Monday, August 27, 2012

Miracles and The Magic Kingdom

I am convinced that some precious people in life are really angels.  My sweet friend Cyndee is one of those "earth angels".  She must stuff those wings inside her shirt each morning and tuck her halo beneath her beautiful brown hair.  {Smile.} Cyndee is one of the sweetest, purest hearts I know. She and her family are a blessing to all those around them.

Today, I invited Cyndee to share an amazing testimony of God's faithfulness and protection during a horrific car accident.  And you will also hear about how God blessed their family a few months later in a personal, over-the-top way. Cyndee's honest and gentle prayers were answered by our gracious and generous God.  Enjoy today's guest post by Cyndee Carr. ~ Sharon

"It is pleasant to see dreams come true..."
Proverbs 13:19

The Carr Family (Steven, Cyndee, Bill)
and several Disney cast members

Driving down the interstate from Pennsylvania to Florida on our long-awaited, first-ever trip to Disney World, a tractor trailer flew past us going so fast that it created a wind vacuum that caused the travel camping trailer we were towing to jack knife and roll over onto its side taking our big Suburban with it.  

Moving metal meeting hard cement, the noisy, horrific crash abruptly ended our dream vacation to Disney World.  

Trapped in the crashed vehicle, I was scared and shaken.  Concerned for my husband, Bill, and my son, Steven, I began to pray as I waited to be rescued.  Though this crash was horrific, immediately we could see God's miraculous protection and provision.     

The 40 gallon gas tank had just been filled the hour before had ruptured and gasoline was leaking and flowing towards where I was trapped in the car.  Amazingly, the screw cap for fresh water tank for the trailer had come off it wasn’t broken off and no one had touched it.  The water for the fresh water tank flowed OVER the gasoline neutralizing it. 

The two 30 lb propane tanks which were turned on to keep our fridge in the trailer running had snapped off their storage place and were rolling down the road.  My husband was able to break free from our vehicle and get to them and turn them off without an explosion.

We didn’t hit anything and nobody hit into us.  We didn’t roll off the road into the nearby stream. 

The first two people on the scene were an off-duty state trooper and an off-duty EMT.  The wife of one of the men was able to comfort our 9-year old son, Steven, while they cut me out of the car.    

Our dog who was supposed to go with us most certainly would have been seriously injured or worse; but at the last minute our daughter-in-law offered to keep her.

My husband, son and I all escaped this accident with little more physically than cuts and bruises.  God even protected our older son and daughter as they left their work and families to drive down five hours in the rain to be with us and help us get home!  He provided and protected exceedingly and abundantly!!

We had saved for five years for our first trip to Disney World. Although this unwelcomed and life-changing crash was indeed traumatic, God’s mercy and protection was all around us.

We were blessed with the opportunity to finally get to Disney (we flew this time!!) for nine nights that November.  We were able to celebrate Steven’s 10th birthday in Magic Kingdom!

And look at the wonderful gift God gave our family while we were in Disney: 

Bill's family surprised me with a gift of a massage and manicure at The Saratoga Resort Spa on the Friday morning of our trip as a thank you for being his mom's transportation after her double knee replacement.  (How humbling.)  During my quiet time with the Lord that morning, I thanked Him for all the blessings He had given so far and dared to ask if there was any way there could be a "magical moment" for Steven that I had read so much about people experiencing.  That would just be extra special. 

To get to my spa appointment using the Disney transportation system (we only rented a car for one day to see the shuttle launch), we had to take a bus to Epcot, then take another one from Epcot to Saratoga Springs.  When we got to Epcot, walking to the bus pick up place for Saratoga Springs, we passed a bus unloading from another high end resort area and the passengers were disembarking onto a red carpet with balloons and doing the limbo.  

A definite par-tae atmosphere!

Steven asked “How do you get on a bus like that?”  I told him it must be one of the perks you get for the extra money you pay for staying at a luxury place.  

When we got to the Saratoga Springs bus area, a bus came and dropped people off, but wouldn't let us get on as they were not going back to that resort.  A second bus came and went doing the same thing.   It was early in the morning, and the busses were doing drop offs, not pickups.  It was now 9:15, my appointment was at 9:45 and I had no idea how we would get there.  An attendant from the "party bus" seeing us standing alone at the bus stop walked up and asked what was wrong. When we explained, and she saw Steven's "My First Time" and “Celebrating my Birthday” pins, she said, 

"Follow me, I have something special for you".  

Yes, you are right!  We got the red carpet rolled out for us with party music playing!  The bus was decorated with balloon bouquets everywhere!

What a celebration atmosphere!  Then Steven got one of those felt birthday cake hats, I was presented
with a princess tiara and bling ring from Mickey, Bill was given a king's crown and royal bling ring.  Then Steven was turned into a pirate with pirate bandana tied onto his head (Bill and I were given pirate bandanas too), eye patch, felt pirate hat, sword and a bling ring.  They had the words printed for the song "A Pirate's life For Me" and played the music from a Karaoke machine for us all to sing along.  Then they had us doing the Macarena on the bus!  Steven got to stand up and do the Macarena in the middle of the aisle while the bus was driving with an attendant on either side of him so he wouldn't fall. 

When we got to Saratoga Springs they rolled out the red carpet again and we did the limbo coming off the bus.  Then they took our picture with our camera for us.  They presented Steven with a bouquet of balloons and asked him "to pay the joy forward" by giving away the balloons to anyone he wanted.  We also were presented with a special Fast Pass that would get us to the front of any line for one ride.  

Talk about an over the top magical moment!!  Still buzzing from that wonderful experience, I was quietly thanking God for the way He answered my prayer walking into the hotel lobby to get directions to the spa.  I said excuse me to a gentleman with his back to me behind the counter.  

He turned with a smile and the name on his name badge was JESUS!!!  

I stammered to ask how to get to the spa and walked out of the lobby trying not to cry like a baby.

Thank You,Jesus, for Your love and Your bountiful blessings...beyond imagination.  Only You can do such things!

~ By Cyndee Carr

Thank you, Cyndee!  Wowzie...God is good!  This verse is for you dear heart:

"Blessed are the pure in heart,
for they will see God."
Matthew 5:8

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

A Puzzling Reminder

"...the Lord is merciful and gracious,
slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love." 
Psalm 103:8

I am delighted to introduce you to a dear friend of mine, Erika Gill.  She is a fun, honest, adventurous, thoughtful, dedicated-to-God-and-family kind of friend. Erika has blessed me and encouraged me in ways that will linger in my heart forever. She is a treasure.

Yesterday, after reading a devotion by another sweet friend of mine, Lysa, Erika emailed me to share how that devotion ministered to her heart.  Erika's testimony of God's goodness moved my heart, and I asked if we could share it here at Joy In The Truth.  Thank you, Erika, for always refreshing me with your love and with His truth.

 The Gill Family ~ Connor, Ken, Erika, Austin

Here is Erika's tender email:

Dear Sharon, I love Lysa!!  Her devotions go right to my 'mommy heart'!  I just wanted to share this with you.

This devotion "Ruined For Good" reminds me of the time our family went to Mexico.  The boys were about 5 and 6. We were in a shopping mall and they had a display with colorful stand-up wooden puzzles. Austin touched one and it fell on the floor. A small piece was chipped so they made us buy it. 

I was so angry that I think my blood was boiling. I kept bringing up how angry I was for several hours after the incident happened. I found it hard to let go. 

That night I cried about how I handled the situation. What kind of Christian mother acts like that?, I kept thinking to myself. I wish I could have stopped myself and thought before I reacted. 

I kept that puzzle hidden for a while, not because I was mad at my son, but because I was mad at myself for the ‘firecracker’ emotions that I displayed in front of my children. 

Later, I asked Austin to forgive me for the way I acted. Thankfully, God's mercies are new each day. 

I now proudly display the puzzle in our entertainment center cabinet. That puzzle is definitely a ‘sweet change of perspective’ for me. I really should take a picture and put it in my purse as a daily reminder. A puzzling reminder of God's goodness.  

(By Erika Gill)

The puzzle now displayed in the Gills' family room

" bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, 
the oil of gladness instead of mourning, 
and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair.  
They will be called oaks of righteousness, 
a planting of the Lord for the display of His splendor." 
Isaiah 61:3

*****Give Away*****
We are giving away a copy of Lysa's newest book "Unglued ~ Making Wise Choices In The Midst of Raw Emotions". Simply leave a comment letting us know this book would be a blessing to you and that you can relate to feeling like Erika did.  I sure can!  The winner will be announced on Friday!  Keep the comments coming!

Friday, August 10, 2012

Meet My Lovely Friend Lori

Dear Friends ~ This post was originally published on April 5, 2009.  Now, over three years later, I am posting it again.  My dear, sweet friend Lori has been courageously fighting this battle with cancer for five years now.  She has never complained, and she keeps her eyes on Jesus.  Jim and I were able to speak to Lori on the phone (she could not talk) and tell her how much we love her.  We will go visit her very soon to hug her, to hold her hand and to pray with her.  Would you please pray for Lori?  May Jesus' perfect peace and provision and grace and mercy usher her through this time.  
We love you Lori.

"My flesh and my heart may fail,
but God is the strength of my heart
and my portion forever."
Psalm 73:26

" quietness and trust is your strength..."
Isaiah 30:15
"But the LORD is with me like a mighty warrior."
Jeremiah 20:11

Lori, Jim (now my hubs!), Me (12/31/90)
("Back in the Day")

April 5, 2009 ~

Lori and I have been friends for 23 years now. We met at our church's singles group and became friends quickly. Lori and I are opposites in many ways. She is quiet; I am very talkative (thankfully, we are both interested listeners!). She is on the shy side; I am outgoing. She checks this blog every day and never leaves a comment; I am totally the commenting type. She's a little bit country; I'm a little bit rock-n-roll. (Sing it Donny and Marie!) She dated a guy for a while who wore velour shirts, and I dated a guy...well, never mind...I'd like to forget that guy!

Lori and I have always been just as comfortable having a great conversation as we are just being silent. I remember a long car ride home together from a weekend at the beach with friends "back in the day". We chatted for a long time, and then we were silent for a few hours. She's that kind of friend...comfortable, fun, approachable, reliable and committed. Now, 23 years later, we only get to see each other a few times a year, but we always pick up right where we left off.

Lori was in my wedding. The Lord gave me the privilege of introducing her to Chris, who became her husband, and I was in their wedding. Through the years, we've shared much laughter and some heartache.

Over the better part of the last two years, my lovely Lori battled cancer. The diagnosis was very surprising as Lori felt perfectly fine. In the months that followed the diagnosis, Lori endured extensive chemo treatments, invasive tests, surgeries, difficult recoveries and the terrible side effects of all of these things.

Through it all, Lori's faith in the Lord held so strong. I NEVER heard her complain, not once. Even through the difficult weeks of recovery following a 12-hour surgery, she just said "please pray for me". I did as she requested and just prayed. She never complained. She was always thankful and aware of the ways God was taking care of and providing for her and her family. She always spoke of God's faithfulness and gave Him the glory. Her quiet but unshakable trust in God is her strength.

Me, Lori and our husbands had dinner together last night. As Lori was sharing more about her journey over the last few years, she talked continually about God. "He has blessed me and Chris so much. We can't believe the ways He has blessed us through this. It's overwhelming how He has taken care of us."

As I listened to Lori, I was deeply touched by her immovable anchor of faith and hope in Jesus. "We have this hope as an anchor for the soul..." (Hebrews 6:19) Her foundation is sure. Her hope is eternal.

As Twila Paris sings in her song "The Warrior is a Child", Lori was "unafraid because His armor is the best". Her God is able. Her God can. Her God does. Lori is now cancer free, and she is praising Him for His wondrous works!

My dear Lori, you are a hero to me. You have gone through this battle truly keeping your eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of your faith (Hebrews 12:2). You set your eyes on things unseen. "So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal." (2 Cor. 4:18) You trusted in Him who your security and your portion forever. "LORD, you have assigned me my portion and my cup; you have made my lot secure." Psalm 16:5 I love you, Lori! I am honored to call you "friend".

"You have made known to me the path of life; You will fill me with joy in Your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand." Psalm 16:11

Playing on Play List for this post:
The Warrior is A Child - By Twila ParisLately I've been winning battles left and right
But even winners can get wounded in the fight
People say that I'm amazing
Strong beyond my years
But they don't see inside of me
I'm hiding all the tears
They don't know that I go running home when I fall down
They don't know who picks me up when no one is around
I drop my sword and cry for just a while
'Cause deep inside this armor
The warrior is a child
Unafraid because His armor is the bestBut even soldiers need a quiet place to rest
People say that I'm amazing
Never face retreat
But they don't see the enemies
That lay me at His feet
They don't know that I go running home when I fall down
They don't know who picks me up when no one is around
I drop my sword and and cry for just a while
'Cause deep inside this armor
the warrior is a child
They don't know that I go running home when I fall down
They don't know who picks me up when no one is around
I drop my sword and look up for a smile
'Cause deep inside this armor
Deep inside this armor
Deep inside this armor
The Warrior is a Child