I did not get very far. In fact, after my dad passed away in 2015 I got such a horrible case of writer's block that nothing came easily. I wondered if I would ever be able to write again. I prayed for the Lord to bring inspiration again but all I got was a solid brick wall. Nothing. I thought that if only I could get a little doorway through that wall, or even just a window, to see the light come shining through once again. Old thoughts began to come back. Thoughts like "maybe what you have to say isn't important anyway," or "nobody wants to hear what you have to say. You're just a nobody in this world."
You see, ever since I had been a teenager, I had dealt with insecurity in who I was. There was a lack of confidence in what I said, always hiding in the shadows hoping that I did not displease anyone. I did not understand the depths of love and why God would love little old me. I always had a pretty good relationship with Him growing up, making Him my own around the young age of eight. I read my Bible every day and prayed, and I can truly say it was the Lord Who helped me through all my tough teens years. I simply do not know how teenagers get through those years without the help of the Lord. But the one idea that kept going through my mind all those years was that I was a "mystery girl" to all those who did not know me. That term was my companion for many years, and one day I shared my deepest thoughts with my husband. We talked it through and he gave me encouragement to share what I felt with others. He said it almost sounded like a good title for a book for teen girls and I liked his idea. I just did not know if I was ready to share it with the world or not. It was not time.
For about three or more years now, I 've been working on this book, writing a little before getting interrupted and putting it away for a while before getting the itch to write some more. The story began taking on its own form, then I would reread what I had written and find something that needed to be changed and work on that for a bit before putting it down again. It did not feel like I was getting anywhere with it. Then COVID hit, giving me time to sit down and do some writing. Finally, FINALLY, I finished it last summer, and thus began the long painful process of edits. Rereading it, making more changes, letting others read it to see if it flowed smoothly and made sense, cutting out parts that were not necessary to the story, then morphing the words to say what needed to be said. What was the hardest part was the idea that whoever read the book would be looking into my very soul, the deepest part of me that had haunted me for so many years. Did I really want that out in the open? I was still unsure about that idea.
Back in December, while we were dealing with our own issues of COVID in our home, I let Joe read the story. I wanted him to truly know that part of me and understand my heart. I think he took away a lot more than I ever imagined when he read what I had written. It was like something clicked inside of him and God began moving through him to show me love. Real, true love. Now, we have always had a good marriage. We always said, "I love you," and we have had a close relationship. I can count on one hand the few arguments we have had over almost 22 years of marriage. So, it was with great surprise that as the new year began he started to do some writing of his own and what came of it became something very special. It was a gift for my birthday. He wrote a little story entitled, "Cara's Five Perfect Days." I did not know what to expect but when I began reading, the tears poured down my face. It was only five chapters long, but I could only read one chapter at a time so what he wrote could settle into my head. In the last chapter Joe wrote about a scene where God reveals Himself to me as a loving Father. It truly was a gift of love. And as my book was completed around the same time, I found that in the process of writing my heart had begun to heal. I found the true meaning of love through Joe's gift and suddenly I understood how God truly viewed me and loved me.
So, that Valentine's Day, I was up in Vermont, visiting my mother. It was just Joe and I who had gone up and we had a very quiet weekend, catching up and enjoying our visit together. I went into the shower that Sunday morning to prepare for the day and that was when God revealed Himself. It was in the very same shower where I had shed tears of uncertainty and frustration as a teenager. His voice, though not audible, was heard loud and clear.
"This was where it all started and this is where it ends. You are no longer the mystery girl. You are my daughter, and I am your Father. And I love you."
I stood there with the water running over me, overwhelmed at the very thought that God had just revealed to me. It was like I was wrapped in a warm hug as peace and reassurance washed over me. And just like that I knew that I was healed. Because of my book. Because of God's timing. Because of Joe's expression of love. But most of all, because of God.
Overwhelmed. Loved. I am loved. There may be hard times just around the corner. There may be trials, struggles, and hardships, and yes, even times when I may feel distant from the Lord again, but I want to remember that day. That moment. The feeling that God, my Father, loves ME! I am a daughter of the King and I am not a mystery. He knows me. He knows my heart. And still loves me. That is the message I want to share with all the teen girls out there. Well, with all the women out there who share the same struggle. Maybe even some young men (and older men) who may struggle with where they stand with the Lord too. If I was 45 when my eyes were opened, then I'm sure there are others out there who need to hear it too. And I must say, my love for the Lord and for my husband is deeper than it ever was and my journey is only beginning.
"Yea, I have loved thee with an everlasting love: therefore with lovingkindness have I drawn thee." Jeremiah 31:3
Today is Thanksgiving. And so that is what I'm going to do. I truly have a lot to be thankful for. This year has had its many negatives but I do believe the positives win. So, today, I am thankful for....
-Peace in knowing I am saved, going to heaven, and that God keeps holding onto my hand.
- For our litter of kittens. We didn't think Mocha would ever have any but she finally did. The litter of five was born on my birthday...the best gift ever! We did lose little Murphy after a week long fight to keep him alive, but we had four strong, healthy kittens. We ended up keeping two. The other two went to live with Grammy and Grampy, who are getting great enjoyment and lots of smiles out of the mischievous boys.
-For our quarantine time. It was really nice when life slowed down. I was able to catch up on projects and be with the family. We grew very close and I loved every minute.
-For another graduate in our home. Alaina finished her 12th year at Heritage at 17 years old, and even though it was a tiny ceremony, it's exactly what she wanted. She began online college courses and is hoping to get into the Vet Tech program next year.
-For the amazing year we had with our pest control business. Last year at this time we were looking to sell because the year had been so bad. But even in the midst of corona, God blessed the work that came in above and beyond what we've ever had before.
-For our new car. Our Honda Pilot died in the middle of corona quarantine. I loved that car, but the timing could not have been better. We did not need such a big vehicle with everyone home. We did have a back- up vehicle until August, then God allowed us to get a 2017 Toyota Rav. It's the newest car I've ever had!
-For the opportunity to attend my best friend's wedding. What a joy it was to witness the long awaited answer to prayer for my friend Rachel. God brought her a husband after 20 plus years of praying for one. (This was the year!) Oh, the joy!
-For my new job as lunch lady at Heritage. I am enjoying the children, especially the little ones, and their funny comments. They love looking for Curly, Larry, and Herbert, the little creatures that "hide" in the lunchroom every day. The children's smiles and hellos brighten my day. And I love to be in the kitchen so it's a win-win situation.
I'm know I could list more but I wanted to post a poem I wrote a couple weeks ago. No matter what is going on in our world, there is always beauty to find, and God's hand is everywhere you turn. He is still in control. And that is what I'm thankful for the most:
After all the unrest
From the news of the weeks,
I went for a long, long walk.
Once in the fresh air,
My mind started to clear,
And all seemed right in the world.
The birds still sang their sweet happy songs,
The flowers still bloomed in the sun.
The bright yellow leaves
That still clung to the trees,
Waved gently to me in the breeze.
It was then that the Lord began speaking,
With that quiet small voice I know well:
"I am here, My child,
Do not be dismayed,
Of the way life seems to be going.
For I know the game man is playing.
The pieces are shifted around.
It may seem all is lost,
At such a great cost,
But My hand is still on the board.
Nothing goes on
Without my consent,
As it was from the beginning of time.
And since Adam and Eve
Chose sin over me,
Now all men must choose their side.
Yet, no matter what happens,
I'm still in control.
Do not let your heart fill with fear.
I'm still holding your hand,
You're still safe in my care."
And all seemed right in the world.
Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!
The other day I was talking to my friend on the phone, catching up on the latest news about her job, her new home, and her new husband. We had a great conversation reminiscing about her wedding and then I found myself saying something very odd. I told her, "My scar is healing up quite nicely." Suddenly a thought occurred to me. "I know this may sound strange, but to be honest, I'm kind of proud of my scars."
She was puzzled and gave a little laugh. "Proud of them?"
I had to explain. "Yes, because it reminds me of an amazing day. Your wedding day. A long awaited answer to prayer. It was a day that was so beautiful and happy. Plus, it reminds me of how loving and merciful our Lord is. The incident could have been a lot worse..."
The incident I'm talking about is something that occurred on one of the best days I have seen in 2020. It has certainly been a roller coaster of a year. Too many things have happened that I would never care to see again in any other year. But seeing my best friend marry her soulmate this past August brought great joy to my heart.
The day dawned beautiful and sunny. Rae was beaming with happiness when I walked into the room and greeted her as she was getting her hair curled and pinned up. Her white dress hung from the light fixture nearby, a picture of purity and innocence, a long awaited dream that was finally coming true. We had only been 13 and 15 years old when we had first become pen pals. A man from my church had somehow gotten her address while visiting her church and asked me if I would care to write this young girl who needed a friend. I needed a friend too. We had both prayed for somebody to come into our lives, never imagining that a friendship of such long distance would work out so well. But God knew. Never underestimate what He can do. And how He is going to do it. His ways are never our ways.
In 1998 I married Joe, and Rae was one of my bridesmaids. Though she was happy for me, it hurt her to see me get married when she had no prospects in sight. It did hurt our friendship a bit as we both had very different lives after that. As my children came one after the other, she still had nobody on the horizon. For twenty-two years she watched me live a happily married life, even attending my daughter Alaina's birth in 2002. It was an amazing time for her, but still that ache in her heart put a little wall up between us. It was hard for her to relate to circumstances I told her about. It just made her want to get married all the more.
Fast forward to the end of 2019. She sent me a text about a gentleman she had met. She was not sure about what the future held for her and him, but there was something different about this guy. I could tell by her texts. I read between the lines. I had been praying for years with her, believing the Lord would bring someone special to her. Each year I would say, "Lord, let this be the year. Please let Rae find her soulmate!" Hope sprang up in my heart when her texts became more in depth about him. I heard the change in her voice, and in my heart I knew it was for real this time. My prayer changed to the plea, "Lord, please don't let this man break her heart! She has been through so much heartbreak already. Please don't let him hurt my friend!"
By the end of February, it was official. They were engaged. And very happy. An August wedding was set and wedding preparations began to unfold. She asked me to be her matron of honor. It brought tears to my eyes to think that it would be my turn to be by the side of my best friend as she said her long awaited wedding vows. As I looked into the specifics of what I was to do as her matron of honor, I found it was my job to put together a bridal shower. How was I going to do that being 14 hours away from her? I decided to ask Joe. Not my Joe, but her Joe. Isn't it funny that God decided to give her a Joe too? We have so much in common, being we both play the flute, love to write, love to read, etc, and now we have husbands with the same name. And the same sense of humor. Imagine that!
So, Joe (and Rae's mom and dad, as well as the two other bridesmaids) helped me put together a wonderful surprise shower for her and we pulled it off, completely giving her the surprise of her life. It had been years since we had seen each other, so to see her three good friends, two from the East Coast, standing there in front of her was a shock. The look on her face was priceless! It was a day we will never forget.
Fast forward to August 29th. The day dawned beautiful and sunny. Rae was beaming with happiness when I walked into the room and greeted her....oh wait, I said that already. It was worth repeating. My best friend was getting married! Oh, what an answer to prayer! The entire day was filled with answers to prayer. It was one of the most beautiful weddings I have ever attended. I won't go into all the details of the entire day but the joy and happiness of the bride and groom was a sight to behold. It all ended too fast and soon the two were getting ready to walk through a sparkler line where they would climb into a horse drawn carriage and leave for their honeymoon. I had my phone camera on and was handed a couple of sparklers. I held the phone up to capture their walk through and then it happened. Somehow the sparkler I was holding broke. Now, I was wearing quite a high necked dress so it really puzzles me as how this all happened, but the burning sparkler piece fell onto my neck, and down the front of my dress. Meanwhile, I still had the camera on, though all you can see is the grass. You hear a gasp, then, "Joe! It fell down my dress!"
I glanced down and saw the chiffon at the bottom of my dress beginning to light up. All I could think of was the fact that I was going to be engulfed in flames in a matter of seconds. Joe thought so too. He quickly snuffed out the flame on the skirt part, then without even hesitating, reached into my dress and pulled out the burning piece of sparkler. You may smirk, but he did it with such rapid speed and unconcern for burning himself that he is my hero. He told me later that he would know when he found it by feeling the burn. I wish I could say I enjoyed watching the newlyweds leave in their carriage but the pain set in after that. I took off across the field, up over the hill, and hurried to the pavilion where they were packing up all the food from the reception.
"I need ice! Do you have any available?" I asked as soon as I got there. I had left Joe in the dust as I had raced for relief. Upon hearing what had happened, the ladies quickly gave me a bag of ice that instantly took away my pain, as long as I kept the cold pack on the burns. Then I remembered that I had tea tree oil in my car. The roller kind that would be easy to rubbed over the burns. I quickly asked Joe to unlock the car. I spread the oil all over my burns and then put the ice back on. I sent a text to the other bridesmaids telling them what happened, not realizing that Rae was part of the group chat too. I did not mean to worry her like that. I did not want to spoil her wedding day with the news that I had been hurt. But she quickly responded, telling me that she and Joe were praying for me. As did the other bridesmaids. And within two hours of the incident the pain was totally gone. It did not look pretty, but that would heal in time.
It has been a month and a half since that day now, and my scars have faded. The biggest one is just a little white spot under my collar bone. But that scar serves to remind me of many things: it reminds me of answered prayer - our timing is not God's timing. His ways are perfect. He will provide above and beyond what we can even think or imagine. It also reminds me of that wonderful day when my sweet friend Rae said her vows and became one with her long awaited husband. It reminds me that God works out every detail, right down to even the smallest one, like having me put the tea tree oil in my purse so I would have it for that very moment. And it reminds me that the incident could have been so much worse - I could have gone up in flames and burnt more of my body then just a little part of my neck and chest but He was so merciful to me. And for that very reason I can say that I'm proud of the scars He gave me as a reminder that God is always good. And God is always right. But last of all, I am thankful and proud for the scars He took for me on the cross so that I could become a daughter of the king. He is an amazing Father, isn't He?
I love animals but you already know that. I write about them all the time and post pictures of them too. So don't be surprised that this post is also about animals. I truly believe God gave them to us for enjoyment and entertainment, but He also put them on this earth to teach us some things.
Look at how many times He talks about different animals in the Bible: foxes, sheep, doves, sparrows, roaring lions, fish, unicorns (rhinos) and even leviathan! There is so much to learn from the creation of the Master Artist. And once again He taught me something I wanted to share with you.
Two weeks ago a hurricane blew through our area. There were some pretty strong gusts of wind and I stood outside with JJ listening as the wind approached. It sounded like a semi bearing down on us as each gust began, growing louder as it got stronger, doing its worst as the trees bent over backward, then eased off again. (Hmmm, ladies, kind of like labor pains?) We wondered how the trunks did not crack under the pressure. Branches fell around us, whipping leaves all over the place. We decided to go inside where it was safe from falling debris. I prayed for safety of our house and us as I stood looking out, asking the Lord once again to keep the trees from falling on anything important.
Can I say that I hate heavy wind? It brings back scary memories of the tornado in Indiana in 2002. Ever since then I have been nervous of the wind. But God has always been faithful and has taken care of us every time.
So, I stood at the slider looking out when suddenly a little family of Tufted Titmice landed on the deck. Oblivious to the storm around them, that little momma hopped around on the deck looking for food for her hungry family. She discovered some soggy bread we had left out the day before and began the task of feeding each impatient baby, stuffing little pieces into one mouth then getting more for the other one.
I could not help but marvel at her calmness. She was not scared of the howling winds around her. Her family was the most important thing at the moment and she knew her Creator was in control. He had provided her family with food and she knew He would take care of her family through the howling storm.
It was exactly the encouragement I needed that day. Those little birds gave me hope. The words from a song I heard recently says it all:
Hope has a way of turning its face to you just when you least expect it.
You walk in a room, you look out a window, and something there leaves you breathless.
You say to yourself its been a while since I felt this,
But it feels like it might be hope.
Hope is an amazing thing to have. It's the lifeline we hang on to when things are spiraling out of control around us. It's our anchor in the midst of the storm. And God is my Hope, my Anchor, and my Lifeline. Do you have Him as your hope? If not, grab a hold of Him today. It's the safest place to be in the midst of that storm.
Her cries tore my heart as I drove to the vet. Her sweet multicolored face looked out from the bars, her eyes meeting mine as the merows grew louder. She had known what was coming as soon as she saw the cat carrier. She was long overdue for her shots but with all the drama of our other cat and her kittens, Kia got put on the back burner. And she liked it that way.
But then it was her turn. As soon as she knew what was coming, she tried to run but I caught her and put her inside. And the desperate cries began immediately. Siamese cats have a unique cry that comes straight from the deepest part of the throat. It almost sounds like a baby crying, which sets off the button inside my mom brain that something is wrong and I need to fix the problem. But I couldn't.
It just wasn't time.
As she lay in the carrier crying and staring wide-eyed out at me, I found myself telling her, "It's going to be okay, Kia. I'm right here. I know you don't like this but it's for your own good. It's just not time."
It was obvious she didn't like the situation. Her eyes said it all. "I hate this. This isn't what I planned for my day. I'm uncomfortable and scared. I'm out of my comfort zone. I see you out there! Why aren't you doing anything to help me out of this horrible place?"
Because it just wasn't time.
And then it hit me. How many times are we in the same boat in life? We are cruising along happily in life when suddenly God puts us in a "carrier" and takes us out of our comfort zone. We cry and plead for Him to get us out. We say, "I hate this. This isn't what I planned for my day. I'm uncomfortable and scared. I'm out of my comfort zone. I see you out there! Why aren't you doing anything to help me out of this horrible place?" but He doesn't make a move to open the door to escape. He just whispers soft, comforting words. "It's going to be okay, my child. I'm right here. I know you don't like this but it's for your own good...
It's just not time."
We don't always understand why we have to go through tough trials. But God does. He sees the plan from beginning to end. His timing is perfect. He won't ever leave you through it all. And He will open the door to let you out of the fiery trial as soon as it is time.
Let's face it, people, my hubby is a hero. Now, heroes come in many forms, such as firefighters, emergency workers, doctors, nurses, teachers, and even to little children who love big trucks, the garbage man. Yet, on all the signs that I have seen along the sides of the roads during this isolation, none of them ever have pest control workers listed. It is obvious to me after seeing how many calls are coming in for the business that pest control is essential. With everyone at home right now, the fact is they are seeing more bugs. And so they call. And Joe comes to their rescue.
Joe is not only a hero because he helps people get rid of their mice and ants (as well as play the psychistrist with hysterical men and women who are convinced the no-see-ums will attack them in the night), but he is also a hero when it comes to working around the house. Our house. That was one of the qualities I wanted in a man that I married because it was something my father did when I was growing up. I loved the smell of freshly cut wood, and the fact that anything broken was always fixable in his eyes. He always had some project in the works which gave him something to keep him busy when he was not in his office designing chips at IBM.
The busiest time for Joe is spring and summer so the home projects are put on hold during the months when everyone else is traveling and on vacation. So, I have had to learn to wait a little longer for things to get fixed around here during those times. But some things do not wait for the maintanence man. They just continue to break down. Therefore, Joe becomes a bigger hero to me when I need to call him during the middle of the day because a faucet decided to break in my hand and shoot water all around our bathroom. Let me explain:
I was in the bathroom washing my hands when I noticed the water was still leaking after I turned the water off. The faucet had started doing this a few days before. I had found a way to fix it by giving the handle a little nudge backward to turn off the steady stream until it became a drip. Now, I always knew we had hard water, what with all the spots and white film that coated my dishes when we need to add more salt in the water softener. Plus I had seen how other faucets had become corroded from the minerals from our well water.
I should have known better. I should have listened to the warning bells inside my head. But I still nudged the handle. I felt it give way and water began bubbling up around my hand. Within a few seconds it was not just bubbling, it was spraying up as the silver knob fell onto the sink. Quickly I covered the hole with my hand and pushed down as hard as I could. With my free hand I reached underneath the sink to try and turn the water off that way. The knobs would not budge. The water was still coming out and my hand was hurting. I grabbed a towel and used that to press down. It helped slow the water a little, but I was still stuck. Panic set in. How was I going to get out of this mess? I'm locked in this bathroom and nobody knows I need help. How do I open the door and get the kids' attention while I hold back the floodgates?
I changed hands and with my left hand I began banging the side of the wall, meanwhile hollering out the words HELP ME as loud as I could. I figured my loud noise and shouting would draw someone's attention. It felt like a millions years passed but finally one of my children came to find out what was going on.
We ended up changing places so I could grab the phone to call Joe as I raced downstairs to find the emergency water shut off. With his instructions I was able to turn off the water to the house and we temporarily fixed the flood gates. Granted, we did not have any water in the house for the rest of the day, but I had seen enough of it for the time being to not want anymore for awhile.
To make a long story short, Joe was my hero that night and fixed the faucet, and he also fixed the water nozzles underneath the sink. We can now turn the water on and off with a simple twist of the knobs. (He informed me that the old ones did not work anyway. Say what? Why were they even under there then?)
For us, life is always an adventure. We never know what lies around the next bend. It could be a a flood in the house, a graduation of another child, or just a quaratine picnic at the park because that is the only place you can find to eat your hibachi. But it's all good. If you have not already figured out what the title of my blog means, I'll give you a hint: today marks our twenty-second anniversary. Twenty-two years with the man God put into my life to be my spouse. He has spent twenty-two years helping people get rid of bugs (first computer bugs and now wild scary hairy bugs), fixing things in our home, working audio/video stuff at church, and just being a hero. My hero. I may not say it often enough, but I am glad he is the one God chose for me to make this journey of life with. I am glad he is like my father in so many ways, including the fact that he loves the Lord first and foremost. So, Happy Anniversary to us! And may we celebrate many more years together as Joe continues to be everyone's hero.
A last note: As I was just looking at the pictures below, it occurred to me that we had no idea what was going on below the surface of the faucet. It looked great on the outside, but it was being destroyed from the inside. Don't let that happen to your marriage. Be careful to guard both inside and out. Don't let corrosion break up a beautiful thing!