When Your Vision Is Blurred

As some of you know, I was diagnosed with a fast growing cataract back in the spring. My vision in that eye is now very blurry; in fact, there are times when I see double (and triple, etc.). It has been affecting my ability to drive at night (and now even during the day). I have trouble reading. I have been anticipating the day when I can have surgery and see clearly again.

But there has been a beauty in my blurred vision. We decorated the Christmas tree the other night, and when I looked at the lights with my “bad” eye, I saw a beauty that I could not have seen had my vision been normal.

Each single bulb was transformed into a prism of colors. The “bad” thing in my eye that has been clouding my vision for months transformed an already beautiful display of lights into an explosion of color.

Had I not had something wrong, I wouldn’t have seen the light. While I was anticipating seeing clearly, God blessed me with beauty in the meantime that I wouldn’t have seen otherwise.

This season represents longing, waiting…anticipating. 400 years of silence. It had been a dark time. Had God abandoned, even though He promised more?

Then an angel’s voice. More angel voices. A star. Shepherds. Kings worshiping The King. He has been born in Bethlehem!

People’s vision might have been blurred during the waiting. Then light broke through the darkness.

We might feel that our vision is blurred now by all the evil in the world. By those that exploit the name of Jesus Christ. But the light will break through the darkness again when He returns to take us home.

In the meantime, look for the beauty in spite of the distortion. Look for Jesus in everything. Show Jesus to this dark world in every thing you do. You never know who you will encounter.

Show them the light.

Pretty Is As Pretty Does

I like social media for what it’s worth – I like interacting with people from different places with different ideas and different personalities. Without social media, I wouldn’t know most of them. Some have gotten to be really good friends, and we’ve traded phone numbers so we can text and chat. I’ve even been a part of a book club with ladies across the country via Zoom. I even had some folks from different states watch my concert on Friday night.

Some people I follow for Biblical teaching – some I agree with, and some I don’t. But I follow them to try and stay up to date on the teachings that are being put out there and which things are Scriptural or not. Some edify me; some show me who I don’t want to be. But each day, I get reminded of one thing:

Opinions are like armpits. Everybody has them, and everybody thinks everybody else’s stink. And boy, are there enough of them out there! And boy, are we mean when we express them! We attack each other’s beliefs, thoughts, and ideas with a self- righteousness that should make us ashamed. It’s one thing to argue Scripture (and there’s there’s way to do that, too), but to get into name calling, profanity and insults (and I’m talking about Christians) is another thing entirely.

But the thing that gets me riled up quicker than anything is a Christian who insults someone’s appearance – their height, weight, features, etc. Insulting someone’s looks for me is about as low as you can go. I had an incident in high school where I came across a young lady crying, and she confided in me that some girls were making fun of her because she had acne. I knew these girls and I knew they were mean, so I marched myself to where they were sitting and asked them what the problem was. They acted as if they had done nothing wrong, so I proceeded to throw some insults at them based on their appearances. They both got angry, and they both teared up. Then I said, “Didn’t feel too good, did it?”

Of course, that was high school, so you can expect certain behaviors (but don’t excuse them). But what I see coming from brothers and sisters in Christ about others (whether saved or not) is disheartening. If someone were to come along and read some of the things we post, I seriously think they wouldn’t want anything to do with Jesus. You remember that’s who we represent, right?

I’ve been going back through my social media and reviewing some things I’ve posted, and I have had to delete some things that I didn’t think represented Christ. I’ve even reached out personally to some to apologize for my disrespectful words.

We can follow the rules, sure. There was a group in Scripture that followed the rules, even added some of their own.

It’s like we think Christianity is a fraternity/sorority and if you don’t belong to the club, it’s open season. We’re mean sometimes, and we’re mean about things that people can’t help. I keep thinking about the line from the song “Put Your Hand In The Hand”:

**Take a look at yourself and you will look at others differently**

So before we throw insults about people’s physical appearance, let’s take a look at ourselves. Pretty is as pretty does. Let’s reflect the Saviour in love.

Feeling thankful

I’m feeling thankful today.

10 years ago today, I came home from the hospital after suffering a bowel perforation that resulted in major surgery, losing part of my colon, getting a colostomy, and having life as I’d known it change in a heartbeat.

Even though I had worked in healthcare for years, there were things I learned that worked, and things that didn’t when it came to my recovery and being ministered to by individuals.

Today, I had an article published on Michelle Lesley’s website. It contains some practical advice for ministering to folks who are dealing with illness and disability. I’d appreciate it if you’d check it out!


How I Got Sidetracked: Illness and Life Changes

It’s my tenth anniversary year. It’s hard to believe that 10 years have gone by – it feels like forever, and it feels like yesterday.

Ten years ago this year, my life changed in a way that I never imagined. I mean, we all have milestones in life. There are great things like graduations, weddings, celebrations, new jobs, new babies; and there are some not so great things like deaths, funerals, losing friends, and illness. All of these things can sidetrack us, positively or negatively.

2012 held a lot of these things for me and my family. From March to July, we lost 3 family members. Between funerals, there came a new baby. We were all weary when we stood in the same cemetery for the third time in 4 months, and when my uncle’s graveside service was over, I looked at everyone and said, “No one else in this family is allowed to get sick or die for the rest of this year”.

Those of y’all that know me know that I like to talk. Well, I don’t know why I had to open my big mouth, because one week to the day, it was me going to the hospital. I’ve had IBS (irritable bowel disease) since high school, so when I started having some stomach issues that weekend, I chalked it up to a flare. After all, there had been a lot of stress going on in the past few months. By Tuesday, the pain was so severe that I couldn’t stand up straight and my temperature was 104. I went to the living room and told my mom to call the ambulance or I was going to die.

I didn’t know how true that statement was.

Once I got to the hospital, they hooked up some IV fluids and then prepped me for a CT scan. The doctor on call seemed to think it might be my appendix or gall bladder. I went for the test, and when the doctor came in to give me the results, he said, “Well, it’s not your appendix or gall bladder, but it’s just as nasty. You have diverticulitis and it has abscessed”.

Basically, that meant that something I ate got stuck somewhere in one of the pockets in my colon, irritated it, and caused a major infection and the potential for a hole in my colon. They called in a surgeon and I got scared. I was 42 years old and I’d never been sick before, other than the routine colds, flu, etc. No broken bones, no stitches; I’d never even had the chicken pox!

When the surgeon came in, I could tell there was something different about him. I wouldn’t know until a little later that the difference in him was that he was a Christian.

He explained everything to me, my mom, and my neighbor who had gone to the hospital with us. He said that he believed he could heal it up with some IV antibiotics, so he was going to admit me for a couple of days and see what happened.

If you’ve ever been in the hospital, you know that you never get any sleep even though they tell you to rest. The beds are uncomfortable, it’s noisy, someone is always coming in to check your lines, your blood pressure and to ask how you’re resting. Well, I was resting pretty well until you woke me up! So the second night there, I was really uncomfortable. My side was hurting, my shoulder was hurting, and I felt like I couldn’t take in a deep breath. I chalked it up to being a big girl in a lumpy bed. When the surgeon came in at 7 to check on me, I told him about my side and the trouble breathing, and before I could say anything else, he asked me if my shoulder was hurting. I told him it was, and he listened to my abdomen and lungs, then sent me for a chest x-ray.

It was at that point that life as I knew it changed forever, although I didn’t know how drastic it would be. He came back to my room and explained that my colon had perforated (the abscess had come apart and now there was a hole allowing air and waste to get into my system) and I needed to be taken to surgery immediately. I didn’t have time to get scared – people started coming in and out of my room prepping me for surgery. They put a shower cap on my head, I signed my life away, hugged my mama, and they took me away.

When I woke up, I was missing 6 inches of my colon, had a 9 inch incision down my abdomen that they left open to heal, and a brand new colostomy (where they put a bag on your side for you to have bowel movements).

This is why I had a 10 day hospital stay that has turned into 10 years of living life in a different way.

I went from being a long term care/hospice social worker to being dependent on others for just about everything.

I went from working every day and earning a living in a career that I considered more of a ministry to being unable to work, having to fight for disability, and not having income for three and a half years until that disability application was approved.

I went from thinking I’d be able to have the colostomy reversed to having to live with it, and then being diagnosed with fibromyalgia and osteoathritis to go along with everything else.

Over the next few weeks, I want to share with you how God was there each and every day, every step of the way. How He sent friends, employees and volunteers of the hospital, and co-workers to encourage me and to be the hands and feet of Jesus. I will also share how He took people out of my life during this time, and how the past ten years has looked for me as opposed to the first 42.

But most importantly, I will share with you how it has all worked for His good and His glory. So I hope you hang in here with me as I share this journey that God has had me on, and how things are now.

Along the way, I’ll be sharing some posts on how to minister to people with illnesses more effectively and practically.

Hang on, friends, we’re about to get sidetracked!

I Got Sidetracked…with Michelle Lesley!

In the past couple of years, I have searched for deeper, more sound Biblical teaching. I ventured on to Twitter, and found a new world of teaching, learning, and friends. One of the the teachers I immediately started following was Michelle Lesley. http://www.michellelesley.com

Michelle has her own ministry and co-hosts a podcast with Amy Spreeman called “A Word Fitly Spoken” http://awordfitlyspoken.life

A whole new world was opened to me, and until I learned more, I didn’t realize how Biblically illiterate I was.

After interacting with Michelle on social media and reading her material, I felt the need to have her come here to Virginia for a conference. After working with Pop Up Church VA, Adial Baptist Church, and Pastor Michael Hevener, we agreed on a date for the conference.

I set a countdown on my phone in order to prepare, and for a while, it seemed to move very slowly. Then, all of a sudden, it was here! We were picking up Michelle at the airport, getting her to the B&B, and doing last minute things.

I’d never met Michelle in person. I had done a video podcast with her back in the spring and we had chatted, but here she was!

Michelle teaching on God’s design for Biblical Womanhood.

If you’re like me, you get nervous meeting new people. When that person is a Bible teacher that you respect, it makes you even more nervous. What do I do? What do I say? Is she gonna think I’m a heathen? I jokingly say this, because I do think we tend to worry and not be ourselves in certain situations. But there was no need to be apprehensive about meeting Michelle and spending time with her – she is a very down to earth person and fun to hang around with.

Our adventures on Friday took us to Walton’s Mountain, where we toured the museum, the Hamner House, and John and Olivia’s Bed and Breakfast. We also took a ride through Rockfish and saw the old post office there.

Friday evening, we headed to Adial Baptist Church where the ladies had prepared a wonderful lasagna dinner (Pastor Mike and family may still be having leftovers!) and then we were fed spiritually from God’s Word, with Michelle speaking about Biblical Womanhood.

On Saturday, we returned to Adial, and Michelle continued to bless us with God’s Word and sound teaching.

I learned a lot those couple of days about Scripture, about Biblical womanhood, and about the ladies that attended the conference. One of the verses that Michelle used in her teaching was Ephesians 2:10 “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them”.

As I looked out at the faces of those ladies, and as I glance at the pictures from the event, I see women who were created in Christ Jesus – maybe not all of us are teachers, but we all have work to do for Him. Our gifts are from Him, to point others to Him. If we all did the same thing, I think life would be pretty boring.

So if you teach, teach for His glory. If you sing, sing for His glory. If you’re a mom, a homemaker, a social worker, whatever you might be, do it all for His glory. Don’t discount your role in the kingdom just because you think it might not be as important as someone else’s.

I was and continue to be blessed by Michelle’s teaching and highly recommend that you read her blog, listen to the podcast, and work through her Bible studies. If you can, have her come speak to your ladies group. I’ll post some links at the bottom so you can see our podcast, and the conference.

God bless y’all and enjoy the sidetracks!




Sidetracked: I’m Exhausted

I don’t know about y’all, but sometimes I get sidetracked by being tired. Between fibromyalgia and my other health issues, homeschool, soccer practice, archery and everything else, I get tired. I’m not complaining, because I know this is the path that God has chosen for me, and with His strength, I will go on. And I’ll accomplish what He has set aside for me to do.

Tired…weary…that describes me physically. But it’s not a strong enough word to describe me emotionally and spiritually. I think a better word is exhausted.

Hmmm…drained of ones mental and/or physical resources…yep, that’s it! I’m exhausted. I read on social media, I watch the news, I see the world around me every day…and my soul hurts.

I’m tired of the fighting over who is right and who is wrong without grace as the mediator.

I’m tired of politics and Christians thinking our country and our world can be saved through a certain political party,a certain candidate, or at the voting booth. You can’t legislate morality.

I’m tired of watching people spend their lives thinking material things are the best, and ignoring the important things. Their families suffer and their kids grow up thinking money is all that matters.

I’m tired of the lack of Biblical literacy in our churches – the saint with the senior membership and years of service, but only has a kindergarten understanding of God’s Word.

I’m tired of us doing everything backwards.

The answer lies within the pages of Scripture, and His name is Jesus Christ. And to the shock and dismay of some, He’s not Southern, He’s not white, and *gasp* – He’s not even American.

Now before you get all bunched up about my comments on politics, please know that I do believe that we should vote responsibly and look out for what laws are passed in our towns, states, and our country. I vote (every election since I was 18).

The focus and energy should be on knowing God’s Word and living it daily. The focus and energy should be on sharing Jesus Christ with everyone we come in contact with. It doesn’t have to be through a board, or a committee, or (as I served on once) the committee on boards and committees.

Its a lifestyle. It’s community. It’s about being the same person the rest of the week that you claim to be on Sunday. It’s about friendship, discipleship, and being more like Jesus each day you breathe in the air He created.

He has been showing me that recently through a beautiful group of people – and after feeling like I’ve failed at church, at ministry, and at being a Christian, I finally feel the love. And I don’t feel pressured anymore. I feel loved. By my circle and by Jesus.

And when I am loved and encouraged, and in return, share that love and encouragement with others, I know that I’m becoming more like Jesus. When I read His Word and hide it in my heart and live it in my life, I know I’m becoming more like Jesus.

It’s about the fact that when you are exhausted, He will give you rest.

Love to you all, my friends. Until next time.

What Is Sidetracked?

That’s a great question that I’ve had to research over the past few days. I know what I thought it meant, but it has been interesting discovering meanings.

Side tracks in Rockfish Depot, Virginia

We’ve all seen railroad tracks, whether in person or in pictures/movies. My life seems to have revolved around railroad tracks – my dad grew up near the tracks in a little place called Rockfish Depot, Virginia. When I was five, we moved into our home (where I still live today) which is next to the tracks.

In railroad terms, there are a couple of ways of looking at side tracks. One definition is this: a second, relatively short length of track just to the side of a railroad track, joined to the main track by switches at one or both ends, used either for unloading freight, or to allow two trains on a same track to meet (opposite directions) or pass (same direction); a railroad siding.

Now, in terms of my illness, which we will get into later, this definition opened my eyes. In bold print, it says “for unloading freight“. I don’t know about you, but in my 51 years of life, I have carried a lot of baggage (freight). When I got sidetracked, I was forced to let go of a lot of things – physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. We will talk about that in future posts.

Another railroad definition is this: siding (sidetrack) is a short railway track beside the main tracks, where engines and carriages are left when they are not being used.

Hmmm….that made my brain jump into gear again. “Where engines and carriages are left when they are not being used” – Well, there were many times when I was flat on my back, dependent on others for most things, that I felt I wasn’t being used. I had to learn as I reflected over the past 9 years that that was simply not true. I wasn’t being used as I had been, but God had a whole other track He needed to put me on. We will also discuss this in future posts.

Here’s another definition that caught my eye: to divert from a main issue or course. Yep, that definitely happened! At age 42, after years of being a long term care/hospice social worker, I was definitely diverted. I went from being the social worker to needing a social worker. Instead of setting up home health for someone else, I was having it set up for me. Instead of being there for others, I was the one who needed someone to be there.

That’s not easy for a control freak like me. Over time, I want to share with you who I was, how Jesus intervened, and who I became. I hope you hang on for this ride with me – and hopefully, we won’t get sidetracked!