“He predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ, in accordance with His pleasure and will.” Ephesians 1:5
Last spring our oldest granddaughter, a friend and her mom and I went to a Casting Crowns concert. I’m glad it was dark because many tears were flowing down my cheeks. I’m the world’s ugliest crier—my eyes get red and puffy, my nose turns red and runny, my mouth scrunches up. It’s not pretty. But these tears were just flowing. I didn’t try to stop them or hide them. They had freedom.
The lead singer for the group gave a short testimonial of his life. The part I remember is him saying, “People can argue the Bible and God all day long. They can throw logic and facts at it. But if you tell your story, they can’t argue with that.”
This is my story.
I used to wonder sometimes how I would handle any great crisis in my life. When others had heartaches of children dying or tragedies of losing loved ones or just facing huge challenges, I’d wonder how they got through the day. I didn’t think I was strong enough to do that.
That old saying, “be careful what you wish for” is so true. Not that I wished for any of the challenges of the past few years. But in looking back at my life, instead of seeing what I thought to be “just normal”, I see now that God’s hand was preparing me and strengthening my faith for the difficult challenges He knew would lay in front of me.
My parents experienced many health issues—my mom had several small strokes and heart surgeries. She’s now 91 and has dementia. My father was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s long after the symptoms showed up and we didn’t recognize them. He spent his last few years in a memory care unit and lost his sight to glaucoma. My husband, Tom, and I were the main caregivers for them, as well as their financial support in bailing out my dad who had accumulated nearly $100,000 of debt.
Then cancer struck Tom. That story will play out in future entries.
I am the oldest of two daughters. I grew up in a small Iowa town—Waverly. My childhood was “normal” although my parents were pretty emotionally distant. I was quiet and shy but a good student. Surprisingly I took to participating in speech contests in high school, performing at the district and state levels all four years—one in pantomime, one in poetry, and two in extemporaneous speaking.
Throughout my younger years and high school I was active in church—through Sunday school, confirmation, Bible school, youth group and Bible studies. I knew about God. I just didn’t have a personal relationship with Jesus. If I would have died any time throughout that part of my life, I would have been in heaven, but my rewards would have been meager.
Post High School
You could certainly call me a “late bloomer” when it came to my education and career and life. After high school, I did what my father told me to do and went to technical school to become a secretary. (God worked this path in an amazing way which I will also share in a future posting.)
I got a job, then went back to college part-time as a non-traditional student while working full time at the University of Northern Iowa athletics department. After eight long years, I finally completed my studies for my B.A. Woohoo!
I married my best friend, Tom, in 1993. (Again, you’ll find out more about our journey together in future posts.)
Tom has two children from a previous marriage—Ross and his wife Tara live about three blocks from me, and Tracy and her spouse Nicki live in the neighboring city. I’m blessed to have them close by, especially Ross and Tara’s three girls—our granddaughters Kenna, Maddy and Gia. (And yes, you’ll hear much more about these three, too!)
My newest family member is my English Golden Doodle puppy, Ellie whom I got on our wedding anniversary last year (2017). She has a very sweet disposition and frankly has helped me get out of bed some mornings when I haven’t wanted to get up. Her fluffy fur is good for absorbing tears and she’s always ready to cuddle when I need it. She trained as a therapy dog, and we’ve been visiting the residents at our county home as well as stressed-out students during finals week at UNI. Our goal is eventually to go into cancer treatment centers and children’s hospitals.
Writing has always been a part of my life. In high school, a poem I wrote was published in the North American Review magazine. Several other stories and articles have been published over the years. My children’s book, “Henry the Far-Sighted Heron” is still available at a local eye clinic. Tom’s family story which I wrote was published for the family. I was co-editor for a local magazine, Cedar Valley Athlete, for several years and also wrote a travel column in a local magazine for a while.
Several people deserve thanks for helping this blog become reality. My niece, Sam, who is so much more technologically blessed than her aunt, helped design and set up the banners and gave me two pages of well-written, easy-to-understand directions! My friend Suzanne who also sat by my side one Sunday afternoon for a tutoring session while Ellie chewed up her glove. My friend Jan who told me I had to get my blog up before I left for Israel so my friends could follow my trip online. And so many others who have offered compliments and encouragement for my writing.
I owe my greatest thanks to God. My faith journey has come so far these past several years and yet as I look at where I am, I know the Lord is still leading me so much farther. I continue to be molded from simply a believer into a follower of Jesus. And I cannot wait to get to heaven to spend eternity with my Lord and Savior!
Thank you for joining me on this journey!
Heavenly Father, thank you for loving us so deeply and calling us to be your children—sons and daughters—through the sacrifice of your son, Jesus. Amen.