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Kisses Come From God When We Need Them Most

As of yesterday, January 20, 2014, our son, Taylor has been in Heaven for 6 months. I don’t see this as “six months without him” but “six months closer to seeing him in Heaven!” Some days I need reminders of this and, once again, God sends me a kiss reminding me He is in control and loves me.

 I was began missing him deeply today when Taylor’s friend, Kevin McGinnis, emailed me the tribute he read at Taylor’s Celebration of Life Memorial Service. It once again fired my hope and understanding that Taylor’s life was not lived in vain, he is in the best place with the Most High, and that we are to carry on for him with the same kind of joy he gave to all of us with determination and confidence in Christ in us! Thank you, Kevin!

 From Kevin McGinnis – July 27, 2013
                 Last Saturday evening I was alone in my living quarters at work when I received news of Taylor’s passing.  I couldn’t believe it, I couldn’t understand it.  I asked God why…why Taylor?  But I know without a doubt that Satan wanted Taylor gone because look at how many people have gathered here– how many people Taylor impacted.  And this isn’t even close to everybody.  For every good friend I ever had in life, Taylor had twenty-seven.  It’s no wonder why Satan wanted this Spiritual Warrior gone–but now I know God’s getting the last say.  I picture God sitting next to Taylor looking down at us, nudging him for a laugh to say “See Taylor, that’s why I chose you- because out of you came 100 warriors.  And more to come!”

          Taylor undoubtedly lived more than a full life in his 23 years– he had time to be a brother, son, friend, and husband.  A drummer, singer, skateboarder and snowboarder.  A fighter, forgiver, dancer, and adventurer.  He did parkour, back flips, wake surfing, and fishing.  He was a do-it-all man with friends and with God; he never stopped growing, and always learned new talents.

          As far as him being an artist– I remember his two large paintings on his bedroom walls–and his many smaller drawings and paintings all representing something special, something important.  Whether it was a dream, vision, feeling, or memory, he was able to display it with color.  Colorful dreams, colorful memories.

          Aside from drumming, he loved to call me up to come over to hear his new acoustic songs as he finished them.  I’d go upstairs to his room and listen to his dedicated works where each word in the lyrics was selected to be in there, every line meant something special to him.  Again, his colorful attitude shown in his poetry and lyrics…out of music came his feelings and emotions.

          Speaking of music– I know many relate to his moments on the way to the skate park or up to Bogus when he’d be driving Carla’s minivan and blaring Coheed and Cambria or screamo, or on other days Taylor Swift.  He wasn’t stuck in any one genre, he lived open to anything– and found the good in everything.  So if Taylor Swift fit the mood, I’d suck it up and sing along with him.

          The storyteller in Taylor was something special.  He could turn Bambi into lions, a mole hill into mountains, and a puddle into a pond with fountains.  I don’t think, now, that he realized some stories were larger than real life, because it wasn’t the size of the fish that mattered to Taylor– it was the excitement behind catching the fish– so to say.

          Speaking of excitement, I hope you all had a chance to watch Taylor dance at some point.  As with everything else, he had a gift for it.  I would spin, he would spin kick.  I would jump, he would back flip.  I would try to shake it, but he already was.

          I think he was a self taught genius when it came to his many talents– because when I’d be on YouTube looking up How To’s, he would be out trying things.  Experimenting and experiencing.  That’s what Taylor’s life was about…adventure.

          Above all else, Taylor was a lover.  He was the one brother in Christ that I had a true connection with for years.  We always made it a point to have nights alone to share feelings, hardships, blessings, and relationships.  Always positive and full of advice, he was a man of morals.  As we could see with his beautiful marriage to Michelle, he understood God’s love.  He knew how to treat his lady right and follow Rule #3.  Never forget Rule #3, Everybody Love Everybody.

          The Word of God says, “There is a friend who sticks closer than a brother,” and that was true of Taylor to more friends than just me.  The Scripture also says, “As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another,” and this, too, rings true of our brother Tay.

          This isn’t a time to recognize death, but to honor life.  I find rejoicing today because of Taylor’s life.  The Bible tells us that this battle in life is not of flesh and blood, but between the angels and demons.  This is a Spiritual world.  Taylor’s body was not the most important part of Taylor– it was his Spirit, and that is more alive now than ever… Taylor is more alive now than ever.  If you don’t know the love of Jesus, you couldn’t have understood the love of Taylor.  Recognizing his life is where I begin today–starting to step out of myself and into God.

          If I could thank Taylor today, I would say to him, “Brother, you have lived as God asks us to, and through you I knew him more.  You showed me how to fight this worldly battle–you showed me how to win.  Thank you for your example in love.  Thank you for loving me.  Thank you for the Light you left behind, it is burning ever brighter like the first Light of day.  I promise to God, because of your life, that I, too, will share this Light.  I love you, brother, thank you for your life.”

          And to all of you here, I mean that, if  you haven’t found Jesus, you haven’t found life.  I am confident that Taylor showed you love, and that’s the first step to finding Life.  Talk to me, talk to Michelle, talk to the Woods or Jamison, Paul or Trevor.  Ask anybody for more Love, and you will end up finding Jesus.  Use Taylor’s life as motivation.  Use Taylor’s life as a celebration.

          I started a new habit today honoring God as Taylor showed me to, with every moment.  I find rejoicing at this Celebration of Taylor’s Life.  I miss Taylor… but I am ready to accept his eternal life because it gives so many of us a reason for a Celebration of Life, every day.

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KEVIN AND TAYLOR ON A BOATING TRIP 🙂

 

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A Christmas Carol: My Thoughts on Tiny Tim

“And how did little Tim behave?” asked Mrs. Cratchit, when she had rallied Bob on his credulity and Bob had hugged his daughter to his heart’s content.

“As good as gold,” said Bob, “and better. Somehow he gets thoughtful, sitting by himself so much, and thinks the strangest things you ever heard. He told me, coming home, that he hoped the people saw him in the church, because he was a cripple, and it might be pleasant to them to remember upon Christmas Day, who made lame beggars walk, and blind men see.”
Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol

A couple of years ago, my obsession with A Christmas Carol became evident to my family. My son, Taylor, who resides now in Heaven, asked, “Mama, why do you have every version of that movie possible!? Don’t you get sick of it?”

“It’s the best movie ever, Taylor, because it always reminds me of what is really important at Christmas. Besides, what a blast to watch Scrooge shock everyone at the end!”

My favorite versions are the ones where, in the end, you get to see the presents Scrooge showers on people who have feared him. The best shocker is where Mrs. Cratchit doesn’t know whether to karate chop Scrooge Miss Piggy-style or wrap him in a huge bear hug.

The compassionate depth of this story is obvious to me except one line that always confounded me: Tiny Tim’s comment quoted by his father, “…that he hoped the people saw him in the church, because he was a cripple, and it might be pleasant to them to remember upon Christmas Day, who made lame beggars walk, and blind men see.” – Until this year.

Would it be asking for pity if it were me? This year, it has become real to me. Although five months have passed, I still get to share with people the familiar phrase, “Our son, Taylor, was married and twenty-eight days later went to be with Jesus.” I finally get Tiny Tim! Sometimes I hesitate to share the news because I don’t want people to think I’m looking for pity. But I am truly thankful for this tragedy so I can share my next phrase of hope and my anchor, “But I know for certain he is with Jesus and our Lord is doing great things with this loss and holding me up in joy as I hold His hand tighter than ever!”

Last night, I saw a friend who did not know of our loss. I shared the first part of the story, and then we were interrupted. Thinking of Tiny Tim, I couldn’t go on today until I called him to share the rest of the story. I don’t want to share my story without the joy because there is no need for pity, just a chance to share, that in the midst of trials, there is hope for everyone. Tiny Tim saw the silver lining of gratitude in his life. When others see me, may it be pleasant to them to remember upon Christmas Day, who made a way for my son to have eternal life.

Merry Christmas.  I pray for silver lining perspective in each heart and “God bless us, every one!”

Carla's Blogs

Thankful for Surprised Amazement

Thankful 2013-Day 21: After reading my new One Thousand Gifts Devotional today I am thankful for surprised amazement that God gives me in the midst of my grief in the loss of our son, Taylor. In this Ann Voskamp reminds us that “expectations kill relationships – especially with God” and she repented from “entitlement that steals joy.”

I expected all my children to live long lives and outlive me, but as I sit back and keep my eyes open, waiting for faithful kisses from God without expectations or entitlement, He consistently surprises me with moments of joy.

A moment last Friday where a young student gave me a stuffed Snoopy dog as a gift she had been holding onto for me for over two years. She knew Peanuts is a favorite of mine, but she didn’t know they were Taylor’s favorites too. In the last two weeks, I had been praying about having something for us to hold in all our family pictures to remember Taylor.

Snoopy was the answer to my prayer and if this little girl had remembered to bring Snoopy a few years ago, it would not have meant so much to me. God’s reminder to her last week was a kiss of joy for me that I needed this week. Once again, I’m surprised and amazed at His desire to touch me in a special way in His perfect timing.

Eucharisteo always precedes a miracle!” (Voskamp)Image

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My Tribute to Taylor, Our Second Born Son, Our Adventurer

Carla Wood – July 25, 2013Image

Faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen; it gives us assurance about things we cannot see. Hebrews 11:1 NLT

Psalm 20

In times of trouble, may the Lord answer your cry.
May the name of the God of Jacob keep you safe from all harm.
May he send you help from his sanctuary
and strengthen you from Jerusalem.
May he grant your heart’s desires
and make all your plans succeed.
May we shout for joy when we hear of your victory
and raise a victory banner in the name of our God.
May the Lord answer all your prayers.

Now I know that the Lord rescues his anointed king.
He will answer him from his holy heaven
and rescue him by his great power.
Some nations boast of their chariots and horses,
but we boast in the name of the Lord our God.
Those nations will fall down and collapse,
but we will rise up and stand firm.

That last part of that verse was one of Taylor’s favorite verses. He loved anything to do with cowboys and horses. As you listened to me read this passage from Psalm you might have asked, “How were your prayers answered?” As a follower of Jesus Christ, our greatest prayer is that each family member and friend gives their whole heart and life to Jesus so we can be in Heaven together forever. We know beyond any doubt that although Taylor was not perfect, just like we are not perfect, he is in Heaven with Jesus living ecstatically in awe and wonder of all the amazing things God had promised him if he would trust Jesus with his whole heart.

When Taylor was 4, he asked Jesus into his heart. He wanted to be a good boy and he knew he couldn’t do it on his own. After he asked Jesus into his heart I told him about how I needed to spend time with Jesus every day, reading my Bible and talking with Jesus to help me to be a good Mommy. Shortly after this, I had an impatient moment with Taylor and he tugged at my shirt and said with his little Bostonian accent, “Mama, did yo have yo Jesus time? I think yo need yo Jesus time.”

From the age of 4-6, we homeschooled in Oxbow, OR. Each morning after breakfast, Taylor would get all of us in the living room. He would grab his cowboy hat and his stick horse, and the kids and I would run around singing with Steven Curtis Chapman, “The Great Adventure” or as Taylor would say “Saddle up Your Horses”. He wouldn’t let us do our Bible time until that song was sung and danced to. It is the first song on his life video J.

Taylor really knew what was important in life.

When he didn’t dress or keep his hair the way I thought was best for him in high school, I love how he gently gave me a scriptural reminder, “Mama, man looks to the outward appearance, but God looks at the heart.” Taylor always saw beyond the outside of people and saw what God saw in their hearts and could recognize what they were created to be. He would often make a quick call and say, “Mama, pray for so-and-so. They really need prayer this week.” He would never tell me what the problem was, keeping his friends’ personal lives confidential, but he knew the power of prayer could change lives and wanted all his friends to have the same peace and relationship with Jesus that he had.

Taylor didn’t just have a free ticket to Heaven when he asked Jesus into his heart; he saw life as an adventure to learn more about God in nature and an adventure to see who God wanted him to reach out to next. He didn’t preach a lot, he loved people where they were and expected the best out of them while having a lot of fun along the way.

Taylor felt closest to God in the Idaho outdoors. It started first in our family campouts. I saw his relationship with Jesus first grow in our garden. Raspberries, my favorite food, were abundant in our back yard in July. In grade school and junior high, Taylor was always the first one up summer mornings and would say, “Hey Mama, let’s go have breakfast!” Out to the garden the two of us would go to pick raspberries and eat them as we talked noticing cool things about God from the garden. He loved to be close to God in nature so when I went to the river to see where he took his last breath I had a deep sense of peace knowing he flew to heaven from a place he would go  to hear God speak. It was a safe place, not dangerous, but beautiful and we all realized why he was so excited to play there.

During my back surgeries over the last few years, Taylor always slept on our sectional couch while I reclined in my sleep. His hand was always stretched out to touch my hand or leg. For 2-3 weeks for each surgery, he would do this and make sure I had whatever I need and prayed to ease my pain even on days he worked his 10 hour shifts.

Taylor was very creative in a mechanical way and in business, art and music. He loved to paint. If you ever saw his bedroom, he and his friends were allowed to draw on the walls. Although he loved his mechanic work, he longed to use his art and entrepreneur gifts more. His self- portrait is in the foyer that he made at a summer art school near my sister, his Aunt Carolyn’s in Annapolis. We hope you each will take a magnet copy of this which his aunt has made as a gift for all of you.

As the Lord has ministered to me this week he keeps showing me a vision of Taylor painting his heart out in worship of God with the outdoors in Heaven. Some of his favorite past times were playing and singing with Michael Pease, Stephen and the gang. Michael and Stephen are doing a concert thinking of us today. A big favorite was going with Trevor Powers in high school, downtown, playing on the street corner on Taylor’s snare drum with Trevor on the guitar making more money than they expected. He was never quite sure his voice was good enough to follow the path his two friends had found, but Michelle said his voice was improving so much and he loved to sing this past month even more. His new singing genre was reggae in Hawaii but making up his own new words to it. I’m anxious to hear what he has written in Heaven for the Lord. I think we should expand the Christian reggae genre on earth. Hmmm…

One of my sweetest memories was when he was in junior high at that typical junior high stage with an “I-don’t’need-my-parents” attitude. However, he would ask at the end of a tiring day, “Mama, could we lay on your bed, cuddle, and watch “Little House on the Prairie?”  This went on for about a month until we had watched every episode of Little House and moved onto The Walton’s.  J

Taylor was the only one of our 4 kids that called me mama. I will forever hear his frequent phrases, “Mama, guess what God did for me today?” “Mama, please pray…” “Mama I found the greatest place.” Especially missed will be his random phone calls or texts that simply said, “I love you Mama!” My favorite Mama moment was in January 2012 when he asked, “Mama, would you please pray that God will give me a wife who is perfect for me?”

“Well sure Taylor, I have done that since you were little but I will be intentional about it now. What’s the deal with Michelle True? Why aren’t you dating her?” I replied.

“I can’t do that, she is my best friend. I wouldn’t want to ruin our friendship.”

“Well Taylor, best friends usually make the best spouses. At your age, maybe you should rethink that.”

Shortly after that, Michelle started spending every day at our house and we all fell in love with her, along with Taylor J. God knew that we would need Michelle and her amazing family to help us get through this. Treasures they are in our lives forever.

To Taylor, yo Mama loves you, and she will always have her Jesus time sending messages to you through Him. I hold Jesus hand knowing he will pass on the information to you holding his other. Thank you for daring us to dream, loving people the way Jesus does, and preparing us to carry on your adventures. Dad and I always told you, with your strong will and spirit, God would do great things through you. Thanks for cheering us on up there encouraging us to continue to pass on the love you have given to others and make the world a more loving and fun place. We promise to make your domino affect change the world into a better place as you did.

To our Lord Creator, thank you for giving us 23 amazing years with our son. For using his gifts to love others and make his life an amazing adventure. Thank you for giving him the happiest year of his life with friends, the completely perfect wedding to the absolutely perfect woman for him. Thank you for the assurance that we know he is with you and for all the little kisses you have sent to us this week to confidently remind us he flew into your arms. Thank you for showing him the good things that happen down here and let him know how deeply we love him.

To those adults in this room, teachers at Cole Valley, Borah, Sunday school teachers and youth pastors, and parents and family, thank you for being a part of the plan God had to impart love and truth into our son’s heart that made him a man after God’s heart. Taylor, Michelle, and our other children are living proof that seeds planted in our young people will grow to serve our Living God.

To all of you, in this room, and those who were not able to be here, thank you for being such an amazing support to us. The miracle of the Body of Christ praying and reaching out is glorious and has given us strength that was supernatural this week. Despite times of crying, none of us are hopeless we have constant reassurance that Taylor is surfing in Heaven in between painting, singing and using these gifts to just completely worship his Awesome God in the fullness of His glory. He is cheering us on to persevere and reach the prize of our ultimate calling to also be with Christ.

To Gary, my sweet blessed man, thank you for raising a godly man to love and serve us and others. He has your servant’s heart and I’m deeply humbled by that. I am so glad I married you and have shared this amazing son with you. I am excited to continue close to you in this journey we are on to see what amazing things God is going to do next.

Michelle, my new amazing daughter, thank you for seeing Taylor as God saw him and for bringing out the best in him. You completed him, now we have the other part of Taylor to cherish for life.  You were the answer to a lifelong prayer for Gary and me. You and God gave him the best year of his life and no one could ever ask for more at a time like this. You are the greatest treasure Taylor has brought to our family and we are so glad to have you for our forever daughter. Gary and I vow to take care of you as Taylor would.

Shawn, Angela, Drew, and Bethany, our precious children we are so grateful for on earth, thank you for loving and supporting Taylor and each other, especially during the last two months of celebration of his life and marriage. A student at Cole Valley told Shawn his senior year that our family was weird. When Shawn asked why, the reply was, “You all love each other and don’t fight.” I’m so proud that you all understand love so deeply.

To the True Family, the Wood Family, the Barkley and Clark families, as always you have been faithfully by our side. We are so blessed to have all of you and look forward to having many more adventures together making new memories with joy as Taylor would want.

To Jamison, you are technically a friend, but truly a brother. When Taylor chose you to be his best man in the wedding, it was a no brainer to Shawn and Drew and the rest of us. There is a friend that is closer than a brother and that is you. Thank you for being there with Taylor through thick and thin. We are here for you through thick and thin too.

And to all his friends new and old, especially you honored pall bearers, we started to list all of you and the list was going to be so long; we know you are grieving in some ways more deeply than we are. I wish I had time to list each and every name of Taylor’s friends. You spent more time with Taylor than we have lately and will have a bigger hole in your lives right now. Our home is open 24/7 for any of you to hang out. We want you to gather whenever you need a place in our home to play, talk, laugh, share, pray, whatever you need. I always wanted a huge family, God gave us a start with 4 and Taylor gave you to us to adopt. You will always be our kids just like Michelle. Be watching for his Birthday Party in September to join with us and celebrate our relationships with all of you!

My prayer for all my children throughout their lives is from Ephesian 3 and I want to pray this for everyone here and all whose lives have been touched by Taylor:

 When I think of all this, I fall to my knees and pray to the Father, 15 the Creator of everything in heaven and on earth. 16 Father God, I pray that from your glorious, unlimited resources you will empower these beloved friends and family with inner strength through your Spirit. 17 Then Jesus will make his home in their hearts as they trust in you. That their roots will grow down into your love and keep them strong. 18 And may they have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep your love is. 19 May they experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then they will be made complete as Taylor is now, with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God.

20 Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think. 21 Glory to him in the Body and in Christ Jesus through all generations forever and ever! Amen.

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The Upright Piano

Matthew 10:30-32 (NIV)

30 And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. 31 So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.

A new Christmas song, Cradle in Bethlehem, sent to me and written by my friend Andrew Greer, started a rush of nostalgia today. Right from the beginning, the soft twangy notes on an upright piano sent a flood of memories of faith pouring over my heart. Reminisce of my little girl heart starting her melodic dreams.

I come from a very musical Seattle family. My dad’s biological mother was an excellent pianist with a Julliard background and Dad played in the Seventh Fleet Naval Band plus sang and led worship in our church with his trumpet. Mom also came from a strong musical background and was a singer. They both had a deep desire for my sister and I to play the piano, but there was no money to buy one in the challenging times of the early 1970’s.

At the end of my second grade, a church family asked us to rent their home while they moved to Texas on temporary assignment. I was thrilled because they left their piano in the house and our church pianist lived just a block away! I took lessons from her and became addicted to practicing, spending hours on that beautiful instrument. Unexpectedly, nine months later, my dad got transferred to the opposite end of Seattle.  No piano. No money either. My sister and I were devastated.

Shortly after our move, Mom sat us girls down and said,

“If God wants us to have a piano, we will get one! I don’t know how, but he can do anything. Let’s pray!” So we prayed for about a week, not much longer.

Mom then got a call from her old high school friend, whom she had not heard from in a while.

“Vivian, my brother owns a nursing home in Portland. They are getting rid of an upright piano and he wondered if I knew of anyone who might want it. For some reason, I thought of you.  All he is asking is $50 for gas money to move it.”

Stunned, Mom caught her breath and, of course, said yes. We all did a little happy dance and praised God! Our parents scraped $50 out of the budget along with the change my sister and I found in my dad’s recliner. To top it off, our pastor’s wife heard about the miracle and offered to give us piano lessons for free. God was so good to us.

My faith grew enormously and God taught me so much through that old piano.

Bach and Beethoven, In the Garden, The Entertainer sounded amazing on that tall black instrument, but my favorites were the Christmas carols. I heard Mary’s Boy-Child, The Christmas Song (Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire), and Carol of the Bells for the first time on those keys. So many special memories are attached to those twangy sounds.

We moved to another home and made more memories as it sat in our kitchen. With another impending move, my dad said it was too heavy to lug to another home. We sold it for $100 to apply on a new piano.

For Christmas, when I was in the seventh grade, they bought us a spinet. I loved the smaller piano but the sound of that old black upright couldn’t be replaced. The seeds planted from those early days provided a lifetime of a musical hobby for my sister and a teaching career for me that has been so fulfilling. Every time I hear an old upright sound, it reminds me of God’s concern over the smallest desires and the biggest dreams in our lives.

Incidentally, my sister’s and my faith grew so much in praying for the piano, we decided to pray for a baby brother. One year later, God gave us one of my greatest gifts in life, my brother Matthew, who is also a music teacher!

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One Thousand Gifts – by Ann Voskamp: My Healing Through Gratitude

I have had losses in my life like anyone my age. Some of this was from pain of losing a loved one, a child going through pain, but the most life altering was from having three surgeries in a year with one that brought damage to my voice.

My passion in life is singing and leading worship. I’m a singer and a teacher, plus I love to talk, A LOT! After my third spinal surgery, I woke to find my right vocal cord nerve was paralyzed bringing my voice to a whisper at best. This completely put my life to a stop of reflection asking God what my new purpose was to be in His journey for me. As a person with deep faith, this was still a challenge as I processed, questioning, waiting…

In June 2012, I had surgery to allow me to talk, but I still could not sing well. In August, God was gracious and allowed me to help with church worship and, in October, go back to teaching and leading worship at my school part time.  Yet, I still grieved that I could not sing the way I wanted to. Although I understood that worship is a way of life and not a song, musical worship had for so long come from my heart through my larynx that I wasn’t sure how to deeply worship anymore.

In November, preparing for Thanksgiving, God challenged me to be thankful in everything. I thought I had been living a grateful life, but was still drifting towards complaining and discontentment in many areas, especially in my verbal life.

As the temptation to grumble approached, the Lord would reveal the parts of my problems to be thankful for:

Wandering Loved Ones: “Thank you, Lord, that they are alive. Thank you that they love me and want your blessing in their lives. Thank you for other loved ones close by and students that are seeking your face. Thank you for the husband who seeks your face and loves our family…”

A Broken Voice: “Thank you, Lord for the opportunities to touch lives for you in the health world because of this and help others in the same situation I’m in. Thank you that I can at least teach part time and help others to sing at school and at church. Lord, what? You don’t need perfection? Okay, I will sing, even if my cord doesn’t make the kind of sound I think it should make. I can still lift up my joyful noise to you for true worship comes from my heart and not my larynx. “

Positive growth, yet, I kept expecting, believing, waiting for a complete spectacular healing.

December 1st: Friends commented, “You are sounding better.”  I could tell there was a difference too.

December 21st: A visit to the voice surgeon, absolutely expecting him to say I was completely healed. He scopes my throat then matter-of-factly states, “No, Carla, your cord is still completely paralyzed. I’ll see you in March, you probably won’t have a voice then, and we will discuss a permanent surgery.”

More surgery??? “No, Lord! I will not have another surgery. I’m going to trust you with this one. I would rather not talk than have a 5th surgery.”

January: A precious loved one makes an attempt to reconnect. Gratitude begins to show its fruit. People stopping, saying, “Carla, your voice is back! You can sing! Wow! You sang great in chapel today! You are healed! When did that happen?”…

My Eyore response: “Thank you, but I’m not healed. In fact, in March I won’t have a voice at all again…” (I read this now and think how stupid I was!)

February 1st: I was sharing my heart with our school nurse regarding all this and she jumped up and said, “You have to read this book, One Thousand Gifts!” The next week she bought the book by Ann Voskamp as a gift for me.

Ann Voskamp is what I describe as an honest and down to real life author with an incredible gift for writing in a lyrical way that is beautiful and rare. This is a book you will want to sit with for a half hour, then meditate and savor in small bites twice a day.  Ann describes losses in her life – minor to major – and how gratitude opened up a whole new world as she saw God’s face in the midst of all stages of life.

What God starts, He always finishes. From November to now, through His Holy Spirit and this book, He plopped me in Gratitude Boot Camp! I had been doing the thanksgiving dance but failed to see the work He was doing, believing what the doctor said instead of seeing my Creator’s unique craftsmanship.

As I jumped deeper into gratitude, I had a bottomless sense of peace and began to think less about my voice and more about God’s purpose for my gifts, letting Him take care of my voice.

During this time, another doctor friend asked if he could refer me to a surgeon in Los Angeles who repairs voices of famous singers. The California doctor called me and said I sounded way too good for him to do surgery on me. He and my doctor friend explained that, although my nerve was still paralyzed, my vocal cord had fallen back to the middle of my larynx and was in the perfect position for vibration. With a singing specialist, they said I could very likely build endurance and range again.

I suddenly realized that God was using my voice in a wonderfully functioning capacity without a nerve to help it! I like the spectacular and had been looking for a lightning bolt to come down and strike me with healing power creating fireworks around me. Instead, he healed me with a gentle surprise patiently waiting for me to stop denying His work and realize that my gratitude broke open the doors to see the healing He had already accomplished in me.

It is now March 7th and, other than range and stamina, my voice feels almost normal again. I’ve cancelled the doctor appointment!

I truly believe that ungratefulness clouds the truth and blessings God wants to reveal to us. I’m so grateful for the difficult times and wouldn’t trade one treasure of wisdom I’ve received from the past two years for anything.

Read One Thousand Gifts and see what miracles God is already doing in your life.

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Great Week with Author Sigmund Brouwer, Cindy Morgan Brouwer and The Hymns for Hunger Tour

Sigmund spoke in Treasure Valley Schools with his Cool2Read and Rock and Roll Literacy assemblies and Young Writers’ Workshops, inspiring kids to read and write. His wife, singer song writer Cindy Morgan, along with Andrew Greer and Kyle Buchanan helped raise money for Lighthouse Rescue Mission in Nampa and Food for the Hungry with their Hymns for Hunger Tour. A fabulous week in Boise and Nampa!
Carla's Blogs

Time in the Son

August 27, 2012

Although a morning person by nature, it takes me at least one hour to move into partial function mode. It doesn’t happen at all without sitting on the lap of my Lord absorbing His peace and wisdom for the day.

Before beginning my hectic Monday, I knew today required the more than usual time with God. So I moved from my traditional living room comfy chair out to the fairly warm comfort of my patio. Glancing out at the green tree scape under the horizon of the eastern sky, I read my devotional which, incidentally, talked about giving my very busy day to Him and reminded me to stay focused on Him.

Then facing the lightening East and talking to God about each item and person I needed to place in His hands, I looked up into the peaceful sky and noticed a few clouds coming over my house from the west.

As the increasing cloud clusters traveled towards the sun, they were approaching with a dull grey color, but the closer they moved toward the sun, they took on a brilliancy that transformed them from sad to joyful.

So it is with us. It’s hard for me to get up and get to His lap in the morning, but once I get focused on my Son, I can accomplish things with a joy that is found nowhere else.

It reminds me of my son, Taylor, when he was four. After an hour of impatience with my children one day, he pulled on my shirt, and said, “Mommy, I don’t think you got your Jesus time today. Maybe you should go get some.”

John 15:4-8

Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.

“I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. If you do not remain in me, you are like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. 7 If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. 8 This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.

Carla's Blogs

Learning to Listen

As an extroverted teacher, worship leader, and singer, the word quiet has not been in my vocabulary often over the years, unless it was to ask my students or children to lower their voices. I love to be with people, sharing all God is doing in my life. And no doubt He can definitely use “conversationalists” like me to share His message. Beth Moore says you know you’re a teacher if you can’t stop sharing what you’ve learned (A Woman’s Heart: God’s Dwelling Place – video). And that is me 24-7.

Until now. Due to my recent neck surgery, my voice is – at best – just above a whisper. But the Lord, in His perfect mercy, has begun to teach me the value of quiet – the increased focus on listening. Listening to Him, listening to my family, and listening, especially, to my husband :). Silence has allowed me to pay attention without interrupting so I can hear the whole of my sweet man’s heart. My children and even my friends have opened up even more, knowing that I’m listening closely.

In listening to God, I’ve looked up scripture on quietness to see what else He has to teach me on this subject… and Psalm 131 spoke directly to my heart.

Psalm 131
New International Version (NIV)


A song of ascents. Of David.

 1 My heart is not proud, LORD,
my eyes are not haughty;
I do not concern myself with great matters
or things too wonderful for me.
2 But I have calmed and quieted myself,
I am like a weaned child with its mother;
like a weaned child I am content.

 3 Israel, put your hope in the LORD
both now and forevermore.

This passage spoke to me in many ways. “I do not concern myself with great matters or things too wonderful for me.” Silence has taken me away from lofty dreams and brought me to foundational truths and simple acts of worship in my walk with Jesus. I have spent a lot of time planning great chapels and big musical programs for my students, and these things have all been good. But I see how Jesus wants to bring my focus back to seeing Him and His love for me purely and personally. Big plans can sometimes become a distraction to personal adoration of my King.

Singing is integral to worship for me, but now I can barely warble one note. In the past, it was difficult to listen to music without singing. When directing my students, it took a great deal of self-control not to join in during their performances. And I have caused real embarrassment to my husband when I’m in an audience singing in a situation where we have not been invited to participate.

Learning to listen to others worship in song is redirecting my focus to Jesus, and what the words really say to Him or about Him. I have been freed to just lift my arms to Him, opening up a tunnel directly to His Presence. My voice is not distracting my heart, and this has allowed me to be filled in a way I’ve never experienced before.

Psalm 131 also illustrates David’s deliberate choice to rest in the Lord – “I have calmed and quieted myself.” This involved David’s will. In my case, God has forced me into silence, but I still need to trust and make the choice to rest in my spirit, allowing Him to calm my heart.

“Like a weaned child I am content.” We are to be content in all circumstances. Even when I can’t use my talents, Lord? Yes, even then. I know His purpose is to use me. If that is in silence, so be it. But if this stillness is a time to teach me new truths without my voice distracting my spirit, then praise Him for this “silent learning” opportunity!

“Put your hope in the Lord, both now and forevermore.” Trust always leads to hope. My hope for the “now” is to absorb from Him truths never learned with my voice. Hope is also in the “forevermore.” Should He restore my voice tomorrow to continue my ministry, then Hallelujah! This is what I believe He is doing. However, even if no clear word should ever again go forth from my mortal mouth, I will continue to worship my King in spirit and through other believers singing praises to His Name.

Worshiping in silence has brought my heart to a place of deep focus on Jesus. Learning to do this with a quiet spirit and a calm heart, I am content to learn and meditate as I wait for Him to heal me now or later, with the full hope I will rejoice with all the saints, with shouts of joyful singing in Heaven, forever.