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Irish Springs Bring Peace! 

Irish Springs Bring Peace by Dr. Naima Johnston Bush, Founder of Refreshing Life With Naima

Every now and then I like to confess something just a little strange about myself.  I’m an avid War Movie buff with Hacksaw Ridge, Miracle at St. Anna's and When We Were Soldiers being my three favorites.  I am an introvert by nature, I like to be alone and although I love to sing, I don’t really like being in front of people.  And Rum Raisin and Pistachio are my favorite ice cream flavors…  but one of the strangest things about me is that I have a peculiar fascination with soap. 

And I do mean peculiar. I love the way a good bar of soap feels in my hands.  I can tell you which brands have the best lather, which retain their scent the longest, and which ones get you the cleanest.  I can even tell you when brands change their formula resulting in inferior or superior soap quality.  My husband’s love language is gift giving – and he gives good gifts.  Out of all of the wonderful gifts he gave me last Christmas, the gift I treasured the most was a basked of soaps he had curated from different shops and vendors – BEST GIFT EVER! I spent a good portion of Christmas Day with my nose in the basket inhaling deeply, opening soaps testing them out and placing them in baggies so I could retain their fragrance. 

My struggles with food addiction have never been a secret, I walk this thing out on a daily basis.  I find in times of great strain it is easy to reach for a cookie, when I should be laying before the Lord.  The euphoria of the moment of chewing for some strange reason brings a sense of false calm and deceptive peace – because there is always a price to pay. 

These last few months have been difficult and I’ve found myself falling short quite a bit.  But then something interesting happened.  I was in that melancholic artist mood, distraught about some thing I can’t even remember now, and I opened the fridge to see what was inside.  But then I thought – well actually I believe the Lord whispered to me – you need to wash your hands you’ve been cleaning.  

I found myself at the sink, lathering up my hands with some $5.00 soap that I had brought from the local department store, a good quality soap.  It was called Coastal Waters and the more I rubbed it together the thicker the lather became and the calmer I felt. I stood there for a good ten minutes, singing and washing my hands, lather everywhere, hands soft and wrinkled from the water.  But it felt so good, I felt so much better.  And let’s face it, washing my hands is a much healthier habit then eating a bunch of junk food with my health challenges. 

I thought to myself, what if every time I feel like the world is ending I came to the sink and washed my hands? What if the sink became my altar, my holy place? A memory floated up from the past at that moment… When I was in my early 30’s working with the youth group living in Ohio, I would carry in my purse a box of Irish Spring Soap.  And whenever I needed a moment, needed to focus, needed peace, needed clarity, I would take that soap out and sniff it! Everyone would laugh at me, but I was able to accomplish so much more because of a love of soap that the Lord put in me.  Yes, Irish Springs brought me peace. 

Now when I feel like I need a moment, I run to the sink to wash my hands and sing or talk to Jesus.  It leaves me with a peace I can’t express.  Maybe you need a touchstone, a holy place that you can run to when times are hard.  It may not be at the sink washing your hands, but finding out what it is will help you live a life of joy in the perfection of His will. 

So wash your hands. Make yourselves clean. Get your evil actions out of my sight!

Stop doing what is wrong! Isaiah 1:16

Dog Food Made Me Cry! 

Dog Food Made Me Cry by Dr. Naima Johnston Bush

 

I had a list.  A short one at that. I had rehearsed it in my mind over and over all day. Pampers, Distilled Water, Almond Milk, Chicken Nuggets and Dog Food. It played over and over in my mind like a drum… Pampers, Distilled Water, Almond Milk, Chicken Nuggets and Dog Food.  I rushed into Walmart after church on a Wednesday night, the hour was late, the babies were cranky, Jon was sleepy and the dogs had not eaten all day. I raced up and down the aisles throwing items in the cart, several I didn’t even need, but I couldn’t pass up a sale or a snack my toddler might like. I paid, rushed out to the car drove the three minute ride home, pulled into the driveway and realized, I had forgotten the dog food! How could I be so thoughtless? Our first babies were already getting half the attention they were use to since the kids had arrived. I owed it to them to get it right. But once again, like so many times in my life, I had gotten it terribly wrong. I banged the steering wheel and promptly began to cry. 

My husband looked at me sideways and my chattering toddler quieted real quick.  “I forgot the dog food!” I blurted out, snotty and distraught I continued, “It was the main reason I went to the store, the only thing I had to have tonight. I am so overwhelmed! I need a minute; I just need a minute.”  

Jon gathered up our girl and hustled her into the house leaving me alone with our sleeping baby in his car seat. And in that moment, I saw the absurdity of it all – this man, who I just told I was overwhelmed left me crying in the car with a sleeping baby. I couldn’t do anything but dry my eyes, shake my head and sigh. 

It had been a rough week. Mounting expectations from a number of people, people not doing what they promised, Jon traveling and working crazy hours as he prepared for the upcoming school year. Bianca with a growth on her stomach, Bucho barely making it outside to the bathroom these days, my dad’s health challenges, me gaining weight and the thing I love to do the most, sing, on the back burner as we await the outcome of the fate of these children who are mine, but not mine. 

And forgetting to buy dogfood bought this all to a head on a steamy Louisiana night in my driveway. Those tears didn’t make me feel any better, they didn’t release the pressure. The heavens were silent and God did not speak, there was no release, just resignation. 

What I learned that night is that sometimes when you are trying to live a life of joy there is nothing you can do in times of stress but face your reality. 

In that moment things looked dark and bleak. I felt lost and like a failure. But I got out of the car, unstrapped my sleeping baby took him in the house and got him in his crib. Then did the same for my toddler. I gave those dogs some ground turkey which made them very, very, happy. And at that I smiled. 

I never felt so overwhelmed as I did on that night. As a matter of fact, I felt even more dismal as I washed the dishes, cleaned the baby bottles, swept the floor, let the dogs out, and laid out the clothes for the next day. 

In that moment there was no joy. God was silent and I wanted to scream. But the Lord is so elegant in his promises because as he dictated His word to the prophets, historians and apostles thousands of years ago He had me, sulking in my kitchen in the 21st century in mind. He didn’t need to speak because I already knew the truth, Psalm 30:5 – Weeping endures for a night, but JOY comes in the morning! So I went to bed... daylight was just a few hours away.

 

Dr. Naima Johnston Bush is the founder of the Refreshing Life with Naima and is available for concerts, guest worship leading, teaching and speaking events. She is a Christian Recording, an author, minister, educator a wife and a foster mom.Email us at: naima@ministryofnaima.com for more information.

This Is Not A Punishment 

This Is Not a Punishment by Dr. Naima Johnston Bush, Founder, The Refreshing Life

How do you reconcile praying for something and feeling like the answer is no, and will always be no? I have tried my best to handle my infertility with grace and most importantly with faith. Walking through the stages of mourning from questioning, to anger, to bitterness and grief.  Finally making peace with my empty arms despite wanting to hold on to the dream with mustard seed faith. Trying to believe and receive the prophetic words that still come declaring that there will still be a child. 

But at forty-seven all I can do is say, “I believe, help my unbelief, let Your will be done!” 

We always planned to adopt so bringing foster children into our home with a husband who was adopted was just part of the dream and we shared with our Social Worker that we only wanted to foster children that were ready to be adopted, those already in need of a forever home. 

When they plopped a two-year-old and a two month on our doorstep we were ecstatic. And then we got to court, and we met mom and much became clear.  She had no intention of giving up her children, she didn’t appear to be a drug addict or unwilling – rather she seemed like a young mother who had fallen on hard times and needed some help.  What were we suppose to do in that moment when the Social Worker asked if we wanted to keep them while she got things together? And even more alarming to me, we were asked if we wanted to keep them both. I was appalled, we were already in love with them and they were siblings, we don’t separate siblings, no – we don’t rock like that. 

I have to be honest, I was heartbroken, but I wouldn’t admit it.  It looks like I will love and raise them for a season and then give them back. My gut twists even writing the words. With so many people clamoring to tell us congratulations, to give us helpful items, to step in and help us care for them, makes the burden all the harder to bare. 

These are not my children, although I am charged to love them like Jesus loved them, and quite honestly, I would give my life for them.  I already mourn the day when I have to pack them up and send them on their way.  And I must admit it is really difficult not to let bitterness creep in while the devil is whispering in my ear… "God made you infertile, now He's given you children that can never be yours." that's enough to allow bitterness more then a foothold in my life.

I wrestle with the perception that the Lord knows my mother’s heart, He knows the grief of my infertility. He knows how I’ve cried in the middle of the night and felt like less then a woman because I could not birth a living legacy. Children are a legacy of the Lord. That’s what the scripture says. 

This denial often teases me to think that I am being punished.  Have I done something to offend the Lord that He would allow me to watch my former youth group kids have numerous children, or the young ladies who I prayed with in Nashville for husbands now having beautiful additions to their families? Or what about all the women who take this enormous gift from God and destroy it? 

I have cried out to the Lord seeking the answer, asking how have I offended You? Have I not loved enough or served enough or given enough? And the heavens remained silent. Until I came across the following passage of scripture: 

 “What a wonderful God we have—He is the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the source of every mercy, and the one who so wonderfully comforts and strengthens us in our hardships and trials. And why does He do this? So that when others are troubled, needing our sympathy and encouragement, we can pass on to them this same help and comfort God has given us. You can be sure that the more we undergo sufferings for Christ, the more He will shower us with his comfort and encouragement. 

 We are in deep trouble for bringing you God’s comfort and salvation. But in our trouble God has comforted us—and this, too, to help you: to show you from our personal experience how God will tenderly comfort you when you undergo these same sufferings. He will give you the strength to endure.” 2 Corinthians 1:3-8 

It’s a hard pill to swallow but His word never lies. The Lord must really want to comfort, strengthen and help me walk this broken road. This isn’t a punishment. Somehow my infertility, the potential loss of these babies that have nestled under my heart, are burdens that I must let Christ carry through me. These are seasons I must walk through so that someone else might be comforted in their own time of questioning, uncertainty and grief. 

When I accepted the call to be an encourager of God’s people, I never knew when or where I’d have to encourage others. I choose to accept in this moment, infertility as a blessing, not for me but for someone else who is walking through this shadow. And if I should pack these children up and send them on their way, I choose to believe that this is not a punishment either, but somehow this part of the journey will be one more opportunity to run into the arms of my Father, who sometimes makes decisions that are in my best interest, but I won’t understand until I’m older.

And later on, I’ll be able to encourage someone else to do the same.

I'd love to hear your thoughts! Feel free to share your comments and questions below.

 

#adoptionstory #adoptionjourney #fostertoadopt #infertility #copingwithinfertility #infertilityandfaith

#fostermom #griefandfostering

 

Photo Credit: Image by MorningbirdPhoto from Pixabay

We Needed Her 

We Needed Her by Dr. Naima Johnston Bush, Founder, The Refreshing Life

Sometimes I want to throttle the two year old in my house.  Not seriously, but when I find Cheerios in the oddest places, when she refuses to take no for an answer, when she floods the bathroom after distinctly being told not to touch the faucet, I am amazed at her audacity. Her logic often alludes me, her capacity to forget a simple request and her willingness to get sidetracked by baby sharks and paw patrols leave me frustrated, snappish and tired. 

And who wouldn’t be tired when being jarred out of sleep after finally getting the baby down by a little voice demanding Apple Juice or wanting to, “Get Out” of her bed.  Her needs are apparent and they extend beyond the basic needs for life. She needs lots of hugs, she does not like to be left alone, uncertainty makes her nutty and she is a true attention hog.  Typical for most toddlers, but imagine the typical turned up to the tenth degree. We don’t know much about her past, but we pray over her future and try to love her hard in the present. 

When things get hard, when she frustrates me to the point of anger or I’m tempted to say the wrong thing I remind myself she is two and she’s survived things I can’t even imagine – most foster care children have. I ask myself what would Jesus do and try to rethink my approach while applying the easy answer, the self-righteous answer, the answer that makes me the savior and she the one in need of saving.  The answer… she needs me, I can’t forget, she needs me. 

Then just a few days ago, when she had been banished to bed for some rude transgression that had pushed me to the edge of sanity, I walked into my bedroom and was just about to reiterate to my husband how much she must need us since we were in the middle of another test of patience that required unlimited compassion and love. But I had fallen short and sent her to bed thirty minutes early. 

And the Spirit of the Lord spoke to me at the moment – “You need her just as much as she needs you.”  

I needed her? The more I thought about it and prayed over it, the more I understood that I did need her. I knew I wanted her, any woman who has struggled with infertility and wants a child more then anything understands that wanting. No, I needed her, it was well past wanting, I needed her, so that I could become more like Jesus. 

I need her remind me that Christ loves me no matter what silly transgression I commit. That He expresses this love regardless of what I or don’t do, that no matter what happens He blesses me with grace and compassion. And that I have to learn to love like that as well, not out of obligation but out of joy. 

I need her to illustrate how Jesus never gives up on me, even when I forget to do what He told me to do, when I get sidetracked on the way to accomplish His will for my life, when I make a bad choice and have to suffer the consequences. 

But no matter what… Jesus is there, with a big unconditional love that never fails and my toddler pushes me to that standard every day.  Because after getting in trouble or making me nuts, there she is ten minutes later with the most beautiful smile, big eyes on me full of trust and love. I need that. And my promise to her, her brother, and even her biological mother is to give her big unfailing love right back. Just like Jesus.

#fostercare #adoptionstory #fostertoadopt #toddlermother #learningtoparent #lovinglikeJesus

The Joy Challenge! 2019 

The Joy Challenge 2019 by Dr. Naima Johnston Bush, Founder, The Refreshing Life

#storiesoffaith #findingjoy #joyfulliving #lifeofjoy

I'm on a mission to bring more joy to my life. I have a habit of worrying to much, forgetting to live in the moment and letting go of things I have no business hanging on to. So for the next few months I am starting a grand journey, launching off into the deep to hear the laughter of Jesus... I am trying to learn to live in the pleasure of the Father.  

That means more then just doing things that are fun and make me laugh.  Learning to live in the pleasure of the Father means sometimes doing the hard and scary things like being a witness, serving in areas that are a challenge for me, being bold in sharing the gospel.

It means reaching for deeper intimacy with the Lord, immersing myself in His Word, seeking His face and finding refreshing in prayer, in learning to discern that still small voice again and moving quickly to do what He has called me to do.  

And it also means being downright silly, sometimes eating the ice cream, rejoicing in the love of my husband and playing tea party with the toddler who has taken over my home and heart.

Life is short and I don't want to live it worried about how long we'll have these children in our lives, if my liver disease will take me out, wishing I spent more time reading my Bible, sharing His word and singing His song. 

This month I commit to resurrect my joy, like Christ resurrected from the grave! And I'm going to start with picking things off my list - 100 Ways To Find More Joy In Your Life to try to bring a smile to my heart.

This month, I commit to doing at least 10 things on the list to the right of 100 Ways To Have More Joy... this is only the first page, but I'd love to share all 100 with you!

So, I'm on a journey to joy and I expect it to be a wild ride. I'm rolling with Jesus and I'll be documenting the journey with pictures, videos and blogs. Who wants to roll with me?

I'd love to hear your comments or questions. And if you are interested in following along or going on this journey with me email me simply saying, I want to go on the journey! Journey To Joy Sign Up

Want a copy of all 100 Ways To Bring More Joy To Your Life?

Get your digital download here:

100 Ways To Have More Joy! 

Let Go of the Weight 

Let Go of the Weight, Guest Post by Alicia Terry

Some years ago I wrote a blog post titled, Get Rid of Those Keys. I referenced a key chain I carried that had a lot of keys, but they no longer gave me access to the doors, vehicles and anything else they unlocked. So, why did I continue to carry them? Good question. At the time I thought for sure I would get rid of the keys after I published the blog post.

But, I didn’t. I continued to carry them out of habit, a sense of nostalgia and being comfortable with the weight. It wasn’t until the other day when the leather strap to my automatic car door opener tore and the keys fell that I had to acknowledge the weight had been too much. Years ago I knew the weight was too much, but ignored it until things broke and I found myself picking up the pieces.

Have you ever done this? Are you doing it now…carrying weight that serves no constructive purpose and only wears you and things out over time? Let’s stop doing this to ourselves. We have the power to live in and from victory and accomplish what we’ve been put on earth to do.

Hebrews 12:1 says: Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. (NLT)

You and I, we can do this. The Bible is full of stories of people who serve as examples for us. They are the great cloud of witnesses, who, by faith, dropped the weight of their circumstances and moved forward with great focus and determination. The lighter load enabled them to endure to the end and win the race God intended for them to win.

We can experience this too. Let go of the weight. Run with endurance. Complete your race!

 

As the owner and founder of Idea Haven, a communications and training practice, Alicia Terry helps entrepreneurs, teens and women clarify the message around their mission so they can attract and connect with the people they are meant to serve. You can learn more about Alicia at aliciaterry.com and connect with her on Facebook. She is a frequent writer for the Refreshing Life Blog.

#crushfear #overcominglimitations #nolimits #Aliciaterry #livingalifeofjoy

Valentine's Day... 

Date Night Ideas With Jon and Naima! by Dr. Naima Johnston Bush, Founder of the Refreshing Life

 

This is the first time since we've been married that Jon and I are not together on Valentine's Day! But our move, the stability his job provides and February being my busiest month of the year dictates that we be in two different states this year.  I'm sad, but we've got an amazing get a way weekend planned for the first weekend in March.  

This video was shoot last year when we still lived in Nashville.  It gives you a look into our nutty, silly adventures as a couple determined to live for God and be best friends as well. Jon and I don't always make the grade, but we strive to live a life in the center of God's will on the journey to joy with Jesus.

So if you are looking for some marital inspiration, if you are single and want to be encouraged about what the Lord has in store for you, or if you just want  a good laugh, check out the video below, subscribe to our Youtube Channel to keep up with all the nuttiness and leave us a comment!  

And if you need prayer for your marriage, feel free to shoot us a note, we'd be more then glad to bring your request before the Lord! Email us at: naima@ministryofnaima.com  

 Click The Image To Watch The Video!

 

#marriageministry #christianmarriage #datenightideas #valentinesdayideas #relationshipgoals

 

Looking for a great tool to help you build a strong marriage?

Check out my book, Lessons From The Back Seat or How I Learned To Be A Wife!

Click Here To Order: Refreshing Life Store

 

Brother Harlow Turns 90 

Brother Harlow Turns 90 by Dr. Naima Johnston Bush

I miss unlimited soup and salad from the Olive Garden. I desire to pop into Barnes and Noble and visit the discount craft store when I want to pay less than Michael’s prices. I long for prepackaged nuts from Trader Joe’s and nitrate free turkey pepperoni from Whole Foods.  And let’s not even talk about skipping down to Disney on a Saturday afternoon, laying on the beach, burying my toes in the sand and roaming the countless thrift stores, vintage shops, flea markets and garage sales that pepper the greater Jacksonville area. 

In these areas JAX – Duval County to be exact, where they bring the RACHET… (yes that is a city wide slogan) has tiny little Leesville/New Llano, LA beat.  But these temporal things mean nothing when I think about the family we have found in this place.  We have been embraced by the beautiful and colorful southern hearted home folks in this area.  In this place I’ve puzzled over crawfish houses, been introduced to finger licking Cajun cooking, been bitten by fire ants, waved at the po po, who always make sure I’m safe when I’m in the yard with the dogs after dark and everybody else who has driven up our street, and had more, “Girl how you doing!” meetings in Wal-Mart then I can count. 

But I knew I was home when I attended Brother Harlow’s 90th birthday party.  Brother Harlow is the sweetest man, filled with faith and a mischievous twinkle in his eye.  He always makes sure that Jon Bush is behaving and seriously insists that if my husband steps out of line I should promptly inform him.  We celebrated him with the most delicious cake, mounds and mounds of food, lots of laugher and a picture to commemorate the event. When we told him we were honored to be invited, he told us we were family. 

As Jon and I left we paused to view the display that had been set up to celebrate his life. My heart filled as I examined a life in pictures that told of triumph and struggle, of love, faith, family and great loss.  And when we left I was overwhelmed with sadness because the last picture I studied was of Brother Harlow and his beautiful wife who had passed away. I remember thinking, I wished she was here to celebrate with him and how much he must be missing her even with all the laughter and the crowded room of well wishers and loved ones. 

And it dawned on me, that one day, if Jesus should tarry, Jon or I would be in the same situation. There will be a day when one of us will have to say good bye to the other one for a season.  I can barely breathe just thinking about it.  How many of us have had to say goodbye to the ones we treasure and have never really recovered even though life and the love still goes on? 

At the end of that wonderful man’s party when grief tried to grip and squeeze me, the Lord reminded me of this simple truth. Death is hard because it is unnatural. How often do we hear death is a natural part of life? But honestly, death was never part of the Lord’s original plan for us, so it isn’t natural at all.  We mourn because we lose something we were never supposed to lose…  each other. That’s why it hurts so bad. And every new person that takes up residence in my heart gets not only my love but will one day be mourned or mourn me. And recently in the tiny town where I now live, many people have made my heart their home by moving in and finding a favorite chair or a place on the couch to chill out. 

The thought could be unbearable, but that is when hope rose up with healing in its wings. Brother Harlow’s wife was a believer, so we rest assured that we will see her again. And all the separations, all the loss, all the tears will be wiped from our eyes because death, hell and the grave will be over and done forever. I’ve dealt and struggled a lot with death this year, so here is where I dig in and refuse to let my faith be shaken.  I know God is a promise keeper and a miracle worker.  And I know He is not a liar.  

There are many mansions in my Father’s House, if it wasn’t so He would have told me.  And somewhere in that huge dwelling, Sister Harlow is worshipping with my grandmothers, my aunts and my sweet Leslie. Accepting and living for Jesus means forgiveness, unconditional love and everlasting life… so life is like the night and being in the eternal presence of the Lord is the morning. 

Remember, the Lord never lies… fill your heart with love knowing that one day you will face the unthinkable. Because weeping endures for a night, but joy comes in the morning – and reunions to!

 

Dr. Naima Johnston Bush is the founder of The Refreshing Life with Naima and is on a mission to help you live a life of joy, powerful prayer and sincere gratitude! Please leave a comment if the blog is blessing you and feel free to share if you think it will bless someone else!

Have you grabbed your copy of the Refreshing Life Prayer Journal? For more information click here: The Refreshing Life Prayer Journal

In The Shadow of Cancer 

For Those Who Struggle With Fear by Dr. Naima Johnston Bush

I must be honest, I've had a really hard time since Leslie passed away.  At only 31, she was vibrant and loving and oh so kind...

My struggle has really centered on my work, my age, my failures, my inability to have a child.  It feels like the days are passing by so quickly and with my birthday quickly approaching I am no where near where I want to be in so many areas of my life. And with 47 barreling down the pike coming at me like a Mack truck, I can't help but think, did I make the right choice all those years ago when I quit my job and began to work for the Lord? 

The news comes fast, every time I log on someone else has passed away, someone else has cancer or some other disease, people are questioning their faith, they are afraid and discouraged and overcome.  And here I am suppose to be the encourager, the one who lives a life of joy. What do you do with all these broken pieces and parts that want to pull you under.  You look those feelings straight in the eye and call them what they are. Fear has always been a enemy of mine and I find myself locking horns with it quite a bit these days.  And the only refuge I can find is in the shadow of the wings of the Almighty God. Below is a piece that I wrote years ago during one of the scariest times in my life, some of you may remember it, but in this season I think it bears repeating. Out of times of great trial a new song always comes forth... my new song hasn't come yet, but until it does I will sing the old ones and remember I serve the same God who gave me victory before and will do it again...

In The Shadow of Cancer

I’m a New Yorker – born and raised in the Bronx, my family still resides there, but for many years the Lord had me living in Ohio. On September 11, 2001, before I went into fulltime music ministry, I went to work and every person in my office was huddled around the big screen TV in the lounge. My secretary Viki gently told me what was happening, she knew that my entire family was in a four-mile radius of the Twin Towers. As I watched the towers fall I was in shock, and the fact that I couldn’t get a phone to ring on the East Coast made the moment all the more terrifying. 

My brother wound up having to walk miles and cross a huge NYC bridge to get home. My cousin was outside when the tower fell; she sustained cuts but was ok. My brother’s girlfriend at the time worked at the World Trade Center, she just happened to be late for work that morning. My mother was stranded about 15 miles from home, with a river between her and home she uttered a prayer to the Lord and a woman she met for the first time earlier that same morning in our massive apartment complex of  35 buildings,  33 floors to a building, 12 apartments to a floor, saw her standing on the side of the road and took her home. And my dad… my dad was diagnosed with Cancer. 

Some remember that right after the towers fell, Anthrax was being sent through the mail, my father worked at the post office where the anthrax was first found and had to be put on Anthrax medication as well. And even fewer people remember that several weeks after 9-11 another plane crashed in a Queens neighborhood for reasons that still have yet to be determined. That neighborhood was the one my father lived in and on the day that plane fell from the sky, my father and I were at the airport waiting for him to catch a flight home after visiting me in Ohio. 

I was petrified, 600 miles from home and my world was upside down. I remember crying and praying and asking the Lord for peace. And something my grandmother said came to me, that whenever I was afraid I should read the 91st Psalm. I got up from prayer and picked up my Bible and read:

“He that dwells in the secret place of the most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.” 

The song poured out, another feeble heart cry to the Lord, letting Him know that even though I was I was afraid I’d trust Him and believe that I was under His shadow. Not under the shadow of cancer or terrorists, or sickness, or crashing planes. 

Random Life Lesson # 32, Fear is a killer of Faith. Even in the shadow of the things we most fear, God will lead us along the best pathways for our lives, He is with us, even till the end of the age! Today if there is something that you fear, remember that the Lord is with you and you can run into His arms and find peace and safety in the shadow of His wings.

I'd love to gift you with a copy of the song, In Your Shadow - Click Here To Download

Naima

He Bit Precious On The Nose - In Memory of Leslie Prestal 

He Bit Precious On The Nose - In Memory of Leslie Prestal

 

I don’t remember when we first met exactly, but she turned up in my life, like she had always been there. Fourteen years old, full of questions and life, pony tales and an eager spirit, she soaked up the things of the Lord like a sponge.  

For a brief shining second in time, I was part of something rare and beautiful, in small town Ohio, I saw roses grow from cornfields. I was witness to the spiritual growth and development of a group of kids that served and worshiped the Lord with abandon, dedication and boldness in a way I never had.  It wasn’t until later that I realized what a tremendous responsibility and blessing it was to serve as a youth leader for Victory Temple Church in Fairborn, Ohio.  Leslie was a part of this unusual group.  Anointed, evangelistic, Holy Spirit filled, they preferred the things of God over the mall and hanging out.  It was nothing to see these radical teenagers laid out before the alter crying out to the Lord for revival, for healing, for deliverance. 

I got a chance to watch them all grow, some departed the faith and others became stronger and even more in love with Jesus. Leslie was one of those who fell in so deep, she couldn’t get out if she tried.  Many people try to be good, but Leslie was good.  And although she would be the first to admit she didn’t always feel good, that she battled her own flesh, I know what I saw.  The glory of the Lord all over her, displaying the Him in her so brilliantly that sometimes she was blinding. His words in her mouth, His heart in her compassionate ways, His sacrifice in her kindnesses, His truth in her desire that no one would perish. And she grew into a mighty woman of God and went from being one of my kids to being one of my sweetest friends. 

Once when she was around sixteen, the youth group was gathered at the Youth Pastor’s home for fellowship.  Leann (the Pastor’s wife) had this funny little dog – named, D.O.G. who use to terrorize the kids.  Leann was sitting in a chair with the little dog tucked away besides her barely visible.  Someone said something hilarious, and Leslie who was sitting at Leann’s feet, popped up on her knees screaming in laughter and rocking forward.  And as she came near to the chair, that dog popped out like a little viper and nipped her on the nose.  It was one of the funniest things we had ever seen.  It scared Leslie more than anything and D.O.G. got in major trouble, but my how we laughed about that incident for years. 

For some reason, the Lord allowed me to play a part in her spiritual journey – which makes no sense to me as I often feel so weak and powerless, and Leslie was so faith filled and strong. I got to counsel her on those teenage issues, share with her from the word of the Lord, help teach her how to lead worship. Later, Leslie and I helped that same Pastor and his wife start a church and worked together in the church office, she was one of the first volunteers for my ministry.  She traveled over five hours to serve at my wedding and we’d meet for breakfast and discuss her dreams, her goals, her desires.  I was her big sister in the faith and she was my Les-er-lee. 

And then one day I came into her office and she told me she had gotten some abnormal test results back from the doctor and had to see a specialist. We brushed it off, declared the victory over the situation and put it in the hands of the Lord. 

 She fought valiantly, and there were times of healing, refreshing and reprieve.  Two times she conquered the beast of cancer by the power of the Lord.  And when it returned the third time, she won the ultimate victory and went home to be with her Savior, the One whom her soul loved. 

I don’t understand why a thirty-one-year-old would die. Especially one who went on mission trips, led worship, shared with the world how faithful God was. I don’t understand why the Lord didn’t allow her to be the wife and mother that she desired to be.  My heart is broken and I am weak and crying at all hours of the day and night. I got a chance to talk with her before she died, to sing a song that we sang together when she was that fourteen-year-old rose turning her face to the light to grow in grace.  

One of the last things Leslie said was, “I still believe God can heal me, and I am trusting Him to do so. What a marvelous testimony that would be.  But if He doesn’t heal me, and He calls me home, that’s OK to, because then I’ll be with Jesus.” 

We are a people always looking for miracles. We cry and question and when a loved one leaves this earth at a time we define as “to soon” we let our faith be shaken and say God didn’t answer our prayer.  But isn’t the true miracle that Leslie faced the beginning of her eternal life anchored in His promises and speaking them over her own life to give us comfort? 

And I comfort myself thinking about how D.O.G. nipped her on the nose and how she laughed until her face turned red after it happened. I am left with all the memories I wish I could pour out on this page to share with you about utterly lovely Leslie is.  I say is – because she still lives, she lives in the presence of the Lord and she lives in my heart.  And I am humbled and honored to know that in some small way, for one brief second in eternity, I got to share this earthly life with her and that for a time I got to be a gardener tending one of His most precious roses. 

Precious in the sight of the LORD is the death of His saints. 
Psalm 116:15