Move On or Stay Put..........


This sign in Washington, DC, reminded me of the pace this world seems to be in most of the time.

I think that's one of the reasons waiting is so difficult.

It's almost as if the "idling" stage is illegal.

On the escalators we road to and from the metro train, people who were in a hurry would literally run past us on the left as we rode the stairs up or down.

I guess they viewed the ride as a time of pointless idling when they had places to go, people to see, work to be done.

We even found ourselves walking on the escalator as the trip progressed instead of simply staying put and enjoying the few minutes of peace.

Today, if you have a chance to either move on or stay put,

I hope you'll choose to "stay put" and simply soak up the moment around you.

Life goes by so quickly.

Idle for more than three minutes every chance you can!

Psalm 46:10


"He says, "Be still, and know that I


am God;

I will be exalted among the nations,

I will be exalted in the earth."

8th Grade Trip, Summertime, and Being Still........



I took most of my DC pictures on my phone.

Carrying my big camera ended up being more trouble than it was worth.

For some reason, I can't seem to find where all of the phone pictures downloaded into my computer's hard drive, so I think I'm going to have to download them again.

I wanted to say "good morning," though and share a few camera pics that I took before I stopped carrying it with me.
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Notice Karrick in the background!  He was determined to photo bomb this picture, so I took about five in a row and thankfully he jumped right in when I clicked one time! 

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Susan (my little teacher-desk friend) enjoyed the trip although she had a rough time.  I'll share more about her adventures in another post!  This is my friend Kristy posing with Susan on the bus as we drove around looking at some of the DC sights.DC trip 0060006

Lincoln's Memorial was Olivia's favorite part of the trip.  I think she recognized it from a lot of movies, so it was extra special to see it in "real life."

DC trip 0880088

This may have been one of my favorite views as we walked around DC.  I love the reflection in the water.

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I think it's good for all of us to be reminded of our country's beginnings no matter where we live.  Hearing the behind-the-scene stories of famous events in history makes the people involved seem so much more real.

My favorite story was about the night the British ambushed DC in the War of 1812.  As they came across the Potomac River in boats, President Madison and his wife, Dolly, were eating dinner.  They were alerted to the attack and had to run from the Presidential house and hide in another house in the town.  Dolly wouldn't leave without a painting of George Washington that hung in their home and without a little metal box of some sort.  Just hearing this story in such detail, reminded me that people really haven't changed through the years.  We all cling to things.

The story goes on to say that as the soldiers arrived on land, hungry, thirsty, and tired, they first burned down the capitol building and then moved on to attack the President's house.  However, when they saw the huge spread of food that the Madison's had left on the table when they had rushed out, they sat down and ate.  This ended up giving the Madison's plenty of time to hide safely.  Hunger changes everything, doesn't it?

Today, as I think of the clinging of Dolly to a couple of earthly things and as I think of the intense hunger and thirst of the British soldiers, I am reminded that I need to be sure I am clinging to the right things in this life and that I am hungering and thirsting for things that matter.

Summertime has swept over me with such a flurry of activities and such a long list of things I want to accomplish while on break that I have found myself finding it more and more difficult to simply sit and be still.

When I do sit down, I think of so many things I want to get done and I end up getting up and going at it again.

Last night, I went to the house of an elderly lady from our church to meet about the jail ministry.

She prepared hot tea for me and my friend, and we sat for nearly two hours visiting and listening to sweet stories from this lady's past.  It felt good to get to know her better, but I never would have had that experience had I not sat down and been still.

The same goes with my relationship with Jesus.

It takes time to know Him better.

Times of being still and listening.

Today, we have friends coming over for a Memorial Day cookout.  I have a list of things I need to do before they arrive.

But it feels good to just sit for a bit and read and pray and close my eyes and know that I do not walk through my list of "chores" alone.  He is with me.

He is with you too!

Happy Memorial Day.

Thank you to all of you who have served or are serving our country,

Keeping His Word and Keeping Mine..........

I love how Solomon speaks so eloquently in I Kings as he dedicates the new temple that was built under his leadership.

I love how he goes back in history and shares about how God had kept His promise to his father David when He said, "I have chosen Jerusalem as the place for my name to be honoered, and I have chosen David to be king over my people Israel."  God had gone on to say, "One of your own sons will build the temple to honor me."

I wonder what it felt like to be "that son" and to stand with all the Israelites listening to your words as they witnessed the beauty and the splendor of an unmovable temple after years and years of carrying God's presence around in an ark covered by a tent?

Scriptures say a "thick cloud filled the Temple of the Lord" and that "the priests could not continue their service because of the cloud, for the glorious presence of the Lord filled the Temple of God."


I am sure there were all kinds of emotions in Jerusalem that day - excitement, fear, reverence, awe, joy, peace - I am sure there were also skeptics in the area thinking the whole event was somehow silly.

No matter what people were thinking, God was there!  He had kept His word!

And He still keeps it today!

He promises to never leave us or forsake us; and yesterday, He proved that to me in so many ways!

Yesterday was Nick's 17th birthday.

I found tears filling my eyes from time to time throughout the day as I reminisced on sweet memories with my brown-eyed baby boy; but God showed up again and again through messages from friends and family just saying, "Thinking of you today," and "Happy birthday, Nick!"

I worked yesterday morning at school and then painted Todd's bedroom in the afternoon, so I stayed busy doing what needed to be done next.

I do better when I keep on keeping on!!

Today, I'm packing for Olivia's 8th grade trip to Washington, DC.

We leave this evening.

And I promised my students that if I went on any trips this summer, Susan (my tired-teacher desk figurine) would go along with me on the adventure!

So, I'm keeping my word and I'm getting Susan ready for our big trip!

Tim said she needed a suitcase, and I found her a perfect one!  A Smarties suitcase!  Traveling always makes us smarter, doesn't it?!?!

susans adventures 0020002

I think Susan needs some education outside of her stack of books, though!

She was so excited to see the Statue of Liberty, and I had to explain that it is located in New York City.

susans adventures 0030003

Then she got excited about seeing the Liberty Bell, and I had to help her understand why it is in Philadelphia - not in our nation's capitol!

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Oh goodness, this may be a long three days, but I'll share all the things Susan learns when I get home!

Have a wonderful rest of your week and a Happy Memorial Day weekend!!

Until Sunday,

Trying to Find a New Groove.........

I love the Disney movie, "The Emperor's New Groove."

I love the story line.

I love the music.

I love the humor.

But I love the lesson most of all.

If you've never watched this movie, you should rent it this summer and see what you think.

As I've ventured through this first week of summer, I've found myself feeling a little like Emperer Kuzko.

As Kuzko enters his throne room, dancing away, he backs into an elderly man who "throws off his groove."

Watch this short clip and you'll see what I mean.............

I've found that somehow I've backed into summer (my figurative elderly man) and it has definitely "thrown off my groove" for blogging.

Now, I don't want to throw summer out the window like Kuzko chose to do with this poor old man, but I  know I am going to have find a "new groove" that works for me.

A groove that feels right in the midst of yard work, house cleaning, errand running, and catching up with friends I have missed throughout the school year.

Here's one thing I know:

My blog holds me accountable.

And even though I often think, "Noone is reading my blog daily anyway, so why do I worry when I don't post?"

Deep inside I know it's not so much about you reading my blog daily that concerns me, it's about me not being still enough to reflect on life and God's constant presence in my life that I miss.

I want a new summer groove that is healthy, rewarding, and meaningful.

I don't want to click away at my computer keyboard just to "check something off my list."

I decided long ago that if my blog ever became a chore, it was time to stop blogging.

And the truth is, my blog is far from a chore.

It's so much a part of who I am.

It's kind-of like a diary for me.

A place to jot down snippets of my life and share how God is working through them or in spite of them.

A place to react to Scriptures that inspire me, confuse me, convict me.

It's my little corner of the world where nothing changes even though so much around me changes constantly.

It's Sunday morning, and I can't remember blogging on a Sunday in a long, long time.

I need to go get ready for Sunday school but this morning something strange happened that woke me early.

Peppy, one of our dogs, barked and somehow it stirred me in a dream.

As I was still sleeping I saw two clocks on the floor beside my bed begin to fly away with wings and in my dream, I could hear myself singing, "I"ll Fly Away, Oh Glory, I'll Flay Away."

Then suddenly, I opened my eyes and looked at my real clock which said, "7:11."

Now, if you've known me for a while, you know that 7-11 was Nick's little nickname he gave himself when he learned of his second tumor at age 11 (His first tumor was at age 7.)

The 7-11 number combination became a huge part of Nick's fight with cancer and still means so much to me and to many of Nick's friends.

I don't know what this dream meant this morning, but I do know this.

Time flies, doesn't it?

Even when the pace is suppose to be slower, life has a way of rushing by if we're not careful.

Yesterday, Tim and I went to two friends' houses for graduation receptions. One was all afternoon.  The other was in the evening.

As I sat with my two girlfriends at their homes, we reflected on how quickly our children have grown.

Maybe the clocks were symbolic of Matt and Andrew's lives, my two friends' sons.

Maybe the clocks were symbolic of the lives of my friends as they have watched their kids grow up.

Maybe it was just a weird dream I had because I drank a McDonald's Caramel Frappe late at night and wen to bed regretting it.

Who knows?

All I know is this, it woke me up enough to realize that I needed some quiet time with God.

I'm thankful for Peppy's bark this morning and for a dream that startled me enough to look at my clock at 7:11.

I want to find a new groove for summer blogging, and I want you all to know that even when I don't write, I am thinking of all of you and saying a prayer that your day is filled with special moments.

I am going to do a summer fun give-away this week!

I'll let you know when I gather up all the things I want to share with you!

For today, know that I love you, I'm lifting you up in my prayers, and I am always available at if you need to chat.  I've made some beautiful friends through email, and one of the things I look forward to about Heaven is meeting these friends in person!

Have a beautiful Sunday!

Psalm 90:12

"Teach us to number our days, that

we may gain a heart of wisdom."

Why "thank you" is important.........

I have a lot of "thank you" notes to write this summer.......

Not because of a party where I received lots of gifts.

Not because a group of people came and moved a piano; although a group did come and do that for me several years ago, and I'm pretty sure I never wrote a note of thanks about that day.

I am so sorry!

It meant the world to me, Anita! Thank you for organizing the team of helpers that day. Watching six men heave a piano up a flight of stairs was terrifying, hilarious, and meaningful all rolled into one.

But you knew, and I knew, that Evan needed a quiet place to practice his gift; and that day will forever stick in my mind as incredibly significant.

Even more than that, Anita, thank you for leading all of our boys on mission trips through the years.

I give you and Ron so much credit for each of our sons' love for adventure, attitude of fearlessness, excitement about traveling, and heart for reaching people who do not know Christ as their Savior!

Those are the kinds of thank you notes I need to write.

Notes that simply express to many of my friends and family how much it means to me that they have just "been there" for me and my family through the years.

It's easy to assume that the people we love know how much we appreciate them, but there is something amazingly powerful about penning your thoughts so that these special people can realize that they matter, that their presence in your life has changed you; and that without them you (and possibly your entire family) would not be who you are today.

Those are the kinds of notes I want to write this summer.

And my list is long...........

What if everyone who reads this blog entry decides to mail ten thank you notes a month for three months to friends and family who have made an impact on their lives?

If 150 people read this, that could result in nearly 5,000 thank you notes being written! Who knows how these notes could change the lives of those who read them!

I know I have many more than 30 people to thank!  I am willing to sacrifice some of my time to let them know how much I love them!

How about you?

Could you sacrifice a little time and commit to writing 10 thank you notes a month for three months?

Saying "thank you" shows honor.

God longs to hear those words from us too.

Psalm 50:23 says,

"But giving thanks is a sacrifice that

truly honors me."

So on a much greater scale, try writing a "thank you" note to God.

This can sometimes be a painful experience, because there are parts of life that seem impossible to visit with words of thanks.

I promise you this, though, if you start writing and allow your heart to creep towards the painful parts of life with a spirit of gratitude, God will notice.

He will hear you.

He will see your sacrifice of praise.

He will be honored.

And I believe, you will be blessed in return.

My challenge today is this:

Choose thirty people who have impacted your life (teachers, friends, family, neighbors, friendly grocery store employees, and on and on).  Begin writing your thank you notes today.

And at the same time, begin writing the most life-changing thank you note ever,

Your personal note to God.

There's something extra-powerful about watching those words slip from your heart to paper.

Try it.

And let me know how it goes.

Email me at or leave a note here on my blog anytime.  I read them all!

Thankful today for all of you who read my words and hopefully journey closer to His Heart!

Summer Blogging.........

I'm realizing very quickly that my whole schedule has been turned upside down since I don't have to be out the door at 7 a.m.

Mornings are much less structured and it seems that something is always going on around this house.

I have decided to transition to evening blogging so that I can have the quiet time I need to focus.

I don't think I've ever had a busier school year, so my house is screaming for some attention.

I'm trying to move from room to room without becoming irritable which has not worked so far. Sad smile

I'm really not sure how roller blades ended up in the living room and some type of spider nest took over the back of our TV.

I can't figure out why dog leashes were in the same basket as a roll of toilet paper.

I am wondering how there are any trees left ANYWHERE on this planet when there are so many stacks of paper in our house alone.

I'm going to tackle the family room now.

Without moving, I already see bongo drums, ping pong paddles, and golf balls.........

Until tonight,

God's Visitors.......

How do you act when you are visiting someone's home?

Extra polite, extra careful, extremely thankful for the hospitality of those you are visiting.

This morning I read this verse in Psalm 39,

"For I am your guest, a traveler

passing through, as my ancestors

before me."

Today, as you "travel" through the day, remember this,

You are God's visitor here on Earth.

Treat Him and His creation the same way you would treat any other host and his home.

When You Realize How Special Your Neighbors Are........

We've had the same neighbors on both sides of us  for almost nineteen years.

Both of these families have shared many highs and many lows with our family throughout these years.

They've helped when we've been in emergency situations, they've sat with us when we signed papers with hospice, they've watched our dogs when we've been out of town.

We've borrowed each others lawn mowers, fertilizer spreaders, pressure washers, and the list goes on and on.

We've shared many meals and delivered leftover desserts to each other's homes time and time again.

If someone needs an egg, there's no need to run to the store.

If an unfamiliar car is parked in someone's driveway, a phone call is made to make sure everything is okay.

I am thankful for my neighbors.

But this summer, one of our neighbors is moving.

We have cried on their porch several times already, and I'm sure we will many more times before they move.

We have threatened to do something silly while the house is being shown, so that maybe the buyers will reconsider.

Today, I found myself in our out-building just about the time the realtor was coming to give a tour of their home.

I was in the loft reading my old diary when I heard the car door, and honestly, I almost fell over the lawn mower as I came down the ladder trying to get a peek at who the potential buyers were.

I even peeked through out fence to try to get a better look.

I am going to miss our Mark and Sandra so much.

It's easy to take for granted parts of your life that are so naturally easy.

Having this family as neighbors has been just that......naturally easy.

We've talked while doing yard work, laughed at our kids growing up together, and made it very clear that we are always here for each other.

I know we'll stay close even though miles will separate us; but it's going to be a difficult summer - saying "goodbye" to lifelong friends.

I'm so thankful there are no goodbyes in Heaven.

I think, by the time I get there, I am going to be worn out with goodbyes.

Hug your neighbor today or at least take them a plate of cookies and let them know they are loved!

Old Diaries.......

I moved some boxes around in the shed this morning, trying to make room for school supplies that I want to store for the summer.

As I opened one box that has been packed away for a long time, I saw a journal.

An old journal.

Seventeen years old.

I had to stop and sit in the loft and thumb through the pages for a few minutes, because this was the journal I had kept in the months before Nick was born.

Some of my prayers made me smile, bringing back memories of long-ago situations now resolved.

Some of my prayers made me smile, realizing how much in life hasn't really changed since then.

Other prayers, though, made me ashamed.

Ashamed that I was disappointed when Nick's ultrasound showed that we were having a boy and not a girl.

Since Adrienne's death in 1992, I had longed for a little girl again.....

And at first, the doctors told us that Nick would be a girl.

But then, in a second ultrasound, the news changed.

If I could go back and change anything about 1995, it would be my attitude during the six weeks before Nick was born.

I kept praying and asking God to help me with my heart, but deep inside I remember that I was overwhelmed at the thought of four boys and no Adrienne.

As soon as I held Nick, though, all those feelings washed away.

His big brown eyes.

His chubby cheeks.

His dark black hair.

He stole my heart.

I'm glad I have the journal to remind me of a time when what I thought was best did not match God's plans.

The journal helped me remember that even when I don't understand the answer to my prayers, God is always working.

I wouldn't trade the memories of my sweet boy Nick for memories with any other child.

And I know that by having one more boy, God opened our heart to adoption which led us to find Olivia in an orphanage in a little town called Damoh.

God promises to go before us making rough places smooth, and He's never let me down on my long and rough road.

I am thankful for old diaries that remind me of His presence seventeen years ago and today.


Isaiah 42:16

I will lead the blind by ways they

have not known,

along unfamiliar paths I will guide


I will turn the darkness into light

 before them

and make the rough places smooth.

These are the things I will do;

I will not forsake them.

Wrapping Up a Chapter.........

As stressful as this year has been for me and my co-workers with all of the expectations from the state bearing down on us daily, I am still not looking forward to saying good bye to my students today.

But when I think of life as a story being written by God, the author and perfector of my faith, it makes days like today seem a little easier.

Ending a stressful chapter is sometimes more dramatic than ending a not-so-stressful one and yet there is a beauty in the closure.  Maybe it's realizing I didn't quit when I wanted to run and knowing the students pulled through and accomplished so much even when they were tired, overwhelmed, or discouraged that makes today hold such significance.  It's like we have reached a finish line and the prize is summer vacation!

We've all had good days and bad days this year.  I'm sure you have too.

I've seen lots of tears, mediated many disagreements, tried to encourage many who were down, and did what I could to help kids discover the beauty deep within them even when they didn't feel so beautiful.

At the same time, I've allowed the kids to see me as a real person with my own set of worries and fears (even of mice).

It's been a two-way street in my classroom, and maybe that's why closure is so difficult.

I'm going to miss these students.

They've taught me a lot about myself.

They've reminded me that even though their generation faces a lot of struggles I didn't have to face as a kid, they are still amazing human beings at heart.

My prayer today is that with the closing of this chapter every character in my life story has learned a little more for the next chapter of theirs, because good stories move characters along in ways that deepen them-making them better equipped for the next difficult situation, the next big decision, the next opportunity to grow.

As a teacher, I want all of my students to know this:

I love you with a love that comes from above.

Unconditional, filled with grace, and never-ending.

I'm still here to point you in the right direction.

I'm praying for you and believing that He Who began a good work in you

Will be faithful to complete it.

One day a week this summer I am committing my blog to the adventures of Susan (so-named by my one of my classes), my desk figurine who weathered the year with us.


Even though her year ended with head and feet broken off, she is in recovery at this very moment in the art room.

And I will be taking her along on some trips so that you will know that even though Mrs. Nischan is on vacation she hasn't forgotten that she is a teacher at heart........

Hopefully, Susan will teach us all a few things about life.

I'm excited to see where we end up in the next few months!

So today, a chapter ends.

The class of 2015 wraps up their freshman year.

Olivia says goodbye to middle school.

It's a day of closure.

And a day of new beginnings.

Your life may not hold a dramatic goodbye today, but truthfully, that's the thing about life - we never really know if a chapter is ending on any particular day.

Life is fragile.

How powerful would our relationships become if we treated each day as if it were the last?

I'm praying that today you can embrace everyone around you in a way that says, "You matter to me because you matter to God."

And whether you are starting a new chapter, living somewhere deep within the middle of one, or watching the last few pages of a chapter unfold, I pray your day is a day of significance.

I love you all,


The Craziness of the Last Few Days......................
Summer is quickly approaching, and there are so many loose ends to tie up!

Finals, grades, graduation, classroom cleaning and organizing...........................

Our house is a house that revolves around the education calendar, so the thought of summer is like a long-awaited breath of fresh air.

In the midst of all the end-of-the-year activities, I'm trying to finalize things for two weekend speaking engagements.

Late nights and early mornings seem to be the norm.

This morning, though, Olivia joined my early-morning craziness because she was leaving for an all-day field trip, so my routine turned out a little different than normal.  I missed my morning time with all of you.

I just wanted to take a minute and say "Good Morning!" and "Have a great day!!"

Love you all!

If You Have a Few Minutes..........

Remember the old game show, "Let's Make a Deal!?"

Well, it's still running, still causing people to dress in wild costumes, and still offering the chance at all kinds of prizes.

And our son, Evan, who lives near the town where it is filmed, ventured down and became a contestant recently!

Click below  if you have a few minutes, fast forward to the twelve and a half minute mark and you can watch Evan hug Wayne Brady, dance the French Can-Can, and win a prize!  Click on "EVAN ON LET'S MAKE A DEAL" below to watch the May 1, 2012 episode!




Have a wonderful Wednesday.

Praying God shows up in your day today in the most unexpected ways!!

Psalm 5:3

In the morning, O Lord, you hear my

in the morning I lay my requests

before you

and wait in expectation.

Our Testimony...........

Saturday night as I clicked "publish" on my post, "The Unwrapping of Grief," I never dreamed that the words I wrote would reach out to so many who were hurting. 

I just knew that for me personally last Wednesday night's events would stand as my testimony of God's passionate desire to bring peace to someone who was seeking it.

In the past couple of months I have found myself laughing more often, sensing a feeling of peace more often, and simply being able to rest more often in the knowledge that God is with me even in my sadness.

I have wondered from time to time if this is what it means to reach a place of "wholeness" in my grief, but every time I've had this thought, I've dismissed it as quickly as it came.

I didn't like the sound of wholeness without Nick.

Until Wednesday night.

So, when God brought to light so vividly the idea of a broken wholeness through my broken Mary, I couldn't help but share it.

Just like the thumbs-up cloud, the Rupee, and the mountain, I believed (and still do), that these experiences are not just for me but for all of you.

Yesterday during worship we sang the song, "Overcome."

I had never really thought about the words in such a deep and meaningful way until yesterday.

I have always sang the part about Jesus overcoming sin and death with a deep belief that He has done just that.

And I am thankful.

I do believe He is worthy of honor and praise even though the whole idea of man choosing to die for the sins of the world is almost more than our human minds can comprehend in our 21st-century world.

But when we got to the chorus of the song yesterday, I could feel my insides almost tremble.

"We will overcome by the power of the blood and the word of our testimony.  We will overcome."

Revelation 12:11 says,

"They overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony; they did not love their lives so much as to shrink from death."

I want to be an overcomer, don't you?

Know that Jesus' death on the cross allows you to be an overcomer.

Sharing how God is working in your life is your way of declaring to the world that you He has given you the power to overcome............

Overcome guilt.

Overcome sin.

Overcome regret.

Overcome insecurity.

Overcome grief.

Overcome brokenness.

Because of Jesus, we have overcome!

That is our testimony.

When David gave his son instructions about building the temple, he said,


"And you, my son Solomon, acknowledge the God of your father, and serve him with wholehearted devotion and with a willing mind, for the Lord searches every heart and understands every motive behind the thoughts. If you seek him, he will be found by you; but if you forsake him, he will reject you forever."

I Chron. 28:9

David knew that unless Solomon was willing to acknowledge God, his work for Him would be lacking.

We live in an evil world.

Everyday, I see the need for Jesus' blood - the need for our testimonies to be shared.

Today, find a way to share with someone you work with, live with, or spend time with..........

the word of your testimony.

Don't forget to push pause on my blog music to the right before listening. Praying you overcome today.


Praying for you always!

The Unwrapping of Grief..........

I hope this story isn't anti-climatic after waiting several days.

I needed time to be quiet and reflect on every little aspect of this story, because it will forever be the most life-changing event in my grief journey.............


My friend Vicki and I were sitting on her porch Wednesday evening having a little visit and catching up on each other's lives when one of our friends drove by and asked us to keep our eyes open for her dog. 

He had gotten out of her yard, and she couldn't find him.

Before we knew it, we were in my car driving around town with the windows down saying, "Ollie, Come here, Ollie!"

Turning down road after road, we began to laugh thinking, "How did this happen?"

Little did we know the adventure of the night was just beginning and a huge part of my grief journey was going to coming to a peaceful end.

Honestly, Ollie's attempt at freedom became the door to mine.


After driving up and down several roads, Vicki and I ended up in an alley where several families were setting up for a yard sale.

I rolled down my window to ask if they had seen a brown boxer to which they replied, "He was here just five minutes ago."

As I was talking to them, I spotted this lamp on one of their tables that looked pretty.

I hopped out of the car to look at it while Vicki was laughing at me from the car.

I looked at the lady who was pricing the items and said, "I really like this lamp.  We'll be back!"

yard sale items

After Ollie was finally  caught on Main Street (Thank you, Troy Combs and Amy Stephens for being so quick on your feet!), Vicki and I hugged Trish (Ollie's owner) and headed back to our surprise Wednesday night yard sale (Who has yard sales in the middle of the week?)

The lamp was only $2, so I made my first purchase.

Then this sign caught my eye!

I have a teacher-friend named Angel, and I thought this would be a perfect gift to hang by her desk.

I never dreamed just how angelic my night would become!

nativity 0010001

I found a basket that I liked and was fairly sure I had seen everything that interested me.

yard sale items

Then this box caught my eye............

yard sale items

yard sale items

Laying in the box were several pieces to a Nativity set and under them were more wrapped pieces.

I looked at Vicki and said, "I have to buy this!"

(I have a special connection with Nativity sets.........

Partly because the night before Nick passed away Mom and I watched the movie "The Nativity"  as Nick lay sleeping on the couch right behind us.

And partly because Nick's death gave me an entirely different perspective of the Nativity sets sitting all around my house.

Before Nick passed away I had always looked at my Nativity sets as a "group event" focused on Jesus in the manger. 

I had never really stopped and looked at each part of the Nativity scene in such a personal away, wondering how each character and animal responded to the birth of baby Jesus.

After Nick's death, my Nativity sets began to reflect Jesus' entire life journey from his birth to his death - especially as I looked at Mary and remembered how God had called her "blessed among women" even when He knew that one day she would kneel at the cross and watch her son die a horrific death.)

As we were leaving the yard sale, I was talking with Vicki about how Mary has become so special to me.

Her life story reminds me that God's definition of "blessed" isn't always the same as ours.

When I got home later that evening, I began unwrapping each piece of the set so I could show Tim and so I could see what was hidden beneath the newspaper.

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The beauty of each piece took my breath away.

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Baby Jesus was positioned in such a way that his future death could almost be seen in the way he was holding his arms and feet....

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I couldn't believe that all of this had fit in one not-so-big box.

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And then, as I sat all the pieces out across the coffee table, Tim noticed that Mary's hands were missing.......

broken and gone.......

the only part of this beautiful glass set that wasn't perfect.

I knew at that very moment God was trying to tell me something, but I couldn't quite figure out what it could be.

For some reason, I said to Tim, "I wonder how long this Nativity set has been boxed up?"

And I decided to look at the date on the newspaper it was all wrapped in.........

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My heart stopped as I realized this was Nick's first Christmas.

Seventeen years ago someone in Lexington, Kentucky, had wrapped up this Nativity set and God has been saving it for me ever since.

I texted Trish to see if she was awake and when she replied, "yes," I called to tell her to please not be upset with Ollie for running away.

I told her with a smile that I really thought Nick had let him go so I would find this yard sale.

Then I told her the story of the Nativity set and the newspaper date.

She couldn't believe it!

As we were talking, I told her about Mary's hands being gone and I said, "Maybe God is saying, "Let go, Tammy. It's okay."

We got off the phone, and I went back down to sit and look through the old newspaper.

I still felt like God had something to tell me.

I felt like I was unwrapping a mystery.

Then I found these pages..............

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I knew God was saying, "Tammy, your sweet Nick had his first Christmas in 1995, and now he is a special Christmas angel."

I was speechless.

I slowly took out each piece of newspaper and pressed it down, folding it so that I could save it forever.

And in the middle of one of the sheets of paper I found this...........

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Mary's hands!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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I sat the hands by the Nativity set and took several pictures. nativity 0070007

I wanted to somehow show the brokenness of Mary, the cost of being the mother of Jesus, the calling God placed on her life to love and let go......

As I was snapping the photos, my phone vibrated.

I received a text.

Trish (the owner of the dog we had chased and the only friend I think would have remembered what happened in the spring right after Nick passed away) had texted me after thinking about Mary's missing hands and what they could mean. 

She had remembered my story from Sunday school three years ago, and I believe that is why HER DOG was the dog we chased who eventually led us to the yard sale where I found the Nativity set.

Her text then brought everything together.

The lost Ollie.

The yard sale.

The Nativity set.

The date on the newspaper.

The broken Mary.

The thought of "letting go" seeming too cold, too difficult, too impossible.

The longing to not be broken yet the realization that there would never be a way to be the "old me" again.

Her text said,

"Remember when Beth Moore told you, "You will be whole!"

I did remember!

I remembered how the words had given me hope.

I remembered how the words had given me strength.

But I also remembered how the words had made me scared.

Scared that in becoming whole I would somehow forget Nick, forget Adrienne, forget what it feels like to grieve.

As I read Trish's text again, I looked back down at Mary.

I looked at her missing hands.

I looked at the pair of hands sitting beside her.

And I lifted them up.

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I held them in place.

And suddenly I knew!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I can be whole and broken at the same time,

if I just let God hold me together!

I thought of the verse in Colossians that says, 

He is before all things, and in him all

things hold together.

Because of Him I can be whole while remaining broken.

Maybe, just maybe, God doesn't say "let go" when we lose someone we love.

Maybe He says, "Let me help you hold on."

If you want to read the story of my encounter with Beth Moore in 2009, click  here and here.

If you want to read the story that I wrote about Adrienne sharing the same middle name as Beth Moore's granddaughter Annabeth, click here.

If I hadn't written this particular entry in February of 2009, I don't think my encounter with Beth in March of that same year would have ever happened in the way that it did.

When I wrote it, I had no idea how God was going to use the story to connect Beth's heart with mine.


I took so long to write this post, because I didn't want to leave out any details.

I wanted to share it along with past links so that you could see how God has been working for more than three years to bring me to this place in my grief.

And I write this because I want you all to know and believe that GOD IS ALWAYS WORKING!

Maybe it's through the posting of a story, the search for a lost dog, a purchase from a yard sale, the wrapping of newspaper around glass objects, the breaking of hands or the finding of them.......

Whatever it may be, GOD IS ALWAYS WORKING.

Know today that your yesterdays and your tomorrows are already being connected in beautiful ways.

You may not understand why things have happened the way they have (I know I don't),

and in your wildest dreams you may never predict where and how your life events will connect.

But rest in this knowledge,

"God knows."

And that's all that really matters.

I'm Still Writing About Wednesday Night's Experience........

After school yesterday, I had to help with Olivia's soccer team for a bit after school and then drive to Russell for two games.

By the time I got home and did a little housework, I knew I wouldn't have time to process the whole story in one evening.

I started writing, but my eyes were just too heavy.

So this morning, I have written some more but realize that trying to rush through the events of that evening will not do the story justice.

When God works in such a mighty way, I don't want to leave out any details.

So, for today know this:

I love you all so very much, and I am praying for you.

Lift Charlotte and Martha up today.  They are both walking such tough roads these days.

Our winter has turned to spring without a lot of commotion.

There's has been a blur of uncertainty, fatigue, and constant changes.

I am a teacher-sponsor tonight at our high school prom, so I will be finishing my story very late this evening!

Until then,

I Need More Time to Share This........

Something amazing happened last night, and  I don't want to rush through the details as I'm sharing, so I'm posting this right now just to say...........

Please check back this afternoon when I've had time to process everything and then get it down in written form.

Have a wonderful day!

Here's  a little hint of what's to come -

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A Living Sacrifice..............

Visiting India in 2009, I was amazed at all of the shrines sprinkled throughout the cities and countryside.

We were told that any place not already occupied could be used as a place to build a shrine.

Once the shrine was erected, people in the area began  bringing objects to lay at the feet of whichever god the shrine represented.

If you know much about the Hindu religion, it worships hundreds of different gods.


As a Christian who believes in one Almighty God, one Savior, and one Holy Spirit, I find the thought of hundreds of gods both sad and overwhelming.

Constantly trying to find favor in the eyes of a monkey god while bringing gifts to the god of Ganesh (an elephant god) seems exhausting.

Poverty would be a great excuse to not even try to keep these gods happy if I were a native of India and follower of their religion, yet the people of India, no matter how poor, often give up everything to bring some type of offering to whichever gods they can........daily.

As we visited a temple one evening, I was amazed at the large number of people who were gathered to participate in the evening rituals.

Hindu religion realizes that there is more to this life than just us even though they don't understand what it is.

And they believe that this "more-to-life reason" is worth worshiping.

We have God.

We have a Savior.

How much deeper should our worship be?

How much more costly should our sacrifices be?

David realized the depth to which our sacrifices should take us when he was trying to buy a place on which to build an altar to the Lord.

When Araunah offered to give David his threshing floor as a place to build an altar, David replied,

"No, I insist on buying it, for I will not present burnt offerings to the Lord my God that have cost me nothing."


The more read the Bible the more I realize that sacrifice and offerings without cost are meaningless.


Jesus is a perfect example of the definition of "sacrifice."

He gave up everything so that we could be saved.

What can we lay at His feet that even begins to show our gratitude.

Paul tells us in Romans,

Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God's mercy,

to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God--

this is your spiritual act of worship. 

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In Philippians, he says,

But whatever was to my profit I now consider loss for the sake of Christ.

What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord,

for whose sake I have lost all things.

I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in him,

not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ-

the righteousness that comes from God and is by faith.

As I was reading David's words this morning about not wanting to bring an offering to God that cost him nothing, I was convicted.

What do my offerings cost me?

What sacrifices do I bring to God daily?

I want to be a living sacrifice.

This means that I die to my self and everything I say and do, no matter how tiring, how unappreciated, how insignificant in man's eyes, is done for God and to God's glory.

Today, as you do the things you are called to do in life,

remember that God longs for you to do EVERYTHING "as unto" Him.

Sometimes it may feel as if the cost is too great, but in the end I believe we will discover that in our sacrificial living we are actually gaining so much more than we could ever give.

Your Prayers Matter...........

I think it's easy for the devil to whisper in our ear that somehow our prayers aren't that important.

He whispers thoughts like these,

"What difference will your prayers make really?"

"So many people are trying to get God's attention, why should He take time to listen to you?"

"You're just talking to the air."

"The Creator of the Universe has a lot more to be concerned with than your personal life."

"Bad things are still going to happen in this world, so why bother praying?"

And the list goes on and on and on..............

Like an insecure friend, the devil tries to convince us that God is just too busy, too preoccupied, and too important to turn and listen when we talk.

I have a sign on my deck that was brought to me from Zimbabwe by a friend. 

It says, "Prayer Changes Things."

I have a picture, and I'm going to find it when I have time, that shows Nick standing right by this wall hanging.

We held on to this promise that "prayer changes things" all throughout Nick's fight with cancer.

And then Nick died.

So, it would be very easy to think, "Well, I guess the devil is right.  Look how far prayer got our family."

But, here's what I want to say to all of you today.

I believe prayer changes people more than prayer changes our tough situations.

Jesus pleaded with God to be able to avoid the agony of the cross, but in the end we all know what happened.

Did that mean God didn't hear Jesus?

Did that mean God didn't care?

Absolutely not.

God was right there, listening and giving strength to the One He loved deeply so that His perfect plan could be make complete through Him.

I believe God had a perfect plan even in Nick's suffering.

I am so thankful for verses like II Cor. 4:17 that promise,

For our light and momentary troubles

are achieving for us an eternal glory

that far outweighs them all.

So this morning as I was reading in Psalm 18 about David being in a dark place of fear and doubt as his enemies were attacking, I was comforted by this verse,

But in my distress I cried out to the Lord;

yes, I prayed to my God for help.

He heard me from his sanctuary;

my cry to him reached his ears.

There is a troubling situation in the lives of some of our dear friends right this minute, and one of our sons is especially upset and confused about all that is happening.

As I sat with him last night for about half an hour and tried to calm him down and help him see that sometimes in this life we don't understand what God is doing, I told him that he needs to be praying, "What can l learn from this?  What are you trying to teach me and all of us, God?"

Because in the end, it's the condition of our heart that really matters.

And I believe that when we say "Prayer Changes Things," that's what it really changes.

Jesus said, "In this world you will have trouble."

He never promised that clinging to Him would make life easy.

As we baptize the girls at jail, I was always tell them, 'This isn't the secret to an easy life.  When you come up out of the water, you are still going to have to face the consequences of your mistakes and the devil is still going to be prowling around trying to take you down,, but the difference will be this:  the Holy Spirit will be in you as a Comforter, Protector, and Guide."

If you have ever prayed but felt as if your prayers were hitting the ceiling, I challenge you to transform the way you look at answered prayer.

Maybe it's in the silence, the very darkness of your pain that God is working the most powerfully.

I'll never understand Nick's cancer or his death while I walk on this earth.

I could easily get angry this morning just dwelling on the suffering he endured and the sadness our family still feels from his absence.

But, I am claiming verses like Roman 15:13 that say that if I trust in the God of Hope He will fill me with all joy and peace so that I may overflow with hope!

That's what I want to do.

I want to live a life overflowing with Hope.

Nick is in the arms of God, safe, happy, and overflowing with more than hope.......he doesn't need hope anymore.......he walks in the presence of the King.

But we still need hope.

And God longs for us to overflow in it.

That's how prayer has changed things at our house.

I know my prayers matter.

And yours do too.

No matter how confusing the situation, God is working.

Turn to Him today.

I love you all so much!


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