A Faith Lift
The morning after my mom's diagnostic mammogram, I dropped her off and came home. We were leaving for Indiana the next day but I had already packed everything in case I needed time for a meltdown. However, there was no need for that, we had received great news! I expected to feel overwhelmed with joy.

Although I did feel very thankful, I also felt a little numb. I couldn't figure out what was going on with me. So I went out on our back porch (one of my favorite quiet places) and just sat there, listening to my thoughts. I took out my journal and started writing and asked Jesus to help me process where I was spiritually, emotionally and mentally. I needed a faith lift!

I was in a bit of shock that the doctor's couldn't find anything. I also felt some doubt. Then I felt guilty for not having more faith. Were they missing something? Or had I just witnessed a miracle? Had God removed what her original doctor felt? Why didn't I believe?

Next came a sense of being unworthy of a miracle because I hadn't prayed as desperately as I thought I should have.

In the days prior to mom's appointment I had quietly whispered a prayer that God would remove the lump. But I hadn't begged Him. I hadn't ask more than one or two times because I didn't want to be disappointed. I have a default mechanism of not asking for too much. That way I won't feel as much of a let down if He doesn't grant my requests. I know that's not good.

I had also protected myself from being consumed by fear by not talking about it. I am a verbal processor so if I talk about something, the frequency and volume of my thoughts go up. If I don't talk, the frequency and volume of my thoughts go down. This was something I learned about myself the day I received news I didn't want to hear about my mom's very concerning lump.

What Jesus showed me that day is that His actions, His response, His love - are not based on my actions, my fervency, my begging, my faith or my lack of. What matters is the object of my faith, not the size of my faith.

My faith has nothing to do with me, but everything to do with HIM - the author and perfecter of my faith. Jesus gave me a faith lift that day by lifting my head so that I was looking into His eyes, focused on His heart and trusting in Him who is able to do immeasurably more than I ever think or ask.

You, O LORD, are a shield about me, my glory, and the One who lifts my head. Psalm 3:3

Update on My Mom
I wanted to give a quick update for those of you who read my earlier entry "News I Didn't Want" and asked about my mom. Thanks so much for your prayers and concerns. I apologize that I left you without answers. When I started my blog it wasn't public. I was just journaling my thoughts and forgot to go back and finish - on my blog.Here is what I wrote in my journal at home that day after we returned from the doctor's office for her diagnostic mammogram.

WOW - what a morning!! They did an in-depth and highly magnified mammogram and then an ultrasound with one of those wands they rub across the area of concern. They could not find ANYTHING - no lump, no lesions, not anything. When the doctor came in to tell us his thoughts, he said "Everything is fine, we can't see anything..." Then the power and lights went OUT!! It was pitch dark. We couldn't see ANYTHING.

And it stayed that way for the rest of her appointment. We sat in the dark and talked for a few minutes without seeing the doctor or each other. I asked tons of questions to make sure they were really sure. How could this be? How could they not see ANYTHING when the doctor had documented that she felt a lump and gave it's size in centimeters on my mom's file.

The doctor reassured us that there wasn't anything there and suggested my mom return in six months to ease our concerns. I reached into my purse to get my cell phones out so the screen light could help us find our way back to the dressing room. My mom was so thankful she got in and got her results before the power went out. "Yeah, we're free!! No more nightmares, no more worries, no more sleepless nights. We're free!"
She said and then she hugged me.

As we walked through the darkened lobby, others were waiting and wondering if they'd get in. It looked like it was going to be a while. Thank you Jesus for caring for us in such a detailed and powerful way.
I had made arrangements for Joshua and Andrews to be at a friend's house all afternoon, so I could go home and have an emotional meltdown if I needed to. Instead of an emotional meltdown, I went home and had a Faith Lift!

The Man Purse

JJ and his "Man Purse" was quite the attraction at Hershey! Actually it's a quilted backpack that my mom made for me. It's perfect for amusement parks and airports - hands free. But my shoulders got tired so I talked him into carrying it for me. Is he secure in his manhood, or what? It even matched his shirt!

Anyway, women kept stopping and staring at him. One really slowed down as she walked by. He made this funny face because he thought she was looking at him weird. "She wants your purse!" I explained. Then the women turned around with a grin and said, "That is exactly what I want!"

What I love is that my man was willing to carry my load for me. He's such a servant! Love you honey. And I promise to get you a cool backpack for our next trip!

While You Are Sleeping

Andrew has been going through a phase of doubts. The one that breaks my heart the most is when he questions whether I'll be there for him like I promise to be, whether it's coming to pick him up from a birthday party or being home when he returns from a friend's house. Both of our boys have struggled at times with the fear of being abandoned. I wonder if it's genetic because I had the same fears as a child. To assure my boys of my love and commitment, I'll often remind them of a time in the past when I kept my promise or when I showered them with love because I couldn't help myself! It wasn't because I had to, but because I wanted to! I wrote the following devotion this week as I reflected on this truth...

“The LORD your God is with you, he is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, he will quiet you with his love, he will rejoice over you with singing." Zephaniah 3:17 (NIV)

Startled by silence, I jumped up and looked at the familiar neon red lights that told me it was three in the morning, time to feed the baby. Andrew hadn’t made a sound. Was something wrong? Or could he be sleeping through the night? I wavered between panic and joy as I felt my way down the hall to the nursery and leaned over Andrew’s crib. I listened for the sweet sound of his breathing and carefully rested my hand on his tiny chest to feel the gentle rhythm of its rising and falling.

Moonlight slipped through the blinds helping me to see that he was perfectly fine. Most sane mothers would have gone back to bed. But not me, I stood there for a while watching my child sleep. The love and joy that I felt at that moment was almost overwhelming. How could I love someone so much? My heart longed just to be near this little guy who set my days in motion with his cries and smiles.

Andrew developed a routine of sleeping through the night soon after, yet I would listen for his cries hoping I'd have a good excuse to check on him. While he was sleeping, I’d sneak into his room just because I wanted to be with him. Then I’d tiptoe into my older son Joshua’s room, and watch him slumber. As I looked at their faces, I’d dream of the little guys God was shaping them into. I’d whisper prayers for them to know Jesus in a personal way. I’d ask God to calm their fears, to fulfill their dreams, and to establish their steps to walk in His ways and not in the paths the world would pave for them.

There are still many nights that I sneak into to watch my children while they are sleeping, simply because I want to be with them. They aren’t doing anything to make me feel proud or happy. They may have even driven me to my wits’ end that day, but I enjoy them because they are mine. God feels the same way about you and me. He wants to be with us and promises to be there for us all the time.

God delights greatly in you! He is always there to quiet your heart with his love, even while you are sleeping. He watches over you, and I bet He even dreams of the woman (or man) He’s designed you to be. The Bible says His heart is filled with joy for you, so much so that sometimes He breaks into a song about it.

My friend Jill and I were talking about this and she said, "What a great reminder when nothing is going right; when we feel like the whole world is against us and nobody understands what we’re going through." So if you happen to be having one of those days, I hope you'll imagine the love of a parent watching their child sleeping and remember there’s a God who loves you even more than that!

Lord, thank You for the reminder that You are always with me and that You love to watch over me, every minute of every day – even while I am sleeping! Help me to completely believe the truth about Your love towards me. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Faith Espresso
Be still and believe that God is watching over you at this moment. No matter what you have done or what has been done to you, God’s love reaches down to hold you in His embrace. Bow your head and tilt your heart to listen to Him whisper, “You are precious in my sight and I love you.” Now breathe in and breathe out the reality that He hears your prayers, He knows your needs and He’s constantly by your side.

Coffee Talk
Do you ever imagine that God is watching over you, smiling and delighting in the fact that you are HIS child?

Would you like to begin a love relationship with Jesus today, accepting your secure position as God’s child? Click Do You Know Him? to know more.

If you could use more daily reminders of how much God loves you, read today’s Holy Grounds and write them on an index card or sticky note and carry them with you all day! And check out "Encouragement for Today" - free email devotions from Proverbs 31 Ministries.

Holy Grounds
Psalm 34:15, “The eyes of the Lord are on the righteous and his ears are attentive to their cry;” (NIV)

Psalm 139: 1-3, “O LORD, you have searched me and you know me. You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar. You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways.” (NIV)

Psalm 33:18, “But the eyes of the Lord are on those who fear Him, on those whose hope is in His unfailing love.” (NIV)

A Hershey Kiss
We had the best time in Hershey, PA!! We turned down Cocoa Avenue around 5:30pm, just in time to meet everyone at the house and leave for dinner at Bob Evans - a family tradition when we are with Grandma and Grandpa Swope.

Later that evening we headed to Hershey Amusement Park and surveyed the land in preparation for our all-day excursion on Saturday that would include 7 adults and 8 kids! JJ wanted to check out the new roller coasters and of course we had to go up to the top of the Kissing Tower. The kids had never been on it before and it was neat to watch them looking out into the night sky and see "Chocolate Town" glistening in the lights.

We rode the kiddie cars, the TrailBlazer mini-roller coaster (5 times, but who was counting?). Grandma and Grandpa thought the park closed at 10pm but when we got there we heard they were open until 11pm - so we stayed until they kicked us out. JJ's mom was waiting up for us when we got back to the house. We felt like teenagers!

On our way out of the park, we stopped to take a picture with the Great American Chocolate Bar! Then we walked down Chocolate Avenue under street lights that have Hershey Kiss-shaped lanterns. It was like going back in time for JJ to be able to share so many of his favorite pastimes with our boys. I'll share more photos and details from our vacation as soon as I get through the mountains of laundry and refill our refrigerator with food while I indulge in some Truffel-filled Hershey dark chocolate kisses!

Headed to Hershey
We're on our way to JJ's hometown - Hershey, PA. He's really looking forward to taking the boys to Hershey Park - where he was a roller coaster operator in high school. They have this huge new waterpark and we'll also go to Chocolate World!

JJ's parents have planned this trip for us along with JJ's brother (Terry) and his sister (Tammy) and our families. They have reserved a house for all of us to stay in. Let's see there are four of us, four in Terry's family, six in Tammy's family and two very gracious and brave grandparents! That is 16 people in one house - wow, I hadn't counted until now.

We are at a hotel in Virginia now. We decided to drive five hours and stop for dinner and stay overnight. We ate at JJ"s favorite restaurant - Cracker Barrell. It was so yummy. We played checkers on the porch with the kids while we rocked in rocking chairs. There was a breeze tonight and I could have stayed there for hours.

But the boys were eager to get to the hotel so they could go swimming in the indoor pool. We are staying at a new Country Inn and Suites and it's very nice!! JJ found it for us on the internet. He did such a great job picking a good one. A few years ago he found us a great deal at a hotel in Savannah, GA. We got there really late and discovered it was in a not so great part of town. We barricaded the doors in the middle of the night after hearing what sounded like gun shots! It was actually a motorcycle backfiring in the alley right outside our room. Oh, I am so glad to be in this cozy and quiet room tonight!

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