Kara is a young mother of four and she battled breast cancer for two and a half years.
On Sunday, Kara received the healing she and so many had desperately prayed for. Her Healer met her at the gates of heaven.
I do not know this woman. And yet my heart aches for her and for the family she left behind. Her children are young. Will they grow up realizing how desperately their mother's heart ached for more time with them? As the years go by, how many memories of her will remain in their minds? And her husband. Oh my goodness. How do you go on when your soul mate is no longer here? How does a man raise four young children on his own?
Their faith in God remained strong throughout Kara's illness. Oh, did they have moments of thinking "why is this happening to us?" I'm quite certain they did. They were, after all, human. But Kara decided early on in her illness to seek the peace of God. I am reading her book The Hardest Peace now, and I can tell you it has stirred up my soul.
We are never promised that life as a Christian will be easy. Christians have really bad things happen to them. Christians get sick. Christians have children who turn their backs on God. Christians lose their jobs and their homes. But Christians know that God is always with them. Even in the valley of the shadow of death. God met Kara in the deepest despair imaginable. And He never let her go.
Kara was forced much too young to face what most of us deny. That this life is temporary. This life is short. I think of all the time in my life I have wasted on things that absolutely do not matter, and I am ashamed. Kara was able to, through the help of our Lord, savor every single second with those who mattered the most to her, her family, and her friends.
Several years ago there was a song called "Live Like You Were Dyin'" about a man who found out he had a terminal illness. And one of the verses of the song says "Someday I hope you get the chance to live like you were dyin."
Friends we are all dying. Every day is one day less that we have on this earth. Are we living like it??
Are we telling those we love the most just how much we love them? Are we sharing the Good News that Jesus saves? Are we being the hands and feet of Jesus? Are we making the most of every single moment? Are we making a difference?
No, I do not think we need to go around in sack cloth and ashes. I believe God wants us to live an abundant life. But an abundant life focused on Him and what is important in His kingdom.
Today I am praying for the family and friends of Kara Tippetts. I hope that as her story is shared others will see Jesus through the legacy she left behind. And they will see that Jesus loves them as he loved Kara. And I am praying for God to open my eyes to the reality that my time here on earth won't last forever. I want to be all that He wants me to be. I want Him to use me to help others. I want to be faithful, as Kara was faithful.
also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us
lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our
faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross,
despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of
As you all know, our handsome son has already moved
out and is getting married in May. Our beautiful daughter is getting married in
July, and moving to Virginia. My mood fluctuates from being very
excited about this new phase of life, for them and for my husband and me, and feeling like I've been hit
with that big orange water cooler full of ice they show on football
games. Our son still lives in our town, so while it is an adjustment,
it will be much easier. Our daughter, well, I miss her already. Not gonna lie, the thought of her living so far away is just plain SAD.
The easy days of kissing the boo boos and sitting in the stands and
helping with homework are over. Now comes the hard part. The
decisions my children make now are life-altering, my advice even more
important, my prayers even more fervent. Hardest thing in the world is
accepting the reality that we don't have control in our children's lives
anymore. We never really had control anyway, but we fooled ourselves
into thinking we did. Now, that reality hits me like a cold shower. My
children are adults. They don't need me like they did before, and yet,
they need me now more than ever, just in a different way.
I so want God
to use me to bring glory to Him. I want to transition with
grace and step into my new role with a smile on my face. Some moms
never make the transition and spend the rest of their lives mourning the
growing up of their children. Lord Jesus, please don't let that be me.
I want to be there for my children, and I always will be. But I also
know that this is now a chance for my husband and I to focus on our
relationship in a fresh way, and I truly look forward to that!!
Please agree with me in prayer for God to show me specifically what He wants from me in this new phase of my life. I want to serve Him. I want to glorify Him. I want to be His hands and feet.
And if you have any words of wisdom from your experience in transitioning, please share!
Saturday morning it was cold, and the snow began to fall and the wind began to blow and I new my husband and kids would be starving after a morning of moving turkeys. I decided to make chicken and noodles for them for lunch. I mean, who doesn't love chicken and noodles on a cold, snowy day??
Now don't hate me . . . but I used a rotisserie chicken.
And I used frozen noodles.
And I added chicken soup base as the seasoning.
And, wait for it, I added a can of cream of chicken soup to the pot for extra flavor.
And you know what my husband and kids had to say about that?
They said, and I quote, "this is really good!"
Didn't bother them one bit that I didn't boil raw chicken and then shred it. They didn't complain one bit that the noodles were frozen. And that can of cream of chicken soup I added for extra flavor . . . nope they could care less.
Sometimes homemade is completely over-rated!!
And I've got to tell you a little story about this pot.
This pot is a Le Creuset . . . which is French for "REALLY EXPENSIVE." I had wanted one of these pots for-EVER, but the price, well, let's just say they don't sell them at Wal-Mart.
So, I did what anybody would do, I found this pot at TJMAXX
at a price that while, still not cheap, was a lot less than the real price at say "Williams-Sonoma" and the price I was willing to pay because, after all, it's Le Creuset. And I mean, food must really taste BETTER when it's cooked in this amazing French Le Creuset pot right??
The first time I used my amazing Le Creuset pot I had made a big batch of home canned green beans to take to my sister-in-law's house. My husband decided HE would carry the green beans down to the truck. So he walks down the steps to the truck, tucks the steaming hot Le Creuset pot under his arm to open the door to the truck . . . and drops it. Delicious home canned green beans go EVERYWHERE, and the pot hits the concrete floor of our garage.
This is what the pot looks like now.
See the big CHIP on the handle?
The big CRACK down the side?
My first reaction, being totally honest, was not Christian at all. I wish I could tell you that I smiled and said "don't worry about it." But I didn't. I was FURIOUS and trying not to act FURIOUS, but when you've been married as long as we have, well, he knew I was FURIOUS. I wanted to scream HOW COULD YOU HAVE DROPPED MY NEW POT.
Now really, how sad is that. I mean it's a POT for pete's sake. He didn't drop it on purpose. He felt really bad about it.
I think God works hard to keep me humble and remind me that stuff is just STUFF, even if it does have a fancy French name. And so I still use that cracked pot with the big chip on the side. And each time I use it I am reminded to focus on what is really important and let the small stuff go. It's not easy, but I try. Like using rotisserie chicken . . . . .
I don't spend a lot of time surfing the internet looking for blogs to read. I don't have a lot of time to read blogs. Which is sad, because I LOVE to read blogs. I love reading about other people's lives, and lifestyles, and children, and cooking and faith. I read blogs that make me laugh, blogs that make me cry, blogs that open up my eyes to a much bigger world than my life here in Central Missouri. I try to focus my time reading YOUR blogs . . the blogs of the friends who read my blogs!!
But recently, I came across a blog written by The Nester. Click HERE to check out her blog. If you aren't reading this blog, you really should take a little time to visit. It isn't your typical fix-up-your-house blog. I mean, yes, there is a lot of fixing up a house, but the blog is more about the ATTITUDE toward your house and a little LESS on the actual do it yourself stuff.
Myquillyn (yes, that is her real name) and her husband, like me and my husband, have lived in a LOT of different houses. When we bought the farm where we live now, it was the 13th place we had lived . . . and we had been married 12 years. YIKES!!!! Most of the houses we had lived in were purchased as investments. Meaning, we didn't drive around and pick out the prettiest house in our price range. We looked for houses we could buy, fix up, live in, and then sell for a nice profit. Some of those 13 houses have been rentals, and we've lived in a couple of apartments. One of those 13 houses was a brand new house we built, intending to stay there for a long time. In reality, we lived there for only 5 months before putting it on the market and the day we sold that house was the happiest day of our lives (another story for another blog post!) but I can tell you that building that house was one of THE BIGGEST MISTAKES WE EVER MADE.
If you've read my blog for very long, you know that I live in a 1968 ranch style house in the middle of a real working farm. Some of you may think that living on a farm is "romantic." I hate to bust your bubble, but there is NOTHING romantic about it. I drive down our driveway every morning and night going to and from work, and cow manure slings from the tires all over my car. It is either MUDDY or DUSTY 99% of the time. In the summertime the FLIES ARE ATROCIOUS. We hardly EVER have our windows open because of the overwhelming aroma of turkey manure. I'm not complaining (well, kinda) just giving you a glimpse of what living on our farm really means. I guess if you lived in the "country" versus living on a "real farm" it could be romantic. But I live on a real farm surrounded by cows and turkeys.
I did not pick the house we live in. It just happened to be the house that went with the farm, and my husband wanted the farm, so we moved into the house. Being totally honest, it is not a house I would ever have picked. It is very plain, ugly brick, small closets with bi-fold louvered doors. No master bathroom. Small kitchen, no island. Small bathrooms. Small bedrooms. Flat 8' ceilings. Just not the kind of house that really has anything at all going for it architecturally. In the past seventeen years we have done some work to it. Some of the work has been posted here on the blog. Click HERE to check out our bathroom remodel. And HERE to take a peek at our fireplace remodel. We put in new kitchen cabinets several years ago, before I started this little blog, and THAT has made the biggest difference. Wish I could show you the "before" and "after" on that. Those plywood cabinets were YUCK!!! I hate to sound ungrateful, but I'm just keepin' it real here.
I said all of that, to say this . . . I have spent a LOT of time not liking my house. I'm not proud of that. But it is true. I've spent a lot of years just "biding my time" in this house, waiting until I can build a new house. Yes, I want to build a new house. I want to get AWAY from the flies, and the mud and the dust and the manure and the smell of turkeys. Sorry, but I do. Will we ever build a new house?? I don't know. I can talk myself into it, and out of it, in the very same conversation. I guess time will tell. But I have really been trying lately to appreciate the house I have, and trying to make the best of it for however long we live here. And that brings me all the way back to the title of this blog post "It Doesn't Have to Be Perfect to Be Beautiful" which is actually the title of the book written by The Nester.
I ordered the book from Ebay last week and it was in my mailbox when I got home last night. I read it last night. I READ THE WHOLE DANG BOOK LAST NIGHT!! Now, don't go crazy on me, the book has a LOT of pictures. It is a very easy read. AND MAN IS IT INSPIRING!!! Myquillyn, like myself, had spent a lot of years waiting for THE PERFECT HOUSE. I used to think "if my house just had tall ceilings THEN I could fix it up." "If my house had walk-in closets THEN I could really be organized." "If I just had an island in my kitchen, THEN I could enjoy doing more entertaining."
WHAT A WASTE!!! I'LL SAY IT AGAIN, WHAT A BIG HUGE AMOUNT OF TIME I HAVE WASTED!!!
This book really helps me to see that my house, like my life, is WHAT I MAKE IT RIGHT NOW!!! I've spent years not buying new clothes, waiting to get down to that perfect size. The result of that attitude is that my closet is pretty much BARE because I am not down to that perfect size yet (although I'm really proud to say I've lost 21 pounds since last fall . . . 10 more pounds to go!). And I've NOT done things to my house because I kept telling myself "just wait until you build a new house and THEN you can have everything beautiful." Really?? Is that how we're supposed to live our lives . . . waiting until everything is PERFECT? Because truly I don't think ANYBODY's life is perfect. Yes, I read blogs where it LOOKS like everything is perfect. But I'm pretty sure that if I could be a little "fly on the wall" (as my mother used to say) that those folks don't have a perfect life either. Yes, their house may be bigger than mine, or have taller ceilings than mine, or have newer furniture than mine, but it ain't perfect, no matter how many beautiful pictures they post.
This is NOT a paid advertisement. Myquillyn, The Nester, has NEVER HEARD OF ME. I ordered the book from Ebay ($12.04, free shipping). I'm just sharing this with you because the book has really inspired me, and I'm hoping it inspires you. Maybe you don't need inspiration. Maybe you haven't spent years waiting for _________________ ("insert your excuse") to happen before you make your house the best it can be. But I can tell you that I sure have. And this book is NOT all about spending a fortune decorating your house. Quite the opposite. It encourages re-purposing things you already have, shopping flea markets and antique shops. But it encouraged me to be BOLD about decorating and making my house a priority. It's NOT about creating a show place. It's about making a beautiful, comfortable, inviting home that you and your family enjoy being in, and that others enjoy being in too. And doing it frugally.
Do yourself a favor . . . ORDER THE BOOK!!!!
And I do want to thank each of you for your prayers for our family. Yes, we miss Gram Nell terribly, but we are at peace knowing she is in heaven. Thank you thank you thank you for praying!
Yesterday I attended the visitation and funeral of my Grandmother. She passed away on Saturday. She was 101 years old.
My Gram Nell was an amazing woman. She had an 8th grade education, and married my Grandpa in January of 1935 at the age of 21. She had three children. My Grandpa passed away in 1958 at the age of 47. My dad was still in high school. She never remarried. She worked in the deli of a local supermarket until she retired.
My Gram Nell was never a touchy-feely kind of grandma. She was very plain spoken. She loved her children and her 10 grandchildren and her 19 great- grandchildren and 3 great-great grandchildren. I could tell stories about my Gram Nell for hours.
I spent a lot of time with my Gram Nell when I was a kid, and into adulthood. I have spent a lot of time with her these last few weeks at the nursing home. She hasn't know me for nearly two years. But that's O.K. I still knew her.
This past Thursday evening and Friday evening I went to the nursing home after work and spent an hour or so with her each night. She never acknowledged that I was there. She was very restless. And by Friday evening when I was there, her breathing was very shallow, very rapid. I knew her time was short. She passed away just after midnight Friday evening.
My heart is broken. You are never ready to let go of someone that you love the way I loved Gram Nell. I loved her so very much and I know she loved me.
My Gram Nell is in heaven. Not because she was a good person. Not because she attended church faithfully. My Gram Nell is in heaven because she confessed her sins to Jesus and asked Him to be the Lord of her life many, many years ago. Back a couple of years ago, before her mind left her, she talked frequently about the "better home on the other side" she had waiting for her, and praying and asking Jesus to "take her home." I told her many times that I guessed God just wasn't ready for her yet, and He wasn't ready for her then.
He was ready for her early Saturday morning, and He took her home.
She lived a wonderful, wonderful life. The funeral home was full on a bitterly cold Monday morning for a 101 year old woman who had outlived both of her parents, her husband, and all 10 of her siblings. A testament to a life well lived. A testament to all those she loved, and who loved her.
I will miss her. I will never forget her. And one day, when Jesus is ready for me, I know that I know that I know, that I will see her again. What a day that will be.
I took this picture of my hand and her hand just a couple of weeks ago. Today, that hand is raised high before the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords in heaven. She has heard the angels sing Holy Holy Holy.
I am so thankful that my Gram Nell knew Jesus. I am thankful that today there is no more suffering for her. I am thankful that she is with Jesus. I am thankful that she is waiting there for me.
Last night on my way home I was listening to a sermon on the radio. The Pastor spoke these words and I can't get them off of my mind:
"It seems these days that we are CHALLENGED but not CHANGED. We are CONVICTED but not CONVERTED. We are HEARERS of the Word and not DOERS, and we DECEIVE OURSELVES."
This concerns me greatly. You can be challenged by anything. You can be challenged to jump into cold water as part of a fundraiser (hello, I've done this). But a CHALLENGE to our Spirit without a CHANGE is useless. We can be challenged to lose weight. But if we don't do the day to day things that are necessary to lose weight (eat less, exercise, etc), then nothing happens. No weight is lost. If we are challenged to read our Bible more, but by the third day we can't remember where we put our Bible, there's been no change. We can wear a big cross necklace, and have a "Jesus Saves" bumper sticker on our car, and greet everybody with "Praise the Lord" but if we aren't living lives that line up with Scripture, then we are phonies and are no good at all to the Kingdom of God.
God desires our faithfulness.
We can be convicted, but if the conviction isn't followed by conversion, well, that's called GUILT. We can feel guilty about an awful lot of things, but if we don't correct the behavior, we have accomplished nothing. God calls us to REPENT, not just "feel bad" about our behavior. Disobedience to God is sin. God won't forgive our guilty feelings if we don't repent. Repent means to turn away. So repeatedly sinning, and feeling really bad about it, but continuing to sin is not conversion. God forgives ONLY when we repent. Not when we feel guilty.
And when we just feel challenged, but don't change, when we feel convicted, but we aren't converted, WE ARE DECEIVING OURSELVES.
The Bible says in Matthew 7:22-23:
will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your
name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’
I don't know about you, but that is a scary statement.
Today I am praying for God to change me. To bring my Spirit into complete obedience to His plan for my life. I am asking Him to convict me of anything in my life that isn't of Him, and I am asking him to forgive me. I want my life to bring glory and honor to Him. I want my eyes to be opened to His perfect will. And I want to follow Him. I don't want to disappoint Him.