Healing, Hope, joy, Psalm 30:5, Uncategorized

Surprised by Laughter and Deep Joy

Psalm 30:5b (Good News Translation)

Tears may flow in the night,
    but joy comes in the morning.

When you lose a child, happiness is hard to find. You practice joy and fun for years, hoping one day it will come naturally. You focus on your hope of Heaven and look for God’s fingerprints in your tragedy. Each year it becomes a little easier, yet you forget what a truly good belly laugh really feels like. Then one day, you are surprised by joy and it takes your breath away.

Tonight was one of those brief powerful kisses-from-God-moments for me. First, I was listening to our firstborn talk about his seven-year-old daughter and the joy in her precocious observations of life. I felt a sudden burst of emotions of joy mixed with awe and pride over what a wonderful dad Shawn is. I had to ask him to scoot over and sit next to me so I could hug him and just tell him how proud I am of what an amazing dad he is.

A few minutes later, Bethany showed me a “princess post” on Facebook comparing Disney princesses to what we really would be like if we were that princess as real humans. Suddenly, I saw myself in those truly human versions of princesses and was overtaken with such deep humor, giggling and joy that I couldn’t stop laughing and my belly hurt and is still hurting now, an hour later.

God promises in this Psalm that weeping will last for a time, but joy is on its way. I wasn’t looking for joy tonight, yet it showed up, (maybe with a little help from caffeine).

Princess Photos with Belly Laugh Videos Bethany Took in the Comments

Grief, Healing, Hope, joy, Uncategorized

A Time to Be Human: Sorrow and Joy Can Dance Together Part 2

Ecclesiastes 3:4 (ESV)

 a time to weep, and a time to laugh;
a time to mourn, and a time to dance;

In Sorrow and Joy Can Dance Together,

I was heavy on joy, light on sorrow.

This week is heavy on sorrow, light on joy.

Feeling very human…so many emotions…

February 7th – Our very close friends’ daughter, Jesse, died – a time to weep…

February 8th – My wonderful dad’s 87th Birthday – a time to smile…

February 8th – The highlight of Josie’s year –a time for the Daddy Daughter Dance…

February 9th – Celebrate the life of friends’ son, Mike – a time to mourn…

February 10th – Celebrate the birth of our beautiful daughter Bethany – a time to smile…

February 10th – Anniversary of the passing of precious friend Andy – a time to mourn…

Life goes on for some, drags for others, redeemed for many, renewed in Heaven for others.

Time will bring more healing…heavy on the joy again…

Revelation 21:4 (ESV)

He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.

 

Uncategorized

Redeemed Joy

20180630_164319

This will be a short post to follow up from my last post, Sorrow and Joy Can Dance Together. Brief because after praying for a positive ending to my book, God provided that very clearly on June 30th, in our backyard wedding where we celebrated the marriage of Taylor’s best friend to Bethany’s best friend, with my amazing husband officiating.

Between our nephew’s wedding, this back yard wedding, and other family gatherings, God kissed our hearts to sweetly to redeem our joy, but I don’t want to spoil it for any readers of my book (which probably won’t be all published and ready until next spring).

Suffice it to say for now, God poured blessings over us abundantly.

Here is a little video I put together from our family phone cameras. Wedding Video of Jamison and Emily

Uncategorized

Does the Light Live Past Christmas?

Christmas - New Year 2017-2018

“When you wake up every morning, aren’t you just so excited and grateful that Jesus came to die for you?” My friend, Nancy, asked me this question at a Christmas concert a couple weeks ago. She had asked this same question to a group of ladies who had been followers of Jesus for many years and they all sadly replied, “No”. I thought for a minute and replied, “Since our imperfect son went to be with God’s perfect Son, I am very grateful every morning.” But do I always live out that gratitude and excitement throughout my day?

God had already started a joy work in me over Thanksgiving as I stepped into a deeper and more intentional prayer life. However, Nancy’s question reminded me that no matter what is going on around me or if the rest of my peeps aren’t walking in joy, I don’t really have an excuse for not living a second by second life of gratitude and joy, walking with the anticipation of eternal life and an abundant life on earth.

This year I have meditated a lot on the response of the people surrounding Jesus’ birth. The Christmas story is full of wonder in all the characters, but my favorite verses in the Christmas story are of the shepherds. I love reading it in the Message as it captures the humanness of the ragamuffin characters God chose to announce it to first.

Luke 2:15-19 The Message

“As the angel choir withdrew into heaven, the sheepherders talked it over. “Let’s get over to Bethlehem as fast as we can and see for ourselves what God has revealed to us.” They left, running, and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in the manger. Seeing was believing. They told everyone they met what the angels had said about this child. All who heard the sheepherders were impressed.”

Probably tired from a long day in the fields, they didn’t just mosey on over to find the Messiah, they ran and told everyone, even amazing Mary!

My cousin, Missy, was recently doing a study on this and shared this powerfully  interesting Bible history trivia.

“Bethlehem was a Levite city and the shepherds in the surrounding area were charged with raising the “first born male lambs, perfect and without blemish.” To accomplish this, when certain lambs were born they would put them in a specific cave wrapped in swaddling clothes so as not to thrash about and be hurt. So, when the angels said the baby will be found in a manger wrapped in swaddling clothes, they knew exactly where to go to find Him AND they knew the significance of the perfect I AM being born!”

The shepherds knew they would be free from the burden of the law and it would be fulfilled in their Messiah, in their lifetime! I’m sure every day after this, they woke up, ecstatically free knowing their Messiah had come.

I am sitting here in my favorite room in my house to have one last morning with the Lord watching my Christmas tree lights. On the left is a mess on a misplaced chair, the last remaining re-positioning of my office moved to make room for our daughter to return home. Praise God! On the right are the boxes to pack the remaining ornaments away until next year and in the background, the mantel lights are not quite as perfect as they were last week, a kind of frazzled joy still shining.

I was reminded this morning as I stepped into this room that despite the messes in my life the light still dawns every day and when focused on this, the messes in the darkness are minimized. A check in my spirit reminded me of my friend’s question and prompted me to develop a constant habit to recognize this light every day in 2018, without the Christmas tree reminders. Will I let this light live through me past Christmas?

January is typically a time for us to reballance our lives, physically, mentally and spiritually. I will be taking a break from social media. My plans are to go even deeper into this Messianic Joy, getting to know my Messiah more and focus on relationships that aren’t distracted by my phone. And, I will be praying for all you, my friends and family, that the light will dawn brighter in your lives too.

If you would like to send prayer requests via Messenger, or through this blog, I would be sincerely happy to add you to my list this month.

Have a radiant 2018!

In His Embrace,

Carla

 

Uncategorized

Because of Three Drummer Boys

Little Drummer BoySometimes God kisses us in a way that involves so many facets of our life it is hard to describe. I’ve wanted to write about this for three weeks but didn’t know what direction to go. As I’m starting this blog, the two constants I see in this story are that #1 God gives us each other to connect and lift each other up, and #2 while in that state, as we lift others up, we get our eyes off our self and new life is poured into us as we pour out to others, which becomes a circle of love that can only be explained by God.

I’ll start at the beginning…When Taylor died, my new friend and cemetery buddy, Susan, told me about her “Ryan Tree”. They set it up each year and add a new ornament in honor of their son. I loved that idea, so I bought a little “Taylor-Woodsy” tree that stuck out of a cabin and started that tradition for our family.

After four years of buying ornaments, the little tree was looking floppy with the big ornaments I chose, and I wanted to put all Taylor’s childhood ornaments on it, so this year I got a tall skinny tinsel tree from Walmart. This new shiny tree stands in our family room so everyone can see it in the busiest part of our home. Photo ornaments, and all the kids’ baby’s first year ornaments, along with Taylor’s, grace this sweet memory tree and Josie has added a couple of hers along with her candy canes, making it not just a signature of the past, but a reminder of our new life and making new memories to cherish.

In October, I hit a new low emotionally. In four years, two of my four parents and a couple friends had recently died along with our son, then in September, our niece took her life. Even with the strong faith I have, I felt helpless to do anything about my depression. I found it difficult to even pray. Trying to grow into a festive Christmas spirit with my elementary music students as we prepared for our December program, I tried to climb out of the pit I was in.  What happened next was part of the key that turned my heart around as God splashed renewed joy over my heart.

This year, my second graders are singing Little Drummer Boy in our Christmas program. As we started practicing in October, I realized I did not have a Drummer Boy ornament for Taylor’s tree. From the womb, a drummer, he used to walk around our home as a little tike, before he got his drum set, singing the same line over and over, “Rum pa pum pum, Rum pa pump um.”

Being the most logical ornament to find for him, I sat down on Ebay and began looking for our 2017 ornament. Noticing the many Drummer Boy ornaments were from Hallmark and dated, I considered all the years that might be available.

“What year should I pick?…Why not his birth year, 1989!”

Not thinking there would be a 1989 for me, I hit search and there was one! I immediately purchased it and at a very reasonable rate! When it arrived, attached was a sweet note from a woman named Sherry. I sensed from her wording, she shared my faith, so I decided to email her, thank her and tell her why this Little Drummer Boy meant so much to me. Two days later, she replied and that started a circle of prayer and love that has evolved into this blogging.

To start with, Sherry told me her husband is a drummer, making it extra special. She then explained how glad she was that we got the ornament and then briefly shared why she was selling so many items. After her husband’s job loss and the news of their almost-four-year-old grandson being diagnosed with a rare disease, she decided to sell her “new” items in their home to help pay for expenses.

I began to pray for this family and it took my eyes off my losses and gave me purpose to pray for life to be poured into this family. As I prayed for them, my prayer life began to return and I became more intentional about praying for others in my life. Into November, I found life begin to return in my heart and mind. I’ve experienced this before but had forgotten how wonderful and healing it feels to get my hands off my wounds so God can heal them as I reach my heart and hands out to others to help them.

After asking more questions, I found that this family has been through a tornado of events, literally! It started with the Illinois tornado of 2013 (the same year our son died) and progressed from there with many more major disappointments. My heart aches for them yet I sense a strength in my new friend that I know can only come from Jesus.

I’ve prayed and asked the Lord how He wanted me to help them further. While I’ve purchased another item, I decided the most logical way is to ask all my friends to pray for a miracle for them and also suggest you look at Sherry’s E bay site. Maybe there is something you need for a gift this Christmas! She sells new things at great prices and has excellent ratings, that I can attest to. Right now, she has a lot of darling Christmas items, collectibles, including Dickens Village items, and some classy shoes, clothing and accessories, plus she is adding more every week. https://www.ebay.com/sch/garsher/m.html?_nkw=&_armrs=1&_ipg=&_from=

The way God works through each of us is amazing. Sherry and her “Drummer Boy” husband sacrificed their special “Drummer Boy” ornament, not knowing how deeply it would bless me as I remembered my “Little Drummer Boy”. I got my eyes off myself and began praying which led to a deeper prayer life, which led to joy returning to my heart and life! I love how God connects us in His tapestry that only He can create!

I challenge you to look beyond your current pain and ask God who he wants you to touch next and expect something sweet!

1 Thessalonians 5:10-11 – The Message

Whether we’re awake with the living or asleep with the dead, we’re alive with him! So speak encouraging words to one another. Build up hope so you’ll all be together in this, no one left out, no one left behind. I know you’re already doing this; just keep on doing it.

20171126_211736

MERRY CHRISTMAS FROM THE WOOD HOME!

Uncategorized

Hummingbird Kisses

Peggy's hummingbird photo
Photo by Peggy Ware

God kissed us in many ways in the days prior to Taylor’s burial and memorial. This excerpt from my book shows God’s compassion in that sharp immediate grief and the continued compassion with a little miracle kiss He gave me today in my dulled grief.

Friday, July 26th was Taylor’s burial and over 100 people attended. His amazing friends and brothers, those who had been his groomsmen, were the pall bearers, including his friend Trevor Powers who had quit his world music tour to attend. Such a sacrifice of love overwhelmed me. Taylor and Michelle’s marriage counselor, John, who had also married them, came home from a long trip to help with the burial and memorial. He and his wife, Pauletta, spoke, and our godson, Josh, lead us in a couple songs of worship. Deciding against a casket flower drape, we loved Pauletta’s idea to hand out red roses for people to place on the casket after they shared stories of Taylor. Many shared fun anecdote’s and touching moments that started healing in our hearts. Stories were dying down and it was evident we were going to be leaving soon.

Sitting under the canopy tent resting in the quiet for a moment, we suddenly saw a hummingbird hovering over the flowers on the casket. It looked over the span of all the people, seeming to look into our families’ eyes, then flew part way into the congregation under the tent, stopping and looking, then moving to the back doing the same before it flew off. Everyone gasped in awe with no words to respond at the precious beauty of that moment.

The funeral director, cautiously stepped up to the microphone, clearing his throat, “I never speak at memorial services, but I have to say something. In all my fifteen years of doing services at this cemetery, I have never once seen a hummingbird up here.”

We all knew it was another kiss from God.

At this writing moment, four years later, I have had a really hard time with physical grief memory. My body aches the same way it did the week our son left. The week of Taylor’s death anniversary, two weeks ago, I had not seen a hummingbird on our feeder all summer, although Angie and Josie had seen a couple. I asked the Lord if he could please let me see one sometime this year. From the next morning on, I have seen one every day. The last few days I have been sick and extra heavy in my heart. This morning, I opened the sliding door to let our dachshunds out. Sticking my head out to see what the temperature was, a hummingbird was less than two feet away from me looking directly into my eyes!  God knew I needed a big kiss today. He is so good!

Bright Side, Positive Thinking, Uncategorized

ON THE BRIGHT SIDE OF THE JOURNEY

 

PERFECT SCENERY FOR IDAHO BLOG
DUSTY ROADSIDE BEAUTY

Most of my Facebook friends watched our dead van dilemma this past week at the end of our Inzane Valkyrie Motor Cycle Rally in Billings, Montana. Now the rest of the story…

After 5.5 hours of sleep in two days and eight hours of roller-coaster decisions trying to decide to fix our car or buy a new one in Billings, we headed home, a day late, to Boise in a newly purchased van. Louise, Raymond’s wife rode shotgun with me driving, and her brother-in-law, Merle, minus his out-of-order Harley (left in Billings), rode in the seat behind me. On Valkyrie’s, leading our pack, were my man, Gary, and his biker buddies, Greg, Dave, and Raymond – Louise’s husband. We were still reflecting on the bright side to our challenging previous day: My car incident, we all believe, quite possibly saved Merle from having a roadside problem or worse with his Harley.

That stressful day behind, tired, yet eager to get home and see some never-seen-by-me-Idaho scenery along the way, I joyfully set off toward Boise. Our friend Greg, an ingenious mapping navigator and adventurer chose a route that was faster and more scenic than the other Eastern Idaho highway routes available. Our drive was filled with stunning beauty and fun. Getting to know my friends better with delightful chatter was uplifting and helped the time pass.

Journeying through from Bozeman and West Yellowstone, the Gallatin River Valley and the Caribou-Targhee National Forest, we then meandered and headed towards tiny Dubois, Idaho. Soon, we found ourselves staring at a dirt road. Unsure of the trail ahead, the guys asked a passing rancher how far the road went. Still uncertain from his vague answers to their questions, we pushed on through the new adventure.

There were times I would start to grumble at the rough road worried about the boys eating dust, then I would see the spectacular scenery and divert my attitude. Despite wondering when it would end, we enjoyed the amazing God painted ranch-land and more chatter. After twenty miles of beauty mixed with dust, we stopped at the end with paved road ahead, black angus milling around the ditches. Just before stopping, we noticed two young women carrying backpacks, obviously exhausted, who were also ending the twenty-mile journey on foot. Getting out of my car, I grabbed my phone to capture the scenery I had longed to photograph over the previous three hours. We all walked towards the girls, Dave getting to them first to ask about their adventure.

20170701_143453

Kelsey and Chardonnay had started from the Mexican border in April and were traveling the Continental Divide up to the Canadian border! https://wanderingchardonnay.wordpress.com/ These young ladies touched our hearts in a special way as we heard their stories as they reflected perseverance and fun determined spirits. After listening to anecdotes from these precious girls, taking photos, and sharing snacks with them, we drove off, amazed at our crossing paths. As we contemplated our two-day journey, I realized if my car hadn’t broken down when it did and we had not been detained a full day, God not only saved Merle from an uncomfortable situation, but his perfect timing provided a moment in the middle of nowhere for us to meet some amazing young women accomplishing a daunting task.

When we are on the rough roads of our life journey, we wonder if times of struggle will ever end. This week he reminded me that the rough road is part of the journey and adventure but he is faithful to give us times of respite and treasures along the way.

FullSizeRender
BEAUTIFUL ENDING TO A FUN WEEK!