My Hair Loss Recovery

“Oh no! What am I going to do?”
In January, my hair fell out in chunks like the picture shows, four or five chunks at a time, every time I washed my hair
. In the morning when I woke up, hair covered my pillow and my hairbrush was full of hair. After several weeks, I began to notice thinning and even bald spots on my head.
I panicked!
Finally, I decided to go see my doctor. “What is going on? What can I do?”
He told me that it was probably because I was so sick a couple of months ago. In November,
I had a severe case of pneumonia.

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Delicious Keto, Gluten-Free Pancake or Mug Cake Mix with Stevia

“Yum, that is so delicious!” My sister exclaimed when I shared a fiber-rich, gluten-free, sugar-free pancake with her. “I can’t believe it’s gluten free and so healthy. Please send me that recipe! I have other pancake mixes, but this one kept me regular while you were here. I haven’t been regular in the three days since you left!” 😉

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Reluctant Worker Finds Unexpected Blessings

I pulled the covers over my head this morning because I did not have a morning assignment. I did not want to get up and go to work! I’ve had a heavy workload recently between school and the thrift store and needed some rest. 

I spent much of the morning doing chores and listening to verses about how God gives us strength and about the way the Lord comforts us. 

Then I needed to get ready for an afternoon assignment at the high school. In my prayers, I called forth blessings for the day and prayed that God would direct his love through me and to me and accomplish His purposes. 

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Giving Brings Unexpected Healing

“You want to do what? For who? You have got to be kidding!” I shook my head in shock and disbelief.

“Yes, honey,” I heard my husband Stan’s determined voice on the other end of the phone. “I think I am going to take the directorship of a ranch for men from Skid Row L.A.”

I gasped for breath. “Are you sure?” I couldn’t imagine moving from a middle-class suburb to work with men from Skid Row L.A., one of the worst slum areas of Los Angeles.

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Relationship Help – You Can’t Fix It

I have some family members who are making some harmful choices for them. I know the choices come from hurt, pain, and brokenness. I want so much to help them deal with their pain instead of running from it.

Sometimes I have tried to help them. Then I realized I need to let them struggle. I can’t fix it. One day when the temptation came to me once again to “help” them, I heard God say, “You can’t fix what you didn’t create.”

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Step Into Your Fears to Overcome Them

“Hi, how are you doing? Good to see you! I haven’t seen you for a while!” I visited with a pleasant young man I had not seen for a long time.
“I’ve been busy. I have a job now!”
“Oh really, where?”
He named a fast-food restaurant.
“Awesome! What year are you now?”
“I’ll be a junior.”
“Where do you go to school?”
“I homeschool.”
“How do you like it?”
“I like it because I have social anxiety and I don’t have to talk to strangers. My dad always tried to get me to relate to people, but I wouldn’t. Now I make a living talking to strangers!” He smiled.
His boldness in sharing about his social anxiety surprised me. I smiled at his comment about how now he makes a living talking to strangers, the very thing he feared the most.
“Good for you for stepping into your fear and overcoming it!”
“Thanks!” He nodded.
I am truly proud of this young man. He is a good example and a reminder to all of us to keep stepping into our fears to overcome them! You can benefit from doing the very thing you fear the most!
I used to fear writing a book. Then I wrote a book on how to overcome those fears. By stepping into them and doing the thing I feared, I overcame them. I wrote and published the book, “From Stuck to Success: Conquer Your Fears and Achieve Your Writing Dreams to share with others the strategies I discovered to set them up for success as well.
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After the Rain Comes the Rainbow

We had a strong thunderstorm this afternoon. I mean, serious dark clouds and
sheets of pouring rain! The storm was definitely unpleasant to endure.
After it was over, my friend, Rebecca, headed out the door. “I’m sure there is a rainbow somewhere and I’m going to go find it.”
I smiled at the determination in her voice. She had a mission; to find the rainbow.
Sure enough, she found the rainbow and came back in and we went out to enjoy it
with her.
Nature has a lesson to teach us. The rainbow comes after the storm. Look for the beauty created by the storm.
How often do we get caught in the storms of life but forget to look for the beauty brought by the storm? We don’t like to have the storms of life. In fact, we can even resent the storms that come our way. We don’t want to have to deal with the storm and the consequences.
There’s nothing wrong with being upset or stressed. That reaction is normal when we’re going through tough times. However, good things can come after those difficult times if we look for them. If we choose, we can grow through the storm. Instead of simply going through it, we can grow through it. We can grow in the beauty of internal character traits such as patience, the ability to endure, understanding, and wisdom.
You can’t have rainbows without a storm. In the same way, the only way for beauty to come out in you is for there to be storms.
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A Shower for Rosita

“Mama, Mama.” Rosita shook me.
I turned over, moaned and looked at the clock. 5:00 a.m. What is she thinking? She chattered in Spanish. I smiled despite my reluctance to wake up so early. What fourteen-year-old girl wouldn’t be excited about a party planned in her honor?

Later, we bustled around the kitchen as we made final preparations. Rosita came over to the stove and gave me a playful grin. “Mama, why for me?”

I looked at her rosy cheeks. Joy filled my heart as I delighted in my new daughter. “We always have showers for new babies.”

“Me, baby?” she asked in her limited English.

I chuckled at her comment. “No, but it is like that because we just adopted you.”
Stan, my husband, met Rosita on a business trip, in an orphanage in Bogota, Colombia. After a childhood of neglect and severe abuse, at eleven years of age, she fled to the streets. She ate out of garbage cans to survive and slept in doorways under newspapers to fight off the chill at night.

Eventually, she heard about a Christian orphanage and found refuge there. When she saw Stan, she ran to her room and gave him a little needlepoint she made. When he looked in her eyes, something touched his heart. He heard the Lord say, “I want you to adopt her.”

Stan came home and shared Rosita’s story with me. I prayed about it and sensed God’s purpose in it, so I agreed. After fighting two years of red tape, we finalized the adoption in November and brought her to be with us in the U.S.A. before Christmas.

Now, Christmas decorations graced our house, filling it with cheer, making the shower even more festive. Spicy apple cider, cinnamon buns, and a variety of cookies filled the air with their delicious aromas. Upbeat music danced in the air, lifting our spirits. As the guests arrived, colorful gifts piled up under the Christmas tree. The chatter of friends greeting each other and catching up on news created a pleasant sense of energy and excitement.

Rosita kept running to the tree to gaze at the most recent deposit. As they accumulated, she unclasped and clasped her hands. Her voice had a nervous edge, “Mama, ‘mucho, mucho regalos’ (many, many gifts.) Twenty women crowded around in eager anticipation to see her reaction to their gifts. First, I shared with them a delicate colored poster Rosita made to express her appreciation.

A rough translation from Spanish shared her heart.
For: All of you with much affection.
I love you very much.
Thank you for all you have done for me.
May God bless you and give you much blessings.
Thank you all of you and I love you very much.
I will carry all of you in my heart wherever I go. Thank you. Smile.

Then Rosita opened the presents. She seemed confused by the abundance of gifts, so I handed them to her one at a time. She smiled with joy and expressed genuine gratitude for each gift. Clothes, a necklace, perfumed shower gel, lotion, gift certificates and much more delighted her young heart.

Three-fourths of the way through opening the gifts, she stopped, plunged her head into her lap and started sobbing. I panicked. I had no idea what upset her. I put my arms around her and tried to calm her. What is going on with her? I fumbled in my mind to try to find the few Spanish words I knew. My heartbeat faster. What am I going to do?

I sensed a nervous concern from the other women. I held Rosita for several minutes until she composed herself. Finally, one of the women who had been a missionary said, “I know Spanish. Maybe I can help.”

She questioned Rosita in Spanish and translated.
Through her tears, Rosita said. “I have never had so many gifts ever in my whole life. I am so grateful to you for giving me these things.” She paused and wiped the tears from her eyes, “When I was home and then on the streets, no one ever gave me a gift and now I have so many. I love you all and I will never forget you. I will never forget this day. Now I have my mama, my papa and my brother, and I love them so much. You are all special to me and I have you in my heart. I will never forget you. Thank you so much.”

I glanced around the room at my friends. Some women dabbed their eyes with tissue and others smiled at her with tears in their eyes. The awareness of what she had suffered and her sincere expressions of gratitude touched our hearts.

On Christmas Day, more gifts delighted her young heart. Later in the day, she came into the kitchen to find my husband and me. “Mama and Papa, I really love all the gifts. It is the first time I had gifts for Christmas, but the thing I appreciate the most is having a family.”

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Startled by a Dream

I woke from a restful sleep and lay in bed, thinking about the day ahead. Soon I drifted off again and dreamed. A teenage boy who looked about fourteen years old sat at a large cherry wood desk, concentrating on a book. Though I had never met him, I felt a sense of intimacy and familiarity with him.

Then the Lord spoke to me, saying, “This is your son.” Startled by this message, I moved in to get a closer look at this studious young boy with brown hair and glasses. The Lord spoke to me again, “I have a plan, a special purpose for him.” Then a feeling like cold water hit my face, and I woke.

I shook my husband. Stan, “We’re going to have a baby, a son!”

“Huh?” he said and rolled over, unimpressed. But as I thought about the dream, seeds of hope dropped into my heart.

At forty-two, despite major surgery and other medical interventions, I had never been able to conceive. My husband had two grown children, but not having a child of my own grieved me.

My husband and I directed a ranch, in Vista, California, for street men from Los Angeles trying to get their lives back together. Part of the summer program included a camp for kids. Under close supervision, teenage counselors shared kitchen duties with the street men.

One day, Jack, a 30-year-old former Los Angeles street gang leader and drug addict, told us about a sixteen-year-old junior counselor named Robert who shared kitchen responsibilities with him. Robert’s foster mother, exasperated by her inability to control him, abandoned him at the ranch. Since she suspected he stole and lied to her, she turned him over to the police and they hauled him off to a boy’s detention home.

Jack pleaded with us, “Robert’s mother abandoned him at age eleven. He has been shuffled from home to home since that time. He needs a stable place. Please take this boy in, otherwise, he will end up like me. I want him to have a better chance than I did.”

Our hearts went out to Jack and Robert, but homes for troubled teenagers are almost nonexistent. The staff at the Ranch prayed and searched for a month, but nothing happened. Jack persisted. “How can you not take care of him when you call yourselves Christians?”

My husband began to be convinced that God wanted us to take Robert into our home. I didn’t have parenting experience. I wanted to start out with a baby, not a teenager. Additionally, at the time, I battled “chronic fatigue syndrome.” I didn’t think I had the strength to handle the challenge of a teenager, let alone an abused and troubled one.

Finally, after processing my fears with my husband, I prayed, “Lord, if this is your will, then I will yield to it because I know that every path you lead us on is fragrant with your loving-kindness and truth, even if it is a hard path. I don’t want to miss the blessing you have in mind.”

One week after this prayer of surrender, we took Robert in. We faced the challenge of working through his problems with him and ultimately adopted him. A few months after that, I remembered the dream and wondered if this was the fulfillment of the son promised in the dream.

Robert grew up, married, and became the proud father of five little girls and one boy. Two years after he left home, we thought about adopting another child. We had learned a great deal in the tough challenge of raising Robert, and he was worth it! After what we had been through with him, we thought we could handle anyone.

We asked the Lord to show us if He wanted us to have more children. Few people adopt older children, yet older children yearn for the love of a family as much as the younger ones.

We contacted a Christian international adoption agency since we learned that some countries have fewer time and age restrictions. Since my husband was fifteen years older than I, we explored this option and they accepted us. Three weeks later, they sent us a picture and information about Alex, a fourteen-year-old boy from Brazil.

Alex had a tough background. His father abandoned him at birth and his mother severely abused him and later abandon him. Despite these negative influences, he had many outstanding characteristics, such as being caring and considerate, a good student, and being cooperative.

We decided to adopt him, and the mountain of paperwork began. When we discovered the costs, we blanched. We did not have those kinds of resources.

Discouraged, we talked with a friend in Dallas who adopted two older children. She adamantly told us, “Don’t let the lack of money stop you. God has ways of providing. Go forward. Begin the process with what you have.”

So, we began the adoption process trusting God to provide. Through a series of miracles and help from others, God made a way for us.

After six months of paperwork, we received approval. We flew to Brazil to claim our son. We arrived at the airport and hastened to the courthouse. I wondered how long it would be before we met him. A thousand questions went through my head. Is this really God’s Will for all of us? Are we sure this is the right boy for us and us for him? Will we bond? Will he like us? Will we like him? How will we communicate with the language barrier?

Finally, after lengthy preliminary visits with the social worker and psychologist, they ushered Alex in. He anxiously hugged us and sat down. We talked through an interpreter for forty-five minutes, and then we all rose to leave. My husband and the social worker left the room. As Alex got up to leave, he put on his glasses for the first time. I gasped. Stunned, I ran out of the room to catch up with my husband. I blurted out, “That’s him! Alex is the boy in the dream I had years ago!!!”

During our stay in Brazil, our hearts knit together, and we became a family. About a month later in the States, a friend who spoke Portuguese asked Alex, “Weren’t you worried that you were nearly sixteen, the cut-off age for international adoptions and hadn’t been adopted?”

Alex said, “No, I told Jesus the kind of parents I wanted, and He gave them to me.”

Sharon Gibson
© 2002 Chicken Soup for the Christian Woman’s Soul
All Rights Reserved

My reflections on the story: God gave Alex, a child longing for love, the parents he desired and gave me, a woman longing for children, a special son.

“He opens His hand and satisfies the desires of every living thing.” Psalm 145:16 (NIV)

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He Gave the Little He Had

“He who gives to the poor lends to the Lord and He will reward you for what you have done.” Proverbs 19:17 (NIV)

“Stop, wait a minute. I want to help this woman,” I shouted to my family who walked ahead of me on the streets of Sao Paulo, Brazil. We had taken the bus downtown to the courthouse to meet with the social workers.

We had adopted Alex from a severe poverty situation in Brazil when he was fifteen. After he grew up and graduated from a local university, we sat on the couch one day visiting. “Mom, I know I could stay here in the USA and buy a nice house and car. But what I want to do is to give my brother and sisters trapped in poverty, the same opportunities I had.”

After many years and attempts to bring them here, we were in Brazil to go through the formidable legal process. We decided to adopt Alex’s siblings, seventeen-year-old Michelle, thirteen-year-old Ingrid, and twelve-year-old Michael. We had finished our court appointment, and we were on the way to catch the bus to the apartment where we were staying.

I spotted a woman sitting on the dirty sidewalk with a tin can by her side. She had a baby cradled in her arms and a little boy and girl in dirty clothes playing beside her. My heart moved with deep compassion. Was it the look of sadness and despair in her eyes as she sought to get food to feed her little ones? I don’t know. I knew I had to help her, even if it was only for one meal that day.

I walked over to the nearest food stand to purchase some sandwiches and drinks. As I stood there, twelve-year-old Michael came up behind me and handed me a bill, the equivalent of a dollar. “Here mom,” he said quietly, “I want to help.”

Tears sprang to my eyes as I knew Michael didn’t have much himself. Yet he knew what it was like to be in that situation. He wanted to take the little he had to help someone in a worse condition.

As I walked away that day and for days after, I prayed that somehow God would make a way for her to get out of that situation.

As I reflect on this touching incident, those in need come to mind. Jesus gave it all, and He cares deeply about the poor. We honor Him when we give to them. We may not be able to do a lot, but that doesn’t have to stop us from giving the little we have.

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