Forget-me-not, Oh Lord!

The observations of a "Martha" who is trying desperately to be more like a "Mary."

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Friday, October 17, 2014

it's a broken and beautiful life

I am broken.

Aren't we all, to some extent, broken?  How can anything really be whole in this fallen world?

It's exhausting - living broken.  Attempting to function properly when you are fractured. It's like walking on a sprained ankle - not advisable, for obvious reasons.

Why do we do this to ourselves?  Why do we hobble through each day in pain as if nothing is wrong? As if we are perfect and all is well with the world?

Are we afraid of looking weak? Are we fearful of judgement? Of criticism?

"The world...view[s] our broken stories and tell us it's better to hide them.  To forget the shame we carry, put on a smile, and disappear under the work we do, the people we please, and the frenetic activity of keeping busy." - Bonnie Gray in Finding Spiritual Whitespace

Well, I'm done with that.  Living that way is tiring - physically and spiritually - and I want more out of this life.  Jesus wants me to have life abundantly, and I'm eager to let the Great Physician guide me to a better place.

I'm reading an insightful book right now by author Bonnie Gray called Finding Spiritual Whitespace.

She says, "Spiritual whitespace brings us to a different peace where we are real."

The reality is this: life is hard.  It's brutal.  But it can also be beautiful.

However, the only way to experience the beauty is to first acknowledge the ugly... the damaged... the imperfect... in our lives.

"Jesus understands the wounds where joy was demolished. Where something beautiful fades into the sidelines of our stories. Where we are only left with memories of what could have been." - Bonnie Gray

We need to acknowledge our brokenness, not hide from it.  We need to make room for the Healer to come in and do His work. We must stop, rest, and let Him make us new.  We should do this often because daily we fail and we are hurt. We need time to recover.

No ship can be buffeted by the waves forever. It will capsize. Our savior cries out, "Peace! Be still!"  And so we must. We should.

Rest. We need to make time for rest.

Matthew 11:28 Then Jesus said, "Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest."

I am taking steps toward rest.  How do you make time for it?  Please, share your wisdom on this topic!

Today's forget-me-not: Rest. It's just what the Doctor ordered.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

My Marley and Me

It was June of 2004. I remember turning into the Super Walmart parking lot and saying, "Hey, look. There's someone trying to get rid of a puppy."

My husband (Michael) and I had recently been conversing about the possibility of getting a dog. That's why the couple with the sign "Free Puppy" caught my eye.

The next thing I remember, Michael said to me, "Stop the car."  And as I parked our vehicle, I recall thinking, he just wants to get a closer look at the dog. He just wants to see her.  So, he got out, and I waited.  And after some time passed (4 or 5 minutes), he made his way back towards me... with the dog in his hands.

I thought, he's going to ask me if we should take this dog, and he knows the answer to that question. No way! We had already discussed this.  We don't have the time or money to spend on a dog right now.  Of course we can't take this dog!

But my husband didn't ask me if we should take the dog.  Quite the opposite occurred. As he got in the car with this tan ball of fuz, I asked, "Are we taking this dog?" And he said, "Yes."

June 2004
At some point, soon thereafter, I suggested we name the dog Lucky - since she was dang lucky to have captured my husband's heart.  If it had been up to me that day, I would have opted to give the dog back to its owners.  But as soon as I saw how Michael looked at that dog, I knew that wasn't a possibility. That puppy had found its home, and it was in my husband's heart!

A man and his new dog.
She was so darn cute!  And although we named her Lucky, I never referred to her by that name.  She was always Puppy to me.  And as she grew, she found a special place in my heart.

She loved Frisbees, and she was GREAT at catching them!
Puppy was our baby until our first baby, Beth, came along. 

Puppy handled Beth's toddler years with more patience than I did!
That puppy was always there with us - in our midst.  In most pictures and nearly every video I have of Beth growing up, Puppy is right there - living life with us.

Having fun in the snow January of this year.
I guess I took that for granted.  I knew one day she'd be gone.  But sadly, there were too many times, most recently, when I wished her final days were sooner rather than later: Like after each time she peed on the carpet.  Or after each time we would have to pay the huge fees to have her boarded. Or after the time she tore up the carpet in our bedroom because she accidentally closed the door on herself after we had left for the day.

At times like those, I focused too much on the negativity of the situations instead of honing in on the joy she brought to our lives.

And for that, I am truly sorry.

Date of Birth (estimated): April 2004 - Date of Death: October 2014

We miss you Puppy.

Thanks for the memories, faithful friend!

Today's forget-me-not: Our Puppy

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Running and Remembering for Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness

Today was awesome!  I had the honor and the privilege of  running a 5K in remembrance of my Angel (lost at 8 weeks due to miscarriage) and of babies lost too soon.

About a week before the race, I asked family, friends, and Facebook mommas in a variety of baby loss groups if they would like me to add their babies' names to my race t-shirt.  The response was overwhelming, and my race t-shirt was filled with the names of those claimed by early pregnancy and infant loss.

The names of all the babies on my shirt are listed below under today's forget-me-not.
There are also close-ups of the shirt below if you are trying to find your baby's name.
It was humbling and exciting to run for these babies and their mommas!

This is the third year I have run this 5K, and I love that it is at the end of September right before October which is National Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month.

The logo for the race shirt this year. I love it!
This year, I brought a dear friend with me which made the day that much sweeter!

My friend Jaimee who came with me to remember Angel and babies lost too soon!
This event is very well run!  I never regret driving an hour to and then from Chatsworth, GA, for this.  I always enjoy the time spent remembering our babies, the moment the balloons are released, the great 5K course, and the awesome raffle (I win something each year!) that follows the 5K run and the two mile walk.  If you ever get a chance to be in this area at the end of September, I highly recommend this event!  Check out the Remembering our Babies "A Walk to Remember" on Facebook.

Getting ready for the balloon release!
Her name attached to the balloon. :-)
The balloon release - overcast but beautiful.
After the balloon release, it was time for the 5K.  I am never more motivated to run my best than when I run in remembrance of Angel and babies lost too soon.  I run thinking about Angel. I run thinking about the day I learned something was wrong with my pregnancy, and I run remembering the day I had the ultrasound that showed her still heart. I run thinking of my friends who have endured a similar loss, and I run with the names of all the babies whose names are on my racing shirt at the forefront of my mind.  And always, I am praying that my run honors those babies and their memories - especially the memory of my Angel.

And I really believe that is why my run times for this 5K have improved each time I've run this race.
In 2012, I ran this course in 35:15.  In 2013, I ran it in 32:15.  And this year, I ran it in 29:41 at a pace of 10:16.  This beats my best 5K at 29:58!

I couldn't be more please with my performance - for Angel and for all babies lost too soon!

As I already said, today was awesome, and I enjoyed spending it with some awesome people!

Runners and walkers at the 5K!
Today's forget-me-not:  Our babies...

Angel Wills          Angel Baby Reites       Angel Baby Rozan
Cavan                   Kennedy                       Meeghan Hodges
Riley Bines          Micah and Taylor         Riley, Peyton, Cameron
Baby Bines           Baby Everspaugh        Angel Baby Whitaker
Serena Lesley Cisneros                    Zoe Rose           Christian
Twins Brandon and Francesca         Baby Dickerson               Angel Baby Haire
Alexcia Myanna Mckamey              Malachi's Twin                Carson
Shridam Jasper                                 Hoag Angel Babies         Taylor and Tristan
Matthew Pierce Boothe                    Lilly and Luke                 Bethany Hope
Cameron LaPointe                            Hannah Elizabeth            Audrey Elise
Sophia Evonne Simonsen                 Samuel Brian                  River
Harper-Grace        Hannah         Cameron, Xavien, and Tristen
Sydney Alexis       Kristen          Brady             Karinne Claire
Julia Rose             Mikayla Grace             Audrey               Sarah Elizabeth
Mackenzie Lee-Ann Little         Piper Marie            Angel Babies Lehman
Jordan Laine                Ashton-lee                Baby Miller                  
Owynn Nathan            Michael Joseph Perkins                 Pemberton Babies
Riley Rylands             Heppy                Evie X             Annabelle Catalina
Seth                             Grant and Miracle                     Parker Cecil Lawson
Michael Phillard        Conor George Deslauriers
Angel Divine             Aniya Grace Mazzarelli-Coates
Alexander Lee           Jessica Lopez Lewis                 Mackenzie Mone't
JoLeNe Nichole Shepherd          Daniel the Lion       Elizabeth
Hollie Hope              Angel Amila                Bert Hergreaves

Friday, September 19, 2014

Racing for Children

This past Saturday, I ran a 5K for Harvesting Hope Ministries.  The following information is from their website:

"Harvesting Hope Ministries, Inc. is a 501c-3 non-profit whose mission is to bring hope to children and their families who have life threatening illnesses.  Currently, we give care packs to our local Ronald McDonald House at the Egleston/Emory Campus in Atlanta."

Race Shirt
I have said before that I love running for great causes, but I especially love running for causes that benefit children.  

I found out about this particular 5K after running The Chiefs 5K last month.  A lady approached me and handed me a flyer advertising the Harvesting Hope Ministries' race.  After she handed it to me, she explained that the money raised from the 5K would go towards helping kids that have to undergo organ transplants of some kind.  She finished by explaining that her son had to have two liver transplants (one recently), so this was a cause near and dear to her heart.

How do you respond to that?  Well, I said I would definitely be there!

It was a good 5K.  I wasn't too crazy about the course - it was a loop around a local church three times - and it didn't start on time, but I always leave a race pleased when I receive an age group award! ;-)

My time was 32:55.

AND I got this awesome shoelace clip!

I love that the clip has a heart on it! Why?  Because I heart (love) racing. And, as I said, I heart (love) running for great causes.  And when I look at it, I'm reminded of one particular race I'll actually be running next weekend; a race that I absolutely heart (love) - the Remembering our Babies "Walk to Remember."

This event is actually a two mile walk or a 5K run.  I've always run the 5K in honor of Angel and other babies lost too soon.  This will be my third time running this race.  When I run it, I wear the shirt I got running the race that first time in 2012. I have the names of all our angels on it.  Sadly, every year I add more names...

Do you see your angel's name?
If you don't see your angel's name on my shirt and you would like me to include his or her name, just leave me a message below or e-mail me the name ( I would be honored to run in remembrance your baby!

Today's forget-me-not: Children.  ALL children.

"Children are a heritage of the Lord." Psalm 127:3

Friday, September 12, 2014

I have indirectly supported Planned Parenthood and embryonic stem cell research. And, most likely, so have you.

Have you heard this saying?

People who live in glass houses shouldn't throw stones.

Basically, it means that people should not criticize others for faults they have in themselves.

That sums up my opinion of persons who pass judgement on others for donating time and money to charities that have ties to Planned Parenthood or embryonic stem cell research when similar ties can be made to just about everything someone may donate money to or use in daily life.

Let me explain why I'm writing this post.

You see, it has recently come to my attention that some fellow pro-lifers have been uniting against the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge because they see it as soliciting funds for research that has connections to embryonic stem cell research - which is somewhat accurate.

Now, how are they choosing to respond to this reality?  Well, in addition to pouring their criticisms and condemnations on those of us who have given our time and money to the ALS Foundation, some are deliberately filming themselves completing an ice bucket challenge in which they say why they are NOT giving money to ALS.  Furthermore, they then say which organizations WILL receive their money and so post their videos online challenging others to follow suit.

First, how loving is that?!  Why would you take the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge which has lifted the spirits of and brings hope to those suffering from this horrific disease (see my previous post on this matter) and post videos that basically communicate to these people that they aren't worthy of your money?! If you don't want to donate money to ALS, don't do it!  But I would request, please, do not attempt to steal away what little joy they have gotten from the recognition received for this lonely disease by filming a mock challenge and posting it online.

Second, and here is my main point,  do you realize how hypocritical it is to criticize and to condemn someone for indirectly supporting Planned Parenthood and embryonic stem cell research when you - yes, you - most likely do the same thing on a daily basis? 

Consider this.  The following are things/companies to avoid if you want to ensure your money isn't going to Planned Parenthood or being used for embryonic stem cell research:  Clorox, Coca-Cola, Pepsi, AT&T, Adobe, eBay, Ford, Gap, General Electric, Kraft,  Xerox, and Yahoo.

Do you use any of those? I know I do!  And I would bet, you do too!

Furthermore,, a pro-life website, states you are supporting abortion if you give your money to any of these companies or use of their services: AOL, Bank of America, Bayer, Chevron, Darden Restaurants (Olive Garden, Red Lobster, etc.), eBay (PayPal, etc.), Laureate Education, Midas, Nationwide (insurance), Nike, Select Comfort (Sleep Number bed), Southwest Airlines (Jet Blue, etc.), Starwood Hotels (Aloft, Element, Four Points, Le Méridien, Sheraton, St. Regis, W, Westin, etc.), Symantec, Wells Fargo, and Whole Foods.

Honestly, if you do research on this topic, you will soon discover that most everything you own and most every business you patronize is somehow supporting Planned Parenthood and/or embryonic stem cell research. On top of that, the American Life League reports, "It is simply just a sad fact that most national medical research/advocacy groups support some form of unethical research. There is no listing, to our knowledge, of only pro-life research organizations."  Even the Susan G. Koman and March of Dimes organizations have been linked to "supporting abortion."

So, what can you do if you really want to avoid indirectly giving your time and money to anti pro-life endeavors?  Not much.  Unless you move to an Amish town.

My point is simple, and it's a point Jesus himself made in Matthew 7:3:  "Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother's eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?"

My fellow pro-life friends.  I know. I agree!  We shouldn't support anything that does not treat God's gift of life in the womb with the utmost respect. Don't hear me saying otherwise in this post. However, we live in an imperfect world,  so we must accept that we are not going to be able to avoid things that are contrary to our values 100% of the time.

Life is messy. God knows that. All we can do is pray for direction, and whatever we end up doing, we should do it in the right spirit - the spirit of love.

1 Corinthians 13:13 And now these three remain: faith, hope and love.  But the greatest of these is love.

I cannot believe Jesus would ever fault us for acting out of love.

Romans 8: 1-2 There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.  For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death.

So, let's agree to set aside criticism and condemnation of each other.  And let's consider this, and all other such matters, a matter between each individual and Jesus.

When I accepted the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge, I did so to encourage those suffering from ALS.  I donated a small amount of money in the hopes that combined with all other donations perhaps some progress might be made in research combating this terrible disease. I did these things out of the goodness of my heart like those who feel lead to walk for Susan G. Koman and for the March of Dimes.  I did not know that the ALS Foundation had a connection - albeit, a very small connection - to embryonic stem cell research.

But knowing that now, in retrospect, would I do it all again? To that question, I answer yes.

Yes, I would do it again to encourage ALS patients, to inspire hope, and to, hopefully, help improve the quality of LIFE of those suffering with ALS.  Because, to me, ALL life is precious. Including the lives of ALS sufferers.  That is how I am convicted concerning this matter.

Today's forget-me-not:  So remember. Do not criticize.  Do not condemn.

Friday, September 5, 2014

Why aren't you running for the hills from ISIS?

Have you ever seen Hotel Rwanda?  It is a historical drama about the 1994 Rwandan genocide. The events in the movie are based on the true story of Paul Rusesabagina. If you've never seen it, watch the trailer before you continue reading my post...  Even if you have seen it, watch the trailer and refresh your memory...

It is tragic, isn't it? Over 800,000 were killed during the Rwandan genocide, and did anyone step in to stop the deliberate and systematic destruction of the Tutsis?  No. The world powers turned their backs on these people, and the United Nations was unwilling to get too involved. 

I'm currently conducting a film study of Hotel Rwanda with my sophomores. The movie connected with the book we just finished reading, Things Fall Apart, via the subject of colonialism and its effects.   

But more important than that exploration, the movie raises other moral and ethical questions that beg for answers:

Should a country ever get involved in another country's affairs?  And if so, when and why?

My students will have to formulate their own opinions on this matter; however, after watching Hotel Rwanda, I'm not sure that anyone - in good conscience - could say that a country should NEVER get involved in another country's affairs.  If that involvement will prevent the loss of innocent lives then I believe those in a position to help the helpless have a moral obligation to step in and proffer assistance.  If a country can help but chooses not to offer aid, that country is no different than rebels committing atrocities against their fellow human beings. 

Watch Hotel Rwanda, and then, come and tell me why you would think otherwise. 

This is a subject that is very heavy on my heart right now.  I am a Christian, and I've been hearing that my fellow brothers and sisters in Christ have been experiencing something akin to the Rwandan genocide in Northern Iraq.  Since the beginning of August, a group called ISIS has been sweeping through the northern cities of this country and wiping out Christians - targeting especially the Christian children.

And what has my country done in response to this? Not enough.  ISIS is still going strong. 

Here is an urgent prayer request received Wednesday:

Subject: Prayer Request from Iraq.

This message was sent from some friends at church who are former Baptist missionaries. They received this from their contacts in Iraq. They need our prayers now!!!

From: Jim & Linda Rice
Date: 09/03/14 20:46:40
Subject: Prayer Request from Iraq

Dear Friends,

Just a few minutes ago I received the following text message on my phone from Sean Malone who leads Crisis Relief International (CRI). We then spoke briefly on the phone and I assured him that we would share this urgent prayer need with all of our contacts.

"We lost the city of Queragosh (Qaraqosh). It fell to ISIS and they are beheading children systematically. This is the city we have been smuggling food to. ISIS has pushed back Peshmerga (Kurdish forces) and is within 10 minutes of where our CRI team is working. Thousands more fled into the city of Erbil last night. The UN evacuated its staff in Erbil. Our team is unmoved and will stay. Prayer cover needed!"

Please pray sincerely for the deliverance of the people of Northern Iraq from the terrible advancement of ISIS and its extreme Islamic goals for mass conversion or death for Christians across this region.

Please pray! If we ask, we shall receive.  Let's join in prayer that God uses His power to protect His people as a testimony to His sovereignty - like He did with His people when Moses parted the red Sea!

And then, take a minute to ask yourself these questions:

Why aren't I running to the hills from ISIS? Why was I born in a country where living as a Christian is living a life without fear of death because of my faith?  Why is it that I don't have to worry about watching my children be a part of a massacre?

What all would God have me do during this current crisis?

I don't have the answers to these questions, but lately, they run constantly through my head and my heart. 

Today's forget-me-not:  Our persecuted brothers and sisters in Christ.

Revelation 20:4 And I saw thrones, and they sat upon them, and judgment was given unto them: and I saw the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus and for the word of God, and which had not worshiped the beast, neither his image, neither had received his mark upon their foreheads, or in their hands; and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years.

Friday, August 29, 2014

Don't be an ALS Ice Bucket Challenge hater!

I accepted the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge this past Monday night.

As I said in the video, I heartily accepted this challenge.  Why?   For those suffering with ALS. For those like Anthony Carbaja. Watch his four minute video before reading any further. Don't cheat. You have to watch it to really understand and appreciate what I'm about to say.  Watch it:

Now, how do you NOT accept the challenge after watching that?  Did you hear what he said?

"I am so so grateful.  You have no idea how every single challenge makes me feel.  Lifts my spirits. Lifts every single ALS patient's spirits." - Anthony Carbaja 

Translation: When you complete the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge and share it with family and friends, you lift the spirits of those suffering from this horrific disease.

Conversely, I imagine that every time a person posts an article deriding the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge, it does quite the opposite. It crushes every single ALS patient's spirits.  Would you rather be a part of that?

Sadly, the spirit of an ALS suffer is kept low as there is much that adds insult to the injury of an ALS diagnosis.  Anthony points out one such insult in his moving video.  It comes from the pharmaceutical companies. Because making drugs for ALS suffers wouldn't be a profitable venture, they do not invest time or money into ALS research.  Through their inaction, these companies are saying that ALS suffers aren't worth saving.

They aren't worth it!?  How can another human being NOT have worth?

Via the Ice Bucket Challenge I say to Anthony and all ALS suffers, "You are worth it!  You are worth the water, the time, the efforts, and the money spent in bringing awareness to your suffering and in bringing hope to your despair. You are worth it!"

If you don't want to complete the challenge, that's okay.  If you would rather not help bring awareness to this devastating disease, if you would rather not give an ALS suffer a glimmer of hope in his or her darkness, that is your choice.  But I would respectfully ask that you not share any articles or blog posts or memes that would steal away their hope during this time of recognition.

For those of you willing to complete the challenge, thank you!  Whether you give money to ALS or not, you are still contributing a great deal!  As Anthony implied, this is a lonely disease: "No one wants to talk about it." Those that suffer with ALS suffer alone.  Thank you for helping them feel less like an outcast, rejected and forsaken.  Thank you for helping them feel loved.

Today's forget-me-not: Don't be a hater! #love

1st Corinthians 12:4-8 “Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.