Saturday, December 8, 2012

How Fast the Time Goes



Time can only be controlled to a certain degree.  How quickly it passes we cannot control.  How we pass the time is what truly matters.
Since my last post, I have been dividing my time between work, church, and home.  I have found myself busier than I thought I could ever be and, up until a week ago  was really enjoying my activities.  However, overdoing has quickly caught up with this physical body of mine and now I am under doctor's orders to rest.  Having depleted my immune system, I am finding such rest a welcome change.
Since my Christmas decor was already in place and my home reflected the season I love the most, my imposed rest allowed me the time to reflect upon its true meaning.  I find myself rereading the scripture's account of the precious Savior's birth with a sense of awe at our Father God's orchestration of events.  A virgin mother, an aged foster father, an angelic chorus, humble shepherds, and wise men from afar, make an account that only the Most High could put in place.  How perfectly each character was chosen---how unexpected were the Father's choices.
Luke tells us that Mary received the angel's message with complete submission, "Be it unto me according to thy word".   Matthew tells us that Joseph, "did as the angel of the Lord commanded him and took to him his wife.".  Luke continues his account by telling of the angelic host appearing to lowly shepherds with a song only angels could sing.  Wise men, bearing expensive gifts, challenged an ungodly ruler to pay tribute to the infant King of Kings.  What a story--what a birth---what a night!!!!
Sometimes, we forget, not that He was born, but the magnificence of His birth.  The wonder of the season can get lost in the festivities and the baby in the manger fades away in the frenzy.  We do not do this intentionally, but it is an undesirable "side effect" of the season.
King David once said, "He maketh me lie down in green pastures".   I am not saying my illness came from God---but I am saying that a time of inactivity can force one to focus on the details of life that often get overlooked when one fills every hour with  activity and duty.  I have come to believe that, as quickly as time passes, we must make every effort to guard against filling it with so much of ourselves that we leave little time for "Him". 
A dear friend of my father's once said, "Only one life it will soon be past.  Only what's done for Christ will last".  Time is all we have to use for Him---everything else is secondary.  Let us purpose to use our time for His glory because we all know how fast the time goes.

In Grace,
Marie
  

Monday, October 22, 2012

The Blessings Continue



So much has happened since my last post.  I am always amazed at how quickly time passes.  As a child, it seemed like days were long and passed slowly.  I could wile away the hours with books, music, family get togethers, and a host of church activities that would occupy almost every free moment.  Oh, what a wonderful life it was.  My childhood memories are well preserved in heart and mind and I would have those days again. 

Still, filling my days now as an adult, I find myself yearning for new memories and for new experiences with my family and trusted friends.  Second only to the presence of God Himself, family is the best thing we have and the greatest blessing God gives.  I love time spent with my family.

Having recently come through a diagnosis of colon cancer, and surviving two surgeries to remove the cancerous growth, seeing my brother, Dan, was at the top of my list.  How grateful I was to see his face, hear his strong voice, and listen to his laughter as we shared stories of our childhood and my grandsons' latest escapades.  I cannot thank God enough for the blessing of having him with me.  He looked so good and, if I had not seen the scars for myself, it would have been difficult to believe that he had come through such a horrendous ordeal.  God is so good.

Of course seeing my son, John, and his lovely girlfriend, Sarah, was a highlight of my trip.  As I listened to my son speak about his job, his college classes, and his family, I became very aware that he has become a man I am so very proud of.  John is strong, independent, and has a great sense of humor.  He will never know that in the dark days of my life, he saved me from total despair.  John is my only son and I could never find the words to tell how much I love my son.

My youngest brother, Dwight, just makes my day.  I was 15 when Dwight was born and I thought he was all mine.  I spoiled him unmercifully and delighted in his every achievement.  I am so proud of him and love him so much.

I guess I have described my family in such detail because I don't see them very often and they are never very far from my thoughts.  I am so grateful.  My parents raised all of us to love God first, family second and to never underestimate the love a family can provide.  I am thankful for that bedrock of teaching that runs through us all.  It is the tie that bind us together.

Yet, the memories are what are so precious.  Memories of love, sharing, and laughter can quickly come to mind to comfort and sustain me in my darkest moments.  Recalling a funny story, a loving moment, or a special celebration can fill me with joy.  I am a blessed woman.

So, as the grandchildren and great grandchildren begin making their own memories, we "older children" will add our stories as we go along.  The telling never ends---nor do the blessings.  It is the joy of life to remember that God is ever present and never leaves or fails.  I am so grateful for that abiding presence in my life and the lives of those I love.  There is nothing that can take His place, no love greater than that of our precious Father God.  To be loved by God is the greatest privilege of life and the greatest blessing I have received.

The blessings continue and I give Him praise.

In Grace,

Marie

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Going Home


As most of you who follow my blog will know, my family lives several states away.  I am originally from Ohio but am now living in North Carolina.  My daughter and her sweet family live about an hour away but the rest of my immediate family remains in Ohio.  Tomorrow I will be flying home to see them all and I am so EXCITED!!  I am particularly longing to see my brother, Dan, who recently fought colon cancer so bravely.  Praise to the Most High, he is currently cancer free.

As I was thinking of the joy of seeing those I love, I was reminded of the blessing of having a loving family.  What a joy it is to see their faces and to hear the sound of their voices.  I am eager to hear Daddy's booming voice and feel his loving embrace.  I am equally yearning for my Mother's sweet touch and to see her precious face.  My brothers, Dan and Dwight, and my wonderful son, John, complete the reunion.  How blessed I am to be part of such a wonderful family.

There are times in life when you realize just how blessed you are.  I have lost two of my four brothers---they both left this world way too young, with many left behind to mourn their loss.  My family's recent struggle with my brother Dan's health again brought a clear perspective to what is really important in life.  It is not the acquisition of things that creates a life.  It is not the accolades of man or the accomplishments of life, neither is it titles or recognition that bring us joy.  It is the presence of God and the blessings He gives that makes life worth living.  The blessing of family cannot be underestimated when we remind ourselves of what is truly valuable.

I am aware that not everyone has this blessing.  I know that I was, and am, blessed beyond measure with the family I have.  I do so wish that everyone could share in such a blessing.  I cannot thank God enough, or find the words to describe, the joy my family brings to me.  My life has not been an easy one at times but it has always been undergirded by the knowledge that there were those who loved me standing near and always supporting me and caring for me.  I love them all so dearly.

Going home is such a thrill for me.  I am sure that there will be a day when I will return to the familiar place I have always called home.  It will not be the same as it was in days gone by, but the memories will remain and the family members who also remain will still love and care for each other.  My desire is to leave behind a way of life for my children and grandchildren to carry into the future.  It would give me tremendous pleasure to know that love of family and the ties that bind a family together will remain intact long after I am gone.

Home for me is to be surrounded by all of my family---parents, brothers, children and grandchildren.  Second only to God Himself, they are the greatest joy of life.  There is nothing that is more precious than spending time with those whose love and presence has been so sustaining through all of life's ups and downs.  It is, indeed, a true joy.  And that, my friends, is why I'm going home.

Blessings to each of you today.

In Grace,
Marie

Monday, July 23, 2012

Just Let Me Know

My wonderful Daddy, Rev. Russell Caudill

My father is such an awesome man.  I have written before about his kindness, his generosity, and his love of family.  He is a man whose steps are directed of the Lord and a man whose love for God is the guiding factor of his life.  I adore him.

I am certain that my trust in my Heavenly Father has been molded by my trust and love for my earthly father.  My Daddy has not been perfect but he has been the best father in the world to me and my four brothers.  His living example of faith and devotion have colored my view of the God I serve.  When my father would sit me on his knee as a little girl and talk to me about the goodness and faithfulness of God, I believed every word he said.  I believed it because I saw it in my father's life.

As you know from previous posts, our family has recently endured the devastating news of my brother, Dan, and his diagnosis of colon cancer.  Daddy became the bedrock of faith for our entire family.  Throughout the entire ordeal, Mother was the prayer warrior and Daddy the voice of faith.  Everyday his booming voice would speak to me about my brother and let me know that God was in control.  His unwavering faith in the goodness of God became the anchor for all of us to cling to.  My heart and mind were at ease just hearing Daddy's words of encouragement.

About six weeks ago, I faced a personal crisis of my own.  It was so devastating and so heart wrenching, I didn't think I could bear up under the load.  My tears were many and my prayers were constant.  I knew God was in control but I definitely could not control my own  raging emotions during that time.  Knowing that I could put my trust in my unfailing Heavenly Father was my greatest source of comfort.  The prayers and encouragement of my earthly father did, once again, anchor my drifting heart.

As I spoke to my Daddy about this trying circumstance, he listened patiently while I poured out my heart to him.  I could hear his whispers to the Lord as I was speaking to him and I knew that Daddy was already lifting me to God in prayer.  When I could speak no more, the voice I have loved to hear all of my life began to counsel me as to the steps I should take to resolve the issue.  As my emotions began to calm, I felt hope spring up within me and I could begin to see the light at the end of the tunnel.  When we came to the end of the conversation, Daddy said, "If there is anything you need, just let me know.".

Shortly after I hung up the phone, I realized that this is exactly what our dear Heavenly Father has instructed us to do when facing life's adversities.  God desires for us to "let Him know" when we need His help---when life is too much for us to handle---when our hearts are overwhelmed---when we feel we have no place else to go.  We can go to Him knowing that, even if the problem does not go away, we still can have His abiding presence and the assurance that He will work this out for our good.  No one else can do for us what God can do for us.  We just need to ask so that we may receive and seek so that we may find.

My Daddy is eighty-two years old.  He is active, funny, vibrant, and full of life.  He still travels to conferences and special services across the country with my sweet Mother as his traveling companion.  He still reads the scriptures with a yearning to know them fully and strives to live by God's Word in his daily life.  He is such a Godly man and I am proud to be his child.

Today, I strive to be a child of God that would reflect Him to those around me.  I want to be the humble servant of the Most High, striving to be all He would have me be.  There are times when I am able to be at peace in my surroundings and find joy in the simple things of life.  Other times, when the storm is raging, I am driven to my knees, petitioning my dear Lord for the needs of my life.  I  am comforted by the fact that, in those times of desperation, I hear the Lord say, "I will supply all your needs---just let me know.".  Isn't that just like a father, meeting the needs of the children if they will only let Him know.

In Grace,
Marie

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

That's Why I'm Here

There is nothing in my life that gives me more comfort than my mother's prayers. Other than the presence of my sweet Lord, knowing that my Mother is praying for me brings me my greatest source of peace and confidence. She is a woman whose life is given to prayer and considers it a privilege to intercede on behalf of others. Recent family situations have driven all of us to our knees and I think we have come to know more than ever before the necessity of prayer. Yet, it has been Mother who has continued to keep her vigil of prayer for her children and grandchildren during this time of extreme testing.


My sweet Mother. This was taken in the late 1960's, shortly after my Daddy had become a pastor


As you know from previous posts, my brother, Dan, has recently been through surgery for colon cancer. Upon receiving the news of Dan's cancer, Mother showed a faith that can only come from those who know God intimately. As she watched her son go through the initial surgery and then, due to post-op complications, a second one , her faith never wavered. Every day she and Daddy made the trip to the hospital to be at my brother's side. She sat by his bed and prayed with him. She walked with him in the hallways and prayed with him. She watched him sleep and prayed with him. Every single day, my brother was bathed in the prayers of our Godly Mother. He is now home and recovering well. I know he believes that the prayers of our Mother had much to do with his recovery.

Just recently, I have been enduring my own difficult time. Uncertain of how to handle my circumstances, uncertain of even how to pray about them, I called Mother and asked her to pray for me. As I began to share with her the details of the situation, she listened quietly. When I could speak no more for the tears and the despair of my heart, Mother said to me, "I will pray for you and God will move. He will help you in this situation. I believe in my heart that everything will be alright.". Oh, the love I felt for her at that moment. Oh, the gratitude that flooded my heart cannot be expressed in words. I said to her, "Mother, it gives me such peace to know you are praying for me. What will I do when you are gone and there is no one to pray for me?". I heard that familiar little chuckle of hers as, without missing a beat she said, "That's why I'm here.".


This photo of my Mother was taken shortly before her 80th birthday. My beautiful, Godly Mother.


My Mother is 81 years old. She is an active little lady although she has become a little more frail in recent months. She still travels with Daddy to their various ministerial functions and still maintains her home without outside help. Her life's mission, however, has been to be the intercessor---to be the prayer warrior---to be the one who stands in the gap for those she loves. She does it well and without complaint. She is, quite frankly, a remarkable woman. I so long to be like her.

I know that there will be a day when my dear, precious Mother will no longer be with me. The voice that I have heard pray for me all my life will be silenced. I pray that when that time comes, I can continue on in the role she has begun. I pray to be the prayer warrior and guardian of my family. I pray to be strong in faith and to be able to continually devote myself to praying for those I know and love. It is my desire to be able to repeat the words of my Mother and to tell those I keep in prayer, "That's why I'm here.".

In Grace,
Marie

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Home At Last



As most of you know, my brother, Dan, recently had surgery for colon cancer. Shortly after his initial surgery, he developed a bowel obstruction requiring a second surgery. He told me later that there were times when he wasn't sure he would make it through the ordeal. Praise be to God, Dan is now home and recovering well.

As I spoke with Dan on the phone a few nights ago, I could hear in his voice how relieved he was to be home. My mind went back to the many times I have journeyed home to see my family and the sense of anticipation that I had as I traveled. I thought about the peace I always feel when I lay down to rest in my parent's home. Mother and Daddy have always given us, their children and grandchildren, a place of refuge from life's adversities---a place of joy and laughter---and, above all, a place where love is freely given. To my brothers and to me, home is where you go when life becomes too much to handle.

I know there are those who have not had such a loving environment in their childhood. I am aware that many children grow up without loving parents and siblings. I do, indeed, realize how blessed I have been to have treasured memories of such a home. Yet, as wonderful as the home was that my parents provided for me, there is a home far greater that awaits me. I am speaking of the eternal home that God has prepared for me when my earthly life is over. A place where sorrow never enters, where heartache is never known. It is a place where sickness never comes and where death never enters. It is a perfect place.

I will be traveling home soon to spend some much needed time with my family, especially my brother. I will be making the trip with much joy and anticipation. Yet, always in the back of my mind, there is the knowledge that my eternal home is waiting. As I look forward to my Daddy's strong embrace and my Mother's gentle voice, as I eagerly await time with my brothers and my son, as I make plans to see my friends and elderly saints of God, I wait patiently for the time when I will lay down this earthly mantle and enter my Heavenly home. It is my desire, my hope, to live my life in such a way that I will hear my precious Savior say, "Well done, my child. Enter in to the joys of the Lord.". It is then that I will know I am truly home. Only then will I know for certain that I am home at last.

In Grace,
Marie





Monday, May 28, 2012

As I Remember


It is with great pride today that I call myself an American. Though our great nation has its problems, it remains the nation of freedom---freedom purchased with great sacrifice and great sorrow. To those who have given their lives for my liberty and to those who fight for the same cause today, I say "Thank You.". I am grateful to each of you and proud of the service you have given to your country.

This is my uncle, Arthur Neace

I recall as a child my mother's brother, Uncle Arthur Neace, coming home from World War II. He fought in the Battle of the Bulge and remembered seeing his comrades give their lives in service to their country. He was one of the fortunate who came home. I loved him dearly and he was so kind to me. His death when I was 11 left me with a sense of great loss. He was a great man.

This is my uncle, Junior Tomps Caudill

My father's only sibling, Uncle Junior, also fought for our country. He was in the Korean war. He fought in battle and was also a mechanic who helped repair the tanks and other vehicles used in warfare. He is now 79 years old but still remembers clearly his days in the U.S. Army. I love my uncle very much and am very proud of him and his service to his country.

My nephew, Derek Russell Caudill

I wrote a few months ago about my nephew, Derek. He has recently returned from overseas and is now stationed in Fort Hood, Texas. He is quite a young man and serves his country with pride and dignity. I am so very proud of him.

Last year, my daughter and her family took a trip to Washington, D.C. They had a wonderful time and my grandsons, Michael and Gabriel, enjoyed seeing all the historical sights they had learned about in school. One of the sights they saw was the Vietnam Memorial. As you know the names of those who lost their lives in service to their country are listed on the wall. When Michael saw the memorial and realized that all those names represented those who had died while fighting in the war, his little heart was touched. This picture says it all.


Today, I am grateful for the grace of God. I am equally grateful that His grace and mercy have rested upon America and allowed it to remain the greatest nation on earth. I love the words of the song, "America, America...God shed His grace on thee...And crown thy good with brotherhood...from sea to shining sea.". I pray His blessing forever remains on America and its people.

Blessings to each of you today.

In Grace,
Marie
















Tuesday, May 22, 2012

The Sound of Your Voice
My handsome brother, Dan

This morning I was able to speak with my brother, Dan. As you know, he had surgery last week for colon cancer, is now recovering and doing so very well. Truly I am so grateful to the Lord for being with my brother and for bringing him through such a tremendous ordeal. He is still in the hospital but should be able to go home in a couple of days.

When he answered the phone this morning, I nearly wept at the sound of his voice. He has a very deep, manly voice (just like our father) and this morning it was clear and strong. I listened to him talk and thought about how much joy the sound of his voice brought to my heart. His conversation, his chuckle, his dry sense of humor---all made me laugh out loud as I chatted with him for a short space of time. Just hearing his voice made everything okay.

After I got off the phone with Dan, the thought came to me---are we as thrilled to hear the voice of God as we are that of our loved ones? Do we yearn for Him to speak to us, to calm us, to comfort us, as only the voice of our Heavenly Father can do? Are we as eager for the sound of the Father's voice as we are for His grace or mercy? Are we so preoccupied with what we want God to do for us that we have lost the thrill of the sound of His voice?

God speaks in so many different ways. He is in the words of a song, the sound of children's laughter, the rain falling softly in spring, or the whispered prayers of seasoned saints. Then, there are the times when He enters our thoughts, comforting us, directing us, strengthening us. God speaks to us through His precious Word as well, letting us know we are not alone in our despairs, our sorrows, or our joys. God is always speaking if we could but take a moment to listen.

Today, I am thrilled at the sound of my brother's voice. I love him so dearly and am so grateful to God that he has blessed Dan to be with us and not allowed the cancer to take him away. Oh, but now I yearn for the sound of a different voice. I yearn for the voice of my Heavenly Father as He comes to me in comfort, peace, and joy. The words of a song from the movie "Courageous" comes to mind, "Sing your song to me...there's no great thing...than to listen to the sound of your voice...". I cannot say it better than that.

Blessings to you today as you listen for the sound of His voice.

In Grace,
Marie



Thursday, May 17, 2012

A Grateful Heart


This morning my heart rejoices at how God answers prayer. As you know from my previous post, my brother, Dan was diagnosed with colon cancer a month ago. It was such a shock to all of us because he has such a healthy lifestyle and has never shown any signs of illness at all (other than a cold or flu occasionally). A diagnosis of cancer just devastated my entire family. We immediately began to pray for his healing and his recovery.

Yesterday afternoon, Dan, underwent surgery for removal of the cancerous lesion. Praise to the Most High, it was a very successful surgery. He had an excellent surgeon---one that I had worked with many times when I lived in Ohio. The surgery was very lengthy and tedious. However, the lesion was very contained with no involvement of other organs. It was removed, along with several lymph nodes, and he is recovering well at this time.

Dan doing his favorite thing---reading the business news

I cannot thank God enough for His goodness and His watchful care during my brother's illness. At each step of the way, He has had people there who were able to direct my brother to the right tests, the right surgeon, the right hospital. This whole episode began when my brother passed out at work. He was hospitalized and numerous workups revealed nothing specific. At a follow-up visit with his family physician, he was told to get a colonoscopy in an effort to determine if there was a cause for his blood work being slightly low. Dan is 49 and normally colonoscopies do not begin until an individual is 50. However, his physician was persistent and encouraged Dan to go ahead with the procedure. How grateful we all are as this was when his cancer was discovered. Waiting another year could have proven disasterous.

As terrible and heart wrenching as this has been, I am ever grateful for the Lord's watchfulness over my brother. He is such a fine man---I am so blessed to have him in my life. Please continue to pray for Dan and for my family as well. We are continuing to believe and trust in the Lord for Dan's complete and full recovery.

God is good all the time, and all the time God is good. He really is.

In Grace,
Marie

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

A Sister's Prayers


It has been several months since I have been able to write and keep up with all of my friends in the blogging circle. It has been a time of great personal illness and devastating family illness as well. My faith has been put to the test but I am as certain of God's power, mercy, and grace as I have ever been. God is so good. Even in the midst of the most devastating circumstances, He is ever faithful and true.

This is my brother , Dan.

As I write this, he is preparing for surgery for colon cancer. Dan is 49. Those of you who have followed my blog in times past will recall that Dan is a minister and one of the finest Bible teachers I have ever heard. He is a loving father, devoted husband, and a true man of God in every sense of the word. I love him so very much.

It is difficult to watch those you love endure such trying circumstances. My mind goes back to the little boy who would take my hand when crossing the street and would hug me tight before going to bed each night. I recall the first time I heard him teach when, at age 17, he taught my teenage Sunday School class the meaning of "Going the Distance". The night he was ordained into the ministry is a sweet memory for me as tears of joy filled the eyes of my parents---we were all so proud of him.

Now I am faced with the difficulty of being strong for him and for my family even though my own heart hurts so desperately for him. As a nurse, I know the severity of what he is facing---as a sister, I long to be able to make it all go away---as a child of God, I stand on the promises of a God who cannot fail. We are called to a higher purpose when it comes to intercession. It is at this time that we go before the Lord on behalf of another and seek God for healing and restoration.

It is a privilege to be able to pray for my brother. I cannot heal Him, but I know one who can. I cannot calm his spirit and give him peace of mind, but I pray to one who can. Will you pray with me? Will you, in your prayer time, ask God to be with my brother and to give strength to my family? I am so grateful for each of you and the kind words you have always sent to me in times such as these. May His blessings come to each of you in abundance today.

In Grace,
Marie