It's 3:44 a.m. and we have just welcome another new granddaughter into the world! Miss Mercy Anne Maranantha Pennington was born at 2:50 a.m. on July 31, 2015. She weighs 7 lbs. 15 oz. and is 20.5 inches long. Papa and I will be taking Mercy's siblings to the hospital in the morning to meet her for the very first time and Nana cannot wait to get her hands on her! Another granddaughter is expected within the week. Praise the Lord as blessings abound! <3
"The new-born babe is a fresh act of God. He is the latest revelation of God's creative handiwork" ~ S. D. Gordon.
My wedding ring is simple, but it's got a complicated story.
We bought our rings back in 1988 from my husband's cousin who is a jeweler in Kansas City. (We actually picked them out at my husband's uncle's kitchen table.) John's ring was a plain gold band; mine a gold band with three small diamonds across the top. At the time we bought them, my husband promised that for our 5th-year wedding anniversary he would buy me a "real" set of rings. At our 5th-year wedding anniversary, he said he'd shoot for the 10th, at the 10th he said he'd shoot for the 20th, at the 20th he said he'd shoot for the 25th. When the 25th came and went...I gave up. I knew it wasn't going to happen.
What I didn't realize was that, because of all that, for years, I had been allowing an underlying bitterness to develop within myself towards my husband and it was not pretty. I loved him, but I always felt angry towards him...aggitated...irritated...and I was always hoping against hope that those long-awaited wedding rings would materialize. I was so busy thinking about the rings that I had lost focus about the marriage.
Around year 7 I lost one of the diamonds in my ring. At that point I put it away in my jewelry box and didn't think much more about it. Over the years, every now and again when I'd be in the box to look for something else, I'd pull it out and try it on. After the first or second time of trying it on, it no longer fit. After that I never tried it on again.
July 4, 2015 - I had gone to my jewelry box to find my patriotic earrings. I wanted to wear them to our daughter and son-in-law's where we had been invited for lunch. When I opened the lid to my jewelry box, there was the ring...ugly gaping hole where the diamond had been missing for years..and all. I immediately thought, "I wish I had a wedding ring."
In my spirit I heard, "You do have a wedding ring."
I paused and thought, "But it's broken."
I heard, "Fix it!"
"But...it doesn't fit!"
"Try it on!"
So I did! And it fit!!!
All of a sudden my heart was overflowing! All the anger and bitterness melted away and I realized what a ninny I been all those years. It wasn't about the ring! It was about what the ring represented! It was about the marriage! OUR marriage and all that we've been through during the past 27+ years that we've been married. As I thought about all of this, I had an idea! And then I became very, VERY excited!
I wore the ring for a couple of days...missing diamond and all...but my husband didn't notice it. I contacted his cousin...the one that we had purchased the ring from back in 1988...and asked him how much he would charge to repair it. He said that there was no way that he could give me an estimate without taking a look at the ring and told me to mail it to him...which I did...but I didn't tell my husband any of this.
Instead, I wrote him a 5 or 6-page letter telling him of all I had gone through over those silly, non-exisitant wedding rings, apologizing for the underlying bitterness and anger, and offering him forgiveness and freedom of having to come up with the long ago, promised set of wedding rings. I didn't even want them anymore!
As I told him...THIS is the ring that represents US. THIS is the ring that we picked out at his uncle's table, THIS is the ring that we picked up in a place that was very near and dear to our hearts in the early days, and THIS is THE ring that he put on my finger on our wedding day! THIS is the ring that I want and, even if he did get me another set at this point, I wouldn't wear them!
Long story short, John's cousin did a beautiful job of fixing the ring and, I don't know if I should say this or not, but he didn't even charge me to do it. The only thing he asked was that I pick the ring up in person...which I did...without John knowing about it until later. And the cousin has no idea how much this meant to me and what a huge part he has played in a, nearly, 30-year-old story!
When John noticed the ring on my finger, I gave him the letter that I had written. Needless to say, he was TOTALLY overwhelmed. We both cried and rejoiced in all that the Lord has done, and IS doing, in our marriage.
The point is...it wasn't about the ring. In reality, it never was! It was about broken promises and unforgiveness. And now it's ALL about the marriage, the power of forgiveness, and being content with what you've got! I'm so thankful for the ring that I've got! And I'm even more thankful for all that it represents!
When I was a child I was desperately afraid of the dark and nighttime. I struggled with it well into my early 40's...not always, but sometimes. But then I discovered this verse of scripture in the Bible and, after memorizing it and speaking it out loud when the spirit of fear assailed me in the night hours, I've never been afraid of the night since. In fact, I welcome it! Someone posted this picture on Facebook this morning and I wanted to share it with those of you, who, like me, have struggled in this area of fear....and, I want to tell you...fear not! God made the night and all that is in it. In reality, there is nothing there at night that isn't there in the daytime. I pray that the Lord would bless those who fear the night and that He would commune with them in the wee hours of the late night/early morning and help them to discover the beauty and wonder of all His creation, and, when they lay down at night to sleep, I pray that they would take this verse as their own, and that their sleep would be peaceful...In Jesus' name! "When thou liest down, thou shalt not be afraid: yea, thou shalt lie down, and thy sleep shall be sweet" (Proverbs 3:24). Have a blessed day! All My Love, ~Rebecca heart emoti
Our oldest daughter recently shared this recipe for Protein Snack Balls with me. I made it yesterday for the first time and served it to guests as a dessert after supper last night. It was a HUGE success! It was very similar to our old family favorite no-bake recipe, but no sugar...no butter! THIS will be the no-bake of choice for us from now on!
PROTEIN SNACK BALLS
1/2 c. raw honey
1 c. natural peanut butter
1/2 c. melted coconut oil
3 1/2 c. regular oats
1/4 c. cocoa
1/2 c. chia seeds
1/2 c. unsalted, roasted, sunflower kernels
1/2 c. raisins, chocolate chips, coconut, or chopped nuts
Mix ingredients together, shape into 1-inch balls, and refrigerate until ready to serve. Delicious!
Another year has come and gone and here we are...December 19th...again. Nathan Andrew would have been 32-years-old today had he lived, but he didn't live...and, because he didn't live...and grow into manhood...he will forever be that beautiful, tiny, yet perfectly-formed-on-the-outside, boy baby...the one with the teeniest-tiniest fingernails and toenails and...well...everything! that I have ever seen...the one that had more hair on his head when he was born than all of my other babies had during their first year combined...the precious son that came into my life for, oh...so briefly, on that cold December night so long ago.
I will share that story with you again tonight. As I do, I can't help but be thinking about another momma who lost her own son just a few short days ago. That momma didn't even get to go to her own son's funeral and, tonight, she lays in a hospital bed recovering from heart surgery. My heart goes out to her and her family. Other mother's, too...and daddies.
I met a man just today who lost his 37-year-old daughter the Sunday before Thanksgiving. He said, "You can bury your parents and your grandparents, your aunts and uncles, but no parent should ever have to bury their child" and he cried. I so wanted to speak with him further, but the opportunity never presented itself, so, tonight, I pray for him.
I have shared this story before...three times, in fact...but tonight I will share it, again, in hopes that it will minister to someone, somewhere, even if just in some small way...
It was 32 years ago that Nathan Andrew was born. Something had been wrong for a very long time. I had been bleeding off and on since my second month of pregnancy...at times very heavily.
On the 18th of December I was out Christmas shopping with my mother, my aunt, my 1 1/2-year-old daughter, and my three little cousins. All of a sudden I went into labor. My aunt took my daughter home with her and her children, and my mother rushed me to the hospital. Next thing I knew I was being strapped to a gurney and was being shipped by ambulance to a bigger hospital...one that was attached by a walkway to Children's Mercy Hospital in Kansas City.
Even though I had been given a lot of medication and was pretty much out of it, I could hear the doctors and nurses talking. If they didn't get me to the other, better-equipped hospital soon, they were going to lose me AND the baby. It was one of the most frightening experiences I've ever had. All I could think about was what would happen to my little daughter at home if I died.
I arrived at the other hospital in record time and was immediately surrounded by all sorts of doctors and nurses. I was plugged into every kind of equipment they had...which wasn't nearly as good as the equipment that they have now, but, at the time, it was state-of-the-art. Immediately, the head doctor wanted to know who my doctor was and how long I had been bleeding. She said that the placenta had torn away from the uterus wall and that this baby should have been "taken" months ago. What was she talking about? I would never have allowed my baby to be "taken!"
Long story short...27 hours of intense labor later (I had been given every kind of pain medicine available and nothing seemed to help) and Nathan Andrew was born...in the hallway on the way to delivery. He was immediately rushed across the walkway to Children's Mercy and I was taken on into delivery where a DNC was performed. A few hours later the doctor came into my room with a nurse who was carrying my baby. Nathan had fought hard and lived for two hours, but his lungs were just too little. Now days they probably could have saved him, but, back then...there was nothing they could do. There was just nothing that they could do. :'(
Nathan was perfectly formed. He had long, black hair, had perfectly formed features, perfect, tiny, little fingers and fingernails...toes and toenails...on the outside he was just that...perfect! Tiny, yes (he was 10 inches long and he only weighed a pound)! But still...perfect.
Not having money for a funeral left me with few choices. I would not be allowed to leave the hospital without signing papers for Nathan's body to, either, be donated to scientific research, or be cremated in the hospital crematory. Not wanting to do either I chose the lesser of the two evils...the hospital crematory. To this day I regret that, but, at that point, I didn't know what else to do under the circumstances. It still hurts me beyond anything that I could ever express and there's never been anywhere to mourn Nathan's loss. I came home on Christmas Eve with two very blurry pictures, a set of tiny footprints on a piece of paper, and a poem that the hospital chaplain had given me.
Until recently, I had never written about all this, but, in recent years, I have felt a need to do so. Perhaps there is someone else out there who has been through a similar experience...someone who needs a word of encouragement. Even though all that I went through was, and still is, very sad...there are two things that have ministered to me over the years since Nathan's death...
#1 - The poem that the chaplain shared with me. It was entitled FOOTPRINTS IN THE SAND, and I had never read it until the night that she gave it to me there in the hospital and it is still very special to me.
#2 - There's a verse of scripture that the Lord gave to me many, many years later, and it is still the verse that comes to mind whenever I think of Nathan. The verse is found inPsalm 30...verse5...and it says, "...weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning." I know beyond the shadow of any doubt that Nathan is with Jesus and that someday I will see him again! Not as a premature baby, but as the spirit man that God created him to be!
And, if you've suffered the loss of a child...whether it be at birth or beyond...know that, if you are a born-again, Bible-believing, follower of Christ, and child of God, then you, too, will see that child again and be reunited with them in days to come because that child is with Jesus right now!
As you remember that trial that you've gone through...perhaps you're asking (or have asked), "Why God? Where were You when I was going through all that? Why weren't you there for me?" I leave you, now, with that beautiful poem that was shared with me by that wonderful, old chaplain at Children's Mercy Hospital in Kansas City, Missouri on December 19th, 1982...
FOOTPRINTS IN THE SAND
One night a man had a dream. He dreamed He was walking along the beach with the LORD.
Across the sky flashed scenes from His life. For each scene He noticed two sets of footprints in the sand. One belonging to Him and the other to the LORD.
When the last scene of His life flashed before Him, he looked back at the footprints in the sand. He noticed that many times along the path of His life there was only one set of footprints. He also noticed that it happened at the very lowest and saddest times of His life.
This really bothered Him and He questioned the LORD about it. LORD you said that once I decided to follow you, you'd walk with me all the way. But I have noticed that during the most troublesome times in my life there is only one set of footprints. I don't understand why when I needed you most you would leave me.
The LORD replied, my precious, precious child, I love you and I would never leave you! During your times of trial and suffering when you see only one set of footprints, it was then that I carried you.
Just yesterday my dad, once again, expressed how lonely he feels.
"No one calls, no one comes around. All I have left are my memories," he said.
Then, he proceeded to tell me the story of a neighbor that lived a mile down the road from where my grandparents did when my dad was a boy. The neighbor was ill for a time and, for several weeks, three times a day, my grandmother would prepare a meal for the neighbor, and send my dad to deliver it.
"Three times a day," he said, "I'd run that mile to take 'Uncle Kit' a meal...a plate of eggs and a sausage cake for breakfast, a pint of soup with a piece of bread for lunch, then whatever Mom made us for supper...three times a day...and I never thought a thing about it. That's just what folks did. Now days...they won't walk across the street to say 'hello' to you or ask you how you're feeling. They don't care."
That's how he feels about it and, sadly, in the experience he's had since my mother passed away nearly a decade ago, he's pretty much right.
"You know," he said, "I heard on the news the other night that more old people die of loneliness than anything else."
"And I believe it," he added.
"I know, Dad," I said. "I wish there was something that I could do about it, but there just isn't. It's a heart issue and caring about others has to come from within."
Something is terribly wrong in our world today, While I do feel that elderly people often feel the effects of loneliness most often...especially after their children are grown and gone, and they lose a spouse...because they do have so many memories and no one left to share them with...but, it seems that people everywhere now days feel lonely. Even those who are in contact with tons of people on a daily basis say they feel lonely...and they do. Loneliness is epidemic.
It was an excellent article (please read it) and two things struck me...
# 1- Even though I already knew it, and have already stated so once, the article reaffirmed to me, that, yes, loneliness truly is epidemic. People everywhere, whether they are alone, or not, are feeling lonely inside and those feelings are real.
# 2 - For the past few years I've felt like I was behind...lacking...like I was less-than, because I'm not where I used to be in ministry. I mean, I want nothing more than to minister to hurting women, but I'm thinking that ministering to them face-to-face, one-on-one, if need be, might be right where God wants me to be at this season in my life
You see, there was a day when I, like Erin, and many other women that I follow online, love, greatly admire, and respect, had a fairly large online community. This was back in the days before Blogspot and Facebook. This was way back there in the days of Yahoo Clubs and Groups. (Anyone remember those?) I was also writing for several Christian women's magazines back then. (The kinds that were made of paper and arrived in your mailbox on a regular schedule.) :)
It was in 1998 when I was asked, by the founder of the Proverbs 31 Woman Yahoo Club, to take over the 1000+ member community...which I did. I loved the Proverbs 31 Woman! I wanted nothing more than to, over my lifetime, become a living example of her, and it was truly an honor to be asked to head up such a community...and,by the way, I met many beautiful women of God there...many of which are still close friends today (some off-line, as well as some that are on-line, but have never met...yet), but, in the midst of all that, it didn't take me long at all to find out that many within the walls of that community were not there for the same reason that I, and some of the other ladies' were.
In no time at all I was spending up to 12 hours a day putting out brush fires, and battling all sorts of weird things. Stuff, that, in reality, had nothing to with the Lord's work at all. I mean, it started out looking like it did. I would think that I was helping someone, but in the end, it would turn out to be some set-up thing created to cause strife and negativity within the group, or to just flat keep us from focusing on the purpose for which we were assembled...and it would wear me down to the point I couldn't even function. Eventually, I learned the truth. Most of the brush fires that I was fighting were being started by members of a witches coven that had joined the group to purposefully stir up trouble from within.
In 2002, the group was transferred to Yahoo Groups and became private. The private group, Proverbs 31 Woman (2), was for women only and was based on the teaching found in Proverbs 31:10-31. It was created for the sole purpose of offering Christ-centered encouragement and accountability to those that were seriously seeking to fulfill the unique role that God created for us as women. We had a great base of women and the community operated successfully in that forum until I, lured away by relationships and emotion, allowed people into the group that were only there for self-seeking purposes, rather than to grow in the foundations of Biblical principles. (Silly me! I honestly believed, at that time, that every woman who expressed an interest in the Proverbs 31 Woman and growing in Biblical womanhood was serious.)
Technically, the Proverbs 31 Woman (2) is still in existence today. It's there. It's members are few, but no one ever visits. Like everyone, and everything else, it sits there, lost in the loneliness of countless online communities...communities filled with people who chat and communicate over electronic devices the world round, but, in reality, can never connect in a real life, flesh and blood way...unless...they go out of their way to do so...which some of the ladies' out of that original Proverbs 31 Woman community have done in the past, and oh! What blessed memories we share!
Now, I suppose that a lot of what I've written here sounds cynical, but I honestly don't mean for it to. I'm just sharing my thoughts and a bit of my online and real-life story.
The point I'm trying to make is that there is something wrong in our world today when we, as a people, are inundated with communication of every kind and in touch with people from all over the world in a moments notice, yet, everywhere around us, real-life people...people in our own lives...people within our own real-life communities, our friends, our neighbors, people within our own families...are being crushed under the weight of loneliness and no one seems to care.
Do we care? Do you care? Do I really?
Forget the formulas and programs! What can we do within our own real-life sphere of influence to make a change in someone else's life today?
(And, please, when I say 'real-life'...no one has better on-line friends that they've never met than I do...and, yes, they're real, but they're not right here...they're not next door...they're not living and breathing within a stone's throw away...you know what I'm saying...don't you?)
Loneliness is a very real problem in our world today. Think of something that you can do to help lighten the burden of a lonely person near you...
- take them a meal...
- take them a plate of cookies...
- stop by and spend a few minutes visiting with them...
- stop in and just ask them how they're feeling today...
...do something...anything...to let them know that somebody is thinking of them and that people still care.
"For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in, Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me. Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink? When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee? Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee? And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me." ~Matthew 25:35-40
The year was 1965. I was 4 years old and had two aunts living right next door who were both in their early teens. They listened to all the latest music and I loved listening to it with them. Turn, Turn, Turn written by Pete Seeger was a big hit for The Byrds that year and I remember it playing on the radio. I liked it then and I like it now.
The song, other than the title, which is repeated throughout the song, and the last verse, was adapted word for word from Chapter 3 of Ecclesiastes. The song holds the distinction of being the #1 hit with the oldest lyrics (Book of Ecclesiastes), authored by King Solomon. Pretty cool!
What's even cooler is, that God has an eternal and unique plan for each and every person ever born. He has an plan for your life and He has a plan for mine. I don't know about you, but I don't want to miss that plan for my life.
All too often, I find myself going around in circles...wandering about in a particularly difficult season...wondering..."...just exactly what is God's plan and purpose for my life at this time?"
(Do you ever find yourself wondering things like that?)
It is in these times...during the hard, dry, and difficult seasons of life...that we must press in, drawing ever nearer to our loving Heavenly Father, allowing Him to help us in walking out and accomplishing His plans and eternal purposes for our lives.
"To every thing there is a season, and
a time to every purpose under heaven.."
Until Next Time,
Five Minute Friday - a free write, which means, as our hostess, Kate Motaung, says, "...no editing, no over-thinking, no worrying about perfect grammar or punctuation. Just write."
It's been forever since I've been with you. (At least it feels like it's been forever!)
Since going to work part-time, my life has been totally different and it's taken me a long, long time to adjust. I've been working since June and am just now working myself back into some normal-for-me-activities...like baking and blogging...neither of which I've not done for months, but both of which I am doing today.
It's autumn here in southwest Missouri and with the arrival of cool, damp weather my husband has had him a hankerin' for some good old-fashioned, homemade bread...specifically, his favorite, my Rustic Oat and Wheat Bread. He asked me last night if it might be possible to make a loaf or two for him soon. So, first this morning, I started baking and oh! How wonderful the house smells!
While I was at it I thought I might as well go ahead and share the recipe here. This is a great recipe for a hardy bread that is just made to go with wintertime soups and stews. If you end up trying it, I hope your family enjoys it as much as mine has over the years. It's simply delicious!
Until Next Time,
RUSTIC OATS AND WHEAT BREAD
1 cup rolled wheat 1/4 firmly packed brown sugar 2 teaspoons salt 2 cups boiling water 1/4 cup molasses 3 tablespoons olive oil 2 packages active dry yeast 2/3 cup water heated to 105 to 115 degrees F. 4 3/4 to 5 3/4 cups unbleached flour 1 cup regular old-fashioned oats
1 egg, beaten 1 tablespoon old-fashioned oats
Spray two cookie sheets with cooking spray. In a large bowl, combine rolled wheat, brown sugar, salt, 2 cups boiling water molasses and oil; mix well. Cool to 105 to 115 degrees F. In small bowl, dissolve yeast in 2/3 cup water. Add to cooled rolled wheat mixture. Lightly spoon flour into measuring cup; level off. Add 2 cups flour to rolled wheat mixture. Blend at low speed until moistened; beat 2 minutes at medium speed. By hand, stir in 1 cup regular oats and 2 1/4 to 2 3/4 cups flour until dough pulls cleanly away from sides of bowl.
On floured surface, knead in 1/2 to 1 cup flour until dough is smooth and elastic, about 10 minutes. Place dough in greased bowl; cover loosely with greased plastic wrap and cloth towel. Let rise in warm place (80 to 85 degrees F.) until light and doubled in size, about 45 to 60 minutes.
Punch dough down several times to remove all air bubbles. Divide dough in half; shape into balls. Place on sprayed cookie sheets. With sharp knife, slash a 1/4 inch deep lattice design in top of each loaf. Cover; let rise in warm place until light and doubled in size, about 45 to 60 minutes.
Heat oven to 350 degrees F. Brush loaves with beaten egg; sprinkle with 1 tablespoon regular oats. Bake at 350 degrees for 35 to 45 minutes or until deep golden brown and loaves sound hollow when lightly tapped. Remove from cookie sheets; cool on wire racks. Makes 2 (16 slice) loaves.
"Leaving his briefcase by the door, he asked me to join him in the living room. I wasn't sure what was up, but one glance at the stone-cold look on his face told me that something was wrong -- terribly wrong.
Sitting across from him, I'll never forget the sound of his voice as it rang in my ears and ripped through my heart.
"Are you having an affair?" he asked.
Looking up at him, I quickly answered, "No. Why would you even ask that?"
Please don't lie to me," he said. As he continued to question me, the heat rose in my face. My cheeks were numb; my mouth was dry; my body was weak. "Did you have an affair?"
I hung my head, unable to look in his eyes. Sitting alone on the couch, I felt the fear of truth spin around me like the web of a spider until I was helpless to move. Barely able to speak, I lifted my chin in a nod and then in another. My house of cards collapsed, my shame crashing to the ground along with it."
I grew up believing in true love and fairy-tale romance. I believed that Prince Charming really did exist, that, someday, he would come for me, and, when he did, that we would, undoubtedly, live happily ever after in a fairy-tale marriage. It didn't take long for me to figure out that that is not how it works at all in the real world.
True love does exist and it can be absolutely beautiful! But, sometimes, love can be messy. Three marriages and two divorces later, I can honestly say that love in my own life has been very messy indeed!
I first 'met' Darlene Schacht (a.k.a. the Time-Warp Wife), back in January of 2011 when I happened to stumble across one of her articles online. (I know this because I still have the article in my archives.) The openness and honesty with which Darlene shared her testimony immediately captured my attention and won my respect.
While, as of yet, I have not read the book in its entirety (I am working on it and a review is forth coming), I have read enough to know that Darlene's latest book Messy Beautiful Love - Hope and Redemption for Real-Life Marriages will be the pinnacle of all that she has written thus far.
In Messy Beautiful Love Darlene shares her testimony, talks about her own infidelity, and tells how she and her husband, Michael, chose to work together to overcome the weaknesses in their marriage, allowing God to, fully and completely, restore it and them.
Messy Beautiful Love carries a message of hope to all of us, as it encourages us to clean up our own messes God's way and challenges us to surrender our marriage relationship to God as an act of obedience.
Once you've placed your order, e-mail MessyBeautifulLove@gmail.com and give them your order confirmation number, along with the number of books you purchased. The extra freebies which will be e-mailed to you soon thereafter.