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. 

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

The Come Back Year

I was inspired by the sermon one of our pastors delivered yesterday morning at church. He referred to our new year, 2017, as the year of the come back. His message really got me to thinking. And I’m thinking he’s absolutely right. 

No matter how far off track your life may seem, no matter how hard it may be to regain your footing, no matter how impossible it may seem or undoable or unlikely. The truth is you can see a magnificent come back in your life this year of 2017. 


Being a Christian doesn’t guarantee that we won’t stumble. We will, I’m sorry to say, we most certainly will. And sometimes that stumble results in an extraordinary mess that can be quite daunting when we contemplate trying to recover. That’s what a come back is, after all, a recovery. 

If 2016 found you struggling, stumbling, drowning, sinking, or in a pit so deep you aren’t sure you can see even a glimmer of light (hope), take courage!

Yes, take courage because you can recover and 2017 can be the greatest Come Back Year of your life. Then, after you take courage, take steps back in the right direction. 

If last year left you practically bankrupt financially, you CAN recover. 

If last year left you feeling rejected and betrayed, you CAN recover. 

If last year left you in a state of failing health, you CAN recover. 

If last year left you with a broken heart, you CAN recover. 

If last year left you on a dead end street, you CAN recover. 

If last year left you with tattered hopes and dreams, you CAN recover. 

If last year left you feeling beaten and bullied, you CAN recover. 

If last year left you in a place of doubt, you CAN recover. 

If last year left you wondering if your efforts really mattered, you CAN recover. 

If last year kicked you to the curb, like unwanted trash, you CAN recover. 

No matter how bleak the situation is. No matter how ashamed you are for what you  have done. No matter how angry you have been because of what was done to you. You CAN recover. 


This is EXACTLY what I plan to do in many areas of my life. I am planning for a great Come Back Year! 

We can recover many things. 

  • Health
  • Peace
  • Purpose
  • Joy
  • Trust
  • Patience
  • Order
  • Hope
  • Respect
  • Strength

What about you? If this year could be (and it can be) your Come Back Year, what would you hope to recover? What would you long for the second chance to begin again in? What area do you you pray for a fresh start? 

Every Child, Even Those

I’m thankful for a lot today and every day. But, when I really think about it, it’s the children in my life that I’m most thankful for and here’s why. They have given so much to me. I am a better person because of the children in my life.  

I am thankful for every child I have ever held in my arms, led in prayer, bandaged their boo-boos, tended their broken hearts, told a story to, opened my home to, braided or clipped their hair, read the Bible to, cried a tear over, said hello to and yes, even those I had to say goodbye to. 

I am thankful for every child that needed me for a season, that needed me forever, that needed me to bathe them, nurture them, listen to them, dress them and yes, even for the ones who need me to change their dirty diapers or clean up their messes in the kitchen or in life. 


I am thankful for every child that has blessed me by allowing me to love them, raise them, advise them, write about them, pray for them and yes, even those who don’t remember who I am because they were so young when they knew me. 

I am thankful for every child who has made me laugh at silly antics and corny jokes, who made me proud, who gave me courage and yes, even those who stretched me beyond myself so that I leaned heavily upon the Lord and therefore, in the end strengthened me. 


I am thankful for every foster child, my adopted children, my nieces and nephews, my my Sunday School students, youth in crisis and yes even the ones I claim as my own because I choose to. 

I believe that children are our greatest gift, our most precious resource and our best opportunity to impact the world and leave it a better place. So, today, I am thankful for all the children who will face tomorrows that I can only imagine, achieve things that will astound and surpass, and be better than necessary because they know how to love generously and live large.


Children are not all that matter of course, but to me they should be one of the most important matters. Whether they are an infant, an adolescent, a teen or yes, even a young adult, they are worth our time, our energies, our efforts. They are worth it when they disappoint us, stumble along the way or go a different direction than we expected. They are worth loving, opening your heart to, listening to, and encouraging.  Thank you Lord for the children that have been in my life! 

Worth Remembering 

Thirty-three years ago this month my first baby was due to be born. Thirty-two years ago this past May my second baby was due to be born. I know their names and I know their ages but, I do not know them. Yet. I do not know them yet. Our getting to know each other was delayed but not destroyed. There’s a difference. A really big difference.
This morning as I considered them and how things might have been, my heart was squeezed tight. We were so young. Times were so different. The best of intentioned people said to me what had likely been said to them at similar times. It didn’t help. Please weigh your words carefully when you are speaking to a grieving person.

We had the hope of others, more children without any notion that we would never achieve pregnancy again. Infertility? What was that? Whatever it was surely wasn’t anything we needed to know about. We were young and healthy and deeply in love. Of course, we were assured, there would be more pregnancies and other children. We were naive when it came to such things.
The biting remarks started early on. How can I remember some of them when thirty years has passed? I suppose that is proof of their impact.

Only years later did I realize the full impact of the losses we had experienced and allow myself to grieve. It was then that our babies had proper names and a proper place in our heart. It was then that God began to heal my broken heart. It was then that we answered the call to foster children. They needed parents albeit sometimes very temporarily. We needed children to nurture and love until we would one day be reunited with our Jacob Jeremy and Tessie Alicia. We had experienced great loss. These children were experiencing great loss. We could love them with an understanding.

Forty-five children entered our homes and lives. Seven of these became our forever children through the miracle of adoption. Others have found permanent places in our hearts although we did not adopt them legally. I call them my spiritual children. I am a #momofmany. I am blessed beyond measure.
Yet, today I remember my first two children. Today I wanted to tell you about them so you would remember with me. Today, my heart squeezes a bit as I consider the great loss of not only two children, but, two lifetimes of memories and experiences and opportunities. They are worth remembering. They are worth celebrating. Every child is a blessing, even when we have to wait a while to hold them.

If you have experienced pregnancy or infant loss, allow yourself to grieve. Just remember, don’t allow grief to have you. A few short days from now is a Remembrance Day. Light a candle, say a prayer, write out your feelings, seek support, remember those worth remembering. Then, wipe your tears and live your life with great hope. Our loss is temporary. Our reunion will be sweet. Then, we will be complete.

I Didn’t Sign Up For This – Did You?

Life has a way of throwing us curve balls and catching us unaware. When that happens we sometimes  think ‘Whoa! I didn’t sign up for this!’  What we mean of course, is things aren’t turning out like we hoped. The wonderful expectations we had suddenly crash with reality and the result isn’t something we recognize much less something we hoped for. 


Sometimes the crash with reality is so jarring that we lose our balance and become confused as to what exactly went wrong and what exactly it was we were trying to do anyway. ‘How’d I get myself in this mess?’ You may be thinking. 

This disappointment could be a dead-end job, a poor business venture, the purchase of a money-pit house, a bad investment and other wrong choices. Financial hardship is tough, but it can be overcome with better choices. 

I think what really throws us into a dizzying downward spiral is when relationships disappoint us. People that we care about, people we trust, people that matter to us can betray, deceive and generally let us down. When this happens emotions swell and our opinion of self shrinks. After all, ‘What WAS I thinking?’

Self-doubt can be a result of broken relationships, dreams turned into nightmares and disappointment. Before long we may be asking ourselves, ‘What’s the point?’


A struggling or failed marriage is one sure example. No one marries with the intent to divorce. Yet, divorces happen every day. One or both spouses break covenant and the relationship dissolves. 

A distressed parent wonders what they did wrong. Guilt weighs them down as they decide they have somehow failed. Shame attempts to bind them until they feel powerless. 

An abandoned friend can’t comprehend that the person they trusted wasn’t the person they thought they were after all. They feel foolish for not seeing the truth. 

To these examples I want to speak a few words of encouragement. Your situation of disappointment may be slightly or vastly different, but I believe you too can take courage from what I am going to say. 


1- We can not control other people and in the end, we are not responsible for the decisions they make. We can love them, pray for them, forgive them, encourage them, attempt to teach them, guide them and advise them. But we can not make their choices for them. 

2- People make mistakes and we are people too. We need to forgive others and we need to forgive ourselves. Human beings are notorious for being hasty  and not thinking things through. They are sometimes reckless, impulsive, thoughtless and down-right mean. But that’s not all they are; it’s not all we are. A mistake is something we have done. It is not who we are. It is not who they are either. 

3- Make every effort to learn to trust again. Forgive, let it go, shake the dust off your sandals, see a counselor, take it to the altar, whatever it takes, find your courage to trust again. If you don’t, life will be lonely, your heart will be bitter, your future will be dismal. You can do it, it won’t be easy and yes, if you trust again, you can be hurt again. There is risk involved in every worthy venture. 

4- Find your courage to dream again, new dreams. Believe things can be better and different the next time you try, the next time you give your heart away. Make plans and develop goals and anticipate a better tomorrow. Remind yourself that no matter what is happening right now, it is only one chapter in a book of a lifetime. This isn’t the end of the story. 

5- Finally, sometimes you just have to accept things as they are even if you hope this isn’t how it will always be. I have a personal little beatitude that I often say to myself as a reminder when things aren’t going as planned. ‘Blessed are the flexible for they shall not break.’


Look, I don’t know if your marriage has suddenly ended or if your beloved child has landed themself in jail. I don’t know if your friend threw you under the train or your parent has rejected you. I don’t know if a church leader betrayed your trust or if a family member deceived you. I don’t know if your plans and dreams are piled in a heap of brokenness at your feet. 

What I do know is there is hope for today and yes, even tomorrow. What I do know is you can try again. What I do know is circumstances can change. What I do know is that different can sometimes be better. Don’t be afraid. Pick yourself up, dust yourself off and take one tiny but brave step forward and then one more and then another.