There is always more on my heart than words can say, but I find journaling my thoughts or prayers a great exercise & makes a record to view of memories & our history - I invite you to join me if you can relate to authentic life.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Here I Go....with shaky knees

I haven’t written for awhile. What do I have to say, anyway? I mostly write for myself so I can process thoughts. I feel better when I write because it captures a memory. Or, expresses joy. Or, relieves pain. Sometimes, though, there is SO much going on, I don't even know how to put it all into words.
But, I have been hearing a repetitive message the past few months. A number of people have asked when I am going to continue with my blog, and have been saying 'You need to write a book!'.  Wow! That's pretty cool, but I've been feeling apprehensive. A book? That's a little daunting. What would my theme be? Our experiences or lessons learned have been all over the place, not just in one moving story to share like so many people have.  And, my blog? It seems all I have to write about are the never ending mountains we have to scale. I want to be witty and fun! I want to write about all kinds of amazing things I get to do. But, I am not especially witty and I haven't accomplished some incredible feat, so what do I say?  
With some insistent urging from Mark and Allyson, also, I asked God the questions I thought I already knew the answer to:   "Could you really want to use the little I have to offer? I know You can use anything, but do You really want to use me? There are a lot of other people with more fantastical stories and things to share than I!". My prayers have gone on to remind God that I haven't even had the mental energy to write lately, and when I do, it's not very good so I have to throw it out. I let Him know that people can be judgmental when they read about others and I don't like to be judged. I remind him that others are better story tellers. And, what about a happy ending all books seem to have? I am not ready to portray that I have everything fixed in my life, because I don't think I ever will if I am continually growing in Christ. These were my arguments.
And, what has He said? Well, on a daily basis I hear a whispering in my heart to start sharing. I have given Him my doubts each time, but He continues to impress thoughts, stirring up a desire in me. He has been telling me softly, as well as clearly through people in my life, what He wants me to do.
I wonder why? Is it just because it can be therapeutic and He knows just how much I could use a little therapy? :)  Is He going to use it to teach me new lessons? Is He going to use it to help others? Will I ever know the answer? Maybe not, but as we all know, when God tells us to do something, our response can’t be determined on seeing the end result. Where is the faith and trust in that? I am not particularly great at trusting, though, because I can see several ways where the venture I am going to go on could really end up being difficult if those that read what I have to offer reject it or don’t understand. My truth this year has been this, though: ‘God is my best friend, He is all I need’.  I’ve had a number of things taken away and have had to hang on to that. I am pretty young still, and I still have a lot to lose, and if my path continues like it has, I know I still have my Protector, Best Friend, Father, Joy and all I will ever need. So, I can obey Him, and know that whatever trepidations I have or realities that come to pass won’t really matter because He holds me tightly and I cling to Him.

So, here I go. Please pray for me. If nothing else, I am learning a lesson in trust and obedience here. If a lot of people continue to read my blog, then it’s important that I say what God intends. I am struggling a bit with some of the things I believe God may be prompting me to talk about (at some point on this journey), and I find that my authentic nature is being challenged. I guess you’ll see what I mean if you keep reading……    

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Are You Always Happy With Those Who Are Happy?

Romans 12:15 Be happy with those who are happy and weep with those who weep.

It would be nice if this verse went on to say that we only have to be happy with those who are happy, when it's fair.  Wouldn't that be much easier?

Some days I have a hard time rejoicing with others, if I am being totally honest. (And, it's hard to grow without honesty, so I'll just admit it.)  I don't often have a problem with being happy for the people in my life, but sometimes I am frustrated that those whom I have rejoiced with, have not done the same for me. Therefore, I can struggle to continue sharing in their happiness.
I am talking about the kind of person that does not share in your life due to jealousies or insecurities or something out of your control. The ones that are quick to be happy with others in front of you, but not you. It's knowing that it is purposeful that makes it hard. I am sure you understand what I mean, although I would guess your experience with this would have been in high school, rather than adulthood. At least, I hope so. 

This has also been the case when it comes to feeling sorrow with others who haven't been there for me when it's my turn. I have listened with care to the trials or even just complaints of others, but sometimes feel as if what I get in return is judgememt, if anything at all, when I am hurting. Unfortunately, people can be quick to assume you have done something wrong if you are undergoing trials, even if they are Christians. Or, they don't want to share in your grief because it is uncomfortable or possibly even selfish.

There are a couple of things I know I must do when I don't feel like obeying the scriptures, and I know I better do it quickly before I give bitterness a chance to take hold. 

I have to take those feelings to God. I know He understands unfairness, and all forms of rejection. I know He is my best friend, and even though He wants His people to do these things, He cares, too and will always be there for me. I also know He is the One who can change my heart to have the right attitude when I would rather act poorly.

Then, I just have to obey. It's important to keep voicing, whether it is in writing or in person, my happiness for others. Maybe they don't need it from me, even, but I am going to choose to be happy with those that are happy. And, I am going to share in other's sorrows without judging the reasons sorrow may be in their life. I will be available to be used by God whenever He wants to use me. I will do it even when the only one that notices is God. Maybe it's not always appropriate or necessary to do or say something physically, but I know it's important to be intentional.

I really can't stop there, though - I need to do some soul searching. Am I neglecting to be happy or weep with anyone whom I should be? Have I done the same thing to other's that has hurt me?
Of course, we are all going to miss times to share in each others rejoicing or sorrow since we can't always be on top of everything, but am I allowing that to happen on a consistent basis?
How many times have I been wrapped up in my own busyness or stress that I haven't seen where I could be another friend or family member to share in their life?
How many times have I let a lack of resources stop me from doing anything at all? Or, rather, how often have I let embarrassment of what little I have to offer to someone when they should be congratulated, or when they are hurting, stop me from sharing happiness and sorrow?

I don't know the answers to these questions, but I do know I want to be more alert to these commands from God. We all need to be noticing what is going on in the lives of those around us. The more we work on paying attention, we train our minds to be on the alert, and when our minds are alert they are urging us to reach out to others and/or to pray for others.

I thank God that I do have the many friends and loved ones that I do. I am so incredibly grateful that they rejoice with me and weep with me through life, and that those who have chose not to are not many. It is so meaningful when those that do are so proud of my kids' accomplishments, or when they take the time to ask and listen about the loved ones I am grieving.
Much of that happens through facebook, email, cards, etc...  sometimes it's person to person with words, laughter, hugs or tears...  whichever form it takes, it's wonderful, and of course, God planned it that way.

What are ways you rejoice or weep with others? Have you had any of the same experiences as I? Leave a comment and share how you reflect this verse, or how it has impacted your life.

Friday, April 27, 2012

A Beautiful Graduate

Our daughter graduates from TC Beauty College this week! Allyson is ready to be done and move on to the next phase of education (maybe at Cornerstone!) and using her cosmetology training in a job. We are so excited with her! We are proud of her accomplishments because she is extremely creative and talented, and she aced her final exams. PLUS, her facial and scalp massages are amazing! But, that's only a small part of why we are so blessed to call her our daughter.

Ally has spent the last couple of years taking her education at a slower pace so that she could work at the same time, because she knew her family would need her help. She sacrificed getting her own car, her time and many of her own desires. We did not ask her to do this, and frankly, we never wanted to be in the position of a job loss and needing the kids to pitch in out of necessity (rather than just for the sake of learning responsibility). Since our desire (like all parents!) is to help our kids get a great start in life, it's been hard to see her educational and financial beginnings become such a struggle. It wasn't easy on her end either. She may have chosen this route, but it didn't mean it was simple to help carry the burdens.

Nevertheless, she stuck to her convictions.

When it was embarrassing to answer questions about being done with school, because she knew people may have opinions about the length of time it was taking, she chose to give her embarrassment to God.
When it was frustrating to miss school because our cars weren't working and there was no way to get there (especially because it wasn't just a couple of times), she dealt with it. (A little venting may occur, but then a submission to God's control :))
When we would gather the family to pray about certain bills, she was quick to offer anything she had to help.
When her Uncle died, she saved her money to give to his family. How she managed that on top of everything else on a part time job, I don't know, but she is dedicated, and God has blessed that. She also was so afraid her cousins would not have a Christmas, she asked that anything we may be able to do for each other, go to them, even though she had needs, too.
When she got discouraged and knew she wasn't doing her best, we would talk and pray and she would always determine that, no matter how frequent and frustrating life's disturbances were, she was going to do her responsibilities well.
When she thought it may be better to just quit school altogether and work because of our income situation, she chose to stick it out and trust God for our needs.

Being at TC during the time Joel died brought about some witnessing opportunities that may explain one reason God has allowed this slower process. She had some people coming to her and saying that they were watching her and that they were affected by how her family was handling all the events that had been going on. They asked her about her faith in God. What a privilege  it is to have her life story speak to someone else.

So, this is an exciting day, because Allyson has accomplished much more than a college certificate, and we are so proud of her!

Ally, these verses are for you:
3 John 1:4, I have not greater joy than to hear that my children walk in the truth.
    (Checking Out for the Last Time)

Jer. 29:11 For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.
We love you!                                (On the Way to New Beginnings)

Wednesday, April 4, 2012


Why do we write on facebook walls or go to grave sites to talk to our loved ones that are dead? We know they are unable to receive our words, but we still have this urge to try...

I remember my mom crying out to God after my brother Philip died, wishing she could talk to Phil again. Our family had just moved to Florida from Illinois 4 weeks previously, and Phil, who was 16, went spear fishing with our cousin Jimmy. He got sick very quickly after that, and went in to a coma. It was determined that bacteria from the pond got in his system and he died from encephalitis. My parents did not have a chance to really say good bye to him.

My mom told me that when she was crying out to God all the things she wished she could tell Phillip, she heard or sensed God say she could tell him herself.
She said that moment was unlike any she has ever had before or since, but she felt an unexplained opening to talk to Philip. So, she did. She told him she loved  him and told him how he had been a wonderful gift from God to her and my dad. I am awed that God loves his children so much, and cares so much for a mother's heart, that He would provide that moment for her.  It makes me think of Luke 7:13 where Jesus’ heart was filled with compassion for the widow who lost her son and He said, ‘Don’t weep!’.  He then raised that boy up. Such love that He has for those that grieve! (How he must have grieved for His own mother who had to watch Him suffer.)

God knows the loss we are experiencing and that we need the closure of connecting with that loved one again. Learning to live life differently due to a loss takes time and the way we cope with that can look different from person to person, but it’s normal to want to talk to your loved one and I think that is ok.

Maybe God even gives our loved ones a glimpse of the things we want to share J

Joel, remember how the changing of the seasons brings about new waves of grief? Well, we are having an early spring this year, and as wonderful as that is, it's bringing thoughts and feelings I don't want. I've never had a spring without you here, and now that is something to get used to. We have to have an open house this spring for Alan who will have to do without another uncle there. It just stinks, and every other time we would feel like that, you were here to grieve with us. I know you fought hard to stay with us and I am proud of your tenacity and strength of the past year, but I don't like that you had to leave us. God is continually drawing us closer to Him, though, and I hope you have the ability to know that everyone is coping in healthy ways and relying on God. I wish you were here to help with's hard to have basically lost him at the same time as you, and very hard to see mom have to care for his needs so much, without the benefit of his gratefulness, personality or friendship anymore. I do hope, though, that he is reunited with you boys soon, so he is not tormented by this dementia for long. I wish I knew exactly what heaven is like for you, Steve, Mark, Phil, Jonathon, Jeremiah, and Aunt Vicki, Uncle Art, Aunt Dorothy, Uncle Wally....are you guys having heavenly volleyball games? Football games? Rook tournaments? Is there a lot of joking and laughing like our earthly reunions? Does Mark have a baby in his arms at all times? Do you talk about your amazing kids to each other and how strong your wives are? What was it like to meet your second son? Do you share with Mark's mom all about our kids that she never had a chance to know? Remember talking about Isaac, Mark's and my nephew on his side? I know for a fact that you would want to be playing basketball with him, since you both love the game. I wonder if the coach in you would surface. :)   I wonder if he's showing you how to skate. Isn't he an amazing kids?! I know Heaven is much different than just an upgraded earth, but I hope all the incredible experience of it is shared with these loved ones. Even more than that, I cannot begin to imagine being in God's presence and the joy you all felt when rescued from your earthly bodies. You would probably say my imaginings are so amateur and, my questions limitless. Does God explain why all of you were taken so early in life or do you just immediately understand His plans? Or, do you even know yet?Have you met Job and Stephen? And, do you even know that they are the first 2 men of the Bible I want to meet and can you tell them for me that their stories have made a difference in my life? I wonder about a lot of things when it comes to saints and heaven, but I mostly just miss you all. Somehow, this new season is going to be about beautiful things and moving forward and hope.....I just wish it didn't have to feel so lonely, too. I wish you could hear me say 'I love you', but I know you know. Your Sister, Rachie-pooh  (I found out that this well used nickname was what you used in your phone contacts for me - I really should find George from the 2nd grade and thank him for my lifelong nickname :) )

Monday, February 27, 2012

I Want to Live Like That...

I want to live like that....
Some days, the that I want to live like is a very selfish life. I can completely forget that I have a purpose outside of making a happy, beautiful life for me and my family. I want to have vacations, I want to live in a gorgeous house, I want to live with a focus on many more things than basic survival, and I want to live more comfortably. As if that wasn't enough, I also want to live without financial stress, I want to live without grief and loss, I want to live without health issues, and without disappointments. Oh, and let me throw in teenagers' 'know-it-all' logic - I can live without that, too, no matter how entertaining it can be at times. :)
I don't mean to sound so discontent, but, if I am to be truthful, there are days I really do want this life to be more about my happiness. I just want what I want sometimes. I'm just being honest.
Thankfully, though, God reminds me that I am not missing out on anything by not getting all of the things I want, because that isn't what I am here for anyway. I don't have to panic that I am not giving my kids all the things I wanted to give them, because God is going to take care of all of that when we are in Heaven some day. Right now, we are here for other things. 
I may not know exactly how He is using me, or using my family, but I know that He will if we give ourselves to be used by Him and that we will know someday how He worked all things together for good. Knowing that, as well as the promises we have of our eternal life, makes it easier to remember that this life is not all about my dreams and desires being fulfilled. That, in fact, those dreams and desires are not necessary for God to do His work in me or through me. Nor, do they bring me any closer to eternity with God. So, why do I strive for worldly goods and respect?
While the world may say that we should have everything we want, whenever we want it, God says He is enough. Whatever He provides along this journey is up to Him, and I will enjoy and be grateful for every ounce of fun and ease. But, if I don't get to travel the world, for instance, I will still make sure I live in a way that points to Him. 

I want to live like that and give it all I have,  so that everything I say and do points to You.  If love is who I am, then this is where I stand, recklessly abandoned,  never holding back.  I want to live like that  ….

Sidewalk Prophets, Live Like That 
Sometimes I think 
What will people say of me 
When I'm only just a memory 
When I'm home where my soul belongs 

Was I love 
When no one else would show up 
Was I Jesus to the least of those 
Was my worship more than just a song 

I want to live like that 
And give it all I have 
So that everything I say and do 
Points to You 

If love is who I am 
Then this is where I'll stand 
Recklessly abandoned 
Never holding back 

I want to live like that 
I want to live like that 

Am I proof 
That You are who you say You are 
That grace can really change a heart 
Do I live like Your love is true 

People pass 
And even if they don't know my name 
Is there evidence that I've been changed 
When they see me, do they see You 

I want to live like that 
And give it all I have 
So that everything I say and do 
Points to You 

If love is who I am 
Then this is where I'll stand 
Recklessly abandoned 
Never holding back 

I want to live like that 
I want to live like that 

I want to show the world the love You gave for me 
I'm longing for the world to know the glory of the King 

I want to live like that 
And give it all I have 
So that everything I say and do 
Points to You 

If love is who I am 
Then this is where I'll stand 
Recklessly abandoned 
Never holding back 

I want to live like that 
I want to live like that

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Happy Days are Here Again

Today, at work, we were doing an exercise where we had to choose a song that fit ourselves as we contemplated this next semester. My song ended up being 'Happy Days are Here Again' (thanks for the help, Matthew!) and I am thinking how that was a perfect choice, even though I had been at a loss to think of something on the spot. For one thing, I LOVE my job and I am definitely looking forward to another great semester with interns, coworkers and students.

But, as I look at my life as a whole, I am looking forward to some happy days, too. I feel as I might have stepped out of the dark to see some glimmer of light ahead this week. It's that wonderful feeling you have when you are not just making it through, but are looking forward with hope.

I know the hard times are necessary and inevitable in our lives and I am glad to know the amazing way God holds His children during those times. Those moments can't be explained and I am overwhelmed with how He has loved me and covered me with peace when I needed it. My relationship with Him gets deeper with each loss or trial in our lives, and I am grateful for what I've learned and experienced. These are definitely joyful times in many ways, but, I can't say they are 'happy' times.

Evidently God has been doing some healing in my heart, because it is feeling lighter these days. He is calming my anxiety about the burdens we currently have, and some that are on the horizon. He is bringing me laughter. He has brought good things out of our current situations, too.

I will have to explain on another day the way God answered some of our prayers during these last months, because He took care of us in astounding ways. But, today, I am just basking in hope. Feeling happy. Coming back to life. I just may not be totally made up of anxiety, grief or weariness after all. We might still have some heavy situations, but God is restoring my soul. All I can think right now is, ‘thank you, thank you, thank you…’

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Reflecting on 2011 - From Audrey Prairie

Written by my mom, a woman who leads others with strength and grace:


In one way the year 2011 passed quickly - one year ago today Joel had his
cancer surgery.  Where did the year go?
In other ways it went agonizingly slow - the painful cycle of praying,
hoping, waiting, trying to stay focused on the duties at hand, hope
dashed, hope renewed, more waiting, praying continuously.......and then
hollow grief.

It isn't as if I haven't experienced similar years.  Joel was our fifth
son to leave us and be with Jesus.  Each time more of my heart is torn
away and I am left a different person.  What is the purpose?  I don't

I Thessalonians 5:8, "In everything give thanks for this is the will of
God in Christ concerning you."

Give thanks, Lord?  When it seems all is going wrong?  The hot water
heater burned out, the well pump quit working the same day, the pressure
tank sprung a leak and the basement is flooded.  They say we need a new
well and now our car chose this moment to give up......

"In everything give thanks, my child...."

But my son-in-law is out of work, my daughter is not well, my son is
stretched to the limit with his job and concern for his parents and daughter-in-law lost her beloved husband, four
grandchildren lost their daddy.  I grieve for them all.  Give thanks,

"In everything give thanks....."

Give thanks, Lord when the doctors say my husband has dimentia?  When
another son has been taken and our family has once again been left with a
gaping hole?  Give thanks in all this?

"In everything........."

But, Lord, these things hurt; they worry and weary me.  I don't feel like
giving thanks.  It sounds silly to say, "Thank you, Lord, for letting my
child die and thank You, God, that dimentia has robbed my husband of
being able to share in my grief.  And, by the way, God, while we were
battling life and death issues, thank You for allowing all those other
things to go wrong and no means or money to fix them."

My dear, misunderstanding child, I did not say give thanks for
everything......I said, In everything give thanks.  In the midst of the
storm, when your lips cannot form the words, will your heavy heart to
thank Me.  By doing this you put Me in control of everything.  In return
I give you My peace and joy.

"In everything give thanks for this is the will of God in Christ
concerning you."

Thank You, Blessed Lord, that You are my Comforter in my time of sorrow.
Only You understand the depth of a mother's grief and You shed the first

Thank You, Dear Father, that You are our Provider.  You supply all our
needs according to Your riches in Christ Jesus.  The universe is Yours.
You have your faithful servants at the ready - waiting obediently to help
in our time of need.

And, thank You for being the Protector of me and my family.  We are Your
children and nothing can befall us except it first pass through Your
loving hands.

I thank You, Precious Lord, that You are my Refuge and Strength.  In my
weakness, You are strong.

And, last but not least, I thank You that You are my constant Companion.
Though the road be rugged and uncertain You are there and will never
leave me nor forsake me.

What lies ahead for 2012?  I don't know, but I do know that He is my
Deliverer for He promised, "Many are the afflictions of the righteoeus:
but the Lord delivers him out of them all." Ps.34:19.  And, I can give
thanks in the middle of any circumstance for this is the will of God in
Christ concerning me.

Audrey Prairie

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Please God, Do What I Cannot Do...

Please God, do what I cannot do. I seem to not be able to do anything. I am unable to control so many things.

I cannot fix our cars. I cannot make those fixing them, fix them any faster. I cannot pay to get them all fixed. I cannot walk to work. I cannot buy a new car. I just CAN”T. Why don’t I have ANY control? I feel that I need to take care of these issues, because we have work and school in the morning. Certainly, You want us to keep up with our responsibilities.

I cannot make my sinus infection go away. I have tried to do all the at home remedies I know, which have helped a lot, but the infection is still growing. Certainly, You want me to be healthy enough to work well and take care of my family well, right?

I cannot fix my dad. His alzheimer’s is progressing and we are losing who he is. I don’t want to lose him yet. I am only 42 and just lost my 5th brother. I want to make him better and keep as many of the men in my life around, as long as I can. Certainly you don’t want me to lose more love and support – more everything that family gives- than I already have, right? Certainly, you don't want my kids and husband to lose more, right?

I cannot fix my mom. She is exhausted from caring for my dad and we are too far away to be of help. When we did try to go to help, over the break, our only car broke down. I could not help hers or our disappointment. I can't get her more sleep from here, or stay with my dad so she can do errands from here. I cannot send her money so she can hire help or move them closer to me. I cannot even hug her, and it's hard to help with decision making from here. Certainly, you want us to honor our parents and support them, right?

I cannot make more money for me or my husband or my daughter….all I can do is work every time you allow, and look for every opportunity. I can pray for sales for my husband, and jobs for my boys, and control what money goes out (except the unexpected bills, of which there have been so many)….but, I cannot control what we bring in. You promised to meet our needs. You have always taken care of us, I know, but there is so much need right now. Certainly, you want our family provided for, right? Certainly, You don’t want our kids to be stressed and uncertain of so much, right?

I cannot fix the school issue for our kids or the transportation issue. It is what it is – their school is too far away for our issues, and another school doesn’t take school of choice, and another is not going to work out as well with our senior's credits….. Do we homeschool again? Do we keep limping along, not sure how or when they are getting home each day? Certainly, You care about each of the needs the kids have involving school, sports, friends, etc.

I cannot fix my husband or my kids. I cannot steel them against disappointments. I cannot fix what they feel or have to go through. I miss the days when the kids were small, and a hug and a prayer would fix them. There is anxiety over our needs. There is grief over the loss of Joel, and the changes in Grandpa.  There are teenage issues for the boys, decisions that weigh on Alan’s heart, and pressures that only a man can fully understand of providing for the needs of his family. I can’t make Mark’s exhaustion go away after many, many hours of work. I can help, but that’s all. I can’t schedule his hours for him at WalMart or his meetings with his insurance job. All I can do is make home easier, since he is answering to the call of others, without much monetary reward to eliminate the stress. Certainly, You don’t want them to be overburdened and You want to bless the work of our hands, right?

Please God, do what I cannot do. Do whatever it is You want to do. If the things I believe are necessary, are not in Your will, I will accept that. Maybe the things I think are a certainty, are not for some reason, and if not, I will trust You.  Please, God, hold my family tightly in Your arms. Give us wisdom to know what we can do.  Please stop this neverending(seemingly) cycle of trials and grief. Please comfort us if You don’t.
While I wait on You to do the things I cannot, I will do what I CAN do. I will be patient, I will trust, I will sing, I will love, I will search for Your wisdom, I will pray, I will be still, I will be grateful and I won't worry about the things that are in Your Hands.