Sunday, September 28, 2008

Beach surprise (times 2)

I went to the beach for a weekend with some girlfriends. Before I left, my friend Sabine said that she felt left out because we had planned the weekend a few months ago and she hadn't heard about it. I invited her to come, but she and her husband had plans to celebrate their 21st anniversary at the beach that same weekend.

We went to the beach and as soon as we finished setting up the umbrellas in the sand, to our SURPRISE, who did we see walking towards us? Sabine and her husband! They were staying at a hotel about a mile from where we were staying and they just “happened” to walk past where we were. (Like anything just “happens” with God!)

We decided that we would have a worship service on the beach on Sunday morning at 9:00. Later, I went for a walk on the beach, looking for my favorite sea shell (a Conch shell) and I was thinking, “I just don’t think you can find big ones. I just don’t think they’ll just wash up on shore.”

The next morning, we met our friends for worship service and right after they walked up, a big wave came in about 15 feet behind me, Sabine’s husband ran over to where it had just been. I turned around to see what he was doing and there sat a BIG conch shell. He handed it to Sabine and she handed it to me. I didn’t want to take it. I told her that she should keep it because her husband gave it to her on their anniversary trip. She said, “No, we’ve been looking for one for you since it’s your favorite.”

They had walked on the beach looking for one, and God washed one up on shore right where we were standing. I felt totally blessed, encouraged, loved, and, of course, kissed by God!

{Here's a picture of it next to a coffee cup so you can see the size of it!}

Thursday, August 28, 2008


I had a really rough week last week, and by Sunday evening, I was completely broken-hearted. I called my dear friend Priscilla and said, "Do you have time to talk?" She said, "How about I come over right now?"

After our visit, I remembered this excerpt on friendship. Having an "achieved friend" truly is a kiss from God!

An achieved friend, a friend of the heart, is one who perceives me as one of the better versions of myself, who has troubled to map the oddities of my mind’s geography, as I have of his. We have found the way past the blind alleys and the detours to the side roads where sometimes the music plays. We make good music, this friend and I, and we make good silences, too. Talk we can take or leave. As for politeness, we don’t confuse it with generosity. My friend will tell me to get some new rims for my glasses at once, to stop yearning after someone who doesn’t deserve me, but that even though I have wasted the last eighteen weeks of my life on a pointless and stupid endeavor, even considering my egregious imperfections, there still is hope….

My friend and I phone each other earlier and later than we would dare to bother others…. We travel together, too, when we can…. Anywhere, just so we can gather, hone, and compare our reactions. Coming and going we absorb each other’s histories: who brought us up, who taught us, where we were when the shots were fired, when the bombs fell, when the lights went out, what used to scare us and what still does.

…Wishing to be friends, as Aristotle wrote, is quick work, but friendship is a slowly ripening fruit. An ancient proverb he quotes in Ethics had it that you cannot know a man until you and he together have eaten a peck of salt. Now a peck, a quarter of a bushel, is quite a lot of salt – more salt, perhaps, than most pairs of people ever have occasion to share. We try, though. My friend and I break bread and pass salt together as often and at as many tables as we can. Between-times we see each other at our ugliest, forgive each other our falls from grace, make each other laugh aloud, and steer each other through enough seasons and weathers so that sooner or later it crosses our minds that one of us, God knows which or with what sorrow, must one day mourn the other.

~ from Families by Jane Howard (p. 237-238)

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Play Ball!

Ok, I said that my next post would be about the adventure of bringing Joshua into this world, but I'll have to save that for another day. God gave our family a kiss on Monday and as I was praying this morning, I couldn't help but share it. Of course, it may not mean much to anyone else, but it was special to me.

Joseph, our 5-year-old is playing coach-pitch baseball. He really loves it, but he's not very good. But I think the most encouraging thing for me is to see that he improves every week. This week, we bought him a different bat. He has a Tee Ball bat, but now that he's getting better, when he hits the ball, it vibrates and hurts his hands. So I was thrilled to find a baseball bat that wasn't too heavy for him for $20!

He had a game on Monday and I had prayed for him to be able to hit the ball. The kids get 5 pitches. He hit a couple of solid foul balls, but nothing into play. Then his coach told him he had one pitch left. I prayed that he would get a hit, but he completely missed the ball. They told him "Good try" and he was walking off the field when the coach from the other team said, "Coach, give him just one more." (I felt like it was the voice of God. Kinda reminded me of "Facing the Giants" when the team lost in the tournament, but got a second chance.) Joseph went back to the plate and got a hit.

In the whole scheme of life, it really doesn't matter if he got a hit or not. But for me, it felt like a kiss from God, like God was saying, "I am in control of everything, even a 5-year-old's batting average!"

Friday, May 9, 2008

Happy Mothers Day – Part 1

Since Mothers Day is in two days, I thought I would share how God blessed me with my kids. Today I'll tell you about my firstborn, Joseph, and in the next day or so, I'll share about Joshua. Both of my pregnancies were "eventful," and both displayed the amazing power of God Almighty. (Of course, every birth is a miracle of God!)

After Randy and I had been married almost 5 years, we started trying to get pregnant in May 2001, and I got pregnant in the fall. We were expecting our first child on July 13, 2002. On December 30, 2001, we were in Nashville, TN on vacation with my whole family. I started spotting and cramping and I called my mom’s hotel room and said, “Mom, I think I’m miscarrying.” Randy and I prayed, and we talked with two of my sisters (who have both miscarried). One sister said for us not to worry because she spotted and cramped with both of her kids’ pregnancies. (Her one miscarriage was actually a stillborn birth during her 8th month.) My other sister had miscarried at 12 weeks (the same point I was at) and she said, “I’m sorry to tell you this, but it sounds like you are miscarrying." She warned me that it would be really painful because my body was in labor and was trying to expel the baby. She was right. During the night, it got much worse, and I miscarried on December 31, 2001. (It’s a whole ‘nother story about how heartbreaking it was to watch Randy watch me cry in pain, and seeing the helplessness on his face.)

I left the hotel, went to the hospital, and had a D&C. Once you miscarry, you find out just how common miscarriages are. A lot of women came up to me at church and told me about their miscarriages and the common theme was: “After you have a D&C, it cleans you out and you’ll have one period and then be pregnant.” I was convinced that would happen with me, too. But it didn’t. So, at the beginning of April 2002, I was really discouraged. I had hoped to get pregnant in March so that we could have a baby in 2002, but it didn’t happen. I said to Randy, “I don’t know if we’ll ever have a baby, but I know it’s not going to happen in 2002.” He tried to encourage me about how faithful God is and how perfect his timing is, but I couldn’t snap out of the discouragement.

In spite of my faithlessness, God was still faithful. On April 26, I found out that I was pregnant. I was excited to be pregnant, and my due date was January 9, 2003. (Later, it was changed to January 5, 2003.) God gave me a healthy pregnancy, and I was so glad when we made it past the point (12 weeks) when I had miscarried the previous time.

Then in the afternoon of December 30, 2002, I went in to labor. I called my mom and said, “Mom, I think I’m in labor.” When I hung up the phone, I was overwhelmed with amazement at God. I burst into tears when I realized that exactly one year earlier, I had called my mom and told her I thought I was miscarrying! I thought, “This is amazing! I’m going to have a baby on the anniversary of the day I miscarried last year.”

We got to the hospital around 5:30 p.m. There were no rooms available (wonder if this is how Mary felt when she was pregnant with Jesus! Ha Ha!) so I had to wait in the waiting room. A nurse kept checking on me and asking how far apart the contractions were (3 minutes) and she told me they were working to get a room available. At 6:00, I was in my room, dressed (using that word very loosely) in the hospital gown, ready to labor throughout the night, and have a New Years Eve baby. When they hooked up the monitors, they noticed that the baby’s heart rate was dropping with every contraction. The doctor walked in at 6:09 pm and said, “We’re going to have to ‘section’ this baby. Otherwise, he won’t make it!” I thought, “You mean I’m having a baby NOW?” I thought he would be born on December 31 after hours of painful labor! They prepped me for surgery and he was born at 7:18 pm on December 30!

God totally blessed me in spite of my faithlessness. He healed my body from a miscarriage, got me pregnant, and gave me Joseph, a healthy baby boy. And He did it all in 364 days!

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Pure Unbridled Joy!

Yesterday the boys and I went to the beach. For those of you who know me, you know I LOVE going to the beach. But for some reason, I wasn’t as eager to go this time. I had promised Joseph that I would take him to the beach when he finished 20 lessons in “Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons.” He finished the 20th lesson yesterday so we headed off to the beach.

Generally, when I am not doing well spiritually, I like to drive to the beach, get a handful of ocean water, and read Isaiah 40:12: Who has measured the waters in the hollow of his hand, or with the breadth of his hand marked off the heavens? Who has held the dust of the earth in a basket, or weighed the mountains on the scales and the hills in a balance? I look at the water and then at the ocean and I think, “This water in my hand is what this water in the ocean looks like to God.” When I do that, I am always reminded that God is WAY bigger than me, and WAY bigger than any problem or worry I might have.

But this time, I have been doing well spiritually and wasn’t feeling the need to be rejuvenated. As I was driving to the beach, I felt like maybe this was a waste of time and gas money to drive this far for just a couple of hours at the beach. But then we got there, and when I saw the joy on my kids’ faces as they played together, I thought it was worth the trip. It was such a blessing to see the smiles on their faces and to see how incredibly happy they were.

I had brought my camera and when I saw them playing together so happily, I was hoping for the perfect shot – one that showed both of them smiling, and preferably looking at each other. It was so bright out there that I could barely see the screen on the camera. I could see that both boys were in the shot, but that was about it. So I just clicked and clicked and when I got home, I was thrilled to see this picture. When I saw it, I thought, “That is totally God!” I couldn’t see when I was trying to take the pictures and I was so excited to see that God blessed me and let me get such a good shot.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

It's My Birthday!!!

Today is May 1 and it is my 20th birthday! I know, I know – I look way older than 20. My physical age is 41 (almost 42), but today is my spiritual birthday. I was baptized on May 1, 1988, and it seems like I blinked and 20 years have passed. (This must be how Rip Van Winkle felt when he woke up from his nap.)

After 20 years of living in the “light,” I am amazed at how many blessings God has sent my way. I’ve heard these blessings referred to as “Kisses from God,” hence the title of my blog. I decided that I would document future kisses, as well as highlight ones from the past as I am reminded of them.

Since today is my spiritual birthday, I thought I would share my conversion story. It is so amazing to me how patient God was with me as he was converting my heart to him! In 1984, as a sophomore at the University of South Carolina, two sisters invited me to a Bible discussion. They said they would come to my room and walk with me over there. I forgot about it until right before it was time to go. I told my roommate that I didn’t want to go so she suggested I hide in my closet and she would tell them that I went to the library. So that’s what we did.

Later, I saw one of the sisters and she asked me what happened. I lied and said that I forgot. We rescheduled and once again, I remembered just before it was time to go. I decided I would go and get it over with. I went and didn’t like it (mainly because there weren’t cute guys there), so I didn’t go back. [Not much of a heart to seek God!]

Two and a half years later, I was invited to go play volleyball with some Christian students. They told us that they play every Sunday and Wednesday and so I started coming regularly. Someone invited me to come to a Bible discussion, but I told them I wasn’t interested. But later one of the cute guys invited me to it and I agreed to come. I went to the Bible talk and it was the most practical Bible discussion I had ever heard. I loved it! Some sisters asked me if I would like to do a personal Bible study. I said Yes (because I was too much of a people-pleaser to say No). We scheduled it for the next day and I stood them up. Later, they asked me what happened and I lied and said that I had forgotten. [Notice a pattern here?]

We rescheduled, and I started to stand them up again, but I decided to do one study and get it over with. We did one study and I was hooked! When we read John 8:31 – 32, they talked about how Jesus was talking to people who believed in him and he didn’t say, “Great! You believe in me! You are right with God!” Instead, he said, “If you hold to my teachings, you are really my disciples.” Then we read James 2:19 about how the demons believe in God and they shudder! I said, “I knew it!!! I knew there was more to being a Christian than just believing in God!!!” I was so excited to be learning the truth. We studied every day after that. Later, I went to church and was totally blown away by the fact that people knew each other and loved each other. I was amazed that blacks and whites were worshipping together because I always felt like it should be that way. (If we’re going to be in heaven together, shouldn’t we worship God on earth together?) The music was beautiful and the message was practical. I knew that I had found what I was looking for!

We finished the studies and I got baptized (well, dunked) on July 9, 1987, and I left the next day to go home for the rest of the summer. When I came back in August for the Fall semester, I was not doing well spiritually. I was living a double-life with my church friends and my non-church friends. From August to December, I lived with one foot in the world and one foot in God’s kingdom. And I was miserable. In January I prayed, “God, for one week, I am going to be totally committed to you. I will go to every service. I will stay after for fellowship. And I will read my Bible every day. But if I’m still miserable after that one week, then I am giving up on spirituality.” So that week, the campus ministry had an activity every single day. I kept my word and I showed up for everything, stayed late to fellowship, read my Bible, and it was the best week of my entire life!

For the next few months, I was making every effort to live to please God. But as time went on, I became more and more convinced that I was not a Christian. When I had studied the Bible, I knew that it was the truth and I learned a lot, but I had lied through my sin study because I didn’t want the sisters to think badly of me. [Once again you see my pattern.] God put it on my heart that I had to come clean. I called my friend Michelle and told her everything. We talked, I confessed and repented, and I was baptized (for real) on May 1, 1988!