Joy no matter what. A blog by Deanne Nelson.

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Humble Pie November 14, 2017

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downloadAnyone that knows me knows this… I LOVE peanut butter pie! I believe a good piece of peanut butter pie can solve many an issue or grievance. I even believe a good piece of peanut butter pie can warm a frigid heart a few degrees. It is hard to be sad with a piece of peanut butter pie on hand.

I like to think then that I am pretty easy to please, especially when it comes to birthdays or special occasions. I have long said that a nice card with a few personal words and a piece of peanut butter pie is all I ever need. Yep, that is all. That sounds pretty easy, right? My husband might not agree…

Throughout our twentyone years, Grant has forgotten my birthday a couple times and our anniversary a time or two as well. It is safe to say that on those particular occasions, there was no peanut butter pie or card coming my way. But would you believe that I still was lacking peanut butter pie on almost all of the other known special days too?! There was one fateful birthday when he bought me a banana cream pie. I have never eaten a single entire piece of banana cream pie in my life. I am not a fan. Then there was the year he made me an inedible white birthday cake. Our sons managed to get through a piece but the rest made it to our garbage disposal quickly. I did appreciate the effort. Did I happen to mention that peanut butter PIE was my favorite of all favorite? A cake is ok; pie has always been better.

I wish I could say that I have always been gracious and merciful during such spousal oversights, but I have not. Walking in forgiveness is a sign of true Christian growth and maturity, one in which I have fallen short many times. Did you know that truly forgiving someone means not bringing up the offense again and again…and again…in an effort to be sure that the offending person suffers what you feel is only fair? It is hard to say how many times through the years the ole’ lack of peanut butter pie and special occasion oversights have been laid back on Grant’s plate via me. Those little reminder jabs seem to slip out every now and again. I suppose it is easy to keep jabbing when one feels certain that they would certainly never act in the same “offending’ way themselves. Self-righteousness is not a pretty thing. Extending forgiveness whether it is deserved or not is a beautiful act inspired by the Lord, but taking it back to sling a bit more mud from time to time tarnishes and destroys such beauty. It grieves the Lord. Aren’t you grateful the Lord does not treat us in such a way? His forgiveness is complete and final.

Then the “impossible” happened…

October 12, 2017. The alarm clock rang at 6:30am but Grant was still in bed. He is usually out and gone to work by then. I was totally shocked when he said he was staying home that day. He NEVER takes a random day off of work. I even got a bit annoyed for a moment that he did not tell me beforehand so that I could pick up a work shift to help out then. I was about to express my irritated sleep-deprived opinion when I looked over at our dresser to see a dozen gorgeous red and pink roses. What in the world??!! I turned back to my husband. “Happy Anniversary.” His words pierced my heart like a dagger. Yes, I had done the impossible; I had forgotten our anniversary! I had never forgotten a single special occasion in our entire marriage. The first slip-up came on the very day of our twenty-one-year mark. I felt horrible beyond words. I could not muster a single word. I love words. I am never lacking for words. In that moment, I had nothing.

Grant knew immediately that I had forgotten. He let out a chuckle and moved on. Yep, you read that right. He moved on. I apologized profusely over and over. He told me that he forgave me. He proceeded to bring me a gift bag which had a brand new white lab coat for my upcoming nurse practitioner clinicals for graduate school. There was a beautiful card in the bag as well with some sweet personal words written by him. The tears just kept rolling down my face. His gifts were incredibly thoughtful.  I had nothing… nothing to say except how sorry I was over and over, and nothing to give him. No card, no gift, no nothing.

Grant’s quick and no-strings-attached forgiveness impacted me deeply. My first natural inclination was to prepare myself for some accusations and words of guilt coming my way, which would have been well-deserved. We do that to make sure the person who hurt us understands the depths of our pain. And yet, such words only bring strife and defensiveness. The irony was that when those words did not come, I was forced to lay down my defenses altogether. Grant’s kindness and mercy melted any hardness that was trying to wrap around my heart. The kinder he was, the sorrier I was. I began to consider how I had acted in years past in the very same situation reversed and I was deeply sorry for my lack of mercy. A wave of true repentance came over me which never would have happened if I had felt attacked or guilted for my mistake. The freedom I received from Grant’s forgiveness allowed for both of us to truly celebrate that day, no matter how it started. When you extend forgiveness to one who hurts you, God is able to break their heart in a good way. It is a way that changes them forever and brings them, and you, closer to the Lord.

Grant extended mercy, which is far better than judgment. He extended forgiveness, which is far better than offense. He extended grace, which is never deserved but is precious and invaluable, and far better than accusations. Grant reacted in a way pleasing to the Lord and it brought wholeness and healing to both of us.

Now I am aware that there are some very hurtful offenses that are far worse than forgetting an anniversary or birthday, but God’s ways are always right. His word mandates that we forgive one another, no matter the situation. The Lord gave his very life so that we could be forgiven of our sins. We must, in turn, be willing to forgive others, even when they are not sorry. We only hurt ourselves and those around us when we refuse to obey the Lord in this.

Matthew 6:14-15:

“For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.”

The choice is yours but I can say with absolute certainty that forgiveness free and clear is the right one.

I do still love peanut butter but there is a new favorite on my list…Humble Pie, with a side of crow. I highly recommend it!!



Let There Be Light July 8, 2016

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I cannot sleep. I find myself pleading with the Lord God to calm my heart’s greatest fears. My faith is so little right now. And yet I know that my Savior lives, despite the chaos that ensues in our world.

There is an enemy to us all. His name is Satan. He is the one who comes to steal, kill, and destroy. Our war is truly not against one another, but with the dark powers of Satan. He takes great delight in bringing division among and through people. He is throwing our nation into utter confusion and chaos. The current events in Dallas, TX are a result of his handiwork to bring hatred into the hearts of people. He is nowhere near being done with his evil schemes to bring division and death.

Yet in utter darkness, there is always hope. No matter how great the darkness becomes, it can be extinguished with light. Consider a pitch black room, where nothing can be seen. It is impossible to navigate through such a room. One can only hope to grope through, grasping for something to hold on to. But once a single light illuminates that room, the darkness that was once there proves to be powerless and eradicated. The light fills in every nook and cranny of darkness, so that none remains. I see our nation blindly grasping on to anything in order to survive. Where is the light switch?…

Jesus Christ is the one and only hope of the world. He has already conquered the powers of hell and darkness, and no amount of evil on this earth can undo the victory he obtained on the cross. We are all heirs to eternal life, if we trust in His death. Yes, He had to die, so that we could truly live beyond this temporarily life. May Jesus Christ be the light switch that humanity clings to, as only He can shed light on the darkness that seeks to destroy us all.

My husband is sound asleep right now. I am grateful for his peaceful sleep. He is not yet aware that eleven of his fellow police officers have been shot upon, as they showed up to perform the duties of their sworn position. He does not know that five of those have been killed in the line of duty. He will waken soon, probably around 4:30am. He will begin to get ready to start his twelve hour shift as a sergeant for the police department in our town. I would like it if he would just stay asleep longer, in a peaceful place of comfort and safety in our bedroom. Perhaps he will feel ill when he gets up, but then I remember that he shows up for work even when he is weakened physically. Perhaps he will hear of the tragic events of the night and start to consider that maybe police work is no longer what he needs to be doing. But then I remember that he is passionate about serving and protecting his community, and that such news will only serve to make his resolve to being a honorable police officer even stronger. Perhaps if I cry and plead that he take a desk job, that he might consider it. But then he just might ask me why my children and I pray for him as we do, if those prayers for safety and protection are not believed in. He would then remind me that he loves being a police officer, even though many hate him when he puts his uniform on. He will not let fear, violence, or hate control his life, and neither will I.

And so I will stop playing out in my head the ways in which the love of my life should live the rest of his life. He has sworn to protect and serve, and nothing will deter him from doing that. I will simply wait for him to arise any minute, and I will tell him of the tragic events in Dallas. I will kiss him and hold him tightly, say a prayer over him, and send him out in his patrol car for the start of a new day. And as he pulls away, I will know that the light of Jesus Christ goes with him everywhere, and even death has no power over him.

Yes, may the light switch in his patrol car remain bright, no matter what.


He is Risen April 5, 2015

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Those words have been spoken many times today in celebration of Easter, and there is truly no greater event in all of human history to celebrate than the resurrection of Jesus Christ.  He is risen indeed.

There are many in our world who do not embrace Christ for the savior that He is, but that lack of faith or belief in his mission and message does not in any way detract from the colossal truth of his bodily resurrection from the dead. The simple fact is that if Christ truly did resurrect from the dead, then every ounce of his life and message are undeniably true. On the other hand, if the resurrection never happened, then it was the greatest hoax on all of mankind and we are all forever lost and hopeless. Without the resurrection, then every word from Genesis to Revelation is null and void.  God’s redemptive plan for mankind all hinges on that empty tomb.

I have made a firm choice in my life to trust in Jesus Christ. This did not come out of blind faith or wishful thinking. I am a grown woman who has sought truth and have come to one solid and firm foundation in my life. That foundation is Jesus Christ. I have endured trials and heartache on both sides of faith, and I know beyond any doubt that Jesus Christ is real and very much alive today. I do not serve a dead man, but a risen and holy savior.

I would challenge any who question the true identity and deity of Jesus Christ to come before him with a true seeking heart. To seek is to simply open your heart and mind to the possibilities that lie beyond your human capability. Ask him if he is truly real, and be ready for his answer. It might not look or sound like what you have in mind, but be ready to be changed and transformed. A seeking heart will always find truth. It is not hidden under a rock. Truth is out in the open, lit up brightly, for those who are truly seeking. Truth comes in the ‘coincidences’ in life that are not coincidences at all. Truth comes from the mouths and actions of those placed in your life for a given time, the exact and right time. Truth comes in that still small voice in your heart that speaks volumes above the chaos and clamor of the rest. I dare you to open a Bible and get to reading. One chapter a day will be enough, but before long, you will be tearing through it and hungry for more. Truth cannot be silenced by lies. We choose to accept or reject it.

Did Jesus Christ raise from the dead? I answer that question with a resounding YES. And because he lives, I can face tomorrow.

Thank you Lord that you have risen and are not anywhere close to being done. The best is yet to come.

12 Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you. 13 You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart. 14 I will be found by you, declares the Lord…Jeremiah 29:12-14.

Get to looking.

Here are my family and I celebrating the resurrection. Oh happy day!



A Week Can Change A Life October 6, 2014

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It was not long after our move to NC in the summer of 2007 when I was introduced to the beauty of a mountain retreat known as Camp Lurecrest. This unique camp has been going strong since the 1940’s, with a clear and simple agenda- to touch the lives of each and every camper with the life changing love and message of Jesus Christ. Their motto further exemplifies this mission…’A week can change a life.’…

My family and I have come to know full well that his motto is true to the core. I first attended Lurecrest for a women’s retreat put on by Garr Memorial Church in 2008, and the seeds planted in my heart for this special place of the Lord have continued to thrive. I would even be blessed with the colossal and profound privilege to be the speaker for two women’s retreats in succeeding years…a gift that I shall always cherish.

In the summer of 2011, my then ten year old daughter Grace would be blessed with an awesome miracle of having her camp tuition completely paid for, in which she could attend her first week at Lurecrest. We did not have the financial means to do it, but God’s provision flowed. We found out moments before the buses were leaving, so we frantically packed amidst giggles of awe and delight, and her journey with Camp Lurecrest began. In the following three summers God would put Grace on the heart of a selfless and generous couple who would extend their love and financial support to her, and she would thus continue her annual week at one of the best places on earth. She indeed was changed with each session, with a growing love and longing for her Lord. She now vows to be a counselor at this camp one day, Lord willing. It fills this mom’s heart with pure joy.

But truth be told, from the first time I felt the presence of the Lord on this majestic mountain venue, I longed for my autistic son Nathan to somehow experience it as well. It certainly seemed impossible on many levels, as there are so many quirks, twists, and turns that can prevent a child with special needs from attending such a camp.

Camp Lurecrest, while being a place of love and acceptance, is also a great place of outdoor fun and adventure. Cabins consist of two college age counselors leading a group of ten or so kiddos for five nights and six days. There are about 180 campers per session. Now there are loads of super cool lake and mountain activities mixed in, with talented speakers to give a life changing message at chapel time, and plenty of worship songs with hand motions and catchy jingles too. Did I mention that every camper starts to be a bit odoriferous by day two! Those campers are having some serious fun and who has time to shower??!!

Each time the longing for Nathan to be a part arose in my heart, I would dismiss it. There was no way he could ever handle this ‘typical’ camp.  I convinced myself of this, as Nathan has some social and practical struggles that would make it very difficult for him to succeed in such a setting. But, my heart continued to hope for the chance, but that hope was fleeting, as I would immediately dismiss the thought again. This cycle went on for about three years. There were special needs camps that would fit the bill for him, but Camp Lurecrest was the dream. Was it an impossible dream?

This past summer of 2014, the senior staff at Camp Lurecrest prayed over the possibility of having Nathan attend, and agreed to give it a try. I myself would be there that week, serving as the camp RN, but the greatest concern was that Nathan would find himself at the infirmary doorstep repeatedly needing my help and reassurances. My role and first duty that week was to serve as RN to all campers and staff. I could not be preoccupied with a struggling boy who was miserable to be there. I have to admit that I was not myself convinced that Nathan was going to be able to tolerate camp, but I was ecstatic at the chance to try. The agreement was that my husband would be ‘on call’ to come get him if need be. Nathan was eleven years old now, and he had matured in so many ways. And yet, the challenges of autism remained, and the social struggles can be debilitating in such a setting. My loner of a boy can easily feel overwhelmed and lost at a place like camp, and I did not want him to suffer with endless anxiety. The prayers were being lifted up months before camp would begin.

What I never doubted was that God could speak to Nathan on this mountain. I believed that the same peace and presence of the Lord that Grace and I experienced at Camp Lurecrest, could also be Nathan’s to grasp.  His younger brother Caleb, his only friend, would be coming to camp as well as God once again provided a way.

Our time for camp seemed to come quickly. I had prepared him as best I could, and he indeed asked many of the same questions over, and over, and over. “Will I take a shower next to other boys?”…”Who is going to cook the food?”…”When will I eat?”…”Will there be a night light?”…”What if I get sick?”…”What if I get stung by a bee?”….on and on. We would go through a list of questions just about every day for many weeks. I do recall telling him that I only wanted to see him in the nurses’ station if there was a serious injury with blood involved! I had to take that one back as it caused much concern.

Campers arrived on a Sunday evening, and night one seemed to go without incident, although I was so busy getting medications checked in and such that I did not truly know how he was doing. All I knew was that he did not end up on the infirmary porch in tears, so that was a good thing. But over the next day I sensed trouble brewing. The glimpses I caught of him left my heart aching. He was pacing, a lot, and moved about in an aimless and nervous fashion. I know this ‘walk’ well. He was not participating with the camp activities and was starting to isolate himself from others. His brother Caleb had settled in beautifully and was off and running being a camper. I pulled Caleb aside and asked him to please be sure to grab hold of his brother and include him, but he told me that Nathan would not participate with him or his new friends, despite many invitations to do so. I needed to let Caleb have his time as well. By the following day, Nathan’s pacing had intensified and he was covering his ears continuously to block out the sounds of what should be fun and adventure for a boy his age. He was starting to look miserable, and it was agonizing to watch. He never did end up coming to me, but I tried to speak to him that Tuesday afternoon and he would not even stop pacing to talk with me. He was holding it together as best he could, and if he had tried to relate to me with words how he was feeling, he would have burst. I was so proud of him for doing all he could to not have an outburst, but I knew that the anxiety and fear were taking center stage. He was not experiencing the beauty or joy that the Lord had for him at Lurecrest. He was there in the flesh, but his sweet spirit was in bondage.

I knew that it was not good for Nathan to be under such pressure, and through broken tears I prayed to God for an answer. As I was considering calling my husband to come get him that Tuesday afternoon, I suddenly felt a sure and certain calling from the Lord. The message revealed to my spirit was to pray for one friend. Yes, that was the message. He would only need one friend to make his way through this darkness. He did not need a cabin full of friends, or 180 campers on his side. What he needed was one friend so that he could feel included in the ‘tribe’ of Jesus. TRIBE was the camp theme for the week, with the message being that we all can belong to the tribe of Jesus. Now even one friend for Nathan is quite a challenge, and he had already alienated himself from his brother, who I had assumed would be his lifeline to success for the week. Who in the world would Nathan open up to amidst such anxiety? And who would be patient enough to appreciate and accept Nathan’s quirks? It would take one special kid to be sure, but the excitement and hope for it welled up inside of me. I called on my fellow RN for the week Becky to pray too, as well as some volunteers from the kitchen staff. A dear friend Elizabeth was serving that week as well, and became a prayer warrior over this. We locked arms and prayed that God would reveal this friend for Nathan and that his week would take a complete turn around. I called Grant to pray. I called family in Arizona to pray. One friend was all it would take, and the prayers for it were in full force.

Weeping may tarry for the night, but joy comes in the morning.’…Psalm 30:5.

I knew that Wednesday would be the day of decision. Would Nathan make it through, or would he be headed home? It was painful to consider that he might not embrace Camp Lurecrest. There had been so much hope and anticipation for our family over this week. What would this day bring?

I was in my usual RN station when Nurse Becky came bursting through the doors that Wednesday mid-morning. She was out keeping an eye on the campers when she came upon a sight to behold. She was breathless and her eyes were tearing up as her exuberant words came spilling out…”God sent Nathan a friend!!!!!!!.” She pulled out her phone to show me some pictures and a short video she had captured. My knees became weak as the images poured out. It was indeed my Nathan, with a beautiful young boy, and their faces were painted in tribal garb. The video revealed the two of them chanting and dancing in true tribal spirit. Tears of fabulous joy filled our eyes. My heart was full to overflowing. Becky and I danced around our little RN room like giddy school girls. God had heard and answered, which is never a shock, but it is always a source or pure and total joy.

I recognized the boy from the picture as one of Nathan’s cabin mates, but up until then, he had not made a connection with any of the boys in his cabin. That all changed that very day. The prayers of many were heard and answered, and God chose a precious young boy by the name of Tristan to answer the call. I ran out to find Tristan myself. I just wanted to hug that young man who God chose to be a light. Every camper there of course was special, but this was the one who God hand picked to touch Nathan’s life. What a gift of a child Tristan is! When I found him, he was indeed hanging out with my Nathan. He was a bit shocked to see the puffy, red-eyed camp nurse barreling straight for him, but he accepted my hug and tears with a sweet smile and a giggle. Nathan as well had the most tender smile, as he would simply follow Tristan’s gentle lead. I excused myself so not to embarrass Nathan any further. When I got back to my sleeping quarters, I hit my knees. The words would not even come, but the tears of elation to such a good and mighty God showered the floor beneath me. He sees it all, and cares so deeply.

Over the next few days Nathan became a full fledged Camp Lurecrest camper! With Tristan by his side, he was able to conquer the anxiety and fear. No more pacing, no more hand wringing and fidgeting, no more hands covering the ears, no more isolation. He even got on the boat and rode a tube on Lake Lure! At chapel time, I started seeing his hands following along with the motions during worship. Caleb too had a blast with Tristan, and before long, the three had actually become like musketeers. The victory had been won.

I had come to utterly adore Tristan. I longed to reach out to his family, but did not want to overstep any confidentiality issues. I asked him where he lived, and he told me Charlotte. Charlotte is pretty huge indeed. I prayed fervently for him and his family. I prayed the blessings of God over them, and was continuously thankful for them. Campers come from all over NC to attend, and some from out of state too. Camp Lurecrest is truly a legend! It was more than enough to have crossed paths with such an awesome boy, and I knew we would all never forget him. The prayers for Tristan and his family would certainly continue on.

But God was not done…Not even close.

It would be about a month later when the boys would come racing up to me after church… We attend Joy Christian Fellowship in Matthews. It is a fabulous church with approximately 300 or so attendees on any given Sunday. We love it there. But it is one of many hundreds of churches in the Charlotte and surrounding area. I used to joke that in AZ there was a gas station on every corner, but in NC there is a church…It was clear that the boys had some serious excitement over something. “Guess who was at church mom??!! Guess!! Guess!! Guess!!” Before I could even muster a response, they bellowed out in unison….“TRISTAN from Camp Lurecrest!!!!” I was speechless. It did not even seem like it could be possible. My heart felt like it would explode. We went racing back to the children’s area, but he had already gone. Was it really him??? Could it really be him?? In all the countless churches in NC, could he really be here??

Indeed it was him. Tristan and his family had started to attend our church! In the weeks to come, the boys would get to spend more time with their summer-time miracle of a friend. What an absolute thrill it has been. Each time I see Tristan, I am reminded of the utter goodness of the Lord. God always knew that Tristan would continue to be in our lives. He is the master planner and architect of it all. I finally had the chance to meet his beautiful mother two weeks ago. May she read this and take it all into her heart, as well as all of his family. God certainly has a wonderful plan and calling on Tristan’s life, and we will be forever grateful for him.

Just yesterday sweet Tristan was baptized at our church. The week before he exuberantly raised his hand to accept the Lord Jesus into his heart. Our Pastor, McLean Faw, mentioned that he had never seen a more excited and joyful smile for the Lord on such a young face. Tristan wore his Tribe church from camp yesterday as he stood before our congregation before his baptism. As I sat in my chair taking it all in, it was all like an astonishing dream. I marveled inside as I pictured him with my boys just a few weeks earlier in that very same shirt up on God’s majestic mountain. Once again, the tears of gratitude and joy washed over me. To be present at his baptism was a pure gift.

Only the one true God who created all things could create such a course of events. To God alone be the glory, great things He has done!!!!

And YES, a week can indeed change a life.


Here are some fabulous pics of the boys’ time at camp. Tristan is in the red shirt with Nathan. And one includes the boys in cabin 1A. Precious memories. We love you Tristan!!!










Can I get a do-Over?? August 22, 2013

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Remember as a kid when someone would yell ‘do-over’ if things just weren’t going their way? We used to play a game we called ‘pickle,’ where we neighborhood kids would run back and forth from base to base trying not to get caught by the ‘it’ person who had the ball. My big brother would routinely yell out for the ole’ do-over when he got caught and since he was older, the rest of us would oblige. But we kids felt a certain injustice to this concept, as we knew even at a young age that no action already completed could truly be ‘done over.’ The do-over is a certain misnomer, but wouldn’t it be lovely if we all could be trusted with even just one do-over in our lifetime? Would we use it wisely?  What would you re-do? One definition I found for this term fits the bill perfectly…’To do something again from the beginning, especially because you did it badly the first time.’

I do not even have to think about what I would do over……

I met my husband Grant back in the summer of 1995. I was twenty-three years old and fell instantly and hopelessly in…infatuation! I recall using the love word on about our second date. I clung to him tightly and had no plans of letting go. I would quickly learn that Grant had been previously married and had two very young children, a daughter Meghan and a son Devon. They were 4 and 1 at the time. This indeed was news and I was a bit panicked at the thought. I had never dated a divorced man, and I certainly never considered becoming a stepmother one day. My little world was all about me back then. I was a Christian in name only, meaning I would have marked off the ‘Christian’ box if given multiple responses to ‘religion of choice’. I did not seek the Lord God, and I did not walk in His ways. I possessed a bible, but its pages remained crisp and pristine due to lack of use.

Grant would see his children every other weekend, and his love and devotion to them was very strong. I felt a bit jealous as I would watch him shower them with an amazing type of love that only a father can give. They too adored him. They would both climb all over him in a tangled heap of play wrestling and hugs. The giggles and laughter were contagious and I soon began to join in on the fun. The more I fell in love with him, the more I fell in love with his children. I began to picture a life with him, and them, but my heart was fearful over where my place in that might be. I was not their mother, and had no clue how to guide or direct them. Would they resent me if I tried to discipline them? Would his ex-wife become angry over my influence on their lives? This was completely foreign territory to me. As our relationship became more serious, my concerns only grew. I was operating on fear, which is what people do when they do not have faith in the Lord. It is a life of reacting, rather than expecting.

Grant’s ex-wife had already been remarried, and her new husband and she had approached Grant before about letting her husband legally adopt the children. Grant had apparently refused this request. There were tensions between Grant and his ex wife back then, and there were routine disagreements between them in regards to multiple issues about the children. That was hard to be involved in, and again I did not know how to navigate those waters. The topic of having her new husband adopt the children came up again, and Grant and I had many discussions about it. I was always there to throw in my selfish two cents..that this man was already there for the children, providing them love, safety, and security…and that they could be a family minus all of the tension and arguing over visitation, etc. My reasoning continued…after all, they really were a family already, and what difference would it make if they became a legal family?..I had this little picture perfect vision of them having their nice family, and Grant and I some day starting our own family as well. Maybe we could all come together from time and time and oh how peaceful it all could be. I felt certain that we would still know them and that they would know us. My head was stuck in some fairy tale cloud, and I just wanted my Prince Charming in the end. I saw no cause for concern in Grant letting go of his legal rights as a father, as it would never change his love for them. I was bitterly wrong in regards to the impact such a choice would have.

And so Grant reached the decision in his heart to let his children be adopted by their stepfather. Through it all, I encouraged and supported that decision, and reasoned with myself that it was best for everyone involved. I will always remember the day that the adoption became official. Grant wept bitter tears and I was unable to console him in any way.  It was the first time I truly considered the ramifications of what had been done. Did he make the wrong choice?? I did not dare voice that thought out loud back then, as I had been the one giving him counsel to proceed. But as I watched his anguish, the seeds of regret were being planted in my heart. I felt certain that I would be all he needed to fill any void. What a prideful woman I had somehow become.

Grant and I married in 1996 and lived mere minutes from the children back then. As the years passed, we thought of them often and would inquire about them. Recent pictures of them were sent to us and we were so grateful for that, but all forms of communication between Grant and his children had come to an end. Their mother would share that she did not want the children to be confused, and so opted to keep Grant out of their lives. We had to respect that decision, as after all, they certainly did have a father and Grant had given his consent for this. But as the days and years passed, the pain of missing their lives was leaving a dark hole in our hearts. How did it ever seem like a good decision? Regret leaves a bitter stain, and I began to wonder if Grant had resentment for me in his heart for the part I played in it all. We did not speak of such things though. I was longing to know Grant’s feelings but I did not have the courage to go there.

In time Grant and I began to try and start our own family. What started out as months turned into years, and we were not getting pregnant. I believe the longing in a woman’s heart to be a mother packs more power than a mighty army of marines in combat. It is a longing that cannot be quenched, and a yearning so deep that all else pales in comparison. I knew that Grant was capable of having children, so I reasoned that something must be ‘wrong’ with me. I cried a river of tears during that time, and I even resorted to praying! It is hard to fathom my life without prayer now, but back then, it had become my last resort. I had so much to learn. I still recall those ‘wish list’ prayers to become a mother…those bargaining prayers of all I would do and change if I could just have a baby. But when my endless babbling would cease, I would sometimes sit in silence, and it was then that the Lord God would put Meghan and Devon in my heart. I did not know what to do with such thoughts. I would cry, laugh, sob, smile…memories would flood in of the few times I got to spend with them. I would envision Grant embracing and loving them, but this time I had no fears…no hesitation…no jealousy. God was showing me how perfect and superior His ways are, and how very far I had been from them. I was learning humility, and while painful, it was life changing. I had finally cried over Meghan and Devon, the way I should have years earlier. I had been completely blinded by my own selfish motives in regards to them, and the closer I came to God, the more this truth hit me square in the face. He was revealing my every motive in the decision to let the children go, and the truth of it all felt like it might crush me. I simply wanted Grant all to myself…period. I dressed it up with all kinds of good and pious sounding explanations at one time, but God stripped away all of that fluff in an instant and I was laid bare. I had missed a beautiful opportunity to be a stepmother to two valuable and extraordinary children. I let streams of gold slip right through my fingers with disregard for how rare and excellent the journey could have been. My heart screamed out…“DO OVER!!!!’

No, there are no do-overs. We all must live with the consequences of our choices, and God is not obligated in any way to ease the burdens wrought from our decisions. In fact, it is through living out the consequences of our poor decisions that we learn, grow, and are changed. What is crucial to know is that God is a God of restoration and hope. If we have a repentant heart for our sins, and choose to embrace Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, then we can be certain that we have become a new creation. He changes our heart, motives, and desires. He indeed makes all things new and empowers us to walk in His ways. He took away my guilt and shame over the decisions of the past, and put a new hope in my heart for what could lie in store for the future. I am not the same woman I was back then, and Jesus Christ is the one and only reason that I have anything to boast about today…and I boast about Him. Here is a sure promise that I claim for our lives with Meghan and Devon…’Do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up. Do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.’…Isaiah 43: 18-19  I have prayed for years now that Meghan and Devon could find it in their hearts to forgive us for missing so much of their lives. That is a river in the desert type of miracle, but with God’s help, it is very possible. It is not too late to start a new life with them in it.

Do you have deep regrets from the past??….It is not too late for a miracle. Anything is possible if you will only believe.

Many years have passed and we have been blessed with three children of our own. God granted fertility in good measure! We have always told our children about their half brother and sister, and longed for the day that they could all meet and begin a relationship. Meghan and Devon are both adults now, and are free to choose for themselves if they want to know us. We have reached out to both of them and continue to pray that they can accept our love. We have lived far from them in different states for about twelve years now, but we will not let that hinder us. The prayers will continue….

And just last week a wonderful miracle occurred. My daughter Grace and I flew out to AZ from NC to visit with my grandmother who is dying. She lives in a remote area, but we had learned that Devon had recently moved back to AZ to a town not far from hers. We asked if we could see him and he agreed! I was a bit of a nervous wreck. Grace was truly excited to meet her half brother in which she had heard of for so long. My heart soared as we drove to get him. It was hard on Grant, as he stayed back home in NC with our boys. He was chomping at the bit knowing we were getting to see Devon in the flesh. I had not seen Devon since he was about 18 months old. He is now nineteen! I cried when I got a hold of him, and I cry even now as I type this. He is an extraordinary young man, and he offered such kindness and warmth to us instantly. He and Grace got along beautifully and were silly together, just like siblings do. His eyes are so much like Grant’s, and there is a tenderness to him that is endearing and wonderful. We are so hopeful at the possibility of seeing him more and more and having him as part of our lives. We as well have the same prayer and desire to know Meghan. Only the Lord could offer a heart so much hope, despite the choices of the past.

While every human being faces regret and loss in this world, there is a real God who is the only one to offer comfort and joy through any and all circumstances. There is no mistake that He is not ready and willing to forgive, if you are ready and willing to trust Him with your life.  There are no do-overs, but through Christ, you can have a clean slate..without blemish. That beats any do-over…any day!! Trust HIM today. ….PSALM 103:2..”I have removed your sins from you as far as the east is from the west.”…AMEN!!

Here are some pics of the long awaited reunion.

Grace and Devon meet!!

Grace and Devon meet!!




The Little Things Do Matter April 9, 2013

Filed under: Uncategorized — gdnelson5 @ 12:14 am
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Last October my husband Grant and I celebrated sixteen years of wedded bliss. There might be just a touch of sarcasm with the bliss part, but I do cherish my marriage and that man. I recall the day he proposed and placed an engagement ring on my finger. It was a BIG deal, and I caught myself looking at that diamond many times a day. Sometimes I would exaggerate mannerisms with my left hand just so others could see and enjoy it too! In time, I must admit that I stopped appreciating that diamond, and in recent years I had pretty much stopped noticing it all together. Now I love my husband more with every year; I truly know that. I credit the Lord God who has the power to make all things new with that miracle. But I have been a poor possessor of my wedding ring, as I have not cared for it as I should. It somehow became a small thing in my life of big worries, and I took it for granted.  I know this because one day my diamond went missing. Even more, I was not the one who noticed that the diamond was gone. I was at the hospital working a RN shift in the ER when a coworker asked me where the diamond in my ring was. I was horrified to look down at my left ring finger only to find empty prongs where a diamond once was. Now, my ring was very modest. The diamond was smaller than a pea, but it was my diamond and what it signified in my life was truly enormous. And yet, I had failed to notice that this symbol of love and devotion had even been altered. Worse yet, I had no idea at all when and where it fell out. The possibilities were enormous…. I have three children and a mangy dog with a lot of hair. I always have my hands in some sort of mess or project.  I had been doing lots of painting as well, both at home and my church. Laundry, dishes, cooking, yard work, on and on…not to mention my work shifts as an RN where I wash my hands every few minutes, and countless blood draws and patient care tasks with the donning on and off of gloves. My head was spinning with all of the possibilities and I was quickly resolved to the fact that my diamond was lost forever. The’ where’ and ‘when’ could never be answered. It was humanely impossible. Of course, as soon as my friend Karen noticed it was gone, we both frantically looked on the floor beneath us, as if it had just popped out at that very moment. A girl can dream. It is true that we don’t realize how precious some things in our lives are until they are gone. Suddenly, I wanted that diamond back more than anything, and yet I could not honestly recall the last time I even took a look at it. I just assumed it would always be there.

The rest of that day I did what any good woman does who loses her only piece of real jewelry….I pouted. I told my sob story to anyone willing to listen. My co-workers heard it, my patients heard it, and of course, my husband heard it. He handled it like a star and promised to replace that diamond with the brightest cubic zirconia I could find! I was not amused. I was too busy feeling sorry for myself. Now, it dawned on me to pray about it, but I felt very selfish and silly to consider coming to the Lord with such a ‘small’ issue. After all, I was at his feet continually in regards to my sons and their struggles with autism. I was daily seeking his provision and guidance on behalf of their education and growth. I knew as well that there were countless far better and more worthy prayer topics than my ring in the world, and that cries for help and hope were reaching his throne at every moment. Who was I to waste his time on some petty diamond? I decided not to pray at all over it right then. I did however take notice of my ring every few minutes for the rest of that day…go figure. And I did feel sadness and regret with each remembrance of it. Why hadn’t I taken better care of it? Why hadn’t I taken it to get checked or cleaned even once to be sure the prongs were tight? Oh, regret and guilt can weigh a heart down, and drown out a profound purpose waiting to be unveiled.

My shift ended late that night, and I found myself in my car in the hospital parking lot. Eight hours had passed since I realized my diamond was gone.  It was then that I let myself cry over the ring, and it was then that I felt the Lord tugging at my heart. It was the first time since the incident occurred that I was quiet. Sometimes we need to get completely alone to get quiet, and then we can hear better. As I began to listen, I felt the Lord reminding me that not only was it ok to seek him about this, but that he was the only one in the entire universe that knew exactly where that diamond was. Not only that, he knew the exact moment it had fallen. I was sorry that  I had refused to come to the only one with the real answer, presuming that he would be too busy for this. If we truly believe that God does not have time for the little things in life, then we are also saying that he is not big enough to handle it all. Numbers 11:23 proclaims a word from the Lord, ‘….Is the Lord’s arm too short?….’ He is the author of all creation, and he can most certainly handle ALL things, including the smallest details that might seem insignificant to others. He absolutely cares about the things we care about, and is not limited in time, space, or resources as mankind is. I thought of the gospel account in the book of Matthew about the woman with the issue of bleeding for twelve years. For her, it was a big problem in which she needed help. She saw Jesus walking by and knew that if she could only touch him, that she would be healed. She went forth boldly and reached for Jesus with all of her heart. Well, Jesus was on his way to an even more pressing need at the same time….a young girl who was literally dying. That would seem to be the bigger need of the two, and yet Jesus stopped to help the woman that reached out in faith. He knew of the other need, but was also available immediately for what seemed less pressing. The girl he was headed to see indeed died, and that situation seemed hopeless, but Jesus in fact healed them both. Belief and faith were required….not an appointment or triage level of severity.

Right then and there I prayed a simple and honest prayer, and I meant it with all of my heart. I told the Lord that I acknowledged him to be God over everything and asked forgiveness for not trusting him with this immediately. I affirmed that he indeed knew exactly where my missing diamond was, and if he saw fit, to pick up that diamond and place it right smack in someones field of vision who would know what it was. That was it. I pulled out of that lot and headed for home, and my heart started to burst at the thought of what God might do. I had an eager anticipation and expectation, which was completely opposite of the hopeless feeling I had at work that day. I started singing praises to the Lord loudly in the car. I only lived five or so minutes from the hospital then, so I was home in a hurry. It was close to midnight and my family were all asleep. I knelt by my couch and waited. With each passing minute the expectation in my heart grew. I had only been home around ten minutes when the phone rang. I knew that I knew that a miracle had happened. On the other line was an RN from work….’We found your diamond.’ I could not even speak. I ran out the door to head back to the hospital. The tears were pouring down my face and my hands were trembling. I was sobbing and laughing at the same time. The God of the universe had moved that diamond. It was incredibly humbling and life changing for me to realize how he indeed saw and cared about such a simple detail. Nothing is too small, and nothing is too large. He is not so big and far off that he will not open up heaven and reach right down to touch a human life. What a magnificent God!

I raced into work like I was on fire. There at the charge RN station were a group of my co-workers, one of them holding my precious little jewel in a biohazard specimen bag.  Yes, it was my diamond. It was lost, but it had been found. I was overwhelmed, and easily blurted out what God had most assuredly done. There were many tears, and they were not just mine. The best part was where God put it… My diamond was found on the counter right beside where the charge RN sits and where the daily room assignment sheet was kept at that time. This would be the one and only place in the ER where every RN’s eyes would go, but no work would be done with our hands. We would simply look at our assignment, and then go off to the patient care areas to do our work. Yes, it was in the most unlikely spot to have fallen, but the most likely spot to be seen. It was just laying there in the middle of this counter which had been visited by many RN’s that entire day. Even the skeptics had to wonder how in the world it got there. It still gives me the chills and brings a great smile to my face.

The drive back home was brilliant that night. I was elated and felt sure I would not even be able to sleep. I went into my two boys’ room when I got home with that biohazard bag and diamond clutched in my hand. I dropped to my knees at their bedside and began to pray and praise. It was then that a beautiful promise filled my heart that I will never let go of. I knew God was  telling me that I needed to trust him for the greatest jewels of my life.. My two boys were the precious gems that I feared for and agonized over the most. I would be up some nights in anguish over thoughts of their schooling, their social struggles, their unknown futures and if they would somehow be independent …and who would take care of them one day if Grant and I were gone? Those are crippling fears. But that night as I knelt and held on to that tiny little diamond, those fears were quieted and peace came. God reassured me that surely he had a purpose and plan for my sons’ lives and that I could rest in that. If he would see to it that my small and meager diamond was taken care of and not lost in some dark place, then all the more I could be sure that my sons, who are of immeasurable worth, will have a bright and hopeful purpose and future ahead. Now every time I look at my diamond wedding ring, I am reminded of God’s love as well as Grant’s. I am sure to notice my ring many times a day now. I love that ring more than ever.

Do you know that the Lord God knows exactly who you are? Do you know that you can trust him with every longing of your heart? Nothing is too small that he will not hear you. He knows you by name and his love for you is without limit. Do you feel small and unimportant and wonder if God sees you? Let this verse prove to you that you are enormous in worth to him…..

Matthew 10:29-31….29 Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground outside your Father’s care.[a] 30 And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. 31 So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.

Here are our rings…safe and sound. GE DIGITAL CAMERA


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