Love Blooms Eternal

I recently was a part of a very moving experience when my best friend Jeanne stood lovingly by Dan, the man she chose to give all of her heart and soul to, as he slipped over into eternity. He knew as he passed that their love for one another was not of this world. Before God, and in private, they spoke vows to one another. Not in a legal way, but solidifying their spiritual bond that nothing can ever break. Not even death. When she returned to her home in Minnesota, she knew life was going to be different. And after his funeral service, the days were bleak. But, we had no idea that Dan was sending a great message of deep love from heaven. You will find this blog is a bit different than my usual ones. Jeanne tells her side of the story, and I share mine.

Jeanne:

I stayed at my sister Carolyn’s at night because I did not want to be alone. My house just seemed so cold and empty, and I couldn’t bear the thought of the silence and to sit there alone with my feelings of how much I missed Dan.

Wednesday, when I returned to my house in the morning, I opened the drapes to let in the sun. Snow sat in piles outside my front window, and I soon was reminded that we had another month of winter to go.

I tried to watch some TV, and around 1:30 decided to go over to Trader Joe’s to get some tulips. For the past five years, I had bought tulips in February and March to bring life into my home and remind me that spring was around the corner. I did a quick check online and drove to Trader Joe’s after seeing an ad for their double bunch tulip special. When I got inside, I was surprised to find no tulips and a dismal assortment of other cut flowers. No tulips? I tossed a mixed bouquet in my cart and started to roll away. I stopped; no, this won’t do. I put it back and grabbed another one and put that back as well. I settled on a bunch of yellow roses, my favorite, and headed for the cheese. I stopped again and turned my cart around to put the yellow roses back. I wanted tulips, and nothing was going to fill that void. Tulips were what I needed to fill that hole in my soul right now. They reminded me of Dan. The past couple of years, he had started buying me tulips when he knew how happy they made me. One time he walked in and saw I already had two bouquets of tulips and asked, “Should I be jealous?”

“No, I bought these myself.”

“I wanted to surprise you!”

I told him he could buy some with really tight bulbs, and it would be a surprise when they bloomed. He loved to surprise me, and I could never tell him that I always knew the tulips would be either yellow, purple, or red.

As I put the yellow roses back, a bunch of orange roses caught my eye. Wow! I don’t know if I have ever seen orange roses like that. The color was striking and surreal. They were pulsing in a supernatural illumination that reminded me of when God highlighted someone out in public I was to give a word to.

For some reason, I was supposed to have them regardless of the $9.99 price tag, but I was disappointed as I rolled my cart towards the dairy section. I wanted tulips. Orange tulips. Bright colored tulips spoke life, but it wasn’t meant to be.

On my way out, I asked if they were getting more tulips in, and the clerk told me to come back the next morning as a new shipment was coming in.

When I got home, I half-heartedly put the roses in a vase with water and didn’t bother to trim the stems. I set them by the window and went about my day. Later that night, before my sister picked me up for the night, I glanced at them and smiled. They may not have been tulips, but this bright splash of orange brightened up the room, and I vowed that I would go over to Trader Joes in the morning to pick up some tulips.

The next morning I woke up and heard my sister working on her computer in the other room. I sat on the edge of the bed and started to cry. I missed Dan so much, and I silently asked God for a sign that he was okay. I knew he was in heaven. But what was heaven really like? Did Dan miss me? Or was I now forgotten? How do I move on from this? He might be having the time of his life right now, but I was hurting and didn’t know how to fill the void.

I suddenly felt this warmth encircling me, like a big bear hug from behind and a soft pressure against my cheek. It was unexpected, and it felt safe, warm, and familiar. It felt like a hug from Dan. I sat for several minutes in this supernatural embrace and felt comforted and then pulled myself out of it—either you’re crazy or playing with fire. I told myself, don’t look for this. Satan can fool people into thinking it’s from God and it isn’t. But the truth was I wanted it to be from God. Hadn’t I asked Him for a sign?

I dressed and waited for my sister to give me a ride home. My friend Christine was coming over today to help me organize my office so I could get going on finishing my book. I wanted to run over to Trader Joe’s to get some tulips and then give my place a quick vacuum. I wasn’t sure if I was going to tell her about the supernatural hug. She wouldn’t think I was crazy, but sometimes when something special from God happens to you, you don’t want to share it with anyone. Not because no one will believe you, but if they can’t feel the same intensity of God’s love in this for you, it diminishes the gift. Some experiences are to be kept in that secret exchange of love between you and Daddy God.

I got home and quickly vacuumed but continued to putz, so there was no time to run to Trader Joe’s. God whispered, “Christine is bringing you tulips; you don’t need to go.” I laughed to myself, “Sure, wishful thinking, Jeanne, you just don’t want to drive over to Trader Joe’s again to be disappointed. I texted her, “Let me know when you are here. I will be in my office in the back but will leave my back door unlocked; please walk-in.”

Sometime later, I heard a knock, and I yelled, “Come on in!”

Christine let out a yelp. “Oh my God, oh my God!”

I started laughing. I was waiting for her to say, “You didn’t have to vacuum just for us!” She has brought her daughter Kelsey with her, and I can hear them in the kitchen.

Christine came into my office with a vase in each hand.

Christine:

On Wednesday, I was at home attending a virtual meeting that was to run from 1-1:45 pm. At 1:30, it ended early. As I was shutting down my computer, I heard very loud and clear in my mind: get Jeanne orange tulips.

I was planning on seeing her the next day, so I thought I would get her a bouquet. It was right after Dan’s funeral, and I wanted to give her something to cheer her up. I hadn’t planned on what color or type, so this message was somewhat helpful. I told my daughter Kelsey what I had heard, and she immediately said we should go to a specific florist by our home. I was planning on just doing a grocery store type of purchase, but I felt that this was not a request when she said a certain place. This was an order being given, and I suddenly was the delivery person. I had never been to this particular florist, and I wasn’t going to come out of there with anything but orange tulips, so help me, God!

When we walked in, the only person on staff was helping a young couple plan their wedding flowers, so she told us to look around…even in the back room where she puts displays together. I saw a square vase filled with small pebbles and water with white tulips arranged in it. I said, “You don’t have orange tulips do you?”

I hadn’t seen any in the whole store.

Her face lit up, and she said, “Yes! I have a whole bunch that just came in about an hour ago! Go see what we have, and I will help you out in a minute.”

I decided to get the display with the small stones in the square vase, and the original one had a little butterfly on it. I kept thinking of Dan being a newly transformed man in heaven when I saw it. The florist came out with the bouquet and had stuck a pale orange monarch-type butterfly on it. It had Dan’s presence all over it as a gift of love. Kelsey ordered a vase filled with every orange flower in the place…tiger lilies, roses, carnations, and a daisy. It was just one big orange beautiful burst of gorgeous. I got in my car and thought…why did we get all orange? I mean, that place had so many color options. I figured it had some meaning, but I wasn’t sure what. I wanted to text Jeanne and tell her, but I kept hearing a still small voice say: Shhh…this is a surprise.

The next morning my daughter and I drove to Jeanne’s house for our visit. She said to text when I arrived so she could open the garage door. She was in a back bedroom, so she wasn’t at the door when we walked in. I stopped in my tracks! The entire house was filled with a beautiful light. Not only from the sunshine but a presence that only heaven could send. As I stood in her kitchen with a vase in each of my hands, I saw a huge display of orange roses on her living room table.

“Jeanne! Jeanne! I can’t believe this!” Orange roses??? Orange?

“My God! My God!” That’s all I could think of to say. She thought I was exclaiming over her cleaned-up house!

When she saw the tulips in my vase and the ones Kelsey got her, she cried. She told me of her disappointment in not being able to find orange tulips. I could only say, “The love story of Dan and Jeanne continues.”

All day while visiting, we would stop and stare at this grand display of orange that was on her table. My daughter looked up the meaning of orange flowers…it signifies strength. Of course, it does! I saw my beautiful friend’s eyes go from weary and sad to joy like a snap of the fingers because heaven came down and gave her a hug and a kiss on the forehead with vases filled with meaning. You see, those flowers will fade away and not be here for long. But, the event will always remain. Dan may have moved on to heaven, but his love (like God) for Jeanne is eternal.

One of Dan’s last Facebook posts was of a still picture with a Bible verse. In the background, there are roses. Guess what color they are? We saw this AFTER we delivered her flowers.

Jeanne:

Later, God reminded me of the significance of the orange flowers. Every trip Dan and I went on, he wore this camo jacket that had a bright orange lining. I never liked the color orange, and it might be because I have red hair and never wore orange or red. I loved that jacket on him, and I began to associate the bright orange POP of color with fun, adventure, safety, security, love etc. As much as I wanted to travel, I had a lot of anxiety when away from my home. Dan was my rock and assured me that I was safe and cared for by him and God.

Off My Rocker

Last spring, while taking some time away from work, I began a project that I had put off for a while. Around my home’s perimeter, I have river rock. The weeds were having their way with one particular area, and every time I took out my trash and I was brave enough to peer around the garage, it seemed that a jungle was beginning to grow. All the stones needed removal and new material placed underneath to keep the unwanted foliage down to a minimum.

My first trip was to the dreaded hardware store to pick up the landscaping roll, pins to hold it in place, and buckets. This has never been a favorite outing. During my childhood, I recall visiting many of these places with my dad. He seemed to speak in a foreign language about saws, wrenches, and screws that all had their use. None of it ever made sense to me, and even now, I still struggle to understand what some of the products are on the shelves. Throw in math and measurements, and I zone out.

I gathered up my supplies and started the process of picking up the rocks with gloved hands. I had no idea the labor and time this was going to take, but I kept a clear vision in my mind of a pristine area that no longer brought on a cringe.

At certain times of the day, the sun would go over the house, which provided shade. Despite this, as summer approached, the temperatures began to rise, so I was often drenched in sweat. I would go out of the house fresh and ready to conquer and return weak, dehydrated, and filthy. My reflection in the bathroom mirror always displayed a “dirtstache” over my top lip.

One evening, I decided to go back out after giving it a rest from working earlier in the day. It was cooler, and I wanted to accelerate my progress. My neighbors had friends over for a cookout, and the section I was focusing on was visible from their front porch. Soon, I felt a presence next to me. A little girl smiled and said,

“Can I help?”

While the adults were having cocktails and talking about issues she couldn’t comprehend, she decided that what I was doing looked more attractive.

I caught on quick that boredom had led her over. She didn’t want to lend a hand; she just wanted someone to keep her entertained. I turned on music that she requested, which was followed by humming in between a million questions. Every rock she picked up was examined, and I was asked what it was. Not many made it into the bucket she was given. Instead, she put them back and moved on to another one that caught her eye.

“Do you know how fast I can run?” she asked with her big brown eyes looking at me intently, hoping I was up for the challenge.

“No, I don’t,” I said.

“I will show you!”

And like a flash, she was running toward the backyard. I stopped what I was doing so she could see that I was paying attention to her. I had sympathy as I recalled being her age and stuck in a room full of older people and feeling left out of the conversation.

She ran back to my side, panting uncontrollably.

“This time, can you count?”

“Sure,” I said.

I mean, what would it hurt to do so if it made her night more fun? She got into a runner’s stance showing how serious this was.

“Ready? Set? Go!”

She took off again, and I began to count.

When she returned, her breath came in short gasps.

“I want to run around the whole house. Can you still count while I do that? I want to know how fast I am.”

“Okay,” I said.

It would be easier to keep doing the task I had come out to accomplish with her out of my sight. The rocks were not leaping into the buckets by themselves, and it was going to get dark.

We went through the countdown, and she took off like a shot.

One of the neighbors yelled,

“Chris, you are a sucker! She will have you doing that all night long!”

I put my head back down and grasped a handful of rocks in each hand.

“Nine, ten, eleven, twelve…”

I was shouting numbers at the top of my lungs to be sure she could hear me. When I saw her coming, I slowed way down, and as she pulled up next to me clutching her kneecaps with both hands, straining to breathe, I said randomly,

“TWENTY!”

Once she was able to talk, she said,

“I am going to do it again to see if I can make it back faster. Count slower this time.”

“Okay,” I said with a smile.

It was like cheating on the number of swings you take when you golf.

She got in position to go again, and I began to count so she could hear.

“One, two, three, four…” I yelled out in a happy tone as I dropped more rocks into the bucket.

Suddenly, I felt like I was being watched. I glanced to my left, and an older woman passing by on the sidewalk was frowning at me like I had lost my mind. From where she stood, it appeared that I was counting each rock as I was removing them. The little girl was still on the backside of the house. The lady’s forehead was tight with confusion and concern. At first, I thought of ceasing my count, but the speedrunner was depending on me, so I didn’t want to disappoint.

As she shook her head and rolled her eyes, I counted louder. She moved on quicker when I made eye contact with her.

That is when I started to laugh, and I am sure that solidified the idea that my sanity had slipped away. Things weren’t quite as they appeared.

This can be said for many situations we encounter daily. Do we jump to conclusions or make assumptions based on what we see or hear? Maybe that person across the street with the political sign in their yard that doesn’t line up with your views has a need you can fulfill. But, the sign keeps you away. How about the slow driver who is impeding your progress, is crying their eyes out on the way back from a funeral? What about the long line at the grocery store because the cashier is new and doing the best she can?

We are quick to process a scene without any insight.

As I move along in this life, I am more conscious of that still, drama-free, inner voice that speaks knowledge that cannot be seen with the human eye. For me, this has led to more compassion, grace, and forgiveness.

Tapping into my spirit, I have access to wisdom that keeps me more grounded and less off my rocker.

Psalm 19:14: May these words of my mouth and this meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, Lord, my Rock, and my Redeemer.

Empty

This summer brought a lot of stress. When I think back to spring, I was only concerned about my lawn and how to get rid of weeds. My life consisted of taking care of my home and going to work. Around Mother’s Day, I heard that my mom was hospitalized. I didn’t go see her because I was taking a break from my parents, and my hiatus had turned into over a year. They were living in a way I didn’t approve of, and the environment was not safe. But, all requests to change their ways had fallen on deaf ears. And, when a situation turned so ugly between my dad and me, I walked away. Daily, I felt guilty, and I would ask God if I was a horrible daughter. I mean, who walks away from their parents in their eighties? I did. And, every time I asked God what to do, I would hear these simple words: Trust Me. I will let you know when you are needed.

I want to say that this made me feel better, but it didn’t. I had to seek God continually to find a sense of peace, but I was always on edge. If I would hear a siren in my neighborhood, I would instantly visualize that my dad was in a car accident or someone had taken a death fall down the stairs. I would go on social media to scan the police reports for my town searching for answers and hoping I wouldn’t see that they were hurt or caused anyone else’s demise.

When I heard that my mom was hospitalized, I figured she would be okay.  And, she was.  She stayed until the Tuesday following Mother’s Day, and from what I heard, she went home energetic and back to her old self.  That was until Wednesday when my dad couldn’t wake her up. The emergency number was called, and she was taken back to the hospital.  When I received that news, I felt uneasy. I hadn’t had that feeling the first time, but I knew I couldn’t just sit back and let it go. At midnight, I went up to the hospital knowing my dad would be at home, and she would be there by herself.  When I entered the room, I saw her lying in bed sound asleep.  I came near her side, and her feet started moving almost as if she was jumping up and down.  It looked like she was excited to see me, but her eyes were closed, and I hadn’t said a word. I was going to pray for healing, and as I started to do so, a nurse and an aide walked into the room.  I explained I was visiting, and that I was hoping she was okay.  The nurse assured me that she was fine, and I felt like I was to leave.  I looked at the clock in my car and saw that I was only with her for about twenty minutes.  I said to my daughter,

“I don’t think I was to pray for her healing.  I think she wants to go on to heaven.”  I knew right then that I was to help make her transition from earth to the next place.

The following day, I went back to the hospital. In my heart, I was hoping she would be sitting up in bed and greet me when I entered. But, it wasn’t to be that way. She was still sound asleep. This only solidified what I already knew.  Two days later, the hospital staff gathered my family and told us that hospice was the only answer.  We decided to take her back home so my dad would be right with her along with twenty-four-hour help.  The ten days at home brought social workers, nurses and a music therapist who played the best tunes. Even in her state of sleep, my mom managed to lift a finger to swing along with one of the songs.  Music was one of her favorite things.

True to his word, God made the situation right. On more than one occasion, my mom woke up and said very significant things to me.  I can’t explain this fully, but I could actually hear her speak to me while she was sleeping, and if I closed my eyes and asked God to show me what she was doing, I saw the entire scene of where she was. There was a bridge, and her mother was escorting her from earth to heaven.  Now, I didn’t fully believe this at first when I started to see it, but by the end of it all, I did.  I would see something and hear her say something in my spirit, and then she would wake up briefly and speak these things to me to confirm that I wasn’t losing my mind. This brought me great comfort during this time because it made me realize that heaven is not very far away. I think a lot of us think of it in miles and imagine it is light-years beyond us. I can tell you from experience that it isn’t.  Heaven is closer than your next-door neighbor.

After my mom passed on to heaven on May 28th, my dad went into assisted living.  It was now time to clean the house they had occupied for 60 years.  By the time I was done going through the house, and it was on the market in September, I  had become possession sensitive.  I began to look at my own home to figure out what I could throw and not leave for my children to deal with when I die.  Old papers were taken to the city shred fests, and places in my dwelling were gone over and cleaned up. This is still a work in progress, and I am nowhere near dying as far as I know.

One day, while making the final rounds at their house, I started to notice the beauty of it.  Amazingly, they had raised six kids in a small rambler, and I started to see it for the miracle it was. I had spent most of the summer months in a panic state trying to get rid of everything and in that mindset, it was a daily burden.   Cleaned out of all of its contents, I could finally see it for what it really was. My mind was somewhat free of its clutter momentarily enough for me to realize that I hadn’t taken a second to even think clearly since May. It had all been about work and stuffing down my feelings just trying to survive the onslaught. I didn’t want to feel the loneliness that often accompanies grief, and the distraction of moving furniture had freed me from it. But, I knew I had to let myself feel something sooner than later.  I went into the basement and sat on the floor surrounded by an empty room and walls, so I thought. In the quiet of that space, I went back in time.

During my preschool years, my dad would make popcorn on the stove the old fashioned way.  A splash of oil was heated and a kernel of corn was thrown in. When that one went off, the rest of the batch was thrown in. A large dose of salt followed as it was poured into a large bucket.  All eight of us would assemble in the family room in the basement around the tv.  We were given a black plastic bowl to scoop up a portion of popcorn.  I never was satisfied with what was in my bowl.  As soon as my mom would fill it, I would dump it back into the container.  I would go to each of my siblings and ask for some out of their bowls.  Of course, they all gave me some, but there was grumbling, mainly from the brothers who wanted what they had and didn’t want me bothering them.  When I would eat the few pieces they all had shared, I would go around again to ask for more.  There would be more slight complaining, but they always complied.  One time, before sharing his, one of my brothers asked me why I did this.  He wanted to know the reason I had to take theirs when there was an entire bowl I could get my own from.

“Yours tastes better,” I said with my four-year-old eyes piercing his.

How can you argue with that? He reluctantly gave me more, and after eating it, I made my rounds again.  My timing was horrible as they would all be watching a good part of a movie, and I would be standing blocking their view. I was too young to understand that a commercial break would have been a more acceptable time to go around for my offering. But as many times as I asked, they threw in what I wanted just to get rid of me quickly. My persistence always paid off.  My bowl was never empty.

Romans 15:13: I pray that God, the source of hope, will fill you completely with joy and peace because you trust in Him.  Then you will overflow with confident hope through the power of the Holy Spirit.

(How their popcorn looked compared to mine.  And, yes, these are the original black bowls.)

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Special Delivery

“All of the things I ordered should be here on Thursday between 2:15 and 6:15pm,” she said.

My daughter had placed several orders at the end of the year for her business. Seventeen boxes were expected to arrive at our house Thursday with twelve more to come on Friday.

Thursday evening, as the clock was getting nearer to 9 pm, I began to doubt that she was going to get anything. At 9:45, she got the dreaded notification that all of her packages would be arriving on Friday at the same time of day that had been previously promised.

I had already had trouble with this particular delivery company being late and delaying my orders.

“I am going to complain to the company,” I said as I went to bed that night.
“They need to do better business than this. People aren’t going to trust them anymore.”

I had put it out of my mind until the next evening when six o’clock was looming. Both of us had been looking out the window at any slight sound that would indicate the truck with all twenty nine packages had arrived. I felt my irritation growing as I started to assume that no one was going to show for a second time.

I went into the kitchen to prepare dinner when the doorbell rang. I opened the door to find a man hefting four boxes balanced precariously and breathing heavily.

I took what he had and handed them off to my daughter. Just as I was going to launch into my disgruntled customer speech and how unreliable the company he worked for was becoming, he blurted out,

“My dad died. I won’t be able to scan any of these packages.”

I felt my mouth drop open while my mind tried to switch from annoyance mode to sympathy.

“Oh. I am sorry to hear that.”

He stalked back off to his truck that was parked perpendicular to my driveway.

I whirled around and said to my daughter,

“Get your coat and boots! The guy’s dad died. I think we should help him bring everything up to the house so he can get going. He just told me his dad died.”

“What?” was all she said as she grabbed her outerwear and flew out the door with me.

I could hear him moving possessions in the back of the truck. The windchill was wicked and within moments my face and lips felt like stone.

My daughter took a few items to our front door while I waited for another load.

“So when did you find out this news of your dad?”

“Two blocks ago,” he answered matter of fact like.

Instantly, I thought maybe he and his dad weren’t close.

“Was this an expected death?”

I received no response from him, but then I realized he had called someone.

My daughter returned to my side.

“I don’t think he is okay,” I said to her in a hushed tone. “He has to get out of here. He is probably on the phone trying to make funeral arrangements with his family.”

Another round of packages were shoved our way and we each took another trip up the driveway.

To speed up things, I jumped on the truck and began to look through the load with him. He had gotten off his phone as we looked for the last two items that were on the list.

“You said you can’t scan any of these. So, it will look like they weren’t delivered. Will you be able to fix that later? I don’t want you to get in trouble for anything.”

“It will be just fine. I will make sure to adjust the information once I am done for the day.”

“Okay,” I said. “Are you going to be able to get off of work soon?”

“I am almost done with my route for the day,” he said casually. It was like he didn’t really care that one of his parents had just passed away. “Thank you for helping me.”

“Well, this is all too much for one person to handle,” I said. I wasn’t just thinking of all the stuff she had ordered but his situation as well.

My fingers were getting numb as the cold was setting in viciously. “I don’t know how you do this every day. It is freezing in here!” I was trying to help as best as I could. All thoughts of complaining about the delays were the farthest from my mind.  I was finding out quickly that his job was not fun in such brutal weather.

“I think the last two things will be coming tomorrow. I don’t think they are on this truck,” my daughter said to us from the open side door.

With that, I hopped down and said to him,

“I am so sorry that your dad died. I hope you are able to get going now and deal with that.”

He blinked a couple times and then a huge smile appeared.

“No, no no,” he said as a started to laugh. “My dad didn’t die! My diad died.” He held up his scanner.

“This is why I couldn’t scan your boxes. It died two blocks ago.”

“No one is dead then? Your dad isn’t dead?”

“No,” he said again as he bent over with a giggle. “This is called a diad.  My dad didn’t die.”

“Well, that makes me feel better!” I said laughing along with him.

We said goodbye and the warmth of my house never felt so good.

I realized later that because I thought he had lost his dad, my attitude about the delivery being late was forgotten. My perspective had changed just with one simple sentence that I had not heard correctly.

I began to wonder how many times I could have circumvented a negative emotion had I taken a step back and changed my mind before I reacted.  How much time have I wasted on being upset over something that I am not going to remember a week from now? How much of my energy have I given up punching at the air?  We have universal control over how we respond to a situation.

In Proverbs 15:1 it says: “A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.”

I think that when we chose to say something in a way that is peaceful, then we and the receiver are at peace.  When we chose to respond with anger then it not only fuels our fire but the one who is listening has to take in an earful.  Even though I looked quite foolish dashing and rushing trying to help out a person who I thought had a death in his family, I was thankful that I hadn’t gone ahead with what I had planned on saying to him.  At the end of it, I had wound up laughing and probably made that guy’s day a lot happier.

Only God can make a lesson come like that in a special delivery.

 

 

 

Come To The Table

At the beginning of November, my daughter and I began the quest to find a table for our kitchen.

In 2011, we had packed up our house and moved to Arizona where we thought we would reside indefinitely. Within 11 months, I was back to where I started, however, I had given away my dining room table and six chairs. I had put all of it under a tree on my boulevard with a free sign. A lady came to my door and asked,

“Is that really for free?”

“Yes, I am moving and it is just too much to take with me.”

“I need a table just like that.  I have six kids and can’t afford one right now. Is it okay if I have a friend help me haul it to my house?”

“Sure.”

I ended up standing guard by it until she returned. As it was being loaded up into a truck, she had tears in her eyes.

“Now we can have a meal at a real table with chairs.”

After moving back to my house, we ‘temporarily’ filled in the space by putting up a long white plastic work bench. It served its purpose for longer than it should have, and six years later, we couldn’t stand it anymore. It was a good place to lay a purse, work on a project or throw junk mail, but without enough chairs, it certainly was not a table to have a meal or gather around regularly. It had really become an eyesore.

Off we went one Saturday to find the replacement. I learned quite quickly how to spot the hovering sales people. I would see a clipboard and suddenly my pace would go into turbo speed, and I would weave in a pattern much similar to what I have heard survivalists teach if you don’t want to get shot. If you move fast enough, and change direction repeatedly, you have a better chance of not getting hit.

I did find myself trapped on one occasion. I think I got so wrapped up in looking that I didn’t see him coming out of my peripheral vision.

“Do you need any help with anything?”

I gave the customary response, “No, we are just looking today.” Smile.

I really don’t mind having help when I need it, and I know he needs to make a living, but sometimes I feel like I cannot have a moment just to contemplate and think as we were shopping.

He nodded politely and said,

“If you need me for anything, let me know.”

I assured him that I would as she and I continued to browse.

Less than five minutes later, he was back by my side. This is when I really had to paste on a happy face because I don’t like to be pressured.

“Anything yet?” He inquired.

“No, we are still looking,” I said less enthusiastically.

Putting his clipboard under his arm so he wouldn’t drop it, he put both of his hands together in the form of a prayer. He slightly bowed and said,

“Your journey continues then.”

I expected a gong to sound as if I was on an episode from the old 70’s show Kung Fu.

“Yes, yes it does,” I said trying not to laugh because he was being serious.

Many furniture stores later, and two Saturdays lost, I said to my daughter,

“We are done looking. The table needs to come to us. God is going to have to send it to us.” She agreed as she was not enjoying the search any more than I was.

On the Saturday night after Thanksgiving, I came home and put on my comfy new pajamas, got something to drink and plopped on the couch ready to relax. The big meal was over, I had gotten some baking done over the weekend, and I was ready to be quiet. I started watching a show I had recorded while my daughter was sitting in a chair working on her computer.

I suddenly woke up with a jolt to my own loud snore! Very unladylike, but the fatigue was real.

“Darn! I have missed part of my show,” I said. Just as I was reaching for the remote to rewind, a furniture commercial came on.

I saw a table and set of four chairs.

“Hey! Have you looked into this place?”

“No,” she said. I rewound the commercial which was quite short so we could see it again. Had I not woken up, we would have missed it.

We both went online and saw that they were having a sale that ended the next day, so we agreed that it would be worth the trip.

Interestingly, no salesperson greeted us at the door. We zipped over to what we both knew we would like and took a few moments to admire it and picture how it would look in the kitchen. I had to track down a lady for help.

Less than 24 hours later, a table and four chairs had been purchased and ready for delivery.

I realized that while I was not paying attention, literally snoring on the couch, the table and chairs had indeed found us. Instead of sweating it out searching, I had just thrown up a request before heaven, and my prayer was answered.

The set was delivered today, and as the delivery guy put it together he said,

“This is a nice table.  I don’t know why they discontinued it.  You aren’t going to find this one again.”

He didn’t know it had found me.

How much more could be accomplished on our behalf if we would just ask, rest and trust? Our loving Creator tells us to freely come to the table.

 

Matthew 11:28 “Come to Me, all who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” (NIV)

 

 

 

The Missing Link

“Buy it for yourself,” she said.

I looked into her dark brown eyes and wondered if a ten year old girl with no mortgage to pay, groceries to worry about or a vehicle to maintain could really understand the value of a dollar.

“I am sure I can’t afford it, and I only put it on to see what it looked like. Not to buy it.”

It sure felt nice with the coolness of the silver chain encircling my wrist and the light catching the pink and white stones to make it glitter.

I had entered the store in my usual way telling myself at the door that I couldn’t purchase anything.  I had to be sure that both girls had clothes to wear and food on the table. How I had found myself gazing into the jewelry cases was beyond me. Obviously, it was a moment of weakness that I shouldn’t have let myself indulge in.

“Ask the lady how much,” she persisted.

We were talking in low whispers at this point. I had gone from looking to now wearing the item that had called my name from the display.

The salesperson was standing inches away marking items. Without much enthusiasm, I said,

“Could you tell me how much this is?”

I really didn’t want to know because the minute she spoke, I knew I was going to take it off and the magical moment would be over. There is nothing more frustrating to want something and then have to put it back and walk away. I was mentally beating myself up over it. I should have not touched it at all.

“Let’s see,” she said pulling out the box. She looked at the tag.

“That doesn’t seem right to me. Hold on a minute. Let me double check.”

I had this awful feeling creeping into my stomach that I was going to hand it back to her.

She returned with her glasses perched on the end of her nose. She began punching numbers into her calculator. She pulled out an ad and did more button pushing.

“Okay. Well, it is $50. It says it retails for about $150, but we have a sale going on right now. Wow, that is a really good deal for that. Those are real crystals.”

I glanced down at my daughter who was speaking to me sternly non-verbally. I felt the guilt of paying the money as I stood there admiring the piece.

I fought down the negative feelings and decided to get it anyway because it had been so long since I had gotten anything for myself. The divorce had left me thinking that I had to make sure I spent every bit of money on the kids to be sure they were taken care of.

The woman grabbed the long white box and we followed her to the register. She began the process of entering in the item along with the discounts she had mentioned. In the middle of it, she leaned into look closer at the screen on her register.

“You aren’t going to believe this,” she said.

Oh, no. Here comes the bad news. She probably had done her math wrong, I thought.

“It rang up at $29.00.  I have gone over all my numbers and it keeps coming up as that.  I will do it one more time just to be sure.”

After a few moments, she said,

“You need to go out and buy yourself a lottery ticket because today is your lucky day.  It keeps coming up at $29, so that must be the price.”

I handed over my debit card inwardly thanking God that I could keep the bracelet on for an even cheaper price.

After the transaction was done, she said again,

“Really, go buy that lottery ticket!”

That was ten years ago.  I have worn it off and on over the years with many compliments.  Last week, it broke. I was sitting at an outdoor picnic table, lifted my wrist and the heart fell to the ground leaving the chain around my arm.

With much disappointment, I put it in my purse.  A few days later, I drove to a jeweler by my house to see if it could be fixed.

While I was parking my car in the lot, I found myself thinking again about money.  Much in the same way that I had been when I bought the bracelet.  I wondered how much it would cost, and would I be able to afford it.  This then led to other thoughts about upcoming bills, health insurance payments and a host of things that rushed to the forefront of my thinking.  By the time I walked in the front door, I felt somewhat burdened mentally.

I approached the counter and a woman with silver hair and large black glasses greeted me.  I took the two pieces out of my purse and laid them on the counter.  I explained what had happened as she examined it.

She jotted down information on an envelope.   A repetitive sound started coming from a back room.

“I am sorry,” she said.  “Do you mind if I run back there for a second?  I have an alarm going off on my phone.”

“That’s okay,” I replied.

When she returned, she said,

“I have to take medication four times a day since I was diagnosed with breast cancer.  I can’t remember to take it all the time, so I set my alarm to remind me.”

Suddenly, my small worries about finances didn’t seem so great.

“How are you doing now?”  I asked.

Her complexion was beaming and her smile was so bright.  Her eyes looked energetic, and I would have never guessed she had been through such a medical trauma.

“I feel really good.  God loves me, and He has helped me through it all.”

I took her hand and said,

“I am so glad to meet you.  You look so healthy.  I would have never known you had been sick.  You look great.”

She squeezed my hand.

“I am seventy years old, and I have had a really good life.  If I had not made it through, I kept telling my family I was okay with going on to heaven.  But, I am still here.  And, I feel His love for me even more.  You cannot worry about things.  You know that scripture that says He feeds the birds of the air, and we shouldn’t worry about what we are to eat and drink?  The one where He says don’t worry about tomorrow?  That’s my scripture verse.  He is in charge of everything, and He loves us so much.”

She finished writing out my order and said,

“This will only be about $10 to fix.  I will do the job myself and make sure it is done perfectly.”

Before I left, I took her hand again, and I prayed for her body to be completely whole and healthy from head to toe.  I felt as if we had blessed each other in a way that only can happen when there is divine intervention.

My previous anxiety about my budget had left.  I got into the car with a renewed strength that all was well.  Even though I have had many experiences where I know my prayers have been answered, I still have moments where I need reassurance that I have a support system working on my behalf that I cannot see.  Her words of faith were just what I needed to remind me that I am not alone.

I got my bracelet back the other day looking as good as the day I bought it. As I took in her handiwork,  I realized that when one little loop of metal was missing, it upset my ability to wear it and enjoy it.

Isn’t that just like allowing God into your life?  He really is what keeps it all together whether we acknowledge it or not.  A relationship with your Heavenly Father will make things go a lot smoother if you are struggling. Give heaven a chance to assist you in all things.  Prayer really is the missing link.

 

Going Out With a Bang

He pulled into my grandparent’s driveway and sighed in relief. He had packed up the three kids and made the 500 mile drive much more cautiously this time. He had checked his speed, looked to make sure there were no cars following too close and fastened up his seat belt.

The cause of his anxiety was that the night before he had a nightmare from which he had awakened in a shivering sweat. The content was that he had died. He could not recall how his demise had come but only that he had not survived. With that image still in mind, he was determined to play it safe in the car without mentioning it to anyone. He thought it was either a warning to watch his driving, or it was just an overactive imagination. Either way, he wasn’t taking his chances.

My mom, who was pregnant with me at the time, could not accompany him on the trip to see her parents. The doctor had put her on bed rest as she was in her late thirties expecting her sixth child. My two brothers stayed behind to make sure she was attended to while my dad took my two sisters and my brother along with him.

Once he had parked the car he thought he was in the clear, and the dream from the night before was forgotten.

On the Fourth of July, my dad, my grandpa and the three kids went out to my grandparents lake home. My dad spent what little spare time he had building model airplanes on the weekends, and he had brought one along to fly in the open fields. He positioned himself purposely away from any power lines and began flight. The plane began to have some sort of engine trouble. Once he remedied the problem, he set about to give it another try. Without realizing it, he had placed himself into the path of danger.  Off the aircraft went again and suddenly looped itself around one of the voltage lines.

In a flash, he was knocked off his feet to the ground by 69,000 volts.  Because wireless technology didn’t exist back then, the wire connecting the hand held remote to the airplane was the conduit for power to surge through his body from the overhead lines. Even though the power had been knocked out, he was still surrounded by a highly dangerous field of electricity. No bystanders could go near him or suffer the same fate he had.  Clinically, he was considered dead.

Because he had fallen backwards, the remote happened to land upon his chest right by his heart.  Within minutes, another 69,000 jolt was sent his way as a circuit breaker was activated to restore the power line that had been interrupted.  This time, the thin wire burned away, but the second surge of power had restarted his heart much like a modern day defibrillator. My grandpa, who had been standing by not being able to administer CPR while my dad was still connected to the source of electricity, was able to check his pulse and begin artificial breathing.

My sister, who was 12 at the time, was ordered to go get help while all of this was going on.  She has said that this was the day she decided to become a nurse because she never wanted to be in an emergency situation again and feel helpless.  At the time of this writing, she is still a very knowledgeable and compassionate RN.

Miraculously, he began to breathe on his own but was transported to the town hospital for inspection.  He had multiple burns on his body with tiny grass blade holes in his shoes.  Without any further complications, he walked back to my grandma’s house the next day looking no worse for the wear.

One of the things that he kept seeing in his mind, however, was the imprint of his body scorched into the grass at the cabin.  Apparently, it took many years for the outline to disappear.  A reminder that he almost left the earth that day.

When he returned home, he had some tough days where he questioned why he had lived, and many times suffered through bouts of depression.  He never said he saw a light or had the usual near death experience.

Norman Vincent Peale was popular at the time, so he immersed himself in his writings and prayed for guidance and comfort daily.  Little by little, he began to relax back into his normal life.  Jokingly he said to me, “God didn’t want me and neither did the devil, so I came back.”

How different my life would have been if he had not survived.  I would have been born without a dad into a family of five kids.  What would my mother’s life been like?  It would have impacted us all in a way that we never had to experience. Instead, he lived on to hit his 85th birthday this past March and continues forging ahead to the next milestone.

His survival tells me that life can change very quickly when we least expect it.  And, I am called to live it to the fullest every day.  I am not to live in fear of my life being cut short or a trauma coming upon me. I am here for a purpose.  We all are. It’s more than just paying bills, worrying about how we can or cannot afford a material thing or if our kids are going to turn out okay.  With God on our side, we can do all things with strength. If He can raise a man from the dead, how much more can He do for you?

God doesn’t want me to come back to Him accomplishing nothing.  Kind of like that firecracker you light and nothing happens.  The dud.  The dreaded dud that no one likes.  You have these high expectations for some sort of sizzle and pop, so you run away expecting something great and nothing happens. That is not our destiny.  We are meant to be here so others take notice, come to us for that ‘power surge’ that only comes from Our Creator that gives unlimited peace and joy no matter what.  I want my life to be a shining bright light for those who feel like they are alone.  For the one who needs his or her head lifted and tears wiped away with laughter.

I don’t know about you, but I am not satisfied with just a little fizzle.  I am going out with a bang!

 

(actual excerpt from the newspaper)

 

With A Cherry On Top

I called her name from the house.  It was one of those beautiful Sunday afternoons where all the windows in the entire house were open to let in the surprisingly cool breezes that you don’t expect at the end of June.  I called for her again, but she didn’t come.  Her brother, Stinky, had long been in the house after winding himself running up and down the fence a few times with the neighbor dogs.  It wasn’t like them not to come in when I called running side by side.  They had come into the world together, and continue to keep an eye on one another.

“Lily!” I said again hoping she wasn’t going to make me come find her.  When I got no response, I slid on the closest pair of sandals.  I located her under one of our trees throwing up.  Once she got it all out of her system, she did her usual energetic tail wag and came running as if nothing had happened.  I have owned a few dogs in my time, so this didn’t seem too unusual as this has occurred many times before.

I secured the two dogs and went grocery shopping.  I came home to more evidence that Lily’s stomach was not okay.  When I tried to give her a little food a few hours later, she headed straight back outside to be sick again.  At that point, I was beginning to become concerned.  It wasn’t like her to have this happen so many times in a row in such a short space of time.  Of course, it was a Sunday night, so our vet was not open.  I decided to pray before bed, ask God to help her and slept with one of my hands on her next to me.

The following morning, I fed her as and she seemed fine.  Business as usual, so I went to work and texted my daughter early in the afternoon.  I received a response back that all was well.  Then, within a half an hour, another text came saying she was throwing up again.  I came home and watched her travel from spot to spot in my backyard until she no longer had anything left in her stomach.

I placed a call to the vet.  I was told they were all booked up until the following day at 3 pm.  The technician told me not to hesitate to go to an emergency vet overnight, and she said not to feed the dog until morning.  I was to give her a small amount to see if the situation was clearing up.

That evening, Lily was more than upset to see her brother getting dinner and she was not.  Again, she zipped around the house, barked at strangers passing by on the sidewalk and didn’t seem to have anything wrong with her.  No matter how much she looked at me with her pleading hungry eyes, I stood my ground withholding her food until morning.

I woke up the next day, and I said to God: You have promised me that you will help me.  You care about my life and all the things that are in it.  I need an answer to this right now.  I have a 3 o’clock appointment at the vet that isn’t going to be free.  Please show me if I should take her in or not today.  I had enlisted the help of four people who I knew were praying for me.  Some would say: Why waste your prayers on a dog?  I would say:  Why not?  God cares about all aspects of my life.

I gave her a small portion of breakfast and followed her outside.  Along the way, I kept thanking God for the answer.  I didn’t have it yet, but I was saying it anyway.  I also kept saying: Show me the source of this trouble.

Lily walked over to a tree in the middle of the yard and began sniffing around.  I crouched down to see what she was finding so interesting.  On the ground was a bright red pit.  I picked it up to examine it.  It was as if someone had taken a cherry and ate the fruit and spit out the seed.  I thought it was odd, but actually dismissed it.

She headed back for the house with no more ill effects.  I still wasn’t sure what the trouble was, but I had a thought to look up cherries and toxicity to dogs.  What I found astounded me.  Not only can a cherry cause stomach problems for pets, the pit is highly toxic and can cause death.  I sprinted back outside to look for the pit but I couldn’t find it.  I gave my daughters instructions not to let the dogs outside until I had returned later.

As 3 ‘o’clock loomed closer, I kept getting this uneasy feeling.  What if she was really sick, and I didn’t take her in? As I pulled into my driveway, this thought went through my mind: if she doesn’t act sick, keep her home and cancel the appointment.  I found her to be back to her old self.  She sprinted across the yard and didn’t seem to have anymore tummy upset.  As I stood and watched her, I kept thinking…where did that cherry pit come from?  We don’t have cherry trees in my yard, nor had I bought any at the store.

God, where did it come from? I asked inwardly.  I felt I was to look to the left of me.  Across the yard, and slightly hidden by my shed, I saw a neighbors tree blossoming over my fence.  I walked over to examine it and found it full of choke cherries.  Some had fallen over the fence into my yard where my dogs run with hers back and forth. I had found the culprit!

I walked along picking up half eaten berries and other full ones so that no more would be ingested.  I saw my neighbor come out, and I spoke with her about the issue.  She said her dogs had never bothered with it, and she immediately cut the branches back so it was no longer dangling over my fence.  She was not aware of the poisonous nature of the fruit to dogs.

When I look back at the series of events, I can see how I was led to the solution.  I tried not to panic, but I gave God a chance.  Many times, we cannot see the truth because we are so blinded by fear.  My dogs are like my children to me, so when one of them is a little off kilter, so am I.  However, I know that God loves me and wants me to live in peace.  This is why I knew if I asked for guidance, an answer would come.

I cannot tell you how comforting that is to the mind and the spirit.  To let go and cast your care into the hands that made all that is around us.  We are not alone in anything we go through.  The answer may not always show up overnight, but if we keep on listening, don’t fall into despair and let the peace of God surround us, it will make us alert to what action to take in finding a remedy.  We are promised that we can have it all with a cherry on top.

Jeremiah 33:3

“Call to me and I will answer you, and I will tell you great and hidden things that you have not known.” 

 

Back On My Own Two Feet

I found myself lying face down on the ground thrashing from side to side in an attempt to escape the pain. As seconds slid by, the fire in my knee grew hotter. I felt a guy jump on my back and yell into my left ear,

“Don’t move! You have probably hurt your ACL. If you move, you will injure it more.”

I screamed into the sand and didn’t care that my whole mouth and face was encased in it. He pinned me down in an attempt to save me from further damage. I tried to fight him off but I couldn’t.

“Don’t move!” he shouted.

At that moment, I wanted to leave my body. In my mind I pictured a cartoon character running so fast that he left his body to escape whatever was chasing him. That is what I wanted. I longed to separate myself from the agony.

“Someone call an ambulance,” he shouted as he continued to hold me in place. “It will be okay. Just don’t move. I did the same thing to myself once, and I caused myself more injury by not being still.”

I listened to what he had to say, but I continued to wail so loudly that the neighboring town probably could hear me. I closed my eyes as I felt many hands cover my back.

As luck would have it, I was at a church picnic where those in attendance believed in prayer. I heard murmurings of my name as those who surrounded me were asking God for help.  In the middle of a volleyball sandpit, God showed up.

I cannot fully put into words what I experienced next, but I found myself floating above the scene. I saw the people around me, and I felt peaceful. I saw a man who looked very much like I imagined Jesus to resemble walk through the crowd and put his hand on my forehead. I heard this,

“If you just keep looking at me, you won’t feel any pain. If you forgive the person who did this to you, you will be healed quickly.”

When I opened my eyes, I felt the misery return so I kept shutting them and watching from another place. I began to whisper,

“I forgive. I forgive. I forgive.” No one heard me, but I wanted to follow the instructions that I was being given. I was suddenly realizing that I had two small girls to take care of, and I didn’t have time for being injured. One of the two was to start second grade at home in less than a month.

By the time the medical personnel arrived, I was much calmer but still had pain. They loaded me up and injected a large dose of morphine into my system. My knee was swollen to twice its size, and I did not dare to move it one inch due to an onslaught of torture that would follow. I just kept repeating,

“I forgive, God. I forgive.”

The x-rays at the hospital revealed no fractures so I was sent home with orders to see an orthopedic surgeon the next day.

The following morning, after throwing up most of the night from the medication I was supposed to take, I woke up in the same clothes from the day before with mounds of sand in my bed. As my two little girls sat near me, I kept repeating in my mind,

“I forgive. I am doing what you said. I forgive. I want to be healed fast.”

Once in the doctor’s office that day, he twisted and turned my leg to the point of me wanting to pass out.

“Well, from this initial exam, I think you have either torn, ripped or strained your ACL.” He went on to explain that this was something only an MRI could completely determine.

“Even if you have the slightest tear, we will have to do surgery. If we leave it like it is, you will never run normal again. You will always have the possibility of falling or your leg catching mid-stride. It feels like you have at least torn it. So, prepare yourself mentally for surgery and at least a six week recovery.”

I felt tears well up in my eyes. I could not be laid up for that long. I had two kids counting on me.

“Let’s get you scheduled for that MRI.”

A few days later I went back for the procedure. I was not able to see the physician for a follow up for another two weeks as his schedule was booked and he was on vacation.

In the meantime, a friend of mine gave me a magnet infused pad to wrap around my knee.  It was supposed to help bring blood flow to areas that were swollen.

Every morning I woke up with my injured leg shaking and quivering beyond my ability to control it. There was no pain associated with that, but it felt like it was being strengthened from the inside out. And, I kept saying,

“I forgive. I forgive.”

It got to the point where I didn’t have to say it anymore. I just focused all of my attention on getting better. I didn’t have time to hold a grudge or be angry at the person who had caused this. My thoughts were on my well being and not dwelling on the past. I was looking forward to a future where I had two functioning legs.

By the time I saw the doctor again I was slightly limping with little to no pain.

When he walked into the room, he said,

“Could you get up, please, and show me how you are walking like that?”

“Sure,” I said. “It has gotten much better since we last saw each other. I don’t even need my crutches anymore.”

I walked briskly around the room with just a small hitch.

“Does that hurt?”

“Not really.”

“Come on back and sit down. Let’s look at your MRI results.”

“I must have only strained my ACL instead of tearing it or ripping it in half like you said. I feel almost back to normal.”

“You ripped your ligament in half. Medically speaking, you don’t have one.  You shouldn’t be walking like that.”

“What?”

“I have never seen anything like this. Most patients with an MRI that looks like this get scheduled for surgery and are in a lot of pain and not walking around like that.”

I smiled and said,

“I know a good friend in a high place.”

“I guess you do because this is not usual.  I am going to order six weeks of physical therapy to strengthen that leg.  We will see how you progress because like I said before, you don’t want to spend your life not being able to use that leg fully, especially if you want to be active and run with your kids.”

He had me walk around the room one more time before I left, and he smiled and shook his head in disbelief.

I spent the next three weeks faithfully attending physical therapy at a hospital near my house.  The therapist was astonished when she looked at my MRI and then saw what I was able to do.

“I know the doctor ordered six weeks of this, but you are at your maximum right now.  I don’t have any further exercises to give you to strengthen that leg.  In fact, you are lifting a heavier weight with that leg than your good one.”  She called over her fellow therapists to show them my great strength and then showed them the MRI result.

“That’s not hers!” one of them said.

“Yes it is.”

“How is that possible?”

I knew how it was possible.  And, it became more of a reality the first time I sprinted across the room with one of my daughters without any side effects.

Recently, I had a person tell me that you don’t have to forgive someone if they don’t say they are sorry or ask for forgiveness.  He quoted a scripture that said that if the person repents, then you forgive them.  Otherwise, you do not have to forgive.

I would have bought his explanation had I not gone through the experience I did.  You see, the letting go of the cause of the incident made way in my heart for God to come in like a flood and heal me.  I got on the same page as heaven and allowed nothing to block the supernatural from assisting me.  Had I hung on to bitterness or anger, I may have hindered my quick progress with my negative emotions.

The other day while I was running three miles on my treadmill, my mind was taken back to this miraculous event.  To this very day, I am grateful that I listened to that still small voice tell me to forgive so that I could get back on my own two feet.

treadmill

Adapt

Last year right after Christmas, my local hardware store had a clearance on all of their seasonal products. I had been admiring all the candy canes glowing in backyards as I drove around, so I went in and purchased some for the following year. I put them in the closet thinking it would be a long time before I would ever even get to use them until suddenly it was November and unseasonably warm. Because I have struggled to put up lights in frigid bone chilling weather before, I decided to string them up while the weather was still decent.

After examining the instructions which basically showed a small stake being inserted into the bottom of the cane, I got to the task of unwrapping them, pulling off sticky adhesive and plugging them in to one another on the kitchen floor. For good measure I tested them to make sure they lit up, and I was pretty proud of myself when I lined them up in the yard across the front of the house like soldiers in perfect formation.

Amazed at the ease of all of this, I grabbed an extension cord from the garage with much enthusiasm to see my handiwork. When I tried to connect the two, they didn’t fit. I proceeded to dig up every single cord I could find to no avail. Nothing I had was working. Suddenly, my excitement was dying.

“I have to go the hardware store,” I told my daughter.

She knows full well my dislike for not having things work right, and on top of it, I had to go into a store that I consider more for those who like to get their hands dirty.

I brought a cane with me, and upon entering, a young teenage boy asked if he could help me. I explained my story, and with a frown he said,

“We have extension cords over in this aisle.”

He tried the black one, the green one, the brown one and the orange with no luck.

A woman who worked in the store joined him in his pursuit. Another young male crammed into the aisle as we all tried to find the right connection.  The store was empty so this was the height of excitement for them.  We all were coming up empty handed.

“This plug needs an older model,” the woman said.

“I just bought this in the store last year.”

“I know, but they change things all the time. I don’t know if we are going to have anything for this to work.”

My hopes were plummeting as she and the boys were getting nowhere.

“Jerry, can you come to aisle 4 please?” she said into her device. “I am having the store manager come over. He usually knows what to do.”

A tall dark haired man joined us in our quest to figure out an answer. I was reminded of an old joke:

How many people does it take…..to find an extension cord?

He frowned, he looked up and down the shelves and said, ‘no, nope, no’ as he went along.

I was starting to feel hot in my jacket not just from the warmth of the store but from the stupidity of what was happening. Not aimed at the help I was receiving but in regard to the situation of having something brand new, never used, and with the prospect of it already being out of date.

I peered around a corner and saw that the store was selling the exact plastic product that I had purchased on clearance.

“You are selling these right now, so how are people going to set these up?” I asked him.

“You are the first person to come in here with this problem,” the lady said to me as if this was something to be proud of.

Wonderful news, I thought.

As I followed behind Jerry to another aisle, I whispered to my daughter,

“There has to be a solution to this!”

That is when I said inwardly,

God, I need this fixed right now! I expect an answer to this problem.  There must be something that can make this to work.

Suddenly, the man stopped in front of me, went back to the aisle we had just left, and stood there for a second.  I saw his head jerk as if someone had slapped him.

“OH! Why didn’t I think of this sooner?”

He reached up and plucked down a large orange object that had many different outlets around it.

“This should help,” he said.  With ease the two fit like they were made for one another.

I was able to go home, use this device and stand back and admire the beautiful lights that would not have been possible without getting something new to make them work.

With the fast paced world we live in, we often want to make the ‘old’ fit when times are calling to let in the ‘new.’

Change is inevitable even though some of us want to ignore it or fight it.

There are times when we don’t have a choice.  Divorce papers are handed over or a death comes unexpectedly.  How do we cope when a large gaping hole suddenly comes and brings despair?

The only thing I have found to work in all situations is prayer whether the change is a good one by my choosing or it is seemingly out of my control.

In Psalm 91:14-15 we are given this great assurance:

14 For the Lord says, “Because he loves me, I will rescue him; I will make him great because he trusts in my name. 15 When he calls on me, I will answer; I will be with him in trouble and rescue him and honor him. (TLB)

The only requirement mentioned is that you love God, and like a good Father, He will help out his children.

As we go along into the next year with unknown situations ahead of us, the most uplifting thing we can cling to is that we can call on our Creator who will not abandon us but will comfort us in our times of sorrow, will guide us in the right direction and will hold our hand when we need to adapt.

cane