Every time I try to type, I feel as if God is

whispering, "Shhhhhhh.....listen, don't speak."


Wondering what He's wanting me to hear today.

JOHN 10:27

My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me.

Praying you are listening too,


Get Well Notes, a Sympathy Card, and a Banana.........

These are things I was grabbing as I was running out the door this morning.

Two friends are sick.

One has lost her husband this week.

And I'd better eat a little something, so I can make it until lunch.

But I couldn't just grab these things and run, because I love you.

And saying, "Good Morning," is such a part of my routine that stopping to simply click a little morning message to you seemed as natural as trying to find my purse (which sadly is a morning routine too).

I took Benadryl before hopping in bed last night, because I have been dealing with some allergy issues lately.

I think the deep sleep caused me to keep pushing "snooze" on my alarm clock until I heard Maria from the living room saying, "Tammy, should you be up now?"

Yes, it's been one of those down-to-the-wire mornings, and I need to be on my way.

But, I just had to say, "I love you" and "I'm praying for you as I head out the door and drive to work."

Praying that your day is filled with beautiful moments where you are know God is right there with you.

May you find a penny just when you need to know He cares.

May the sunrise catch your eye in a new and beautiful way.

God is with you today, and I'm praying that just knowing that is enough for you to face today with confidence and hope!

You are loved!

We Will Rest...One Way or Another....

I'm sure that what I read this morning can be interpreted lots of different ways, and I'm sure that if I had time to dig deeper I may not read the verses below in the same way.

However, as I was doing my reading this morning, there was something about Lev. 26:33-35 that caused me to stop and reread it several times.

I found the whole concept of God demanding that the land be "given rest" every seven years very similar to Him telling the Israelites to rest one day a week.

And I found His promise regarding what would happen if they did not give the land the rest it deserved very interesting.

Listen to what He said would happen if they did not obey Him,

Your land will be laid waste, and

your cities will lie in ruins.

Then the land will enjoy its sabbath

years all the time that it lies

desolate and you are in the country

of your enemies;

then the land will rest and enjoy its


All the time that it lies desolate, the

land will have the rest it did not

have during the sabbaths you lived

in it.

Leviticus 26:33-35

Does anyone else find the use of words like "desolate, ruins, rest, and enjoy" a kind-of strange combination?

I've often heard that God's ways are opposite of man's ways, and that things like

"the first shall be last" and "the meek inheriting the earth" are perfect examples of God's view of what He sees as important.

So, it makes sense to me that He would see a time of desolation and ruin as a perfect opportunity for rest and relaxation.

What else would there be to do in a city, lying in rubble, that seemed to no longer have a purpose?

Maybe you're at a place in life where things seem desolate.

Maybe you feel that what you once had now lies in ruins.

Maybe you are extremely ill and there is nothing else to do but work on getting better.

I just felt this morning as if God was saying, "now is your chance to rest."

Enjoy this time of uncertainty as a time to regroup and restructure the tired you.

I've had plenty of seasons of ruin and desolation.

I find myself slipping in and out of them from time to time, and I don't like the feelings that I have when I am there.

But there is a sense of beauty in a season when God says, "REST."

I love that He didn't forsake the land, He simply gave it an opportunity to be restored.

I'm praying for you this morning as I get ready for school.

Praying that no matter what season you are in this morning, you will know without a shadow of a doubt that God, the season creator, is with you in a powerful way.

He is not surprised by your condition today.

He is not surprised by what is coming tomorrow or next week or next year.......

He goes ahead of you, smoothing rough roads.

Lean on Him today,



I have a story in the newest Chicken Soup for the Soul which will be released in mid-March.

This particular story is one I wrote through tear-filled eyes as I shared about the season of life with Nick when I was called to be "more than a mom."

family caregivers

I have two copies of this particular book to give away!

I hope in some small way the stories in this book, shared by men and women who have walked difficult roads with family members, will bring comfort and strength to others who are on similar journeys.

Please leave a comment below sharing your name and email address if you would like to be entered in this drawing.

Give-Away Winner!
The winner of the book


New Research on What America's
Sexual Culture Does to Young



Please email your address to,

so that I can let Moody Publishers know!

Tonight, I will be announcing my NEXT GIVE-AWAY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Crucial Conversations......

Tim used a book in class this past semester entitled, Crucial Conversations:  Tools for Talking When the Stakes are High.

The book is sitting here next to me on the couch, and after many weeks of hearing of what an "amazing" book this is, I guess I'm going to step out and read a business class textbook.

I'm not a business woman, so I probably won't be sitting in a board room involved in a big debate over assets and liabilities.

But I do believe God has called me (and you) to talk about some crucial issues in the days to come.

It's no secret that our world is in a not-so-good place.

If you think about it, Christians should be having crucial conversations every day.

After all, the stakes are high in this thing called "life."

I sometimes sit in teacher's meeting and as the presenter goes on and on about formative assessments and summative assessments and differentiation and all kinds of other teaching strategies, I feel my mind drifting to things like "In a hundred years, how much of this will matter?"

After all, I won't be around in 100 years and chances are, if you are reading this in 2012, you won't be either.

So, whatever strategy I'm using to try to get a student to read more proficiently is really just a temporary strategy to help them in a temporary world.

How do we get to a place where the conversations we are participating in are "crucial?"



Those are the conversations in which I want to be engaged, and yet they are often difficult to begin.

I'll let you know what I learn, because I believe Christians all over the world are being called to have crucial conversations daily.


II Tim. 4:2

Preach the Word; be prepared in season and out of season;

correct, rebuke and encourage-with great patience and careful instruction.

Unholy Fire and Skin Diseases...........

Have you ever found yourself needing direction?  Longing for a Providential sign?

I seem to reach crossroads time and time again in life where I find myself sitting and waiting.

Waiting for God to show up and say something profound like, "Tammy, do this, or Tammy, do that."

So I pray, I plead, and I read His Word.

And sometimes I get hints of direction.

Sometimes, I even get a clear Word that leaves me in goose bumps, certain that God has made very clear what He would have me do next.

Yet, other times I read, longing for an answer, and I find stories of mysterious things like Nadab and Abihu bringing an unholy fire before God and being swallowed up in a blaze.

Or I read verses and verses of what to do when an Israelite has a skin infection, and I find myself looking up and longing to know why these Words were recorded for all mankind to read.

Surely they matter or they wouldn't be included.

Surely there's something buried in these words that I need to hear today.

So what is it, Lord?

What are you saying today?

Here's what I'm hearing and taking from my reading this morning,

"God is Holy."

That's the message.

Unholy fire was unacceptable from Nadab and Abihu.

Diseases of any kind were cause for separation from the Israelite tribe.

God is Holy and Perfect, and He demanded holy sacrifices and clean people.........even in the wilderness.

I sometimes feel as if I'm in the wilderness.

Do you?

Sort-of in a wandering state, knowing there's "something better" coming.

Maybe it's something better here on earth, and maybe it's just the reality that the real "something better" may not occur until we stand face to face with our Savior.

Either way, it's coming!

And we know without a shadow of a doubt that the road we're on is leading us there - just like the Israelites knew the Promised Land was out there, somewhere ahead of them, and they were on their way!

But until they got there, it was clear that God had some heavy expectations.

Holy fire.  Acceptable worship.

Clean lives.  Separation from things that could defile them.

I'm still processing the depth of these words this morning, but I think I'm on to something today.

God is Holy.

That's it.

Whether He chooses to make an answer clear to me or not today or tomorrow or the next day, He wants me to know this......He's Holy.

And if I am His, I must come to Him with holy fire and a clean heart.

No jumping ahead with my own fire, my own authority, my own motives, and my imperfections............

God is Holy.

For today, that is more than enough for me to know.

What Happens When Life Shatters......

Wrapped in frail and molded glass, edges scalloped so,

Light has such an easy task of casting a soft glow.

olivia and light 0910091

But what happens when life shatters,

breaking promises and dreams?

How do we bounce back

from the devil's wicked schemes? olivia and light 0880088

From every angle, it is clear---

olivia and light 0890089

What we once had is gone.olivia and light 0940094

It doesn't take a well-trained eye

to see we're barely hanging on.

olivia and light 0970097

And as we try to make some sense of all our loss and pain,

We realize that our light is shining brightly just the same.


And maybe in some special way

our glow seems much more bright,

When the wrappings of this world are gone

and all we have is



So, if you're barely hanging on,

and dreams have seemed to shatter....

Know that you are not alone

And to His heart you matter.


Keep burning for Him through your tears,

Keep lighting up the way.

He promises that joy will come

again to you one day.


And as you shine through brokenness, you're lighting up the road,

For others who have felt great loss or carry a tough load.


So what happens when life shatters?

Let me tell you what I think,

I think we find out what's beneath the pretty outside shell,

Deep inside our inner self ---

Who does really dwell?


(Special thanks to Olivia for tossing her blanket over the couch in such a way that the light globe accidentally shattered without harming the bulb.)

My Wish for Your Monday..........

Wherever today leads you, I hope your journey is filled with peace.

That's what I'm focusing on today.

A peaceful journey.

For you.

And for me.

Now may the Lord of peace himself give you peace at all times in all ways. The Lord be with you all.

II Thess. 3:16

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him, so that you may overflow with Hope by the power of the Holy Spirit

Romans. 15:13

Friday Give-Away!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Having raised four boys and now trying to successfully swim through the unchartered waters of raising a teenage daughter, I was overjoyed when asked to review this new book by two obstetrician/gynecologists, Dr. JOE S. McILHANEY and DR. FREDA BUSH.

 Girls Uncovered:

New Research on What America's

Sexual Culture Does to Young


book girls uncovered

In this book you will find startling statistics balanced with empowering strategies for raising your daughter to become the independent and pure young woman you desire her to be.

Truthfully, I believe ministers, teachers, grandparents, counselors, and doctors should read this book as well.  The insights into "why" kids are doing what they are doing and "how" we can help them change these behaviors are beneficial to anyone who encounters teenage girls in a role of influence.  There's even a chapter written specifically to girls from the authors.

We live in an era when "anything goes" and kids are being influenced by their peers to believe that they have the "right" to do anything they want.

As a teacher, I see a lot of students every day who are amazing young adults.  I also see a lot of students who are lonely, insecure, and starving for good parental guidance.

Sometimes the task at hand seems overwhelming.  This book uncovers the truth about this particular generation's view of sexual relationships using statistics and stories the authors have gathered from research as well as many years of seeing women in their offices.

Teenage girls need the covering of healthy adult relationships in order to become the strong, healthy, independent women we long for them to be.

In this book you will find facts, resources, and techniques for becoming a parent or other adult-of-influence who can triumphantly meet the needs of a generation of teenage girls who desperately long for help, support, direction, and love.

Please post a comment below if you would like to be entered in the drawing for a copy of this book Girls Uncovered.  If you do not win, I highly recommend purchasing a copy of this book so that together we can help a struggling generation of young women.  I will have the drawing next Wednesday evening and post the winner by Thursday!

Desert or Ocean? Does it really matter?

We were watching a clip from a survival video the other day in class that correlated with an article we were about to read.

In the clip, a man was retelling of his 76 - day experience of being lost at sea on an inflatable raft after his handmade boat had sunk.

In the video he made the comment that, "Ironically, the ocean is the world's largest water to drink and no trees to shade you from the beating sun."

We had a conversation in class about which would be worse, to be lost at sea or to be lost in a desert.

Students overall seemed to lean toward being lost in the desert, because the idea of drowning or being eaten by a shark on top of the lack of water and beating sun seemed worse to them.

We then read the story of this man's survival using a contraption that heated the salt water enough to remove the salt, so he could avoid dehydration, and how his determination and positive attitude kept him alive throughout the 76-day nightmare.  You can read more of his story by Googling his name, Stephen Callahan.


As I reflected on that one quote from the video which compared the ocean to the desert, I realized that once again God gave us a message in the mystery of creation.

No matter where you find yourself in life, in the wilderness or the open sea, surviving alone is difficult.

We can learn from the times in our life when everything around us seems to be barren and dry; and we can learn from the times in life when we are surrounded by waters teeming with life.  In both places, there is potential for death and there is potential for life. 

Jesus overcame temptation in the wilderness.

And Jesus slept on and then calmed a raging sea.

Today, there are parts of my life that have a "wilderness" feel to them.  There are other parts that seem to lean more towards raging-sea experiences.

I am so thankful that Jesus came and experienced both the desert and the ocean and was victorious.

This gives me hope that I can do the same.

You can too!

What do we need to survive our wilderness and open sea experiences?

A positive attitude!

I can do all things through him who strengthens me.

Phil. 4:13

And determination!

I don't mean to say that I have already achieved these things or
that I have already reached perfection.
But I press on to possess that perfection
for which Christ Jesus first possessed me.

Phil. 3:12

When You Can't Sleep........

Olivia woke up with a horrible sore throat.

The early morning realization that today is going to include a doctor's appointment along with an after-school teacher's meeting and a restructuring of my seating chart in every class because of multiple schedule changes yesterday left me with eyes wide open and a chest feeling a bit heavy.

I decided to get up early instead of fighting the reality that my mind was too awake for another hour of rest.

As I slipped downstairs at 4:30 to make coffee and read for a bit, I was reminded of yesterday morning's little message from God that gave me strength.

Just remembering it again, made me smile.

Yesterday morning as I was driving up the hill to the high school where I teach, I was having one of those "I really needed a snow day; my schedule is overwhelming this trimester; I don't know if I can do this" kind-of beginnings to a day. On KLOVE they were playing a song that really caught my attention, so I was listening with a little more interest in the lyrics. The chorus kept repeating, "glory, and honor, and power to Him Who sits on the throne." As I tapped my steering wheel and did a little "out loud" power talking to God, claiming His power and asking Him to reveal His glory, I felt as if the Holy Spirit placed the verse in my head that says, "we are more than conquerors." I kept listening to the song and thinking, "Yes, my Father sits on the throne; and glory, and honor, and power are His.......because of this truth, I am more than a conqueror.....I can do this today." My whole mindset changed. I had such a moment of personal revival that I found myself OVERWHELMED with a feeling of victory. All day, I claimed this promise, and I made it through the day! I know that this supernatural strength and Providential promise are available and true every single day, but...........

I found myself sitting here this morning with my mind weighed down by Olivia's illness, my new trimester schedule, early-morning cafeteria duty followed by early-morning backpack-checking duty, a teacher's meeting during my only planning period, and an after-school meeting with literacy specialists from Frankfort..........

Then I opened my Bible.

Yes, I opened my Bible and once again God showed me something that reminded me that even when I feel burdened He has a plan.

In my chronological reading, I am in the book of Numbers.

God is instructing Moses on how to set up the tabernacle.

Read what happens in Numbers 7:

When Moses finished setting up the tabernacle, he anointed it and consecrated it and all its furnishings. He also anointed and consecrated the altar and all its utensils. Then the leaders of Israel, the heads of families who were the tribal leaders in charge of those who were counted, made offerings. They brought as their gifts before the LORD six covered carts and twelve oxen-an ox from each leader and a cart from every two. These they presented before the tabernacle.

The LORD said to Moses, "Accept these from them, that they may be used in the work at the Tent of Meeting. Give them to the Levites as each man's work requires."

So Moses took the carts and oxen and gave them to the Levites. He gave two carts and four oxen to the Gershonites, as their work required, and he gave four carts and eight oxen to the Merarites, as their work required. They were all under the direction of Ithamar son of Aaron, the priest. But Moses did not give any to the Kohathites, because they were to carry on their shoulders the holy things, for which they were responsible. When the altar was anointed, the leaders brought their offerings for its dedication and presented them before the altar.

I've read this passage every year for the past four years (since Nick died I have made a personal commitment to reading through the Bible every year until I get to Heaven or until my eyes stop working), but I had never been stopped in my tracks while reading about the anointing and consecrating of the tabernacle furnishings.

No, this morning, the Holy Spirit grabbed my attention as I felt as if He were saying to me, "Tammy, look at the Kohathites. They were given NOTHING from Moses after the leaders presented their gifts to the Lord." God had specifically said, "Give them (the carts and oxen) to the Levites as each man's work requires." So Moses turned around and gave two carts and four oxen to the Gershonites, four carts and eight oxen to the Merarites, and none to the Kohathites.


Scripture gives this reason, "Because the Kohathites were to carry on their shoulders the holy things, for which they were responsible."

I wonder if there was any murmuring among this group as they saw the gifts handed out by Moses.

To be honest, there were exactly enough carts and oxen to be divided equally between all three of these groups, yet Moses specifically gave one group twice as many as another and left the Kohathites to carry the holy things entrusted to them on their shoulders.

I want to dig deeper into this part of Numbers when I have more time, but for today, it's enough for me to know this,

God isn't surprised by what I'm carrying on my shoulders today.

He's also not surprised by what you're carrying on yours.

Could it be that God has asked us, much like the Kohathites, to carry some holy things for Him?

Our families, our callings, our gifts...............

I know that today is not going to be easy, but I'm just guessing that the Kohathites may have been tempted to look around and see some unfair use of carts and oxen by other Levites as a reason to complain until they looked up on their shoulders and remembered that God had entrusted them with "holy things."

I opened my Facebook after reading this passage and had an inbox message from a girl who I had 6 years ago in 6th grade. She is now a senior at a school in another district and wondered if I remembered her. She said she needed to talk. She asked if I could help her decide about a career choice she is considering. I remember this sweet girl so clearly. She was such a special student to have in class.

Holy things.

God reminded me this morning that the burden I feel on my shoulders is a privilege and an honor.

Olivia and my students........

He has entrusted me to carry them today.

So, with a deep breath, a smile, and the refusal to look around at who might be getting the help of a cart or an ox, I will do my tasks with the spirit of a Kohathite.

I think I will be writing these words on a dry erase board by my desk.

As a Kohathite carried holy things on his shoulders, I will carry my family and my students on mine.

Thankful today for the weight on my shoulders and thankful I could not sleep........I now have a little extra time to get some things done for my "holy things."

What is burdening you today? Is something causing you not to sleep well?

Family, work, grief, loneliness, illness?

Could it be that God has asked you to carry some holy things for His glory?

Happy Valentine's Day and Grace........

When one of my friends is hurting, it is easy for me to become emotionally involved in their pain.

I listen with all of my heart, but part of me wants to "fix" their problems; and when I can't, it's extremely difficult for me.

Last night, I was sharing with Tim about a specific friend's problems, and I found myself saying some unkind things about another person who was involved in my friends' heartache....things that were judgmental and definitely not covered in grace or mercy.

Tim listened and then said, "Wow, I won't be reading any of your words on grace and mercy again and believing them."

I tried to defend myself; but deep inside I knew he was right.

I was a hypocrite.

The hurt placed on my friend was causing me to question someone else's motive and actions without hearing both sides of the story and without seeing the whole situation from God's perspective.

Part of me wanted to tell Tim to just quit reading my words; because truly, I want to be a person filled with grace and mercy.

But the big-girl part of me knew that I was not living what I believed.

So, I finally looked at Tim, after trying several different ways to justify my words, and said, "Well, I want to be full of grace and mercy, but I'm not there yet."

Thankfully, he replied, "Neither am I."

If we're honest with ourselves, I think we'll all admit that in this life we will struggle from time to time with the grace and mercy God longs for us to have for others.

I'm so glad, God doesn't struggle in this area or I would be doomed.

Read this promise about how much God loves each of us.

How great is the love the Father has lavished on us,

that we should be called children of God!

And that is what we are!

The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him.

Dear friends, now we are children of God,

and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when he appears,

we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is.

Everyone who has this hope in him purifies himself, just as he is pure.

I John 3:1-3


God loves us so much that when we place our hope in Him, He purifies us!


Makes clean!


Covers us with grace and mercy!

I am so thankful to be washed in His lavish love, and I am so thankful for a husband who holds me accountable for my inconsistencies!

I want to live the life I write.

I want to write the life I live.

Today is Valentine's Day, and my heart's desire is for each of you to know that God loves you with a "lavishing love!"

So much love that He calls you His child!

One day He will appear. and we will be like Him and see Him as He is!

Place your hope in this promise and be purified today just as He is pure.

What a Valentine's gift He offers if we will only accept!

The Only Option That Really Works............

Psalm 119:147

I rise before dawn and cry for help;

I have put my hope in your Word.

This verse became a morning prayer for me several years ago,

and I still cling to it today.

I woke this morning, feeling anxious about a new trimester at school.

New students in all my classes.

Large classes almost every period.....30, 31, 32 students in my three largest.

22 and 28 in my other two.

140 lives will intersect with mine today, and honestly, I'm still half awake sipping coffee, knowing that before one of them enters my room there are several things I HAVE to get accomplished.

Printing lesson plans in the library,

placing Post-it notes on desks to make my seating chart easier for them to figure out,

getting standards posted on my board and bell work ready for them to complete.

Yes, the whole morning routine makes my chest cave in today; yet I know one thing that covers all of this in a sort of cozy blanket like the one I am curled up in this morning.


I don't have to hope my classes are well-behaved.

I don't have to hope my lesson plans print out okay,

or my bell work is ready to go, or my standards meet state expectations.

NO!  I will do my best at all of these earthly things, but MY HOPE IS IN HIS WORD.

So,this morning as I think about my day and reflect on God's promise to never leave me or forsake, I feel so much better.

Then I think of several of my friends I have talked to or spent time with this weekend, and I know that without the hope of God's Word their lives would be overwhelming too.

Marriage problems, custody issues, grandchildren facing the consequences of drug use, financial stress, health issues.......

so many of my friends are going through tough seasons and while I can listen and pray for them, I cannot fix anything for them.

"What can I do?"

That's what I ask myself so many times as I hang up the phone or come home from a visit with one of them or spend some time texting with them.

Sometimes praying for them seems like such an easy way out.

I don't want to be a friend who takes the easy road.

But deep inside I know that God is the only One who has the power to work in ALL situations.

I know that right now the biggest hurdle for each of my friends is facing today.

Facing what's next.

Facing it with courage and with hope.

So, my prayer for each of them this morning is that they will rise before dawn and put their hope in Him!

Today, what are you facing that seems insurmountable.

I'll be walking from my house in about an hour and 15 minutes, getting in my car, taking Olivia to her school, and then venturing to my classroom to begin another week of teaching.

This past Friday, one of my classes who I was saying "bye" to said, "Can we take a picture for a memory?"

Here's part of my daily crew!

fifth period class

Praying for all of you as you head out into whatever your Monday holds.

Cling to this verse.

Have hope!

Psalm 119:147

I rise before dawn and cry for help;

I have put my hope in your Word.

The Good News About Falling.........

I'm thankful the forecast for snow is arriving on a Friday evening.

Even though snow tonight won't bring a snow day, I am so excited about seeing a white blanket across our yard; and truthfully, I'm relieved that I won't have a reason to get out and walk on it!!

The thought of slipping in the snow is not sounding too attractive this morning as the impact of my fall yesterday morning is settling into my body.

Sometimes recovering from a fall takes time.

For today, I just feel compelled to say this:

Be easy on yourself if you are in a valley, feeling down and discouraged.

We live in a society where things move quickly.  Technology has driven us to do more with less time and give the allusion that we can multi-task simply because computers can.

I don't know about you, but my mind is still a simple processor of information.

I get overloaded quickly.

I feel the pressure of this world's expectations and sometimes I fall into a pit of anxiety and stress.

I'm human and so are you.

I think back to the days of "Little House on the Prairie" and the simple evening dinners by candlelight.  I visualize Laura and Mary climbing up to their loft to go to bed, laying under their quilt and talking about their day without the need for cell phones or laptops, and I think, NO WONDERED KIDS TODAY SEEM SO TIRED, SO BOGGED DOWN, SO OVERLY-INVOLVED IN THE LIVES OF EVERYONE AROUND THEM.

Falling into a pit seems easy these days.

I had several girls in tears at school yesterday, and I hurt for them.

How do we help this generation?

Falling yesterday morning in my laundry room was no fun, but in some ways, I am thankful for the reminder that this world is hurting because we are a fallen people.

Romans 3 says "we have all sinned and fall short of God's glory."

This reality can leave us in a life of pain if we don't read the whole verse.

Right before this news about our state of falling short, Paul tells us that our "righteousness comes from God through Jesus Christ.....TO ALL WHO BELIEVE."

Today, I am praying that you will allow your belief in Jesus to lift you out of your fallen state and then cause you to want to help those around you.

We are surrounded every day by a world who NEEDS TO KNOW THAT THERE IS MORE TO THIS WORLD THAN THIS WORLD!

Let's all determine to share this great news today so that others who fall can have the same hope we do!

I love you all so much.

Winners of Chicken Soup for the Soul: Messages From Heaven!

Well, I've slept most of the evening since getting home from school.  Still battling a headache and backache, I'm trying to take it easy, and I am so thankful that tomorrow is Friday!!

The kids were sweet all day long at school, making sure I felt okay and trying not to laugh too much at the thought of Mrs. Nischan "going down" in doggy potty!

I wanted to post the winners of the Chicken Soup for the Soul drawing before heading to bed.

Every time I have a give-away, I feel so sad that everyone cannot win.

If I had enough copies, I would love to mail every single one of you your very own!

I know you can order it from Amazon by clicking HERE.  I do not receive royalties from your purchase, so I don't want you to think I am pushing the book for personal gain.  I do believe the book will inspire all of you who are missing loved ones, longing for Hope in the next life, and wanting to hear stories of God's miraculous way of bringing peace to those who are hurting.

I will be having a give-away soon for the next Chicken Soup for the Soul in which I have a story.  This book will be released in about a month, and it is primarily for people who find themselves in the role of family caregiver.  I hope it helps many who are walking a similar road to the one we walked with Nick.  I'll let you know when I receive my copies of this book!

Congratulations to this week's winners:

Christine Adams

Shelli Waldridge



Please email me your address, so I can get your copy to you!

My email address is:

Thank you for your prayers and kind words today.

Praying for you all as I head to bed,

When You Fall...........

If I tried to write about anything else this morning, I would definitely be pretending that what just happened didn't......but it did.

Every morning, I get up and take the puppies from their nighttime cage to the back room where the puppy pads are located.

Then I make coffee, straighten up a few things in the kitchen, check the status of laundry from the night before, and then come down to the family room to read and write to all of you.

This morning I made it to the laundry room, but as I walking through the room in the dark headed to the half bath, I didn't realize that either Peppy or Snoopy, who are getting so old and are just starting to have accidents from time to time, had not made it outside to potty.  My bare feet hit their accident unknowingly, and honestly, I haven't fallen like this since I was a little girl.  Before I could even take another breath, I was on the floor, legs split apart, knee hitting one door frame as my head slammed into the other.  In a state of almost shock, I managed to get up and turn on a light and process what had happened.  After cleaning the floor while hurting literally from head to toe, I took some ibuprofen and am now feeling the reality of what happened.  I think I twisted my back somehow.  My wrist is throbbing.  I have a knot raising beside my right eye, and I have a pump knot coming up on my knee......and two of my toes hurt (they must have curled under in the fall).

Part of me wants to cry, but another part of me knows that slipping in dog potty is anything but a somber event.  Honestly, who slips in dog potty at 5:30 in the morning in their laundry room?

I think I'd rather say I went roller skating last night and took a tumble on the rink, or I was shingling a patch in our roof and my foot slipped and I fell to the ground.

Surely there's a more noble way to explain my pain and the obvious swellings that are just now surfacing.  It hurts to blink, so I don't think I'm going to be able to hide the truth of my morning from my students.

Maybe they can just prop me up in a chair and read silently, although I don't see that happening.........

So I'm going to have to rise above this fall somehow, and I can't help but think of last night when I overreacted in a situation with Tim and said unkind words right after watching the movie Courageous at church and truly left him feeling defeated.

Yep, I fell twice in the last 24 hours.

Once emotionally.

Once physically.

I'm pretty sure that the pain I'm feeling in my body this morning  may have been a Providential plan to make me fess up.

Sometimes I really hate blogging, and if you're not a blogger you're probably thinking, "Why in the world do you blog?  And why would you share such personal things in a public forum?"

And here's the truth:

When I started blogging over four years ago, I really needed an outlet for my journey with Nick.  I had been emailing such a large number of prayer warriors for two years, and I was starting to think, "Some people may be tired of seeing my name in their inbox."  So, I thought a blog would be a way for people to "choose" whether or not they wanted to know what was going on with Nick and with our family rather than forcing my way into their home.

Now, I can't stop.

I have fallen in love with all of you; and in a way, you have all become my accountability partners, my prayer warriors, my friends.

And to sit here this morning and type without sharing the unbelievable reality of the aches moving through my body and my heart would be deceptive and wrong.

If I am going to continue blogging, I have to be true to you and to myself.

I fall.

Sometimes in potty.

Sometimes in my marriage.

Sometimes as a mom.

I fall hard.

I hurt myself, and I hurt others.

It's sometimes potty is not pretty.

But it happens.

And what do I do?

I get up.

What else can I do?

I thought about just sitting there until someone found me, but at 5:30 a.m. I may have been sitting there a while in the dark.

Have you fallen lately?

Are you hurting from something you have done?

Get up.

Take care of what you can.

And share your pain with someone who can help you.

I'm going to venture to the shower.  I'll probably take another look in the mirror on the way, because my right eye definitely feels swollen.

Sometimes we just can't hide our pain.

I'm pretty sure Tim is going to laugh and feel some sort of poetic justice has been served when I share my morning story.

Sometimes falling can humble us like nothing else can.

With a deep breath, I leave you with you this Scripture promise that brings me hope this morning,

The LORD upholds all those who fall and lifts up all who are bowed down

Psalm 145:14

What I Learned When I Read On..........

A friend shared a verse with me not long ago, and I loved it!

Exodus 14:14

The LORD will fight for you; you need only to be still.

A few weeks later, I was at an event where this was the favorite verse of someone who was being introduced.

I smiled and thought, "I love that verse too!"

Then yesterday, I was reading in Exodus and almost laughed out loud when I read the next verse in this same chapter. I had been clinging to the thought of simply "being still" and allowing God to "fight for me" without reading on in this same story.

The Israelites were being pursued by the Egyptians and had reached the Red Sea.

They saw no way out of their predicament.

Raging water on one side.

Enemies on the other.

They began crying out to God and to Moses, and Moses was trying to comfort them with the words above.

It was as if Moses was saying, "Relax, God has everything under control. Trust Him."

And then as soon as he makes this proclamation, listen to what God says to him in verse 15,

Then the LORD said to Moses, "Why are you crying out to me? Tell the Israelites to move on.

Raise your staff and stretch out your hand over the sea to divide the water so that the Israelites can go through the sea on dry ground.

Sometimes, I think our human nature wants to just give people advice like Moses gave the Israelites, "Be still. Trust God. He'll fight for you." I've done it many times.

On one hand, this is very true. God doesn't want us rushing around, fretting, feeling like we are alone in our battles. He longs for us to lean on Him, trust Him with our future.

On the other hand, God does expect us to take some action of our own at times.

If you are in a tough spot, cry out to God.

Be still and listen.

THEN................................DO SOMETHING!

Make some decisions.

Make some changes.

Stretch out your staff and move forward.

Advancing with God takes courage.

Today, I look at Exodus 14:14 and I am strengthened. God is fighting for me.

At the same time, I look at Exodus 14:15, and I am reminded that at some point, I am going to have to take a step forward in faith.

What step do you need to make today?

Praying for all of you,

From strength to strength......

Our Internet was down all day yesterday, so I couldn't post an entry. I thought about you all day and hoped your day was a good one!

As I was thinking about last week's entries, I knew that I had not yet updated you on Erich, Mallory, and Todd; so I want to spend a couple days this week doing that.

Erich is working at Vanderbilt Hospital in Nashville as a nurse, and he loves his job. Mallory is working as a professor's assistant at Middle Tennessee State University and taking classes towards a Masters degree.

january 2012 254

We love hearing about all of their adventures, and we couldn't be happier with who Erich has chosen to spend the rest of his life. The church they attend in Nashville has been such a blessing to both of them; and as a mom, I am so thankful they have found a home away from home where they can worship and serve together. christmas 2011 394

Hugo and Phoebe are doing great too!!christmas 2011 295

As you can tell from this photo, we are never bored when Erich and Mallory come to visit!

I love thinking back on Erich's childhood and what a great big brother he was to all of his siblings.

Erich was always an outgoing kid. He never feared public opinion. I remember him proudly wearing a huge plastic Easter rabbit fastened to the front of his shirt to school in kindergarten. This rabbit was meant for a window or door, but Erich insisted on wearing it anyway.......I am going to find that picture and share it one day.

I remember a time when Erich became very sick that very same year; and we ended up in the emergency room, Erich receiving a spinal tap while I sat in the lobby with a friend holding Todd who was just a few months old. Tim stayed with Erich until the procedure was over, and we learned that Erich had spinal meningitis. It was a scary time, and I know I prayed many prayers that involved trusting Erich to God's work. So when Erich decided he was ready for a mission trip to Mexico without us at the age of 15. I was terrified, but we let him go. Now, many trips later, Erich sees life as one big mission trip.

We couldn't have made it through the last week of Nick's life without Erich's help as a nurse and big brother. Honestly, all of our kids stepped up and became helpers like I never dreamed they could be.

It seems like yesterday our house was full of five little ones running, playing, laughing.........ok, and sometimes fighting, screaming, and complaining.

There were definitely good days and not-so-good. We didn't have a perfect home, and I wish I would have been more intentional about reading the Bible with the kids at night; but I'm praying God will redeem the parts of motherhood in which I was lacking.

Mallory has risen out of a lot of suffering and illness, too, winning a battle with anaplastic anemia after a successful bone marrow transplant just a few years ago. She has definitely taken all the pain of her past and turned her life into a thing of beauty.

I was reading in Exodus this morning about the Israelites wandering in the wilderness and how they came to place where the water was bitter. They called this place Marah and turned to Moses asking, "What are we going to drink?" Moses cried out to God and was then led to a piece of wood. He threw the wood into the water, and this made the water good to drink.

God then spoke to the Israelites about how He would protect them from all the diseases that had fallen on Egypt if they would follow His decrees and do what was right in His sight.

After leaving this place of bitter water, God led the Israelites to an oasis, where they found 12 springs and 72 palm trees. They camped beside this water for a season, and I know it must have strengthened them for the next part of their time in the wilderness.

When I think of Erich and Mallory's past, I see moments of bitter water.

But, like the Israelites, I believe God has delivered them to an oasis for this season of their life; and I am thankful.

I don't know the details of their future, but Tim and I pray for them daily, trusting God to lead them every step of the way.

If you find yourself by a spring of bitter water today, know that God is a God who longs to use your bitterness to help others find their way to an oasis where the water is pure and the shade is refreshing.

A Psalm I cling to with great hope is Psalm 84:5-7,

Blessed are those whose strength is in you,
who have set their hearts on pilgrimage.

As they pass through the Valley of Baca,
they make it a place of springs;
the autumn rains also cover it with pools.

They go from strength to strength,
till each appears before God in Zion.

The Valley of Baca is a place of weeping. I love that God uses our tears to make places of springs when we put our strength in Him. I also love that it's okay to travel from "strength to strength." This phrase reminds me that in between there will be times of weakness.....but until the day we appear before God in Zion, He will keep leading us one step at time.................

from strength to strength.

That's how I make it.

That's how I walk.

I hope you walk that way too.

I love you all so very much,

Give-Away! And Maybe the Reason for Olivia's Recent Struggle.......

As we sat with Olivia Wednesday evening (my post from yesterday) and listened to her questions about God's presence in difficult times and as I held her in bed as she cried, I reminded her of the beautiful dream she had experienced just days after Nick had passed away and of the experience she had had in the hallway at her school about five months after Nick passed away.  I wanted Olivia to know that I truly believe Nick was telling her that he was doing great and that he would always be with her, cheering her on and loving her, as she walked through life without one of her big brothers.

It occurred to me that I had planned to give away three copies of the newest Chicken Soup for the Soul:  Messages from Heaven today, and that the story of Olivia and Nick at school is included in this anthology.  I wondered if perhaps the power of her story and this book is so great and so encouraging to others who have faced loss that Olivia was enduring some type of spiritual warfare as the book is being released.

I know that there are many verses in the Bible that seem mysterious and difficult to grasp, but I do believe the Words contained in this Book are true and accurate.  So, as we sat with Olivia, I was reminded of Ephesians 6:11-13 which says,

Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil's schemes.

  For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities,

against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. 

 Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes,

you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.

Eph. 6:11-13

Today, if you find yourself struggling with God and with the events of your life, I encourage you to pull out a Bible and read some of God's promises.  Read all of Ephesians 6 and find out what it means to "put on the full armor of God."  I definitely do not have all the answers for the pain we endure in this life, but I do know that one day our faith will be turned into sight and all the pain and sadness here will be washed away. 

I cling to verses like Psalm 126:5-6,

Those who sow in tears
   will reap with songs of joy.
He who goes out weeping,
   carrying seed to sow,
will return with songs of joy,
   carrying sheaves with him.

If you would like to be entered to win one of three copies of Chicken Soup for the Soul:  Messages from Heaven, please leave your name and email address in a comment box by clicking on the words "precious comments" at the bottom of this post. (Olivia and Nick's story is on page 74.)

messages from Heaven

I love you all so much.  I will announce winners next week on Wednesday evening!

Praying for you today as I get ready for school,


How Do I Love God?

It was late. I had been on the phone with Martha for over half an hour, talking, laughing, listening to her sometimes talk through tears as she lay in a hospital bed wondering what her tomorrow would hold.

My bedtime had arrived much earlier, but sometimes the things of life come before sleep.

It was one of those nights.

Olivia was on the couch next to me as I said bye to Martha. She, too, was full of late-night questions.

Her classmate Amber had a very bad day yesterday and talk of air flighting her to another hospital was the last we had heard about her worsening condition.

Oh, Olivia, our 14 year old philosopher, who honestly, could sit on the steps of any church with a group of elders and ask questions all day long. I said bye to Martha and turned to Olivia who began her inquiry,

Why does God let bad things happen to good people?

Why doesn't God just stop the devil now if He knows He's going to win in the end anyway?

I know God uses pain to help others, but what about the people who are hurting? How does it help them?

How do I love God? I know He's real, but how do I really love Him?

If something happens to Amber, what will her mom do?

If I were Amber's mom, I wouldn't want anyone trying to tell me about God.

I mean, I believe in God, but sometimes I don't know how to love Him.

The questions continued long enough for Tim to join us, and the moments of silence throughout our conversation hung in the air like the sound of laundry hanging on a line on a windless day. Stagnant, unmoving, we sat in the quiet, hoping someone would pop in with a list of all the right things to say.

As I glanced at Tim from time to time, I knew that deep inside we both have some of these same questions too.

I can't imagine muddling my way through life without God, without the Hope of Heaven, without His love.

But from an earthly perspective so much of our pain seems so unnecessary, doesn't it?

We tried to explain things to Olivia, but the sound of our answers was even bothering me. Sometimes trite, sometimes too simple.

And then, with trembling lip, Olivia said what I think was on her heart from the very beginning,

And Nick.

I don't remember him anymore.

Why didn't I rub his feet more?

Why didn't I do more nice things for him?

The last thing I remember is leaving for Maddie's house and you saying, "Give Nick a kiss goodbye.," and I didn't because he looked so bad.

That's a hard thing to have as your last memory.

I know what we've been through has helped other people, but how is it helping us?

Olivia began to cry, and it was all I could do to not join her.

Tim's head went down, and I knew he, too, was sharing in her pain at a level so deep that to try and talk would have been too difficult.

I realized last night that grief isn't just a visitor at our house. Grief has moved in to stay.

There will be nights when one of us is especially aware of grief's presence and maybe it is in acknowledging this reality that we can all be okay with our sadness.

We went to bed with heavy hearts, unanswered questions, and a sense of loss that often becomes overshadowed by the busyness of our lives these days.

I woke up with a headache, eyes aching, and a body that is moving much more slowly than the hands on the clock.

This morning, I'm hoping you will whisper a prayer for Olivia, and if you have a verse or thought about how to help a child know God loves her and then teach her how to know she loves Him back, I would be so thankful. Pray for Martha, Amber, Amber's family, Charlotte, and so many more who are facing tough questions right now.

I keep hearing the words to the song, "I want to know You, I want to seek Your face, I want to know You more..." in my head.

Olivia is living this song, but she's struggling with tough questions these days.

Maybe you have tough questions too.

I wish I had great answers.

I only have Him........

and for today that has to be enough.

I hope it's enough for you too.

I love you all so much.

Searching with Olivia and with you,

My Prayer for You Today...........

I'm wordless the Wednesday, but as I read from Job this morning this verse seemed to jump out at me.

I'm praying it for you this morning.

May today be a day where you don't simply "hear" about God.

May today be a day where you see Him with your own eyes....

Be still enough to see His presence in things as simple as.....


your children


and the list goes on and on.

He's everywhere.

He longs to be seen by you.

I had only heard about you before,

but now I have seen you with my

own eyes.

Job 42:5


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