Posted by: Donna Douglass | Wednesday May 1, 2019

The Miracle, and the Dream It Enabled

Six months ago Callie’s husband Shawn* came home on hospice with leukemia and an infection of his eye that went into his brain. He was given 4-6 weeks to live and wanted to spend that at home with his wife and ten children, ages 3-16.

When we moved to their town in 2015 Callie’s husband and mine met first – and discovered they’d attended the same seminary in SC at the same time. Soon after their first conversation they introduced Callie and me. As fellow pastors’ wives, moms and athletes, we became fast friends. Some mornings we ran together – or walked when she became pregnant with #10. Other times we crossed paths at the pool where she coached the local high school team, taught her own kids and swam herself a little bit. We sometimes joked about going to Masters Nationals, but neither of us had the slightest hope it would ever happen: my life was full of frequent moves, three small kids and triathlon. Hers was full of homeschooling, coaching and church ministry.

And by late 2018, she was also caring for a beloved husband who doctors declared terminal. But apparently, when many people pray and God chooses to respond, miracles happen. Weeks after he came home on hospice, Shawn found he was improving rather than weakening. His infection was healing. They said he’d never see out of that eye again, but in a few weeks it became as good as the other. And tests showed the infection had shrunk drastically and the rest of his cancer completely in remission. In December, he returned to a full work schedule.

Meanwhile in November, we’d moved outside of Phoenix, within a mile of a robust Masters swim program. For the first time in my life, I joined…then discovered that we’d be in the area for Masters Nationals. An idea was born.

When I shared it with Callie, she replied immediately – and incredulously. Of course she wanted to stay with us and compete in Nationals…if only they could afford it, and if only there was a public pool in her rural town that was open all year. But ten kids, medical bills, a pastors salary, full-time nursing school to prepare to support a family if necessary and summer-only pools don’t really support swimming dreams. Thankfully a donor bridged the financial gap, a family friend began to help with the kids and friends at the local Air Force base teamed together to get her on base to practice at their indoor pool.

I’ve never seen anyone train harder! Some weeks, she swam more miles than I ran, simply so that she "wouldn’t embarrass myself." She’s spurred me to swim more and faster, even from afar. As a result, not only did we both have a great time, but we also both bested our goals in nearly every event. She even placed in two of hers – and contributed to the top Regional Team in the event.

The joke we shared in 2016 had become a distant dream stored on some dusty shelf in the back of our minds – and now it has transformed into a treasured memory, thanks to many folks for pitching in and to God for miracles.

*Not their real names.

Posted by: Donna Douglass | Wednesday April 3, 2019

A tale of two legacies

Both the Kohouts (Donna’s dad’s family) and the Knockes (Donna’s mom’s family) show deep pride in their family heritage. The Knockes (Mom, her younger sister and her niece) sat leafing through old pictures and articles about various family members, recalling with admiration their accomplishments. We shared a few fond memories and funny stories of our own, but terms stemming from broken families blended almost unnoticed into the entire conversation.

In contrast, there is no such memorabilia from the Kohout side. Instead of articles, relations on that side and I sometimes ponder through sweet memories of time together as an extended family consisting mostly of intact immediate families. Our daughter is even named after Grandma Kohout who never once worked outside her home and garden but whose love drew everyone together. And I wonder, which leaves a better legacy? Accomplishment or relationship? And how do I live that today?

Posted by: Donna Douglass | Thursday March 22, 2018

Life Lesson from my Dog, Part 3

Complying with Chili’s morning routine, I let her out the front door. She ambled to the edge of the porch, surveying the yard from her slightly raised position. After a brief pause, she lowered her head and began to set off toward the walkway. Her hind end had not even descended from the single step, however, before her nose diverted her. She half turned back, rear leg still on the step, as her nose was drawn apparently irresistibly to some smell on the back edge of the step. That smell led to another off to the side of the porch. And that one, to another down along the front of the house. Her body followed, mindlessly submitted to the haphazard leadership of her nose.

Years ago Rich Mullins wrote, “They said, follow your nose. But the direction changed every time I went and turned my head.”(1) Especially in these uncertain times, Lord, help me to be led solidly and intentionally by You, not pulled in every haphazard direction by the whims of culture and distractions of the world!

(1) Maker of Noses, Rich Mullins
“They said, boy, you just follow your heart, but my heart just leads me into my chest.
“They said follow your nose, but the direction changed every time I went and turned my head.
“They said, boy, you just follow your dreams, but my dreams were only misty notions.
“But the Father of hearts and the Maker of noses and the Giver of dreams,
“He’s the one I have chosen and I will follow Him…”

Our dog Chili

Posted by: Donna Douglass | Monday February 26, 2018

Every good and perfect gift is from above

I hold them in my hand in my pocket, loosely, so I don’t melt them. I can’t wait to give these yummy little kisses to my girls…as soon as they come to me. I can’t see them all because this is a tall playground with lots of wooden structures. But I’ve just called them, and they have acknowledged. Now Zoe appears. Then Gwendi. Immediately after, at top speed around a corner bounds Matti. I whisk out the kisses, hugging each girl and giving her a sweet. As we drive to our next activity, I wonder, If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him!*

If my kiddos hadn’t come when I called them, how could I give them a good gift? What about me? Am I doing what God’s asked of me, so that He can give me the good He wants to? What part of "me" is standing in way between the good He wants to give, and my outstretched hand? Or are my hands so deeply entrenched in "my things" that there isn’t one free to receive? How do I submit to His call and run to Him so that He can give?

*Matthew 7:11

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