Words from the Wise

 Peace Like a River (Isaiah 48:18-19)
October 31
Do you have a spiritual mentor in your life?  A person whom you know will speak truth over you in love and always direct you to the Word of God.  I cherish the women who have played this role in my life.  A few days after the stroke a godly woman in my life emailed this message to Betty Ashton.

"The Lord seems to be telling me to tell Boo to listen for His singing...how awesome is our Father!!!
He gave me both these scriptures twice today with the urging to pass them along...and to tell her to be listening! How Great is our God!!!"

The Lord your God is with you, the Mighty Warrior who saves.
He will take great delight in you' in his love he will no longer rebuke you,
but will rejoice over you with singing.
Zephaniah 3:17

The Lord make his face shine on you and be gracious to you;
the Lord turn his face toward you and give you peace.
Numbers 6:25-26 

The other day this same woman emailed me and encouraged me to keep on working hard. At the end of the email were three scripture references. She wasn't spoon feeding me, but making me dig on my own.
Wherever today finds you, I hope these verses (which I am spoon feeding you, because they will stick in my brain better if I type them out) will encourage you or be a resource for you to encourage someone else.

Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever!  Amen."  Ephesian 3:20-21

The bolts of your gates will be iron and bronze and your strength will equal your days.  The eternal God is your refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms.  He will drive out your enemies before you saying, 'Destroy them!'"  Deuteronomy 22:25, 27

"Strengthen the feeble hands, steady the knees that give way; say to those with fearful hearts, Be strong, do not fear; your God will come, he will come with vengeance; with diving retribution he will come to save you.
Then will the eyes of the blind be opened and the ears of the dear unstopped. Then will the lame leap like a deer, and the mute tongue shout for joy.  Water will gush forth in the wilderness and streams in the dessert.  The burning sand will become a pool, the thirst ground bubbly springs.  In the haunted where jackals once lay, grass and reeds and papyrus will grow.   And a highway will be there; it will be called the Way of Holiness; it will be for those who walk on that Way.  The unclean will not journey on it; wicked fools will not go about on it. No lion will be there, not any ravenous beast; they will not be found there."  
But only the redeemed will walk there, and those the Lord has rescued will return.  They will enter Zion with singing; everlasting joy will crown their heads.  Gladness and joy will overtake them, and sorrow and sighing will flee away." Isaiah 35:3-4, 5-10

May we all find a quiet place each day and listen to God singing to us!  We might enter that quiet time singing a song of praise to Him!


A Deep Question

I thank God for this sunny 80 degree day in the end of October!
What does a little mind think as it looks at the vastness of an ocean?
"God Of Wonders" By Chris Tomlin comes to my mind!
Lord of all creationOf water, earth and sky
The heavens are your tabernacle Glory to the Lord on high

God of wonders beyond our galaxy You are holy, holy
The universe declares Your Majesty You are holy, holy



October 30
Discussing the limits of life right now with a dear friend, he "stunned me" with the question he posed.
"What fills you with joy right now?"  
My initial response was "Being alive and getting to be with my husband."
The question has stayed with me for several days and I realized equally as elating is realizing the Lord is with me and up to good even though life has looked quite different these past 7 weeks.

Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord,
because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.
1 Corinthians 15:58

In the BSF study on Revelation this question was on our lesson.: "What positive attributes of the church of Thyatira did the Lord commend?"  My answer was from Revelation 2:  

Their deeds, love, faith, service, perseverance, 
and that they are doing MORE than they first did."

As I've studied these two passages recently, they have brought me not only great insight, but great joy.  What an excellent challenge to pray for the Holy Spirit to fill us with the attributes to "give ourselves fully" and persevere to "do more."

The answer to the first question is that God's Word continually fills me with joy, whether there is elation in the air and a rainbow in the sky; or a dark cloud on the horizon and heaviness in my heart.

For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to diving soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.
Hebrews 4:12

As the rain and the snow come down from heaven,
and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish,
so that it yields see for the sower and bread for the eater,
so is my word that goes out from my mouth:
it will not return to me empty, 
but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.
You will go out in joy and be led forth in peace;
the mountains and hills will burst into song before you,
and all the trees of the field will clap their hands.
Isaiah 55:10-12

Friendship & Follow Through

WOW! What a gift these women showered us with by cleaning our whole house.
Deke and I will never forget this selfless act of kindness.
October 29
The things that have added spice to life around Shiloh, those things which are not of eternal value but bring a smile to your face, are things missing now from my modus operandi.  My brain knows that in pre-stroke days I would have done these things, but in the lethargy of life right now there is no follow through for these ideas.  Right now life is rather simple and SLOW, but it's obviously a part of God's plan.

Three friends teamed up and descended upon our house to clean, dust, vacuum up the stink bugs and freshen up the toilets.  I knew I wanted to photograph them and record this offering of generosity and friendship.  To take the photo I wanted, required heading down to our costume corner and digging out some wigs. The dress up idea didn't come to fruition, but they did let me take a photo of them in this incredible act of servanthood.

C.S. Lewis wrote: "Friendship is unnecessary, like philosophy, like art...it has no survival value; rather it is one of those things which give value to survival."  Amen!

A friend loves at all times.
Proverbs 17:17

Thanks to another friend who served us this gorgeous meal of crab cakes and roasted sweet potatoes!

I'm back at our son's for my last stint of staying close to a primary stroke center.  Yesterday was the steadiest and clearest thinking I've felt since the incident September 14th. Talking to my speech therapist friend in Alabama about some cognitive issues she has prescribed "learning something" new and daily challenging the brain!  Should be fun!

Come Near To God

One of our dogwoods is showing off her new fall attire.
Shaking her tail feathers before she becomes naked.
The scripture sign below her reminds us to take the initiative if we want to be near God.
October 28
Sarah Young writes in Jesus Calling: "True confidence comes from knowing you are complete in My Presence.  Everything you need has its counterpart in Me."

We've been blessed to be part of a an exciting church plant the past three years.  This Sunday was one of the most amazing experiences of our lives as we were able to "Come near to God" with an estimated 800 people in our new church building on the top of a hill, surrounded by God's majestic mountains here in rural Franklin County, VA.  If you Google Burnt Chimney, VA you won't find much, but it is the site of where God has done and is doing a mighty work and we give him thanks and praise.  Please come visit CrossPointe sometime.



"Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, 
not lacking anything."
James 1:4

I'll be honest, there are days I'm growing weary of this journey.  The biggest frustration comes from what I see my husband have to endure in his care and concern for my well being.  Our temptation is to pack up shop here at Shiloh and move to a much simpler life, but I keep going back to the advice of one of my therapist at St Thomas who said, " Do not make any major decisions this year."  So, I will write up James 1:4 on a sticky note and persevere.

Pancakes and Buttermilk Pie


October 27
Sorry, a little late today. Rough couple days with sciatica.  Telling that devil to take off in the name of Jesus!

Each  morning when I awaken my mind drifts back to both in and out patient rehab and the people who are struggling there on this particular day.  Scared, defeated, wondering if they will ever be whole again and all I can do is pray for them.

My hearts desire was to get up Saturday morning and make pancakes for my husband!  My girlfriend had picked up the essential perishable ingredients I was lacking: buttermilk, eggs and butter.  It took awhile, but they turned out grand!  The sight of the those ingredients triggered my mind to realize I could also bake him a buttermilk pie! I was elated and hope he was as well.

We had a whole Saturday before us and would have normally worked ourselves silly, but my "umph" was not pushing me out the door to weed or into the closet for the mop and dust cloth. Instead I opened the Jesus Calling app on my phone and found wisdom!

"Learn to unwind whenever possible, resting in the Presence of your Shepherd...I built into your very being the need for rest.  How twisted the world has become when people feel guilty about meeting this basic need!  How much time and energy they waste by being always on the go, rather than taking time to seek My direction for their lives...I have chosen you less for your strengths than for your weaknesses, which amplify your need for Me.  Depend on Me more and more, and I will shower Peace on all your paths."

Well, I need a dose of that!  How about you?

"The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing.
He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he refreshes my soul.
He guides me along the right paths for his name's sake."
Psalm 23:1-2

Misjudged


Our next to youngest grandchild and his beautiful, beloved, Mama!

October 26
Real life is a bit unfamiliar to me now.  The simplest things seem to take 5 times longer!

Lining up a way to get home for the weekend to attend the Grand Opening of our new church site, so my sweet hubby didn't have to make his sixth weekend jaunt in a row, took some effort.  An, oh, so thoughtful friend, had arranged a ride for me from point B to C, but I had to get from A to B and it wasn't working out.  Not trusting the Lord, I took the reins and reserved a rental car.  At the last moment, our son looked at me and said, "I'm driving you!" Probably the wisest decision.

In Crewe, VA he passed me off to a lovely lady, who has a home on Smith Mt Lake.  This total stranger, had made her car so welcoming. She had drinks, snacks and a freshly washed pillow so I could sleep. She was so much fun, I never closed my eyes until I reached my bed and then I slept like a log for 3 hours.

Awaking the next morning, I was excited to attend Bible Study with my neighbor.  The rough rigor of routine ensued once again though.  I ate, brushed my teeth, showered/shampooed, but then was stumped at what to wear, because we had not laid clothes out the night before.  So, I just put on what I'd worn the day before. UGH!  So uncreative.  My sweet neighbor said, "Well, you just sat in a car in those clothes, you probably didn't get them very dirty!"  Such an encourager.

After Bible Study she was going to take me to look for some plants for our outdoor planter.  (Ha, they will probably die before I get them planter.) She suggested we get a bite to eat first.  In that restaurant was another friend who said she was in Kroger and was picking up the essentials for our refrigerator, since we'd lost everything to a power outage.  By the time she reached the house, I was in my pjs and headed for nap time! After my husband arrived home from work, I told my him I really needed to get a walk. That's where the misjudgment came into play.  By the end up the walk, which was uphill, my left leg was screaming, "Just leave me here and go on without me!"  My husband suggested he go get the car and come back for me. I said, "What am I going to do, just sit in someone's yard?"  We laughed. By then my head was throbbing and I knew I had overdone.  The problem comes by not being aware at what point "too much" has crept in.

Just knock my socks off God.  I kid you not, as I got ready to pray about a verse to place here on wisdom, I opened Biblegateway and the verse was:

"The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom,
and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding."
Proverbs 9:10

The Message Translations reads:
"Skilled living gets it start in the Fear-of God, insight into life from knowing a Holy God.
It's through me, Lady Wisdom, that your life deepens, and the years of your life ripen.
Live wisely and wisdom will permeate your life; mock life and life will mock you.
Proverbs 9:10

As Jeff Foxworthy would say, "There's  your sign!"

Congenial Conversation


October 25

Back in the day, junior high school brought the opportunity to meet friends from outside your immediate neighborhood.  I look back on those days with such fondness, except the day the math teacher measured my skirt length and told me it was not within the limits and I was to never wear that dress again.
One of my very favorite friends from those days messaged me the other day and said,
"Be kind to yourself, my friend.  All things in God's time."

She had some more specific words of encouragement, which were spot on and brought on a wall of tears pouring down my face. The Biblegateway verse, which my grandson and I had read that same morning, came to mind and I messaged it back to my friend.

Congenial conversation-what a pleasure!
The right word at the right time-beautiful!
Proverbs 15:23

Galatians 6:2 from The Message translation pours out godly advice as well.

"Live creatively, friends.  If someone falls into sin, forgivingly restore him, saving your critical comments for yourself.  You might be needing forgiveness before the day's out.  Stoop down and reach out to those who are oppressed. Share their burdens, and so complete Christ's law.  If you think you are too good for that, you are badly deceived."



Lacking Vigor and Zest

Isn't this tree amazing how it is stretching out over the water.
"If we find ourselves with a desire that nothing in this world can satisfy, 
the most probable explanation is that we were made for another world."
C. S. Lewis

October 24
I made my husband really nervous as I was practicing driving last week.  The song, "I Can Only Imagine" came on the radio and my hand shot up in the air in praise to the Lord. He was afraid, I'd take both hands off the wheel and praise! The song doesn't give hugging Jesus as one of the options, but I think that is what I will do when I see him face to face.  The other day, I had the privilege of saying good-bye on the phone to a precious friend in Minnesota, whose family had called in hospice.  I said, "Bob, please hug Jesus for me and tell him I love him and can't wait to get there!" Death is inevitable for us all. I don't fear death, for the best is yet to come for those of us who love Jesus.

Bible Study Fellowship is an international Bible study program, which is currently studying Revelation. John, the author, who had been banished to an island passes along strong critiques by God.  In chapter three, my ears really perked up, as I had just taken a walk and inquired of God exactly what I am supposed to be doing in this post stroke stupor for His kingdom. Also, I've asked him to search my heart and reveal ways I've been working for my glory and not His.

This is The Message translation.

"I see right through your work.  You have a reputation for vigor and zest, but you're dead, stone-dead.  Up on your feet!  Take a deep breath!  Maybe there's life in you yet.  But I wouldn't know it by looking at your busywork; nothing of God's work has been completed.  Your condition is desperate. Think of the gift you once had in your hands, the Message you heard with your ears-grasp it again and turn back to God.  If you pull the covers back over your head and sleep on, oblivious to God, I'll return when you least expect it, break into your life like a thief in the night."  
Revelation 3:1-3

Vigor and zest, I am lacking those at this point of the journey. At times I feel my brain is "stone-dead" even though I am up on on my feet. I'm hoping there is life and laughter in me yet, that draws others to the amazing message of Christ and his love for us.

We stand accountable for the here and now moments and God sees right through us.  I've been walking in a small neighborhood, which our son's family moved to only two weeks ago.  The other morning there were three ladies huddled in a yard chatting and I could tell they were checking me out, wondering who I was walking around their "hood." No one waved, but all three turned their heads away when I looked their direction.  My mind drifted to the thought "I wonder what they are saying about me?"  Quickly, Jesus challenged my judgmental desperate condition and tossed the question back to me..."What are you thinking about them?  That they are gossips?  How about praying for them and taking the high road and striking up a conversation with them the next time you pass?"

Yup, like the verse says, God sees right through us.  He accesses our motives, critiques our actions, and uses the Holy Spirit to convict our hearts and counsel us onto the path of His purpose.  We know we are on the right path, when it is all about reaching Jesus at the end!

Pondering Which Pumpkin to Pick





"Great are the works of the Lord; they are pondered by all who delight in them."
Psalm 111:2

October 23
I walked close to 2 miles the other day.  Yup, came inside and collapsed, but I made an increase in my walking progress.  Our grandson asked me if I thought I could jog for a little while. Pondering the proposition, I explained I couldn't trust my left foot to have enough get up and go to do that. I was afraid I would trip and scuff myself up on the asphalt.  
While I've been pushing the physical aspect of this recovery and excited to see improvement, I think I have pumpkin brain...ya know...full of a messy mush and I don't know how to fix that. My thoughts are totally clear and rational (so I think), yet they are slow, sluggish and missing the boojoyful element, the Energizer Bunny attitude, and the creative desires just aren't there right now.  While it seems so weird and is a reminder there is an issue in my brain, I'm rather nonchalant about the situation.

Tuesday, a young woman was telling me about her mom having a medical occurrence which involved losing oxygen to the brain temporarily.  She said it took her mom a year to regain her cognitive level. So, what do I do?  Dwell on what is lost or reflect on who God is and what he has given me for this day, while remembering with Him all things are possible.

Somehow in my Bible wandering, I ended up with this excellent advice in Job 5:8-9

"But if I were you, I would appeal to God; I would lay my cause before him.
He performs wonders that cannot be fathomed, miracles that cannot be counted.

What a great place to camp out!  In the meantime, I will be content with who God has me to be today.
(Hmm, someone remind me of that attitude when I'm sad and discouraged this afternoon)

Positioning

Bessie is positioned right in the center of the upstairs family room at 
The Andrews' new home in Va Beach. I had fun accessorizing her for Halloween.

October 22
Positioning is key!  Whether it is my attempt to stand on one foot, balance on the Bosu Ball, or walk toe to heel across  a board on the floor.  Positioning ourselves before the Lord is also key!  Taking time out the other day I read Paul David Tripp's thoughts on life's difficulties.

"The difficulties of your life are not in the way of God's plan; they are a tool of it.  They're crafted to advance his work of grace.  Perhaps the two most important questions you could ask between your conversion and your final resurrection are:
1) What in the world is God doing right here, right now?
2) How in the world should I respond to what God is doing?
The way that you answer these questions determines; in a real way, the character of your faith and the direction of your life...God is employing the difficulties of life as tools of grace to produce character in you that would not grow any other way. So your trials are now a sign that God has forgotten you or is being unfaithful to his promises.  Rather, they stand as a reminder that he is committed to is grace and will not forsake it-it will complete its work!"

Now y'all, that brings me comfort! That brings me encouragement.  That speaks hope and purpose into every moment of my life!

"Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him."
James 1:12

Thanks to My Caregivers

Sweet baby love,

Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.
1 Peter 5:7 

October 21
Each physician we've met, through the course of this post stroke life, has looked at my husband and compassionately said, "How are you doing?"  They know from experience how difficult it is for a caregiver to see such dramatic changes in a loved one.

So, I stop today and say thank you to an amazing husband who has driven over 4,000 miles this past month and will do even more in the weeks to come to be by my side.  I say thanks to his amazing faculty and staff at Christian Heritage Academy for picking up the slack during his absence and making him feel so loved.  A big thanks to Julie and Debbie for feeding him!

As my husband returned home from yet another weekend jaunt, he found our power out, do to a fried squirrel on our transformer.  All three refrigerator/freezers where a mess and had to be totally cleaned out.  :-(   Really? Dart, dart, dart.

How I wish I hadn't done this to my family, but how thankful I am for a family who has sacrificed so much to walk beside me and encourage me to get well.

A Welcoming with Love


October 20
Arriving at our son and daughter in law's new home was euphoric!  To think that our next to youngest child built this home caused the tears to cascade down my cheeks as I entered their foyer.  Then when our daughter in law took us into our bedroom the feeling of being loved poured all over us.  It is one of my very favorite colors, the bed donned in linens to rival any 5 star hotel, personalized accessories to speak right to my heart (even a framed photo of my parents) and fresh flowers to boot!  But the next morning, the unfamiliar set in again and after my shower I stood in front of a beautiful new sink for probably 10 minutes before finally asking for help.

Take delight in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart.
Psalm 37:4

Taking a time out to nap, around 10AM,  I greeted the Lord.  It was as if He said, "Well, good morning to you, I wondered if you were ever going to speak."  Reflecting on my morning, I called upon everyone else in the house to help me through the day, but not the Lord.  I opened Jesus Calling and read it my husband.

"Go gently through this day, keeping your eyes on Me.  I will open up the way before you, as you take steps of trust along your path.  Sometimes the way before you appears to be blocked.  If you focus on the obstacle or search for a way around it, you will probably go off course.  Instead, focus on Me, the Shepherd who is leading you along your life-journey.  Before you know it, the "obstacle" will be behind you and you will hardly know how you passed through it."

"The path of the righteous is level; O upright One, you make the way of the righteous smooth."
Isaiah 26:7

Thank you Jesus.

Next I opened Paul David Tripp's devotional, New Morning Mercies, and read:
"Don't give way to discouragement, feelings of futility, or waves of fear,  because the Father has graciously chosen to give you the kingdom...Your King rules over everything that would discourage or disappoint you, and he rules for you good and his glory.  What is out of your control is under his rule.  What you don't understand is under his careful administration."

"Fear not, little flock, for it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom."
Luke 12:32

Be Willing to Receive

These fun tree hugger statues were scattered around Cheekwood Plantation in Nashville, TN.
For those who find me find life and receive favor from the Lord.
Proverbs 8:35
October 19
Continued...
Two godly women spoke the same phrase over me while in Nashville.  "Be a good receiver," they each said.  One said, "If you can't receive well from others, maybe you aren't receiving what God has for you."  Hmm, maybe I need to go out and hug a tree and contemplate this thought?

Often I tell our grandchildren to try to learn something new everyday.  That's been easy for me the past weeks.  During the first few weeks of this recovery I was willing to try anything the doctors and therapist told me (with the exception of medications).  A little stubborn in that area.  Coming home for a few days and realizing how difficult simple sequential tasks are to complete I now need to train myself how to do certain "life moves" again.  I told some friends today that instead of people bringing meals, what I need is someone to go to the grocery store with me and help me stay on that task and then later, someone walk along side me as I try to cook a meal.  Oh, how I long to be able to give a party again...baby steps.  As my husband listened to my new thoughts, he interjected it might be ok to accept a meal every now and then.  One day at a time. One day at a time.

Dance steps are great balance and memory exercises for me, so I've asked another friend to come over and teach me some dance steps.  Where are my tap shoes Betty Ashton? Laughter is good for the soul too and I'm sure that will be a part of this.

I don't want to miss out on receiving what God has planned for me, so I will take the advice of these women and learn to graciously receive with joy.

As we sat in the dining room of our son and daughter in law's brand new home, for their first formal meal around the table, it was a delight to receive the delicious meal our daughter in law prepared.  She thoughtfully had purchased ingredients for a favorite recipe, which I have made over the years.  As I sat watercolor painting with our granddaughter, at the kitchen counter, our daughter in law said, "Mama Boo, I'm so impressed you are just sitting there and letting me do all the cooking."  I laughed out loud and said, "That's because I probably couldn't figure out how to do what you are doing."
And for now, that's ok.  I thank God my family is loving me anyway.




Continuation of God's Presence

Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord.
Psalm 27:14
October 18
Today's Biblegateway verse above reminds me of a note I received, along with a gift from a friend of our daughter's who is a neurologist.  (The gift was the book Stroke of Insight.) Not sure if I wrote about the God-incident where this woman's baby sitter passed our daughter's house and saw the ambulance and called this doctor.  Later that evening in ICU there stood this beautiful woman, our own private neurologist,  with our daughter.  She visited me in the rehab facility and also later when I was recovering at our daughter's home.  We will be forever friends.  Anyway, the end of her note to me said, "Give yourself time!"  Yup, wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and give yourself time.!

Continued from yesterday...(fortunately, my memory is still in tack)
Heading home, EXHAUSTED, I put on my pjs and crawled into bed even though it was only noon.
My husband had texted to see how I was doing and if I could talk.  While we were chatting our drive way beeper signaled that someone was on the property.  Going into the dining room I looked for a car, but could not see one.  Then I saw a man in the upper driveway and realized someone had parked there.  My husband said to just go back to bed and not answer the door.  We continued to chat, no doorbell rang and I forgot about it.  A few minutes passed and I realized the driveway beeper had never acknowledged this car's departure, so with phone in hang I walked around the house trying to see what was going on.  Looking out from the second story, I see a man peering in the bedroom sliding doors of the bedrooms below.  Now he wasn't scary looking, actually a tall, strapping, blonde young man carrying a clipboard.  Cranking open a window I called out, "May I help you?"  It was the tax man, Clint, surveying the property!  He could have passed for another one of God's gorgeous angels though as he expressed with enthusiasm how he loved the scripture signs and had noticed a book in one of the bedrooms about God that was a favorite of his.  We exchanged pleasantries about our churches and I invited him to bring his wife and a group to walk the scripture trails.  (My husband is chuckling on the phone line and trying to get my attention to tell me he has someone waiting in his office!)  God is so good!

Just before I put my head back down I read an email from a friend, who has struggled with a debilitating illness before. She wrote,  "Could I come over and help you pack for your trip tomorrow?"  It was perfect! What would have taken me 3- 4 hours to do, she spurred me on to do in less than an hour!

This goes right along with tomorrow's message on being willing to receive!


Dead Parts

My sweet husband wanted to take a picture of me as we walked in Centennial Park last week.
He told me to stand by this pretty planter.  It wasn't until we saw the photo that
we realized there were two huge dead leaves right in front of me.
We started to trash the photo and then it hit me...there are dead parts in my brain and
maybe this is God telling me not everyone will notice them!

October 17
Finally, brothers and sisters, rejoice!  Strive for full restoration,
encourage one another, be of one mind, live in peace.  
And the God of love and peace will be with you.
2 Corinthians 13:11

God just keeps on giving.  He gave me a message on encouragement to share and then through that led me to this verse which has oodles of lessons for me.
1) Strive for full restoration (Never, never, never give up.)
2) Encourage one another    (For you never know what another person is facing.)
3) Be of one mind  (His whisper, "I will heal your one mind.")
4) Live in peace  (For whatever is before us, He can handle the outcome and make it beautiful.)
5) The God of love and peace will be with you.  (We are never alone.)

Well, that is sufficient for me to nibble on all day, but I want to go ahead and journal from yesterday and his original message this morning on encouragement.  Last night I was late getting into bed.  I hadn't done my Luminosity online brain exercises, so I plugged in.  At the end of the session the site gave me an update as to how I compared to others my age.  UGH.  All along I thought I'd been doing great.  Not what these results showed.  Wait!  There wasn't a slot to type in "I'm a stroke surviver! Only 5 weeks out!  Please consider that!"  It's tough being evaluated by others.

God took me to the most amazing place this morning as I thought back on last night's results.  Growing up I had parents who encouraged me.  They sat in the stands at my sporting events, allowed me to take private tennis lessons and go to tournaments to improve my skills, when I was on the school gymnastic team my father built a full sized balance beam in the back yard  (like that wasn't a liability for the neighborhood kids), to encourage my love for art they paid for me to go to private group lessons and they framed my work and hung it in their house.  They even let me paint four large 6 x 8 panels and placed them on the outside of a gazebo at their lake house.  (They were terrible, but still stand in that yard today.)  When I showed an interest in horses they bought me one and all the gear that goes with it.  I wasn't in the top percentage of performers in any of those activities, but I was  filled with joy doing them all.

God reminded me he has given me a husband who is the same type encourager.  Ya know, the kind of man who must wear blinders to think I'm in the top percentage!  Even now, when I don't do a lot of things well at all, we are able to laugh together through the process.  If only we had a video of him helping me try to stand on a Bosu Ball in the corner of the bedroom last night.  Not appropriate to share all that was said, but we had a grand time!  He said I looked like a boxer bouncing on that thing.

So, Luminosity, I may not rank real high for your standards, but God and my hubby still love me and that's good enough for me.

Shortly after taking that test I had a sciatica attack.  I cried out loud, "Really, God!"  (It was probably from the Bosu nonsense.)  I could not get comfortable. Lying on the floor I went through every stretch I could think of and then headed to find the hardest mattress in the house, after popping a Tylenol.  After finding a comfortable position I didn't move all night.

The day started yesterday with me facing my fear and riding with a neighbor to Bible Study Fellowship.  One person said, "Does it feel so good to be here?"  "No," I said, "actually it's really scary."  This was my first time in this group study on Revelation and my first venture out in our community since the stroke.  As we went around the circle introducing ourselves and sharing a little bit, it came to my turn.  "I'm Boo Andrews, I had a (SOBS ensued) stroke on September 14th and I'm just glad to be here."  Then my nose began to bleed.  A side effect of the Plavix.  My sweet neighbor asked if I needed to leave. I said, "No, just let me know if blood is dripping all over my blouse."
Our leader wrote me the most precious email of encouragement that afternoon and allowed me to see that God is at work and can use us even in our weakest moments.

Heading home, EXHAUSTED, I put on my pjs and crawled into bed.  My ride is waiting for me now,  so I'll have to continue later and tell you about the man looking in my windows!  No, it was NOT Kevin.

Understanding the Process

The Parthenon in Centennial Park, Nashville, TN

October 16
The second graders at my husband's school sent precious handmade cards. Their teacher sent a card which said, "Praying for daily doses of sufficient grace as you progress toward a full recovery."
Is that perfect or what?

"My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." 
2 Corinthians 12:9


HUGE praise to the Lord for my new primary care doctor.  I love her. She was so patient with me and helped me understand every question on my list!  
"Lists and sticky notes will be key for awhile," she explained.
So here's the stay tuned part:
For the most part I feel like I'm making really good progress physically, but it's some of the simplest things which are "show stoppers" or a bit frustrating.  My husband took me to a grocery store in a nearby city, so I wouldn't run into people I know. (Communicating can be exhausting, be it on the phone or in person.)  I'd been to a grocery store in Nashville with about 5 things on a list and handled that very well. But this was an unexpected stop without a list.  He's watched me grocery shop for 39 years and bless his heart he was at a loss seeing me at a loss.  What he didn't understand was that my brain was really struggling to know what to do. It was a new store and with the clotting disorder I'm shopping for things now which are not high in Vitamin K (a natural clotter).   I went up and down every aisle not knowing what I really needed.
Then we got home with groceries to put away, luggage to unpack, rehab apparatus and medications to set up, mail to be opened and all my exercises I needed to do. This ole brain didn't know what to do first.  
When I woke up the next morning, greeting the Lord for the day, the word process came to mind.  That was it, I was overwhelmed by what should be natural processes.

Process: "a series of actions that produce something or that lead to a particular result;
                a series of changes that happen naturally."  Merriam Webster

My husband had to go back to work and would be gone until around 9PM that day.  I was to text him every hour that I was ok.  Our daughter called to check on me and I explained how frustrated I was.  She had great advice. She said to think of it like when I would bring home a newborn. With the nursing schedule I might have 45 minutes to myself when that baby napped.  I had to choose what was of most importance...a nap, doing laundry, fixing dinner, etc.  So, I took that advice and chipped away at things in a not so orderly and oh so dreadfully slowly fashion.

Talking to my speech therapy friend, she explained that is perfectly normal for someone with a right brain injury. It is that side of the brain, which organizes and processes.  She said she had a patient  call her once and say, "I'm so embarrassed. I've done laundry most of my life, but can't remember how to do this."  Talking to someone who understands the brain injury process and can say, "You are doing great!" is such a breath of fresh air.

One of my hesitancies is getting back out there again and people not understanding what I'm going through.  They will see the same person who could host multiple groups in the same weekend, but on the inside I'm in super slow mode.


Support for Droopy

My best friend from college flew to Nashville last weekend and was amazing support.

October 15
When my mind flutters to what I've lost, all I have to do is think back to all the people I love whom I've been blessed to spend time with and to the new friends I have made this past month.  My life is truly so much richer.  On today's agenda is meeting a new primary care doctor.

I'm battling the virus our grandsons had and dealing with an awful sore throat and fever.  The new PCP was not available yesterday, so I went to an urgent care to be certain I didn't have strep.  The physician stated he never would have known I'd had a stroke except for the facial drooping on my left side.  Heading from there to a dermatology appointment that doctor said the same thing.  With the overwhelming demands of PT and OT, I opted to forego speech therapy, while in Nashville, but after today's droopy comments I may need to rethink that.

Several years ago I was asked to pray for a beautiful young mother in Memphis who lost her eye to cancer.  We became sweet friends through email and Facebook. Our home is now dotted with some of her lovely artwork.  After seeing about the stroke on Facebook, she is not only praying for me daily, but has reached out to offer information, as she is a speech therapist.  We had a good chat yesterday and she has me on a good course towards a non-droopy face!  "Pucker up!" is a big part of it!  She also had great advice for another hurdle am facing. Stay tuned tomorrow!

It's amazing what God weaves together.

And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.   Romans 8:28 

Swinging

Missing this little man.
October 14
Yesterday, I walked 26 minutes and 5 seconds, but whose counting.  Ugh, I am. Swinging would be much more fun than these strengthening exercises.

We now begin to wade through local doctor selection and appointments, as well as medication regulating.  Our nurse daughter in law, Jenna, has been a fabulous resource.  Everyone needs a medical advocate! Finally, I've been able to research strokes and medications online and feel as if I am beginning to become a little more educated about my situation.

While riding with my husband to Roanoke, I opened the Biblegateway app and was thrilled to read Jeremiah 29:11.  Pretty perfect verse  to accompany me into the next stage of this journey.

"For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord, 
"plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future."

Hopefully, those plans don't include knife throwing while on this blood thinner!


Betty Boo

Prayer shawls made by Brentwood Baptist Church
A lady who came by the house nicknamed us Betty Boo.
I'm going to miss my gorgeous side kick!

October 13
Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, 
because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.  
Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.  
James 1:2-4

Passing the baton to my husband to write today and try to explain where we think we are at this point.
Love to you all, Boo

Probably the best way to describe where things are right now is the road we are literally on... I-81 headed home. We are still in a valley, but can see the mountain tops on both sides. Many great things going on but not there yet!

First of all, Mama Boo passed her driver's test Sunday morning. As usual for this journey, that turned out to be a time of sharing and praying with the test administrator. No matter where the road goes, the path crosses with people in need. This was a great milestone but she is no hurry to drive car pools. We laughed because Sunday morning should be the best time to be on the road in Nashville... because everyone is in church! But for some reason that day, walkers, runners, cyclists, dog walkers and traffic were everywhere. She had to deal with GPS issues, driving a strange car, and dealing with known intersections. Reminded of the story when a boy calls his elder dad to be careful on the interstate. Someone had been reported driving the wrong way on the highway. His dad replied, "Some one, heck there are hundreds!'

Monday began with more therapy including a few tests to check for progress relative to original benchmarks. All good here but a few disappointments; that despite weeks of pretty intense work, there is still much to be done with balance and endurance issues.

The event of the day was the neurologist appointment after lunch, which couldn't have been much more encouraging. We are both so impressed with this doctor.  First of all, he reported they believe to have found the culprit. A blood study showed a genetic abnormality; plasminogen activator inhibitor, 1- (4g+5g) polymorphism (or something like that!). Bottom line is her blood has a tendency to clot more than others putting her at risk for veinous thromboembilsm or myocardial infarction. The suspicion is the disorder coupled with the long car ride to Nashville on September 14 caused the stroke. Interestingly, this was the first thought our nurse daughter-in-law, Jenna, expressed the first day.

So, the bad news is the blood is not normal; the good news is that with daily Plavix, the risk of a future stroke should be minimized to a statistical normal. This is significant as it helps to lesson the fear of being alone or doing the activities she desperately wants to continue... kayaking, walling, making me gourmet desserts etc!

All in all, enough good news to see those mountain tops. However, not there yet. The daily regimen involves much therapy for the balance and endurance issues. There is another component as well. Despite her progress and the normalcy at the way things look at face value, there is the reality that she has indeed suffered a stroke and in many ways she is dealing with a new normal in her life. She is already struggling with how to thank everyone for the prayers and support as she knows it will take some time.  It's still one day at a time.  Not sure what day she will actually get to Shiloh. The first day of travel was exhausting and she was up most of the night with a terrible sore throat.  She has doctor visits in different locations and then is headed to Va. Beach, so it will be difficult to have friends come and visit this week. The time will come for that. 

That's if for now. Oh, one more interesting tidbit. The doctor said that her blood disorder ordinarily would resist the effectiveness of the miracle drug TPA but for some reason it didn't. Go figure!  We say, "Prayer works!"







Perfection




October 12
Yesterday morning, before my eyelids lifted, I was greeting God for the day and said, "You are perfect."
As for God, his way is perfect:  The Lord's word is flawless'
he shields all who take refuge in him.
Psalm 18:30

You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you.
Isaiah 26:3

Lying in bed with my husband yesterday morning I said, "I'm so excited I may be going home with you."  (We are proposing to my neurologist I ride home, breaking the trip up into two days, and establish a relationship with a new primary care physician before I head to our son's home in VA Beach.)  After saying that I realized I feel the same way about Jesus and am prepared to say the same thing when He calls me home..."Jesus, I'm so excited to be going home with you!"

"Do not let your hearts be troubled.  You believe in God; believe also in me. My Father's house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.  John 14:1-4 

The Door

October 11
Here I am!  I stand at the door and knock.
If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, 
I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me.
Revelation 3:20 

This is the beautiful entrance to our daughter's home.  It is always so welcoming. She and her husband have offered hospitality without grumbling for a month now!

While my communication with the Lord, in the first week, was mainly a crying out for courage, trust, and strength, now I'm in listening mode asking for wisdom and understanding.

"Listen to advice and accept discipline, and at the end you will be counted among the wise.
Many are the plans of a person's heart, but it is the Lord's purpose that prevails.
Proverbs 19:20-21

As I quieted myself for my morning nap yesterday, I asked the Lord to speak.  Here is what I heard:

"Don't go before Me. Go with Me. This is a partnership."

One piece of advice I received from  my speech therapist at St Thomas Midtown, whom I admired greatly, was "Do not make any major decisions this year."  She explained, "The way your brain feels right now is not how it will in a year!"  So no major planning on the horizon for me, just a day by day listening for God's voice and stepping out with him each day into his plans. Those can be exciting enough!

Last night I asked my husband, who has made the drive to Nashville once again, "What do you think God has planned next?"  His enthusiastic reply, "Oh, He's up to something!"

If He knocks on the door of your heart, open it!

Love Heals by Jiewon


October 10
I'm feeling overwhelmed once again by the enormous love God has poured out upon me and the healing power, which comes from that. Yesterday, a physical therapist friend of our daughter's came over with her essential oils and said, "The Bible instructs us to anoint one another with oil. I've brought some of my oils and would just like to pray over you and love on you." Frankincense, bergamot, lemongrass, marjoram, lavender and geranium oils were rubbed into my feet and head as this young woman who loves Jesus gave of her time and resources to love on a stranger.

May all our eyes be opened today to those in our path who may just need to feel loved.

When Jiewon was visiting, I asked her to use her talents as a writer to try to put into words some of what I was feeling related to how God's love is poured upon us through others.  Enjoy!

"In Him you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit." 
Ephesians 2:22

In the week before my trip to Nashville to visit Mom and Betty Ashton, I received a bible study workbook on Ephesians from a new community group, entitled "Adopted: Children of God." That week's chapter focused on our identities as "cherished works of art." The chapter in the following week, which was the week of the trip, addressed our identities as "cherished members of God's family."  Once again God confirmed: "You search out my path and my lying down and are acquainted with all my ways" (Ps. 139:3). He knows the events in our lives in a most personal manner, such that the timing of things blows us away and moves our hearts with His love.  

These were the discussion questions in the chapter on members of God's family: 

"What people are you invested in?"
"Why are you invested in this group of people?"

The family through Christ's bloodline and the family through biological bloodline were the first and second on my list. The blood of Christ that unites God's family runs more deeply and ever-lastingly than any other group in which we can invest. The Father sent Jesus so that those without family may find His love in the family of Christ. He sent Jesus so that broken families may find hope in the bond of the family of Christ. He sent Jesus so that those with the gift of having wives, husbands, children, siblings, and parents on earth may find reason for forgiveness, reconciliation, and healing. He sent Jesus so that those with family members who are lost without knowledge of the Lord may find courage to pray for redemption.         

On the last day of my visit, Mom sat me beside her and professed the power of love to heal. Indeed, we invest in the people whom God has placed in our lives and also attend to the multitude of strangers we daily encounter, because God first loved us. We love because He considers us adopted and cherished, being built together into a dwelling place for Him. Whether cooking meals, giving others rides, sending flowers, driving through the night to see a loved one, singing the Lord's praises with a lady at a store checkout counter, playing with children, or crafting and painting to make a memory, these gestures of love strengthen us so that we may magnify God's divine love.

Seek The Lord Daily



October 9
Yesterday's therapy took place at home with our grandsons, whose fevers have broken. Thank You Jesus!  Play dough, finger painting, legos and trains were the tools of choice.  Later in the afternoon we loaded up the runny noses and coughing heads and went for a ride to a beautiful estate in Nashville called Cheekwood. While the boys remained in the car, I boldly set foot alone onto the grounds carrying my camera for my first brief photo shoot.  The air was a glorious 84 degrees!  There amongst the butterflies and mums was this sculpture, which I found to be quite exemplary of what a stroke victim feels like!  I wish I had a bus and could go gather up all my stroke buddies and we could roll our wheel chairs and walkers out onto the lawn and sit in the sun with this fellow.

This morning I awakened very early and sought the Lord in the quiet darkness before sunrise.  Opening my phone app for Jesus Calling, I headed the lesson within and once again was amazed at how personal God is, often knowing what's brewing within our hearts before we even do.

"I will refresh the weary and satisfy the faint."
Jeremiah 31:25

"Do everything without complaining or arguing, 
so that you may become blameless and pure, 
children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, 
in which you shine like stars in the universe."
Philippians 2:14-15

Check out what Sarah Young writes in the voice of Jesus...
"You have been on a long, uphill journey, and your energy is almost spent.  Though you have faltered at times, you have not let go of My hand.  I am pleased with your desire to stay close to Me. There is one thing, however, that displeases Me: your tendency to complain.  You may talk to Me as much as you like about the difficulty of the path we are following.  I understand better than anyone else the stresses and strains that have afflicted you.  You can ventilate safely to Me, because talking with Me tempers your thoughts and helps you see things from My perspective.
Complaining to others is another matter altogether. It opens the door to deadly sins such as self-pity and rage.  Whenever you are tempted to grumble, come to Me and talk it out.  As you open up to Me, I will put My thoughts in your mind and My song in your heart."

Lord, I don't know what today holds, but I know You hold every detail of today and You also have hold of me!  May everything I do, everything I say and everything thing I think be pleasing in Your sight.  I  love you Lord.  In Jesus Name, Amen

Everlasting Love

The blue heron from our cove.
October 8
Labor Day weekend we were sitting on the boat at our dock...just chillin.  My husband spotted my favorite blue heron walking along the shore line across the lake. All of a sudden Deke hollered, grab your camera! He's headed right for us!  Spreading his magnificent wings he flew right over our boat.
Yesterday, a lake friend sent a picture she took of this heron sitting on our dock. She texted, "He's looking for you Boo."

Working alongside other stroke victims, I realize how fortunate I was to receive the TPA and be having such a steady recovery.  This morning I had a meltdown though.  I way overdid yesterday and my right leg was in pain all night.  Then the doctor's office called to say my blood work came back abnormal. A prescription has been ordered and I see the doctor Monday for that explanation. While I should be glad they have found the reason for this stroke, instead I was overwhelmed that there is a problem.  Immediately, I felt guilty for the meltdown, because God has been so faithful.
My sweet husband said, "Go back and read your devotionals and encourage yourself!"  

Memorization is an excellent brain exercise.  Two new therapy verses for me.

"The Lord replied, 'My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.'"
Exodus 33:14

"I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with loving-kindness."   
Jeremiah 31:3

In Jesus Calling, Sarah Young writes: 
"The human mind cannot comprehend My constancy. 
Your emotions flicker and falter in the face of varying circumstances..."

I may feel differently about things today, but God's love is steady and consistent. That is where I need to remain...in His love.

PS. Thanks for prayers for the boys.  No fevers today and Carrington is able to walk again.

Perfect Peace

Such a treat to have these two here, from Tampa,
 helping taking care of me and giving Betty Ashton a break last weekend.

October 7
Today's CTscan with contrast was interesting.  The gentleman administering the IV (no it was not Kevin) said, "You will get a metallic taste in your mouth, the smell of alcohol in your nose and then the sensation that you are peeing all over yourself."  Whatever look I flashed him had him quickly respond..."But you aren't."  I wanted to rush right to a bathroom, but I was already plugged in.
Every prediction he made came true.  Immediately, I began praying for people going through chemo.

When I checked in at registration the lady laughed as she typed in my information.  "I just entered that you speak Chinese."  I was tempted to say, "Oh, no, the only language other than English is my prayer language!"  :-)

My therapist, Barbee, is so knowledgable. I really enjoy hanging out with her. Today she asked where I'd seen improvements; balance and leg strength are the biggies this week.  Then I shared my greatest area of frustration was the lack of stamina.  This morning at 7:30 I told my daughter I was taking myself for a walk.  The first 12 minutes were great and felt almost normal.  Turning around and heading back I achieved a turtle's pace and seemed to be dragging my left leg behind me.  Barbee explained that stamina will be the last thing to get back and to not get discouraged.  She said, "Give yourself pep talks and instead of looking at where you were before the stroke, look at where you've come since the stroke."  Great advice.  Then she belted me up and drug my body outside and challenged me to walk down and back up a very bumpy grassy slope.  Huge achievement. I really think I could make it to our dock and back!  (Maybe a little siesta on a lounge chair in between.)

Looking back to last weekend when Jordon and Lauren were here.
We laugh, twice a day the question has rung out..."Whose going to walk Mom?"  Like, "Whose walking the dog today?" One morning our son and my husband took me to walk inside the exquisite Green Hills Mall shops before opening.  We made our lap around the lower level and were going to attempt the second level, but the escalators had not been turned on.  Steps are probably my greatest obstacle at this point.  Looking up at that escalator seemed like an impossibility and was so representative of the multitude of challenges we face in life.  A quick reflection back, that three and half weeks ago moving anything on my left side seemed like an impossibility, put the challenge in perspective.

Paul David Tripp wrote on his October 3rd devotional: "You don't have to understand everything in your life, because your Lord of wisdom and grace understands it all."

Sunday night I said to my son, "It's hard to believe I've lost three weeks of my life."  What a false statement.  These days have not been lost. My life has been enriched from this journey.

You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you.
Trust in the Lord forever, for the Lord God is an everlasting rock.  Isaiah 26:3-4

Tripp writes concerning this verse: "This passage tells us where peace is to be found. It is never found in trying to figure out the secret will of God...Peace is found in trusting the person who controls all things that you don't understand and who knows no mystery because he has planned it all.  How do you experience this remarkable peace-the kind of peace that doesn't fade away when disappointments come, when people are difficult, or when circumstances are hard?   You experience it by keeping your mind stayed on the Lord.  The more you meditate on his glory, his power, his wisdom, his grace, his faithfulness, his righteousness, his patience, his zeal to redeem, and his commitment to his eternal promises to you, the more you can deal with mystery in your life."

Don't you just love that!!!!