Counting my Blessings, Naming them One by One

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I woke up today with a blessing in my heart! It was the beginning of the year in 1996. My doctor announced that I was going to have a baby, but I was also given the news that I had cervical cancer stage 3. I was given a choice. Do something now or wait till my baby girl was born and have surgery. I chose life, even though I may have lost my own. My church prayed for me. A little after Chelsea was born, I had the surgery. They were able to remove all the cancer…My baby girl turned 22 this year! So, yes I am doing like this song says, I am counting EVERY blessing, letting go and trusting when I cannot see! Hope the song blesses you. Take the time to NAME those blessings, one by one! Have a Happy Thanksgiving week!

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Overwhelming

(photo credits unknown) Overwhelming. That was the one word circling around my oldest daughter’s texts like a revolving cylinder door–the one word describing very raw emotion. Relief covered me as I read the texts first thing this morning, reassuring me that my daughter, son-in-law and grandbaby were still okay in the wake of the terrible rains and flooding in Louisiana that had recently occurred Friday. I had gotten word yesterday, they were fine and their home had not been touched by the flooding in Bogulusa.
When I first discovered that bad weather was coming our way, I was at the church Thursday afternoon helping get ready for our Bishop and Wife’s 50th Wedding Anniversary Celebration, scheduled for the following night.
In conversation, a church member shared the dreaded news that heavy rains and flooding were expected to hit parts of Mississippi early Friday, and Governor Bryant had declared a state of emergency beforehand, deploying the National Guard to the Gulf Coast.
The rainfall totals could be equivalent to the damage from Hurricane Isaac in 2012. He then showed the weather band stretching from eastern TX, on a weather app from his phone. The angry red strand was heading straight for south MS. At that time, I had no idea that Louisiana would be affected, too.
Friday morning before getting ready to head back to church, checking my facebook, I discovered that my oldest daughter had tagged me in photos of her little hometown and the next town over. I was shocked at what I saw, and of course, immediately began praying. A sense of urgency washed over me, and I knew that the situation was very serious. I don’t know how long I prayed, but I tried to “get it together” enough to call a friend who I knew was already at church. I asked her to tell everyone who was there to please stop and pray right then for my family and also requested prayer on facebook. Prayer was made. I was shaken, and continued to pray for peace in the situation. In the meantime, I finally got a hold of my youngest daughter who lived several miles south of us and was also relieved that she was okay. I knew if anything happened in her direction, there would be better access out of town, than where my eldest lived in Louisiana.
With my oldest daughter’s permission, I am sharing some of the texts she sent to me:
Friday’s texts: All around us is flooded. We can’t go anywhere. We are literally stuck. They have issued us a mandatory curfew of 5 p.m. Roads are collapsing, washing out. People are rolling vehicles left and right. When the road washes out, the vehicles are falling in holes and being swept away. Most the bridges are out!! I’m fixing to try to get to the next town over, but honestly, we can’t get out through there either. This is Louisiana. Every parish is underwater, basically. I have NEVER seen it get this bad even when we had a supposed hurricane. Omg, it’s bad seriously. I’m going to try to go check a family member’s house. She had the baby this morning, went into labor at 11 a.m. I don’t think they can come home…Her husband said that he saw National Guard hummers at the store.
(Later afternoon) It’s clear towards Mississippi…I don’t know how far until more water… (I told her to call the police station and find out if they could get out of town) She said they (police) were everywhere.
Saturday morning texts: Yes, we are fine. Mama, I can’t stop crying this morning. The things I saw yesterday is just overwhelming. There are abandoned cars everywhere. I saw cars floating down the river. Sheds with people’s belongings floating away, crushing under bridges. I saw baby dolls and ice chests, clothes, shoes in trees. People’s homes underwater. People lined up across a bridge on both sides in crowds, watching their houses underwater. You could feel the emotions…I’m very grateful it was not us. But it is extremely scary knowing it could have been. A good friend of ours, the guy who has done A/C and plumbing work, etc., for us for years, refusing to charge anything, we saw him and his wife just staring at their home…She couldn’t speak, and he was just smiling saying, “We are okay,” knowing they are not! They went to sleep with water in one corner of their house and woke up with their bed floating. People had newborn babies and toddlers that they had to get on roofs. Pets died…I woke up today thinking I was going to McDonald’s as usual, and it hit me…NOTHING is going to be the same for awhile. People don’t have money and were barely getting by and lost everything…but their lives. They will rebuild with FEMA, I’m sure, but it’s not the same. Our electricity is still off until the water goes down. Not ours. We are out of the city. The bad part is, we are stuck here. Where do you go?? They have got to do something to keep us from flooding every chance we get. It was crazy, because it only rained one day here on us…Wasn’t even 24 hours.
(After asking for permission to share her texts, she texted the following) Yeah, go ahead. People are too busy nowadays, and it is only a tragedy when it happens to them. I am guilty of that a lot of times. I try to be prepared for everything, bringing way more stuff with me when I leave the house than my son needs, but better to have it than not. No one knew this was going to happen, but even if we did, the outcome would have been the same. We don’t want to think about losing everything, we don’t want to think about having to climb on a roof, praying it doesn’t collapse with our children. We don’t want to think about driving down the road and your vehicle being swept away with your kids in the back seat, so therefore, it’s not possible. I don’t even know how to put my feelings into words. It’s just heart-breaking…
I think she hit the nail on the head in describing what every Louisiana flood victim must be feeling right now. My heart goes out to every one of them! Louisiana has a long road of recovery ahead of them, so please remember them in your prayers and monetary means.
Even though it may feel like they have been overwhelmed at the moment, God’s promise rings ever true in the midst of tragedy, “…When my heart is overwhelmed: lead me to the rock that is higher than I. For thou hast been a shelter for me…I will trust in the covert of thy wings.” Psalms 61:2-4

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Tokens of His Love

Shew me a token for good:…because thou, LORD, hast holpen me, and comforted me~Psalms 86:17 KJV

photo of red heart shaped paper hanging on rope
Photo by Jess Watters on Pexels.com

My first discovery of dragonflies happened when I was around twelve years old.  We had moved into an older fixer-upper home, complete with a front and back porch, and a nearby creek running parallel to the right.  My younger brother and I spent two memorable summers there from sun-up to sun-down, completely immersed into nature.  We explored the backyard woods, swam in the creek, helped our parents with planting and picking a garden.

We were in hog-heaven, as us Southerners would say,  describing how happy we were there!  We had never lived anywhere that close to water, so I had not seen any dragonflies up close and personal.  I soon found that they were amazing little creatures.  They could fly up to extreme speeds, do somersaults in the air, eat insects bigger than they were, dance on water, and many other things.

I grew up and didn’t think much of the little insects anymore, until the Lord started dealing with me to write a fiction book based on this setting of my short-lived childhood spent there.  (I haven’t finished it yet, by the way) In the first chapters of my book, I mentioned the dragonflies as a favorite part of my summer.

And so it started happening… I began spotting dragonflies outdoors, here and there,  around our current home, we had already lived in over a decade. I had never noticed them before this time. But it didn’t just stop there.  They have followed along side my car, or hovered outside my windshield, as I have driven down the neighborhood lane.  They have followed along side me as I have mowed grass.  I have also seen them hover over my windshield as I parked at church or the grocery store.  I have even dreamed of them following me.

They mostly appear when I am going through some sort of trial, or having a bad day, or in desperate need of strength and encouragement.  The most recent encounter I had really blew my mind!

I was sitting at the wooden table on my back porch, enjoying nature, drinking coffee, reading a few devotions on my phone app, and praying.  I was having a bad year, to put it mildly.  All of a sudden, the most beautiful dragonfly landed on the porch railing near me.  At first I just studied it as it perched there, then decided to attempt a few pictures.  I fully expected it to fly away after a few seconds–But it didn’t.  I was able to get extremely close!  I decided to put my finger out, to see what it would do.  To my surprise, it crawled onto my fingers, my hand, and let me take more pictures.  By this time, I had taken around a hundred pictures! (and in case you are wondering, no, it wasn’t dying, because it flew off right after I put it back down on the railing!)

I let the tears flow, bawling like a baby, feeling God speak to my heart. He was beside me.  I wasn’t alone.  His love enveloped me like a warm hug.  All my worries had melted away, and I felt refreshed in my spirit.

It hasn’t been just dragonflies, but hearts, as well.  Heart-shaped clouds, heart-shaped potato, rocks, coffee, glow from a night light, mop water lol, (I do have a witness to that one, thank goodness, or I might have even thought I was crazy!)

I never quite understood what it all meant until I stumbled upon the above scripture and read it in different Bible versions.  The Amplified version says, “show me a sign of Your goodwill.”  My favorite is the Message version:  …”Make a show of how much you love me…As you, God, gently and powerfully put me on my feet.”

Little by little, these tokens of God’s favor and great love have helped me realize that God uses those things that are dear to your heart.  He tailors what He is showing you according to your unique personality.  As a child, I loved to draw.  And one of the things I drew most was hearts.  I drew big ones and little ones, upside down ones, and even those with arrows. I had forgotten that until recently.  And He knew how much the dragonflies had meant to me in my childhood by the creek.  God is like that.  When He is ready for you to fit another piece into the puzzle of what He is showing and teaching you, He will give you another clue towards solving the riddle.  (another thing I have loved from a child–mysteries)

At first, I was hesitant to share my experiences, until I heard someone share their similar dealings with ladybugs at a Ladies Retreat.  I didn’t want anyone to think I’m a person always seeking after signs! I’m not about all that. Since then,  I have heard several others tell of their stories of ‘Love Tokens,’ sent from God.

The bottom line is, He is crazy about you and me!  He is the God of creation, and He can and will reveal that love towards us.  He sent a rainbow didn’t He?  So, be encouraged today! God loves you with an everlasting love!

If you would like to share your ‘Love Token’ experiences, I would love to hear from you!

Love you as big as the sky! ~Renee Greene~

Copyright © 2018. Heart Tokens All rights reserved