Category Archives: The Walk

Preparing Our Hearts

Several years ago I discovered the tradition of the Jesse Tree, a tradition of using ornaments that represent the people, prophesies, and events leading up to the promised Savior. This has been life changing for me.

I am one of those people who struggle emotionally at Christmas. I stress over choosing gifts that I think others will like, I worry about finances, I become irritated as stores become crowded with holiday shoppers. I simply didn’t enjoy Christmas for many, many years.

Thankfully, I discovered the Jesse Tree. The first year I created ornaments out of Shrinky Dinks to hang on a little wooden tree. I used a guide that I found online and each night we read the corresponding scripture and hung the ornament on our tree. It was simple but effective. I felt a weight being lifted off of me as Christmas approached and I found myself actually enjoying Christmas for the first time in years.

Each year our ornaments have been improved a little and we’ve used different reading plans, some with devotions to accompany the scriptures each day.

Last year I purchased The Greatest Gift by Ann Vonskamp. I have to say this is one of the best purchases I’ve ever made. This book is beautifully written and the daily devotions that go along with the scriptures helped me focus on the true meaning of Christmas, the promise of a Savior. I can honestly say that last year was the best Christmas I have had in years.

My circumstances didn’t change. There was the ever present traffic that comes along on Black Friday and hangs around with us until the New Year, the stores were crowded with shoppers, I had a full schedule of events that surround Christmas, the indecision of holiday gifts still plagued me and yet, my heart was at peace. The things surrounding me weren’t changed, I was. My heart was prepared for my Savior.

This year I decided to share my secret with others. I am hosting a Jesse Tree Ornament Swap. I started very late and haven’t found the required number of participants but I have adapted the plan so that we can still complete the swap. This year I have 7 friends each making 8 copies of 3 different ornaments in the set, and I will be making the remaining 4 ornaments in the set.

I am very excited about this event. It’s added one more thing to my already full plate but somehow it is already making life easier. I’m busier than ever but more intently focused on Christ. That is the magic of the Jesse Tree. Each day we are focused on Jesus and that makes all the difference in the world.

I hope you find a way to focus your heart more intently on Christ this holiday season. Don’t forget to stop, step back, and make time to spend with The Lord during this busy time of year. I promise, you won’t regret it.

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You Can Only Sit on the Fence For So Long

Today has been a turning point for me. My pastor has been preaching a series on the book of Nehemiah over the last few weeks which he finished up today. Through these sermons God has shown me that I have allowed some of my protective walls to decay. I have let things come between me and my relationship with Christ. I have gradually become desensitized to sin in my life and those around me.

One of my favorite movie quotes comes from the movie Remember the Titans. When the team captain sees that one of his best friends purposefully stepped aside and refused to block for one
of his teammates he goes to the coach. One of this coach’s rules is that nobody who wants to play will be cut. When Gary, the team captain, speaks to the coach about cutting his friend Ray from the team the coach reminds Gary of his rule. Gary replies to Coach Boone, “Sometimes you gotta cut a man loose.” The coach replies, “You are the team captain. You make the call but remember you’ve got to stand behind your decision.”

I have had a lot of difficult decisions to make. I had to decide whether I was still playing on my old team or on my Daddy’s team. (the new coach calls himself that early in the movie) I struggled with trying to remain loyal to the old team while at the same time being loyal to my Daddy’s team. Jesus warned us that we would have to face tough choices sometimes. I have been straddling the fence for a while now and just decided it is past time I jump onto one side or the other. I found a photo that perfectly exemplifies how I have felt for a long time. Here it is, I hope you get a laugh out of it.
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35 For I have come to turn
“‘a man against his father,
a daughter against her mother,
a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law—
36 a man’s enemies will be the members of his own household.’[a]

37 “Anyone who loves their father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves their son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. 38 Whoever does not take up their cross and follow me is not worthy of me."

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Climbing Out On the Crashing Waves

A little boy sits crying because he can’t be in the sack race. Tears create streaks down his dirty little cheeks as the wash away the dust from a hot summer day. “Why can’t I be in the race?” he sobs.

“Buddy, you just can’t be in the race,” his mother answers.

“But why can’t I Momma? I can do it! Just watch me! I’ll show you I can do it!”

“It’s too hard. You just can’t do it. You have to be able to jump to play that game.”

“I CAN jump! Let me show you that I can,” he pleads.

“I wish that you could but you just can’t. You have CP. Your body just won’t do that.”

Through sobs he manages to say, “I wish CP didn’t exist! I wish I hadn’t been born with CP!”

I’ve dreaded hearing those words for over 10 years. I knew that someday I’d hear them. It was inevitable. The surprising part is that they haven’t been said before. Most kids realize their limitations much younger but Sweet G is different. There is nothing average about my Sweet G. He looks at life through a different window than most of us. His spirit is strong and true. He is kind and good. Anything is possible in his eyes.

As a small baby his favorite song was Dream Big by Ryan Shupe and the Rubberband. I remember thinking how cool it was that he loved that song so much because with his disability he was going to need to be able to Dream Big. I began to think of the words as a prayer for him.

When you cry be sure to dry your eyes
‘Cause better days are sure to come
And when you smile be sure to smile wide
Don’t let them know that they have won
And when you walk, walk with pride
Don’t show the hurt inside
Because the pain will soon be gone

And when you dream, dream big
As big as the ocean blue
‘Cause when you dream it might come true
When you dream, dream big

When you laugh be sure to laugh out loud
‘Cause it will carry all your cares away
And when you see, see the beauty all around and in yourself
And it’ll help you feel okay
And when you pray, pray for strength
To help you carry on
When the troubles come your way

And when you dream, dream big
As big as the ocean blue
‘Cause when you dream it might come true
When you dream, dream big

As he got a little older his favorite song changed to The Voice of Truth by Casting Crowns. That song gave me so much hope and peace and again I prayed those words as we sang them together.

Oh what I would do to have
The kind of faith it takes to climb out of this boat I’m in
Onto the crashing waves

To step out of my comfort zone
To the realm of the unknown where Jesus is
And He’s holding out his hand

But the waves are calling out my name and they laugh at me
Reminding me of all the times I’ve tried before and failed
The waves they keep on telling me
Time and time again. ‘Boy, you’ll never win!’
“You’ll never win”

But the voice of truth tells me a different story
And the voice of truth says “Do not be afraid!”
And the voice of truth says “This is for My glory”
Out of all the voices calling out to me
I will choose to listen and believe the voice of truth

Oh what I would do to have
The kind of strength it takes to stand before a giant
With just a Sling and a stone
Surrounded by the sound of a thousand warriors
Shaking in their armor
Wishing they’d have had the strength to stand

But the giant’s calling out my name and he laughs at me
Reminding me of all the times I’ve tried before and failed
The giant keeps on telling me
Time and time again “boy, you’ll never win!
“You’ll never win”

But the stone was just the right size
To put the giant on the ground
And the waves they don’t seem so high
From on top of them looking down
I will soar with the wings of eagles
When I stop and listen to the sound of Jesus
Singing over me

I will choose to listen and believe the voice of truth

For the most part we have Dreamed Big and listened to the Voice of Truth but every now and then I have forgotten to have big dreams and sometimes I’ve listened as the giant says, “He’ll never win.” But not Sweet G, that is, not until today. Today he realized that dreams aren’t always enough and in his weakness he took his eyes off of Jesus, focused on the waves crashing all around him, and listened as the giant laughed and said, “Boy, you’ll never win.”

One thing I know is that although Sweet G had a moment of weakness tonight, tomorrow will be a different story. Tomorrow we will stop and listen to the sound of Jesus singing over G as He says, “Do not be afraid. This is for My glory,” and out of all the voices calling out we will choose to listen and believe the Voice of Truth!

He Came From a Long Line of Losers

A couple of years ago I started a new Christmas tradition for our family. I made small charm-like ornaments and a stick tree that serve as a Jesse Tree. It has become a nice addition to our nightly bedtime routine during the days leading up to Christmas. Each night we place that day’s ornament on the Jesse Tree and read the scriptures that tell the Biblical story associated with the picture on the charm. It really is a wonderful way to see God’s plan for our salvation through His Son, Jesus.

Tonight our story was from the book of Ruth. As I read the scriptures telling the story of Ruth and her mother-in-law Naomi I would elaborate on parts to help Sweet G better understand. When I read the part where Ruth was gleaning the fields of Boaz I began to explain that Ruth and Naomi were poor widows and that Ruth worked very hard to gather the wheat that was left or dropped in the field. I told Sweet G that Ruth was an ancestor of Jesus and that her family had worshipped false idols but she had chosen to follow Naomi and worship the one true God. At this point in my story Sweet G asked, “Is it sort of like a long line of losers?” After a short chuckle I began to regain my composure and the thought hit me that G wasn’t really that far off. I reviewed the story of Abraham and Sarah, how Abraham lied and Sarah laughed when God promised a son would be born to them. Noah, although found righteous, at one time became drunk. Adam and Eve disobeyed God and hid from Him, then lied about their actions. I skipped ahead to Rahab the harlot and realized that Sweet G spoke the truth when he suggested that Jesus came from a long line of losers. It provided a great opportunity to share with G that God uses average people and loves us in spite of our poor choices.

I’ll never hear that country song again without thinking of my sweet Savior. “He comes from a long line of losers. Half outlaws, half boozers.” I’m so thankful that God can take someone who has a sinful past full of mistakes and regrets, someone whose family tree may have some questionable characters hanging in it and choose to love them and use them for His glory. Grace, grace. God’s grace. Oh, how sweet His love is.

The Hour Disability Didn’t Exist

It was an unusually warm January day. The world was bright and beautiful. It felt much more like springtime than it did winter. A little boy climbed a hill using his walker, a constant reminder of his disability. As I climbed the hill beside him I had no idea that a miracle was waiting for us at the top?

You see, there was an enchanted object waiting for us to arrive. Most kids take these magical possessions for granted, often leaving them out in the rain or lying in the grass where they drop them to lay forgotten until dad mows the lawn. Those kids don’t see the magic of the object, to them it’s just a common thing, something everybody has. Sweet G and I know that there is nothing ordinary about this thing because we know that the one waiting for us has the ability to make disability totally disappear.

Sweet G approached the item with the aid of his walker but once he turned loose and was safely seated, his disability faded away. It not only faded away for Sweet G, it disappeared from the consciousness of everyone on that hilltop. For an hour Sweet G was just a normal kid. My husband and I were just typical parents. We witnessed something that I had given up hope of G ever being able to experience.

You are probably wondering what was waiting for us on the hill that day. It was a bicycle, not a regular bicycle but a magical one. Someone special provided a hand cycle for children at Infinity Children Services to use. I have no idea who they are but I owe them a huge thank you because when he was on that bike something mystical happened. As he put his hands on the handgrips and started to pedal, he broke away from the bonds of his disability. 

We spent the next hour running back and forth in the parking lot on top of the hill laughing, cheering and forgetting that disability exists. For an hour Sweet G literally pushed his therapist aside and said, “I’ve got this. I don’t need you.” Giggles filled the air as my little boy sped back and forth in a small parking lot on a magical bicycle that has the ability to make disability disappear. For an hour he was simply a little boy having a normal experience with his parents.

Sweet G’s passion for life outshines the darkness of his disability. He inspires me to overcome the challenges I face with dignity and grace. Sweet G has life figured out. He knows the secret to living a full and abundant life regardless of his circumstances. The world would be a better place if we were all a little more like my G. If a miracle cure was found today that would forever erase every trace of G’s disability, I’m not sure I’d want him to receive it. However, I would like for G to have one of those magic hand cycles so that when ever he wanted we could make his disability disappear for an hour or two. ; )

Two Steps Forward, Three Steps Back

Life is filled with ups and downs and twists and turns. I use to become very anxious about the changes in my life but as I grow older I find that I can see how God uses my circumstances to shape me into a better person. Today was one of the days of life that have the ability to leave you discouraged and depressed.

Wednesday is therapy day for G. He has all three therapies on Wednesdays so that gives me + – 3 hours to myself. I had planned on using the time today to get some housework done. We were about to eat lunch when we made the discovery. J turned the kitchen faucet on and nothing happened. We had no water whatsoever. I had not yet taken a shower and was going to be taking G to therapy in less than an hour.

After a few minutes of bewilderment my sweet precious husband who has way too much on his plate lately discovered that he has been riding around with our water bill and payment in his work bag. He made out the check in plenty of time but in all the chaos, that is our life, he forgot to deliver it. Our water had been cut off for non-payment.

At one time this kind of thing would have sent me crashing over the deep end but today it was simply a little inconvenience. It just wasn’t important enough to get upset over. One phone call to the water department (payment and $50 late fee paid on the phone) and the matter was resolved. My husband was much more upset about it than I was. To me it is just a funny story to remember. If that is the worst thing that happens I think we will be okay.

I did find it amusing that this situation occurred the day after I announced that I was taking control of my life. The truth is we only possess a certain amount of control. Things happen. We make mistakes. Life is not perfect but that does not mean that we can’t enjoy living it. You can’t sweat the small stuff and you can’t let it get you down. At times like that you have to find the humor, give a little chuckle, and move on.

Days like today make me realize how much I love my crazy, sometimes chaotic, sweet, sweet life.

Standing at the Screen Door

My parents divorced before I was old enough to retain any memories of the time they were together. There is not one picture of me with both of my parents. Not one trace of evidence from the life we lived together. For that reason I find it impossible to imagine that we ever had the same last name or lived together as a family although we did for only a short time.

In my earliest memory I am standing at a screen door crying for my parents. From what I can remember I believe it must have been springtime which means I was less than two years old. My mother’s sister is telling me that my Mom is at work and that my Daddy will be here soon to pick me up. That first memory is one of loss, abandonment, fear, and confusion. It explains a lot about who I am and how my personality was formed. I understand so many things about who I am and how that first memory held me prisoner without me realizing it.

I spent many years feeling like a victim. Social situations almost crippled me. I scrutinized every conversation and became my own worst enemy. Fear and shame were my constant companions until I slowly started seeing myself the way God sees me. Little by little I gained a new self image and stopped worrying about what others thought so much. Those feelings have not gone away but I have learned to control them instead of letting them control me.

Lately I’ve been feeling somewhat like that little girl; confused, afraid, alone, abandoned, unloved. I know that those feelings are real and justified but unlike that baby girl standing at the screen door I don’t have to let those feelings define me or hold me prisoner. I have a new identity in Christ. He will never leave me or forsake me. He shelters me beneath His wings.

Psalm 17:8-9 (KJV)
8Keep me as the apple of the eye, hide me under the shadow of thy wings,