I grew up in the rolling hills of Pennsylvania, the daughter of two loving and hard-working Christian parents. Being raised in a Christian home was like living in a big love bubble. Safe, secure and sweet. By the grace of God, I gave my life to Jesus around the age of twelve.
I was the famous “middle child”. Always looking up to my big brother, I wanted to copy his strength and endeavors as he was a great role model. Throughout our childhood, my big brother graciously included me and mentored me. My younger brother is special. Special needs, that is, and his disability has had a profound engraving process on my heart. My brother is loving and kind, enjoys music, trains, camping and walks in his favorite parks. However, life is not easy for my younger brother for he is developmentally delayed and autistic. The beauty is, his unique style of approaching life, has molded me into a person with greater empathy, understanding and patience for someone who may be struggling with a disabling condition. Though at times I am saddened at the obstacles my brother faces each day, I am eternally grateful for how he has changed me.
When I met my husband, artist and teacher, Tom McLaughlin, we were blessed to view our marriage as an extension of Christ’s love in our lives. With joy we welcomed three children into our little family and how we still treasure those gifts from God above!
From an early age, I always wanted to be a teacher. I graduated from Eastern University in St. Davids, PA with a dual major in Elementary and Special Education. I earned my Masters Degree as a Reading Specialist from Temple University in Philadelphia. These degrees and multiple certifications were put to good use. Over the years, my teaching career included these positions: teacher in regular elementary education (K,1,3,4,5), special education (K-5), reading specialist (K-5), at-risk program facilitator (K-5), Inclusion facilitator (K-8), homebound instructor (middle school), tutor (all ages, all subjects, you name it!), not to mention Sunday School teacher and VBS teacher at church. For me, there is no joy greater than seeing a student learn something new and be filled with desire to learn something new again tomorrow!
However, this dream-come-true career took a turn for the worse when my lifelong health issues overshadowed everything. At age 50, while I had many wonderful years of teaching under my belt and many more still to come, my ongoing back problems became completely debilitating. I had gone through back surgery some years prior, but suddenly, despite medication and treatments, I could no longer sit, I could no longer drive, I could no longer carry a teacher’s manual, I could no longer bend over student desks, I could no longer get through the day without pain searing through my entire back. Though it was crushing to my spirit, the truth was, I could no longer teach. And so, I took an unwanted, unexpected, unplanned early retirement.
To give up my hard fought, hard won, beloved teaching job was heartbreaking for me. I was shaken to the core. In addition, I had no idea where my physical condition was going to leave me, as the intense levels of chronic pain multiplied the despair I felt. Though I was supported and loved by my husband, children, church and extended family, to me the future appeared dim indeed. Praise God, after many months of ongoing treatment and lifestyle changes, my pain, though still chronic, was at a less debilitating level. However, with the physical limitations still a requirement for my adapted lifestyle, teaching was out of the question.
Being a teacher was how I viewed myself, the role I had always longed for and cherished. Now that was gone. I grappled with my faith and my feelings. Each day a wrestling match in my soul. God, what are you doing? Why have you allowed this? You are the Creator. You can do anything. Why won’t you heal me? As the days trudged by, the cries and sighs I poured out to God seemed empty and at times there were only tears, no words. So I began to read my Bible for hours at a time, collecting verses that filled my mind with hope, recharged my soul and refocused my eyes on Jesus. Very, very slowly, the Bible verses became so intricately interwoven into my thinking and my words that the Bible itself became my prayer. My spiritual heart and mind grew deeply through this process. As the sorrow of my heart began to subside with daily Bible-based prayers, I began to realize this prayer process might be a lifeline for someone else whose life had taken an unwanted and painful twist. Around this same time, God led us to a new church, called Macedonia Ministries. With the support and encouragement of my husband, family, church family and most of all the inspiration of the Holy Spirit and God’s Word, I was eventually able to put that pain-driven, Bible-based prayer process into words and complete my first book:
In Dark of Night When Words Fail, Voice of Jesus Pray for Me
My Book Available on Amazon – In Dark of Night When Words Fail Voice of Jesus Pray For Me
I consider this blog one part of a grand, God-led continuation and blossoming of that whole painful but more importantly, fruitful process. Looking back, I can see the greater good of God’s plan, moving me into a new position, writer first, teacher second. What I have come realize is that the lessons I learned from my teaching experiences can also be applied to my writing. In God’s economy, nothing goes to waste. I still use words to teach and learn, but now my words are from God’s Word, the Bible. I still connect with people who desire to learn and grow, only in this setting we make up a classroom of Jesus-students, helping each other make the most of each day as we run toward a prize that’s even better than recess, Jesus Christ Himself!
The devotionals, prayers and poems I have written on this blog are the result of ongoing daily Bible reading, prayer, singing to the Lord and inviting the infusion of the Holy Spirit into every syllable, space and utterance. I pray that these words will help you to see, know and love Jesus more. I am convinced He can provide you with the comfort, faith, hope and strength that He gave to me, even if you are facing the darkest of times. Join me in a feast of eternal proportions! Follow me here and together we will taste and see that the Lord is good! Psalm 34:8
In Dark of Night When Words Fail
Voice of Jesus Pray For Me
My Book Available on Amazon – In Dark of Night When Words Fail Voice of Jesus Pray for Me
I would like to extend my heartfelt appreciation to:
Christian Speaker and Author Julie Dibble, who gently and repeatedly invited me to start a blog. Julie has a powerful blog herself, Julie Dibble as well as a poetry blog Faith Hope and Poetry which will stir the fires of your faith.
Christian author and dear friend, Dr. Louima Lilite, of Oklahoma Baptist Universtiy, provided Godly encouragement and graciously wrote the foreword of my book capturing the essence of my work. Dr. Lilite has published two books titled, Weeding Impatience and When Music Meets Faith. In addition to his work at the university and writing, Dr. Lilite hosts a Christian teaching blog, Choose Freedom. To purchase his books on Amazon click here: Weeding Impatience and When Music Meets Faith.
Ministers Donald and Precious Graham of Promise and Destiny Ministries, provided wise publishing counsel. Follow this link to read Minister Donald E. Graham, Jr.’s blog. They have published inspiring books, along with preaching, teaching and leading seminars on many Christian life and growth topics. Their book titles include: Loving Her Means Loving Him, Navigating Your Seasons of Change and The 4 P’s of Marriage. Click here to purchase their books or to receive a blessing from their teaching videos and other life-giving ministries: Promise and Destiny Ministries.
Jesus, the one who created me, saved me and loves me like no other.