He’s Been There {Thoughts from a PK on Year #20}

For He has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.”
{Hebrews 13:5}

It’s hard to believe that my church celebrated our twentieth anniversary this month. I was nine years old when New Life Baptist Church was organized and was the second believer baptized into our fellowship. Growing up as a PK has been an absolute privilege I wouldn’t trade for anything. God has taught me so much through this experience and if there’s one theme that consistently rings true it’s this: He is faithful and will always be there.

He was there when the scary spider was floating in the murky green baptismal waters.

He was there when believers gathered in my living room every Thursday night.

He was there when we had our first Sunday morning service on a cold January morning in the Rileys’ living room. (And so was their pet Pekingese, Cocoa.)

He was there when Bro. Randy would faithfully come to our house every Sunday morning to help my dad transport the keyboard to our hotel conference room.

He was there when I rode squished in the backseat under said keyboard.

He was there when I made my first bulletin.

He was there when we copied bulletins on the ginormous copier in our dining room, which sat perpendicular to the church keyboard, which sat next to our real piano. Oh, and there was of course our dining room table and six chairs in there too since it was the dining room.

He was there when there were only 5 of us for Sunday Evening service.

He was there when we had to pull out extra chairs for Sunday Morning service.

He was there when I was first learning how to take notes during a sermon.

He was there when I started teaching littles sitting next to me how to take notes during a sermon.

He was there when we voted to move to a tiny tiny tiny storefront in Idle Hour that only had one bathroom.

He was there when He immensely blessed us at that tiny tiny tiny storefront in big big big ways.

He was there when a cat was stuck in the sanctuary ceiling. (We had a pet salon as neighbors once upon a time.)

He was there the first time I tried to play my flute during service when I was in sixth grade and a rod popped out and it wouldn’t make a sound.

He was there when a visitor tried to light up a cigarette in the middle of service.

He was there when the same visitor suggested (in the middle of service) that one of our members with cancer try marijuana as a cure.

He was there when I had Sunday School in the continental breakfast room at Best Western.

He was there when I had Sunday School in the Mailroom.

He was there when I had Sunday School by the dumpsters (and fled from bumblebees).

He was there when I had Sunday School behind a little wall partition.

He was there when I had Sunday School in an actual Sunday School room with a pole right in the middle of the room.

He was there when I had Sunday School in an actual Sunday School room with no pole in the middle of the room!

He was there when I had Sunday School behind folding doors as a teenager.

He was there when I faced the elements to walk to another building for Sunday School. 0189

He was there when I joined a group of adult ladies for Sunday School.

He was there when I started teaching teen girls behind those same folding doors.

He was there when we moved to Woodhill.

He was there when we’ve had countless missionaries and pastors over for Sunday dinner.

He was there when my heart was wounded (and He’ll be there when it’s hurt again).

He was there when the grape juice had stayed in the fridge a little too long before communion.

He was there when we had our own baby boom, living up to a different sense of our name.

He was there when my heart was missing Trinidad and a Jamaican walked in.

He was there when the Congolese started coming and we found a French translator who also “happened” to speak Swahili.

He was there when my best friends left because the Lord was leading them elsewhere.

He was there the first time I ever played the piano during service.

He was there while I attempted to learn how to play the organ.

He was there at the nursing home ministry we had every third Saturday for years.

He was there as we ministered to veterans every second Sunday afternoon…and He was there when we gained the humbling honor of ministering to veterans in the Alzheimer’s & Dementia unit every week.

veterans

He was there when I played wrong notes. He was there when I played right notes. And He was there when the notes wouldn’t even play at all.

veterans piano

He was there when we fed hundreds of our neighbors and gave them the Gospel on Tuesdays throughout the summer.

He was there when we threw an emergency baby shower for a quick adoption.

He was there on the many occasions my heart was pierced by the Word.

He was there when we planned a wedding in two weeks for our friends from Nepal.

Nepal Wedding

He was there when we planned another Nepali wedding in just three days!

santi

He was there when we had a baptism in a hot tub for a paraplegic.

He was there in 2006 when my Filipina sister walked through the door and quickly took a place in my heart.

cheryl

He was there during my frequent fights with the church copier.

He was there when my friend from the Philippines brought a friend from Nepal who had never heard the story of Jesus.

He was there when the Gospel was faithfully proclaimed during every service.

He was there when my Wednesday night kids class was bursting at the seams.

He was there when I only had one kid in my Wednesday night class.

He was there when a precious family from the Congo prayed to find a church and “just happened” to find ours via Google.

congo

He was there every single time another member went to be in His very presence.

He was there when we got some more interesting neighbors.

He was there when those neighbors left.

He was there when my grandparents moved to Kentucky and He gave me the sweetest privilege of worshipping with them every week!

12418816_10103197389906920_5358420487254119535_o

He was there when the end of that one Sunday evening service took a somewhat scary twist as a man in a solid red suit came running in and started yelling with someone chasing after him.

He was there when my faith was weak.

He was there when my faith was strong.

He was there when several of our friends from the Bob Brown House put their trust in Christ and followed Him in baptism.

He was there even when I felt all alone.

He was there when we celebrated twenty years of His continued faithfulness.

famHe was there…in every single memory I have, which are too many too list.

He’s still here. He will no-not-never leave me. He will no-not-never forsake me. His love has never wavered. His love never will. His faithfulness remains and His Word is so faithful that it is called truth. He will always be there.

—–
Other Posts about church life from this PK’s perspective:
Enough. // Surround & Share // The Church Secretary’s Ode to the Church Copier // If You Give the Church Secretary a Free Saturday // Open Wide // Grace for this (recovering) Good Girl [And you can read some of our church history here, but will somebody puh-lease tell the church secretary that it needs to be updated?]
We were blessed to have Dr. Bishop E. Carter III, pastor of Bethsaida Baptist Church, preach in celebration of New Life’s 20th Anniversary. He reminded us that the church is built on the Rock, Jesus Himself, and Hell cannot stop the church. The Rock is the One who has kept us all these years. Listen and be encouraged and challenged by his charge from Matthew 16:13-20 here.

What I Learned from a Tiny Little Band-Aid

I’ve hesitated writing about this and posting it because so many of you are dealing with much bigger things and you are so, SO very brave. I write not to draw attention to myself and my circumstances, but to point to God, how I’ve seen Him work and what He’s been teaching me.

I want to tell you about a few lessons I’ve learned from wearing a band-aid on my head. I know it sounds weird, but you should try it sometime. Seriously.

You see, I’m an introvert at heart (with some extrovert qualities here and there) and “The Sweet Life” (aka: Type I Diabetes) has been a pretty good disease for me. It has been a fairly hidden disease, especially since I wear an insulin pump. Sure, I get strange questions when I wear the pump in a visible spot, but for the most part, lots of people are surprised when they finally learn I have diabetes and, in a strange way, that is a blessing.

So for introverts like me who are used to a hidden disease, when your dermatologist does a biopsy on a weird spot onTeddy Bear Bandaid your forehead, it’s a little overwhelming to walk out of the office with a band-aid on your face for everyone to see. It was a tiny band-aid, but still. It drew attention. People stared. And it started perhaps one of the most interesting learning experiences of my life.

The way people reacted to a band-aid on my head was absolutely fascinating to me. I lived my life normally…I kept going to work, went out to eat several times, to church, and to a basketball game, so I encountered lots of people of all ages and their reactions were extremely (and surprisingly) varied.

  • Some people didn’t say anything at all.
  • Most people would look at the spot once and then try to talk to me like they hadn’t seen it.
  • I was especially impressed with and touched by one high school student I had one-on-one that weekend who just glanced at it at the beginning of our time together and made the most connected eye-contact with me the rest of the hour.
  • The first person who actually asked me what was wrong with my head was a five-year old a-dor-ab-le little girl who wouldn’t accept my answer of “I decided to put a polka-dot on my head”. She was legitimately concerned about why it was there.
  • Another little girl just stared at the band-aid the whole entire time she was talking to me.
  • Only about three adults flat-out asked me what happened to my head.
  • One lady didn’t ask me anything about why it was there, but did try to adjust my bandage.
  • Some people said really awkward things. (ie: “There’s a spot on your head.”)
  • Perhaps my favorite?
    Shortly after the doctor called with my biopsy results (it was basal cell carcinoma, aka: the most common type of skin cancer), I ran by Starbucks. The barista was especially inquisitive about my band-aid, but there were only so many questions he could ask before I could no longer hide that it was skin cancer. *cue the awkward* He did end our conversation by letting me know I was rocking my band-aid. 😀 Bless his heart. (And then this song played on the radio on my way home…I was basically a puddle.)

Every one of those experiences taught me so much about how I want to relate and react to others and reminded me where my worth is found. I learned a lot through that tiny little band-aid and now I get to learn even more.

I had MOHS surgery this past Wednesday to remove the cancerous spot (I’ll just go ahead and give you a link to the Google for that because if you’re anything like me, that’s what you’re going to do next. You’re welcome.) God is so gracious and kind. I had prayed it would be contained and not too deep and He answered that prayer beautifully. They got it all the first time. Now I get to learn even more lessons with a bigger bandage and stitches that I’m quite certain make me look like Sally Skellington from The Nightmare Before Christmas. (Those are to be revealed tomorrow, so we shall see.) 

Through it all, God has drawn me closer to Himself, He has still proven to be faithful, and He has shown me more of His unwavering character. 

So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.
{2 Corinthians 4:16-18}

I have no idea how people who do not have Christ in their life deal with anything. If I didn’t know my worth in Christ, I would undoubtedly be a miserable sad-sack. My confidence must be found in Him. If only more people looked at others like God looks at us. For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.” {1 Samuel 16:7}

So I just have to ask. What does the Lord see when He looks at you? Does He see your sinful, rotten, dirty, rebellious heart? That’s a sad state to be in. My heart was that way, but He changed it! My life is hidden in Christ now.

Is your heart hidden in ChristIf it is, God sees Christ’s perfect, spotless righteousness when He looks at you. And isn’t that a beautiful thought?!

———
P.S.–To all of you who have prayed, called, texted, hugged, or even not known what to say…thank you. You sure know how to make a girl feel loved. 

Happy SAD!

1521319_10101742593735110_1734426431_nI’m pressed for time this evening, but did have some links I want to share in light of the coming weekend. For some of you, the weekend is looming. Others of you are anticipating the weekend. ALL of you are loved this weekend.

It is no secret that I love Valentine’s Day. The pink, the red, the cards,and the sweet spirit of showing one another affection and honor are some of my favorite things. Most of all, it’s always an opportune time to reflect on God’s love for us and ways that should move us to love others.

So—here’s some link love for your weekend! ❤

Valentine’s Day Hopes ~ This post helped the focus of my heart shift upward. It can get tilted so easily.
“Hopes deferred aren’t a dead end, but a gracious redirect. They are a pointer to the “living hope:” our Savior, Jesus Christ (1 Pet. 1:3)….If Valentine’s Day magnifies our misplaced hopes, we must put our hope in God (1 Pet. 3:5). We do this by focusing on all that God promises to be for us in Jesus Christ.” 

Remembering the Unquantifiable Love of God ~ Just in case you forgot how much God loves you and WHY He loves you.
“God’s love for us goes farther than even time itself, into the deep recesses of eternity past. It stretched all the way from forever, forward to the cross, and will continue into eternity future.”

23 Things That Love Is ~ Because knowing we’re loved unquantifiably by the King of the Universe moves us to demonstrate that love to others.

The Real Truth About Boring Men ~ This is one I’ve tucked away and read over and pray over often, especially since the world throws so much cheap garbage in front of our faces and calls it romance.
“How a man proposes isn’t what makes him romantic. It’s how a man purposes to lay down his life that makes him romantic.”

And a Shane & Shane song keeps coming to mind, mostly because of the lyrics. Take a listen?


I am loved
Regardless of the things I’ve said and done
No mistake can change your mind
I’m your design, God
Your love is mine right now

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

“We love because He first loved us.” {1 John 4:19}

Sending you BIG hugs and wishing you a happy one! ❤

You. Are. Loved.

Because You Say So

bcYousaysoHave you ever been slow to obey? I sure have. It’s easy to drift into disobedience by over-analyzing situations, weighing pros and cons, and questioning why you would be asked to do something. But delayed obedience is disobedience.

Certain blessings God is waiting to pour out on you may have an expiration date. For example, one day last week I was prompted five times throughout the day (FIVE!) to ask someone if they needed dinner. The first time it was early morning (but who asks someone if they need dinner during the morning hours?! …apparently people who are obedient). Around noon, I had the same thought, but brushed it off again (because, you know, they were probably eating lunch). Then around 3:00…still brushing it off (they were probably busy with their job and wouldn’t respond anyway). Again at 4:00 (but by this time, I had made dinner plans with my parents…let’s not mention the coupon I had with me for another extra free meal). The last time I was prompted is the kicker and just shows what a stubborn, stiff-necked person I can be. This time, it was a little after 6:00, I was way early for an event we were both at, and they even mentioned that they hadn’t had dinner. What kind of hard-hearted jerk still ignores the still small voice telling her to offer to run across the street to grab some dinner?! This girl. I missed an opportunity to be a blessing…actually five opportunities. I could’ve been the vessel God used to remind someone He is faithful, to confirm that He’s looking out for them, and to reinforce His promise that He will provide, but that opportunity expired because I didn’t hasten to the Spirit’s prompting.

Granted, this may seem like a trivial example to some, but if I can’t obey God in the “little” things He’s guiding me to do, how can I ever expect to obey Him in the “big” things?

Is there a heart that will not bend
To Thy divine control?
Descend, O sovereign love, descend,
And melt that stubborn soul!
[from Songs for the Sanctuary, 1874]

“I will hasten and not delay to obey Your commands.” -Psalm 119:60

When He tells you to do something, DO IT. Right then. It may seem odd. It may put you in a humbling position. Do it. There’s a reason He wants you to. But what if what He has laid on my heart sounds crazy? Well, it wouldn’t be the first time God had asked someone to do something that sounds strange to our finite minds, would it?

Take the Israelites for example. They’d been wandering in the wilderness for 40 years and all that stood between them and their new home was Jericho. How in the world would they be able to destroy this great city? God gave them explicit instructions and the Israelites showed exemplary faith and obeyed, even though the instructions sound a little unusual.

Now the gates of Jericho were tightly shut because the people were afraid of the Israelites. No one was allowed to go out or in. But the Lord said to Joshua, “I have given you Jericho, its king, and all its strong warriors. You and your fighting men should march around the town once a day for six days. Seven priests will walk ahead of the Ark, each carrying a ram’s horn. On the seventh day you are to march around the town seven times, with the priests blowing the horns. When you hear the priests give one long blast on the rams’ horns, have all the people shout as loud as they can. Then the walls of the town will collapse, and the people can charge straight into the town.” [Joshua 6:1-5]

Can you imagine? God promises you He’s going to give a city into your hands, all you have to do is march around it once a day for 6 days and then 7 times on the 7th day with priests blowing horns. Then the priests are to give one long blast on the horns and all the people will shout as loud as they can…then the walls will fall. Ooookay, really?!

But the Israelites had FAITH that God would keep His Word. “It was by faith that the people of Israel marched around Jericho for seven days, and the walls came crashing down.” [Hebrews 11:30] They trusted that He would follow through on His promise. And God definitely gets the glory here because, let’s face it, a marching band and thousands of others just walking around a city and then yelling most likely wouldn’t make it fall down. As David Platt said, “When the people of Israel take the city of Jericho in Joshua 6, what you don’t see is all the Israelites going up to the trumpet players and telling them what an incredible job they did. ‘Ralph, I never heard you play that well. Harry, you hit the high C and it was awesome.’ No, you see people on their faces saying ‘Only God could’ve done this.’” (from NOBTSThe Israelites got it. They had faith to obey God no matter how odd His instructions sounded.

Mary got it also. When the wine ran out at the wedding in Cana, she told the servants, “Do whatever He tells you.” [John 2:5]

Simon got it, too. He and his friends had been fishing all night and hadn’t caught a thing. Jesus was at the same lake and a crowd had gathered, so He hopped in Simon’s boat to teach them. When He had finished teaching, Jesus told them to let down their nets for a catch (why in the world should they expect to catch anything now?!). But, Simon took Jesus at His Word and let down the nets. “Simon answered, ‘Master, we’ve worked hard all night and haven’t caught anything. But because You say so, I will let down the nets.'” [Luke 5:5]

They caught so many fish their nets were breaking. Oh if we would just take Him at His Word and obey. When you obey and people see God at work through you, they will be astonished. They will be amazed by the hand of God. “For he and all who were with him were astonished at the catch of fish that they had taken…” [Luke 5:9

Isn’t His Word good enough? Because You say so, I’ll do it. He’s always working for my good. He’s always working for His glory. If only I’d trust that and truly believe that and obey without delay what He tells me to do.

As Spurgeon said, “We accept the Lord Jesus by faith, and He teaches us obedience, and creates it in us. The more of faith in Him you have, the more of obedience to Him will you manifest.” To increase my faith, I must trust Him more. To trust Him more, I must know Him more. The more I know Him, the more I trust Him, and the more I trust Him, the more apt I will be to obey right away.

But for all the times I fail, for all the times I disobey, for all the times I stubbornly do what I think is best, I thank God for sending His Son who lived a life of perfect obedience and humbly obeyed to the end, becoming the sacrifice for my sins and giving me His righteousness. “For as through the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, even so through the obedience of the One the many will be made righteous.” [Romans 5:19]

Oh that we would do what He says without hesitation or question. May He shine brightly through our lives as we empty ourselves in humble obedience, following His lead no matter how absurd His instructions may seem. Because You say so, I’ll do it.

——————–
And may I encourage you to read a Spurgeon sermon on “The Obedience of Faith” that was preached on an August Thursday at The Metropolitan Tabernacle in 1890? It’s great. Read here.

The Measure of a Life

Barlines

Remembering my kindergarten music teacher today, Mrs. Cantrell, who passed away on Thursday. When I was a five year-old kindergartner, I never realized what an impact she would have on me. Though she was only my music teacher for one year, she became a close family friend and was actually the one who inspired me to do marching band.

When I was in 8th grade, I went to an Orff workshop at U of L with my mom. Mrs. Cantrell walked to lunch with me and talked me into trying marching band for just one year. Well, we all see how that turned out.

So, I’m forever grateful to Mrs. Cantrell. Thanks to her, I had some of the most wonderful experiences imaginable throughout high school and college. Without her little pep talk in a stairwell at U of L, I would probably be a loner since most all of my closest friends came through marching band.

You never know the measure of your life. One small conversation can impact the rest of someone else’s life in ways you could never imagine. I wish I would have told her that.

What a lady! I can’t wait to sing loudly in the Heavenly choir with her.

P.S.-She also had a great sense of humor! Whenever she would call for my mom and I’d answer, she’d always ask if I’d gotten married yet (even if I just saw her the previous day) and then she would cackle and tell me a joke about Bach or some random, hilarious music history fact. I’ll miss that.

I don't have a picture with Mrs. Cantrell, but my life is so much richer with all these people because of her!

I don’t have a picture with Mrs. Cantrell, but my life is so much richer with all these people (and so many more) because of her!

♪ Teach us to count our days. Teach us to make our days count. ♪

Uncle Tom-isms

Nearly two weeks ago, one of the closest friends my family has ever known suddenly passed away. Tom Riley was one of the kindest, most intelligent men I have ever met. I affectionately called him “Uncle Tom” and still call his wife “Aunt Janna” because that is truly what they are to me. Janna was saved under my grandfather’s ministry as a little girl. She and Tom took my Dad under their wings when he moved to Kentucky to go to Bible College. She took care of my grandmother for nearly 12 years. Their family pictures from decades ago are intermingled with ours.

They’re family. And when you’re family, your life is all tied up together and intertwined in countless ways…like individual strings that are all gathered into one big ball. When one string is pulled out, it hurts. While we are so very blessed to be comforted by hope found in the solid truths of God’s Word, it’s still hard to have someone snatched to their eternal home so unexpectedly.

It’s hard for me to believe that one Sunday night after church, you can be sitting across from someone at Cracker Barrel as they order beef stew with one onion on the side, speak incredibly kind words to and laugh with the waitress, and chat with bearded patrons about Duck Dynasty–and the very next Sunday at the exact same time, you are standing at their visitation at the funeral home. (Uncle Tom’s comments on death were the short and simple, but straight to the point: Be Ready.) If a funeral can be beautiful, his was beautiful because it completely summed up his life while also magnifying the grace of God.

I can’t seem to manage to write a tribute to Uncle Tom, so instead, I’ve decided to piece together some of my favorite Uncle Tom-isms. He had quite a few phrases he enjoyed using often and there a few other little special things about him that I never want to forget.

Uncle TomEvery time I ever saw Uncle Tom, he always asked, “Any exciting news to report?” Every. Single. Time. He was interested in my life. Getting to know people was one of his very favorite things and he was so good at it. He could talk to anyone from anywhere and make them feel loved. His last job was at Amazon where he had many international coworkers who were new to the States. He would often tell me about someone new he had met, where they were from, and something interesting about their life. It was obvious that his amazing way with people stemmed from his love for the Lord.

I usually never had much exciting news to report, so I would usually follow up with “Not really–do you?” And then he would shake his head with excitement and smile, “I am so glad you asked.”

If Uncle Tom ever wanted to ask me to do him a favor, he always said, “Don’t let me take advantage of your depraved nature.” Sadly, not everyone has the high quality of Calvinistic humor we shared.

For some reason, he often called Aunt Janna his “Trailing Arbutus.” He’d call and ask to speak to his Trailing Arbutus–which I always thought was so odd until I learned that a Trailing Arbutus is a lovely little flower that also serves as the State Flower of Massachusetts.

Not only did Uncle Tom have funny little things he liked to say, he also had some hilarious trademark faces he would make: the one where his lip would quiver quickly as in a pout, but it was totally sarcastic. The one where he was waiting his turn to talk and he’d take a breath and stick out his hand, acting like he was finally going to interrupt with a point, but then he wouldn’t…he’d make the quivery pouty face instead. And my personal favorite, the Richard Nixon one, where he would put up two peace signs and shake his head back and forth. That made me laugh every time.

Uncle Tom 2

He had a deep appreciation for music. I’d always love it when he’d lead the singing because he always knew the stories behind the songs and would share. But he didn’t love just hymns–I could always count on him for a good YouTube video of some hidden talent. Uncle Tom had recently started taking cello lessons and was becoming quite good at it! He was very disciplined and dedicated to his practice. (If he ever sat with my grandmother for a few hours, he’d usually bring his cello to practice.) For about the past month, he had been telling me all about an accomplished cellist who had passed away at a young age–we even watched a video of her playing a concerto and he was so amused by her hair flip in the middle of the piece. 😀 He was always looking to learn from others and held them in high esteem. He also loved sharing his appreciation for music with his grandsons. I’ll never forget him and a very young Conner singing a duet of “Some Enchanted Evening” to me in the middle of Cracker Barrel one evening. So precious. (And I’m sure none of us will ever forget the excitement of Lawrence Welk’s bubble machine.)

One of Uncle Tom’s favorite things to say, especially recently, was “It’s a wonderful life.” One of his last Facebook posts fits him to a T.

Jan. 23,2013

Dear Friends and Family,

Thank you for your thoughtful birthday wishes. It really made my day to hear from folks from so many different areas of my life and far away places. Not only was it a good day, but it is a wonderful life. With Family, Friends, health, church, work, books, music, and our precious Maltipoo, Barney, I am reminded of a sermon that says “All this and Heaven too!” Jesus Christ gives meaning and blessings this side of eternity and perfectly completes our joy and fulfillment on the other side.

With the recent passing of friend, David A. Zegeer, (Google him) whom I assisted the last few years of his life, and watching a recent interview of the remarkable George Beverly Shea at 102, I am reminded how much one can still offer and accomplish despite age and circumstances.
On my birthday, I began my 2nd year of weekly (not weakly!) cello lessons and am enjoying it greatly. Thank you Dr. Leah Hagel and thanks to Olivia Harden (now 12?) for the inspiration and example.

Though life brings challenges, God permits them to make us stronger and more able to bless others. I look forward to the coming year to see what people, books, work and other blessings, and yes, even circumstances it brings. Again, I thank everyone of you for your thoughtfulness and look forward to seeing each of you at some point. May this be your best year ever with God’s richest blessings!

Tom

“Jesus Christ gives meaning and blessings this side of eternity and perfectly completes our joy and fulfillment on the other side.” I LOVE that! That is precisely what makes everything in life wonderful, knowing that when you are hidden in Christ, He is always working for your good and His glory in every little detail, both good and bad.

He grasped that it truly is a wonderful life. (Or…”Wunnerful, wunnerful!” as Uncle Tom would say.)

Thank you, Uncle Tom, for the way you loved the Lord, which you made you love people, which made you love every aspect of life. That’s what makes it all wonderful.

(Do you have a favorite Uncle Tom-ism?)

Five-Star Products for Five Years with the Sugar Blood

As promised, here is my list of really random Five-Star products to celebrate my Five-Year anniversary with the Sugar Blood

OmniPod ★★★★★ Insulin Pump

Filling up the OmniPod

Filling up the OmniPod

I don’t think I could live without my OmniPod insulin pump (definitely couldn’t live without insulin. haha!). It’s wireless, waterproof, and I only have to change it every three days. Their customer service is FAN-flippin-TASTIC! The whole system is incredibly user-friendly. It comes with downloadable software also, so you can run all sorts of detailed, visually interesting reports!

Sometimes the placement of the pod can be awkward, especially when I wear it on my arm like Nick Jonas. That’s when I usually run into doorframes. haha! My favorite spot to wear the pod is on the side of my abdomen, right above my waist. I seem to get really good absorption there, it doesn’t typically make me look like I have a tumor, and it generally sticks very well.

The PDM has a built-in meter that uses FreeStyle strips, so that’s what I mainly use. For real, I can’t say enough good things about this pump.

BD Alcohol Swabs ★★★★★
I never thought I’d be recommending alcohol swabs. The old saying that “You get what you pay for” was never more true than when referring to alcohol swabs. I don’t always buy BD Alcohol Swabs as they are the most expensive, but I find when I switch back to these after using the cheap ones, they feel incredibly luxurious. BD swabs are thick and quilted and feel really good on the fingers! (Don’t waste these on sterilizing the top of your insulin bottle…use the cheap ones for that and save these babies for your digits!)
[Coming in with four stars? Rite Aid Brand Alcohol Swabs ★★★★ Super soft and cheaper than BD!]

Laundry Detergent Sharps Container ★★★★★
Folks, do not waste your money on a fancy name-brand sharps container. Use that money to buy the luxurious alcohol swabs and simply put your used needles in an empty laundry detergent bottle labeled “SHARPS” with a permanent marker. 😉

If you are using pen needles or need a place to put used lancets in your purse, I recommend using an empty test strip bottle. I was all about decorating these when I was first diagnosed!

20130724-235114.jpgOne Touch Lancing Device ★★★★★
Even though I use a FreeStyle meter now, I still use a One Touch Lancing Device. For some reason it’s much easier to launch and gets the right depth of puncture.

Stick Me Designs Jet Set ★★★★★

Jet Set from Stick Me Designs

Jet Set from Stick Me Designs

I don’t know if Rickina over at Stick Me Designs even makes these anymore, but this incredible bag has been worth every penny since the day I bought it…way back in 2008! It’s been lots of places with me, weathered a lot of wear and tear, and is still in excellent shape! It’s especially fabulous for a plane trip. You can fit SO much stuff in this bag: ice pack, insulin, juices, lancets, needles, extra pods, glucose tablets, glucagon pen, ketone strips, alcohol swabs, snacks, other medicines, really…you name it, you can stuff it in there! (And the customer service here is also fabulous!) Any of her products would make an excellent, very thoughtful gift for someone newly diagnosed (or even an old diabetic)!

Better Homes & Gardens Diabetic Living Cookbook ★★★★★
People really do mean well when they give you cookbooks, I’m sure. But sometimes…just…no. This one, however, was one of the nicest gifts I received my first Sugar-Free Christmas. All the carb counts are included with each recipe and the cookbook as a whole is visually stunning. [View at Barnes & Noble]

Yoplait Greek 100 Yogurt ★★★★★
A Yogurt low in carbs that still tastes good is really hard to find, but look no further: Yoplait Greek 100 Yogurt is where it’s at. 11 carbs for the whole cup! I like to top mine with almonds or pecans (and sometimes a few dark chocolate chips)!

STARBUCKS ★★★★★ (or as one friend affectionately calls it: StarJazz!)
I feel like it would be appropriate to end this post with a few of my favorite drinks to order at Starbucks:
Shaken Iced Passion Tea with No Classic: It doesn’t get better than this when you’re wanting something refreshing without any carbs {Tall, Grande, or Venti=0 carbs!!!!} If your sugar is low and you want to add a little variety, try one pump of raspberry in it!
Iced Coffee with a little bit of 2% Milk, No Classic: For some reason, this drink drops my sugar if it’s high. So weird that it has that effect, but of course that’s completely fine by me! {Tall=2 carbs}
Skinny Vanilla Latte: So perfect on a chilly afternoon. {Tall=14 carbs}
Mocha Light Frappuccino with Light Whip: My absolute favorite in the summertime! {Tall=23 carbs}
Skinny Cinnamon Dolce Latte: Best enjoyed on an early percussion competition day when it’s not yet light outside, you’re barely awake, and you’re already frozen to the bone. {Tall=14 carbs}
Skinny Upside-Down Caramel Macchiato: Mmmm. So much yumminess for so few carbs. {Tall=16 carbs}

Thank you for celebrating with me in this way! I have one more post up my diabetic sleeve that I think is HILARIOUS, so hang on. It’s coming soon!

So…what are some of YOUR ★★Five★Star★★ Favorites?!