heartBG2

 

Maybe it’s the arrival of November tomorrow that has my heart and mind spinning with memories of Nick.

Maybe it’s the fact that my mom and dad are walking this road all over again with my dad who is facing six weeks of radiation to his vocal chords after a biopsy that came back including the word “cancer.”

 

I’m not sure why every verse I’ve read the last few days has echoed with the past,

but for whatever reason God is reminding me of His faithfulness again this morning.

 

I remember claiming this passage when Nick was sick.

 

Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul.

Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell. 

Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground outside your Father’s care. 

And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered.  

So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.

“Whoever acknowledges me before others, I will also acknowledge before my Father in heaven.

I remember adding the word “cancer” to these verses and reading it like this:

Do not be afraid of cancer that can kill the body but cannot kill the soul.

Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell.

Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground outside your Father’s care.

And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered.

So don’t be afraid of cancer; you are worth more than many sparrows.

“Whoever acknowledges me before others, I will also acknowledge before my Father in heaven.

 

As I would pray, I would remind myself that if God knows and cares even a sparrow falls to the ground,

then He knew and cared about Nick.

And I knew that no matter what, Nick’s soul was safe.

 

That comforted me.

 

But I never knew God would use this passage to let me know that Nick was going to die.

 

I was walking to the car one day, carrying out a load of things for our next trip to the hospital.

As I walked along the sidewalk in our backyard, nearing the gate in our fence,

I stepped on something that I thoughts was one of the boys toys from the pool.

I kept walking and placed my armful of pillows and blankets in the backseat of our van.

 

As I came back through the backyard, I happened to look down as I was nearing the door of our house.

I froze.

 

I bent down and was horrified to discover that I had stepped on a newborn baby bird, fatherless, grey, and now lifeless.

My breath stopped for a minute as I knew deep inside my soul that God KNEW what had just happened.

 

He saw the baby bird fall.

 

He KNEW where I would walk,

 

and in the moment in time that is etched so deeply in my heart,

I knew and believed that He also cared about this bird.

 

I kept looking at this bird and thinking,

“God knew you fell, and now you are dead…because of me.”

 

My mind spun with the reality that even though God cared about this bird and knew that it had fallen from the safety of its nest,

it had still died.

 

I didn’t want to hear what was going through my mind next,

but I couldn’t stop the thought pattern.

 

I knew God was using this moment to prepare me.

He was using this tiny, seemingly-insignificant-to-many-on-most-days event to prepare me for something bigger than my heart could ever bear alone.

 

As I stood on the sidewalk in my backyard all alone,

I knew God was there.

 

I knew He was with me and I knew He had been with the tiny dead bird as it fell,

and He was saying this to me in my heart,

 

“Tammy, I loved that bird.  I care about that bird. 

I knew that it fell, but I didn’t kill the bird, Tammy.

  You did. “

 

Before I could even scream, “NO!”

I felt God saying these words gently to my breaking heart.

 

“Tammy, I love Nick.  I care about Nick. 

I know that He is sick, but I’m not killing Nick, Tammy. 

Cancer is.”

 

In that moment, I knew two things like I had never known before.

 

First, I knew deep inside me that Nick was going to die.

Second, I knew that God was just as sad as I was.

 

 

I’m not trying to say that cancer had more power than God.

But I am saying that every single story can’t end with an earthly miracle,

and because of that, I believe God grieves with us when He chooses to allow the suffering of this earth to happen.

 

My dad’s prognosis is very good.

But please still pray for him and my mom as they face the schedule of the next few months.

Pray they are able to fill the days with happy memories along with the many doctor’s appointments and medical procedures.

Pray they feel God’s presence in powerful ways in waiting rooms and in their travels.

 

And today, if you feel alone or afraid,

please know this.

 

God wants to walk through every minute of today with you.

 

If He knows when a sparrow falls,

He knows what you’re facing today.

 

And He cares deeply.

heartBG2

 

She had suffered a great deal under the care of many doctors and had spent all she had,

yet instead of getting better she grew worse.

Mark 5:26

 

As I was reading the Bible this morning,

the six words above seemed to jump off the page at me.

“And had spent all she had.”

You’ve been there, haven’t you?

Maybe not literally, but emotionally or mentally.

No more options.

Pockets empty.

And things just seem to keep getting worse.

It’s times like these that push us to try drastic things.

I remember when the doctors told us there was nothing more they could do for Nick.

I remember slipping into a room with the oncologist by myself and having a meltdown as Tim took Nick to the van.

I remember the long ride home from Cincinnati after that when I had to wipe my tears, suck it up, and somehow have normal conversations with them the entire way home.

Tim was so strong.

I played along.

About two weeks after that horrific day, I somehow heard of an Amish herbalist in the middle of nowhere in Indiana who could supposedly heal anything with the right herbs.

Evan, Donnette, Nick and I set out on a five-hour journey to meet this man with only directions and a prayer.

Tim let us go.

Tim knew I had to try anything.

I imagine the lady in the story above who had “spent all she had” was a lot like me at that point in my life.

And then she heard Jesus was in town.

The crowd was intense.

Gaining the attention of Jesus in the midst of the sea of people would be nearly impossible.

She didn’t seem to have people in her life who were willing to cut a whole in the roof of a house to lower her into Jesus’ presence.

She was just one of many in a crowd.

But somehow Jesus came near her.

“If I can just touch Him,” she must have thought.

“If I can just touch Him my life will change forever.”

And she did.

She reached out and in an instant she was healed.

And Jesus knew.

Healing today isn’t the same as it was in Jesus’ time.

Sometimes I wish it was that easy.

But I remind myself that even those who were healed then eventually died.

Their healing wasn’t really the miracle.

The miracle was their encounter with the Savior.

That’s what changed their life forever.

See, when you reach out in faith for Jesus.

He is near.

Even if you feel you have “spent all you had,”

He offers hope.

And He longs to change your life forever.

Financial peace may not be the miracle.

Physical healing may not be the miracle.

However, what He offers lasts so much longer than either of those earthly gains.

Jesus longs to transform your life from the inside out so that you can handle the debt, the pain, the sickness, the sadness, the stress.

He is the great perspective changer.

Seeing life through His eyes suddenly transforms our priorities.

Seeing life through His eyes washes away our own wants and replaces them with the needs of others.

Seeing life through His eyes helps us deal with prayers that seem unanswered.

The Amish herbalist I mentioned earlier sold us some herbs on the day we visited him.

Nick willingly tried them for a while.

But his cancer continued to grow.

I’ll never quite understand why Nick’s fight had to end in death.

We did reach out to Jesus every single day of his journey.

And we trusted Him with Nick.

But I still believe, in spite of our sorrow, that Nick was healed.

Totally.

Completely.

Eternally.

For us, the reaching out to Jesus didn’t bring an earthly miracle for Nick,

but it did bring an earthly miracle to our family as we walk the road of grief.

And I know Nick received the greatest miracle of all.

Heaven.

If you feel like you’ve spent all you had,

reach out to Jesus today.

He’s near.

He will notice.

He can change everything about what you’re facing today.

heartBG2

Change the Way You Think

October 29th, 2013

 

Do you feel discouraged?

overwhelmed?

defeated?

insecure?

irritated?

angry?

afraid?

jealous?

lonely?

inadequate?

nervous?

sad?

 

Or any other emotion that is causing your days on earth to be less than they could be?

 

Have you been in conversations where you’ve heard phrases like, “Life isn’t suppose to be like this” or “Life shouldn’t be this hard”?

 

If you answered yes to any of the questions above,

I hope what I’m getting ready to say will help you.

 

There is a way to change how you think.

I do not write as an expert on this topic.

I write only as a learner who wants to share what I’m learning,

because what I’m learning Is slowly changing me.

 

See, I’ve always had to work very hard to deal with emotions in my own life.

Depression is a battle I fight often.

Anxiety can overtake me quickly.

Insecurity walks close beside me as I travel through life and grabs my hand any chance it gets just to remind me that it’s there and that I come up short over and over again.

 

So, I share what I’m learning about life as someone who is still learning.

But I’m sharing now because I want to see more and more people freed from their strongholds.

 

I want to see the grieving filled with hope.

I want to see the broken made whole.

I want to see the insecure walk confidently.

I want to see the angry released from everything that has hurt them in life.

I want to see the overwhelmed freed from their burdens.

 

How do we change the way we think in a world filled with bad news and broken people?

 

I think the only way we can have total freedom and success is by surrendering every single part of our lives to God.

As we surrender,

we literally have to let go.

 

No more clinging.

No more hanging on.

 

It’s almost as if we stand in an open field and open our arms high and wide and say,

“It’s all yours, God.”

 

And then we take all the empty places and fill them up with His thoughts, His truths, His promises.

 

The secret is not just letting go but also grabbing on to something better.

 

Phil.. 4:8 says,

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure,

whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable-if anything is excellent or praiseworthy-think about such things.

Phil. 2:5 says,

In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus.

Col. 3:2 says,

Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.

and II Cor. 10:3-5 says,

For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. 

The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world.

On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds.  

We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God,

and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.

Today, replace every doubt, every fear, every question, every burden with a truth from God’s Word.

Allow Him to live and breathe so deeply within you that no matter what your day holds,

you walk victoriously.

You change the way you think as you allow the victory of Jesus’ resurrection to transform you.

 

Praying for you today as you walk with Him through every good and every not-so-good moment.

Never forget,

He is with you.

 

Believing that truth with all your heart is the first step to changing how you think.

 

 

 

 

heartBG2

Getting Monday Right……..

October 28th, 2013

 

Do you want to start this week with a good attitude and good spirit?

I sure do.

I want to get things right at work, at home, and with my friends.

I want to please God with the way I live.

It’s easy to get caught up in all the dos and don’ts of life and beat yourself up for every little mistake you make along the way,

but I really don’t think God intends for our lives to be that complicated.

I believe if we had the chance to sit with Jesus and talk to Him one-on-one about what is important for getting life right,

I think He would say the same thing to us today that He said 2,000 years ago.

When asked,

“Of all the commandments, which is the most important?”

 

This was His reply:

 

“The most important one,” answered Jesus, “is this:

‘Hear, O Israel:

The Lord our God, the Lord is one.  

Love the Lord your God

with all your heart and

with all your soul and

with all your mind and

with all your strength.’

The second is this:

‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’

There is no commandment greater than these.”

Mark 12:29-31

When I take away all the expectations mankind has placed upon me and I focus on God’s expectations,

I suddenly feel empowered for the right kind of Monday.

I’ll do my best at work.

But the most important things I will do today are these two things:

Love God.

Love others.

If I can get the love part of life right,

I believe everything else will fall beautifully into place.

 

Take the stress out of your Monday.

Take the anxiety out of your week.

 

Shorten your to-do list to two things:

 

Love God.

Love others.

 

Take a deep breath about everything else in between,

and just do your best.

 

God isn’t watching to see if you come up short, mess up, or disappoint Him.

He loves you with an unconditional, everlasting love.

 

When you wrap your mind around how much He loves you,

you will find it easier and easier to love Him back and then love those around you.

 

I’m praying for you today.

That your day will be filled with smiles, love, joy, and peace.

 

Yes, this world is a mess and life is hard.

 

But……

knowing the One who makes all things beautiful in His time will make even the messiest Monday enjoyable.

 

I love you all. Smile

heartBG2

 

If your life is anything like mine, your mind is filled with many thoughts, concerns, decision, and struggles.

From family life to work pressures, there’s just no easy way to navigate the waters of life.

 

Falling into a pit of worry, depression, or negativity isn’t difficult in a life overflowing with tough situations.

Believe me, I know.

 

Do you want to handle the downs of life better than you have in the past?

I sure do.

 

Do you want to see an often-gray world transform into one of color and beauty?

 

Do you want to quit going through the motions just to “make it through another day?”

 

Do you want your answer to the question, “How are you today?”

to be filled with more than the words,

“I’m here.”

 

I think there’s only one way we are going to reach a higher view of life and have positive answers to all the questions I just listed.

 

We are going to have to approach EVERYTHING-

the tough, the hard, the ugly, the complicated, the humanly-impossible, the heartbreaking, the nightmarish, and the most painful parts of life with one phrase,

 

“Thank you.”

 

Somehow, we are going to have to dig deep and find the strength to see every little aspect of life from God’s eyes and trust that He is working through, around, in spite of, with, and in

EVERY SINGLE SITUATION WE FACE.

 

That’s not always easy.

In fact, many times that seems like an impossible task.

 

But, try it.

 

Try saying “thank you” today for the very things you normally would complain about, dislike, avoid, dread, fear, and change about your life.

 

Just say, “thank you.”

 

 

Then see what happens.

 

 

Give thanks in all circumstances;

for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.

I Thess. 5:18

heartBG2

 

What do you do when no matter which way you turn there’s a drawback, a cost, a risk?

How do you settle in on one particular choice when every choice has pros and cons?

 

I have people I love who are asking these kinds of questions today in situations that range from  their children to their spouse to their career to their health.

 

Sometimes “easy answers” aren’t available.

Sometimes Plan B has as many drawbacks as Plan A.

 

I’ve found myself facing these kinds of decisions many times in my life.

I wrestle with some even today.

 

What do I do when there’s no easy answer??

 

First, I tell God just how helpless I feel.

Then I don’t do anything for a while.

 

I try to imagine making each possible decision, and I close my eyes and allow myself to go there in my mind.

Do I have a feeling of peace or uneasiness as I walk down each road?

 

Time and time again God has proven to lead me to peace even when the decision is not the one that made the most sense to me or even appealed to me the most.

 

God knows best.

 

He longs to lead us.

 

I can talk to a hundred different friends and get a hundred different opinions, but when I finally hand things over to Him who loves me most and wait……..

He is faithful.

 

In His time.

 

Today, if you have big decisions to make.

Let God know all your options.

And then pray for peace as He leads.

 

When hard pressed, I cried to the Lord;
he brought me into a spacious place.
The Lord is with me; I will not be afraid.
What can mere mortals do to me?

The Lord is with me; he is my helper.
I look in triumph on my enemies.

 It is better to take refuge in the Lord
than to trust in humans.

Psalm 118:5-8

heartBG2

 

I opened our back door this morning to let Peppy out and could immediately feel the cold wind and rain hitting my arm.

As I shut the door, the warmth of our house meant so much more to me than it had just seconds before.

Sometimes experiencing a moment of no protection from the weather outside reminds me of how thankful I am for the roof over my head.

This morning was one of those mornings.

 

I curled up under a blanket with my Bible and my coffee while I listened to the wind chime go wild on my deck from the constant, cold wind right outside my window.

 

But I was warm.

 

And I was dry.

 

The feeling I had in that moment of being physically protected from nature reminded me of just how protected I am spiritually when I choose to live for God.

The same is true for you.

 

When we choose to walk through life with God,

we receive shelter and security from an often-brutal world.

 

Life can be uncertain.

Life can be scary.

 

However, God longs to be both our shelter and our strength.

 

Today, no matter what your day holds,

no matter how rough the winds may blow or how hard the rain may fall,

know that you have a Heavenly Father who longs to be your Protection, your Warmth, your Security, your Umbrella,

your Shelter from it all.

 

 

God is our shelter and strength,

always ready to help in times of trouble.

Psalm 46:1

heartBG2

Scented Candles and Prayer

October 21st, 2013

 

One of my favorite things to do after cleaning is light candles throughout our home,

filling every corner of every room with scents of autumn.

I love a clean house,

I love candles,

and

I love fall.

I also love when I read a verse in the Bible that gives me a personal glimpse of God as Someone who loves certain things too.

 

 

Psalm 141:21 says,

May my prayer be set before you like incense,

may the lifting up of my hands be like the evening sacrifice.

Just as I love to walk into my home and breathe in the cozy scents of spices,

I believe God loves to breathe in our prayers.

How differently would we approach our times of talking with God if we viewed them as cozy, warm, and inviting to Him?

He longs to hear from us.

He breathes in our words and is pleased.

He sees our out-stretched hands as evening sacrifices.

When is the last time you lifted both hands towards Heaven?

It’s a humbling experience and can feel unnatural,

but there’s something powerful about this small act of worship.

What if our world was filled with people praying and lifting their hands towards Heaven?

Can you even imagine the aroma of Heaven in moments like that?

Let’s fill Heaven today with sweet scents as we lift prayers and our hands toward Him who loves us most

Have a happy Monday.

heartBG2

When an Author Pauses

October 15th, 2013

 

Have you ever been reading a great book when all of the sudden the author makes a dramatic pause.

 

Silence overtakes a normally noise-filled place like a carnival or mall.

A blustery day suddenly stills to an eerie calm.

Traffic comes to a screeching halt and motorists are left wondering what is next.

A crying baby stops mid-scream and begins to smile, but we, as the reader, don’t know why.

 

These types of pauses set the reader up for a twist in the once-predictable events of the story.

They make your mind imagine all kinds of possible events to follow.

 

But most of all they grab your attention and let you know something big is about to happen.

 

My Bible reading today was all about the 400 years of silence between the Old and New Testament.

 

I’ve always wondered what was going on in history as God seemed to stop speaking through prophets.

I still wonder how those generations felt as they read the history of God’s people and the promises of a coming Messiah and yet year after year things seemed to get worse and God seemed to be further away.

 

I have to believe that tucked throughout mankind were pockets of people crying out to Him, longing for the day when Hope would come for the world.

And I have to believe that those people, even though Jesus would be someone of whom they only dreamed, received eternal life based on their law and their limited knowledge of God’s grace.

 

But, can you imagine being part of the group of people who began to hear rumors that the Messiah had arrived?

Can you imagine being chosen to be a key player in the unfolding story of God’s new plan for the entire world?

 

God’s dramatic pause was 400 years of silence.

As the Creator of the entire universe, His pause had to be long enough to gain the world’s attention.

His pause had to be purposeful.

His pause had to remove all doubt that anyone alive was creating the next chapter based on what they already knew.

He needed new characters in His dramatic story.

Characters who had only heard of but had not seen God’s hand at work.

Characters who were willing to walk by faith and not by sight.

 

The New Testament only makes sense in light of the Old Testament.

Alone, the New Testament offers Jesus without explaining why we needed Him to arrive.

Alone, the New Testament offers Hope without a way of grasping just how much hope was needed.

 

And the dramatic pause adds one more level of depth to the greatest story ever written-

the story of mankind.

 

I believe that God is still writing His story.

He’s writing it through your life and through mine.

 

Sometimes we see Him working in mighty ways in our life.

Our confidence in Him is strong, because He shows up in very personal ways throughout our days.

 

Other times, He seems to be far away.

As if He has purposely chosen to become silent in our  life story, God can sometimes seem more like just the “Creator in the sky” than a “personal Father.”

These seasons of life are never easy.

Our prayers can feel empty and lost in a sea of clouds.

 

I still struggle when I reach places in life where God seems to lift His pen and stop writing.

 

But when I remember the power of a dramatic pause,

I can become very excited knowing that when God chooses to pull back a bit He always has a reason.

 

He’s working on me even as He stops working through me and around me so personally.
And every time He chooses to pause,

I can know without a doubt that something powerful is going to happen in the future.

 

He is the creator of not only life but also drama.

God loves suspense.

God loves passion.

So I want to learn to embrace the pause button.

 

I want to become better at handling those times  in my life when I’m wondering where God is.

 

If you feel as if your prayers are not being heard or if you feel as if God has lifted the pen on the writing of your story,

know this:

 

He’s still writing.

 

He’s just in the midst of writing about a very dramatic pause in your life.

 

A time when you are being prepared for the next big thing.

 

 

Today, whether you are in a time of silence or a time of great drama in your walk with God,

know that as the author of your life story He uses every sentence and every chapter to lead you closer and closer to Him.

 

Trust Him today.

 

Even in His silence.

heartBG2

When Life Seems Hard

October 14th, 2013

 

 

Have you ever gone through a season of life that was especially difficult?

 

Maybe you’ve lost someone you love dearly, and you are walking the road of grief.

Maybe you’re facing a frightening illness in your own life or walking that road with a friend or family member.

Maybe you’re trying to juggle a career and a family.

Maybe you’re trying to decide “what’s next” in life.

Maybe everything is going great in your life, but you still feel a sense of unrest and can’t figure out what to do next.

Or maybe it’s something totally different and as you read all these possibilities you are thinking,

“No one would even understand what I’m going through right now if I said it out loud.”

Whatever the case, I want you to know this for sure:

YOU ARE NOT ALONE.

 

You’re not alone in a very earthly sense, because others are struggling too.

And you’re not alone in a spiritual sense, because God walks right alongside you with every heavy, uncertain step.

 

My daily Bible reading this morning was pretty much the genealogical records of the Israelite nation.

Other than a few personal comments  from time to time about one of the descendants,

I read pages and pages of “_________the son of_________” or “_________the daughter of__________.”

I thought about skipping these pages.

I couldn’t pronounce most of them anyway,

but I decided to push through for one reason and one reason alone.

 

Each of these names belonged to someone who lived and walked and breathed;

and even if they’ll never know I read their names,

I believe they mattered.

 

And I believe they struggled through life and somehow made a difference.

 

Reading every name was powerful for me this morning,

because as I read each name I thought of my own family.

I thought of my friends.

I thought of all of you read my blog.

 

I wondered what might have said if it had been our names listed.

I wondered which struggles from our lives would have made history and which struggles would have silently been put to rest with the passing of time.

 

There’s something very humbling about reading a chronological record and realizing that many, many things we do, think, and feel today will be forgotten over time.

 

Knowing this, I have to make a purposeful decision to create a life that leaves a legacy not in what I do or say but in how I make a difference in the next generation.

Yes, life is hard.

But what if the lasting result of handling hard times isn’t about me but about how it affects those who follow me.

 

What if your hard times weren’t about you but about everyone around you who watches you walk through them with God?

 

Today, I have a lot on my mind.

You probably do too.

 

Let’s hand it everything over to God and allow Him to work in the ways only He can.

 

I love you all so much.

Thank you for all of the emails, Facebook messages, and posts here about ideas for Olivia’s diet.

I have so much to learn.