Sunday, March 27, 2011

Tender Heart in My Box

The golden retriever bounded from the car one warm afternoon. She ran around the large front yard, barking wildly. "Welcome Home, Bella!" the kids yelled. Bella barked and checked out her new yard and home.

Bella made a fast home with the Brown family: Katie, Mark, Kody, and Mason. But in large part, she was Katie's dog; he slept beside her bed and greeted her each afternoon after work. She laid at Katie's feet watching TV--in short, she loved Katie. Mason was little when Bella joined the family. She treated him with care and patience when, as a toddler, he pulled on her hair and tail. She slowly turned her head as if to say, "It's okay, baby. I know you're just playing."

Bella recently developed hip problems and walking became difficult and painful. Katie and Mark were faced with a hard decision: spend thousands on multiple surgeries or hope the Humane Society could find a golden retriever shelter that would take her in. The end result could be what they didn't want: having Bella put down.

Sweet Bella could not voice her love for her family, but she was always a tail wag away from loving them home. She greeted them enthusiastically until her last days when her back side didn't wag well. She continued to sleep beside Katie's bed...her protector...even though she probably couldn't have done much protecting. It was the thought that mattered.

I applaud my daughter for the gut-wrenching decision. She weighed the family's resources and made the decision that ripped her heart out. Katie sobbed on the drive to the vet and then to the Humane Society, knowing the inevitable would happen sooner or later.

I'm proud of the love she lavished on Sweet Bella. Owning a dog provided life lessons for Kody and Mason: commitment, loyalty, responsibility, and love. Katie exemplified each of those characteristics for her sons while caring for Bella.

You are a wonderful daughter, mother, and wife, sweet Katie. You love deep and, often, hurt deep. That's the cost of a tender heart.

I love you, Katie Bird.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Celebration in My Box

Today is a special day for several reasons: my daughter Caron, her husband Cory, and son Caleb are here visiting for the weekend; we are celebrating my March 3rd birthday, and I am eating birthday cake this year.

Last year my girls prepared a scrumptious birthday dinner, complete with red velvet cheesecake. I didn't eat the dessert because of an earlier commitment to abstain from processed sugar until my son Josh was clean and sober for a year. That achievement was accomplished on February 18th! This was the best birthday cake I've ever eaten.

Another cause for celebration is that Caron and Cory announced they are having a baby in September! Another grandchild. Since we have four grandsons, a pink bundle would be wonderful; but we will certainly love a blue one. Caleb wants a little brother. The primary desire is for the baby to be healthy. Having another boy could be viewed as God's way of keeping me out of bankruptcy. Those little pink outfits are soooooo cute!

During 2009 my emotions ran from the depths of despair with Josh's addiction to the mountaintop of jubilation with Caron and Cory's engagement announcement. There were so many highs and lows as I met most days with fear and trepidation. The new year of 2010 brought the promise of new beginnings; the year was filled with victories and triumphs. Josh went into treatment in February, and we had a wedding in June. The year was filled with watching God's mighty Hand sustain our family and guide us on our journey. I had a front-row seat to watch Jeremiah 30 and 31 come to fruition.

As 2011 unfolds, I am rejoicing at God's faithfulness. I am thankful for another day--and year of life--to see what great things He has in store for me individually and our family in the year at hand.

Yes, today is a blessed day of celebration. "This is the day the Lord has made, I will rejoice and be glad in it."

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Someone's Son in My Box

Brenda Rhodes' son could be my son. I found myself aching with her as Ronal Paul's story was told. My son is a recovering addict and with each stumble and fall she recounted, I knew how she felt.

Brenda successfully painted the picture of living and loving someone with an addiction. It is not an easy road, but the mountaintop experiences buoy the hope that perhaps "this time" will be the one; this will be the time when they "get it." Then, hope is dashed when a relapse occurs, and the climb out starts again.

I wept as she described her son's last days. I felt her heart breaking, but I also caught her inexhaustible sense of hope. Without hope, living with an addicted loved one is draining. Brenda carefully crafted the hope she found in the Lord and His Word into her story.

The gritty details of Ronal Paul's misbehaviors were tactfully kept private. She gave enough description about what he did to allow the reader insight into their nightmare. I admire how she respected her son's privacy and honored his memory by not divulging every sordid thing he did.

The book will encourage and offer hope to families and friends of loved ones suffering with an addiction or other life-controlling issues. She showed the importance of family and how, even when we don't agree with a family member's behaviors and lifestyle choices, that they are loved and respected. Many times it is the knowledge that the family still cares that sustains an addict through dark and trying times.

The last page was the most poignant to me. Its message is to not judge the homeless, the addict, the prostitute, the person who is different from us...they are someone's son or daughter.

A complimentary review copy was provided.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Sun Stand Still

Sun Stand Still sounds like a big-screen movie title. Imagine the opening scene: A lone preacher lifts his hands and face heavenward, entreating God to rain down blessings on the land. The wind is blowing, lightening is cracking, and rain is pouring out like faucets. The preacher asks for health, wealth, and favor...the usual petitions. A lot of drama for mundane prayers. But, what happens if God's expertise connects with the preacher's ordinary petitions? That is the stuff of miracles; the stuff of Sun Stand Still prayers.

The book is built around the prayer in Joshua 10 when Israel's leader prayed for God to make the sun stand still an extra 24 hours. Joshua knew that some of the enemy might escape, so he asked for those additional hours to make sure the job was completed. As Furtick points out, the sun shines every day, but only God can make it shine a full extra day. The premise of Furtick's work is learning to operate with audacious faith. As believers in God Almighty, we need to approach the throne of grace with respectful audacity born out of the knowledge that we serve a powerful God who is able to do the impossible.

The book carefully plots what is required to position onself to pray an audacious prayer. Chapter 19, Ten Guidelines for a Sun Stand Still prayer, summarizes the book into easy-t0-understand and remember principles or concepts. Admittedly Furtick didn't want to reduce the book to a list of ten ways to pray, but it was the best way to tie the book together into a neat conclusion.

At the end of the book Furtick says, "When you begin to activate your faith and pray Sun Stand Still prayers, you're doing more than just changing your life. You're placing yourself in the middle of a move of God." The challenge for the reader is to step into the movement and believe with audacious faith that will do what He says He will do.

I highly recommend this book and look forward to reading more of Steven Furtick.

The publisher provided a complimentary copy of the book as part of the review process.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Katie Bird in My Box

I can't believe my baby girl is 30 years old. Where in the world has the time gone?

I remember the dream I had one night. I raised my head from the pillow and saw a baldheaded baby with a pink bow on her head. She brought a chubby little hand to her cheek and waved at me. Then she was gone. A short time later I found out I was pregnant for the third time.

Pregnant? Again? Our son was only eight months old, and I was not ready for another baby, physically or emotionally. I cried every time I thought about what lay ahead.

In my seventh month, I became sick, and we thought I was in labor. Danny drove me to the emergency room. My doctor said I had a virus that mimicked labor. As I lay there, fearful I was losing my baby, I realized how much I did want this third surprise. "Please God, protect my baby until the time is right for her to come."

The time spent at the hospital wasn't all sadness and tears, though. As I laid in the room, a nurse came in, turned off the light, and shut the door. Moments later a fire alarm started blaring. The sound was deafening. If I wasn't in labor at the time, the alarm going off just about scared me into it. After a long wait, the nurse came back in and turned on the light. I asked her if there was a fire and she replied, "No, honey, it was just a fire drill. You can go home now."

Delivery day finally arrived. On the way to the hospital we drove across some railroad tracks. Danny turned to me and casually said, "If it's a girl, let's name her Katherine Leigh." I was hurting and naming the source of the pain wasn't high on my priority list. I agreed with his suggestion as another contraction hit. He could have named her Pacific Railroad for all I cared; I needed to get to the hospital--fast.

Katherine Leigh Cosby was born on November 9, 1980. She was a beautiful little girl with a head full of black hair--just like her daddy.

As my daughter reaches this milestone, I can honestly say that Katherine Leigh Cosby Brown is one of the finest, full-of-grace women I know. She loves deeply, and she loves long. Katie looks for the good in people and, when possible, helps them use that goodness to rise above an unwelcomed circumstance.

My daughter loves her two boys more than I ever expected she would or could. Katie was young when she became pregnant with Kody, but she pulled herself up and made a decision that blesses us all today. I didn't know for sure how she would handle being a young mother, but she made me proud. When times were bleak, she held on and did what needed to be done.

I have enjoyed watching her spiritual life grow from a small bud to a full-blown blossom. She is amazing and relates scriptural lessons beautifully. Her relationship with God is no longer on the back burner; she has moved Him up to the front and is turning the heat up. She longs to be all God wants her to be.

As a mother, you want your child to grow up be someone famous, or rich, or successful. As I've watched Katie mature, it's obvious she is famous, rich, and successful. Her boys know her voice above all others because she spends time with them telling them how much they are loved. She is wealthy beyond belief in the love of her family and many friends.

My beautiful, precious, Katie Bird, I pray that you will continue to grow in love with your God, your family, and friends. I pray that blessings far more abundant that you can ask or think will rain down on you as you seek God will all your heart. You are a treasure for the world to behold.

Happy Birthday.



Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Coffee Shop Conversations in My Box

“We’ll meet at the coffee shop on the corner and talk a while.”

That is the overall tone of Coffee Shop Conversations by Dale and Jonalyn Fincher, founders of Soulation, a non-profit organization dedicated to helping others be appropriately human. I felt as though we sitting across from each other sharing our faith, our thoughts, and our lives. The book emits a conversational tone.

The Finchers take a new approach to evangelism: one that is not heavy-handed, brow beating, or Bible thumping. They listen to conversations, invest in lives, and share Jesus on a more intimate basis. Their early days of sharing their faith were more aggressive and “in-your-face.” Donalyn confessed that a lot of her friends probably prayed the “sinner’s prayer” just so she would leave them alone. Her zeal for sharing Jesus scared people away from both Jesus and Donalyn.

I particularly liked the chapter on “How to Read the Bible.” A chart of the different genres in the Bible, reading passages in context, and honestly sharing God’s Word provides a fresh perspective on reading the Bible. “Since God’s Word is a tether to our Father’s heart, our main resource for human flourishing, a privilege of correspondence inspired by God, we give others hope and clarity when we show them we understand the Bible.”

Whether you are a seasoned Christian raised in a church setting, or a new babe in Christ wanting to learn more about your newfound heavenly relationship, there is a wealth of eye-opening information, insights, and inspiration that will draw you in to share your Jesus experience in a new way.

You may find other reviews at Coffee Shop Conversations Book Reviews.

The publisher provided a review copy of the book.

Monday, August 30, 2010

The Malacca Conspiracy in My Box

"All hands on deck."

For all of you Navy, ship-loving folks out there, The Malacca Conspiracy may be just the book for you.

The story spans the globe from Singapore to Washington and ports in between. It is a story of espionage, unrequited love, and weapons of mass destruction.

I had difficulty getting into the story line. There are many characters to keep up with, and I sometimes struggled to keep them straight. I finally felt the excitement of the story about halfway through the book and "got into it."

The publisher provided a review copy of the book.