Sunday, July 30, 2017

How My Daugher Wowed Me

I came to Florida to stay with my daughter and son in law in the last days before the birth of their first child.  Being here with them and observing them so closely, I was blessed to see the deep love and support they share with each other.  As a parent, there's nothing more fulfilling than seeing your children building their own lives, leaning on each other for support and encouragement.  I got to see that up close and personal and I couldn't be more thrilled and proud.  Before this visit, I just thought I knew and loved my daughter.  I discovered that I know and love her even more now.  What I thought was stubbornness and determination, turned out to be strength of character and grace shown in the most painful circumstances.

Laboring at home
In the days leading up to my granddaughter's birth, I watched closely as my daughter's mood shifted in preparation of her daughter's arrival.  She busied herself around the house, making sure everything was ready.  She grew quiet and introspective.  We walked and talked and laughed about what was to come.  We could have never guessed what the next few days' journey would bring.  During that time, I learned exactly who my daughter is and I am in awe of her grace and strength.

The doctors had warned us that this baby was big, maybe 8 lbs, 12 oz.  The fact that my daughter wanted a completely natural childbirth was not sidelined by this news.  She was determined to have the birthing experience that she and her husband had planned.
Laboring at home

I could tell that she was in labor early Thursday morning.  We ate
breakfast and then she and her husband and I went for a walk.  With each contraction, she grew a little more quiet and I watched as she took control of her body, breathing through every contraction.  We got home from our walk and she tried laying down with a heating pad.  At times, she would get into the various positions you are taught to use when in labor.

When they got to about 5 minutes apart, we decided it was time to go to the hospital.  Doctors and nurses are so used to first time moms coming to the hospital too soon and they can tend to be a bit condescending when you try to tell them you think you're in labor.  When they acted like this with my daughter, she just remained quiet and worked through the next contraction.  Finally, they checked her and determined that she had labored to 6 centimeters dilated, at home!  They told us that first time moms never wait that long to come to the hospital and they were quite impressed with her ability to go through the contractions.

Walking to help with labor
Over the next couple of hours, they checked her a few more times.  It wasn't long before she went from a 6 to an 8 to 10 centimeters.  As each contraction crashed down on her, she bravely pressed through it, remaining quiet and persistent that she didn't want anything for the pain.  Her husband and I spoke softly in her ear, that she could do this; that she was strong and brave.  We watched the monitor and would talk her up to the peak of each contraction and then let her know when it was going down and she could catch her breath.  When she reached 10 centimeters and they said that she could push, I left the room to give them the birthing moment in privacy.

That is when everything shifted and I saw my daughter as the woman God created her to be!  She was full of grace and strength.  She never stopped being pleasant with the hospital staff.  But things had changed.  Hours went by as her body was wracked by contractions and pain and pushing.  The doctor determined that the baby was so big that she was having difficulty coming out.  They offered the options of using a vacuum, which has it's risks or an emergency caesarean section.  My daughter never wavered from her plan to have a natural delivery.

Such Love!
At one point, I went back in the room with them.  I had to smile through my tears, as I looked at my
daughters face, full of pain and exhaustion.  I kept telling myself that I had to be strong for her as I struggled not to cry and take her up in my arms.  As she grew more and more tired from pushing, I watched her husband grow weak from concern and worry for her.  I finally asked her to think about her options.  I wanted her to know that it was okay for her to ask for help.  I wanted to assure her that her baby would be okay, if she chose another way.

She finally asked if she could get an epidural so that she could rest between the contractions.  As she sat on the edge of the bed having contractions, with her feet on my knees, hunched over, to get the epidural, I felt such a rush of love for her that I thought I would burst.  All I could do was sit there and kiss her hands that were in mine, over and over again.  It was the same feeling I had when she was born and they placed her in my arms for the first time.  Her body shook with pain and she quietly whimpered in my ear.  It was almost too much for my heart to bear.  But I knew that if she was strong, then I could certainly be strong for her!

Rubbing her back
Slowly, the epidural took effect.  The nurse and I would hold her legs during each contraction, while her sweet husband talked softly in her ear, encouraging her to push their beautiful daughter into this world.  At least now, she could rest between contractions without a lot of pain.  Finally it was time to deliver the baby, so I left them in the capable hands of the nurses and doctor.

Shortly afterwards, my son in law came to the waiting room to let us know that Ryleigh Claire had been born, 9 lbs, 5 oz and that "mom and baby" were fine.  All of my concern and worry melted at that point and I collapsed, sobbing in his arms.  My baby was ok and her baby was ok!  I could breathe again!  Finally, my granddaughter came into this world at 7:35, Friday morning.

The doctor and the nurses said that they would be talking about my daughter for a long time.  As a first time mom, she came to the hospital at 6 centimeters, took no meds for pain, pushed for 6 hour with an epidural just at the end.  They were in awe of her and spoke of how kind and easy she was with everyone who came into her room.

The first moment!
My son in law was her rock throughout the entire process.  He only left her side to visit the restroom.  I saw his eyes fill with tears many times, watching her struggle through so much pain.  When he would go to the restroom, my daughter's eyes would dart around the room looking for him and she would ask for him.  It filled my heart with pride to see them so in love and working together to bring their daughter into this world.

When I go back to Tulsa, I will go knowing my daughter differently than I did when I arrived here.  I already knew that she was special, but I now see a woman who is full of love, grace and strength, who will conquer anything she sets her mind to.  I will go, knowing that she and her husband will be able to tackle anything life throws at them with grace and strength.  She is my hero!  I'm in awe of her and I hope I'm just like her when I grow up!

God is good.  Life is hard.  My daughter has what it takes to make it through anything!  I'm in love with her.

Before we knew what was ahead

Strength in the Lord and each other

Her hands were shaking

Safe in mama's arms

Here at last!

Daddy getting some "skin to skin" time.

Mama's milk makes her sleepy

Responding to mama' voice!

Our princess!

Daddy loves her so!

The proudest Gamgam ever!

From His Lap,

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Leadership In Crisis

The subject of this post has been rolling around in my spirit for quite some time.  I have put off writing about it because of fears that it would be taken the wrong way and considered judgemental and offensive.  I assure you, that is not my intention.

As an adult, I have always been involved in many areas of ministry, in the churches I've attended.  Serving in Women's Ministry, Children's Ministry, Greeters Ministry and so much more, I quickly become acquainted with the leadership in the church I'm attending.  I have met so many men and women in leadership, serving God and the Church with complete honor and integrity, who are great examples of how to live the life we are called to live.

But all too often, I have also observed those in ministry leadership who succumb to the temptations of life and become involved in adultery, porn, alcoholism, drug abuse and other destroying lifestyles.  Please don't misunderstand me.  I am not saying that those in ministry will never sin or are never tempted to sin.  And I don't judge those who do.  I am not suggesting that they can't be forgiven and made whole.  But why does the Church choose to elevate and celebrate those leaders who get caught up in these harmful lifestyles and who leave many broken lives in their wake.  Why do we hold them up as the standard for coming out of sin and being made whole?
I have watched as many pastors, music ministers, youth leaders and the like, destroy their lives, their families and their ministries.  Then, they go through a short period of counseling, rehab and restoration and all of a sudden, they are writing books, speaking to churches, counseling and proclaiming how they fell into sin and God brought them out and restored them.  I don't doubt their testimonies and I don't question that they have been forgiven and made clean and righteous.

What I do question, is why does the Church celebrate this?  What does this say to these leader's  spouses, families and children, who are left behind to pick up the pieces of their broken lives?  Why doesn't the Church celebrate the minister who sticks in there and does the right thing, not because it's easy, but just because it is right.  Sin is the easy way out.  It's not difficult giving into temptation.  The hard thing is, when facing temptation, trials and forbidden pleasure, saying "no" to them and staying pure and clean.

Some would say that we need these types of testimonies so that when we fall and don't think God will forgive us, we can see other's examples of sin and restoration.  There are plenty of testimonies of every day folk, who are brought out of much sin and wrecked and ruined lives.  Why do we need these types of testimonies to come from the leadership of the Church?  Let them be the ones who show us how not to fall into these harmful lifestyles.  Scripture says that God calls and sets apart leaders and shepherds
                                                             who are called to a higher standard.
During the last years of her life, my mom was in a wheel chair.  My father, a pastor, had to fix meals for her, bathe her, take her to the restroom, and not have any chance of an intimate relationship with his wife.  It was not easy.  It wasn't the life he had envisioned for him and my mom.  It wasn't pleasant.  Every day, he had to make the choice to do what was right and to rely on the Lord to be his strength and constant companion.

Of course I pray for all leaders who have fallen into sin, just as I hope they would pray for me when I am struggling.  I know that the Lord loves them dearly and wants to restore them fully and have them back in the fold.  But I wish that the Church would make a way for those in leadership, who are being tempted to fall into grave sin, to be able to share their struggle with someone without the fear of being judged, condemned and ostracized.  We should provide a way out before they fall!  Maybe then, they could join hands with someone and gain the faith and strength they need to reject sin, to not fall, so that they can live the life they are called to live, without destroying their lives and the lives of those they love.

From His lap,

Monday, August 29, 2016

The Tide Took It All Away

I'm lying here in the sand while the warmth of the sun settles over me like a cotton sheet. As I close my eyes, the sounds of the crashing waves collide with the call of seagulls overhead. The soft ocean breeze blows over me, tickling the tiny invisible hairs on my body, while each wave of the incoming tide washes over my heart. As the waves retreat, I feel every care, worry and hurt fade away to some distant place where I delightfully let them go. Maybe I'll just leave them there.

My life is busy, just like yours.  I work on the corporate staff of a company that oversees 150 franchises.  My husband and I are partners/owners of a popular restaurant in Tulsa, OK.  Between the 2 of us, we have 7 children and 5 grandchildren.  The list of things to do each day never gets completed, adding to tomorrow's duties and my frustration grows as the list grows.

I've worked outside of the home since I was quite young, and while raising my children.  So I'm used to the pace and the daily grind.  But this year has been different.  This year, things started to "get to me".  My heart and soul had been bumped and bruised in several places. My body began to tell me that I'd better slow down and take care of myself.  Do you think I listened?  I ignored the signs that my body, mind and spirit had simply had enough.  I developed a debilitating case of the Shingles that left me home bound and in excruciating pain for a long time.  My body basically said, "If you don't listen to me and slow down, I will do it for you."  And that's exactly what happened.

I don't want to bore you with the list of stressful things that were on my list this year; suffice it to say, I needed a break.  I needed emotional healing and some rest and relaxation.  Hence, the trip to the beach and the therapy it provided!  For the first time in my life, I think I truly understand what people mean when they say that if you don't take care of yourself, you can't take care of anyone else.  I had reached my limit, poured myself out and had nothing left to myself or others.

We all have that place we visit, that room in our house, that person to sit with, that refreshes us and fills our soul.  For me, it's the ocean.  For me, I find healing in just about every aspect of it; the breeze, the waves, the unforgiving sand, the call of the seagulls, the taste of salt on my lips, the's all healing to me.

I don't think I'll ever not listen to my body or soul again.  Why wait until your body shuts down, or you're emotionally worn out?  Make plans now to do whatever gives you renewed strength and hope!

From His lap!

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Resting In Him

Open the eyes of my heart, Lord.  Open the eyes of my heart.  Help me to see how much you love me.  Let your grace flow over me like a river and descend on me with your peace.  Let me catch a dazzling glimpse of your smile as you delight over me.  Oh, Holy One, find every secret place in me and flood it with your love and mercy.  

I give you every worry and fear.  I turn them all over to you, realizing that everything pales in comparison to the love you have for me.  Let every word and action burn away, that doesn't reflect you.  I lay it all down at your feet so that I am unburdened to climb onto your lap, lay my head on your chest and feel your heart beat with love for me.

There is none like you.  None who see me and know me and yet love me so completely.  I rest in your arms as you pour out your healing balm over my wounded body and soul.  There is no lack or pain when I am with you.  You are strength and peace to my tired aching life.  The works of your hands are mighty in me, to the pulling down of strongholds.  

I find freedom and joy in the solace of your embrace.  I see things more clearly through the eyes of your grace and my sin falls away as I'm washed clean.  There is no place I'd rather be in the quiet moments when I face myself and know that I can only be whole, in you.  In you, I live and move and have my being.

From His Lap,

Saturday, February 22, 2014

The Ring on My Thumb

Always.  Everyday.  I want to feel His presence.
So will I remember to ask Him to walk with me today?
How can I forget how sweet it is to brush shoulders as we walk Lord and I?
I oft feel His hand on my cheek, sometimes brushing away a tear.
How can the God who created the universe walk so close, be so near?
Sometimes, we say nothing.  But there are those days when I pour out the hurts that fill my aching heart.  Pour them out to Him who washes away the ache and bathes me in His glory.
Our sweetest times are when the gratitude for His grace and mercy fills me to the point that it has to spill out. In these moments, praise and thanksgiving erupts from the altar of my heart and escapes my lips as a song.
I've made my heart an altar.  An altar to Him who listens, who speaks.  An altar to Him who asks me into His throne room and lets this daughter climb up on His lap.  Lets me lean my weary head against His chest.  So close.
How could I not want to tarry there? Always?  Everyday?
When I rise and when I sleep and those moments in between, will I pause, will I listen for His still small voice?
Will I look into the eyes of those around me and see Him in their lives, His presence there to bless all who would stop and take note?
I wear His ring on my right hand.  The ring on the thumb, it doesn't feel natural. I always feel it, notice it, touch it.  It's there to remind me, "Have you thought about Him today?"
Always.  Everyday.  I want to feel His presence.

From His lap,


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