Sunday, July 29, 2018

Purple Lipstick

There is so much I want to say about the "story" below. But the more I think about it, the more I feel that I need to let the story sit for itself and let it be what it is for you. 

I watched myself in the mirror as I put on favorite purple lipstick. It was bold, but on this night, it was exactly what I needed. I was going to fight and this was my fighting lipstick. I had my armor on. I was ready.

“Let’s do this.”

“What are you doing here?” he asked without getting up.
Taking a deep breath, she stood beside him, keeping the advantage. You can do this. She closed her eyes and jumped in with both feet. “I’m done. I’m done being your slave and your part-time lover. I am better than that. I deserve to be treated better than that. I am valuable. Your lust for me is dirty and I refuse to allow you to continue to make me feel less than.” She raised her chin a little higher as he opened his mouth to say something. “No, I’m not finished. “You have locked your heart to love. I could have loved you. But I deserve to be loved by someone who loves himself. You need to love yourself.”
“You don’t know what you’re talking about. I don’t need you, anyway.”
“I forgive you. I wish you a good life. Bye.” The purple tattoo of her kiss sizzled on his skin. She forced herself to walk rather than run as she turned away.
She heard him shout, “Yeah?! You forgive me?! Ha! Well, it’s your loss, baby! I don’t need you! I don’t anyone! What do I need you for?!”
The door slammed before he could say anything else.

Friday, July 27, 2018

A Beautiful Conversation with God

About a year ago, a friend of mine shared on the Facebook that she was going through a new journal called "Whispers of Mercy" and God was changing her life. As an avid journaler and someone who is always looking for new ways God is moving in the lives of others, I clicked on the link to the journal and saved it so I could hopefully purchase the journal as soon as I had the finances. It looked like something that I definitely wanted to give a try. 

The concept Holly Love King uses in "Whispers of Mercy" is fairly simple: each new entry begins with a Bible passage and a brief devotional/explanation/discussion of the verse. Then there are lines for you, the journaler, to write your conversation with God. 

You have to get quiet with God and allow the Holy Spirit to speak to you. You cannot be distracted. This is a beautiful thing. It is real. It is powerful. And, as my friend shared on Facebook, it is life-changing. Following is my conversation with God this morning. It might not make sense if you don't know my story so you might need to go back and read some previous posts. Yes, this is super private and personal, but it was also very exciting and I just feel that you might be blessed, too. Rather than typing it out, I've chosen to upload images of my original handwritten conversation. I truly hope you can read it. 

Saturday, July 21, 2018

Remember the Miracles

Seeing God's miracles in the midst of grieving, even after 19 years, is not easy, but it is something I hear Him calling me to do. I'm going to be vulnerable here, folks, so please, be gentle and kind, ok? To this day, I still question, "God, where was my miracle?" concerning my stillborn son, James Isaac and each of my miscarriages, Panya Ruth and Anna Rose. You see, I've heard stories where women went in to have ultrasounds and there wasn't a heartbeat, so they went back to their churches and began a prayer chain. The next time they went to see their doctor, their babies' heartbeats were perfectly normal. Or of women who began bleeding as I did, indicating a miscarriage was imminent, but somehow, miraculously, they delivered perfectly healthy babies. I just couldn't help asking God, "Where were MY miracles?!"

You see, I wanted each of my babies more than life itself. I knew each time I was pregnant that I was pregnant even before I had the proof. I began rubbing my belly immediately and nicknamed each baby. I grew up knowing I would teach (have the career) and be a Mommy. And be the wife of a Pastor. By the time I was pregnant with James Isaac, two of those dreams had come true. The third was about to. God was so good. I knew He was making the third come to fruition. I didn't have the American Dream; I had my God Dream--my God Miracle.

And then I didn't.

And my life was turned upside down and it has never been turned upside right since. In fact, it has been topsy-turvy ever since and all I want is off this roller-coaster. But yet if I get off the roller-coaster, it would mean forgetting my babies, so I here I must stay.

What I must do is begin to remember the miracles God did perform. The miracles I did get from God. It won't get me off the roller-coaster, but it will remind me that God is still in the business of being Awesome and that even if I didn't get the Miracles I wanted, He still performed amazing Miracles in my life that I need to remember. 

So here are just a few of the wonderful Miracles of God in my life, in no particular order:

  • My salvation: I became a Believer at the tender age of about 3 or 4 years old. I'm not sure which it was, but I know I was very young. I know a lot of people have trouble with young children's acceptance of Jesus into their hearts because they don't always know what they're doing, but I was quite precocious--if you'll allow me to say so about myself. I knew that I loved Jesus and I gave Him my heart then and I have never wanted to take it back. Have I been perfect in my faith? Of course not. But I have done my best to serve Him with all my heart, all my soul, all my mind, and all my strength ever since I was a very little girl.
  • Dr. Steven Merta: the doctor who delivered James Isaac and Samuel and who was there with me through each of my miscarriages. I can't even begin to explain to you what a comfort he was and has been for me then and now. He was an angel God sent to take extra special care of me. Dr. Merta made sure that I was in as little pain as possible during James Isaac's delivery and that I slept through as much of the labor as possible. (Yes, I had to deliver James Isaac naturally even though we already knew he was gone.) When we first saw on the monitor that there wasn't a heartbeat, I cried to Dr. Merta, "You fix it." He didn't get upset; he just patted my shoulder and told me he would if he could. He is the one who reminded us to call home and back then, there weren't cell phones, so we had to call long distance on the office phone; he told us not to worry about it. While I was in labor and sleeping, he even visited with my family. I remember waking up and hearing him chatting with them. I found that to be a huge a comfort. I can't explain why. It just was. After James Isaac was delivered, Dr. Merta immediately laid him on my chest and let me hold him for as long as I wanted. He just took care of me. Dr. Merta even came to our funeral. I'd never heard of a doctor doing that. It meant the world to me that he came. And he was with me for each of my miscarriages. He took care of me each time. When Samuel was born, my heart rate shot through the roof and while all the nurses and everyone else around me went a little nuts, he calmly and coolly delivered Samuel and just took care of us. He was an angel.
  • During my first ultrasound with James Isaac, the doctor found a cyst on my left ovary. When I went in just a few weeks later, the cyst had grown a centimeter a week. Concerned that there wouldn't be enough room for both the baby and the cyst at the rate the cyst was growing, I had surgery during my 20th week of pregnancy--between Thanksgiving and Christmas in 1998. I had to be awake for the safety of both Mom and James Isaac. My doctor's name was Dr. Caparossi--another angel sent by God. He had to remove my left ovary and fallopian tube, but everything was healthy otherwise. (Yes, I do wonder why we didn't take James Isaac then. But the surgery was a success; all was well and the longer he "percolated" in my belly, the safer it was for him. How were we to know what would happen just 18 weeks later?)
  • When we first got to the hospital to deliver James Isaac, my nurse was the wife of one of the doctors in the practice with Dr. Merta and her name was Angel.
  • When Dad answered the phone when I called home to tell them, he knew and all I had to say was, "Daddy."
  • ALL of my students at the time came to the funeral. *My heart.*
  • My family has always been there for me.
  • The fact that I have had Laughter in my life at all even after having a stillbirth and 2 miscarriages.
  • Tears.
  • David and Phyllis Watson: James' brother David also came when they heard we'd lost our James Isaac. Phyllis had lost a baby, too, many years prior. Our loss was her loss; she had loved our James Isaac, too. They went with us to the funeral when we went to make arrangements. We had been told that it was "free." Once everything was set, the funeral director said, "That'll be $100." James and I just looked at him blankly. David stepped forward with the $100 and told us it was a gift. *My heart.*
  • When I left the job I'd been at when I lost James Isaac and Panya Ruth, God provided the next job practically immediately.
  • During my quiet time with Him one day, He called me His "Joy Song"
  • My Mom--there are no words, but she has been another angel who has let me cry and who has listened to a LOT
  • Katie, my sister, who has called and who has sat on the other end of the phone and just listened to me cry
  • Songs that have come on the radio or across my Facebook at exactly the moment I needed to hear them
  • Every single Hug I have ever received
  • I haven't killed myself. There was this one day, in particular when I was driving in the parking lot on campus and I started to speed up towards one of the lamp posts. I didn't slow down, but yet here I am.
  • When it was time to deliver Samuel, my heart rate went up to over 200 beats/minute. My wonderful cousin Robin Hodge who has been a neonatal nurse all her adult life was in the birthing room with me (mom made her after what had happened with James Isaac) and noticed the irregular heartbeat. Things got pretty "hairy"--to say the least, during Samuel's delivery. I was pretty out of it, what with the drugs I was allowed to have because, yes, I was too scared not to go through that experience without them. I desperately wanted to have Samuel naturally. You see, I'd had to deliver James Isaac naturally even though he was already gone. It was very important to me to deliver this son naturally, as well. Please don't make me say the words as to why. I just can't do it right now. But Dr. Merta was prepping the operating room for an emergency c-section because of what was going on with my heart. He checked my progress one last time before wheeling my bed down the hall and made the declaration that it was too late. I was just lucid enough to be aware and relieved and ready to push and do whatever he told me to do. Within minutes. my Rainbow Baby, my Miracle--my Sunshine--my Precious, was in my arms against my breast, breathing, crying, warm, and oh, so wonderful. He was HERE. And, like Hannah, God had answered my prayer. He was my Samuel.
  • My massage therapist.
  • I haven't killed or hurt someone else. (I won't name names.)
  • Our trip to Disney World. (Thank you, Katie.)
  • Fairhaven Ministries. They even told me to come when I told them I didn't have any money.
  • Samuel's joyous laughter.
  • Samuel's cuddles.
  • Samuel.
  • Cardinals. God has sent cardinals to remind me of His Son and His goodness just when I needed them, every time.
  • Sunflowers. I love sunflowers. They are another reminder of God and His Son and JOY.
  • I survived Mona. (Don't ask.)
  • When I miscarried Anna Rose, someone with whom I had a prior connection came and held me--even though I was on the toilet (sorry, Katie) while I screamed and cried.
  • Our finances.
  • I'm still here. I'm alive. When I was in the hospital in 2009, I seriously almost died. James has told me numerous times that he saw Death in that hospital room. I saw Demons. I also saw Angels fighting those demons for my life. Guess who won?! (For those of you who don't know, I had a severe diverticulitis flare-up/infection. I was in the hospital for a week while they tried to deal with the infection with meds but finally had to do emergency surgery. I had to wear a bag for three months; after three months, Dr. Cox (another angel, btw) reversed the previous surgery and removed 8 inches of colon.) 
  • When I was about three years old (or somewhere in there), I almost drowned. Kenny, my brother, and I had been dipping our toes in the water while the pool refilled and I slipped and went in. Dad had been mowing and came flying from the other end of the pool and saved my life. 
  • When I was a teenager, I choked on a piece of meat. My brother Kenny had to give me the Heimlich to save my life.
  • About 45 days before my wedding 25 years ago, I was in a car accident that rolled my car several times. If I hadn't been so short, I would not have walked away from that accident.
  • His High Places Ministries. I went for a week-long session, expecting God to move and Boy, Howdy, did He!!! Praise the Lord!!!
I may not have received the miracles I wanted, but God has performed many wonderful miracles in my life. I haven't even named the so-called "little" miracles!

What about you? What are some of the wonderful miracles of God in your life?