soon and very soon…

I’ll be launching my new website!! Sorry if you thought I had busted out with a gospel hymn…

I’m just EXCITED!!

yay

And scared!

As you might recall, I want to make this new place “work”, “earn its keep”… at least generate a little income.

It better because it’s gonna cost a bit to get this started right. ūüôā

So what will the new place consist of? Pretty much the same thing it does now, only Lord willing, more cohesive and more of it!

I’ll be posting about my experiences in homeschooling,

homeschool-house

my various and sundry medical issues (type 1 diabetes, thyroid disease, migraines, old age (LOL!))

health-wellness

I’ll also post about my faith

faith

and I HOPE there will be lots of people who will come alongside and discuss things! I miss that the most, I think.

comment

The blog I had years ago that was so active had several regular readers and they were not only readers, but COMMENTERS!! We had lots of great discussions about all kinds of topics, so that’s what I’m looking forward to most.

I hope that I might be able to do some reviews and possibly some freelance writing too. That pesky book I’ve been thinking about for years and finally sorta-kinda started…

writing the first chapter

….well, maybe I’ll be able to flesh it out to the end here, who knows?!

Anyhow… stay tuned and if you think of it, pray with me that this will be a success! THANKS!

*mwah!*

Blessings,
G~

30 whole years!

Okay y’all… you’ll have to extend some grace here. ¬†I had my 30th wedding anniversary last week and I’m just now posting about it!

weddingtoast

Yes, we were just babies in 1985.

There have been times, over the years, that it wouldn’t have taken much for either of us to just walk away. ¬†It’s been hard at times. ¬†There have also been amazing, awesome, wonderful times, of course. ¬†But those storms when it seems there’s no chance of escaping in one piece can shake you to the core.

But God… ¬†If not for having Him in our lives and in our marriage, we surely would not have made it for thirty years. ¬†Of course, we can do nothing on our own, but we like to think we can. ¬†We so easily forget that it’s only by the will of God that we even breathe let alone move, think, walk and talk.

I’m so thankful that He intervened so many times in our marriage. ¬†I have always felt really glad that both Hubby and I had intact families (neither of our parental units have divorced) and have two examples of half-century marriages to look to, although… *giggle* our marriage looks nothing like either of theirs.

And we don’t want it to! ¬†We exchange knowing looks of agreement when either set of our parents are doing something we find annoying and we’ll laugh or commiserate later that we’re SO glad we don’t “___whatever___” like they do. ¬†I’m sure our kids have the same feelings about us and I guess that’s how life is.

We make our own lives and our own favorite ways of being a couple.

Speaking of the kids, July has become Anniversary Month around here.  Our oldest son and his wife

wedding-victory

wedding-smiles

celebrated seven years of marriage the week before our 30th anniversary, after which our youngest son & his wife

victory

Casey-Taylor-bw-reception

had their first-ever anniversary!  Yep, all within three weeks.

I’m not sure how that happened, but I think it’s kinda cool. ¬†And convenient too in that none of us can quite forget any of the others’ anniversaries. ¬†Ha ha!

I have to admit…I was feeling pretty bummed that we didn’t have any kind of “real” celebration for our 30th though. ¬†I mean, that’s supposed to be some kind of milestone, isn’t it? ¬†I sure don’t know many couples our age who have been married even half this long. ¬†I remember having “dreams” if you will, of being able to take a cruise for our 25th anniversary, but that didn’t happen. ¬†Not for lack of wanting on either of our parts, but for lack of funds? ¬†You betcha. ¬†So five years ago, we plunked down a chunk on a room for the night way high on this mountain, and it was awesome.

It just would have been more awesome if I hadn’t worried about money the whole time. ¬†*sigh* ¬†And here we were five years later, and once again, absolutely no funds for any kind of get-away or even a room for the night somewhere.

I was getting really bummed. ¬†We talked about maybe going to do the Virginia Creeper trail, which is a cycling thing, and that would have been great, but the drive was so long that we’d have been killed to have driven there, ride the trail and then drive back home in one day, so we didn’t even attempt it rather than go and not enjoy it.

After having to replace our air conditioner system (lighting hit it) and then just the week before our anniversary, our water heater broke, saturating the carpet in our bedroom and adding another big expense we couldn’t afford… we just didn’t have any extra money for anything big.

I had spent the week being really sad over it to the point I just didn’t want to do anything. ¬†However, the day arrived, a Sunday, and my best friend from high school, who I hadn’t seen in probably 10 or more years, who has recently moved back here with her newly-adopted TWO YEAR OLD son!!! ¬†She was coming to our church and wanted to see if we could meet and at least sit together. ¬†Of all days for this to happen, on our 30th anniversary had to be a “God thing” because this sweet lady was my one and only “bridal party”..my maid of honor!!! ¬†How cool is that??

So, we got to meet her adorable little guy, visit for a bit, then we took off. ¬†We’d gotten a coupon for a free appetizer at a restaurant we like, but there’s not one near us, so before I even knew what he was doing, Hubby was on the interstate and all he’d say was we were going to eat.

We drove 100 miles away, found the restaurant and had a great meal. ¬†By this time, God had worked on my sour attitude and I was just enjoying time with my husband of 30 whole years. ¬†I began to think about how hard-working and caring he is. ¬†How he’s encouraged me to try harder and do more than I ever would have attempted myself.

30yrstogether2

Later, we stopped in a couple of surplus home goods stores and bought a few little items, found a gorgeous duvet cover with shams for our king size bed for just $18!!  Then we walked through the other place, that was more for builders I guess.. it had furniture and decor and we saw some gorgeous items that gave us some inspirations for future improvements on the house.

Then we went to a couple of health food stores and he helped me pick out meals for the coming week. ¬†His request, saying “since it’s our anniversary”… LOL! is for me to start eating better.

*sigh*

Well, okay. ¬†So, we ended the day at Whole Foods, where we ate a slice of “wholesome” pizza and drank his ever bottle of kombucha tea (which I’ve been thinking about attempting to brew myself)kombucha-WF

and then stopped at the Walmart at home to pick up some batteries we needed and I bought us a selfie stick.  See?

selfiestick

This is the photo I sent to the kids showing them how techno-savvy their parents are.  HAHAHA!!

And so, our 30th anniversary came and went and left me with a sense of satisfaction. ¬†I am sad that I’ve wasted so many years being dissatisfied with things, life, people, myself… but I am doing my best to change things now.

And I’m looking forward to reaching our 50th anniversary and yes, still hoping we might have a bit bigger celebration by that time. ¬†But if not, I know that’ll be okay too.

We have each other and we’re happy. ¬†That’s enough.

Philippians 4:11-12Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need.”

that’s TWO hundred!

Horsey Hundred 2015

Well, he did it.  Hubby got his second century ride in the books.

This was a whole ‘nother experience, having to go to another town where he’d never ridden before, had not practiced on any of the route at all, et cetera.¬† You don’t realize how much comfort there is in being familiar with the road and the terrain!¬† Hmph…that’s a whole other post-slash-sermon right there, though, isn’t it??¬† Ha!

But yes, we left the pup with Mom for the night and drove about 2 hours away for this ride.¬† It was beautiful country and I even survived with my trusty GPS getting to the places I needed to be all on my own.¬† God sure has been stretching me in the area of traveling by myself in unfamiliar territory.¬† I can’t lie…that scares me thinking of what He might be preparing me for, ya know?

Anyway, I’m really proud of the hubby… he is such a go-gitter and is already counting down the twenty-some days til the next 100-miler in Frankfort.¬† (yes, I know, this last ride went through Frankfort, but the next one starts there & goes…I don’t even know where all it goes!)

I spent most of Ride Day at the 93 mile rest stop.¬† It was hot and boring.¬† I have to plan better next time.¬† It was hard not knowing exactly where the stops were.¬† All I had to go on were road names listed in the cue sheet.¬† That’s a turn-by-turn ‘map’ of sorts the cyclists can use.¬† It just lists road names, though…so all I’d know was that a particular rest stop was on “this” road, not exactly WHERE on the road it was.¬† That was unnerving to me, but I made it to both the stops I went to without any incident.

The worst thing was thinking “I’ll grab a bite somewhere on the way” then finding there really wasn’t any where¬†nearby to get food!!¬† I literally went from 6 a.m. til after 6 p.m. without anything to eat or drink!¬† Well, wait… I did eat a small bag of chips that one of Hubby’s rider friends had gotten then didn’t want and half of a Payday candy bar that Hubby couldn’t eat.¬† Yes, I was at rest stops with tons of food, but I wasn’t about to even think of eating any of the food that was for the cyclists, even though the thought of asking to have some water did cross my mind several times.¬† I just toughed it out.¬† I honestly thought for sure I would pass a fast food place on the way to that second rest stop, but¬†I didn’t, and then I thought I’d run back out to pick up something real quick before time for Hubby to be there, but there were routes coming in both directions into the stop and it was way out in the country, so it would have taken a lot longer to drive out and back.¬† And then I’d have to drive through cyclists too, which isn’t fun for them or me.¬† Sigh.¬† Next time I am packing a cooler for myself!¬† And a chair and an air mattress maybe.¬† Ha!

There was a terrible tragedy that happened during the ride that has left me shaken, though.¬† A drunk driver hit and killed one of the cyclists.¬† I had no clue, but when they made the announcement at the closing ceremony, Hubby informed me that he’d ridden past it shortly after it happened.¬† He wasn’t sure at the time if there’d been a fatality or even that it did involve a bike rider, but my core was shaken at that news.

Of course, we never know which breath will be our last, but I had not even entertained the thought that this hobby could get my Hubby, or even me, killed!  I have fought with the fear and the thoughts of wanting him to NOT do the next rides.  I have tried to rationalize the fact that just getting out of bed in the morning can be potentially deadly.  Shoot, LAYING in the bed can be deadly, ya know?  Any of us could die just as easily no matter where we are.

That’s when it dawned on¬†me that it doesn’t matter what we do or don’t do.¬† When God says it’s our time, we are going,¬†no matter what we do to try and “stay safe”.¬† I guess, just that sudden, crushing realization that it¬†could have just as easily been Hubby who had been killed shook me.¬† I suddenly wanted him to NOT ride, to not do anything dangerous, to be safe.¬† But who of us can ever be¬†truly safe and from what are we being “safe” anyway?¬† If we live in fear of dying,¬†¬†we won’t truly live.¬† We will become obsessed with preserving our lives while frittering away all the excitement, joy and fun there is in living.¬† We will miss opportunities to spend time with those we love, enjoying life with them.¬†¬†Simply put, we will miss out.¬† On life, on love, on fun…on everything!

My mother is one of the biggest worry warts I know.¬† I try to cut her some slack because God knows with both her children having chronic diseases, that kinda dictates that she be a worrier, right?¬† But she can really take it to the extreme.¬† She doesn’t know about the accident¬†¬†and hopefully she won’t til at least after the next ride Hubby does.¬† If she finds out, she will fret about it and nag me to death that I should make him NOT ride.¬† Yes, she’ll insist that I MAKE him not do the next ride.¬† That’s just mom.¬† We’ve all learned to deal with her neuroses the best we can and sometimes that means keeping certain info from her.¬† I haven’t posted about the accident on Facebook or anywhere or mentioned it to anyone except the kids.¬† Neither of my parents have Facebook, but they have friends who do, so I don’t want any of that stuff getting back to them if I can help it!

Anyway, all that to say, I could feel my Mom’s panic rising in me and I could step to the other side of it, and feel the futility of it as well.¬† I don’t want to feel like she does.¬† I don’t want to worry away my life.¬† I don’t want to give my appreciation of life away to fear.

Isaiah 41:10 (ESV)

10 fear not, for I am with you;
    be not dismayed, for I am your God;
I will strengthen you, I will help you,
    I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

a new thing…

Not to the exclusion of the old thing, just in addition to it.

Heart to Heart Too blog.

This blog is a collaboration of the ladies in my Emmaus reunion group, a sort-of small- or accountability group of ladies in the area who have been on an Emmaus walk. There are only about 7 of us who semi-regularly attend. We are stretched out over a large geographic area, so it’s not as easy to get together as it would be if we all lived in the same county, but we are hoping through this blog, we can accomplish several things.

We can express what God’s showing and teaching us, hopefully in a way that will also help others. We can discharge some of our creative writing tendencies or exercise those with the hope of growing them further. And we can keep in touch with each other even when we can’t get together.

Go check it out. I happened to get the honor (or maybe it was a punishment? HAHA!) of being the first to publish a post. It’s harder to write when you have some parameters to meet. Unlike when I just get on here and verbally slobber all over you. *pththt*

I can’t wait to see what the other ladies come up with in the future!

Go. Read. Enjoy. And share!

Exodus 34:27“And the Lord said to Moses, ‚ÄúWrite these words, for in accordance with these words I have made a covenant with you and with Israel.‚ÄĚ

first thing’s first

So, folks… at long last, I had my first appointment with the pelvic health therapist.¬† (in case this is the first you’re “hearing” about the PHT, see this post)

Hubby went with me.¬† He made sure he’d be able to go with for this first appointment.¬† At first I was a little disappointed because it seemed the therapist, who I really liked by the way, was only telling me things I had already discovered or come to the conclusion of myself, ya know?¬† Things like that my pain probably grew worse because of a sort of conditioning.¬† Duh!¬† Like that the injury from my childhood had something to do with the pain.¬† Really? ¬†That the muscles in that region are extremely tight.¬† Ya think?¬† That it took a long time to get in this shape and will take a long time to retrain the muscles.¬† I figured as much all by myself.

Thank you, lady.¬† Really.¬† I mean, as I said, I liked the therapist.¬† She knows her stuff.¬† She understands how all the muscles and nerves in that area work, how everything is connected, how it responds and she knows what to do to retrain my ill-trained muscles, how to get to the point that being intimate with my husband isn’t painful, something I wish to avoid, traumatic…well, you get the point.¬† As the gynecologist who referred me to this therapist said, we’ve been in this marriage, pain and all, for almost 30 years.¬† We deserve to have that part of our marriage be good.¬† I can’t imagine how that would feel.¬† Not having that burr, that pain or that untouchable area of our relationship be something that’s actually good.¬† Good, people!¬† I can’t imagine it.

Anyhow, so I go back next week for a session of biofeedback to see how my muscles are working, how they react in certain situations, how they are at rest and in use.  She mentioned using progressive dilators to help stretch the muscles and probably some ultrasound therapy on the perianal muscles, which seemed to be the tightest  area of all.

Sorry.¬† Now the internet knows about my most intimate problem.¬† But you know what?¬† I’ve lived all these¬†years without ANYONE to talk to about this¬†stuff.¬† Without being able to tell how much I have hurt, physically and emotionally, because a vital part of my marriage relationship was nonexistent.¬†¬†Never able to discuss how,¬†in those times when¬†my depression was at its worst,¬†much of¬†it was¬†a direct¬†result of feeling non-functional in this area of my life, of feeling broken, deformed, useless.¬†¬† How I have felt entirely guilty for it, for how it affected my husband, who I love dearly. because I couldn’t fulfill the most basic part of a marriage relationship.¬† And get this…he stayed faithful to me in spite of this.¬† How many men would do that?¬† Very few, that’s for certain.¬† So you see, I am beyond blessed in this way, in spite of how frustrated I get with other things about him.¬† I need to be more thankful.¬† I need to show my appreciation for how committed he has been to our marriage.

Great.¬† Now I feel even more¬†guilty, if that’s possible.¬† *sheesh*¬† Of course he has his faults, don’t we all?¬† But this particular thing, well, it is BIG, very big so that most men would have walked away decades ago.¬† Most men but, praise God,¬†not my husband.

I’m just asking him, and you too, I guess, to be patient with me while I go through all this.¬† Besides the physical therapies and changes¬†that¬†I’ll be dealing with, there is a virtual Mt.¬†Everest of emotional stuff to wade through¬†as well.

I know most people cannot fathom how this feels, how it is to have lived my whole life and not have ever felt good about the intimate part of my marriage.¬† Almost THIRTY¬† YEARS’ worth of marriage!

Will this even work?¬† Will my body ever be able to be intimate with Hubby without pain?¬† And even if that’s possible, will I ever be able to get my mind to cooperate?¬† How will this work between the two of us?¬† I already feel as if he is expecting big and fast changes as it is.¬† He assures me that’s not the case, but it’s still there in my mind.¬† My mind is like, “He HAS to be impatient for results!”¬†¬† I find myself wondering if the “want to”, which has been non-existent or at least VERY weak for years now, will that ever come back?¬† How do I flip that switch after all this time? What if the switch doesn’t¬† work anymore?¬† What if it’s broken beyond repair?¬† What if it’s GONE???

I know, I know.¬† That’s not evidence of faith, is it?¬† I need BIG help with that, so if you think of it, please pray?¬† Thanks.

Hebrews 11:1“Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.”

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God’s place, God’s time…

I’ll try to make this follow-able, understandable, but I can’t promise it will be. ¬†Just do the best you can. ¬†ūüôā

When I first got on Facebook, I started a group page for graduates from my high school… for the entire 80’s decade. ¬†Yup. ¬†Everyone who graduated from 1980 through 1989. ¬†The school underwent a name change after that when it became South “County” High School because they had build a new high school that was called North “County”. ¬†All of us who went there during the days when it was the only high school in the county were bummed that when you did a search for the school, it would only come up as “South” or “North”. ¬†Hmph.

Anyhow, I ended up with a TON of people on my friend list since anyone who joined had to be my friend since I was determined that a bunch of people outside that time frame not be in the group. ¬†Not to be exclusive necessarily, but because the 80’s were just so cool, y’know. ¬†Ha.

And so, that’s how I ended up with so many “friends”, many who I don’t really know other than they went to my high school in the 80’s. ¬†And that’s how Sasha* ended up on my list.

She’s been on it for quite awhile and I always appreciated her posts. ¬†She seemed like a very committed Christian mother and wife. ¬† We didn’t really interact so much other than to like each other’s stuff and occasionally comment.

Then Saturday happened.

She posted¬†about¬†needing prayer because she was prejudice. ¬†Turns out, none of the people who commented thought that was so. ¬†But because she had got out of a drive-thru lane when she saw a lady in middle eastern style clothing (don’t want this to come up in searches for certain words… overlook my not using the titles for this type of clothing). ¬†Anyhow, I commented that I felt the same way but that didn’t make us prejudice. ¬†There was lots of talk about being cautious and language barriers, etc. ¬†And that was that.

Then a bit later, I posted a link to this (yeah, you need to go read it) and I posted this comment along with it:::

This used to make me insane when i was in school. I have to say, I believe this mother was right on the mark with her response! That teacher should have been disciplined for not making the boy stop. Reminds me of a teacher I had who was beyond inappropriate when a boy was bothering me in class (he was grabbing my pencil away from me during a test) I don’t even remember who the boy was now, but I remember this man’s response when he looked up and saw him snatch my pencil… I won’t put it here because it was just pervy but it makes me sad that I didn’t feel I had anyone to report that to back then. I wish I had at least mentioned it to my parents. Not sure it would have had any sort of result, but I wish I had now. As it was, I just sat there, embarrassed out of my mind and hated that teacher more than usual.

Not long after that, I got a private FB message from her asking who the teacher was. ¬†We messaged back and forth; me giving her the name and her telling me about two incidences that had happened with two other teachers and her frustration that one of them was witnessed by a third teacher who just rolled his eyes and shook his head. ¬†We lamented how things like that were not reported when we were kids and such. ¬†Then her messages just stopped. ¬†I assumed she’d got busy or something. ¬†It wasn’t a big deal, but later I saw she ¬†had commented back on her ‘prejudice’ post that FB messages had stopped working and wondering if I’d got her last message and that she’d like to continue the conversation. ¬†I gave her my email address and soon we were messaging back and forth like long lost friends.

I told her what exactly had been said by the teacher from my post. ¬†[When he looked up to see a boy reaching across the aisle to grab my pencil repeatedly he said, “______”, (using my last name) “if you want to make love to him, go out in the hall.”]

*insert incredulous face here* ¬†Yeah. ¬†I was mortified and didn’t know what to do. ¬†He was a real gem of a fella *SARCASM* normally, so this wasn’t out of character, just a bit more over the top than usual. ¬†That’s when Sasha asked if I’d gotten her message about being kidnapped and raped by a fellow student when she was a freshman!

I was stunned! ¬†Obviously, I had NOT got that one, so she directed me to a status post she’d put up a few weeks ago that I had not seen. ¬†In it she talked about this incident and how it was years before she realized that a crime had been committed against her and how she’d tried to cope as a teen with alcohol and how God had since healed her. ¬†She eventually told me who had done this, both his name and the name of the boy who had helped carried her to the truck and drove.

She said she was hesitant to tell me since I had this man’s wife as an FB friend, so I explained that I didn’t even know this lady. ¬†When she told me who, it struck me that normally, I never see status updates from her. ¬†Either because she doesn’t post often or just because they don’t show in my newsfeed. ¬† But for the past week or two, I’d been seeing these posts from ¬†her about her husband being sick and having to have surgery. ¬†I hadn’t thought anything of it since I don’t know them, but after this revelation, I felt God had put them there. ¬†I don’t know WHY, but for whatever reason, He wanted to me see this info about this man. ¬†And the other thing? ¬†Just that day, the wife had posted a photo of him sitting in a chair in the hospital. ¬†That was the first time I’d ever seen him and I didn’t recognize him. ¬†Perhaps I need to be able to though? ¬†I just don’t know, but for all that to have happened in that order, at that time was just too much. ¬†I don’t believe in coincidences, so I believe, for whatever reason, God orchestrated all that stuff… me seeing those posts, seeing his picture, connecting with Sasha and getting on a subject to where she would share that info with me.

Of course, then there was the additional stuff… like me just pouring out my heart and telling her about all the things I’ve been dealing with lately, even the intimacy issues in my marriage and that I’d started seeing a therapist for depression. ¬†She then sent a reply telling me that she deals with depression too and basically describing me by telling me how she isolates and has no energy, etc.

So, I really wish Sasha didn’t live in Michigan now! ¬†It’s just uncanny how much we have in common while also having such different backgrounds. ¬†And we just connected SO well almost instantly.

God’s pretty amazing the way he does things.

Proverbs 17:17¬†— A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.”

*not her real name, obvs

the true nature of fear

I’ve told this story several times since it first happened. But at this point, it’s been a pretty good while since I’ve even thought about it. But my post about dealing with my bike and the fear I have of using the clips on the road got to me to thinking about this stuff again.

If you’ve read much here at all, you know that my family and I are very active in our local Emmaus community. Since I went on my own walk back in the fall of 2011, I’ve worked almost every walk after that in one way or another. I’ve served in the conference room multiple times and in various capacities, I’ve served in agape a few times and on the dining room team multiple times as well. I’ve also served on the prayer team multiple times.

If you’re unfamiliar with Emmaus, let me explain that it is a 72-hour “retreat” of sorts, but it’s unlike any Christian retreat you’ve ever attended. It’s really hard to explain and some people treat it like a huge secret but it’s really not. It’s just that it’s very hard to put into words exactly what an Emmaus weekend is!

You are put at “table groups” with up to 5 other people (at least for our community, we don’t put more than 6 people at a table) and you stay with this group throughout the weekend except for sleeping. You bunk with people who are NOT at your table, so you get to meet a lot of new folks and make lots of new friends. The purpose of an Emmaus walk is to strengthen your walk with Christ and build your faith and help you become a better church member once you leave. It is interdenominational and separated into walks by gender. Men’s, women’s and then boys and girls for the younger ones down to age 15. You spend the days in what we call the conference room listening to talks on the different aspects of God’s grace, discussing them with your table group and generally having a lot of fun, eating lots of food and usually crying lots of tears. It’s all good, don’t worry. I strongly encourage you to go if you ever have the opportunity to attend a walk.

So, all that aside, it takes a LOT of people to make one of these weekends flow seamlessly. There are tons of people behind the scenes cleaning, setting up rooms, meeting various needs of the attendees AND the other workers, cooking food, setting up the dining room for each meal and serving the meals and praying.

There’s a team of people there just to pray the entire time the walk is going on. And not only that, there’s also a list of people who are NOT on site, people who are praying around the clock at their homes and work for the walk also. The whole thing is bathed in prayer long before the weekend arrives.

The prayer team works in shifts, 3 hours at a time, twice a day per (usually) 2-member team. Those two people go in the designated prayer room where there are bibles, devotional books, and a list of names of all the attendees of the walk and a book for the prayer requests that come in during the weekend. Also, for each speaker that gives a talk in the conference room they come in before their talk and are prayed over, then when they are done giving their talk, they come back to be “prayed out”, to ask God to bless the words they have spoken and to refill their spirit for what they’ve “poured out” during their talk, etc. So you have speakers coming in unless you have the “wee hours” shifts when everyone is sleeping.

It is a huge honor to serve in prayer and I have always grown immensely from my experience on the prayer team.

Once I was asked to serve in prayer on the first-ever women’s prison walk. Yes, Emmaus does modified walks in the prisons. They’re called “RECs” or Residents Encounter Christ. So this was the first one in a women’s prison for our community.

I was very excited to go, but it was in Nashville! We, the prayer team, would serve outside the prison.

Let me explain that the “teams” that work and support the Emmaus walks are people who have previously gone on walks, and at this point, there had probably been about 10 walks since my own and mine was #29, so that was a LOT of people that I’d never met who I might potentially be put on a team with. It’s always fun to work a walk because you get to know new people each time.

So, hopefully for you who are unfamiliar with Emmaus, you can now follow most of what I’m about to tell you. My apologies for this being SO long, but I felt the explanation was necessary for anyone outside the Emmaus community.

FEAR

We were housed in a gigantically huge and century-old church on the outskirts of Nashville. Those who were working directly with the inmates would load up a couple of vans and go in each morning then come out each evening for the supper meal and to sleep. Those of us on the prayer and kitchen teams were at the church for the duration except for the closing ceremony when the inmates would give their testimonies.

So this church… it had been built onto numerous times. It had four levels and scads of rooms and rooms-within-rooms and twisty staircases throughout. At that time, they were doing some renovation in the main sanctuary, which was not that huge but retained much of its original style and frankly, smelled pretty musty. It was a little confusing to understand just what sort of church this was. I mean, for it to have that small a sanctuary when compared to the sheer mass of the rest of the building?? That was sort of odd. We got the feeling that the church had been booming at some past point, but now was in decline as most ALL those many rooms I mentioned were in various states of disuse and disrepair.

All us workers were stationed on the third floor in about 3 different bunk rooms. The church also served to house visiting mission groups and sometimes just church groups passing through to other places as somewhere to sleep for the night as they went elsewhere. So there was a group of teens there when we arrived. We never really even knew they were there most of the time til the night my prayer partner and I were doing our second shift of the day, during the supper hour.

There was a small, dingy room that was designated for prayer and that’s where we would meet. This was in the summer so it was hot and we’d have to run the window AC unit, which was noisy and bothersome. But on this particular night, the second night of our weekend, those kids decided they would take turns running and jumping onto mattresses and sliding down the stairs, which meant all this was going on right outside the prayer room.

Since my PP (Prayer Partner) and I were the only ones of our team up there at the time, I found it a little scary to have this big mob of teens behaving so badly. She stuck her head out a couple times to ask them to please be quiet and was met with some smart remarks and disrespectful looks.

Then we put a sign on the door, “Please be Quiet! Prayer in progress.” all to no avail.

Finally they stopped as our team started coming up from supper a few at a time and we began to get team members coming in with prayer requests for what was going on inside the prison.

One lady, who happens to be blind, came in requesting prayer for a very oppressive spirit to leave the prison and she described as best she could an incident that happened during a very “soul-searching” time in the walk, a time when many people who may not be saved, will realize it and come to a true relationship with Jesus. But she described hearing a noise she had never heard a human being make. It sent chills up my spine.

Later, we got other reports of one particular inmate screaming and writhing on the floor as if possessed. And let me state, we don’t practice exorcism or anything like that, but when there’s demon activity, you pray for God to free that person!! So that’s what had happened and it must have been a really unsettling manifestation.

So we prayed for all the various people that came in and for the situation that had been submitted for prayer and for the inmate who had been, by her own testimony, freed from a demonic spirit.

Soon the next shift came in, another two ladies and we began discussing what had happened and to pray, me and my PP staying to pray with them.

And so it was that the four of us were in that little room praying and most everyone else was asleep. By this time it was a little after midnight.

We began to hear some very loud noises. It was like someone was bouncing a ball on the floor up above, but it wasn’t regular… it was almost like someone wrestling on the floor. It was loud enough that we were all disturbed by it and soon one of us said out loud, “What in the world is that noise!?” My PP and I shared how the group of teens had been making all kinds of racket earlier, so we just assumed it was them in the level above us carrying on.

The only man on the place was the clergy who was serving as spiritual director inside the prison. He was in a room on the floor above us too. One of the ladies from the other shift and I decided to go up there and tell those kids to knock it off since we had people needing their sleep. They all were getting up early so they could be at the prison around 7 am!

So up the little curvy staircase we went and once we got to the top, we were greeted with a couple of wide-open rooms with bare light bulbs illuminating them, and not a soul in sight. We could still hear the noise, but it sounded as if it was coming from somewhere else. There was a short hallway going back down into darkness to our left, and a couple of rooms with closed doors before the hallway started. I didn’t dare open either of those. I was honestly very confused and frightened at this point.

I don’t do “scary” as in ghosts or demons, etc. I will watch a murder mystery movie, but if it involves anything demonic in nature, I normally will not watch it. And so it was really NOT in my nature to have even volunteered to go upstairs in the first place. The lady who had gone up there with me tends to be a somewhat stern personality and besides, she was a good foot taller than me and could have wiped the floor with me if she wanted.

I got concerned when she looked at me with her face full of fear.

We both turned and went back downstairs. The noise had stopped by this time. Just stopped. Nothing at all to be heard.

When we got to the hallway at the bottom of the stairs, we ran into one of the hosts, a college boy who stayed at the church to see to the needs of anyone who was using the bunks. We asked him about the noise and he said he hadn’t heard anything. Then we told him how we’d thought it was probably the teens who were also staying there. He then told us that they had left shortly after the stair-sliding incident.

Now we were thoroughly confused and troubled….and frankly, scared.

We went back into the prayer room to find that the other two ladies thought we’d set those kids straight. When we told them what we’d found, we all become very troubled. I realized then that the lady who’d gone upstairs with me was a younger Christian and was extremely upset with what we’d just experienced. The other lady was an older lady, a mature Christian probably saved longer than me and my PP was probably the intermediate as far as “length of salvation” went.

I only mention that stuff because I began to worry about how this lady was processing the situation. The fear on her face was so real!

Once we got ourselves settled, I mean, if there had not been four of us in there, it would have been easy to say we were just hearing things and dismiss it all. We began to pray again and soon, the same noise began again.

We all looked at each other, all of us feeling fear by then, and totally unsure of what to do. I suggested we go get the clergy from upstairs to come pray with us.

The same lady agreed to go with me again, which was surprising to me. So up the stairs we went again. I really hated to have to wake this man up. I knew all the team who had been in there the past two days were worn out. It’s hard working directly with the people attending walks, whether it’s in a prison or not, so I hated to infringe on his sleep, but we needed some direction in a big way.

I thought my stair-climbing partner might squeeze my hand into pieces before we got back downstairs, but we finally awakened the clergyman and told him what was happening. He told us right there that he hadn’t heard a thing.

We weren’t surprised. Thankfully he didn’t blow us off but agreed to come downstairs. We all gathered around in the prayer room. Maybe once he saw who else had also heard the noise, people mature in faith, he took it more seriously? Or maybe it was simply because he had been front and center when the incident happened in the prison that day. Whatever it was, he prayed the most comforting prayer.

He spoke of the fact that only God had any authority in the earth and that satan (I refuse to capitalize that name! ha!) had no business trying to distract any of the team from their tasks. It made me realize something right then and there.

Fear is NOT an emotion. It is a tool. It is a tactic. satan uses it to distract us from God and from what He wants us to do, see or concentrate on.

The Bible speaks many MANY times about fear and tells us repeatedly to “fear not” “be not afraid” and I believe God means what He says.

I realized that there was major Kingdom work going on in that prison and satan was not happy about it. His only option, since he has no power to thwart God, was to distract God’s people from the task at hand. If he could make us afraid, we would look away from our Lord and toward the fear. Exactly the way Peter did when he became bold enough to step out into the sea to walk to Jesus during the night…

Matthew 14:28-30English Standard Version (ESV)

28 And Peter answered him, ‚ÄúLord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.‚ÄĚ 29 He said, ‚ÄúCome.‚ÄĚ So Peter got out of the boat and walked on the water and came to Jesus. 30 But when he saw the wind,[a] he was afraid, and beginning to sink he cried out, ‚ÄúLord, save me.‚ÄĚ

When Peter looked at his surroundings and focused on the “could haves” of the situation (he could have drowned, he could have slipped under the waves and drowned, he could have been eaten by sea creatures) he took his eyes off Jesus, Who had the whole situation under His control.

Those other ladies tell me that after the clergy man left, I prayed an amazing prayer. I honestly don’t recall it, and so I say that it was the Holy Spirit praying through me, but I DO recall feeling so bold and so thankful to realize that we had NOT. ONE. THING. to fear. Ever.

One week to the day that I got home from Nashville, I had an accident on our riding lawn mower that left me crippled for several months, required a couple of surgeries including a skin graft. But it taught me, no, it drove home the fact that I’d just learned.

I have NOTHING to fear. If a fire-breathing monster were standing before me, with huge, sharp teeth ready to devour me, I STILL have nothing to be afraid of. It gave me the boldness to claim this truth and just watch God work through my months of recovery. It kept me from shedding a single tear when, in the moments after the accident, as I lay in the back field watching the mower go on without me, looking down to see that my shoe was gone and the blood began pouring from my foot and I felt panic start welling up in me… I could refocus and speak out loud, “you are NOT going to invade my life satan. My God is bigger than you. you will NOT make me afraid!”

The doctors and nurses in the ER who first worked on me wanted to know how long I was passed out. I never was. Not that *I* am strong, but my God sustained me. He kept me from passing out so I could call my son and husband. He is the one who caused me to do something I normally never do… put my phone in my pocket to go mow the yard. He is the One Who caused an old diabetic to heal at an unprecedented speed. It was Him who had me up and wearing shoes and walking months before the doctors predicted.

I learned so much through all these experiences. So I have a whole new take on what fear really is.

It’s not an emotion. It is a tool used to cause us panic, to cause us to take our eyes off what God is doing, off what He wants us to focus on.

Do I still get scared? Of course!! But do I live in fear? Not anymore. Panic and fear still slip up and grip me, but these days, once I recognize it, I speak the name of Jesus over it and I see fear as what it is… a distraction tactic of satan. I see it as a warning that I need to refocus on Jesus.

I hope all this long, rambling story has helped you to rethink what fear is. I hope it will prompt you to do a study of what God has to say about fear in His Word. It is the single most-effective tool the wicked one has and he uses it OFTEN to paralyze God’s children and make them ineffective in the kingdom!

I’m thankful for the lesson I got about fear and I try to keep it fresh in my mind so I don’t let it compromise me. And although I don’t see myself as a great spiritual person by ANY means, I hope that at least my sharing this experience can help others recognize when fear is being used against them and helps them overcome it.

God bless you!!

1 Chronicles 28:20 — “…. ‚ÄúBe strong and courageous and do it. Do not be afraid and do not be dismayed, for the Lord God, even my God, is with you. He will not leave you or forsake you, until all the work for the service of the house of the Lord is finished.”

Search “fear not” in the Bible and see for yourself how important it is!!

THE SUN IS SHINING!

Sorry for yelling, but have you looked outside!?!?! THE SUN IS SHINING!!! I dunno about you, maybe you live in Hawaii (and if you do, then we can’t be friends anymore.. ha ha, kidding, but let it be known, I’m uber-jealous!) but around here in The Bluegrass State, we haven’t seen the sun like this in a long, LONG time!!

The window I look out most often is actually our french doors that open onto the patio in our back yard. From there, I can see the hills that rise up behind us, so all the color I’m getting is this dead-grass brown, so that’s not so exciting. And of course, this sunshine is also accentuating the fact that my windows are in dire need of cleaning. And that it will soon be gardening time and I’ve done nothing to plan other than looking for some heirloom seeds online.

*sigh*

So, maybe the sunshine is a little more depressing than I first thought. Ha ha!!

Nah, I’m happy for the sun and happy that soon the weather will be warm enough to actually ride bikes outside instead of inside on a blasted trainer.

Speaking of bikes, (and no, this wasn’t supposed to be a bike-themed post, but whatcha gonna do?) Hubby and I were the only ones at the shop to ride trainers last night. What is up with all these lazy people?? Ha ha!! Truth be told, any one of them could blow me out of the water and they probably didn’t show because they got out and rode on the road yesterday. You never know with those crazy people. They are die-hard cyclists!

But yeah, so the guy running the shop now stays there overnight sometimes, so he was cool with us riding, so ride we did! I’ve been using the clips to ride and I am so unsure about that. [read here if you missed my post about my thus-far experience with cycling] I still have visions and flashbacks of my experience trying the clips the first time. Heck, I still have a lump in my breast from the bruise I got back in September, okay? I have the ugliest scar on my knee from it. I am just REALLY not sure I can learn to do this clip-on thing well enough to ride all the time, but I’m gonna try.

Maybe.

*sigh* Seriously, I know I’m not gonna fall riding with clips on the trainer since it stands up on its own and doing the training videos, I’m not getting a whole lot of experience clipping in and out either.

Maybe my brain just works too slow to remember that when I’m gonna stop, I have to twist my foot loose first. And then there’s those times when you actually don’t KNOW you’re gonna stop (someone stops in front of you, there’s debris you can’t swerve around, a dog runs in front of you, etc.) so I am just WAY nervous about those doggone things. I hate feeling this way too.

And that brings me back to fear. Am I just too afraid? Am I just letting fear mess with me? My inner me wants to scream, “NO! I’m just being PRACTICAL and trying to TAKE CARE OF MYSELF!” *ie: avoid future scars or breast lumps!

But IS it just fear? Maybe I need to explore that. Hang tight for my post about my realization of what “fear” really is and how I was exposed to its true nature and what I learned from that. I’ll link it later.

Revelation 21:23 — “And the city has no need of sun or moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and its lamp is the Lamb.”

Deuteronomy 20:3 — “….‚ÄėHear, O Israel, today you are drawing near for battle against your enemies: let not your heart faint. Do not fear or panic or be in dread of them,”

thanKful GOD gi.Ves peAc.e

Okay, here’s the scoop on the past few days… my MIL’s sister, Ellen, who is mentally handicapped but was living alone, went in for gall bladder surgery a couple weeks ago. ¬†She seemed to do fine with it, but a few days later was back at the hospital with severe abdominal pain.

Not getting my info straight from the docs, I’m not sure exactly what all happened or in what order because my in-laws are not always big on details (& it was so hectic!) but they did 5 surgeries/procedures on Ellen in 10 days… including removal of a stone blocking her bile duct, several removals of fluid from around liver & lungs, and putting in some sort of “long term” port to administer her IV meds… dunno what it’s called. ¬†She’s smoked like a freight train for years, but recently quit with the encouragement of her boyfriend… yeah, they’re cute together. ¬†But because of all the damage, she is just unable to overcome this infection.

However, she has quickly declined to the point that removing the fluid on her lungs is a constant need, there’s so much infection around her liver, it won’t drain, and she’s lost all bladder control. ¬†They were able to get her into a nursing home Monday and are now dealing with trying to get all her things out of her apartment before next month’s rent comes due on the first. ¬†*sigh*

My father-in-law’s sister, Nancy, comes down every year for a couple weeks just before Thanksgiving from Indiana on the bus, then the in-laws take her home & have Thanksgiving up there. ¬†But with Ellen SO sick, it was going to be impossible for them to take her up there without a lot of stress, etc. ¬† So.. Tommy and I drove Nancy home on Monday, an 8-hour round trip.

We didn’t get to stay long, but did get to visit a bit with two of Nancy’s kids, Tommy’s cousins who we hadn’t seen in many years.

The house is still in disarray, but I DO keep making small, teeny dents in it. ¬†But that’s not gonna cut it. ¬†Today, I plan to knock out the kitchen and living room chores so I can maybe, MAYBE, get up everything but the tree before we leave for our vacation in a couple weeks.

Then there’s all the decorating we, Melissa and I, have to get done at church, also before we leave on vacation. ¬†*sigh* ¬†Makes me tired thinking about it.

There’s also a bunch of crap going on at Tommy’s work. ¬†I can’t talk about it because it’s all so political it makes me sick. ¬†I hate rumor and innuendo and Tommy is TOTALLY ¬†not used to dealing with that kinda thing and he’s so stressed. ¬†He’s having to walk on eggshells, not knowing if someone is “out to get” him, literally, or who it is spreading lies about him that may threaten his job.

How DO you defend yourself against accusations of things you absolutely did not do, but then because at the time, since it wasn’t important to you to address the lie, it now looks like you DID do something? ¬†Just because you didn’t freak out about a lie that you felt didn’t deserve a response?!!

That kind of stuff just makes me want to puke and I’m very angry that people have nothing better to do than concoct incredulous stories about my husband. ¬†Lies that are purely to damage his character and reputation. ¬†Very, VERY angry.

I’m requesting prayer that he will be blanketed in that peace that passes all understanding and that the truth will win out.

SooOOOooooo… that’s what’s going on with us. ¬†I thank you in advance for praying.

Blessings~