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Archive for the ‘Hope’ Category

 

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Beginning with his debut as the quirky and lovable character, Mork from Ork, on the hit TV series Mork and Mindy, I was always a fan of Robin Williams. His quick-witted humor and explosive energy-filled antics brought laughter from deep within, you know, the kind that just seems to make the problems of the world a little less intense.

The bible says in Proverbs 17:22, “A merry heart doeth good like a medicine: but a broken spirit drieth the bones.” Maybe that is why I enjoy laughter so much…I need the medicine!

I have always loved being goofy and making others laugh as well. It just makes life seem a little better. And let’s face it, there is already enough darkness in the world, and I don’t want to add to that.

But it’s not all about jokes and deep roaring laughter.

“Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend”. (Melody Beattie)

Finding real joy in life involves sharing an appreciation and thankfulness for life itself, and binding hearts together in that light and hope.

I think Mr. Williams knew that somewhere deep in his heart. I think it is what drove him so hard and filled him with a passion to make people laugh. Regardless of the pain and struggles he endured, he wanted to make the world a brighter place.

Sometimes all it takes is a smile or kind word or gesture to put a smile in someone’s heart. And it is definitely worth the effort.

What have you done today to put a smile on someone’s face and light up the dark?

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Please feel free to share any tips or suggestions you have!

God bless, and have a smiley weekend! – Amber

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When My Heart Stopped

It’s been almost 3 years since I last posted anything here. I don’t know if anyone is still following this blog, but if there is, I just wanted to explain my absence, and share my story.

On February 6, 2016, my 13 year old son, Christian, passed away in a tragic accident, and life as I knew it ended. My heart was still beating and my lungs still took in breath, but my mind went numb and my soul seemed to leave me. I was no longer alive.

I saw a post on a grief support group that said, “I died that day too, but they forgot to bury me”.  I thought, “how true”.

The “me I was” no longer exists, because that “me” had hopes and dreams for a future, one that included Christian in every aspect, a future that will never be. And so, that life ended.

A long time ago I said that my words were seldom polished or rehearsed, that I didn’t follow any fancy writing style, but that my writing came from the heart. But when your heart is shredded into tiny particles, words and thoughts don’t make any sense. Neither does life. So, I stopped posting. I did some journaling from time to time, but it was full of darkness and pain, not the kind of words to encourage hope and faith. I was dead inside.

CPR for My Soul

I woke up each morning and did whatever needed doing that day, but it was like watching someone else through a misty veil living a life that didn’t make any sense.

The next winter my Dad passed away and I slipped even further into the empty darkness. In just a few short years I had lost so many family members, I was beginning to feel like Job from the bible. And I kept begging God to take me too, but He didn’t.

About a month after my Dad passed, my pastor’s Dad also passed away unexpectedly. Being a pastor, he upheld a face of dignity and faith, and on the surface he showed great strength. But when I looked into his eyes one evening shortly after his Dad’s funeral, there was a reflection of pain that I knew all too well. When Christian died my pastor had said he couldn’t even imagine what I was feeling. But that evening as we talked about his Dad, I knew he now understood, and a connection was made.

I felt compelled to try to offer a sense of comforting, but I had none to give. Or at least so I thought. My pastor is a man I have always looked up to and felt a deep respect and admiration for (and still do). So when he told me that evening that he felt inspired and hopeful because of the strength and faith I had shown, I felt a little awkward and insecure. But I listened, and we exchanged a few memories and stories.

Later, I saw 2 memes on Facebook that I knew I had to share with him. One said, “Someone had to go into the fire in order for Nebuchadnezzar to see God” and the second said, “God uses broken people like you and me to fix broken people like you and me”.

I understand now that every one of us goes through all kinds of struggles, trials, and pain throughout our lives. But we have a choice in how we react to it. We can allow it to consume and destroy us, or, we can allow it to be used to help someone else, even if only to listen and try to understand on some level.

Many times in the past few years I’ve asked God what He wants me to do. I don’t know how I got the idea that He would speak to me in a loud booming voice and give me step-by-step instructions on what to do (probably too much Hollywood and not enough Holy Bible), but that is not how He answered.

I kept finding myself coming to these bible verses, and it finally occurred to me that these are God’s instructions for me:

“And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment. And the second is like, namely this, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. There is none other commandment greater than these.” (Mark 12:30-31 KJV)

“Commit thy works unto the LORD, and thy thoughts shall be established.” (Proverbs 16:3 KJV)

Coming Back to Life

I have been broken by my grief and there are many pieces of my heart that are gone now. But it has opened my eyes to others that are hurting, and it has stirred compassion in a heart that I thought was dead. That spark of compassion led me back to writing, to share hope and encouragement in any way I can.

I know I will never be the same person I used to be. But in my heart and in my writing, I am coming back to life. It will not be easy, but the journeys that make good stories and testimonies never are.

My goal here is to make connections in sharing our journeys, to lift each other up with stories and prayers, to share hope and smiles where they are needed most.

Since I have forgotten practically everything about the functions on how to run this site, I appreciate your patience as I get reacquainted with the workings. I plan to begin posting a couple times a week and look forward to your feedback. As always, please feel free to share, leave any comments, questions, prayer requests, etc. I welcome the interaction!

God bless!

– Amber Lea

 

 

 

 

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An Easter Gift

There are many occasions throughout the year for celebrations, and Easter is one of my favorites!

Actually, I try to celebrate every day, being thankful for all the blessings in my life. Still, there are certain days that feel extra special to me.

The reason for celebrating Easter is the gift given freely by the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ. The gift of salvation because of His great love for us, is very precious to many, including me.

I used to think that miracles like being raised from the dead only happened during the biblical times. Even after I became a believer and my faith began to grow, I never imagined that I would see a miracle. But that all changed in November of 2010.

When my youngest son, Christian, was killed in an accident and then brought back to life over 40 minutes later, I knew, along with many others, that it was a miracle! But the miracles didn’t stop there. As Christian began sharing his experiences of being in heaven, more miracles were beginning.

Our family began an unexpected journey, which later lead me to write a book. In my heart I knew, it was a story that I wanted to share with everyone. I did not write it to become rich or famous, but rather to give God the honor and glory that He alone deserves. I wrote the book to share with others the awesome power and love of Jesus, and what He did for us.

It has become sort of a tradition for me now, to give away the E-book “Faith, Hope & Miracles” during Easter weekend. It is my gift to anyone that may be searching, hoping, doubting, or just curious about whether or not modern day miracles exist. It is my way of sharing our blessings with others, and to give thanks and praise to God.

From today through midnight Sunday, April 20th, anyone can download the book for free from Amazon. And you don’t need a Kindle to read it. There is a free app for computers and i-pads to read it. I encourage everyone to share it with family and friends, as it is a message of hope. And please help me to spread the word! I really want for as many people as possible to have the chance to read it for free.

Just click here to get your free copy.

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I pray that you all are blessed, and have a very thankful and happy Easter! – Amber

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Last week I wrote a post announcing the release of my friend, Pam Thorson’s new book, “Out from the Shadows”. She is celebrating with a launch party on Facebook on March 28, 2014 from 7 am to 7 pm and everyone is invited! There will be prizes given away each hour, but you must join the party to enter for a chance to win.

Let’s help Pam celebrate, and show our support by spreading the word.

Pam Thorson
Author Bio:
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), pulls back the veil on the unique joys and challenges of caregiving. Pam resides with her family in the Northwest. Visit her here:
http://www.pamthorson.com
http://www.twitter.com/PamelaThorson
http://www.facebook.com/officialpamthorson

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I began writing many years ago, without having any college training or professional background. I just put down on paper what was in my heart and in my head. Several family members and close friends told me that my writing was very good and that I should consider becoming a writer. But that’s what family and friends always say. So I didn’t take it too seriously.

Then I joined a chat room and began joining in a few of the forums there. It was during a time of political debates and elections, and there was quite a bit of tension and heated arguments in many of the forums. So I began a discussion based on sharing humorous stories about my children and animals, as an attempt to cool things down.

Soon there were several hundred people joining in, leaving comments regarding my writing a book of these stories. Several of the comments were from professional writers, and they were encouraging me to become a writer. Me! A real writer?

I had no knowledge of the writing industry, but I asked questions. And to their credit, I found that these writers were more than willing to educate me. Through their kindness, I found some confidence and encouragement, and I began pondering the idea of becoming a writer.

Of course, the picture I painted in my mind was one of me, sitting at my computer, furiously typing out a best seller in a couple of days, while the phone was ringing with offers and pleas from several publishers. I pictured crowds surrounding me in public, asking for my autograph. And I pictured financial success. (Yes, I know that’s funny, but it’s MY picture, so don’t rain on my parade.)

I bought several books on writing, publishing, agents, and marketing guides. After I finished reading them, I think I was more confused than before I started. And I felt a sense of fear, realizing that I had no idea of what I was doing.

I lost contact with the writers I had met in the chat room when the site was suddenly closed for unknown reasons. And things were changing in my life circumstances that were beyond my control. So for a time, I didn’t give much more thought to writing for a living.

But I kept writing, and sharing stories with friends and family. And my biggest fan was always my mom.

Then a few years ago there was an incident which hospitalized my youngest son. There were many people wanting updates and to share loving prayers, but even texting was difficult. So one of the hospital volunteers arranged for me to get access to a computer and set up a webpage where I could post updates and people could leave messages for us. The site was similar to a blog, and I began posting once or twice a day.

The posts were similar to a journal style of writing, and I included my own thoughts and feelings about what was going on with my son. I was writing to share with our family and friends. But by the end of the first week, there were several hundred people that were following this journal, leaving messages of hope and prayers, and requesting that I continue the posts. There were hundreds of people that I didn’t know, I didn’t even know how they found the site. But it was being spread by word of mouth (or computer links) and it continued to grow.

I was a little overwhelmed when I realized that in a short time, there were almost 4,000 people following this journal. And many of them were thanking me for sharing our story, and repeatedly asking me to consider writing a book about our ordeal. My mom was among them.

Over the next year and a half, I wrote the book, “Faith, Hope & Miracles”. And while I was writing it, I was also learning everything I could about the publishing industry. Without knowing any writers or having any contacts in the industry, I knew that it was not going to be an easy endeavor.

When I finished writing the manuscript, I sent it to my mother and asked her to review it and give an honest critique, along with editing. I knew she had taken a few English and writing courses in college, so I felt confident that she would spot any grammar mistakes and such.

When she called after reading the manuscript, her voice was soft and shaky as she said, “Hon, you are a very gifted writer, and you did an excellent job”. At first I thought her emotions were very strong because of the subject of the book surrounding her own grandson. But it was more than that. She told me of how proud she was of me for completing this work, and that she believed in my ability as a writer.

Even when I confided in her that I had no idea of how to go about getting the book published, she said she had faith in me and that she knew it would happen. And she told me to never give up.

After careful consideration, I had decided to self-publish that book. To accomplish that required learning even more about the publishing and marketing industry than I ever really wanted to know, but I was determined to do it. It was a bit overwhelming and even frightening in some ways, but when the book was finally available for sale, I felt a great sense of satisfaction. And I finally realized that writing was what I wanted to do with my life.

I must say that going about it the way I did to become a writer was probably the hardest way. I highly recommend that anyone wanting to pursue a career in writing start by taking writing and publishing courses, and earning some credentials. It is hard enough for a first book to be a success when you know what you’re doing. But when you are learning as you go, and no one knows anything about you, it’s even harder.

I sent a signed copy to my parents and several other family members and friends. But I’m pretty sure that no one was more proud than my mother. It was a little over 6 months later when I finally was able to go visit, and she had my book proudly on display on her living room coffee table, next to her bible.

On that visit, I shared a few ideas I had for a Christian fiction series, and my mother liked the ideas. She said she looked forward to reading the books, and I knew she would always be my biggest fan.

My mother passed away the day after I came home from that trip, one year ago today.

In this past year, I’ve written a few articles and worked on a couple of different blogs. But when it came to working on the series I had started, I seemed to have developed writer’s block.

I managed to scratch out a few paragraphs now and then, but I just couldn’t find the time to really go after it.

It wasn’t until this morning that I finally realized that I have been feeling an underlying depression. I know it’s perfectly normal to grieve after losing someone you love. And in this past year, I have often missed my mother very much, and I’ve cried. But what I didn’t realize was that somewhere in my mind, my writing was, in a way, connected to her.

It’s funny how our brains work, making associations and connections that we don’t even realize are there.

But I also realized something else this morning. I remembered back to when my son was in the hospital and I began keeping that online journal. I knew as events unfolded in that hospital that there was a miracle that needed to be told. I could feel it in my heart that God wanted for me to share it with others, and I felt compelled to do so. I also felt a sense of pride with my mother’s encouragement to continue writing. But in this past year, I have not been doing what I was led to do. I was not honoring my mother, or God, with my procrastination and lack of commitment.

This day has been hard, and I know there will still be more hard days ahead. I also know that my mother would never have wanted grieving for her to stop me from doing something that is dear to my heart, and something that she was so proud of.

In realizing the connection I feel between my mother and my writing, I know now that I can turn that into a strength. It can be the inspiration to keep writing, even when I can’t think of what to write about. It can be the motivation I need to stay committed to my work, even when I’m too tired. And it can be the strength I need, to pour out my heart on paper, the words of my stories. And it can be a way for me to continue to say, “I love you Mom. Thanks for believing in me”.

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Imagine you are at the end of your life. Today is your last day. What legacy will you leave behind?

It’s not exactly a cheerful thought, thinking about our own end. And for the young, it may seem a long way off. But then again, we never know when our time will come. So what do you want to be remembered for?

If today was your last day, what would you do with it?

Perhaps it’s because I’m getting older (I’m not quite ancient yet, but…) I sometimes ponder these things. Perhaps it’s because I wonder what the future will be like for my children. I do not fear my own death, because I know where I’ll be going. But I sometimes wonder what my family and friends will remember of me. Have I made any difference to them?

I have never chased after fame and fortune, although a little more fortune in the financial area would be much appreciated. But when I look back over my life, I realize the majority of my time and efforts have been centered around relationships with others. But do those relationships matter? Will they be remembered? I hope so.

My family and friends have always been important to me. So after the loss of several members of my family over this past year, I’ve been doing a lot of reflecting on those relationships. I ask myself, “Did they know how much I loved them?” “Did I make them feel like they were important and treasured”?

I think about the people I will leave behind when I am gone. What imprint will I leave on their heart? And I ask myself, “What do I want them to remember about me?”

There are times when I look at the world around me and think about what I like or don’t like. I think about the things I would like to change. I would put an end to things like hate, oppression, poverty, and hunger. But how? I am only one person, what difference can I make?

I cannot change the world. But I can teach my children how to love others, by showing them my love. I can teach my children how to be just and fair, by how I treat them and those around us. I can teach my children how to be generous and giving, by my own examples. And I can teach them how to share hope and encouragement by sharing it myself.

The world doesn’t know my name, and I may be forgotten entirely in the years to come. But what I leave in the hearts of my children, my family and friends, will be remembered, at least for a while.

The memories I leave may not be a huge thing by themselves, but if they are shared, they can grow.

So if today is my last day, I will spend it loving my family and friends. I will help with whatever needs to be done. I will encourage love and hope in Jesus. These are the things I am spending my time on today. And tomorrow, if it comes.

There is a saying, to “Live each moment as if it were your last”. That is the way I want to live today. I want to give all of my energy, time and love to those around me. I want to make their lives more joyful in any way I can. I will love God with all my heart, and do my best to glorify Him.

Will the world remember me tomorrow? Probably not. But perhaps it will come to know my children, my family, or my friends.

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A Free Signed Copy of Faith, Hope & Miracles.

Hey!

I just wanted to let everyone know, my book is on review at Teaching Christ’s Children, along with a chance to win a free signed copy. Check out the link above, and please share it with a friend.

Thanks, and God bless! – Amber

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I hope everyone had a great weekend! Ours was rainy, but nice. We went on a picnic with our church Sunday after the service, and had a great time. I also spent several hours researching a few writer’s sites and learning. I told Christian that it’s a good idea to never stop learning and he looked a little troubled. When I asked him what was wrong, he said, “Well, my brain’s already getting kinda full. I don’t think I’ll have anymore room left in there by the time I’m done with high school”. 🙂

And now, back to the road trip.

As we continued on through Idaho, we stopped for a few pictures and a little snack.

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There was a little pullout area along the Snake River with some gorgeous views.

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A memorial plaque for Vardis Fisher, a western novelist from Idaho. One of his books, “Mountain Man” was the inspiration for the movie “Jeremiah Johnson” starring Robert Redford.

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Christian tries to escape from Amy’s bear hug.

By early afternoon we were on the Grand Tetons Scenic Byway, and it was quite the beautiful drive. The vegetation was becoming much thicker and greener, and it was beginning to feel more like home.

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An Osprey poses on her nest for a quick picture.

As we crossed the line into Wyoming we stopped for a break and more pictures. Christian was getting a little restless, so he ran around in the pull out area for a bit of exercise.

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After a quick bite for lunch, we continued on our way. Christian took a brief nap, until our next stop as we were coming into Jackson Hole.

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We stopped in the town of Jackson Hole, WY for a brief tour and some souvenirs. This was a very busy season for the town, and along with us, it was full of tourists. It was difficult to look around at the sites while driving through, as I didn’t want to run over anyone, and finding any parking places was almost impossible. But from what I did see, it was a pretty neat town.

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This was one of the archways in Jackson Hole, made entirely of antlers. There was another archway of antlers with a little bench seat under it at the other corner of town, but traffic was too heavy to stop for a picture.

We didn’t stay long at Jackson Hole, and soon we were entering Grand Teton National Park.

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A beautiful stained glass window in the Sacred Heart church by Jackson Lake.

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By this time it was getting late into the afternoon and some clouds were beginning to form in the distance. It was still very hot, and we were all getting a little tired. We had hoped to find a camping spot for the night, but all the campgrounds were full. So we continued on a little farther.

Soon, we found ourselves at the entrance into Yellowstone National Park.

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All of the campgrounds in Yellowstone were also full, as were all of the lodges. We drove around near the entrance to the park, checking out some of the scenery and watched a gorgeous sunset.

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As we watched the sun set, we decided to turn around and go back to Jackson Hole, hoping to find a motel for the night. We passed the 4,000 mile mark just before we got back to the town.

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As we drove back into town, there were several other people looking for a place to stay as well, and the town was just about full. We finally found a room at The Buffalo Inn, and I think it was the last room left in town…other than a few $300+ rooms that were out of our price range.

After a good night’s sleep, we had an early breakfast and headed back to Yellowstone. We knew we wouldn’t be able to see all of the sights, so we decided ahead of time to choose the ones that we knew we wanted to see. We were already off of our schedule for returning to Alaska, and we didn’t want to make Amy miss her flight back to Virginia. So we selected the route we would take on the eastern side of the park, headed for Old Faithful.

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Christian had become excited about how many times we were crossing the Continental Divide, and the different elevations. We were feeling more at home in these elevations.

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We eventually made it to the Old Faithful visitors center. Christian had started a National Parks Passport book, so each time we stopped in one of the parks he would get his passport stamped and get a sticker for it. I wish we had known about the program when we started our trip. He missed out on several stampings back on the East Coast and down south. He also missed out on the stamp from the Grand Canyon. Guess we’ll just have to make another trip. 🙂

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Inside the visitor center were many educational displays, including interactive areas where children (and adults) could learn about the different types of geysers and how they are formed. The information on geothermal effects was fascinating to all of us, and the rangers were wonderful!

Old Faithful blows about every 90 minutes or so, and announcements are made over a loud speaker system letting visitors know about 15 minutes ahead of time. There are several bench seats available for a close up view of the geyser, but if you want a seat, you better get there earlier.

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As you can see, there were already quite a few people that were waiting patiently to see Old Faithful blow. We were able to get in close enough for a few good pictures. I took a video of the whole process, but it’s too long to post here. Here is a shot I got at the beginning of the eruption. The water sprayed much higher than this at the peak of the eruption.

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After we left Old Faithful, we found another area with several smaller geysers and hot pools. There was a boardwalk leading around the area, giving a close up view of both old and new formations. I was intrigued by the variations of color formed on the surface of the ground from the different minerals that were bubbling up in the water.DSC01192

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I was also amazed at the plant life that is able to grow amidst the hot conditions here. I don’t know what type of flowers these are, but their beauty and ruggedness amazed me.

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Towards the end of the boardwalk, we were all getting hot and were ready for a quick dip in the river. Just before the end of the boardwalk we saw a couple of geese emerging from the edge of one of the springs.

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After we played in the cool water of the river, we continued on through the park. The road followed the river for a while, and there were several more hot springs & geyser fields along the way, along with a few beautiful waterfalls.

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The little creek running through this area was being heated by the geothermal activity underground, causing a lot of algae to grow in the creek bed. It gave the appearance that the water itself was an emerald green.

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As the sun began to set we were seeing wildlife emerging from beyond the trees to graze.

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By the time we came to Mammoth Hot Springs at the north end of the park it was already dark. So I didn’t get any pictures there. But the little town there was filled with elk. They were walking along through the streets and parking lots, totally unconcerned with people or traffic. The hotel there was full, so we decided to drive on through to Livingston, Montana, the next town, which was also full. We ended up driving on to Bozeman, Montana before we found a motel, and it was almost midnight by the time we arrived.

We slept in the next morning and then had breakfast while we did our laundry. We also realized that we had been collecting so many souvenirs, the car was getting quite full. The carrier bag on top was full of camping gear, the back was full of suitcases, coolers & supplies, and Christian was running out of room in the back seat where he had his little “nest” made up. So we decided it would be a good idea to box up and mail some of our goodies to make more room.

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It’s amazing how much stuff 3 people can collect in such a short time! (I’m still trying to figure out where to put it all.) And so with that, I’ll stop here for today. I hope you enjoyed sharing our journey through Yellowstone. It was an absolutely splendid trip, but again, I wish it could have been longer. We only saw a small portion of the park, but I hope to go back someday and spend a couple of weeks exploring the rest of the park.

The next posting will be of the home stretch, through Canada and back into Alaska. Please feel free to share any comments or questions about our trip. We’d love to hear from you!

Take care, love one another, and God bless! – Amber & Christian

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Dear Friends,

As some of you may know, I took some time off for a vacation to visit with my son and daughter-in-law in Texas, and then off to Virginia to spend some time with my parents. I arrived back home on Friday morning, then received news that my Mom passed away Saturday morning. I have returned to Virginia and do not know when I will be posting again.

I know my Mom is with Jesus now, no longer in pain or suffering, but free. It was said that she had been holding on, waiting to see Christian and I again. It had been almost 7 years since our last visit. She went peacefully in her sleep, and I am so very thankful that we got to spend time with her before she passed. I will always treasure our memories and the love we shared with her.

I allowed distance and cost to become obstacles preventing more frequent visits with those I love, and it is now a deep regret. Even though money was still an issue, God stirred my heart with a sense of urgency to come. Then He provided a way to make it happen, proving once again He is all knowing and a compassionate God. My Dad told me that our visit gave Mom peace and comforted her.

My heart is aching, but I know I must be strong now, for my family. I do not have any more words right now, except to say: never take the moments you have for granted because they will never come again, and never pass up the opportunities to say “I love you” because it may be your last chance.

Rest in peace Mom, rejoice in the presence of Jesus, and we will see you again someday. You are forever in my heart! Thank you God, for giving me the privilege of being her daughter!

 

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I just wanted to give a quick update, and a VERY BIG THANK YOU for all your prayers!

I just received word, my son is out of surgery and in ICU. He is doing well!!!

He was born with Aortic Stenosis, a defective heart valve. They have waited for many years for the technology to improve in replacing these valves. He now has a mechanical valve which should last a lifetime, and without further surgeries.

I am a very thankful mother this morning! God blessed me with three beautiful sons. My oldest went Home and walks with Jesus. My youngest went Home for a visit, but was returned to us. Now my second son has a new heart. And I pray it will always be filled with a love for Jesus!

With all my heart, I thank you all so much for your prayers! I know God hears, and answers. He has surrounded with caring and kind hearts that have lifted me up and encouraged me with hope! He gives me courage to face the storms, and strength to go through them. Thank You Jesus! – Amber

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