Olive Leaf Ministries » Nancy Douglas is a Christian speaker and author. She is the mother of an Autistic child and breast cancer survivor

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  • Nancy Douglas

    Nancy speaks and writes through the Olive Leaf Ministries where her testimony of God's mercy and grace amidst life's trials touches the heart of her audiences. Familiar with life's challenges, Nancy raised her Autistic daughter for 26 years, battled breast cancer and only recently lost her daughter to an immune disorder. Nancy and her husband Jimmy also have a son, Drew. They have been married for 31 years and currently reside in Kansas City, Missouri.

    "Thank you so much for your ministry. I continue to receive very positive comments from our ladies. Your tremendously transparent blend of testimony and applicable scriptures are so effective in your teaching." Joyce Cowell, Fayette, MO

Winter Series: The Start

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“Seeing My God in the Winter Time”

Readers…this is my winter journal.

Winter journal…these are my blog friends.

Now we’re introduced, let’s get to know one another!

Never bought one before, a spiral art book that is, but I love it and wish I’d dived off the end of this pool long ago.

She binds 80, 8″ x 11″ creamy textured sheets and offers tons of room to roam with, get this, not a single line to tell me where to stop or go. The only limit is my imagination. It’s spiral bound so I can flip it open flat, a permanent feature I’ll want from now on. Just too way handy!

The girl in me decorated the cover and the ADD part of me titled it “Seeing My God in the Winter Time” to remind me that my focus this season it to purposefully look for God in each windy day. I can tell you the assignment alone has already opened my eyes significantly. About the time I begin to voice or even think a complaint about the inconvenience cold, my heart is convicted to not settle for this age-old default but instead dig below the surface to find God in the very season He created.

Journaling with or without doodling is a bit of work at first till you get the hang of it. I don’t sit down and draw or journal instantly. It takes precious effort, but it’s important and worth it. Next time I’ll begin sharing what God has only begun to reveal and how it’s warmed my heart in what has always been a very cold and desolate season for me.

Till next time.

Blessings!

November 29, 2014 - 9:29 pm

Cheryl Barker - Looking forward to more!

Grief Does Not Apologize

Utah004Until you grieve you don’t know how you’ll respond. It can slither in and tip your cart before you know what hit you. We learned this recently when our son, Drew, contracted MRSA, the same wicked sickness that killed our daughter.

He was in a lot of pain, had to go to the Emergency Room, and needed help, so Jimmy and I loaded up the dogs and traveled the trek. We’d done it a million times but this time something was amiss. Jimmy seemed cold and distant, almost, dare I say — uncaring.

How could he not be scared to death? We’ve just lost one child to this infection and now our only one left has it too. What’s he missing?

I was angry with Jimmy and the further he pulled away the madder I got. When it bled into the next day I was beyond ticked and tossed it up to God. — “He’s being weird and I don’t understand why. I am not apologizing to him. I didn’t do anything wrong. “

Heaven whispered — “Grief does not apologize” 

Confusion settled. It became clear.

Jimmy had no idea what he was doing. He didn’t not care about our son, he was swallowed in grief.

Compassion replaced anger.

With our family rule to “get out of the house and do something fun every day” in mind, I gently approached him with the only errand we had, “All we need is milk. How about we run to the grocery store for some today?” My approach was all it took for him to topple. Tears flowed, he apologized, and another increment of sorrow’s road was covered.

I am grateful God revealed this hidden aspect of grief. It’s easy to miss. Logic set my heart on getting an apology. I wasn’t about to cave first because I hadn’t done anything wrong, but if I’d kept a hard head it would have surely injured our relationship at a time we were both already wounded and in pain.

Instead God, in His merciful grace, preserved.

I wonder many times we expect these same impossible things from those around us too ill-equipped (for whatever reason) to fill the bill.

Grief does not apologize and it is ok.

 

 

 

 

November 13, 2014 - 10:12 am

Cheryl Barker - So glad God whispered that insight to you, Nancy. May you two continue to be there for one another!

(p.s. fyi, you have an extra “p” in apologize in your title, but it’s correct in the rest of the piece.)

Winter Series: Cold Hard Facts

Utah001I struggle with the winter season. It’s difficult to stay warm and dangerous to travel. Cars muck up with road salt and I overheat shopping in multiple layers. Holiday shoppers cramp store isles clicking carts with one another and parking spots are shy from piles of snow. Then, after the new year, comes the long stretch till Spring. It’s a mental marathon that renders me exhausted.

In a nutshell, for me, it’s more difficult to see God in His creation during the winter time.

So, I’m running an experiment. I’ve dedicated to journal through this coming season with the sole purpose of seeing my Lord more fully when it’s cold. I know He can be found because He promises not to hide from those who seek Him with all their heart. (Jeremiah 20:13)

I have a journal set aside and already begun writing in it. It’s not technically winter according to the meteorologists but where I’m at it’s already sleeting, leaves are falling, some trees are naked, the sun sets at 5pm, and I’ve begun pilfering through winter garb.

My personal challenge is already underway. It’s time to start looking for God toot sweet.

I’ll be blogging in what’ll be called Winter Series until Spring thaws my bones and share along the way things that keep me afloat. You are invited to join in whatever way best fits you. Maybe instead of journalling you’d prefer just to keep a conscious eye out for His fingerprints. If it works for you do it and please feel completely free to share what He reveals to you and how it helps.

Your insight just might keep another one of us from becoming blue.

This Winter Series journal assignment is my attempt to train myself to see God when, for me, He seems more hidden. Instead of fighting the cold temperature I will be looking deeper, praying, asking God to help me see things through His eyes. Why did He create winter? What’s it good for? Why does it have to be so tough, so dreary, so depressing?

I’m tickled to have this assignment and look forward to playing Eye Spy with my Lord.

If you are game, let’s play.

 

November 13, 2014 - 10:05 am

Cheryl Barker - You know me, Nancy – I love topical journal projects. I pray God blesses you through this one this winter!

Tables Turn – Back

Kleenex

Two days after posting Tables Turn I plummeted. Jimmy took back the role of rock and I shattered into pieces. What I posted on the 6th remains true but grief’s path is twisted and unpredictable. I was knocked aside swiftly and without warning, but have since re-stabilized, till the next time.

The triggers are clear looking back. My mammogram was due and I had to force myself to get the thing done. Breast cancer and its surgery was two years ago and Dani’s death a fresh couple months. I don’t feel invincible. I feel vulnerable, gun-shy, ready for another shoe to drop.

How many shoes are there in life’s closet anyway? I sense my locker holds a few more. This mammogram could release another whopper.

Then we watched a movie Friday night which was excellent but when the woman character was struck with profound grief, the actress played it so well I went under. I cried in Jimmy’s arms as the lights went out and woke Saturday so physically exhausted I could hardly walk, and so emotionally distraught I cried continually. The day held three naps and an early-to-bed with a box of Kleenex.

On one trip to bed, when Jimmy was tucking me in, I remember looking up at him to say, “Dear. It feels like we are an old couple with nothing to look forward to. We just sit around here doing nothing. It’s sad.” He knelt, “We aren’t doing nothing, we’re grieving and that’s a lot of work.”

He’s right. Adjusting to loss is a lot of work and we need to help one another out. I buoy him, then he buoys me. If one of us fails to do our job it could mean disaster.

During dark times I’ve come to realize how important it is to “get it right” by moving through grief. Friend, I can tell you if we plant ourselves in sorrow’s thorny garden we’ll be swallowed up and it’ll hurt more. This doesn’t mean we won’t fear mammograms or cry with too much gusto after a movie. It doesn’t even mean we won’t be derailed a time or two or more. It simply means that with and through God’s merciful grace we will get back on track and move forward by whatever means He sends our way.

I’m back in order for now. At the moment neither Jimmy or I have to resuscitate the other but we’re painfully aware that our status is “on call” for the next time one of us drops. We have no clue when or where it will happen but one of us will likely fall again and when that happens it will be all hands on deck until the situation stabilizes.

We’ll likely be on call for several years because grief’s path is no short jaunt, but it’s good to have someone watching your back and I pray you have or find your own back-watcher.

If not, be that person for someone else. It could mean life or death.

Many blessings!

 

 

 

November 9, 2014 - 6:44 pm

elaine @ peace for the journey - The powerful, painful truth. Thank you for opening up your heart to share your pain. This is part of the healing – putting words to our stories and allowing God to blow them where he will. Love you, Nancy. Peace and prayers.

November 9, 2014 - 5:55 pm

Cheryl Barker - Nancy, my heart goes out to you so much. I’m not surprised to hear that a fresh wave of grief blindsided you — completely to be expected. So glad you and Jimmy can help each other through times like this. I’m sure the holiday season will be difficult. Sending love and continued prayers!

Tables Turn

PathI’m doing well after Dani’s death, she’s free, we’re free, and I run purdy much wild doing all the things I couldn’t do before. Our precious girl is busy in heaven. I’m so happy for her I could pop.

Jimmy, on the hand, pilots through thick grief.

At first his grief scared me. He’s been my rock for 32 years and was most solid even through the darkest days. One morning in the hospital a few months ago he came in for his shift with Dani. I’d spent a pain-filled night with her and had become convince God was sitting on His throne watching, void of emotion. By sunrise I lay in bed with her staring at the wall in a catatonic-like state. He walked in, gently took me by the arm, pried me out of bed, and sat me on the couch.

“I can’t believe I’m saying this but I can’t do this anymore. She continues to suffer and God does nothing. I can’t take her pain another day. When is this going to stop?”

Softly, he spoke, “We just need to get through one day at a time. I can’t think of tomorrow and we can’t give up.  Just one step at a time. Here. I brought you breakfast. Eat something.”

My condition was fragile as a baby bird. He could have easily crushed with criticism. Instead he offered compassion.

Now the tables have flipped and it’s my turn to extend Christ-like compassion.

I’m further down grief’s road because I battled Dani’s disabilities much of her life. I didn’t begin to accept her condition until she was eight years old and spent the rest trying to fix the unfixable. He, on the other, pushed pain aside and loved her unconditionally from the start. While this love anchored our family for three decades, it delayed his grief.

I learned a precious nugget from Jimmy, how to let someone grieve. No judgement. No pushing. No expectations. Just letting them move the course in their own pace. Once I asked him if he ever got mad at God and his response left an indelible mark, “No. I just accept what He allows. Your anger with God is between you and Him.”

If you or someone you know is amidst a time of grief’s pain may I suggest you offer no judgement or expectations, only the honor of letting them do what they need to do to navigate the difficult terrain. Let them cry, express, question, and wonder. Allow them the chance to be angry even (especially) if it’s ugly. Spare the frustration of trying to figure them out. Just let.

Our job as a friend/relative of someone lost in pain is simple and requires little effort. Listen, love, and ….let.

Be the example. You never know when tables will turn.

 

November 24, 2014 - 7:52 am

John Peckham - We lost our sweet girl not to long ago and in your description of the way handled your sweet girl sounds like a page out of our family. Thank you for sharing ! John

November 7, 2014 - 8:13 am

Nancy - Thanks Cheryl. I see only two benefits of life’s pain. 1-to draw the suffering individual to God and 2-Point other to our Heavenly Father. Blessings dear friend!

November 6, 2014 - 10:58 pm

Cheryl Barker - Once again, Nancy, thanks so much for sharing so honestly the journey of grief that you and Jimmy are on. The lessons you are sharing are important ones. May God continue to comfort and help you both. Hugs, my friend.