Enjoy a little science on this wonderful Wednesday from a fellow blogger at Why? Because Science., and learn more than you cared to know about the cockroach and its contributions to STEM (science, technology, engineering and math).
5-4-3-2-1… Happy New Year! What’s your focus for 2016?
A few days ago while out walking by a pond I saw a crusty, musty old barn and silo through a clearing. What a fantastic piece of history! Its sturdiness and majesty amazed me. If a few stable hands got in there and applied some elbow grease, I thought, this old place could be AMAZING! Sadly, it just stands there unused and silent, with untapped and unlimited potential.
Sitting on a cluster of boulders by the water’s edge, I focused on the barn. When there was life inside you: strong horses and other farm animals along with men and women tending the surrounding land, you had such purpose and meaning. While hauntingly beautiful now, many may only see a demolition in your future. Who decides if you’re worth saving?
Funny to go around talking to empty buildings, but in some ways this old barn and I were alike! My old thinking and past actions focused a lot on my physical appearance or moods.
Instead of living life using my God-given gifts, talents and abilities, I stumbled around for years wishing for lucky breaks, or worse, blaming others when my plans failed again and again. I felt spiritually empty inside, and was self-destructive. Thankfully God pierced right through my façade with love and kindness.
…The LORD does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart. 1 Sam 16:7 (NIV)
Once I made the decision to trust the Lord completely, I began to stop rationalizing all my failures and shortcomings as “that’s just who I am.” Life bloomed with possibility! No more blindly navigating through life frustrated by unrealized plans and missed opportunities. Now closely aligned to God’s Word, my future has stability and security. Through my children I have both a gift and a reward from Heaven.
What are YOU trusting God for in 2016? A new job. Financial freedom. Healthier relationships. Perhaps all of the above! Let’s agree today:
Heavenly Father, thank You for Your love and kindness! I honor You and praise You, for You are El Roi, the God who sees me. You faithfully and continuously watch over me, and establish my steps.
Let 2016 be the year of fundamental change in me, as I trust You completely to do the impossible in my life. Strengthen me when I am weak Lord, and increase my faith daily. Thank you for my life God! Use it to Your glory. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
::Un/Faithful Today’s prompt is pretty interesting: tell about the role faith plays in my life – or doesn’t.
I created The Exceptional Life blog less than a year ago as a medium to share posts on my faith, personal growth and happiness journey.
Concerning faith, for years I sat in church in confusion as our Pastor talked about faith. I quasi-understood it: you just need a little bit to start, don’t doubt and above all never fear, because fear and faith can’t co-exist in the mind. Yes, okay and really? The last part was a gotcha because deep down inside I did doubt at times. ALOT. I doubted my abilities as a contributor at work, and if I could complete my studies at the university without drowning in debt. As a wife and working mom I was afraid of being absent too much, and juggling so many other tasks outside the home. So I sat stoically in church, alone in my thoughts as the message once again centered on faith. The challenge to your faith is not as important as the response, Pastor ended, your response is key.
My husband and I would talk about this message throughout the year, but nothing prepared us for what was to come…
Later that summer, we decided to leave earlier than expected from our annual vacation, and head home to surprise the kids. School was starting on Monday, and my Mother-in-law graciously offered to stay with teens who felt they no longer needed a sitter since their brother was officially a college freshman. The attitude of three teenagers permeated the home, a la skunk spray, as we left for the airport one week earlier. Only our little one cried and hugged our legs, begging us not to leave. Sigh, it felt good to get home early and make things right with the children again.
As we powered up our cell phones during a connecting flight, both our phones began ringing at the same time from our kids and neighbors. It was total chaos! Our middle child finally got through and screamed in terror that our son was in a car accident, and she didn’t know where emergency services had taken him. Further complicating matters my Mother-in-law was having chest pains after hearing the news, leaving our 16 year old as the decision maker to search for her brother and care for her two younger siblings.
When I close my eyes, I can still hear the uncertainty and her fear as she cried on the phone that day, and fervently pray that eventually the Lord will remove that memory. I don’t know how we did it, but right in the airport her father and I calmed down enough to pray with her. We asked aloud for God to take control of the situation. We prayed for a miracle for our son, and thanked the Lord for our faith that we would be always be together, on earth and in heaven. As friends and family searched for our son, we began our flight home not knowing whether he survived, and totally relying on the mercy and grace of our heavenly Father.
I wept the entire flight home, leaving my husband to mumble an explanation to the flight attendants, and worried passengers offering tissue after tissue. After landing, we were off the plane and finally heard good news, our son was airlifted to a trauma center two towns away! The bad news was it was really bad news: he had a skull fracture, brain bleeding, and was in an induced coma…I stopped listening, and hung up as we raced to him. Where is he, I demanded once at the ICU? There were too many people talking to me, and all I wanted was to see my son and hold my other children. At his bedside a chaplain and nurse were intent on explaining the visitor limit to me. I looked into the nurse’s soul, and replied,
“No one will keep me from my son EVER AGAIN. It took too much to get to him, and I’m never leaving him alone in this place.”
I don’t know what I looked like when I said it (probably insane) but no one challenged me or mentioned visiting hours again. The main concern was that he wouldn’t survive the first night, and so I prayed a simple prayer of promise:
I love you son. Continue to rest, and know it is written: For I know the plans and thoughts that I have for you,’ says the Lord, ‘plans for peace and well-being and not for disaster to give you a future and a hope. Jer 29:11 (AMP)
For nine days we kept vigil, prayed and stayed at my son’s side. Our church held a special time of prayer during mid-week service, while friends, family and other churches prayed all over the country. One week after being admitted unresponsive and unstable he opened his eyes and began breathing on his own. Another three days later he was discharged to continue what would be an extended, one year recovery at home.
His father and I were given a devastating diagnosis, a long rehabilitation period, and lists of things he’d be unable to do, but with time his recovery has been remarkable. I stretch my faith, and call this period of our lives a divine miracle from God. Even doctors on his medical team can’t explain his rapid healing in certain areas. One excitedly shook our son’s hand during a later visit, while another kept staring at him as if he were an alien. The second doctor kept repeating, “but I admitted you in the ER,” and, “I ordered your transfer to the ICU when you began to crash!”
Six years later and we’ve grown and changed! The teens are now adults and living on their own. Instead of many feet running around the home, there’s one little set left, and we’re just as happy. Whenever I run into an old friend or neighbor, and they ask about my son’s well-being and abilities I thank them for their prayers and kindness, and patiently answer any questions. Is he driving? Yes. Did he return to college? Absolutely. Is he working? Yes! While our lives haven’t been an overnight success, the profound change and increase in my faith since that terrible time is my testimony.
In my life faith is the “God thread” that sews up all my imperfections and pieces me back together so that I’m whole again. When I’ve been given little hope, my faith in God allows me peace to see beyond my circumstances. Finally, in my darkest hour and greatest time of need when it was just me calling out to God, He gave me assurance in two verses. The one above which I still pray over my son, and the following one encompassing every area of my life:
Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Php 4:6-7 (NIV)
From my family to yours, we wish you happiness and joy as you make cherished memories with friends and family this season.
I pray that you enjoy peace, good health and prosperity in the new year!
May 2016 bring with it an abundance of great ideas, and your faith and courage increase to see them through,
and beloved may your silent dreams and hidden talents finally begin to spark into fruition.
…But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord.This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.” Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,
“Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.” Luke 2:10-14 (NIV)
Hello Friends! Who’s begun the Christmas countdown yet? Me, me, and me!!!
The family has somewhat recovered from the delectable Thanksgiving cake, pie and baklava offerings my dear Marmy made with love. Did you also sample delicious treats, or have an epic kitchen catastrophe resulting in movie theater popcorn offerings to fill your grumbling bellies? Having traveled down both roads, may I offer a bit of wisdom? Years from now it all becomes a hilarious story shared around the dinner table. Tales of marshmallow eating contests and burning kitchens (yes, a kitchen literally aflame…twice) will be replayed for friends and loved ones alike with glee and abandon at future family gatherings.
THE RULES for receiving the award ○Thank the person who gave you this award.
○Include a link to their blog.
○Next, select 15 blogs that you’ve recently discovered or follow regularly.
○Nominate those 15 bloggers for the Versatile Blogger Award.
○Finally, tell the person who nominated you 7 things about yourself.
And a shout out to On the Road Through, whose blog was already nominated, but worth the additional visitation!
SEVEN FACTS ABOUT ME
1. I refuse to worry about things I cannot change. This is odd to many, particularly worriers and fretters. I’m not in denial, just solution-oriented! At work my saying is, “Let’s find a way to get to yes…”
2. To pay for college I’ve held just about every entry-level job imaginable, but the most memorable was selling rent-to-own furniture. Who dreams of having to return their furnishings or appliances for non-payment! It drove home an important life lesson about people: we all want to be respected and listened to, and will give our absolute best if allowed. My creative side would kick into overdrive to keep the customers happy.
3. My peace (and therapy) are found while working in the garden.
4. I’m reading Intentional Living by John C. Maxwell, and love his zest for life. He keeps the cookies on the bottom shelf! Which means he’s easy to understand:)
5. I have four degrees (2 undergraduate, 2 graduate), and one post-graduate diploma. All science and medical related. Girls + math + science = SUCCESS!
6. Coffee is EVERYTHING at 5am. Make it fancy (latte, cappuccino) and I’m floating through the day starry-eyed, and in yes mode.
7. After one of my children suffered a life-threatening accident, life became extremely simplified: I live for God, love my family and am thankful for each and every day! Life is precious and not for the faint of heart…Phil 4:6-7
Today I’m buzzing hither and yon with excitement, and reminding anyone who’ll listen: Christmas is ONE WEEK AWAY!
Yes dear, that’s me wearing the mistletoe earrings and blinking reindeer antlers to work. Did you miss me as I sped around the office after eating waaay too many sugar cookies? Water, must have water to offset my sugar overload!
The gifts are all wrapped and on their way to loved ones, the cards are finally labeled and ready for the mailman, and the decorations? Let’s just say they’re outside, and everywhere indoors! Toilet paper anyone?
But that just scratches the surface doesn’t it? What makes me happiest is when I’m able to give my time, talent and resources to bless others as my Heavenly Father gives to me:
“Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father…” James 1:17, NKJV
My children and I often talk about the gifts of God, and their discussion will drift towards the tangible: presents, money and such. This is when I teach them that God has given us the best gift of all, the gift of salvation through His son Jesus, and it doesn’t stop there! His Word is full of enough provision and promises to last a lifetime.
Everyone has an idea of what a prosperous and generous life resembles, and I’m no different! This site is called The Exceptional Life, and to me that life is one where friends and family have good health, a strong spiritual connection with God, blessed relationships and happy careers.
Deep inside I believe we’re created to be givers, and that’s us being our true, generous selves. How are you investing in the lives of others around you? What is your idea of generosity?
2016 is almost here! In the midst of all the cooking, shopping and celebrating I like to do two things: plan for the future and reflect on the past. It seems as if I’ve spent most of this year in reflection. So far we’ve shared stories about a loved one passed on and her wonderful legacy Grandma Personified in Cambodia, a small peek into my childhood The Daughter’s Song, and the “why” when it comes to being brave in this new blogging world Finding Your Why.
Bringing us full circle to this week’s topic: adoption. Until recently only those closest to me knew I was adopted as a young child. Early memories of my parents were disturbing, and I’m staying politically correct here. My Dad would show up sporadically then disappear for long stretches of time, which either depressed or infuriated my Mom to no end! One of the saddest memories I have as a kid is of me at the babysitters daydreaming about my Dad, and suddenly a man with an afro wearing an Army camouflage coat turns the corner. I cried as I ran and hugged his legs, saying “Daddy,” but he was not my father. The sitter grabbed me and apologized to the stunned man as he hurried down the street, and I stood there shocked, confused, and just heartbroken.
Eventually my Mom married the man who would become my “new Dad” as they explained it. “Forget your old Dad” I was instructed along with promises of a fresh start. Siblings arrived between periods of happiness and dysfunction, and three years after the adoption ink dried new Dad left. This time I was neither naïve nor confused, but a pissed-off-with-a-capital-P teenager. Abandoned again, and I blamed everyone from myself, my parents to God. Bitterness and anger took deep root in my heart, and would snap to the surface like a whip whenever I allowed thoughts of the dear old Dads to surface.
Enter my husband! We’d been friends and classmates since our teen years, but even he knew very little about my childhood. I didn’t share, and bless his soul, he was too polite to dig. The traits of our early friendship: loyalty, commitment and kindness became the bedrock of our marriage, but even his love couldn’t erase the issues of those early years. Our children arrived, along with the chaos of parenthood, and the cracks in me were temporarily filled by the constant neediness of little people and our busy home. Now I’m the mother of adult children, who have their own feelings and childhood perspective. How ironic!
This spring I sat in church thinking about my children leaving the nest, and our Pastor started talking about the beauty of forgiveness. The point of the message was that forgiveness starts with the one offended, and not the person who creates the offense. At the end of the service we were asked to write the names of those we needed to forgive on a piece of black paper (no peeping eyes), and to place the folded paper at the foot of a cross at the altar. I wrote and prayed that God would heal my heart, and allow me to forgive those who hurt me in any way as a child. There’s really no way to describe the lifting in my spirit since that spring morning, and all the many, wonderful changes my family’s experienced since that heartfelt prayer ascended to the heavens. There’s true peace now as I continue to work on my relationships with my Dads, and great comfort knowing my heavenly Father not only loves me but unconditionally accepts me as I am: cracks and all.
God decided in advance to adopt us into his own family by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ. This is what he wanted to do, and it gave him great pleasure. Ephesians 1:5 NLT