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Don’t Give Up

“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” ~ John 16:33

“My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends. You are my friends if you do what I command. I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you. You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit—fruit that will last. Then the Father will give you whatever you ask in my name. This is my command: Love each other. ~ John 15: 12-17

In this proud land we grew up strong
We were wanted all along
I was taught to fight, taught to win
I never thought I could fail

No fight left or so it seems
I am a man whose dreams have all deserted
I’ve changed my face, I’ve changed my name
But no one wants you when you lose

Don’t give up
‘cos you have friends
Don’t give up
You’re not beaten yet
Don’t give up
I know you can make it good

Though I saw it all around
Never thought I could be affected
Thought that we’d be the last to go
It is so strange the way things turn

Drove the night toward my home
The place that I was born, on the lakeside
As daylight broke, I saw the earth
The trees had burned down to the ground

Don’t give up
You still have us
Don’t give up
We don’t need much of anything
Don’t give up
’cause somewhere there’s a place
Where we belong

Rest your head
You worry too much
It’s going to be alright
When times get rough
You can fall back on us
Don’t give up
Please don’t give up

‘got to walk out of here
I can’t take anymore
Going to stand on that bridge
Keep my eyes down below
Whatever may come
And whatever may go
That river’s flowing
That river’s flowing

Moved on to another town
Tried hard to settle down
For every job, so many men
So many men no-one needs

Don’t give up
’cause you have friends
Don’t give up
You’re not the only one
Don’t give up
No reason to be ashamed
Don’t give up
You still have us
Don’t give up now
We’re proud of who you are
Don’t give up
You know it’s never been easy
Don’t give up
’cause I believe there’s the a place
There’s a place where we belong


P.S. – A VERY Happy Birthday to my friend Sarah Salter! Enjoy your day, and don’t do anything I wouldn’t! (Which pretty much leaves things wide open…)

Angels Unawares (by Billy Coffey)

Over the years the day after Thanksgiving has become a holiday of its own sort in our house—we call it Time To Haul The Christmas Stuff Out Of The Attic Day. It’s just as festive and exhausting as Thanksgiving. Just as messy, too. But this yearly ritual serves its own purpose, and that’s to unwrap a little magic to offset the drabness that can accompany November in Virginia. And sometimes, many times, I manage to unwrap some wisdom, too.

For instance.

By my count there are seventeen angels on my Christmas tree. Each are unique from the others in sort of a heavenly snowflake kind of way—tall and short, baby and adult, ceramic and paper. Some are new, products of last year’s Christmas-is-over-and-no-one-bought-this sale at the Hallmark store. Others, like the ragged piece of felt with one wing and half a halo, have been around since I was in elementary school.

Our angels don’t simply grace the tree, though. They also flutter above our nativity scene, adorn our dinner plates, and stand guard in our front yard. These, too, have their tiny differences. Some are playing harps or blowing horns. Some sing. And some simply stand there with a stately and calm demeanor as if they have something important to say if I just took the time to listen.

But regardless of what these decorations look like or what they’re doing, one thing is supremely obvious—they’re angels, and there’s no mistaking them.

Others aren’t so easy to spot.

I was putting the finishing touches on the tree Friday afternoon when I spotted something a bit odd. I pulled a Winnie-the-Pooh ornament out of the box and found it was not Pooh at all. One of the two miniature Coffeys in the house had evidently disrobed his trademark red shirt and dressed angel number eighteen with it. I left the shirt on and hung the angel on the back of the tree where no one would notice, and forgot about it.

I went upstairs to write a while after that, first taking the time to go through a few emails. One was a continuing conversation that originated the day before by one of my online friends, who had taken a small part of her Thanksgiving Day to send a note of appreciation to a dozen or so of our shared acquaintances.

The email bounced back and forth between all of us and seemed to settle on this one question—was what we all shared really considered friendship? It was a valid question. By and large we were all separated by hundreds and even thousands of miles. Few of us had ever met, never even heard each other’s voices. Our interaction was limited to blogs, Twitter, Facebook, and email. We were words and avatars more than flesh and blood.

The consensus was that yes, we did share a friendship. Location and means of communication didn’t seem to matter. What mattered was what was said and when.

That’s when I remembered the angel dressed as Winnie-the-Pooh. And when I realized what a real angel was.

If you read the Old Testament in the original Hebrew (and I don’t), you’d find that the word for angel is mal’ach—messenger. No surprise there. But look a little deeper and you’ll find that word also used for anyone delivering any message. The thought is an amazing one. You don’t have to be a supernatural being to be an angel. You can be anyone.

I looked back over all those emails and realized everyone had been wrong, at least when it came to me. Because I don’t see angels just at Christmastime, I see them on a daily basis. These men and women whom I’ve never met and never heard are more than friends, they’re my angels. They encourage me when I’m doubtful, make me laugh when I don’t want to, and lift me up in prayer. They’ve given me more help than I could possibly say. There are other angels, too. Ones who take the time not only to read the rambling words that pop out of my head, but leave a comment or two behind. Or who email me just to say thanks for making them laugh or think or even shed a tear.

It seems pretty appropriate, then, that in this tiny window of time between Thanksgiving and Christmas I give thanks for my angels. We’re blessed every day, not so much with big things that matter much, but with small things that matter more. Which just might be why we’re called in the coming weeks to worship a child, the smallest among us.

And which is also why I went back downstairs soon thereafter, took the disguised angel from the back of the tree, and hung it on the front.

Where everyone would notice.


To read more from Billy Coffey, visit him at at his website and follow him on the twitter at @billycoffey.

Saint Helen of Chicagoland

If you read my blog yesterday, then you know that a) I am lame, and b) it was Helen’s birthday. As promised, here’s my little Ode to Helen:

No songs, no beautiful haiku’s, wonderful polka videos. Many of my bloggy gal pals paid tribute to Helen yesterday, and they did it up right. But because I want those of you who don’t know my friend Helen to see what I see in her, that’s what I will attempt to do here.

Helen has been reading Hey Look a Chicken for almost as long as I have been writing it. I believe her very first comment here was on my post, The Top Ten things your friend/significant other with ADD wants you to know but keeps forgetting to tell you:

Helen said: I happen to be cdo. That is like ocd, but in proper alphabetical order, as it ought to be!

And that, as they say, was the start of a beautiful friendship. If you follow @helenatrandom on the twitter, then you already know what a great sense of humor she has. What you probably cannot surmise on 140 characters or less is that this funny gal is also compassionate, loyal, articulate and incredibly intelligent.

Okay, so many of you might be asking yourselves, “If she’s so smart, why does she follow this blog?” Answer: Shut up, who asked you? Okay, real answer? I think we’re kindred spirits. We’ve both had obstacles to overcome. Still do. But Helen handles things with grace, humor and a heart for God.

I don’t think I could pick just one favorite post from Random Musings, but the following excerpt is from one of my favorites. It’s Helen at her transparent best:

I have especially good memories of being a child on my way to and from school, passing a house that had beautiful light up nativity in front of their house. How I loved it! I remember walking up to the baby Jesus as a kindergartner, with my mom calling after me “Helen, I taught you better than to walk on the grass. You don’t even know these people! They might be angry!”.

I remember a middle aged (probably thirty-nine like me) woman coming outside in her house dress, telling mom it was okay, not to worry about it, I have her permission to stay on the lawn as long as I like, and come as often as I like. That was so nice of her. Poor lady. I don’t think she realized that I would take that as permission to come and kneel before the Christ child every day the nativity was up, every year through eighth grade.

Actually, she never came outside when I was there again. But, God bless her, she never said “Stop it already. You are no longer small and cute when you do this! You are absolutely frightening!” I mean, think about it. I probably looked like I should be riding the short bus. And, while I could read and write well above my grade level, and could hold my own in math, I was rather slow socially. Obviously. And, of course, I thought it was every body else.

My poor mother.

I was probably in Sixth Grade the day I came home half an hour late with my knees wet from the snow. It was the first day baby Jesus was up that year, and I had a lot to say.

Mom was always a worrier, and my coming home that late (very over protective) with pants wet from the knee down pushed her to the edge. She was yelling “Where were you? What on earth could you have been doing?” etc, I’m sure you all know the drill. And I look at her like she was…..well, acting strangely and say “Mom, didn’t you know the Nativity on the next block was up today? Where else could I have been?” Of course, she tries to convince me that the permission given me was not for all eternity, but I said “Wouldn’t they just say something already if they changed their minds?” Mom was exasperated with me, so I tried to keep my time with the nativity short from then on.

On my way to school, I would wave to the Holy Family, then stop to talk to them for a moment on my way home. Yeah. I know. Short bus. I looked like a big dumb kid. But I didn’t care. I wish I cared a little less now….

By the time I entered college, the family either moved, or didn’t put the nativity out any more. Either way, by then I was too grown up by then to do childish things, and not grown up enough to do child like things.

I do still cherish these memories. Every time I see an outdoor Nativity, I reflect on how I can receive Him like a child now. I guess the answer is to just love Him without wondering how I am being perceived by others.

In case you were wondering, we do not put out an outdoor Nativity (my husband doesn’t like them, and I have submitted to him on this matter), though I have Nativity sun catchers in my window displaying the story of that glorious day. I have not seen any children gazing in wonder, but if I do, I will be sure to tell them to get as close as they like, take as long as they like, and come as often as they like.

In interest of full disclosure, the set above is not the one I remember from my youth, but it is beautiful, isn’t it?

So, that’s my friend Helen at Random Musings. Did your world just get a little brighter? I know mine did.

Happy Belated Birthday, my friend! Here’s another Nativity scene for you:

Tired of Fighting? (By Stacey Armond)

I first started blogging in an attempt to gather all my long winded comments from other blogs into one place. Now, many of you whose blogs I frequent are saying, “How’s that working out for ya?” Well, shut up. I have a lot to say.

I am grateful to Jon Acuff for many things; for his friendship and for introducing me via his blog Stuff Christians Like to so many fantastic, funny, wonderful people. One of my favorites is Stacey and her husband who sometimes answers to Hucklebuck. Stacey’s Thoughts of Infertility is a online journal of sorts; helping lots of folks struggling with infertility. But it’s not only about that. I’ve said this before and I will say it again. No matter what the subject matter, if something is written from a writer’s heart I am a fan. I am a big fan of Stacey, and consider it a privilege to call her a friend. But enough of me, here’s Stacey:

If you read my blog regularly and have a good memory, you might remember that I have been studying the book of Philippians for the past few months. I wrote a post about it back in February when I first started attending the Bible study, and I can’t believe that 16 weeks have gone by! In the original post (“Perspective”), I wrote about how much I was looking forward to studying a book about “how to have joy no matter what.” Now, as I near the end of the study, I want to write about something I learned this week.

While studying the last chapter of Philippians, I took a long look at Phil. 4:6-7. “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” These are powerful verses, and I’ve been trying to soak them in. I know that I believe them, but how do I live it? How do I overcome my anxiety and truly live in peace?

One of the things that is so hard about the struggle with infertility and miscarriage is that it feels way too big for me. It is so far beyond anything I know how to handle. I’m not suggesting that it’s the hardest thing in the whole world by any means, but being pregnant six times and not being able to do anything to help those babies grow and thrive is incredibly hard. Watching each one slip away has been devastating for us. After almost eleven years of marriage, we still have no children to hold in our arms and fill up our home. Even now we are in a season of waiting, and we have no idea how long it will last. All of these facts are hard to ignore. I wake up every morning painfully aware of them. I don’t have a definite medical reason why this is happening. Although my doctors have identified and even corrected some problems over the years, we have no guarantee that I will ever deliver a baby. Sometimes I let the future scare me. Many times I let my circumstances rob me of my joy.

A few things clicked for me today as the Bible study led me to 2 Chronicles 20. I hope you’ll read the whole chapter, but here’s a recap:

Jehoshaphat (king of Judah) is warned of an impending attack. He immediately decides to inquire of the Lord. All of the people of Judah gather to seek the Lord’s help, and Jehoshaphat leads them in prayer. For me, the highlight of this king’s prayer is in 2 Chron. 20:12: “We have no power to face this vast army that is attacking us. We do not know what to do, but our eyes are upon you.” Okay, now this I understand! Although I don’t have a vast army threatening my life today, I do feel utterly powerless against my foe. I have no idea what to do other than keep my eyes on the Lord.

When we read further, we learn that God spoke through one of the men in the assembly. Here is what is recorded in verses 15 and 17: “This is what the Lord says to you: ‘Do not be afraid or discouraged because of this vast army. For the battle is not yours, but God’s. You will not have to fight this battle. Take up your positions, stand firm and see the the deliverance the Lord will give you, O Judah and Jerusalem. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged. Go out to face them tomorrow, and the Lord will be with you.'”

The people of Judah not only obeyed God; they sang and praised Him BEFORE they knew the outcome. Of course, God came through on His promise and the people rejoiced. In verse 30, we find Jehoshaphat’s kingdom at peace because “God had given him rest on every side.”

As I studied today it became clear what in the world these verses have to do with the fourth chapter of Philippians. What was the result of the people’s obedience?

1. They rejoiced in what the Lord had done.
2. They recognized God’s power and strength.
3. They rested in His peace.

Philippians 4:6-7: “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

I don’t know what to do as my battle with infertility continues. The people of Judah were told to take up their positions and to stand firm. Yes, I have a part to play that is not entirely passive, but ultimately the result is out of my hands, and I’m okay with that as long as the battle is God’s. I want to keep my eyes on Him, rest in His peace, and rejoice no matter what the outcome will be.

*All verses are quoted from the NIV. If you want to know more about this Bible study, click here: Precept Ministries

If you would like to read more from Stacey (and you really should – she’s awesome), visit her at Stacey’s Thoughts of Infertility.

Best Funeral Ever.

Does that sound strange, disrespectful, irreverent? It’s not meant to be. Ask anyone in attendance and I’d be willing to bet that most would agree.

Have you ever laughed out loud at a funeral? Ever applauded wildly? Me neither, until today. But then I have never been to a funeral that was planned right down to the last detail by my friend Pat, who is probably one of the coolest people I’ve ever known.

Briefly, I will tell you that Pat was 71 years young. I know that sounds cliche, but it’s true in her case. She loved God and she loved people in big, generous, outrageous ways. I suppose one of the advantages, if you could call it that, of knowing you’re going to die is that you get to say what’s important; what matters. When I visited Pat, we didn’t talk about the weather, we talked about how much we meant to each other. She didn’t spend time mourning a life that she should have lived. She gave specific instructions as to how she wanted her funeral to proceed.

My job was simple. She had asked her kids to each reach a chapter from the Book of Psalms. If they started to falter and couldn’t go on, I was to go up there and finish the reading. It turns out that wasn’t necessary, but I was ready and able if needed.

The place was packed full of people, all of whom loved her. Can I just say that you couldn’t help but love this woman unless your heart is made of stone? Darren Walter (the pastor of Pat’s church – formerly my church) opened the service with a prayer and the usual “survived by” stuff. He’s a great guy and he did a great job. He shared with us that Pat told him, “Well, you’re no Pastor So-and-So , but you’re a good kid.” You never needed to ask Pat what she really thought. That was pretty much whatever came out of her mouth.

Another specific request she made was that the song “Days of Elijah” was to be sung. And it was to be sung by Jeff Hogan. Fortunately, we (C3) have a very good relationship with our old church, so that was not a problem. Jeff and Tamara rocked that song. Then a wonderful retired preacher by the name of Brother Wayne sang “Amazing Grace” in his big, booming beautiful southern gospel voice.

Her children and one of her grandchildren read the scriptures she had requested. Her daughter Cari spoke lovingly about some of the things that made Pat such a wonderful, loving mother, grandmother, great-grandmother and friend.

Now for the best part. Cue the video. Pat made a video before she died from her bed. It was classic Pat. She told us how much she loved us, and not to be sad for her. She shared the story of the 3 dreams she had of heaven. Said it was God’s way of putting her at peace. She had absolutely no doubt in her mind that there is a heaven and she would soon be there.

That was the theme for her funeral. That was her dying wish. She wanted everyone within earshot to know that heaven is a real place, and that she fully expected to see all of us there.

I look forward to that day.

At the close of the service, on an unseasonably beautiful day in Katy, Texas, we released 71 white balloons towards heaven.

Spot on perfect funeral.

Dear God:

Dear God:

Thank you for Pat. I suppose we were unlikely friends, what with our differences in age, background, etc. But the Body of Christ is like that, isn’t it? It matters not how vast our differences may be on the surface. When we share a love for Jesus, most things don’t really seem to matter.

Thank you for showing me through Pat that all things can be used for your glory. That something like a loss of a leg because of illness might appear at first to be a curse, then turn out to be an incredible blessing.

Thank you for:

  • her infectious laughter
  • her love of me and my family
  • her cinnamon rolls
  • her gift of gab
  • her generosity and thoughtfulness
  • her creativity
  • her wicked sense of humor
  • her wonderful family that she shared with us all
  • her servants heart
  • her friendship through good times and not so good times

I know that she is with you now. I’m missing her right now, but I know she is dancing with the angels. And probably cracking them up.

Goodbye my friend. Until we meet again. I love you.

This Day in History

1862: Mexican forces loyal to Benito Juarez defeat troops sent by Napoleon III in the Battle of Puebla.
1865: The 13th Amendment is ratified, abolishing slavery.
1917: Eugene Jacques Bullard becomes the first African-American aviator when he earns a flying certificate with the French Air Service.
1935: American Jesse Owens sets the long jump record.
1945: Holland and Denmark are liberated from Nazi control.
1961: Alan Shepard becomes the first American in space.

Some pretty cool things happened on May 5, and some fairly awesome people were born on this day, too. But I’m not going to mention any of them save one. Because compared to this one, for me, the rest sort of pale in comparison. I’m referring to my kick butt bloggity gal pal, Annie K.

There’s so many things I love about Annie. She’s one of the original Magnificent 7 and even coined the name. I suppose what I love about Annie the most has much to do with how our relationship came into being in the first place.

Someone left a rather snarky comment directed at Sherri, another one of the original 7, about linking their blogs in the comments section on Stuff Christians Like. Annie and I both ended up on Sherri’s blog because we wanted to support and defend her. In that way we are much alike – defenders of the underdog. Not that Sherri is an underdog. She was just being unfairly picked on. On a sidenote, I would just like to let you know that no one unfairly picks on Sherri anymore. Well, I do, and Steph, and Annie, Beth, Nick, Marni, Helen, Mare, Candy, Shark Bait, and…okay we all pick on her sometimes. It’s our love language.

Back to Annie. I suppose I could give you a run down of all things fabulous about her, but I’ll just suggest you go read through her blog. You’ll figure it out. But in a nutshell, I think I can sum up why I heart Annie with a brief snippet from a ridiculously long email extravaganza where many of us were hitting “reply” fast and furious. (And you thought we just left comments on each other’s blogs!) So, without further adieu, I give you Annie’s reply, “Just a freaking minute…”:

Here’s the deal..

My husband takes me out to a nice dinner at my fav restaurant tonight and I come back to a gazzzillion emails.

1. I want everyone’s freaking shirt size.

Don’t give me crap about sparklies and unicorns. I will make you look fabulous no matter what you are wearing beause that is the kind of gal I am. Just give me the damn shirt size.

2. It will say No Fair Wear somewhere on it.
3. You will look fabulous.
4. I hate K-MArt. I am a Dillards snob. Get over it. Just give me your damn shirt size.
5. I love you gals.
6. I’m taking my husband to bed. I’d better have shirt sizes by the time I wake up in the morning. Period.

annie k

Quiet, demure Annie. Oh, how I love her so!

Happy Birthday, my friend!

P. S. – She also has the cutest dog EVER, Boz. Hi Boz!

Buddy Love also says “Happy Birthday”. But as you know, he’s kind of lame:

Days of Elijah

These are the days of Elijah,
Declaring the word of the Lord:
And these are the days of Your servant Moses,
Righteousness being restored.
And though these are days of great trial,
Of famine and darkness and sword,
Still, we are the voice in the desert crying
‘Prepare ye the way of the Lord!’

Behold He comes riding on the clouds,
Shining like the sun at the trumpet call;
Lift your voice, it’s the year of jubilee,
And out of Zion’s hill salvation comes.

These are the days of Ezekiel,
The dry bones becoming as flesh;
And these are the days of Your servant David,
Rebuilding a temple of praise.
These are the days of the harvest,
The fields are as white in Your world,
And we are the labourers in Your vineyard,
Declaring the word of the Lord!

There’s no God like Jehovah.
There’s no God like Jehovah!

Copyright © 1997 Daybreak Music Ltd.

Late yesterday afternoon, I received a call from my friend’s daughter. You see, my friend is 71 years old and is dying of cancer. She was in the hospital, but is now in hospice care at home. Anyway, she was asking for me all day, and they finally got a hold of me. I sat with her, we prayed, talked and laughed. There is always laughter when I’m with my friend. I cannot express how special this lady is to me and my family. She is kind, compassionate, outrageous and funny. When I get to be her age (God willing), I want to be just like her. The video and the song lyrics posted above are “Days of Elijah”, the song she wants played at her funeral. No slow, sad songs for her! She wants people to celebrate God’s glory.

I’m going to go hang out with my friend some more today. I know she’s destined for a much better place. She told me she’s ready to go. But I just want to spend as much time with her as I can. I’m selfish like that…

Hey look, a Chicken!

‘Twas four days after Christmas, and all through the house
Were the sounds of loud children, but where was my spouse?
Oh, off to some meeting for this or the other,
While sister was yelling at her older brother,
“Don’t change the channel, cause I was here first!
I want to watch Sponge Bob, Golf Channel’s the worst!”

The garbage was stacked by the curbside with care,
In hopes that the garbage truck soon would be there;
The children had long since been up from their beds,
“We’re hungry! We’re hungry! We need to be fed!”
And what do you think a good mom has to eat?
Why, leftover cookie dough is always a treat!

When out of my girl’s room there arose such a clatter,
I sprang from my studio to see what was the matter.
Away to her doorway I looked down to snoop,
That my sister’s dog Maggie had left us some poop.

My sisters you see, along with my mama
Were down at Atlantis – that’s in the Bahamas.
So Maggie and Moose, the dog and the cat
Spent Christmas with us, plus some days after that.

On Maggie, on Buddy, on Moose and on Rudy,
It’s hard to keep track of who left what doody.
But later this evening my sis will be back
And she’ll pack up her car with her dog and her cat.
They’d rather stay here than at some pet hotel,
I just hope my new steamer can get out the smell.

But alas, look at me; once again, I digress
I meant to write something in the hopes to express
How grateful I am for some time to unwind
And to thank you for reading, you’re really too kind
My family, my friends and even my dog
have been inspiration for me and this blog
So thanks for your patience, your kindness and love
And most of all thanks to my Father Above

This year has been awesome, though some spots have been rough
When I thank God for blessings, I’ll include Jon Acuff
For without this great blog known as “Stuff Christians Like”
I wouldn’t have many of you in my life
And who would have thunk that I’d have such affection
For people I met through my high speed connection?

That’s all that I have; the plot does not thicken
Just thanks to you all, and……

Hey look, a chicken!

Henri the Cat

God’s timing is pretty amazing. I was feeling a wee bit self-righteous yesterday. Then I got this link via an email from my friend Helen. Yes. I was convicted by a cat video. I’m grateful that I have friends and family that love me enough to tell me when I’m being a jerk, and a God who knows what a jerk I am but still loves me enough to sacrifice His Son so that I might live. So this is for them. And a very big thanks to Helen, who is awesome.

Incidentally, there is a disturbingly high number of cat videos on youtube…

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