May 7 is my daughter’s birthday. She began life being the only girl in a nursery of about 10 very loud baby boys. No quite birthing rooms, just loud boys.
Stephanie was always strong, strong in heart, strong in character and strong in her physical body. She could spell our Chaparral in backhand springs. She was a lifeguard at the city pool when she was 17. Below is a story originally published in Chicken Soup for the Soul-Touched by an angel. Happy Birthday to one of my best friends. I love you.
Love Lifted Me
Gut wrenching! The feeling hit me like a fist to the middle section. I grabbed the top rails of the fifteen-foot ladder where I had been painting the exterior of the house. I shut my eyes and gained my balance before I closed the paint can and descended. Step by step, I inched my way down and staggered into the house. Then I began my litany of what might be wrong.
The noonday sun is too hot! I must be hungry. Am I sick? After I washed my face, I fell across the bed to rest. As soon as my head hit the pillow, I knew. Pray! Pray for Stephanie. Our daughter’s on a rafting trip with her church youth group—what could be wrong? She’s a lifeguard. She’s strong. Besides, the Guadalupe River ran languid and narrow through the city of New Braunfels.
The knot in my stomach twisted again and I quickly slipped to my knees.
God, help my daughter. I have no idea what’s wrong, but I know You are looking over her. Please send angels to guard her. Lift her up to receive your blessing. Help her please, Father God! Help my daughter!
Feeling better, I stood and did some house cleaning. It was Friday and my husband would be home early. I decided to stay off the ladder for the rest of the weekend. By Sunday, the incident had slipped from my worry box, all but forgotten.
Sunday, Stephanie came bounding in the door after church. Sunburned, tired and hungry, she dropped her bags, rummaged through the refrigerator and came to sit beside me as I folded clothes. She sat close, her skin radiating heat.
“Wow!” I said. “You better get something on that burn.”
“You know me,” she answered leaning toward me. “It will turn to a tan in a few days.” I leaned in toward her and enjoyed the rare moment of my teenager actually wanting to stay close to me.
“Mom,” she continued. “I almost died.”
“What?” I asked, thinking I didn’t hear her correctly. “How?”
“I fell off my raft at one of the little falls. It was stupid because the water wasn’t very deep and it wasn’t white water or anything.”
“Did you have a cramp or something?”
“No, the raft was on top of me—so I dove under. Then I couldn’t get up. No matter how hard I kicked, I didn’t go anywhere. It was like something kept pulling me back. Then everything turned dark and I knew, I was going to die.”
“How did you get up?” I asked.
“I don’t know.” Stephanie’s eyes, blue as heaven sparkled with emotion. “Something just lifted me.”
My stomach wrenched. “When did that happen?”
“Friday. It was right before lunch.” Her voice faded. “It scared me.”
“I knew!” I said. “I really knew.” Then I told her about the gut-wrenching feeling and told her about my prayers.
The words to the old song, “Love Lifted Me” swirled through my head as we talked.
“That explains why I felt like something lifted me up,” Stephanie said as she hugged me. “I guess an angel lifted me.”
The editor added this quote:
Faith is not without worry or care, but faith is fear that has said a prayer.- author unknown
Beck Holiday lost her father on 9/11 and then lost her memories of him. She’s a tough New York City cop with a secret when she inherited a house and secrets that change her life forever. The past memories haven’t been forgotten by Bruno, a “you had me at Hello” sports agent.
Woven into Beck and Bruno’s story is Everleigh Applegate’s story after a tornado ripped through Waco, Texas decades before. This is where Rachel Hauck’s gift shines. The way stories from the past touch the present and how God works in all.
I found Rachel Hauck’s The Memory House and listened to it in a day and a half. In the first three chapters, I thought…Rachel has gone secular. Then I couldn’t put it down. I realized she has helped so many young women find real love. If you like reading stories that blow you away, stories of people trapped in the worst sin… the sin of not forgiving yourself, holding on to your self-judgment. if you want to remember that God is a good, good Father-read the Memory House. Loved, loved, loved this book. Even better than the Wedding Chapel. This takes Rachel Hauck from a very good author to an amazing mainstream author. Yes, it has romance elements but this book touches the soul. Tell me what you think. I listened and got an entire flowerbed built because I could not stop listening to it. I want my girls to read this book even my grandgirls.
I found Deeanne Gist’s book about two weeks ago, and now I’ve listened to almost all of the audio’s I could find. Love her work.
Unlike most historical romance authors, who write of the rich and famous, Deeanne Gist weaves together the story of the average woman and the average man. Perhaps this is the Gist genius. In the stories of the average man/woman, we see God’s plan more clearly and can rejoice in the faith of those most like us.
Gist also writes with passion–a passion worthy of the romantic love God created for His creation. She writes the stories of that love far better than most. In Maid to Match, Tillie strives to reach her dream job as Edith Vanderbilt’s lady’s maid. Dazzled by the riches of the Vanderbilts and even more by good-looking and good-hearted Mackenzie (Mack), she must decide if the dream is God’s plan or her mom’s dream.
As I’ve had more and more birthdays, it is becoming more difficult to choose my birthday person (BDP). Of course, my first birthday person was my mom after that my sister who led me to the Lord and then pastors and people who nurtured my spiritual walk. The problem is I will not live long enough on this earth to thank all the people who have been so important to me. Therefore my birthday person or persons for 2019 is a collection of all those people who have shared Bible study with
I start with my current, weekly Bible study group. We sit around one of our tables and drink coffee, tea or Crystal Light, and eat popcorn or chips. Chatter about our week, and then open our Bibles or click on our phones and open our hearts to God‘s word.
In thinking of those who have changed my life through studying God’s word, faces swirl before me. Barbara with her Godly wisdom. Laura with her willingness to serve, Jean with her wonderful southern accent. Margaret and her sweet spirit. Cheryl with her humor and openness. Nancy with her thought-provoking questions. Linda who even prayers for her ex-husband. Lynn who always pushing the envelope to prod us to search further. And the kindness of all my wonderful neighbor Pat who was my BDP a few years ago. Many others who float in and out, like Linda E. who coordinates these coffee-cup, non-devotional Bible studies in our neighborhood. Each week it becomes more difficult to find the time to study, and yet, it becomes more important. You all keep me on track.
As I think of this group, other faces pop into the scene. Cynthia Robinson and my sister, Ouida. Wait a minute! That was about 60 years ago. We met each Saturday morning at about 6 o’clock and prayed together and study a little bit of God’s word. Then more faces come to mind—all those who sat beside me on Wednesday nights at the Methodist Youth “Buldge” in Tulia, Texas. Harry, Jimmy Inman, Charlie, Max, Mac, Mike, Linda and Ronnie, Julianna, Joyce, Joan, Sheran, Cheryl, Patricia, Patsy, Mickey, the Devins—each precious one—so many I can’t name them all. Gracelyn who drove us to
Further back, to the little Sunday Schoolroom at the top of the church. Ann who gave me my first Bible. Nita who made me laugh and shared her candy. Sherry who went with me to the pastor’s study to tell him about a friend who had cheated on a test and who sat with me while our pastor opened the Bible and discussed the beam in our own eye instead of the speck in our friend’s eye and all who loved me inspire of my ways. You all, my dearest, oldest friends in Christ are truly treasures of my heart.
The visions of Bible Study Groups past continued to surface. My “kids” in the Prairie Heights’ Youth Group in Grand Prairie—Connie, Jimmy, Sherry, Leslie, Karen and Karen, Rickey, Mathis, the really tall boy I had to shake my finger at for putting firecrackers in the barbecue grill and the one who brought “the” Rolling Stone cover. No, I was not wise enough. But God was. Was I smart enough to teach you? No! But God worked His miracle of love into our group. You were about 4 or 5 years younger than me, but God taught me so much through you.
The children I taught at Grand Prairie Ingelwood Methodist, and that wonderful group of young mom’s who met for brief studies, prayers, aerobics, and much need talking-to-adults time, thank you. To the ladies, I taught at Hillcrest in Arlington, thank you for listening and sharing.
Teenagers in Alvarado we had so much fun! And especially to the little ladies at Hillside in Alvarado. Your wisdom, spirit, and experiences totally inspired me. The stories of seeing those dear ones who have gone before you really gave me a peek into the next life. How blessed we were in those studies.
Brian Muirhead, Trudy Laird, Billy and the adult class with all the great discussions we shared. George and Val Shultz and your mission. To the classes of wonderful teenagers in Cedar Hill at the First UMC: you were incredible. Fred,
To my dear Sunday School friends at Acton UMC, not only did you learn with me, you ministered to us when we had 4 broken arms. Thank you so much for food, cleaning, opening Dr. Pepper bottles and rides to church. Linda and Bill, Debby, Echo, Linda, and more.
Last, thank you to my husband, who sits beside me in the church at Lakeside in Granbury and takes better notes than I do as we are taught by Pastor Mark. We’ve learned so much in these last few years.
To all those who have sat at the feet of Jesus with me, thank you.
Ice hangs from the trees under a gray winter sky. A pain in my left side forces me back under the covers. I snuggle deep, knowing I should be scheduling author visits and book signings. I glance at my phone and see an email from Nepris. Then I remember–Nepris doesn’t care if I’m in my PJs. They are requesting an online meeting with a group of Library Media Techs, who work in Cajon Valley USD. These techs and librarians are responsible for making real-world connections to a variety of professionals in each of their libraries.
They wanted to connect with a Children’s book author who can talk to them about previous connections with other schools and the impact that writing has for students in the long term.
Nepris asked me. I said, “Librarians? Of course!” I would have loved going to California but…
Karen Witemeyer has earned a place on my favorite author list. To
I love school visits. Since so many schools cannot afford author visits and as an author, I have to take off from writing, change out of my PJs and travel to a school. I still do that because I love kids. But due to the great work of the Nepris team, I can stay in my PJs (from the waist down) and my fuzzy slippers. I take 30 to 45 minutes and speak to classrooms across the country. One day, I play “Verb Ball” (a game from my book, Teach Writing Without a Pencil) with 5 classrooms at once. I’ve played “Similes Around the World” game with students in Chicago and Washington State. I’ve sung “Deep in the Heart of Texas” with Kindergarteners in Texas.
Monday I’ll be speaking to 20 librarians/media techs in California–a children author’s dream. It is also an honor since Nepris asked me to do this session.
In Luke 1 verse 55 where Mary praises God for fulfilling His promise to Abraham, Mary demonstrates amazing trust.