SNOWBOUND SUNSHINE

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Jennifer Kay Lewis

It was Christmas morning of 1963.  It was bitterly c-o-l-d outdoors across the rolling hills of our majestic and peaceful Missouri countryside.

We had lived here for about ten years; but, we had never the seen such an intense snowstorm.  Over a period of ten-hours, we had received the most severe, white-out conditions we had ever experienced.

Daddy anxiously listened to the man on the radio,  “our local area had received nearly ten inches of slippery ice and hazardous deep snow.”  I remember how hard it was for Dad to walk two steps in this.

Our views from all directions – seemed to reveal no end to the extent of this blizzard or the storm’s unyielding magnitude.

From a child’s perspective, the best thing I got that year was a dolly I aptly named, Jill.  She was dressed in a bright red dress adorned with white lace, and like a tiny version of myself, she had thick, blonde, curly hair.  I still have my baby Jill.  Over the years, she has become rather tattered,  but I still remember how I cherished this baby-doll.

We had numerous funny, tender and compassionate caring times spent with many various needy animals and barnyard livestock.

One of the most vivid impressions that my brain captured, is that of Sunshine, our pet calf.  We nurtured that weak calf until she could, literally, stand on her own two legs.  Sunshine quickly took rich nourishment from our crudely fashioned nipple.

I remember, for a couple of days she seemed to be doing okay.  Then, all of a sudden, she took a turn for the worse.  Daddy shouted for us kids to help him get Sunshine in near the warmth of the oven.   The boys held her head in their diminutive arms and Daddy cradled her weakened, ravished body.  We kept kissing her and reassuring Sunshine “everything was going to be okay- she need not worry.”

Can you imagine this scene?  There we were, four little kids facing what we thought was the end of the world.  Our very own superman, Dad came to the rescue and convinced  us “we could nurse our pet back to health.”  Whatever happened ahead, we knew we were not going to give-up on Sunshine.  She needed us!

As time marched on, Sunshine became stronger and more and more active.  She stood-up and started walking-around in the house curiously checking things out.  Was this a good thing, or not?  As hopeful kids, we thought so.  However, it seemed rather questionable as Mom tried to create boundaries limiting where Sunshine could roam.

A couple of weeks had passed and Sunshine was well on her way to rejoining the rest of the herd.  She was jumping over furniture trying to find the nearest escape route.  I remember Mom yelling, “get that calf out of here!”  It was clear – it was time for her to go to her permanent home.

Since we lived so far off the beaten-path, we didn’t always call the vet.  We often chose to nurse animals of all kinds and hurting livestock back to wellness.

It is impossible for a child to see a sick animal,  or rejected animal and not take care of their prized possession.  Those kind of dejected livestock quickly won our compassionate Hearts and instantly managed to capture our time and attention.

On a more personal note, I vividly recall a little white lamb with brown markings rejected by her mom.  She was in dire need of being bottle-fed nutrient rich milk and I joyously answered her heartbreaking, cries.

As the smallest and weakest, my frail lamb was left behind.

When an animal got adopted into our family, one of the first things we did, was name the animal. Following protocol, I decided to name her.  It seemed fitting to me to name her Duckie.  “Why name her Duckie?”   Well, that is another story in itself.

My Mom had made me this cute white dress with rick-rack trim all around the ruffled skirt.  It was appliqued with an orange duck.  That dress was my favorite.  Mom even made stylish clothes for our fashionable Barbie, Midge, and Tammy dolls!

As soon as the school bus let us safely exit, I would run up the long drive to find Duckie  waiting.  Her little tail would be wagging so fast that I could hardly contain my giggles!    DUCKIE & JENNIFER

Duckie took to my glass Pepsi bottle rather hastily and soon she was well on the way to being able to be on her own.  That meant I would have to dismantle the temporary fenced-in area I had made for her as she could return to the larger barnyard grounds to join her unknown friends.

As usual, Mom was at hand with her trusty camera!  My treasured prize is a picture of me in my special duck dress bottle-feeding my sweet, little lamb, Duckie.

“Yes, our farm was our own glorious piece of Heaven! ”

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Growing In Christ,

Jen

 

PORTRAIT OF A FARMER

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Jennifer Kay Lewis

Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.       Galatians 6:9

Proudly, I was raised on a hustle and bustle working farm sprawling a couple-hundred acres.  We had ten ponds on our farm and a wandering creek divided our land almost in half.  We were passed the life my parents had so well-known as they both had grown-up living similar traditions.  My parents and their parents embraced values of planting and harvesting crops and cultivating huge varieties of garden foods.  As four little Lewis kids, we were fortunate to learn valuable lessons from Mom and Dad and both sets of Grandparents.

As many of you who read this will also testify, the farm-life manages to keep you busy from before the sunrises until well-after sunset!  Our farm would easily be akin to those descriptive images.   Oh sure ~ there are plenty of fun-filled times to treasure as we compiled memories of yesteryear days.  If there weren’t any planned activities, when you put four inquisitive, inventive growing brains together in children, creative adventures are bound to be discovered.

Two little girls and two younger boys seemed to have no boundaries.  Our parents kept us heaped in what seemed endless ‘fix-it’ projects, and repair tasks.  But, as our ages dictated, they also spoiled us rotten with colorful bikes, all-terrain motorcycles and well-trained quarter horses, so we could easily traverse and crisscross our many acres.

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Children are a gift from the Lordthey are a reward from him.  Psalm 127:3

“Thank goodness for binoculars.”  Mom and Dad could stand on our Victorian front-porch and scout the land to, hopefully, spot their kids.    Think of turning loose four rambunctious young kids over two-hundred acres of investigative beckoning, land, it’s hard-telling where your youngsters may have landed.  Furthermore, it’s common knowledge that when things get ‘quiet’ you better find-out where your kids are and what they may be up to.

Often, our Mom would go to town to buy groceries and other staples we needed.  Typically, Mom would forego her own needs, and selflessly purchase for her children.  She liked to surprise us with a spiffy new outfit or the newest in shoes.  One of her inquisitive little kids would often ask of Mom “where did you get this?’  Mom’s witty and funny answer would always be, “at the ‘gettin place.”

And, as the warming sun rays and the spring rains permitted, Daddy would plant the corn and beans and walk through lengthy fields as he sowed oats.    Our father toiled long, hard days well into evening clearing the land of rocks that seemed to just keep multiplying and growing and out of thin-air.  Arduously, Dad methodically planted and as the unpredictable weather dictated, maybe Dad had to replant crops.  ALL FOR HIS WIFE AND FOUR CHILDREN!!

All summer, our superman, and hero Dad would walk down the rows cutting-down weeds and clearing paths for his combine to straddle the rows for harvest in fall.   (his only request was a Pepsi now and then.)  Then, we all Prayed to be blessed with bountiful harvest

The coziness of winter would creep-in with a kind of ragged sigh of relief.   We girls liked to create to artfully designed snow-angels and the boys would build the most elaborate snow-forts in the fresh white blankets.  On days we were stuck inside, we frequently played monopoly or put 1000-piece puzzles together, after shoveling snow from our long driveway.  (those Big complex puzzles were our Dad’s brilliant idea to keep us busy!  He picked the hardest ones for us to assemble.  Thanks a lot ~ Dad!)

In search of the ‘perfect’ Christmas tree, our vast woods would surely offer just the right sacrifice.   Then, before we knew it, here came spring again.  With God at the helm, we got to start all over again.  Ours was a unique and treasured life.  Indeed, the life, fun, and work of a Farmer is never-ending, but it is also a rich inheritance.  I cherish those days and the tender memories we all made together growing and investing in our beautiful farm!

Oh; but if I could turn back time …               

 … then I shall give you rains in their season, so that the land will yield its produce and the trees of the field will bear their fruit.                                                                                                                                                          Leviticus 26:4

Growing In Christ,

Jen

 

LEGACY

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by Jennifer Kay Lewis

LEGACY

“He cuts-off every branch in me that bears no fruit, While he prunes every Branch That Does Bear Fruit So That Will Become even more Fruitful.”          John  15:2

What Legacy do you want to leave?  Once in a while in the course of our ‘normal’ busy lives, we need to STOP to consider what we stand for and what we are giving back to society.   Today, I am taking time to reflect on the meaning of my life and I am asking you to Please do the same.

Several years ago, I found myself surrounded by confused, apprehensive, yet smiling little faces.  I had chosen to pursue the ever-changing world of Foster parenting.    At first, I thought this venture would be like a sort of hand-up and a help to the many children I came to adore.  However, the blessings I first thought would be theirs to cherish became mine to hold and keep forever!

Jesus reminds us in John 12-13: “Love each other as I have loved you.  Greater love has no One than this, that he lay down his life for his Friends.”

Usually, when a person reflects on these words, one might conjure-up some image of a warrior gallantly fighting in some horrific battle-zone, or hearing about some average, run-of-the-mill Joe rushing-in to save another person’s life just in the nick-of-time.  Those were the stereotypical thoughts that first came to my mind, until I had the pleasure of hosting my thirty-one Foster children.

As my aging father, has recently reminded me, “Jen, in the end, it’s what you give away that truly matters.”

Deep in reflective thought, I analyzed Daddy’s meaningful words.  I also allowed my memory antennae to wander back to those exhilarating, happy days we shared in Foster care.  In doing so, I quickly surmised that it is no wonder why the memories of those eventful years provided so much warmth and even tears of joy to this day!  It is also an important part of Jesus’s command to “love each other as I have loved you” ~ I had done just that in giving unconditional love and supportive nurturing to those precious, children.

If your ‘passion’ is working with our youth, you may be well-gratified working within your church.  Do you enjoy assisting another person?   You might think about a rewarding unpaid assistant position with your local hospital.   Maybe you would rather offer your specific skills to a growing business.

Again, it’s all about Giving!  (it’s kind of like a boom-a-rang ~ good things just seem to keep coming back your way when you forego self and think of another.)    When we find our niche ~ we find ourselves and live for others.

      “Let me be Satisfied with your Favor and filled with your Blessing.”                                                                                          Deuteronomy 33:23

       “Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves.”                                                                                                                     Romans 12:10

What are your values?  What are you teaching your Children? How you live each day will determine what you really want remembered about your days on this earth. Is your Legacy worth dying for?

Growing In Christ,

Jennifer

“THE ELDERLY GENTLEMAN”

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by Jennifer Kay Lewis

7-4-2016 ~ The Elderly Gentleman

Several months ago, I was most blessed and fortunate to secure a volunteer position with a large local hospital.

Recently, I was enjoying regular daily events as duties were fairly ‘routine’, that is for most of the day.  Then, an elderly man came up to our station.

In a few short-minutes, my ‘routine duties’ were unpredictably changed; and, little did I know just how welcome the change was to become.  A tall, thin, elderly gentleman seemed barely able to walk over to our work area.  He asked, “can anyone help me to my car?

“I think maybe I need a wheel-chair!”

I quickly volunteered to help the older gentleman, as waves of compassion quickly flooded my tender heart.  (it was plainly obvious he needed me; and as it ended, I needed him too!)

He said, “I think I can make it to that chair over there. (I wondered ~ in his dignified manner, was he trying to maintain his ‘pride’?)

I helped him get safely seated and off we strolled to the parking garage.  He informed me, “it’s a quite a piece down there little lady … are you sure you want to do this?”  I assured him, “it’s no trouble and that he shouldn’t think twice about my ‘choice’ to help him as I was most Happy to assist.”

We had gone about half of the distance through the long, concrete, parking garage, and he INSISTED he could probably “make it the rest of the way.”  (silently, to myself, I was thankful it was an inside, covered garage.)

Then, he exclaimed, “there it is ~ it’s that old white truck with the blue tailgate!”

For his safety, I maneuvered the wheelchair right up to his door so all he would need do was to stand and scoot himself into his truck.  He lifted himself up and got in his vehicle.

As I turned to quietly walk away, he said, “I KNOW this wasn’t in your job description … so I’m certain you didn’t need to do this; but, I just want to say, “GOD BLESS YOU LITTLE LADY!”

He had tears welling-up in his eyes as I left to go back to my station.  (me too)

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In purposely “offering” to do this assignment, I had visions of my own elderly Father, of eighty-seven.  I sure hope and pray someone would come to Daddy’s aid if and when he might also need the support and assistance.

Although it was “quite a piece” as he put it – our walk that day, was the best, longest walk I have ever enjoyed!

Growing In Christ,

Jennifer

WHAT CAN YOU DO?

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Jennifer Kay Lewis

 

The most important lesson Christ left for us to shadow and reflect is his ‘Perfect’ Love.  Love each other as Jesus commanded.  Do you want your little ‘corner’ of the  block to be at peace?  What can you do to improve relations with your family and friends?

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A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another.  By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another”.  John 13:34-35 New King James Version 

 

Imagine a world where we actually knew our next-door neighbor.  What if we went-one further and actually helped our neighbor.  Wouldn’t it awesome if  everybody spoke to one-another in earnest love expressing compassion and care?

Doesn’t it seem all to surreal?  But what can you do, right?  Isn’t this what you are thinking?

Could you be a friend just like the kind friend you want to meet?


BE THE ANSWER

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Jennifer Kay Lewis

BE THE ANSWER

5-30-2016

 

Time is just t-o-o unpredictable! Things happen ~ and Life, as we SHOULD HAVE KNOWN IT can be snuffed-out in a second!! Should you nurture and hold tight to your grudges? Or, should you humble yourself and ask God to help you FORGIVE? It’s YOUR ‘CHOICE!!!’

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     Image by:  Christina Van den Bossche  ·

 My Prayer:
“Lord, help me!  Lead me in my Life so I can become more and more like you.”  “Let your Bright-light shine through me so I can be used as your vessel.”   “God teach me to truly submit myself and get on my knees in Obedience and devotion to your wise instruction(s) .”
Fill me up Lord!!”
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Growing In Christ,
Jen Lewis

“What Goes Around … Comes Around”

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Jennifer Kay Lewis

WHAT GOES AROUND … COMES AROUND

 

In January 2013, I wrote the following letter to my former employers and the owners of a small chiropractic business.  From 2001-2002, while I was going through a very deep, dark valley in my life, they helped guide me to see the that the top of the mountain was within my reach.  My heartfelt letter was  offered in simple gratitude.

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1/4/2013

Dearest Dr. M. and Barb,

It was December 24, 2012 when I needed to come and see Dr. M.      (earlier in the month I had fallen-off a ladder and as he ‘examined’ me, he decided an X-ray was in order and he made another follow-up appointment for Monday, Jan, 7th,  2013.)

On January 6th, Linda called me to ‘inform’ me Dr. Miller had passed.  (she said it had been in paper, but I explained “I do not get the local paper  – so I didn’t know.  (NEEDLESS TO SAY, I was in ‘shock.’)

(I’ve Always been ‘encouraged’ w/ Dr. Miller’s knowledge and desire to ‘keep current’ w/ changing medical knowledge/treatment(s).  In short- I KNEW I could ‘Trust’ Him and felt he truly cared about me as a patient, and from a closer ‘personal’ perspective because I had worked with Both of you.

Seeing Dr. Miller again, prompted me to want to write a letter I hoped he would be able to read.  But, as ‘unknown’ crucial time would unravel itself, that never happened soon enough.  Yet, after much ‘reflective’ thought and Prayer, I still hope somehow this letter will help you ‘cope’ in knowing you TWO touched my life when I Really NEEDED some compassion and loving guidance.

During a most ‘traumatic’ year for me, you Both nurtured me like a ‘child’ with a ‘broken leg.’  My Heart was Severely Broken and Shattered into Ragged Pieces and YOU Both were there to help me mend.

Never once did you give-up on me.  Looking back, now I see how ‘difficult’ I must have made things for you guys.  (my life was a real ‘mess’ and I honestly don’t know how you dealt w/ it.  But, God led you to ‘take care of me and ‘guide me’ back into the world.  As you so eloquently put it Barb, “as I was ready to ‘fly”, you two let go.  God ‘Bless You for taking me into your World and for patiently waiting while I was trying to put things back together.

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Image by:  Ian Britian

As you’ll easily remember – I was living in a constant ‘emotional turmoil.’  (as my life kept crumbling in chaos and was falling apart in shattered upheaval.  Still, you and Dr. Miller remained steadfast and tried to guide me and ‘help me’ as much as you could.

(ironically, this similarity also makes me realize how I ‘helped’ 31 Precious, Lovely, INNOCENT Foster children when they needed someone to come-along beside them and offer a ‘supportive hand’ with genuine Caring and Gentleness.

We NEVER know what time will bring to us.  All we can do is “turn to and rely on the One True God.  “Let Go … And Let God!!”   My Favorite Jeremiah 29:11 Scripture brings me Comfort:                            “FOR I KNOW THE PLANS I HAVE FOR YOU – Declares The Lord … “PLANS TO PROSPER YOU NOT TO HARM YOU … “PLANS TO GIVE YOU A FUTURE AND A HOPE.”

(I have been doing my utmost to build a personal ‘ministry’ based on this Scripture.)

GOD’S Desire For Us Is To Become More And More Christ-like.   As we learn to ‘Trust God to Lead Us – We Never Know when we might be able to Positively Influence another.

“Cherish the days Ahead of You and keep “Thanking God for the things You DO Have!

“I Love You!”

GROWING IN CHRIST,

Jennifer K. Lewis

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MORAL OF STORY: 

Never, NEVER underestimate the ‘impact’ you are having on someone’s’ life.

It’s Never too late to say “THANK YOU!”  (you don’t know how your ‘choice(s)’ to help someone just may, in turn, BLESS You!!!)  remember the saying:  “What Goes Around – Comes Around”.

God IS Judging the ‘motive’ and ‘intent’ of your Heart in Everything you do and say!   EVERYTHING!!

Again, a person just never knows what this Earthly Life may bring, so living each day as it is our last – just keeps becoming more and more important.

Growing In Christ,

Jen