Posted in Being a Friend, Being a Mom, Being a Wife, Faith, Family, Inspiration, Life with CF, Uncategorized, Womanhood

“Good Tidings We Bring…”

TODAY’S FORECAST: Uplifted

My dear blog family. How you have blessed me these last few months with your readership and love. How I have enjoyed reading your comments, emails, FB posts and hearing the ways that some of the things that I have shared from my own life’s experiences have touched your lives. I’ve so loved reading about how stories I’ve shared from other authors that inspired me have also inspired you and encouraged you in your faith walk or in your struggle against pain or suffering.

I have to admit that selfishly, there are some days when I fall prone to human thinking and look to the number of likes on the FB page or the shares on the blog page and think, of all the people out there in the world, I don’t have as many readers or fans as I think I should have, maybe I should just stop writing. Then, like some whisper from beyond my understanding, God reminds me through you why I began writing this blog in the first place, not for the number of likes or the number of times a post is shared, but for the sheer possibility that someone would perhaps come to know God as I know Him, loving and good; or perhaps, that someone with a chronic illness would be comforted in knowing they are not alone through my shared struggles.  I also wanted to connect with people whose knowledge is so much greater than mine and learn something new in my journey to become a better friend, a better wife,  a better parent, a better Christian, a better writer.

All of you have provided that and so much more and I am truly humbled and grateful. With a few days left until Christmas and little time left in 2012, I am letting all of you know that I won’t be writing for a bit, maybe here and there when I am able, but probably not regularly until after the New Year begins. Holidays are a time for family and I want to spend some quality time with mine over the next couple weeks. Not that the time I spend with you is not quality, but I am so excited to spend some extra special time with my immediate family visiting and loving, making memories to finish off this year and start off the next on an equally joyous note.

So today I wanted to wish all of you the merriest of Christmases and a very blessed New Year. Rejoice in our Savior’s birth and spend some special time snuggling those close to you. Know that you are loved, appreciated and I can’t wait to continue sharing with you in the upcoming year. Thanks for making me a better person, for helping my faith to grow, for getting me through the tough days. God Bless and Easy Breathing!  XOXOX! Jen

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Posted in Being a Friend, Being a Mom, Dealing with Trials, Faith, Family, Inspiration, Uncategorized

Santa and Sarah

TODAY’S FORECAST: Reveling in human kindness… there still are GOD I mean GOOD people out there!!! 🙂

Three years ago, a little boy and his grandmother came to see Santa at the Mayfair Mall in Wisconsin. The child climbed up on his lap, holding a picture of a little girl.

“Who is this?” asked Santa, smiling. “Your friend?” Your sister?

“Yes, Santa,” he replied. “My sister, Sarah, who is very sick,” he said sadly.

Santa glanced over at the grandmother who was waiting nearby and saw her dabbing her eyes with a tissue.

“She wanted to come with me to see you, oh, so very much, Santa!” The child exclaimed. “She misses you,” he added softly.

Santa tried to be cheerful and encouraged a smile to the boy’s face, asking him what he wanted Santa to bring him for Christmas. When they finished their visit, the Grandmother came over to help the child off his lap, and started to say something to Santa, but halted. “What is it?” Santa asked warmly.

“Well, I know it’s really too much to ask you, Santa, but …” the old woman began, shooing her grandson over to one of Santa’s elves to collect the little gift which Santa gave all his young visitors.

“The girl in the photograph … My granddaughter … well, you see … she has leukemia and isn’t expected to make it even through the Holidays,” she said through tear-filled eyes. “Is there any way, Santa …. Any possible way that you could come see Sarah? That’s all she’s asked for, for Christmas, is to see Santa.”

Santa blinked and swallowed hard and told the woman to leave information with his elves as to where Sarah was, and he would see what he could do. Santa thought of little else the rest of that afternoon. He knew what he had to do. “What if it were MY child lying in that hospital bed, dying?” he thought with a sinking heart, “This is the least I can do.”

When Santa finished visiting with all the boys and girls that evening, he retrieved from his helper the name of the hospital where Sarah was staying. He asked the assistant location manager how to get to Children’s Hospital.

“Why?” Rick asked, with a puzzled look on his face.

Santa relayed to him the conversation with Sarah’s grandmother earlier that day.

“C’mon …. I’ll take you there,” Rick said softly. Rick drove them to the hospital and came inside with Santa. They found out which room Sarah was in. A pale Rick said he would wait out in the hall.

Santa quietly peeked into the room through the half-closed door and saw little Sarah on the bed. The room was full of what appeared to be her family; there was the Grandmother and the girl’s brother he had met earlier that day. A woman whom he guessed was Sarah’s mother stood by the bed, gently pushing Sarah’s thin hair off her forehead. Another woman, who he discovered later was Sarah’s aunt, sat in a chair near the bed with weary, sad look on her face. They were talking quietly, and Santa could sense the warmth and closeness of the family, and their love and concern for Sarah.

Taking a deep breath, and forcing a smile on his face, Santa entered the room, bellowing a hearty, “Ho, ho, ho!”

“Santa!” shrieked little Sarah weakly, as she tried to escape her bed to run to him, IV tubes intact.

Santa rushed to her side and gave her a warm hug. A child the tender age of his own son — 9 years old — gazed up at him with wonder and excitement. Her skin was pale and her short tresses bore telltale bald patches from the effects of chemotherapy. All he saw when he looked at her was a pair of huge, blue eyes.

His heart melted, and he had to force himself to choke back tears.

Though his eyes were riveted upon Sarah’s face, he could hear the gasps and quiet sobbing of the women in the room. As he and Sarah began talking, the family crept quietly to the bedside one by one, squeezing Santa’s shoulder or his hand gratefully, whispering “thank you” as they gazed sincerely at him with shining eyes.

Santa and Sarah talked and talked, and she told him excitedly all the toys she wanted for Christmas, assuring him she’d been a very good girl that year. As their time together dwindled, Santa felt led in his spirit to pray for Sarah, and asked for permission from the girl’s mother. She nodded in agreement and the entire family circled around Sarah’s bed, holding hands. Santa looked intensely at Sarah and asked her if she believed in angels.

“Oh , yes, Santa … I do!” she exclaimed.

“Well, I’m going to ask that angels watch over you, ” he said. Laying one hand on the child’s head, Santa closed his eyes and prayed. He asked that God touch little Sarah, and heal her body from this disease. He asked that angels minister to her, watch and keep her. And when he finished praying, still with eyes closed, he started singing softly, “Silent Night, Holy Night – all is calm, all is bright.”

The family joined in, still holding hands, smiling at Sarah, and crying tears of hope, tears of joy for this moment, as Sarah beamed at them all.

When the song ended, Santa sat on the side of the bed again and held Sarah’s frail, small hands in his own.

“Now, Sarah,” he said authoritatively, “you have a job to do, and that is to concentrate on getting well. I want you to have fun playing with your friends this summer, and I expect to see you at my house at Mayfair Mall this time next year!”

He knew it was risky proclaiming that, to this little girl who had terminal cancer, but he “had” to. He had to give her the greatest gift he could — not dolls or games or toys — but the gift of HOPE.

“Yes, Santa!” Sarah exclaimed, her eyes bright.

He leaned down and kissed her on the forehead and left the room.

Out in the hall, the minute Santa’s eyes met Rick’s, a look passed between them and they wept unashamed. Sarah’s mother and grandmother slipped out of the room quickly and rushed to Santa’s side to thank him.

“My only child is the same age as Sarah,” he explained quietly. “This is the least I could do.” They nodded with understanding and hugged him.

One year later, Santa Mark was again back on the set in Milwaukee for his six-week, seasonal job which he so loved to do. Several weeks went by and then one day a child came up to sit on his lap.

“Hi, Santa! Remember me?!”

“Of course, I do,” Santa proclaimed (as he always does), smiling down at her. After all, the secret to being a “good” Santa is to always make each child feel as if they are the “only” child in the world at that moment.

“You came to see me in the hospital last year!”

Santa’s jaw dropped. Tears immediately sprang in his eyes, and he grabbed this little miracle and held her to his chest. “Sarah!” he exclaimed. He scarcely recognized her, for her hair was long and silky and her cheeks were rosy — much different from the little girl he had visited just a year before. He looked over and saw Sarah’s mother and grandmother in the sidelines smiling and waving and wiping their eyes.

That was the best Christmas ever for Santa Claus. He had witnessed –and been blessed to be instrumental in bringing about — this miracle of hope. This precious little child was healed. Cancer-free. Alive and well.

He silently looked up to Heaven and humbly whispered, “Thank You Father.’ Tis a very, Merry Christmas!”

If you believe in miracles you will pass this on. I did!!

LIFE IS GOD’S GIFT TO YOU … HOW YOU LIVE IT IS YOUR GIFT TO GOD, YOURSELF AND LOVED ONES.

I cried & am not ashamed of it…….

Author:  Susan Leonard

NOTE: Shared by a blog reader (thank you Tracy) and it so inspired me, I was hoping it would inspire all of you as well, especially with recent events.   Hope is such a powerful gift. Be an agent of hope in this world for someone, anyone.

Posted in Being a Mom, Dealing with Trials, Faith, Family, Inspiration, Life with CF, Uncategorized, Womanhood

The Glory of Suffering

TODAY’S FORECAST: Frustrated

There are days like today that I don’t particularly like my life. I’m grateful to be alive mind you, I just don’t like the things that are happening there sometimes. Take my health for instance. Cystic Fibrosis (CF) has become a real roaring beast agan in the last few days. It has taken away my sleep and and my husband’s. It has created an environment where I have to say, “Jacob, do your 20 minutes of reading with sissy and Daddy or I will sign your agenda later on this evening because Mommy needs to go lay down.” It is having to put off the last-minute Christmas shopping and wrapping for extended family members that I needed to do early this week. It’s forgetting about driving over to the bank to get the Social Security deposit processed off my kids’ Direct Express account so that we can replenish our quickly emptying checkbook for the things they need. Instead, my time today has been about pain and slow movements. It’s finding a comfortable position to sit or lay in when all parts of your body hurt so bad that when your child surprises you with a bear hug, you yelp with pain instead of squealing with pleasure.

It’s deciding if you should bug the Dr. just once more before the holiday because the pain medication you’re taking isn’t cutting it, but then hesitating because you don’t want to feel loopy and out of it with another med, which is almost as bad as not being there at all because you are in bed nursing the hurts. It’s the cycle of taking medicines A,B and C for problems A, B and C and then oops, medicines B and C cause problems D, E and F so now we have to start medicnes D and E to combat those, but oh medicine E creates problems G and H so now what do we do with those, add more medicine of course, and the cycle continues! ARGGGHHHHHHH!

It’s humbly and quietly praying for the pain to go away, asking others to pray for the same, but then knowing that God doesn’t always give us what we think we need, He gives us what we do need.

Does He know I just get so mad sometimes making these “lesser of evils” decisions day-to-day? Of course He does, and I think it probably maddens Him a little as well, knowing that I’m suffering when He loves me so much. But then again, maybe he delights in weakness because he knows that weakness will make me cling to Him and keep my focus on Him. As Corinthians 12:9-10 says:

“My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. 10 That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”

He also didn’t promise grace would come without suffering and I guess I should be honored if he chose me to suffer. For he says in Romans: 8:17-18:

17 Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.18 I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.

So instead of praying for the end of my suffering, I think what God is probably asking me is “Did you ask Me to help you with it? Instead of taking it away?” “Did you put the focus on ME and not on YOU?”

There is a lot of suffering happening around us in the world today. Sometimes it impacts us directly, sometimes other people that we may not even know. Pray with me that we can endure, that we can count suffering as a gift of glory and that above all else that God remains even in moments of frustration.

 

 

Posted in Being a Friend, Being a Mom, Being a Wife, Dealing with Trials, Faith, Family, Inspiration, Life with CF, Uncategorized, Womanhood

Spirit Rally

TODAY’S FORECAST: Indebted

Last evening I texted my friend, Jen, to tell her I was thinking of her and to see if we could coordinate to get together after the holiday. Her immediate reaction was, “What can I do for you? Do you have any Christmas errands that I can run for you since you’re not feeling well?” It reminded me of Christmas two years ago when she didn’t have to ask the question, she already knew I’d need the help. I was in pretty bad shape. My Cystic Fibrosis had really reared its ugly head and I was in a cycle of declining health that we weren’t sure was going to stop. I had been in and out of the hospital for many months; in fact, I was in just a few days before Christmas at the time. I was panicked not only about how I would get all my shopping done, but also how we would pay for Christmas when we had just discovered our fraudulent home builder had taken our deposit for our house and ran with it. Medical bills were pouring in, I was no longer working and was waiting for Social Security disability to be approved. It was a bleak time.

Friends and family immediately gathered together to make sure Bob and I had a “normal” Christmas with our kids that year. The elementary school saved boxes and boxes of non-perishable goods so Bob would have something other than fast food to cook when I came home. People brought meals day after day. My good friends Jen and Raellen were in charge, buying my list of Christmas presents for Bob, coordinating a meals website and anything else that needed done. My friend, Deb, and her mom got together and made beautiful gifts not only for our kids (monogrammed towels and pillowcases), but also beautifully crocheted, personalized pieces with “Wuersig” and “Armstrong” written on them as gifts for our family as well. Deb even made Christmas ornaments for our tree. Jen brought tons of games and Christmas gifts for the kids and other friends brought toys and gifts for all of us. In fact, we had so many toys that Christmas, that we held a few back for the kids’ birthdays the following June and July and then donated some ourselves to a family in need. Our church was helping to pay my prescriptions for a couple months. Neighbors circled around us with food and good cheer, it became magical.

I came home from the hospital on the 22nd and sat under the tree that day waiting for the kids to come home. I will never forget that moment that they came in the back door, saw me, tackled me and screamed, “Mommy’s home for Christmas!” Everything was done, except the wrapping. My friend Jen had even arranged for a hairstylist to come to my house to cut my hair for me. Bob and I watched “It’s a Wonderful Life” and wrapped Christmas presents together one evening. Christmas Eve, we rejoiced as I got dressed up with the family and attended service at church. As sick as I was, our family had never been so spirit-touched.

So last night, when Jen said before anything else, “What can I help you with?” it brought this all flooding back. The continued generosity of our friends and family, the strength that I continue to draw from these people every day, it’s all indescribable. The new people who have come into our lives after our move who just give and give as well, we have been so blessed. Of course I have all of you too, my readers who I look forward to connecting with every day! 🙂

Today, I’m having a “stone” day. A fellow CFer and friend, Bob, told me there’s a John Denver song that says, “Some days are diamonds, some are stone.” I don’t know the song, but the saying stuck. Once again we’re here at Christmas and I’m facing some health challenges. While not near as severe as in years past, we’ve been having more “stone” days than “diamond” ones as of late. I am so thankful for everyone who continues to rally around us everyday with their love and spirit. Wishing you lots of Christmas spirit and love.

Posted in Being a Friend, Being a Mom, Being a Wife, Faith, Family, Inspiration, Uncategorized

“Grandpa Angel”

TODAY’S FORECAST: HOPEFUL

Yesterday my husband, Bob, got the rare opportunity to go with some buddies to the Cleveland Browns football game. With my health constantly changing and how busy we are with the kids, Bob rarely has a few minutes to himself, let alone a whole afternoon. At this time of year especially, I was glad not only for him to have the opportunity to go and have some fun, but also that I was feeling well enough to hold down the fort by myself with the kids and get them where they needed to be without his help.

Our daughter, Meghan, had a travel basketball game yesterday afternoon. Our son, Jake, and I settled in the bleachers to watch her and her team take on their opponent. About 3/4 through the game, Jacob had to go to the bathroom, of course! Meghan was playing in the main gym of the local high school so the bathrooms were just across the hall, very close to where we were sitting. Since Meghan had taken a break and was on the bench for a few minutes, it was actually the perfect time to go.

Jake has gotten very funny as of late about going into the women’s restroom when he is with me. He’s 7 (and a half!) now, so he thinks he has graduated from having to go with Mom. The men’s restroom was right there, so I said, “I will stand right here outside the door, you go in and go, wash your hands and come right back out. I’ll be right here.” He nodded and went in.

I can’t explain it. When he entered that bathroom yesterday, I had the WORST sense of foreboding. I don’t know if I was just more sensitive and protective since the CT shooting, but I immediately felt sick in my stomach that he was in there. Not a second later, a man who had been standing in the hallway outside the gym went into the restroom. I felt more ill. I knew I couldn’t go barging in there with other men, probably at the urinals, so I did the only thing I could think of, I prayed.

I prayed, “Lord, please protect my little boy. Please wrap your heavenly angels around him and don’t let anyone hurt him in any way. Let them form a barrier around him and please be with him and let him come out unharmed.”

A few seconds later, a man came out in a Santa hat. I had (have) no right to judge this man, he could be the most wonderful human being in the world, but he looked, well, CREEPY and yes, I judged. He wouldn’t look at me and I watched him exit the bathroom, walk down the hall and directly out the main doors of the high school. A second later, the man who had entered the bathroom right after Jacob had gone in, came out and said to me, “I just had an inkling I should go in and check on your little boy for you. Just so you know, he is taking his time washing his hands, but he should be out in a second. He said he was watching his sister’s game and that you were waiting for him outside. He said his Daddy’s at the Browns game today.”

My first reaction was that I needed to have a serious talk with Jacob (again) about talking with strangers, even kind ones. The second was a flood of thankfulness. This man was probably a grandpa, I think, for one of the many girls playing in the many gyms of the high school yesterday. He had white hair, kind eyes and a red sweatshirt.  I didn’t get his name and all I could muster back was a quick “Thank You” as Jacob came out of the bathroom, walked toward the gym and noted that “Sissy’s team was losing.” The grandpa looked at me and said, “Unfortunately, so are the Browns.” and we went our separate ways.

I didn’t see the man after our game, he was probably in another gym or had left by that time. Besides a good reminder talk about talking and sharing with strangers, last night we prayed as a family around our Advent wreath for this “Grandpa angel.” I don’t know, but I honestly think he was an answer to my frantic prayer. I wish I could go back now and tell him how much I appreciate him and how I just been praying for the safety of my little boy in that restroom. I ask God grant a special blessing on his heart this week.

Alabama has a song called “Angels Among Us.” Here is the link to YouTube. http://youtu.be/S0ISmE0yRJ8. When you listen to it, please say a prayer for the “grandpa angel” that helped us yesterday. Pray for me too and the rest of the world would you? That I wouldn’t be so quick to judge people I don’t know and that we all would learn to trust God with our continued prayers. Most importantly, that a nation full of hurt over the CT loss (and every loss we’ve endured this year) would turn to God for comfort and peace.  Peace today my friends.

Posted in Dealing with Trials, Faith, Family, Inspiration, Uncategorized

I Wish You Enough!

TODAY’S FORECAST: Appreciative

A fan of the FB page sent me this story for the blog and I had never seen it. Thanks Tracy! Hope you will enjoy it as much as I did. I wish you all “enough!” 🙂 God Bless!

Recently I overheard a father and daughter in their last moments together. They had announced her departure and standing near the security gate, they hugged and he said, “I love you. I wish you enough.” She in turn said, “Daddy, our life together has been more than enough. Your love is all I ever needed. I wish you enough, too, Daddy.”

They kissed and she left. He walked over toward the window where I was seated. Standing there I could see he wanted and needed to cry. I tried not to intrude on his privacy, but he welcomed me in by asking, “Did you ever say goodbye to someone knowing it would be forever?”

“Yes, I have,” I replied. Saying that brought back memories I had of expressing my love and appreciation for all my Dad had done for me. Recognizing that his days were limited, I took the time to tell him face to face how much he meant to me.

So I knew what this man was experiencing.

“Forgive me for asking, but why is this a forever goodbye?” I asked.

“I am old and she lives much too far away. I have challenges ahead and the reality is, the next trip back would be for my funeral,” he said.

“When you were saying goodbye I heard you say, “I wish you enough.” May I ask what that means?”

He began to smile. “That’s a wish that has been handed down from other generations. My parents used to say it to everyone.” He paused for a moment and looking up as if trying to remember it in detail, he smiled even more.”When we said ‘I wish you enough,’ we were wanting the other person to have a life filled with just enough good things to sustain them,” he continued and then turning toward me he shared the following as if he were reciting it from memory.

“I wish you enough sun to keep your attitude bright.

I wish you enough rain to appreciate the sun more.

I wish you enough happiness to keep your spirit alive.

I wish you enough pain so that the smallest joys in life appear much bigger.

I wish you enough gain to satisfy your wanting.

I wish you enough loss to appreciate all that you possess.

I wish enough “Hello’s” to get you through the final “Goodbye.”

He then began to sob and walked away.

Author: Bob Perks

Posted in Being a Friend, Dealing with Trials, Faith, Family, Inspiration, Life with CF, Uncategorized, Womanhood

Jaded by Hoaxes

TODAY’S FORECAST: Ashamed

A couple of weeks ago, our eldest niece, Ashley, messaged me about a little boy who was fighting for his life with Cystic Fibrosis.  She sent me a note with his story. This is what she wrote:

I saw this posted in one of the groups I’m in and I thought you may be interested .I will be getting cards for each of us in the unit to send him but thought I would let you know of it. -Ashley

Hello Everyone….I am asking you all for a big favor. My cousin’s nephew is 9 years old with 4th stage Cystic Fibrosis. The doctors have sent him home because there is nothing more they can do. When they brought him home 2 weeks ago, they gave him only 2-4 days to live. He knows he is going to pass and he has told him mom it’s okay, he said he is ready to go home because he is tired…of being poked with needles all the time. One of his wishes is to see how many Christmas cards he could receive before the Lord takes him home. This is where you come in, if you could just send a card and if you don’t know what to say put your families name and the town you live in. He received 500 one day last week and he read everyone of them.He is trying to beat the Guiness’s World  record which is 35,000 and so far the total he has is 23,000. Let’s pay it forward. Please continue to pray for his family. I known his grandpa and he is a wonderful well known preacher that would desire your prayers. Please send a card today to…thanks so so much!! Amy Please share this on your facebook or groups. I am determined and have the faith to see him meet this goal….

Dalton Brandon Dingus

H.C. 62 Box 1249

Salyersville, Ky 41465

Ashley attends college, so her plan was to have all the girls in her unit send cards to this little boy. Immediately, my “protective Aunt sensors” went off and I worried that this was yet another internet hoax. I went to Snopes.com but couldn’t find any information. I went to the Guinness World Book of Records site and looked up records for the most Christmas cards. I talked to some friends in the local CF community who were also skeptical at first glance; let’s face it, I just didn’t believe it. So I advised her to hold off on buying and sending the cards until I could do “a little more digging.”

I was dead WRONG about it all and it just breaks my heart. Not only did I almost miss the opportunity to do something kind for this little boy who is dying from the same disease I struggle with every day, but I also stifled that spontaneous love and generosity in my niece who looks up to me as a role model and was prepared to have her whole unit purchase cards to send him to help him break this record. Of course all of that can still be amended, but I’m ashamed, really ashamed that I let my jaded mind get in the way of what I keep writing about, heart and God’s love. A well-respected, fellow blogger wrote on his FB page (paraphrasing here) this is not a hoax and even if it was, you’re out the cost of a card and a stamp.  He’s right. It’s not like they were asking for money or for anything else, just a card. I thought today about when I’m standing before God one day is He going to care about how diligent I was about checking Snopes or how often I passed along His love and goodness.  Sigh. So officially and formally, I’m sorry God, I’m sorry Dalton and I’m so sorry Ashley, for not believing in something you were passionate about.

Please consider sending a card to this little boy and let’s pray that God will help us all to discern the good from the bad in our lives, on the internet and with each other.