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Posts Tagged ‘Christian Women’

My Grandma Holding Me!

With a sigh, I drop into my favorite overstuffed chair and rest my cheek against the green tweed fabric. Leftover turkey, green beans, and mashed potatoes, brown with gravy, litter white plates scattered across the counter. The spicy aroma of warm pumpkin pie floats into the family room.

My boys tear through the room, flashing silver foam swords, my husband on their trail. He scoops them up and plops them down on the couch next to my sister and my grandpa.

“Turn the game up, I can’t hear the score.” My mom yells from the kitchen.

The dishwasher clicks on and I tune out the soft hum and close my eyes. Full of warmth and family, the day seems perfect. Yet, something is missing—the picture incomplete.

Grandma’s absence fills the room.

Grandma, Me, and Kyle (my oldest son)

The smooth scent of vanilla slides over me. A hand rests on my shoulder and I cover it with mine—trace the bumpy veins on loose, spongy skin. I open my eyes.

Grandma kneels beside my chair, dressed in her favorite outfit—blue sweater, matching pumps, and pearl clip-on earrings.

I bite my lip. She’s not supposed to be here.

A smile warms her face. “I just want you to know that I’m okay.”

“It’s not the same without you.” I squeeze her hand and lean my head against hers. “I miss your hugs.”

Her fingers comb through my hair. “I miss yours, too.”

“Mom made your pistachio salad. It was all wrong. She put in the nuts.”

With a laugh, she kisses my cheek.

A harsh buzz shatters the moment. Startled, I sit up in bed. My husband snores softly by my side. I hit snooze on the alarm and fall back against the pillow.

It had only been a dream.

And now it’s too late. Too late to tell her how much she meant to me. Too late to hug her and realize what I had.

My husband rolls over and rubs his eyes. When I take the time to think about it, there are so many things I’m grateful for—like when he takes out the garbage and scoops out the cat litter. He’s made dinner on my tired days more times than I can count.

I roll over and scoot down so I can face him. “I love you.”

With a sigh, he pulls me close. “I love you, too.”

My hand rests against the rough stubble of his cheek and I breathe him in. I want to live in this moment, be grateful for what I have right now.

“Thanks for putting away the laundry yesterday and coming home early to drive Maddy to church.”

Surprise lights his eyes and, after he stares at me for a moment, a huge smile lights his face. “You’re welcome.”

As he holds me, I think of my kids still asleep, under their covers. How many hugs have I pushed off, busy with the drive to finish this or that? How many times have I punished their bad choices and neglected to praise their good choices?

My devotional reading from early in the week drifts through my mind.

“And let the peace that comes from Christ rule in your hearts. For as members of one body you are called to live in peace. And always be thankful” (Colossians 3:15 NIV).

Thankfulness. Something I don’t spend much time pondering. It will take a conscious decision, some deliberate prioritizing, and major prayer to make a permanent attitude change. But it will be worth it. My grandma may be gone, but my husband and my kids are here.

After a soft kiss on my husband’s cheek, I climb out of bed to wake my kids up with a hug. I can’t wait to tell them how special I think they are!

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Courting Catastrophe, a true story, won second place in last year’s NTCW Conference for Adult Novel/Short Story. My baby bump will be turning 18 in January!

The gun was small and black. It looked plastic.

 A party raged in the apartment next door—music blared, people laughed. Oblivious to the nightmare transpiring in my living room. My mind sprinted forward, sorting through the possibilities of how the next few minutes could play out, while my body melted into the couch, overloaded with the mental pictures my mind produced.

I should yell. Run. Do something.

Instead, I froze—acutely aware of each hammer of my heart, each prolonged breath. My hands slid down the soft terrycloth robe to cradle the small, round bump over my stomach.

Lord, please, protect this baby.

“Get on the floor!”

Kevin—if that really was his name—staggered forward, nothing like the man we’d chatted with this afternoon. His hand trembled, but at close range, he probably wouldn’t miss.

My husband, Pat, sat on my left and our friend, Judy, on my right. A TV mini-series played in the background. Next door, the music cranked up a notch, loud enough to drown out gunshots. Laughter floated through our screen door as people came and went from the party. If any of them came close enough, they would have a clear view. Of us. Of Kevin. Of the gun.

But no one did.

How long had Kevin been here? Minutes? Hours? Days?

Lord, please, protect this baby.

Pat moved off the couch to stand in front of me. Kevin lunged forward, smacking the gun against Pat’s head hard enough to send him to his knees. I slid off the couch beside him and locked my panicked eyes with his.

Kevin knelt, placed his knee on Pat’s neck and grabbed my left hand. Diamonds sparkled under the light and I understood why Kevin had come back.

My finger, already swollen from the pregnancy, throbbed in his rough grasp as he tried to wrench the ring over my knuckle. When it got stuck, he rocked back on his heels and shoved his glasses back up his nose. Sweat dotted his forehead.  He wiped his face against his shirt and pushed the gun into my cheek. It was cold and hard and didn’t feel at all like plastic.

“Please.” My voice shook as I held my hand up. “I can get it off.”

Kevin pulled the gun back a few inches and stared at me with unfocused large black pupils.

I licked my finger then twisted and pulled until the ring finally slipped free.

Kevin snatched it from my hand, stood and backed toward the door. Hesitated and shifted his feet. Brought the gun back up. “Down on the floor! Face first.”

Judy and I obeyed. Pat grabbed my hand and squeezed. Afraid to rest on my stomach, I rolled slightly to the side.

Why had we put the ad in the paper about the moving sale? Why had we let Kevin in our apartment hours earlier to look at our furniture?

We invited death to our door.

Would he kill Pat first and work his way down the line? What would it sound like? Would I feel it or just slip away? Would this baby be with me in Heaven right away?

Lord, please, protect this baby.  

There were so many things to wrestle out, but no time to work them through. Half curled into a fetal position, I waited, wanting it to be over.

Nothing happened.

I glanced up, careful not to move my head. Kevin rummaged through my purse, pocketed my wallet. I stared at his shoes—black sneakers, white laces, Nike stripes—watched him walk closer, the gun hanging at his side.

I closed my eyes again, entirely powerless to save my child.

Lord, please, protect this baby

The Nikes shuffled back a step. “Get up. Lock yourselves in the bathroom. Come out, you’re dead.”

Pat quickly pulled me up, pushing me into the bathroom, locking the door after all three of us were inside. I slumped onto the edge of the bathtub. Dizziness spun around my head and my legs went numb.

The screen door slammed and after a moment, Pat carefully turned the door handle and peeked out. Kevin had disappeared.

It was over.

Hours later, my heart had yet to settle into a regular beat. My stomach tightened and rolled. Tea wasn’t helping. Neither was rocking back and forth on the edge of Judy’s bed, but I was grateful she asked us to stay with her tonight. I was never going back into that apartment again.

Our seminary friend, Brent, sat in the rocking chair across the room.

“I’m not ever going back inside the apartment.” The teacup wavered in my hands. I put it down on the nightstand.

“It’s okay if you don’t.” Brent rocked a moment, his hands on his knees. “But later, when you can breathe again, remember that you weren’t alone tonight. Jesus was with you.”

“Was He?” I hadn’t felt Him there.

The rocking chair scraped along the floor as Brent dragged it closer to the bed. “He was. I’ll show you. Picture yourself back in your living room.”

I shook my head. “I can’t.”

Brent leaned forward and pulled my hands into his. “Close your eyes.”

After a few deep breaths, I closed my eyes. I was back in the apartment. I watched Kevin pull open the screen door, reach into his black jacket and pull out the gun.

My eyes snapped open. “It’s too real. I’m still there. I’m trying to forget this day, not relive it.”

“Close your eyes and look behind Kevin. Jesus is standing there—completely in control. He’s whispering in Kevin’s ear. ‘You can wave that gun around, but I won’t let you hurt them. They’re mine, not yours.’”

I closed my eyes and tried to see Jesus.

But all I saw was Kevin.

Six weeks later sun streamed through the glass window in our hotel room, bathing me in a rectangular glow. After stretching along the large, soft bed, I looked at the clock—9:00 am. Moving day was tomorrow.

These last six weeks, the hotel had been my safe haven—a gift from God, complete with maid service and a breakfast buffet. Miraculously, we were moving to Colorado! Pat received his transfer papers the day after the incident. As part of his relocation package, the company agreed to put us up in a hotel on this end of the move, rather than on the Colorado side. I hadn’t set foot in the apartment since that night.

Dressed in jeans and his favorite Packer’s sweatshirt, Pat stood by the bed. “We need to go back and get anything that’s important to you because the mover’s are putting our stuff into storage.”

I rolled away from him, burying my face in the pillow. “You pack.”

The bed dipped and his hand rested on my arm. “Lori, please. Just walk in, pick up what you want and then we’ll leave.”

I was safe here in the hotel. I didn’t want to go back.

Pat rubbed my back through the covers, leaned over, and kissed my neck. “Get dressed. Ride with me.”

I shook my head.

He whispered in my ear. “You can wait in the car and boss me around through the window.”

The mental picture made me smile. “Fine. But I’m not going in.”

Pat parked in front of the apartment, kissed my cheek, and disappeared through our front door. The police had never caught Kevin—I wasn’t sure they’d ever really looked for him—and in the back of my mind I wondered if he would come back. Suddenly, being in the car alone didn’t feel safe. I opened the door and heaved my pregnant body off the seat.

I only got as far as the sidewalk before I congealed on the concrete.

Birds sung. The sun shone. And sweat trickled down my back. Staring at the front door stole my breath. My hands flew to my belly. The baby kicked, pulling me out of paralysis.

My foot slid forward and pushed against the screen door. The TV remote lay on the floor where Judy dropped it. Pillows were piled on the couch. My slippers peeked out from under the glass end table. Everything was the same—as if we walked away and hadn’t come back—exactly like we had.

How many times had I begged that night—Lord, please protect this baby? And He had. But I was still afraid.

My ring finger tingled. It felt naked without my ring.

I inched forward and paused where Kevin had stood. What had he been thinking that night? Had he come here to rob and kill us and then changed his mind? Had there been a plan at all? Or was he too high to think anything through? What drove someone to do what he had done—meeting with us earlier, sharing about his fiancée, fabricating such an intricate story? Had there been any truth to his words?

My legs trembled. Before they gave out, I made it to the edge of the couch and closed my eyes. I could still see Kevin in front of the door—gun lifted, black jacket hanging open, greasy ponytail. My breathing quickened. I squeezed my hands into fists and thought about what Brent had said.

Jesus was standing behind Kevin. Jesus was the one in control.

And then suddenly I could see Him behind Kevin—glowing and full of power, filling the room with warmth and peace. Tears slid down my cheeks.

My hand flattened on the couch, the fabric soft against my palm. The other hand rested on my stomach.

“Thank you,” I whispered.

I erased Kevin from the picture and left Jesus standing there alone.

The fear wound into a tight little ball, growing smaller and smaller until it disappeared. “Thank you for protecting this baby.”

My eyes flew open and fell on the front door where the sun entered and brightened the room. Grateful for the baby’s life, all our lives, and for the peace in my heart, I smiled.

I pushed off the couch and went to help Pat pack in the bedroom.  


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Please Welcome Mary DeMuth.

Mentor. Encourager. Author Extraordinaire!

Check Out Mary’s Website to see all of her books!

http://www.marydemuth.com/

Mary DeMuth

I love Jesus, my family, and my life. Jesus has helped me live uncaged, and for that I’m eternally grateful.

In that place of thanks, I write books and blogs and whatnot.

Many of you know I wrote the book The Muir House. What you might not know is the why behind it. Although it’s a risk for me to share it, I feel it’s important, and it will deepen your experience of the book.

Those who have read my story in Thin Places know I endured some trauma in my childhood. Sexual abuse at five, several parental divorces, the death of my father. All these things served to help me see my gaping need for Jesus. While it’s painful that I had to endure what I did, I can now see those trials as the very means God used to bring me to Himself. To put it simply, my daddy-shaped-hole made me yearn for the Daddy who would never leave me. I’ve been on the journey of healing many, many years now. Although I’ve grown so much, there is one thing I can’t seem to get over: a hole in my memory. Even writing it scares me. What will my extended family think? Will this cause more friction? What if my empty memory is nothing?

The weird thing about my brain is that I remember everything. I have a clear memory of being about two years old, extremely vivid. And then nothing until I am four. Normally I would just chalk this up to being a child and forgetting or simply not remembering, but when I’ve asked my relatives about it, the answer never comes. Some have started crying. “Why would you want to know that? Why go back there?” Others are adamant that nothing happened to me. Others think I’m crazy for asking. But always, there is never a satisfactory answer and lots and lots of evasion. Rumors have flown around about homelessness, but nothing I can pin down.

I need to know. It’s this ache inside me, this agony to know what was missing from my life. What happened? Why won’t anyone tell me?

This search has driven me to become an investigative reporter. I’ve dug up old acquaintances from the past, written letters, sent emails, hoping to unfold the mystery. Nothing. I’ve prayed, but no insight has come. I’ve tried to settle myself, but I’m still antsy.

I wonder if there’s something I don’t know. Or if I have a lost sibling. All my adult life, folks have told me I look like Laura Dern. Imagine my crazy mind when I found out we share the exact same birthday! Same year. Was I a twin separated at birth? (Now you’re seeing my neurosis!)

Something that has helped me with my need to know was remembering something my husband Patrick told me years ago. With words, he painted a picture. He said my distance (at the time) felt like I was pacing the high dive, deciding whether I would jump into the pool. Down below were my children and him, all beckoning me to jump. But I paced. And worried. And fretted. I didn’t jump. Instead, in the word picture, I came off the high dive, then sat on the side of the pool and dangled my feet.

Our discussion after that helped me see an important truth. No matter what may make you pace the high dive (for me it’s this missing memory conundrum), you can still make a choice to live, to enjoy, to engage with people. You don’t have to be trapped up there or be relegated to the side of the pool.

This is why I wrote The Muir House. I wanted to explore the idea that we may never know the exact truth of things. We may investigate until our heart is raw. But even if things are left unresolved, we always have the choice to grow and live anyway. Willa had that choice. I have that choice. Even Laura Dern has that choice.

We can let the past be our excuse to live crippled lives.

Or we can leap into the halcyon air, and jump foot first into life.

Which will you choose?

If you’d like to explore these issues in a page-turning novel, purchase The Muir House here.

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Some days I wonder why I bother to do anything for myself. Whether it’s reading a good book, which I’ve relegated to the quiet hours of late night. Taking a nap, which happened once last year. Or making good on my promise to write a little bit every day, which I’m attempting to do now.

I began the edit of this article at 9:30 a.m. and it’s now 11:17 a.m.

600 words. One page. Plus a barrage of questions from the three children who occupy my house. One by one, they rotate in to stand at the foot of my bed. I tiptoed into the bedroom earlier, when I thought they were not looking.

My fingers pause, suspended over the keyboard, as I grasp to freeze my train of thought for later.

The exchange goes something like this—
“Can I call Dad? I lost my tiny fairy book. The dog threw up on the stairs. Can I watch Martha Speaks? Do we have legal-size paper for my project—it’s due in an hour? Can I take a bath? Who ate all the Cookie Crisp?”

To which I reply, in order—
“Is your room clean? Did you look in your backpack? Go clean it up, it’s your dog. Is your room clean? Why didn’t you ask me this sooner? Is your room clean? Dad ate the cereal.”

Maybe a recording of my top ten answers would buy me some personal time? Or maybe I should surrender and realize I do not own my time. I may never own my time—as long as small people live in my house.

Lord, I need a revelation. A communiqué. An email. A text message. A tweet. Can nothing ever be about me?

You’re asking the wrong question.

Well, Lord, I often ask the wrong question.

Are you looking through My eyes? Do you want what I want?

Lord, I need more than Your eyes. I’m desperate for Your heart. Help me want to want Your desires. Make them mine. I whisper the verse I’ve hidden in my heart:

“Trust in the LORD…Delight yourself in the LORD and he will give you the desires of your heart…” (Psalm 37:3-5 NIV).

http://www.thechristianpulse.com/2011/07/19/why-bother/

Just For Fun:

Ever had one of those days? Take a picture and share your best Why Bother? expression! Check back on my website for the craziest looks! Faces only please. Check out the first pictures on the Why Bother? page.

Email your pictures to lafreeland@hotmail.com

 

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http://www.crosswalk.com/faith/women/chosen-by-him.html  (link to this article in Crosswalk)

The valet line in front of the Ritz Carlton stretches down the street and winds around the block. After handing off my keys, I register for the charity auction at a table on the patio, and enter the conference area.

Chaos.

Women adorned in cocktail dresses, high heels and matching jewelry—at nine in the morning—mill from table to table, clutching numbered stickers and small goblets stained with lipstick.

Heels. I should’ve worn heels. I look down and notice how my black flats highlight the bruise covering my big toe. My dress, while cute—a Dillard’s outlet steal—hides beneath an old black cable sweater. A sorry stand-in for the silk wrap I lost last week. I pull the sweater off and drape it over my arm. Maybe no one will notice. Goosebumps race across my shoulders and back.

Cold and chic? Or warm and ratty? A dilemma—we’ll see how cold it gets.

I’ve already embarrassed myself three times this morning. I left my phone in the car after the valet drove away. I gashed the front of my shin when I tripped over the spotlight on the floor. And, by far the worst, I opened a door in the bathroom to find the stall occupied.

Maybe sitting is the best way to wait for the luncheon to start.

As I head for the lone chair at the edge of the room, I pass tables laden with beautiful purses, positioned just so on white silk tablecloths, waiting for the highest bidder to carry them home. I push through the sea of women perusing the bounty and glance at the invitation in my hand. In stylish cursive script, I am encouraged toDress Hip with a Hip Handbag.

My eyes catch on the plethora of hip handbags promenading around the room. I peek at my own bag—brown-striped tweed, half zipped, a wad of paper hanging out—and wince. When I reach the chair, I breathe a sigh of relief.

Poor purse. I frown and trace the front buckle. As we walked past the frou-frou handbags lining the tables, it must have cringed in humiliation. Cast-off, tossed to the bottom of the bin at Goodwill, it never perched, proud and regal on an auction table.

Kind of like me, needy and neglected, at the bottom of the reject bin. With great care, God rescued me, placed me among the adorned, heeled, and jeweled. The highest bidder, He paid the price and reminds me today as he whispers through His word. “…even the very hairs of your head are all numbered…you are worth more than many sparrows” (Matthew 10:30-31 NIV) and you are “…precious and honored in my sight…” (Isaiah 43:4).

I pat my purse and smile. “You’re mine. Doesn’t if feel amazing to be chosen?”

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