Prayers For The Great Smoky Mountains

mtns_11-29-2016Last night and today, fires are burning in the Great Smoky Mountains and it is heartbreaking.  Some of our favorite places to visit in Gatlinburg, Pigeon Forge, and Sevierville are being damaged or destroyed.

On my first date with Kirk, we went to Gatlinburg to eat and walk around.  We had a wonderful time and talked for hours.  That was the start of our amazing life together.  We both have very fond memories of that time together.

Last December, we spent a day with dear friends at the Westgate resort.  We had lunch at the indoor water park, and then visited at a cabin.  This photo was taken there in December 2015.  It is one of the places where the fires have been burning.

Our prayers go out to those who live and work in these communities.  May they be safe and not lose everything.  May the animals not be displaced or hurt.  May the firefighters, paramedics, EMTs, police officers, and all first responders stay safe and unharmed.

May those who have been evacuated be okay and able to eventually go home.  May visitors and curious people stay away since it is not safe to be on the roads where the fires are burning.  May we help one another.

May the rain help fight these fires and may the cities still stand when these fires are finally doused.  May all volunteers such as the Red Cross be blessed and have all that they need to help the people and these communities.

May we love one another and be there for each other during the rebuilding.  In your mercy Lord, Hear Our Prayer.  Amen.

Thanksgiving Prayer

DSC00725For most of the last few years, I have posted this prayer that my grandfather wrote in the 1950s. It has and continued to move me.  So many small things that we often take for granted are to be remembered and celebrated.

In light of the world today, I thought it was especially special to those of us with children.

“Our Father-God we thank thee…

• For the ringing laughter of our children playing, for their giggles, and the moist throaty chuckles of our babies
• For the tender weight of a sleeping child in our arms, and the trust of a tired son who rests his head upon our shoulder, and sleeps
• For the joy we feel in baby’s first tooth, first word, first step, and the thrill of the grown-up child who marries
• For the exultant communion with our teen ones when we dive together into the clean cold surf at dawn, and stand with them silently at sunset drinking glory from the cloud-studded sky
• For small boys on tricycles, or on hands and knees in the sandbox pushing toy trucks and making man-noises
• For tomboy girls streaking across the lawn, swinging on rings, or whirling like pinwheels on turning bars
• For the wonder on the sensitive face of a half-grown child as she listens to a great organ for the first time, or watches a symphony orchestra
• For the fun of family picnics, and vacation trips, and going fishing together
• For the thrill we feel when a daughter stands before us in her first formal gown, and we realize that she is beautiful
• For the joy of a child’s recovery from illness, and the relief we feel when we see an accident almost happen, but not quite
• For the pressure of a timid child’s hand in ours as we walk together in the dark
• For parenthood we thank thee.
• And, our Father-God, to thee we pray for peace. If it be thy will, grant that we may continue our lives together in the precious years to come.   Amen.”

Honestly, this prayer gets me every time I read it. So many things that I am thankful for this Thanksgiving — my family, my friends, my home, our community, our church, Ian’s school, and so much more.  I am so blessed.

May you and yours be blessed this Thanksgiving Day!  Hope you have a great day!

Prayers and Heartbreak

Yesterday at church, we prayed for three of our loved ones — two suffering from cancers and the other from depression and other issues.  The two guys (one a child and the other an adult) with cancer are in the advanced stages and things don’t look good.  We continue to pray and hope for the best but who knows what the Lord has in mind.  Not me, that’s for sure.

I am praying for miracles. I am praying for all signs of cancer to be gone. I am praying for complete healing. I selfishly want my loved ones to be healed and back to themselves. I want them to be able to do everything again and not to suffer anymore.

I want long lives for them without pain and suffering and without this dreaded and terrible illness. Yet, these don’t seem to be the answers for several of my loved ones. It seems the Lord has something else in mind and that is heartbreaking. And hard to reconcile.

As hard as it is to think we soon may have to say goodbye, there is comfort in knowing they will be going to Heaven when it is their time.  They are believers and that is an amazing blessing.  That is what I grew up believing and it is comforting. Yet it is still so painful and hard.

The other loved one who we prayed for has been battling some issues for a while.  She is amazing and great to talk with. I earnestly hope and pray that she can find answers, love, comfort, support, and healing, and beat these issues.

In addition to these three, I have many other loved ones battling various stages of cancer, illness, injuries, loss, deaths, and pain.  They all are amazing and brave in the fights that they are in.  May they have comfort in knowing they are not alone.

Living the faith we say we have is hard, especially when seeing people in pain.  However, the Lord promised He would always be there to carry us through.  He knows better than we do what we need and what to provide for us.

Despite all of my sadness, I am comforted by the scripture Jeremiah 29:11 that states, “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

He knows the plans for us and doesn’t want to harm us. Wow, isn’t that incredible? So may we cling to that and believe that no matter what the answer is, we will be okay. I just have to keep reminding myself of this truth.

As tears roll down my cheeks as I think of these loved ones, I will try to remember this and receive some comfort from it.  Sorry for the downer blog today but this is what is on my mind this morning.  If you are suffering, may you find comfort, healing, and hope. May you know that you are not alone and that you are loved.

Prayers For Our Country

GEDSC DIGITAL CAMERAHi and Happy Wednesday.  I don’t know about you but I was bit stunned with the results of Super Tuesday.  A person who has been acting like a bully keeps winning.  And he keeps developing a larger and larger following.  His competition has now sunk to his level and that to me is also stunning.  I just don’t like what I am seeing.

Why are we a nation that seems to like insults and waits for more?  Why is it okay to ridicule those who are different from ourselves?  Why do we seem to be meaner and meaner to one another?  Why do we listen to words from those who want to lead us that we wouldn’t let our kids say? When did nastiness and hate take over? And why can’t these people discuss actual issues and stop insulting each other?

This election year is like nothing I have ever seen.  My grandfather who passed away in 1996 loved his Republican Party. He really liked President Reagan.  I think this year he would be shocked at the candidates who call themselves Republicans.  I have wondered who he would choose to vote for and I am truly at a loss.

During Reagan’s presidency he worked with Speaker of the House Tip O’Neill on programs that would benefit our country.  One was a Republican and one a Democrat.  Not perfect but they managed to work together and to compromise.  With President Obama, the Congress has been blocking everything he tries to do.  From day one, a few of them have purposely set out to have him fail.

I ask you, what good has that done for our country?  Why do we keep blaming Obama when Congress, in my opinion, is as much to blame since they aren’t doing the jobs they were elected to do?  Why can’t we realize that both sides are to blame?  Then we can start making real improvements and figure out a way to have both sides benefit.

Why can’t these officials who we elect have healthy debates and compromise?  When did those words become bad words and something we won’t tolerate?  When did it become wrong and awful to be friends with those who have different points of view than we do?  When did we stop being willing to listen to another side of the argument?  When did we decide that disrespecting others was okay?  I just don’t understand and it worries and saddens me.

I want to see leaders who my son can admire and respect.  I don’t want to have to keep telling him that he cannot act as these adults act.  I don’t want to have him and his generation grow up with believing that hate, intolerance, bullying, and put downs are okay.  Here is something that the elected officials or those running could and should take to heart.  It is something that Ian’s entire school says together each morning, right after the Pledge of Allegiance.

“We are here to learn with our school family.  There is a respect here that you can clearly see.  We are truthful, trustworthy, and listen actively.  Giving no put downs, I promise to do my personal best as I work and learn today and every day.”  These students are learning respect, responsibility, patriotism, teamwork, trust, and being kind to each other.  Isn’t that great?  I only hope and pray that we as adults can learn the same.

My hope and prayer for us as a nation is:

  • May we find a way to be kind again.
  • May we give no put downs and respect others.
  • May we listen to others and have healthy debates.
  • May we realize that compromise is a good thing.
  • May we all do our personal best and not work to sabotage others.
  • May we learn each day.
  • May we do no harm.
  • May we not bully, but instead be loving.
  • May we defend what we believe without tearing others down.
  • May we be examples for our children and not warnings of how not to act.
  • May we love others, even those we disagree with.
  • May we remember the golden rule.
  • And may we remember that we are all in this together.

A Thanksgiving Prayer

img116Happy Thanksgiving.  Here is a prayer that my grandfather wrote and was published in November 1951.

Here I am pictured with him in 1990.  He was and still is my favorite storyteller and an amazing writer, educator, father, and grandfather.

He wrote a newspaper column for many years called “Parent’s Corner.”  It sums up the perfect Parent’s Thanksgiving Prayer to me. Each time I read it I am in awe of the pictures that his words so vividly describe and I tear up over them.

“Our Father-God we thank thee

  • For the ringing laughter of our children playing, for their giggles, and the moist throaty chuckles of our babies
  • For the tender weight of a sleeping child in our arms, and the trust of a tired son who rests his head upon our shoulder, and sleeps
  • For the joy we feel in baby’s first tooth, first word, first step, and the thrill of the grown-up child who marries
  • For the exultant communion with our teen ones when we dive together into the clean cold surf at dawn, and stand with them silently at sunset drinking glory from the cloud-studded sky
  • For small boys on tricycles, or on hands and knees in the sandbox pushing toy trucks and making man-noises
  • For tomboy girls streaking across the lawn, swinging on rings, or whirling like pinwheels on turning bars
  • For the wonder on the sensitive face of a half-grown child as she listens to a great organ for the first time, or watches a symphony orchestra
  • For the fun of family picnics, and vacation trips, and going fishing together
  • For the thrill we feel when a daughter stands before us in her first formal gown, and we realize that she is beautiful
  • For the joy of a child’s recovery from illness, and the relief we feel when we see an accident almost happen, but not quite
  • For the pressure of a timid child’s hand in ours as we walk together in the dark
  • For parenthood we thank thee.
  • And, our Father-God, to thee we pray for peace.  If it be thy will, grant that we may continue our lives together in the precious years to come.

Amen.”

May you have a blessed and wonderful Thanksgiving!  And, may you be thankful for those special to you.

Prayers and Praises

graceBe still and know that I am God.   I so need that comfort today.  I have so many loved ones on my mind right now who need prayers and love and support. I can’t help but tear up when thinking about some of them and what they are going through.

And, I know that God is there with me and my loved ones every step of the way.  He promised to be with us through everything.  I take comfort in that incredible fact.

The son of a family friend had a stroke a few weeks ago and wasn’t expected to make it.  This young man is only 47 years old.  Since we found out the news, quite a few people have been praying for him. This afternoon we found out that he was able to move his finger and his feet.  And, the report is that he will be okay.    So I must say,  Praise the Lord!!

Another friend from high school said today that her 10-year-old daughter Lily has bone cancer.  I cannot even imagine how my friend is feeling right now.  I would be an absolute wreck.  I read this in her posting asking for prayers for Lily of family and friends.  Wow, what an amazing mother she is.  She is doing the best thing for her daughter — putting her in the Lord’s hands.

A relative is struggling with some major health issues and her family is trying to figure out what to do to help her.  Another friend’s child is recovering from surgery, a dear pastor’s wife is battling her second round of breast cancer, and several other friends just finished chemo treatments.

It is so easy to get almost overwhelmed by all of these needs of prayer.  Yet, by placing them in the Lord’s hand and asking for His protection, guidance, comfort, answers, and support, we are doing the best thing for them and their struggles.  We don’t always know the answers of why or the outcome, but praying is still the best thing to do, in my opinion.  Also, I think it is important to let those loved ones know we are praying for them and that we can help them if they need us to.

In addition to all of the sadness and hardships, there are also things to praise the Lord for.  One relative just received a clean bill of health after cancer treatments, another had a baby shower for her daughter who is due soon, and another is expecting her first child and will find out the sex when the baby is delivered.

I also want to praise the Lord for traveling mercies, for special times with family and friends, and for celebrations of life and our relationships, and that my son prays regularly. Praise also for two friends who suffered major losses and are now healing and discovering new relationships and friendships.  And, praise for the ability to laugh with our friends and family and the chances to share funny stories.

There is an amazing hymn that is coming to mind today — “It Is Well With My Soul.”

When peace, like a river, attendeth my way,
When sorrows like sea billows roll;
Whatever my lot, Thou hast taught me to say,
It is well, it is well with my soul.

Refrain:
It is well with my soul,
It is well, it is well with my soul.

Though Satan should buffet, though trials should come,
Let this blest assurance control,
That Christ hath regarded my helpless estate,
And hath shed His own blood for my soul.

My sin, oh the bliss of this glorious thought!
My sin, not in part but the whole,
Is nailed to His cross, and I bear it no more,
Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, O my soul!

Refrain

For me, be it Christ, be it Christ hence to live:
If Jordan above me shall roll,
No pang shall be mine, for in death as in life
Thou wilt whisper Thy peace to my soul.

Refrain

And Lord haste the day, when my faith shall be sight,
The clouds be rolled back as a scroll;
The trump shall resound, and the Lord shall descend,
Even so, it is well with my soul.

Refrain

Isn’t that song amazing?  It was written by a man named Horatio Spafford who suffered some great losses in his life.  The fact he was able to craft these words still amazes me today.And, it is so comforting and inspirational as well.

I want to close with a prayer:

“Lord, please watch over my loved ones in all that they do. Please stretch out your healing hands on those who are sick and suffering.  Please give us comfort and help us as only you can. Please help to us be there for one another and show the love that you have taught us.

“Praise and thanks to You for all of the gifts You provide for us. Praise to you and thanks so much for your love that You shower down on us. Praise also for our friendships and relationships we have. Praise to you for giving us the ability to love, laugh, and forgive.

“Thanks so much for life and liberty and freedoms. Amen.”

In Your Mercy, Hear My Prayer

praying. handsThis has been a tough week.  As you know from my posting yesterday, I have some very sick relatives and a friend who are dealing with fighting cancer.  Each of these people means so much to me.  I hope and pray that they will receive the treatments that they need to get better.

The hard part is that one of them received a malignant diagnosis and this breaks my heart.  I talked yesterday about choosing to be as positive as I can be, but the pain is still there since it was such a shock to hear this news.  I hate to think of this special person no longer being in my life and I don’t want to.  However, I want to spend the time that I have left with this person and offer comfort and help and try to make the most of it.

As with any tough news, it takes a while to process.  This is one of those weekends.  I have also been thinking of a few friends and relatives who have lost loved ones recently or a milestone of that loss.  That too is heartbreaking.   To say goodbye is so hard and there is no right way to grieve.  I took a class in college that was incredibly hard to fathom at the time but I am so glad that I did.  It was about grief and the stages of it and that it can take a while.

Two things just came to my mind.  One was the best advice that I ever received from a dear friend.  He was a paramedic with more than 20 years experience and had seen it all.  I was a young professional just out of college and starting my first job.  This man told me “Never be a grave hugger.”  He meant to always tell your loved ones that you love them and to never leave something unsaid.   He knew only too well and had seen how precious life is and how fleeting.  This was truly the best piece of advice I have ever received.  Thanks to you GD!

The other was our recent sermon series at my church.  The pastor based it on the amazing Tim McGraw song, “Live Like You Were Dying.”   A few of the keys that our Pastor expanded upon were from the chorus, “I loved deeper, and I spoke sweeter, and I gave forgiveness I’d been denying.”   Aren’t those powerful words?  So important to remember and sometimes so hard to do.

We all get so caught up in the day-to-day of life and sometimes things that don’t really matter in the long run.  The times when we can share with our loved ones, tell them we love them and take the extra time to help each other are so very special and important.  May we all try to find the time to stop and smell the roses as it were.

Today, I want to say a pray for my friends and family who are suffering and sad and in pain.  And, I also want to pray for my son who is fighting bronchitis this weekend.  He is much better today and that is a real blessing.

“Dear Lord, please stretch out your healing hand upon those receiving treatment.  Please guide the physicians, nurses, and all involved in their care.  In your mercy, please hear my prayer.  (at church we say our instead of my, but I wanted to use my in this case)

“Help us, the families and friends of those suffering to be strong and help them through the darkest time.  May we be there to listen, pray, commiserate, give hugs and love, and help one another.  In your mercy, hear my prayer.

“May we take no moment for granted and spend the time with our loved ones as we can.  Help us to love and not be afraid to share that love. In your mercy, please hear my prayer.

“Lord, I also want to take this time to say thank you for all of the blessings you have given me and all of the times you have shown me how much you care for me and my loved ones.

“Thanks also for our dear and sweet son.  He is healing and getting back to himself by talking to me all day about his toys and interests.  He truly is an amazing blessing.

“May I learn to live my life as Ian does by enjoying every moment to the fullest and totally being in each moment. He has truly taught me so very much and I am so thankful for that.  Amen.”

May you too be blessed!

Oh, Tooth Fairy!!

TodayGEDSC DIGITAL CAMERA is a day to record for Ian.  I will have to summon the tooth fairy tonight.

He has lost his first baby tooth.  Here you can see where it came out.

This morning he went to the bathroom and when he came back into the room, he said, “Mommy, my tooth came out.”

As you can see in the fuzzy picture, he has a hole in the left front spot of his teeth.

Wow!  I was excited for him, but thinking how can he be old enough already to be losing teeth?

When he was about 4 months old, he got his first baby teeth — the two bottom middle ones.  So now, one of those two teeth has already fallen out of his mouth.

Last night at dinner, Ian was talking about his tooth feeling loose.  I looked and noticed that there was another tooth behind it.  It is ready to move into the front spot.

My father-in-law then was asking Ian, how much money are your parents going to give you?  Thankfully Ian didn’t clue in to that.

That reminded me of the scene in the “Grown-Ups” movie where a little girl finds out that her parents are the tooth fairy.  She asks her mom about it.  Her mom says yes, I am the tooth fairy for our family and your friend’s parents are the tooth fairy for her family.  It is a secret though.

This morning, Ian asked me, “I wonder what the tooth fairy will bring?”  I told him, “I don’t know Ian.  We’ll see.”

I wonder what he will think of the tooth fairy and how he will adjust to one less tooth.  It will be fun to find out.

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As I was writing this, I received a call that my grandmother was not doing well.

We have been praying for her and hope and pray that she will be better.  She is an amazing woman and someone who I have learned a lot from.

“Dear Lord, please stretch your healing and watchful arms over Grams. May she know how loved she is. Amen.”

Thursday Tunes and Other Items

music_micHi and Happy Thursday!  Hope you have had a great week!

This week I wanted to write about the movie “Rock of Ages” for my tunes.  Have you seen it?

It stars Julianne Hough, Diego Boneta, Alec Baldwin, Tom Cruise, Mary J. Blige, Russell Brand, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Paul Giamatti, Malin Akerman, and a few others as well.

The plot is pretty silly and light, but the singing is really good.  I was surprised at the singing ability of these actors — well not all of them, but quite a few.

The movie includes loads of songs from the 80s heavy metal / hair band days.  I enjoyed singing all of the words!!  It was surprising to me how many songs that I knew and hadn’t heard in years, yet I was able to sing nearly every word.

It was fun to see another take on some of my faves — “Here I Go Again” by Whitesnake, “Pour Some Sugar on Me” by Def Leppard, and “Livin on a  Prayer” by Bon Jovi.  I must admit that I prefer the originals but it was fun to hear all of them again!

This music took me back to my youth!  It was great fun.  The thing I really liked is how true to the original songs that the movie stayed.  That was nice.

The 70s, 80s and 90s artists featured included Def Leppard, Bon Jovi, Poison, Journey, REO Speedwagon, Pat Benatar, Led Zeppelin, Foreignor, Guns and Roses, Quiet Riot, Whitesnake, Backstreet Boys, Stevie Wonder, and Starship.

If you saw it, did you notice any other groups that I missed?  Did you also like the music as much as I did?  I sure hope so.

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This week, my son Ian finished preschool.

My boy is growing up so fast.  Too fast it seems sometimes.

His class had 18 kids, two great teachers, and many volunteers.  He had fun each day and learned a lot!

I am very thankful to the school for working him in since he was only able to attend half the month.  We split our time in two places so that was necessary.

There are three friends that he will be seeing over the summer.  Ian’s first real friends outside of family.  Two of them he has already had a play date with and the other one will be soon.  Should be a fun summer!

We have his first school pictures and he received his yearbook this week.

Wow, in a few months, it will be time for kindergarten.  I know he is ready but not sure that I am.

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I have several friends and family who I am praying for.   I lift them up to the Lord!

I want to borrow a prayer that Ian learned at school, “Dear Jesus, please help all of the people who are sick or sad get better fast, fast, fast. Amen.”

Isn’t that a great prayer?!  I love that the children were taught that!!

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May you have a blessed and wonderful rest of the week!

After the Storm

prayingLast night I watched the news and was truly saddened by what I saw.

The town of Moore, Oklahoma, was pretty much devastated by an EF-4 or 5 tornado which was a mile wide and, according to the news, even up to two miles across during part of its life.

My thoughts and prayers go out to this community which is dealing with so much.

It was very hard to watch the news and see entire neighborhoods flattened to nothing but the foundations.  And, the schools and local hospital there were severely damaged as well.

Watching the meteorologists and news reporters get emotional is tough as well.  You know many of them have seen so much in their careers, that you realize how bad this really is when it affects them.

A resident there who is 72 years old said he would be fine.  He mentioned that in life you accumulate a lot of junk and now he’ll get to start over.  He gets a do-over.

Would I be that positive in light of what happened?  I don’t know.  Do you think he was in shock or just trying to make the best of an unfathomable situation?  I was impressed with his positive outlook I must say.

And, I salute all of the first responders, the firemen, policemen, the national guard, emergency response staff, doctors and nurses, search and rescue people, and those who repair our power lines.  All of these men and women have stayed up all night trying to help their community.

The Red Cross will be there as well to help in the rebuilding effort.  My question is with this much damage, where do you start?  One man answered that question – I think either the mayor or city manager — who said first we find the people and go from there.

As I put my son to bed last night, I wept with happiness that I had a bed to put him on with a pillow under his head.   Some people don’t have that anymore and that is heart breaking.  I suppose more so is having lost a child or spouse or other relative or the not knowing if they are alive or not.

Today I am thankful for my family and friends and some things that I have often taken for granted.  I love having a wall in my house to hang a favorite photo on, a refrigerator full of food, a washing machine to clean my clothes, a blanket to put on my son as he sleeps, a sink to wash my hands in, a sidewalk in my neighborhood to walk on and visit with neighbors, and a night stand where I have my Bible.

Lord, please help this community and the amazing people who live there.  May they find their loved ones and be able to stand with one another to rebuild.  May we who don’t live there do what we can to help.  May you provide comfort in these hours of need and loss.  Amen.

To give to the rebuilding efforts, we can contact the Red Cross.  From what I understand, they are asking for blood donations as well as money.  Please see their Ways to Help web site for more information – http://www.redcross.org/support.