Messages From Heaven Book Giveaway

From tales of people visiting Heaven and coming back, to dreams and visions, to clear messages, the stories in Chicken Soup for the Soul: Messages from Heaven (Chicken Soup for the Soul Publishing, LLC, February 28, 2012, 978-1935096917, $14.95) illustrate how accepting what may seem like the unbelievable can provide comfort and peace after a loss. The 101 stories of miraculous signs, amazing connections, and love that doesn’t die will comfort and encourage anyone who has experienced the loss of a beloved family member or friend.

‘Strawberry Fields’ is my contribution to this amazing collection of encouraging, comforting and hope-filled stories. My story is about a dream and the beloved memory of walking barefoot through fields of strawberries with my Grandma Bone.

In honor of the letter ‘M’ in the A-Z Challenge, which I am participating in- just on two different blogs, I’m giving away a copy of Messages From Heaven. Simply leave a comment on this post to enter. Comments will close at midnight (eastern time) on Monday April, 16, 2012. I’ll draw a random name from the comments on Tuesday and announce the winner.

ETA –
Congratulations to Alana from Writercize! Your book will be in the mail shortly!

A SiP [Scripture in Picture] of Spring – A Quasi A-Z Post

I’ve had a post about dandelions sitting in my ‘draft’ folder for a year. Today, which is the letter ‘D’ for the A-Z challenge, seemed like a good day to finally publish it.

I used to cringe whenever I saw a dandelion in my yard. Dandelions were the pimples on the face of my lawn. I weeded and fertilized but they kept popping back up.

And then my daughter took her first steps on the grass and immediately ran to study and touch the beautiful yellow ‘flowers’. The bigger she gets, the more she enjoys the ‘pretty flowers’. She picks bouquet after bouquet that sit brightly in my kitchen windowsill reminding me that God doesn’t make mistakes. I see dandelions in the light of childhood wonder and find myself appreciating everything God has created – even the ‘ugly’ parts.

Every dandelion raises it’s head to heaven, acknowledging God, the Creator of everything we see and don’t see.

Mommy Moments: Poop in Prayer

It’s bedtime. Freshly bathed, smelling like Johnson’s baby shampoo, my daughter is snuggled close to me. We’ve read a story and now it’s time for our prayers. I cherish these special moments where we thank God for all He has given us and done for us throughout the day. Usually we thank God for all the people we love and care for, but on this particular night, Monkey decides to give thanks for something unexpected.

“Anything else you want to talk to God about?” I ask my soon-to-be four-year-old.
“Uh…yeah! Thank you God for poop!” Monkey explodes into a fit of giggles.
“Poop?” I ask in shock. Hearing the word ‘poop’ was surprising, and in my opinion, completely inappropriate.
“And pee!” She adds before collapsing into another giggle fit.

Stunned, I pray silently for a way to handle this situation, which is quickly getting out of my control. I don’t want our peaceful prayer time to degenerate into potty talk! Calmly, I say, “You’re right. Thank you God for poop and pee because if we didn’t poop and pee we would be really sick.”
“Thank you God for poop!” Monkey once more exclaims, but only lets out a small giggle.
She settles down once more and I’m able to close our prayer time with a whispered, “Amen.”

Have you ever been in this situation? How did you handle it? And please, someone tell me that potty talk is just a phase!

Passing Along A Great Idea

It happens more often in the winter. Leaving Target or the grocery store with the back of my car loaded with groceries and other items I need, or more likely don’t, I stop at a red light to see a man standing there with a cardboard sign that reads – Homeless Need Help.

My heart goes out to the man and I want to help, but I don’t want to invite a stranger over to my car and hand him cash. Mostly because I’ve just spent all my money and partly because I’m not convinced cash is the way to help, but still I hear Jesus’ words in my mind:

For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’

“Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’

“The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me’ (Matthew 25:35-40 NIV).

Driving away from the man, I know I’ve failed to follow Jesus’ words, and I pray for forgiveness and for Him to show me how I can help those in need. He answered my prayer today in a blog post that I’d like to share with you – Be A Blessing – Blessing Bags .

I look forward to putting a few of these bags together with my daughter’s help. I don’t know if I’ll include a Bible, unless I can get a donation like this blogger did or find a good deal. Helping in the smallest way, is still helping and I’m so grateful for answered prayers!

How do you respond to those asking for help at traffic lights? Is it safe to invite them over to your car to hand them a bag? I watch a lot of crime shows and imagine danger in the simplest of situations.

IT

She always took off from work at Thanksgiving through New Years. She meticulously cleaned her little house from top to bottom, scrubbing the floors on her hands and knees and then waxing and buffing them with a big machine they don’t make anymore. She decorated every inch of her tiny home for Christmas –to this girl’s eyes, her home was a gingerbread house come to life. She baked cookies and more cookies. She made pies. She fixed a feast of ham, baked beans and potato salad for Christmas dinner.

And then IT came and ruined everything. IT destroyed Christmas and the other 364 days of the year. IT sneaked and slithered, entwined and choked. IT made her forget.

Now a fine layer of dust and grime coats her home. She doesn’t notice. Now the tree stays stowed under the house, completely forgotten. She doesn’t understand what a Christmas tree is. Now the stove is turned off and the fridge is bare. She needs to be reminded to eat. Now the only thing she does meticulously is pack her suitcases with worthless old cookbooks and scraps of her past –a list of the pallbearers at her grandfather’s funeral. She’s waiting for her ‘family’ to come for her.

IT stole her family without taking them anywhere. Her family fills her tiny house and surrounds her with love –love she no longer feels or recognizes. IT gleefully rips my heart in two.

Her daughter tells her, “You won’t need those suitcases when your family comes for you. Jesus will provide everything you need.”

Confusion –IT laughs at us manically –“Who is Jesus?” she asks.

My rage is fierce and all-consuming. But IT hides safely within the shell of my grandmother. I see IT dancing and laughing at me behind her eyes, but there is nothing I can do. My rage boils and bubbles, flows in hot salty tears, burning my eyes and skin. There is nothing I can do.

IT has taken over and destroyed her mind, her memories, her personality, everything that made her my beloved grandmother. IT thinks IT has won. IT laughs cruelly.

But think again, IT. You haven’t won. You haven’t managed to infiltrate my grandmother’s soul. You’ve merely imprisoned her soul. You’ve had your way with her brain, but her heart is a fortress for her soul. Her spirit hides safely there. The day will come when the Lord sets her soul free and her soul will remember everything. Her soul will recognize Jesus, will be embraced in the loving arms of our beloved mother Mary, will rejoice in Gloryland. Her soul will celebrate with her family in heaven And her family on earth.

Go ahead and gloat now, IT. We will prevail. Enjoy my suffering while you can because the day is coming when you will be as helpless as I am now.

***
God, give me the strength to endure Alzheimer’s assault on my grandmother.