Hands of God

My husband and I are on the Board of Directors of the Scotland County Highland Games that take place annually.  As soon as the games are over for one year, we gather ourselves together with the other 25 or so committee members and start over from scratch for the next year’s games. If you’ve never attended any Highland Games, you will find no better than those that happen in Scotland County, North Carolina on the first weekend of October each year. (See links below to check out our website.)

By this time in the execution of the games, we meet every two weeks until we have all bases covered.  This works well and the games always go smoothly. Each year our attendance grows. But it’s no light matter to devote yourself to be on the committee.

In the Hands of God

A year ago today, August 26, 2014, my husband was making his way to the SCHG Committee Meeting by himself. I was having a severe chronic pain episode and my husband left early to go by and grab a burger on the way to the meeting. He eased onto I-95 and began to eat his sandwich as he drove. He began to choke and tried to pull over. Before he could get all the way off the interstate, he blacked out.

It couldn’t have been more than a few seconds, because he came to and eased back onto the interstate.  It didn’t take him long to figure out that he was now going the wrong way on the north-bound lane. He pulled over again, turned around, and made it across a flat area in the grassy median to return to the south-bound lance. He took the next exit, shaking all over, and called me.

Here’s what happened: Kelly got choked on a piece of burger. It was lodged in his trachea. In just a short amount of time, he blacked out due to lack of oxygen. The car veered to the left and into the grassy median just past Exit 44. His car bounced over the grassy, but rough, terrain, probably causing the piece of sandwich to dislodge and oxygen rushed back into his lungs, bringing him into consciousness.  We thank God that neither the Kelly, nor the car, nor anyone traveling along that stretch of the interstate was harmed in any way.

God has put His angels in charge of you, to watch you wherever you go. Psalm 91:11 (NCV)

The next day, we drove along that section of the interstate, pulled well off the road, and surveyed what we saw. Here are the miracles that God showed us in harsh light of day:

  • That uneven, grassy median is the only spot along that whole length of interstate that is flat and grassy. At any time before, he would have crashed into trees. If he had been further along, he would have plowed into the bridge supports at the next exit.
  • Even though it looks like a smooth, grassy place to turn around or cross to the other side of the interstate, in the middle is a dip that slopes into a small V-shaped ravine. The car could have hit this and possibly flipped end over end, but the car missed it by at least two feet.
  • It was 5:00pm. Usually, traffic on both sides of I-95 is a nightmare at this time of day. And folks move along at the pace of a NASCAR race. When Kelly gained conciousness, the only cars he saw were at least a half-mile away.
  • We found the bite of burger that caused the choking — on the driver’s passenger side, under the seat. The last thing Kelly remembers was that he was trying to cough it up, with no success. I don’t know if it was the bumpy median that dislodged it, but I believe that it was the hand of God or one of His angels.

Every time we pass that little place in the road, we say a prayer of thanksgiving to God. The fact that Kelly’s life was spared and that no harm was done, is just another miracle God has given us.

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Have you had any miracles happen in your life lately? Will you share your experience in the comments so that others may be encouraged?

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A DAY OF FAMILY FUN!

The Scotland County Highland Games is a great day of family fun, Scottish traditions, Scottish-British foods, pipe and drum competitions, and Highland dance competition. Come see world-famous Scottish athletes perform. There are games for the children as well.

Interested in the Scotland County Highland Games? Click here. Join us Saturday night for a blending of two successful Scottish Rock Bands, Seven Nations and Rathkeltair as they join forces for the “Clan Na Gael Reunion Concert!.” It’s the best $5 you’ll spend all year!  More information here.

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Letting Go (with No-Carb Crock Pot Rotisserie Chicken Recipe)

I remember a conversation I had with my husband, Kelly, so vividly it’s like it was yesterday.  This was just a few months after we were married in 1987.  We’d decided that I’d come off birth control and we’d start our family.  I said to him, “By next year, we’ll have a new Rosser to take to big family Thanksgiving dinner at your Aunt Ruth-Marie’s house.”

In the same conversation, we were discussing the longevity of my teaching career.  I was teaching at Eastover-Central Elementary School and was honored as their “Teacher of the Year” for 1987.  That was huge for me because I’d only been teaching for three years.  To have my peers vote to give you, a virtual newbie, an honor like that was overwhelming for me. “Yes,” I said confidently. “I will be teaching until I am blue-haired, squint-eyed, wrinkled beyond recognition, and walking with a cane.”

As confident as I was that day, neither of those things came to pass.

Image Source:  www.getv.org

Instead of getting pregnant, we found out about our infertility. “One in a million chance,” was what the doctor told us.  Of course, I told him that God was the Great Physician, and without much consulting with the Great Physician, Kelly and I decided that our journey included donor sperm and monthly visits to Duke Fertility Clinic.

Within the next year, I injured my back at school while moving a science kit.  It only weighed ten pounds, but something happened that morning that I can’t quite put my finger on.  All I knew was that I was in excruciating pain.  Five years and seven surgeries later, I was medically retired from a profession I thought I’d be a part of until I was…well, you know what I said in the first paragraph.

After six unhappy months of in vitro at Duke, Kelly and I finally let God have the infertility issue, and we adopted.  It was the oh-so-right thing to do.  We could not love our children anymore if they were our biologically.  At nearly 25, 23, and nearly 16, they bring us so much joy. They like to tell me that they may not have grown in my womb, but they grew in my heart.  I kinda think I’ll keep ’em.

The one thing I fought God on at every turn was the fact that I was not in the teaching profession anymore.  I spent YEARS filled with anger at how that dream of mine had taken wings and flown. Even with the joy of adopting my children and the absolute miraculous ways He brought each of them to us, I held God accountable for not healing me physically and returning me to teaching.

In 2002,  I did let most of the anger go and for the most part, I was able to move on with my life and be relatively happy. But the little sliver that I harbored in my heart, kept me out of God’s will.  Seven years ago, I really had a come-to-Jesus moment that forever eradicated any anger I had and brought me to my knees to beg for His forgiveness.

I walked into a church where I was not a member because we were looking for a new church home.  At the end of the service, a woman came up to me and said, “You know, we need someone to work with our children and when I saw you walk in today, I knew my prayers had been answered.”

That woman was my Aunt Melba Rosser.  We were visiting the Kelly’s home church.  I was just visiting to be nice.  I did not think we’d really choose to become members of Culbreth Memorial UMC.  For heaven’s sake, I’d been a Baptist for forty-four years!  But this is where God led us, the church family He chose for us — and even though He hasn’t healed me physically (yet — I’m not ever ruling it out!), He healed me mentally, emotionally, and spiritually.

This church  took me just as I was, knowing that some Sundays I might not be able to show up because of my chronic pain.  I have a fantastic group of parents that pitch in and do things that I can’t physically do.  We started with a very small group of five children.  Now I work with fourteen: one children’s choir, one youth choir, and a drama team.  We’re growing every year.

The one thing I realized I’ve always been teaching — God gave me three children to teach.  And that I’ll still  be teaching for years to come, just in different circumstances.

Is it the life I envisioned that day back in 1987?  No…it’s better!

What had you envisioned that was not in God’s plan for you?  What did He lead you to instead?

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No-Carb Crock Pot Rotisserie Chicken (Serves 4-6)

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Ingredients:

1 whole chicken, 4-5 pounds

1 bottle of McCormick’s Rotisserie Chicken seasoning

1/4 cup of water

Nonstick Canola Spray

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Directions:

1.  Remove the giblets and neck from chicken.  (I freeze them to use for making chicken stock.)

2.  Rinse chicken thoroughly inside and out.  Pat dry.

3.  Spray crock pot with nonstick spray.  Add 1/4 cup water.  Turn on crock pot to “low.”

4.  Use the McCormick Rotisserie Chicken season and coat the chicken liberally with it.

5.  Place chicken in crock pot.

6.  Cook chicken on low for 6 hours.

7.  When done, remove chicken and place on a platter to rest for 10 minutes.

8.  Skin and de-bone chicken.

Serve with vegetables or salad or use in a sandwich.  I freeze the chicken diced or chopped in 1-cup portions in quart bags to use on salads throughout the week at lunchtime.  This is moist, delicious, and cost-effective.

Tips:   I was in Wal-Mart yesterday and checked the deli prices for one of their rotisserie chickens — $8.88 for one not nearly as big as the ones I cook.  I try to find whole chickens on sale and buy them in bulk.  They will keep in the freezer up to nine months.  On sale, I can usually get whole chickens for about $ .69/pound.  (Aldi has frozen chickens for $ .89/pound every day — which is not a bad price either.)

Nutritional Information (1 cup cooked chicken):  231 calories, 5 g fat, 119 mg cholesterol, 104 mg sodium, and 43 g protein.

Music Monday: Hurricane

Life has recently felt a bit disjointed, a little crazy, a little out of control, and a lot nonstop for me.  When I arose this morning, I felt run-down and a bit like an over-done steak.  Ever been there?  Are you there right now?

 “Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”  (Matthew 11:28-30, The Message)

Once, I ran out of gas driving my little blue Subaru in the days when I was first teaching school.  That was way before cell phones.  It wasn’t dark, but it was close.  I was on my way home from school and just about half a mile from my exit on Interstate 95 when the car sputtered, puttered, and I guided it off the road as it rolled to a stop.  Yep, the needle was below “E” if that’s possible.

Image Source:  www.automopedia.org

I sat for a few minutes, wondering what to do.  I decided to get out and walk to the exit ramp, go to the Exxon station and call my daddy.  Before I took more than ten steps, a pick-up truck slowed down and pulled up in front of my car.  It was the grandfather of one of my students (and the janitor at Eastover-Central Elementary School).  Once I told him what the problem was, he advised me to get back in the car, lock it, and he’d be right back.  In about twenty minutes, he was back with a full gas can and poured it all into my gas tank. The car started right up.  He wouldn’t even let me pay him!  Leon Patterson was an angel that day.  (As I later found out, he couldn’t really afford to be as generous as he’d been that October afternoon.  So, I made sure he always got extra goodies from me at Christmas and any other holidays that came throughout the year.)

I could have run out of gas on another road or at a different place along the highway that Mr. Patterson might never have passed.  Or I could have been driving my parents’ car that day, which Mr. Patterson would never have recognized.  But it was just the right spot and in the car Mr. Patterson knew belonged to me.  He found me along a highway in a situation that could have been dangerous.  In my heart, I know God sent me Leon Patterson that day.

Image Source:  www.touch-the-flame.deviantart.com

God sees us running around under our own steam.  He sees that our tanks are getting to that dangerous “below empty” level.  He’s just waiting for us to run out of gas and turn to Him for strength and solace and comfort — to give up the burden and take His lightness to our souls.

So, today — even though there was a storm raging in my heart — I just took a little time for Him.  I let Kelly run a couple of errands for me on his way home from work instead of dragging myself out of the house to do it.  I sang as I swept the kitchen (and grimaced at the amount of dirt that can accumulate in just a couple of days) and in between songs,  I spent a lot of time praying.  I sat down and played hymns on the piano.  I listened to my favorite Christian radio stations.

Image Source:  www.amerigas.

And Natalie Grant was singing my song.  So, I thought I’d share it with you, even though it’s late.  Who knows?  Even though the calm has finally come to my house, the storm may be raging at yours.  Just remember God made those winds, and He can control them.  Just let Him.

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Hurricane” (Natalie Grant)

Music Monday: Ask Me Why

Yesterday, I received a phone call that made my heart stop.  My son’s girlfriend called and frantically cried, “Sandy, we’ve just been in an accident and the car flipped.”

The first thing I asked was if she, Steven, or Joshlyn (my granddaughter) was hurt and her answer was “No, we’re all okay.  Steven’s really upset and Joshlyn’s crying — but that’s because I can’t find her pacifier.”  She also clarified that it was the other vehicle that had flipped and my heart rate began to go down.  They were on their way to the beach for the day when the accident happened, so I assured her that my husband was on the way to pick them up.   Then I got on my knees and said a long prayer of thanks for God‘s protection and providence.

After Kelly had collected them and brought them home, Steven said, “Mom, I really messed up.  I ran the stoplight by accident.  Both airbags deployed.  My car, my car…what am I going to do?”

My response to him was this, “Have you thanked God that you’re all safe?”

“Yes ma’am” he assured me.  “That’s the first thing I did — even before I got out of the car.”

I explained to him that his car was just a hunk of metal, plastic, and rubber.  It could be replaced.  It was temporal, worldly. The most important fact was that they walked away from a terrible accident, badly shaken but physically unscathed.

I walked over to my mother’s house and told her what had happened and she just looked at me.

“What?” I asked.

“There have been times in the past that you would have been freaking out uncontrollably right now,” she commented.

I agreed with her.  If this had been ten years ago, I would have had to take some kind of anxiety medication and would have probably gone straight to bed, crying with abandon, and just generally have fallen apart.  It wouldn’t have lasted for just a night — it would have lasted a week or more.

And the reason is clear — I relied on Sandy a great deal then and God, not so much.  I thought I could control my world and the things that happened in my world.  When things happened that were out of my control, I lost it.  I was devastated.  It took me a long time to recover.

Isn’t that outrageous?  To think that I had some kind of control over the events that take place in this world is ludicrous!  I have no more control over what happens in my day-to-day life than I can control the movement of the earth, the change of seasons, or the passage of time.

Image Source:  www.artbarnett.com

But I know the One who does control these things, and that is my secret.  I knew this secret when I was younger but I let the losses and trials I faced in my thirties cloud my judgment and erase the memory of that wonderful secret.  When things weren’t going my way, I tried to take the reins of my life and drive the chariot.  The result was that both the chariot wheels came off, the chariot ended up in the ditch, and the horse ran away, leaving me with nothing but God — Who (by the way) is EVERYTHING I ever need.   I’m sad that I wasted a period of my life only half-trusting God.

In this last decade, I’ve grown up a great deal spiritually.  My mother says I’m the “old” Sandy, but I put it another way:  I’m the “new and improved” Sandy.  I am the Sandy I always wanted to be because I lean solely on my God.  I let Him drive the chariot, read the road map, make the pit stops, and be my GPS.

My mother and I sang the special music at my home church (Judson Missionary Baptist Church) last night.  I gave a word of testimony about yesterday afternoon’s events before we sang “The Longer I Serve Him.”  (You absolutely cannot go wrong with a Bill and Gloria Gaither song!)  Afterwards, the pastor came to me and said, “I have to ask:  what if Steven, Casey, and Joshlyn had all died?”

Without hesitation, I said “I would still be praising God for allowing me to know and love them.  I would be infinitely sad, but I would give thanks to God for His mercy.  You see, even if they had perished, they know Jesus and have asked Him to be their Savior.  I would survive because I know I’d see them in Heaven.”

Always give thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. ( Ephesians 5:20, NCV)

That’s always (meaning in every situation) give thanks for everything (meaning the good, the bad, and the ugly) to Jesus.  You can’t pick and chose those things for which you are grateful.  It’s an all or nothing proposition.  Your reward for this kind of thanks is lasting peace that passes our human understanding.

So if you ask me why I am thankful, I’m always going to point to Jesus.  I’m always going to celebrate God, even when it seems the odds are against me.  My favorite new quote is this:

Image Source:  http://sprinkledjoy.blogspot.com

Good or not-so-good — what are you thanking God for today?

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Ask Me Why” (Legacy Five)

To Watch Over You

Image Source: www.angelinstitute.co.za

Yesterday was a bad weather day where I live. All morning, the clouds gathered and I could feel the rain in my bones. A cold front quickly took over our area and the darkness of the heavens looked threatening.

Still, I had to go to physical therapy for my knee. I only have two more sessions before they will cut me loose to work on my own at home. So I drove under ominous skies and actually made it to PT before the bottom fell out of the sky and a torrent of rain beat upon the earth.

Image Source: www.nasa.gov

The radio was on while I worked through my exercises and I heard emergency messages about tornado watches and warnings across southeastern North Carolina. Instead of listening to the music, I felt compelled to pray — not only for myself, but for everyone in the path of the storm. This is the scripture that came to mind:

He will put his angels in charge of you to protect you in all your ways. Psalm 91:11 (GOD’S WORD translation)

Over the hour that I was doing my PT, the rain dissipated and the skies began to lighten. “Would you like to ice your knee or do you want to skip it and head home?” asked Jackie, my physical therapist.

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I almost skipped the ice. I even picked up my keys and purse to leave. But there was this “niggling” (sort of a cross between “nagging” and “tingling”) voice in the back of my mind. “Ice that knee!” it seemed to be whispering. So, I lay on the table and let Jackie tend to my tired, sore knee.

No sooner had she gotten the ice on it and started the timer, than we all heard the most horrific noise. Out of the huge glass window front, we watched as a huge pick up truck, an SUV, and two other cars spun on the wet road immediately outside the doctor’s office on Ramsey Street.

Image Source: www.car-auto-online.com

After the screeching of the tires stopped and the whirring of the police sirens began, all of us in the physical therapy room sat in stunned silence.

“That could have been you, Ms. Sandy,” Jackie offered, her voice wavering. “If you hadn’t stopped to ice that knee, you could have been in that mess.” My heart was already beating fast because this same thought had just come to me a moment earlier.

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Even after she took the ice pack from my knee, I sat and watched as EMS and police worked the scene. The people in the SUV were now standing on the side of the road, looking at little wet, but okay. One of the other drivers was leaning against his badly damaged pick-up, arms crossed, head shaking, but seemed to still be in one piece.

Image Source: www.welcomethespirit.com

As I pulled out of the doctor’s office parking lot and made my way home, I spent the entire ride praising the Lord for the angels I know that He dispatched to Ramsey Street that afternoon.

Bad news always make the news, so I perused today’s paper (The Fayetteville Observer) for a story about the accident. Since I could find no mention of deaths on Ramsey Street, it looks like those angels were working overtime yesterday afternoon.

You have earned your “Prayer Angel” wings!

Image Source: www.angelghost.com

And indeed, angels all over the United States have been doing God‘s work this week. My cousin, Sonny, is in stable condition. Although he’s still in the medically-induced coma, he seems to be responding to the presence of family around him. Doctors are unsure if he’s had a heart attack, but they do know he’s suffering from pneumonia that is a side effect of the chemotherapy. THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU to each one who lifted him up on Monday. You, by association, have been doing God’s work as prayer angels!

Have you ever experienced a time in which you absolutely knew that God’s angels have protected you?

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