Every Breath I Take

Nothing makes me appreciate my health more than being sick. In our home we don’t do things half-way, including getting sick. When illness strikes, we are completely shut down. This round my husband had full-blown pneumonia and I was following closely behind. Then I coughed up something so nasty I could’ve sworn it flipped me off before swirling down the drain. Until this week, I took breathing for granted.

We’ve seen our doctor more than family these last few weeks. However, I believe we made our final trek today. Much as we love our doctor, four visits in two weeks makes me question the status of our relationship.

While we’re not quite well, I’m thankful the worse is over. After our bi-weekly visit with Doc, I put away most of the sick paraphernalia. I hope we won’t need the nebulizer for at least a few more years. I’ll put it in the very back of the storage room just to be sure.Gratefull

Today I’m dressed and on my way to recovery. I’m breathing in hope and I’m filled with gratitude for something I’ve taken for granted – breathing. I know I will likely fall into complacency again and forget to thank God for the basics. But for now, in this moment I am filled with gratitude for every breath I take.

Reflection: Take a moment to consider what you are taking for granted. Appreciate what God has given you, even something as basic as breathing. You never know what you have until it is taken away.

Meditation: “…For it is He Himself who gives life and breath and all things to all people.” Acts 17:25b

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Follow Your Dreams

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Dreaming is not just for the young. Regardless of your age, you are never too old to follow your dreams. When I’m 95 and living out the last few years of my life, I hope I’m still reaching for my dreams, and helping others reach for theirs.

Dreams come in all shapes and sizes, from short term dreams to heavy-duty-full-blown-faith size dreams. Dreams give us hope, purpose and motivation.

Some dreams are subconscious, and lay dormant until they bloom unexpectedly. They’re briefly spoken and forgotten about until they unfold. This happened to me with our house in Stonegate. I drove through when it was all decked out for the holidays and said, “I want to live here someday.” Five years later, as I was driving through my Stonegate neighborhood all aglow with lights, I remembered and it bought me such joy! Another time I said, “I want to sell luxury homes.” It wasn’t a wish, it was a simple, declarative statement. This week I closed over a millions dollars of real estate. When you make declarative statements about your dreams, and believe them, they will happen.

Some Dreams are so big and life altering you may be afraid to voice them for fear of being mocked by friends or your inner critic. Those are the dreams of whispered prayers when it’s only you and God. Then one day it pops out of your mouth in an unguarded moment and you know it’s time has come, you can speak it out, for it’s not too big anymore. It’s no longer scary, you are brave enough to release it, to dream out loud, and share it with your inner circle. As you work toward achieving this dream and it begins to unfold, you can tell anyone because you are confident in its success.  It no longer matters if everyone believes in your dream, it’s just you and God, and you press on. As the dream bursts forth, some may think it happened over night, but those are the ones who didn’t know its inception began in secret, decades ago.

My great big dream was becoming a Realtor®. Tonya dreamed about a higher education, Robbie and Bonnie dreamed about writing a novels, Jean dreamed about sharing her Scottish heritage through a devotional. I’m honored to be in the presence of those who are unsatisfied with the status quo, who are brave enough to reach for their dreams and have the tenacity to hold on tight until they unfold.

What about you? Do you still dream in the wee hours of the morning when you’re alone with your thoughts? What happened to your childhood dreams? It’s never too late. Reach for your dreams and grab onto them with a vice-like grip. With enough intestinal fortitude, prayer and perseverance, you can realize those dreams if you never give up.

It’s Tebow Time

Me & Grandaughter Kamy Tebow 1-13-12

I’m not a football fan, but I am a big Tim Tebow fan. Not because of his skill as a quarterback, but because of the bold way he shares his faith. I became a Tim Tebow fan when his controversial Prolife Super Bowl ad aired in 2010. So I couldn’t have been more thrilled when the Bronco’s chose Tebow as their first round draft pick.

It would be nearly impossible to find anyone who hasn’t heard of Tim Tebow – especially if you live in Denver. But Tim’s newfound fame hasn’t gone to his head. He continually gives praise to “his Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” and is quick to acknowledge the hard work of his teammates. I can’t think of another professional athlete with as much humility.

Tebow takes a moment to bow before the Lord, in thanks, after each touchdown. This action has been coined Tebowing. Now, due to Tebow’s unabashed faith, thousands pose on bended knee. Whether Tebowing is done in jest, as a ‘good luck charm’ or in true faith, it’s help raise awareness for prayer and God’s role in our lives (even football).

Tebow’s positive attitude has energized the Bronco’s and helped create the momentum that got them to the play offs. Even when Tim’s not playing, he’s encouraging others through The Tim Tebow Foundation, which exists to help people through tough times. Tim understands that God gave him this platform so he’d have the opportunity to help others.

Hundreds witnessed the halo over Sports Authority Field at Mile High last weekend. There are pictures all over the internet. Since Tebow’s life has been a miracle from the time of his conception, it’s not hard to accept this as just another miracle from “his Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.” In fact it could be God’s way of saying, “Well done, good and faithful servant.”

Dear God, Thanks

Bethany Parrish, 1997

Dear God,

You do so much for me every day and I am full of gratitude. I have so many thankful thoughts sifting through my mind that I decided to write you a letter of praise.

Thank you for the gift of life, for telling me to go to the ER, and for giving me the strength to recover. Thank you for giving me the faith and fortitude to make it through three surgeries in one year. Thank you for the joy I have in you, despite my circumstances.

Thank you for the dear friends and family who’ve brought meals, gifts, cleaned, and visited. Thank you for all those who prayed, sent cards, donated money and placed me on prayer chains. I am grateful and humbled by their generosity.

Thank you for the teenager who sent $20 of her babysitting money to my fundraiser saying, “They need it more than I do.” Bless the struggling families who gave in spite of their lack. I am rendered speechless in the face of such generosity.

I’m so grateful for the letters you sent with money and gift cards. I felt your love in each envelope. Remember the day I prayed you’d send me some money and hours later one of your cards arrived?  Thank you for the generous souls who hear your voice and obey. Give them favor and blessings in miraculous ways.

Thank you for the wonderful friends who helped us move, some we didn’t even know.  Please bless them with good health and friends who stick by in times of crisis. Thank you for friends and family who sent notes of support, and for those who called right when I needed to hear an encouraging voice.

Thank you for my online community, for their encouragement, funny antics, for sharing and listening to my struggles and joys.

Thank you for my mom, sister and husband who took turns spending the night with me in the hospital, sacrificing their sleep so I could rest easier. Thank you for my precious family, who prayed with me before surgery, showered me with love during my recovery and for the strong bond we share. Thank you for an amazing husband who stood by my side without complaining and encouraged me when I needed it most. Thank you for our incredible children, and their wonderful spouses, who make me proud to be their mom. Thank you for our beautiful grandbaby, who showers us with joy and helps us to look at life in new, exciting ways.

Thank you for sending skilled surgeons to operate on me, for their compassion and expertise. Thank you for the infectious disease doctor who kept me from having allergic reactions to meds and reacted quickly when needed. Thank you for the amazing nurses who went beyond their call of duty to make me comfortable; and for the fabulous nurses in the infusion center who made an unpleasant experience bearable.

Thank you for loving me in spite of my impatience, as my health improves and I try to do more than I should; for lifting my head and my spirits and reminding me of all you’ve done. Thank you for your blessing and protection during my health crisis, and for a life that has meaning, simply because you’re a part of it.

Your grateful daughter,

Jan

How to Grow Old Gracefully ~ Part 1

Parrish Family Photo 1994

When I turned thirty, I wrote an article about growing old gracefully. Was that really seventeen years ago? It seems more like seventeen months. I’ve never been hung up on age. I don’t care who knows I’m forty-seven. Maybe it’s because ever since I was child, I’ve always done things early.

When people tell me I don’t look old enough to be a grandmother, it’s really not a complement, because I’m not. I married my husband when I was eighteen. I gave birth to our eldest when I was nineteen and our youngest was born when I was twenty-one. When my son was in high school, he used to tell everyone my age when he introduced me. “Because I don’t want anyone to think you had me in high school.”

We live in an age-restricted community. You have to be forty-five to live here. My mother-in-law lives with us and my parents live two houses down. I think I’m the youngest one in this community. There are nine who are under the age of sixty; most of the residents are in my parents’ age group.

So in nearly every group, I’m one of the youngest, which helps me feel young.  Someone reading this who is older than me will say, “You ARE young!”  But a younger person might say, “Whatever! You ARE old.” So we can establish that age is relative and feeling old or young is a state of mind.

Part of aging well is genetics. Either you are blessed with good genes or you’re not. You will probably age as well as your parents. My dad’s father had blond hair until he was about eighty and then it seemed to turn overnight. My dad is about to turn seventy-five and he has just a touch of white around his sideburns. I love this because we have the same hair. Each year that my dad stays blond, I cheer because I’m anticipating my hair will respond just like his.

So what does it mean to grow old gracefully? Is plastic surgery OK? Is it wrong to dye your hair? What does God think about Botox? Please join me as I explore all of these questions and more over the next few weeks.

Part 2

Justice has been served – Osama Bin Laden dead

President Barak Obama confirms that Anti-American terrorist, Usama Bin Laden, is dead. Geraldo Rivera delivered breaking around 9:24pm (MST) Sunday night. Geraldo gleefully clapped as he jubilantly delivered this news.  
Although I understand Geraldo’s feelings, I cannot rejoice in anyone’s demise, no matter how evil the man. Justice has been served in the death of Bin Laden; I am relieved, but I will not rejoice. This military operation demonstrates that America is a force to be reckoned with.
In his address to the nation, President Obama recognized the victims of 9-11, the unity of our country and the power of our military. America has never forgotten 9-11 and we never will. Bin Laden’s death will not ease our pain nor bring back the thousands of murdered fathers, brothers, sisters, sons and husbands.
Sympathetic terrorist cells worldwide will likely metastasize as they burn with revenge at the loss of their leader. America is on high alert.
Join me in prayer for our military overseas. Each and every member of our military is a hero. God bless our military for the sacrifices they make daily to ensure our safety and freedom.  God bless the families who lost loved ones on 9-11, may they find comfort in the justice that was served last night.
Join me in praying for our country, our great state of Colorado, the city of Denver, and our military on the National Day of Prayer.  

Uneasiness

One of “those days.”
We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.  – 2 Cor 10:5
Today was a weird day. I was busy but didn’t get anything I planned done. I washed clothes, prepared the meals, went to the dentist, planned a party, walked around the neighborhood, chatted on Facebook and cleaned the bathroom. But I felt uneasy and uncomfortable most of the day. 
It started with unsettling dreams, which stayed with me even after I woke up. Feelings of apprehension ran unhindered in the back of my mind like a bad programming. Unfortunately, it wasn’t until early this evening that I was able to identify and confront them. 
I’ve found that strange feelings, like peculiar dreams, can be a sneaky attack of the enemy to distract and discourage. It worked on me for most of the day. One of the things I’m learning to do is to reign in my thoughts and emotions. This is not an easy task, especially when the attack is subtle. Once I took my thoughts captive and made them obedient to Christ, I felt God’s peace once again. 
Jesus, help me to identify the subtle attacks of the enemy and focus my mind on things that are good, pure and true. Thank you for the victory and peace that is mine when I take my thoughts captive. Amen