Stuck – in a Good Way

What’s the current song that’s stuck in your head?

Mine won’t leave – I pray it never does.

In one fell swoop, Hillsong Worship’s Grammy Award Winning Song, What a Beautiful Name, has bombarded my every waking minute with not only its captivating melody but also its soul-stirring lyrics, even stealing into my dreams throughout the night.

I love it.

I sing it constantly.  My kids are sick of it.  They actually love the song, too, but they have long since passed the point of retaining any fond feelings for it.  I’ve ruined it for them, I suppose.  Sorry, dear ones.  I simply cannot stop.

What’s funny is that I’ve caught them humming a few bars here and there.  Hannah hollered at me last night as the first few words rolled off her lips.

“Mom!  You’ve got that song stuck in my head!”

I grinned.  “Well, it’s a good song – ”

“I know it’s a good song.  I just want to sing what I want to sing, and this is all stuck in my head.”

“Um, sorry, I guess?”  She laughed.

“It’s okay, Mom.  It’s stuck in a good way.”

My life is an endless song, as it seems some melody or another constantly runs through the chambers of my heart and echoes through my mind, playing a melodious background that surfaces whenever I find myself engulfed in silence.  I remember each of them, these welcome friends, played over-and-over, journeying with me through one or more of life’s many seasons.

I know what played on the radio (Mighty to Save) as Christian and I drove away from the hospital the night of John’s successful surgery.  I will never forget how God used Laura Story’s Blessings to soothe my soul during dark trials and Hillsong’s At the Cross and Oceans to quiet my heart throughout countless nights.  My spirit still thrills whenever I hear Kari Jobe’s Forever and Nicole C. Mullen’s My Redeemer Lives.

Like a patchwork quilt woven together with precious scraps of the past, each song telling its part of my story, my song plays perpetually in my mind.  I am grateful for this most recent addition.  What a Beautiful Name It Is will forever be my 2018 winter/early spring melody, one full of basking in the Precious Name of my Lord Jesus and how Beautiful, Wonderful, and Powerful He is.

I’m thankful it’s stuck – in a good way – both today and beyond.

 

It Is Finished

I don’t remember a super-sunny Good Friday.  Ever.

Perhaps somewhere in the world, but never where I’ve been.  And that’s okay with me.  It matches my mood as I take more time than usual to remember the life of Christ.

My dad took part in an Easter musical years ago when we lived in Texas.  Our church performed it in my high school (which was huge – 707 in my graduating class!) and put on a stunning recreation of Jesus’ story.  It bore great significance in my life – I still sing many of the songs to this day at the top of my lungs when I shower.

But sadly, when I went to retrieve the DVD of his musical yesterday, I couldn’t find it.  Grrr!  I was not happy about not partaking in what has become one of my most precious Easter traditions.

I opted for my second choice, The Jesus Film.  

As I watched it with my children, I found myself struck once again by the submission of Issac.  My Pastor, Frank Bolella, had taught a few months ago about Abraham sacrificing his only son, the one he had waited for and yet been called to give back to God.

Believing God would somehow restore Isaac’s life, Abraham headed out with two servants and his son, finally stopping to do the deed atop Mount Moriah, the very place where hundreds of years later, Jesus would die on the cross for the sins of the world.

Isaac carried the wood on which he would lay, as Christ did His cross.  And once Abraham readied the altar, Issac took his place, without struggle, without malice.  He submitted fully to the will of his father and became what would have been a sacrifice.

If I had been Isaac, would I have tried to reason with my father?  Would I have insisted a lamb would have proven good enough, a substitute God would surely accept?  Would I have thought my father mad and launched a physical defense?

Would I have been so humble?

Had Isaac not yielded, he would never have known the miraculous outcome of his remarkable obedience.  How his father heard the angel’s voice commanding him not to slay his son.  How the testing of God brought about tremendous blessing for generation upon generation.  How well Isaac modeled the actions of the One Who ultimately died for him.

For you.  For me.

Abraham sacrificed a ram caught in the thicket that day as a substitute for Issac.  Years later, there was no sheep in the thicket, no last-minute intervention by a just yet grieving Father.  He provided the ultimate perfect sacrifice, His Son.

Jesus.

Rejected by friends.  Declared insane by family.  Tortured while innocent.  Envied by leaders.  Despised by brothers.  Beaten without cause.  Spit on by soldiers.  Mocked by accusers.  Denied by disciples.  Scorned by thousands.  Abandoned by followers.

Separated from His Father.

Unfathomable pain, a wounding only imagined by man.  Neither the bleeding nor the beating, not the thorns or the nails, but the searing agony of feeling forsaken by the One He loved most ultimately cost Him the most.

All that He may utter, “It is finished.”

Jesus’ passionate pain of great price ushered in the most magnificent victory that ever was and will ever be.  Crushing victory over the enemy and all his treasonous angels.  Victory over sin and death, suffering and sorrow, pain and sickness.

Victory to be enjoyed and celebrated forever and ever, thanks to One with the humility of Isaac, a lowly Carpenter named Jesus, the King of Kings and Lord of Lords, the Savior of the World – Hallelujah!!!

 

 

What Love Looks Like (to Abby)

I’ve chosen to repost (below) my blog entry from last year’s Holy Week today, believing Abby’s beautiful illustration perfectly captures the essence of Jesus’ great love for us all.

What Love Looks Like 

“What does love look like to you?”

I asked my five-year-old Abby Mae this question one day.  She responded by quietly smiling and hopping off her chair.

“I need my art box, Mommy.”  With titled head and thoughtful gaze, she poured over a simple sheet.  I expected something with hearts and flowers, maybe butterflies and family, but her final masterpiece took my breath away.

“Jesus on the cross.”

My eyes filled with tears as had hers.  I took in her glowing countenance, her tender gaze.  Her love for Him was beautiful.

“Sweetheart, this picture is wonderful!  Please tell me all about it.”

“There’s Jesus on the cross,” she said, her small finger tracing his form, “and all of those circles are his boo-boos.”

The week prior, I’d searched online for Easter movie clips and briefly previewed a scene of The Passion of the Christ, which portrayed Jesus’ agony immediately after Roman soldiers scourged Him.  Abby had passed through the room at that moment and froze when her eyes landed on the screen.

“Why is Jesus bleeding?  He’s not on the cross yet.”

I explained to her that the beating was part of His punishment, the one He bore but never deserved, for her, for me.

It bothered her.  To her core.

“I don’t want Him to bleed, Mommy.”  She wept and wept.

It had obviously affected her in a profound way, for as I sat with her, gazing at the picture, something about it further struck me.

“Abby, I’ve never seen Jesus smiling while He’s on the cross.”

“He’s smiling because He loves me.”

I had the privilege of leading our children’s Sunday school class in their Palm Sunday song, The Salvation Poem, on Sunday.  We’d practiced for several weeks, and even though Abby had always sung with a smile, the difference was marked after we’d seen the movie clip.

After she’d noticed Jesus bleeding.

Her every word flowed past thoughtful lips, her misty eyes closing at times.  Her little hands moved fervently as we made a cross with our arms and hung our heads to die.  Radiant joy spread across her face as we sang the news of Jesus rising to save the lost and forgiving our sins.

At only five years of age, this sweet girl loves her Savior and feels deeply loved by Him.

May we all bask in the precious love of the Savior.

 

 

Ironman Fran

“Hey Beth, Tony texted me.”  Drawing near the kitchen table, my husband paused as he placed a hand on my shoulder.  “Frannie passed out, so he called 9-1-1.  They’re at the hospital.”

I hate news like that.

We’ve borne far beyond our share of bad calls within our family over the years, but to receive one pertaining to my dear friend, Fran Lombardi, rattled my cage.  In an instant, my Cheerios® and banana breakfast became pebbles in my mouth, the rest left behind in the bowl, morphing into a soggy, pasty mess.

It’s amazing how one phone call can jolt us out of the present, thrusting us into the reality of our own mortality.

Please, Lord!  Not Frannie.

I’d met Frannie two years ago at a church retreat, and as we chatted over a cup of tea, I found her to be one of the most positive people I’d ever met.  Over time, we became dear friends, as I gleaned much from her quiet, gentle spirit and loving ways.

I didn’t want to lose her.

Thoughts raced like Thoroughbreds through my mind as I fumbled for my phone.

Dehydration?  Heart attack?  Stroke?  I gulped.  Cancer?  

I shook my head.  Stop diagnosing, Beth, and call Tony!

I punched in his number.

Her husband didn’t answer, but Christian and I offered our prayers and support on voicemail.  We rushed the kids through breakfast, and as I began getting them dressed to go to the hospital, we got word that Frannie was okay.  Earlier in the week, she’d caught a cold, and the ER doctor believed that the OTC the medication she’d taken had caused her blood pressure to bottom out.

Thank God!

Frannie is a Stage IV lymphoma survivor.  She’s enjoyed remission as long I’ve known her, but the what-if has reared its ugly head the few times something unusual has happened.

Like when she and I had planned to race the Demarest Triathlon together back in June of 2016.  It was my first race, her third, and we were excited.  We trained hard.  Our amazing husbands supported us like crazy, and somewhere between homeschooling and writing, I squeezed in my workouts in preparation for the sprint distance event.

Roughly one month before race day, I got the call.

“Frannie’s in the ER.”

She’d been over-training, gotten dehydrated, and simply tanked, but the whole experience shook us all and left sweet Frannie completely wiped out.  We all knew she shouldn’t race, but hats off to Tony for the way he handled it.

“It’s her decision.”

Frannie chose not to race, but selfless as usual, she encouraged me to compete.  I hesitated, but when I saw how much it meant to her that I continue, my mind was made up.

Press on, I did.

The remaining training proved nothing short of grueling for me as I dealt with the “knowing” Frannie wouldn’t compete, but her episode at the hospital stirred something inside me, a growling, burning passion that compelled me to move forward, faster, father.  Gratefulness that her cancer had not resurfaced surged within me, and when June 6th arrived, I stood ready at the start.

I raced alone.  For Frannie.

For all of her seemingly wasted hours in the pool, on the bike, and on the road.  For all the disappointment she’d surely felt for not being able to race the tri herself.  For all of the recent fear she’d had to face and the questions her heart had undoubtedly asked.

For the fact that she was alive and cancer-free!

And there she was, on the sidelines, cheering me on every step of the way along with Tony, Christian, and the kids.  She’d poured all of her disappointment into one big lump of encouragement, offering me strength in spite of her weakness, the epitome of a precious friend.

Thank you, sweet Frannie, for your millions of smiles and thoughtful words.  Thank you for loving on my kids and calling them precious.  Thank you for making the calls that count and being our family’s friend through every storm.

A friend [who] loves at all times. (Prov. 17:17)

Frannie went on to race the following year.  I had to sit out due to injury, but I look forward to racing with her (Lord-willing) this summer.

What an honor it was to watch her run, bike, and swim (with our families and our good friend, Mark), to cheer her on from the sidelines, to witness these special moments of victory in her life!  I don’t remember who had the best official time that day back in August, but I will forever remember the winner.

Iron Man Fran.

Please click the link below if you’d like to see Iron Man Fran in action:

A Smiling Six

Abby Mae turned six on Friday.

Her smile says it all.  I have zillions of pictures of her, but this one makes the top ten without question.  Sheer joy encompassed her in the Chuckie Cheese ticket blaster as she frantically grabbed at colored scraps swirling all around, shrieking with delight.

And to think I almost didn’t get to write this.

Nothing short of miraculous is her life.  Even her birthdate, 3-16, symbolizes the hand of God upon her soul.  I tell the whole story in one of my favorite blog posts titled 3-16, linked below.

https://drinkingfromthewell.com/2017/03/16/3-16/

 

A Timely Reminder

It’s finally done.

After years of living it, writing it, and praying over it, the manuscript and full proposal for my book, Carried & Kept Through the Hospital: A Provider, Patient, and Parent’s Perspective, stand complete and ready to head to the literary agent I at a conference who was interested in representing it years ago.

I pray she still is.

God’s timing is perfect.  While I sat in the River Edge Diner (locals have dubbed it the R.E.D.) on Monday night madly typing, a waitress approached me, peering at my screen.  She’d taken care of me before, and even though I had not been seated in her station, she’d wandered over to say hello.

“What ‘cha writin’?”

I told her briefly about my blog, Drinkingfromthewell.com, and its purpose, to help families during crisis and beyond.  Her face paled as her eyes clouded with tears.

“I sure could have used that.  My brother died in May of 2016 of ALS.”

She launched into a heart-wrenching account of her family’s struggles with his diagnosis,  their difficulties in acquiring resources for his care, and the toll it took on all of them.

Her story moved me.  Hers was the face of why I sat surrounded by piles of papers at a greasy spoon in the late evening hours, urgently refining pages crammed full of information that I believed would help families in their most desperate hour.

Families just like hers.

How timely the reminder.  As I finalize the proposal to send out tomorrow, please join me in praying that God would open doors far and wide for our family’s message of hope, help, and healing.  May many hear and be blessed.  May many be helped and find hope.  May all turn to Him, that He may carry and keep them.

Always.

Fight the Good Fight

Ever had a close call – the scary kind?

I have.  The time when two men followed me around Wal-Mart and then out to my car.

On Father’s Day, 2016, my family and I had stopped to pick up a few groceries after church to make a scrumptious celebratory feast.  I flew through the produce section, grabbing a watermelon and onions, unaware until I reached the back of the store that I was being watched.

I passed the children’s clothing section and noticed two tall European-looking men sporting casual business attire eyeing me.  They carried no basket and pushed no cart as they huddled along the edge of the aisle, one fingering a rack of dresses, the other boldly staring, his hands in his pockets.

Odd, I remember thinking, what are two businessmen doing in a closed toddler girls’ department?  (We live in a county that only allows pharmacy and grocery purchases on Sundays.)  I thought it strange, shrugged, and moved on.

I had a feast to prepare.

Shifting my focus to the five-item list, I grabbed a pint of cream, a gallon of milk, and a box of butter and then scurried to the cashier to make the purchase.  Within minutes, I realized that the unnerving pair had parked themselves at the store exit.

No bags in hand.

I gulped.  There I was in my mom-dress, trying to play it cool.

Is this all in my head?

I completed my transaction and walked slowly toward the door, questioning whether-or-not the fiction-writer in me was having a heyday.  As I approached, I found no trace of the pair.  I exhaled loudly, allowing myself a small smile, chastising myself for getting all worked up.

Beth, Beth – you silly goose.

My husband, Christian, had parked close to the door, so I headed to the car.  Even before I reached it, I could tell he was yapping on the phone with his dad, wishing him a Happy Father’s Day, no doubt, as the kids bounced around in the backseat.  I whisked open the trunk and unloaded the bags.  As I reached back for the last item, I gasped.

One of the men stood there smiling wide, holding my watermelon.

My heart stopped.  Not in a good way.

Pretending to be helpful, he moved close to me, passing the watermelon in front of my face and into the trunk a little too slowly.  I felt another person move directly behind me, and as I tried to turn around, I realized I couldn’t.

He was that close.

I froze.  It took me a moment to process that this was actually happening.  Shock overtook me like quicksand a gazelle, and I found myself engulfed in a quagmire of danger.  Fear threatened to immobilize my ability to escape, and my would-be captors capitalized on my hesitation, gaining great and strategic position.

Flight-or-fight kicked into high gear and ushered in a growling Mama Bear Morgan.  Just as I was about to unload every jiu-jitsu takedown I’d practiced with my kids, the watermelon dropped into my car with a thud.  My eyes whipped to the carrier’s face, now covered in terror, his eyes riveted on one thing.

Christian staring at him in the rearview mirror.

And then they were gone.  Just like that.  Vanished into thin air.

Thank God!

I slipped into the car, not quite right.  Music swirled around me as the kids sang along, clapping and nodding their heads to the beat.  Christian, oblivious to the danger lurking outside, ended his happy chat with Dad and then smiled at me.

“That was nice of that guy to help you with the watermelon.”

Not really.

After I told him what happened, he made a U-turn to go back to Wal-Mart, hunt them down, and clean their clocks.

That’s MY man, ya’ll.

It being Father’s Day and with a carful of hungry kids, we settled for calling Wal-Mart security.  They handled my call well, stepped up parking lot patrols, and reported it to the local authorities.

The incident shook me more than I would have expected.  It also made me realize the value of being prepared for such a time as that.  We just never know.

I detailed the incident to Professor Wil Horneff of Training Grounds Jiu-Jitsu and MMA in Westwood, NJ, ending my account with, “Maybe the guys were just trying to be nice, and I misread them.  Maybe they just like watermelon.”

Wil shook his head.  “No.  They had a plan.”

We’d met Wil during a time of great instability in our lives.  Our family had just survived several life storms, moved to New Jersey, and wrestled with how to return to normal life while daily grappling with intense post-traumatic stress.  At one point, we had huge concerns for our son as he seemed unreachable, unable to focus, and unaware of the depth of his need for help.

Our pastor recommended we try jiu-jitsu at Training Grounds.

From day one, we were grateful.  Master Wil took John under his wing, and within three months, John became Student of the Month.  Abby and Hannah sat on the sidelines watching John’s classes.  Soon, they asked to join the ranks, and now, all three of our kids have gained a solid foundation in self-defense through the extraordinary programs at Training Grounds.

Master Wil is fantastic, an award-winning black belt as well as a gifted teacher and communicator.  My kids love him.  All the kids love him.  He’s like the Pied Piper.

Adults, too.  Law enforcement, military, active adults wanting to stay in tip-top shape.  Wil just has a way with people.  Tough skin, warm heart, great teacher.

Winning combo.

Master Wil knows what it’s like to be bullied.   He knows what it takes to stand up and face anyone with confidence, not looking for a fight but ready to face whatever comes his way.  Everyone in class benefits from his years of experience as he pours not only skill training and technique but also wisdom and character into his students with the intent of preventing problems before they escalate.

He strives for excellence in every aspect of his organization.  Wil’s wife, Alisha Horneff, not only does a fabulous job running the office, but she also helps train the female students in the adult classes.  The other Training Grounds staff members are top-notch, too, working together to ensure all who enter receive the best possible experience.

Hats off to you, Wil, for leading by example.  Thank you for sowing not only valuable skills but also excellent character into the lives of our kids.  Thank you for inadvertently teaching me what I needed to know if things had gone differently that day back in June.

You and the entire Training Grounds staff are a blessing to many.  I thank God for you and pray He continues to use you in powerful ways to train up warriors to fight the good fight.

To the end.

Strategic Planner

Do you enjoy personality/strength/weakness tests?  I do.

A few years ago, I took one located in the book titled Now, Discover Your Strengths by Buckingham and Clifton.  The questionnaire proved similar to most I’d previously taken, but the labels for the end results were uniquely termed.  And I liked it because I felt that it not only gave an overall great assessment but it also pegged my number one strength to a T.

Strategic planning.

When I think of great strategic planners, two amazing women come to mind.  My mother and my good friend, Wendi.

The kids and I had the pleasure of spending an entire six hours yesterday with my dear friend, Wendi Fulton Wetzel Pickel.  There’s much wisdom to be had in this little 50-something package, who kindly delivered herself to my doorstep that damp February morning.

I’d met her seven years ago during one of my darkest seasons.  She’d contacted me online regarding a book I’d written, and after chatting back-and-forth, we realized that we’d both planned to attend the same fundraiser for Kenyan orphans in Philadelphia and took the opportunity to ride together.

It was a Divine appointment.

John had been home from the hospital roughly six months when I popped into Wendi’s car.  Even though medically he was doing great, my husband and I found ourselves in the midst of a marital mess, mopping up after our son’s crisis had passed.

I have no idea to this day what made me do it, but I dumped my bucket to this sweet, compassionate, total stranger.

I’m so thankful I did.  She’d been through nearly the exact same thing.

God paired us up that night, as she became intimately acquainted not only with my family but also our troubles.  Because of her incredibly challenging life experiences, she was uniquely qualified to walk beside me through mine.

She has listened for hours upon hours.  She’s done my dishes and brought me ice packs, she’s met me in hospitals and made me oatmeal, she’s cared for my children and spent countless hours boldly loving, pouring herself unreservedly into my life.  A fabulous sounding board, yet discerning and wise, unafraid to be a truth-teller, a blessed one who holds me accountable to biblical principles.

I thank God for her.

Wendi couldn’t stop smiling as she watched the kids play yesterday.  “It’s amazing to watch them together,” she said as she shook her head.  “They look so normal – so healthy, so happy.”

She saw them at their worst.  The meltdowns, the feeding tubes and oxygen tanks, the downward spirals.  I’ll never forget a bittersweet moment when Abby turned a corner after a difficult bout in the hospital and was unexpectedly discharged early.  We were ecstatic . . . but I had no idea how we were getting home.  The timing seemed terrible.

Until I called Wendi.

All she said was, “Great!  What’s the exit?” as I heard keys jingling and feet walking . . . and then the car door closing.

She’s been through much – I have great respect for her and have found her amazingly gifted at helping others during crisis because she knows how best to survive them.  Through much adversity , God has made her shine like the sun into the lives of many in their darkest times.

He’s even taking her international.

This brilliant retiree has met her unexpectedly challenging life-stage head-on as she and her wonderful husband, Tim Pickel, have channeled their energies wisely and well.  They’ve partnered with a missions organization founded by Larry Roth and Marsha Roth called OneMillionChildren, which serves to bring clean water, medical care, and the Word of God to one million children in Africa.

 

Thank you, Wendi, for all you’ve done to lift me up and walk with me in this life.  Thank you for your steadfast example and countless selfless acts.  Thank you for your wise counsel and uncompromising quest to strategize what’s best for everyone.

Thank you for being an absolutely wonderful friend.

I praise the number one Strategic Planner for allowing our paths to cross in this life – I’ve already put in a request for a regular time-block with you in eternity.

May He continue to use you to bless many as He richly blesses you and Tim and the work of your hearts and hands both today – and beyond!

 

A Hero Is Home

One of my heroes died today.  The Reverend Billy Graham.

Confidante of presidents and comforter of kings, this chosen vessel influenced millions during his 99 years on earth.  Even though his ministry thrust him under the international spotlight, he never sought it, this man of humble beginnings and faithfulness to the end.

His message impacted many in a personal way, including me.

My father, Don C. Perrin, II, gave his heart to Christ at the Billy Graham Chicago Crusade in 1962.  Nine years later, he took the stage with the choir, singing his heart out, grateful to attend as one saved, no longer seeking.

Had Billy not sacrificed time with his family, time pursuing his own interests, time chasing his professional goals, perhaps my father would not have come to know the Lord and decided to raise his family in the Christian faith.

Perhaps I would not know Him today.

I can only imagine what it must have been like for the Graham Family, wrestling through all of that time apart, 60% of his childrearing years, Billy once calculated.  That’s more than half the time without Daddy.

That’s  a lot.

But God knew that.  He knew the calling He’d placed on Billy’s life and that of his family, and the Lord sustained and grew them through all of the road trips and Crusades, the missed milestones and life events.

God blessed Billy with an extraordinary life.  I’m grateful he selflessly shared it with the world so that we too might know Him and be moved to spread the gospel.

O God, let my soul never fail to be ignited afresh by the passion of this dear saint!

Thank you, Billy, for giving tirelessly of yourself, in order that the desperate, the dying, and those without hope would be infused with joy and peace eternal.  Thank you for trying so hard to establish connections without condemnation, a safe haven for those searching out rest.  Thank you for loyally modeling grace and respect to every person.

And so much more.

May the Lord move my heart with such boldness, fervor, and loyalty the rest of my days – and beyond.  You have been loved, you’re already missed, you’re where you belong.

Can’t wait to meet you in glory!

Crazy Great Shirt

I’d thought we were out of the woods.

How quickly one seemingly small glitch nearly turned my son’s health down a disastrous spiral.

John was born with Gastroschisis, a birth defect in which the intestines are formed outside the baby’s body through a large hole in its belly.  Because John’s intestines were also blocked and required additional surgical intervention, the doctors initially gave him only a 15% chance of making it.

Praise God, he made it.

After four-and-a-half months in the hospital, John came home with an NG-feeding tube, which ran through his nose down to his belly.  He detested it and continually yanked it out.  The tube proved necessary because John threw up every time he ate.  The only reason the doctors had let him come home was because, in spite of the vomiting, he still gained weight.

Once we came home, our brilliant pediatrician, Dr. Scott Rice, started John on a motility agent, which solved the vomiting problem.  The tube came out, and we all rejoiced, thrilled to eliminate that source of irritation from his life.  Within the next two years, he dramatically improved and was eventually directed to stop all medication as he was discharged from the outpatient GI service, taking only probiotics for gut health and a standard children’s multivitamin.

So for the past five years, things had been going extremely well.  Until.

I’d lately detected an increasing resistance to his probiotic in the early fall.  His occasional vomiting episodes gradually increased, so much so that I began researching alternatives.  John is picky due to his sensitive gag reflex, and finding a new brand proved not only expensive but also fruitless.  Within a week, I realized how long I’d been out of the nutrition field and that I’d used up all of my dietitian know-how and tricks.

It shook me.

John needed help.  Before his gut stopped working.

It hasn’t happened since his discharge, and I was surprised by how intensely the thought of him regressing threatened to paralyze me with fear.  Even though many moons had passed since he’d had any problems, the nightmare of his hospitalization and ensuing medical crisis flashed back in an instant.  I fought the urge to panic.  As soon as I identified my “peace-snatcher”, I hit my knees.

“Lord, please help me find a permanent solution for John – and fast!”

Enter Aegis Boyer Stuart.

I’ve known Aegis a long time and have followed her from afar on Facebook, noticing her frequent posts about various nutrition products but letting them gloss right over me.

Until I needed something.  Desperately.

As a former Registered Dietitian, I had a bad taste in my mouth for alternative health products because I’d spent years dispelling myths to earnest weight-loss seekers and trying to spare my cancer patients from emptying their pocketbooks on bogus products designed to deceive, not heal.

But I knew I could trust Aegis.

I now considered for the first time what she had to say and clicked on her post about probiotics, now excited to learn about the available products and research how well-made they were.  I reached out to her, and she was extremely helpful, connecting us with a combination multi-vitamin/probiotic for John, praying it would work.

Thank God, it did.

He’s only vomited once since he started taking it, and I think that’s only because he ate candy on an empty stomach.  Amazing!  While I haven’t yet researched the rest of the product line, I’m proud to stand behind her Plexus XFactor Kids combined probiotic and multivitamin.  I ordered four additional bottles today.

As I typed a quick update/thank you message to Aegis this week, I realized that this wasn’t the first time God has used her to bring healing to my life.

I remember the first time I met her at church.

We were at one of the first gatherings of a new 20-30’s age group Bible study.  With eccentric flair, Aegis sported the grunge look and wore a T-shirt that declared, “Body piercing saved my life.”

Images of nose rings and ears laden with studs flooded my mind, and disdain rose within me.

Really?  How in the world could cosmetic body piercing and self-inflicted pain actually save?  

Looking back, I can see the upward turn of my top lip and sneering countenance, not understanding until she turned around and I saw the accompanying image that the pierced One her shirt referenced was her Savior.

My Savior.  God forgive me.

Years ago, I confess I had a profound aversion to non-traditional “church people”, not knowing what to do with them beyond exchanging polite formalities and general well-wishes.  They unnerved me.

I’d grown up in an ultra-conservative environment, one that strived to please God but was often tainted with cynicism and judgment, and when I traversed outside my whitewashed bubble, I found myself unprepared to handle and reconcile difference, somehow feeling like I was compromising if I allowed myself to consider things from a different angle.  I coped by displaying warmth and respect while inwardly harboring prideful contempt.

Hypocrite.

I ended up in her mom’s Bible study.  As I got to know Aegis and her family, I came to the painful realization that I had a serious heart issue, one I didn’t want to have, a poisonous cancer that if not lacerated and extracted would cause serious damage to my spiritual life.

Ouch.  But so worth the process.

Over time, as iron sharpens iron, God has used (and continues to use) people like Aegis to expose what He wants to change in my life.  Shortly after I was married, I asked my husband what he wanted for Christmas.  Totally in the dark about the past mess in my mind, he said, “I’d like one of those ‘Body piercing saved my life’ t-shirts that Aegis wears.”

Ha!

I think of her every time I launder it.  I owe much to this loving wife and homeschooling mother of two, this gifted entrepreneur and devoted follower of Christ.

Thank you, Aegis, for not only talking the talk but also walking the walk.  Thank you for spending much of yourself to help others find health and healing.  Thank you for wearing that crazy great shirt.

I rejoice with you for all the good God has wrought in your life and pray He continues to richly bless you and your precious family both today – and beyond.