cold, hard, grip of grief

Breaking the Cold, Hard Grip of Grief

The Start of a Typical Day

grip of grief 3
Photo permission from the Smith Family

    Nothing could have prepared me for the events of October 28th, 1992. I dropped my son off at the babysitter and headed to the high school where I taught English and Speech. What started as a typical day ended in one of my worst nightmares.

Earlier that day I had visited my OBGYN because of some light spotting while teaching school. As I lie in the hospital bed that night, my 20-week old daughter kicking and squirming within me, I grieved. “Better safe than sorry” were the nurse’s words on the phone. So, I called my husband and we headed to the doctor.

Little did I know that I was five centimeters dilated and the amniotic sac was bulging out of my cervix! My doctor explained that emergency surgery was required in hopes of gently nudging the birth sac back inside and sewing the cervix closed. If the surgery was unsuccessful, she would be born the next day and was not expected to live. As I was prepped for surgery, I could only find the presence of mind to repeat one prayer, “Please God, don’t take my baby”. This was my incessant prayer as I was wheeled into the surgical unit. My husband’s hand tightly gripped my own until they separated us. 

Where Faith and Reality Meet

       I had been a follower of Christ for about fifteen years. In previous years, I had even traveled full time on an evangelistic team as a singer and team evangelist. I believed in prayer and I also believed in the sovereignty of God. If my daughter lived, it was God’s will; his good plan. And we would rejoice and be thankful. If my daughter died, it was God’s will; His good plan.  We would grieve our loss on this side of heaven and look for His good plan through many tears. My prayers were answered, but not as I had hoped. 

We would grieve our loss on this side of heaven and look for His good plan through many tears. #lossofachild #stillborn Click To Tweet

The surgery was unsuccessful. The birth sac had ruptured and our daughter would be born alive the next day; only to pass from this life shortly after.   I gave birth to our precious Lacey Victoria in a quiet, dimly lit hospital room with my husband by my side.  The grief that had begun the night before as I experienced her last movements inside of me, washed over me in great waves.

My faith was being tested.  I believed that if God had wanted to, he could have saved my baby’s life. My only conclusion was one that I did not want to readily admit—God chose not to save her life. For reasons unexplained, He allowed her to be born and subsequently, die.  This mystery would take years to unfold in my heart. 

Facing the Grip of Grief

grip of grief 2
photo permission by Smith family

     The hospital staff helped us put her footprints on a birth certificate,  dress her, and place a tiny white knitted hat on her head. We asked for a minister to come and pray with us and we had a name blessing ceremony. We held her, wrapped in a receiving blanket, and we welcomed our family as they came.

My mother arrived along with our son, Danny. My husband’s parents came as well. Aunts and Uncles, brothers and sisters, we welcomed them all. It was comforting to see them, to let them see Lacey, to share our grief. 

Going Home

Two days later we were driving home; our precious babe in a fourteen-inch long casket set on the backseat of our car. We would deliver her ourselves to the funeral home (run by a dear friend’s parents) where she would await burial.  

     The days between her birth and her burial were quiet, somber, and sad. My arms physically ached to hold my baby. I felt broken, wounded, raw. I worried about placing my infant in a cold, hard plastic box into the ground. It felt so harsh. 

Sewing in Love and Grief

My mom suggested we spend the next couple of days sewing a quilt in which to wrap her tiny casket. So we sewed and we talked and we cried for hours each day. We sewed our love and our grief into that quilt. It was therapeutic, to say the least. A few months later, my mom handed me an exact replica of that quilt as a memorial. I treasure it. 

grip of grief 1
Photo used with permission from the Smith family

     On November first, I stood beside an open grave clutching Lacey’s tiny casket to my chest trying to coax myself to hand it over to my husband so he could place it in the grave dug for her. She would be buried with my father who had passed just five years before. 

It was a dark and dreary day with a biting, cold wind and the weather mimicked my emotions perfectly. The cold gripped my heart and refused to let go. Lacey Victoria was gone before we even had the chance to get to know her. My head told me she was now in heaven with Jesus. However, my heart ached with the knowledge that I would never have the privilege of raising this precious little girl. 

There would be no little dresses and shoes, no curls to catch up in bright ribbons, no middle school crush, no high school prom, no engagement ring, no wedding, no grandchildren. I have heard it said that when an adult dies, you lose a piece of your past; but, when a child dies, you lose a piece of your future. This rang hauntingly true for me. The reality of this enormous loss weighed heavily on my heart.  

When an adult dies, you lose a piese of your past. When a child dies, you lose a piece of your future. #grievingtheloss #stillborn Click To Tweet

A Short Life Remembered

     I entertained an irrational fear that she would be forgotten not only by others but by even ourselves.  I feared we would never hear her beautiful name again because no one would remember it. This fear, however, became the catalyst for my desire to assure that she remains a part of our family. That her name and short life was remembered. 

I believed her short life had a purpose. It was clear to me already that we, as a family, had been forever changed by the birth and death of our sweet Lacey Victoria. I chose to lean into my grief and learn from it all the lessons it had to teach me; about valuing life (no matter how brief); appreciating family and loved ones; learning how this loss would teach me to trust God more. Little did I realize I had so much to learn. And it would take me my entire life to learn it! 

Grieving Through the Holidays

     As the holidays approached, I dreaded them. Christmas, especially, is all about a baby. The stores seemed packed with mothers with babes in arms or in strollers. Let’s face it, a lot of our Christmas traditions center around children. All of this just seemed to accentuate my loss. My baby was not here to celebrate Christmas. However, I had been blessed a little over a year before with a precious son, Danny; and I was determined that his little sister would be a part of his life, his Christmas.

To that end, we labeled Christmas presents to and from Lacey that year (which we, of course, had purchased ourselves) to give to one another– special gifts that held meaning; a special teddy bear, a figurine of a mother and child, a father/daughter snow globe. Gifts that gave us the opportunity to include her, to say her name and remember her. 

I also prepared, for grandparents and aunts and uncles, a Christmas ornament engraved with her beautiful name. I wrapped them beautifully and looked forward to presenting them; knowing I would hear her name once more and she would be remembered. That Christmas was bittersweet as we celebrated together. But, our hearts were warmed in the remembering. And I felt that cold hard grip of grief weakening ever so slightly. 

I felt that cold hard grip of grief weakening ever so slightly.  #grievingthroughtheholidays #lossofachild Click To Tweet

A Long Year of Firsts

     As with any great loss, it was a long year of firsts without our daughter. The grip of grief was difficult and as her birthday neared I desired to start a tradition that we could carry on through the years to assure our son would feel a connection to this sister that he would never know this side of heaven. Perpetuating her memory was a healing balm for my heart and I enjoyed creating new ways to remember her. 

     With that in mind, on her birthday, Danny and I made Funfetti cupcakes with bright pink frosting. As we baked I talked with him about his sister and how we love and miss her; that she lives in heaven now with Jesus and that we will see her again there. Once Dan returned home from work; we told him that we had cupcakes for Lacey and we needed to go to the cemetery. 

So we took our cupcakes and drove to the cemetery where we placed one on her grave marker. We lit the candle, stood arm in arm and sang happy birthday to her. Tears fell and hugs shared. As we left the cemetery, I reminded Danny that Lacey would not eat the cupcake herself. But the bunnies and deer would come along and eat it for her to help celebrate her birthday. This picture always seemed to make him happy. 

The rest of the day/week, we enjoyed Lacey’s cupcakes, thought about her and talked about her and repeated her beautiful name. A tradition we have carried on annually for 26 years.

The Grip of Grief Loosens

Our family has since grown to include a second daughter, Isabella, who is an answer to many years of prayer. Sometimes both of the children are not available to come to the cemetery on October 29th. But still, we go and we take a pink cupcake, light a candle, sing “Happy Birthday” and we remember. 

Patti Smith along with Dan, Danny & Isabella

It’s Your Turn

legacy link-ups

Legacy Link-up for October is waiting for your link. What story of legacy will you share with us today? This link-up is open until the end of the month. Add your link and read some of those in front of yours. Your will be blessed. I am sure. Just click on the image on the left to go to the link-up.

P.S. Would you like to be our next guest writer?

Click here for more information

journey through grief

A Mother’s Journey Through Grief

Unfortunately, due to circumstances beyond my control, the original post has been closed to public viewing. Suffice it to say that a journey through grief can leave scars that are too tender to approach.

Let this be a reminder to each of us that the loss of a child is not only a mother’s grief but the whole family grieves as well. Thankfully, most of society now sees that grief counseling is very important for everyone involved.

If you are interested in other stories of bereavement and healing. This book will be released on November 8, 2019. I will be reviewing it later this month.

Loss, Survive, Thrive

Bereaved Parents Share Their Stories of Healing and Hope

by Meryl Hershey Beck – Contributions by Rukiye Z. Abdul-Mutakillim; Alice Adams; Laura Mathes Arshonsky; Michelle Barbuto; Vickie Bodner; Heidi Bright; Robert R. Burdt; Lynda Crane; Janice Crowder-Torrez; Tim deZarn; Kelly Farley; Tamara Gabriel; Shoshana Garfield; Suzanne Giesemann; Marla Grant; Kelley Ireland; Ernie Jackson; Jo-Anne Joseph; Mary Langford; Lucia Maya; Tammy McDonnell; Sandy Peckinpah; Sharon Gabriel Rossy; Laurie Savoie; Michele Wollert and Tina Zarlenga

October is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness month.

Today and every day, let’s remember: All the babies born sleeping. Those carried but never held. Those held that could not be taken home. Those taken home that could not stay. We remember. Always.

Let’s pray for each family we know that has taken this journey through grief. Even if many years have gone by, the pain is many times still very real. Place a family’s name (last name only) in the comments below and then pray for the name(s) in the comment above yours.

We have kept the Legacy Link-up live so feel free to participate below.

legacy link-ups

LEGACY LINK-UP TIME!

We would love to read your legacy stories, also. Share your links to your posts below. It’s doesn’t have to be about grief; how about how God has helped you through any trial. I love hearing how God triumphs in our lives.

You are invited to the Inlinkz link party!

Click here to enter


#homeremedies #naturalremedies

6 All-Natural Remedies to Improve Your Allergies

Such a peaceful view, out my the window into my back yard. A natural remedy for peacefulness. The ducklings from the neighbors’ pond loved to waddle over into our yard with their momma. I could stand there all day watching the little guys toddle around. But suddenly,

Ah-Ah-Achoo! Achoo! Achooey!

They always seemed to come in threes. My husband was at it again. The poor little ducklings had no idea what just happened. They ran in terror in every direction but mainly back into the pond. And, I think, never to return. Our family loves telling this story… at my husband’s expense.

These sneezing attacks have arrived often for all the years I have known him. But recently they have worsened. Medications were just not solving the problem. So our doctor finally decided to send him for some allergy testing.

16 our 20 allergens ain’t bad?

Michael tested positive for 16 out of the 20 allergens: Pet dander, dust mites, grass, all kinds of trees, cockroaches. I can’t remember the whole list.

So What’s Next?

Allergy Shots?

The doctor prescribed two shots a week but the problem came in the expense. According to our insurance, we should only be paying $2-$3 for the shots, but what they don’t tell you is that they are also going to charge you for an office visit. At the time that was $40 for us. There’s no way on earth that we have $120-$160 extra per month. This option was quickly thrown out.

We Tried Some All-Natural Remedies

1. Nasal Wash

It’s an aggravating routine to get into but it does work. The most recommended product is Neilmed Sinus Rinse. It’s basically a salt rinse for your nasal passages. My ENT has developed his own nasal rinse called ChitoRhino. It has an extra ingredient which seems to be a healing agent. I had a sore in my nose that kept returning but after a month of using ChitoRhino, the sore has not returned.

I say that it’s aggravating because every morning and every evening you will need an extra 15-20 minutes to do this. But I never have drainage issues anymore. No more post nasal drip and coughing.

Be sure you use distilled water in your rinse. Tap water is not safe enough. Find more detailed instructions from the FDA here. Be sure to clean your bottle or neti pot with boiled or sterile water.



2. 100% Pure All-Natural Bees Wax Candles

Actually this one, I had been doing. You see, God has placed everything we need on His green earth. Beeswax candles are amazing. Not only does it smell refreshing, but it also deionizes the air.

Regular paraffin wax candles are made from petroleum products. When burned they release toxins into the air. 100% beeswax candles actually remove toxins from the air.

Pure Beeswax Candles on the other hand burn with almost no smoke or scent and clean the air by releasing negative ions into the air. These negative ions can bind with toxins and help remove them from the air.

https://wellnessmama.com/4629/clean-indoor-air/
fighting #allergies #beeswax

For our family, I would start burning the candles as soon as anyone started coughing or sneezing. Their symptoms would stop almost immediately. I’ve read about others who owned cats. They would begin burning the candle about an hour before their granddaughter arrived (She is allergic to cats). And the granddaughter would have no problems breathing while in her home.

You must be careful that the candles you purchase are 100% pure beeswax with cotton wicks. I trust these providers of beeswax candles: Pure Light Beeswax. For tapers and pillars, try Holy Nativity Convent

3. Salt Lamps

Add a salt votive to your candle and double your allergy help. They also purify the air and have the added bonus of beauty. Kind of a romantic feeling. I love them. You can find them on Amazon. Here’s my affiliate link.



4. Change Your Linens Often

I know, this is a big pain. And who likes dealing with those fitted sheets? I just wash them and put them right back on. Bedding is a haven for dust mites, thousands of which can feed, breed, and live on a single gram of dust.  So wash your sheets, pillow covers, and blankets weekly with hot water.

It may also be helpful to purchase an allergy-free mattress cover and pillow covers. Some studies say that it isn’t that helpful but then there are loads of people who would swear about how much they help. They aren’t too expensive, so I say, give them a try.


5. Vacuum Regularly

#allergies #vacuum

One of the first things we did was purchase a new vacuum cleaner. If yours is old, it’s not working well enough. We were amazed at the difference this made and confirmed our thoughts the old one was literally throwing the dust and debris back out into the room. We spent only $70 on this fabulous bagless vacuum with washable filters. It’s lightweight, too!

So check out the Bissell PowerForce Helix Bagless Vacuum at Walmart.

6. When you vacuum, DUST… the furniture, baseboards, walls

I used to think it was futile to dust. It seems to just float around and land right back on the furniture. Until I found microfiber cloths by Norwex. These cleaning products are amazing. Learn more about Norwex here!

First of all, they use NO, that’s right, NO toxic cleaners. Just plain water. Think of all the money you will save when you no longer have to purchase all those different cleansers.

They offer everything: kitchen cloths, mops, window cloths, bathroom cleaners, dusting products. You name it, they have it. And they are all amazing. Check out this video where they clean up after raw chicken.

You can contact my DIL to order your Norwex products.

7. Air Purifier

This was our first big purchase. We waited for our tax return for this one. I must say that it was worth the price. You can seriously feel the difference within on hour after turning it on.

We couldn’t pull off purchasing something for the whole house so we settled for the bedroom. It is actually pretty portable. So, you could take it into whatever room you are in. When you are purchasing, do be sure to know your room size. It won’t be helpful if your room is too large for the air purifier. Here’s the one we purchased.


Additionally, there was a certified refurbished one available at the Winix company website. We talked at length with them to be sure of guarantees. It saved us a few bucks and it has worked like a dream. Winix also offers an Allergy Buyers Club where you can sign up to have your filter replacements shipped automatically and at a discount. This site also sells many of the aforementioned items.

Well, these are the all-natural remedies we have implemented and found to be very helpful. Try them. I think you will like the results.

Mandy Farmer
6 all-natural remedies for #allergies #homeremedy Click To Tweet
#bullies #tickandstones #attitudeofchrist

Bullying: Sticks And Stones Crush our Hearts

School Time Troubles

It’s time to send our children off to school. And we all know that going to school can be pretty stressful; not just due to studies, but also peer pressure and social stresses. I thought this would be a good time to talk about how to help our children deal with bullies.

These days we hear so much about bullying, so much that it seems we are majoring on the wrong-doer and maybe we are not teaching our children how to deal with bullying when it happens. I don’t mean to make light of bullying, because certainly, I have been on the receiving end of it myself, as a child and as a mother having to comfort my children.

Bullying can crush our hearts. Bullying is not an acceptable way to act and often someone needs to step in and intervene. But how can we help our children through these times? Running straight to the principal may not be your best option, at least not your first option.

Steps For Dealing With a Bully #bullies #schooltime Click To Tweet
#bully #meangirls #roughandtoughboys
free image from Pixabay

Preparing Our Children to Deal with Bullies

What we must teach our children is that in this sinful world, bullying will always be out there. As Christians, we’re given that promise…

“If you were of the world, the world would love its own. Yet because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you…. If they persecuted Me they will persecute you… for they do not know the One who sent Me.”

John 15:19-21

“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”

John 16:33

That promise is a bit harder to claim in comparison to the ones we choose to claim, isn’t it?

Along with the promise that “we will have troubles” we should remind our children that God always goes with us through whatever we may face. Talk about men and women in the Bible that face dire circumstances but God walked with them through it all. Just a few to start with are Joseph, David, Daniel, the Hebrew children, and Jesus, himself. Introduce and help them memorize verses like this one from Isaiah 43

But now, O Jacob, listen to the Lord who created you.
    O Israel, the one who formed you says,
“Do not be afraid, for I have ransomed you.
    I have called you by name; you are mine.
When you go through deep waters,
    I will be with you.
When you go through rivers of difficulty,
    you will not drown.
When you walk through the fire of oppression,
    you will not be burned up;
    the flames will not consume you.
For I am the Lord, your God,
    the Holy One of Israel, your Savior.

First, When Your Child is Bullied with Words, Ask This

1. Is there any truth in what the person said?

I’m reminded of an episode of Little House on the Prairie. Laura had been in an altercation with Nelly ‘again’. Upset that Nelly had called her father a smelly farmer, she finally told her father. Charles asked Laura, “Well, it is true, right?” Then he explained why he smelled like a barn and sweat. Because he worked hard and that was something to be proud of.

a. Become Better, Not Bitter

If there is truth in what was said, then we should correct what can be corrected. Use the situation as a tool to improve ourselves. Let it make you better, NOT Bitter. Just as a test shows us what we haven’t yet mastered, our trials show us areas in our life that need improving. Yes, criticism is hard to accept, but it can make us a better person if we allow it too. 1 Peter 1:6-7 instructs us …

” So be truly glad. There is wonderful joy ahead, even though you have to endure many trials for a little while. These trials will show that your faith is genuine. It is being tested as fire tests and purifies gold-though your faith is far more precious than mere gold. So when your faith remains strong through many trials, it will bring you much praise and glory and honor on the day when Jesus Christ is revealed to the whole world.

In the Little House episode, Charles can’t help it that he gets smelly while he works. He can try to improve by bathing or changing clothes when he goes to town but even that may not be practical. So he needs to be proud that he has a job and that he is a hard worker.

Focus on the good stuff. Don’t dwell on the negative thoughts that were expressed. Make a list of all your good qualities. Review them over and over in your mind. Remind yourself that you are not defined by that one negative aspect in your life. This is not so that you can downgrade the bully by telling him you are better than him. This is self-talk to remind yourself that God made you

Secondly, Whether there is Truth or Not

A. Be Encouraged

If there is no truth, Be encouraged! because we know that through our struggles and weaknesses, we are strong in Christ.

For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
—2 Corinthians 12:10

B. Forgive and Forget

– Again we must forgive and forget. Think of the times that Jesus was wrongly accused, even on the cross He said: “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do“. ( Luke 23:34 ) And later in Acts 7:54-60, we see that Stephen, forgave his persecutors even as they stoned him to death. So shouldn’t we do likewise? Aren’t we taught in the Bible to forgive as we are forgiven? Ephesians 4:32–5:2. Our actions show others how much Christ loves them.

C. Respond in Love

– We must respond in love. Remember that the bully probably does not yet know Christ. We need to show them the love and mercy of Christ by how we react to them. Remember, that we are the only Jesus some people will ever see. Responding in love will also, many times, dumbfound your accuser because they will be expecting you to hurl insults back at them. When we react with love and mercy, it will many times silence them.

Through the praise of children and infants you have established a stronghold against your enemies, to silence the foe and the avenger.

Psalm 8:2

I recall a time in my life when I was first out on my own. I didn’t have laundry equipment and had to take my clothes to a laundromat. Finding a dryer with time left on it, I placed my laundry into the empty dryer.

I was later folding these clothes, a woman came into the laundromat and began accusing me of stealing her clothes from the dryer. I replied that there had been no clothes in the dryer and that she was welcome to go through my stacks of clothing to find anything that might be hers. She continued to accuse and yell, backing me up against the dryers and hitting me in the face. But when I would not retaliate, she finally, gave up and walked out.

It turned out that this situation for me became a blessing in disguise. When my church family heard the story, a lady came to me and said, “You will no longer have to go to a laundromat. Bring your dirty clothes to my house every Monday and I will wash them for you.” She not only washed them but made any repairs needed as well!

D. Pray for your Accuser / Abuser

Be a Prayer Warrior. We must Pray for our Accuser. 

“But I say to you, love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you

Matthew 5:44

There is usually a reason someone lashes out at us. They may have a bad situation at home, they may be grieving a loss, they may be jealous of you, they may be under conviction of the Holy Spirit. Look for these things and pray for them.

Then look for ways that you can reach out to them as a friend. Find out what their interests are and give a gift or strike up a conversation about their interests. Be a friend.

See if you can find out why they want to lash out. You might be amazed at the results. I’ve heard of “enemies becoming dear friends” because one of them reached out in love.

E. Remember God is With You

Be Encouraged… God is with you and God will be glorified!

Our true purpose on earth is to glorify God. There are times when our trials can bring glory to Him because of the way we react. Others will see Jesus in us when we respond as Jesus would.

We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies. For we who live are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh.

2 Corinthians 4: 8-11

F. Endurance Brings Reward

Be Encouraged .. You will be rewarded!

We can be encouraged when insulted or persecuted because our reward in heaven will be great.

“Blessed are those who have been persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 11″Blessed are you when men cast insults at you, and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely, on account of Me. 12″Rejoice, and be glad, for your reward in heaven is great, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

Matthew 5:10-12
Prepare Your Child for Trouble at School #bullying #parenting #school Click To Tweet

Additionally, Here Are A Few Ways to Prepare Your Children in Advance for Bullies

The temptation is to encircle our children and prevent any harm from coming to them; however, this may only make things worse. Our children need to learn to stand up for themselves and to resolve conflict on their own.

They don’t need Mommy running to their defense all the time. This makes them feel and seem helpless. It could also cause them more harm because a bully is likely to retaliate when their mischief is reported.

Rather parents should prepare their children for troubled times by discussing real-life situations and Biblical accounts that reveal how to respond when troubles come.

1. Study the Scriptures Together

1 Blessed are they whose ways are blameless, who walk according to the law of the LORD.
2 Blessed are they who keep his statutes and seek him with all their heart.
3 They do nothing wrong; they walk in his ways.

Psalm 119

Each morning before you send them to school, read the scriptures together. This doesn’t need to be lengthy and drawn out. Read the scripture and talk about what it means in our own lives. Just one or two verses could do the trick. Here are a few places to start.

  • The Proverbs – Proverbs discusses character and lends itself to discussion. Plus Proverbs has 31 chapters. Chose a verse or two for the chapter that correlates to the day of the month. Read chapter 1 on day 1
  • Bible Story Book – There are many storybooks available. I like Ann Voskamp’s Unwrapping The Greatest Gift. While this is an Advent book, it can easily be used throughout the year. It begins with Adam and Eve and relates each lesson to the genealogy of Christ. Talk about the character of each man or woman. How did they respond to adversity? How can we relate that to our situation?
  • Sunday School Take-Home Papers – Some Sunday School curriculum comes with take-home papers that give scriptures to read at home during the week. This would be advantageous because it will correlate with what they are learning in Sunday School.
  • Look for More Ideas in Gladys Hunt’s Honey for a Child’s Heart and Honey for a Teen’s Heart.
Regular Family Bible Study Makes for School Success. #schooltime #studies Click To Tweet

2. Memorize Scriptures Together

“This book of the law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it; for then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have success.

Joshua 1:8

I cannot emphasize enough on the importance of scripture memory. If you want to be encouraged by the Lord throughout the day, memorize scripture. It’s the only way God can bring it to mind in the middle of your trouble. Here are a few ways to help your children memorize.

  • Start with Sunday School Materials. That aforementioned S.S. paper has a memory verse on it. learn it together as a family. Write it out and put it on the refrigerator. Recite it aloud every time you go through the kitchen. Ask each other, “What is this week’s verse?” (NOTE: I’m not averse to giving awards for scripture memory)
  • Make little verse cards that fit into your pockets. Then review it all day long. It will surprise you how quickly you learn.
  • Memory Apps – I enjoy Scripture Typer which is available online, or on your phone or kindle. It keeps track of what you are learning, helps you review, and you can add your own scriptures in your preferred version.

As an added bonus, did you realize that the more you use your brain, the better it works? My cousin, now a surgeon, wondered how in the world he would learn and memorize all he needed while in medical school. His father told him, “Memorize Scripture”.

What?

More memory work?

Yes! It works too!

The more you use your brain the better it works! #scripturememory #successinlife Click To Tweet

3. Pray Together

For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.

Matthew 18:20

We never let our children set foot on the school campus before praying together. The old adage says that a family that prays together stays together. I think more than staying together, you become one. It creates a bond not easily broken. This bond is a force that reminds us that we are not alone. Our child will know that you are cheering for him and also that God is fighting for him.

Prayer has a way of helping us see things from one another’s points of view. Hearing another pray causes us to feel his pain. It also helps us celebrate big wins that might otherwise go unnoticed. It’s also training for adulthood when they may be asked to pray in public.

Praying Together Creates a Team Bond. #praytogether #bondingtogether Click To Tweet

I hope that this will be a help for you as it was for me and my family.

May God bless you.

Mandy Farmer

Do you have other suggestions that you implement with your family? Share with us in the comments.

Salt in my Soul

Cystic Fibrosis – The Good, The Bad and the Ugly

What is Cystic Fibrosis (CF)?

Cystic Fibrosis is a chronic genetic illness that affects many parts of the body. It operates like this: A defective protein caused by the cystic fibrosis mutation interrupts the flow of salt in and out of the cells, causing the mucus that’s naturally present in healthy people to become dehydrated, thick, and viscous. This sticky mucus builds up in the lungs, pancreas, and other organs, causing problems with the respiratory, digestive, reproductive endocrine, and other systems. In the lungs, the mucus creates a warm and welcoming environment for deadly bacteria like Pseudomonas aeruginosa and Burkholderia cepacia. The vicious cycle of infection, inflammation, and scarring that comes from the combination of viscous mucus and ineradicable bacteria leads to respiratory failure, the most common cause of death in cystic fibrosis patients.

It’s progressive, with no cure, which means it gets worse over time. The rate of progression varies from patient to patient and is often out of control.

Salt in My Soul: An Unfinished Life by Mallory Smith, page x

I have a cousin with CF. So when I was asked to review this diary of Mallory Smith, I was glad to read it in hopes that it would help me understand more about what Andrew deals with on a daily basis. I have a chronic illness as well and I know that most people just don’t get it when you talk of pain or not being able to do everything you desire to do.

Salt in My Soul: An Unfinished Life definitely opened my eyes to the “good, bad, and ugly” of CF. Young Mallory Smith kept a journal beginning at the age of 15 until her death at the age of 25.

What a trooper she was. She at most times had a very positive outlook on life and didn’t let her diagnosis define her.

For me, it was a hard read feeling her pain and realizing that I didn’t know the half of what my cousin faces. I could only read one or two entries at a time. But it was worth the read.

 

If you ever wonder what having a chronic illness is like, read a patient's diary. #saltinmysoul #cysticfibrosis #chronicillness Click To Tweet

The Good, Bad, and Ugly of Cystic Fibrosis

In the following paragraphs, I would like to share a few of the things that caught my attention about the life of Mallory Smith.

The Good

Staying Active is a Plus

Mallory was able to stay very active for most of her life. When a patient is able to do this it is helpful for their lungs and other organs. She loved playing volleyball and swimming. Fortunately, she lived near the ocean which made her feel alive. Her parents were able to take her to Hawaii several times in her life.

From her diary,

Ever since my parents threw me in the water at age three, the ocean has been my escape, my passion, and a powerful healing agent. I’ve always faced complications of cystic fibrosis, from malnutrition to frequent and aggressive pneumonias. For years, I’ve had the unshakeable sense that being in nature ( specifically, the ocean) somehow heals me. Clears my lungs. Prolongs my life. Maintains my sanity. Restores my soul.

My intuition was right. While I was swimming, surf, and fighting CF; researchers in Australia were discovering what I always knew; CF patients who frequent the ocean live longer- ten years longer.

Salt in My Soul: An Unfinished Life by Mallory Smith, page 101

A Positive Attitude

I have to remind myself not to envy those whose lives look normal because their mountains do exist, even if they’re less obvious than mine.

It’s given me empathy, and gratitude, and courage, and humor, and heartache, and happiness.

Salt in My Soul: An Unfinished Life by Mallory Smith, page xiv

Mallory had a very positive attitude, always appreciative of those who cared for her. At times she hated that she was dependant on them. Sometimes she felt sad or guilty that her family gave up a lot to help her live. When she thought about death she seemed more concerned about how those she would leave behind might feel.

Mallory didn’t let CF stop her. Her love of nature and how healed her caused her to want to make a difference in the environment. She attended college and did studies about saving our universe.

The Bad

Risk of Opioid Addiction

Chest pain is a real issue for the Cystic Fibrosis patient. Even the treatments themselves are rather difficult. I have watched my cousin apply treatments on his son. Beating and vibrating the chest to loosen the mucus. But I’m sure the real pain comes with the infections and pneumonia. Mallory wrote one time that she never thought she would love the feeling of being on opioids.

I never thought I was at risk before. But now I realize it can happen to anyone and I need to be careful and I’m happy the doctors don’t want to send me home with oxy. They say if I have pain that severe, I should come to the ER. It’s a valid point.

Salt in My Soul: An Unfinished Life by Mallory Smith, page 142,

Scheduling at Home Treatments

Often Mallary would need to have nurses come to the house to give her treatments or change her PICC line. Scheduling these in a timely matter sometimes became a challenge. The nurse would not have the right supplies and the pharmacy would want to supply them (you know insurance issues we all have). But in her case,

Managing Medications

As with many, chronic illnesses, one medication doesn’t continue working all through your life. Medications constantly need tweaking or changed completely.

During her college years, Mallory participated in a drug trial. She never knew if she took the real drug or the placebo but one thing she knew, she felt much better when she was on it. But then, an infection caused her to be removed from the trial. She begged her doctors to allow her to stay on the drug but it was not to be.

Ugly

Cystic Fibrosis Does a Lot of Taking

Mallory missed a lot of classes and would often head to the hospital right in the middle of a project or a great stream of athletic accomplishments. This could be very frustrating. The constant changes in life, due to hospitalization, found Mallory convincing professors and coaches that she needed more leniency than the typical student.

..It’s hard to look forward when we must always be looking at the ground beneath us; we’re more lurching than walking, stumbling to stay upright.

..

Being frustrated and angry that something was taken from you hurts creativity, the very same creativity that could help you reinvent your possibilities and achieve your ends. understanding this trap is important-knowledge is power.

So yes, CF does do a lot of taking. It’s a complex, unpredictable, irreversible, progressive, painful, suffocating, choking weed of a disease and it’s okay to have it.

Salt in My Soul: An Unfinished Life by Mallory Smith, page xii

Losing Friends

Mallory shared how she became friends with other CF patients. It was good on one side that they could relate to one another’s issues and encourage each other. They had a whole second family within the health community. But it was also painful to watch her friends die. Most of us don’t have that trauma in our twenties.

My Final Thoughts

It’s been a long, long time since I have read about someone’s life who did not know Jesus Christ as their Savior. While Mallory had a beautiful spirit and a zest for life, she did not believe in the existence of God. To me, this was the core thing missing in her life. Her grandfather, apparently Catholic, discussed the existence of God and faith but Mallory chose her own path. This makes me sad because while she felt free here on earth, I must wonder if she is free now.

On Atheism

Typically, an atheist denies the existence of God. Whether they admit it or not they feel anger toward God for allowing bad things to happen or that they feel God restricts them from their own choices.

According to the Bible and my own faith, God is a God of love. So much so that He does allow us to make our own choices. The problem with free will is that our choices not only affect our own lives but others as well. Therefore, our decisions create pain in the lives of others and vice versa.

The good part is that God warns us of the consequences of our sin and He gives us second, third, and more chances to make things right with Him. But our choice stands.

In the end, He will be a just God. If you chose to live without Him in this life He will allow you to live without Him in the next.

Need Some Convincing?

I pray that whoever reads my words have made the right choice and if not that they will study it further. I suggest reading some of C.S. Lewis’ books. His autobiography, Surprised by Joy, would be a good place to start.

Lewis called himself a reluctant convert to Christianity. Meaning that he fought against converting until there was just no denying that God existed and had a plan for his life. Alister McGrath wrote a wonderful book set up like a conversation with C.S. Lewis. McGrath, also an atheist, converted to Christianity after attending college to learn and prove the non-existence of God. Along with other books on Lewis, he wrote If I Had Lunch with C.S. Lewis. I think you would enjoy this read.

May God Bless You Richly,

Mandy Farmer
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MY REVIEW OF THE ABOVE MENTIONED BOOK, If I Had Lunch With C.S. Lewis, CAN BE FOUND HERE.




Cancer What's Lacking

Cancer: What Can a Friend Do?

I lack the words to tell you the effect this weekend has had on me. I went to visit my dear friend, Debra at the nursing home. She is fighting Stage 4 Brain Cancer. Besides the chemotherapy and some kind of radiation cap that she had to wear all the time, Debra has had two brain surgeries to try to stop the swelling and the growth of cancer. The doctors give her less than six months to live.

I entered the nursing home at the far end of the facility. It was a long walk down to Debra’s room but it gave me a chance to see the whole facility. It all looked nice. I was comforted to see that she was in a clean facility. There were seating areas everywhere and visiting rooms and dining areas. There were wonderful helpful workers all along the way. My hat is off to the nursing staff that works with these precious people suffering from such debilitating diseases. I am thankful for every one of them.

I could give you a discourse of the next two hours but for my friend’s sake, I’ll just share a few things I have found lacking as I go through this trial with my friend. I’m just a bystander in this matter. Although, being a pastor’s wife, I have gone alongside many time.

The Greatest Need is Support For the Caregivers

My husband and I found that what is really lacking is support for the caregiver. Awareness is rising of late but we really need to become more aware of people with chronic illness, cancer or not. I would like to see churches create a team of people that make sure our sick do not fall through the cracks. Sadly, the sick become “Out of Sight: Out of Mind”. I recently read this article about How Can the Church Better Serve Chronically Ill by Shona Smith. Shona had some wonderful advice for churches. Even the sick could take this information and share it with their chur leaders.

The Caregiver is Lost and Alone

We have found that outside of caring for their loved one, they are also holding down a job, trying to keep the house/family together, dealing with financial issues, and they often are completely ignoring their own health. I recently read Sarah Beckman’s new book Hope for the Hard Places (my review here) which gives excellent step by step advice for when trouble comes our way. Many of us would do ourselves a favor to read this book and prepare our own families for the inevitable Hard Place.

My friend Anita Ojeda has experienced caregiving for her husband who had cancer and survived. There are many things she learned along the way and after the fact. She is now trying to encourage caregivers to take care of themselves. You will find her website, Blessed: But Stressed, very helpful. There is also a facebook page, Self-care for Caregivers.

What is Lacking for Cancer Patients

  • Core friends that stick around. We’re all guilty of this. The first month we do whatever we can for the patient and family. But somehow we tend to fall back into our routine of life and completely forget about our friends. Let’s admit it, I am guilty. You may be guilty as well. We need to be calling or dropping by frequently, doing simple household jobs, cooking a meal, etc. I have a downloadable list of ideas to get started on. The aforementioned author, Sarah Beckman has another book called, Alongside: A Practical Guide for Loving Your Neighbor in their Time of Trial. I haven’t read this one yet. But possibly, we all could learn a few things from her book.
  • Prayer. Real true “I see it and feel it” prayer. Facebook is a place to start where you can tell them you are thinking of them. But we need to visit them and pray over them. Call them and pray with them over the phone. I had a friend once that rose early every morning before work and walked around a friend’s home praying for them. Every day for months until her death. Now THAT is visible prayer.
  • Encouragement through cards, flowers. Debra’s room was not only dim but void of cards. Again, I’m guilty as I have not sent her one card. 🙁 There was one small flower arrangement and that is it. (live flowers might not be good, as some patients cannot handle the smells.) I would like to get a card shower going and have everyone I know sent her a card. If you want to get involved send me a note through our “contact us”. I’ll send you an address.

Other Great Things Lacking

  • Providing other needs. If you visit on a regular basis, take notice of needs like is she cold? Does she need a blanket? Drinks and snacks so they don’t need to buy them? Don’t go empty-handed when you visit. grab a bag or basket and place a few ready to eat items in it. Maybe a book to read or puzzle books. You can get many items like this at a dollar store. Speaking of blankets, I know of two churches that make quilts to send to cancer patients and others. I received one when I first was hit with chronic pain. Not only does it keep me warm, but it also encourages and reminds me that someone cares.
  • Lastly, and importantly, an illness like cancer is terribly expensive. Even with great insurance, the bills begin to rise beyond what a person can fathom. And just when you think you have a way to figure it out, there is another surgery or issue that arises. In Debra’s case, they are still trying to get hospice care or a way for someone to sit with her and tend to her needs. This comes with a $250/day copay. Think of it, where would you be if this were you?
caregiversprayer
Photo Credit: Rena Raines Monholland @Caregivers Prayer Page

Here’s my challenge

I imagine we all know of someone who is struggling with a serious illness. Donate to their cause, even if it is just $10. Maybe you can add it to your monthly budget. Just 10 bucks. Give up a cappuccino. You will brighten their day and make a difference in their lives. Imagine if everyone would give just $10. The bills would be taken care of quickly. Find their GoFundMe page and donate today.

Don’t Forget The Least of These

Cancer and Chronic Illness Patients are Out of Sight Out of Mind. Don't Forget them. Click To Tweet

Thanks

Mandy Farmer

If you don’t know of anyone to donate to, here is the link to my dear friends, Paul and Debra’s GoFundme.

What a friend to do
photo credit: Truthseeker08 @ pixabay modified by Mandy

How to Find Hope in the Hard Places

hard places book
image provided for Sarah Beckman

I was given a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. I am not being paid to write this or being told what to say.

There’s nothing like reading a book that you wish you had earlier but then realizing the Lord directed you to survive in the very way the author has suggested. That’s what I found in Sarah Beckman’s book, Hope for the Hard Places. That is exactly what happened to me.

Our family has had our share of hard places: chronic pain, job loss, bankruptcy, grief, You name it. Sarah offers some definite steps in how to handle a crisis. And everyone, one time or another, will need this guide.

If you are in a hard place, this book is for you. It’s a beautiful guide to making it through the worst of times whether it is from grief or sickness or any other trial. If you need encouragement, go ahead and read the last chapter.
Then start from the beginning and read IT through. This book is filled with practical advice along with the spiritual. Trust me you will be glad you picked this one up.

Everyone will need this guidebook sooner or later. Buy it today, get bonuses. #hopeforthehardplaces #pastors #grief #cancer #chronicillness Click To Tweet

Sarah will tell you how to place the right people around you and what you need to have at your access. She will offer you great ways to get what you most desperately need in your own time of crisis. This book will help you deal with words that hurt and friends that disappear. Sarah will also help you look inward to change impossible expectations and how to give yourself grace when you fail to rise to your own expectations for yourself.

hard times without missteps

Most importantly, she talks about your own soul-care for this, to me, is the most important thing you can do in a crisis because as the scriptures say,  “For what profits a man if he gains the whole world but loses his own soul” (Matthew 16:26) I’ll let you get the whole explanation by reading the book yourself but here are the steps in a nutshell.

5 Steps of Soul-care during a Crisis

  • Listen to God – Ask “Why me?” but also “What now?”
  • Be Honest with Trusted Friends – tell them what you need
  • Trust God without any Expectations – He sees you & knows what you need
  • Choose Joy – A positive outlook makes all the difference
  • Spend Regular time in God’s Word – Cindy Barnes recently wrote this about regular time with God here on the blog.

Get bonus products by ordering today ~ LAUNCH DAY, March 5th

Hope for the Hard Places

There is so, so much more in this wonderful guide for the hard places. Please go get your own copy to read and keep on your shelf. Trust me. You or someone near you will need it soon.

The Perfect Guide for When you are in Hard Places. #grief #cancer #chronic illness Click To Tweet

And Hold on to Jesus, He’s got this.

Mandy Farmer

P.S. Free Resource – How Can I Help

I wrote about how How you can Help Others when they are in crisis. There is a free resource there.


You may also like Sarah’s book, Alongside which guides you to come alongside a friend who is in crisis.


Mayo Clinic – How Healthcare Should Be Done

HEALTHCARE UPDATE 2021: Mayo Clinic ranked No. 1 hospital in the nation by U.S. News & World Report – Mayo Clinic News Network

Inside the Doors of Mayo Clinic

As soon as we entered through the doors at Mayo Clinic, we felt peace and hope. We had never experienced anything like the atmosphere and the love and care we felt when we arrived.

When we turned the car onto the campus we felt peace. We saw beautiful landscaping with trees and flowers and water fountains as we drove onto the campus. We drove right up to the building we needed to check into.

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