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Monday, November 28, 2011

Finding my Confidence

Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need." Hebrews 4:16

As I did my Bible study a few weeks ago, God made something abundantly clear to me.

I am afraid to ask boldly.

It's not that I don't believe that God can do anything. It's not that I don't have faith in Him.

It's because I know how devestating it can be when His answer isn't the same as ours. So even though I pray for others and I believe in His power, when it comes to me, I'm simply afraid to ask boldly.

It all goes back to my daughter's death. Chris and I prayed fervently and passionately that she would be healed. And we didn't just pray it. We believed it. We claimed it.

And then she died and we felt like we had been blindsided. I think her death hit us so hard because we believed that God would answer our prayers.

But, his answer was different from ours. And it was absolutely heartbreaking.

And because of that, I have been afraid to "go out on a limb" when praying because I don't want to be disappointed when the answer is different from mine.

This morning, as I did my Bible study, I came across this verse in Hebrews 4:16:

"Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence (my emphasis), so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need."

I felt like God was hitting me over the head with a two by four. And then I thought about it more.

It's that word "confidence." Didn't I approach the throne with confidence when I prayed for him to heal Melissa?

Yes, I did. But I don't think this verse is talking about that kind of confidence.

It's not being confident that God is going to hear my prayer and answer it exactly the way I want Him to.

It's confidence that he will hear my prayer and that His will will be done. And it's confidence that if that outcome isn't the same one that I prayed for, that He will carry me. It's confidence that His ways are perfect even when they don't make sense to me. It's confidence that He is in control. It's confidence that I cannot control the outcome, but I can trust him to carry me.

Have you ever felt like a verse in the Bible was written just for you? I had that feeling today. Even so, I'm not there yet. I'm praying for that confidence when I do approach His throne of grace. And I am grateful for a God who hears me when I cry.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

My Cup is Full

I have certain coffee cups I use on certain days.

I have one given to me by a friend with two little girls on it and a rainbow. It reminds me of Ann Catherine, Lily Baker and Melissa. I use it on days when I need to feel that love.

I have an Alabama coffee cup that I may or may not use the mornings the Crimson Tide is playing. (Cut me some slack. I married a hockey player. By virtue of that, I may be a wee bit superstitious.) I am fully aware the coffee cup has no bearing on the outcome of the game, but it makes me feel better. :)

I have big, oversized ones that I use on the mornings when I'm working from home and need an extra shot of caffeine.

But the one I reached for today is probably the most special one of all. It belonged to my grandmother, Mama Long, who passed away when I was a senior in high school.

I was so close to her. Looking back now, the reason is obvious. I'm a lot like her. I think she saw that when I was younger, too.

I loved going to her house. I looked the blue jug of ice cold water she left in her refrigerator. My cousins and I would devour it after playing in her back yard.

I loved watching her sit in her chair and crochet. The stocking we hang on the mantle for Melissa is one she made me as a child. Our tree skirt was also made by her loving hands.

I loved playing board games with her, especially Aggravation. We played it every time I visited. I love that she always carried dice and marbles in an old Bufferin bottle in her purse. She was always ready to play.

I loved looking at her photo albums as a child, and even as a teenager. I would sit in her floor and look at them for hours on end. When she died, my aunts gave them to me and I will cherish them for the rest of my life.

A few years ago, we were at Thanksgiving at my Aunt Linda's house. She had a box of small things - knick knacks and trinkets - that belonged to my grandmother and asked us all if we wanted to go through them. I immediately saw this coffee cup and knew that I wanted it.

My grandmother collected coffee cups. It's what we always brought her back from vacation. She proudly displayed them on her kitchen wall.

If anything ever reminded me of my grandmother, it was this coffee cup.

I cherish it. Whenever I empty the dishwasher, I carefully place it back in the cupboard so as not to drop it. It's truly irreplaceable.

I reached for it today on this Thanksgiving Day. Because if there is one thing I have learned in my 30-plus years it's this: it's all about family.

Families aren't perfect. All families have their ups and downs. There are heartbreaks, there are disagreements, there are disappointments.

But there are also those in your family that you love with all your heart. Unconditionally, openly and without apology.

On this Thanksgiving, I'm thankful for those that God placed in my life without my choosing. Some are in Heaven, and I have so much comfort knowing Melissa is there surrounded by the love of my grandparents who I loved dearly.

I'm also thankful for those who are here. Some I will see today, and some I won't. I am also overjoyed that family means as much to my girls as it does to me.

I hope you have time with your family this Thanksgiving. As I enjoy my coffee this morning, I'm counting my blessings. And I am overwhelmed by God's goodness.

Happy Thanksgiving to you all!

Thursday, November 3, 2011

"And the Mother of the Year Goes to...."

My friends and I have this running joke called "Mother of the Year." When we really screw up regarding our kids, we bestow the "Mother of the Year" title on the offending mom. Chris wants to create an actual trophy because it happens so often.We've even joked that we should have a "MOY" ceremony each year to see who screwed up the most.

I do believe I have now skyrocketed to the top of that list.

Let me explain. Ann Catherine lost her fifth tooth tonight. Oddly enough, it all happened because she wiped out on the hardwood taking her hamper back to her room. No, she didn't knock her tooth out, but she got a nice goose egg on her head. Chris grabbed the Dora ice pack and she crawled in the chair with me. After she grew tired of applying it to her forehead, she apparently put the ice pack in her mouth and bit down. Next thing I know I hear, "Mommy, my tooth just came out!!"

Now that's a crazy chain of events, isn't it?

As blood poured from her mouth, we raced to the bathroom. As we rinsed, Chris reveled in the fact that she looked like Bobby Clark with both of her top teeth missing (you hockey fans will appreciate that. The rest of you, just google and you'll get it. Pretty funny.) I grabbed the tooth and put it on a paper towel on the kitchen counter.

Oh, you know where this is going don't you??!

An hour later, we started getting the girls ready for bed. As they crawled in bed, I remembered - the tooth!! I raced to the kitchen to get it...

...and the paper towel was GONE!!

It all started coming back. I remembered walking through the kitchen earlier and thinking, "Good grief. There is stuff  EVERYWHERE!" and then putting said stuff in the garbage.

Oh my word. You have GOT to be kidding me!

"CHRIS!!!!!" I screamed.

He came running. Unfortunately, so did Ann Catherine.

I had the garbage can out and he immediately knew. Apparently we have been married way too long. He said, "Oh please tell me you didn't throw her tooth away!"

And right on cue, the wailing began.

"Just help me look!" I impatiently said while Ann Catherine stood there sobbing. All the while I'm thinking, "How on God's green earth are we going to find that tiny little tooth in all of this trash???"

And if we don't, what do we do? Grab her first one - that the tooth fairy left us - and hope she doesn't notice?? Write the tooth fairy a note??

"Dear Tooth Fairy, even though there is no tooth under my pillow, please leave money because MY MOTHER IS AN IDIOT AND THREW MY TOOTH AWAY??? In the meantime, can I come live with you? Love, Ann Catherine"

As all of those thoughts went racing through my brain, God must have felt sorry for the mom rifling through trash, because I saw a paper towel all wadded up.

And tucked inside, was Ann Catherine's tooth.

Oh thank you Jesus! We grabbed it and put it in a Ziploc bag. As we placed it under her pillow, Ann Catherine said, "Are you sure that's my tooth?"

Poor child. I'm going to assume that watching your mother frantically search through trash looking for your tooth scars you a bit.

In the meantime, go ahead and send that "Mother of the Year" trophy to my house. I'll put it on the mantle next to the crumpled, blood-stained, food-stained paper towel.