Just Breathe

Today is my birthday and I expect to be spoiled profusely. Why? Well, because that’s what I’ve grown accustomed to. I have a husband who dotes on me and a family who makes me feel like a queen for the day and friends who lavish sweet sentiments upon my FB page. Social media is certainly at its best on your birthday. #birthdaygirl

I will be receiving some gifts today. Some are special simply because they will be given to me by one of my children. Some are special because of the obvious thought that went into choosing it. Some are special because, they were needed and will be well used (like my new mini-van, I really needed that). Then there are those gifts that are special today and will likely be special for years to come. I’d like to tell you about one of those. 


The photo truly doesn’t do it justice, you’ll have to take my word for it that it is even prettier in person. My friend is the artisan and you should check out her page. @palletcreationsbydarlene

My husband gifted this to me from him and ALL my kids. Let me tell you, that’s a whole lot of kids. #momofmany  So, it is special because my Henry bought it, my friend made it and my children are a part of it. But that isn’t the reason it brings tears to my eyes when I think of it. 

Two years ago today, on my birthday, I had an encounter with the Lord that changed my life. Now, if you’ve never had such an encounter, I hope you will one day. You will never forget it, just as I’ll never forget this one. 

It’s rather personal, so I won’t go into great detail. However, I have been eagerly anticipating writing today’s blog so that I can share a portion of it with you. 

Here’s what I need to tell you. In Ezekiel 37, there is a conversation between God and a prophet, Ezekiel. It’s a remarkable account of a valley of dry bones. 

Please, pause for a moment and HEAR me. No matter how disjointed, disconnected, hopeless, dried up, brittle or sun-bleached your hopes, dreams, health, relationships, finances and even spiritual condition is – there is HOPE! And here is why. 

“Then he said to me, “Speak a prophetic message to the winds, son of man. Speak a prophetic message and say, ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: Come, O breath, from the four winds! Breathe into these dead bodies so they may live again.’””

‭‭Ezekiel‬ ‭37:9‬ ‭NLT‬‬

That’s it. That’s the answer. That’s the source of our hope, our strength, our healing, our redemption. The breath of the Sovereign Lord! And when He breathes life into a situation, a heart, a relationship, a ministry – It WILL LIVE AGAIN!

Today, when your heart is gripped with fear or worry, when you feel overwhelmed and distressed, when you’re feeling out of options and depleted of hope – JUST BREATHE and then allow God to do what only He can! 

Now, that’s a great way to celebrate a birthday and every day for that matter. 

The Most Influential Women in the World

I am able to trace back my maternal genealogy an impressive distance. My personal experience and knowledge begins with my maternal great-grandmother, Ruthie Mae McDonald Smith. I am glad to have known her as a young girl. I have glimpses of who she was, who she became. Recently, I feel that I’ve grown to know her more intimately as I’ve begun in depth research preparing for a historical narrative I am writing. 

Here is a photo of her with her husband, my great-grandfather and her five oldest children. The oldest girl, is my own grandmother, Alvis Yvone Smith (later to become a DeMoss). 


In this photo as I study my great-grandmother’s face, I can imagine she was so proud and probably so tired. Life was hard, physically hard nearly a century ago. She could not have seen what the future would hold, the tragedy, the grief, the heartache and surely the nightmares. She could not have known that three of her children in this photograph would become part of history, part of the worst school related disaster our nation has ever known. 


The New London School Explosion would destroy more than a building. It destroyed lives, families and the hopes and dreams of many mothers. Only moments before dismissal a gas explosion claimed hundreds of children and many of their teachers. 

I didn’t know her before of course, but my grandmother told me that her momma was never the same again. She never quite recovered. And yet, she continued to mother. She would birth four more children and live a long life. She would become the woman I remember, always appearing a little melancholy. 


Today is Mother’s Day and I’m thinking of Ruthie Mae McDonald who knew the greatest heartache a mother can have   I’m thinking of her eldest daughter, Alvis Yvone Smith DeMoss who had children of her own and one of them my mother, Genevieve DeMoss Roberts. I’m thinking of them all and my heart is thankful. 


I’m thankful to have known the most influential women in the world, in my world. I am thankful for the rich spiritual heritage that they passed on to me and that I will pass on to my daughters. Today I celebrate them all! Happy Mother’s Day! 

Your Day Is Coming

Today, this very moment, I am the busy mom of many. I am trying to get myself together this morning before I wake the kids and prepare myself for the onslaught of activity and noise. I will likely have to raise my voice to be heard above the din. (In case you are wondering, din is a loud confusing mixture of noises that last for a long time and boy, does it describe my life.)

Today, this very day, I will likely speak with one of my teen daughters concerning her attitude and with my other daughter concerning her bossiness. I will most likely have to remind one son to keep on task and another to keep his hands to himself. I will surely pray hard as I attempt to teach my son with dyslexia his reading lesson. Oh, and let’s not forget the grown children. I’ll most certainly be cautioning and encouraging them. 

My life is full to the point of me trying to catch my breath and maintain my sanity at times and the reason why? These children. The ones I asked God to give me. My answers to prayer. They have filled my empty arms. They have stretched me and challenged me. I am stronger and wiser. I am exhausted and spent. I am their mother and it is the hardest thing I’ve ever done. It is the greatest thing I’ve ever done. 

Even as I look for my courage to face my overwhelming day  I am remembering those who are still waiting. I am praying for those who will wrap their arms around each other and at times around themselves to try to cope with the terrible time of waiting for those arms to be filled with a child, their child, their very own child.

Your day is coming. Your path will be different than mine. Your disappointments may be many. Your waiting may seem unbearable. Your plight may seem hopeless. Your plan may be altered. Your hope may be almost diminished. But, I assure you, your day is coming. 

So, take courage if you are still waiting. Your day is coming. And when it does, I’ll be rejoicing with you.  And if your day has already come, seize the day and embrace every moment of your miracle.

The Hope of Easter

Today is Easter and we’ve celebrated with egg hunts and even a Passover Seder. Today we will gather with family and friends at an Easter Service to celebrate once more. Why all the celebrating? 

Well, let me assure you, it is much more than colored eggs and bunnies. We are celebrating the miracle of life. 


A precious ‘son of my heart’ posted the following words a few days ago. He blessed my hear with his words. 

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Galatians 6:9

And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.
I am living proof, that if you invest Jesus into someone, as little or mundane as you might think it is, that seed will grow. That flower may only need to break through loose, fertile soil. Or in my case, it might have to break through red Georgia clay that’s under a foot of concrete. But be patient and continue to water it, and oh how sweet and beautiful it is once it blooms. 
To all of those that invested in me, I say thank you. And now I pay it forward, investing Jesus into other people, planting my own seeds.

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This is the miracle of new life, eternal life that we celebrate. This hope was made possible by the most important moment in history. That moment was when Jesus Christ, Yeshua, our Redeemer, defeated death, and gave us hope of new beginnings, fresh starts and forgiveness. 


If I told you more of my what Gary had faced, experienced and been through you would be amazed that just before Easter he was baptized as public proclamation of his faith. If I told you about his life, some of his choices, some of his struggles you would rejoice with me that he has come home spiritually. If I told you of the hundreds of prayers and years of waiting, you would take courage as you pray and wait for your own prodigals. 

So, yes, today we celebrate the hope of Easter! And today as Gary posted this picture of his wife and precious daughters, I know the miracle will continue. The hope will grow in the lives of his children. The hope of Easter changes everything. 


So, from my family to yours, I wish you a blessed day and the hope of Easter! 

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His great mercy has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,”

‭‭1 Peter‬ ‭1:3‬ ‭NASB‬‬

I Won’t Forget You 

As a former foster mother I often wonder about the children we sheltered for a season. A few I still have contact with and I’m so glad. Seven we adopted and I’m glad about that too. But the others, those are the ones I wonder about. 

How are they? Are they happy? Do they have children of their own? Do they remember us? Will we hear from them one day? I wonder. 

One of those was a young boy we loved very much. His name was Carlos. He was not Hispanic and so many people asked him why he was named Carlos that he asked us to start calling him Chuck. He said he liked that name because of Chuck Norris. 

He made us laugh with his slow drawl and his matter-of-fact attitude. He was with us from the time he was 8 until he was 10. He adored Daddy Henry. 

When DHR managed to make contact with a birth family member who wanted to take him, we tried to be glad for him, but it was a sad time for us all. 

About eight years ago, he called us. We were thrilled to hear from him after so long. We encouraged him to come see us. He declined. He said he didn’t want us to see him as he was. He said he had made some mistakes. He said he had been arrested. He said he was struggling with drugs. He told us of the harsh treatment, neglect and abuse he experienced at the hand of the family members who had taken him in. I cried. 

And then as suddenly as we had been reconnected, we were disconnected. We lost touch. Since then I occasionally check social media and google his name. Just hoping and wondering. 

This morning was one of those times and I finally found some information. It was not what I expected or hoped for. It was his obituary. He had passed away at the young age of 24. I don’t even know how. We didn’t even get to say good-bye. 

Now my heart grieves for a child I have lost twice. I have told myself I should have done more, better, tried harder. When I shared what I had discovered with my husband, he was deeply saddened. He told me he should have been more diligent in praying for him. He said he was so sad to think of all the potential he had that was never realized. 

I wanted to remember him and the best way I could do that was to write these words. We love you Chuck! You’ll always have a place in our hearts. We are thankful to have known you. Farewell sweet boy. 

So Loved 

Yesterday my five youngest children and I made a one-day, out-of-town road trip and I was the driver. It was a very beautiful and happy day spent with lots of folks we love. 


Naturally, on the drive home I was doing a lot of thinking and pondering. Things like, never ever give up on the possibilities of what God’s love can accomplish. His love is the most powerful force on earth and can change situations, people’s hearts and the direction of a person’s life. I needed that reminder. Maybe you did too. 

Another truth that is stamped on my heart was verified yesterday. There’s an old adage that says you can’t pick your family. I’d like to firmly disagree. Yes you can. Marriage is a perfect example. A choice to be family is made. Adoption is another example. A choice to become family is made. But there are other examples as well when no judge declares anything at all. Instead hearts declare belonging to one another because we so love them. 

You may not can choose who you are related to by blood, but you do get to choose your family. I’ve chosen well. Not only by marriage and adoption, but also by relationship. By caring and loving and praying and connecting and communicating and hoping and helping and sometimes the biding of time, by so loving them. 


During the next few weeks I will be in four different states visiting family. I will see two dozen family members. I am blood related to less than half of those, only nine to be exact. And yet, they are all my family. 

How can that be? I’ll tell you clearly how. Because love trumps blood, love trumps hate, love trumps differences,  love trumps distances, love trumps circumstances and love even trumps the law of the land sometimes. Relationships are formed when commitment is made, time is invested and choices are lived out. I so love them. 

Today I am loving the beauty of love. The choices we make, the lives we live, the paths we walk and yes, oh yes, the families we have!

Below is a photo of a few of my most beloved family members. I don’t share a single drop of blood with any of them. What we do share is love and let me assure you I so love them!


Below is another photo. This one is a photo of my mother and sister with whom I share blood. Guess what? We are family, not because of blood but because of relationship, precious memories, laughter and the bonds of love! I so love them. 


I can’t conclude my thoughts without adding this. The MOST important family decision you can ever make will be to become a part of the family of God. Choosing to be adopted into His family, as His child, joint-heirs with Jesus Christ will be the most life-altering decision you ever make. You know why? Because of love, once again, because of love. He so loves us.