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From the Heart

Living with Grace

  • My Last Blog Post

    It’s hard to know where to begin… 

    Over the last couple of years, this blog became an integral part of my life.  What started as a hobby eventually became a lifeline. 

    When I first began my blog I looked forward to sitting down each day and having a heart to heart conservation with my dear, new friends.The little wheels in my brain were constantly churning up new ideas for my entries.  I enjoyed cooking with you and taking photographs; I enjoyed it all.

    In 2010 when I first experienced a broken heart, my writing took a different path.  I seemed to hold tighter to my keyboard and the words and thoughts flowed like water over a dam.  At first I wasn’t sure where the path would lead, so I didn’t name my heartbreak and grief.  But as time passed and I realized that it wasn’t going to get better, I had to make a tough choice.  I either had to stop writing or I had to share my experiences more openly.

    That is when I brought my readers into a private part of my life…and I wrote about very difficult situations.  Many days my tears were so plentiful, I couldn’t see the computer screen or my keyboard.  And as the words and tears mingled, I took baby steps toward healing.  Each entry “From the Heart” was therapeutic and cathartic. 

    It seemed I’d heal a bit and then I’d plateau.  And either for days or weeks, I’d struggle even more.  But during that time I continued to write and that is when the true healing began.  I learned to acknowledge my pain and my disappointment and as I did, it got better. As I sat on the sofa in my kitchen and read my Bible and my little books I began to see glimpses of hope.  Each time I wrote I nurtured that hope and without me even realizing it, I opened my eyes one morning and I felt human again.  I felt my pulse and noticed my breathing pattern and I realized that I was actually happy.

    Each day as I wrote my posts I imagined that I was having a conversation with each of you and I wondered what you were experiencing as you read my words.  Blogging is a strange animal.  I told complete strangers my most intimate thoughts and as I did, even though I didn’t know all of your names, I thought of you as friends. 

    That is why it is so hard for me to bring this journey to an end.  I’ve felt guilty that I’ve abandoned my blog and my readers, but I can’t seem to make my two worlds flow together.  Throw in the fact that my daughter had a baby boy in mid July and you can see that my life is very different than it was just a few months ago. 

    With great sadness I have to make this my last blog post on  I have to admit my limitations and realize that my life is taking a different direction and I have to go with it rather than resist. 

    So I am putting Grace away for now and I am going to be myself, Debbie South.  I am going to enjoy my new old name and go to my job as Executive Director of Limbs for Life in Oklahoma City.  I’m going to spend my spare time hugging The C and Miss E and Pumpkin Baby and my new tiny grandson and I’m going to scratch G and G’s bellies more and whisper sweet nothings in their ears like they like for me to do.  I’m going to simply be happy being me and loving my wonderful world and do my best to live with grace and gratitude. 

    Thank you for reading the words I enjoyed writing.  Thank you for sticking with me through the good and not so good times.  Thank you for your comments and support.  I will keep my address if you’d like to keep in touch. 

    This is hard…remember those tears I spoke about…

    Living with grace…and I’m Debbie


    I'd like to introduce you to Pumpkin Baby's new little brother...

  • seems to be all about time.


              's seems to be all about time.

    My schedule is a bit different than it was just a few weeks ago.  The time I used to spend writing as Grace, is now spent behind another desk as I learn my new job. 

    The hours between leaving work and going to bed are mostly spent getting ready for the next day...picking up dry cleaning and prescriptions and groceries and paying bills and washing clothes and floors and potties get the idea. 

    And then there's creativity...most of it seems to be used up by the end of the day...

           you know why you haven't heard much from me lately.  Not excuses, just facts...

    BUT, I am still having my devotions each morning and the entries in Jesus Calling on Sunday morning and Monday morning were music to my ears. 

    On Monday it begins with *Let me show you my way for this day.

    New jobs have lots a NEW things about them.  New location, new faces, new skills, new personalities, new thoughts, new challenges...

    So at the beginning of each day I pray for guidance, so when I read these words it was amazing.  Just what I needed to hear.

    First, he understands my needs.

    Second, he is taking the lead and showing me the way...

    *I guide you continually, so you can relax and enjoy My Presence in the present...concentrate on staying close to Me ...discipline your thoughts to trust Me as I work y ways in your life...pray about everything...leave outcomes to not fear My will, take a deep breath and dive into the depths of absolute trust in Me. 

    And best of alllllll....*underneath are the everlasting arms! 

    The best advice anyone could receive when tackling a new job...or a regular day...or a new path...or a new discipline...

    Thank you God.  I will do my best!

    *words from Jesus Calling, Sarah Young, July 2 entry.

    Living with Grace...and i'm grace

  • Comforting Words

    Starting a new job can be a bit scary.  New faces, new situations, new everything!  As I reported to work on my first day, I admit I had a few butterflies so this morning when I read these words in Jesus Calling, I closed my eyes and breathed a sigh of relief...

    Hold my hand and TRUST. 

                                                      Okay God, I will...and please don't let go.

    Living and trusting with Grace...and i'm grace

  • What More Do I Need?

    Written June 19

    Yesterday, I opened a big subject...if you didn't read it, please do before reading this post...

    So, once again...please think about your happiness. 

    Are you happy?

    Truly happy?

    If so, why?

    If not, why?

    I have an acquaintance from college and over time I've discovered that he doesn't like to be in his home.  He has a beautiful home, decorated well, spacious and probably paid why doesn't he like to be there? 

    I can only assume it has something to do with being alone.  It's possible he doesn't like to be alone...with himself. 

    So there goes the theory that having a beautiful home, on the right street, in the right neighborhood makes one content and happy.

    I could come up with similar stories about each of the points I mentioned in yesterday's post.  One just has to look to Hollywood to see that money and beauty and being skinny and being young are not the answers...enough said!

    So then what does make us happy?

    I have friends that were raised with very little.  Often I hear them say that they didn't realize that they were poor.  They smile and have pleasant thoughts about their somewhat deprive childhoods.  Why? 

    My guess is it has something to do with the way their parents handled their financial situation.  I have a feeling had their parents been unhappy it would've trickled down to the children.  So it is safe to assume that even though their parents didn't have everything they wanted, they created a happy and safe home for their children. 

                        I'll throw out another wild thought...

    Is it possible be happy with only the things one has today?

                         ...nothing more...nothing different...only what we have this day...

    For that to happen, does any thing have to change? 

    Not thing(s) I have to change? 

    This is called Food for Thought...chew on that for a while...

    Living with Grace...and i'm grace

  • Big Questions

    Written June 19

    A few days ago I referenced a movie I'd seen titled Best Exotic Marigold Hotel. 

    I asked you a question...

    If someone gave you a magic wand and told you that you could have one wish for happiness, what would you wish?

                            I then asked you to think about it...

    This is not a test, but I do hope that you is actually a very interesting question. 

    If the first answer that came to mind was buy more shoes...I love you!

    But we need to talk...think bigger...

    If the second answer was buy a pair of Christian Louboutin shoes...yes, that's thinking bigger...I Love you! 

    But maybe I should've said, think broader...

    Now that you know about my new job, I can explain my recent thoughts...

    When my healing process reached a point that I knew I was ready to go back to my beloved profession, I started looking for a job.  I spent a lot of time thinking about what kind of job I wanted.  Just like my home, my job is an important part of my life.  I takes a huge chunk of my time and I wanted it to be fulfilling and I wanted to enjoy it. I told myself I was looking for the job rather than a job. 

    So I turned to God and asked for guidance and direction.  I've shared before that I don't hear God speak audibly, although wouldn't that be great, so I have to depend on my thought process and trust that God is assisting me in the steps.  

    So each morning, during my devotion time I prayed.  I wrote a list of things that I hoped my job would bring into my life...I spent hours on the process. 

    And before I knew it I found myself thinking that my happiness was somehow tied to finding the right job.  To be truly happy, I had to find the perfect job - the perfect fit!

    Then one morning, as I was writing in my gratitude journal it occurred to me that I was already very happy.  And then my pinball like brain popped over to a question...why am I happy?  What in my life makes me happy?

    Sidebar:  Often when I'm with my friends we discuss the drawbacks of being single.  Several frequent online single dating sites looking for a companion.  I also hear from my married friends about disappointments and challenges of being married.  I have other friends that want a new home, or a smaller home, or a larger home, or to move to another city, or to be thinner, or to be younger, or have more money - okay I never hear anyone say they want less money - but you get the idea. 

    So I spent some time thinking about happiness...

    I asked myself if I was truly happy or simply satisfied?  There is a difference...

    That's when I realized that one of the most important things we do as women is to find happiness exactly where we are. 

    If we are single, can we be truly happy or do we think we will finally be happy when we find a man?  Not just a man, but a handsome man with lots of money and one that can keep up with men 10 years younger than he is...

    If we are married, can we be truly happy married or do we think we will finally be happy when our husband treats us differently? Better, lovingly, appreciatively...and to look at us like he did on our wedding day...

    If we live in our homes, large, small, own, rent, outdated, the perfect city or far from where we would like to be, can we be happy or are we waiting for the next step before we declare ourselves happy?

    Now, the really big question...can we be happy with our age and our bodies?  Or do we want to be 25 pounds lighter and 25 years younger?

    And money?  How much does it really have to do with our happiness? 

    So, once again...please think about your happiness. 

    Are you happy?

    Truly happy?

    If so, why?

    If not, why?

    More on Friday...

    Living and asking questions with Grace...and i'm grace

  • ...twirl with joy

    I am especially full of joy today so I thought I would share this wonderful prayer.  You know me well enough to know my favorite part is even twirl with joy.  I love to twirl...and the thought of twirling because of the joy God gives us sounds especially fun! 

    We have joy, dear Father, because we can take refuge in you.  You provide our safety, our security, our eternal hope.  Because of those loving assurances, enable us to see the joy, feel the joy, and even twirl with joy.  Thank you that you are our reason for joy each day.  Amen.

    Marilyn Meberg

  • Sticks and Stones...and New Voices

    Often I think of my brain being designed somewhat like a pinball machine.  I am capable of bouncing from one idea to another effortlessly. That is the reason I often find my cup in the microwave hours after I put it in to reheat my coffee.  Obviously something bright and shiny caught my attention within the 60 seconds it took to take my coffee from lukewarm to hot. 

    But there are times that my brain mobility serves as an asset. Often as a writer, especially of an almost daily blog, I ponder about what to write.  I can always find something that interests me, but the bigger question that often haunts me is whether my readers will find the subject interesting.  I try to write about a variety of subjects,but at the end of the day I realize I’m a middle aged (if I plan to live to be108) female living on a cul-de-sac smack dab in the middle of the country with two grown children with two legs and two three year old children with four legs and my life is a bit average, if not boring. 

    So,often I must rely on the random thoughts ricocheting around in my head to help me think of what I write about today that my readers will read tomorrow. 

    Today was one of those days. I’ve mentioned recently that I’ve been fragmented and my schedule since mid-April has been controlling me rather than me controlling it.  So having the time to sit at my desk and ponder by belly button has been limited. Hence, I’ve struggled many days about what I could write. 

    But this morning as I was sending a friend a text about an unrelated subject, I typed, “And I know I’ve done my best, and as my mom used to tell me, that is all anyone can ask.” 

    Whoa…first of all, I haven’t thought of that line in a longtime.  It came out of the blue (and orange if you like the Thunder) and when I typed it

    my bouncy brain immediately went to the positive impact of things my mother has said to me over the years and from there I thought

    how much different my outlook on life would be if I could only hear the positive things that have been said to me rather than all of the negative…

    I don’t know if you are like I am, but I often replay old “tapes.”  Sad, ugly, hurtful things that have been said to me in the past and when I get down or feel badly, those old voices/tapes begin to play in my head.  Even when I realize what is happening, I seem to be powerless, at least for a while, to shift the tide. 

    How different it would be if I played the positive, healthy and loving things that had been said to me in the same way.  Strangely, I don’t do that.  Actually when someone compliments me I often deflect it and shy away from acknowledging it. 


    Why am I like a sponge for the negative and like Teflon for the positive?

    If I had the answer to that question, I’d likely be a millionaire and would put thousands of therapists in the welfare line. 

    That presents an even bigger question.

    If I realize what is happening, can I change my response?  Can I teach myself to deflect the negative and absorb the positive? 

    Side note:  Often there are positive things we can learn from what seems to be hurtful criticism. If we view it with an open mind and take in the good and refuse to have a totally negative, closed response, then we can likely learn something…

    Words can be hurtful. Often the hurtful words have more to do with the person saying them than the person receiving them.  Negative people tend to share their negativity freely and if we are susceptible to it, it can harm us even when it shouldn’t.   

    Once I had a conversation with a long time friend (I’ve been advised to say that rather than old friend).  She mentioned that her niece had blossomed.  She commented that her niece went through an awkward stage when she wasn’t very cute, but now she was just beautiful.  I knew what she said was often true, and she continued, “Like you, when we went to _____ together several years ago you were in your awkward stage.” 

    Mind you, I was an adult – her niece was a teenager.  I was married and had two daughters and she graciously shared that she thought I was going through my awkward stage then.  She said, “Your hair, actually everything about you!”

    I was speechless. First of all, how did the subject shift to me?  And secondly, that had been at least 10 years before, why bring it up now?  And thirdly, awkward?????

    At that moment any compliment I’d ever received was wiped from my memory.  I couldn’t hear any other voices except that one. 

    The funny thing is, I later found pictures from that trip and I did look goofy.  It was in the curly perm days and even though I looked like most women my age at the time, I didn’t look my best. 

    Of course I still remember every word she said.  I can even hear her voice in my head.  It is one of my tapes…in my library.  I don’t play it often because I’ve decided I like how I look for the most part and I don’t have the energy to chase after youth or perky boobs or any such thing. 

    So I have a new goal. Rather than remember all of the negative things that have been said tome, I’m going to try to remember more of

    the things my mother said to me…

    So here we go Mom…you’re on…you often said I didn’t listen to you…well, I’m listening now.

    Do your best sweetie,that is all anyone can ask of you.

    You aren’t too tall.  Someday you will love having those long legs.  (My mom was 5’3 on her best day and I was 5’5”.  My cousin that is my age is 4’9” and my dad was 5’6”) Many in my world were shorter than average, so when I came along an average height, I felt tall.  Plus I was 5’5” in the 5th grade! 

    You have a sweet smile.

    You have a good eye. 

    You are a good baker. 

    I love to hear you play the piano.

    Will you help me decorate my house?  I like your house.

    You are a good mother.

    You are a loving daughter.

    You make me laugh.

    You have a big heart.

    God loves you just the way you are…you don’t have to dress up for him.

    Friends will come and go – but God will always be there.

    Eat your vegetables!

    Your dresses are too short!  Oops, that one just slipped in there.  I’m a child of the ‘70’s.

    Hold your shoulders back and walk with good posture.

    Don’t eat too much.

    Don’t eat too little.

    Go to church.

    Be a good friend.

    Be kind.

    Listen for God’s voice in the small things.

    I’m sure they didn’t mean it the way it sounded…she always gave everyone the benefit of the doubt.

    My mother doesn’t remember these things now and I believe that my efforts to remember her words is a special way of keeping her alive in my heart…the way she used to be…because my mother always did her best and that was all I ever needed. 

    Living with Grace...and i'm grace

  • Lung Cancer Wins AGAIN - Kathryn Joosten Dies of Lung Cancer

    I am a sad today.  A woman that I knew and admired died this week after an 11 year battle with lung cancer. 

    In 2010 I chaired the American Lung Association Fight for Air luncheon with my friend Elaine.  Our goal was to raise money for lung cancer research.  As I've shared before, I lost my dear friend Patti to lung cancer and I wanted to do something in honor of her life.  It is traditional for a survivor of lung cancer to speak at luncheons like this, but sadly, there are so few survivors, the speakers are limited.  In 2009 Dr. Deborah Morrisini, Dana Reeve's (wife of Christopher Reeve) sister and leader in lung cancer research, was the speaker.  At that luncheon I was asked to share my story about Patti and that experience cemented a wonderful relationship with Deborah and put me on a journey as an advocate for finding a cure for lung cancer. 

    As we planned the 2010 luncheon, we were pleased to learn that Kathryn Joosten was available to speak at our luncheon.  She was a miracle on two feet!  She had survived lung cancer two times!  That is very rare.  As chairman of the event, I hosted a party the evening before the event at my home for the sponsors and Ms. Joosten.  I hadn't watched Desperate Housewives and didn't remember her from West Wing, so I didn't know what to expect.  When she arrived she reminded me of my aunt - actually everyone's aunt.  She was warm and funny and greeted everyone as if she had just arrived at a family reunion.  She stole our hearts. 


    The next day at the luncheon she shared her story and we laughed and cried and then laughed some more.  She managed something that I've seldom seen at a similar function.  When she finished speaking, we wanted to hear more!  She had educated us while entertaining us - a rare ability! 

    After the luncheon I learned that she had found out just that week that the lung cancer had reappeared.  She'd been cancer free two times before in her battle with the disease and each time it had reoccurred.  This was the third time.  When she told me she immediately said, "I've beat it two times before and I will be it this time!"

    Her attitude was positive and I could read in her bright blue dancing eyes that she meant it - and I believed her. 

    That was 2 years and 3 months ago.  If you know anything about lung cancer you know that she won the battle for much longer than most. 

                               My friend Patti lived only 3 months as her diagnosis. 

    Lung cancer is a brutal disease.  It attacks both those that have smoked and those that didn't, like my friend Patti. 

    • Lung cancer is the leading cancer killer in both men and women in the United States.  In 1987, it surpassed breast cancer to become the leading cause of cancer deaths in women


    It is likely that you don't know many people living with lung cancer simply because there aren't many. 

    Also as I advocated for education about lung cancer, many people shared that lung cancer is a disease people get when they smoke and in turn that means that in a way they deserve it.  Immediately I was shocked that anyone could think like that and secondly I knew from my experience that many people die each year of lung cancer and yet have never used tobacco in any form. 

    As I shared the statistics many people looked at me with skepticism.  I was often told that they knew far more people with breast or colon or some other form of cancer.  I then had to explain - it's not that more people get lung cancer than other cancers - it's that more people die of lung cancer than any other form of cancer.  Most often by the time a patient is diagnosed, it is too late.  That is the reason knowing the symptoms is vital.

    It all about education. 

    So in honor of Kathryn's battle with lung cancer and her years of advocacy, I will share a couple of links.  Please take time to look at them and then become an advocate for yourself and your loved ones. 

    Symptoms of lung disease.

    National Cancer Institute

    Living and mourning with Grace...and i'm grace

  • Just a hint...

    I am going to share something from have a little faith by Mitch Albom.  It is good, but will not give anything away about the book.  In fact, it has nothing to do with the story line.  It is sort of a bonus Albom stuck between pages 92 and 94.  It is an excerpt from one of the Reb's sermons from 1975. 

    I love the moral of the story...Grace pay attention...(sorry I have to make notes as I go along...)

    "A man seeks employment on a farm.  He hands his letter of recommendation to his new employer.  It reads simply, 'He sleeps in a storm.' 

    "The owner is desperate for help, so he hires the man. 

    "Several weeks pass, and suddenly, in the middle of the night, a powerful storm rips through the valley. 

    "Awakened by the swirling rain and howling wind, the owner leaps out of bed.  He calls for his new hired hand, but the man is sleeping soundly. 

    "So he dashes off to the barn.  He sees, to his amazement, that the animals are secure with plenty of feed. 

    "He runs out to the field.  He sees the bales of wheat have been bound and are wrapped in tarpaulins.

    "He races to the silo.  The doors are latched, and the grain is dry.

    "And then he understands, 'He sleeps in a storm.'

    "My friends, if we tend to the things that are important in life, if we are right with those we love and behave in line with our faith, our lives will not be cursed with the aching throb of unfulfilled business.  Our words will always be sincere, our embraces will be tight, we will never wallow in the agony of 'I could have, I should have.'  We can sleep in a storm.

    "And when it's time, our good-byes will be complete." 

    From a sermon by Rabbi Albert Lewis as told by Mitch Albom in his book, have a little faith, page 93. 

    Living with Grace...and i'm grace

  • Waiting...a Skill I'm Still Developing

    Currently I'm not so patiently waiting for something...

    As I type I realize that I am almost always waiting not so patiently for something

    I guess that is part of life.  And as long as I've been waiting, I've never become more's that good news bad news thing about  being a Type A personality. 

    When I was a kid it was waiting for school to be out for the summer, or for Santa Claus, or for a silly boy to call, or to go to college or to graduate from college...the list goes on and on.

    Now that I have all of that behind me, I have found a new list of things to not so patiently wait for - some of the things are as childish as when I was eleven and other things are a lot more serious.  Being older doesn't make waiting easier and often makes the stakes much higher. 

    And for the more serious things, I (most) often worry while I'm waiting.  What if they don't call?  What if they do call?  What if the test is positive?  What if the test is negative?  What if it doesn't work out?  What if it does work out?  What if I get to go?  What if I don't get to go? 

    You get the idea?

    For this reason I felt the May 21 entry in Jesus Calling by Sarah Young  was written just for me...

    ...It is not so much adverse events that make you anxious as it is your thoughts about those events.  Your mind engages in efforts to take control of a situation, to bring about the result you desire.  Your thoughts close in on the problem like ravenous wolves.  Determined to make things go your way, you forget that I am in charge of your life. 

    Yikes.  That's fairly graphic...ravenous wolves?  Determined? 

    Graphic but accurate. 

    I can become quite tenacious when trying to make things go the way I want.  And that is good if I am digging in my garden and pulling weeds or trying to move a piece of furniture in my house...but not so good when I take control of my life when I am suppose to let go and let God...

    The entry begins...

    I, the creator of the universe, am with you and for you.  What more could you need?  When you feel some lack, it is because you are not connecting with Me at a deep level.  I offer abundant Life; your part is to trust Me, refusing to worry about anything. 

    Simple words.  Difficult to do.  Something in my nature makes me want to work for everything.  Pull.  Tug.  Try.  Manage. 

    The entry ends with more simple words...

    The only remedy is to switch your focus from the problem to My Presence.  Stop all your striving, and watch to see what I will do.  I am the Lord! 

    God doesn't leave much room for negotiation there.  It seems he's saying hands off - let me drive! 

    The scripture reference is...

    But as for me, I watch in hope for the lord, I wait for God my Savior; my God will hear me.  Micah 7:7

    It seems I am always learning and because I'm a bit stubborn, I usually have to learn things the hard way...but I'm listening and trying...the two things my mother always asked me to do!

    Living and waiting with Grace...and i'm grace

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