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Life is Fragile, Count your blessings…

I was reminded about how fragile life can be again this morning. I received an email from a friend telling me about a homeschool mom of seven, a friend I had lost touch with, who suddenly had a heart attack and died two weeks after the birth of her 7th child. This dear momma has left a huge hole in the hearts of a family in Brighton, Colorado. I know her church family is there for her family, but my heart is broken, thinking about a newborn baby girl who will never know her momma.

In our small church congregation this past Sunday, a young mom of three (4 year old twin boys and a 2 year old) tearfully announced that she had just gained guardianship of her two nephews. This dear mom and her sexually abused nephews lost her brother and their dad to drug abuse and a lengthy prison sentence. Her family has been permanently broken by a different type of tragedy as well.

As she and her husband became parents of five boys overnight, they are desperately and humbly aware of their need for the wisdom of God and help from the body of Christ. I could not hold back the tears as I listened to her tragic story.

These two tragedies not only underline just how fragile life can be, but highlight the many blessings we often take for granted. With the Christmas holiday about three weeks away, I hope you and your family will continue to focus on your many blessings apart from material gifts.

I also hope and pray you will take time to look around you and see where you can serve your friends, neighbors, relatives and those in difficult circumstances. We serve an awesome and mighty God who is fully aware of how these events are tragedies to us.

I won’t lie, getting a meal for seven ready to take to our church family tonight is a sacrifice for me, but how can I complain? I have taken many, many meals to those in need this past year from our very small church family, and often somewhat resentfully. God has shown me that one of my ministries and services to him, is the humble ministry of cooking for others.

Perhaps you who are reading this message are in need of someone to care enough to encourage you in a tangible way. Or maybe you are wondering what act of service you and your family could even supply. I pray for the Lord Almighty to open all our hearts to recognize the many needs around us and enable us to do our small part to help those in need.

If you can post a comment with a story about how you and your family have met the needs of someone in need in the last month or two, I would like to share a complimentary copy of The Power Of Motherhood by Nancy Campbell. (A $20.00 value) You must include your name and mailing address so I know where to send the gifts. I have three copies to share with winners.

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22 comments to Life is Fragile, Count your blessings…

  • Marilyn, this is so true. It seems there is difficulty and need all around. I have often been disappointed when others did not see our need, so we try very hard to be aware of others and needs they might have.

    We upgraded our washer and dryer and were able to give away our year old washing machine to a family from my parents church. They were so thrilled to have it and we were happy to be able to bless them with it.

    Debbie Alix

  • Kim a.k.a. GoofyMamma

    Hey Marilyn.
    MY heart breaks reading this story. That family will truly be in my prayers. We have been trying to move for almost a year now and sometimes I think the Lord post pones for different reasons. Within that time frame our neighbor across the street came down with cancer and was doing chemo. They both are unable to work for one reason or another and we have been able to bless them with groceries on different occasions. They have a daughter the same age as my own and we have her over often for dinner and to witness to her. They are unsaved and I believe the Lord is using us greatly. We also have a 85 year old Japanese lady who is a neighbor and my husband is able to bless her by doing odd jobs for her and we mow her lawn. The Lord is truly using us where we are right now. When we start to get whiney we just concentrate on helping others and see the situations they are in and the whineys soon go away.
    Blessings to you Marilyn and all you do.
    Kim Wilson

  • annie

    I have a story from the other side – about how our needs have been met by loving people…

    My husband and I have experienced severe financial trials involving an accident and loss of income for the past year. A dear bachelor friend offered to let us stay with him when we had nowhere else to go. Another friend loaned us money with no obligation to repay it. (We call it a loan; he says if we can pay it back, great; if not, that’s ok, too.) A large amunt of cash showed up in our mail one day, in a blank card with no return address. A family in our church has us over for dinner often and gave us a bed after we sold all our possessions. My mom listens to my fears (and tears!) and comforts me continually. I know that these people and others pray for us daily, beseeching God on our behalf.

    We are recovering, slowly, but where would we be without these fine people who saw our need and didn’t hesitate to give? We are very private, so they really had to be looking to see the need.

    About a month ago, in preparing for Thanksgiving, I started a Gratitude Journal with the goal of writing at least one thing each day. I’ve noticed that the more I write in it, the more I find to be grateful for. Every day, I am grateful for people who have something to give and then do it, with faith in God to let it be enough. I’m grateful for a powerful God who sees us in our lowest state and sends comfort. Even on the worst days, I know there is something to be grateful for – even for this trial, because goodness has come from it. These acts and prayers glorify God.

    annie :-)

  • Susan

    Dear Marilyn,
    Such moving stories, it makes one praise the Lord for all he has done. I would like to share a blessing my husband & were able to give just last week. My husband felt led to give our Pastor a check for a rather large amount, (no small potatoes for us) and asked him to please give to a needy family in our church & please keep it anonymous. Well, the family he chose was just who I have been praying for. They sometimes cannot go places, just so they have enough gas to make it to church and yet are ALWAYS the first ones to volunteer to help. The father is in the construction business and it has been slow so money has been extremely tight. What an honor it was to be able to bless them & be servants to our Lord. Thanks Marilyn for all you do. You are truly a Titus 2 woman.
    Lord Bless You!
    Susan

  • Susan

    Sorry my address is:
    Susan Allums

  • Lisa Anderson

    Dear Marilyn,
    My heart aches for these two families. I truly didn’t understand the depth of grief until my grandfather, the patriarch of our family was released into the arms of Jesus this summer. He played more of the role of my father, than my grandfather. He was a strong man of principle who loved the Lord with all of his heart. He and my grandmother were 1 week shy of 66 1/2 years of marriage when he died. We promised him that we would do our best to care for my grandmother.
    Although homeschooling and managing our household, we have juggled our schedule to spend 2 nights a week with her. I cannot even begin to explain how our hearts and lives have been blessed by this time ministering and caring for her. Someday, Jesus will welcome her as well, and we will look forward to a wonderful reunion in heaven – until then we will be counting it all joy!
    Lisa Anderson,

  • Marilyn,
    This touches my heart so much as it hits close to home. My cousin (then 23yr. old) had 2 beautiful little girls. She was killed tragically in an automobile accident in 2005 late one evening. She was ejected from the car and thrown over 500 feet. Unfortunately my cousin was not married to the children’s father so after the funeral there was a huge custody battle for the girls. The father wanted them and admitted only for the money (survivor benefits). He was not active in the girls lives before this as he was in and out of jail, but now he wanted them solely for financial gain. however, their maternal grandparents (my Aunt and Uncle) cared for the children the majority of their short lives (they were 4 & 6 when mom was killed.) Although my Uncle is disabled and the family lives on his social security, it is not enough to make ends meet but they didn’t care … they just wanted their grandchildren to be cared for and loved. They could provide nothing much but love. And in the end isn’t that more than material things anyway!?! Since then my Aunt & Uncle have been granted full custody of the girls.

    With little to no money available for school supplies or things other than basic needs my sister has helped by buying their school clothes, supplies, extra needs that might arise during the school term. My sister helps them after school with homework if need be and has the family over for dinners so that she know not only the girls are fed, but our Aunt and Uncle as well. My Aunt has heart problems (she was recently hospitalized for this very issue) and my Uncle is not in the best health either. They recently asked my sister (who has no children of her own right now) if she would agree to take the girls in the event that something happened to them (the grandparents) and she agreed.

    My sister has not been serving the Lord the past several years, but has begun to come back home to HIM slowly. I feel it is partially due to the girls as well as much prayer from family. I would love for her to have this book. I think this would be a tremendous blessing for her. I am not telling her that I am submitting this on her behalf as I want it to be a surprise blessing for her.

    Thank you for considering her for this wonderful ministry tool.
    ~Nichole, the sister~

    Her name is Kathy Goodwin

  • Becky Duchene

    Dear Marilyn,

    Thank you so much for sharing your news, needs for prayer for others, and your reminder to care for others who are in need.

    It seems lately that we have been surrounded by so many single-income, homeschooling, godly families who are struggling paycheck to paycheck and/or dealing with difficult family situations or the loss of a child. Though we live very simply, God has provided us with extra money on several occasions this year through overtime work for my husband.

    It has been so humbling to receive the extra pay, knowing that we are to be good stewards of what God gives to us. There are times that I am tempted to do something frivolous with it, but then God convicts me regarding other families who need it.

    Most recently, someone shared how a wonderful family of 8 had fallen behind on too many bills to count, had lost their health insurance, and were struggling to provide the most basic needs of their children. Others stepped forward to fill in with food, clothing, etc. I felt led to pay for the children’s music lessons they receive through our homeschooling co-op. It seems like an extra in so many ways, but when I heard them sing and play the violin the other night at our Christmas program I realized the joy that God’s extra money provided for them.

    My best friend in Florida is going through a very hard time financially right now, and she is getting pressure from others to put her children into a “normal” school so that she can return to work and double their income. I would love to read Nancy Campbell’s book myself, but I think I would pass it to my friend at this time for some extra encouragement.

    Thank you again for all of the work that you do. Your writing, sharing, and products have blessed us more than you will ever know.

    Becky Duchene
    9715 Byrnesville Rd.
    Cedar Hill, MO 63016

  • My neighbor, two houses down, just had her world shattered. Her husband announced that he had another woman (the wife of his best friend, no less) and was leaving. They have a two year old daughter. The daughter has been staying with us much of the time, as her mother is moving and trying to deal with it all. I’ve also been making extra dinner, so my neighbor can take some with her, and not have to eat out. Pray for her, as this is tearing her apart.

    Please contact me by e-mail for my address if you choose me to be gifted the book. I can’t make myself type my address for all to see! :)

    Mommaofmany

  • stephanie dowding

    Last month a friend told us how they where really far behind on the electricity bill and that it was going to be shut off. They hae 5 children and a wife that is having some health problems and medical bills. My husband and I talked and he surprised them by going over with a check to pay some of the bill then we called a favor in on my mother in law to finish paying the bill for them.

    Our church has a boys group and as a mom with 5 boys (3 in the group) when we found out that they where trying to save up money to purchase some new equipment, we decided to donate more then we had planned, it is worth it knowing that they are teaching all these boys about the word of God.
    thanks for the encouragement to keep doing for others and in fact look, watch, and pray for opportunites to help others.

  • Thank you for the reminder of just how precious life is! We need to live each day to its fullest because we never know what is around the corner.

    Kris

  • Cassandra Lester

    Dear Marilyn, I totally agree with you……life is fragile. My heart breaks too for these children. Lam. 3:37 says “Can anything happen without the Lords permissioin?” I still hurt for this husband and these children and for the little boys who are now w/out their daddy.
    I don’t know if what I have to share is what you are looking for but I hope it encourages you and others You commented on ministering to other through cooking for them. That is a huge blessing to those who receive it. I have also cooked meals for others and delivered them and I am always blessed when I do. Now I know why. I am a home school stay at home mom. We are also foster parents. This year I was on the receiving end of that service. I had to have rotator cuff surgery on my left shoulder. I couldn’t drive, cook, clean or lift babies for so long. We have 2 children still at home ages 10 and 12 and foster twin baby boys who at the time were 16 months old. (we got them when they were 6 weeks old). We were so blessed to have meals come in for what seemed forever, probably 4 weeks! Ladies came in and cleaned, babysat, drove me to therapy, etc… This was huge. We couldn’t have survived with out this help. I understand even more how important it is to give of my time to serve others in this way. We, as a family, help by taking in foster children who are siblling groups. After 2 years of raising the twins. They were adopted in Sept. We just recently took in 3 little girls, 4, 2, and 1 years old. They were removed from the mother. It is so hard to find a home for siblings and many times they can’t. Can you imagine being taken from your parents or whatever is the case and then being seperated from your sibling (s) too. I can’t!
    Additionally, we kept a couples 2 children for the day so they could take the handicapped boy, from Guatemala, they are housing to the hospital to get fitted for his prothesis.
    Helping take care of children is a very important and needed ministry.
    I hope this has encouraged you as you serve the Lord. Thank you for your encouragement to me and allowing me to share how wonderful it is to bless others and be blessed.
    Cassandra Lester,

  • Praying for both of these families. Thank you for letting us know!

  • I will keep prayers going for those with broken hearts. I just can’t imagine…

  • Marilyn,

    It is interesting that you post this as the Lord has laid heavily on my heart a desire to bless others this holiday season. I am at a season in my life where I am feeling so very richly blessed and have such a burden to “give away” some of that to others.

    One thing that I did recently (this week) was prepare some meals for a friend who is having surgery Friday. She is a dear friend who is having to go in for hysterectomy. It has been very hard for her because she desires to have more children, but for various reasons has not been able to. Now this surgery is necessary because of some medical reasons. So, I felt the Lord leading me to prepare some meals for the freezer for her.

    I had so much fun on Monday cooking up enchiladas, taco soup, chili mac, homemade rolls, and sloppy joe meat. I also gave her some things from my freezer…some homemade waffles and banana bread and granola.

    She was so surprised and thankful yesterday when she stopped to pick up the meals. I feel funny sharing all this because my intent is not to bring glory to myself…but to Him who placed the desire in my heart in the first place.

    May He be praised and glorified through all our efforts this Christmas season to bless others. Thank you, Marilyn, for all you do to bless others through your ministry at Urban Homemaker!

    In Christ,
    Sheri Graham
    224 W. Pack/PO Box 826
    Moundridge, KS 67107

  • Angel Sweezea

    Marilyn,

    I was deeply touched by your sharing the stories of those around you, especially of the family at church who took in their nephews.
    In the last 2 years my family has been foster parents to 20 different children. It has been at times difficult, frustrating, heartbreaking and yet at the same time so rewarding. I have watched compassion and mercy blossom in my children as they have helped care for these children. I have also watched their hearts break at the seeming indifference of others and the system.
    There has been times when we have had as many as six children under six extra in our house and how I would have loved for someone to offer to prepare a meal for us, or watch the kids for a few hours so my husband and I could have a simple conversation. Our church is not the most supportive and even though we have tried to communicate our needs, I often think that others just don’t get how emotionally and physically trying being a foster parent can be.
    We currently have one foster boy with us as we felt the need to take a break and reconnect with our own three children and recharge our spirits a little. It has been good for us, we have been able to look beyond our own family unit and see some of the needs of those around us. We recognize that there are some other families in our small church that have some needs that we can hopefully help meet now that we are not so focused inward.
    I would encourage anyone to recognize that while some needs are obvious, there are a lot of others out there that may be afraid of asking for help, even if that help is a simple meal, someone to pray with them, or watch their kids for a few hours. Those simple things could be just the thing to recharge a family. And for those situations where nothing can bring back a parent and grief is so apparent, just surrounding those families with love can help the healing process begin.
    Angel Sweezea

  • Jill

    Marilyn,

    Every year my dear friends and I celebrate Christmas by coming together and sharing in a Christmas brunch the first Saturday of December. I cannot but thank God for the blessings of these friends. I always set the table a few days early in preparation for the event. One of these dear friends called last night to say she wouldn’t be able to be there as she was flying back home the day of the brunch. Her mother was dying. So, I remove one of the plates from my table, a visual reminder that too soon each one of us one by one will also leave this world. This morning my own mother called to tell my a dear family friend of theirs and mine had died the day after Thanksgiving. My own sweet daughters and I turn to the Lord to pray for these families and in turn remember old friends and appreciate each other all the more.

    God has been prompting me to share His good news with the lost and dying world. That there is hope, a hope for an eternal future. So how do I do that? I pray for my neighbors, take them cookies, invite them over for dinner and talk with them over the back fence. Sometimes my neighbor is my own lost father-in-law. Sharing with him the truths of the Word that he rejected so long ago as myth. Sometimes my neighbor is a complete stranger. On a family trip this spring we left Bible tracks in subways and coffee shops and prayed for those who picked them up.

    And yes we also share with our brothers and sisters in Christ. One dear homeschool mom of three very active young boys has been battling debilitating naseau for over a year. Along with other moms we take groceries, meals and clean her house. Like Marilyn, sometimes the extra meals feel both financially overhwhelming and physically draining but our desire is to be like Dorcas, who was known for her good works and selfless acts of love.

    We have been recipients of love from our church family and realize how important and thankful we are to belong to the family of God. We do have a hope when so many are uncared for and in despair. So when we are well we give and when we are sick we try to learn to be gracious receivers.

  • I feel a heart connection to this infant already, having lost my mother on the day I was born. My sympathy and prayers are with this precious family. You’re right, life is indeed fragile. We need to remeber that each day that we’re blessed to wake up and love and serve our families.

  • Cassandra Lester

    Oh Angela, I get it. Your words were so accurate. We have been doing foster care for 2 years also. We got the 6 week old twins boys the day we got our foster license. They were meth. babies and going thru withdrawls, with physical issues too. 3 months later we got a 3 year old. I didn’t think I could make it through those days of 5 children. It’s not just taking care of the children, having 2 of my own, (who helped make it possible to foster). It was dealing with the agency and it’s demands and the parents of each child.
    I think you are right. People don’t understand until they get involved. I didn’t. My marriage suffered and so did my children’s relationship with each other. Our home school suffered also. But in the end we survived and we were blessed as a family through the trials and tribulations. We are taking a retreat to work on our marriage and family now also. We just had a sibling group at the end of Oct. Our homes provided all these foster chldren love in Jesus and stability, at a minimum, in a time when these infants and toddlers should have never know this kind of pain.
    I encourage anyone who can reach out to a family who is providing foster care to DO IT! You may not be the family called to foster children, but can you minister to those that God does call and who obey His calling. We need to look out after foster families. These children need these families available. But they can’t do it at the expense of their marriage or own family. A meal will bless them. Offering to babysit for a date is NEEDED. Helping during the holidays as the foster families try to make Christmas special for their own plus the extra children in their homes. We were so very blessed last year when a couple anonomyously gave us gift cards to Walmart. Christmas is so financially difficult for us and with 2 extra infants to buy for. Not to mention their daily needs, clothes, equipment etc….
    Above all pray for them. For strength, protection and God’s provision. Cassandra

  • MamaShelly

    Having a new baby myself…I can’t even imagine…I will definitely pray for both of these families…

    Our family (of 8) is busy but we take time to help others when we can. Last week we babysat so a frazzled set of parents could go Christmas shopping without the kids. We also just finished packaging up our Christmas Child shoeboxes. That is an annual traditions for our family.

    We have brought meals to those who recently added a new blessing to their family, although not in the last two months. :) My husband decided a while back he wanted us to give everyone we know who has a baby a small gift of some kind. He wants more people to count children as the blessing they are! It has been fun to find small gifts and make craft projects to give to the new arrivals! My favorite so far is homemade flannel/terry cloth burp rags that we recently gave to one of my husband’s co-workers.

    Marilyn, just a few suggestions for you… I am enjoying your new blog but I really don’t think it is a good idea or safe for us women to post home addresses out in a public area like a blog (I would love to win a book but not if I have to put my home address online for all to see)…also if you could take a minute to “announce” the winners (just first names maybe) when the contest is over that would be helpful (and fun!) too! Thanks!

    MamaShelly (shellysstuff@sbcglobal.net)

  • MamaShelly

    In the above post…that is suppose to say family of 8…not sure why there is a smiley face with sunglasses there instead!!

  • Amanda Robinson

    My elderly grandparents (81 and 82) live nextdoor to us. I noticed how thin my grandfather was getting, and when I would sometimes stop by in the evenings to visit, they would be eating supper, and oftentimes it would be cornbread and milk or cornbread and beans or something else simple and not a wide enough range to be nutrition on a regular basis. I talked with my sister and my brother, and we agreed to each take 2 nights a week to feed them supper. This is not always easy as with 3 children and a full-time job I am very busy and not always home at suppertime, but we do it cheerfully and are always rewarded with a big smile and a thank you.

    Recently another neighbor of ours, not a relative, has been diagnosed with cancer and has started radiation therapy. She has become too weak to cook for herself, so my siblings and I have again talked and agreed to feed her on our nights as well. It is oftentimes a challenge to fix enough food for 8 people on a very limited budget, but it feels so wonderful to help someone in need. My children oftentimes will take turns delivering the meals. This keeps them involved in helping others as well. We have even gone grocery shopping for the lady with cancer, and I have made sure my children knew that we always try to help people who need our help, that that is what God wants us to do.

    Also, my uncle has cancer, and he and his wife are in danger of losing their house due to the high cost of his chemotherapy and his not being able to work. Our family is giving less gifts to each other this year and gifting them with money to help in their struggles. We really don’t have any extra to give, but it will come from somewhere as this is so important.

    God has richly blessed us with family and friends, and it is our responsbility to nuture them and help in any way we can. I love to know that my family is doing its part to help others and make the world a sweeter place and also in Jesus’ name.

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