Each day of the launch of Desperate was both nerve-wracking and exhilarating, and terrifying. Going into this book project with Sarah Mae was partially a desire to support her and also a desire to write a book together that would elevate the visibility of moms and a need for mentoring, validation and inspiration in their important role. But the friendship between Sarah Mae and me and the daily and nightly moments of conversation stolen amidst the moments of busy lives will be treasured in my heart for many years to come. The emails, comments, notes of support--I do not deserve the joy we felt last week, but it is still there bubbling up in my heart.
I can't thank all of you enough for supporting and helping us. It took a whole community of groups and moms to get the attention of publishers and those in media and you helped us make it happen. So fun to see the ability we have from our homes to make a difference together!
Now it is my prayer, that the Lord will continue to take the message and grow the movement and that many of us in our lifetime will see a movement of the Holy Spirit in the life of families, moms and children.
Grateful, humbled, and honored to be a part of such a beautiful community of women. Thank you all and I thank Jesus who always knew He created women to rock the world! (Pun accidental.)
Meanwhile, in the midst of such days, life goes on. As many of you know from my books and stories, I lived with my friend, Gwen, in Eastern Europe when it was still Communist and we were young single missionaries there. Her precious mama, who adopted my own children as a grandma, has been very ill this week. Each day we have been on the phone, as she was nearing her death. Tonight at 10:00, I got the news that Larla, Gwen's mom, passed away. In her honor, I thought you might be encouraged by her life as I have been.
Congratulations to all of you who won. I hope you feel blessed. Thanks so much for your participation. We appreciate your prayers and support in the days ahead, as well.
This, a story from a year ago, touched my heart last night, as I was reminiscing on moments of my friendship, when I got the call, "I think she is gone. I think she breathed her last."
And so I share the end of a good story, a life sweetly and generously lived, that is filling my own heart moments today.
Gwen and Larla, (the name we call her)
"Take my will and make it thine, It shall be no longer mine, Take my heart, it is thine own, it shall be thy royal throne, It shall be thy royal throne."
Exhausted, drained, like the lady who touched Him and He said, "The strength went out of me," defined how I felt as I stumbled in out of the pelting rain, last night.
After 2 hours of driving the Kentucky back highways, after a weekend of speaking 10 hours to a sweet group of moms in a Tennessee lake house, I was spent. It wasn't just the weekend, or meeting with more surgeons, or finding an oral surgeon for Joy or working on Dolphin Tale with Nathan, or finding Sarah with a 103 temp and needing advice about a ruptured ear drum or hearing that a sweet friend had borrowed her car and had an accident and totaled the car and trying to figure out how to proceed, it was the cumulative weariness that just comes with some seasons of life.
I think there are parts of me that are bone tired and soul weary from many years of being in the battle, but all of us are in the battle and share our soul-weariness as a badge of living purposefully in this world.
My heart, though, was swimming in hope and excitement and child-like anticipation, because my borrowed car was headed to the small, hidden in a tiny town of Western Kentucky, home of my forever sister, friend, Gwen, where I knew that God lived.
Sleeping for 9 hours, (unheard of for me), I crept through the rooms and found her, candle lit, Bible in hand, cup of coffee steaming, with Gwen in her quiet time chair. "Curl up in my bed and I will pour you a cup of tea and we will be friends," she whispered, as she gently wrapped her blankets around my shoulders and puffed up the pillows where I had just laid my head.
And so, two friends, a beautiful little candlelit tray came to rest in my room, and life and beauty took place.
I have many friends and thousands of sweet women in my life, but few who, when I am with them, I know I will find the palpable life of Him, glowing, living, stirring in our midst. But I always know I will find it here in Earlington, Kentucky, an old mining town, with sweet Gwennie.
After, journeying over bits of life, events, people, illnesses, deaths and heart sharing, we came to the most important subject.
"Why are we so blessed?
What shaped our lives so that we have been able to live purposeful lives, we have seen dramatic answers to prayer, we have watched the life of God's spirit swirling amongst the events of our lives our whole lives. Why, in spite of the battles, do we see God's favor?"
And she showed me a poem she had written in her Bible many years ago,
"I heard Him call, "Come follow."
That was all.
My gold grew dim, my soul went after Him.
Who would not follow IF they heard Him call."
That was it. The secret.
At an early age, we were both challenged to follow Him, to listen for His voice, to be His bondservant, to let Him show us the path, to live by faith, to believe in the power of prayer, to invest in His kingdom, to put aside the voices, the peer pressure of the world to conform, simply to follow Him.
Both of us have had to reject the voices of "Job's friends" in our lives, and the world's voices, and all of those voices who seemed to have "God's will in mind for us," and we could see, looking back, that holding fast to His voice, His way, His direction, as our pearl of great price, was the secret. Always, He is at the center.
Always, His paths are the right paths.
And so, both of us, bow our hearts before Him, together, thanking Him for the miracle of the lives He has allowed us to live.
Gwen has seen the death of all of her siblings, grandparents, many cousins, support systems dwindling, with her precious mama still loving and smiling.
Now her sweet, always faithful and gentle mama is with Jesus and I know, still with a smile on her face.
As Gwen and I talked, we spoke of His leading in our simple lives. Just people walking with Him, straining to hear His voice.
As Clay and I followed His voice, over the years, He led us to leave overseas missions, to move back to America, to raise 4 whole hearted children and to write about parenting, mothering, discipling the next generation, to make radical decisions that most of our Christian friends and family did not understand.
Gwen with my girls and me
For Gwen to follow God's voice, after 25 years of serving the Lord in Austria and Eastern Europe, He directed her to live a quiet life in a tiny town, to move home to care for her elderly mom, day after day, for 10 years as her mother is now in her 97th year. But for both of us, to live in the comfort of knowing He has guided, He has been faithful, in the end, His ways have indeed been the pathway of blessing. And in reviewing His history of faithfulness, our hearts are refreshed in the company of each other.
And so we ponder, I wonder how God might direct us to serve Him, to follow Him, to hear His voice in the next 30 years? May we both be attentive, may we both hear, and expect His presence,
and may we both obey and simply follow Him.
"Riches I heed not, nor man's empty praise, Thou my inheritance, now and always; Thou and thou only first in my heart, High king of heaven, my treasure thou art."
Who would not follow if they heard Him call?