Julie’s note: Denise’s post was to run November 20, but I wasn’t able to access my site because in a pure genius move, I left my laptop at my mom’s in Upstate NY. This post falls under better late than never. I know you will enjoy Denise as much as I do!
I truly give thanks for every breathe I take. When I laid in intensive care last year for 11 days, after having a stroke, I did not know how many breaths, I might have left.
But, praise be to God, from whom all our blessings flow, He blessed me, by pouring more life into me.
After leaving intensive care, I immediately went to a rehab hospital for 11 more days. Upon entering the rehab, I had no clue, if I would ever be able to walk again. But, my God is never clueless, He knew the answer all along. The first few days, He carried me. Then, He gave me the strength to get out of that wheelchair, and walk. Slowly, but, surely, I was able to stay out of that wheelchair.
It has now been 14 months since my stroke. Praise God, I am able to be at home with my husband, and sweet puppy coco. Am I the woman that I was before the stroke? No, a lot of things are different now. Such as extreme weakness in both legs, and feet, also weakness in arms, and hands. Speech problems, constant pain in my head. But, none of that is going to keep me down, or keep me from praising God.
All that truly matters, is that I am alive. I am blessed to be here today, November 20th, celebrating my 49th birthday. Woo Hoo!! Also looking forward to thanksgiving this year, so many blessings to count. Hope I can count that high!!
Denise Oldham Age-49 Happily Married for almost 28 years to Eddie. Children-1 precious 7 month old pit bull puppy, named Coco. I live in Tennessee. I am a huge fan of Alabama Crimson Tide Football Team. Roll Tide!! I enjoy blogging, singing, writing, and reading. God is my everything.
It’s been so fun reading these guest thankful posts with you. The month is almost over, and although I faced obstacle after obstacle working on my NaNoWriMo novel (my word count is on the right sidebar if you want to see how challenged I am,) I wanted to chime in with my thankful thoughts.
I posted this as my Facebook status Thanksgiving day:
I choose thankfulness! My broken wrist and eventual surgery taught me to wait on His timing. A major shakeup at my home church taught me church family can’t be confined to a building, because we are all one Body. In many things this year I realized the measure of moving forward with favor and acceleration was in tandem to how I walk in grace and forgiveness. What felt hopeless now is a thriving situation with the kids. I’m thankful that although to me He seemed four days late, He was and will always be right on time. These truths are what I feast on, and I’ll wear fat pants for the food!
I’d like to expand on that.
It’s been a tough year. I realized my wrist surgery symbolized my 2012. It took a plate and screws to heal me. My wrist looks the same, but it’s not. It will never be as it was.
That speaks to much in my life right now. Everything looks as it was in 2011, but it isn’t. My guess is my life is in a paradigm shift,something I’ve realized the faster I embrace it and stay thankful, the faster God blesses. My knee jerk reaction to change is to:
A. Freak Out
B. Run Miles Ahead of God to guarantee success, only to fail miserably.
I treated the transitions with fair amounts of A and B. I started making lists of all the prayers and declarations I needed to make. As Godly as it sounded, it wasn’t the right way to handle things. In fact, I was ready to run so far ahead that God reminded me that I was in Sarah Plan B mode- and for Sarah-her making things happen created an Ishmael of a situation.
So what was I supposed to do?
God was and remains clear. For all the crazy plans, deep prayers, and reactions to this year, God has asked me to do one and only one thing.
Agree with His plan.
When I pray for people, I name them and say I agree with His plan for them.
When I pray for my country, I agree with His plan, even though I don’t understand it.
When I pray for my church, I name it and agree with His plan, even though things could shake further, or maybe not, but either way, I have to trust Him.
I agree with His plan for people I don’t see as often as I used to.
I agree with His plan for people where their choices or words or combination were like kicks in the gut to me.
I agree with His plan for the school the kids attend.
I agree with His plan for my husband.
I agree with His plan for our marriage.
I agree with His plan for my writing and other ministry.
Get the picture?
Don’t worry, I don’t all the time either. I make myself agree with His plan as part of my everyday speech. Everytime I do that, it becomes a little bit easier.
Which wasn’t anything like this year. How about you?
Our Service Men and Women Deserve Thanks For All They Do
As our annual day of thankfulness approaches, it’s once again time to take stock of the things for which we’re grateful. We generally dwell on areas like good health, friends, and family, but we need to broaden our scope to include those blessings we tend to take for granted, particularly the freedoms offered by our country. So many places in the world do not enjoy the liberties and choices we experience day after day.
To think along these lines means appreciating the men and women around the world who have willingly stepped into harm’s way both now and in the past to keep our liberty alive. This includes both active military personnel and the defense contractor employees who today play a large role in supporting our troops all over the world and who are also putting their lives on the line.
Many of the defense contractors work to thank our military personnel by providing a little bit of home in faraway places. DynCorp International currently supports U.S. troops and civilian employees in Southern Afghanistan, and each year their food service staff creates a Thanksgiving meal for those who can’t be with their families for the holiday.
Here at home, DI and other defense contractors such as Raytheon and Lockheed Martin thank our troops by supporting their families and by hiring soldiers when their military service ends. Once hired, our former warriors give to us again through volunteer work performed as employees of these various companies.
Along with being a strategic partner of the Hire Our Heroes program and a member of the Veterans Employment Advisory Council (VEAC), Lockheed Martin employees participate in a number of community volunteer efforts including STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) education outreach activities and their Employee Disaster Relief Fund.
Similarly, Raytheon Corporation helps former military personnel make the transition back to civilian life with their Wounded Warrior Project and is also committed to community outreach in math and science education as well as support to local communities. This includes volunteering, charitable giving and contributions.
So this year, when you number all the things you’re grateful for, remember all that our service men and women have done–and are still doing–to make our lives and our communities richer in so many ways.
I have four wacky, zany children. They are 18, 13, 11 and 11, and share not a shred of DNA among them. I’m thankful for that.
Perhaps I should explain.
We spent eight years trying to get pregnant. We finally did. Emma, our oldest, was born on Christmas Eve after ten years of marriage and a lot of medical intervention. She is in her freshman year of college earning her BFA in photography.
We tried a couple times after that, but it didn’t work. We thought about adoption, but my husband was reluctant. He wasn’t sure he could love someone else’s baby like he could his own. But like they say: a woman becomes a mom when she gets pregnant; a man becomes a father when he sees the baby. We went to Bosnia on a humanitarian mission a few years later. An orphanage filled with babies, toddlers and children whom no one could ever adopt changed his mind. We came home and started filling out paperwork.
We eventually adopted three children from Kazakhstan. The first was three months old when we got her. He admits he still wondered about it on the plane trip over. We drove an hour outside of the capital to a tiny snow-covered building, and waited in the director’s office while they went to get the baby. When they brought her out, she was wrapped in so many blankets we could only see her dark eyes and nose. He says as soon as he saw her face, all his questions just “went away.” They weren’t even answered—they just went away. We went back eighteen months later and brought home a seven-month-old girl and a six-month-old boy.
Our house is loud and messy and sometimes out of control. But for that I am grateful. Because I remember the times I stood crying in the shower begging God for a baby. We wanted six kids when we got married. Had God answered our prayers, they all be grown and gone by now. Instead, we have this mix-and-match collection that fills our home with love and laughter, and yes, sometimes fights and crying. But He also brought three children to us that otherwise likely would never have heard the name of Jesus. What He could do with that in the future, only He knows. For now, I just try to enjoy it, and be thankful every day for my incredible family.
Bio:Carole Towriss grew up in beautiful San Diego, California. Now she and her husband live just north of Washington, DC. In between making tacos and telling her four children to pick up their shoes for the third time, she reads, watches chick flicks, writes and waits for summertime to return to the beach. Her first novel, In the Shadow of Sinai, released November 1. You can find her at www.CaroleTowriss.com.
To purchase In the Shadow of Sinai:
Staci Stallings, the author of this article, is a #1 Best Selling Contemporary Christian author and the founder of Grace & Faith Author Connection. You can check out Staci’s newest release…
Book 3, ~ THE COURAGE SERIES ~
“It will pull you in and touch your heart.”
The Joy of Relationships
After 43 years of being on this planet, I have noticed something: Relationships happen.
Have you noticed that as well?
I don’t mean (just) romantic relationships. I mean all relationships. Friendships, work relationships, family relationships, even casual relationships. They are happening all the time, in small ways and big ways. Often we don’t even see them coming until they have already been established and are part of our makeup, our experience, our being.
This year what I am most thankful for is all of the new relationships that have assimilated themselves into my life over the past 12 months.
There are the new friends I made while serving on a retreat team in February–Holy Spirit women of the highest caliber. There are the fellow parents I met while spear-heading a fundraiser at my son’s school. New family members–either through marriage or birth–should be counted as well.
Online I have met countless people who have become friends and colleagues in ways that still amaze me. Together, we have learned the details of how to get the word out about our books, and for the first time, I haven’t felt so alone in this endeavor.
In addition to the authors I’ve met, I’ve also been blessed with new “team” members in my writing life–a cover designer second to none; a format specialist who is an absolute angel; and an assistant who does the un-fun stuff so I don’t have to. How blessed I am!
Further, I’ve met awesome people who blog–about life, about hope, about God, about challenges, and all of the above and more. Readers have reached out to me, either to tell me what they thought of my books, or to ask specifics on things I have written on my blog, and some of them have become genuine friends.
Reviewers too. I think when I started this year, I had about five reviewers. Now I have a whole list! And the cool thing is, it’s not a list of names. It’s a list of people who have shared their hearts with me about what the books have done for them. As a writer who sat here in my own little corner, in my own little chair for 16 years, dreaming of what it would be like to brush the cyberdust off these stories and share them with the world, these relationships mean more than I ever could have imagined back then.
Add to all of these new relationships, the relationships that have deepened and grown and flourished over this past year–with my family and friends, and you’ve got the makings for one BLESSED woman!
So this year as the turkey is carved and the sweet potatoes are served, what I am most thankful for is all of YOU who have made this past year the most incredible, memorable year ever! And in the coming year, I look forward to all the new relationships God has just waiting for me out there.
Look out! It’s gonna be an awesome New Year!
Copyright Staci Stallings, 2012
More about For Real:
Blaine Donovan has a secret, but so far his plan to keep the rest of the world in the dark about who he really is and what’s really going on in his life has worked. If he can just finish school before the demons catch up with him, he knows he can make life make sense once again. However, when he runs into Melody Todd, a semi-friend he had thought was long-gone, life takes a turn Blaine wasn’t at all expecting.
Still hurting from watching her best friend marry someone else, Melody Todd has given up on dating, guys, and on herself. In fact, when Blaine shows back up in her life, she does what she always does with the eligible guys who look her way—she sets him up with someone else. But Blaine soon proves to be much different than he at first seems. Too many things are not adding up the way they are supposed to, and the more Melody digs, the more she sees that the Blaine she knows is not the real Blaine at all…
“For Real will show you how you can lay those things that are preventing you from loving Jesus at the foot of the Cross. It will inspire you and give you hope.
—Amazon Reviewer, Myrna Brorman
I watch their little pudgy hands smack in excitement against the glass door. The two of them can hardly stand still, shifting their weight from foot to foot, as they wait for the big, yellow school bus that will be pulling up to our driveway. As the bus finally rumbles up the road, squeals of happiness start, as the twins catch a glimpse of big sister crossing the street and making her way up the drive. With a smile, she waves back to them and my heart swells with thankfulness.
This little scene is a small part of my everyday world, a clip that repeats everyday. It’s easily one of my favorite parts of being a mom. One could read it, and think, “Aww, how sweet.”, others might think, “So what? What’s the big deal about siblings being excited to see each other?”
For me, it’s a daily reminder to give thanks to God for fulfilling a dream that I thought would never happen.
After getting married, spending a year as newlyweds, my husband and I were elated to find ourselves pregnant. As first parents go, we took all the classes, prepared ourselves as much as we could and welcomed a healthy baby girl into the world in 2004.
We had always wanted more than one child, so when Miss O. was about 18 months old we started trying for a sibling for her. To our surprise, it wasn’t as easy this time around, but we did get pregnant in December of 2005. I purchased a “Big Sister” shirt for her to wear at her second birthday party in March to share the good news with family. We were ecstatic to share our news.
Two weeks before the party, at a routine doctor visit, we found out that our baby’s heart was no longer beating.
Shocked and saddened, we learned that possibly 1 in every 4 pregnancies end in miscarriage.
This loss would not be our last.
During the next four years, I was thankful for the women in my MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers) group. They listened to me, cried right along side of me, and prayed for me and my family. Some had experienced loss, others had not, but they all supported me the best way they could. One of them shared a Bible verse with me, Jeremiah 29:11, which reads, “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”
I clung to that verse, a little tighter each time, with every loss.
In November of 2009, my husband and I were guarded, but excited to find ourselves pregnant for the seventh time. I spent the weeks leading up to the first ultrasound praying to God, asking Him to allow this little life to grow within in. Every time I felt afraid, I would repeat the verse from Jeremiah, and a feeling of peace would come over me. Even if the peace only lasted 5 minutes, I was thankful for those few minutes. At the first appointment, we were overjoyed to find that we were expecting two babies!
Over the next 8 months, I continued to pray, and my fellow MOPS moms were praying right along side of me. In July of 2010, the twins were welcomed to this world, full term and healthy. It seemed surreal after so many bad endings, to finally be experiencing such joy!
It was a long wait for them to join our family, filled with much heartache and sadness, but when I look at them, all I can do is praise God and give Him thanks.
Amy Garland is a stay at home mom of three, who’s adjusting to not working after being blessed with twins after years of secondary infertility and recurrent pregnancy loss. Her days are filled with many blessings AND cups of coffee. She muses about life over at her blog, Not The Path I Chose, when she has a few minutes to type.
Amy Garland blogs at notthepathIchose.blogspot.com.