I am Thursday’s child on Reflections Along the Way, a devotional page on Facebook. I have the supreme enjoyment of writing for the Thursday slot on that page.Each writer was asked to post a short bio and their devotional for the day and following is my contribution this week.Thursday’s child, according to the old poem, has far to go, and I have travelled quite a way from the city of my birth, Richmond Virginia. The middle child of five, I found escape from the summer heat in the local bookmobile that parked at the end of our street each week. There I was introduced to characters that drew me in like a secret passageway to other worlds. I’d check out books and then hide away under the ballooning Forsythia bush in the corner of our yard with a quilt pulled from my bed. Escape was essential, as our father was greatly troubled by his best friend, alcohol. The two of them managed to keep our home in turmoil and it was always a relief when our father went away on a guard weekend.
I stopped running from God one Sunday in Mobile Alabama when I was 20. I was living away from home working on my clinical for college. My student loan check had been stolen from my mailbox and I was down to twenty-five cents and a quarter tank of gas. I flipped open my Bible and it fell to Matthew 6:25 “For this reason I say to you, do not be worried about your life, as to what you will eat or what you will drink…”
It was the first time I knew God had spoken specifically to me and I was overwhelmed by His love. He has been with me for many years now, and as my former pastor used to ask me, “Has He failed you yet?” and I can still answer no, He has never failed me.
Lately I have been writing about an exercise to ground you in tense emotional circumstances and I think it would even work in catastrophic events. It’s very simple, you can remember it by threes…
It’s called LIT-M, and is an idea re-worked. Living In The Moment.
When you are in a tense emotional situation you ask yourself:
1.First Question: Exactly where am I right this minute? (Geographically, time wise, etc)
1.First motion: Look down at your feet.
1. First response:(example, I’m in my kitchen)
This focuses you on the immediate. You are not allowed to worry about where you just came from or where you are headed, you are only allowed to focus on your current situation.
2.Second Question: Ask yourself, “What does God have to say about where I am, emotionally, etc.” If you have your Bible or an App, search some scriptures pertinent to your emotional situation. Ask God.
2.Second Motion: Look up, at the ceiling if you are inside, at the sky if you are outside.
2. Pray for a response, pray for illumination through the scriptures.
3. Third Question: “God, what do you want me to do in this moment and this circumstance?”
3.Third Motion: Look around you.
3.Third Response, you again pray, search the scriptures and listen for God’s leading.
You are not allowed to wallow in the past, or second guess yourself. You are not allowed to fret about the future, not even the next moment, it is all about living and breathing exactly in that moment, because God is there with you.
The motions are down, up, and around.
Even the darkness is not dark to You, And the night is as bright as the day. Darkness and light are alike to You.Psalm 139:12
I am posting this today to stand with my fellow police wives. Most of us give up Christmas mornings so our husbands can be on their patrols. Did you know that? It’s OK, most people go about their holidays and don’t think about it. But we do. We get our children in their pajamas Christmas Eve and say a prayer that some kind guy on our husband’s shift will bow out of his day off and let our children’s daddy come home so he can see them open their presents. Most Christmases my husband stood by in full uniform, radio squawking, gun belt creaking, watching our little girls tear into packages and have the thirty minutes of his break that we could with him. Then he was off, to take care of someone’s domestic problems, or work a wreck, or a business break-in, or I always prayed not, a shooting.We don’t want your sympathy. We like it that we are married to super-heroes. That’s what drew us to them in the first place. What we do want is for you to let us live our lives. Stop the ambushes and executions. Our husbands give the same protection to someone who could turn around thirty minutes later and shoot them. That’s just the way they are. So please stop with all the “bad cop” talk. Movie portrayals of crooked cops make great drama, but have little truth.Who wants to go see a movie about a great guy who is there when your dad draws his last breath? Where is the drama in a cop who administers CPR to an already cold little body, just so the parents can be assured that every means was tried?(My husband did that, by the way.) If you want to really see what police do every day, sign up for a ride-along. Most cities have them. For the price of a signature waiver you get a front row seat to what reality is like. Then say a prayer for the police officer you are riding with. His name could be in the paper one day as another casualty of the job, and he knows it, and he goes out every day and does his job anyway. Why? Because he believes in the promise that is on the side of his patrol car.
We picked Brandy out from a litter of squirming black Lab pups, battling over a dented metal pan of dog food. Right away she was different from the others. Instead of fighting over kibble, she wandered to the enclosure to see my husband, and I knew she was the one for us. Lyrics from the song “Brandy” went through my mind.
When my girls were young my husband ( a police officer) was involved in a very serious wreck. He received neck injuries which required surgery, and was home recovering. During that time we were receiving workman’s comp payments, thank goodness, which made up for his loss of a paycheck. The comp payments arrived at a different time than our normal paycheck which was why, at Christmas, I found we would not have presents for the girls until after the holiday. I would be able to stuff stockings for them and we had a very tight budget for groceries, but still, I knew we would be all right. I knew many families would have no Christmas at all that year, and our girls would just be a little late in getting their presents.
That is why, when a dear friend from church called and asked “Do you have Christmas for the girls?” I didn’t hesitate to say yes. In my mind, God would provide the gifts after the holidays.
My friend seemed unconvinced, but she expressed her affection for our family and said she was praying for my husband’s healing and hung up the phone.
Later that week I was grocery shopping with my three little ones. I had a tight budget, but like I said, we would make it. My oldest daughter, age 8, eyes glittered when she saw a jar of peanut butter and jelly swirled together. I had to admit it was very pretty. “Mom, can I have this?” She handed me the jar. I shook my head. “Honey, we already have a jar of peanut butter and a jar of jelly at home.” My budget would not allow buying unnecessary items. “Mom, it’s so pretty!, Please?” My heart hurt to say no a second time, but it just wasn’t in my budget.
A few days later my phone rang again. It was the church friend. “Are you sure you have Christmas for the girls?” I hesitated this time. I didn’t want to lie, but I knew we would have the money after Christmas, God would take care of us, and I would get them stockings. “Yes, we’re fine.”
My friend blew out an exasperated sigh. “Either you’re not telling me the truth or I am missing God.” My heart sank. “What?”
“Either you’re not telling the truth or I am missing what God is saying. Every time I pray for your family God tells me you don’t have Christmas presents for your daughters.”
I was silent for a moment. Then I explained the time frame to her.
“I knew it!” She said. “I knew I was hearing correctly. Well, I have some gifts that I bought my nieces that they don’t need. I want you to come by my house and pick them up.”
“I said come by my house and pick them up. I have them in the living room.”
Now, I knew she had gone out and bought gifts for my daughters, as there were three piles of gifts. Also, when I arrived at her house she showed me into the kitchen and there were three grocery bags full of food. I was so humbled by her actions, and so humbled that God thought enough about my family that He would trouble this woman until she obeyed.
When I arrived home with the gifts and the groceries, my oldest daughter was helping me empty the bags. She handed each item up to me from the bag and her hand stopped in mid-air.
In her hand was a jar of swirly peanut butter and jelly. I caught my breath.
“I prayed and asked God for it!” My daughter exclaimed.
In honor of that dear friend’s faithfulness, our family is sponsoring a wounded warrior family for Christmas this year. My daughters, now grown and with babies of their own, will buy gifts for the children of this family and my husband and I will provide a gift card for their meal.
The part that touched my heart the most? God cared enough about a little girls prayer to give her swirly peanut butter and jelly for Christmas!
Traveler brings attention to Post Traumatic Stress Disorder
Reba J. Hoffman is making her way across the country to help women make a positive change in their lives.
Reba J. Hoffman doesn’t know the route her bicycle is taking her as she heads to the West Coast.
The life coach does know there is a purpose behind the pedaling.
Huffman is traveling the Road to Freedom as part of her “Pedaling with Purpose” ride to help those who suffer Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Her tour took her to Corinth on Friday night to stay with friend Pat Trainum.
“I had no intention of coming to Corinth,” she’s said of her planned trip which started July 13 in Greenville, S.C. “The Lord just diverted my path.”
Loaded with 50 pounds of gear on a custom-built bicycle, the 56- year-old searches for those crying out for help of a violent attack.
“My main objective to is to talk to people,” said the founder and
president of Magellan Life Coaching. “I don’t know where I will be from day-to-day, but every single day I have come across someone I was meant to talk with.”
A person such as a woman who hadn’t been out of her house in 17 years or a former abusive husband who was brought to tears with remorse after speaking with Hoffman.
“Traveling on a bicycle is an icebreaker,” she said. “People naturally start talking and asking questions when someone comes to town on a bike … I haven’t met one person who isn’t receptive to what I have to say.”
When it comes to helping victims of violent assaults, Hoffman leans on her own experience. On November 5, 1984, she was abducted in broad daylight by a drug-crazed criminal who had been out of jail less than 24 hours. Hoffman was beaten, raped and left for dead in a remote area of Florida.
“I know what it’s like and can relate to those women who are suffering in silence,” said the life coach. “Women who have been through this feel they were deserving of this horrible thing.”
Hoffman is out to help those suffering from PTSD to face their fear and find the courage to seek help.
“I want them to stop looking down and to look up because they have done nothing wrong,” said the PhD in clinical counseling. “Each of them are a value of worth.”
Hoffman was able to overcome her pain and anxiety through the help of others.
“I was very fortunate to have a great medical and mental health team,” said the Sanford, Fla. resident. “They really worked hard to get me over it.”
According to Hoffman, it takes a good team to move past the violent situation.
“There comes a time when you have to face the fear,” she said. “When I first went out after the attack, I was never comfortable … it’s not as simple as just get over it. Women need someone to talk with because it they don’t, it keeps it inside and they feel more ashamed.”
As she pedals her way across the country, the author of “Dare to Dream” and “Facing Fear and Finding Freedom” has ways for others to get involved with the cause. Individuals can help by:
• Following her blog and invite others to do the same.
“They can spread it on social media,” she noted.
• Purchase her book, “Facing Fear and Finding Freedom,” available for $2.99 on Amazon.
“Give it as a gift to any woman needing to overcome fear that holds her back from accomplishing her dreams,” said the author.
• Donate via PayPal (email@example.com).
Groups in the area who would like to have Hoffman speak while in the area, can contact Trainum at 662-415- 1149.
New American Standard Bible (NASB)
32 but I have prayed for you, that your faith may not fail; and you, when once you have turned again, strengthen your brothers.”
That was Christ, speaking to Peter. The part of the scripture that I can’t get out of my head is where Christ says, “I have prayed for you, that your faith may not fail…” and “…strengthen your brothers.” For this is what Reba is doing, her faith is strong, and she is strengthening her sisters who have experienced PTSD using the wisdom forged in her life through her own suffering.
Reba sits back, takes a sip of water and continues.
“People are looking for heroes. A hero is anyone that faces the same type of adversity that the average person does and is able to get over it.
“Hello, my name is child of the one true King
I’ve been saved, I’ve been changed, and I have been set free
“Amazing Grace” is the song I sing
Hello, my name is child of the one true King” Words from “Hello My Name Is.” by Matthew West
The main force behind one of the characters in my novel is the power of hope. Hope is an amazing thing, it never disappoints, not in Christ anyway.
Take the words of new believer Kirsten Powers. “I kept trying to not believe but I just couldn’t avoid [accepting Christ]. If I could have avoided it, I would have. There is nothing convenient about it in my life or in the world I live in. It’s not like living in the South where everybody is a Christian. I live in a world where nobody is a believer. But God pursued me.”…
(My thoughts) The part about everyone in the South is a Christian made me laugh out loud, obviously Ms. Powers is still functioning under stereotypical beliefs, but all the same, I love the part where she says she tried not to believe but couldn’t avoid accepting Christ. Yes Kirsten, He is unavoidable, He is merciful and redeeming and tracks us down with a ruthless love! Or, as one of my heroes Rich Mullins words it, “The reckless raging fury that they call the love of God…”
“There’s a wideness in God’s mercy
I cannot find in my own
And He keeps His fire burning
To melt this heart of stone
Keeps me aching with a yearning
Keeps me glad to have been caught
In the reckless raging fury
That they call the love of God.”
May we ever be pursued by Him, may we always give in. Blessings on my friends today. Blessings on you, Kirsten Powers for making the biggest decision of your life, and no, it is not convenient to any of us. We all muddle through, we are all torn by it, sometimes we think we will die. But we emerge as the Velveteen Rabbit did, “real.”
“Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in your joints and very shabby. But these things don’t matter at all, because once you are Real you can’t be ugly, except to people who don’t understand. But once you are Real you can’t become unreal again. It lasts for always.”(Quote from the Velveteen Rabbit by Margery Williams.)
Let’s become real.
It’s been said by so many that it’s cliche’. I write because I can’t not write. When circumstances prevent me from writing I literally feel like words are bottled up inside me, that I could explode any minute. In a good way of course!
One of my most poignant memories was the day my best friend Patty Ferguson went off to first grade and left me behind. I was a year younger than Patty and boy did I resent being left home with the “babies.” I sat down in the kitchen floor, by that old nicked bookcase that held our family’s books. I pulled down the big red Webster’s dictionary, opened it to a random page and ran my fingers across the black symbols, determined I would teach myself to read.
I strained my eyes but to no avail. No magic words jumped into my brain. That would have to wait a year, for my first grade teacher to tackle.
Third grade I had my first taste of public speaking in a speech I wrote myself. An impassioned plea to “save the wild horses” got a silver pin for my effort. Alas, years later no wild horses wrote to thank me for their deliverance.
Summers I hid out under the branches of a Forsythia bush at the corner of our house. I pulled an old bedspread under the fragrant yellow blooms, and that space became my personal hideaway to read. Black Beauty, Little Women, those were some of my favorites, but I read anything I could get my hands on.
High School I enjoyed the works of F. Scott Fitzgerald and John Steinbeck, but my writing went by the wayside. It was a casualty of homework and boys.
It wasn’t until the incessant prodding of my husband years later that I took my writing seriously. It had been too many years and I felt that I’d gotten rusty, that the magic was gone.
Imagine my surprise when I was picked to write as a Community Columnist for our local paper! Something happened that year, and the writer bottled up inside me emerged, unfurling my wrinkled wings like some Monarch Butterfly, wrapped too tightly for too long. It was a glorious flight.
And now fiction has become the wind beneath my wings. Each novel I work on changes me, grows me in ways I never anticipated. It’s a flight I never want to end.
And that my friends, is why I write.
Congratulations to Frasier Finalists on My Book Therapy; Amy Drown, Gabrielle Meyer, Connilyn Cossette, Kathleen Anderson and Jeanne Takenaka!