Who Will Be My Brother?

1jesus_on_crossNote:  This is part 5 of the incredible miracle of how my daughter survived the bubonic plague and how our family became vessels for an infection of Love.  If you are just now joining us click Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, A Time for Everything, or Part 4.  Don’t forget the Kleenex!

A long time ago someone told me that the saying, “Blood is thicker than water,” actually comes from this saying:

The blood of the Cross is thicker than the water of the womb.

I have never found the source of this quote so if you know it, please feel free to share it!

Feeling so alone, I seemingly crawled back to the Ronald McDonald House, exhausted and heartbroken that Sierra was in so much pain.   I needed sleep badly, so I could be there for her, but before I could do that I had to call out to my brothers and sisters.

Oh my Jesus, how I need you now.

It is a strange and mystical thing being a Christian because we really do share the same Blood.  ” But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.” (1 John 1:7)   If I told you how many times a brother or sister recognized Christ in me, or joined me in a divine appointment, or was supernaturally there at the right place and the right time it would fill up my blog!

My favorite moments, however, are when I hear Christ speaking through my brothers and sisters.  Once I traveled to speak to another group of believers in another town.  An elderly Jewish woman asked each one of us, “Don’t I know you?”  At first we all thought it was the ramblings of an old woman, until God opened my eyes and ears and I saw and heard Jesus asking the question.  To this day when someone asks me, Don’t I know you?  I stop in my tracks and give my full attention!  And the answer is almost always, “Yes!  I do know you!”

So, slowly and painstakingly I typed out on Facebook what had transpired in the last three days.  My fingers felt like lead as I called out into the night.  Invisible dark things and dark voices seemed to laugh at me, taunting me as I took the risk to ask for help.  It didn’t take long as people I had never known before joined the ranks as kinsman redeemer to answer my plea.  Every prayer, every word of encouragement, every Amen, hallelujah, Go! Jesus, Go! mattered!  One of the first responders was Sierra’s old kindergarten teacher, Mrs. Faber.  This woman immediately prayed and interceded on Sierra’s behalf throughout the long nights.  I continued to pour out updates and requests as the battle for a little life ensued.

He lifts up a banner for the distant nations, he whistles for those at the ends of the earth. Here they come, swiftly and speedily!  Isaiah 5:26

Then God began to bring me closer into His embrace and my own heart longings were answered as my sister reached out to me and my family and became my spokes person on days when I could not do anything but hold Sierra’s hands.  My family and Sean’s family surrounded us and we all stood together, confronting an ancient and historic black death.

Our comrades in other states and countries began to reach out to us too.  Through the mist of this world’s shadow God sent us a message before we knew whether or not this was the plague, not in an ancient scroll or through an angelic being, but in a modern-day text message.  God is so cool.  Here’s the message:

“I felt it appropriate to share a vision I had the first night we heard about Sierra. Sean confirmed it when I spoke to him but I did not feel comfortable enough to share. We heard she was life flighted and we started praying. While [my wife] prayed I had the vision and started laughing. She thought it odd and stopped to ask me what I was laughing at. I saw Sierra. She was older… say 14 or 15. If you can imagine she was even more beautiful than now. She was leaning against a wall wearing a long black sleep shirt and it read ‘The Black Death has NOTHING on Me and My God!’ I then was overcome with peace and laughter.”

We hadn’t announced that this was the plague when I received that text message from a dear brother in Christ!

It is especially magical, the kind of deep magic C.S. Lewis talks about in The Chronicles of Narnia, to call seemingly strangers, brother or sister.  But it is this special unifying quality that binds together God’s people so that when the time calls for it—- we gather, we help, we provide, we pray.  Our Dad is King after all!

The trauma of Sierra’s seizure was especially hard on her daddy.  Sean couldn’t shake the visual image of Sierra unconscious in his arms that first night.  He cried out to God for a bit of joy and the second he had finished his request in walked a nurse named Joy!  

Oh Jesus, you care right now about what we are doing and what we need.  You hold us when we don’t even know it.

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Sierra’s Sulley! Not quite as hairy though!

Sierra was a fighter but there came a point when we knew we needed back up.  My two older daughters went to my dad’s house near Denver while we stayed in the hospital and Sean’s parents were in Pagosa getting us moved into our new house.

Knowing we have three little girls and only two grandpas, God sent us a third; Steve.  If you have ever had the pleasure of seeing Sierra and Steve go shopping together, it would have reminded you instantly of Boo and Sulley from Monsters Inc.

Steve had texted me that he was thinking of flying in and I simply texted him back, “Do it.”

Steve arrived that day.  It was touching and shattered my heart when he entered the room and a groggy Sierra used what little strength she had to try to reach up and hug Steve’s neck.  They have been buddies since she was four and God decided to use this event to bring us all back together.

Steve and Sean teamed up and we alternated every-other-night in the PICU.  There were nights when the battle was intense but it wasn’t more real than the day Sierra’s breathing tube slipped back into her lungs!

A summer to remember 107

Steve made up a game called “Balloon Ball” to help Sierra during physical therapy.

More doctors than usual surrounded Sierra and we were all checking her numbers on her heart rate and I noticed that Sierra was turning blue.  I stood at the foot of her bed with Sean on one side of me and Steve on the other side while one doctor worked to get Sierra breathing.  They pulled out the breathing tube and I locked eyes with Dr. Robeless and all I could think was, You chose this woman to do this job, Lord.  That is her hand pumping air into my daughter and that is Your hand.  Time seemed to stop as we all fell silent and watched air first fill Sierra’s tummy and slowly, slowly move into her lungs until she began to take in the oxygen.  Her color returned to her cheeks and life flowed through her body and the battle changed!  If I remember right, I think that was the seventh day… and that night we rested!

Wrap Me Up in Prayer!

A summer to remember 103

The prayer quilt sent to us from Grace Church.

Within just a few days of our stay in the hospital a prayer quilt arrived.  I was so thankful because even in the middle of summer, hospitals are cold!  Sierra’s kindergarten teacher, Mrs. Faber, ordered a quilt and another sister delivered: Ellen Charnley and her team of prayer warriors from Grace Church!  Ellen became a very active ally as prayer requests went forth.

Samuel's kids

Ssengooba Samuel Mugabi with the children who prayed for Sierra. “God sets the lonely in families, he leads out the prisoners with singing….” Psalm 68:6

Another blanket of prayer came in on the breeze of summer.  This blanket of prayer came from afar, in the land of Kampala, Uganda.  A little orphanage I had never known heard about Sierra’s illness and made it their business to fight for Sierra every day, raising the battle standard of prayer!  This was a genuine act by a group of children (Click this LINK to meet them.) and their pastor to reach the heavenly places and deliver prayers to a God who rides with a banner called Love!  I wept.  Often I wept.  Again, mystically we all gathered together beneath one banner, for one purpose, and prayed.  There is no other kingdom where such unity can occur– here is the place where the kingdom cannot be shaken– Love.

Moses built an altar and called it The Lord is my Banner.  Ex 17:15

But for those who fear you, you have raised a banner to be unfurled against the bow.  Psalm 60:4

Let him lead me to the banquet hall, and let his banner over me be love.  Song of Songs 2:4

Like Sierra, these orphaned children need help too, so I am including a link to their page HERE where you can help them get the food, resources and medical attention they desperately need.  To this day I still chat with Samuel and we encourage each other across the world.   God’s kingdom has no dividing lines, even if part of it is on the other side of the world.

Quilts 004The day after we moved out of the PICU another prayer quilt arrived.

Sierra was getting stronger and had started physical therapy.  Sean returned from the Ronald McDonald House with a package carefully tucked beneath his arm.  I curled up on the bed with her and we opened the package.  No one knew about the Snow White metaphors– no one.  So when I opened up the package and unfolded the Snow White quilt I was so surprised, and I am certain there was a twinkle in my Lord’s eye~  Oh God, how you love us.

Wrapped in the quilt was this letter:

Dear Sierra Jane,

This quilt was made by the Prayer Quilt Ministry at St. Patrick’s Episcopal Church.  It has a picture of Snow White on it.  I hope you like it!

As you probably know, Snow White was a very beautiful young lady.  She had a very sweet and giving heart.  Animals loved her as did everyone who knew her…except the wicked stepmother.  The wicked stepmother was beautiful on the outside, but rotten on the inside.  She wanted to be the most beautiful person in the land, but she didn’t understand that to be truly beautiful you have to be beautiful on the inside too.  She thought that by killing Snow White, she could claim to be the most beautiful person in the land.  She gave Snow White a poison apple, one that, like her, was beautiful on the outside but rotten on the inside.  Snow White ate it and became very ill.  Some thought she had died.  But she had one very important weapon against evil.  That weapon was love.  In the end, love saved her.

Quilts 002You are like Snow White who has been saved from a very nasty disease by love. You have received God’s love in many, many ways. Your dad and sisters who rushed you to the hospital, your mom who has been by your side the whole time, the doctors and nurses who found the right drugs to give you to make you well, the hundreds of people who have been praying for you, the wonderful people who have sent you cards and gifts, the folks who have contributed money to help pay the doctors, the people who helped move your things into your new house, all of these acts of love are because we love you and your family so much. We all love you and want you to get well as quickly as you can!

The prayer quilt was prayed over while it was made, it was placed on the altar at church during our Sunday morning service and Fr. Doug blessed it and we all said a prayer for you.  Then it was taken to the parish hall where individuals said a prayer and tied a knot in the strings as a sign of their prayer.  I hope you find comfort in it and that it reminds you that you are very, very loved!  Get well soon, sweetheart!

In Christ, 

Sally Neel

Sierra and I both wept into each others arms.  It is a memory I will cherish for eternity.  She understood the metaphor and everything God had done to save her.  She snuggled up in the blanket insisting, as she drifted off to sleep, that we hang the letter in her room…and it is still there to this day.

who will be my brother

Snow White calls to her people, “Who will be my brother!?” Image from Snow White and the Huntsman

Later that week when we would arrive home in Pagosa, Sean and I would watch the new Snow White and the Huntsman and hear these prophetic words ring out from the film

Death favors no man. We must ride like thundering waves under the tented battle flag of my father.  ~Snow White 

Iron will melt, but it will writhe inside of itself! All these years, all I’ve known is darkness. But I have never seen a brighter light than when my eyes just opened. And I know that light burns in all of you! Those embers must turn to flame. Iron into sword! …  I’d rather die today than live another day of this death! And who will ride with me? Who will be my brother?                ~Snow White after being kissed awake.  

There is still much to share, much to say, people I have left out on the page but certainly not in my heart.  We rode far.  We rode long.  If you wish to view some of my kinsman who fought by my side please click this link to the event, Sierra Jane: God’s Super Star.  And to those of you who prayed, stood in the gap, loved us at all cost,

Now that the worst is over, we’re pleased we can report that we’ve come out of this with conscience and faith intact, and can face the world—and even more importantly, face you with our heads held high. But it wasn’t by any fancy footwork on our part. It was God who kept us focused on him, uncompromised. Don’t try to read between the lines or look for hidden meanings in this letter. We’re writing plain, unembellished truth, hoping that you’ll now see the whole picture as well as you’ve seen some of the details. We want you to be as proud of us as we are of you when we stand together before our Master Jesus.  2 Cor 1: 12-14 The Message

Until the next battle…..snow white hunt

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Stumbling Upon a Fairy Tale

If you are just now joining us, please click here to start with Part 1, She has the Plague AND we’re Crossing the “Jordan River!?”

Friday morning, August 24, 2012, Sean dropped me off at the new house.  On our way to Aspen Springs a still small voice whispered, “”Your family needs you.”  I shook it off and said to myself, “Yeah, they need me to finish getting our house ready!”  I knew I was arguing with God and I wish I had listened…

I worked all day prepping the bathroom for painting the next morning.  That weekend we planned on putting in the laminate tile ourselves and the carpet was coming the following Wednesday.

I  huddled down for the night in our little camper Sean’s folks had given to us to use.  We had run out of money that month and the cell phone bill was one of the bills we skipped paying.  Sean had no way of contacting me.  I was just settling in to watch a movie when there came a knock on my camper door.  A sheriff announced his presence and informed me through the door that one of my daughters had been rushed to the ER and he was to transport me to the hospital.

When I arrived at the hospital, I entered the emergency room and found Sierra bright red, unconscious and covered in ice bags.  The nurse’s first words to me were, “She has a rectal temperature of 107 degrees.”  Oh God, her little brain, is all I could think as lectures from an undergraduate neuropsychology class slowly passed before my eyes.  I refocused and like a switch deep within me, I activated my faith and mixed it all up with a huge pile of denial.

It’s funny the things we tell ourselves in the middle of trauma.

I couldn’t believe this was anything but the flu until the doctor walked into the room with my husband.  Sean had witnessed the unthinkable.  He wept as he recounted the last few hours with Sierra and how he thought she was dead in his arms after having a seizure.  I had given Sierra a heating pad and wondered to myself if that wasn’t the cause of her high temperature.  Aren’t we good at blaming ourselves when one of our children becomes ill?  I hugged my two older daughters who sat in the waiting room watching TV.  I returned to an unresponsive Sierra.  More than anything, I just wanted to hear her little voice.  They had sedated her since she had a seizure.

Dr. Lewis was the ER doctor that night and as they worked to stabilize Sierra’s temperature, he worked to find us a hospital that could help.  One after another, we were refused.  Either the hospital didn’t have room, thought they didn’t have the facility or staff to support Sierra or thought our little hospital could handle it.  Sierra’s illness sounded like a simple fiberal seizure (a fever seizure) but her age along with the extraordinarily high fever became confounding variables and no one knew what to make of itone open door and closed doors

Dr. Lewis and his staff are the first moments of God’s hands moving– they are our first heroes on sight because he knew there was something very serious going on with Sierra.  It would be easy to get defensive or angry at those hospitals, but I don’t see it that way; I see a corridor of doors God shut with only one opened at the end.  God had a very specific group of people He knew Sierra needed. Saint Lukes, Rocky Mountain Children’s Hospital not only said yes, but they flew their flight for life team into our little airport in Pagosa Springs.  According to the ER staff, that is rare and most patients must drive to Durango, an hour away!  Every minute counted and God knew that.

A Modern Day Fairy Tale

Sierra and I arrived at the hospital under the cloak of night.  We were tucked away on the pediatric floor where a beautiful African woman named Elizabeth, greeted us.  She had the most beautiful accent and I felt a kindred spirit with this woman.  I curled up on the couch and Sierra and I slept for a few hours in the early morning light under Elizabeth’s watchful eye.

The day stretched and yawned and forced us awake as nurses and specialists began the daunting but necessary process of poking and prodding my daughter.  Dr. White entered the room, an intelligent beauty, and began with a series of tests and blood work and finished up with a spinal tap to rule out spinal meningitis.  That is one procedure I don’t mind never seeing done again!

Meanwhile, Sean, along with his parents and Sierra’s sisters were en route to Denver.  Since we were broke, my cell phone was off and we had no way to communicate, Sean had the foresight to bring our landline phone.  We turned our other cell phone into a landline and have a Verizon tower box that uses the cell phone towers.  This is so hillbilly and one of the many reasons why I love that man: he plugged that thing into the truck, brought the house phone and was able to call  every hour on his six-hour journey to Denver.  Miraculously, he had phone service the entire way.

Each time Sean or the girls called, Sierra would cry, “Where are you?  Why aren’t you here?  I need you.”   We all needed each other like never before.

After some more tests they introduced an antibiotic and Sierra crashed.  I had been helping her back and forth to the potty all day and this last time she crumpled up on the floor and her skin became bright red.  At the same moment, Sean and the girls arrived only to find Sierra in an even more critical state that before.  “What happened!?  Sean questioned, I thought she was getting better.”

Dr. White stood over Sierra, confounded at her reaction to the antibiotic.  I stood too.  That’s all I could do.  I didn’t pray, I didn’t cry, I didn’t know what else to do but stand in the knowledge that God was with us.

Stand firm, and you will win life.  Luke 21:19

The sun began to set and night began to play on the walls like Peter Pan shadows.  Then in walked the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU) doctor.  The two doctors stood over Sierra, Dr. White and Dr. Snow.  Incredulously I exclaimed, “Dr. Snow, really?”  Snow- White!?”  They looked surprised, never before putting together the Snow White symbology of their names.  The Snow White metaphor would mark a significant introduction to a series of love notes sent to us by God.  RachelWeiszSnowWhite1338

After that, Dr. Snow took over Sierra’s care and the reality that her life was hanging in the balance set in.  And I stood up. From the deep places of my chamber heart arose those familiar words once again.

Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”  Joshua 1:9

Sierra drifted between consciousness and unconsciousness as Sean and I held her little hands.  Doctors were introducing masks and gloves and robes into the environment as a precaution.  I silently refused to put on any gloves; I needed to feel her hand in mine.  Maybe I thought I deserved to get sick too, because I hadn’t been there.  The things we think….  I placed my lips close to her ear and sang our favorite song to her.  Her eyes faintly smiled and then she slipped into unconsciousness.

Angels dressed like nurses and ER technicians filled the room and began their work.  With nothing left for us to do, we returned to the pediatric floor.  By this time I had two hours of sleep in a 40 hour period.  My Dad, who lives near Denver, picked up Brianna and Tiarra while Sean’s parents found a room at the Ronald McDonald House.

Once everyone was gone, we held each other taking turns weeping in the room where Sierra and I had first arrived.

Our angel, Elizabeth, guarded our room as we found unsettled rest on a fold-out-couch.  At 3am Dr. Snow entered our room and explained that Sierra had severe septic shock.  She deduced that based upon Sierra’s symptoms and our account of earlier events that week that she might have contracted bubonic plague.

This time, we couldn’t get up and later that morning I initiated a call to arms and asked anyone I knew for prayer.

Without trying to sound cliché, this was our introduction to a  fairy tale with a real life threatening villain and a multitude of warriors fighting to save a princess– and who is the prince of this story you ask?Snow white and prince

Why it is He: the Famous One, the Glorious One– Jesus!

There is so much more to come… Next up, click HERE for Part 5:  Who Will Be My Brother?

Of Lice, Skunks and Squirrels

This is Part 3 of the incredible miracle of how my daughter survived the bubonic plague and how our family became vessels for an infection of Love.  Start at the beginning if you’re just now joining us. Click : Part 1 or Part 2 .

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A Colorado Shasta Daisy from our picnic in the woods.

The summer was hot and dry like my spirit.  The Forth of July parade arrived and we decided to help the Daisy troop out on the parade float.  This was the very last thing I should have ever committed to, but I was seeing those little Daisies and the cow eyes of my own three daughters, and decided to take a day off from working on the house.  

Now, I have been very active in Girl Scouts, and I wish I could say that once you turn twenty (or even forty for that matter) that bullying between women stops– it doesn’t.  I was so exhausted from trying to do the right thing.  However, if I am honest, my exhaustion stemmed from “taking over” and always trying to fix things.  I had so many walls up around my heart that I had convinced myself those walls were catapults and that everything I launched myself into was for the good of all.

I ended up doing the float myself, with my family and one other parent and two other girls.  Now, that’s not the Girl Scout way.  Sometimes we can’t make people happy and I had to learn when to stop trying.  This realization was my introduction to a pretty tough lesson.

Earlier in the year we had committed to attend Girl Scout camp.  So, in the middle of renovations on our new home, I headed to Girl Scout camp with all three of my daughters and my Girl Scout troop.  It was awesome!  I watched in awe as my oldest daughter scampered off  and became the leader of a small band of scouts, scaling mountain sides, swinging on ropes like Tarzan’s Jane and leading the entire camp in a song or two.  My middle daughter came out of her cocoon and joined her troop in a skit and original song and Sierra was fearless.  She was the youngest scout in attendance and scaled mountain sides and embraced the zip line like an old friend.  I was proud.

Sierra, fearless on the zip-line at Girl Scout camp.

Sierra, fearless on the zip-line at Girl Scout camp.

Tiarra, my middle daughter at Girl Scout camp.

Tiarra, my middle daughter at Girl Scout camp.

Brianna, my oldest.

Brianna, my oldest.

The last day of camp arrived, and my close friend and fellow camp leader transformed into a metaphorical Joshua before my very eyes.

Now Joshua… was filled with the spirit of wisdom….  Deuteronomy 34:9

She took a risk and told me the truth.  She explained that I never let anyone fall or fail.  I was always stepping in rescuing everyone so that they couldn’t be held accountable.  I understood that I was trying to become everyone’s savior.  That’s not easy to admit; I was the one in the way.  My ego and I went for a walk in the woods and we cried and cried together because she was right.

Thankfully, I had a friend who was willing to tell me the truth.

friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for a time of adversity.  Proverbs 17:17

Thank you K.

Seeing the walls for the first time was sobering and I somehow managed to gather up the pieces of my ego and stuff them into my backpack.  The girls and I loaded up happy, smelly and tired, and a little bit wiser and stronger than before.  Little did we know we were also bringing a few new friends home with us!

Have you ever washed everything you own in one day?  I didn’t realize we had head lice until two days after we got home.  That means everything had to be washed.  It cost me $80.00 at the laundromat to wash everything.  For us, that was a fortune!  Before the laundromat we stood in the kitchen all in a line, combing, combing, combing… and crying.  I hate head lice!  My husband and I were losing patience and tension was increasing as the time was ticking away.

After the Great Washing, I decided to keep everything in trash bags.  So sleeping bags, stuffed animals and clothes we didn’t need remained in big black trash bags.  Hey!  That’s a step toward packing right?

The month ebbed away the days on the calendar and I was shocked when August arrived.  More painting and repairing.  Then one day, while at our old house, the girls came running into the house going on about a skunk.  We cautiously followed them outside to our culvert and there lay a live skunk.  Either the skunk had rabies or had been hit by a car.  My husband became very sad because it looked like a skunk that had been coming by to say hi in the evenings as he played his guitar on the back porch.  I think as we get older our hearts get softer about certain things.

The skunk was taken care of and our safari of animal exposures continued.

At the new house a week or so later, the girls decided to clean out the chicken coup.  They were making the place clean so they could hatch an egg a neighbor gave the girls.  They placed the eggs in drawers and covered them with a surrogate mother; a stuffed owl! In our frazzled state, I didn’t even think about the possibility of mouse droppings being present or junta virus.

Finally, after working a week straight, we decided to take a Sunday off.  We loaded up the girls and decided to go to our favorite campground for a picnic.  On our way to Williams Creek Reservoir, my husband pulled over just off of a forest service road.  We all piled out of the truck wondering what he was up to.

I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of Egypt to give you the land of Canaan and to be your God.  Leviticus 25:38

Cimarrona camp ground at William's Creek Reservoir.

Cimarrona camp ground at William’s Creek Reservoir.

“Everyone needs to find a stone to carry up the trail.  I will tell you why once we get there,” he said.

We all found our stone while our middle daughter chose a tiny pebble.  My husband challenged her by commenting, “Maybe the weight of your stone will matter when we get there.  It is easier to carry a small pebble,yes,  but what if it’s worth it to invest your energy and strength toward something greater?”  I watched her think about what he said and exchange her pebble for a stone a little larger than her hand.  We followed him up the trail in the August heat.  When we got to the top, a beautiful little valley greeted us.  We set our stones down at our feet and listened as my husband explained why we were there.

“Seven years ago this summer, God brought me to this very spot,” he said pointing.

“He told me, ‘I will give you the land.’  And He has!  God has given us our little farm with a chicken coup and goat pin and even a well,” he smiled with a twinkle in his eye.

“God promised another man land once,” he explained.  “His name was Joshua.  Joshua had to take a large group of people with him and cross the Jordan River.  Once they crossed the river, Joshua had twelve men from each tribe in the group find a stone a lot like the one you have now.  He had them place the stones into a pile as an alter of remembrance.  This alter is to honor God for His promises and to make sure we never forget what He has done for us.”

 …’Go over before the ark of the Lord your God into the middle of the Jordan.  Each of you is to take up a stone on his shoulder, according to the number of the tribes of the Israelites, to serve as a sign among you. In the future, when your children ask you, ‘What do these stones mean?’ tell them that the flow of the Jordan was cut off before the ark of the covenant of the Lord. When it crossed the Jordan, the waters of the Jordan were cut off. These stones are to be a memorial to the people of Israel forever.’

So the Israelites did as Joshua commanded them… Joshua set up the twelve stones that had been in the middle of the Jordan at the spot where the priests who carried the ark of the covenant had stood. And they are there to this day.  The prophet Joshua 4: 4-9

My husband prayed and we thanked God as we each set our stones in a pile, our very own little altar of remembrance, and they are there to this day.

Me, at Cimarrona camp ground at William's Creek Reservoir.

Me, at Cimarrona camp ground at William’s Creek Reservoir.

That was the same day that Sierra was bitten by the fleas that carried the bubonic plague.

Walk with me, and lets look at God’s loving kindnesses together.  He never left me or my daughter… He has never left you either….

Part 4 is on the way if I can find the keyboard through these tears!

Click HERE to read the next segment, A Time for Everything

My Buddy, Joshua

This is part 2 of the incredible miracle of how my daughter survived the bubonic plague and how our family became vessels for an infection of Love.  Please click this link to read part 1.

When friends would ask, What are you doing this summer?”  I would laughingly answer them with, “We’re crossing over to the other side and moving to Aspen Springs!”  Aspen Springs has a reputation for housing the rebels and rowdies of our community. I had no idea what I was saying until God started leading me slowly and intentionally through the book of Joshua.

Now then, you and all these people, get ready to cross the Jordan River into the land I am about to give to them—to the Israelites.  I will give you every place where you set your foot, as I promised Moses….  No one will be able to stand against you all the days of your life. As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will never leave you nor forsake you.  Be strong and courageous, because you will lead these people to inherit the land I swore to their ancestors to give them.  The Prophet Joshua 1: 2-6

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A reassigned desolate inheritance! Our new home with old Christmas lights and a rainbow to boot!

Why is that profound?  Because seven years ago we returned from a different kind of promised land.  We had moved to New England selling as much as we could live without following God to the east coast.  Our last toll booth was even called the “Canaan Toll.”  However, as it turns out, that was not our promised land and that is also an incredible story I will tell another time.  Now, however, at this moment God is all about restoring the land to His people; literal and spiritual.

Alone one night in the house, I called out to God and asked him to show me what He was doing.

 “Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the law my servant Moses gave you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, that you may be successful wherever you go.  Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful. Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”

Okay God, I remember thinking.  I am weak and tired and exhausted and poor and lonely, but I will be strong and courageous.  I would often stay overnight in our camper so I could get up early and work in the cool of the morning while Sean stayed with the girls at the other house.  Meanwhile, God continued to lead me through Joshua and every night that I soaked in the bible He would guide me back to these words

Be strong and very courageous!

I remember thinking to myself, Okay Lord, but this is just physical exhaustion!  I can do this!  We stripped walls, repaired holes, pulled out nails, loaded up a 28 footer trailer three different times with trash and heavy furniture that had been left by previous occupants.  I painted every single ceiling, primed one of the bathrooms (the master bathroom is still in its pre-livable state but the shower works!), repaired half eaten trim (pretty sure those were doggie bite marks), pulled out all of the toilets and the bathroom sink, the oven, the washer and dryer that were left behind and the list goes on. I was so tired.  In the midst of it all God gave me a scripture that I held onto for energy and courage.  I printed off those lively words and slapped them onto the fridge (the only movable appliance that remained in the house) where it still hangs today.

The fortress will be abandoned,

Sierra and I transplanting flowers and shrubs.

Sierra and I transplanting flowers and shrubs.

the noisy city deserted;
citadel and watchtower will become a wasteland forever,
the delight of donkeys, a pasture for flocks,
 till the Spirit is poured on us from on high,
and the desert becomes a fertile field,
and the fertile field seems like a forest.
 The Lord’s justice will dwell in the desert,
his righteousness live in the fertile field.
 The fruit of that righteousness will be peace;
its effect will be quietness and confidence forever.
 My people will live in peaceful dwelling places,
in secure homes,
in undisturbed places of rest.
 Though hail flattens the forest
and the city is leveled completely,
 how blessed you will be,
sowing your seed by every stream,
and letting your cattle and donkeys range free.

The Prophet Isaiah 32:14-20

I felt like Joshua and I were palls hanging out with each other from different dimensions in time.

This may be hard to believe, but the day after reading about the prostitute Rahab, (see Joshua 2, Rahab and the Spies)a woman,  labeled by neighbors as having similar talents as Rahab, rode her mustang onto the property.  She looked rough as she offered me her name and a drink from her whisky flask.  I declined as she introduced me to her mustang who she had rescued from a neglectful and abusive owner.

“I hope you will be my friend,” she said.   Those words awakened my conscience and deep inside of my spirit I understood that they weren’t really meant for me; they were meant for Christ.

Judgement.  I had plenty of it for that woman and with no room to judge if you knew my past!  When I sensed His heart for her I felt terrible about my judgement.  God reminded me that even the prostitute Rahab was given grace and the incredible honor of being part of the lineage of Christ.  I repented again.  Sadly, I haven’t seen her since.

Two months is all we had to get the house ready,

Brianna, Tiarra and Sierra saying hello to our neighbor's horses.

Brianna, Tiarra and Sierra saying hello to our neighbor’s horses.

and our time was about up!

My attention was definitely on my surroundings though, as God continued His object lessons for my benefit from the book of Joshua.  The next thing I knew, I was reading about the walls of Jericho and wondering what the heck God was trying to tell me.  I would find out, but not there; not in Pagosa.

Hang on!  It’s just gettin‘ good!  Click HERE to read Part 3, Of Lice, Skunks and Squirrels.

She has the Plague AND We’re Crossing the “Jordan River?”

This will end up being a series of blogs because so much has happened since I last blogged.  So, I’m just going to start as though we are in a conversation…

Yes, I am the mother of the little girl, Sierra Jane, who had the plague in 2012.  Sean laughingly calls me “the plague mom.”  Please DON”T call me that though!  We were on T.V. and the Dr. Oz Show (click on the link to see the actual show) and she received world coverage.

On the set with Dr. Oz after recording the show.

On the set with Dr. Oz after recording the show.

We talked about everything from my two older daughters’ 911 call to the pink sweatshirt fallen on the ground that became the carriage for the little creatures who carried the deadly disease, the bubonic plague.

What you never heard; however, were the millions of miracles God orchestrated for our benefit… and yours!  I just want you to know how much He loves you.

He wants you to know that He has not forgotten you.  He has heard every prayer.  Every one.  Even the little ones that seem like a simple little thought.  Even the ones you haven’t uttered because you think you don’t deserve it or it won’t happen.  He has Hope for you right here, right now.  And since we survived the plague I feel that I am qualified to tell you why and how I know that!

There is much to tell and this story doesn’t begin with the plague; that’s where it ends.  Allow me to take you back to the summer of 20oo…

In the spring of 2012, the Holy Spirit had me return to an old abandoned township called Pagosa Junction.  The land is on the tip of the Ute reservation and as I understand it, there has been some fighting over the territory between the Utes and the town of Pagosa Springs.  The first time I ever went out there, however, was 12 years earlier in the summer of 2000.

The Catholic church over looking Pagosa Junction

The Catholic church overlooking Pagosa Junction

Back then, my husband and I had time to explore new territories.  We drove back into the wilderness and discovered an old train station, tracks, and old homes.  On that first trip I remember thinking that it looked like everyone had just up and left!  We found old clothing, jars, antique furniture and so many cool things.  Since we love collecting pictures of old doors, I started taking pictures of the doors.  One I will never forget was of a lone “locked” door standing like a rebel surrounded by its fallen house.  I can’t help but think of this scripture when I remember that door.

These are the words of him who is holy and true, who holds the key of David. What he opens no one can shut, and what he shuts no one can open. I know your deeds. See, I have placed before you an open door that no one can shut. I know that you have little strength, yet you have kept my word and have not denied my name.  I will make those who are of the synagogue of Satan, who claim to be Jews though they are not, but are liars—I will make them come and fall down at your feet and acknowledge that I have loved you.  Rev 3:7-9

The more  we explored, though, the more uneasy we became.  We felt an unspoken warning to touch nothing!  I could hear what sounded like voices on the breeze threatening and screaming at us to leave.  Sensing the evil presence, we decided  to leave.  A few weeks later when I got the pictures back, I was so uncomfortable that I had to throw every single one away.

If you need more evidence that that place was cursed, a friend of mine went out there five years later and brought back an old mason jar for a souvenir.  A few weeks later she and her kids started having terrible nightmares and even seeing manifestations of spirits in their home.  We prayed.  She repented, threw away the jar and as soon as the jar was in the trash the nightmares stopped.

So, when God asked me to return there in the spring of 2012, I was a little leery… and excited.  Along the way I discovered a little happy flock of sheep. Mixture 011One of them came over to the fence and actually looked like he wanted to encourage me.

When I got to Pagosa Junction this time, I didn’t sense anything like before. In fact, I wandered around the old church on the hill and hiked around the valley near the train tracks and experienced peace.  Then I began to pray.

Have you ever noticed that when it’s God praying through you it’s difficult to remember what you prayed?  All I know is, as I prayed, a theme of God returning the land prevailed.  I recall saying out loud, “Be returned to the land.”  There was a sense of restoring as I prayed and prophesied to the land.

Early spring at Pagosa Junction 2012.

Early spring at Pagosa Junction 2012.

For I will restore the fortunes of the land as they were before,’ says the Lord.  The Prophet Jeremiah 33:11

You, Lord, showed favor to your land; you restored the fortunes of Jacob.  Psalm 85:1

I returned home feeling peaceful and with much anticipation.

Then we lost our house.

I know!  It wasn’t the miracle I had been hoping for either!  I fought so hard to keep that little home of ours.  Like a lot of Americans, we bought our home at the peak of the market and shouldn’t have.  We ended up receiving a Deed in Leu which morphed into a Deed in Leese.  That means we were renting the house we once owned.  We were slipping farther and farther into debt, depression and discouragement.

As summer approached I continued to pray.  We looked at rentals and even considered moving out-of-town and closer to a city.   Then one day our friend, Steve, suggested we take a look at his old property. The property was on the other side of town on 1.5 acres.  For the last three years it had been used as a homeless shelter.  Since there was only one man left of the group (he moved into a single cabin), Steve thought a family might be able to restore the house.

No one knew the years I had wept, or the days I had fasted and prayed for God to answer us.  No one knew how creative I really was with so little; how I understood the woman with her jar of oil and bit of flour, how I longed for something new for my daughters and joy for my husband.  God knew…

“In the time of my favor I will answer you,
and in the day of salvation I will help you;
I will keep you and will make you
to be a covenant for the people,
to restore the land
and to reassign its desolate inheritances,
to say to the captives, ‘Come out,’
and to those in darkness, ‘Be free!’  The Prophet Isaiah 49:8-9

We inherited Steve’s house and began our summer with renovations.  Little did we know that we were about to embark on an adventure together that we would never forget.

To read part 2, My Buddy, Joshua, click HERE.

Following the Homeless Man

For the poor will never cease out of the land; therefore I command you, You shall open wide your hands to your brother, to your needy, and to your poor in your land. (Deuteronomy 15:11 AMP)

A brother on a Pilgrimage off of 285 in Colorado

The cobble stone street glistened in the middle of Old Town Fort Collins as I watched him walk, yet again, from one end of town to the other.  He had been there many times before but today was the first time I stopped to watch him.  Tall, slender, clean and shaven, he could have been a professor from the local university, but he wasn’t; he was a homeless man.  It was late afternoon and an early fall day as I wondered about where this man was going.  Then God whispered, “Follow him.” 

My heart thumped loudly in my throat as I hesitatingly agreed to this adventure.  “Okay Lord, but please keep me safe.”  I played it cool and casually window shopped from store to store as I watched this cheerful man visit his favorite people along the street.  However, his pace was brisk and it was obvious to me he had an important destination in mind.  He crossed the street a few times and I might have even heard him whistle.  He turned down another street across from the old railroad station and stopped outside a three story building.  I froze in my tracks, wanting to turn tail and run as I saw other homeless people gathering in front of the building.  Some were laughing and visiting, others looked sad and aloof. 

God interrupted my thoughts, “Don’t lose him.  Follow him inside.”  Now I was feeling super vulnerable.  I was still dressed in my nice work clothes and I stuck out like a sore thumb, but I persisted and found the man standing inside.  I reached for him and gently tapped his shoulder. 

I couldn’t speak without tears escaping down my face.  Oh God, what have you done to me?  My heart…, my heart….  My heart ached at what I saw– a kind of joyful-hurting ache. 

“Ask for help daughter.  You are safe,” encouraged the Lord. 

So I asked the homeless man through tears who I could speak to about the shelter.  He smiled a genuine smile and responded to my tears by saying, “Oh, now, its okay.  Here’s the lady you need to talk to,” and he handed me off to this kind but stern thirty something woman.  When I told her I was there because I needed to know how the homeless people lived, I had to repeat myself because I was so choked up and my heart was pounding so loud I was sure she couldn’t hear me! 

She smiled warmly and gave me back to the homeless man who proceeded to give me a tour.  He showed me the T.V. room where a pile of people sat watching Jeopardy; he took me to “the book shelf” where people could borrow books; he pointed out the shower area and taught me about their token system, and then he explained how the building had been an old hotel and how they had converted it into a shelter.  Everyone had a bin where they could store things and they could purchase showers and toiletries with the special tokens.  He also explained how different businesses and non-profits provided dinner throughout the week.  My heart felt soggy as I stood in the presence of this man.

I never saw him again after that.  I looked for him and found more homeless people instead….

Then I understood just Who I had been following. 

Amos 8 from The Message

If you prefer a different translation of the Bible please visit http://www.biblegateway.com

You Who Give Little and Take Much

1 My Master God showed me this vision: A bowl of fresh fruit. 2He said, “What do you see, Amos?” I said, “A bowl of fresh, ripe fruit.” God said, “Right. So, I’m calling it quits with my people Israel. I’m no longer acting as if everything is just fine.

3“The royal singers will wail when it happens.”
My Master God said so.
“Corpses will be strewn here, there, and everywhere.
Hush!”

4-6Listen to this, you who walk all over the weak,
you who treat poor people as less than nothing,
Who say, “When’s my next paycheck coming
so I can go out and live it up?
How long till the weekend
when I can go out and have a good time?”
Who give little and take much,
and never do an honest day’s work.
You exploit the poor, using them—
and then, when they’re used up, you discard them.

7-8God swears against the arrogance of Jacob:
“I’m keeping track of their every last sin.”
God’s oath will shake earth’s foundations,
dissolve the whole world into tears.
God’s oath will sweep in like a river that rises,
flooding houses and lands,
And then recedes,
leaving behind a sea of mud.

9-10“On Judgment Day, watch out!”
These are the words of God, my Master.
“I’ll turn off the sun at noon.
In the middle of the day the earth will go black.
I’ll turn your parties into funerals
and make every song you sing a dirge.
Everyone will walk around in rags,
with sunken eyes and bald heads.
Think of the worst that could happen
—your only son, say, murdered.
That’s a hint of Judgment Day
—that and much more.

11-12“Oh yes, Judgment Day is coming!”
These are the words of my Master God.
“I’ll send a famine through the whole country.
It won’t be food or water that’s lacking, but my Word.
People will drift from one end of the country to the other,
roam to the north, wander to the east.
They’ll go anywhere, listen to anyone,
hoping to hear God’s Word—but they won’t hear it.

13-14“On Judgment Day,
lovely young girls will faint of Word-thirst,
robust young men will faint of God-thirst,
Along with those who take oaths at the Samaria Sin-and-Sex Center,
saying, ‘As the lord god of Dan is my witness!’
and ‘The lady goddess of Beer-sheba bless you!’
Their lives will fall to pieces.
They’ll never put it together again.”