Two Babes in a Manger

My pastor shared this story on Sunday. I tried to verify it, but some say it’s a true story. Others say it can’t be confirmed. The story is the same everywhere I looked, but the names of the missionaries are never revealed. It’s a great story either way so I’m going to share it because it has a great message.


Two Babes in a Manger

In 1994, two Americans answered an invitation from the Russian Department of Education to teach morals and ethics (based on biblical principles) in the Russian public schools. They were invited to teach at prisons, businesses, the fire and police departments and a large orphanage. About 100 boys and girls who had been abandoned, abused, and left in the care of a government-run program were in the orphanage. They relate the following story in their own words:


It was nearing the holiday season, 1994, time for our orphans to hear, for the first time, the traditional story of Christmas. We told them about Mary and Joseph arriving in Bethlehem. Finding no room in the inn, the couple went to a stable, where the baby Jesus was born and placed in a manger. Throughout the story, the children and orphanage staff sat in amazement as they listened. Some sat on the edges of their stools, trying to grasp
every word.


Completing the story, we gave the children three small pieces of cardboard to make a crude manger. Each child was given a small paper square, cut from yellow napkins I had brought with me. No colored paper was available in the city. Following instructions, the children tore the paper and carefully laid strips in the manger for straw. Small squares of flannel (cut from a worn-out nightgown an American lady was throwing away as she left Russia), were used for the baby’s blanket. A doll-like baby was cut from tan felt we had brought from the United States.


The orphans were busy assembling their manger as I walked among them to see if they needed any help. All went well until I got to one table where little Misha sat. He looked to be about 6-years-old and had finished his project. As I looked at the little boy’s manger, I was startled to see not one, but two babies in the manger.


Quickly, I called for the translator to ask the lad why there were two babies in the manger. Crossing his arms in front of him and looking at this completed manger scene, the child began to repeat the story very seriously.
For such a young boy, who had only heard the Christmas story once, he related the happenings accurately — until he came to the part where Mary put the baby Jesus in the manger. Then Misha started to ad-lib.


He made up his own ending to the story as he said, “And when Mary laid the baby in the manger, Jesus looked at me and asked me if I had a place to stay. I told him I have no mamma and I have no papa, so I don’t have any place to stay. Then Jesus told me I could stay with him. But I told him I couldn’t, because I didn’t have a gift to give him like everybody else did. But I wanted to stay with Jesus so much, so I thought about what I had that maybe I could use for a gift. I thought maybe if I kept him warm, that would be a good gift.”


So I asked Jesus, ‘If I keep you warm, will that be a good enough gift?’ And Jesus told me, ‘If you keep me warm, that will be the best gift anybody ever gave me.’ So I got into the manger, and then Jesus looked at me and he told me I could stay with him’ — for always.”


As little Misha finished his story, his eyes brimmed full of tears that splashed down his little cheeks. Putting his hand over his face, his head dropped to the table and his shoulders shook as he sobbed and sobbed. The little orphan had found someone who would never abandon nor abuse him, someone who would stay with him — for always.

And the Americans? They had learned the lesson they had come there to teach – that it is not what you have in your life, but who you have in your life that really counts. We should all give thanks for the people that “keep us” — in life — and for all of God’s many blessings to us: freedom from want, life, love, togetherness, and for the enduring love of Jesus Christ, the one person who keeps us warm and safe for always.

When Even Your iPhone Gets Frustrated with Your Essential Tremors!

Anyone need a giggle break in the midst of 2020? I’ve got you covered! I call this installment of Weird Stuff Happens to Me: When Even Your iPhone Gets Frustrated with Your Essential Tremors!

Yesterday’s cooking event was not without incident. Famous last words: “I don’t need my ‘Kevlar gloves’ to make zoodles!

So, I proceeded to prove myself wrong by cutting into my nail. This morning while attempting to fill my water bottle, it overflowed onto the counter and the floor. While trying to clean it up, I had an unusual time trying to get the paper towel in my hand and it wound up flying through the air like some Bugs Bunny cartoon.

I decided to write a post about my exciting life with tremors, but while trying to take a picture of my right hand, Siri had a message for me! It’s on the top of the last picture. It says “Hold Still.” 😅😂🤣

I couldn’t make this stuff up if I tried! ROFL

When You Don’t Think You Measure Up

God made us unique individuals, but as a kid, I was always trying to fit in. It never worked and it was exhausting! I never thought I was good enough, tall enough, __ enough.


My hair was stick straight when big curly hair was in fashion. Now, when straight hair is in, mine is curly on steroids!


I’m 5’ nuthin’ and wear children’s size shoes, gloves, and I just fit back into my dd’s old size 10/12 children’s T-shirt! 🤗


My first car came complete with bucket seats and a telephone book. (Yup! I sat on a telephone book so I could see over the steering wheel!) And my kitchen stove has a matching step stool so I can stir the tall pots. 😉


You know what I learned from all this? To embrace my inner weirdness. (Hat tip to my dd who coined the phrase) You know what? Ever since then, I enjoy being me!

If you always feel like you don’t measure up, try looking at yourself as God does. He created you to be you – not a copy of someone else. Embrace YOUR inner weirdness and enjoy being who He created you to be!

I’m a size 2!

I never thought I would EVER say this again, but I’m a size 2! Two! I haven’t been able to fit my hind quarters into a size 2 since before I was pregnant with my son – 21 years ago!!!


I only have one pair of pants that fit well enough for me to be seen in public and they are the size 4s I was wearing in my after picture that I posted a a few blog posts ago.


My dh decided to buy me a new pair of jeans and asked what size I am now. I said 4, but then I remembered that I had to take the waist in quite a bit after having lost 33 lbs. So, I tried on a few of the size 4s that I had cut into long shorts several yrs ago and they were too BIG!


I had been wearing them just before it got cooler earlier this year and they fit then! But I’m now 114 pounds and they are too big!


I’ve been telling everyone that I went from a size 8 to a size 4. But I’m actually a size 2! Do you know how hard it is to find a size 2 petite? It’s wonderfully difficult!!! 💜💜💜💜🥰

Weird Stuff and Thankfulness!

As many of you know, I’m a pretty odd duck. Weird stuff has happened to me just about all my life. Sometimes that’s made for difficult times. Sometimes it’s been a blessing in disguise.


Going through my Facebook memories today, I found this little story that could have ended badly but turned out to be just another unusual event in my life. Thankful to God for His blessings to me.


On this date five years ago, I was just sitting and minding my own odd business when suddenly, out of the right side corner of my eye, I saw a bunch of flashing bright white geometric shapes (mostly triangles) that formed a crescent moon. It was just below and slightly right of wherever I was looking. It was reflective and sparkly and lasted about 15 or 20 minutes making it hard for me to see beyond it. My husband was convinced I was going blind so (REALLY long story short) I was rushed to urgent care.


Drs and nurses had no idea but feared it was a retina tear or detatched retina. They suggested I see an opthomologist the next morning and explain exactly what I experienced.


It was really hard to explain what I saw. Coincidentally, I had gotten a piece of junk mail with a weird reflective sticker inside that looked exactly like what I saw so I took it with me.

After a thorough examination to rule out anything more serious, it turned out it was a painless occular migraine. Now, if you have to have a migraine, this is the kind of migraine you want! Painless is always the way to go, if at all possible! 😂


Thankful this week for God’s many blessings in my life including all of those I’m able to enjoy this year having lost 33 pounds!

When the Lord reminds you of what He’s done for you!


Do you see that brown spot on my cheek? That’s what my OBGYN called a birthmark. No, I wasn’t born with it. My children were. 😉


When I was pregnant with my first (my dd), I developed this mark. It was on my right cheek. The doctor said it would go away after I gave birth. It didn’t.


When I was pregnant again, I developed a similar mark on my left cheek. It didn’t get as big because I wasn’t pregnant very long. I miscarried.


When I was pregnant with my son, the mark on my right side began getting bigger. Unfortunately, I had similar problems with this pregnancy and was put on bed rest.


One day when I was washing my face, I looked in the mirror and I felt as if God was speaking to me. He said, this child would be ok. The mark was on the right side. It wasn’t on the right side (meaning not left). It was on the RIGHT side (meaning not wrong!)


I felt a peace and my son was born perfectly healthy though his birth story is chock full of God’s miracles! That is a whole other story I’ll share another time.


Yesterday, I was looking at myself in the mirror (something I don’t mind doing now that I’ve lost 33 lbs!) and I noticed that the mark on my right cheek is almost gone. After 30 years, you almost can’t see it anymore.
However, that birth mark on my left side is still prominent. As I wondered why God would allow the mark on my right side (reminding me of my two beautiful children) to fade while leaving the left visible, it hit me!


The Lord wants to remind me of what He did for me and for my children. There’s a child I’ll see one day in heaven even though I wasn’t able to here on earth.

Through adversity, God gives us gentle reminders of His love. We can find joy in that at some point – even if not at that moment.


If you’re struggling, remember that God wants to comfort you. You’ll find peace if you look to Him.

When Things Happen While You’re Not Looking

When we’re going through something difficult, we often don’t see much progress. We don’t feel God near us or we don’t see an answer to prayer. Most of you, like me, have lived with chronic issues for a lifetime. My fatigue started when I was a child. I could never understand how other teens and pre teens had the energy to run around and even do chores.

As we go through difficulty, we get used to dealing with it as best we can. That’s good, but it’s just as often, bad. What I mean is, we get so used to being fatigued, to not being able to take a shower without having to rest, that we don’t even consider that anything could change and we may not even notice when it does!

Case in point, my weight loss journey. For those who are just joining me, here’s the background to get you up to speed:

I’ve been packing on the pounds for over twenty years. After delivering my son at the ripe old mom age of 37, I was thrust into peri menopause. It was both frustrating and frustrating.

What I mean is, it was frustrating because I was slowly adding poundage. I was a different kind of frustrated because that’s when the Hellish Hot Flashes started. I was all kinds of frustrated that my doctors (plural) would NOT believe I was actually IN peri menopause! And I was frustrated because no matter what I did, what I didn’t eat, how hard I tried to exercise, and how hard I tried, I just kept gaining!

After the hysterectomy four years ago, my weight gain took on Olympic proportions! I was now a whopping 152 pounds! That might not sound like a lot to YOU, but if you consider my stature or lack there of, is only 5′ nuthin’, it was quite astounding.

It took me 21 years to add the weight and I really had no idea how bad I looked til one day I got a glimpse of myself in the mirror. How could I be gaining all those years so much weight and having it make THAT much of a difference…and I not NOTICE??? It happened while I wasn’t really looking. A little at a time. Then, one day, I saw it and BAM!

So, I found my health coach and Mary and I got to work. I began losing weight but just a wee bit at a time so…I didn’t notice. My husband kept telling me that I was looking great, but when I looked in the mirror I still saw a fat me. Until…one day…

It was interesting to me how it went both ways, but that’s not the end of the story. While I was trying to lose the last five pounds of my menopause weight, I was pretty frustrated that my thighs and upper arms still had wagging rights.

However, as I was contemplating the pain level of squats and modified pushups, something amazing happened! My thighs were discovered social distancing! Yes! While I wasn’t looking, my thighs actually responded to…

EXERCISE!

I’ve been exercise intolerant for about 58 years, the sum total of my life here on Earth ever since the space stork dropped me off here. How could it be that I was FINALLY able to do some that actually worked? Answer? I dunno. I think it was just the combination of the incredible job Mary did with my weight loss that allowed me to have enough energy to actually DO any exercise and my husband’s suggestion that I try squats and modified pushups.

I’m both proud and ecstatic to announce that my thighs (and even my calves) are thinner than they have been since I can remember! I’m still experiencing more energy and fewer/less severe flares since my 31 pound weight loss. Meanwhile, I’m working on my upper arms and turkey waggle neck. Film at 11!

What I’d like you to take away is how many times we are actually MAKING progress, but not actually SEEING it. God works that way sometimes. Sometimes we are working hard at what we feel God has asked us to do, but we are not seeing the fruits of our labor. Sometimes we are doing something that WILL have a positive effect on our health, but we don’t see any progress.

Sometimes, we just have to keep looking before we can see it.

Changes

So, I had a bit of a reorganization of my ENTIRE life this past month or so! It’s in almost every area of my life so I thought I’d share a bit of that with you and tell you what that means for my Life Beyond Surviving blog moving forward.

Health:

For the last seven months, I’ve been on a health journey that has been truly transformational. I’ve lost 30 pounds and countless inches due to my health coach, Mary. Because of that, I’ve lowered my blood pressure and increased my sleeping, and my energy. It has decreased the number of Fibro flares I’ve had and also the duration of those flares. I still have a minimal amount of energy but I’m no longer taking naps in the afternoons or getting fatigued after a shower. At least once a week, I posses the energy to blow try my hair…all of it. LOL

Unfortunately, my Essential Tremors have ramped up quite a bit. Using utensils has been especially difficult, but my daughter and son in law bought me some weighted utensils that help quite a bit. I’ve had to add a special gloves to help me in the kitchen as well. These handy little purple wonders help me avoid burning and cutting (or in this case shredding) my fingers.

During this last month or two, I’ve felt more and more that I am lead to pick up my Art of Eloquence role and move it forward. As I was noticing that the rhetoric on social media has become so angry, I began to feel called back to my communication roots. I founded a new Facebook group where I have begun hosting live workshops that speak to those who have a mission, ministry, or business but struggle with shyness or social anxiety that doesn’t allow them to move forward as they feel called.

Lastly, it has become more and more difficult to type so, I have decided that I need to take a step back from this blog for now. I will continue to update it about once a month, but I will be putting more of my time and typing energy into my business and to what I feel called to do to help God’s children find their voice.

I pray that God continue to use me and I pray you find your purpose despite the difficulties that chronic illness brings.

God bless…

Some encouragement from the Bible

So this month, I have shared how those of us with chronic illness seem to have been born without a comfort zone and how that has actually strengthened us both spiritually and mentally. I shared how our strength can be an inspiration and lesson to those who haven’t yet developed such strength. Then, I shared one of the most loved of my articles that spoke of the blessings of pain.

Now, I’d like to turn it over to the Lord. Here are some of the most inspiring scriptures from the Bible:

Philippians 4:13
“I can do all things through him who strengthens me.”

Isaiah 41:10
Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”

Deuteronomy 31:6
Be strong and courageous. Do not fear or be in dread of them, for it is the Lord your God who goes with you. He will not leave you or forsake you.

Isaiah 40:31
But they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.

1 Corinthians 10:13
No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.

Exodus 15:2
The Lord is my strength and my song, and he has become my salvation; this is my God, and I will praise him, my father’s God, and I will exalt him.”

Ephesians 6:10
“Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might.”

Deuteronomy 20:4
“For the Lord your God is he who goes with you to fight for you against your enemies, to give you the victory.”

2 Corinthians 12:9-10
“But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 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.”

Joshua 1:9
“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”

I pray this has inspired and strengthened you…