As I was reading my daily devotional, memories came flooding back to me about the origin of my Living Light devotional; of how I acquired it.
Years ago when my children were very small, our family had an opportunity to purchase an older camper on a seasonal sight at our favorite lakeside campground. The circumstances in which this opportunity arose was a sad one. Another family lost their dad after a heated basketball game in the campground basketball court. The man, his name was Burt, died at the young age of 53 after suffering a heart attack. His older model camper that we purchased had seen many summers of fun and laughter for this other family beginning when their kids were young right up through their teens. We felt blessed to have it, but it came at the significant cost of someone else’s heartache. I observed how very sad it was for this woman, her name was Connie, to part with her family’s beloved place. She walked us through all the regimens of opening and closing their camper, their treasured second home, as she showed us how everything worked. She also gifted us some of their family camping items including a perfectly placed hat hook for her husband’s baseball cap, a Pit family card game that came with a metal bell, and a daily devotional called “Living Light” As you can see from the picture below, it is well worn as it is well read, and to this day my favorite daily devotional.
That little camper was our family’s first experience at camping as a family and led to many fun days and nights spent at Pilgrim Pines. There is no place nor adventure on earth like family camping, especially at Pilgrim Pines. I recall countless hours of our vacation spent at the frog pond with my children knee deep in mucky muck as I waded in, in our attempts at netting the biggest frog for the weekly frog jumping contest. The frogs were always promptly put back in their pond and I have to wonder what those croakers thought of that weekly ritual. Family camp consisted of a variety of activities offered each day. I remember learning how to bake Swedish Limpa bread with my kids and did some basket weaving, took paddleboat rides, and ty dying too. We climbed Mount Monadnock and also picked blueberries at Pitcher Mountain. On every Friday at the end of each family camp week, a family triathlon was held. As I remember, Kenzie swam, Sean ran and I biked the two miles around the lake. Their dad was there to cheer our family on. We never won but had some good laughs trying.
A favorite time was during the evenings, taking our lantern lit walks around the camp roads in the darkness as we peaked in at the other camp sites while walking by. We heard laughter and singing and spied card games and campfires, flaming marshmallows, and sing-alongs too. We oberved sweet memory making of shared times that cannot be replaced. I remember one of those walks with Kenzie when she was about ten years old. She had just returned to us from spending a week at Camp Squanto, the Bible camp just up the road. As we walked and talked my daughter asked me out of the blue if I believed in angels. It did not take me long to answer,affirmatively as I asked her why. She explained that at the end of week campfire that night before, as the kids sang their camp songs and prayed, some even giving their lives over to Christ, Makenzie saw an angel sitting on the big rock; it was living light and it was glowing. I have never questioned that she saw an angel as I believe she did. God’s promise to her ( and me) that He would always watch over her. His living light in our darkness.
The autumn after Kenzie died, I received a surprising picture text from my brother-in-law Dave who is the Maintenance Superintendent of Camp Squanto, the Bible Camp. He and his crew were in the process of painting the camper cabins and came across some graffiti written on the closet wall of Cabin Five. It was Makenzie’s handwriting! You can probably imagine how it made me feel to see it. He promised that as long as he was in charge, it would not be repainted..
Senior Girls Gone Wild. Chelsea forever. Peace Kenzie and Kayla 2009
A few years later I returned to Camp Squanto and ventured up into the woods to the area where those weekly end of camp, campfires were held. It was a cool November day and the camp was deserted and very quiet. I saw the big rock where Kenzie had seen the angel years earlier and thought about where she may have been seated in the campfire circle. While I was there visiting on that November afternoon, I prayed to God, I cried, and I talked to Kenzie too. Often I ask why she had to leave us as I still can’t make much sense of it. As I was leaving, I felt compelled to turn around and I saw the beautiful sunlight streaming through the woods and decided to snap a couple of pictures. Later when I looked at the pictures, I saw my Godwink! Do you see the purple on the big Angel Rock ? (Truly when I was there, there was no purple painted on the rock). And also look at the unusual shape on the tree. I believe that it was my angel’s calling card to me. God’s living light left as a reminder of the hope that I have in Him.
“Then I saw another angel flying in midair, and he had the eternal gospel to proclaim to those who live on the earth—to every nation, tribe, language and people”. Revelations 14:6
Do you read daily from the Word of God? I find that for me, reading from the Bible or a Bible devotional is a great way to start and/or end each day, as it helps provide daily perspective as I walk in His Living Light.
Below is a poem that I just found in some things that I have collected over these past years . I believe my sweet friend Norma sent it to me. We serve an amazing God, Jesus Christ, our only Living Light in a sometimes dark world.
Do you need Me ? I am there. You cannot see Me, yet I am the light you see by. You cannot hear Me, yet I speak through your voice. You cannot feel Me, yet I am the power at work in your hands. I am at work, though you do not understand My ways. I am at work, though you do not understand My works. I am not strange visions. I am not mysteries. Only in absolute stillness, beyond self, can you know Me as I AM, and then but as a feeling and a faith. Yet I am here. Yet I hear. Yet I answer. When you need ME, I am there. Even if you deny Me, I am there. Even when you feel most alone, I am there. Even in your fears, I am there. Even in your pain, I am there. I am there when you pray and when you do not pray. I am in you, and you are in Me. Only in your mind can you feel separate from Me, for only in your mind are the mists of “yours” and “mine”. Yet only with your mind can you know Me and experience Me. Empty your heart of empty fears. When you get yourself out of the way, I am there. You can of yourself do nothing, but I can do all. And I AM in all. Though you may not see the good, good is there, for I am there. I am there because I have to be, because I AM. Only in Me does the world have meaning; only out of Me does the world take form; only because of ME does the world go forward. I am the law on which the movement of the stars and the growth of living cells are founded. I am the love that is the law’s fulfilling. I am assurance. I am peace. I am oneness. I am the law that you can live by. I am the love that you can cling to. I am your assurance. I am your peace. I am ONE with you. I am. Though you fail to find ME, I do not fail you. Though your faith in Me is unsure, My faith in you never wavers, because I know you, because I love you. Beloved, I AM there.
Often as I drive to work, I feel compelled to stop and take pictures. My drive to work through New England countryside is so beautiful and yesterday I could not pass by without stopping to take in this majestic view. They call this God’s country. God’s reflection from heaven? It’s beautiful.
I sometimes wonder how creation can be explained away. I find it too far reaching to think that the world as we know it in its stupendous intricate life forms just happened over time. For me, the only concept that I can hang my hat on is that there is a God of the universe and in His omnipotence created everything we see and more. So incomprehensible is the magnitude of His perfection to every detail and this God of the universe wants to know me and has become my friend.
This week I noticed a tiny little finch fluttering up and down at my window when I got back from work in the evening. I couldn’t fathom what it was doing and dismissed it as I went on enjoying my evening. The next morning I noticed her again, only this time she had perched herself on another window and was just tapping away at the glass. It then occurred to me that she had made friends with her reflection. This went on for the entire day until dark. I actually captured several pictures as I sat intrigued watching this sweet bird and thought about God’s constant care even for this tiny little finch. I recall a passage from the Bible taught to me as a child.
29 Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from the will of your Father. 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.
As a Christian I am no longer my own person, as I now belong to Christ who lives within me. I remember as a younger person wondering what that truly meant. I was encouraged from a young age to invite Christ into my life, but it was a concept that I could not grasp. I guess the reason I did not feel it or understand it was because I could not completely relinquish my control to God; meaning that I could not truly let go allowing Him to fully come into my life and change me. And honestly, I don’t believe I completely let go until my daughter died. I believe when she died, I died too. I died to self. But the incredible thing that happened is that I changed. I had no hope left for this life as I knew it, as I contemplated how everything had changed; life as I knew it. But then my faith in God became so real and beautiful as I beseeched Him in prayer, imploring Him to help me find my way. I believe that God desires for us to need Him. I think about the amazing journey I was given as I stumbled along in life as He placed people and circumstances on my path to encourage me. My faith grew. There are many dimensions to God in His loving care and provision for my life and yours too. From the simplest Godwink to the remarkable signs, and answers to my prayers, as I communicate, trust and experience a meaningful relationship with the God of the universe. Wow!
I believe that God uses us as instruments of His peace love and charity if we recognize His voice and calling when we sense a nudge to do something differently. Life is anything but dull when we are followers of Christ. As we step out of our comfort zone to walk on water, we need to expect to do just that as He uses us for his magnificence. And I need to add here that when I depart from prayer and daily devotion because life gets busy, I find that my day is just not fruitful. It becomes dull and stagnant or the opposite, chaotic and stressful until I pause and reconnect with God as He breathes new life into me. I no longer accept each day as ordinary. What an adventure it can be when we say yes to that God nudge or wink that gets our attention.
A few things have caught my attention this week to make me question my faith walk. I heard a podcast and the speaker mentioned babies. He suggested that babies walk before they talk. That got me to wonder if I am indeed walking (first) what I am talking. Is my life a reflection of Christ? Then also a devotional with a scripture came up on my phone to make me consider the same:
James 2:14-26New King James Version (NKJV)
Faith Without Works Is Dead
So I wonder about the little finch that came to our window trying to connect with its reflection. And when I look into the mirror of my own life, can I honestly see God’s reflection? I ‘ve come to the conclusion that I better get busy.
Enjoyed some much anticipated hot weather this week, and loved it! As i took my daily walk on Monday through the Vermont neighborhood surrounding my place of work, i was captivated by all the spring flowers. I recently learned there are over 400,000 different species of flowering plants in our world. I am thinking God had a blast with His creations! ( Here I am picturing God wearing a French artist beret, with his huge paint palette). Ha ha, and why not? So as I inhaled the beauty, I picked a random tiny flower to enjoy its fragrance throughout the remainder of my walk. When I returned to work, I decided to gift it to the lunch lady in our work cafeteria. She beamed as she commented that that was the nicest thing anyone had given her as she manned the lunch line, that all she usually gets handed is an empty creamer waiting to be filled. So I was happy to offer her this simple Lily of the Valley blossom.
This little story reminded me of a Godwink years earlier on another noontime walk at a previous job. On that particular morning, a volunteer for the American Cancer Society had visited our office selling bouquets of Daffodils to benefit the Cancer Society. The cynicism in me prevented me from taking part and I declined. You see my mom had lost her battle to cancer that very year and I was feeling defeated and bitter that her life had not been spared. Anyway later on that day as I took my work break walk, I was dwelling on my bitter emotions surrounding her death and then my knowing that she wouldn’t have wanted me to be feeling that way. My mother was my beam of sunshine on any given cloudy day. So as I was walking, there in my path just feet away, lay a random bouquet of yellow daffodils. There was no one around anywhere that I could see, it seemed as though that daffodil bouquet had been dropped there for me! This was a Godwink.
Yesterday I took a walk and noticed one of the physicians where I work, sitting on a park bench with his face to the sky and with his eyes closed. As I approached, he opened his eyes and I asked him where was he in his thoughts. He slowly smiled and told me a lot of places. So I asked him if he cared to share and he told me he was deep in thought contemplating his patients, their illnesses, and their families. I believed that I had probably interrupted his conversation with God, as he prayed. I shared with him that I had been called a prayer warrior as many people have asked me to pray for them. I explained that even though I might at times have too many on my mental prayer list with difficulty remembering them all, but God knows. The doctor smiled and replied, “yes, He knows”. So I am figuring that this doctor is a blessing to his patients; and perhaps the lily of their valley, as he treats, cares and prays for them.
This morning I went to breakfast again at work in the cafeteria. As I paid my favorite cafeteria lady, I noticed a paper cup sitting at the cash register with the single Lily of the Valley blossom that I had gifted days earlier. Its fragrance filled the space there as my friend commented on it not realizing that I was the one that had actually picked it. She asked me to please pick more! I wonder how many people that single flower had blessed with its simple beauty and sweet aroma.
Bernice, my favorite cafeteria lady enjoying more Lily of the Valley
Makenzie’s birthday was this week also. Even though seven years had gone by, it still seemed as though I should be planning a birthday party for her. I did plan the day as I usually do, to stay happily distracted. My friend Deb and I kayaked and had a picnic at Kenzie’s favorite lake. We toasted her life and even ate a slice of strawberry chesecake in her honor. As I think of it, the flower for the month of May, Kenzie’s birthday month, is the Lily of the Valley. Like the flower, Kenzie added sweetness and infectious joy bestowed to those who were lucky enough to cross her path.
Our God is an awesome God. To gift us so many of life’s simple pleasures. It is wonderful to be able to reach others with simple dialogue, time spent with a friend,and precious gestures as we serve one another by loving on each other. Perhaps you will be a Lily of the Valley for someone in your path today.
Christ is our Lily in life’s valleys
Song of Solomon 2:1
“I am the rose of Sharon, and the lily of the valleys.”
As the Lily among thorns, so is my love among the daughters. As the apple tree among the trees of the wood, so is my beloved among the sons. I sat down under his shadow with great delight, and his fruit was sweet to my taste. He brought me to the banqueting house, and his banner over me was love.
I wanted to share a Godwink from a couple of weeks ago. I had answered an ad on a Craig’s List site and decided to go look at some items at a stranger’s house. My husband was out of town and so I invited my friend Mary to accompany me. I also had a plan B in place, as I provided the location and address to another friend Sue, with instructions to find us if she had not heard back from me by a predetermined time. Yes I was worrying! Our ride took us out to a secluded town and area in the woods as we drove on dirt roads that turned onto unmarked camp roads. We were a bit nervous up until the car’s GPS announced that in 400 feet we had reached our destination. Out of the blue just before the base of the driveway popped up a street sign. There were no other street signs. I announced to Mary that I just knew everything would be fine now as this was my Godwink!
And everything was fine. We even made a couple of new friends including a rooster named Jo Jo!
As I laid in bed the other night, I awoke out of semi -conscious sleep to a loud bang and my immediate thought was that my husband had just returned home from his trip out to the mid-west. It sounded like the garage door hitting the cement floor as when our automatic garage door closes. But then I heard another thunderous ripping bang as it shot through the sky followed by streaks of lighting cursing my window shade. That was a bad storm. My thoughts then went to panic as I thought of my husband who was traveling by airplane home and then driving the long drive from the airport in those wee hours. I prayed. I prayed for God’s safety net over him as he traveled, and then I thanked God for his protection. I thanked Him for His abundant peace, abundant life.
So it had me thinking about worry and how useless an emotion that it is. I even wondered about the invention of a thing called a worry stone. I “googled” worry stone to understand a little bit about it’s origin and learned how it is used in reducing anxiety. “Have you ever wondered how a worry stone works? Can it actually help reduce anxiety – or is it just a novelty item? It turns out, psychological theory supports the use of worry stones. According to the principles of cognitive behavior therapy, the use of a worry stone can be a healthy self-soothing exercise that can help counteract negative comforting habits like nail or lip biting for example.Worry stones are often used in combination with other relaxation exercises. The presence of the stone serves as a reminder to use affirmations, visualization or other coping tools. If you rub your worry stone while focusing on a positive affirmation that counteracts whatever you are anxious about, simply seeing the stone reinforces that positive message. It develops a series of habits and positive reinforcement that can help empower you in any situation”. ( taken from thenewagesource.com- June 6, 2014).
My immediate thought here is what about prayer? To me the thought of placing my trust in my own thought process and/ or a little rock or worry stone seems far reaching.
Sunday of last week, I traveled to one of my favorite little Vermont country churches to attend service. The Pastor there is a sweet friend and now his congregation too as they welcome me each time I come back for a visit. Pastor Rick’s message was hand delivered to my heart. The pastor spoke about our thoughts and the words that we use and how powerful they can be as they become us. He spoke about negative talk that manifests in our lives if we continue to repeat and dwell on the same. Pastor Rick then spoke about the alternative, positive words; affirmations and truths as we allow God’s spoken word to become us. His message cast light on my own thoughts and spoken word and how they invade my life bad and good. I believe that positivity is a magnet and as we allow it to surround us it brings so much good to our lives. I also believe that God places thoughts in our hearts and in our minds to act on. Pastor Rick spoke about prayer and the importamce of BELIEVING when we pray, to always be thankful as we acknowledge God’s provisions in our lives as we await HIs answer to our prayers. This is by far better than to worry, to have the comfort of His abundant peace,abundant life.
This morning I had a little song in my heart from my childhood days attending Sunday school where we would sing songs. The song I was thinking on goes like this:
“I’ve got the joy joy joy joy, down in my heart ( where?) down in my heart, down in my heart. I ‘ve got the joy joy joy joy down in my heart, down in my heart to stay”. Then the second verse starts: “I’ve got the love of Jesus, love of jesus, down in my heart….” and then the final verse is “I’ve got the peace surpasses understanding, down in my heart…” The melody stayed with me all day and truly put a smile on my face as it invaded my thoughts. That, my friend is dwelling on the positivity, and is a gift from above. When Jesus left this earth, He promised His disciples ( and us), that he would ask His Father in Heaven to give us a comforter who provides truth, this gift from God, the Holy Spirit, who will dwell within us, (all who are believers). This is where my abundant peace, abudant life is found.
A couple of weeks ago I was sitting with an acquaintance having a conversation and all of a sudden she announced to me that I had a protective army of angels surrounding me. She said it emphatically and with joy
as if she could see the angels. Wow! That gave me chills but then I can claim that assurance of God’s arms of protection which surround me, with His abundant peace, abundant life.
The other night my husband asked me to pray for him, for something that he has had on his mind continuously, that causes him worry. I did, but then discussed with him the useless emotion of worry. I told him to leave it with God to deal with; and to trust and thank Him for answers too. Only Jesus is peace; peace that surpasses all understanding. One cannot get that peace from a worry stone. Christ is abundant peace, abundant life.
So when you start to worry, you need to pray and don’t forget to thank Him for His answers. With His abundant peace, abundant life; life is good(e).
As I walk this great unknown Questions come and questions go Was there purpose for the pain? Did I cry these tears in vain?
I don’t want to live in fear I want to trust that You are near Trust Your grace can be seen In both triumph and tragedy
I have this hope In the depth of my soul In the flood or the fire You’re with me and You won’t let go
But sometimes my faith feels thin Like the night will never end Will You catch every tear Or will You just leave me here?
Lyrics from the Song: I Have This Hope By: Tenth Avenue North
I heard this song on the way in to work today and felt the need to share some of its lyrics. Some friends and acquaintances have told me that I am the strongest person that they know. But only those who have the same deep understanding and faith in our loving God truly recognize where my strength comes from. And my closest friends and family also know that I am not the same person that I was before Makenzie left us. My heart always remembers this Bible verse:
“And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever, even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, for he dwells with you and will be in you” John 14:16-17.
Finding positivity in the midst of deep sadness is not easy. We all need help and encouragement. I have been blessed with appointed individuals who were sent along my path at just the right time to give me hope and to help me find the positivity. And I feel that I too have been placed along the way as others try to find their way through their own personal grief journey.
Sharing the Godwinks gives me hope and even joy. Little affirmations in my life that help keep me moving in the right direction; so that I know that I am not alone. Many people have shared their Godwinks with me and it gives me delight to see the handiwork of our amazing Father in Heaven. So, I thought that I would (with their permission), post a few of the Godwinks shared with me, by some of my acquaintances whom I now call my friends. One of my newest acquaintances, Sherry, posted her Godwink in memory of her son, Austin. Here is what she shared:
“Out of nowhere my heart became heavy today. I decided to go to the park and sit on my son’s bench to feel close to him. As I got out of the car I saw a white haired lady sitting on a bench with her little white dog. The dog was not leashed and it headed straight for me. The lady stood up and asked me to help her get her dog into her car. I said sure, what is your dog’s name? She looked at me with a smile and said “Angel”. That was my sign of comfort from my son. Love you my son”.
Another new friend shared her Godwink this week by sending me this picture. In loving memory of her son Jacob, Jennifer shared this:
“My son was a passionate and talented guitar player. I was drawn to stop on a walk last week and looked down and found this stone right at my feet; a perfect guitar pic”.
What a treasure find!
During one of my “Wish You A Goode Journey” book talk events,David an organ recipient, shared that he had always had a dream of going to the Grand Canyon but due to his dibilitating illness never had the chance to go. After his double transplant and recovery, his parents gave he and his wife the gift of a trip to the Grand Canyon. David also shared that one of his favorite musicians is Dave Matthews and that he learned later on that his donor, Kevin, also loved Dave Matthews’ music. When David and his wife got on the plane to take their trip to the Grand Canyon, David plugged in his earbuds and the song that he heard first was a song sung by Kenny Chesney and Dave Matthews. The song’s title: “I’m Alive and Well”. Wow! What a perfect Godwink!
So today I am serving as a volunteer for New England Donor Services at a fundraiser called “Weezie’s Walk” in memory of my friend Louise Johnson. I love to share my daughter’s story to allow people to see what a BIG difference organ donation makes in the lives of recipients and their families, but also in the lives of donor families and friends as they share their loved one’s story. What a legacy my daughter has left! As Kenzie’s mom will never let her be forgotten.
Brenda Taylor….walking in Kenzie’s memory
April is National Donate Life month. If you have not registered please consider this either as a living donor or as an important last gesture of love that you can gift at the end of your life. Below is the link where you can read more and register.
Pictured above is Stephanie (left) who gifted her dad a kidney and pictured (right) is Jody who gifted her mom a kidney.
And pictured below is a new friend Joyce who works as a kidney transplant coordinator for Baystate Hospital.
There are no coincidences, only Godwinks! Because of Him, I have this hope. I adore the Godwinks. LIFE IS GOODE.
No matter how many times I consider this, I cannot wrap my head around how big Christ’s love is for us.The past few weeks I have been struggling with some self doubt and even some sadness mixed in. Recently there have been tragedies that have showed up in the lives of others within my community. Even though I feel that I am strong enough to be present in the lives of others who are grieving, I still find that I am affected in the aftermath. After attending two very sad events in just the course of a couple of weeks time, I went away with a heavy heart as I considered those who are just beginning their grief journey. It has taken me seven years to get to this place where I think that I will be able to help others. With God’s help, I will, as I continue to share that life is goode and God is best.
My prayer this week has been that God will re-ignite the flame from within me. What I mean by that, is that I have been living a purpose filled life since my daughter’s death by sharing her story. Truly this has kept me going. So now that the book is coming up on its one year anniversary, I have taken my foot off the gas as my passion has seemed to wane. Although it is of utmost importance to me to share Kenzie’s amazing story and God’s faithfulness throughout this journey, my perspective has changed some. This is where the self doubt has crept in to try to steal my positivity. That little voice in my head that jibber jabbers, questioning every motive and decision that I make. So I have been giving my self-doubt over to God in prayer as I ask Him to once again show up in a big way with His “Godwink” to reignite my passion. Yes, life is goode, and God is best. . Wait until you read about this Godwink!
One evening this week, I listened to a message that was waiting for me on my phone. It was a gentleman asking about the name of my book and where he could purchase it. I called him back and answered his questions. As I learned of his approximate location, I provided the name of a store nearby, that sells it. That was it; a short unexpected call from a stranger who wished to read the book. It gave me a spark to believe that there is interest still in “Wish You a Goode Journey”. I tossed and turned all night wondering about the call and whether it was someone who had suffered a loss, since he told me that a friend had recommended that he read my book. Perhaps I should have offered to meet this person and sign the book, which could have potentially opened up dialogue if he had a need to talk.
As I was headed out to an appointment the following day, I felt led to call the stranger back to let him know that I would be in a neighboring town for an appointment and that I could meet him to provide a signed copy if he preferred. I am not certain why I felt this compulsion since this gentleman had already planned to just go buy the book. It was agreed however, that we would meet at a local store. I arrived early and as I headed into the store I heard my name being called after me as I was motioned over to a parked car. As I was invited to, I opened the passenger side door and was asked to please get in the car. My inner voice cautioned me and I did not, but handed the book over to the person meeting me. Sensing my nervousness I guess, he reached up to the sun visor of his car and pulled out a familiar note card which he opened. I could see my handwriting and so I cautiously agreed to get into his car. My comment was “well I guess that I must know you, since that is obviously a card that I have written but, I don’t recognize who you are”. The man’s eyes filled with tears as he explained to me that he had just lost his wife to cancer. He went on to explain that he is also the father of one of Kenzie’s organ recipients. Wow!!! How could it be? This was the dad of one of the recipients that I have not met.. Because everything is done anonymously through the donor banks, it is ALMOST virtually impossible to know the identity of the donor and recipients alike. Communication by letters is made via third parties and any revealing identifying information shared in letters is blacked out. This dad explained to me that no one in his family knew that he was making contact nor had he intended to, until I reconnected with my phone call. He was merely going to go buy my book and give it to his family to read. He also told me that his wife had hoped to meet me so that she could personally thank me for Kenzie’s gift of life, but that now that would not happen. (My thought here is that she has already personally thanked Kenz as they have met in heaven). I asked my new friend when he would be sharing the book and he said he wished to give it to his family member ( Kenzie’s recipient) on their birthday which is in June and just happens to be the same day as my birthday)! What are the chances? Anyway, after a very nice exchange in conversation with this gentleman, we parted ways. I did not expect to hear from him or his family again until after my shared mutual birthday in June.
Snapped a pic of his cap, as I sat in his car “Life is Goode”
When I arrived at work early the very next morning I received a text from the man that I had met; this is what it said: “Marcy, I have to make another donation after reading your book. I plan on giving my daughter a copy to read. You WILL NOT believe this but I was reading my newspaper early this morning and in a section that I would have never glanced at was the name ” Kenzie Goode” Miss NH outstanding Teen 2017. I saved the paper. Let me know when I can get another copy. I would drive to meet you and maybe could meet Bob”. ( I want to encourage you to go ahead and do a web search for “Kenzie Goode, Miss NH Outstanding Teen 2017”). What are the odds that there is another Kenzie Goode and that this new friend would have read this story in a random section of the newspaper the following day that I had just met him? Yes, life is goode and God is best!
A perfect Godwink for my new friend, and me!
Oh my goodness! As I had asked God to re-ignite my passion for sharing Kenzie’s story, He did it in the most magnificent way. I had tossed and turned during the night after that initial phone call, feeling something tugging at my heart, my genuine concern for this gentleman as I wondered if he needed to share about a recent loss. I believe God was leading me to reach out and what a gift I received! I do believe God plants seeds of hope, and ideas for us to act on, but He desires that we first step out in faith.
So my husband Bob and I met this man this weekend and learned more about his family and one of the recipients of Kenzie’s organs. I realize just how closely our lives are truly aligned in this world and how God’s divine purpose is orchestrated and rendered if we simply trust Him as first in our lives.What a beautiful symphony has been enacted through my daughter’s life giving gifts. Through our biggest tragedy God has used her life and my experiences to show His love. Yes, life is goode, and God is best.
As we watch the evening news, we witness explicit actions of insecurity within our nation with much mistrust and antagonism. How can we possibly serve one another? What if we are called to entertain angels unaware.
Just after the “911” tragedy is when the insecurity began. I recall at that time we were told to report any unusual activity and I remember feeling very protective of my little family. It was a late Friday afternoon and my pot roast dinner was cooking. You can imagine the wonderful aroma of a New England pot roast with vegetables slow cooking in the crock pot. It was an Indian summer kind of day and with all the windows open the aroma brought to us a mystery guest. The kid’s dad came in from outside and asked me if I would prepare a plate for a visitor that happened into our driveway. She was an older woman who was homeless and had been walking from the midwest up through the east coast. All her wordly belongings were carried in two large trash bags. We had never encountered anyone like this before, and given our rural setting, it was an anomaly to see anyone walking on our street. Anyway, I loaded up a plate of potroast with vegetables and fresh corn on the cob for our visitor. We served her outside in a lawn chair in front of our parked camper. I kept the kids inside and went out and sat with her to learn more about her. Her name was Lylah. She told me that she had sold all her wordly posessions and was walking to share the Gospel. She shared with me her close relationship with the blessed Mother. Wow! Can you imagine having faith like that? She did not know where she was headed nor where she would sleep and did not know where her next meal would come from but knew in her heart that God would provide for her as He always had. After a talk with my husband we decided to invite her to stay in our camper for the night as the evening was fast approaching. She readily accepted and we got her all set up for the night. I did not invite her into our home however, and in retrospect wonder if I should have. I was on high alert and insecure following “911” and extremely protective of our children. Afterwards, however, the Bible verse came to my mind about entertaining angels:
1Let brotherly love continue. 2Be not forgetful to entertain strangers: for thereby some have entertained angels unawares. 3Remember them that are in bonds, as bound with them; and them which suffer adversity, as being yourselves also in the body.
In retrospect, I wished I had treated her to everything we had and feel that I may possibly have failed by not welcoming her into our home.
So after I considered that Bible verse, it reminded me of a time where I just may have been a co-participant in entertaining angels unaware.
Today is one of my dearest friend’s birthday. I have known my friend PJ since third grade. As I looked at pictures of her this morning, it brought me back to a trip that I took a few years ago when I viisited her in California. I was attending a convention but incorporated a mini vacation stay with she and her family. During the stay PJ invited me to share an experience with her and her daughter on the following Saturday morning. She explained that we would need to leave the house by 4:00a.m. to head into Los Angelos to feed the homeless. PJ and her family are involved in a ministry called Saturdays’ Blessings. Her family prepares approximately 100 sack lunches on their dining room table on the Friday evening before and transports them into the city to gift to the homeless. Not only was there food and toiletries, but also random donated clothing from their church that they shared as well.
Here is the group of girls that prepared the bagged lunches for Saturdays’ Blessings.
My Godwink! Here I am holding up a pair of zebra pants that appeared in the donated clothing as we were outfitting one of the ladies. See the light all around me? Thinking Kenzie my angel was there with us..enjoying the zebra pants!
I was excited to be a part of this endeavor on that dark and early morning but what transpired was not quite what I had expected. PJ and her daughter knew many of the faces as they were regular recipients of their Saturday gifts and they even spoke with a few of them as old buddies. There were two of the homeless friends that she especially wanted me to meet and she introduced each as if we were attending a social function. As I shook their hands, I realized how much she respected these people who were for whatever reason down on their luck and unable to find their way out of their circumstances. As we chatted with her friend “Louis”, she asked him if there was anything else that he needed. As we talked, we wound up on the subject of his love for art. He explained that he liked to draw portraits of movie stars and he soon headed back to his make shift shelter to grab some of his drawings to share with us. He even gifted PJ his drawing of Marilyn Monroe. I can imagine that it felt good for Louis to be able to give this gift to her, as he was giving something of himself as he shared his gift of art. His self esteem seemed re-inflated as we oooed and awed over his talent.
It was a great privilege to serve others that morning with PJ. It made me think more about how connected we all are as part of God’s family. Any one of those people could have been myself or PJ if life circumstances had been different. They all breathe, eat and sleep and experience emotions just as we do. I will never take my circumstances and blessings in life for granted again!
I also from time to time think of Lylah and wonder where she is sharing the gospel? I wonder how many miles she has walked and with whom she has interacted. God has a purpose for my life and also for yours. We’re not here to just sit back and be comfortable. When God shows up in our lives, I can confidently say that it is on purpose and for His purpose. By responding affirmatively we can be certain that He will take us on a journey like none other. And who knows? We just may entertain angels unaware.
Both sides of the streets were lined up with people sleeping .. we ran out of lunches
“And the King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of Mine, you did for Me
Never knowing where God’s inspiration will take me each week, the title of this piece popped into my mind, and I knew what I needed to share. I feel sure you have probably heard of a message in a …. bottle where a stranger’s walk on a beach reveals a treasure find as they come upon it washed up on the shore. This thought has always mesmerized me as a hope filled romantic. Years earlier my husband and I tossed our very own bottle with secret messages off the Atlantic coast after getting married. With longing and anticipation I wait for the call from a perfect stranger that our bottle has been discovered!
Anyway, over this past weekend I ventured into my daughter’s room, yet again, with the thought of going through her stuff to remove more “things” that may be easier to pass on this time around. After mere minutes I sent out a plea on social media that I needed help! I asked for ideas on how to go through her stuff to organize and decide what should stay and what could go. So many of my friends offered to come to my assistance and also provided unique ideas on what to do or how to memorialize some of her beautiful belongings. The following morning I ventured back into her room and decided to address her closet where the bulk of everything had been stored in boxes. The very first box that I opened revealed Kenzie’s CD collection and on top my first Godwink! Yes, God’s affirmation that I was moving in the right direction!
Wow! A very cool message from above. Was this Kenzie inspired? It gives me comfort to think that she is with me as I go through her things. My most important realization is that these were her things however she created the memories. Nothing can steal my memories. As I get older, my fear is that I might forget! So many suggestions came from my friends on how to preserve her things. As I chatted via text yesterday with a good friend, she shared a picture. My friend with her family had endured their own difficult journey after a house fire took everything including a beloved cat. Here is her text message:
Charlene: “This was my “Godwink”. On the day that I was sorting through stuff I found this folded piece of material in the driveway. It’s from a skirt that my mother had made when she was in high school 60+ years before! No other pieces of it were found anywhere. My mom had passed in 2002 and the skirt was hanging in my closet”.
I am amazed! So grateful when others share with me their Godwinks; God’s intervention in their lives and then their victories discovered in the journey. She also shared this, her thought:
Charlene: “I myself found that once I was able to let go, it was a big relief. The “things” are not what matters, the memories continue without them”.
Perfect! I can honestly say that now, seven years later, I am (almost) ready to let go.
The second Godwink that I received, as I waded through the memories in her closet, was when I came across her little porcelain tea set. With trepidation I took the box down from it’s shelf as I questioned in my mind if it was something that I felt ready to part with. My thought was that I would gift the tea set to her little cousins who would continue the sweet memory making for years to come. As I removed the little tea pot to hold it and savor the cherished memories, I discovered THE DIME that was resting under it . Do you see it there in the corner?
Wow! Another wonderful affirmation that it is truly o.k. to let go! The message in a…..teapot was my message in a ….bottle, treasure find. God is so faithful and His timing always perfect if we just wait on Him.
Sharing a beautiful verse: Romans 5:2-6
2 through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we boast in the hope of the glory of God. 3 Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; 4 perseverance, character; and character, hope. 5 And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us. 6 You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly.
Found this as I finished cleaning out her closet today. Love the Godwinks in Kenzie’s handwriting!
Trusting that as you wait on Him, with hope and grace, you will discover your message in a …. ! Amazing victory through the journey that you have been entrusted.
For several years now, since Kenzie’s passing, I have been receiving invitations to attend musical performances at Kenzie’s high school. The invitations initiated by the high school music director, Ms. Oliver, who is now also my friend. I have gotten to know Mandy over the past seven years after first meeting her at my daughter’s funeral. You see she directed the high school chorus as they sang at Kenzie’s service. The musical performances that she has since invited me to have included plays, variety shows, and spring and winter choral events to name a few. For the first two years she even held a special event in Kenzie’s memory called “Calliope Cafe” where ticket sales went to the Makenzie Goode Memorial Scholarship fund. How grateful I am to her for her presence in the lives of those grieving students. I believe that more than the fundraising aspect of her endeavor, it enabled Kenzie’s peers, in their grief, to face the music by honoring their friend in their own artistic contributions of instrumental music, song and dance. Wow! How brilliant. On a personal note, I have only attended one of these events and have since begged off even after committing, with every excuse imaginable. I have been fearful that it would hurt too much. I was not ready to face the music.
This past week was different in that I agreed to and followed through by attending a choral performance called “Ten Years Together” in recognition of Ms. Oliver’s ten years of teaching music at the school. She recently experienced a loss of her own, as her once high school bestie passed suddenly last month. She explained to me that she wanted to dedicate a song in her friend’s memory as well as Makenzie’s and asked permission to share a picture of my daughter. I agreed but wondered in my own mind how difficult attending this musical program might actually be for me. I decided to face the music on Friday evening. I had no one accompanying me, so I had no one to put on my happy face for. It was just me sitting towards the back of the darkened auditorium waiting for the music to begin. As I sat there alone so many random thoughts entered my mind. I wondered if Kenzie may have sat on any occasion, in the seat that I was seated in. I thought of her friends and that urgent senior meeting that they had been called to on January 29th, in the same auditorium where they were then informed about Kenzie’s accident. I remembered attending in June of 2010, her senior classes’ Awards Night when I had gotten up on stage and passed out scholarships to the senior girls’ varsity soccer team players. That was a painful memory for me recalling that I bit my quivering lip, and held back my own tears as her tear-filled friends came across the stage to shake my hand, hug me and receive their envelope.
So as I sat there, I wondered if her fun-loving spirit was still running through the halls with her infectious laughter. Many emotions came bubbling to the surface, now seven years later. Feelings of immense sadness, and even envy as I looked around me to witness the parents sitting in that auditorium ready to hear and enjoy the music of their own children. I understood that most seated there in the room with me, had never known my daughter nor me, and that they would probably never have to go through this experience. And then for one brief moment I panicked and thought about bolting to the exit, to the outside and on to the soccer field where I could run aimlessIy and perhaps with my mind’s eye kick random shots at the goal. I had the thought that maybe my daughter might even join me out there. And then finally, in my mind, retreating to her memory garden, seated on her bench to engage in one sided conversation with my beautiful daughter. So, finally the music began and as it played on I started to relax and listen as I closed my eyes and marveled at the carefully chosen words for me! The song “Home” by Phillip Phillips was sung by the chorus and I decided at that time to claim the words as my own. At the end of the concert, Ms. Oliver announced her song of dedication for her high school bestfriend and also for our Makenzie. . Before she sang, she explained that the same song was sung in 2010 following Kenzie’s death. The song: “Smile” by Charlie Chaplin. It was perfect and accompanying it was a video presentation of pictures; memories of our sweet girlfriends. ( My daughter was also my best friend).
Sharing this beautiful rendition of Charlie Chaplin’s song “Smile”, sung by Barbara Streisand .
So leaving that concert on Friday night, I was an emotional mess! Even after seven intense years on this emotional journey, i still had tears to shed. I have learned an important lesson however, that God has given us emotions for a reason. To hide from these emotions is to rob oneself of God’s provision for our healing. I have learned that there are several stages to grief and they don’t necessarily come in any specific order, nor any particular time table. But i know for certain that hope can be found when we pray to our loving Father as he walks with us and we face the music. And yes, it’s o.k. to smile.
Why am I discouraged? Why is my heart so sad? I will put my hope in God! I will praise Him again my Savior and my God! ( NLT) Psalm 42:5
Kenzie’s accident site… picture courtesy of Fran Palazzo ( one of Kenzie’s besties)
The thought of giants has consumed me for over a month now. I have heard about giants in the lyrics of the songs that I listen to. Not always named, but as I dwell on the message of the song, the thought comes back to me. I would like to mention here that I pray every week for wisdom and discernment about God’s message and that it will be revealed through my writing. There may be someone who needs to read it and if not, well then I am journaling for my own needs as I meditate on God’s personal message for me! Never knowing what I will blog about each week, this little Godwink ( I suppose) came to me yesterday. Do you remember the movie “Honey I shrunk the Kids”? O.K., so I am calling it my Godwink as I had this compulsion to buy the movie yesterday. My children liked the movie back in the day and so I purchased it for my grandson. Just another silly thought about giants that jumpstarted this week’s post.
So my question is: what is, not who is, the giant in your life? My life? And what are you doing to slay that giant? My thought here is that giants can appear as an insurmountable mountain in our seemingly unattainable achievements in life. That heart wrenching, God given desire in our life that inspires us to be more than we can ever imagine. It’s summit appears so high up in the clouds that it disappears sometimes from our sight as we saunter away in life, the path that God has presented us. Your giant is your “why”, “your why that makes you cry”. But this week another idea has invaded my thoughts in that other giants also can show up as obstacles in our lives, demons if you will, that can create temptation, greed, and even improprieties that prevent us from being all that God has and desires for us. I heard a Bible verse yesterday as I listened to the radio and the verse has stuck with me:
“And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away from you. It is better for you to lose one of your body parts than to have your whole body go into hell.” Matthew 5:30 (New International Version)
Wow! That hit home with me. Is it possible that while I thought that I was slaying my giant, in pursuit of my God given why, that another giant stood tall in front of me, undetected and preventing God’s best for me? So now what? Is it possible that my path to the summit needs to be recalculated or do I slay that giant now right in front of me, cut it off, and continue on the quest to God’s bigger purpose for my life? I have to say that, for me, it will take so much more than a slingshot to slay this one, as I remember and contemplate the Sunday school story of David and Goliath.
So as I have been inspired with the thought of giants lately, I want to encourage you to find and listen to a song sung by Francesca Battistelli named “Giants Fall” as you will truly be blessed.
Here are some of the lyrics:
Giants Fall By: Francesca Battistelli
Everyone’s telling you To let go of what you’re holding to It’s too late, too far You’re too small, it’s too hard Throwing water on that spark Living deep inside your heart With oceans of reasons The things you’re not seeing But oh, maybe they don’t Know what you know That you’re not alone
Don’t you be afraid Of giants in your way With God you know that anything’s possible So step into the fight He’s right there by your side The stones inside your hand might be too small But watch the giants fall
We could really live like this Can’t you imagine it So bold, so brave With childlike faith Miracles could happen Mountains would start moving So whatever you may face
Don’tyou be afraid Of giants in your way With God you know that anything’s possible So step into the fight He’s right there by your side The stones inside your hand might be too small But watch the giants fall
I watched a link on “Youtube” this morning about the story of David and Goliath from the movie, “The Bible”. I am including it here for you to watch as it will inspire you to seek great things in God’s name, and I want to leave you with this thought:
Just imagine what giant you can slay with God’s provisions in your life. Just watch the giant fall!