Love, Weekend Wonder

The True Story of a Common Grackle

Weekend Wonder

My daughter and I were spending the afternoon together, a little bit of me time and a little bit of her time. Our day included coffee and doughnut treats, antique shops and thrift stores, and volunteering together at the cat rescue (this one in particular for my little animal lover’s soul).

We were just walking back to the car when we both saw the little black bird in the median. It was pecking at a wrapper on the ground next to my car door.

“Mom, is the bird trying to open that?”

I unlocked the car and we walked closer. The little black bird hopped back a bit to wait for us to go about our day so he could go about trying to open the little cellophane wrapper on the ground. I looked down and saw it was fortune cookie.

“Mom, we should help! Can we open it for him?”

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I bent down and picked up the fortune cookie, opened the little bag, crushed up the cookie and spread it on the ground for our new little friend. And then I saw the thin slip of paper lying there. Of course, it’s a fortune cookie. I reached down to read the little bird’s fortune,

“God looks after you in a special way.”

Amazing isn’t it?

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I’m writing a bird book and this little fortune is a gift from God. A gift to me and my beautiful girl. One I just had to share!

On the back of the book I’m writing I’ve included a verse;

Look at the birds of the air. They don’t plant or harvest or store food in barns. But your heavenly father feeds the birds. And you know that you are worth much more than birds.  ~Matthew 6:26

Whenever I read this verse it reminds me of my Grandma Annie in Michigan. She has always cared for the birds around her home. When I was young and would come for a visit, she would fill up the bird feeders with seed and the bird bath with fresh water. We would go inside and watch from her dining room window.

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After I was married I visited her with my own children. She drove her great-grandson down to the market with her to get more seed for the feeders and even some corn cobs for the squirrels. We filled the feeders together and watched the colorful birds enjoy their meal.

God cares for the birds by bringing the worms up from the ground after a rain, or through a grandma who puts out fresh seeds and water, even in a winter-frozen Michigan backyard, or through the heart of a little girl who notices a common grackle trying open the wrapper of a fortune cookie.

Yes, God looks after the birds in a special way. Even little birds who are called common.

Always remember, God cares for you even more than that!

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An Unfinished Story, God, Inspiration, Love

The Gift of a Dream

This is a story about my brother David. But really it’s my story. It’s a deeply personal account of faith and praying for miracles and trusting God regardless of the outcome. God gave me the gift of His love and presence in a dream. I’ve pondered this for some time and although I don’t completely understand it myself, I feel compelled to share this story with you. I want to share the goodness and gentleness of the Lord with you through this story. It’s a bit longer than I usually post, so you may want to get a nice warm cup of tea or coffee to enjoy while you read. This is my gift… Jesus2 DavidL I don’t remember hanging out with my big brother David growing up. I have memories of his T-ball trophy in his room and his team photograph, but I don’t know if I ever went to one of his games. I remember he had a lot of matchbox cars and I always loved the big red Coca Cola truck. Did he let me play with it or did I sneak in his room and play with it when he went to school? My mom says we used to fight a lot and I would get him in trouble, but I don’t remember any of that either. I don’t remember his laugh or playing together or fighting together. I do remember the day of his car accident though. I was a little four-year-old playing in my baby sister’s crib. I think I had climbed right in with her. A neighbor came in the room and said, “Your brother had an accident and we need to pray.” I don’t remember any other details that followed. Did she say car accident? Did I understand the seriousness? I don’t think I could have at that age. I just prayed. Time was marked for me and my family that morning. Somewhere in the time span which traveled the day my neighbor asked me to pray for my brother and the in-between days of growing up I learned a few details from parents of what happened that morning.  David was crossing the street to his school bus stop and was hit by a car. He suffered a severe head injury. I’ve learned now there is a new name for this, TBI, Traumatic Brain Injury. We lived in Germany at the time of my brother’s accident. My dad was in the Air Force and stationed there. I went to a German pre-school, but never learned German because the teachers would speak to me in English. David was in a coma for some time, but when he stabilized enough my dad was re-assigned to the U.S. We moved from Germany to Biloxi, Mississippi. David spent many weeks at Children’s Hospital in New Orleans. My mom and dad, along with me and my baby sister, would drive back and forth from Biloxi to New Orleans to visit David during hospital visiting hours. He eventually came home with us. My mom took on taking care of him right from the beginning. His injury left him paralyzed, unable to eat, talk, or walk. Davey could understand us though and learned to blink to communicate a simple yes or no. And always to my amazement David could still smile and laugh. We prayed as family constantly. Somewhere in the time before my brother’s accident, to his little nine-year-old body clinging to life in the hospital, God was already at work. He was there with my parents through visions and prayers. I didn’t know much about any of this as a child. But I did believe with my parents God could heal David. I believed he would. Through the years that followed my brother’s accident my family faithfully spent time in church, David right there in his wheelchair with us. I loved my Davey. I talked with him every day and played dolls with my sister on his wheelchair. And I prayed everyday God would heal him, this prayer was also always my secret birthday wish when blowing out birthday candles Sunday school would bring something completely different from wishes and prayers. I would get lost in the wonder of Sunday school lessons. The ones that made me the happiest and upset me the most were the lessons where Jesus would heal the sick people. I always imagined what it would be like if He was healing my brother instead of those people. The woman with the issue of blood who touched his garment; Jesus, if only you were here now, I would run through the crowd and touch your robe for my brother. Or what about the friends who lowered their crippled friend through the roof to Jesus? I knew I could find someone to carry David with me and lower him through that roof so Jesus could heal him and say, “Pick up your mat and walk…” I was jealous of all those sick people who had Jesus right by their side. It was wonderful and horrible. Wonderful to know a mighty God who could heal the sick, horrible because Jesus was no longer here for my brother David. I couldn’t run through crowds to find him and touch him or talk to him or ask him to come to my house. Now I’m older, no longer letting my imagination run wild in Sunday School. But I can tell you, I still get a little tense when I hear a sermon about healing.

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Easter 1987

Recently my mother in law gave me a book to read about heaven. This story was about a father and his son who suffered a horrific car accident. His little boy, by all logic, should have died. The little boy’s story is about God, angels, and heaven. His dad’s story is of prayers, angels, and miracles. The book was hard to read as I thought of David and his accident. My mind wandered in-between what ifs and hope. I played back through the years of prayer and wondered more about the divine ways of God. (Spoiler Alert) Yet, when I got to the end of the book, the final conclusion, words I was too familiar with hit me in the gut. These unanswered prayer words, “…whether he is healed here on earth or one day in heaven.” Hope and wonder left. I read those words and wanted to throw the book. Our family too had experienced God’s divine presence in the midst of my brother’s injuries. As a little girl I prayed for my brother’s healing expectantly. My mom had shared a vision she had once of an angel and another of a brain being healed. I think there may have been another story of a dead plant which bloomed again, but I’m not sure about the details. I thought for sure I would witness David miraculously get up out of his wheelchair one day. Somewhere though, over the course of thirty years, the expectancy of healing turned to those same words uttered, “Maybe God meant David would be whole again in heaven.” Uncertainty over God’s will. Maybe God meant… I would have stood up and thrown the book in the pool right then, had it not been my mother in law’s library book. Couldn’t God just heal David now? Why a lifetime of suffering? A few months later, March 17, 2012 I was with my family visiting my in-laws again. My mother in law handed me another book to read. One look at the cover and I told her, “No thank you!”  Another book about a little boy who experiences heaven and comes back to talk about it. I told her I wasn’t interested, I wouldn’t read it, I already believed in heaven. I didn’t need to read some best seller to tell me Heaven was real. I told her how I wanted to take the other book she’d given me and chuck it the pool. Sorry Mom! Despite my earlier protests, when everyone was out of the room, I picked it up and read the back cover. What struck me was the little boy’s encounter with Jesus. I decided to find just that chapter and began to read. As I began to read I don’t think I found the little boy’s description of heaven hard to believe. I found it reassuring. But I found my self connected to his dad’s questions, and his dad’s thoughts– thinking he was alone when he was crying out to God in anger over his son being in the hospital. The little boy’s father shared something from 2 Peter 3:8,9

But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: To the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years is as one day. The Lord is not slow in doing what he promised– the way some people understand slowness.

Can it be God? When I feel like saying, How long, O Lord, must I wait? How long, O Lord, for David to suffer? Is it really this simple for you God? Thirty years? One day is as a thousand years and a thousand years is as one day? What am I really missing this side of heaven? What don’t I understand in light of eternity? Can I really say, this is a light and momentary trouble?

For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. 2 Corinthians 4:17,18

We left my in-law’s house late to head home. That night I had a dream. I dreamt about me and David. We were little kids and we were playing together. In my dream I knew we were near a castle and we were running through grass. He was ahead of me and I was chasing after him. I had a little cane with plaques on it and he had a cane too. His was bigger than mine and had more plaques on it. I had never had a dream of my brother and I before. When I woke up I was thinking of this dream, but there was also a word, Stute-Guard. This is how the word sounded to me. It’s hard to describe, but I kept going over and over it. I didn’t understand it, but I thought it was German. I decided to see if I could look up this word online. I was excited and nervous. I hoped the word might mean healing or miracle in German. I was almost afraid to look it up. I felt completely ridiculous because I don’t even know German and wasn’t even sure if it was a real word or a nonsensical dream word. I found a translator app online, German to English, and I started to type in my word. A word I wasn’t even sure was real, let alone how to spell correctly. As I started to type, the word came up, Stuttgart. I clicked on  the translate button… “Stuttgart, city in southwestern Germany, capital of the state of Baden-Wuettemberg”.  I was shocked and even more intrigued. I don’t know anything about the places or geography of Germany. We had left soon after my fourth birthday. I started to look up more information. I read about Stuttgart on Wikipedia and found this: “A number of significant castles stand in Stuttgart’s suburbs and beyond as reminders of the city’s royal past.” Wow Lord! My dream was more than nonsense. The word you gave me was real. I couldn’t help but smile as I thought of me and David running around together somewhere near a castle. The word didn’t mean healing or miracle, but I knew the dream was a gift. The Lord sees my heart and he knows. He holds David in his hands and he cares for him in a way I can’t comprehend. I waited till night to call my mom and talk to her about the dream. I was nervous, but I wanted to know more. Maybe she knew something about my dream that I didn’t. I asked her about Stuttgart. Had she ever heard of it? “Oh yes. We visited there with Grandma and Grandpa. They had good friends who lived there and we took a trip with them. It was just before David’s accident.” She said it all so matter of fact, which of course I suppose it was, but for me it was like discovering a secret treasure! I was more in awe. There is so much about God I fail to understand. He brings me these treasures in the midst of my anger and tears.

What is man that you take thought of him, and the son of man that you care for him? Psalm 8:4

I called my dad later. He filled me in on more details about our trip. It was May, 1983. My Grandma and Grandpa came to visit us in Germany and we traveled together. We drove through the Black Forrest and stopped along the way at a castle named Hohenzollern, south of Stuttgart. This was a Saturday. Then we drove on to visit my grandparent’s friend in Stuttgart, a history professor. My dad told me David’s accident was the following Wednesday. Dear God, this dream, this gift of a memory with my brother, this was the last time I ran and played together with my brother before he was paralyzed. I was amazed by it all, every little detail, adding to and confirming this dream and gift. After my chat with my dad I received an e-mail from my Grandma Betty. She was on that trip to Stuttgart. She said she had talked to my dad and he had mentioned I was sad about David’s accident. I didn’t have time right then to e-mail her back with the details of my dream. I wrote back and told her, I had always been sad over my brother, but I was talking to dad because I had a dream and I was curious. She sent back a reply. I was in awe once again!

“Ah, Laura, I do love you so much…One thing I remember about that trip was when we went to a beautiful garden and you and David really upset me. I couldn’t do anything about it because it was up to your Mom and Dad. I just remember you and David racing through the gardens, full of joy, but with no regard for anyone else, dodging, running into the other’s paths, etc.”

More confirmation of images from my dream. And imagine this very little thing, me chasing my brother around, running after him, this one last gift for my brother and I before his accident. One last chance to run free, legs pumping hard for a boundless and reckless boy, before those legs would be stopped. A gift frozen in time. A memory given to me thirty years later. What if my Grandma had spoken up all those years ago and stopped us from running together? Funny how she thought about it, but decided not to. Strange for her to share those thoughts with me thirty years later. I think of this now when I see my two running reckless. I talked with my dad again more about David and his accident. He told me more details of our trip and the time leading up to David’s injury. We talked about God and faith and trust. He asked me if mom had told me about what David had said to her before the accident. No, she hadn’t. This is what he shared with me- My eight year old brother came to her and said he had a dream. He said Jesus came to him and told him something was going to happen to him, but he would be okay because Jesus would be with him. Jesus would be with him. All these years I’ve longed to find Jesus. To have him near like the disciples did. To walk and talk with him and run frantic to find him and ask him to heal a paralyzed boy. He was already here. He was here with my brother before the car touched his little body. He’s been here the whole time. Mary Magdalene went looking for Jesus too. She was talking right to him. She was begging him to take her to Jesus. She didn’t even know it was him. “Woman, why are you crying? Who is it you are looking for?” He was already by her side, right there with her! God, please give me the faith to remember you are already here in our midst, even when I can’t see.

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Mom and David 1975
Dad and David 1975
Dad and David 1975
Me 18 months and David 6 years
Me 18 months and David 6 years
Me, My Sis, and David
Me, My Sis, and David
Davey
Davey

These photos are from my Grandma Betty who was with us in Germany. She asked if I’d like to have them. Yes! Please! What a gift!

My mom with me, David, Heidi, and Grandma and Grandpa with their friend in Stuttgart
My mom with me, David, Heidi, and Grandma and Grandpa with their friend in Stuttgart
My Mom with me, Heid, and David in a garden in Stuttgart- David has his cane with the plaques on it
My Mom with me, Heid, and David in a garden in Stuttgart -David has his cane with the plaques on it
Saying goodbye to Grandma and Grandpa at the train station. I think days before his accident.
Saying goodbye to Grandma and Grandpa at the train station. I think just days before David’s accident.
All grown up, playing infront of a castle again.
All grown up, playing in front of a castle again
David
My brother Davey
God, Inspiration, Love, Photography

The Thing About Photography and Beauty

FLEVGLDS

I recently had an assignment to photograph twenty one women. Spending time preparing the images for the client filled my heart with joy. I saw these women on my screen and saw beauty in each of their faces.

But I heard something familiar when I photographed the women, “I hate how I look, I never look good in photographs, I hate having my picture taken..”

Guilty.

I’ve said these same words before. I’ve felt those things before.

Funny how It made me sad to hear it from others though.

And then I attended a BBQ where I had a conversation with a missionary Pastor. He was telling me about God and Grace and God’s love for us. He was sharing his own story about discovering God’s grace. He said sometimes there’s this tendancey to look at ourselves and feel frustrated. We need to work harder, or be better, or be at a certain place in our lives.

I was thinking about his words and and myself and the areas I struggle with. And I knew I felt exactly that way about myself, not where I should be. I asked him, “What if you don’t see yourself as good enough?”

He simply said sometimes we believe the lies we tell ourselves. We live believing those lies instead of what God’s word tells us about ourselves. Who does God say we are?

We are God’s workmanship.

I felt tears threatening the corners of my eyes.

This is one of my favorite Bible verses! I even included it in my book, I See the Colors God Made, on the last page with the little photo frame where a parent can include a photo of their own child. Why wouldn’t I dare to put myself there with that verse?

For we are God’s masterpiece

His work of art

His poem

If we are working towards grace, trying to do more, or thinking we aren’t good enough, then we aren’t believing what God’s word tells us is true. We are believing a lie and the lie accuses us and keeps us quiet. We don’t see beauty. We see flaws.

Guilty again,

but set free by God’s grace!

God already loves us. He isn’t waiting for us to measure up to standards we’ve placed upon ourselves.

This is how to see beauty. We already are beautiful in His sight.

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It struck me that when I worked in a studio photographing products, the products didn’t talk back on set or complain about their creator.

When I’m out in nature with my camera and in awe of the beauty around me, nature doesn’t complain about its Creator.

The Blue Jay doesn’t say, “I wish I was red like the cardinal.”

The Everglades don’t say, “I wish I had mountain peaks like the Rockies.”

God calls us His masterpiece and we talk back. I talk back.

I have a list for myself. Things I’d like to change.

I believe I’m not as good as…, I’m too…, I’ll never be like…

If I am in awe of the beauty of the world God has made, how can I say, “All this you’ve created is beautiful, but myself, I’m no good at all”?

If I look at myself as not good enough, in major need of something better, than how can I love others as Jesus teaches? If I don’t believe it’s true for me than it becomes hard to see others as God’s beautiful masterpiece.

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For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so that we can do the good things he planned for us long ago. (Ephesians 2:10 NLT)

me

 

I pray I open my eyes to see myself the way God does.

I pray I stop in my tracks when I start to compare myself to others.

I pray I see the beauty in myself and others more often.

I pray I stop believing I’m not good enough and get to work doing the good things God planned long ago.

Is it hard to see yourself as a beautiful masterpiece? What is it God has called you to do? 

 

 

 

 

 

Love

Lovely Things

A Few of My Favorite Things For Valentine’s Day

Pink rose

Pretty pink flowers

treats

Sweets with my sweets! Pretzels, Hershey’s Hugs, and M&Ms. Go make some!

These have become a Valentine’s Day Tradition with a capital “T”! My little girl loves this day of celebrating love and it wouldn’t be the same to her if we didn’t include making these treats for her teachers.

love books

I love, love, love, picture books!

What’s a better Valentine’s Day gift to give than a picture book about love? A picture book you can mail to your little loves! I found these cute books at Barnes and Noble and couldn’t resist. My kids are getting bigger, but I don’t think you can ever be too sappy when it comes to saying ‘I Love You’.

book inside

book back

Sending Love

Speaking of love for books, how cute are these cards from Target? We’ll be sending a little love to our librarians today too!

love librarians

    ~12 Years with this amazing Man~

Us

There are no words for this love story of Danny and Annie from StoryCorps. Get some tissues and imagine a love so sweet.

Most of all I’m thankful for this Incredible Love!

This is love: not that we loved God,

but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. 1 John 4:10

The cross