Now, That's the Ticket!

For my husband's birthday last year, I asked the Lord for something creative to give him as a gift. The only thing that kept coming to mind was NASCAR. Rob grew up in NASCAR country and has always loved the sport. In fact, he had the honor of meeting The King himself once, and he recalls Richard Petty as being very kind to an awestruck boy. About 10 years ago, the Texas Motorspeedway opened within driving distance of here, and Rob has been drooling ever since. It seemed like the perfect gift except....

1. Have you seen the price of those tickets?!!!!!
2. Rob wouldn't want to go alone.

I kept praying. I continued to get "NASCAR tickets". Surely I had misheard. Surely God did not want me to spend money so frivolously. More prayer. More "NASCAR tickets". Finally, I relented. Fine. I would buy Rob a ticket. "Two tickets," I heard in my heart. TWO?!!!! "Yes, two." I took a deep breath and agreed.

I was curious, though. None of Rob's friends were into NASCAR, and I didn't want to go.

Who was Rob going to take?

"His dad."

Come again.

"His dad."

You want us to ask his dad to buy a plane ticket down here to go to a car race?

"No, I want you to buy the ticket."

I was convinced I had lost my mind, or at least, I wanted to be convinced, but the thing was, it was the perfect gift. One thing Rob has talked about for the last nearly-20 years is races with his dad. It's one of his favorite memories, and his dad would love it, too. It was the perfect gift. God knew His boys, and this was the perfect gift. I started making arrangements.

As I was working out how to work these rather large costs into our budget, God spoke again. "I want you to send Bob to Louisiana to see the other boys." What? "Bob needs to see the other boys, too. I want you to buy him a round trip ticket from DFW to New Orleans to see the other boys." Seriously? "Yes." Okay.

On Rob's birthday I gave him the tentative offer of tickets and the offer to fly his dad down to spend the weekend and go to the race, and I explained everything. I say "tentative" because I had not been able to reach Bob to see if he could come. However, the offer was there. Rob was flaggergasted. "Stunned" doesn't cover it. He was dumbstruck. While we were talking, the phone rang. It was his dad.

Rob explained the gift and explained the offer for plane tickets. Bob was flabbergasted. Yes, God knows His boys, and He knew more than I did about giving good gifts. I thought I had the plan. I had a part.

Six weeks later, Katrina hit, and Rob's family in Lousiana was picking up the pieces. Still, Bob was going south from here, but we would not be able to join him as we had planned.

Six weeks after that, we were preparing for Bob's trip when the phone call came that Rob's grandmother had taken a turn for the worse. On Tuesday before Bob was to fly in on Friday the phone call came that Dee Dee had passed on. On Friday, Rob and his two brothers flew north and met at an airport to drive to Dee Dee's to be with their family as they celebrated the life and mourned the loss of our precious Dee Dee. The day of the race, in fact, the exact time it started, so did Dee Dee's funeral.

As I prayed for our family's safety as they travelled and their comfort in their loss, I also prayed for answers. Had I missed it? God does not mess up, and we had been out hundreds of dollars on the race tickets alone. Did I make a mistake?

While I cannot explain everything that happened as a result of the planned trip, I can tell you that the Lord used it for healing. The Lord restored broken relationships, and I would trade hundreds of dollars for that.

Then there were the race tickets that were useless to us. Rob tried to sell them on eBay, but it didn't work, so I sent out an email saying we had these tickets, did anyone know anyone who might want them? If so, make an offer. Lo and behold, an offer was made. They couldn't cover the whole cost of a ticket, but would we sell one for a price they could afford? I was thrilled. The tickets wouldn't go to waste! I called Rob. "Give them both tickets and tell them to have fun." So I did. They said they could only afford that price for one ticket. Well, the other ticket would be useless to us anyway, so they might as well take it. They were blessed by God's provision. We were blessed to have someone take the tickets, and we moved on.

Rob's dad did visit this summer, and it was a good visit. The topic of the race tickets came up, and we told him that we had sold them. He said, "Well, I hope you got what they were worth." I laughed. Monetarily? No. In a dozen other way? The returns exceeded all expectations.

This year for Rob's birthday, I did not buy him NASCAR race tickets. We have talked about the race, and I've said, "Who knows? Maybe God will give you tickets to this year's race, and you never know. They might be better than the ones you had." (Whether that is prophetic or just knowing God's character, I don't know, but I love when God says, "You don't know the half of it, baby," and blows us away.)

This morning Rob sent me an IM. "Would you want to go to a race with me?"

I responded, "Do you have tickets?"

He replied, "Two front stretch tickets."

"Those are better tickets than the ones you had, aren't they?"

"These are the tickets I wanted." Then he told me what else he got: two pit passes, t-shirts, caps, a catered lunch, and a car to take us to the race and to pick us up after the race. I think there is more, but I don't remember.

To say the least, monetarily, what Rob received free today is worth far more than I spent last year. Relationally, what God gave us last year was priceless.

I won't tell you I understand any better right now than I did last year, but what I can tell you is I am forever in awe of God, and again, I am reminded that when I think I have the plan, I only have a part. God does not need us to work things out for Him. He only needs us to be obedient to Him so He can do what He needs to do in us and through us.

Praying God looks at our responses to His "absurd" directions and can say, "Yep, that's the ticket"......


Over a decade ago, I read a book about this man named Jabez and this prayer he prayed. Since then, other books have been written, classes have been held, and countless sermons have been taught. I don't remember much about the other books or the sermons, and I never went to a class. However, that first book imprinted something very simple on me that has stuck with me these ten plus years.

The author of that book, whose name and title escape me, boiled the prayer of Jabez down to three simple points. Throughout the years when I have not known what to pray or simply felt that I needed "something" but did not know what, I have reverted to those three simple aspects of that prayer. For reasons only the Lord knows, they come to me this morning, and I pass them on to you.

The three parts of Jabez' prayer are simply:

1. Bless me with Your presence.
2. Bless me with increase.
3. Make me a blessing to others.

Often we forget the first and third parts, but that, in my experience, is where the joy is. The wonder and joy is in the Lord's presence and in giving to others.

Praying you find great blessings today.....


Today I went to my family doctor to determine the best course for treating an ongoing sinus infection. It has been determined that the infection is imbedded and will need an aggressive treatment including decongestants, antibiotics, and steroids. This is not new. I've actually battled this for years, and it has been frustrating to say the least. Some well-meaning folks called to ask me what the doctor had said and see how I was doing after having a dry-socket packed yesterday. I told them my teeth are painless and share the news about the choice in treatment for the sinuses, and their reaction (this was more than one person, btw) was, "And what is next if this doesn't work?" My doctor and I had discussed other, more invasive treatment options, so I had an idea, and I sort of studdered through the answers. And then all of those folks sighed deeply and saidk, "Well, maybe it won't get that bad.

When I sent out my blanket update, it suddenly hit me that the very suggestion of 'what next' is a curse. It is faithlessness being spoken into my life, and faithless babble is a curse, so I wrote from my heart, and I share it here because I believe it was anointed for the purpose of stirring up Christians and calling us all to higher expectations of prayer.

In my email I wrote:

I’ve been asked what happens if this intense attack doesn’t work. That question bothers me because that means people aren’t praying with faith for healing, and frankly, I’d just as soon they not pray. I don’t need some half-hearted, pansy faith, and if that offends some, well, I’ll pray for you. I need faith that believes that the God who opened a sea for a nation of people to walk through on dry ground still has power to move water, mountains, and congestion. I need folks praying for me that believe in a God whose power that raised Christ from the dead is at work within me to heal me by the stripes of Jesus. I need the prayers that come from people with faith that says endurance and professing victory will bring down a city like Jericho. If you don’t have that kind of faith, don’t live in condemnation. Tell me. I have oil, and I’ll anoint you and ask the Holy Spirit to impart it to you. Folks, I’m not trying to be hoity toity on this, and I’m not running down anyone for their faith, but the fact is we do not have the luxury as believers who are battling to bring the light into a dark world to sit on our half-baked beliefs and hope we can endure to the end and get happy when things don’t get worse. That is an Egypt mentality, and the people of God need a Promised Land mentality. We need to quit being the spies that whined about the size of the people in the land and be like Caleb, who at 80, took the land. Folks, the ones who were afraid of the people died in the desert. Joshua and Caleb rose to be great leaders. This world needs great leaders, and I need those with the great leader mentality praying for me, and I give you my word that when I pray for you, that is the exact mentality I intend to take before the King of Kings on your behalf.

There are no small battlefields in war (mine or yours because it is really OURS), and there are no “expendable” warriors. Get on your armor and get engaged. If you are engaged, hone up on your skills and teach those who aren’t at your level. Folks, the victory has been won. The land has been promised. We need to take it, not just in the issues in our family but yours, too. I’ve talked to so many folks who are getting blasted and holding on by their fingernails. It’s time to take the offensive and take back what is ours.

One final thought: When I was at the doctor’s office, I read an article about David Ortiz, a baseball player known as Big Papi. He said something so full of truth that I wish I had written it down. He said, “If you get up there and think you might now hit the ball, you are already out. I KNOW I’m going to hit the ball.” His stats tell you the rest. Folks, let’s all pray with that kind of confidence, and imagine the healings, the salvations, the power.

As I said, know when I am praying for you, the expectation of great things is what I am taking into my prayer closet. I hope you take the same mentality with you every time you enter God’s presence.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Praying your armor never knows dust and your faith never fails...........


Thinking on These Things

For over a week now, I have received daily emails or phone calls from people I love, and who obviously love me, asking how I am doing. It is so good to be loved, but I’ll tell you something. I’m tired of telling people how I feel. I’m tired of the focus, so I am choosing to focus on happier things.

The temperatures have finally broken here in Texas. The 100+ weather has finally given way to low 90s and high 80s. As I type this from my deck, I am quite comfortable with the late afternoon temperatures. Two weeks ago, I jokingly told our neighbor Chris, who allows us the luxury of being bio-filters for his pool, that we needed to use it as frequently as possible since the weather was cooling so quickly. It was 103+ that day. Since then, we haven’t seen 100. I don’t know anyone who is saddened by this.

With the cooler temperatures, rain has blessed us almost weekly. Last week we were blessed with over a solid day of soaking rain. The vegetation has responded gloriously. Our gerbera daisies are expressing their gratitude with lovely blooms. Our red “thing” near our daisy bed is also blooming with exuberance. The grass is alive again, and it is wonderful to see the green sprouts breaking up the mostly dead landscape that has become our yards.

Due to the drought we’ve been in, we’ve also been in a season of water conservation. We’ve taken this pretty seriously. We have been diligent to water the flowers in the flowerbeds and flower pots. Some have succumbed to the overbearing heat. Some have endured, but the look the worse for wear, and some have thrived. The ivy that I got when my dad passed on was looking pretty shabby in my study, but in the intense heat on the deck, it has not only perked up but grown a 3-foot runner! I chuckle knowing it will now not fit in the same place in my study.

Some plants have struggled, not due to the heat, but due to Fred. Two of my favorite tall plants were chosen as chew toys. While I have “saved” them from the jaws of the dog, they were broken and are having to recuperate. Thankfully, they seem to be sprouting wonderfully and may be better off than they were before. One is highly questionable, but it is simply not getting the thing back into dirt when I should have. I can’t blame that on Fred. It is my own lack of attention.

Speaking of Fred, it has been some time since I mentioned him. All 30 pounds of him are doing well. Yes, 30 pounds. Our “probably as big as 15-pound” dog is 30 pounds and may still grow a bit, but our vet feels sure that Fred is about peaked out for height and other than muscling-up, he is about as big as he will get. That was the word last week when Fred had to spend the night at the vet. As of last week, Fred was left unable to have puppies. While I understand the reasons for this, it saddens me a bit. Fred reminds me of a book Robert and I read called “The Unexpected Family”. It has a line that says, “He wasn’t what she expected, but she loved him anyway.” That is Fred. We never planned to have a 30-pound dog. He really isn’t what we would have chosen for a dog. He certainly is not what we expected, but we love him anyway.

The road with Fred has been a bumpy one. After we got through the distemper, we had another scare. Fred started chewing on his tail. It wasn’t just chewing the hair off. Fred mutilated his tail. When I called our vet, Larry assured me that allergies cause chewing and some cortisone would fix it right up. However, when Larry looked at Fred, Larry said, “Well, allergies are one thing, but sometimes we run into dogs with a neuropathy.” Simply explained: sometimes dogs just mutilate their tails and their tails have to be amputated. I was okay with that. It wasn’t my idea of fun, but it wasn’t the nightmare we had been through with the other puppies.

Then I had a question. “Larry, is this just because he’s a weird dog or because of the distemper? We were warned to watch for weird behavior. This is pretty weird. Is this an effect of distemper in his brain? Will amputating his tail stop him from mutilating any other part of him, or will he just move to something else?”

The answer was one that only 40-years of veterinary experience could give. Larry smiled at me, patted Fred on the back, and said, “Jerri, let’s give him a cortisone shot with some topical treatment and see what life is like in 48 hours.” I nodded.

When I left, Larry said if things weren’t better in 48 hours to call so we could schedule surgery for the next week. Again, I nodded.

Forty-eight hours later, Fred had quit biting his tail, and we were feeling optimistic. By the next week, we were seeing signs of healing. Now, the tail has hair on it as well. You’d never know anything was wrong.

Life is amazing, isn’t it?

So we have our healthy Fred, who, as Rob says, is the comical relief for the family. When I sweep, I have to put him outside so he doesn’t chase and attack the broom. Mopping is so funny because he slides around while chasing the mop. He thinks the vacuum will suck him up, but if I leave it on while I do something, he sits on it. I keep telling him that is not a good idea considering the tail trauma he has already endured. When we try to wash the deck, he attacks the water from the hose, and you should see the sticks I have to take back outside after he brings them in.

Fred and I start our day by wearing him down with a game of catch. First, we find all his tennis balls. Then I throw them until he trots by me with one in his mouth and carries it into the house where he drops it by his water bowl. Then he drops himself on the cold tile in the kitchen. Rob takes him for long walks, and one day Fred pulled Rob while Rob rode on a scooter belonging to one of the kids.

The funniest part is Fred’s unwillingness or inability to accept that he is not a lapdog. In the early morning after we’ve worn ourselves down playing ball, I will try to have quiet time either on the deck or in the study, and he comes in and sits his head on my lap. That is sweet. Then he puts his front legs and upper torso in my lap, which is nice. Then he places one huge back paw on one of my knees and slips up into my lap where he rolls over so he is lying like a baby in one of my arms and one of his sides is facing up for me to scratch. He then licks me sweetly or puts his muzzle against my neck and lies there.

No, Fred isn’t what we expected, but we definitely love him anyway.

And that is a pretty nice thing to think about on a glorious afternoon in Texas.

Praying you have such wonderful things to think about, too, and praying we all take more time to think about them……


Hoping for Something Better

Funny how falling behind only compels me to fall further behind. Actually, it isn't funny at all, but rather annoying. Such is the situation with my blog. A series of things caused me to get behind, and then I felt bad for being so behind and overwhelmed at where to catch up, so I kept thinking, "I'll get to it when I can dedicate more time to it," but it only seemed more was there to sort through, so it never got done, and it has now been nearly 3 weeks since my last update.

However, today, I am updating...to the best of my ability and coherency.

Presently, I am submitting to the effects of rather strong pain medication and antibiotics as I battle a dental infection. For two days I felt pressure building in the area of my lower sinuses, and I went on the offensive to battle sinus congestion to no avail. Yesterday it became evident that my sinuses were not the problem. Between the visible swelling, the tenderness in my mouth, and the intense pain radiating from one tooth, it was obvious that I was dealing with dental problems, not sinuses. Thankfully, my doctor is proactive and accessible. I hated bothering him on the weekend, especially a long one, but I could not wait until Tuesday. True to his caring manner, he called me within 10 minutes, and 10 minutes later my prescription for antibiotics and pain medication had been called in and was being worked on by a 24-hour pharmacy. (Praise God for 24-hour pharmacies!) Within an hour, I was highly sedated and very relaxed as I curled up with a favorite blanket on our comfy sofa.

Today, the pain has lessened, and I am able to take a smaller dose of the pain medication, which is nice. However, it still makes me sleepy, and in truth, it does not kill the pain totally, but I am more funtional, which means I can read a book and remember it or even catch up on a blog that is 3 weeks behind. It is in this compromised state of coherency that this blog originates. Hopefully, it will still have some purpose other than simply jolting me back into the blogging world.

My teeth are actually a significant contributor to the lack of blog lately. This year has been a year of having dental corrections done. Not only have we done the filling of cavities, but major work has been required. For reasons that really make no difference, I have needed five teeth removed, and with this infection, another may have to go. One can only do so much to repair or save teeth before deciding that chronic problems and regular infections are not worth the pain or expense. All this work started in January and has been a planned effort to remove pain, correct dental problems that created larger biomechanical problems, and acquire a pleasing aesthetic outcome. The estimated date for being finished is February.

Sometimes it is mind-boggling to me to think that this process will have taken approximately 14 months and will still require the regular dental maintenance. And braces were not part of this deal either. No, it has been one procedure after another working toward clearly defined goals. Sometimes such things simply take time, lots of time.

I will tell you honestly that this can be a discouraging process. I have spent multiple days at the dentist's where the procedure for that day has required 2-3 hours of work. When the procedure is finished, I am tired, overcoming the effects of the numbing agent, and mentally fatigued. If it were not for the clear vision of the end result, it would be easy to quit, and sometimes I have come home, lay on my bed, and asked my husband to simply remind me of where we were, how much progress we've made, and how good it will be when this is over. Honestly, I need to be reminded.

I think all of us need that in some area of our lives. Maybe it is college or a course of study. Perhaps it is training for a carrier. Maybe it is inner healing of painful wounds. Maybe it is reconciliation in a relationship. Maybe is remodeling of a house. Perhaps it is physical rehabilitation. The possibilities are as numerous as people on this earth, but the process is the same, and it all starts with hope for something better.

I have found that the road to something better is much more easily walked with someone who believes in something better for you, too. I've also found folks like that understand the emails and phone calls when you ask, "So tell me again why we are doing this?" They can tell you. Those are the folks who see the end so well that they can describe it in detail. When you lose the vision, they don't.

Today my husband and two wonderful friends who called to check on me all reminded me that within 24 hours of starting the antibiotics, the pain and swelling would lessen considerably. They made it a point to count how many hours I had already made it and point out that I was getting closer to being out of pain and feeling normal again. They reminded me of where I had been and where I was going. They all envision my being fine again, and that vision compels them to encourage me as well as pray for me. They believe in better things, and they want to be sure I keep my eyes on the better things, too.

Their love and support doesn't mean I don't have to walk this road, but it sure makes the road easier to walk and the end easier to see. I'm glad they are with me. When it doesn't hurt to do so, I'll smile about it.

In the meantime, praying you have folks to see "hope for something better" in your life, and praying you see it in the lives of others.....