Saturday, January 13, 2018

2018 Instant Results

On the last day of  November, 2017, I was on the homepage of when my attention was caught by a story about a girl who lost over 100 pounds using something called an Instant Pot.  I vaguely remembered someone recently commenting on Facebook about an instant pot. I read the story about Brittany Williams and subscribed to her blog the next day.  I started copying her recipes for my files. My husband and I began searching for Instant Pots, he on Craigslist, me on Amazon. It took until the week after Christmas for my Amazon find to arrive.  I was in Indiana visiting my husband's family and friends. When we got home on New Year's Eve, I felt like a child on Christmas morning.  I was so happy my gift from me to me had arrived; I was thrilled that I had "discovered" Instant Loss, Brittany's blog! I planned to start eating REAL FOOD mid week around January 3-4 just as Brittany had done one year earlier. Because while the Instant Pot is a crucial tool for those of us who procrastinate and need to get dinner done in a hurry, Brittany's success didn't come from solely her cooking robot; it came from eating Real Food - protein, veggies, and fruits and cutting out processed food.

On Tuesday afternoon, January 2, I studied recipes, planned menus for the next week, made a grocery list, and went to the store.  I was a little staggered by the amount I spent but when I considered what we had been spending on fast food and my running to the grocery store every day or two in order to frantically buy what I needed for that evening's family dinner, I realized I wasn't spending much more than I do in an average week for food.  And I had purchased several staple foods which would last for weeks, not just the one week.  

Wednesday morning, January 3:  I dreaded what I had to do this morning. Due to an accident and a sinus infection over the previous month, both resulting in visits to the doctor, I knew the scales were not going to deliver good news; I had been mortified just weeks before when I was weighed by my Nurse Practitioner's nurse. Actually, weighing in at 214.6 pounds was a little of a nice surprise having weighed more on my doctor's scales.  I agreed with myself that I should weigh each morning after using the bathroom, before drinking water, while wearing only my long, tunic-type night shirt and nothing else.  I've never been one to weigh daily, NEVER! But while reading about Brittany's journey I read where she had explained how weighing daily had kept her accountability to herself more true and it helped her learn her body's patterns and reactions to what she ate. That made such good sense to me that I decided to join her in that daily practice.  

Today is Monday, January 8, 2017. This morning my number was 211 (pounds.) My family has eaten at least one dish made in our Instant Pot each day (minus one) since last Tuesday. I have shared meals made from the healthier recipes with two different families and friends.  Everyone has enjoyed the food!  I don't expect to have results anything near like Brittany's results; I'm more than old enough to be her mother. I expect my loss to be slower.  But let me say, I am thrilled with the loss achieved in less than a week.  And yes, I understand that it's probably mostly water.  I am satisfied with that also. You see, I have arthritis in many of my joints.  I have eaten copious amounts of sugary foods for years right up until last Wednesday and even a little bit since then. All that sugar and those unhealthy, processed and fast foods cause inflammation and where there is inflammation, there is fluid.  So my conclusion is that whatever the pounds lost consist of, the scales are going in the direction I had hoped. 

Along with the loss of pounds, I have had less pain in my knees while going up and down steps. I'm still dealing with a lot of pain in my feet, having bone spurs and plantar fasciitis. I'm hoping those two conditions (are they related?) will begin to lessen but I'm not sure that is possible. I have a long journey to health ahead but I am hoping to achieve a 100 pound loss also.  The last few years, I had always hoped for 75-80 pounds when I tried first one method or plan and then the other; but reading Brittany's story has encouraged me tremendously and given me hope that I can achieve a weight close to my college years once again.  If I don't, that's okay also. My main objective for 2018 is to move toward a healthier body so that I will feel better and have more energy and stamina to work towards all the other goals I have for this year.  Please check out Brittany's blog at and join me on this journey to better health.  

Blessings to you friends in your projects and plans for 2018,


Monday, January 8, 2018

When the Answer is No

Luke 16:10
Whoever can be trusted with small things can also be trusted with large things. Whoever is dishonest in little things will be dishonest in large things too.

Six months ago, I began applying for jobs with very high hopes. I felt that my six years of volunteer work one to three days per week in an after school program would help to make up for the fact that I had not had a "real job" (other than running our small family business) in over 20 years.  

I took my first rejection very hard, so hard that I refused to apply for any other jobs for several months.  I licked my wounds and told myself that the interviewer had a problem. I'm still not certain where the truth lies in my summation; I'm not sure what I did that had me dismissed so abruptly after an hour long interview.  But I FINALLY moved on and began my search again. 

In the meantime, I began a very satisfying stint as a volunteer for a second grade classroom at one of the schools our neighborhood kids attend.   I applied for a job which would in no way involve working with children; I wasn't sure at all that I was qualified for that position and wasn't surprised  when the position was filled in house by a very deserving employee who had the education and work experience to do that job very well.  I applied for three different, but similar, positions at three different elementary schools in the section of the county where I live.  I interviewed for two of those positions. After the first interview, I had a brief discussion with the principal at the school where I volunteer; I told her that I seemed to have lost my ability to interview well.  She recommended that I be myself and allow the love for children that I had expressed to her in a phone conversation days before shine through.  She seemed confident that I would get a position soon.  

I went to the second interview full of hope and enthusiasm. (Was I too enthusiastic? Maybe, probably, don't know!) The interview went very well in my opinion.  I felt like I connected solidly with the teachers and vice principal who conducted the interview. And the age level for the students was right in the zone where I had invested so much of my volunteer time. High hopes and excitement reigned in my psyche.  And then the days began to drag and I didn't get the phone call. After a week of waiting, I knew in my heart what the outcome would be.  They had said they were in a hurry to fill the position.  No one can control the home office timeline; but I knew what was going to happen.  And then there it was in my inbox, another rejection.  That was the most difficult!  That was the job I wanted more than all the others.  I had interviewed for another position with another organization on the same day as that interview and I had already heard the fateful "NO" from that interview.  I quickly got another no from the third position with the schools; that application had not even garnered an interview for me. After one more application and interview, my seventh "No" came by email yesterday. 

Down for the count and totally depressed and defeated.  Fifty-six years old and washed up!  Is that what it is? Am I too old to be working with young children; but how could I have such a desire to teach, advocate, and mentor on behalf of little children and it not be the right fit for me?!!   

A week or so after I got the rejection that hurt the most, I had lunch scheduled with a young friend whom I had met several years before; we are just becoming "real" friends through sharing experiences and time together in recent weeks. I shared with her that when I first met her, I thought God had brought us together so I could mentor her; ashamed, I admitted that God had showed me clearly that she is the mentor, I am the mentee. At the lunch table,  I began my whining about not getting any of the positions I had applied for.  She asked a couple of pointed questions.  Her questions resonated with my own thoughts. I confessed to her that the verse above, Luke 16:10, had been circulating in my head for weeks. My house is in shambles, my finances are not far behind. I'm unorganized, undisciplined, and many times uncaring in the keeping of my home and family!  I'm running around like the proverbial chicken with it's, you know the rest.

So in her kind, wise way, she told me to FOCUS (that again) on my first responsibilities: my marriage, my home, my children, my business, then all the rest.  Why is that so difficult for me?  I do not know!  I think there is the element that my husband and my sons still at home are all adults; shouldn't they be able to take care of themselves and even help take care of the house?  Well yes, yes they should!  But that doesn't mean I can flit around the neighborhood totally ignoring my people and my own mess at home.  

I have accepted that (for now,) the answer that best serves our well being is NO OTHER JOB for me. I'm using the holiday period,and most likely, beyond to get the house in order, the financial books in order and try to get a grip on myself, my energy level, and my desire to serve, teach, and advocate for children. I'm having to remind myself constantly that the things I have neglected for years cannot be totally restored to order in days.  This is a process and I will have to maintain my FOCUS and DEDICATION to my small things for quite some time, developing routines and habits geared towards my most important "jobs," wife, mother, business woman, neighbor.

Seven "nos" in six months feels like a lot of rejection and I struggle with it.  But God is opening other doors; new ideas and new projects are presenting themselves.  I am trying to stay FOCUSED on my core objectives in spite of and because of those other pressing projects.  Lord, please help me!   Amen.

Addendum to this post:  I wrote the body of this post in December.  It is now the second week of January.  I am crawling along addressing the issues right in front of me with the focus that those things deserve. It is not a fast thing to dig out of years of neglect; but it is going along steadily and mostly smoothly.   LSP

Monday, October 30, 2017

Home, (Bitter)Sweet Home

As I walked through the quiet, nearly empty house, my mind was flooded with memories.  Twenty years of life passed before my eyes.  The near emptiness reminded me of move-in day when the possibilities were endless.  What a wonderful home to continue raising our family in!  Look at all the space!  We upgraded from three bedrooms to four and two living spaces.  It was wonderful having a room just for visiting with friends and neighbors, no television set or computer to distract us.  

Lots of negative memories also; life has never been totally peace-filled with John and I. We are both strong-willed and "bull-headed."  Many arguments and a near ending of our marriage came to be between these four walls.  We miscarried our third never born baby and birthed our fourth living child after moving to this house.  

Lots of activities with the youth group that our two oldest kids were part of during their middle and high school years occurred in this house. The pool table, air hockey and foosball tables were once surrounded by teens on Sunday afternoons involved in fierce competitions.  The devotional times, surrounding the stone fireplace in the family room, were beautiful moments of  consecrated love for our God with young hearts searching out their own relationships with Jesus.  The two younger boys enjoyed birthday celebrations and airsoft battles with their buddies in the woods just across the street, shared by generous neighbors. The two youngest and I enjoyed, and at times struggled through, nine and a half years of home education between these walls.

We were blessed with the Grandest Children and their Tennessee visits began.  We used this house as home base during our days of adventure which stretched from local parks to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park to the tri-cities in upper East Tennessee.  Precious memories of baking cookies, homemade, gluten free pizzas, movie nights, bedtime stories, dolls, Legos.   

And now, it's all but emptied out.  We are forging a new life in territory to which God spent years leading us.  Twenty years ago, I never saw this path coming.  We had tentatively planned out how to make the house mostly viable for our old age.  But God began a new dream in us several years ago. 

While there have been many second thoughts about this move, staying never felt like a viable option.  The logistics don't work for where our hearts now reside.  FOCUS  has become a popular saying in our home.  We know what we are called to do.  We struggle to stay the course.  But one day at a time, we are transitioning to the next chapter of our lives.   The house holds sweet and bitter memories but it's no longer our home.  Our home is wherever God places us, for better or for worse. Where He Leads, We Follow and we know that many new memories are just around the corner of our lives.

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Be a Sunday Family

After we departed the mountain stream in which the children had played for about an hour, we entered Gatlinburg. The wee girl in the car seat began to say, "Clothes!  I want clothes!"  Of all the things children ask for while in Gatlinburg, I have never had one ask for clothes!  There are toys, souvenirs, candy, ice cream. But this little girl's eyes were drawn to the clothes and that is what she wanted.  I have witnessed her big sister struggle to find an outfit for her to wear when we are heading out to church on Sunday morning.  

Mother's Day, 2017, we picked up three adorable children.  Their mama had agreed to let us take them to church and have a picnic in the park. We invited her to go also; it was a day to celebrate her role in their lives; she didn't go. We went to breakfast and then got to church just in time for about ten minutes of Sunday school. We were reminded of the struggles of keeping young children quiet during an hour long worship service; with our "baby" preparing to graduate high school later that month, it had been a while since we had been challenged in that way.

As the weeks have passed, we have continued the pattern of breakfast, Sunday school, church service, lunch, and we have tried to add a fun outing as often as possible.  Our outings have included the Cade's Cove loop in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park where the children saw their first bear and deer.  A couple of Knoxville's parks are their favorites and are becoming regular stops for us. We've seen a movie; we hang out with them at our house some Sunday afternoons, reading books, coloring, playing with sidewalk chalk.  We made Father's Day cards for their Daddy on Father's Day Sunday.  Right now, we are waiting for cooler temperatures so that we can spend a Sunday afternoon baking chocolate chip cookies for their school classmates. We try to keep it simple. Mostly the children crave attention and love.  We are the grateful recipients of joyous greetings when we arrive to pick them up, hugs, kisses, artwork to hang on the board in our dining room.  

As we traveled back through Gatlinburg on that day,  my mind went on overtime thinking of the possibilities of our relationship with this sibling group, their mama and daddy, and another sweet neighbor girl who has joined us in the last few weeks.   

When the small girl was begging for clothes, I imagined helping her through the years to have a few new outfits for back to school, helping her shop for and purchase a dress for prom.  I imagined helping her parents a bit so that she, her brother, and sister could have something special for Christmas each year.  And as these thoughts rattled through my head, I had an epiphany.  

If each congregation who helps in the Hope Central ministry had a few families who would take on being a "Sunday family" for one sibling group, take the time to feed and spend time with, read with, play games with one or a few of the Hope Central children, what would be the outcome of that consistent love and care over the next ten to fifteen years? How would a child's life be changed by having a consistent exposure to a loving family who serves God and talks with the child about Him and His purposes for that child's life? How would their lives change academically if we could add a little tutoring or reading to our Sunday afternoons with them? How would their parent(s) be encouraged and see God's love through the Christians who are willing to spend a few hours a week with their children and getting to know them (the parents) just a bit?   

I get that some of you are saying, "I'm too old for that, I don't even keep my grandchildren any more!"  But you still send your grandchildren cards, call them to see how they are doing in school, share a Sunday meal with them. You give them loads of attention at any opportunity you have. My challenge to you is to step in and be a surrogate grandparent to a Hope Central family.  If you see a family in your home congregation "adopt" a Sunday child, ask to have lunch with that family once or twice a month and begin to get to know that child or children. Send birthday or Christmas cards to them and their parents.  Make a phone call occasionally to see how everyone is doing.  

Jesus' ministry was about relationship; let's see what happens if ours becomes like His.  We have children and their families just around the corner who can see Jesus living in us if only we begin.  Ask for an introduction to a child or sibling group who could benefit from a "Sunday family."    

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

May's Blessings

I am having a difficult time with the fact that it is the last day of May, 2017.  My mama always warned me not to wish my life away when I was yearning for the days to pass quickly to the next great adventure we had planned.  And now I know why; it seems the older I get, the quicker the days are going, becoming months and years which feel as though they just evaporate while I am unaware.  

While reading a blog post from a writer I follow, she gave me the words to  share the conundrum I have found myself in the last few months. As my friends know, John and I and our two still-at-home sons  jumped into inner city life in the final days of February and the early days of March this year.  We had been prayerfully considering our move for two-plus years. We finally decided there is no "perfect" time, so let's just jump in.   

Our family has six years of inner city ministry "under our belts."  We have worked in a ministry dedicating ourselves to an after school program involving tutoring, meals, recreation, and sharing the Bible and God's love with some of our towns most vulnerable children.  We have fallen in love with the children we serve.  We long to make their lives the best we can; but we are limited in what we can do. Our hope and prayer is that we can do it better by living among them, being available all the time instead of just a couple of hours a day several days per week. There are so many stories among the families we minister to.  I have struggled with the realization that their stories need to be shared; but their stories are not my story so they are not mine to share.  And yet, as Jesika Knight of The Knight Five wrote,  "It's not my story to tell.  But his story (her father's) is forever interwoven with mine.  And the only way I know to make sense of all this mess is to share my part in it. "

And so just as the childrens' stories are not mine, where our lives are interwoven. I try to share in ways that my friends will become aware of the consuming needs in the community in which I live.  I try to thoughtfully keep identities hidden in my writing.  

The month of May brought joy in that we got to spend quality time with three beautiful siblings bringing them to share in worship at the church we attend.  We got bonus time with them each of those three Sunday afternoons, taking them to a city park to play or to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park to see their first bear; and then this past weekend, I confirmed with their mom on Saturday that we would be by to pick them up to take them to breakfast and that we would feed them lunch before returning them home to her mid afternoon on Sunday.  She told me that they would either be at her house or their daddy's house.  Sunday morning came and we couldn't find them or their mama anywhere.  We know some of her hangout spots so we drove the streets of our neighborhood searching to no avail.  It breaks my heart that they have loved going to church, the extra hugs, the Bible stories and activities and we couldn't find them.   I pray they had food to eat that day and stayed safe while roaming our streets with their mother.  

I made a new friend this month, a lovely young woman just getting started in adulthood.   She called me out of the blue, having gotten my phone number from a mutual friend.  She asked if I could take her to the emergency room; she was experiencing severe abdominal pain. We went thinking she probably was suffering from one ailment and found out that she was actually suffering from a much less serious ailment and a full recovery is mostly easily achievable. Praise God!  

The surprising part of our time together was her transparent sharing of her story with me.  She spoke openly about early childhood abuse and trauma and how it is still affecting her; she spoke about her many hospitalizations over this last year and learning to deal with the long-term affects of the abuse and the resulting conditions she must live and cope with. She also shared her plans for a bright future and the goals she has and the steps that have been outlined for and with her to achieve those goals.   She gave me hope that there are answers and that just maybe she and her generation of children of poverty might be the ones to put the family patterns behind them and succeed in overcoming and achieving a better life for their children.  

This last month has also brought a new realization that just because one pours their life, love, time and energy into the life of another, it in no way means that person loves or cares for you or would not inflict harm, or place you in a dangerous situation. And that my friends was a heartwrenching, sobering realization.  

On a personal note, two of our sons celebrated birthdays in the month of May. The oldest son is thirty-one and the next turned twenty-one. The twenty-one year old began his first professional job with a local school system after graduating from our local Tennessee College of Applied Technology.

And then just in the last week, our baby boy, aged eighteen, and I completed our final year of home education.  I have had him at home since he began fourth grade.  Again, where has the time gone?!! 

I have also had the privilege of sharing many hours with one of my best friends.  She underwent three surgeries in just a month's time due to complications and a fall and resulting fracture after hip replacement surgery.  After she came home following her third surgery, another friend of ours and I spent time with her each week day while her husband was working.  We have changed her bandages, prepared her meals, cheered her on through physical therapy.  I learned to become an advocate for her when I felt there were gaps in information or care.  I have also transported her to numerous appointments, learning that I can do this (though I was scared to death she would somehow be hurt during our first outing.)  I joke with her that she has thoroughly trained me for becoming a certified nursing assistant. 

I named this blog East Tennessee Blessings years ago after a few wonderful days with a niece and her extended family in upper East Tennessee and Southwest Virginia. While my life has taken twists and turns since then, I am blessed to live out my life with God's gifts for me in beautiful East Tennessee.  All blessings come from His hand and I am an abundantly blessed woman!

My family and I covet your prayers for us and our neighbors. There was a shooting a few blocks from us this past Sunday evening just outside a church building. As I sat up late a couple of nights ago trying to quiet my mind from this month of troubles, I heard what sounded like many shots rapidly firing very close. It is difficult to distinguish if the shots are in deed close due to the proximity of our home to the houses on either side and the closeness of all the homes and buildings in our neighborhood. The sounds reverberate off our dwellings and structures and we just look at one another dumbly and say, "Did you hear that? Was that gunshots? How close do you think that was?"  The shots occur far too often. And the children we love so much are just down the street or around the corner hearing the same shots we are. Many of them are growing up not only with chaos on the streets outside their homes, but also inside.

Thank you in advance for your prayers!  I will be praying His richest blessings on you also my friends! 

Tuesday, May 23, 2017


"This then is how you should pray:
'Our Father in heaven, hallowed be Your name,
 Your kingdom come,
Your will be done, (in me!) on earth as it is in heaven.
 Give us today our daily bread.
And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.
 And lead us not into temptation,
    but deliver us from the evil one.'"  Matthew 6: 9-13

 I recognized the kids first, adorable and chattering with one another. The young man was pushing the grocery cart/truck that held them all. I looked at the young woman and realized that yes, they are whom I think.  We all head to the produce section of the store. I keep watching to see if she recognizes me. We don't make eye contact until I speak to her.  I almost didn't but I'm glad I did reach out.  

She left her husband over a year ago. I have known him since he was a little boy. These kind of meetings are awkward to say the least. Unfortunately, they are becoming more common in my life.  

A few months ago, it was once close friends who let us know they were divorcing. Then a couple of months later, our daughter informed us that she and our beloved son-in-law are also separated and have filed for divorce.  

These past weeks have been one bit of bad news after another. While in the local pawn shop with a friend, I witnessed a young child comforting her mother who didn't have enough money to pay their utility bill after paying the pawnbroker the required fee for retrieving her belongings. She was screaming at the child's daddy on the phone that she needed help.

I have witnessed a house full of children disappear because the adults of the household failed to pay their utility bill. Then when at least some of the residents return, profanity, loudly and forcefully, spews very late in the night for all the neighbors to hear.  

Another young friend had to call E-911 on a stepfather because the very inebriated man's plate of food somehow came in contact with the child's mother.

Yesterday, I sat outside two courtrooms at Knoxville's City-County Building while a friend answered a subpoena as a victim/witness in a case being heard.  I saw so many broken lives filter through that hallway and shared space.  I overheard tidbits of lawyers' discussions with their clients. So many young children having to wait while the drama in the lives of their adults got put on trial!   My heart hurt for those children and their families.

The wee hours of this morning brought a distressed phone call from another friend who was having relationship issues which had to be dealt with by law enforcement.  

We are all broken, messed up, have struggles.  The sadness for me is when I watch the children become the adult, comforting the parent, calling for help, seeing too much, and losing their innocence in the chaos.  

It would be wonderful if I could claim that my children have never been "there."  But sadly and shamefully, I cannot. I've lived my own messed up days, months, and years. My children have been scarred by their arguing parents screaming at one another. They have lived in fear of their family being split up, or maybe in fear that their parents would not split up; sometimes the lines are skewed and difficult to discern.

In my opinion, there is an answer to the madness. The Bible instructs us on how to live in peace with one another. There is no magic that will make high bills, hardships, and sickness go away. But there is a way to live in peace and harmony in spite of present circumstances. There are promises made to help us through the present bad circumstances, help us live a little closer to the Original plan. There is hope for a brighter, better future and an eternity beyond our wildest dreams.   

Your Kingdom come in me Lord today and every day. Help me to reflect and shine your light into the dark places, to comfort those who are hurting, and to point them to You.

Friday, March 17, 2017

Life at The Potter's House

It is Day 19 in our new home.  We had kept our move quiet until this past Sunday.  It felt like a private thing.  

Day 1 brought tears, heart wrenching, from the deep places of the gut, tears and wailing.  It  caused this mama to question every decision she has contemplated over the last two plus years.  I didn't set out to hurt my own family when John and I set out to become inner city landlords.  I never even considered moving to the inner city myself until one of our friends misunderstood our looking at the house next door to his and thought we were looking for our own family.  The seed was planted in our hearts in that moment and over the next eighteen months, God moved us gently towards the idea of our taking up residence among the souls we had come to know and love through the ministry we shared in at the little blue house.   And then, like Jonah, we ran away from that radical idea for nearly two years.  We made excuses, found renters, suffered through what came from renters in a 100 year old house, made more excuses.  Finally, nineteen long days ago, we began our move.  The first three nights, only John and I (and our littlest dog) resided at our new home.  I returned to the suburban home the first two days for school with my senior.  And then day four brought our two youngest sons and our two biggest dogs to the city to live.  

There have been many complaints- the kitchen is too small, you are trying to bring too much of your "junk" into a house that is too small, I want to go home.   

There has been sickness:  strep throat, a sinus infection, then an allergic reaction to the antibiotic used to treat the strep requiring an ER trip.  So for the first nearly three weeks of living in our new home, I have hunkered down and concentrated on our family.  We have spent time doing school, unpacking boxes, making trips back and forth between the new and old houses.  I moved here to be an intentional neighbor, to bring the light of Jesus to those around me.   It seems my time walking the sidewalks is spent teaching only the canines in my life that the bathroom is outside while attached to a leash.   (They were used to having a backyard to go directly into to do their business and to access the neighbor's dogs and argue with them.)  The fence we have up at our new house isn't very secure and we have only let them run around out back one day while they were closely supervised by a person.)

We are SLOWLY adjusting to bright lights right outside our bedroom window all night long, sirens close by all hours of the day and night, the sound of gunfire on a regular basis (and knowing it's not our former neighbor, the gunsmith.)

Yesterday, one of my friends asked me if I had heard the gunfire the night before around midnight.   I replied that I had not but that I did hear multiple sirens just after that and that my neighbor's dogs had howled and barked for one to two hours after that.  She had heard that there had possibly been drive-by shooters about a block away from our house.   When I left her at her door, she told me to be safe and I told her the same.    

I am trusting that I will pull "us" together and we will begin reaching out to our friends we have already made and our neighbors that are not friends yet and we will begin to make new friends and share the love of Jesus in tangible ways with those around us.   

For now, I am trusting God with us and the decisions we have made and to know He is working all these things for our good.  His promises have never let me down and I know He won't forsake me now.