Wednesday, May 30, 2012

The Grace Gifts Continue...

After our memorable Memorial Day, I thought we might just move on through Tuesday with not much excitement.  WRONG. 

Our son was able to go and get his new car last evening and I went with him.  The new car had just a few more miles on it because it was driven to Columbia from Asheville instead of being hauled on a truck.  Turner was very pleased with it and wanted to share his joy with his sister later in the evening.

"For I know the plans I have for you says the Lord..." Jeremiah 29:11
Well, they got together around 11:00 pm and took his car for a drive so she could see it.  When they returned home, Madison came in the door with a look of horror on her face.  "Did they have a wreck?", I thought to myself.  But she didn't seem to give that impression.  Since it was raining, I assumed, then that she had slipped and hurt her knee...again.  The one that has had the miniscus/ACL surgery twice in 2 years.  But no, that wasn't it either.  She had slammed 3 fingers in the car door and was about to pass out.

"Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God which supasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus." (Philippians 4:6-7)

Thankful for this?  Are you sure, Lord?
Madison was sick-literally.  Nausea, vomiting, hot, cold, pain, and then...the blood.  Oh no! Not blood.  You see, I don't do blood.  So when it reared it's little red head, I got sick and the color began to drain from my face.  I headed to the bathroom to get myself together and came out pale as a ghost and shaking. 

"I will never leave you or forsake you." (Hebrews 13:5)

Help her, Lord. (And me too.)
When the bleeding wouldn't stop, we decided to take her to the ER.  She didn't want to go, and I didn't know how I was going to go, but Rick, Madison and I went to the hospital at 12:30 am.  Turner had been such a great brother. He helped her calm down, rubbed her back, told her to keep pressure on the wound, etc...  He felt so bad that it had happened to his sister in his new car.

"Rejoice in the Lord always.  Again I will say, rejoice! (Philippians 4:4)

Now?  Rejoice?  Too hard.
We arrived at the ER and were asked the normal questions, "Have you been here before?"  "What is your birthday?" I couldn't even think straight. 


We made it through admissions and getting her vital signs taken.  They wrapped her finger with gause and we waited.  Not long after, we were taken back. The nurse came in and started the questions again.  Two and a half hours later we walked out after an x-ray revealed a fractured finger, a surgical procedure which relieved the blood that had collected under her nail, pain meds, several shots, prescriptions, and a splint wrapped with gause to wear for 3 weeks.  We were on our way home.




Arriving at home at 3:00 in the morning is not an everyday occurance and we were tired.  I emailed a school administrator and the Junior Marshall coordinator to get them up to speed.  I finally layed my head on the pillow around 4 am.  Sleep.  I need sleep.

"Come to Me all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest." (Matt. 11:28) 

Help us to rest in You, Lord.

Up and at 'em at 8:00 am.  Madison slept in but went to school around 11:30 am to take her last exams.  What a trooper she is.  She didn't beg to stay home, nor did she whine.  She took two Aleve after her breakfast and off to school she went.  (The heavy narcartics make her sick so I didn't even fill the prescription.)

Grace gifts.  Scripture promises!  God is faithful!

Another day, more grace!  God protected my precious baby girl of 17. (I know she's not little, but she is still my baby girl).  Her accident could have been much worse, but instead, we will survive 3 weeks in a splint with her fingertip fractured, but now healing.  The ER was not busy so we didn't have to wait long and we were all together again at 4:00 am in our comfortable beds, sleeping soundly. 

Thank You, Lord!  You are faithful and kind.
Madison did ask, "Why me?"  We don't always know the answer right away and sometimes we won't ever know until Jesus comes back, but we can give thanks for what He has brought us through and for the grace and mercy and comfort He gives as He walks with us through the suffering.  

"Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by your name; You are Mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow you.  When you walk through the fire, you shall not be burned, Nor shall the flame scorch you.  For I am the LORD your God." (Isaiah 43:1b-2)

My Pleasure,
Melanie

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

A Memorable Memorial Day

Yesterday we remembered the fallen, those who have gone before to clear the path to freedom.  Thank you soldiers for your sacrifice and devotion to the greatest country in the world- the United States of America. 

Yesterday, also a memorable one for our family. 

When Turner graduated a few weeks ago from college, his gift was to be a car.  We told him we would be going car shopping.  He was so excited!
 

My husband Rick, Turner, and my father-in-law, have all been on the search for the perfect used car with extremely good gas mileage, great looks, and of course, one that will last for a long time.  It has been quite the process, especially if you know my "think everything through, not just once or twice, but numerous times" husband.  It's one of his greater character qualities.

Off to the car dealership they went to check out the one that could end the unending search process.  A beautiful car with leather seats, a hybrid, new- not used, and a great price. Perfect.

As the papers were being drawn up and then signed, the sales rep went to clean the car up and fill it with gas while my patient boys waited what seemed like an eternity for him to return.  This had already been an all day affair and now the easy part seemed to be the hardest of the wait.

As the two of them sat there texting me about moving dinner to later (my father-in-law already gone home thinking it was a "done deal"), an hour and a half later, the sales manager came back in and sat down.  He said, "You're not going to believe this", then told them that while the sales rep was inside the gas station paying for the gas, someone ran into the car!  NOPE.  I'M NOT KIDDING!  You can't make this stuff up!  The sales rep had to wait for the police to finish the police report before he could leave the station.

So, after a day of excruciating decision making, finally taking the plunge, and signing on the dotted line, my guys return home with a borrowed dealership car since Turner's was already traded in for the new one.  What a let down!

I wish I had been there to take pictures, but I have none to show you.  I can only imagine the looks on their faces when the news about the car was told to them. 

To begin the day, Rick had to make a phone call to one of our local hospitals who had sent us a $2000+ ambulatory service bill.  We haven't had any ambulatory service.  Someone with the same name has been put into now two hospital computer files with my husband's information attached to it. This had already been an issue at another hospital three years ago and had reared its ugly head again a few weeks ago.   Now, another hospital?  You've got to be kidding me.  It is not fun when you have to clean up someone else's mess.

Then to end the day, Rick's battery was dead in his car. It had to be towed this morning.

A very memorable Memorial Day.

Looking for the grace gifts:  GRACE that Turner wasn't the one that was hit in his new car and that no one was hurt.  GRACE that he may even get an upgrade on the car if the dealership cannot find one exactly like the one we purchased.  GRACE that we will have the mess cleaned up with the hospital and that we have not had to have any ambulatory services.  GRACE that Rick didn't get stranded on the road or the highway with a car that decided to die.  And GRACE that we all were able, at the end of the day, to sit down to a meal together and be thankful for the men and women who served our country and gave their lives so we can look for the gifts of GRACE every day.

Thank You, Jesus, for Your amazing grace that is evident all around us if we'll just look for the gifts!

My Pleasure,
Melanie

Monday, May 14, 2012

A Refresher of Hearts

Have you ever thought of yourself as a "refresher"?  Me either; until I started writing this study.
Our assignment for the next two weeks is to refresh the heart of someone.


My pastor's wife, Kelly.

The first person's heart I'm choosing to refresh is the wife of my pastor and mother to Emma Grace.  Kelly has become a good friend and also is a contributing writer for Living Real magazine and one of the speakers for our Living Real conferences.  She works outside the home as a TV anchor for the noon show at WIS television. She has one of the hardest jobs there is... being a pastor's wife.

To refresh someone's heart is to do something that will energize their spirit, to restore joy, extend love.  It's a gift of encouragment to help them stay focused on their God designed purpose. 

Kelly's responsibility is to be the best wife to our pastor that she can be, and to be the best mother she can possibly be.  To fulfill her purpose, Kelly has to keep her eyes and heart fixed on Jesus Christ.  So, this week, I will seek to be a refresher to the heart of a wife, a mother, and a friend... Kelly Coakley.   

Our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, is the Refresher!  He refreshes our souls every day through His presence in our lives and through His mercies which are new every morning.  He wants to be our Refresher today.  All we have to do is let Him.

I'm borrowing a Scripture that my friend used today on her blog. Thank you, Susan.  www.susanssittingroom.blogspot.com

"Therefore repent and return, so that your sins may be wiped away,
in order that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord." 
(Acts 3:19 NASB)

Dear Lord Jesus,
Please refresh my soul today.  Speak to my heart and strengthen my spirit.  Help me to refresh Kelly's heart so she can in turn refresh Eddie's and Emma's hearts.  Bless her family and their ministry.  Keep Kelly's eyes focused on you.
I love You, Lord.  Amen.

My Pleasure,
Melanie



Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Refreshment Restores Joy!


A question that we have to answer this week in our Premier Girl's study is,
"What brings you joy?"
My mind immediately goes to the season of fall and a brisk, cool walk among
 the leaves of multicolors.  It is so refreshing!


Then, of course, my mind drifts to music.  Such joy fills my soul when I'm able to sing,
 play, write, and perform using the talents God has given me to praise Him with.


And last, but definitely not least, family!
Family gatherings are precious times to relax, share, and just be ourselves.
Nothing is more joyful to me than to be in my pjs with my family around the Christmas tree celebrating the most wonderful birthday ever..Jesus'.

This week we read the book of Philemon.  Paul is telling Philemon what refreshes his heart.
"For we have great joy and consolation in your love, because the hearts of the saints
have been refreshed by you, brother."
(Philemon vs.7 NKJV)

Love refreshes hearts!

"hearing of your love and faith which you have toward the Lord Jesus and toward all the saints, that the sharing of your faith may become effective by the acknowledgement
of every good thing which is in you in Christ Jesus."
 (Philemon vs. 5-6 NKJV)

Whose heart could you refresh this week? 

Refreshment restores joy!

Dear Lord,
Help me to be a refreshment to others through my love for You, sharing my faith in You, and acknowledging that every good thing is in You!  Help me to be effective by loving the saints.
May Your love fill me and spill out onto others.  I want to be a refresher of hearts! Use me to refresh someone today.

In Jesus Name, Amen.

My Pleasure,
Melanie


Sunday, May 6, 2012

Today!

  Graduation Day!

"Today is the tomorrow that we talked about yesterday!", as Grampa used to say. 

(This blogpost is dedicated to the memory of Gramma and Grampa Cook. They were so proud of their grandson.)



The day begins with much laughter between dad and son as the graduation attire begins to take shape. 

The laughter is so loud that I rush upstairs to catch the moment on camera.

I can't go into why there was so much laughter, but let's just say there was no other home filled with this much howling as this day began.

A breakfast for champions is selected by the graduate; coffee and orange juice.


Laughter is still in the air as we prepare to leave for the Colonial Center.  (Isn't he handsome?)





Time for the former college student, that has kept us in stitches
all morning, to get to the Colonial Center.  What a beautiful day for a graduation. 

Afterwards, lunch at Longhorn's.
Happy Graduation from Mimi, Papa, Mom, Dad, and Madison!

                                                           Turner and his sister, Madison

This graduate, our son Turner, has brought so much joy into our home. 
You can't help but smile when he's around.  I held it together pretty well during the ceremony; my eyeballs only floated a little. 
The floodgates did open up though when this precious part of my heart texted us later in the evening with the sweetest message of appreciation for us that I have ever read. 
                                        What a kid.  What a man!  



Dear Lord,

Thank you for the incredible privilege of parenting Turner.  You have blessed us beyond our wildest dreams with both of our children and we are eternally grateful.  We've made many mistakes, but Lord You have guided us all the way. 

We pray now, that You will keep Your hand of protection on our young man who is Yours and who desires to do Your will in his life.  Help him to stay close to You, Lord Jesus.  Grow him and mature him in His faith as only You can.  Please speak clearly and loudly as he seeks the path of ministry that he feels called to. 

May he continue to be bold and courageous for You. May he be obedient and love You with his whole heart.  And as he takes another step further away from our care, we continue to trust You to take care of him and to continue to mold him into the man You've created him to be.  Amen.

With a lump in my throat, but much joy in my heart, it has been...

My Incredible Pleasure,
Melanie

Friday, May 4, 2012

Tomorrow


What's in the package that just came in the mail?

His graduation cap and gown.

How did we get to this point so fast?

Tomorrow... 
the son who made me a mom;
the son who made my husband a dad;
the son who has made a wonderful "big brother"
 for his sister;
the son who made our parents grandparents;
the son who has made us so very proud;

the son who has made Jesus the center of his life;

Our son will walk across the graduation stage of
The University of South Carolina to receive his diploma-
a Bachelor of Arts and Science degree...Tomorrow!



You know.... what "They" say is true.   "One day you'll blink and they'll be grown." 

Another step in becoming the man God has created him to be.

When we hear his name called, the name we chose for him,
RUSSELL TURNER SHULL,
that lump in my throat will make its way up to my tear ducts and it will burst into a fountain of tears which will then  spill over and down my cheeks.

How do I know this? 
Because that is just who I am...
a sentimental, gushy,
cry- mother.                        










We are so excited for you, Turner, and all that God has instore for you
as you take the next step in your walk with Him.  Remember to always...
           Listen to His voice.
            Follow His heart.
          Focus on His Word.
He will never leave you or forsake you.  You are His child.
And we are so grateful to be the ones He chose to be your parents. 

You've grown into such a  loving, gentle- man,
with a heart of compassion, mercy, and grace. 
Keep putting on "the mind of Christ". 
Continue to grow in His wisdom and in His grace.
In doing so, you will remain in His will. 
And that is the safest and best place to be.

We love you so very much!

My Pleasure,
Mom

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Obedience Reveals Relationship

I tweaked a phrase used by my pastor this past Sunday.  He used the word "shows", but I chose "reveals".  As he preached from John 5, this phrase stood out to me.  It also fits well with the Bible study that we're doing in my home.  So this is where the Lord and I went with the phrase...

"Obedience reveals relationship."

Obeying your parents reveals relationship.

Obeying your boss reveals relationship.

Obeying anyone in authority reveals relationship.

Obeying the Son of God reveals relationship.  Obedience is the evidence that there is a relationship.   And most importantly, it also reveals the condition of the relationship.


For example, I can testify that my marriage with my husband flows much better and sweeter when my relationship with my Lord is healthy.  But, when the flow is not as sweet, I can always trace back to where I got off track with the Lord. 

Disobedience also reveals relationship, or the lack of.  It can mean that the relationship is damaged, or that there is no relationship at all.  The patterns of disobedience reveal much about a relationship.

When disobedience is a common practice, then the relationship should be questioned.  If disobedience is not the normal pattern of behavior, then there is a relationship, but one that is damaged, and is in need of repair.


My relationship with my children is hindered when sin is enters the picture, either on their part or mine.  Being a parent can be awkward enough without the influence of sin, so frequent parent/child relationship check-ups are so important.  The check-up, though, requires conversation.
Communication reveals to your children that your relationship with them is very important to you.

For our relationship to be checked with our heavenly Father, communication has to take place as well.  If we are not on speaking terms with Him, then healing and restoration cannot begin until the silence is broken. Even if there has been a long period of silence, there is still hope!

Read Luke 15:11-32.

Now, let's examine the prodigal son parable. 

The son left the father.  The father didn't leave the son.

After a long time, and much sin, the son realized that he had to go home

Where was his father?  Waiting on him;  expecting him to return.

The relationship was still there, but the son had to come home for the healing to begin.  The son confessed and repented. And what did the father do?  He welcomed him with open arms, forgave him, and even threw a party for him. I'm sure there were tears as well.

What happened?  There was a relationship.  The relationship was strained because of sin and distance.  The sin was recognized, confessed, and repented of.  The restoration began with the sinner coming home to the father.  There was conversation.  The father welcomed and forgave.
Party time!



The disobedience revealed much about the relationship between the father and the son; strained, uncomfortable, hurt... The obedience revealed restoration

What kind of relationship are you in with your heavenly Father?

Now look at James 4:7-10. 
"Therefore submit to God.  Resist the devil and he will flee from you. Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Lament and mourn and weep! Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom.  Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord and He will lift you up."

This verse can sound harsh, but it's really not.  Read the Scripture again and insert the words "my" or "me" wherever you read the words "you" or "your". 

This is a beautiful picture of true repentance, which involves mourning and weeping; humbling ourselves before the One Whom we've sinned against.  Our hearts should ache because of how we've disobeyed the Savior of our souls.  When we see our sin as something that hurts Jesus, we should weep, mourn, and fall to our knees in sorrow.  Because when we have done that, then Jesus will lift us up, cleanse and purify, restore our joy, and heal our hearts.


Once we have our joy back, we then should desire our relationships on earth to be healthy, repaired and restored. If we have wronged someone, then it is our responsibility to ask for forgiveness.  If someone has wronged us, it is our responsibility to forgive.
Not all hinderances in a relationship are our fault, but it is our responsibility to make sure that we are in a healthy relationship with Jesus.  Ask God to change you.  It's amazing as to how the change in our own behavior can affect, and even help change, the behavior of others.  We are not responsible for their behavior, but we are responsible for ours.

Restoration is always a product of confession and true repentance with the Father.  Restoration is His nature.  Reconciliation is His will.  Even if our earthly relationships aren't restored, we can still go to sleep at night with a clear conscience knowing we have done everything the Lord asked us to do. And who wouldn't want a good peaceful night's sleep?

What are the relationships in your life revealing?  Obedience or disobedience?

Precious Lord Jesus,
Help me to reveal our relationship through an obedient life.  I want others to know You and love you as I do.  When I disobey You, help me to immediately confess and repent so my joy can return quickly as the relationship is healed.  Help me to teach my children, and others, through my actions to do regular relationship check-ups.  If there is anyone today, Lord, that I need to go to to ask for forgiveness or to give forgiveness to, please bring them to mind. I don't want to go another day without living in a healthy relationship with You.  I love You, Lord.  Thank You for forgiving me!   Amen.

My Pleasure,
Melanie