Saturday, December 19, 2015

For Those Who Have Suffered The Loss Of A Child - 12/19/15



Another year has come and gone and here we are...December 19th...again. Had he lived, my Nathan would have been 33 today, but he didn't live...and, because, he didn't live...in my heart and mind...he will forever be that beautiful, tiny, yet-perfectly-formed-on-the-outside, baby boy...the one with the teeniest-tiniest fingernails and the teeniest-tiniest toenails and the teeniest-tiniest every other body part that I have ever seen...the one that had more hair on his head when he was born than all my other babies had during their first year combined...the precious son that came into my life for, oh...so brief a time, on that cold December night so long ago.

As I have done over the past several years I will share that story with you again, but, as I do, I am thinking of another momma...one who has endured great sadness over the course of this past year. Last December about this time she lost a son...her youngest...and she didn't even get to attend his funeral due to the fact that she was laying in a hospital bed recovering from heart surgery. A few short months later that same momma lost her only daughter. Only one of her three children remains with her now and my heart goes out to her and her family...and to other aching mommas...and daddies, too.

A year ago I met a man who had lost his 37-year-old daughter just 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 to him again, but the opportunity never presented itself, so, tonight, I lift him and his wife up in my thoughts and prayers as they've just hit that first year anniversary mark and it's got to be hard.

I've shared this story before...four times in fact...but, tonight, I share it again in hopes that it will minister to someone, somewhere...even if in just some small way...

*********************************************

It was 33 years ago at this very time (December 19th at 12:04 a.m.) 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 mom, 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 that I have 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 what 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 imaginable, but 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 Hospital and I was taken on into delivery where a D & C was performed. A few hours later the doctor came into my room with a nurse who was carrying my dead baby. Nathan had fought hard and had lived for two hours, but his lungs were just too underdeveloped. 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, ten perfectly formed tiny little fingers and fingernails...ten perfectly formed tiny little toes and toenails...on the outside he was just that...perfect! Tiny, yes (he was 10 inches long and only weighed a pound), but still...on the outside...perfectly 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 what, I felt like at the time, was the lesser of the two evils...the hospital crematory. To this day I have regretted that decision, 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 any real place to mourn Nathan's loss. (In recent years I have chosen the Precious Moments Chapel in Carthage, Missouri as my place to remember him.) I came home on Christmas Eve with two very blurry pictures taken by a nurse with a Poloroid camera, a set of tiny footprints on a piece of paper, and a poem that the hospital chaplain had given to me.

Until just recently I had never written about all this, but, in years of late, 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 through 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. I had never read it until the night that she gave it to me there in the hospital and, to this day, it it is still very special to me.

#2 - There is 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 in Psalm 30...verse 5...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 some sweet day I will see him again! Not as a premature baby, but a the spirit man that God created him to be!

And, if you've suffered the loss of a child...whether it be due to miscarriage, premature birth, at birth, or in infancy...know that, if you are a born-again, Bible-believing, follower of Christ, and child of God, then you, too, will see that precious 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 been 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 were 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 the most You would leave me.

The LORD replied, My precious, preciou child, I love you and I would never leave you! During the times of trial and suffering when you see only one set of footprints, it was then that I carried you.

Friday, December 18, 2015

Five Minute Friday: Frost

Today's Five Minute Friday assignment was a little different than most weeks. For the final Five Minute Friday of 2015 Kate Motaung let everyone pick their own one-word prompt and the word I chose is frost.

Here's why...
Frost On The Windshield
Upon going out to warm up my van this morning before work, I discovered that, overnight, Jack Frost had completely covered my van windows in an intricate frosty pattern. A few minutes of heat on high and the beautiful artwork of nature gave way to nothing but water droplets that rolled away with a swish of the wiper blades and a rush of wind as I drove out onto the highway.

Frosty-Backed Bison At Prairie State Park
At the park (I work at Prairie State Park in Mindenmines, Missouri), I was greeted by four great beasts, their brown backs white with frost, against a backdrop of white-frosted prairie grasses. Over the crest of the hill and the whole herd of white-backed bison encircled the nature center where I work.
Bison Dot The Landscape At Prairie State Park
As I pulled into the parking lot, the morning sun spilled across the tall grasses, instantly melting the guazy frostiness that only moments before had grasped them in misty whiteness. The massive beasts (bison) that dotted the prairie landscape separated lazily and made their way around and behind the building. With each grunt and snort, the chilly air made their hot breath come out in billowy puffs of icy whiteness.
Frost Flowers At Prairie State Park
As I made my way to the building I noticed that frost flowers were in great abundance in the wildflower garden out front...
Mullin Outlined And Covered In Frost
...and that every plant was outlined and covered, sparkling, and glistening white, with frost.

I love frosty mornings on the prairie and wish that I could share one with YOU! They are soooo beautiful! <3

All My Love,
~Rebecca

For more information about Life On The Tallgrass Prairie click: HERE!

For more information about Frost Flowers click: HERE!





Five Minute Friday - 4

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."

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Five Minute Friday - Reflect


Perfect timing! This week's Five Minute Friday prompt is reflect. And that's just what was I was doing!

Just a few minutes ago I was sitting here...looking over my Facebook page...my e-mail...my blog...reflecting...wondering where in the world have I gone?

The things that I write about (on the rare occassions that I do write) and the things that I post? It's like they're from someone else. I don't even feel like me anymore. I feel like I've been sucked into some sort of vortex that keeps pulling me down lower and lower and it's time to fight my way out.

As I reflect on the not-so-distant past, I see a change in myself that I don't like. I see that my focus has veered from all that, by God's standard, is truly important...my marriage, my family, my home, my relationship with Him...to people and situations that really don't matter much at all. I mean...they matter, yes, but they aren't (or shouldn't be) any concern of mine. I feel that, somehow, I've lost my way and I want to get back...but, at this precise moment I'm not sure how.

I do know the One Who does though and that is the Lord. It starts with a frest commitment to His Word and His way. Of that, I'm certain. Please pray for me as, with the Lord's help, I try to turn this beast around and get headed back down the right road in every area. I'm not sure what the balance is, but I know there is one.

Thanks so much!

~Rebecca


Five Minute Friday - 4

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."

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Five Minute Friday - Table - 11/26/15


As my daughter, Amanda, daughter-in-law, Angie, and I gathered in the kitchen and around Amanda's diningroom table this morning, preparing this year'sThanksgiving feast...making all the traditional family favorites...my mind wandered back over the years...especially to the years when my own children were small and my parents and husband's mother were regular guests at our Thanksgiving table. As much as I love my family now, my mama's heart can't help but to miss those days sometimes. 

As I was preparing the dressing this morning, I was thinking about my own mother, now gone these past ten Thanksgivings. I remembered the first Thanksgiving that I was to be in charge of making the dressing and just knew that I couldn't do it...not as well as she could anyway! I remember calling her and her walking me through the steps via the telephone. I realized as I was making the dressing, that, to this day I replay that phone call over and over in my head each time I make it and still follow Mom's directions to a tee. In doing so, the dressing turn out every bit as good as hers ever was. Well...almost! 

As my heart and mind wandered over the years, people and places flashed through my memory...my grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, old friends, church friends, people that we have shared meals with over the past 19 years in ministry, and new friends that we've made and shared the holiday with since coming to Amanda and Phillip's the past few years since they've been married.

I remember last year and how special it was spending it with more-like-family-than-friends friends and what a bittersweet season it was in all of our lives...and oh, how I missed those friends this year.

Time moves on and seasons change. There's never does seem to be enough time or money to do the things we'd like to do, yet, despite all, people come and go in our lives and sweet memories are made. All is woven into a beautiful tapestry called life and I am truly thankful for all that the Lord has brought into mine.

I'd like to take the opportunity now to wish each and every one here a belated Happy Thanksgiving. No matter your situation or season in life, look for God's blessings, because they're there. The little moments in life today will be the sweet memories in your own tapestry tomorrow. Embrace them!

May God's richest blessings be yours today and always!

All My Love,
~Rebecca

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."



Monday, October 26, 2015

Book Review: "THE HAMMER OF THE HUGUENOTS" by Douglas Bond


Douglas Bond is one of my favorite authors, and has been since, shortly after discovering my Scottish roots, we discovered and read his Crown & Covenant Trilogyfollowed by his Faith & Freedom Trilogy.

In preparing for our upcoming 7th Annual 'Night Of Reformation' get-together, I just finished reading Mr. Bond's latest book, The Hammer of the Huguenots, and, I must say, Douglas Bond never ceases to amaze me with his wisdom and insight into Reformation history and the abillity to make it come alive for me...urging me to dig futher into my own family history and imagining what it must have been like for those that came before me. Even though I have Huguenot history in my own family (my fifth great-aunt, Catherine Sherrill was married to General John Sevier, who was of French Huguenot descent), it is an area of family history that I had never thought to investigate before. The Hammer of the Huguenots was so good! Through it's pages I was spiritually humbled and, in the flesh, I am now challenged to dig deeper into the roots of my own extended Huguenot roots.

In The Hammer of the Huguenots Douglas Bond tells the story of Phillippe, a quiet, hard-working, sixteenth-century shipwright apprentice, who, as full-scale war is breaking out in France as intense religious conflict, finds himself entangled in the trouble whether he likes it or not. His closest friends have defyed the state church by embracing the gospel proclaimed by church Reformers and Phillipe must make a choice. 

As with all of the previous books that I've read of Douglas Bond's, Mr. Bond has skillfully woven fact and fiction together drawing me into the pages of the book...into the setting and time period. So much so, in fact, that during the final chapter of The Hammer of the Huguenots, as Phillipe comes to a realization of the choice he has made, I found myself in tears. I could actually feel his heart.

Bravo, Mr. Bond! I never get tired of reading your books and I am anxiously looking forward to whatever is next! 

Blessing To All,
~Rebecca

Homemade Natural Air Freshener

Ingredients For Making Your Own Natural Air Freshener

I love Fabreeze and have used several bottles of it over the years, but I do worry about the harmful effects of chemicals in products like this one, especially when using it on furniture and/or carpet where our skin touches it.

After reading an article about the dangers of Fabreeze this morning, I decided to try my hand at making my own natural air freshener and am quite pleased with the results. I decided to share the recipe here.

To make your own air freshener you will need:
  • 1 tbsp of baking soda
  • 2 cups of water
  • 10 drops of essential oil (I used lavender)
Mix the baking soda and essential oil in a bowl with a fork to keep the oil suspended in the water. Pour the mixture into a clean spray bottle and top off with the water. Shake before every use.

Blessing,
~Rebecca

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

NEW! Frost Flowers Unit Study


Warm days, chilly nights, falling leaves, pumpkins, and bonfires! There's no doubt about it! Autumn is here! But before long tempertures will drop, the days will grow short, and wintery weather will be upon us. Sometime between now and then (usually around Thanksgiving) the most wonderful natural phenomenea will occur! FROST FLOWERS!
While frost flower usually occur only for a short time, here in southwest Missouri, last year weather conditions were such that the frost flowers were on from early November until well after the first of the year, and I had an absolute ball observing and studying them. As a result, I wrote a unit study on frost flowers and am thrilled to be able to share it with you this year before the time that frost flowers occur comes.
The unit study tells what frost flowers are (and aren't!), explains how they are formed, when and where they can be found, and offers ideas on how to further you and your family's study into areas beyond natural science. The study comes in a printable, full color, PDF format and the cost is only $5.00.
If you and your family would be interested in purchasing a copy of my 'Frost Flowers' unity study just send an e-mail to me at proverbs31heart@yahoo.com. Thanks so much!

~Rebecca

Monday, October 5, 2015

Recipe: Taco Soup

Autumn is here and this cool, cloudy day has me thinking about warm soups, stews, and casseroles! One of our favorite soups of all time is Taco Soup and I've got a pot of it cooking on the stove right now!
Taco Soup

TACO SOUP

1 1/2 lbs. ground beef (I use ground turkey.)
1 envelope taco seasoning (I make my own. I'll share the recipe below.)
2 cans whole kernel corn, undrained
2 cans chili beans
2 cans diced tomatoes, undrained

Cook ground meat, add seasonings, corn, tomatoes, and beans. Simmer. Serve with tortilla chips and shredded cheese. Delicious! <3

HOMEMADE TACO SEASONING MIX

2 teaspoons instant minced onion
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon crushed dried red pepper
1/2 teaspoon instant minced garlic
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

Combine all ingredients in a small bowl until evenly distributed. Spoon mixture onto a 6-inch square of aluminum foil and fold to make airtight. Label. Store in a cool, dry place. Use within 6 months. Makes 1 package (about 2 tablespoons) TACO SEASONING MIX. To make additional packages increase ingredient amounts proportionately.

Friday, July 31, 2015

Welcome, Mercy!

Miss Mercy Anne Maranantha Pennington
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.

Monday, July 27, 2015

My Wedding Ring

My Wedding Ring
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.

Fast forward...

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!

Until Next Time...
~Rebecca


Friday, July 3, 2015

Happy Independence Day!

Happy 239th Birthday, America!!!

"...proclaim liberty throughout all the land unto all the inhabitants thereof..." (Leviticus 25:10)
Happy Independence Day, Everyone!!! And Happy Birthday, America! ♥

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Peaceful Sleep


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

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Recipe - Protein Snack Balls


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!