Thursday, September 29, 2016


Everyday Heroes....

What an honor it was for me to write this guest post for the Compassion That Compels website. Please take a few moments to go there and meet Kristianne Stewart and her Warrior 
Women who surround, bless, and pray for women who are battling cancer. Her mission is inspiring and will capture your heart as it did mine!

The recent Summer Olympics captured the attention of a watching and cheering world. There are always those dominant stories such as American Michael Phelps... who now holds the record for most swimming medals in a career, Usain Bolt from Jamaica... described as the fastest man alive, and American Simone Biles..said to be the best female gymnast thus far in history.

Personally, I love the stories of the underdogs. Daniel Dennis was an American wrestler who walked away from his sport in 2013. He wandered California for a few years living in his pick-up and trailer with no TV or internet. He coached wrestlers occasionally, but did no personal training. One day he again picked up the disciplines of his sport and qualified for the 2016 Olympics. 

The two-man Italian beach volleyball team fought valiantly against the home town Brazilian team to qualify for a Silver Medal. Their story? Their teammates, the Italian indoor volleyball team, were given the majority of the funding. The two man team operated on a shoestring budget but competed with tenacity and national pride. 

 Finally, Novlene Williams-Mills, a Jamaican woman who ran like the wind to ensure her 4x400 relay team secured a Silver Medal. When she competed in the 2012 Olympics she had just been diagnosed with breast cancer. She ran anyway and had a double mastectomy after the games were over.

The Summer Olympics are now history. The athletes have returned to their countries, their homes, families and jobs. Yet, all of you remain....Kristianne's BEAUTIFUL OVERCOMERS. You are still running your races, daily fighting to overcome a silent invader that has hijacked your body and your life. You are the TRUE heroes...the everyday heroes. You will never stand on a podium to the cheers of tens of thousands of fans, or have a medal hung around your neck to honor your efforts and determination. You won't hear the national anthem of your country played as millions around the world watch on.

Let me share with you what you do have. You have Kristianne Stewart and her teammates who wage war for you... on their knees... in prayer. They are tireless in their endeavor to bless and encourage you. Always seeking and developing funding for the Compassion Bags that hold hope and love for all who receive them.

You have caregivers...moms and dads, husbands, children, treasured friends and extended family members. I'm an only child who was a full-time caregiver for my dad until he died in March of 2015. I know what your families go through....the hours, days, weeks, and even years spent at your bedside in hospital rooms, emergency rooms, and doctor's offices. Your caregivers are your Bravehearts. They attempt to hide their fears and their tears. They go without sleep and without food. They take time from jobs, routines and other family members to hold your hand, stroke your forehead, and hold the puke pan. Their emotional processing and grieving are many times put on hold. Their priority is you, your recovery, your health. They will do anything for you. Please know how loved you are by these Bravehearts who surround you!

I follow many of you on social media and find myself overcome on a daily basis with respect and awe for you. I pray for you...I cry for you. Your courage is beyond description. Your love for Jesus and your mountain moving faith, honestly, puts me to shame. You are are rich in the depth of your love for your families. You fight with the fierceness of lionesses to live another day with your babies and walk with them into their futures. 

You are blessed because you have a Father who adores you. He will never leave you. He washes over you with His Holy Spirit to infuse your inner being with a peace that passes all human reasoning. When you "feel" like He has abandoned you and He is deaf to your desperate cries...know He is carrying you against His chest. You are His daughter. He wraps you in His love, His comfort, His grace, His mercy. 

He sees every tear. They are like shimmering, glistening diamonds....valuable and precious.

I am not able to place a medal around your neck, play a national anthem, or even just give you big hug. But I can give you the gift of promises from the Scriptures! Isaiah 61:3 declares to you what God bestows upon you in a holy transfer. He gives you a beautiful headdress instead of ashes...the oil of gladness instead of mourning...and a garment of praise instead of a faint spirit. BEAUTIFUL OVERCOMERS, you are loved and prayed for by total strangers like myself. You are my HEROES!

Thursday, June 30, 2016




I visited a local nursery a couple of weeks ago.  As I was getting ready to walk out with my gloriously blooming flowers, the woman who had assisted me asked if I knew how to cut the plant back once it had bloomed.  I shook my head "no" with that deer in the headlights look.  She proceeded to lift up the delicate trailing blooms like a hair dresser lifts a section of hair and used her fingers as imaginary scissors to indicate where I should snip, snip. She assured me the drastic flower sheering would produce even prettier, thicker blooms.

This week my husband was sharing with a friend our frustration with an established lilac bush that has large branches withering away. Our friend's advice was to prune the bush back in the Fall to about three feet high and clear away all the runners shooting out from the base.  

All the gardening talk led me down a trail of pondering the necessity of pruning different areas in my own life.  Some areas I have started on and I'm in process, other areas are much more difficult to discern where the cutting needs to be done.

Given I was running/walking around the local high school track as my thoughts began to spill over in my mind, the first and most important pruning is currently happening in my health.  The extended, intense season of being a caregiver for my dad until his death and then my husband after a motorcycle accident depleted reserves in all areas of my life....physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual.  My husband and I are only children.  His aging parents are waiting in the wings for another season of care-giving. In anticipation of that reality, I made the decision to prune the erroneous thinking that everyone else's health and well-being came before my own. I was forty to fifty pounds overweight, sedentary, and engaging in random erratic eating habits. I made a vow to myself that I would get healthy and stay healthy! My husband surviving the motorcycle accident is a miracle...we have a second chance at our marriage and our life together.  I have two children and their spouses that I love and adore to the moon and back. And my best gift of all....five beautiful grandchildren. I want to be able to move, be active, travel, and embrace my life to its fullest. That's why on most days of the week you will find me at my local gym or at the track. I control my time and my schedule to intentionally protect my mental and emotional reserves that are slowly being replenished.

The before mentioned accident brought unexpected revelations into our lives. We discovered who our friends were and who they weren't.  People we didn't think would care...did.  They stopped by our home, called, and sent texts to see how Gary was doing.  There were those, because of a long standing relationship, I called from the emergency room. Sadly, they never darkened our door or picked up a phone.  I likened those friends to the runners at the base of my lilac bush.....vibrant green in color, "appearing" to be thriving and growing as part of the whole, but in reality sucking the life right out of the bush, slowly destroying it year by year. Toxic relationships can be hard to come to terms with. Removing people from our lives is painful yet freeing. There is a point in time where it becomes a matter of life and death for our souls and for us to remove ourselves from certain relationships.

I am a member of a Launch Team for a book debuting in August.  We were given early access to the book and are part of a closed group on Facebook sharing our thoughts and our hearts as we journey together in our reading.  All I can say is "WOW!"  It's proving to be a life-changer for me.  I'm encouraging I'm telling you to pick one up ASAP when it is released.

Have you ever had a friend share a plant cutting with you?  You carefully and gently transported a snippet of one of her favorite plants, put it in a container of water, and watched as tiny, almost invisible roots began to develop and prepare the small cutting to be transplanted into your own garden for enjoyment.  I want to share a few "snippets" from Jennifer Dukes Lee that have taken root in my heart. I pray you take a thought or two, water with care, and prepare for some growth of your own...

*  "I began to rethink my life's purpose, my plans, and whether I was living the life God wanted for me."

*  "I wanted to be a woman who lived joyfully until I drew my last breath."

*  " Your happiness matters because it changes you, it transforms our world, and it glorifies our Maker."

*  "My life was-statistically speaking half over, and I was afraid I'd been sleepwalking through it."

I want to grow and bloom!  How about you?  I would love it if you would share the areas of your life where pruning has caused you to grow and flourish.  Make a comment or send me a personal message about your journey.

                                   Your Bloomin' Friend....Jeralyn

Tuesday, May 10, 2016


I was pondering the word "healthy" one day and I noticed the first four letters form the word h.e.a.l. Have you ever noticed that? How had I never seen that before?  I have been on a journey to become emotionally heal-thy most of my adult life.  Being the adult child of an alcoholic left me with an assortment of dysfunctional issues I didn't want to live with, nor did I want to pass crippling issues on to my children and grandchildren.  And I wanted to keep my marriage....I was not an easy woman to live with. God in His infinite mercy and grace began putting people and information in my path.  I was a sponge with a voracious desire to be whole and emotionally stable.  I have come to realize that there is no "arrival date" to the journey of emotional healing.  I am human. I fail. I sin. I hurt those I love.  The truth is...we are all human.  All people sin.  They fail. They hurt others. There will always be cause for more growth and healing.  Every day I have the choice to continue walking out my journey or drown in disillusionment, bitterness, unforgiveness, apathy, selfishness and disappointment.

Currently, my heal-thy focus has become my physical well-being.  Being a caregiver for a loved one as I have been and continue to be, can take its toll mentally, emotionally, and physically. Hours upon hours sitting at a bedside, juggling other responsibilities, poor nutrition and lack of exercise can leave a person vulnerable to physical breakdown. Stress can become a silent killer. I do not want to become another statistic.

Web MD  lists the following ten diseases as being related to stress:
Heart Disease
Tension and Migraine Headaches
Depression and Anxiety
Gastrointestinal Problems
Accelerated Aging
Premature Death

Sometimes life and health issues require us to make decisions to let go of good things to be able to give ourselves wholeheartedly to the best things.  Why is the common greeting among people.."Are you staying busy?"  Are you considered a lazy slacker if you answer no?  My personal answer has become..."I'm as busy as I want to be."  That usually ends the shallow chit chat.  Well-known Bible teacher, Joyce Meyer, once made the point that we make our own schedules.  So why is there always complaining about being soooo busy?  WE choose our agendas.  WE are the ones who need to learn to say.."No."  

An important component of my getting heal-thy is weeding out of my schedule the activities and desires that may be good....but not for this time in my life. Life can easily become overgrown and scattered leaving one weary and worn.  That is no way to live....that is not living.  And most is not how my Heavenly Father wants my life to be. The Holy Spirit writes these gentle words to you and me through the Old Testament Prophet, Isaiah.

The Lord will guide you continually,
giving you water when you are dry
restoring your strength.
You will be like a well-watered garden,
like an ever-flowing spring.
Isaiah 58:11

I want to be a well watered garden....don't you?  I want to be guided by the hand of my loving Father who knows all and sees all. 
I pray you find the courage to begin your own journey of heal-thy.  May you make some space and time to sit quietly and ponder how you truly desire to live.  As you settle into a tucked away place I pray peace and stillness over your heart and soul. 
May your ears hear His voice saying...
"This is the way, walk in it,"
when you turn to the right or when you
turn to the left.
Isaiah 30:21

Saturday, April 16, 2016

Leaving The Land of Numb......

I'm thinking we've all experienced The Land of Numb at some point in our lives....or will.  It's that place you seem exiled to when life becomes overwhelming and there's too much to process. You go numb...emotionally, mentally, spiritually, physically.  Somewhere inside a switch is flipped and you enter into survival mode. All you can hope to do is put one foot in front of the other and do the necessary tasks for each day.  There are no thoughts of setting goals, writing five year life plans.  You can't even figure out how to get the bed made or a meal cooked let alone map out a five year plan.  

I am all too familiar with The Land of Numb.  I have resided there full time and part time for more years than I care to think about.  But getting older has given me pause for intentional reflection and purposeful soul searching.  I want to leave The Land of Numb....permanently... put a padlock on the gate and throw away the key.

A few weeks ago I read the following Scripture.  It changed my changed my direction.
Deuteronomy 2:3
You have been going around this mountain
long enough!
Head north.

When my dad died a year ago I transitioned from full time caregiver to having an empty schedule and time that I had no idea what to do with. Then, as my grieving eased, I wanted to try everything...all at once.  My Pinterest boards exploded... gourmet cooking, gardening, getting fit and healthy, art journaling, knitting, travel, my list went on and on. Just as life was smoothing out, a careless driver made a left hand turn in front of my motorcycle riding husband and I found myself in The Land of Numb...again.

That was mid-September.  My husband is healing...slowly and painfully, but thankfully, healing.  Reading that Scripture was my wake-up call.  I'd been going in circles long was time to go in a different direction.  With that epiphany came the reality that I was going to have to choose what I really wanted for my life.  I arrived at the conclusion it is impossible to "have it all". Life is about choices, about deciding what you want to give your precious time to.

I'm not old (wink, wink)...but I'm now on the shorter end of my lifespan. I can no longer procrastinate with the words..."maybe one day".  It's time for change now.

Direction Change #1...Get Healthy. I want quality of life.  I want to travel, play with my grandchildren, be active.  I want strong muscles and joints. I want food to be fuel...not an idol or an addiction.  I've yo-yo dieted, tried all the current fad diets and gone through the phase of not caring a whit what food I ate or why I mindlessly ate it.  I have exercised diligently, then sporadically...then barely. I've lost forty pounds and gained thirty back.  The numb days of ignoring my health and abusing my body with food have ended.  It became necessary to admit I needed help to learn how to take care of myself, find that help, and begin living a different lifestyle. 

Direction Change #2....Dream. For a long time I haven't had the mental or emotional energy to consider what I really wanted to be when I grew up.  The Land of Numb makes no allowances for the freedom of dreaming.  Mere existence is the law of the Land.  Dreaming takes courage.  It requires me to know who I am and what my heart is passionate about.  Dreaming erases the boundaries of my comfort zones, exposes my vulnerabilities, and creates possibilities for failure. It means relationships will change with the risk of being misunderstood and judged.  But other people's opinions are not my responsibility.  I am pursuing what I believe I was destined to do and what makes my heart sing.

Direction Change #3....No More The Victim.  Our little community just lost a young wife and mother to colon cancer.  Her family is honoring her as they share how brave she was as she fought to fully live her life.  The quote below was on her social media page...inspiring....sobering...excuse-blasting.

Playing the victim is safe.  Being the heroine of my life demands being present to my life...taking responsibility for my choices...making the time to listen to my soul...choosing to celebrate my life, even the mundane... embracing the heartaches, sorrows, disappointments, joys...standing up tall, sometimes on wobbly legs, to face the challenges and hardships that will certainly appear. 

I've turned North....I'm giddy....I'm scared....I'm excited to get up in the morning to see what the day holds...I savor the newness....Every day is a Divine gift to be opened, explored and delighted in! Every sunrise carries the blessing to BE a gift to those whose lives touch mine.

Wednesday, March 30, 2016


This handsome cowboy is my dad, Jerry.  One year ago today he went to be with Jesus.  I took this picture on Christmas Day, 2014.  He had suffered a stroke in mid-September, entered a long term care facility for his rehab, and had recovered remarkably well.  When I snapped this picture I was picking him up to bring him to our house for Christmas dinner.  He was so proud of himself that he had chosen a red shirt to wear for the day!  By midnight we were in the ER...he had had another stroke.  For the next three months, one month he and I in a hospital 100 miles from home, and 2 months in a different long term care facility in our home town, he would travel back in time and wander through memories from his past...from his childhood to his present condition.  I was the passenger in his journey...I listened and prayed as he seemed to reconcile every part of his life. I was the audience as he literally lived out the words of the old song, "Precious Memories".

The last 3 months of his life were traumatic for both of us. After almost 30 years of seizures, brain bleeds and mini-strokes he had developed a condition called Frontal Temporal Dementia along with Sundowners Syndrome.  As the doctor described it...his brain tissue was now like swiss cheese.  His behavior was erratic and combative and he never stopped moving and walking...only when his body finally gave in to exhaustion did he ever sleep.  He rarely ate or drank. The sedatives were inadequate. He was bed-ridden the final thirteen days and I only went home to sleep and shower. His last three days I slept in the room.  I continued to talk to him about family and memories... because one of the most important things I learned in nursing school was this....they can hear to the end, even though they are unresponsive physically. I held his hand, stroked his cheek, kissed his forehead, told him I loved him, told him he would soon see Jesus.  Over the years when we had talked about his faith and his personal relationship with Jesus, his face would light up, his eyes would well up with tears and he would let me know his heart was full and he was at peace.

At 6:30 pm...sundown... Monday, March 30, 2015, my dad took his last breath.

Sundown...March 30, 2015

Gary and I were with him.  It was a holy, sacred home-going.  I envisioned the moment he took that last breath of air...he stepped into eternity....whole...healed...dancing...(he loved to dance) ... singing...(he had a beautiful voice which had been lost to the repeated brain traumas.)

I felt like Jesus was waiting on the other side of the bed with open arms to welcome my dad home and tell him..."Well done, good and faithful servant."

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

LOVE SONG - 4 / Freedom

Freedom...what does it mean to you?  What images come to your mind when you hear the word?  How do love and freedom work together?

In my last post I shared Galatians 5:1 from the Message Bible...
"Christ has set us free to live a free life.  So take your stand!  Never again let anyone put a harness of slavery on you."

Once we find ourselves free ...what then?  What are we to do with our new found freedom?  The fifth chapter of Galatians continues on to reveal a pathway of how to flourish and thrive in our life without chains...
"It is absolutely clear that God has called you to a free life.  Just make sure that you don't use this freedom as an excuse to do whatever you want to and destroy your freedom.  Rather, use your freedom to serve one another in love, that's how freedom grows.  For everything we know about God's Word is summed up in a single sentence.  Love others as you love yourself.  That's an act of true freedom. If you bite and ravage each other, watch no time at all you will be annihilating each other, and where will your precious freedom be then?"

How does a person learn to love themselves so they can love others in healthy, life giving ways?  May I suggest that forgiveness is what makes it possible  to love ourselves.  I free myself to love by forgiving myself for my failures...forgiving others for intentionally or unintentionally wounding me (with or without their remorse or apology)...and I forgive God for what I have perceived to be His abandonment and rejection.

Freedom is being able to release people and situations that I absolutely have no control over. The freedom to love sprouts, grows, blooms and bears fruit only if I am willing to forgive.

I just finished a book by Seth Haines, titled..."A Story of Faith COMING CLEAN". It is a journal of sorts of his first 90 days of sobriety. "The Healing" is a series of chapters of his journey through forgiveness. He writes this profound sentence on day sixty-four ..."Without forgiveness, there is no meaningful way to move into healing and peace."

Do you thirst for healing and peace?  Are you willing to forgive?  Are you ready to let go of people or emotions that have kept you imprisoned?

I want you to know that my heart aches for you to be free. We are all bound by something. My prayer is that you will find the life and truth in the words below releasing you from the disappointments of the past, the unknown fears of the future and give you the strength to walk peacefully in the gift of the present...and remember...He is ever singing a love song over you...

"The Lord your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save;
he will rejoice over you with gladness;
he will quiet you by his love;
he will exult over you with loud singing."
Zephaniah 3:17 ESV

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

LOVE SONG - 3 / Rescued

Jesus, Liberator of Women.  Now that's a headline!  Some of you reading along know that statement to be true because of your personal life story.  Others of you may have just had your feathers ruffled a bit.  Hang in there with me....don't confuse the failures of organized religion with the truth of who Jesus is and what He came to do for you and for me.

The Scriptures are rich with story after story of women who were trapped in their circumstances, without hope of a future, and then rescued into a new beginning. One of my favorite rescues in the Old Testament is Rahab the Prostitute. You can find her story in Joshua, chapters two and six. But for me, her crowning glory is finding her mentioned again in the New Testament in Matthew 1:5.  She is listed in the family tree of Jesus.  Let that sink in for a minute....a prostitute named in the genealogy of Jesus Christ.  And she isn't the only woman listed with a "tarnished reputation".  God has established over and over again that He delights in rescuing and restoring His daughters.

Do you remember the woman caught in adultery in John, chapter 8?  The jealous religious leaders of the day sought to use her to trap Jesus.  Instead, they were humiliated and she was freed to start a new life.  How her heart must have experienced confused joy as she realized she had escaped being stoned to death, her accusers were gone, and Jesus released her with the words..."Neither do I condemn you." "Go, and from now on do not sin anymore."

And can you guess who was the first to be given an angelic tour of the empty tomb that no longer held Jesus?  And who did the risen Jesus appear to first and give the honor of announcing His resurrection to the disciples? Well...women of course!  You can find their story in Matthew 28.

 And then there's me.  You see, I'm no different than Rahab the Prostitute, the woman caught in adultery, or Mary Magdalene, who Jesus delivered from seven demons.  I also needed to be set free from my own path of self-destruction. Freedom isn't a piece of paper, a law, a right.  True freedom is a condition of the heart. It is a gift to be accepted, unwrapped, opened, put on like a garment and lived in, day in and day out.  Freedom is turning away from attempting to be someone I'm not and embracing the truth of who God says I am in Jesus Christ. Galatians 5:1 in The Message Bible says it like this..."Christ has set us free to live a free life.  So take your stand!  Never again let anyone put a harness of slavery on you."  That's what Jesus was saying to the woman caught in adultery when He told her to go and sin no more and what He says to you and me..."Don't let yourself become a slave to people and things and emotions that will cripple and destroy you."

What might you need to be rescued from?  What is causing interference with your life and your relationships?  Grief?  Jealousy?  Fear?  Addiction?  Pride? Unforgiveness?  Anger?  Insecurity?  Know this, my friend....Jesus is pursuing you. He has loved you and pursued you your whole life.  He has your story of rescue and freedom ready to bestow upon you like a crown.  You only need to make the choice to stand still....

I'm praying for your heart this week. Will you pray for mine?  Join me next week as we figure out what to do with our freedom!