I know everyone is quite busy this time of year. I have a long list of “to do’s” myself. But I wanted to take a moment to share a quick message, and a prayer.
I’ve been thinking a lot about Christmas and the real Spirit behind it. Yesterday we were asked, “What gift would you give to God”? It is His birthday being celebrated after all. But from everything I have learned over all these years, I know that the one gift He desires most of all, is my heart.
Sometimes my mind becomes very distracted with the details and demands of everyday life, and I lose my focus on what really matters…God, my family and friends, and doing what I can to be a blessing to others.
So I want to take this time to tell all of you…you are the gifts that I treasure most in this world. Thank you for the time and the love you have given me. I wish you all the very best blessings of peace, love and joy to fill your hearts in the days ahead. Merry Christmas to all, and Happy Birthday Jesus!
When Time Stood Still
(A letter to my son, Christian)
It was Saturday, November 13, 2010. A typical winter’s day in Alaska, with a beautiful fresh snow blanketing the ground. What started out as a normal day quickly turned into the most horrific day of my life…the day I held your head in my hands and watched you die, helpless to do anything but pray.
Many times I had heard the phrase, “cry out to God”, but on that day, I literally screamed to Him, begging Him to save my baby. There are no human words to describe what I felt, but it seemed as if time had just suddenly stopped. It was as if I was in another world, watching, and waiting.
I don’t know why it occurred to me, or how it happened, but I was suddenly and utterly filled with an indescribable faith, somehow trusting and knowing that God was at work here, and that everything was going to be alright. As I let go and placed your soul into His mighty hands, for you were already dead, there was a surreal peacefulness that entered my spirit. For the first time in my life, I felt the presence of God in me and all around me. I had sensed His presence before, but this was different. This time it was physical!
The paramedics said you were dead for about an hour, but time did not exist for me. I remember everything I saw, heard, thought and felt. But it was like a flash, and yet eternal. It was as if the beginning of the world through to the end, was all rolled up into one breath.
When your heart began to beat again and life returned to your body, time began again, though it seemed painfully slow for several weeks.
It has been 5 years now, and there has not been one second that I have not felt a deep gratitude in my heart for the precious gift God has given us. There have been difficult moments as is the case in life, and there have been times when I have forgotten to say “thank you”. But I have never stopped feeling it.
The love I feel in my heart, for God, and for you, has grown with each day. I can’t imagine life without either of you, and I wouldn’t want to.
I’ve been allowed the privilege of watching you grow and blossom into the young man you are today, and I just want to tell you that I am proud of you! You may not always make good and right choices, you may be irritating at times, but I count it all as joy in seeing you live, in watching as you grow and walk with God.
As a mother, I will always be concerned about you, because I love you. But in the very depths of my soul, as long as you are in God’s hands, I know you will be okay. And so that is my prayer for you, that you live your life by God’s word, walking in His ways, and following His perfect plan for you. Live for God, and you will live well.
In honor of your (re)birthday today, I give God thanks for you, and I praise His mighty name for your life. It is a precious gift to be your mother, and it is an honor to call you my son.
I love you Christian…you forever hold my heart!
A Thanksgiving Day Message
A Thanksgiving Day Message
There are so many reasons I have to be thankful for, I couldn’t possibly list them all here. But as I’ve been thinking about those reasons, I realized that I could summarize them all with this:
I am thankful for being loved, and for the ability to give love!
God’s love is the greatest gift of all. It is the beginning of and the reason for all the blessings we receive, including life itself. And because His love is so great, it cannot be contained in one heart alone. It grows, and then we can share it.
So I want to take the time to say THANK YOU to God, for the gift of love! And THANK YOU to all of my family, friends and neighbors, for sharing your love!
As we celebrate this Thanksgiving Day tomorrow, I pray that every heart on earth be filled with such love and joy, that the whole earth sings a song of praise and thanks.
Always remember, God loves you, and that is worth being thankful for.
Faith, Hope & Miracles: A Re-birthday Celebration
November 13, a “re-birthday”. That is the term my son Christian uses to describe the anniversary of his death and return from heaven. He says he was “re-born” on that day, and it is certainly worthy of a celebration.
After a horrible accident, Christian was dead for almost an hour. During that time, he was in heaven with Jesus, where he also met his older brother, Jason. The experiences Christian shared with us over the next few months were astounding to say the least. It changed our lives.
Birthday celebrations involve gifts, but instead of receiving, we want to give. Christian said that Jesus wants us to know that He loves us all, and He wants us to be encouraged with faith and hope. It is that faith and hope that inspired our book, “Faith, Hope & Miracles”, and it is our gift to you. We have made it available for free on November 13 and 14, and we’re asking everyone to share it. Join us in our celebration of Christian’s “re-birthday”, share a little encouragement and hope!
Free for a limited time, “Faith, Hope & Miracles”at Amazon.com
“Delightful, awe-inspiring, miraculous journey of one boy and his family. Gut-wrenching terror turns into a beautiful story of redemption, 2nd chances, and miracles in this journal of death-to-life healing and glorious victory. WOW! Highly recommended to stir your faith and encourage you that God is real, He’s alive, and He worked a precious miracle in this Alaskan family. You should read it today!” (Mary E. Hanks, author of “Winter’s Past”)
May God bless you with abundant love, peace and joy.
– Amber & Christian
Who Is a Caregiver? by Pamela Thorson
Until I wrote Out from the Shadows, I thought a caregiver was someone who took care of a person suffering from a disease or disability.
Then, as I thought and prayed about what to share in the book, it took on a life of its own. I originally imagined I would address the complaints suffered by caregivers and offer some encouragement. But as I mulled over devotions I had written over the span of several years and added new ones as God gave them to me, a very different picture emerged.
Yes, some of the devotions addressed predictable issues as burn-out and keeping our perspective. Then a golden thread emerged, one filled with the rich hues of majesty and loyalty and glory.
I realized that a message had emerged from the shadows.
Because caregiving is not gray. At times it is black with despair. Other times it is cloaked in the royal colors of surrender. It always runs blood-red with sacrifice. It is as white as the righteousness of the Savior who bought our freedom and as intense as the daily deliverance from our personal prisons. Sometimes it is hot with tears; other times it rests in the coolness of living waters.
But it is never gray, unless we have allowed our hearts to let go of hope.
Today I realize that caring for others is a universal calling. Caregivers are moms. Dads. Grandparents. Aunts, uncles, children, and spouses.
Caregivers are people who can’t walk away from someone who is hurting.
Our heartaches, struggles, and search for meaning are universal conditions. The golden thread is a common one, running through eternity. The colors of our lives connect us to each other and to the God who cared enough to risk it all for love.
He left His home in glory to walk in the dust with us. He gave away his life that we might live. He has never once left us alone in our hour of need.
God calls us to care in this same way for others. It’s a high calling, a blessed burden, an honor.
This is caregiving.
In her new book, Out from the Shadows, Pam shares how God uses our life circumstances to form the qualities He wants to develop in us. It’s not just for caregivers, but for all who need uplifting encouragement, to continue on a daily basis in loving and serving others. Pick up a copy ($8.96 paperback; $2.99 kindle) today at http://www.amazon.com/Out-Shadows-Pamela-Thorson
Pam Thorson is a licensed practical nurse, author, speaker, and full-time caregiver. She pioneered in the homeschooling movement from 1982-2006 and authored her first book, Song in the Night, in 2008. Her newest book, Out from the Shadows: 31 Devotions for the Weary Caregiver (Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas), released March 28. Pam resides in the Pacific Northwest with her family. Contact her at www.pamthorson.com.
*A note from Amber:
In Pam’s post today, I was reminded of 1 Corinthians 12, which teaches us about how we are all connected to each other, as one body, and how we need each other. God has given each of us a unique purpose and individual spirit, yet we are all a part of the same body.
I want to thank Pam for taking the time out of her busy schedule to share with us. God has truly blessed her with words of encouragement and hope. I know it has not been an easy journey for her and her family, and I feel very honored to be able to help in spreading the word about her work, and to call her a friend.
God bless you all! – Amber
Believing in Miracles
Have you ever had one of those moments when the phone rings and on the other end is someone in desperate need of consoling? You know, like a family member or friend with a shocking message of being diagnosed with cancer or some other terminal illness, or news of a horrible accident with a seemingly hopeless outcome? Perhaps you, yourself, have had a frightening diagnosis, injury, or circumstance.
Needless to say, it’s not an easy situation to respond to. It is usually uncomfortable, because most of us immediately feel incapable of doing anything useful, no matter how much we may want to help.
Many times over the years I’ve been asked to pray for someone. And I always did. But for a long time, my prayers were more in the form of begging God to “please help”, and I’m not really sure that there was much faith in my heart that God was even listening.
As I studied the bible more, my relationship with God began to change. I started to trust in Him more, even though I couldn’t always understand everything. And my faith grew stronger. This had an impact on my prayers as well. I stopped begging, and started believing. I started believing in the power of prayer, and I started believing in miracles.
Now I need to explain something here. For over half of my life, I lived apart from God. I knew a little about God when I was young, and I had a little bit of faith. But after praying for healing for my grandmother (in my begging and unbelieving way), she died the very next day. And I lost my faith, not understanding, and I chose to turn my back on God. But, thankfully, He didn’t turn His back on me. I won’t go into all the details, but over time, God continued to speak to my heart, calling me back to Him.
I want to share a few scriptures that have had a very strong impact in my faith since then.
The first one, “Lean on, trust in, and be confident in the Lord with all your heart and mind and do not rely on your own insight or understanding. In all your ways know, recognize, and acknowledge Him, and He will direct and make straight and plain your paths”. (Proverbs 3:5-6 AMP) From these verses, I began to learn more about trust, which is an issue I have always had struggles with. I finally understood, there will always be people that will mislead, deceive, and disappoint me, but God is ALWAYS faithful.
The second verse is, “Do not be conformed to this world (this age), [fashioned after and adapted to its external, superficial customs], but be transformed (changed) by the [entire] renewal of your mind [by its new ideals and its new attitude], so that you may prove [for yourselves] what is the good and acceptable and perfect will of God, even the thing which is good and acceptable and perfect [in His sight for you]”. (Romans 12:2 AMP) After living apart from God for so long, it took a while for me to understand that there were many “worldly” influences that had filled my heart and my head, lying to me about who God is, and limiting my faith in Him. But this verse taught me that I need to ignore what the world says and does, and to constantly renew and refresh my spirit in God through prayer and reading His word. And having a pastor that is dedicated to teaching and preaching God’s truth has been not only helpful to me, but necessary.
The third verse, and perhaps the hardest for me to grasp was “Jesus glanced around at them and said, With men [it is] impossible, but not with God; for all things are possible with God”. (Mark 10:27 AMP) To fully understand this verse, I had to go back to the beginning, to how God created everything. I had to try to picture it in my mind, to imagine such an awesome power. And I had to choose to believe it in my heart, which caused me to feel very humbled by His majesty.
As I said earlier, I now believe in the power of prayers, and I believe in miracles. Not only because of the stories told in the bible, but because I have witnessed them personally.
Many of you may have read my book, “Faith, Hope & Miracles”, where I shared the miracle of what happened to my youngest son when he was killed in an accident, and then brought back to life and fully healed. As thousands of people were praying for a miracle for us, the doctors said there was no hope for my son’s survival, let alone recovery. But when an 8 year old boy comes back to life and tells you what it was like to sit on Jesus’ lap in heaven, things change!
That was a few years ago. More recently, I received a call asking for prayers for a 1 year old girl that had been diagnosed with the probability of leukemia. The first blood test indicated a very low white blood cell count. A second test was done a few days later, and the results were much worse. So a bone marrow biopsy was requested. In the meantime, a network of thousands began praying for this little girl and her family. Before performing the biopsy, a third blood test was ordered. This test came back perfectly normal, no indication of leukemia was found!
At the same time, many of us were also praying for a woman with issues regarding her uterus. At first, x-rays showed a couple of “spots”, so more tests were ordered. These spots were found to be 2 medium sized cysts. Further tests a short time later using a microscopic camera revealed that the cysts had grown to large fibroid tumors. This woman went in for surgery last Monday to have the tumors removed, but the tumors had just disappeared!
There were no medical explanations for how these three individuals were healed. But the bible gives a perfectly clear explanation…Divine Intervention.
I have personally witnessed many other miracles aside from physical ailments. There have been financial matters, legal troubles, marital and relationship struggles, all with seemingly impossible odds. Some have been resolved instantly, others over time. But in all circumstances, there was prayer and faith.
There is one thing that I must make perfectly clear, in order to prevent any misunderstanding. God does indeed perform miracles, and they are all around us, every day. But we must remember and understand, He is God, holy and righteous and all powerful. He is not a “genie at our command” that grants our every request. This is what I did not understand when my grandmother died. Sometimes we do not get what we ask for. God does things according to His ways, and in His timing. Though I cannot explain the ways and the whys of God, I can say with all confidence and certainty that He knows what He is doing, and it is all good. His timing is always perfect, and He is always faithful. We can and should trust in Him completely!
One mistake that is often made is the “I’ll give Him a try and see what happens” kind of attitude. If the wish is not granted as soon as asked, then we say there is no God, or He doesn’t listen. It is the perfect excuse to give up on Him.
I admit freely, it is not always easy to believe and have faith. In fact, sometimes it is downright hard! But it’s not about getting everything we want. It’s about knowing that there is One that loves us so much and wants for us to be with Him for all eternity. It’s about knowing that we don’t deserve to be in His presence, and there is nothing we can do to earn the privilege, but that by His mighty love for us, He provided a way for us, through repentance, baptism and receiving the gift of His Holy Spirit (Acts 2:38). We can choose to live with Him, on purpose, following in His ways.
We all have a choice. We can be like the world, unbelieving, scoffing at, mocking and rejecting what the bible says. Or we can choose to believe what the bible says, believing in the power of pray, trusting in His answer, knowing Jesus is the one true God, and we can choose to believe in miracles. What do you believe?
Living With Disabilities
I recently came across an article titled “6 Things About Chronic Pain You Didn’t Know You Knew“. While reading I thought, “This is a fairly accurate description of my life for the past 12 years”.
I have 4 different types of arthritis: osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, ankylosing spondylitis, fibromyalgia and several old injuries from indiscretions of youth, including a few spinal injuries. On a scale of 1 – 10 with 10 being the highest, my average daily pain level is between 3 – 4. Then there are times like this past week after my back went out again, the pain jumps up to 15+.
Trips to the ER bring cocktails of morphine and valium which zonk me out for a day or 2, and usually makes me sick. Chiropractors won’t touch me anymore because of the degeneration of my spine, and the latest physicians recommended surgeries only give a 40% chance of success.
So I use exercise, diet, homeopathic and herbal remedies of every kind, along with massage and pain pills, hot and cold packs, and rest. But mostly, I pray.
I pray for strength, healing, courage, and determination. I pray for a cure, to end the suffering. I pray for miracles, and I give praise and thanks for the good days and the mobility I have left. I also ask to be used as a blessing to others, in sharing hope and encouragement. That’s one of the main reasons I created this blog.
When my lower back went out last week, it caused immediate waves of intense pain which dropped me to my knees. I knew what was coming next, as I’ve been through this before. The spasms started just above my left hip and radiated in every direction from there, with the muscles playing a sort of tug-of-war with my spine. As I started to feel somewhat dizzy and sick, I cried out and began to pray.
In times of intense pain, I’ve noticed my prayers also become intense. In between the short gasps for air were short cries of “Dear Jesus”, “please, no”, and “help me”.
Eventually, with the help of my 11 year old son and a cane, I was able to get to my recliner and got seated. After getting an ice pack on my spine and taking a muscle relaxer and pain pill, I cried. And I prayed hard. Once the valium took effect, I drifted off to sleep for about an hour.
In the past when my back has gone out like this, after about 3 days it starts feeling a little better. This time was different. For one thing, there was some slight paralysis in my legs. And the muscle spasms were pretty constant, continuing to cause waves of pain through my spine, hips and legs.
Since I had run out of muscle relaxers and the only pain pills I had left were ibuprofen, there was not much relief from the pain and I couldn’t move very much. But from the lack of movement, stiffness began to increase throughout my entire body, causing even more discomfort. I continued using ice packs and heating pads, and generic arthritis rubs, which did bring some short term relief.
All in all, the whole situation caused a lot of stress, discouragement and fear. Thoughts were racing through my foggy mind of “what if” situations. Things like “what if I become fully paralyzed”? Or “what if the pain doesn’t go away”?
Since I couldn’t do much of anything else, I did a lot of reading from the bible. And as my mind was drawn to the subject of suffering, I decided to read the book of Job. It definitely gave me a different perspective on the subject. For one thing, it made me quit feeling so sorry for myself.
I also read from the New Testament, several passages regarding suffering for the cause of Christ and how it should be considered a blessing and privilege. (2 Corinthians 1:5, James 5:10-11, 1 Peter 4:12-13, Philippians 4:11-13) I know that those references were more along the lines of suffering from persecution, and that is not what my suffering comes from. But still, pain is pain, regardless of what is causing it.
While I was reading these scriptures, I remembered when I had read them before, and how I admired these people for their courage and commitment. I thought about how I would respond to being tortured for Jesus’ sake. I thought, “I could handle it” (referring to being put to death by stoning or beheading). I’ve always been tough and stoic, and able to handle all sorts of different types of pain and injuries, in the past.
But in dealing with this current episode with my back, I found myself pleading, “Either cure me, or kill me! I can’t handle this pain anymore.” That’s when I realized that even though I may not be facing persecution in the ways of the apostles, I am facing persecution, of pain. That’s why I could identify so well with the description in the article about chronic pain. I knew that there was no way possible that I could deal with that intense pain, not on my own. I remembered the bible promises that God will never leave or forsake me. And though there may be times when I feel alone, if I start to pray with my whole heart, I can feel His presence with me.
It’s been over a week now since my back went out, and I’m happy to report that I am slowly regaining movement and feeling. There is still pain and spasms, but not to the degree that it was. My physical condition is improving, but even more importantly, my spiritual condition is improving. While my body may deteriorate, my spirit will continue to grow stronger, as long as I keep my heart and mind on Jesus.
I thank Jesus each and everyday, because He is the only reason and the only way I can make it through these pains and keep going. I know He will heal me, if not here on earth, then when I get to heaven. I know there is a way through the storm, there is hope. And His name is Jesus.
To everyone out there who is suffering, whether it is from physical, mental, or spiritual pain, please know, you are not alone. Don’t give up! No matter what illness or disease or affliction you may have, put it in God’s hands. Trust Him. In the end, He is the only One who can help us.
I will keep all of you in my prayers. God bless, Amber.
* For more information on arthritis, please check out The Arthritis Foundation.
* I’d also like to introduce a new partnership with Endless Pursuit, a faith based Multiple Sclerosis nonprofit based in the Pacific NW.