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Begin Again

There once was a man named Michael Finnegan…Begin Again

How many of you remember this children’s song? As I was cleaning today my thoughts were considering tomorrow… Tomorrow holds a “Begin Again” for my husband Scott as he steps into the pastorate at Bethel Grove Church. But it also holds so much potential for myself, and our children. There is always so much potential when we walk the path God has constructed before us.

Just like many other things God says, I am excited; but the realistic part of me knows there is purpose in everything God positions for our lives. Fulfilled purpose requires:

  1. My willingness to follow God’s lead
  2. My willingness to give God’s love wholeheartedly
  3. My willingness to believe God for the impossible
  4. My willingness to release courageous faith in God
  5. My willingness to live in the overflow of God’s unstoppable joy

To “Begin Again” is a choice, my choice. It is a choice I do not take lightly, for I have been here before, just like Michael Finnegan. It is time to Begin Again.

To “Begin Again” means it is time to grow. The time of darkness is over, the roots continue to be strengthened as I push through the darkness to the sun. From the seed in darkness a mighty oak is breaking through the ground and growing.

A year ago this month Scott and I finished an 8-city prayer tour and the 20/10 Southern circle prayer tour. It was absolutely amazing. But a week later, I was literally crying and asking the Lord for people to hug. As much as I love to pray and be doing a great exploit, I also like being with people releasing hope, possibility, and encouragement.

When I was cleaning out my parent's basement  last fall, I found this pin in my high school papers.  It has always been in me to give hugs that relieve stress and heal. Very cool!

When I was cleaning out my parent’s basement last fall, I found this pin in my high school papers. It has always been in me to give hugs that relieve stress and heal. Very cool!

If you don’t know me, you might think hugging is a little too close but for those of you who have ever been hurting and I gave you a hug, some kind of healing was released. I believe it is the love of God in me being released to others. I am the conduit, God’s power runs through me to those in need of His love that heals the broken hearted, sets the captives free, and gives hope to the hopeless. Even though I have found ways to release His love over the past year, it felt like being the seed planted in darkness, wondering if I had enough Jesus in me to break the shell that surrounded me. Until the shell around the seed is broken the seed never gets the opportunity to become what it was created to be. It was difficult, it was dark, it was lonely, and many times I was challenged to give up. But God, He would not let me be less than what He created me to be. As I pressed into God’s love and worshipped Him the shell could not contain what God destined me to be.

When God directs my path, the fulfillment of His word will require more than I have but give back more than I could have ever imagined. In this, my relationship with God grows and His love abounds.

Therefore, as I look forward with great expectation of what God has positioned Scott, myself, and our children to be a part of, with the people of Bethel Grove Church, I also know to “Begin Again” I have to let go of the past, look to Him, get up and courageously follow His lead.

Daniel 11:32 …the people who know their God shall be strong, and carry out great exploits.”

It is time to Begin Again.

May you know the Lord’s love to have the strength to begin again.

In His Presence darkness cannot keep me,

Veridee

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Most of us don’t expect “it” but when “it” happens there is really no denying “it”. With the bombardment of the spirit of stupid causing people to say the most hurtful things to appease their conscience or they just couldn’t comprehend the signs of what it meant for Lydia to continue to lose weight or to split up our family when were finally together, I was feeling surged by the cat of nine tails. I was beginning to feel like I didn’t want to be around people anymore. Which is an oddity for an individual like myself. I love people and get energized by being around them, even if all they have to share about is their problems. I realized why I enjoyed cheerleading so much, because I believe there is always a way for the underdog to win. So when people would share their problems I knew if they would turn to God, He would lift them up and show them the way out.IMG_0922 I was desperately trying not to be upset about only getting one week as a family; however, I found a reason to be glad when the senior doctor finally contacted the GI doctor for a complete top to bottom scan and biopsy scheduled for Dec. 31st. I had to fight the feeling of everyone else getting time with Abigail and Josiah while Lydia and I were separated from everyone. I had to push the desire to get upset that the doctors had waited so long to do this and praise the Lord, at least they were checking it now. I had to quench my desire to be jealous of others getting time with Abigail and Josiah that felt like had been ripped from us, especially when people offered to have Abigail and Josiah but didn’t invited Selah and Charis to come also. If our kids can’t stay together then they can’t come over. We are FAMILY and family stays together. Lydia had to be taken off food three days prior to biopsy and was told she could eat afterward. However, this too fell through because the doctor came in at the same time Lydia’s food arrived and said she couldn’t eat for another week. Are you kidding me?! Needless to say, it was like Flashback roller coaster at 6 Flags; jerks, twists and turns throwing you for a loop only to slow down at the end so you could do the same jerks, twists, and turns backwards!!! If I hadn’t been trying to suppress my anger, depression would have set in quickly. Once again Lydia learned that I had no authority in the hospital. I couldn’t object to the food being taken from in front of her and this time ‘no food’ was so much more difficult for her. She asked to eat regularly and I could get nothing for her! Hopelessness is what leads people to depression. When you have no hope, you have no drive to do anything, it numbs your mind and paralyzes your abilities. But God began to speak, “Veridee, this needed to happen this way so they would get the GI specialist to check Lydia’s digestive track. You needed to guard your time last week with Abigail and Josiah as a family because this was coming. That is why I put it in you and had the doctor’s back you up that Lydia was not to be around anyone who was sick. You were right to protect her. If she had gotten sick she would have gotten Graft Versus Host Disease then her GI track would won’t be priority but making sure she lives would be.” “It would have been nice if you have told all the parties involved ahead of time instead of letting them say such terrible things.” I responded. But I knew God always knows what is best. It also revealed that we were hearing accurately, being led by the Holy Spirit. I had been with Lydia for 5 days in the hospital while the children went to visit family and friends. Scott ran into a young lady I used to mentor and she said she wanted to bring us dinner and meet while she was back in town for the holidays. So Scott scheduled her to come over the house Jan. 2nd. With all we had been through, I wasn’t sure how the visit would go. I was a little skeptical and reserved. I felt like the words others were saying had deteriorated my joy, distracted my focus, and demolished my hope in people. I remember the Lord telling me, “It is okay. I will renew your strength. There is a changing of the guard. Don’t be afraid of those who are stepping back. They can only go as far as they have developed their endurance in a fight for life to this caliber. They are tired and so are you. Let them go and hold on to Me. Many of them have stood longer than they have ever stood before. Those who have stood faithfully with you for Lydia’s healing have grown to know Me better. You can continue on even if it is just you and Me.” He was trying to set me free to prepare me for what was about to come. He needed me to know that we had heard correctly and that He would be our strength when others couldn’t go any further. His words unlocked the door so I could forgive and be healed from the insensitive comments that were hurled at me since we returned home. If I couldn’t forgive, I couldn’t let it go and move on with God. I would be stuck in a miry muck that would hold me captive. I would be distracted from what He was setting up for our future. There was a new level of trust in God established that day that would be necessary in the months to come. Moments before my former mentoree arrived, I was fighting not wanting to get together. I loved her but I didn’t know how the evening would go. She had told Scott that her last 3-4 months were the worst ever and she was fighting paralyzing depression. I thought, “Great! How am I supposed to help her in the condition I am in? What do I have to give?” After dinner the children went upstairs to play, Scott was at the hospital with Lydia, and we had the living room to ourselves. She and I were able to share how raw we had become from the pain of the last few months. I remember feeling very reserved and uncertain. Another thing the Lord had shared was that people really couldn’t understand what we were going through, some because they just didn’t have a grid for it and others because they didn’t have that level of care. I didn’t know if my young friend would fall into one of these categories. When I would share of the happenings over the last few months of returning home they seemed unbelievable even to my own ears and I had experienced it all. It also didn’t make me feel any better to have shared. But then, I realized talking about all the negative was only making the chains of depression increase around me. As I listen to her, I stopped sharing my woes, instead I focused on how the Holy Spirit would have me encourage her. As I began encouraging her, I was reminded of the desire I had shared with my former prayer partners back in November about starting a ladies small group. All the yuck I had been faced with was a painful distraction from the plans God had for me. I invest in people by teaching them the goodness of God and His love for them so they can rise up and become overcomers in the area that has trapped them in hopelessness or loss of purpose. Regardless of what I was still feeling, I dug deep inside to find a way to encourage her.2014-01-04 20.44.18 After encouraging her a few more times, it was like the Lord had placed deregulators on my chest to restart my heart. I was pull out of the onset of depression and threw off the cinderblocks I was trapped under. I nearly leaped off the couch, when I said, “The enemy tried to get me focused on the pain caused by the very people I have honored and loved since we moved here!” And then enraged by the craftiness of the enemy to tear me to shreds and the realization of his desire to have me give up my desire to encourage others with the hope of Jesus Christ, I continued, “Even if I don’t start a small group I will do a conference by the end of the month!” I was shocked by my boldness and declaration. I had no plan and it certainly seemed impossible. I couldn’t have a small group because Lydia was still in the hospital and our schedule was so uncertain. I could do a conference because it was a short-term commitment. At that moment something had changed in me. God wasn’t done yet. After a few more minutes of listening, sharing and praying for her, I ask if she wanted to listen to some worship music with me. I needed to quickly get into the presence of God and let Him finish doing surgery on me. After music was in and lights turned off, we laid before the Lord in our living room. He began by restoring my strength to stand even if I was alone this time. Many had stood with us for nearly a year seeking, hoping, praying for Lydia’s healing and it seemed that there would be few who would stand from this point until her complete healing but God would be enough and it was okay to let them go. They needed the time to be strengthened as well. I let the words of the songs perpetrate me and then began singing, honoring God, then “it” happened. There really is no way to describe “it” but I must try because the next few months to follow were directed by what happened next. “It” was as clear as a movie being played in front of me; however, it was like a 3D movie. If I reached out I felt like I could touch “it”. I felt a part of “it”. I saw the back of God’s robe, full and flowing. As God walked, oil was coming out from under His robe. I was in a car driving on the oil. It seemed like we were going South and then we were going West on I-20. As I drove, always seeing the bottom of God’s robe, the train, the oil was a beautiful pure gold. The oil flipped up into the car from the tires, through the vents filling the car with the thick oil. I remember thinking, “How am I going to breathe?” But when it got to my mouth it tasted like sweet honey. The entire atmosphere had changed in that instance. My joy had been restored, my strength had been renewed and my hope had been reestablished. I was whole again. The hurts were healed by the sweetness of God’s love filling me up. When “it” was over I felt like I was in the very substance of God’s peace and joy in the living room. After soaking it up and breathing in the essence of God I was at peace in my heart. I ran upstairs to get the song “What a Glorious Night” by Sidewalk Prophets. Just had to express the joy I was feeling. When you have been near depression or as hurt as I was, I needed to bask in the fullness of God’s love. He healed my heart and set me free. I am not sure what the young lady thought when I shared the experience with her, I didn’t realize the fullness of what God was revealing to me that night. Scott told me later that she had said been healed as well and made whole to continue in what the Lord had given her to do. I will take one of those “its” any morning, noon, or night! God is King and His love endures forever in all circumstances. He will never let His children fall to the ground and be harmed. As Jesus quoted from Isaiah 61:1-3 The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon Me, because the LORD has anointed Me to preach good tidings to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound; to proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all who mourn, to console those who mourn in Zion, to give them beauty for ashes, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness, that they may be called the trees of righteousness, the planting of the LORD, that He may be glorified. Wahoo! Let the LORD my God be glorified through my pain! Veridee

 

Finally!!!  Mama's arms have waited too long!

Finally!!! Mama’s arms have waited too long!

You might think that my lowest point of walking through the fire was:

  • when the doctors told us Lydia had cancer or
  • maybe when they said the cancer is worse in her body now that when the first diagnosis was given, or
  • when they told us they didn’t have a donor… but that wasn’t it either.

The support, encouragement, and prayers from the beginning were incredible! God clearly spoke a promise to Lydia who didn’t even have a clue as to what she was about to go through. When we returned to our house in Orangeburg, SC after Lydia’s 100 days of isolation, something was way off. As I stated in the first few parts of the Return Home Series Lydia was steadily losing weight and the doctors couldn’t figure out why. She wasn’t getting sick but something was amiss. Sometimes Moms just know what the problem is but since I was not a doctor I was nearly mocked for my suggestion to check her GI track. That was frustrating to say the least; however to have my closest to the situation disregard my prayer request about her digestive track was…to say the least, hurtful. More than one had the nerve to tell me, “Trust the doctors, they know what is best”. This would go under the category of something not to say especially if they had kept up with how many times the doctors screwed up from the beginning of the diagnosis. I responded cautiously, “Not really, God knows what is best and I am praying that the doctors will listen to Him. Something is wrong and in all the tests they run over and over again, they find nothing and yet she continues to lose weight. But the one area they will not check is her GI track.”

By mid-December of 2013 I stopped sharing my prayer request because the pain of knowing or even thinking the possibility that they wouldn’t pray or weren’t praying anymore threatened to send me into a state of depression I had never known before. It was not a feeling of being alone but the awareness of feeling abandoned on the battlefield before the war was over.

It made be think of when Jesus was abandoned by His disciples when the traitor had brought temple guards to arrest Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane. Those I had thought closest to me didn’t see the need to pray just like Peter, James, and John when Jesus had asked them to pray with Him.

For two month after our return home I was faced with things people just shouldn’t say, yet something compels us to speak when silence would be much better:

  • Things we shouldn’t say, “I don’t have compassion for your situation.” That is a blow that is indescribable. That was a confession of sin; therefore take it to God, that is not something you tell someone who is still fighting for the life of their daughter.  And the Lord helped me to see that they couldn’t have compassion because they had stepped back from our lives because they couldn’t handle the knowing what we were going through.  Once I understood, I could forgive and the pain slowly dissipated.
  • Things we shouldn’t say, “I feel like I have failed you as a friend because I forgot to pray for you.” This would have been better to not know.  If the individual didn’t bring it up then at the point you were convicted about not being a friend to them, make a change in your life and begin being the friend you should have been from the beginning. For me, I didn’t even notice that they had not been one of the ones sending be encouraging messages, cards or calls. I was not keeping a tally sheet on what everyone did or didn’t do. I was not comparing what one did verses what another one did. My focus was on God for the life of my daughter and the day our family would reunite.
  • Things we shouldn’t say, “I just don’t pray like you do.” What does that have to do with anything? If you don’t know what to pray then pray ‘will of God be done in Jesus name’. Seems simple but that is all we ever wanted because we knew God’s way was best and would produce God results for Lydia and our family.  There were plenty of people who don’t believe in the healing hand of God that would give us an encouraging word at just the right time.
  • Things we shouldn’t say, “I know you and this is what you need”. Don’t assume that you know them when you have not been with them through the battle. There is no possible way outside of God’s intervention that you would know them and what they need. Be careful to put a demand on someone that would take them from their position before God to contend for the life of their daughter and unity of their family. If you are led by God to do something then do it but don’t pull someone away from their position of tending their family to meet your own needs.
  • Things we shouldn’t say, “Everything will be all right”, if you aren’t willing to follow it up with prayer or an encouraging word. This made me feel like it was an excuse not to contend for the miracle needed. I had full faith that Lydia would be healed but the less we would have to go through the better. The sooner we could reunite as a family the better. I didn’t want one year away from Abigail and Josiah to turn into two or three.
  • Things we shouldn’t say, After asking about Abigail and Josiah and my sharing the highlights of their time in Iowa one person had the nerve to ask me, “What if they don’t want to come back?” I could barely hold it together before I got to my car and the tears streamed down my face all the way home. This is not what a mother wants to hear when her heart aches from missing milestone events in their lives. Just because I didn’t share all the difficulties they were going through doesn’t mean that there weren’t any.
  • Things we shouldn’t say, “You realize it is your fault you are missing out on the things Abigail and Josiah are doing and going through.” Reminder…we were fighting for the life of one of our daughters. I couldn’t be in two places at once. And God had provided a stable place for them. If they had remained, they too would have been under isolation and kept from everything and everyone just like the rest of us who remained. Just because God provided it doesn’t mean it didn’t hurt to endure it. In my mind I knew it was the best place for Abigail and Josiah but in my heart I hurt to not be able to support, encourage and cheer them on.

By December, it got to be where I didn’t want to go anywhere because I didn’t know if I could hold-it-together and I needed to believe that people were still praying, still believing for Lydia’s complete healing and our family’s need to be united again. It was terrible because I am a people person, I love to give hugs, laugh and genuinely care about how people are doing.

I buckled under the pressure of the things people shouldn’t say, to the decline in Lydia’s weight, and missing Abigail and

We all prepared for the arrival of Abigail and Josiah!!

We all prepared for the arrival of Abigail and Josiah!!

Josiah terribly. I tried to share with a couple of people how their comments had hurt me but they blew it off so I committed the ultimate, “No you didn’t” (gasp)!  Yep, I did (heavy sigh). I sent a letter explaining how I had been hurt and to explain that I had not abandoned them but I had positioned myself to fight for my daughter’s life. I shared how in Hebrews it says that there were those who died before their promise was fulfill and I didn’t want that to be Lydia if there was anything I could do about it. Just like most letters it was misread and backfired on me so a few weeks later another big blow from the recipients would knock the air out of me.

Since I wasn’t being heard in person I thought I would fully explain the situation and the decisions we made through the letter. Silly me and the things I shouldn’t have said. If they couldn’t honor me in person by listening and caring then what was I thinking by writing a letter. I was hoping they would see the importance of our decision in how we fought for our daughter’s life and in letting Abigail and Josiah go to Iowa; instead, they felt like they were given the position of judge over our decisions. Unbelievable, I know, and yet, I can’t say I haven’t done it myself. So I positioned myself before God to let Him examine my heart. The pain it caused me I never wanted to inflict upon another. I also wanted to repent for anyone I had hurt. It was like surgery but it had to happen so I could begin healing. I am not responsible for other but I can do something about me. So I decided to make the changes in me to love others and let God direct others. I can’t imagine forgetting this painful lesson, but I want to learn it so I don’t hurt others the way I had been hurt.

Thankfully, Jan 2nd something changed.

Remaining in His Presence,

Veridee Hand

 

Many times words just can’t express what a hug can. GIVE HUGS FREELY 🙂

I apologize for taking so long to get back to finishing the Return Home Series.  As much as I would like to be done and leave it on the shelf, I would be doing a huge dishonor to God for not sharing all He has brought us through.  Many times we go through extremely difficult situations and think we are the only one this has ever happened to.  But in reality that thought pattern is a lie.  Many others go through similar difficulties.  What we need to know is not just that someone else is going through the difficulty but how did they get out.  So, it will continue that Christ live in me to encourage others that He has not forgotten them and will work on behalf of those who trust in Him.  Walking through the fire is never easy but in ShadRach, MeShach and AbedNego’s lives at least they were with Jesus.

Sending the next in the series tomorrow. If you feel you need to be reminded of where we are in the situation read Return Home Part 10.

In His Presence His Love is made Real,

Veridee Hand

 

If so, then you are going to like this as we jump ahead to present time in the Return Home series. It also gives a break in the rollercoaster ride of the Return Home series with Abigail and Josiah’s return home for Christmas.

When Scott resigned in February, it was unexpected and quite a shock, therefore we looked to see God’s specific direction for “what now”.  While He was preparing the next position for Scott He had some specifics of what we were to do in our “what now” faze. I look forward to sharing them.

Scott and I were praying about the specific time when we were to go to Iowa to visit Abigail and Josiah this summer. It was only for a visit and not a “pick up” because Lydia and Selah still had 4 weeks of school left or they would not be able to advance to the next grade. It was hardest on Abigail because she was tortured by thoughts of us not wanting her to come home when in actuality we were trying to make sure she still got a summer break. If we picked them up at the end of their school year in May, there would have been no pool, no church camp, no bike rides tooling around town, no VBS, no library access, no arts and crafts, and no ball. But we would have been together. After some time to think about it they decided to stay in Iowa until Abigail got back from church camp on one condition…I was impressed that they “battered” the conditions of their stay. It revealed they were thinking ahead and not just in the moment but also able to weight things out. Great sign of maturity. They would stay only if we came to one of their ball games. It reminded me of Josiah’s phone call the year before, “Mom, when are you coming to a game?”2014-06-10 18.52.34

“Honey, I am with Lydia in the hospital. I can’t make it for a game,” I explained.

“Mom, you aren’t going to make it for any games?” came his desperate response of disbelief.

“Josiah, I can’t. I know this is hard but you can do this. Play well, give them your best and watch your best get better every game. I believe in you, sweetheart,” I encouraged.

Obviously last year was tougher than we thought, so they bartered this summer stay for our attending one of their games. So the deal was made J I kept hearing Violet’s plea in The Incredibles, “Mom, I don’t want to act normal, I want to be normal.” There was nothing normal about their last year. We are so proud of their ability to receive encouragement and get back on track when they wanted to give up.

Josiah’s team played tonight in the championship game (and they won)!! I am so proud of him but just prior to his leaving for the game my Mom called, “Josiah thinks he isn’t going to have a good game because you aren’t here to cheer for him,” and handed the phone to Josiah who begrudgingly said, “Hello”.

“Son, I love you and wish I could be there to cheer you on. You have developed in to quite a player and I am so proud of you! I know I am not there but you owe it to yourself and your team to play your best just as if I was in the crowd cheering you on.” He didn’t respond so I continued, “You can do this! You are quick to get to the ball. I was so impressed a couple of weeks ago when I saw you dive and catch the ball. Your swing has become consistent and strong. Hit it to the outfield and when you get home tonight call me and tell me all about it! I love you son.”

Out the door he went and my heart ached as yet again I would miss out on a significant event in his life. Now, I was the one who need to be encouraged. All I can say is, “Stink-o-rama!” So let me take a sharp turn on this rollercoaster ride and share something absolutely amazing!!!!

When the heaven's open and God directs your path

When the heaven’s open and God directs your path

Flipping toward the end of The Return Home series, Do you like the answer and then the details or details first?

The answer: Scott will now be working with CC Inc. in Conrad, Iowa! He will be heading up a community youth ministry that is beginning their 10th year of ministry. (Sorry, for the shocker for those of you who didn’t know he had resigned from his former position. I haven’t gotten to that part of our Return Home series in the blog but I have got to share how God has put this together.)

The Details: The Bible says that God is at work putting things together for our benefit. I am sure Scott and I don’t even know the half of it but let me share a portion of what we know God has done.

  1. In February, Greg Shine called and said he and his wife were taking their grandsons on an Easter break vacation to South Carolina. He asked if Abigail and Josiah would be flying home and if they could “escort” them in order to prevent the extra fees of minors flying without an adult. I told him we were coming up in a few weeks and we could meet to book the flight together. (God is so sneaky as He was already putting pieces together)
  2. Scott’s resignation was accepted on February 14th.
  3. A week later we were in Iowa to celebrate Abigail’s birthday. Greg came over and we booked the flight. Iowa was in severe blizzard conditions and Scott was saying, “Iowa has the best this…Iowa has the best of that…Iowa, Iowa, Iowa.” I was thinking he had better stop because nothing God offers will compare to what Iowa has if he keeps thinking like this and I didn’t want him or the children disappointed in what God had for us. That would be a horrible way to start a new job, a new school, and a new life together! I had remembered years earlier thinking how my children (at the time, Abigail and Josiah and Lydia on the way) would never really know my parents. There was never even a thought of returning home. Conrad just didn’t have what Scott and I did vocationally, but God was working on our behalf even at that time. After a short time of lamenting what would never be, I remember purposefully turning it over to the Lord so I could focus on where God had planted us. The only way I was going to grow instead of being bitter was to remove the thoughts of what my children were missing out on and embrace/trust what God had for them currently. I never entertained the thought again because I thought it was a “no” when it was “not yet”.
  4. Easter came and the Shines arrived with Abigail and Josiah. We discussed Abigail and Josiah’s summer plans. I had figured
    Reunion at the airport for Easter celebration!

    Reunion at the airport for Easter celebration!

    out the schedule and if we picked them up when school let out Lydia and Selah would still have 6 weeks of school. It was a tough decision because they were ready to be together with us. Nothing bad about where they were, it was just that we weren’t there with them. They decided to remain in Iowa after bartering for our coming to watch them play ball.

  5. Abigail calls a week after Easter and says she wanted to graduate from BCLUW. She had already ridden her bike around town looking for a house big enough for all of us. She was so disappointed when she didn’t find any. I chuckled at her openness to think since Daddy didn’t have a job we could just move there and he could work somewhere. I did caution her that we were looking in Iowa but not there, Conrad didn’t have a job possibility for Scott (shows what I know! I am sure God was shaking His head and laughing to Himself, “Sweetheart, if you only knew what I have planned.”
  6. A week before school let out Abigail and Josiah were struggling with having to say goodbye to friends. Abigail called, “Mom, I want to live here.” I listened and heard her heart cry but encouraged her that she was ready for where God would take us, she had a “practice” year of being the new kid and this next move would be easier.
  7. Abigail in her element at the BCLUW spring concert!

    Abigail in her element at the BCLUW spring concert!

    We prayed about when we were to go visit to see them play ball. There was a concern that if we came in for the spring band and vocal concert Abigail and Josiah would not stay for the summer but return home with us. So we waited until we were sure God said to go. It was heart-wrenching when we logged on to watch their concert and the streaming didn’t work!!! I sent the girls upstairs to get ready for bed, turned off the computer and the light so I could have my moment to cry. I was mad at myself. 3 days prior a thought had fluttered in my mind that the streaming would not work and I still did not go. Instead of packing up and going I contacted Shannan Callaway who had been taking pictures from her phone at all the other events throughout the year and asked her to take pictures that night. She told me she would take her good camera so I would have them on the computer and not just my phone.   I was thankful I had called her but it still hurt and I wondered if God was telling me so we would go or so it wouldn’t hurt so bad when it didn’t work. I had my moment to let a few tears trickle down my face and asked God, “Really? Do I really have to be this responsible? Why didn’t I go?” But God had a plan and specific timing for us to go as He was putting all things together.

  8. We put off going to Iowa another week when the date had been set for a former youth, Brian Boyd, from Scott’s youth
    Honored to be a part of Brian's life and ordination!

    Honored to be a part of Brian’s life and ordination!

    ministry in Texas was ordained the first Sunday in June. While we were at his ordination, he mentioned to Scott, “You should look at youth positions. You were great and we all loved you. Look at where many of us are today because of you and Veridee.” I don’t know the details of what Brian shared but God was using him to prepare Scott for what was to come. It was a seed that God would “shine some light on” a week later.

  9. It was a Tuesday night at the ballpark and we cheered heartily for Josiah (he played awesome!! He was diving for balls and going for the extra base to score. One mom chuckled, “He is having the game of his life!” I responded, “Anything is possible when mom is around to cheer their child on.” He was so much fun to watch!) Later in the game Brenda Shine sat down next to me, she asked how things were going and just as I had to run off after Charis I had mentioned that Scott was still looking for a job. Odd that she disappeared so quickly until I sat down again and Greg came by. He started to mention the CC Inc. position and I cut in, “You don’t need to talk to me, you need to talk to Scott,” and I vacated my spot so they could talk. I was not about to “convince” Scott this is where he needed to be. His last position was a ball and chain that had choked his gifting and passion, I watched a man on fire for God dwindle to a smoldering ember. I had been praying too long for Scott just to take any ole position offered to him. I wanted him to have a position that would stir the embers and release a roaring blaze of God’s love and power for His people as he once had. With each job possibility I asked the tough questions so he wouldn’t settle for anything less than what would light his fire again.
  10. That night Scott entertained the idea. He sent his resume for Greg and found out CC Inc. was meeting the next night. We and Abigail went to the youth meeting. We wanted to see how Abigail would respond and what her take on it was. She had no idea that Scott was considering working for CC Inc. When they asked for prayer requests she said, “I want to live in Conrad with my family.” Slightly embarrassed, I put my arm around her and gave her a squeeze. We couldn’t tell her because it was happening too fast and she needed some security not possible disappointment.
  11. Afterward Scott asked about the 7 murals the youth had painted down the wall the year before. Greg responded in a sheepish manner thinking we wouldn’t know, “The 7 Mountains.” My mind still refusing to consider the possibility of God positioning us in Conrad, Iowa could not discard the “writing on the wall”. Scott and I had just finished the 7-week coaching course on the 7 mountains the day before we left for Iowa.
  12. “God, are you teasing me? What are You doing? We have prayed for You to open the doors no man can shut and shut the doors no man can open. Is this really it?!” I was a little distressed. I hadn’t even dreamed we would be headed back not in a million years. Obviously, I believe and know God can do what He wants but I didn’t want the misery of false hope. We had dealt with so much and my heart had been hurt in the last 6 months I just didn’t want to entertain the idea if it wasn’t a real “yes”. Scott had signed us up at the Open Door conference in April for the 7 mountain coaching course, how would he interpret this?
  13. Greg asked Scott and I to come for an interview the next night. They had already set up interviews with others and since we were there we might as well check them out and they us.
  14. For some reason I was still fighting the idea of returning home. I don’t know if I just didn’t want to be disappointed if they didn’t ask us or God told us “Not this one but another.” Or was I still hurt from the loose words spoke by the previous pastor we had served faithfully. God had to deal with my heart, “Veridee, that is the point, you were to serve Me faithfully not a pastor. Honor him because you are a person of honor but never serve Me to bring honor to another. You were serving so he would get the glory. I want you to serve so I get the glory. That is why I told you to take this year to share what I had done in Lydia and for your family. That is why I had you blog. You are to encourage others to look to me for anything and everything they need.” I live and breathe being able to share God’s incredible love, redemption, restoration, and power to anyone who will let me share. Returning home would be an awesome opportunity share what God had done in my life and continues to do but I also know ministry has brought the deepest pains as well. I didn’t want it to come from people I knew and had grown up with. But even in this, it was not my choice and I had to trust God.
  15. As if the paintings on the wall weren’t enough God made something happen in the natural the night we before we left as well as reminded me of something from my past.
    1. What I am about to write in the blog series The Return Home, is about what God had us doing after Scott resigned. We did a prayer strategy in 8 different cities and the weather conditions shifted EVERY time from when we came to the complete opposite when we left. Conrad, Iowa was needing rain desperately. The night before we left just like with these other prayer strategies it started to rain (the sun came out Wednesday when Scott arrived to be introduced for his new position)! God is so cool!
    2. Secondly, as I was about to climb into bed that night, the Lord reminded me of the Beth Moore Believing God study I did 3 times back in 2005. In there she talked about going full circle. At the time we applied it as confirmation to go full circle by returning to Norway where Scott was a youth leader before leaving SC to go to seminary 15 years earlier. He returned to lead a street ministry and start a church. Then the Lord revealed the second full circle was when Scott was sent out by the next church to start a church in his hometown. And now God said we were satisfying the 3rd full circle by returning to Conrad, Iowa, my hometown. As I drifted off to sleep I told God, “Just make sure You make it clear to Scott.”
Know what God created you to do and fulfill it wholeheartedly!

Know what God created you to do and fulfill it wholeheartedly!

We returned home to South Carolina after a wonderful 12 days as a family and Scott delivered the message of our testimony at his home church. That night he left for a 5-day prayer retreat. While he was gone he began to dream again about ministry. Now, the chains were gone and he was free to do as God directed not man. It was a valuable lesson learned the hard way, very much like the Biblical reference of Joseph.

Scott loves God and loves people so he always prospers at anything he did in ministry, but now, he had an opportunity of a new beginning to be free to be led by God. When he returned from his prayer retreat he said, “I have been asking God to return to our

children when they become youth what we have sewn in other youth. And God answered that prayer request with you and me! We will be our children’s youth pastors!” Have you ever been the answer to your own prayers and you didn’t even know it?! God does have a sense of humor!

For Scott to turn down being a senior pastor to return to being a pastor of youth doesn’t mean that he is being demoted, it means he will be harvesting the field God has given him right now. He will be doing what God has called and equipped him to do because he is not being controlled by others to do something he “can” do but what God has positioned him to do. He will not be caught up in striving after something that people want him to be. He will be who God created him to be and he will do what God has called him to do.

I know people will look down upon him or think he can’t do the job of a senior pastor, but that would be to their ignorance and poor judgment. He has already been a senior pastor, he has led just about every ministry in a church other than a woman’s ministry. He doesn’t need a title to make him happy or to signify that he has something to share, he needed to see the open door that reveals the field God has equipped and positioned him to harvest.

Something I never thought as an option is not only “an” option but “the” option. I am returning home!…with my family!!!

God’s “no” is now a “yes!”

Veridee

God heals my heart and I am willing to take the year end family picture.

God heals my heart and I am willing to take the year end family picture.

Two days after Christmas I was taking Lydia down for her weekly appointment when the inevitable fell. We walked into the hallway from the parking garage and Lydia collapsed to the floor. She was alert, wanted to get up and walk but I scooped her up in my arms and carried her.   I whispered, “I love you honey.” I wanted to scream, I wanted to cry but I didn’t want her to think I was mad at her. I knew the doom I had been fighting in prayer for the last 6 weeks dumped on us like load of cinderblocks. “Oh God, please, no. Please let us have our time together. Can You hold this off one more week?”

The senior doctor was on duty, “We are going to have to admit Lydia today.”

It sure didn’t seem fair. I heard the words my parents had told me growing up and this time they let all the air out of my balloon of hope, “Life isn’t fair.” I didn’t really care that life wasn’t fair, not back then and not now.   Back then it just seemed like a petty answer when there was no answer for bad situations and now, I just wanted a break from the bad situation. Now, our family was together and we only had one week. I hadn’t gotten a family photo taken to send out in our New Year’s letter and I didn’t want one from the hospital! How were Abigail and Josiah going to handle this? They had never experienced this before. Everything about our Christmas celebration changed.

I hadn’t been supervising Lydia’s food intake and she had lost 4 pounds in a week. I remember asking if we could come back after Abigail and Josiah flew home to Iowa but she sternly looked at me, “Absolutely not. She is 8 and is now the average weight of a 3 year old. She should be gaining weight and eating by now.”

I responded with the only thing that might get us out, “But she doesn’t have a temperature so there is no sign of an infection. If you won’t check her digestive system then there is no reason to admit her. I have asked you to look at that since August when we were told she should have been eating 4 weeks earlier. All the signs point to her digestive system not “resurrecting” after the kill before the bone marrow transplant but you keep testing for something that isn’t there. She doesn’t have GVHD. There is no evidence to even run those tests again.” I was firm but this time I needed her to really look at Lydia’s symptoms. If we were going to miss out on our family time it had better produce a solution to the problem. I was tired of jail time in the hospital when they would only

Finding a way to build a path of faith of the bridge that torments most with fear.

Finding a way to build a path of faith of the bridge that torments most with fear.

look for one thing. Lydia never had GVHD and didn’t even come close so they needed to be considering other possibilities. If they were going to keep her then they needed to stop being afraid of GVHD and actually look at what the problem really could be. I was going to have to make a phone call I dreaded making and how could I comfort Abigail and Josiah when I couldn’t tell them when we would be home. I couldn’t promise them we would make it home before they had to leave for Iowa. Nothing about today or the rest of their visit would be stable unless I could be sure God was still in control, even in this.

It would have been nice to have writing in the sky to know what God knew. He didn’t put her in the hospital but I believe that if they would have admitted her prior to Christmas she would not have been out for Christmas. God held off the cinderblocks until we had one week together. He knew we had to isolate her because if she had gotten sick the doctors would not have looked at her digestive system. They would have been chasing down another rabbit trail. They still ran all the tests of GVHD but they also called in a specialist for her digestive system and three days later he verified her digestive system had not “resurrected”. Now, proper treatment could be given for the real problem.

God knew Lydia would be admitted into the hospital and I almost gave up our family time to appease everyone else which potentially could have put off finding the real problem if she had gotten sick. The battle within to accommodate everyone else nearly overtook me with depression. BUT GOD, He gave me strength, directed our week together as a family and even though others were hurt by the initial “I’m sorry we can’t come.” We had to trust God. Through the admittance Abigail and Josiah were about to learn the seriousness of the situation and why they were allowed to go to Iowa for the school year. We had told them worst and best-case scenario when they were making the decision but it was never more real than that afternoon when I had to make the dreaded phone call to tell them we would not be coming home.

“Oh Jesus, you have got to show us the way! How do I shield Lydia from the truckload of cinderblocks just dumped on us? She needs to know this isn’t her fault? How do I show her You are still in control and know what is best? How can an 8 year understand and trust that You will work this out for her good, for the good of her brother and sisters?” Everything in me wants to be mad but if I am she will think I am mad at her. Please, God show us what to do.”

My first thought was to take a few of the cinderblocks and build a path for Abigail and Josiah to be with others. God had provided a way out that we couldn’t even see from the beginning. This goes way beyond making lemonade out of lemons. We had to figure out what to do with the truckload of cinderblocks dumped on us after waking up from the comma. What do you do with cinderblocks that would be refreshing to everyone like lemonade?   You build a path.

I said, "Don't mess with my SISTERS!"

I said, “Don’t mess with my SISTERS!”

This was a hard lesson to teach Lydia, Abigail and Josiah.   Too many times children are brought up thinking they can have everything they want without having to make choices. We, as parents, error in trying to make everything happen that the child wants. Abigail and Josiah would have to choose to be with Lydia or visit others and go to church.

After talking with Scott, we had a plan. They would come down the next day (Saturday) to bring us clothes, go to church on Sunday to see their friends and visit others on Monday. Then Tuesday night they could bring us supper. We were told Lydia would be able to eat by then and we could celebrate New Year’s together. Scott shared the plan but it didn’t sit well. Abigail and Josiah had never experienced the “disappearance of Lydia”.

Scott called and said I had to talk with Josiah, “Mom, why won’t they let her come home. She was fine yesterday. We played. There is nothing wrong with her! Why are they doing this!” The desperation in his voice revealed his love for his sister and all he wanted to do was protect her from the doctors.

“Sweetheart, Lydia has been losing weight consistently. She has no strength. You have been shielded from this since May when you went to Granddad’s for the summer and continued with school in Iowa this Fall. We need you to pray and believe for the doctors to find out what the problem is. This has happened several times since the transplant and they have not been able to identify the cause. Josiah, your prayers are powerful. We must trust God. I will stay with Lydia. You have had one week with her. I know it doesn’t seem like enough but now you can go have time with others.”

He was angry and I could hear the tears falling. He didn’t want a “reason”, he wanted his sister home. He couldn’t protect her.

Josiah rocking and singing to Selah just like he did with Lydia.

Josiah rocking and singing to Selah just like he did with Lydia.

They couldn’t play together and he couldn’t hold her. I could feel his pain and flashes wen through my mind of when he was 3 and she was a newborn. We had a big fluffy chair at the time and every day he would rock Lydia in his arms while singing, “You are my Sunshine, my only sunshine.” I don’t even think he knew what he was singing but the pain I now heard in his voice was tearing me up. So I had to take a different approach, “Josiah, Lydia needs you to be healthy and strong. When you come to visit she needs you to be ready to play games and not be angry. Your anger will make her think you are mad at her. She can’t do anything about the doctor’s keeping her. They are only doing what they know. We must trust God and pray for them to find the answer. When they get the right answer she will be released sooner. I need you to come with a good attitude and ready to play games. Can you do that?”

Abigail is my quiet one, she bottles everything up until the tears flow and then you just have to hold her until she can make some kind of sense out of the situation to start talking. It scared her and she felt like we hadn’t been honest with her about what Lydia was going through while she was in Iowa. There was no way to explain and no need to create an open door of fear for them. They needed to know God had provided a shelter in the midst of the storm and all would be well after the storm. There was no need for them to have to weather to storm of fear when God had provided a shelter of hope.

One week was not enough but it was what we had been given. No matter the pain, I wouldn’t change a decision we made for that week. Lydia was going to be admitted at that appointment. If we had given in to the desires of others we would not have had our family time that we necessary to prepare for the cinderblocks dumped on our heads. I can’t even imagine the devastation we would have experienced without that week together. We had to be united in love in order to stand in hope.

What do you do when a truckload of cinderblocks are dumped on your head?…

You lay a path that leads away from the pain.

Veridee

 

Sometimes only God knows and isn’t willing to tell! Ugh! At times, I just wish God would tell us things ahead of time, and the “us” is all the “parties” involved. That way if someone has a problem with the plan they can take it up with Him instead of casting blame based on their personal assumptions. Maybe He is speaking but because it isn’t what we want to hear we turn a deaf ear to what He said.

Why get a ladder when an old cheerleading stunt will get Josiah high enough to make room for the Christmas Tree?

Why get a ladder when an old cheerleading stunt will get Josiah high enough to make room for the Christmas Tree?

The anticipation of Christmas was always threatened by wondering if we would have to deal with the heartache of being separated for the celebration. But I had set my mind that if the Grinch stole Christmas we would praise God anyway.

I shared with those around us what the children had requested during their return home for the Christmas break. And then laid it before God. Only He knew what would happen. I had to be determined to celebrate Him in all things or I would have been overcome with what we missed instead of seeing what He made a way for. When I remained in His presence all I could hear was the surge in my being to focus on securing the relationships between our children, to assure Abigail and Josiah they were still a part of the family, and we were all looking for their return home at the end of the school year.

The Grinch tried to steal our joy at Christmas but God wouldn’t let him. Others were insistent upon their time with Abigail and Josiah not even concerned about discarding the rest of the children and their time together. I realized they had no clue of our situation when in each case they offered to keep Abigail and Josiah so the rest of us would have time together. The rest of us had been together, all of us needed to be together. I was stunned by the “offer” the first time and speechless the second.

The Bible says those who ask for wisdom, God will give it to them generously. I needed a generous helping of wisdom. I just didn’t understand the responses and actions we were receiving. When asking God, He made me aware of how difficult it was for people to understand the separation we were experiencing. Especially because they were holding us in contempt for letting them go to Iowa. Misery was always knocking on our door and we didn’t want its company so I intentionally kept the focus of my blogs and answers to people’s questions in the positive. I wanted company in hope that all would be well soon, faith in seeing the miraculous of God and love that removes all fear. Just because I was willing to share about the good stuff Abigail and Josiah were doing doesn’t mean that daily we weren’t challenged with the desire to all be together. After receiving the “wisdom” I was able to extend grace to their lack of understanding our situation.

I don’t want to stir up the tsunami we dealt with during our week of Christmas. But I do want to share two things:

  1. When making plans with others make sure it is best for the entire group not best according to you.
  2. Even if you don’t get what you want make sure that you appreciate what you have. It is easy to poison those around you because you made a hurt out of something that was out of your control and not your decision to make.

    Hand tradition is the giving of a new ornament each year

    Hand tradition is the giving of a new ornament each year

I had tried to schedule three different times and dates to get together and they couldn’t meet but insisted having the day we were

to decorate our tree. The attitude of their schedule being superior to what Abigail and Josiah had requested weeks earlier was astounding and the control to meet their need verses what our family needed seemed insensitive.

In another situation, Scott and I had made the decision after consulting the doctors that we could not be able to go over to another person’s house who had someone with bronchitis diagnosed the day before. They talked with my son and told him that I was ruining their Christmas because I was keeping he and Abigail from them. It wasn’t about keeping Abigail and Josiah from them it was about protecting Lydia in her weakened condition. Even if Abigail and Josiah were allowed to go they could pick up the germs and then bring them into the house and expose Lydia.

Lydia was the weakest she had been since the 26 days of not eating after the bone marrow transplant in July. She was completely vulnerable to any sickness. We had called the doctor to see if we could go over, after much debate they finally got back on the phone and said we could go, Lydia would have to wear a mask, be gloved and sit across the room from everyone there. They also said none of us could eat because most likely the food would carry the germs. And we could only stay for 40 minutes. The doctor’s concern included the unknowing of who else might be carrying the sickness that could put Lydia in danger but also if anyone else in our family got the sickness she would be in serious trouble. The doctors were not comfortable with it but had made the exception if we followed all the restrictions. After praying we felt we had to decline going over. It hurt to not be able to go. We were all looking forward to it. We didn’t want to be isolated but we also felt we didn’t have God’s, “Go Ahead” on the matter. If something were to go wrong, we as the parents would feel guilty the rest of our lives, let alone what it would do to the children. The doctors didn’t know why she was losing weight and their only focus was that it was the onset of GVHD. They were just waiting for it to reveal itself on the reports.

High, low, in and out, the tree is looking good!

High, low, in and out, the tree is looking good!

As much fun as the anticipation of Christmas is for all of us I am sure you can identify with the stress of the season, being pushed to be on someone else’s schedule and satisfying everyone’s needs. If you turn that level of stress up by adding the possibility of putting your child in a life threatening situation you might be able to understand the tsunami that was crashing down on us. At that point, I had to stop trying to please everyone else and continue to follow God. He had led us this far through the fire, why would we stop following and decide to go our own path or let others direct our path through the fire. No, we had to continue to follow God even if others couldn’t understand.   God had proven that He would work all things out for our good, so we put our trust in Him. When it is all over, His good for each one of us is evident.

In both cases they wanted what they wanted when they wanted it no matter what our children had asked for (set aside family time, a whole day, for putting up the Christmas tree) and what would keep Lydia ALIVE.

The tsunami fell and we were scattered upon the water when the words and actions of others spoken to our children were used to undermined Scott and I. Just because people are of the age to be an adult doesn’t mean they have learned to act like one. I actually hurt for them, the lies an individual chooses to believe in order to make one feel wronged leads to destruction but when one allows grace to operate they may find out that what they wanted wasn’t the best for the others. The more we push our way upon others the more we weaken the relationship. We tried to meet, we want to go as a family and yet somehow this was overlooked because we didn’t “make” it happen when they wanted it.

Each one of us was hurt during the Christmas holiday by plans not working out. We just happened to be forced to overcome the adversity of plans shifting on a whim.

We taught our children to give grace to what happened and stir up hope for what is to come. It isn’t easy but it is necessary. God collected us from the turbulent waters of the tsunami and put our feet on solid ground.

Maybe the reason I had to focus on the positive and celebrate at every little step, finding a silver lining on the grey dark clouds of the tsunami was so I wouldn’t drown when the tsunami hit. Keeping my focus on the positive gave me hope to believe and the Bible says that hope is the substance needed to keep faith alive.

When I would start to be consumed by what I was seeing (Lydia losing ½ – 2 pounds every week following Thanksgiving) not that I

Dancing to the Christma music the tree is done, house is decorated, ornaments given, story read, snacks are prepared..."Places everyone, the movie is about to begin!"

Dancing to the Christma music the tree is done, house is decorated, ornaments given, story read, snacks are prepared…”Places everyone, the movie is about to begin!”

have mastered this, by any means, but as Paul pens in Philippians 3:13-14, Forgetting those things which are behind me, I press on for the upward calling. I couldn’t get caught up in Lydia losing weight every week. I couldn’t get trapped in the “what if?” thinking. What if what? If she gets admitted into the hospital we look up to Jesus, and He will have a plan for us that is good. It is not necessarily our plan and definitely not what we wanted but we know He won’t leave us there either. J He will collect us from the turbulent waters, put our feet on solid ground and cause us to look ahead.

Many times when we are faced with turmoil and endless struggle we have to make ourselves look ahead. If we continue to stare at

what is directly in front of us we may never be able to enjoy what is ahead of us. The Bible says, that for the joy set before Him (Jesus), He endured the cross. The cross was NOT His joy but it led to His joy. He saw through the cross, the freedom His sacrifice would give all people. When Jesus endured the cross He gave us the courage to rise and live as warriors overcoming our foes and the things that try to take us out early or knock us down.

Joy is not an event, joy is a state of the heart and mind. Whatever we focus on we will live out in our mind and with our attitude.

Christmas week wasn’t want others wanted and I can assure you it wasn’t what we wanted either but we choose to teach our children to find the silver lining, stir up hope, and live in joy.

In His Presence Joy Overflows,

Veridee