It is Well with My Soul

The hymn “It is Well with My Soul” has always touched my heart from the first moment I was old enough to grasp its meaning. The words were written by Horatio G. Spafford in 1873 as he passed over the area in the Atlantic where all four of his daughters had drowned after the ship they were on collided with another vessel.

What a testimony to his faith that no matter what happened in his life, it was well with his soul. He’s shared that faith with all of us.

Our lives take many twists and turns, and many of those are tragic events. Yet, through it all, our faith can and should remain strong and unaffected by outside events.

My best friend, Iris Mills Donehoo Broadbent was a living testament to that in much the same way as Mr. Spafford. “It is Well with My Soul” was not only her favorite hymn, it was also her mantra.

When she was diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer’s she never once asked “why me?”. She never once complained that this was her lot.

As I visited with her just months before that awful disease would take her from us, she said to me: “Deb, sometimes I look in the mirror and I don’t know my name.” After a slight pause, she continued: “But God knows my name.” Indeed, sweet Iris, God knows your name.

God knows all our names, the numbers of hairs we each have on our heads, the pains and the traumas we face – God knows all! God cares, God loves, God works behind the scenes always for our good.

Regardless of what you’re going through, and what might be around the bend for you, know that “it IS well with your soul” because the God of Creation has your back.

See you next time…

Three Answers

I’ve been in church since I was two weeks old. Yes, you read that right, TWO weeks old. That said, I’ve heard about praying my entire life. I listened to prayers in church, Sunday School, and other venues, and I’ve heard stories of amazing answers to prayers.

Have you noticed that most of the time, the “answered” prayer stories are the ones where the person received what he/she had asked for? It seems we rarely hear about the “unanswered” prayers.

It wasn’t until I was 20 years old and sitting in the funeral home after the death of a family member that I understood about the “unanswered” prayers – which is really the three answers to prayer.

A friend was comforting me, and I said to her, “God didn’t answer my prayer for her to live.” My friend gently and lovingly said, “Debi, God has three answers – yes, no, and wait. For this prayer, God has said no.” That one comment changed my prayer life forever.

God is God, and we are not. God sees and knows the big picture. God knows what we truly need, and regardless of what is happening in our lives, God is working in the background for our good. So the next time you pray and don’t receive the answer you wanted, remember this – God has your back and is working in your life always!

See you next time…

 

The Silver Lining

 

 

 

 

 

We’ve all heard the old saying “look for the silver lining”, but most of the time when we’re in whatever mess we’re in it’s hard to imagine,  much less look for or see, “the silver lining”.

Recently, we had to change our home phone number because someone cloned it and was robo-dialing people using it. As I made call after call alerting all the doctor’s offices, insurance companies, banks, the pharmacy, and countless other entities that use and require our phone number, I was getting madder than a wet hen (as we say in the South).

It wasn’t until much later that evening as I was lying in bed that I realized there was not one, but TWO silver linings. The first was that, after repeating it 50,000 times, I’d memorized our new number! And the second was that we would no longer receive calls from the creditors of the disrespectful relative who continually opened accounts, listed our phone number in the contact area, and then just didn’t make the payments!!

The hassle of a new phone number in no way compares with some of the major issues we face in life. Being aware that even in the worst of times there IS a silver lining, may help all of us to weather the storms of life.

The ultimate silver lining in my life is God. That’s why I chose the picture I did for this blog. Do you see not only God’s light/love in the sky, but also in the dark waters of the Santa Rosa Sound? THAT is my silver lining! THAT is the silver lining available to all that will invite and accept God into their lives. Regardless of what is happening in our lives, God is the constant, the One who continues to shine and work in the background loving us all the while. God is our Silver Lining.

See you next time…

The above picture was taken by my cousin, Grace Barrington Niederlehner.

His Unfailing Love

 

One of the verses in my morning devotion was Psalm 143:8: “Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love, for I have put my trust in you. Show me the way I should go, for to you I lift up my soul.” (NIV)

It jumped out at me so much, because I prayed a similar prayer on a night in 2010, during one of the most terrifying family crisis’ I have faced. I cried out to God because I had no idea what to do next.

It is amazing and such a comfort to me that the things I feel are feelings already experienced by someone who lived centuries before me, and who with the inspiration from God wrote down what he felt so that in this present day, I could read it and have God speak to me in a personal way.

God is there in our darkest hour ready to bless us with His unfailing love. All we have to do is seek Him and He will walk with us every step of the way, carrying us when need be.

I have experienced it not only in 2010, but also countless other times when I’ve found myself wandering in a place or situation that I never imagined. God is always working in the background. What an incredible comfort that is! That image is so real to me, and it brings comfort to my soul. It reminds me of my daddy working (or piddling as we used to tease him) in his workshop.

Praise be to God, He is there for us always. All we need to do is breathe His name.

See you next time….

 

Just a Chair

It was just a chair

As I recall, it was a rather non-descript, average, run-of-the-mill lift-chair used to help the elderly and/or ill patients more easily rise to a standing position. Don’t get me wrong, it was a very nice chair, and I felt blessed that a friend had passed it along to our family for Daddy (also known as Poppy or Popsaw) after her own dad had passed away.

It wasn’t until Mom passed it along to another family after Daddy died that I began to comprehend the significance of this non-descript, average, run-of-the-mill lift-chair.

My older sister, Kathy and I were attending a writers’ festival in Decatur, GA. As we were eating our lunch and discussing things we’d seen and done earlier that day, Kathy suggested I write a story about the chair.

“What chair?” I asked.

“You know, Poppy’s lift-chair. Mom has passed it onto another family now – the fourth family the chair has helped. There’s a story there, Deb.”

I must interject here that the fact that Kathy is the deep thinker and I am the writer just “ain’t right” as we say in the South, but I digress.

Being a deep-thinker wanna-be, I couldn’t get the story of the chair out of my head. I researched the manufacturing of lift-chairs. I even tried to arrange a tour at one of the plants. I finally realized that none of THAT was the story. It’s just a chair. The story isn’t how it was made, but what it has done and meant to those who have used it. I realized how those who have used it have become not just people, but vessels of the Living God.

Our journey with the chair

I do not know the name of the first lady who owned the chair, but the second lady was Ami, a dear friend of my niece, Julie, who has become a dear friend to all of us.

Ami’s dad had COPD, and the steroids he was on were having an adverse affect on his back. His back was literally crumbling into pieces as a result of the medications he required. Moving him at all became a challenge, never knowing if another bone would crack. Through all this he still wanted to be active.

Ami quit her job so she could care for him 24/7. As he worsened, she found herself straining her own back as she lifted him out of his chair. As he weakened, this became even more of a challenge because he could not help her at all and had become dead weight.

Ami finally came to the conclusion that in order to continue to be her dad’s caregiver, she needed a lift-chair to aid in getting him up. When she looked into purchasing one, she realized the staggering costs were beyond her means at that time. Prayer was never beyond her means. She knew God to be faithful to those who trust, and she knew God knew her dad needed a lift-chair.

A few days after placing this into God’s hands, one of Ami’s friends shared a Facebook post of someone selling a lift-chair for $350.00! That was considerably below market value, and even though Ami wasn’t quite sure how she would come up with the money, she knew God was in it and would make a way.

She contacted the lady selling the chair, told her she knew $350.00 was a great price, and she was very grateful to be able to get the chair. She never once mentioned her financial situation or anything of that nature to the woman. She just asked the lady to hold the chair until she could arrange for a truck to pick it up.

Two days later, when she called back for directions and a convenient time to pick it up, the lady responded that God had told her to give Ami the chair at no charge. Ami couldn’t believe it! She assured the lady that $350.00 was a very fair price, and she was glad to pay it. The lady responded that the only payment she required was that Ami pass it on at no charge once her dad no longer needed it.

That is how our family came to own the chair. Daddy was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s in early 2010. Initially it was just a forgetful moment here or there, but as time went on, other areas of his life began to be affected. His balance was one of the first things to really go downhill. It seemed he fell all the time, even with the aid of his walker.

Julie mentioned this to Ami one day in passing. Ami suggested perhaps the lift-chair would give him time to establish his balance prior to taking his first step. Her dad had passed away, and she had been waiting for a family she could pass the chair along to. She told Julie that she and her husband would deliver the chair to my parents’ house.

The chair was a blessing to us, as it did help Daddy gather himself before actually taking the first step getting up to walk. It fit right in with the décor of my parents’ living room, and Daddy enjoyed many hours watching his beloved Braves and the University of Georgia Bulldogs play games from the chair. He also continued to hold his great-grands in the chair, and make memories for them, even as his continued to fade.

The chair accompanied him to the assisted living facility once it became apparent that Mom could no longer care for him at home. Daddy not only benefitted from the chair, but he enjoyed watching his grands and great-grands “play” in the chair. I suspect the chair enjoyed that, too. It was a very sad day for our family when Daddy no longer knew how to operate the chair. Alzheimer’s is a wicked disease…

The chair’s journey continued

Ami’s only request when she gave us the chair was the same as the lady who gave it to her – pass it on to another family who needs it, at no charge.

After Daddy died, the chair was moved back to Mom’s house and ultimately found a resting place on the enclosed back porch. Several family members tried to locate someone who might benefit from the chair, but to no avail. None of us knew anyone who needed the chair until one Sunday afternoon when Kathy went to visit an elderly couple from her church. Mrs. Betty suffered from COPD and Mr. Don had chronic back trouble that caused him to stoop over when he walked. He had fallen a few days earlier, causing additional damage to his back. Mrs. Betty told Kathy how difficult it was for her to get him out of his recliner and that both of them were exhausted. Immediately, Kathy thought of the chair. She assured Mrs. Betty the problem of getting Mr. Don out of the recliner would soon not be a problem.

When Mom heard the story of Mr. Don, she said “That’s who needs the chair now.” The following Saturday, the chair was loaded onto the back of a red pickup truck and traveled to its new home two blocks away. You can literally see Mrs. Betty and Mr. Don’s house from Mom’s back porch! Not only did the chair enable Mr. Don to stand up unaided, but it also allowed him to sleep comfortably at night until his back healed from the fall. Mr. Don continues to use the chair, and while he will always have back issues, the chair has improved his quality of life. On bad nights, he still sleeps in the chair. Mrs. Betty no longer strains herself caring for him.

In the end, the lift-chair is not just a chair, but rather a thread of God’s love, holding each and every one of us together. God wove together the tapestry of four families in a way only God can. Everyone touched by the chair has been changed.

I wonder if the workers who built the chair, and all lift-chairs, ever stop to think of how their talents have been used by God. I wonder if any of us stop to think about how the mundane things we do every day can be used by God in a meaningful way. After all, it was not just a chair, and we are not just workers, or just people.  We are sons and daughters of a mighty God who uses not only us, but also the work of our hands to His glory. Amen!

See you next time…

 

 

 

Welcome Aboard!

Welcome to my blog page!

Recognizing that we all journey through life, many with similar stories, I’ve created this page to share thoughts and insights from my 64+ year journey so far, and what I continue to learn and experience. Most of my blogs will have an element of faith, sprinkled with humor. Occasionally, I’ll just be silly for no reason other than to have fun.

I would never have made it this far, or this long, without my faith in God. From a very young age I knew the integral part God played in my life. The first Bible verse I remember learning is Psalm 56:3 – What time I am afraid I will trust in thee. (KJV). I was six or seven at the time, and that verse became my mantra, even though at that age I didn’t know what a mantra was.

Countless times during my life, I pulled that verse to the front of my mind and my heart, and I have clung to the words and to the Savior about whom they speak.

The first time was as they rolled me down the hallway of a hospital toward the OR for emergency surgery. I was seven, and I was very scared. Another time was when I rolled a car doing 65 MPH along I-20. Yet another time, I was in the middle of a divorce – a place I never imagined I’d be. And during the time I was awaiting the results of a biopsy, that verse comforted me. No matter the situation, that one short verse has made an incredible impact on my life. Faith is a huge part of who I am.

Another huge part of my life is humor.

Daddy taught us by his example to use humor (alongside our faith) at the most trying times in life. And believe you me, humor runs amuck in our family during the most serious of circumstances, be it at the bedside of a dying loved one, a wedding, a funeral – you name it. No matter how sad and somber we are, at some point one of us will get the giggles, and the whole lot of us will lose it. We laugh much prettier than we cry – just sayin’.

So as you join me for my musings on life, you’ll learn of my faith, and you’ll learn of my humor – both working hand-in-hand to help me navigate life.

I look forward to your company. I welcome your feedback and comments as we journey together through this thing called “life”, remembering that we are each at the helm of our own boat. How we steer our boat will determine our journey. Here’s to smooth sailing!

See you next time…

p.s. The above picture is my Uncle Johnny (John Barrington) steering his boat in the Gulf of Mexico.