Urgent Prayer Request – Blackaby

UPDATE and Prayer Request:  Richard Blackaby (Henry’s eldest son) is asking for continued prayer for his father:

“Quadruple bypass surgery on Tuesday. (Sept. 24) 70-100% blockages. Possible earlier heart attack. He has been empowered by God!”

UPDATE and PRAISE ! 

The Blackaby family would like everyone to know that Henry has been found and is safe. His health concerns are being addressed and we will keep everyone posted with the news. We wish to express to everyone our appreciation and gratitude for the prayers and concern over the last 29 hours. Henry has taught us that we can experience God in the good and the bad times. We thank God that we have experienced his grace, peace, and faithfulness in these times.

I have strong ties and connections with the entire Blackaby family and I am asking my thousands of readers of my blog to please pray earnestly for this prayer request.  All updates will be posted on the Blackaby Ministries International.  Please pray.

URGENT!! The Blackaby family requests your prayers for Dr. Henry Blackaby in the midst of difficult circumstances at this moment. Henry has been missing since 4:00pm yesterday (Thursday) in the South Atlanta area. He was driving a black Lincoln sedan. Please pray for him to be found and if you are in the Atlanta area, please be on the lookout for Henry or his car along the roadside. Please check the BMI Home page for updates. Thank you for your partnership in prayer!

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Guilty Mamas

I had it all planned.  great kid

When I discovered I was expecting my first child I had a vision in my head how it would be…you know…a perfect pregnancy, no complications, no issues with breast-feeding, no postpartum depression…JUST perfection!  Unfortunately MY reality was less than perfect, in fact, I had complications mid way through the pregnancy when I started to bleed and doctors were saying I might miscarry.  It was only a scare but that immediately bumped me to “high-risk pregnancy” in the doctor’s notes from then on.  When I went overdue and doctors tried to intervene by inducing the birth, that only complicated matters.  The baby refused to come and I developed an infection that plagued me and my baby when she was finally delivered by C-section three weeks overdue.  I had planned a natural birth, but no…it was an emergency C-section.  I wasn’t awake when she was born and I didn’t see her for hours.  So much for that first minute of “bonding” experience after her birth.  She and I developed fevers and she was rushed to the Neonatal Intensive Care and I was put on a medication to fight a post-birth infection.  It meant no breast-feeding until I came off the medication that doctors said could cause adverse reactions in babies.  When I was finally able to try breast-feeding, my daughter was already so used to bottle feedings she refused the breast.  I experienced the first of many pounding hammers of guilt starting to beat down on me.  I walked into my home holding my beautiful baby girl after having spent nearly two weeks in hospital and immediately burst into tears.  So much for my perfect vision of motherhood!

The guilt continued to sledgehammer at me each day.  I was sore from the C-section, I was tired, my child was a slow feeder so bottle feedings lasted an hour and I never had time to do anything around the house in-between feedings.  My house looked like a disaster area, I could barely brush my teeth, or run a comb through my hair, let alone prepare a meal for my hard-working husband.  I spiraled into postpartum blues and I cried more than I smiled around my precious child.  Another blow of the sledgehammer!

After a routine visit several months after the birth of my daughter to a dentist…yes, a DENTIST, I finally let the guilt get the best of me.  I burst into tears when he asked me how I liked being a new mom and he told me to go see my family doctor immediately.  In fact, he wouldn’t let me leave his office until I had made the appointment.

The next day, all the guilt and emotional turmoil of unmet expectations about being a new mom, surfaced at the doctor’s office.  She gave me her phone number to put by my bedside in the event I felt suicidal, and she went on “crisis mode” with me.  To tell the truth, I never realized I had sunk that far down.  It terrified me.

I had been very good hiding how I actually felt from my husband, friends and family.  Ten minutes before my husband came home from work each day, I would tear around the house, tidying and throwing something together for supper, and throw some clothes on (rather than have him see me in the pj’s I wore all day).  I never neglected my child, but I fed, clothed and bathed her without the joy a new mom was supposed to have.  I was just going through the motions.  I never left the house during the day, I never trusted anyone else to babysit, so I felt like I was trapped inside the house.  The only time I did leave was to go to church and there it appeared to everyone that I had my act together.  I was a great actress…pride would not have me admit that I was a mess.  Guilt, guilt, GUILT!

When I admitted this all to my doctor, she gave me sound suggestions to help me crawl out of the hole I had dug for myself.  She told me to stop being afraid to leave my baby with a sitter.  She told me to get over the guilt of not having a “natural” birth and not being able to breast feed.  I had to stop comparing myself with other “perfect” moms and realize that there is NO SUCH THING!  Practically, I was supposed to go on a date with my husband, join an exercise class and commit to doing something just for me at least once a day…read a book, have a bubble bath, take a walk; get out of the house once in a while.  She told me to get together with other moms for support and encouragement.

As per doctor’s orders, I scheduled a babysitter and went out on a “date” with my husband, the first time we had been alone in months since the birth of our child.  I joined a Mom/Tot exercise class.  I didn’t drop any weight but it got me out of the house for an hour.  I reluctantly signed up to do a morning craft class at church where I met a lady with a daughter who was four days older than my daughter.  I had no way of knowing what a “life-line” that would prove to be for me then and now.  Shirley, has become one of my closest, dearest friends.  Practical, helpful, non-judgmental, she has been my “go to” person for close to thirty years, and our two girls are best friends to this day!  Gradually, I started to climb out of the hole and start to let go of some of the guilt that had weighed me down as a less-than-perfect new mom.

I have learned that one of the biggest weapons the enemy aims at moms is whispering our inadequacies in our ears constantly.  “You are a terrible mom because…” and he lists our short-comings, our faults, and heaps the guilt on us every chance he can get.  It never stops.  New moms, moms with children, moms of teens, moms of adults, grandmothers…yep, he knows our weaknesses and reminds us of them all the time.  I need to be reminded, every time I hear his whisperings and can feel the guilt start to weigh me down that I am to submit to God and resist the devil, because if I do he will flee! (James 4:7)

Guilt is a hard thing to let go of.  I still feel sorry I wasn’t able to be the new mom I thought I should be with my oldest child…but then again I wasn’t (and will never be) that kind of mom with ANY of my children or grandchildren.  I’m not Superwoman, I’m just me!

Empty Nesting – Week 4

We might be an empty nest but it’s not really been THAT EMPTY…in fact, we welcomed our second grandbaby into the world yesterday, soemptynest[1] our children may have moved out but there’s still a ton of activity around our house right now.

We’ve had the awesome privilege of having our young grandson, Jaxon stay with us for a few nights while his mommy and daddy and new baby sister have been getting some much-needed bonding time in the hospital.  Jaxon, (2 1/2 years old), was well-prepared for welcoming his sister.  My daughter and son-in-law have been amazing with reading to him and talking about his new responsibility of “big brother” ever since they discovered they were expecting.  When I brought him to the hospital to meet his sister for the first time, he immediately felt a connection with her evident in the way he patted her head oh-so-gently and held her tiny fingers.  He was mesmerized!  He was right there watching as the nurses bathed Kharis for the first time, and when she cried, he calmed her with cooing at her and touching her softly on her head.

As I watched my two grandchildren interact together for the first time, my heart was overwhelmed by the way God blesses us with this gift of children (and now grandchildren).  I’m realizing more and more the new role, or season of life, God now has in store for me and I feel immeasurably loved by the Father as a result.

Proverbs 17:6  “Children’s children are a crown to the aged, and parents are the pride of their children.”

Show Me A Sign

For my readers who are not C8887653anadian, this may or may not be unsettling for you.  For those of you who are unaware of Canada’s “divided” status, you might actually be shocked at the fact that we have a “separatist” government nestled nicely in Quebec, but the province itself is still under Federal or National jurisdiction so to speak.  Yeah, it’s wonky, but that’s the way it is.  It’s like having Benedict Arnold sitting comfortably in the middle of all the Knights of the Round Table.  He doesn’t like anything the other knights are doing, and doesn’t want to cooperate with them in any way, but the other “knights” won’t kick him out because they “need” him so  there’s not an empty seat around the table.  (I’m definitely showing my Albertan “red-neck” side with that last statement) :)

For those of you who do not know, Canada is a bilingual nation, with French and English being the two official languages.  Now I don’t have a problem with that per se, however, when a separatist Benedict Arnold is the only one at the table speaking French, and refuses to allow the other provinces (knights) to speak anything else but French around them, then I have a little issue with bilingualism.  Benedict has thus become a standoffish bully and…well…you know how I feel about bullies!

The latest in separatist Benedict’s, (I mean Premier Ms. Marois’) bullying tactics is a new Quebec Charter of Values that would see all civil servants be banned from wearing any kind of religious symbol. “The plan would apply to judges, police, prosecutors, public daycare workers, teachers, school employees, hospital workers and municipal personnel.”  “One justification given for the supposed need for a values charter is that some instances of religious accommodation have given rise to a “profound discomfort” in Quebec. Yet what there has been of these have been piddling instances, blown out of proportion, over parking exemptions on religious holidays or specialty food served at a sugar shack.”  (Editorial: Montreal Gazette)

The ban would be against hijabs, kippas, turbans, Crosses, the Star of David, etc., and, in my personal opinion, goes against the whole idea of religious freedom we hold so dear here in Canada.

The controversy surrounding this new Charter of Values in Quebec is substantial with supporters and opponents on both sides.  It has surprisingly unified Muslims, Buddhists, Christians and other faiths who are crying “unfair” because they are unable to wear jewellery or clothing that identifies themselves with any religious organization, cult or faith.

Atheists seem to be the most pleased with the turn of events…until of course they inadvertently wear a t-shirt one day to work that identifies them as atheists and are then charged under the new Charter of Values…

I wonder if bumper stickers, magnetic ribbons and those awful “stick family” figures in the back windows of cars will also be subject one day to this Charter?  I mean, where does it end?  I know people who value their sport’s team, or their pets, or their homes, cars, music even more than they do their god.  Will all that fall under a ban eventually too?  I mean will it one day be against the law to show off the colours of your favorite hockey team because it may offend another sports fan who doesn’t share your “belief” in that team.  See how ludicrous this all is???

It will be an interesting time of debate over this new Canadian controversy.  Perhaps it’s time for the good people of Quebec to oust this particular separatist Benedict Arnold (in this case, Premier Pauline Marois) and allow her to go fight stupid crusades like this on her own.  I would certainly like to see Quebec become that gallant “knight” it once was around the Federal round table.

Empty Nesting – Week 3

It’s a funny thing.  The kids have moved out but now they seem to want to come home just to chat or spend time witinyourhaircor2-1h their father and me.  Over the past week, I have had lunch or dinner with each of the children, very spur of the moment, and incredibly pleasant.  I say that because the last few years when they lived at home, they always seemed to be too busy to join us for a meal, either with work schedules or their social calendar commitments.  Then when they were home they would sequester themselves in their rooms and conversation with them was generally a sporadic exchange of information from then on.

What has happened?  We haven’t changed…

My son even offered to pay for an expensive dinner out.  What is the world coming to??

I will admit, I’ve been wondering if they are having ulterior motives for this unusual behavior but so far it’s obvious they just like to “drop in” and visit.  I haven’t changed.  My husband hasn’t changed.  We’re still the same old, same old, talking the same language, doing the same things as we’ve always done while the kids were at home.  What has happened?  If we haven’t changed…gasp!…have they? :)

Of course I’m being facetious.  I think I am finally seeing the fruition of “training up a child in the way he should go”, and I know it’s still too early to say for sure, but perhaps they are seeing their parents in a different light as well.  We’re not just the parental units who nagged them to do their homework, or to clean their rooms.  We are not looked upon as their personal chauffeurs anymore, or their chefs, or their management consultants, or money-doler-outers.  In fact, they seem to be actually grateful when we prepare a meal, or offer advice, or buy them something.  Hmmmm…we haven’t changed…gasp!…have they? :)

Proverbs 1:8-9 ESV  “Hear, my son, your father’s instruction, and forsake not your mother’s teaching, for they are a graceful garland for your head and pendants for your neck.”

 

Empty Nesting – Week 2

imagesIt has been a little over two weeks since our last little bird flew the nest and is now nestling in nicely at school.  Yes, she nearly flew back home the minute she experienced “Syllabus Shock”, but knowing that her mantra over the past few months has been, “I want to be treated like an adult“, we did exactly what she asked.  We treated her like an adult and allowed her to tough it out on her own.  Hard lesson for all of us.

My husband and I spent last weekend tidying up our much-neglected yard, accomplishing tasks that have irritated us for years.  I think we had always assumed that one of our children would enjoy working at our side but that was for the most part just wishful thinking.  My children, bless their hearts, would rather stick “needles in their eyes” as Jack Nicholson said in “Terms of Endearment”, than help us with yard work.  Knowing that, we decided it was just high time we did these nagging chores ourselves sans help from the kids.  In fact, since the kids have left, my husband and I are much more prone to getting things done around the house.  The nagging has stopped.  Chores that were once delegated to children, with the associated weeping, and gnashing of teeth on both sides to get them to perform set chores, are now ours and ours alone to do.  Washing dishes together has become a fun chore, with my husband kissing my neck as he “helps”.  (Yes, we are free to display some outward affection towards one another now in the kitchen without the sound of “Eeeewwwww!” from our scandalized children.)

My husband and I have rediscovered conversation.  Yes, we still talk about the kids, but now we also have lengthy discussions about the wonders of the universe, pondering infinity, or we enjoy just being silent and listening to the crackle of an outdoor fire and hearing the coyotes yowling in the distance.

While my husband is at work, I have discovered that I’m less stressed about my day.  I have a lengthy quiet time with God, not a hurried, “Help me!” prayer before rushing off to get children organized for their day.  I spend now a concerted amount of time before His Throne.  To be honest, I haven’t been able to do that in years.  It is like I’m reconnecting with Him as well.

I am rediscovering a new vitality in my soul and body.  Yes, it’s true.  As I opened scripture this morning these verses popped out at me:

Ecclesiastes 12:1-8 (MSG) “Honor and enjoy your Creator while you’re still young, Before the years take their toll and your vigor wanes, Before your vision dims and the world blurs And the winter years keep you close to the fire.  In old age, your body no longer serves you so well. Muscles slacken, grip weakens, joints stiffen. The shades are pulled down on the world. You can’t come and go at will. Things grind to a halt. The hum of the household fades away. You are wakened now by bird-song. Hikes to the mountains are a thing of the past. Even a stroll down the road has its terrors. Your hair turns apple-blossom white, Adorning a fragile and impotent matchstick body. Yes, you’re well on your way to eternal rest, While your friends make plans for your funeral.  Life, lovely while it lasts, is soon over. Life as we know it, precious and beautiful, ends. The body is put back in the same ground it came from. The spirit returns to God, who first breathed it.  It’s all smoke, nothing but smoke. The Quester says that everything’s smoke.”

I have always thought that “youth” in this context was directed towards those young people who are in their early thirties and younger, but I am discovering that being an Empty Nester this passage challenges me as well.  The years have not as yet taken their toll, I’m a little hard of hearing, true, but there are still years and years of discovering and experiencing more and more of life and God before my eternal rest – God willing.  I intend to take full advantage of that!

Encouragement for a Discouraged Author

As an author, I have certainseal of approvally experienced my ups and downs, disappointments and joys.  From five-star reviews to a one star scathing review a year ago from a Satanist who read my book and “hated it”.  I know, I know…it’s a “duh moment”; of course a Satanist would hate my books that are Christ-centred but still it’s tough to have someone trash a book that I’ve spent so much time and energy on.  Every author, no matter how famous and well-known you are, will experience a bad review.  It’s inescapable.

But this week has been an unforgettable week for me personally as an author, and I can honestly say I had nothing to do with it, it was all God. 

It started out with an email from Literary Classics saying my book, Love the Wounded, had received a five-star review and the “Seal of Approval” from them. Literary Classics is “an organization dedicated to furthering excellence in  children’s and young adult literature, takes great pride in its role to help promote classic literature which appeals to youth, while educating and encouraging positive values in the impressionable young minds of future generations.”   To learn more about Literary Classics, you may visit their website at www.clcawards.org or www.childrensliteraryclassics.com

This recognition came right out of the blue for me.  I was shocked, humbled and honoured and immediately I praised God because it was only last week I had begged God to give me some kind of “sign” that He still wanted me to write because I was so discouraged about it all that I was seriously considering giving up writing entirely and getting a “real” job.

I received another email that very same day, from a man in Saudi Arabia.  He had read my story, “Do Angels Wear Glasses?” in the Chicken Soup for the Soul book: Parenthood.  He said the story, “touched my heart and soothed my soul in a very positive way” and just wanted to write to me and tell me that.  How cool is that?

But I have found that God always speaks to me in threes.  Don’t ask me why.  I’m like Peter, I guess.  (John 21:1-25)

I received an email yesterday from a blog writer whom I had never met, who said he thought my writing was “great” and he wanted to feature my books on his Facebook page.  I was flattered, I’ve had my books featured on lots of Facebook pages before, but I had no idea the exposure THIS page would give them.  What Christians Want to Know is wildly popular and has a HUGE fan audience with 146 K followers.  Within minutes of my books being posted on the page there were a hundred “likes” and shares.

Things like this don’t just happen by accident or coincidence…

So today, I am praising God for encouraging a discouraged author.