Tag Archive | Forever Changed

Defined in the Last Row

1000318841Happily settled in the first desk of the first row in front of the teacher’s desk, with her permission, on the first day of school I was alive with excitement.  I could barely contain my joy.  That all changed when Cheryl Samson* walked in with her mother and stopped in front of me announcing she wanted my desk.  Mama not only forced me to move to the last desk in the last row in the corner but also to apologize for having taking Cheryl’s seat.  I was defined in this moment as being unworthy to sit up front, I belonged in the far corner. 

A spark of joy returned soon when I was called to the teacher’s desk for her to see how many words or letters of the alphabet I could recognize.  Happily I told her that I already knew how to read, my mother had taught me!  I rattled off the titles of the books I had read already, the majority of the Bobbsey Twin and Donna Parker series as well as Huckleberry Finn.  Not believing me she handed me the Dick and Jane reader and told me to read out loud.  After I read several pages my teacher stopped me. 

“Your mother,” she told me, “has obviously taught you not to read but to memorize books.  You’ll have to learn again.”  Cheryl snickered MC900439405behind me.  “Memorizing the words on the pages doesn’t mean you can actually read!” the teacher said as I quickly went back to my seat.  I had never known Dick and Jane existed until a few minutes ago.  I was defined in these moments as unintelligent, misinformed and as a liar. 

At home, annoyed by my why questions about Cheryl and the desk and having to relearn to read, my mother mumbled as she peeled potatoes. Finally she sent me to my room saying, “People like us aren’t like people like her.”

“People like us”?  Why were we “people like us”?  What did Mama mean?   I was defined now as less important, belonging to some “people like us” that I didn’t understand.

Homecoming at school brought the opportunity to be the First Grade Homecoming Princess.  All I had to do was enter, sell baked goods and juice during recess for three days and collect as much money as possible from my family.  If I collected and earned the most money I could be the Princess.  I earned myself first runner-up.  Cheryl won the Princess title.

MC900432659I was pleased somewhat to be the runner-up.  I would still get to be part of the Homecoming Court and walk out onto the field at the football game half-time.  Only I blew that by trying to mimic Cheryl and failed miserably, embarrassed my family, received a spanking, lecture and hearing the story repeated through the years, the humiliation fresh every time.  I was defined as foolish and bringing shame to my family.  I was defined as a “runner-up” not a winner.

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To make everyone happy I learned to pretend.  I pretended not to know how to read and pretended to let the teacher teach me all over again.  I pretended to be less intelligent.  That I didn’t want the very things I wanted the most.  That my home life was just as normal as anyone else’s home life was.  That I deserved to be last in everything, that runner-up was the best I’d ever be.  Through the years I learned to settle for less because I had pretended so long to only want and deserve the least that I didn’t even try.  I was wearing the assigned masks given to me and defined by them regardless of their truth.

MP900382637These three events, all too quickly defined me to myself as what I was given the message I was to be.  I recognized all too soon that what made Cheryl one of “those people” instead of one of the “people like us” were the following things:  Beauty, money, expensive clothes, intelligence, importance, lineage, and social status.  Money, I acknowledged as the years passed, could buy it all.  Or at least buy you the ability to fake it.

Reality was that there were a lot of things that set me apart from other kids.  None of those were any of the reasons my mother had cited, or my teacher insisted upon or that my childish mind connected to.  All that these false definitions of me did were to enable me to hide away.

Redefining who I was would take years.  Slowly it happened. 

I learned I did have the ability to earn A’s by earning them in master level classes.  I learned I could do, at least someMP900432927 algebra, by teaching myself from my daughter’s textbook and the online tutorial lessons to help her.  I learned to be a parent that gives her child wings to fly and roots to let her know she is always loved and always has a home, instead of clipping her wings and binding her with her roots.  It has taken years of on and off therapy to peel away layers of pretense, hurt, shame, wrong definitions and forbidden anger and I’m still redefining myself as one of God’s creations.

1001224892Paul’s words in Romans 8:28 have reminded me “…we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”   And again in I Corinthians 15:10 Paul’s words have given me courage, “But by the grace I am what I am, and his grace to me was not without effect.  No, I worked harder than all of them—yet not I, but the grace of God that was with me.” 

King Solomon’s words from Ecclesiastes 3:1 “There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven:” repeatedly whisper to me that the bad times will pass and the good will come, all in God’s time.  While Jeremiah in 29:11 has told me, “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

Jesus’ has instructed me of my mission for him in this life in Matthew 28:19-20, “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.  And surely I am with you always to the very end of the age.” 

We all have defining moments in our lives…defining scriptures that have awakened us to who we are in Christ…what moments have defined you…what scriptures have awakened you?

Faye

*Name changed for privacy.                                                                                                         All scripture from the N.I.V. translation of the Bible.

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I Believe

I believe in The God

The Alpha and Omega

The Author and Creator

Of all life

Of all that is good.

I believe in the resiliency

Of a Believer’s heart

Of a Redeemed soul

For they seek God

For they heed His voice.

I believe in Love and its power

Love that transcends

Love that extends

Itself in grace

Itself in mercy.

I believe in God’s Word

From Genesis to Revelation

From Creation to Christ’s return

Every word a piece

Every piece a whole.

I believe life has value

Value to God

Value to humanity

What He gives is

What only He should take.

I believe in marriage

One woman, one man,

One vow, one team

Two spirits united

Two cords bound in three.

I believe in children

Who need love and direction

Who need guidance and prayer

To receive the inheritance

To walk in God’s light.

I believe even when I forget

To focus on Jesus

To trust in God’s provision

When the storm rages

When darkness falls.

I believe in faith

In faith that hopes

In certainty of the unseen

Because God is here

Because He is alive.

I believe what matters

Is not what I believe

Is what YOU believe

In this moment

In this day.

-Faye at fvbf (faith view by faye)

“…a time to mourn and a time to dance,…” Ecclesiastes 3:4b (N.I.V.)

 (As I am neither a Biblical scholar or in any way knowledgeable concerning the languages used to write the original scriptures I cannot incorporate the scripture into my life based on what I do not know or understand.  That is why as I read and pray about scripture I depend on the Holy Spirit to counsel me and take the English translation as it is written, with the notes in my N.I.V. Study Bible and whatever books I have read on the particular passage.

Having witnessed, in person, the danger of following someone’s instruction or interpretation of the scripture based on an unsound foundation; I would never advocate someone to base their spiritual live on how I believe the scripture reads.  I urge each person to seek their answers for themselves.  Never except for truth what you cannot find solid basis for in the scripture for yourself along with the leadership of the Holy Spirit and the teaching of someone with knowledge of the languages and background of the Bible you may lack.)

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This series of blogs began fermenting last month with a weird and disturbing dream I had.  This is the dream:

I am watching the funeral procession of Abraham Lincoln as it comes down a long brick paved avenue.  The horse-drawn wagon with the flag draped coffin of the President is approaching a circular part of the road and in the center of that circle is a fountain surrounded by flowers.  Then I am in the wagon, holding on for dear life to the coffin containing President Lincoln, fighting against the bumpy road and the jarring of his coffin that seems to be about to cause the coffin to end up in the road.  Suddenly the axle or wheel breaks on the “rear passenger side” of the wagon as it hits an unseen pothole in the roadway.  The wagon falls.  Now I am attempting against an even greater pull of gravity and laws of nature, to keep Lincoln’s coffin from sliding to the ground and perhaps his body tumbling out.

I can feel my muscles straining, feel the coffin slipping from my hand holds and I go from thinking, “I can’t let this happen!” to thinking, “Wait this isn’t really happening!”  It occurs to me that what I am taking part of has any basis in the history I’ve read about.  People are yelling at me, no one is helping me, and I am now too yelling, “This isn’t real, right?  This can’t be real!”

Then I woke up, just as I am sure Lincoln’s body tumbles from the coffin but whether Lincoln’s coffin and/or his body falls out of the wagon I do not know although had I stayed asleep long enough I am certain both would have.  It was disturbing and rather creepy.  I posted the dream on my Facebook page.

A few days later an old friend of mine from high school who is now a minister told me he was no dream interpreter but that he had seen a lot of symbolism in my dream.  Having caused my interest to peak I asked him about it and privately he emailed me what he felt was an interpretation of my dream given to him by our God.  My friend, Fred*, wasn’t sure I’d accept what he had to say as a message inspired by God.  He was also unsure whether I would be offended or whether I was in a place to hear what he had to say.

But I was ready, for the first uneasiness caused by my dream had passed and all the wise cracks about what food I had eaten or changes in my medication had occurred.  What Fred didn’t know was what God would remind and show to me when I took what Fred had said and God and I “talked it over” during my quiet time with Him.  When it all came together I was left having to acknowledge that my dream was filled with symbolism of my life now.

Fred went on to tell me, in the love of God and of old and tried friendship, what I needed to do to move on with my life.  I haven’t embraced that revelation as willingly as I have the interpretation of my dream itself.  Fred told me to do so much I knew had to be done and that I so DON’T WANT TO DO.

As the year 2012 drew to a close and 2013 began I found myself acknowledging many things.  The post I made at midnight New Year’s Day spoke of winter being for me, an odd time to celebrate new life for things are dormant instead of bursting with new life.  But winter affords us the time to PREPARE for new life.  It is the time we stay closer to home and hearth and family.  It is the time farmers repair equipment, merchants plan the stocking of new wares for spring, heartier soups and stews are prepared, the sun rises later and fades sooner, past times of reading, studying and crossword puzzles seem perfect activities.  It is a when one has time to think.  It is often a time when travel is more risky and one has to think of how to deal with ice, sleet, snow, wind and low temperatures.

It is not a time I am accustom to taking a vacation or journey.  Yet here I am on this journey.  I am straining against reality.  I am fighting to uphold a way of life I held dear and against the loss of it for it means dependence on others that my earlier life taught me was dangerous.  I’ve known this day was coming; I just never could stomach the realities of it.  Now, I have no choice.  Without a doubt the axle/wheel is broken for my left leg is gone from above the knee down and in trying to keep “what was” on the wagon on it there has been a tremendous physical strain on me.  I cannot accept on my deepest levels, that what is happening is happening, that it is real.  I am as much confused by my own thoughts and feelings as I am by those outside of me yelling at me so loudly I cannot hear what they are saying.

I am entering the “winter” of this time for me, both by the calendar and in my life.  I have to take the time to prepare for new life, sort through what needs to be mended or let go of, do the mending or the cleaning out and readying for spring.  Part of that is going to be rejoicing as the new spring arrives and part of that is going to be mourning what is dead and of no longer use to me.

I’m not sure how one “mourns” the loss of a limb or observes the end of one way of life while readying for the start of another.  I am sure of this though, it is going to be painful and it is going to be challenging.  It is going to be exciting and it is going to be an affirmation of life.  It is going to be covered with the fingerprints of God.

It is also my hope that others who are in a time of mourning for whatever loss in this winter season will find a light to help them find the pathway through.  It doesn’t matter if where you are it is 101 or -31 degrees outside for this winter season is here for you as it is for me regardless of what the calendar reads.  The time of mourning arrives with the death of what we will mourn.

Will you join me in whatever way you can during this winter of my life?

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I Was Afraid to Pray

At the beginning of this month I found myself back in the hospital in an ICU room with yet more life threatening blood clots.  Gratefully, though initially they believed I was also having congestive heart failure, they had been wrong.  I spent six days in ICU and another day and a half in a regular room before I got to go home.  However, I brought a physical reminder of this hospital stay for I am again on oxygen so the familiar sounds of the concentrator are ever present in our room.  The next day a woman delivered me a C-Pap machine to use at night for they believe I have sleep apnea.

There were three blood clots, one in my lungs, one in my liver and one in what is left of my amputated leg.  My survival was again a miracle as the clot that had gone through my heart to my lungs was large enough it should have killed me.  This was the third time for that to happen.

I prayed in the hospital although I found myself deeply depressed.  Recovery has been slower than usual for me and that has added to my sorrow and my grief.  In many ways I am having to learn how to do things without both legs all over again for the amputation is so painful I can’t manage the way I did just a month ago.  Blackness seemed to swallow me that I had no strength to fight.  Though I knew people were praying for me I felt alone and abandoned.  God seemed like a shadow of what was in my heart; I could see Him at times if I looked up at just the right time.  I knew He was there.  He would never forsake me.  But I was afraid to talk to Him.  I was afraid of what He’d guide me to do.

So I asked others to pray for me and their prayers lifted my darkness enough that I found myself seeking solace in the Word this morning and in prayer.  I confess I do not yet have an answer to what the next step in my life should be.  I confess that I can’t bear the answer yet.

I am a woman who has worked at some type of job since I was in high school.  Most of the time I love my job and I’ve fought hard to keep working even after the amputation and when many people thought I was crazy to put myself through what I had to do to keep working.  God’s grace has allowed me to recover from a dozen life threatening episodes in the last ten years and to return every time to the office.  What I do is a large part of how I identify myself.  My job helps me feel successful and really good at something that has a hand in helping people who are hurting.  It helps me feel productive and part of the world.  I believe God intended for mankind to work from the very beginning when He told Adam to take care of the Garden of Eden.

Yet now I must face the reality that in pushing myself to keep working I may be damaging my body further.  Certainly the stress of the last year contributed to my recent hospitalization, especially the last two weeks in September.  More than one doctor has suggested it’s time to apply for disability and leave the work force.

Frankly, I am afraid of God’s answer so praying about it has been hard.  But this morning I did.  God lead me to Jeremiah 29 and though parts of Jeremiah are very familiar to me I found new solace there this morning.

Where God is leading me I don’t know just yet, or maybe I just can’t hear His answer just yet, but regardless of which it is I know for certain that God has not forsaken me, God has a plan for me.  I must seek Him with all my heart and open myself to Him completely to know the direction He is sending me.

Yesterday I was afraid to pray.  Tonight I can still taste the sweetness of the Word that I devoured this morning.

If you’ve ever been afraid to pray, afraid of the answer God might give you there is no shame in that – God is big enough to be able to handle your fears and your honesty.  It is a fear you must face for you must not allow that fear to triumph over you when God is waiting for you to call upon Him.

“Abba Father, Praise and glory to Your Holy name.  Before You I kneel in spirit and seek Your audience.  Accept my praise of Your Mightiness and Glory.  Forgive my sins of fear that have kept me from You.  I plea for Your Mercy and Grace, open my heart to You Abba Father so You can guide me in the way I need to go now.  Help me not fear the answer but embrace the possibilities whichever way You lead me to go.  I love You Lord and I praise You as the Author and Creator of my life, of all life, of all that is good, right and Holy.  Thank You Abba Father. Amen.”

Radio Rewards with Lesson Relearned

The radio station of my choice (local WDJC-97.3) is a Christian station.  Every Wednesday morning Roxanne and Chris host a prayer time, inviting different believers from across a wide variety of ministries and denominations to join them in the station for the purpose of prayer.  The group hears, reads and responses to needs for prayer from listeners who call in or key in their requests on Facebook.  This particular Wednesday, (September 19, 2012) from the moment I turned on the radio until I turned it off I was overwhelmed with God’s provision.

The past few months I have felt like a hay wagon barely crawling to a rest area, broken and used up.  Though I listen to WDJC every morning, this morning it seemed every song was a song I needed to hear…the kind of morning that made me long for a playlist so I could purchase and download each and every one.  They were reminders of a Father God who would never forsake me, of a Savior God who died and defeated death for me, of a Spirit God who comforted and consoled in times of deepest distress and need.  A God who answers prayer.

Sitting in the drive through lane at McDonalds for my “usual” (medium coffee, eight creamers, no sugar) I was able to text a request for prayer on WDJC’s Facebook page.  The final words of that request were “I can’t go on like this…I can’t”.  Before I reached work, that all too familiar nearly 50 mile trek the coffee wasn’t the only thing gone…so was a huge weight inside of me.  Somebody was praying.  I knew this even though I didn’t hear (so I have no clue whether the request made it on air or not) a word of prayer on my behalf.

It’s been a while since I felt the results of prayer so instantly…Since I KNEW someone was  PRAYING for me…

Only one of the straws that overloaded me yesterday and earlier this morning have gone away…God has stopped the rain but the weight of the other straws has changed.  Today, I didn’t go on like I’ve been going, the effort to get through this day wasn’t quite as all consuming…and as I waited to get out of my car I bowed my head to pray along with a caller for who had her own reason for calling, God allowed my spirit to lift…

As I rolled up the ramp into our office building a song to floated through my mind and stayed with me throughout my day,

“What a friend we have in Jesus,

All our sins and griefs to bear!

What a privilege to carry

Everything to God in prayer!

Oh, what peace we often forfeit,

Oh, what needless pain we bear,

All because we do not carry,

Everything to God in prayer…”*

It’s difficult for me to say to those around me the words to tell them how discouraged I’ve been, how much I am struggling, how dark it seems, that I keep hearing myself saying, “THIS is not what I want to be doing!  Not what I’m meant to do!”  Difficult to find the words to tell someone how oppressive the physical exhaustion is by Friday when the work week is over…how a simple trip to the grocery store and to get my nails done on a Saturday saps the last bit of physical and emotional energy I have…how most weeks I have to choose between making five days in the office and doing anything on the weekend, including going to church. It’s especially difficult to say these things to my husband who takes on so many of what were my responsibilities

So I keep quiet (yes, believe it or not I do), for I have…

…my pride…what will people think?

…my stubbornness…I will NOT give in!

…my fear of failing…but this is what I have fought so hard to do!  Give up my job?  No way!

…my fear of falling…what if I break my “good leg”…or my arm…how WILL I GET UP?

…my sin…lack of faith…doubt…fear…failing to trust my Creator and His plan for me.

…my lack of confession…God I have sinned against You.

I’ve held it in and swallowed the bitter bites…this morning I asked myself, “When will I learn?

This morning I was given the provision of relearning this lesson through a radio stations desire to be more than a place that plays music but that ministers to their listeners, being willing to involve themselves in the everyday lives of the wounded in the most powerful way they can.  Prayer.

Instead of mourning NOT being able to stand during worship when everyone else does, I have only to lift a willing spirit to worship.  Instead of mourning NOT being able to kneel and pray I have only to humble my heart, mind and spirit and cry out to God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.  Perhaps what I fear most is what I must go through in order to follow the path God has laid out for me.  I do not know.  I do know I can’t keep going as I have been and I can’t know the rest until I let go and let God.

“Are we weak and heavy laden,

Cumbered with a load of care?

Precious Savior, still our refuge;

Take it to the Lord in prayer:

In His arms He’ll take and shield thee;

Thou wilt find a solace there.”*

*Words, Joseph Scriven, 1855.  Tune CONVERSE, Charles C. Converse, 1868.

Today the Hay Wagon Made a Pit Stop

It could have been what seemed like the 400th phone call in three hours.

It could have been the smeared, greasy fingerprints on the bathroom wall I just scrubbed while balancing in my wheelchair in the bathroom a week ago.

It could have been the downpour just as I pulled my car into the parking space this morning meaning I would have an 8 hour wet and cold day until I could get back into the car this afternoon and crank the heater on high.

It could have been yet another problem at work.

It could have been my daughter’s frantic search for a lost item that was right in front of her the entire time that meant we were off schedule for the morning.

It could have been that it seemed as if every person who sets my teeth on edge felt the need to come into our department this week.

It could have been the broken cap and spray nozzle on the brand new can of air freshener just placed in the restroom.

My mind wanted to reason it was the air freshener being broken.  But, even as I fought to reign in my temper and not throw the entire can of air freshener into the trash, or at the nearest head I could find, I knew it wasn’t the cap on the air freshener getting broken that was breaking me.  It was all the straws.  If ever I needed a few “mental health days” these are the days, yet taking them now is out of the question.

God seems to be speaking to me through these straws.  For today is little different than any other day lately, except for perhaps the rain.  I know I’m speaking to Him about them.  Sometimes I’m not so sure whose question is whose.  Is God saying, “It is enough yet?” or am I?  Is God saying, “Come to me and rest” or am I asking, “When can I just throw up my hands and say, “That’s all folks!”?  Is that voice in my heart His or my own?

So I quiz myself.  “What is it I need and I’m not getting?”  The list starts to itemize itself and I stop because it’s frightening.

It occurs to me, with another heavy thud from an even heavier piece of hay that each need is a straw too.  It also disturbingly occurs to me that I’ve become a hay wagon instead of myself.  The road I’m on is familiarly unfamiliar.  There are many things about this leg of my journey I am unclear about.  There are so many things and people begging for my attention that I can’t give anything or anyone what it or they need.  I hear only an echoing mantra; “Get in line, get in line, get in line!

Pulling off this highway an aged sign beckons me:

The Valley of Decision

Arrival Date & Time: 9/18/12  12:51 p.m.

This is where I am to be today.

The tires on my straw laden wagon make a swishing noise on the rain slick pavement as I wheel down the off ramp.  The hay burying me beneath its weight and sliding into every conceivable part of my life makes me irritable and miserable because it scratches and itches and invades; demanding an audience!  The tires plop on the road now as the air seems to ooze out in a final rush of hissing.  Steam pours off me even as rain chills me to the bone.  As I chug gingerly through the storm I see that piece by piece it seems I am leaving either a bit of my transportation or myself along this lap of this leg of the journey.  Yet the straws remain though the winds furiously howl and whip around me.

This is only a pit stop…a refueling station…a rest area…just the departure date and time are left open…and God knows not only that but the next destination as well…

The Heartbeat of Jesus

Hospitals and I are no strangers and being so confined is not among my favorite things to do.  I always long to be at home with my husband and child.  Plus, there’s another home I always long for too and usually far more when I’m in ICU and not in a regular room.  One ICU experience in particular always makes my desire for “home” a struggle.  It was renewed recently as I underwent an amputation.

March/April of 2004 I had a horrific leg infection.  By the time I got to the hospital I had no strength to even move from van to wheelchair and literally lay down on the sidewalk outside the entrance to the hospital.  When they got me inside the ER I was freezing and wanted water so badly I begged for it.  Heated blankets they rotated around me.  Water they wouldn’t give me until they knew what was wrong.

I knew I was dying but the doctor confirmed it when he told my husband he should call any family or friends we had because they didn’t believe I’d survive the night.  Later surrounded by family in ICU I struggled to keep my eyes open to see my husband’s face, longing to assure him I’d be okay knowing it wasn’t a promise I couldn’ make.  Life and death were up to God and in that moment I surrendered.  “Whatever Your will God I know I’m okay just be with those I leave behind.”

Again I begged for water and I heard a nurse promise to return with it in a few minutes.  Sleep dragged me under, arms lifting me up woke me up.

First I thought my husband had lost his mind but, as my head nestled next to a chest and I heard a heartbeat beneath my right ear  I knew I was in the arms of Jesus.  Too weak to turn my head the surroundings were imprinted on my heart.  I opened my eyes and could see sunlight dapping through the leaves and branches where hints of a sky bluer than any I’d ever seen before peeked through.  Where we were was older than time itself, the trees, the ground, the tree roots, the river and I longed to look up into Jesus’ face but somehow I knew I wasn’t suppose to.  The only sounds were those of His heartbeat beneath my ear and of rushing water.

We stood on the banks of a river so wide that the trees on the other side seemed small.  The water was so clear it appeared silver in the sunlight, the surface appearing perfectly calm but I knew that beneath the surface the current was swift and steady hence the rushing sound I heard.  In the middle of the river was a large stone, worn smooth by the waters.  Jesus was going to carry me into that water!

My next thought was, “I should be scared!  I can’t swim!”

Jesus replied instantly, “It’s okay Faye, I’ve got you.”

I knew His feet were in the water then and shortly I felt my gown getting wet as He strolled toward that rock, the wetter I grew the warmer I became.  By the time we reached the rock I was submerged up to my upper chest and Jesus laid my shoulders and head on the rock.  The rock was warm from the sun and felt not hard but supportive.  Jesus arms remained beneath me.  The waters rushed around me and I slept knowing Jesus had me and these waters were washing away the infection.  I was safer than I’d ever been.

That event was repeated many times during my ICU days.  Healing did not come quickly.  I knew when I’d been transferred to another floor out of ICU and the river trips didn’t happen again I was going to live.

I’ve made over a dozen trips back to the hospital since that one.  Not once has Jesus returned with me to that river.  I was forever changed by that experience.  How can you hear the  heartbeat of Jesus and not be forever changed?

Faithfully,

Faith