In 2012, my husband had a life-changing medical event and was off work for nearly a year.   At Christmas-time that year, he got word that there was a package for him at his place of employment.  He stopped one day to pick up it up, and brought home two enormous gift bags the size of large garbage bags.   The folks at his shop said only that one of their customers, who had heard about Rich’s injury, stopped by with the package – they didn’t know who it was or weren’t telling.

We gathered the entire family around to open the gift.  We were awestruck by what we saw.  Though not knowing us at all, someone had tried to find gifts appropriate for each person in the family.  There were games, and blankets, and candles, and decorative pillows, and treats, and all kinds of goodies.  In addition to the thoughtful trinkets, there was a devotional book along with a Christmas card about the Savior of the World.  

We were all completely humbled that someone we didn’t know would have taken the time and effort to have so elaborately put together as thoughtful of a package as they possibly could without knowing the family.  All they knew was that Rich was out of work – and they felt his family should get to have a Christmas.   

We tried to find out who had left the gift so that we could properly thank them, but were never able to.  In reality, I don’t believe they did it to receive a thank you. 

I wept hard that night at the thought of the compassion bestowed upon us.   I vowed to always do my best to do similar for other families, and every year, now, I look for opportunities to be a blessing to others

Just a few weeks ago, one of the store managers where Rich works had a heart attack, and is off work for 8 weeks.   Almost immediately after it happened, Rich asked if we could organize a financial gift for him and his family.  He said he’d like to ask the other guys in the shop to contribute but didn’t know what kind of response he’d get.  I assured him that we’d be happy to not only organize, but fill the gap to make it a good financial blessing for his family.   He got to work collecting money, and we put the final amount into a card last Friday and gave it to the man, who was overwhelmed with emotion.  

The following day, Rich found out that the company had achieved a sales target it had been trying to achieve for 4 years, and so gave everyone in the company a bonus – it happened to be the exact amount that we had put into the envelope for the manager.    My husband was surprised about this.  When he told me about it, I simply smiled and thought, “you can’t out-give God.”  This is a principal I’ve long known, and it is a such a blessing for me to see that others can see it as well. 

photo cred: sheisstronginhim.com

Be Blessed today, my friends!


copyright 2018 Journey For Life  All Rights Reserved


Cheyne, Shane, Peter, Little Carter, Miss Kitt’s Awana part 5….

In previous posts, I’ve told you how faithful prayers of my little girl have been answered. From the time she was a little girl, I’d pray with her every day before school and every night before bed. She was always consistent in her prayers and never forgot anything or anyone on her prayer list.

The Awana program was started at our church shortly after Pastor Jerry and his wife joined our staff. It’s a Christian program designed to encourage kids to memorize scripture and apply it to their lives. Miss Kitt was Pastor Myron’s wife, and part of our Awana team.

Shortly after, God led Pastor Myron and Kitt to a new church, quite a distance away in a tiny rural town. As they were leaving, Miss Kitt asked my little girl to add their new church’s Awana program to her prayer list. She did.

Recently, we saw Pastor Myron and Kitt. She was beyond excited to tell us that their Awana program has exploded – and she attributed that to the faithful prayers of one special little girl.

I have learned alot from the prayer life of my youngest daughter – she is so faithful in her innocent prayers.  She is indeed someone I’d like to have praying for me always.

Be blessed today, my friends,


Copyright 2018 Journey for Life – all rights reserved.

Taking me back

As I dive head first back into my lost world of fitness, my mind goes back 35 years to my first track season at A.E. O’Block Jr. High School in Plum Boro, PA.  35 years is a very long time, but somehow, it seems like yesterday.   

There are a few life secrets I can let you all in on – some of them are not a surprise…   the first is that I am not a natural born athlete.   In my young life, I was more interested in music, and started piano lessons at the age of 4.   Throughout elementary school, I cared little about sports, although I do remember with pride the day I caught the fly ball kicked by Dennis Haygood (the best kickball player in our 4th grade class), making the 3rd out of that inning.  The entire class cheered, and despite the fact that it was his out, a wide smile came across his face as he congratulated me for making an awesome play and invited me to play in his team in the next game.   

In 7th grade, my first year of junior high school, I decided I would join the track team.  Very few people ever got cut from the track team, and since there were many events to choose from, there were many opportunities to find a niche.   Good coaches will observe strengths and weaknesses and help their students get where they need to be.   Luckily, we had several good track coaches. 

My first year in track was ok – not stellar, but ok; probably not unlike most of the first-year track team students.   When the end-of-the-season award time came, I set my sights on a goal for the next year….   the coveted letter.   I didn’t letter in my first year – and, truthfully, few 7th graders did.   But somehow, the desire to receive a letter in the next year took a-hold of my heart and transformed my apathy for life into an ardent desire to achieve.  Little did I realize that transformation would carry far beyond the track through my entire life.

The summer following that track season, I set out to improve what I could control – my endurance.  (Life Lesson: control what you can control; don’t dwell on what you cannot change).  I started to run on the streets of my neighborhood.  I got up early every single morning of the summer and forced myself to run 2 or more miles.   I’ve got to tell you that I hated it… at first.   Literally hated it, but I told myself that I had made a commitment to myself and I was going to see it through, so every day, I got up and put my shoes on and went for a jog.    (If I were honest, there were times in this 2 miles that I stopped running and just walked… I’d look at the mailboxes as I passed and say to myself, “I’ll start running at the next mailbox” and that mailbox would come and go and I was still walking….    this is the reason why I need a playlist to keep the beat for my feet when I’m running now…)

Something interesting began to happen…. After a few weeks, I found that I really enjoyed my morning run.  I began to look at the process of improving differently – yes, still with the end goal in mind, but focusing on the transformation that was happening.   I was “getting it”.  I remember on one particular morning, I ran past the school track, and came across a friend who was running on the track.  As I continued toward my “finish mark”, I was getting tired, and he was running along side me.  I said, “I’m done, I can’t make it.”   He grabbed a-hold of my arm and pulled me – he could run much faster than I could – he forced me to keep running til I crossed the finish line.   I continued running through the entire summer and into the next school year… and into the next track season.  My endurance had also paid off, and I discovered that, although never a sprinter, I had endurance to run the 880 and/or the mile events, depending on where the coach needed someone.   

It was during this season that I discovered the high jump event as well.  What fun that was!  The Fosbury Flop (more on this later).   Turns out I was pretty good at this event… though not quite good enough to beat Kelly Gress.   

Some action shots below:

Kelly was very good at this event – but she was also a little heavier than I was. For certain track/field events, contestants are broken into weight categories.   At the time, my weight was right on the border between Lightweight and Middleweight.   Kelly was a solid Middleweight, so I decided it was in my best interest to compete as a Lightweight.    For me, that meant an absurd fixation on keeping my weight on the Lightweight side.   

I might add that, at that time, I really didn’t have a lot of excess weight on me, so in order to stay below the threshold considered Lightweight, I had to do absurd things with my body to try to loose as much of my water weight before weigh-in’s as possible.   This included things like starving myself, sleeping and running in a garbage bag /  sauna suit, which became a normal part of my life.  I wasn’t even above spitting in a cup during the school day before the track meet (I learned this from the wrestling team for whom I was a statistician the year before).   Because several of my teachers were also track coaches, I would often get out of their class to run laps around the track (in my sauna suit).  Immediately after weigh-in, after they marked a giant “L” on my hand to show I had made weight, I would have some quick energy (usually a tablespoon or two of honey, a Twix bar, and an apple) before competing.   After the meet, I would go home and eat (probably everything in sight) and then start again the next day for the next meet.    Looking back at it now, I can understand why my mother was concerned that this might lead to destructive behavior, but I had a goal in mind, and I wasn’t going to allow anything to get in my way to achieve it. 

Kelly is the left most circle. I’m the right

I did receive a letter that year.  But more importantly, I had captured the respect of my coaches.  I can clearly remember Ms. Thompson’s words as she handed my letter to me, complimenting me for my determination and persistence.   As much as I had wanted that letter, I realized that having their respect meant so much more to me than I ever dreamed.  I was glad to have made them proud and to have heard them say, “Well done!”  

Here’s why I share this with you today…   as you’re going through life, look for the people who are turning themselves inside out to prove something to someone, even if it’s just themselves.   Tell them that you’ve noticed.  Tell them that they’re doing a good job.   When they feel like they can’t make it and are ready to give up, grab a-hold of their arm and run along side them until they reach the finish line.   You may be changing the trajectory of their life. After all, at the end of it all, who doesn’t want to hear the words, “well done, good and faithful servant”?

Be a blessing to someone today.

You are all blessings to me.



Copyright 2018 Journey-For-Life   All rights reserved.  

Blessings and Bikes

Blessings and Bikes – 2016

This post was originally from 2016, but tomorrow morning is the 2018 Blessing of the Bikes  – and my son just called to say he and a friend are driving all night from Minnesota to be present for the blessing – so say a prayer for their safety, will ya?

Last Sunday, our church hosted the 20th annual Blessing of the Bikes.  It’s an event that started when 4 bikers from the church approached the pastor with an idea to bring their friends to church. The first year, there were 162 bikes, and the town of Murrysville wondered what in the world was going on as they all rolled through.  Over the years, that event has blossomed, and is very well-known in the area.  The town of Murrysville actually sends the Mayor and emergency workers now, and even shuts down traffic for a while, to allow the event to be held.  It’s a completely free event, because, in the words of Pastor Dan, “so is gift of salvation”.   This year, on the 20th anniversary, we estimated approximately 15,000 bikes piled in – to our parking lot, and the adjacent blessing_bikes.jpgstreets, and the parking lots along Rt 22.  Figuring many bikes had 2 riders, we’d say there were A LOT of people who turned out for the event.  For the past 13 years, I have had the privilege of participating in the music for the service.   This year, our good friend Dave Smith, sang a song called “Jack Daniels & Jesus”.   I’m pretty sure there wasn’t another church in the country that sang that song on Sunday.

(By the way, I think there’s a message in here somewhere about starting a “movement” – it doesn’t take something BIG to make something BIG – it just requires someone to dream it and make it reality).

“Jack Daniels & Jesus”

Lately I’ve been trading
A good sermon and some praying
For a stranger in my bed
And a night that needs explaining
I’ve opened more bottles than I ever have my bible
This dirt road communion sure won’t lead me to revival

Between the black label and the letters in red
I felt what livin’ is
And what it’s like to live dead

I’ve taken a ride in the devil’s Cadillac
I’ve been so high I thought I wasn’t coming back
And just when I think I’m too far gone
Ringin’ in my head’s the 23rd psalm
I’ve seen the light
I’ve seen the darkness
Only God knows where my heart is
I’ve got my strength
And Lord knows, I’ve got my weakness
Oh, I’m lost somewhere between
Jack Daniels and Jesus

It’s my fault that I ain’t called
My momma in a month of Sundays
She’ll smell the whiskey through that phone
I can’t stand to hear her heartbreak
Next week, I see my brother Casey for the first time
Since it all went down
And I blacked his eye the night after our daddy died

I ain’t afraid to admit I’ve hit rock bottom
You wanna see a lifetime full of sins
Just look at me
I’ve got ’em

I’ve taken a ride in the devil’s Cadillac
I’ve been so high I thought I wasn’t coming back
And just when I think I’m too far gone
Ringin’ in my head’s the 23rd psalm
I’ve seen the light
I’ve seen the darkness
Only God knows where my heart is
I’ve got my strength
And Lord knows, I’ve got my weakness
Oh, I’m lost somewhere between
Jack Daniels and Jesus


This is what 25,000 bikes looks like from the Medic One Helicopter.

Wall to wall people



(can’t see the killer boots from here, but they were awesome.. lol)

I am watching life unfold for several young adults – some of them are making some very good life decisions, and some of them are making some incredibly bad life decisions, some of them very, very public, and some of them very private.   And my heart breaks.   In almost all of the cases, I say to myself, (and I’ve heard their parents say), “but they were raised differently than that”   and then I remember the words, “somewhere between Jack Daniels and Jesus” and remember that we’re really ALL somewhere on that journey.   I haven’t had Jack Daniels in over 30 years  – one REALLY BAD experience with it all those years ago, and I can’t even smell the stuff to this day…. And I was raised differently than that…. And still, I made some poor life choices along the way – hopefully ones that I have learned from, and that have made me stronger.  By the grace of God alone, He brought me through those poor choices and gave me a second chance, or maybe a third and fourth.   And, by the grace of God, He will bring those folks through their choices as well, allowing U-turns to correct their course.   Pray for them, will ya?


Copyright 2018 Journey For Life – all rights reserved

Postmarked miracle

Several years ago, our oldest daughter was applying for scholarships during her senior year of high school. One application was due to be postmarked by January 16th. The sixteenth of January was a Saturday that year, and Monday was Martin Luther King day, and post offices were closed. On Monday we realized she had not submitted the application in time for the envelope to be postmarked in time. I was very angry that she had missed the opportunity as normally she was extremely responsible. There was no way she’d be considered for the scholarship. As the realization of the cost of college was sinking in, I became even more stressed about the situation.

As I was ranting about irresponsibility, and how there no way the envelope would be post marked in time, I felt a voice tell me to send it anyway. On Tuesday morning, January 19, I gathered the envelope and headed to the post office to be there when they opened. I was first in line, holding the envelope that should have been mailed on Saturday. As I handed the teller the envelope, I asked if it would be postmarked today. The teller picked up the postmark stamp, looked at it and said, “yes”. He stamped the date and looked down in shock. With an apologetic gasp, he said, “oh no! It says the sixteenth! I must have looked at it wrong and thought it was the nineteenth. I guess we didn’t change it on Saturday. Will that be a problem?” “Um, problem?? No, the sixteenth will be just fine. Thank you!”

I stood there amazed, not because I don’t know that God can do big miracles, but because He cared about something so small to show me He’s still in the miracle business. God took a situation that seemed impossible and completely turned it around. God is just THAT kind of God.

If we can trust Him in small miracles, we can trust Him with big ones, too.

Trusting Him for a HUGE miracle!



Copyright 2018. Journey For Life. All rights reserved.

Thoughts and prayers

I read a tweet shortly after the reports of the mass shooting in a church near San Antonio, that said, “thoughts and prayers failed again.”  My heart is broken.

Did our thoughts and prayers fail?

I’ve spent evenings this weekend watching episodes of horrific real life stories on ID TV, which left me thinking about all of the evil that exists in the world.   Episode after episode, incredible stories of wives who murdered their husbands, boyfriends who murdered girlfriends, friends who murdered friends.  While I find the stories fascinating, I must admit that the sheer volume of stories of such violence is alarming.  These are only the ones they’ve publicized.  Our morning news is polluted with acts of violence. I can understand why someone could draw the conclusion that our prayers failed.

Just weeks after the Mandolay Bay shooting, once again the nation mourns a tragic mass shooting, this time in San Antonio.   We post photos on our Facebook profiles that say, “pray for San Antonio”.

The tweeter’s words are haunting.  Really haunting.  His words make it sound like God has failed us, that our prayers are futile. Have we become so calloused from continued exposure to such evil in our world that our words sound shallow?

Did our thoughts and prayers fail?

Is God turning a deaf ear to our prayers?  The Bible tells of growing evil in the last days.  Though we don’t know when it will be, the book of Revelation is clear that there will come a time that God will say enough is enough.  God is a just God.  However, God wishes that all would come to know Him.

Our message in church today was centered on 1 Corinthians 16:9 “because a great door had been opened and there will be many who oppose”.  As we do more of God’s will, we often face more adversity.  Conversely, in the face of adversity, there are often doors of opportunity to share our faith with others.

At the risk of sounding trite by saying “pray for San Antonio”, I know that the community is grieving this evening, just as the communities of Las Vegas, New York, Columbine, Paducah, South Carolina, Florida, and countless other communities who struggle to understand the evil that lurks among them.    Hard to understand, for sure.  We may never understand in this side of heaven the extent of hatred of the Evil One that permeates our world, but know this: your prayers are not futile, and they haven’t failed.

I will continue praying for the people who have endured evil in this world, that they may know the peace that passes understanding that comes only through our Lord  and Savior Jesus Christ!

I leave you with this challenge today:

As you listen to discussions around the water cooler this week,  keep you eyes opened for the doors of opportunity to open to share a time when God heard your prayers; not only heard them, but answered them; not only small ones, but big ones, too; perhaps even during a time of adversity when it seemed He wasn’t listening.

See, we are His witnesses.  A witness is someone who testified what they have seen.   As believers in Him, we have seen him answer prayers.  It is our duty not only to continue praying for a lost world, but to share with that world what He has done for us individually.

No, our thought and prayers have not failed. Let’s bless others this week with stories of how He has answered our prayers.



Copyright Journey-For-Life. 2017. All rights reserved. 

Bent Nails

Theology in Nails?

There are many theological references one can make about nails – the obvious one relating to the nails that pierced Jesus’ hands.   However, during my basement remodel project, I thought about a different theological application of nails… the bent ones.  Been there?  (This picture is actually from google images, but it COULD have been taken in my basement – except that I’ve already gotten rid of the evidence… except one, which is my favorite.  I will save that for another time.   hahah)

bent nails

I’m probably the only one that does this, but when you’re pounding a nail in, and you can feel it starting to go south on you…. do you a) stop hitting it, pull it out, (mumbling curse words under your breath – or straight out loud) and get a different nail b) hit the nail from a slightly different direction, hoping to correct it and get it “back on track” or c) continue hitting, hoping for the best?   I’ve done all of the above.   And honestly, when I’m doing item b above, I am thinking to myself (Every time), “this is probably what God is doing right now…. Hitting me upside the head from a different direction, hoping I will ‘get it’ this time”   and then I’m sad when it goes completely south.  Every once in a while, I’ve been able to correct a south-bound nail – and I am ecstatic!   And I think, “VICTORY!!!”    and I wonder if God gets just as ecstatic when someone “gets it” – the Bible tells us there is rejoicing in heaven when a sinner comes home – I believe that is true..  You see, the cool thing about God is that, no matter how crooked the path, He always allows U-turns.   There are times when it takes us getting “hit with a hammer” to really get what God is saying to us.   No matter how bent the nail, Jesus can restore us for His original purpose.  

 Copyright Journey-For-Life. 2017. All rights reserved. 

Father-Shaped Hole

Eventually I learned that Jesus, and only Jesus, can fill the father-shaped hole in my heart.

The mere utterance of the word “father” paints vividly different picture for many different people.  For some, the picture is alive and well and changing every day.  For others, the colorful picture is full of wonderful memories, each painted in the throes of happy times over a lifetime of events.  For others, more of a black and white, dull emotionless; and for others still, the picture of blackness, representing the loneliness of the father-shaped hole in their heart created by the absence of that essential relationship.

In the month of June each year we honor our fathers on the hallmark day set aside for them.  I remember so vividly the pencil holder I made for Fathers’ Day when I was in third grade.  It was made by meticulously tearing tiny bits of masking tape, applying them randomly to a soup can until it was completely covered.  Then, after covered in masking tape bits, gently rubbing brown shoe polish, applied with an old rag, created the appearance of an aged, cracked glass container – in this case to hold pencils.  I was proud of that pencil holder, and looked forward to giving it to my Daddy.  As I put the finishing touches on his pencil holder, cancer continued to ravage his body to degrees that my 8 year old mind could not comprehend.  I knew he was sick, but did not fully understand all that his sickness would mean in my life.

Father’s day came, and he was thrilled to receive my work of art.  That work of art would be gently placed in his casket only days or weeks later.   I remember so clearly the night that he passed from this world into eternity – the details of which I cherish in private.  The finality of his death took many months for me to realize – it all seemed so surreal to me that I thought it was all a bad dream from which, one day I would wake.

Through his sickness, my father’s faith in God never waned.  He was, and remains to me, one of the most Christ-like men I have ever met.   When he was well, he would spend his lunch hours on the streets of Pittsburgh looking for people to whom he could witness – bringing the hope that he had through the saving grace of Jesus.  He knew that when he passed from this world, he would be entering eternity with Jesus.  For him, it was wonderful.  For me, it was devastating.  For many years, I could not understand how God could take someone like my father away from his family.  I was angry at God, and spent many years searching for ways to deal with the father-shaped hole left in my heart.

My mother, though wounded, stood as strong in her faith as she had through any hard times in life, and was the rock that my sister and I needed to keep us grounded.  Over the years, we continued to go to church and build relationships with those who eventually helped me to see that, thought I may not understand all, God indeed has a plan for my life.  Eventually, and through means and methods weaved into my life through God alone, I learned that Jesus, and only Jesus, can fill the father-shaped hole in my heart.  Though I may never understand, on this side of Heaven, why he chose to bring my father home when He did, I am confident that my life experiences have prepared me to continue that work; to spend time looking for people to whom I can witness – bringing the hope that I have through the saving grace of Jesus.

There are so many people who have father-shaped holes in their hearts – for some, the father-shaped hole may be have been created by fathers who have left, fathers who have died, or even fathers who are physically present but emotionally absent from their children’s lives.    My prayer is that they may come to know their Heavenly Father – and that He will fill the father-shaped hole in their hearts, preparing them to continue His work, looking for others to whom they can share their Hope.

Blessings to you all, my friends.

Copyright 2017 – Journey For Life – All rights reserved

Lucky Ducky Dog

If ever there was a time in my life that I wondered if God heard my prayers, those doubts disappeared one summer as God answered the prayers of a 10-year-old boy.

Our middle child was born with enormous compassion for people and animals.  At the age of 3, his decided profession was a zoo keeper.  We had two dogs that he loved very much.  The first one passed, and then a few years later the other passed.  Brokenhearted, he asked his dad if we could get another. His dad said, “No.”  He asked again, and again, and again, many times over the next several years.  Every time, his dad said, “No.”   Sometimes his dad would tell him, “When you have a house of your own, you can get a dog.”   Every Sunday during prayer request time in his Sunday school class, he would pray for a dog.  It got to the point where the Sunday school teacher would look at me when I picked him up from class and say, “Would you just get the kid a dog already?”   I would smile and say, “You don’t understand. Dad said, ‘No.’”

One day he had a brilliant idea.  Instead of praying that he would get a dog, he began to pray that God would change his dad’s heart.  I know this because his Sunday school teacher told me.

That summer, our church was preparing for vacation Bible School.  The theme was Avalanche Ranch and they had asked to borrow artificial Christmas trees as decorations.  Willingly, I donated our tree but kept forgetting to take the box out of the back of our van.  We drove to vacation Bible school each evening, and I would say to myself, “Don’t forget to get that box out when we get back home”, and then I would forget until the next evening when I saw it again.  This went on every evening from Monday until Thursday evening.

On Thursday evening, we took the same route home that we had taken every other evening this week.  With a little less than a mile to our house, we came upon a commotion on our very busy road.  Cars littered the sides of the road, pulled off in a haphazard fashion, and a small crowd of people gathered on the side of the road.   Obligingly, I pulled over, too, and began to get out of the car to see what had happened.   As I reached the side of the road, a tear-stained teenage boy looked up from his vantage point over-top of a black and white dog laying on the side of the road.

“I don’t even know where he came from!” he exclaimed. “I didn’t mean to hit him.  I don’t know what to do.  My friends went around to all of these houses to see if the dog belonged to anyone, but he doesn’t.  He has a collar on, but no tag on the collar.”   Visibly shaken, the young man sat there petting the bleeding canine.    My heart broke.  Then I remembered the box that I had forgotten to take out of my van all week. Peering down at them, I realized that the dog was larger than I could handle myself.   Before thinking it through, I found myself telling this young man that if he could help me pick the dog up, we could put him into the box in my car and I would take him to the vet.  After all, I just happened to have a cardboard box in there! Sobbing, he looked at me in wild amazement and said, “You would do that?”

Before I could fully comprehend what had just happened, we were riding down the road with a bleeding dog in the box that used to house my Christmas tree, and I was calling home to say we’d be later than planned.  Because he wanted to be zoo-keeper, I told my son that this was “his moment” and he could come and give comfort to the injured dog.  Almost immediately, my son began to ask, “Can we keep him? Can we keep him?”    I knew I couldn’t make a promise like that because I had no idea how badly injured he was.   Our youngest, who was 3 at the time, kept shouting, “I don’t like this dog!  He’s bleeding everywhere and he stinks!”  I called the local emergency vet service to explain the situation and see if we could bring him in for evaluation.  They asked if I was willing to pay for it.  “How much could it be?” I thought. “Of course I’m willing to pay for it.”

When we arrived at the emergency vet, we went inside and explained that we didn’t think the dog would be able to walk.  The vet tech came outside with a gurney, and we loaded up our newly named, “Lucky”, which we decided was much better than “Angel” or “Dead”.   The girls waited in the waiting room while my son and I talked with the vet.  They said that he’d have to stay overnight for evaluation.  On our way home that evening, I said to the kids (as if we were playing Monopoly and I was telling them to go directly to jail), “Not a word to your father.  Go directly to bed. Do not mention anything about a dog.  Got it?”  Luckily, they obeyed, giving me some additional time to figure out how to break the news to my husband.

The next morning, the vet called me to report that “Lucky” had lived through the night.  The X-ray revealed that he has a luxated paw, which they could repair for $2500.00.   I had no idea what a “luxated” paw was, so I asked about the risk of not having it fixed.  When they said that he might develop arthritis later in life, I decided that was a risk worth taking.  We opted to simply cast it and hope for the best.

“Then there’s the screw we found in his stomach,” they said.  “Screw??”   “Yes, he must have eaten a screw.  We can remove it for $4,000.”     “$4000?    Or… he could poop it out?”     “Well, yes, possibly, but it could tear his intestine lining on the way out.”

At this point, I was awestruck. “Listen, my son has been praying for a dog for years.  I am pretty sure that God we serve is bigger than the screw in this dog’s stomach, so I’m going to let God work it out.”    I didn’t think about it at the time but have since wondered if the people who worked at the vet service thought I was a lunatic.  They were probably thinking they needed to call psychiatric services to have a straight-jacket ready for me when I came to pick up the dog.   “I cannot return for the dog until this evening after vacation Bible school.  Will that be ok?”    “Yes, that’s fine.   But your bill is adding up by the hour,” they told me at 9 AM.   “How much will it be?”   “$1800, so far.”   “Goodnight,” I thought.   Good thing I didn’t elect the additional surgeries.

I called my mother that day to fill her in on the dog’s condition.   “You cannot just show up at home with a dog,” she said.   Of course, I can.  It’s called:  beg for forgiveness rather than ask permission.  I do it all the time.  After all, my son had asked permission for years now, and it hadn’t worked in his favor!

That evening, during vacation Bible school, I mustered up the courage to call my husband.  I began the whole story by letting him know of our son’s Sunday school prayers, and slowly recounted the entire tale up through present time.  Anxiously, I listened to the silence on the other end of the phone.  After what seemed like an eternity of silence, my husband slowly said, “You hit the dog, didn’t you?” Ha.  You can’t make this stuff up.  “No, I really didn’t.”     “You’re bringing the dog home, aren’t you?”    “Um.  Yes, that’s my plan”.     S-i-l-e-n-c-e, followed by a long sigh.  “Ok, then, I’ll see you in a little while,” I said cheerily and then promptly hung up.   That evening, we went to pick the dog up while the girls went with my mom to buy dog food and leashes.   Poor Lucky had an enormous cone on his head, and his paw was bandaged in a small blue cast.  He stunk to high heaven… I mean… STUNK.

Still a little unsure how my husband would respond, I led Lucky into our house and toward our bedroom to meet him.  As I entered the house, my daughters’ friend exclaimed, “Hey, I know that dog!  Call my dad!  He knows who owns him!”    Briefly, Lucky and I entered the bedroom, walked over to my husband to say our Hello’s, and then right back out to the garage.  When I called to find out more about the dog, Glenn told me empathetically that the dog was better off with us.

That weekend, we left word at the police station and local veterinarians that we had found a dog and posted information on Facebook, and various other places.  Had someone actively been looking for the dog, we left plenty of avenues for them to have found us.

A few days passed.  One afternoon, while visiting with Lucky in our garage, my husband stopped.  He bent down and petted his head, making a remark about what a sorry sight he was.  “You know, don’t you, that we don’t know whether or not he’s had shots, so we’re going to have to get him vaccinated.    If someone claims him, they’ll have to reimburse us for the vaccination.”   All of a sudden, a light bulb went of over-top of my husbands’ head – you know, just like in the movies!   “How much have you spent on this dog?” he asked.    Uh-oh.  “This is the end of the line,” I thought.  “Uh.  You don’t have to worry about it,” I said.   “Um.  Yes.  I do.”    When I told him what the bill was, I thought he’d fall over.   He exclaimed, “No one is EVER going to reimburse us THAT amount of money!”   After a brief pause, he said, “Well, looks like we better buy a pooper scooper.”


A few days later, we took Lucky to the vet to be vaccinated.  In a follow-up x-ray, they confirmed no presence of a screw in his stomach, and no damage to his internals.   Six weeks later, his cast and cone came off, and Lucky became a permanent fixture in our home.  Don’t tell, but I have often busted my husband cuddling Lucky when he thinks no one is watching.  😉

To be sure, we could have found a cheaper dog at the pound; but the story we can tell about Lucky is far more priceless than that. For me, Lucky represents I John 5:14-15, “And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us.  And if we know that he hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests that we have asked of him.”     Many of us would look at a prayer from a young boy as insignificant, but God didn’t.  Because I knew that God cared enough about a 10 year old boy to answer his prayer, I knew that I could trust God with prayers both big and small.  Lucky will forever be a part of my own personal journey toward a deeper faith in a God that loves us enough to answer the prayer of a 10 year old boy. Today, that boy is a freshman in college studying youth ministry, thanks, in part, to this answered prayer.


If you doubt that God hears your individual and specific prayers, think again.   He loves each and every one of us, and is waiting to hear from us so that He may pour His blessings out on us.

I would love to hear how God has answered prayer in your life.  Please feel free to contact me through comments below or at sbjourneyforlife@gmail.com.



In an Instant

The news hit me last Sunday evening like a ton of bricks.   My friend, Bob, lost his nineteen-year-old son in a car accident late Saturday night.   Ryan was a phenomenal drummer, a sophomore in college with a promising life in front of him.  In an instant it all changed.   His father, my friend, is a successful executive at a world-renown accounting firm.  Just over a year ago, he opened a recording studio – his lifelong dream.  Just weeks ago, the studio signed its first artist.   Bob and his wife, Dana, returned from a trip to Australia last week.  They were on top of the world.  In an instant it all changed.  Ryan’s brother Brett was following in his brothers’ footsteps, with talents of his own. In an instant, his world changed.

Later that evening, the news of the Las Vegas shooting broke, and I thought about all the “Bob’s” and “Dana’s” and “Brett’s” who lost sons, daughters, brothers, sisters, friends in a senseless act of violence.  In an instant, the lives of hundreds, maybe thousands of people changed.   From the mountain to the valley.  In an instant.

Throughout our lives, we all have mountain-top experiences and valley-experiences.  To live life on the mountaintop seems magical, but unrealistic.  Ironically, as we interact with an intimate circle of friends, we find some of them are on the mountaintop at the same time others are in the valley.  In a painful irony, my husband and I traveled to visit our son this weekend. It had been six weeks since he left home for his freshman year at a college nearly 1,000 miles from our home.  We were excited to see him – it felt like an eternity since we had seen him in person.  Pangs of guilt infused my soul as I thought about the fact that Bob and Dana were laying their son to rest for a true eternity.  This dichotomy of emotion is inevitable in the world we live.  In Romans 12:15, the Bible instructs us to “rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn.  I mourn with Bob and Dana, and with the Bob’s and Dana’s of Las Vegas.

The mountains have been shaken indeed this week, personally, locally, nationally.  As we  grieve with those who grieve and mourn with those who mourn, remember the words of God the Father, in Isaiah 54:10 10Though the mountains be shaken and the hills be removed, yet my unfailing love for you will not be shaken nor my covenant of peace be removed,” says the LORD, who has compassion on you.

Live in harmony with one another.



mountains and valleys3

Isaiah 54:10 10Though the mountains be shaken and the hills be removed, yet my unfailing love for you will not be shaken nor my covenant of peace be removed,” says the LORD, who has compassion on you.