As I devour Ann Voskamp’s book, One Thousand Gifts I shed tears and am inspired at the same time. I subscribed to her blog, “A Holy Experience” and it is just as beautiful as her book. At the end of yesterday’s post there was a challenge (well probably more of an encouraging word yet the competitive side in me read it as “personal challenge”, lol) to list 1,000 gifts from God in my life. The way in which you do this is strictly up to the individual.
The thought of this exercise is both one of joy and reflection. With the help of my trusty calculator, I figured out I only need to list three “presents” from God each day and I will have 1,000+ by the end of the year. Of course, since I am starting on February 8th – I have some catching up to do.
Starting today, and each Wednesday through the year I will share my “One Thousand Gifts” with you. I pray you will respond with a few of your own “presents” from God too. There is so much to be thankful and appreciative for ~ to complete this challenge we only need to write down three.
Lisa M. Buske’s “One Thousand Gifts” ~ My List begins...
1. The breath in my lungs
2. For good health
3. To be fabulous and 40
4. Two loving and supportive parents
5. My parents…happily married 41 years!
6. One beautiful sister
7. Eighteen years of joy, laughter, and sister teasing
8. Memories of my sister
9. To know Heidi was never alone, Jesus wrapped His loving arms around her
10. A loving and supportive husband
11. A hubby who folds the clothes
12. He also puts them away
13. A hubby who is also my friend
14. Willing to work extra to care for us
15. An extended family of four brother-in-laws and four sister-in-laws
16. The miracle of new life
17. For our daughter that doctors said we wouldn’t have
18. For each day we have to watch her grow into a fine young lady
19. For independence, strength, and a willingness to do her own thing
20. The faith of a child to hold me accountable in love
21. Friends and family
22. Unexpected phone calls to say hi…
23. A note of encouragement
24. A text to let me know someone is praying for me
25. The smile on a friend’s face
26. The warmth of a hug between friends
27. The truth in God’s Word
28. The hope found in a few words of Scripture
29. The gift of Salvation
30. A gift available to everyone!
31. Opportunities to share Jesus with others
32. Sweet sleep
33. Answered prayer
34. He is always listening and knows my deepest thoughts
35. A phone call “just” when I need it
36. The perfect Scripture to put a smile on my face
37. The gentle rebuke often staring at me in the Word
39. God freely gave, it is the least we can do
40. The healing found in His forgiveness
Written on August 22, 2009
While sitting at the Dempster Grove Camp Ground for their final meeting this evening the The Master’s Touch Chorale was closing their performance with the songs the “Angels Looked Down” by J. Paul Williams and Craig Curry and the “Easter Song” by Anne Hetting; att. Mark Hayes. The “Angels Looked Down” gave me goose bumps when I read it in the program yet when they started to sing, I was silenced in my spirit. I felt as if the Lord was singing directly to me through the group. As I listened to the words being sung and the beautiful music I felt the Lord pressing me to both think and write. The thought He placed on my heart and fingers is this – Heidi was kidnapped on the most precious and important days in church history. Awestruck with the revelation! Only God could do this!
I have struggled for over fifteen years to understand why God allowed my sister to be kidnapped and on Easter of all days. I didn’t have a relationship with Jesus the day my sister disappeared. I didn’t have a relationship with Him for a good majority of the time following her disappearance. Yet, the best thing that has happened through this experience is I was humbled at the feet of Jesus. I took all my pain, anger and blame and gave it to God. It was quite the temper tantrum and our amazing Father opened His arms and wrapped them around me. I took to Him all my bitterness and He replaced it with hope and love, and His ever so rapid growing seed of Faith in Jesus. Although life took a tragic detour on April 3, 1994 – God used this bump in my spiritual road to show me the Truth. I’m not saying I wouldn’t love to have my sister here with me, because I miss her so much I find myself daydreaming of the day I see her again but the reality of my life is this – my sister WAS abducted and my life will be forever changed!
Change doesn’t always have to be bad. Losing a loved one to abduction is TERRIBLE but God is bigger than any tragedy we will suffer here on earth. As the choir sang “Angels Looked Down” I closed my eyes and felt God holding me and talking to me – He told me to remember He looked down with his Heavenly angels on Jesus on the day of his crucifixion. Similarly, He was looking down on Heidi when she was abducted and murdered. While sitting in the tabernacle and listening to the angels sing – God sang a hope and peace into my heart. He sat there holding me and comforting me throughout the song. Simply loving me and reminding me – He always has a plan and it isn’t mine to understand. Only God could be providing the much needed comfort with a tap of truth. I’ve blamed God for leaving Heidi alone to such tragedy when we couldn’t help her. God never left her – He was with her through it all, holding her like He was holding me tonight. The abduction being on Easter wasn’t a mistake or a punishment. It is a blessing – a blessing much disguised.
I opened my eyes and there were smiles abound yet I didn’t feel like smiling. Instead I wanted to fall on my knees with a bowed head and thank God for sitting with me. I wanted to humble myself before God, just as Jesus had done so many years before. Instead I sat with eyes closed continuing to praise God for all He has done, is doing and hopes to do in my life. I apologized for not seeing the beauty in the day of her disappearance. I’m not saying it was a great or even good day in my life. Please don’t misunderstand me – I love my sister and miss her every day. The point I am trying to express is this – If God is gracious enough to share the day of His Son’s resurrection with my sister, then I should be thankful. I am thankful for a God that loved my sister enough to share this most precious and special day with her and with me. It is because Jesus was crucified and rose from the dead – that I am reborn and walking with hope for tomorrow.
As I listened, I prayed to stay focused and calm. God hadn’t come to upset me but to help me and answer questions that plague my heart. The choir transitioned to the second to last song, “Easter Song”. The words to this song instantly brought tears to my eyes as God continued to bless me. The song speaks of hearing the “bells ringing” and “singing Christ is risen from the dead.” Each time a bell sounded my heart jumped. I felt as if Jesus was healing a burden I didn’t know was still there when the next verse I heard sung about the bells giving me healing “right now”. God will reveal and heal. The same angels that looked down on Jesus were surrounding us to share Jesus power and love for us. We need only recognize this need and invite Him in into our hearts and lives. It is one of the best things that have happened to me since my sister disappeared – new life. God restored me and healed me again this evening. The song ended with some “He is risen” and “Hallelujahs” and I will end the same way.
God knows our hurts, fears and desires. I’ve prayed and wondered if I would see my sister in heaven some day. It sometimes causes my heart to break at the thought of not having eternity with her yet tonight God replaced those feelings with peace and hope. God didn’t leave His Son to die alone and He didn’t leave Heidi alone. Jesus prayed to God, “Why” and then let God’s will be done. I believe God spoke to me tonight as He held me in His arms. He used the words of the songs and the angelic voices singing to speak. He whispered in my ear. Jesus died as the sacrifice for us – God was there for Heidi and He gave me the hope tonight of Heidi calling to Him, “Jesus save me!” He is faithful – thank you Jesus – Hallelujah!
Written by Lisa Buske
August 22, 2009
One my friends and fellow writer is at it again. Diane Estrella has one of the most interesting and informative blogs. She writes book reviews, product reviews, and fun-and-fancy-free blogs too. The inspiration behind today’s blog comes from this same wonderfully creative fun blogger. Valentine’s Day is in less than two weeks.
How did you meet you sweetheart? Here is Diane’s invitation to the blog world…
“In honor of Valentine’s Day, I thought it would be fun to share personal stories on when and how Cupid Shot Me! This could be a first date, how you met your spouse, a worst date ever or maybe what your dream date will be when you finally meet Prince Charming. Almost anything goes…… “G” or “PG” rating people! Maybe some of these true stories will inspire future love scenes in the next best seller or major motion picture. I can dream, right????
Here’s what to do if you want to participate in Cupid Shot Me!...”
To read the rest of Diane’s blog visit -
To learn how “Cupid Shot Me!” read my February 14th blog. If you are fellow blogger then join in the fun and write your own cupid story to blog this Valentine’s Day!
Thanks for keeping us creative and fun Diane!
If you have a friend or sweetheart and are looking for a way to spend this coming Saturday evening then Community Alliance Church in New Haven, New York is the place to be. Delicious food and fabulous entertainment. (Event flyer designed by Mary Jane McDowell of M&M Jewelry)
Tickets are on sale until Wednesday 2/8/12 at Noon! Call today!
“We need to set an example for others!” This is the universal “we” of course to encompass the youngest of children and the eldest of adults. We have the obligation and privilege to model healthy and productive schedules and usage of our time. There is always younger than us that view as a role model and someone older than us praying for the next generation to make healthy choices.
As “we” looked at TIME this week:
Have you started to notice areas that consume a lot of your time?
Are any of these wasteful minutes, and possibly hours, of time in the grand scheme of life?
Are you over extended or are you doing just enough to get by?
Do plan in advance or are you tossing things together last minute?
Are you spending time with God on a daily basis?
Are you reading your Bible every day?
Is there an aspect of TIME in your life this week you’ve recognized with more clarity since the start of this series? Did this realization change the way you schedule and prioritize? I look forward to hearing how God worked in your life this week as it pertains to TIME. How can "we" change the way we live to impact the Kingdom?
“All we need is God and time to heal our broken hearts”…for the family of the missing, time feels like an eternity ~ thank goodness we have God by our side each second of the day. I’m forever thankful my eternity will be with Jesus in heaven.
Note: This is a sensitive and descriptive post yet it comes from the heart of a sister, me, touched by another sister, Sharon's, grief.
Yesterday AOL featured the story about Tracy Melton. Tracy disappeared in June 1998. In 2002 California authorities contacted her sister, Sharon, for a DNA sample to be included in the national database. In 2003 and 2008 Sharon’s DNA was used in hopes to identify remains found in 2002 but they were not 100%. In April 2011, the remains were positively identified as Tracy Melton but the family wasn’t notified until last week. My heart breaks at this story for the lack of communication between the family and law enforcement.
At the same time I am thankful. I’m thankful for open communication with the Oswego County Sheriff’s department as it pertains to my sister, Heidi M. Allen, and her case. They didn’t ignore Heidi’s disappearance or set it aside. Eighteen years later the Sheriff and his team of investigators still meet and go over Heidi’s case. They still contact my parents throughout the year to ensure we know they have not forgotten. They include me, Heidi’s sister as a member of the team.
For this and more I am thankful yet there is a part of me after reading an article and hearing a sister’s heartbreak through an interview that breaks my heart. Just because the Oswego County Sheriff’s is doing their job doesn’t necessarily mean Heidi’s remains haven’t already been found. What if Heidi’s remains have been found in another county or state? It isn’t personal to them.
Mom, Dad, and I have given our DNA twice to be included in the national directory in the past few years. Mom and Dad gave theirs in 1994 but with the new technology, it was given again. Although we’ve done our part, we need to trust and pray if Heidi has been found that our DNA will help to identify her remains so the family and community can move to the next step in the grieving process.
Tracy Melton’s family has searched for over fourteen years when in truth, Tracy’s remains were discovered after four years, with another nine years before there is a positive identification. The family could have been at a different level of healing this past April when they remembered Tracy on her birthday but because their notification “slipped through the cracks”, they continued to hold out hope of her discovery.
Will you join me in prayer for the Melton family during this difficult time? I pray for Sharon to know the loving strength and hope found in Jesus, the words shared in her interviews touch my heart. The pain, fear, anger, and grief weigh on me. Please pray for the entire family. Tracy Melton had three children when she disappeared – 11, 7, and 6 years of age. I don’t know the exact words to pray but know the Holy Spirit will intercede on my behalf.
In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness.
We do not know what we ought to pray for,
but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with
groans that words cannot express.
There are links below today's YouTube video too.
To read more about Tracy’s disappearance and hear her sister’s reaction:
National Missing and Unidentified Persons System:
Heidi’s Listing on NaMus:
https://www.findthemissing.org/en/cases/5491/0/ - My parents and I have submitted DNA twice in the past two years (in addition to the initial back in 1994) and there is such a backlog, it still isn’t in the national system to start comparing it to the thousands of remains awaiting identification.
Center for Human Identification Success Stories
If you are a writer or speaker, have you ever noticed when you are preparing for an assignment or upcoming speaking engagement the Lord will place a life example in your path to see how you deal with it? Today’s blog is no different.
We all have the same amount of time yet how we manage and utilize it varies. I am a planner. I enjoy having a schedule with the 5 W’s covered for at least three to six months at a time. I like to know where I am going and when I need to be there. I’ve been “one of these” for as long as I can remember. My parents kid me because even as a little one I liked to know who, what, where, when, and why of our upcoming events. I anticipated most while others I hoped would have an emergency cancellation. As an adult, our house thrives on “knowing” and time management.
Our weekend has been planned since November. I’ll have dinner in the crockpot while I greet and then attend a workshop in Syracuse all day. Ed and Mary plan to relax and have a “Daddy/Daughter” day until I return. I’ll sneak out of the workshop early in order to make it to our dinner engagement on time until…
Mary’s presence is requested to perform at the high school THIS Saturday evening. Of course this is an honor, yet unfair at the same time. Choices need to be made. Do we deny our daughter from performing with the rest of the band, “We’d love for you to perform but we already have dinner plans.” Or do we cancel at the last minute so she can perform, thereby altering our family’s plans for Saturday night? Keeping our “time” in perspective, we can’t do it all.
I’ll be honest with you, the planner in me gets frustrated each time these instances of delayed or poor planning somehow become our conflict. A friend of the family is known to, “Someone else’s poor planning is NOT my emergency.” I wish I could say this with her calmness and sincerity. She responds with “Sorry, you didn’t give me enough notice so we’ll have to pass.” Instead, I grumble around the house as I try to figure out what hoops we can jump through to change plans in order to accommodate this new and unplanned event. Did you notice all the “I”’s in this post…I…I…I…!
Do everything without grumbling or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, “children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation.” Then you will shine among them like stars in the sky…Philippians 2:14-15
Don’t get me wrong, life happens and sometimes we need to bend and welcome the change as an opportunity to grow. Yet at other times it is truly one person or one group’s poor planning that causes the world to stop spinning to make their plans happen with no concern of the ripple effect it will have on the lives of those innocently affected.
Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling. Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms. 1 Peter 4:8-10
My daughter on the other hand says “Mom, I don’t have to do it. We’ll keep things as they are.” Yet the look on her face reads, “I really want to do it but I’m not going to push.” I want to spend the day with my family, preparing for my speaking events and writing with it concluding to the sound of the jazz band playing. Yet, this is a lot of cancelled plans for me to make in order for this to happen.
We should pray for answers and God’s guidance yet the world seems to throw things at us and expect immediate action…I guess this is why “we” are called to be different.
Enough ranting for today ~ enjoy your Thursday evening! I’m off to dinner with my parents, this always make the day seem brighter. What will we decide? Only God knows, I’ll place it at his feet for tonight and pray for clarity and direction when I awake in the morning.
Have you ever been in a situation like this? How did you respond? Do you wish you responded differently?
A time to weep and a time to laugh... Ecclesiastes 3:4a
While I sat in the doctor’s office this afternoon I became lost in thought. Now of course this isn’t uncommon to me yet the direction they swirled shocked even me. With my weight and height taken, the BMI calculated, and my very own blue paper gown on I thought, “Heidi will never experience her fabulous and forty annual check-up.” As the nurse took my blood pressure and all the other necessities prior to the doctor bouncing in, I answered her questions and enjoyed a nice conversation. Yet I was saddened and then thankful.
Heidi has missed so many milestones since her kidnapping. April 3rd will represent the 18th year of Heidi’s disappearance. Vulnerable and alone on the exam table I found myself thinking of the things Heidi has missed. Some made me cry while others made me laugh so hard the nurses probably made a note in my chart to warn the doctor.
I’m thankful for the good report from my doctor, praise God. Heidi and I would have celebrated with a “Sister’s Day Out” tomorrow but for today…I’ll celebrate with all of you! Thank you!
Lisa M Buske
P.O. Box 323