Monday, September 30, 2013

Longing for Perfection

 "And above all these things, have love, which is a bond of the perfection." (Colossians 3:14)

Our hearts are always longing for something more. We seek perfection everywhere. In our lives, and in the people and circumstances that surround us. We think: We surely can do better. When I do that, I feel better about myself for a little while. Till the next defeat or failure.

When the house is quiet, and it is as if I am all alone, the Spirit whispers to my heart that I need change. I begin to think of the things I want to change in my life. You know, trying to get the outside of the cup clean. But the heart is where Gods looks. It determines everything else.

As I spent time thinking what this might look like, I was impressed that God the Father wanted me to know more of His love for me, and more of His unconditional favor. More of the grace He has lavished on me. The waterfall of blessing. He not only wanted me to receive His love, but to watch my love abound. I have times alone with Him. Meditating on who He is, and who I am to Him.

In an in-depth Bible study in Ephesians, the Word of God fed my very soul and mind. I grew in loving trust and dependence on the Father who wants to wrap me in His arms. There was change. Faith was growing deeper. I was broken and humbled over His amazing delight in just being with me.

Oh, to be whole in a world with no sin, no suffering or tears, worshiping the King of the Universe. Enjoying and delighting in His ever magnificent presence. Just the thought of this takes my breath away. It takes me beyond my own imagination. It takes me to a place of such contentment. Such joy. To think I will exist in His radiant glory forever.

I envision angels singing glory to God, and all of creation bowing down to Jesus as Lord. The radiance of God's glory bringing light to a darkened world, and life that could not be fathomed. His majestic beauty. There we are at peace, existing with Him and in Him. Father, Son, and Spirit. Perfect unity. His Bride united to Him for all eternity and forevermore with Him. Clothed in His righteousness. Her for whom Christ died, that she might be joined in love relationship and live out eternity with Him. My heart sings with contentment and worship: To God be the Glory and honor forevermore!

Jesus is our "more." These desires are only pointing to our deep, heart-longing for God and for heaven. There is so much more here with HIM than we have realized, but then completely when we meet Him face to face. It is a place to be longed for as Paul did, but remaining content as we are, here and now. Trusting all things to His marvelous plan.

Thank you, Father, that we do long for heaven. We long for You, God. We are thankful for the taste of heaven now in the fullness of life in Your presence. Our desires for perfection point us to Heaven and to You: The only true place of contentment, peace, joy, and rest.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Markers of Time

Those twelve stones which they had taken from the Jordan, Joshua set up at Gilgal.  He said to the sons of Israel, ‘When your children ask their fathers in time to come, saying, “What are these stones?” then you shall inform your children, saying, “Israel crossed this Jordan on dry ground,” For the LORD your God dried up the waters of the Jordan before you until you had crossed, just as the LORD your God had done to the Red Sea, which He dried up before us until we had crossed; that all the peoples of the earth may know that the hand of the LORD is mighty, so that you may fear the LORD your God forever.’”  (Joshua 4:20-24)

Two years ago marked the 30-year reunion of the 1981 National Championship at Clemson.  I remember that time so vividly.  We were headed to Miami to play in the Orange Bowl for the National Title.  I remember how the reporters talked all week about “the powerhouse.” The University of Nebraska and their proven coach, Tom Osborne, were there to play Clemson.  Clemson who?  From where? 

Danny was a young coach, only 31 years old.   I was 30.  Our team, which was much smaller in size than the Nebraska team, had gone down two weeks earlier to become conditioned to the warmer weather.  It was still middle of winter in South Carolina.  At that time we had two little girls and a baby.  Trying to pack for those weather conditions was quite a chore.  Then having to deal with things that didn’t go right, such the kids’ suitcase with all their clothes (and some of mine) being lost.  I think I kept a headache that whole week.  But I kept telling Danny, “If we win, this will be worth it.” 

It happened.  We won!   Since we had also gone undefeated that season, we were voted National Champions.  One thing my husband could instill in a player was how to play with his heart.  He developed a player’s talent and work ethic to make a winning player.  He had his team’s respect and they gave ll0% of themselves to him.  Yet as wonderful a win as it was, with all the honors that go along with that kind of success, somehow, I couldn’t let myself really enjoy this blessing of God to us, or my husband’s gift to our family.  Something was wrong in my heart, and even the win couldn't fix it.

It was several years later, around 1989 when I met with a relative of my pastor.  (My pastor and his wife knew that I had been struggling and had been very supportive of our family.) I sat with this lady for about an hour, telling her how hard I had tried to be the best Christian, best wife, and best mother I could be.  But it wasn’t enough.  I still felt miserable.  She said, “Deborah, I think you have sin in your heart:  resentment, bitterness, and anger.  For what seemed like an eternity, I sat there looking at her.  I thought to myself, She hasn’t heard a word I have said.

After stewing for a while, the Spirit began to work in my heart.  I saw that this woman’s thinking about me was right.  There was resentment and bitterness and anger in my heart.  When I confessed my sin, I was cleansed.  I felt filled with love and joy.

This brought me into a new way of thinking about the gospel.  This was the beginning of me realizing that I need the gospel (repentance and faith) every day.  It wasn’t just for that one moment in time when I first became a Christian.  This was a major step in learning to enjoy love and intimacy with Jesus and the Father through the Spirit.  I was being set free.

First, God had been faithful to show me that the blessings of great success could not compensate for not having a right heart with Him.  But He was also faithful to identify the sin areas in my heart which needed my confession, and then give me the heart change of repentance and His forgiveness.  

Those are only two markers of time in which I recognize God’s faithfulness.  There are many more, but I will never forget what God did through these two markers in my life.  I have told these stories many times over the years.  Sometimes when I have been struggling again to believe. Sometimes when God has not seemed near and I was feeling depressed, in a dry and barren place.  Other times just in reminiscing with God, thanking Him for how He has used all things in my life for my good and His glory.  Many times during worship I remind myself of God’s past work in my life.  I reflect.  I remember.  And I tell these stories of “markers of time.”

God uses our stories of His faithfulness to increase and strengthen faith within us, and in others.  It reminds us of the hope we have in Him for the present and the future.  For me, I feel strengthened physically, and I feel my joy restored.  I can once again rest at His feet.  I return to His embrace.  I am surrounded in His love.  I return to walk in His presence in love by faith.  I begin again to remember the promises, and that they are for me.  It gives Him glory.  This is why I remember.  This is why I write.

The most important marker in time is the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ.  That is the gospel.  He felt the pain and paid the price for our sins, guilt, and shame, so that we might have a personal relationship with Him, with the Father and with the Spirit.

Christ incarnated.  He lived the life I could not live, and then gave it to me in the gift of His righteousness.  He, God in person, can now sympathize with our sufferings and our temptations, because He knows what it is to be fully man.  Now I can come boldly to the throne of grace with confidence and love and affection for Him who delights in me, and who enjoys being with me.  He’s the one who loves me no matter how much I fail.  I can come to the Father who sees no sin when He sees me.  I can rest, mind, body, and soul, in His loving affection for me.  I can return to that unspeakable joy, and the peace that passes all understanding.  I enjoy eternity with Him, beginning now.

Thank You, God, that You are not some deity who is distant and far off, to be worshiped only on Sunday or Christmas or Easter.  Thank You that we can know You, Father, Jesus Christ, and Holy Spirit.  That You are a God who cares. One who has been brought near and who longs to be the lover of my soul.  That You desire to be first in my life, and for me to take confidence in Your love so that I exist in that love every moment of every day, and I can give it away. 

To Him who is worthy of all our worship and praise.

Friday, September 27, 2013

Sharing a devotion from Whispers of God: 

A Greater Glory

"For there is a time and a way for everything, although man's trouble lies heavy on him." (Ecclesiastes 8:6)

Do you ever fight time, trying to do something or get somewhere, only to find that your stress wasn't necessary? Others don't have their part of the project ready, or the person or appointment or purchase you were rushing to make has been delayed. I have. Just this week ...

Amazingly, Jesus never rushed. Thronging people-traffic didn't make Him raise His voice, push others aside, or clench His fist. In fact, He was so keenly sensitive to individuals in the crowd, He once stopped and asked His disciples, "Who touched Me?"

Can you imagine Jesus' heart, on hearing about His beloved cousin, John the Baptist--the "greatest man born of women"--wasting away in prison, being troubled by doubts? He must have longed to go to him. Yet, in the Father's perfect timing, John would not see His face. Only Jesus' words sent to him would serve as the comfort needed to face his martyrdom.

And then when Jesus' intimate friend, Lazarus, lay deathly ill, because He wanted to follow His Father's timing, Jesus delayed going to his bedside. Mary and Martha feeling shocked that the One who had cleansed lepers, and fashioned spit moistened clay into eyes for a blind man, did not hurry to them. But the Father's timing was working towards a greater story--a greater glory.

Dear Whispers Friend, if you are rushing through life, beaten up by deadlines, crushed by the crowds, or feeling that Jesus isn't going to come through in time to belay the pain or disease or even death, remember that your Heavenly Father is the One who has said that He does all things well. You can still trust His Warrior heart for you. He is still your "He Touched me" in the busy crowd. His timing delay does not mean your faith is betrayed. It means your Father has a greater story, and a greater glory planned for His beloved child--you.

     -- martha langley

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Healing Balm

He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.”   (Psalms 147:3)

I was thinking about my first days in Junior High School. You know how nervous you can be about going to a new school for the first time? Especially when you are the youngest. It was magnified because I was walking with crutches and a cast on my left knee.

Still, at that age, one of my most favorite things to do was ride my bike. I loved to ride as hard as I could. Find a pile of rocks, put on my brakes and skid. That is what I had done, when I was injured, but had lost control. I fell on the rocks tearing my knee in three places. Twenty-one stitches later I had a cast from above my knee to below preventing me from bending it. Even worse, breaking open the stitches.     

Doctor visits after the cast came off were sheer pain. As he changed the dressing, he would pull away gauze which had grown into the wound. It reopened the area that was trying to heal, making the wound deeper.  Finally my dad said, “No more.” He then bought new gauze from the drugstore coated with cellophane. My knee healed in no time flat.  I think seeing what the doctor was doing to me hurt my dad more than it hurt me.

The Christian life is made up of walking, running and falling. Our Heavenly Father never lets us get beyond His reach, but He does let us fall. He will even withdraw the sense of His presence (although He never really leaves us) as we surrender, fall, and try again to make it work. Feeling like there is a part of us taken each time we return.  

We try to put ourselves back together.  Patch it over, thinking we are all healed. When indeed, as we try again to make our circumstances work apart from Him, the wound gets even deeper and even more painful.  Remembering in our pain, the peace, joy, and rest we used to have with our Father. 
As the wound has deepened, so does our love for the Father.  We begin to grasp His tender love for us that has felt more of the pain than we have. Even though scars may remain they serve as a reminder of where we have been. The pain.  His scars He bears for you. He promises deep healing from the inside out. More of Him occupies our broken heart than before. There is more peace and joy and rest than we remembered.
You know, my dad never tired of taking care of me. If anything he was more relentless as time went on.  His desire and passion was for my healing.  How much more is our heavenly Father’s desire. He never tires of taking us back, healing and restoring us. His heavenly embrace awaits us.

I will praise You, O Lord, among the nations
I will sing of You among the peoples
For great is Your love, reaching to the heavens
Your faithfulness reaches to the skies
Be exalted, O God, above the heavens
Let Your glory be over the earth.  (Psalms 57:9-11)

Friday, September 13, 2013

The Interview Part 5

Many of you know I did not know when I would continue this story.   Because of some of the overwhelming pain of part of it, like the death of our son.  I did not realize, but for these 41 years I had hardly shed a tear.  That is not the case now.  I cried profusely this week.  I have given our son a name and his name is Anderson.  My maiden name.  Somehow this made him a real person to me.  Everyone needs the dignity of a name. Through your prayers God has met me and comforted and strengthen me in my grief.  More than anything I want Him to be glorified in His story in my life so I press on.   I want to encourage you if you have lost a stillborn child, had a miscarriage or abortion, name that child.  It will help you grieve the loss.

If you had a hard time reading the last post you might want to consider skipping this one and wait til the conclusion is written.  It is not my intention to upset or hurt anyone through sharing these difficulties, nor that you would be shocked.  But that you would see and be stunned at the faithfulness and power of our God to an unfaithful woman.  I have felt these last few days a battle going on to keep me from finishing writing.  You prayed and I am well and this story will go forth by the grace of God.

I have wondered in thinking about the National Championship week if I had know we were going to win would things have been easier and more fun.  With that in mind I want to tell you the end of the story now.  God is in control.  God is good.  God wins!  See if this will help you sit back and rest in that when you read that there seems to be no way.

Jim Blessing and his wife had run the farm and lived here.  They were ready to transition to a less demanding place in there life.  We were all packed in.  Our things were still stored in the barn.  By now things had begin to ruin with time, dirt, weather and rodents.  I never thought I was a materialistic person but one day I looked out and saw my table and chairs that I had grown up with flat to the ground.  I began to cry.  Somehow this rubbish represented my life to me.  It was a picture of what was left.  It had to happen.  It all had to go, my self reliance, self righteousness, bitterness, anger.  Not that I don't still struggle with the sins of my heart but for the first time in my life I was broken.  I just didn't know what to do with that brokenness.  So again, I escaped into my mind of another world.

In many ways the next 16 years are a blur.  Lee worked at Poag Reids, a veterinarian, learning to take care of horses, train, rope and everything that went along with it.  Elizabeth during this time would go to Clemson and finish.  Ashleigh got married.  Jennifer and Jordan moved to Columbia where she was in sales at Fox News.  Danny spent his time caring for the farm and cattle, speaking at clinics and other special events and investments.  It seemed there was always somewhere to be and something to do.  It was a good thing.  He was trying to find his place I am sure.

I would spend more and more time in the shadows of my mind.  I remember my good friend, who I hardly knew at the time coming and making lunch for us.  I think my paranoia and psychosis scared her to death, even though she didn't show it.  I would ask my friends to come pray with me and walk with me to help get me out of the bed.  By this time I was sedated but it was not helping me.  I spent the next years in and out of a mental state that seemed uncontrollable.  Did you see the movie the beautiful mind?  I could relate to that movie and its actor so much.  There were people in my life that weren't there.  There were messages over the tv to me.  Codes to me in books and newspapers and computer.  Signs that seem to be pointing to me.  Most of the time I was in another world, in a daze.  I remember thinking someone had planted some devise in my head and if I went to sleep it would go off and kill me.  I called the police.  Danny explain to the officer my condition, he left, Danny I am sure afraid and frustrated and me with the fear of my life.  That if I shut my eyes I would surly die.

The stigma and embarrassment of the illness only made it worse.  I was known as a speaker and teacher of the bible and faith.  I was returning home to friends mentally ill.  I would go to church and imagine who might know and who didn't and what they could be saying.  I decided the only thing to do was to come out of the closet and we did.  I did have times of remission.  I got involved with the National Alliance of the Mentally Ill.  Danny did fund raiser golf tournaments for them.  I got educated and did so to others.  I led support groups and spoke to police officials and medical position faculty on how to come to the aid of the mi.  I spoke at FCA and churches.  But the voices of my mind would return with devastation.

I had two attempts of suicide because of these voices and what they would tell me to do.  I know it is hard to believe something so unreal could appear to be so real.  All I can tell you it does.  My first attempt was in the middle of the morning.  About 3 am. I got in my daughters car.  I drove half way down the road in front of our house thinking people were chasing me to kill me.  Then I thought I heard a shot and someone say, they just killed Lee.  With tears streaming down my face I drove the car as fast as I could.  The voices directed me to wreck the car.  That my family would be better off without me.  These voices could say good things one minute and then turn on you the next.  There was no rhyme or reason.  Nothing happened but 2 flat tires.  I then headed to the interstate.  I have no idea how far  I drove or for how long.  I just know the sun begin to rise. All I could do was say the gospel over and over again.  It was like I was on a radio with a loud speaker.   I remember at one point pulling off the side of the road and a man coming up to the car window.  I drove off as fast as I could.  I then headed to the police station.  I told them Lee is dead.  Someone has shot him.  They went to the house to check out my story and then off to the hospital I would go yet another time.  God had rescued me and would many other times.

The second attempt...It was about 6 a.m.  I had not slept for days on end.  I had eaten very little.  Danny was asleep on the sofa.  By now my family, especially Danny, never knew when He would awaken and I would be gone.  So was this morning.  It was breaking Danny.  I could see the hurt in his eyes.  It seemed the harder I tried to be well the sicker I got.  This morning was no exception.  I came off the back porch where I had spent the night in a court of law to see whether I was guilty or not, in my mind.  I walked past Danny.  Got in my car.  Fastened my seat belt and bended the curve outside our house on the farm.  It was as if someone said now.  Then when I did nothing, I thought I felt someone press my foot to the floor board.  With as much speed as could build, I drove into the woods.  I was stopped by a tree only yards from a house. What if I had hurt or killed someone?   I was not dead.  I was told if you kill yourself it will save your family.  I had to crawl out the window.  I said on no what am I going to do now.  I went into the middle of the road and stood.  The cars swerved around me yelling and curing at me to get out of the road.  I know they were beyond scared.  What if they had hit me, I can now imagine their thoughts.  At that time I felt a hand on my shoulder.  I turned around and this quiet, gentle voice of a black man said come with me.  It is going to be ok.  I walked out of the road and the ambulance had arrived.  As I climbed in the back of the ambulance I looked around to see the man.  He was no where to be found.  All I know is God sent me an angel that day and he saved my life.  I saw Danny's face beyond any look I have seen on his face.  The police arrived and off to the mental hospital again.  God had rescued me again.  Why had I put my seat belt on that day?  An the gentle man guiding me to safety.

It was to become a familiar place for me, the hospital.  I remember going outside with the other smokers and singing gospel hymns.  Taking a run around the court yard.  Danny and Jennifer could come and visit and bring what I needed.  Elizabeth had met me at the emergency room.  She was so hurt over my state of being.  I think the pain of it to Lee was more than he could bare.  Ashleigh was in Texas and would come once and stay two weeks to keep me from going into the hospital yet the 4th time.

There were many other circumstances my family had to deal with.  God showed up at every turn.  Sometimes I would not bathe for days.  I would hardly speak for days at a time.  I began to form my own isolation much of the time.  I had to control my world and it got smaller and smaller.  I was fearful to leave the house for more than an hour at best.  Jennifer got educated and read all she could.  She got some of my friends, a counselor, my doctor for a support system for me to try to recognize symptoms before they escalated.  It seemed to be working.  I even got to where I could recognize these on my own.  I was seeing more and more remission time but then only to relapse again and we would once again all lose heart only for Christ to bring back hope.  That it was in Him.

My friends took an active part in working toward remission with me, praying, visiting, going to lunch, coming and working in my house when I wouldn't come out of my room.  My friend Susan K and I began to meet once a week.  She became a huge encouragement for me.  She knows scripture so well. We would encourage each other and talk about what God was teaching us and our struggles.

I want you to see how God rescued me over and over.  But you know what?  I have a friend whose son did not survive his wreck.  So is God still good and faithful and in control when that happens?  A RESOUNDING YES!  ABSOLUTELY!

 I had been in a sound theological church now for almost 30 years off and on.    My pastor Tim Lane and his wife Barbara had befriended our whole family during this time. Elizabeth would baby sit for them and Barbara would spend time with the girls Jennifer, Ashleigh and Jordan.  I remember Barbara coming over one summer afternoon and we cut okra out of the garden and then she swam with the kids.  It was so fun for me and them.  God always seem to send just who my family needed when they needed them.  I sure was not there for them.  Tim brought the idea of christian counseling to our church.  He preached the gospel.  He later went as director of Christian Counseling Education Foundation in Philadelphia.  I knew the words of the gospel, but I still had not heard the music.  It had not reach my heart. But I was seeing Gods faithfulness to me over and over again.   I was just as discontent as ever.  My life still was not going as I had planned so the only thing I knew to do was to run.  Run into isolation and away from the world around me. My then mentor Dave McCartney recommend I begin writing a prayer letter to a group of close friends.

There was the death of Mrs. Ford and my parents.  God was grow out family though  during this time.  Ashleigh had 2 handsome sons and a vibrant little girl.  They spent lots of time with us during the summers and they kept me well and delighted.  But I still couldn't fix my life and find happiness and it was killing me and I was taking my family with me. I had prayed Lord whatever it takes for my children to know and depend on you, do it.  I just ask one thing, don't leave us. He was doing the same for me.  During these years the pain my family has gone through, I cannot face apart from the love and sovereignty of God for them.  This past year, finally I began to change.  Something was different.  God was going to bring joy out of mourning and beauty out of ashes.

Thanks for reading.  I know this is long and intense.  If you know someone who might be struggling to trust God in the hard places of their life would you please pass this on or give them the blog address.  I will conclude hopefully tomorrow.  Blessings friends.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Which is Greater, Faith, Hope or Love?

Which is greater, Faith, Hope, Love?

I remember when I was a little girl, I had a dog. Boy, I was crazy about that dog. He got sick, very sick. I don't think we ever took our dogs to a vet. Maybe there weren't any or we didn't have the money. People just didn't do it then.

My dad told me he was going to have to shoot my dog to keep her from suffering. I trusted my dad and what he was saying. I knew my dog had to die. I remember getting on my bike and I began to ride away as fast and as hard as I could with tears. I heard the shot and I stopped. I cried for awhile and I turned my bike around and I went home. Dad had buried my dog.

Unless God show us our self centeredness and what He did in sending His Son for us, we are utterly unable to love another person for them and not for ourselves.

There is no greater love than this, that you lay down your life for one another. Jesus gave His life to save us. Are we willing to give our life to save another person. By that I mean are we willing to be vulnerable to pain, rejection and sin in order to open our hearts to another person?

My mom told me that day my dad had to shoot my dog. Deborah you have to decide something in your life. Is it better to have loved and lost or never to have loved at all. We are to present our bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and blameless as a praise and worship to our God? When we give of ourselves to love another person...I am speaking of all kinds not just romantic love but brotherly love, a parents love, when we are loving them for them and not for what it can do for us, God says this is the worship that pleases Him. We can go on Sunday morning or in our daily lives and raise our hands and listen to our music to God, but what God wants as worship is our hearts. When we receive His unconditional love for us and know what He did on the cross for us, first we are able to love God in a sacrificial way but then we are also willing to lose our life for another person in order to give them the love of God through us.

If I had really loved my dog, I wouldn't have left him that day. He was fixing to die. All I could think of was me, my loss, my pain and what was I going to do without him. My dog loved me, as far as a dog can. I know he wanted me with him in his death and I wasn't. I wasn't willing to sacrifice myself for the dog that I loved.

God is love. Christ is our example and our power by His Spirit and His grace for us to love another person with the love God so beautifully and sacrificially loves us with. Christ is besotted with us, in love with, swept off His feet by, love sick for. He has waited so long for us friends. Will we die for Him? Will we worship Him with everything in us? Will we lay it all down for the sake of Christ? Will we learn to die for another person, not only for Jesus to give us life but for us to impart life, through Him, to another person?  Faith, Hope and Love but the greatest of these is love.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Sacrifice of Praise

This writing I am doing is kinda gut wrenching for me.  I am facing and dealing with some things I have not ever deal with or not appropriately.  It has been draining.  I am not hopeless over my circumstances of the past never the lest I do grieve over my mistakes. I know Christ is the answer, His love and forgiveness and hope for tomorrow.  Also Danny and I have this virus that is draining up from head to toe with cough and congestion.

I have decided to take a break today and hopefully pick up the story again tomorrow.  Hope in the meantime this one gives you the gospel and helps you see the relentless love God has for you and me

Sacrifice of Praise

Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship.

Right now, in this very moment, what are you thinking about?  What consumes your mind and heart most of the time?  Chances are it is what is the most important thing to you in your life.

God wants our heart. Our whole heart. What is holding your heart captive He wants to rescue you from unto Himself. He wants to know, that you love Him more than anything. He may give you something for a season for you to love more than anything you have ever loved before and then say, "who do you chose"? Them or me" My children were this for me. I lost my first child and then when the others came I held on to them so very tight.  I have had to trust God with their pain and each one of them.  But first I had to deal with how I wanted to please my husband more than God.  I thought if I had his approval, time and attention it would make my life worth living and make me happy.  That, my friend is an idol.  Only God can do that for us.

 God made a promise to Abraham that he and Sarah would have a son. It was way beyond Sarahs child bearing years or their wildest imagination. Many years past and no child.  They began to doubt God would actually keep His promise to them so they took things in their own hands. They decided Abraham would have a child by their slave woman. It was not Gods promise. But ultimately God gave Abraham Issac, his son, Gods grace and mercy to Abraham, only then to tell him to sacrifice him on an alter as an offering to God, Himself. Abraham told Sarah he would return.  They started up the mountain.  Issac ask his father, father where are we going.  Abraham, with anguish I cannot imagine said, to offer a sacrifice to God son.  Issac said father where is the sacrifice.  Abraham told Issac, God will provide.  Abraham, built the alter of sticks and stones as you can imagine. He told Issac to lay there on the alter. Abraham knew He had heard from the voice of heaven without a doubt. So he took the knife and was preparing to kill Issac. Some say Abraham thought God would raise Issac from the dead. When he drew back the knife, ready to kill his son, a lamb appeared out from behind the bushes. God had provided the sacrifice. He told Abraham to stop, that He had provided a sacrifice, the lamb. God knew when Abraham had put Issac on the alter, a sacrifice to God,  Issac, the gift God had given to Abraham ,  that Abraham loved more than anything, God let Abraham know,  that Abraham now loved God more than anything in this world. When Abraham was willing to sacrifice Issac to God, God knew Abraham love Him more.

God is calling us to put the thing or person, in this world, that we love more than anything,  to sacrifice to  Him. When we give this thing up to God, He gives us what our hearts truly desire.

Abraham was willing to sacrifice Issac and God told Abraham he would have more children than the stars in the sky. Abraham believed Him. God kept His promise. You and I are the children, decedents, if you will of Abraham, Children of faith. The lamb was to point to Jesus. The perfect sacrifice that God would provide for you and me. Now God is asking us will you take the thing or person you treasure the most, you love more than anything in this world and give them to me. This may mean a lover that we will never see again, or a husband who is not loving us as we thing he should and we choose to trust God and love this husband unconditionally. It maybe a rebellious teenager who is in to sex and drugs. Are we willing to give them up and trust God will them. It maybe a degree, a job, a home. Whatever is the most important thing in your life God wants it because it has you. He will be persistent and relentless until you place this thing or person in His hands and you say Lord, not my will but your will be done Lord. God has deliberately put this person or thing in your life for you to love and then to say Lord I love you more.  Here it is.  I trust you.  I love this person but right now, this minute, I want you to know, I love you more.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

The Interview IV

When I was a little girl we had a black and white TV.  One of my favorite shows was the Ed Sullivan show.  He would have different talents on his show.  I remember one I use to watch and even the reruns, was of a man who had long sticks and he would put these sticks on different parts of his body, his knee, feet, head, hands and he would somehow put plates on top of these sticks that were balance on him and he would spin the plates.  He would keep spinning them for awhile and then gather them up one by one.  In Arkansas I was still trying to keep the plates spinning but soon each one would fall to the ground and break into pieces I could not put back together again.  Kinda like Humpty Dumpty.  All the kings horses and all the kings men couldn't put Humpty Dumpty together again.  But the King Himself could and would.

Arkansas was hard from the beginning.  Not just hard for each one in my family but for the staff.  There were things that transpired there with the previous coach I never got into.  I just knew there were some wounded people left behind.  The Athletic Director was Frank Broyles.  He took an active role in the sports there especially football and basketball.  There were the new coaches and wives who came.  Some wives, one in particular, did not want to be there.  I loved all these women.  I do even now, but I could not get them to unite as coaches wives and I tried.  So I quit trying.  I had relationships with them each individually but quit trying to fix the situation.  It was not fixable.  I only went to the games I had to.  Even that was an effort.

The team was below, low.  They were not in class and had many discipline problems.  Danny had to get all this straight before he could even begin to coach them.  Attendance to the games were low.  Danny went on a speaking tour all around the state.  This was no different than what he had done regularly at Clemson.  He met every one who came to the meetings and shook hands asking for their support for this team, their team.

I remember when I got there and Danny and Coach Broyles were in a meeting.  I went for a walk and this fear washed over me.  In my fear I was loosing the things of the gospel I had received.  I talked to John Hall and said can I teach Sonship here?  He said I don't know Deborah you haven't had it all.  I called, by his suggestion, World Harvest Missions and ask.  I said, if I am mentored by one of your mentors over the phone can I teach it here.  They agreed.  Joanne Stahl, my dear friend now and mentor began an unbelievable task of walking me through the Valley of Shadow of Death with me.  I could not have survived without her.  I was not ever completely honest with Joanne about my struggles within me but she did all she could trusting God with the rest.  I began to teach women from other churches, BSF leader one of my closest friends, Jan Shaddox, Denise Sagan, Pastor Paul Sagans wife who loved me so well and others.  I went to pastors and shared the study.  I was giving it out profusely because I was so desperate for it.  I shared on television and spoke to churches.  I remember sharing at our church, First Baptist Springdale, to hundreds, maybe thousands I don't know.  No one knew, not even me, I was getting sick then.  Pastor Ronnie covered for me.  He presented the gospel as beautiful and clearly as I have heard it preached.  Many responded.  He was just like that.  He talked about our adoption and us being a child of the King and all His glory.

We joined that great church, First Baptist of Springdale with Pastor Ronnie Floyd and his wife Jeana.  They became our wisdom from God, support, friends and teacher.  Pastor Ronnie began a bible study with the coaches.  Elizabeth and Lee attended their christian school.  Lee only a year.  Lee and Elizabeth were baptized there.  I worked with my friend Martha Langley who writes with me on Whispers of God with the college group under our friend Steve Moore who also was so very supportive to us all. Elizabeth was good friends with his daughter.  I went to a bible study at church, me, Martha and the secretary of the church and others I did not know as well.  I told them I had been studying, I spent many hours, and I wondered if they would join me in the prayer that we would join in the sufferings of Christ, that we might know him and the power of His resurrection.  They agreed and we prayed.  Our suffering was to begin and lives were going to fall apart.

I began to have physical problems.  I had surgery and could not take hormones.  I was thrown in the middle of menopause. Because of his personal issues my doctor refused to see me.  I had two surgeries on the inside of my ear near my brain where a tumor would form as a result of a hole in my eardrum.  I guess I had had all my life.  There were great blessings for us in Arkansas despite the pain and one of the most wonderful things was Gods gift to our family, the birth of our grandson Jordan.  Ashleigh had moved to Arkansas and began dating Alan.  Soon Jennifer and Jordan would be there with us.  Elizabeth and Ashleigh bought that child everything possible.  We all adored him.  I remember one night in Elizabeths bedroom we all dedicated Jordan to the Lord.  Although he was later dedicated at church on Mothers Day.  We promised to raise him to love the Lord, to protect him and teach him about God.  As wonderful as this was my children began to feel the effects of where I was headed.  Lee was suffering in school.  I had to have him tutored daily and summers.  Our friends Wayne and Judy Bryant about raised him, having him with them and coaching and getting him to soccer and baseball games.  Lee also was a great little athlete.  Each child was struggling in their own way.  I was still struggling with my heart toward Danny.  Danny's heart was becoming broken. He took me on a trip to Phenix, Arizona.  He apologized to me and the kids for not being there for us and anyway he had hurt us.  That we were going to be a family and one that loved the Lord.  But with my walls of protection and my self sufficiency going all I had left now was my fears and they had over taken me.  I tried but I could not respond.  The players, coaches all noticed the remarkable change in Danny.  He was different and God was still at work I knew, but what about me?

With the suffering of my family I came out of denial that I was this wonderful, Godly Christian wife and mother.  I began to isolate myself.  I did not know what to do with my failure.  I turned inward. Things were falling apart.  Danny's father died and Danny's contract was not renewed.  I remember a coaches wife coming over and I was sitting in the floor in a fetal possession.  No one really knew what was going on with me.  Danny and I didn't know.  We went to our pastor with my paranoia and things that were happening, driving to Missouri in the middle of the night, getting in his truck and just leaving.  I would roll the window down, the country music up and ride and ride and ride.  Pastor Ronnie told Danny to get me to the best doctor in the country and have me check out mentally and physically.  Danny did.  We went to Charleston.  We sat there and I manipulated that doctor so much he thought I was more healthy than Danny.  I went to work for Jim Beckman our friend and plastic surgeon.  He knew I was trying to get out.  I taught a bible study to the staff before work.  It helped for awhile.   I met some friends at my friend Ann's lake house in South Carolina, Ann B, Ann H. and Jerdone.  Ann H. mom was not even doing well and she decided she could come for a couple of days for me.  I thought if I can just get away and be honest with my friends and they pray with me I will be ok.  It was a nightmare for them.  I was reckless and out of my mind. They would stop at a red light and I would just jump out of the car and run.   Danny drove all night to get to me from Arkansas.  He called the police, they couldn't find me.  I was running away from everyone and successful at doing it. Finally I stopped.  I convinced the police Danny was bothering me and they told him to leave me alone.  I got his credit card and checked into a fancy hotel.  He didn't sleep that night plus having driven all the way from home in Arkansas.

By now he was taking care of the children.  He did not know, but by now I was hearing voices and seeing illusions.  My paranoia and fear grew. I had isolated from everyone I knew.  We were laying in the bed one morning and I said, when I look at you I see someone else's head.  He said, Deborah come with me.  We have got to get some help. Will you come?  I said yes.  We went to see the doctor and I was admitted to the mental hospital.  I was in the room with others playing the piano and we would all sing Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound that He saved a wretch like me.  A pastor I didn't even know came and saw me.  He told me I had given him his sermon for that next Sunday morning.  I knew the words of the gospel but I didn't hear the music.

Mother and Daddy came and helped Danny pack up.  He had sold the house.  As soon as the kids were out of school we would return to South Carolina.  Writing this and thinking back I cannot begin to imagine the hell I have put my husband and children through, my friends.  It is all I can do to hold back the tears.  But as Danny told me the other day when I was telling him my kids had not had a mother for 17 years.  That Lee was only 10 when I got sick.  He said Deborah, we can not go back but we can go forward.  But as the story continues it only gets worse before the gospel of faith takes hold of my heart and soul.  Until you see how messed up you are, apart from Jesus, and Gods love for you in sending His Son for you, you cannot love another person unselfishly.  No matter how hard you try.  I know I tried.  I was beginning to see my sin, which was Gods kindness to me.  But I was far from understanding the Fathers love.

Tomorrow I hope to conclude our move back home.  I would find my way home too, in my Fathers house.  He would be waiting on me.  Run to me, embrace me
and shower me with kisses before I could ever say, I'm sorry.

Monday, September 9, 2013

The Interview Part III

The first movie Danny and I ever saw together was Gone With The Wind.  I loved that movie.  I think he was bored stiff.  I remember while we were in the movie someone stole the stereo system out of his car.  On the ceiling of the theatre there were stars.  I thought I would surely die when he put his arm around me.  I loved Scarlet O'Hara.  I could so identify with her.  Her most famous quote "I will think about that tomorrow."  "For tomorrow is another day."  This became my motto.  The reason Scarlet was so good at everything she did was because she lived in denial.  Denial of her own heart.

The probation came.  It was grueling, long and hard.  On the inside I was devastated on the outside I was strong and supportive and encouraging.  My husband was hurting and there was absolutely nothing I could do about it.  When my family hurt I hurt.  Like a papa bear I wanted to come to the rescue of Danny and my children and I was powerless.  Somehow though I just knew, it might slow us down a bit, but we would persevere.  When the going gets tough, the tough get going and we were tough.

The wins and successful recruiting continued.  They beat legendary winners like Joe Paterno, Tom Osborne, Barry Switzer, Bobby Bowden, Vince Dooley and Woody Hayes.  To me I was on a fast train to nowhere.

It's a Boy! The headlines read.  Gifts came from everywhere.  We adored our girls but we had hoped someday for a son.  I think mostly for me because we had lost our first son.  I wanted to help carry the Ford name on.  We named Lee, Danny Lee Ford, II.  I did not get to go to the funeral.  I did get to hold him.  We were so young.  We didn't know what we were doing about a lot of things.  Although we were happy to have a son, Danny and I never cared what sex our children were.  We just prayed for a healthy baby.  I remember going to the hospital 3 times at least when I was pregnant with our first child, Jennifer, because I might not have felt her move.  Lee was born.  I had planned his induced birth so Danny could be there with us when he was born.  Crazy living.  The labor was long.  They had planned to do a c section and things began to turn around.  He was born and seemly healthy.  Danny left recruiting and a policeman, our dear friend, Joe West brought us home from the hospital.  As it turned out Lee had seizures, grand maul.  They manifested themselves as a extremely slow breathing. They would last for approximately 15 minutes.   I moved his bed into our bedroom so I could keep watch on him and I did.  Looking back I don't remember sleeping much in those days.  The week after he was born we were at our first ballgame.  We were unaware of the seizures at this time.  Again, a policeman came and got us all and took us to a box where Lee could be protected from any exposure to illnesses and germs and the girls could be with me.  Again, I though I was being a good mother and supportive wife.

My dad came and stayed with us for a while.  I never will forget it.  I was cooking supper.  The phone rang.  It was Danny.  He wouldn't be home til late again.  Someone knocked at the back door and the girls took off running.  Running into each other and the wall.  I went to settle them down and see who was at the door.  By the time I got back supper was burning.  I remember looking up at my dad and he said Debs, this is the best time of your life.  Dad had also struggled with a mental disorder.  I knew he had lived life and what he said was suppose to be true but it wasn't.

I got them all, Dad and the girls settled in at the dinner table holding myself together somehow.  Lee began to cry.  As fast as I could I hurried into our bedroom, picked Lee up in my arms and began to hold him tight and nurse him.  As I rocked and I rocked the tears poured.  I thought I have 4 beautiful children, a husband that is successful, a gorgeous house, great friends and family and I am so miserable I can hardly stand it.  My close friends who began to know me said you need to just allow time for yourself.  I thought, this just adds to the long list of things to do.  I have four children.

My good friend, Ann Harris, who was also over the girls who helped recruit at the time,  said I want you to meet my pastor and his wife, John and Kathy Hall.  When they couldn't console me they called a relative of theirs Peggy McKreight who God was using in young women's lives in a remarkable way.  Finally I was hopeful.  I had spent my adult life reading and studying endlessly, trying to find the answer as to how to fix my life.  How to be happy.  I met with Peggy.  I spent an hour pouring out my heart.  I had never done this before to anyone or even myself.  I began telling her how I had this life and marriage and how miserable I was.  How I couldn't do it all any more.  After listening compassionately she said, "Deborah I think you have sin in your heart".  I was devastated.  I thought she hasn't heard a word I have said.  In reality I must have been thinking doesn't she see it is all him and not me?  Again, holding myself together I left as fast as I could.  I couldn't get off my mind what Peggy had said to me.  Then something I had not experienced since I first became a christian, was happening.  I was repententing.  The Spirit was convicting me of my sin. My heart was too hard to sense the conviction of the Spirit before.  Plus I thought you just repent when you first become a christian. I didn't know we were to have daily repentance.  I saw I had bitterness, resentment and anger in my heart toward Danny.  I didn't see it then, but also toward God.  Neither one had given me what I thought I wanted and needed.  Danny had become my idol.  I was looking to him to give me only what God could give me.  I had this unbelievable joy and freedom.  I didn't see all this then, as I said, but it was something that God was beginning to show me.  To set me free and give me the life I so longed for in Him.  I began sharing my story everywhere, about my unbelievable joy, Christian Women's Club, churches, FCA, women's groups.  Anyone that would let me, I went to tell them about the sin that had kept me captive, the sin of my heart and the joy and peace I now had.

The unthinkable happened.  Danny lost his job.  I am sure you would like for me to tell you what happened.  The truth is I don't know.  We never talked about it.  Other people talked to me and said that about that same time Danny wanted to build a dorm for the athletes.  I knew Danny thought a dorm helped him keep up and take care of his players.  He wanted them up and in early classes.  He wanted a curfew at night and them at every practice.  He wanted to know who was in their room.  He was their away from home dad and it was their home away from home.  I went to the next FCA meeting.  I was one of the sponsors, Carolyn Ellis and myself,  Cliff Ellis, the then, basketball coaches wife at Clemson.  Young people were coming from as far as I could see when I drove up.  It was packed, actually overflowing.  Kids who had never been to an FCA meeting were there I suspect.  I told them how Danny and I were good.  We loved them and Clemson and we all would be fine. That when hard times came the relationship you have with God before then will sustain you.  There was a huge gathering of people all through downtown that continued to the Presidents house, Max Lennon.  They were all caring candles.  It was like a death.

We packed up our things.  Stored them in a barn at the farm, don't ask me why, the university had helped us get the farm after the National Championship. It was absolutely no help in taking care of our beautiful things.  We then moved to our small but wonderful house on the lake.  I had designed it and it was beautiful to me.  The whole front was glass with a gorgeous view of the lake.  It had a stone fireplace and vaulted ceilings and a light kitchen.  I loved it there. I would take the kids skiing late in the afternoons.  The water was like glass.  I remember sitting on the dock one day with Lee while he was fishing.  I committed Lee to the Lord.  I said Lord you have saved Lee.  I promise to do my very best to give Him back to you.  To raise him and my girls to love you.  In the midst of it all I was so unbelievable thankful for the gifts God had given us.  Danny spent his days taking the girls to school and with Lee at the farm.  Lee was something else.  He would put on those blue jeans and cowboy hat and off they would go.  Danny was lost and hurting and I could feel it.  My heart so ached for him.  He was trying to not let it show.  Back to Lee.  They came in one day from the farm and told me the four wheeler had caught on fire, with Lee on it.  There was a bird's nest on the motor that had burned as Lee started the motor.  Lee took off on the burning four wheeler and drove it straight into the pond.  OMG Gods grace has so been with that kid.  I would pray as they left for the farm everyday, "Lord please keep that kid safe."  He was such a little risk taker, not afraid of a thing. Still is to this day.  Jennifer was a big help carpooling especially Elizabeth to all her games. Lee would sometimes go with her.  Elizabeth was some more athlete herself, taking the love of sports from her dad.  Ashleigh was baby sitting with her love for children and doing all her crafts.  She was so creative.  They all were church going kids.  Ashleigh went to Clemson for a year.   Then Jen went off to Alabama, following in her dad's footsteps, being a Bama Belle.  Helping the football coaches recruit and entertain the players and their family.  Leaving her on that corner that day in Tuscaloosa was like my right arm was being cut off.  As I looked in my rear view mirror, I saw two girls kissing.  I know we all are a mess and no one needs Jesus more than me but I was leaving my baby girl in a wold I didn't know if I had prepared her to handle with tears streaming down my cheeks. In my heart of hearts I knew I had not.  All I had known to do with my children was to meet their physical needs, get them in church and be with their dad as much as he and I could work that out.  I had no idea how to deal with their emotional needs, their relationships or their heart.  I had taught them about the bible's facts but not about a relationship with Christ and with others.  I didn't teach them to guard their hearts and how to love people well.  I didn't know myself but I would learn.

Life was going on and even though times were hard for my family I was beginning to enjoy the freedom of the gospel.  I was taking a bible study, with Kathy and John, who were now my pastor and wife too.  I was beginning to grasp through this study called Sonship by Jack Miller that the gospel was not just to become a christian but it was to live the christian life.  That repentance and faith was for everyday.  I had the repentance down pretty much but was lacking greatly in trusting God, although that was part of it.  My lack of faith would later be revealed.  At least at this time I was seeing my sin.  Some of my self righteousness was beginning to fade away, some!  Danny was called to help Joe Kines in Arkansas.  Then named as head football coach of Arkansas by Athletic Director, Frank Broyles.  With two girls now at the University of Alabama, Elizabeth, Lee, Danny and I were moving on.  I was thankful Danny was back in his love.  Little did I know my whole world was about to crash and burn.

Again, thanks for reading, supporting us through this unbelievable story of God's faithfulness to the faithless.   Things got worse, much worse before...Well God had to tare it, everything down, us included,

before He could even begin to build us back as a family.  As painful as it was going to be, it all had to go.  But God was going to bring beauty for ashes.

Saturday, September 7, 2013

The Interview Part II

I remember arriving in a loaded up car, with two children and Danny, sitting on the bank of a Lake with a sandwich from a place called Subway.  I thought now this is a beautiful place.  I think I can live here and where is all the meat on this sandwich. lol  I also have memory of thinking OMG I will have to drive to another town to find panty hose.  Women wore those back then.  People use to ask me if I liked the places we moved.  I always said I knew I liked them before I ever got there.  I just made my mind up.  Small town, good schools, good people, great opportunity this is going to be a great place for our family I just know it.

We will never forget the opportunity Charlie Pell gave us here in Clemson.  He was a great coach.  His wife set the pace I was going to have to try to maintain.  She was perfect.  Perfect hair, skin, teeth and posture.  She was a great support to Coach Pell and always said and did the right thing with the media, fans and players as well as us wives.  The standard had been set and it was high.

Florida came in and swooped him up, one night we thought.  Right before Clemsons upcoming bowl game.  The staff remained.  I think everyones pride was hurt maybe that Charlie left Clemson.  It was a great opportunity and he took it.

I remember Mr. Ford telling me before Danny and I got married, "your fixing to marry a man who wants to be a head football college coach one day."  "Think you can handle it."  I thought yes sir I can and he will be one day.  Little did I know so soon nor what it would be like.   Clemson named Danny as Head Football Coach of Clemson.  He kept all the staff and Ohio State was coming up sooner than we could blink an eye.  His very first game was against the legend Woody Hayes.  The players tell the story of Danny sitting in the back of the bus, on the floor on the way to the game throwing up.  This was only a taste of what he was going to face in his career that was bigger than life.  Little did he know or could imagine how the night would transpire.  Coach Hayes hit one of our players as he lost control of his anger. Danny was so upset he thought it should have been dealt with in a less sever way years before hand.  Our team ran over to him and Danny quickly and appropriately, ran ahead of the team trying to stop the stampede.  We, the wives, didn't even know what was happening.  Not until after the game did we hear of the most unfortunate incident.  Two days later Coach Hays was released from being head coach at Ohio State University.  I was upset that something so awful had dominated the media and something as great as the first win for this team was hardly mentioned.  Danny was grieved to the bone over it all.  His heart was broken.  He never mentioned the win only the sadness of what had happened to the awesome coach Woody Hayes and Danny's player.

A couple of really good years followed.  Danny always attributed it to the great recruiting of coach Parker and the talent that was already here.  The coach at Clemson before Coach Pell.  The next year was not good.  There were rumblings and even talk, had they acted too soon in hiring someone as young as Danny.  It was only Gods grace we were not fired then and there.  But the powers that may, the wonderful A.D. Bill McClellan, President R.C. Edwards decided to take another chance.  I am sure Coach Howard had something to do with that also.  He was always in Danny' corner.  Coach Howard told Danny after the National Championship game that his only problem was the only way to go from here was down and he would die laughing.

We were off to Miami to play Nebraska.  Danny always took the players down two weeks ahead of the game, which was unheard of to most teams.  He felt the conditioning to the weather always played a big part in winning, especially over schools from the North.  I had to figure out how to clothe two children and a baby in 100 degree weather in the middle of the winter.  Clothing Danny, me, the kids, preparing for sitters for the girls, sometimes I had two wonderful sitters to help me. Lots of times we would have activities and GA's would care for the children.  If it we were going to be at a bowl during Christmas how would I get the gifts there and home?  The kids use to love spending Christmas with Micky.  We would fly to the bowl games.  The assistant wives would have to drive most of the time but that never stopped them.  When we arrived at the hotel all of our luggage was not there.  Our luggage had been lost, one really large one containing the girls clothes and some of mine.  When the day ended and it did not turn up, a couple of GA's went to Walmart and bought the girls a couple of bubble suits and bathing suits. The GA's carried me through many times with many things.  I would get ready to go somewhere, to an event and my shoes would be missing or a blouse.  I think I had a migraine all week.  Sitters were out the house expensive.  I kept thinking if we win it will be worth all this.  Danny was late for the main press conference before the game.  He jumped a fence and tore his bran new blazer.  The media wrote about the under dog coach with his green jacket and navy pants coming to the press conference with a hole in his jacket.  Danny would say, that is ok.  As the year had progressed and the team just kept on winning it was evident they were getting better and better.  They indeed were Cinderella.   We really were just two country bumpkins from a small town in Alabama who was in a bigger than life wonderland situation.  Clemson University had defeated the nationally known coach Jim Osborne and the University of Nebraska, for the first National Championship in football it had ever known.  Danny was the youngest head coach to win a National Championship.The win came and all that went with it.  As always he knew it would not have been possible without his team and staff and the support of the fans.

One typical day with the girls and now a 6 month old baby girl to boot, Elizabeth, the girls were fighting.  I got very angry with them.  I could see myself doing this more and more.  I called Danny and said you have got to come home and do something.  He came home and spanked them.  I think it made him sick.  He said don't ever do that.  I can't let the time they see me be spanking them. I saw how unfair this was to all of them, Danny and the girls.  I use to go over and take picnics and we would meet with the girls at the duck pond or on the practice field.   I vowed that day to not call him again for discipline.  I also vowed never to yell at them again.  I pulled up my boot straps and somehow deep within me I said I can handle this and I got stronger and more dependent on myself to handle anything.

After the National Championship game we went downtown as Danny talked from a platform to the sea of orange fans that had followed all that way to Miami.  Later Danny was presented with a Jaguar car from the Alumni.  It was white with an orange stripe down the side.  Life was going faster than I could take it all in.  It was so magical.  I was going through the motions.  It all was so over my head I could hardly take it all in.  I don't think til this day it has really hit me what and all we have been allowed to be a part of.  Over the ups and downs we had all become a family, the fans, players, staff and even some of the media.  I always tried to have a relationship with as many of the regular media people who carried Clemson. They were so very good to Danny and our family.  Danny had a way of really caring about people. After Press Day he use to load the media up in the back of his pick up truck and take them around.  I use to get on to him about his English.  The media would quote him with his ant or naw exactly with a spit, it always got on camera.  He had a masters degree in Special Education and was on the Deans List.  He was just going to be who he was no matter who he was, with Mr Smith in town or the President of the United States in the White House.  People and the media liked that, the players and the staff.  They knew he was sincere as he was with each one individually and together.  That is why he was so successful at recruiting great athletics.  He took the time to form relationships not only with the players but mostly their mama's.  He would always end up in the kitchen with the mamas.  He use to say if the mama likes you and thinks you are going to take care of her boy you got a chance and he did take care of them with everything in him.  He had been taught well.  I remember him bringing a young, homesick kid home from football camp.  We fed him and took him to the movies.  Danny was like that.

The opportunities for us as a team and family that came because of the Nebraska win came flooding in. Danny was now nationally visible.  His accomplishments were known nation wide.  He got honor after honor, coach of the year and so many more from one important group to person of significance by the worlds standards and their own accomplishments.  He and this team and staff had put Clemson on the map.  No one would ever ask again Clemson who?  Where is that?  I was being interviewed even more.  It never occurred to me I couldn't handle what ever came my way nor that Danny nor my children could.  God had put us in this unbelievable place and somehow gave us the personalities and equipping to handle most any situation with love and grace.

 I have already written about the visit to see President Reagan.  The team was invited to play Japan.  So we went to Japan.  It is a really long way.  I remember the stop in Alaska in the middle of the day pitch dark.  They, the Japanese had Japanese food outside the stadium like we have hot dogs. Chop sticks and all.  Danny wasn't much on the mush steaks, because they massaged their beef, but he even knew people in Japan that knew him and of Clemson. The Japanese shook their shakers continually no matter which team had the ball.  I don't know if they understood the game or not.  I remember going to a dinner with our hosts.  When we got to Japan they had given me clothes.  They were complicated to put on the undergarments and all the rest.  I told Danny I decided I wanted to go to that particular dinner dressed like them.  So I went down stairs to the beauty shop in the hotel and ask them to dress me.  They couldn't stop laughing, bent over and snickering in a very lady like manner,  while getting me dressed for this most special dinner. If I remember correctly it took three of them all working together.  As we arrived our host felt so special and honored that I would come as they were, they said.  Looking as they did.  It was a God thing.  Now all I had to do was eat raw fish uggggh!  Danny had absolutely no problem with any of it.  It was amazing.

 I remember the castles and tears of flowers draped about the mountains with layers of rock and beaches, mostly rock in Montecarlo, Italy.  All the stores closed in the middle of the afternoon and a siesta was taken.  We were no exception.  Danny spent most of his time touring the castles.  We had to fly home after two days of being there the quickest way home possible.  At that time it was on the concord. It seemed, faster than light, long, narrow and unbelievably fast. We were there in, it seemed half the time.   Danny's mother had a emergency surgery which she recovered very well.

There was the cruise we took and Danny watching Elizabeth while I took Jennifer and Ashleigh snorkeling.  I lost Jennifer!   I remember the parasailing in Cancun, Mexico.  The guys pulling us driving the boats told me when we landed that someone almost hit one of the high rise hotels the day before.  Danny couldn't believe I did that.  He just stood on the beach and watched me.  I guess I was a rebel.  It was one of the most freeing experiences I have ever had, besides now, my life in Christ.  I didn't know that then.  We use to go to games and I would hear from the wives if we won, the whole team was coming to the house after the game. I always chose to sit in the stands instead of the box.  I had to feel which way the momentum was going.   This happened quiet often people in our home after the games.  It was quiet a celebration.  Sometimes recruits parents. I had a gorgeous house provided by the University with a tiger paw in the bottom of the swimming pool and a Southern Living kitchen designed by the University homemakers department.  People would even lean over the back brick wall fence at times and take pictures.  Danny always had all the arrangements made for food and clean up for the parties.  I sent the girls to Millie Lewis to learn good manners.  I would go to all the games home and away with the team.  My discontent and unhappiness grew.  In so many ways we were such a team, Danny and I.  I always knew, no matter how hard it got, Danny really was who I was meant to marry and to spend my life with and that God had this incredible plan and we were privileged, graced to be a part of it. I think he knew the same or he would have been long gone by now.  I just knew something was wrong, bad wrong.  And I thought it was all him.  We seemed to be living two different lives but in the same world.  Danny was oblivious to my struggle.  He was sharing with me all he knew, his love for sports, athletes, and competition.  He thought I was a wonderful wife.

I have rambled enough.  I will tell you about that tomorrow.  Thanks again for all your love and support to these two people who for some unknown reason to me, God poured His grace on beyond any story book I had ever read.

I was going to write today but think I am just gonna be with friends, family and worship.  I am gonna think about this tomorrow.  For tomorrow is another day!  Lord willing...

Friday, September 6, 2013

The Interview

Today an old friend who was one of the two reporters left who was with us in Danny's young coaching years, the National Championship even, came an did a taped, two part radio interview.  Our dear friend Paul Brown.  It was the first one I have done since I got sick 17 years ago.  We had a great time.  It took total about 2 hrs.

Paul began at the beginning.  My family, home, how I grew up.  Then on to high school.  The things I was involved in cheerleading, queen of my school and such.  I shared with him how I, since I was a little girl, sought to please people.  I wanted their approval and how this dominated me and how I lived.

Danny and I went to rival schools.  I hated him before I ever loved him.  He was a great athlete, football and basketball.  He always made us lose.  He was a blind date.  I wasn't sure I wanted to go on the double date but my senior friends all said how great it would be.  That he was the best and they all would love to date him.  We began dating and never stopped dating on through my high school and his college.  We were married the day before my 20th birthday in January.  He had just finished football and it was his senior year.  He will tell you I ask him.  The way it went, we were suppose to be married that summer after he finished.  His dear friend and teammate was out fishing in a fishing boat.  The boat turned over.  His teammate, who had just finished football also and was do be married, drown.  Danny said he had his whole future before him and it is gone.  He said we might not be here tomorrow.  People cannot take their life for granted and he has been living it to the fullest ever since.  We got married in my home with just our parents.  Then off to Birmingham Alabama for a 2 day honeymoon.  Our first meal was at an all you can eat fish place.  Then we packed up like Sanford and Sons and took off to live in the old hospital barracks at Tuscaloosa, our home to be.  He got a job at the paper mill, a night job, he was a GA and I got on as receptionist at the bank, First Federal.  We passed in the night.

We moved to Bryant Hall and after a year were expecting our first child.  We lived in one bedroom with a refrigerator, bed and a couch and a bathroom.  I still remember the blue and green wallpaper with eagles on the wall.  Coach Bryant use to come from time to time and stay in the room next door to us. I still remember seeing the smoke come through the door.  I ate in the dinning hall with Danny and the team.  Coach Bryant would come through the lobby and I he would take my breath there was such a presence an ora about him.  He always nodded, tipped his hat and said ma'am.

Danny finished school and was looking for a job. Coach Bryant said you are expecting your first child.  I want you to stay on here as a recruiter.  It means being on the road.  I had gone home so I could be with a consistent doctor until the baby was born not knowing at that time where we would live.  Coach Bryant sent Danny to my home town.  He said there needs to be some recruiting done around there.  The baby was a beautiful 8'10oz baby boy with a head full of dark hair.  He was born still born.  Because of Coach Bryant Danny was with me.  I told Mrs. Bryant the story after Coaches death.  I told her I would never forget it.  She gave Danny Coach Bryant's black and white hounds tooth coat.  The one he wore a lot on the side lines.  It is on loan at the Bryant's Museum right now.  Coach Bryant was always there for us.  Just like Danny has been his players.  Amazing hard work ethic but loyalty to the bone.

We bough a small white house and redid it.  By this time we had our second child Jennifer a beautiful blonde baby girl.  I use to stay up at night when I would feed her and watch her sleep.  I remember once Coach Pat Dye, who use to also be the head coach at Auburn, eating dinner with us.  Boy did he ever take care of us.  He landscaped our yard.  We use to baby sit for him and his wife with their four children.  He would leave us steaks in the frig and we got to sleep in their king sized bed.  We were in heaven.  Anyway back to Coach Dye at our house.  I went in to check on Jennifer.  I put my hand on her back and could not feel her breathing. I did this regularly.  I ran and got a mirror and put it under her nose.  I screamed for Danny and Jennifer began to cry.  I was so fearful of loosing her too.  I remember Danny taking her outside just to let her get dirty because he said she won't know what dirt is.

We went then to Virginia Tech under Coach Jimmy Sharpe.  Eight long hours from home, ugggh, lots of snow and lots of recruiting and long hours at work.  Danny was the offensive coordinator and Charlie Pell was the defensive coordinator.  We had our third child.  Winters were long.  I remember a funny story.  Danny was out of town and it was night.  I was pregnant with Ashleigh and about 12 inches of snow was on the ground.  The phone rang.  It was a man and he said he had a pig Coach Ford had bought.  I said what am I going to do with a whole pig at 10 o'clock at night?  He said throw it out in the snow. lol.  Well they kept it at the University until Danny got in town and had it processed.  Virginia Tech was a beautiful place but I was so isolated there.  It was hard.  The team was successful and next stop was going to be Clemson.
I will never forget it.  Danny said I have some good news and some bad news.  I was in Alabama at home with my family with the girls at the time.  He said I have a great opportunity to be an assistant head coach.  I said ok, what is the bad news.  He said it is at a place you have never heard of, Clemson.  I said Clemson.  Where is that...

I think I will continue tomorrow.  Thanks for caring, supporting us all these years and reading as I remember.