We spent the holidays with my family in Dade City, Florida, and I met the newest family members...Roxy and Gloria! My brother's family is raising pigs, and they are the cutest, smelliest things! I became very fond of Roxy. When she is petted behind her ear, she gets so relaxed that she falls over on her side! Ker-plunk! Splash! It is adorable! I gotta say, HoneyBaked Ham has lost a lot of its appeal--I just can't imagine eating Roxy!!
Now, from the farm to Fresh Grounded Faith. Stormie and Michael O joined me in Marietta, Georgia and we had a special weekend with those Southern women. It was extra special for me, too, because my folks, aunts and cousins were all there! They really are the ultimate "Gutsy Girls!"
So, on both flights this month, I have carried the Total Pillow. If you've watched TV for more than 10 minutes, you've heard of it because the infomercial is always playing! Now, I didn't order mine from the infomercial; I found it at a store and figured I would give it a try. Let me just tell you, from one who has tried about every travel pillow on the market, this one is exceptional! It really is supportive, malleable and easy to carry on your luggage. If you travel, give it a taste test!
I am still reading both Bush books; Decision Points by George and Spoken from the Heart by Laura are both so good. It sorta feels like I'm sitting down for coffee and a chat when I read their books--very, very authentic.
So, in summary, grab a pillow, a book by an author with the last name Bush and hit the road! Just make sure you avoid ham and adopt a pig!
Give these things a taste test:
1. Visit a farm and pet a pig. (You'll never be the same if you do!)
My husband Phil read me the disclaimers posted outside Marvel Cave in Branson, Missouri.
"There are 700 steps," he read, "and some of them are steep. People who have heart conditions, fear of small places and difficulty walking shouldn't venture in."
Phil looked at me and said, "Honey, I don't think you can do this." When Phil said he didn't think I could do it, he may have been right. Not only am I blind, but I have had quite a few embarrassing and scary bouts with claustrophobia over the years. Unfortunately, he told me I couldn't do it. That's quite different from being told I shouldn't do it. Something rose within me to prove I could do it. Before I could even protest, I heard Connor say, "I can't do it either. I am freaked out." Well, I could not set an example for my 11 year old that gave him permission to think he can't go in a cave. In fact, I want him to grow up and believe he can do anything he puts his mind to. So, I boldly announce, "I can and will, and so can Connor." Phil whooped and Connor moaned.
Off we went stepping down into the cave that would take us down 500 feet. I felt the temperature drop; I heard water dripping from the cave walls. We listened as our guide reassured us we weren't in the part of the cave where the bats typically come. But, she said, it has happened, so be aware. "Great," I thought, "if I don't die from sheer claustrophobia, the bats will do me in."
Phil was in front of me and I hung onto his belt loop as we twisted, turned, climbed and ducked. My brother Lawson walked directly behind me. In the tightest places, he placed his hand on top of my head so I wouldn't rise up too high and bang it on the cave roof. Just for context, I am 5'2" and I had to duck in some parts, so you can imagine how low certain passages were. During a particularly narrow and low hanging spot, I started singing as I walked forward. Lawson tapped his fingers on top of my head with the rhythm of my song and asked from behind, "Are you singing?" His tone was incredulous. He could have easily asked, "You're not singing in this cave, are you?" I giggled and said, "Yes, just to fill the empty sound." It wasn't even a real song. It was more like a nervous hum. We were sweating out of nervousness, even though the temp in the cave was down in the 50's. We climbed up the final steps and boarded rickety mining lifts to travel up to the exit of the cave.
So, the magnificent victory came among singing, sweating and stepping down, down, down and then, up, up, up! Life is like that. What it takes to make it through is not that complicated. You never decide you can't do it; you take steps--both up and down. You sing when you're scared, sweat a bit and keep walking toward the light. That's all. Whatever is scaring you today or whatever seems like a daunting task, just keep walking and singing along the way. You will find that every step leads you closer to the light.
"O send out Your light and Your truth. Let them lead me; Let them bring me to Your holy hill and to Your dwelling places." Psalm 43:3
Well, that's what's been percolating in me lately.
Dear Jennifer, I ordered your book Lessons I Learned in the Dark because I felt like the Lord put that book in my heart for the struggle I have been in. I will not bore you with the decades-long deal or the more recent crises of health and faith. I started to read it the other day and decided to read slowly and thoughtfully and hear what God might be saying to me. And I was getting good applicable insight and some gentle and not-so-gentle kicks in the behind. But it was good--until I got to the chapter on receiving gifts. Honestly, I became angry because what I was reading I could not relate to the picture I get of my loving heavenly Father. I was angry because you used the scripture about giving thanks IN all circumstances and then listed "difficult gifts" that we should receive with thanks. This list included blindness, illness, broken relationships and wayward children. I am not blind but have suffered continually and increasingly physically for decades, since before I even knew anything about God. Both of my teenage kids have rejected God and me. But if I am to understand you, I should thank God FOR these things, as "difficult gifts" from God! That makes no sense to me AT ALL. Why would God give the "gift" of wayward children??? Where does it say THAT in God's word? I know I sound really angry and like I started to read the book just so I could say a bunch of bad stuff about you, but that is honestly not the case. But how CAN I thank God for the things that have ravaged my body and stolen my life? How can I thank God FOR migraine headaches that put me in bed for sometimes two days? I understand that we can gain great things FROM our difficult circumstances: grace, an increased reliance on Him, steadfastness in prayer, longsuffering, unselfishness, as well as having comfort with which to comfort others who have similar trials that we were victorious in. (Romans 8 and II Corinthians 1) If I'm thankful for these "difficult gifts," then I would not have the right to want them to change or be healed, right?
I know you don't actually read your emails, even if you could "read" them in the traditional sighted way, but I very much hope that whoever does read this one will give it to you to answer. I really need to understand what you mean so I can continue in your book without my brain arguing the whole way.
Thank you so very much, _____ (Name withheld to protect our sister)
Thanks for your honest email. Okay sister, here's my clarification. The scripture, as I read it, tells us to give thanks "in" all circumstances, not "for" all things. So, as tough as it is, I do believe we can be thankful in the midst of our sorrow due to wayward kids, in the trauma of pain during a migraine and in the black despair of blindness. I personally cannot do that in my own strength, though. I need God's grace within me to help me agree with His word. If I was not totally clear, I apologize. The difficult gift may not be the wayward children, but the difficult gift you receive in the package of wayward children could be extra reliance on God, or a renewed understanding of the Father's love, or patience that is beyond your ability. The gift is not necessarily the suffering, but the gift is what you receive because of the suffering, when and if you choose to be thankful in all things. I hope this helps a little. The Holy Spirit is a much better teacher than I, and so I pray He leads you into all truth, and counsels and guides you. Thanks for your question.