Tuesday, April 15, 2014

In Jesus' Arms

Beautiful Sarah Jordan Neal entered into the presence of our Lord and Saviour very early this morning.  

Please continue to keep the Neal Family in your prayers as they prepare final arrangements, and grieve over their immense loss.  Grief is not a magical formula of a specific time where you "heal and get over it."  One never gets over the loss of their loved one...and especially a beloved child.  Fore we know that in the natural order of life, a child should never perish before a parent.  In this broken and sin filled world, unfortunately, reality is that children die everyday.  

Monday, April 14, 2014

When Tragedy Occurs in Our Scope of Influence

*Today I ask for prayer.  Please read!

In this day and age, we hear of tragedy every single day, unless we cut ourselves off from the media (via computer, radio, print, or Television).  Often I find myself in the odd ball out category of not knowing a lot about current events because, quite frankly, it's depressing. But unless one lives literally under a rock, we cannot avoid the reality that life in this world is sad and broken.

So we hear this bad news here and bad news there.  And we think in our hearts and minds: oh my, that's awful;  I will pray for them.  Some news stories touch us more than others, even if it's "just a stranger."

However, when the worst happens to someone within our scope of influence (family, friends, neighbors, etc.), it takes the breath out of you.  Literally.  

I'd graciously like to ask for prayer for the Neal Family.  They are friends of ours from the first time we were stationed in Texas.  In fact, they were our awesome neighbors that taught me a lot of stuff about raising kids that I was absolutely clueless about (because I had only Ethan at the time and they had 3)!

But back to the prayer request...their 15 year old daughter, Sarah, has terminal cancer.  She was diagnosed September of 2010 with Ewing's Sarcoma.  At the time, her prognosis was good.  However, the cancer returned the next year, and it's been a battle ever since.  An absolute gut-wrenching battle in which I cannot even begin to imagine.  

About two weeks ago, the doctors told our friends there was nothing more that could be done, and that the cancer was spreading.  Sarah is now resting at a nearby Army hospital, waiting for the good Lord to carry her Home.  

Pray for peace and comfort for Sarah.  

Pray for her pain to go away.

Pray for peace and comfort for her parents and her two brothers, and her multitudes of family and friends.

Pray that the Lord will be glorified in all of the pain and suffering.  

Pray that the lost may be saved, and find Jesus because of Sarah's strength and courageousness.  

Thank you.

The Lord is good, a strong hold in the day of trouble:  and He knoweth them that trust in Him.  Nahum 1:7

Sunday, April 6, 2014

The Rattlesnake Incident...Again

The snake looking at us through a widow by the front door of our house.
 Those that know us personally know that we live out in the country.  Living out from the city has way more benefits than drawbacks, in my humble and honest opinion.  The one huge drawback is critters!  We've had our fair share of scorpions inside our house.  And unfortunately, we've had our second Western Diamondback Rattlesnake visit our property.  

Baby rattlesnake that bit Peaty in 2012.
The first rattlesnake incident was in January of 2012, and our beloved vizsla (dog) Peaty was bit by a baby. Baby rattlesnakes are worse because they unleash all of their venom on their victim.  Peaty was in bad shape, but thankfully, a veterinarian lives on the 75 acres behind us, and he saved Peaty's life!

The second rattlesnake incident occurred just the other day, April 3rd.  I was walking up our driveway from getting the mail, at around 4:15 PM.  As I got close to our house to enter in through our garage, I heard a very distinct rattle that can only be that of a rattlesnake.  The snake was extremely close to me! I believe it was so close that it was within striking distance! Being dreadfully afraid of snakes, I screamed for help and ran!  But hubby and my son were inside the house and didn't hear me, so I ran into the house from the backyard door.  

Rattlesnake of 2014 by our front door.

Hubby went outside to find the snake, and it had slithered onto our front porch!  And then it decided to slither into a window sill and look at us through the window!  Both very scary and cool at the same time!!!

Peaty after the venomous attack in 2012.

Well, to not bore my readers and to make a long story short, hubby and I stood out front and he tried to get the snake off of the porch so that he could shoot it.  Because of the trauma and damage done to our beloved dog (BTW, our son was saved by our dog from being bit in the 2012 rattlesnake incident) by the first rattlesnake, we do not let them live freely on our property.  Our son plays outside everyday, and for his safety and the rest of our family and those who visit, we cannot risk letting a venomous snake live.  We love God's creation, but at the same time, I believe the Lord understands why we had to kill both snakes.  

Hubby finally lured the snake into my herb bed.  We really wanted it in the yard so that it was easy to shoot.  Hubby was able to get a shot at it with "ratshot" in a revolver. Unfortunately, we only had two rounds of that, so we had to resort to my gun.  So I took the first shot at it, and then hubby was next.  It's not easy nor practical to shoot a snake with a handgun!  

Rattlesnake slithering into my herb bed.

Finally, he was able to get the snake with the shovel and the SWAT style standoff was over!!!! I was SOOO relieved!!!

Most of all, I am thankful to the Lord for protecting me, and my precious family.  I hope this is our last rattlesnake incident!

Snake stats:  45 inches long, and 12 buttons on the rattle...YIKES!!!

Note:  I was terrified beyond words!!!!  

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Compassion and Love in Tragedy

Ethan sitting in Daddy's chair, age 4.
Right now I am overcome with much emotion as I bring to memory a special group of people. People that the Lord has gifted with a very special gift and ability.  Compassion.

I have to stop and thank the Lord right now for the absolutely amazing friends He has given to me! Seriously, I mean it!!!  Sometimes I just don't get it how I could have such wonderful friends.  And then I remember.  He--the Lord-- is good.

While I feel like all of my friends are compassionate folks, this special group I am recalling to memory are those who never knew Ethan.

The group who "met" him after he died because they were at the scene of the accident.

The group who befriended us after we PCS'd to Washington State.

The group who I've met since moving back to Texas.

The group whom I've met over the years via blogs.

You all will never know how much your love for Ethan and my family has not only touched our hearts, but it has brought smiles and hope to our hearts.

It's quite common for kind people to not mention your deceased child because it's either too hard for them, or it's awkward or they don't want to hurt the bereaved.  

It's not common for folks who never met your beloved child to love them so much and tell you how much they have impacted their lives.  

Ethan and Evan, 2009 at the San Diego Zoo.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Deployment Done!

I've been hiding this banner in my closet for 5 years!  www.buildasign.com  Great company that supports our military, and offers banners for free;  just pay shipping.  

Daddy's home!!!!  He arrived home safely 11 March after being deployed to Germany and Africa for six months!!!

God is good!!!

Thursday, March 13, 2014

The Internet and Matthew 5:22

But I say unto you, That whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgement:  and whosoever shall say to his brother, Raca (worthless), shall be in danger of the council:  but whosoever shall say, Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell fire.
Jesus' words from Matthew 5:22

On and off again for the past two years, I've been writing journal entries in a devotional style.  You see, I get in these "spurts" of Holy Spirit lead energy where I get up and read the Word and ingest it into my soul.  I live and breathe and want to drink ever so much more of the Word.  My way of "digesting" it all is to journal in a devotional type style.  

My simple very journaling for that day some 8 months or so ago.  
So on one particular day (in which I cannot find the journal), I remember stumbling (more like God lead me there) being lead to Matthew Ch. 5.  I love the Sermon on the Mount! But I had never really digested Matthew 5:22 like I did that day, and boy oh boy, it was like a cold water in the face!!!  What a wake up call I got!

Admittedly, I cannot tell you how many times I would get on Facebook and see some foolishness someone would post (please hear me, I'm not trying to judge others) and become, you guessed it...angry with someone whom didn't directly do a thing to me!

 Now let me back up, I have become particularly touchy about certain things since Ethan passed away and went to be with Jesus.  Those things I won't share here.  Not yet. Maybe never. (And for the record, you will NEVER hurt me by speaking Ethan's name--I treasure any and all memories of him and want people to talk about him).  But anyway, in my touchiness, I have also become judgemental.  Right, like I'm any more righteous than anyone here on earth!  NO!  

Back to Matthew 5:22, when I read Jesus' words he literally uttered here on earth many, many, years ago, I felt awful.  Because you see, I've passed way too much judgement on others and their Facebook posts by in my mind shaming them, and becoming mad.  Or just by simply being angry at what they have posted.  And that's not right.  

Am I here to tell you to get off of the internet permanently?  Absolutely not!  But I am here to say to listen to the Holy Spirit (by the way, this is a free Gift of Salvation from Jesus Christ, but you must believe and accept Him into your heart).

Going down a few verses in Matthew, Jesus tells us in 5:29... 

"And if thy right eye offend, pluck it out, and cast it from thee;  for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body be cast into hell." 

Jesus spoke in parables, and he wasn't saying to literally pluck out your eye, but was making a bold statement to make us think.  What I liken it to is my casting out Facebook (which by the way I didn't do the day I read and was convicted by this verse) from my life because it caused me to sin.  

What is it in your life Jesus is asking you to cast out?  It could be a multitude of things: drinking, smoking, cursing, gossiping, laziness, etc.  Oftentimes, though, there is a source, or rather, a fuel that adds to the fire.  Facebook fueled the fire for anger and judgement in me. For someone else, having certain friendships could perpetuate the urge to gossip.  Alcohol could rule their spirit into doing things in which they wouldn't do in a sober state.  We all have our weaknesses, and worldly things in which will rule our flesh if we don't put the flesh to death!  The only way do put the flesh to death is to accept Christ, turn from sinful lifestyles, and let the Holy Spirit lead us.  

Whatever it be, pray.  Just stop and talk to Your Father.  The Holy Spirit is our Comforter, and He is always there to guide us.  We must be willing to stop and listen...and obey!

*I'm not a theologian, but I feel compelled to say:  If you don't know how to be saved or who Jesus is, please feel free to email me.  I can try, only with the Holy Spirit, to direct you to learning more about Him.

Only Because HE first loved a sinner like me,


Tuesday, March 11, 2014

You Might Have Noticed...Or Not

I left Facebook quietly and with no warning or explanation.

Yes, we are okay!  We are great!  Blessed!  However, I needed to leave Facebook, and to do so quietly without the influence of others begging me to stay or asking why.  I just needed to do it cold turkey and be done.  I needed to obey the Holy Spirit!

Anyone who knows me fairly well knows that I do desire to still keep in touch with my friends and family.  But not "that" way.  I yearn for more intentional and more intimate contact...like a letter or phone call.  The touch and go, shallowness of Facebook just isn't for me.  

This decision has been a long time in the making, but I held onto my flesh, dug in my heels, and just kept coming back.  Now don't get me wrong, I wasn't doing anything wrong or immoral on Facebook.  But I was wasting a lot of time on there and not being a good steward of my time.  I was reading a lot of stuff that upset me, and caused me to judge others in my heart, and that's not Christ-like.  So I had to go...

The good Lord never intended, I don't think, for us to have contact in a way that Facebook allows.  My heart is convicted over and over again that He gave me my precious family who is right here, in the first and real person, and they need me NOW.

Time is precious.  Cling to the in real life person(s) God has blessed you with, and cling to Him.  Now.  Trust me.  

I have another friend who left Facebook too, and she writes about it here.

Only Because He First Loved Me...Shannon