Monthly Archives: April 2015

While I’m waiting

A funny thing happened while I was attempting to write this newest entry to the blog.  I’ve been mulling over topics for a few days, not really sure which one to choose, when finally this morning, I decided to write on Waiting.  I’ve been in a season of waiting for a while;  life was chaotic for a few years, but now, even though it’s quiet by comparison, I’ve been feeling restless for change.  I’ve been praying for a couple of things;  things that are perfectly within my reason to want and to ask for;  but the answer seems to be—Yes, but wait.

So just a little while ago, I proceeded to access the blog in the method that I had done since I got it, to click on the bookmark I have for it in Google Chrome.  It took me directly to the blog, except my editing tools weren’t there;  I was seeing it as a guest would.  I tried everything I knew, which wasn’t much and then I started researching on Google to see if others had also run into this problem.  I backtracked in my mind as to what my actions had been the last time I visited the site as administrator.  I realized that I had tweaked something last night and wondered if I had messed things up irrevocably.  I was feeling a little panicky.  Was I going to have to start all over?  That felt like a major bummer.

Obviously, since you’re reading this, I was able to get the problem fixed.  But the thing is, until I got with the right one (in this case, tech support) who knew how to get me where I needed to be;  I was spinning my wheels and making myself anxious about it in the meantime.

One of my favorite Bible teachers likes to ask—If God is telling you to wait, what will your attitude be as you do so?  In other words, you’re going to have to wait anyway–will you do it begrudgingly, with complaint and in a bad mood?  Will you have a pity party and invite all to come?  Or will you do it cheerfully, knowing that this, as with all things, shall pass? Either way, you’re waiting;  one mood will make it seem longer and the other, being more enjoyable; will make it seem like a breeze.

When I was a teenager on Staten Island, I didn’t drive, so it was either walking or taking the bus that got me where I wanted to go.  A favorite hangout was the mall, which was probably a couple of miles from my house, so me and a friend would take the bus there.  If you missed the bus, it was a good twenty minutes before the next one came.  If you just missed it, you knew you had that long to wait;  worse was not knowing how long it had been since the other one had come.  It got boring to wait, even with a friend there, and especially if it was cold or raining.  So we would try these little tricks that seemed to work (and did work 50% of the time) to “get” the bus to come.  The most popular one was to light a cigarette.  You couldn’t smoke on the bus, so you hoped by lighting the cigarette, Murphy’s Law would send the bus right then, making you waste it.  I know it sounds silly, but don’t we still do this kind of stuff?  Don’t we think we can force God’s hand if we do A, B or C?   Abraham and Sarah would have saved us a bunch of trouble if they hadn’t tried to help God by producing Ishmael.  But they couldn’t wait.

I like to think I could handle knowing what’s coming, especially the good stuff.  But like Abraham, if I knew even part of the promise, I would probably try to help, thereby messing it all up.  It’s like how mom might make a beautiful cake, put it on a table and tell the children not to touch it because it was for later.  Children being children (and probably we adults would do it too), they would be all in it as soon as she left the room.  God gives me a glimpse of something around the corner, and in my enthusiasm, I rush towards it.  I get “my fingers in the cake.” Thankfully, God already knows that I am going to do that and I don’t mess anything up to the point of it being permanently damaged; but still, if God has already got the answer worked out, I merely have to sit back and wait for it to come to pass.  That’s the only part I have to play in the scenario, so why do I feel this need to help?

Waiting involves patience. Wanting to help God along, involves impatience.  We live in a microwave world—wanting everything ten minutes ago. God is the same, yesterday, today and forever. He’s not moved by a clock;  to Him, a thousand years is but a day.  It’s a fact—for some answers, He’s going to make us wait.  The question remains: what will we do, how will we act, while we are waiting?


Coincidences or God moments? You decide.

I started to call this, “Dead horses on the highway,” but I wasn’t sure anyone would read it. But that happened one time—Me and Bob and his parents were on our way home from Virginia after visiting his sister.  We were making good time and decided to stop at a rest area to use the bathroom.  We were only in there ten minutes tops, but when we came out and met at the car, one of my father-in-laws tires was completely flat.  We couldn’t understand how that had happened so fast and were slightly annoyed (okay we were quite annoyed).  It was hot that day and while me and Bob’s mom sat on the curb, he and his dad changed the tire.  Back on the road maybe a mile or so, we hit traffic.  We got to a horrible sight,  a horse trailer had gotten involved in a wreck and there were dead horses on the highway.  Without thinking, I blurted out, “If we hadn’t had that flat tire, we might have been right in the middle of this.” Now, I wasn’t a Christian at the time, in fact the only one in that car that was, was Bob’s mom.  But I automatically felt the truth of my words, and I figured we were kept safe because of her.  Looking back on it now, I think I had it backwards,  we were kept safe because the three of us weren’t ready to go into eternity. Since then, both Bob and his dad have passed away but my dad led my father in law in the sinners prayer and Bob made his decision months before his death.


Bob and I hit a rough patch somewhere in the early 2000’s.  We weren’t getting along very well and he would stop talking to me.  The air in the house was tense;  and I would have rather been alone than been in a house with someone who was going out of his way not to talk to me.   So given the chance, I would pick going to church or to an outing to get away from it.  The church had just started a Ladies Choir that I became a part of and we were invited to visit another church to sing.  Bob made it known he wasn’t thrilled with me going, and I didn’t know until pretty much the last minute if I would attend. I would have to leave straight from work to meet everyone at the church parking lot so we could make the hour drive to the place we were going to sing at.   That morning before work,  I got up to take a mile walk and while I was doing that, a song popped into my head.   Now, Contemporary Christian songs and hymns make their way into my mind all the time, but this one wasn’t one I would normally think of.  In fact, I couldn’t remember another time when I had thought of it, although I’d heard people sing it.  After I came back from my walk, Bob and I got into a bad fight about my going out that night.  Still, I left for work, not totally sure if I’d go with them or just go home.  But as the day wore on, I decided I was going to go to sing with the choir. My feeling was—why go home where we would either just have a bad fight or I would be ignored completely, when I could go enjoy myself singing with these ladies I had come to love?   When we got there, another group that consisted of the lady who played piano for us and two brothers got up to sing first.  One of the brothers asked the lady to sing a song she had written.  As she adjusted the microphone, she told us, “John wants me to sing a song I wrote;  but I really feel impressed upon by the Lord to sing this other song instead.”  I will never forget the feeling of awe I experienced when she proceeded to sing the song that had been so strongly on my mind that morning during my walk! I just knew that God was going to work everything out!  And as it turned out,  Bob and I would stay up half the night after I got home talking things out and working towards repairing our rift.   I told him about the song and he asked what I thought it meant.  I told him, “God wanted to let me know He knew exactly where I was and what I was going through.”



Another song popped into my head one Friday;  I was battling depression but the song, Amazing Grace, kept playing in my mind.  When I got to church Sunday morning, our pastor had a guest speaker in (I don’t remember this man’s name and I don’t think he was ever back).  I couldn’t tell you what he preached about, but when he gave the altar call, I went up for prayer because I was still struggling. Others were up there and he would go to each one, ask them what their need was and pray accordingly. As this was going on, my pastor had gone over to the organ and started playing the melody of Amazing Grace, which of course, I noticed immediately.  The speaker came over to me, never asked me what my need was, put his hand on top of my head, sang the first verse to Amazing Grace and walked away!  He never did “officially” pray for me, but I knew God had done a work as only He could.



November 2010 was a bad month.  My sister went missing on November 8th, we were alerted of it when she didn’t show up for work.  I couldn’t get in touch with her and we didn’t know where she was.  Meanwhile, Bob’s back pain was getting worse.  During that week, as I prayed to find out the whereabouts of my sister, I got the clear impression that she had gotten saved and was at peace with the Lord, which was reassuring but didn’t answer my question as to where she was.  As the week went on and still we didn’t hear from her, I knew it was looking ominous.  Sunday,  November 14, as I laid in bed,  I thought about the story in the bible about the three Hebrew boys, Meshach, Shadrach and Abednego and how the Lord was in the fire with them.  I felt like me and Bob were in a “fire” ourselves, with his increasing pain and the mystery of what happened to my sister,  but I also felt reassured that like them, we weren’t alone.  I went out into the living room, where Bob was laying on the couch watching John Hagee on TV.  I told him what I had been thinking about. As I got ready to go to a morning service, we continued to watch the television service he had been watching.  Usually when Pastor Hagee would finish his preaching, Bob would change the channel, but he left it on for the ending prayer.  When that was over, John Hagee looked into the camera and said, “You may feel like you’re all alone, but just like God was with the three Hebrew boys, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, you’re not alone.”  Yeah, both our mouths dropped open.   Later that afternoon, we’d get the answer about my sister.  The police up in New York called my dad and informed him that they believed she was deceased. We had to leave to go to Staten Island early the next morning to identify her and unfortunately it was her.  Dad and I talked later on and he told me that when he’d gotten off the phone with the police on Sunday that he’d felt momentarily worried but that he sensed the Holy Spirit tell him, “Don’t worry she’s with me,”  which confirmed what I knew from four days earlier.  Yeah God was with us!



The last one I want to share with you might seem small in comparison to the others, but to me, it is sweet in it’s simplicity.  A couple of weeks before Bob passed away, when we knew all treatments were failing and there weren’t too many options left, I was sitting outside at the picnic table under my apple tree.  I was crying out to God, asking Him, “do You even care what’s happening here?  Do You even know?”   I said, “if You know where we are, send someone by and I’ll know You’ve heard me.”  I expected to get a call from someone from church (which shows I had faith that He had heard me, by the way).  I went in the house, opened my laptop and looked at my email.  There, I found a message from one of my former managers, who I hadn’t worked for in quite some time.  I had never gotten anything from her that was of a personal nature, but the whole of the email was of her concern for me, to let me know that she was thinking of me, and wanted me to know it!  As I thought about it later, I realized that if someone from church had called or stopped by I could have passed it off as a coincidence, but this was certainly not, this was out of the ordinary.



The cynics among us will say they were all coincidences;  the believers will say they were all God moments and I think you already know where I stand on the issue!  But it’s up to you, feel free to believe what you want.  But I just wanted to share these stories with you, there might be some one among you that needed to know, God hears and He cares!

Life goes on

“Life goes on, or so they say—but what will happen in another day?

You are gone, though your memory remains and I am left here with all this pain.

Everything would be fine, if you didn’t go.  But life goes on or so I’m told.”


I wrote the above when I was 14 years old;  a year or so after my then 19 year old brother Kenny died. There were more lines to it than that, but these are the only ones that remain in my memory. This was back in 1976, when we didn’t know as much about the grief process as we do now.  If there were support groups to join or books to read, I certainly didn’t know about them.  But even with it’s awkward rhymes and slightly off key meter, this poem resonates for me, even now, 38 years later.

Kenny’s death wasn’t the first death for me to come to terms with, he wasn’t even the youngest person I knew to die.  There was a kid from the old neighborhood who got hit by a car on his way home from a basketball game one night.  But Kenny, being my brother, was the closest relation I had to lose their life so young.  He was 6 years older than me, always taller, always seemed wiser.  I can’t say we were very close, the age difference was a deterrent to that;  he saw me as his whiny brat of a little sister and I saw him as some one who liked to boss me around.  To this day, even though I long ago surpassed his age, if I think of him (and occasionally I do), I always “picture” him as older than me.

It’s funny how life seems to have come full circle.  I lost my brother to a rare and deadly form of bone cancer called Ewing Sarcoma;  I lost my husband to a rare and deadly form of blood cancer called Multiple Myeloma.  Both cases were discovered because of pain in the left thigh.  A fairly large lump became noticeable in my brother’s case;  it was misdiagnosed a couple of times, until finally the right doctor took the right tests and came up with the answer.  When Bob complained of pain in the same place, I made him check for lumps but having found none, I breathed a sigh of relief.  And like my brother, Bob’s doctor couldn’t pinpoint his problem.  A simple blood test would have given the answers;  but it wasn’t taken and we didn’t know to request it.

Whereas Kenny’s tumor grew on his bone;  Bob’s tumors grew in his bone marrow—there was a real possibility that if one got big enough it could have broken his bone, but thankfully that never happened.  Kenny’s cancer was aggressive and so was my husbands. Kenny was diagnosed in late 75 I believe, had his leg amputated in April of 76 and passed away in Sept of that same year.  Bob was diagnosed in Jan 2011 and passed 18 months later.

Thankfully both gave their lives to the Lord before they passed away.  So, though my brother was missing a leg here on earth, he’s walking on those streets of gold perfectly intact!  And though my husband was in such horrible pain and couldn’t stand up straight, much less walk and definitely not run;  the minute he went to heaven, all that was put to rights!

In the short 19 years of his life, my brother didn’t let much stop him;  even after he got his leg amputated, he would hop on the other foot with one crutch (if that) to get around.  His friends still talk about him to this day.  That’s the kind of legacy I would want to leave!  And as for Bob, he believed for healing right to the very end;  but he was also not afraid to go, as he told several people in the weeks before June 16, 2012.  But before that, you couldn’t keep him from working on his cars, doing his yardwork (which he loved) and puttering around with his carpentry projects.  After the initial phase of grief let up;  I too have embraced this need to enjoy life as much as possible—to laugh at least a couple of times a day and to appreciate all that God has blessed me with.

Life does go on, but it’s short.  Don’t take the ones you love for granted, tell them often how you feel.



Finding beauty in dark places

A green sprout in a blackened fire-ravaged forest.  A child’s laugh at a somber gathering. Finding something intact after a tornado races through a town and leaves devastation in it’s wake.  Yesterday I took a picture of a row of Redbud trees that had dark blue storm clouds as their backdrop.  Something about the two colors together, made me see the beauty in the scene.

As I thought about that today, I came up with the title to this post—Finding beauty in dark places.   Since late 2010 I have been in my share of dark places that seemed for a time to have no discernible end. There is a Light at the end of every tunnel, but the path is winding and you can’t always see Him.

Unless you have been on a grief journey, you really don’t know what it’s like (and I hope you can go as long as possible without knowing).  I have lost a lot of people in my 50+ years.  A brother, a sister, my mother, grandparents, my husband, his parents, and friends. Not to mention assorted beloved pets.  And yet the green sprout of life springs forth every time after a period of grieving, at least in my case.  The muted colors of winter only last so long and then before you know it,  the yards are green and there are splashes of yellow and red and orange dotting the landscape in the form of flowers.  So it is with the dark places—at first, so black you can’t see much ahead of you—you have no idea how to even put one foot in front of the other, nor do you have much interest in doing so.  You will be like that for a good while, but then a ray of light will push through;  a laugh escapes, a memory surfaces that doesn’t sting.  And though you’re still in that dark place, you find that there is beauty to be had there.

You will find beauty in friends that come and hold your hand or remember you on the especially hard days like birthdays and anniversaries. You will hold on to God as if for dear life but that’s a good thing too.  Your eyes will adjust to the darkness and you will notice there are places where light is finding it’s way through even so.

I wish the journey was straight, but it isn’t.  Sometimes you have to go back over a path a couple of times before you can move on.  But it’s in those times that you notice things you hadn’t before, you find out you’re doing okay and you’re getting stronger which is beautiful in itself.  Recovery was a gradual thing for me;  I had always felt like I had a cloud of sadness over my head following me around. I smiled for the masses but inside I was hurting.  A day finally came when I reached the end of that tunnel and all was sunshine and Light.  The relief that comes when sadness lifts off of you is like none other;  what can I compare it to?  A breath of fresh air, a burden off one’s shoulders?  Perhaps, a very long exhale when you hadn’t realized you’d been holding your breath.

I don’t like having to grieve;  I don’t like the dark places at all and wish that I never had to be in any, but as long as I have a heart that beats, and as long as I choose to let myself love and be loved, those times are inevitable.  Love is the ultimate beauty in the dark places, even if and especially if, the only One left to love is God.  That’s the one thought I could always console myself with—I love Jesus, He loves me;  He will never leave me, nor forsake me and best of all, He will never die!

Practice makes perfect

My job sends me from store to store to set up displays.  That’s the short version of what I do.  My job also pays mileage and drive time, otherwise I wouldn’t go to all those far-flung places they send me. Several years ago, two stores ended up on my schedule one week–both in West Virginia.  On the surface, without knowing that there is a fairly steep mountain to cross before being able to visit both stores (in two different places),  the mileage to the first store from my house is 65 miles;  and then on to the second one from the first is another 65 miles.  Thinking that it would be a straight shot, with a 55 mph speed zone (and intending to go 60), I thought it wouldn’t be that big of a deal.  I didn’t know about or factor in those mountains, though.  The first mountain to cross is pretty steep and curvy and slightly harrowing even now, but definitely then,  having never scaled it before.  Plus I was driving an SUV at the time too. Not sure which was worse, going up or coming down, but I was overly stressed out by the time I got to the first stop.  The 65 miles took me nearly 90 minutes.

Done with that call, I was on to the second store.  That ride is really scenic and beautiful, but that first trip I was just concerned with not breaking down in the middle of nowhere.   My cell phone didn’t work there either, so that would have also been a problem.  After having to drive up another steep mountain (there is a really sharp turn at one point and a speed limit sign posted for 10 miles an hour),  I still had several miles to go before I arrived at my destination.  I found a Subway Restaurant and stopped there, not only to fill my empty stomach, but to try and calm down from the anxiety of being so far from home and so out of my element.

After I finished at the second store and drove home (another 85 miles more),  I was glad to be done with it.  I had only been filling in for another rep, after all.   Except a few weeks later, not only did those calls turn up on my schedule again;  my district manager informed me that they were going to be mine permanently!

To say I wasn’t happy about that would be an understatement.

Bob pointed out that basically my company was paying me to drive and look at scenery all day and most people would love to get paid for doing that.   I knew that God had blessed me with my job, which I really like doing and I also knew that not only does He go with me every where but that He doesn’t give me more than I can handle,  (and really I had no choice) so begrudgingly I complied.

While all of this was transpiring, my husband had been complaining about and ended up having to go out on disability for—unexplained back pain which got progressively worse.  The man laid on the couch in excruciatingly awful pain, he would take two Percocets, two Vicodens, and a bunch of Ibuprofen and it wouldn’t so much as make him loopy nor did it do anything to alleviate his suffering.  I had a bad vibe about it;  but still we prayed and we got everyone else to pray.  The doctors we went to couldn’t pinpoint the problem and he just got worse and worse.  I was doing the trip to WV every week by then with growing concern over his condition;  until eventually, when he could no longer get up without assistance, I refused to make the trip altogether.  There was no way I was going to be gone from the house that long and with no cell phone service either!

Finally at the end of January of 2011, we had a diagnosis—Multiple Myeloma—a very rare (1% they say) and potentially deadly form of blood cancer.   Prognosis with a stem cell transplant was 3-5 years, without one was 1-3.   It was pretty devastating to say the least.

The first run of chemo did it’s job (as the first run for this cancer always does—it’s a false sense of security) and Bob was able to not only get back on his feet, but go back to work.   I was still making the trek to the two stores but by then it was actually getting easier and I was enjoying the scenery and even the steepness of the mountains was no longer scary.  Spring turned into summer and I just had a feeling deep in my spirit that Bob was not going to beat this thing.  I really think that God was preparing me for it, because at that point I had no reason to know this, his primary doctor was always upbeat and optimistic.   I remember rounding the curves on one of those West Virginia mountains one morning, tears streaming down my face, asking God out loud—“How am I going to do this?  How am I going to face all that is ahead?”  And it came to me fairly quickly—-I would get stronger and learn to cope with everything,  just like I had learned to get used to climbing those mountains.  It had been so scary that first trip but with each subsequent drive, it had gotten easier.  And just like He had been with me all those times, He would definitely be with me for this.   He would take me over and through and around, and I  would get to where I needed to be.   I’m not saying it didn’t hurt like heck, because it surely did.  But yeah, everything I had to do for my husband for the 18 months he lived after his diagnosis,  got easier to cope with each time I had to do it.

He’s still doing things like that for me, nearly three years later. There are still “mountains” I must learn to climb.   But when I get fearful, all I have to do is remember how far He’s brought me already; and how He is always so patient with me, knowing that in this as in most things, practice makes perfect.

Why settle for less than God wants to give you?

I’m from Staten Island originally,  the little forgotten borough of New York (until someone wants to make fun of it).  There, I could take trains or buses or cabs, or as was the case most of the time, rely on foot power to get me wherever I needed/wanted to go.  My late husband drove, but I did not;  and it really didn’t bother me much because traffic on the Island, especially where we lived, was bumper to bumper most of the time.  Plus, people drove like maniacs when it wasn’t.  So I wasn’t all that interested in getting my license.

Until, that is, we decided to move to Virginia in early 1993.  Husband came down here first, to secure a job and a place to live;  while I stayed back North to pack up and have my dad teach me to drive. Because where we were going did not have public transportation, I now had to take a crash course (no pun intended), otherwise how would I find a job or go shopping or any of the other places I needed to go?

Six months here without my license eventually drove me to my knees and repentance and salvation (although to be fair, my not having a license was not the cause of that, the isolation and separation from my family had more of a hand in it).   I started attending a church and met people in the neighborhood who also went and would take me with them.

Eventually though, I left that church and started attending another one, and while it was true that I had another ride whenever I wanted one (Thank you Elizabeth);  it was also true that I felt the call for independence.

So finally around the  two year anniversary of our move, I got down to business with learning to drive.  I was tired of having to depend on others to bring me to the store or church or the doctor or whatever.  Plus, a new addition had joined the family in the form of my nephew and I had offered to babysit him.  His family only lived a few miles down the road from us, but still it required me to operate a vehicle to get to them.

My original vision was to learn to drive and get my license primarily to get myself to church;  go to the nearby town to shop and to get to my nephews house in order to sit for him.  One Saturday, as my husband (who from now on I will refer to as Bob) and I drove to a nearby bigger town about 20 miles away from our house, I thought to myself, “If I’m going to learn to drive, I want to be able to drive in this town too,”   Reciting one of my favorite verses, I vowed that, “I can learn to drive anywhere through Christ Who strengthens me.”

As it turned out, not only did I learn to drive in that bigger town;  I have learned to drive and have driven in many other towns, most bigger than that one.  I have even driven to Staten Island twice by myself!  The job I have requires me to put a lot of mileage in over the course of even a day.   There is no telling how many miles I have logged in the almost 7 years that I’ve worked in my present industry.

All this from someone who did not get her license until she was 31 years old!  And as I thought about this, I couldn’t help but be amazed at how God worked all this out.  If He had told me way back at the beginning of my driving lessons that this would all occur, no doubt I would have turned tail and ran from the fear of it.   And if I had “settled” for what my original vision was, I would have missed out on so many interesting experiences and I wouldn’t have seen the gorgeous scenery that my state has to offer.

My Facebook status today was:  How many times are we satisfied to settle for so much less than what God plans to give us? I want all the good stuff God has for me!

And maybe this writing thing is supposed to be more than only offering comforting words to the hurting in cards and letters;  and certainly God meant for it to be for more than just updating my status.  So I will not have a “vision” for my talent;  I will let God decide what to do with it, how far it will go and for how long.