"Welcome to my blog space. I believe that God has carefully placed gems in our paths to fill our days with joy. The challenge for us is to take the time to notice them. My desire is to share the gems in my life so that, hopefully, you will see the ones He's placed in yours. I hope what you read here will be worth your time and you'll want to return often." - Cathy

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Day Before Yesterday, Forty-One Years Ago

             Day before yesterday, forty-one years ago, our firstborn child died. Our beautiful Stacie Anne was born on April 23, 1971, with a heart defect. The picture of health at nine pounds, six and a half ounces, she lived one day. 

            My husband, Larry, received orders for an Army tour of duty in Germany two months before my due date. My doctors would not allow me to travel overseas with him, saying it wasn’t safe. I planned to stay at my mother’s house until I delivered the baby and we could join my husband.
The hospital contacted the Red Cross in Germany when I went into labor and entered the hospital at Fort Gordon, Georgia. When Stacie died, they did a wonderful job of getting Larry home.
He arrived just in time to pick me up at the hospital. I was discharged and we drove directly to the Funeral Home and then on to the cemetery for the graveside service.
There is something about burying your child that goes against the natural order of the universe. Children are supposed to bury their parents, not the other way around. Some days it feels like it happened yesterday. Some days it feels like it was all a horrible nightmare I dreamed in another lifetime.
Given the premise of this blog, you are probably asking yourself, “How could there possibly be any joy in this situation?” A young friend and her husband delivered a baby daughter last week. Born at twenty-three weeks, AddieRaye Elisabeth didn’t survive. I offered to talk to my friend when she is ready. The thought of helping someone through the valley of the shadow of death, makes Stacie’s life count and that makes my heart sing.
I have been thinking about the lessons I’ve learned throughout these forty-one years.  In retrospect, I see that I have been a good student, absorbing the lessons that God had for me. It’s been quite a process and it would take numerous blog posts to cover it all.
I learned that God is God and I am not. He is in control and I am not. This was a hard one for a perfectionist. In the six years I had been a Christian, this was the first time my faith had been tested, and it was a huge test. In the healing process, I came to strongly believe God continually has my best interests at heart and is working out thousands of tiny details to make sure all things work together for my good.
In those periods when my heart ached and I couldn’t understand, I clung to the promises in I Corinthians 13:12 NCV, “Now we see a dim reflection, as if we were looking into a mirror, but then we shall see clearly. Now I know only a part, but then I will know fully, as God has known me.” 
I looked forward to Heaven so I could get the answers to all my questions. I steadied myself for the wait, and it was enough to calm my hurting heart. God loved me enough to allow me to hold on to those verses for as long as I needed them.
It has only been in the last ten years that I have come to realize that once I get to Heaven and see Jesus, nothing that occurred here on earth will matter. There will be no questions needing answers.
            God has proven himself faithful to me by providing what I need each day. All of my physical, emotional and spiritual needs have been and will continue to be met.
            And that gives me joy!
Be blessed today and don’t miss the joy-moments along the way, even in the hard times-

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

The Master's Touch

            The Community Ash Wednesday Service was scheduled for noon at an Episcopal Church in town. I thought there would be more people there, but the small church was perfect for the 40-50 who came to receive the ashes and begin the season of Lent together.
            As the ashes were placed on each participant’s forehead in the shape of a cross, our thoughts were directed toward Jesus and what He did for us on the cross. Thus begins the 40 day period of self-inspection where we focus on Jesus and what we might need to change about ourselves to be more Christ-like. Some denominations encourage members to give up something that is dear to them and spend more time before the Father, listening.
            A story was told at the service about an auction. Several items had been sold when the auctioneer picked up an old, battered violin. “How much,” he asked, “for this old violin?” The crowd was silent. “Come on now, somebody start and we’ll see where we go,” the man said. Bids came in slowly, one dollar, two dollars, and then three. An old man, bent at the waist and limping slightly, came forward and ran his rough hands over the well-used violin. He placed it under his chin, ran the bow over the strings, and made a few adjustments. He began to play and out flowed the loveliest tune and captured the audience.
            The man laid the violin down and went back to his seat. The auctioneer peered out at the folks and said, “Now what am I offered for this beautiful instrument?” The bids tumbled in quickly, one after the other, and the violin was sold for thousands of dollars.
            What made the difference?  The Master of the bent old man had touched him and given him the ability to free the beautiful music hidden inside the violin. Because the Master saw the potential in the violinist, he was able to see the potential wrapped up in the rough looking instrument.
            Have you been touched by the Master? I don’t believe God has given over the creation of His precious children to a committee. I see Him painstakingly choosing and weaving together all the parts that make up each new baby. When He breathes life into us He breathes potential into us as well.  
Oh yes, you shaped me first inside, then out;
you formed me in my mother's womb.
I thank you, High God—you're breathtaking!
Body and soul, I am marvelously made!
I worship in adoration—what a creation!
You know me inside and out,
you know every bone in my body;
You know exactly how I was made, bit by bit,
how I was sculpted from nothing into something.
Like an open book, you watched me grow from conception to birth;
all the stages of my life were spread out before you,
The days of my life all prepared
before I'd even lived one day.
Psalm 139:14-16  The Message   

Do you know how precious you are to Him? What difference would it make in your life if you realized how valuable you are because you’ve been touched by the Master?
I’d love for you to leave a comment for my readers. What are you thinking after reading this message today?
Praying your day will be joy-filled-

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

The Tomb is Empty!

             The minister at a little Methodist Church I attended opened his Easter sermon that year with this question, “Do you know what you will find if you visit the grave of Buddha? Buddha bones.” He continued this line of questioning with several other well known religious leaders of the past, concluding that their graves all hold their bones. Then he asked, “Do you know what you’ll find if you visit the tomb where Jesus was buried? Nothing! The tomb is empty. This is one of the anomalies that separate Jesus from all other religious leaders-past, present and yet to come.”
Very early on the first day of the week the women went to the tomb, taking the spices they had prepared. 2 They found that the stone had been rolled away from the entrance. 3 So they went in, but they didn’t find the body of the Lord Jesus. 4 As they stood there puzzled, two men suddenly appeared to them, clothed in dazzling robes. 5 The women were terrified and bowed with their faces to the ground. Then the men asked, “Why are you looking among the dead for someone who is alive? 6 He isn’t here! He is risen from the dead! Remember what he told you back in Galilee, 7 that the Son of Man must be betrayed into the hands of sinful men and be crucified, and that he would rise again on the third day.” 8 Then they remembered that he had said this. 9 So they rushed back from the tomb to tell his eleven disciples—and everyone else—what had happened. 10 It was Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James, and several other women who told the apostles what had happened. 11 But the story sounded like nonsense to the men, so they didn’t believe it. 12 However, Peter jumped up and ran to the tomb to look. Stooping, he peered in and saw the empty linen wrappings; then he went home again, wondering what had happened.   Luke 24:1-12 NIV 
Although I shouldn’t be, I am continually amazed as scientists puzzle over how to prove/disprove the truth about Jesus. I watched a History Channel show a few nights ago about the Shroud of Turin. I watched as one scientist went from a controlled, analytical approach to a man who was so choked up he could barely speak as the evidence unfolded. One of the odd things found on this cloth was a three dimensional code that allowed them to reconstruct the face of the man buried beneath the cloth. They spent a lot of time trying to recreate the kind of light it would have taken to make this imprint. According to previous experience there are only two types of light, pinpoint and scattered, and they never operate at the same time.  They found that it took both kinds of light, radiating simultaneously at mega-power, to create what happened to the shroud on resurrection morning.
Through blood evidence present on the shroud, they were able to conclude the person covered by this shroud had endured a horrible beating, scourging and whipping, being almost beat to death. The burial cloth would have been draped over the body and then another cloth was wrapped around that and tucked in and folded in a precise way securing the spices that the women used to anointed the body. Bands of the same kind of cloth would have been tied around the body at four intervals to keep everything neatly in place. The evidence on the shroud proved that this occurred in this case. The unusual thing about this particular person is that he left his burial clothes behind, still tied, still wrapped just so, and still laying in the same position. Amazing, isn’t it?
Personally, I don’t need scientific proof that Jesus lived and died as the Bible says. I have proof enough in the transformation of my heart on the day that I accepted Him as my Savior and all the days since. What a wonderful, caring God I serve who would go to these great lengths to prove it to people who do need the concrete scientific evidence. He allows the occasional unearthing of some long lost treasure which points to the truth of Jesus and gives a few people the knowledge and desire needed to decode the evidence.
Are you the logically minded person who needs proof or are you the person who believes based on the knowing in your heart? What really matters is that you believe that Jesus is the Son of God, sent to earth to suffer and die in your place for the forgiveness of sin, and that He now lives in Heaven with God and is preparing a place for you. The tomb is empty and Jesus is alive and that fills me with joy!
 Encourage my readers by leaving a comment about how you came to believe in Jesus.
May your day be filled with joy moments-

Monday, April 2, 2012

Stepping into the Unknown

I was ten years old and my sister was five when Momma came home from the hospital without the baby brother we had waited so long to see. Neither of us could understand it, but, finally, after three weeks of additional waiting, he was coming home. He was the tiniest baby I’d ever seen. He was such a miniature that we made him a bed in a small dresser drawer. Bathing him wore him out to the point that we could only bathe him every other day, sometimes every third day. He was supposed to eat two ounces every two hours. Eating tired his little body out so much that it took him at least forty-five minutes to drink the required amount. By the time he finished a feeding it was almost time to start over.
One night shortly after Tommy came home, Momma woke me up about ten o’clock. She handed me this tiny bundle of humanity and said, “Please feed him for me. I’m so tired I just can’t do it.” With that she went back to bed and left Tommy and I in the living room. He and I stepped into the unknown and took hold of it that night. Momma caring for him during the day while I was at school and me caring for him at night quickly became our “normal” routine.
Tommy-6 weeks

At first, I was scared I was going to break him. I didn’t really know what to do with him but my maternal instinct soon kicked in and we became the best of friends. I talked to him softly while he ate, all the while gently tapping his feet to keep him awake and interested in eating. He was such a good baby, very forgiving of my fumbling attempts at changing him and tucking him into his makeshift bed for a short nap before it was time for the next feeding.
All these many years later, we are holding hands and stepping into the unknown again. Tommy has been disabled by a degenerative spine disease for about fourteen years. Over those years, he’s had numerous surgeries and is constantly in pain, even with a pain medication pump implanted in his abdomen. Recently his spine has degenerated even further and he is now in need of a specialist in the field of spinal surgery. Miraculously, he was able to get an appointment with a leader in the field.
Tommy’s wife and I will be leaving tomorrow (Tuesday, April 3rd) to make our way to Bethesda, Maryland where we will pick Tommy up at the airport on Wednesday. His appointment is Thursday at 11:00am. As unlikely as it may seem to the rest of the world, we are hoping against all odds that this doctor will see Tommy on Thursday, formulate a treatment plan, and operate early the next week. We don’t want Tommy to have to make that trip again in his fragile condition.
Often when I am faced with the unknown, I am reminded of Psalm 23:4 “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for thou art with me.” (KJV) At times, I even paraphrase it to suit my situation: “Yea though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, or lay here in this MRI machine wondering if the results will be life-changing, I will fear no evil, for thou art with me.” It gives me comfort and a joy-filled spirit knowing God has gone before me to prepare the way, and He loves me enough to walk the path with me, hand in hand.

This week as we traverse highways we’ve never traveled before; visit towns we never imagined we might go to; and meet with medical professionals we’ve never encountered before, it gives me great joy to know that we don’t have to be afraid. We are under the protection of a loving God who is guiding every step of this journey into the unknown.
Have you ever been thrust into the unknown? What gave you courage to make the journey? Please leave a comment and share your experience with my readers.
Praying your day will be “joy-full”-