Well Done, Good and Faithful Servant

Elaine Taylor passed away Sunday evening.

You will be forever missed and loved, Elaine

You will be forever missed and loved, Elaine

You might not have heard the news.  She was not a celebrity.  Fame was not one of the goals of her 84-year-long life.  At least not earthly fame.  My guess would be that most of the people reading this post didn’t know her.  That is a shame.    

If you had ever met her, you would have loved her.  At least I think you would have.  I know for sure that Elaine would have loved you.  Elaine loved everyone.  I don’t think she ever met a stranger.  Each new person in her life was a friend.  Her smile, her laugh, her hug….  All three welcomed everyone she met, and no one who experienced them will ever forget them.

No one who ever experienced Elaine was ever forgotten by her.

I can’t tell you what her presence meant in my life.  It’s hard to even describe the relationship we had.   Elaine was a grandmother when I needed one.  She was full of love and advice—giving the love at all times and the advice when she felt I needed it, which was not necessarily when I felt I needed it.  She said she would pray for me.  And you know what?  She actually did it.  A lot of today’s Christians—myself included, I am so sorry to say—are good at saying, “You’ll be in my prayers,” and then promptly forgetting the details of who needed prayer.  Not Elaine.  She might not have known what prayer was needed, but she prayed. 

Much of my recent physical recovery I attribute to her prayers.  I gave up.  Not on God, exactly.  Never once did I stop believing that He could heal my back pain and bring back the feeling my leg.  I just gave up on the idea that He ever would.  For whatever reason, I just felt like God intended for me to live with these physical limitations, and I started to look for the good that could come from them.  If this was part of His plan, I wanted to be open to still making a difference for Him.  Elaine never gave up on my healing.  When I told her a few months ago that I knew God could heal me but I didn’t think that He would, she gave me that smile.  You know what smile I mean…the one a mother gives her child when the child seems to be trying but not trying hard enough.  Yeah, that’s the smile.  She patted my hand and said, “I don’ believe that.  It’s just not the right time.  He will bring the healing when He is ready for it, not when you are.”  And when she said she’d pray for me, I knew she was doing it.  I wish I could tell her that she was right.  I wish I’d had the chance to walk into her room, without my cane, and show her how God was working.

But I am sure she knows now.  I have a feeling God has spent a lot of time in the last few days showing Elaine how her prayers have helped bring miracles to more people than we could ever count.

There is a party going on in Heaven this week, a “welcome to your reward” party, with Elaine Taylor as the guest of honor.  From the reports I have been hearing all over Facebook this week, Elaine is just one of many guests of honor at this party.  And you know what?  I think that is how she would want it.  Once she got her face-to-face moment with Jesus, once she was able to hug Him and kiss Him, she turned around to face the others coming behind her.  

And with the same smile she used on Sunday mornings, she held out her hand and said, “Welcome to Heaven.  You’ll like it here.”


Yesterday was the first day of Family Camp 2013 at Winding Creek. In all honesty, I can’t say I’ve been looking forward to it. Some of my health issues make being away at camp uncomfortable, to say the least. Maybe I’ve been just stressing over nothing.

Or maybe there was something that I needed to hear here, something the devil was trying to keep me from coming to experience.

At the first rally of the week, the speaker said something that felt as if he was speaking directly to me. He said, “There is a difference between seeking the plan and seeker the Planner.”

How many times in the past 18 or so months have I said something about following God’s plan, knowing that even these health issues are somehow a part of God’s plan, or wishing I understood what God had planned?

And how many times have I, frustrated because I just do not understand how this could be a part of any “good” plan, screamed at God?

More than I can count, that much I know. I also know that if I were to ask, “How many times have I sincerely prayed about it, talked to God, and told Him I wanted more of Him?” the answer would be something along the lines of, “Not nearly enough.”

My uncle passed away on Easter Sunday. Liver cancer. The time from diagnosis until death was short, only a matter of weeks. Since his death, his wife has dealt with a flooded basement and seeing their 33-year-old son-in-law suffer a stroke and then be told he has a hole in his heart (surgery to repair that is scheduled for later this week.) My aunt, I am sure, has questioned God’s plan in all of this, especially when seeing the fear on her 12-year-old grandson’s face as he worried he might have to say good-bye to Daddy so soon after saying good-bye to Grandpa. What she hasn’t done is question God. She says that Jesus is her strength, and has compared herself to the song The Warrior is a Child. In that song, Twila Paris sings about winning battles for Christ, but still being spiritually wounded, and running home to Jesus for comfort. Aunt J doesn’t question the love of Christ; she seeks it out. While she may question His plan for her, it’s not the top priority. Her priority is living for Him, growing closer to Him, loving Him. And allowing Him to love her back. That is why she is smiling nearly as big as ever just three months after watching her husband step into Heaven. Because to her, the plan doesn’t matter nearly as much as the Planner.

I wish that I could say the same thing. I could say it, of course, but it would be a lie. It’s not that God doesn’t matter to me or that I don’t love Him. Last night, though, I realized that my focus has been in the wrong place. I’ve not been allowing God to love me the way He wants to and at times I’ve barely been allowing myself to love Him. I’ve been too concerned with trying to figure out what He has planned for me. And, yes, too busy worrying about what might be coming next.

I talked to Aunt J a few days ago. During our conversation, I told her that when I grow up, I want to be her.

I think it might be time for me to start growing up.

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As for me, it matters very little how I might be evaluated by you or by any human authority. I don’t even trust my own judgment on this point. My conscience is clear, but that doesn’t prove I’m right. It is the Lord himself who will examine me and decide.

I Corinthian 4:3-4, NLT

How often do I worry about what others think of me, especially where my writing is concerned? I am not perfect and I know I am not perfect. Paul said, “My conscience is clear,” but I can’t say that. There are issues that I have to work on every day. I have this fear that someone will latch onto one of those issues, one of those “faults” and decide that I am not living out the Christian life will enough to qualify me to write Christian books.

Could that fear be part of what is getting in my way, part of why I can’t seem to finish anything that I have started lately?

Am I letting that fear of not being good enough keep me from being the me God wants me to be?

I am depressed. For years—even before the miscarriage, though that really brought things into a greater focus—I have battles against clinical depression. Even at times when I seem “normal” and the medication is working, the depression is there. IT’s like a big scary beast, waiting in the shadows for a chance to take over. I’ve come to accept that the depression is the results of a chemical imbalance in my brain, an illness just like diabetes or high blood pressure. It’s not something I should be ashamed of. Yet I still am at times. I still remember words, spoken years ago in a Sunday School class, about depression that hurt, confused, and even angered me. This woman sat in class there and said that if your relationship with God is where it should be, you wouldn’t be depressed.

How many others feel the same way? How many potential readers could I lose if they find out about my depression and assume that my relationship with Christ isn’t where it should be?

Maybe it would help if I make an admission here—my relationship with Christ is not what it should be. And it is far from what it could be. It changes every day. I don’t think it will ever be perfect, and honestly I hope it never is perfect. I don’t want to get to a place where it stops growing, where I close off my heart and decide I know all I need to know about God.

But I will leave that all up to God to determine. All I can do is follow Him to the best of my ability and leave the rest up to Him.

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Stay At Home Mom?

What does at stay-at-home-mom do when all of her children are in school?

I’ve been asking myself that question a lot recently. This school year is coming to a close, and with the new balanced schedule that my sons’ school has adopted, I am looking at six weeks of having all three of my boys home all day long. But after those six weeks are up…. Then what? Starting in August, I will have a sixth grader, a fourth grader, and a kindergartener. When I was in school, kindergarten was half day. Now, they go all day, every day. So from 7:21 am until 2:22 pm (little longer than that when you figure in the time it takes for the bus to get the boys to and from school), I will be at home alone.

And I don’t know what I will do with my time.

Of course, the easy answer is “write more!” If I can get five, nearly six novels written while I have the kids home with me much of the time, can you imagine how much I can accomplish with all three of them at school all day?

And then there is my husband’s answer, one he hasn’t actually voiced but I have read in his eyes: “Keep the house clean.” Ugh. Seriously? Between you and me, if my choice is to be continually cleaning the house or working at an outside job, I am going job hunting. And with my health issues, the idea of getting a job outside of the home scares me! My mother-in-law, bless her heart, set such a bad example for me here. She was a single stay-at-home-mom throughout my husband’s high school years, and she kept an immaculate house. My most vivid memories of her involve cleaning up even while company was over. “Neat freak” doesn’t seem strong enough to describe her. But I am not like that. Sure, I enjoy having a clean home, but I don’t find great joy in constantly cleaning a house that my four guys will just mess up again quickly. And that I will just mess up again! I am not organized enough to keep the house spotless, and I know it. Not looking forward to doing something that will only set me up for failure.

There are enough areas of my life where I feel like I am failing—I don’t need my housekeeping skills (or lack thereof) to add to that feeling.

So if I don’t want to spend all my time writing (since I know that I will likely turn to computer games when a character gets on my nerves!) or cleaning, just what do I want to do with my time? I’ve been thinking a lot about it recently, and I have come up with three things that I want to do, three organizations that I want to be a part of.

One is the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN.) This is the nation’s leading cancer advocacy group. Through this group, I’ll have the chance to tell the story of how cancer has affected my life to members of government who are responsible for delegating state and federal funds to cancer research. When I first decided to get involved, it had more to do with my mother and her successful battle against the disease (30 years and going strong!) than anything else. Since then, though, I’ve seen how the disease can affect my life in other ways. Namely, my cousin lost her battle with breast cancer. Though she was 15 years older than I am and we were not particularly close, she was the first member of my generation of the family to pass away. Her death hit me harder than even I realized at first. I want to do whatever I can to help one person facing cancer celebrate one more birthday.

I’ve also decided that I want to be more involved in Jackson Storyfest. This is an annual event held in my hometown, celebrating the craft and tradition of oral storytelling. This May, Storyfest celebrated its 25th anniversary. I’ve live in Jackson for all of those 25 years, plus a few more, and though I’d heard of the event, I had never attended. My two oldest sons have, though. They have gone with their schools and each time, have really enjoyed it. It wasn’t until I spoke with one of the storytellers for a freelance gig I’d been assigned that I ever seriously considered going to Storyfest. Once I went to one session, though, I was hooked. I knew that I wanted to be a part of putting on this event year after year.

The third thing that I have decided to take up is something that I have wanted to do for a long time, ever since my now 8-year-old son started preschool. I want to head up a Moms In Prayer International group for the school my sons attend. The only thing that has kept me from doing it is that I had another child at home. Not that I haven’t prayed for my children—I do that daily. I just was not able to commit to a group. Now, though, it’s at the top of my mind. Especially as I see some of the things the boys are being faced with and the friends they are choosing. I worry about my kids. There’s nothing wrong with that—I mean, doesn’t every good mom worry about her kids on some level? But I am making the choice to turn that worry over to God. I would love to be able to meet with other moms of Hunt students, so that we can pray together.

So here is my question for you—what did you do with your time when all of your children were in school? What advice would you give to a mom like me, preparing for her first days with no children home all day long?

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Welcome Susie Hobson

Susie Hobson has heard over and over from people who want more out o life.  In her new book, Loving God with All Your Heart, she gives some insight into how we can get more in our lives.  I’m honored to have her visiting Lynn’s Corner today, sharing a little about her work.



Author Susie Hobson

I Want More!

By Susie Hobson, Author of Loving God with All Your Heart

           Are you one of those who want more?  I worked as a counselor for sixteen years and I continually heard in many different ways “I Want MORE!”  Another way to put this is, “Is this all there is for me in this world!?”  There is a desire in us all for something that people, places, possessions, fame, and fortune cannot fill.  What is that elusive need, that heart’s desire we all seem to crave?   I am convinced that it is a real relationship with God—a powerful relationship! 

         In my book, Loving God with All Your Heart, I encourage everyone, women, men, young and old, believers and non-believers in Christ to re-think the Greatest Commandment and consider changing their everyday life to one more filled with love.  God is love and when we love Him without limit that leads to the fulfillment of our heart’s desire—a relationship with the living God.  A true two-way relationship—not church talk—a relationship that can transform your whole life!

          One chapter around the end of the book brings us to the subject of happiness.  Here is an excerpt from that chapter:

          “All Christians have an abiding life-long joy in our hearts that cannot be removed by anything in or of this world.  In good times and bad times Christians have the joy of Jesus Christ inside of us by way of the Holy Spirit.  However, as a counselor, I know that when people start talking about having more, a part of the more that they want is to be happy.  Yes, happy—an emotion that is situational, based on circumstances, and not an all-the-time-enduring feeling.  Yet most people do want to live what could be considered a happy life. 

           Just a few years ago I sat in on a group of young adults and the question was asked, ‘Who is happy this morning?;  One young man raised his hand.  Then the question was asked, ‘Who wants to be happy?’ and everyone raised their hands.  I think that today’s standard of what ‘happy’ is has become unrealistic.  Happy is not fireworks, thrill rides, and entertainment.  That’s excitement, not happy!  Happy is . . . “

           Now, if you are interested you will have to check out my book to see how keeping the Greatest Commandment could be a life-changing way of living for you and your family.  In my book I deal with topics such as surrender, sin, the Bible, what pleases God, as well as my personal testimony (this book is not about my journey but I do share my testimony to show that God is real and He is in the people changing business!). 

           Are you one who wants more?  This book is for you.  It takes you deeper into your heart’s desire for a real relationship with God—a powerful and active relationship! 

           Thank you, Lynn’s Corner, for this opportunity to share about my book!  I’ve enjoyed visiting with you. 

 Susie Hobson is the author of the newly released book, Loving God with All Your Heart.  Her book was published by Nordskog Publishing and is available from amazon.com and through her publishing company (www.nordskogpublishing.com).  

Susie Hobson has a B.A. in Special Education and an M.S. in Rehabilitation Counseling from The University of Alabama.  She worked as a Rehabilitation Counselor for the Alabama Dept. of Rehabilitation Services for sixteen years managing a deaf/hearing-impaired and blind/vision-impaired caseload.  She retired to spend more time with her family and to write as God has called her.  She and her husband Rich have two daughters and live in Montgomery, Alabama.


Dear Lord,

In the book of Matthew, Jesus says, “This is the reason a man leaves his father and mother and is joined to his wife, and the two are united into one” (chapter 19, verse 5, New Living Translation). That first part, the part about leaving father and mother, is the easy part. Being united into one is not always so simple.

One area where I know John and I are not completely united is in the area of finances. We are both very selfish about money, but in different ways. I tend to be selfish in an “I want it NOW” way, while he tends to be selfish in more of a “we need to plan for tomorrow” way. Please help us to work together in this area of our marriage. Help us listen to one another, to really hear each others thoughts and desires on this subject so that we can find an agreement that works for US, as a couple. Help us to put what is best for us above what is best for Lynn or for John. Above all, Lord, help us to keep YOUR desires for our lives in the forefront of our thoughts. It is not going to do us any good to become one if we are not one with You.

Thank You for hearing me and for loving me. Help me throughout this day to show love to John. He is the most precious gift You have given me. Help me to show him that in all I do and say.

I ask this in the precious name of Jesus.


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Praying Wife

After ten years of marriage, I can hardly call myself an expert on the subject. I am not even sure if I could be considered an expert on my own marriage! One thing I am pretty sure of, though, is that I am not always a good wife. My husband would disagree. Maybe that is because he is a wonderful husband. He is always telling me that I am perfect the way that I am, no matter what flaws I see in myself. I can tell you, I am far from perfect. The perfect woman for him? Maybe. Still, I can see that there is always room for improvement.

One area where I know I could use improvement is in the area of prayer.

Last week, I posted about how difficult prayer has been for me. Seems like ever since I posted that it has gotten even harder. Not that it’s hard to understand why—satan knows that I am trying to get closer to God, and he is fighting me on all fronts. Let me tell you, it would be so easy to just give up and let him win. It’s amazing how much physical energy it takes to fight a spiritual battle.

But giving up is just what satan wants, and I am not willing to give him the satisfaction!

A while back, I bought a copy of The Power of a Praying Wife. I started reading, and even started working through the workbook that goes along with it. Can’t really say that I finished it. Seems that I have a bad habit of starting on a self-help type of book and then not finishing it. I don’t know why. Fiction books, I seem to just breeze right through. Maybe it is because those books are for fun and the non-fiction books I choose to read normally have something to do with changes I need to make in my life.

And who wants to admit the need to change?

I am trying to look at this a little differently, though. By reading The Power of a Praying Wife, I am not trying to make changes to better myself, exactly. I am trying to give my husband the wife he deserves. In case you are wondering what kind of a wife he deserves, I am talking about the kind of wife described in Proverbs 31. He needs a wife who enhances his life, makes his life better and easier, not a wife who is constantly nagging him or draining him of energy. By learning how to pray for him—and I mean really truly pray for him, not just saying “oh God, bless my husband”—I will be one step closer to being that wife.

A part of me wonders if he will even notice it. Will he see the changes I am making and how I am trying to make our lives better? It may sound sad, but I seriously don’t think he will. At the same time, I know that God will see the attempt that I am making. In the long run, that will be more beneficial anyway.

Prayerful Thinking

Prayer has not always been easy for me. I know prayer is an important part of having a close relationship with God. It’s just not something that comes naturally to me. Exactly why, I am not sure. There are, I suppose, a few reasons for it. Reasons or excuses or whatever you want to call it. At times I have felt unworthy—after all I have done wrong, there is no way that God would want to hear from me. Sometimes I have felt unimportant—there are wars going on and people with real problems; God doesn’t care what is happening with me. Once or twice, I even thought that it would be easier to just not try to pray than to do it wrong.

In my teens I met a woman named Bea. When I first met her, I thought she was just the old lady playing the organ at church. My mom called her a “prayer warrior”. I didn’t understand what that meant at the time. All I knew was that Bea prayed and played the organ. Seemed like a pretty boring life to me.

As I grew older and got to know Bea better, I began to appreciate her more. I thought more and more about Mom’s description of her—prayer warrior. In my mind, I pictured someone in armour, holding a sword, literally fighting against all of the dark things of the world. The more I thought about it, the more I realized the description fit Bea perfectly. She lived for Jesus and liked nothing more on this Earth than to take the prayers of others before the Lord. Bea even asked me once or twice, “How can I pray for you today?” I don’t remember her ever asking for prayers for herself. Not even toward the end of her life, when the physical pain of the cancer had to be more than I could ever imagine. She was always more interested in praying for others.

The “problem” with having someone like Bea in my life is that I began to use her as a crutch. If I faced a situation that required prayer, all I needed to do was call on Bea. She would pray, so I didn’t have to. I didn’t realize I was using her as a crutch, though. I thought that I was being a “good little Christian girl” by allowing Bea to be blessed by God for her prayerful faithfulness.

When she got sick, I knew I was in trouble. For so long I had taken problems to Bea, trusting her to pray for me. Suddenly, the one who did my praying was in need of prayer herself.

And I had no clue how to pray for her.

Bea earned her Crown of Glory on March 22, 2010. I’ve thought a lot about her since her passing. Every time she comes to mind, I think of her as that prayer warrior—in armor from head to toe, the sword of prayer in her hand, slaying everything the devil threw her way. I want to be that kind of a woman. I can’t imagine that I will ever be quite what Bea was. And I know she would not want me to be. She was never interested in glory for herself. She wanted all the glory, all the time, to go to Christ. In fact, I can almost hear what she would say if she read this right now—”Don’t try to be like me, Lynn. You need to be more like Jesus. He is the only one worth copying.”

In order to be more like Him, though, I need to learn how to pray. I need to learn more than just “God is good, God is great” and “No I lay me…” I need to learn how to really approach God, how to ask Him for what I need, and how to believe He will grant it.

My Testimony

As far back as I can remember I have wanted to be a Mom. As the fourth of six girls, I dreamed of having a houseful of daughters, with maybe one son thrown in there. At the age of 16, that dream began to fade.

After months of horrible, intense pains, my doctor diagnosed polycystic ovarian syndrome. He told me that meant it would be difficult for me to even get pregnant. When he factored in my weight, he said, “While a baby would be able to survive, the chances of you ever getting pregnant are very slim.”

I tried to act like it was no big deal. After all, I was still in high school and I didn’t have a boyfriend. Being a mother was a dream that I was not really working toward right then.

But it was a big deal. One particular friend in school held me as I cried over it. She told me, “Give it to God. If He wants you to have children, what the doctors say won’t matter. You will have them.”

The problem was, I didn’t really care too much about God at the time. I went to church every Sunday morning and Wednesday night, but only because I had to. I didn’t want to be there. Mom and Dad had a rule about it, though, and unless I was working, I had to be there. Sometimes, I even had to go on Sunday nights. To be honest, I didn’t see the point. My parents didn’t seem to be any better off than people who didn’t go to church. In fact, they seemed to be a lot a worse off at times. They went to church all the time, but God wasn’t helping them. What would make me think that He would help me with something?

My wedding was about two weeks before my 24th birthday. It was all I had ever dreamed of. I don’t think I will ever forget the look on my husband’s face when he saw me walking toward him in my wedding dress. That was real love. Not that I doubted it. Before I could marry him, I had to tell him what the doctors had said. Especially considering that two years earlier I’d been told I was in the beginning stages of endometriosis, yet another condition that would make pregnancy nearly impossible. My husband didn’t care, though. He said he wanted to have children, but as long as he had me as his wife he would be happy. “Besides, we can adopt if things don’t work out. But just think of all the fun we can have trying to prove the doctors wrong.”

Because of the cysts, my monthly cycles had always been a bit off. When I missed one period, I was concerned. When I missed a second, I started to think, “Could it be…?” A friend who’d been trying for a couple of years to get pregnant had just found out she was expecting her first. She told me, “Go get a home test. If it is positive, call a doctor. If it is negative, get in the bedroom and try again.” My husband wasn’t so sure it was a good idea. He was afraid that I would be too upset with a negative test. But once the idea was in my head, I just had to know. So when we got our groceries, we also picked up a home test. I took it right away, setting a timer to go check after I put the groceries away. There were two little pink lines on the stick. We had been married for only five months, and already I was pregnant!

I felt like a dream was coming true. I began to read every baby book and parenting magazine I could find. We picked out names for our little one—Robyn Dayle for a girl and Andru John for a boy—and a theme for the nursery—Baby Looney Tunes. I was careful about what I ate, and even gave up coffee and Mountain Dew when my doctor said caffeine was bad for a developing baby. I was determined to do everything right for this little blessing of mine.

The dream came to a screeching halt on Tuesday, September 19, 2000. That was when a phone call from my OB’s office came. The nurse on the other end of the line told me that there were some “abnormalities” in a routine blood test. My unborn baby, it appeared, had Down’s syndrome. “We need you to go see a specialist to have this confirmed before it is too late to terminate the pregnancy.” She told me the name of the specialist and what time the appointment was they had already made for me. Somehow, I called my husband at work. He took the afternoon off and the next day off so he could be with me for the testing. We sat on the couch for a while, just crying. When the mailman came that day, he delivered a Baby Looney Tunes lamp that I had purchased on eBay. I remember asking John if we would even be able to use it. He told me, “God will take care of us.” I agreed. I told him, “I want to see this specialist so that I can be prepared to care for our baby’s needs. But I will NOT terminate the pregnancy. God put the baby in there, and He alone will decide when the pregnancy ends.”

Two weeks later, I was still waiting for the test results to be back. After dropping my niece off at preschool, I drove home with only her 2-year-old brother in the car. I had an old Carman cassette in, and the song Lazarus, Come Forth began to play. I sang along, and at the end I said, “Wow. You know, it would have been so cool to have been there and see Lazarus come out of his grave.”

“I raised Lazarus from the grave, and I will heal your baby.”

I pulled off to the side of the road and looked around. Only baby Jake was in the back, and he was nearly asleep. But the voice was loud and clear and real. I had no reason to believe it was anyone other than God talking to me. Tears streamed down my face. All I could say was, “Thank you, Lord. Thank you.” John and I had been faithful to God, and He was honoring that.

When I got home, the doctor’s office called again. They said, “We have the test results here. It appears you are carrying a healthy baby boy.”

A few months later, on February 2, 2001, my son, Andru John McMonigal came into this world. He was the most beautiful thing I had ever seen in all my life! At my six week post-partum check up, my doctor confirmed what I knew all along. God HAD healed Andru. There are certain markers that are normally found in the placenta of a child with Down’s syndrome that are not present in the placenta of a healthy child. Those markers were found in Andru’s placenta.