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

A New Normal

I wondered what I was going to do with Dani’s room after she died. Would I close the door and avoid it all together or keep it open and face the void each day. No one can predict what they might do, all anyone can do is what seems right for them when the time comes.

For me it’s been a slam dunk in the opposite direction I anticipated.

I thought I’d have to keep her door closed to avoid falling apart every time I walked past her room into ours, but not so. My heart insists that her door and window blinds be wide open so her room is lit, happy, and visible. She was so ill for so long that her room was dark and depressing. She slept and hurt continuously. I kept her room dark so she could rest.

Now, on the other hand, since she resides with God in His eternal light, a bright happy room is apropos.

A natural daily routine took root from the very start.

First thing in the morning after waking up, I go to her room and open the blinds. Her room sits this way till evening when I close her blinds at sunset. Since I don’t like her room dark, I turn on a scented warmer at her bedside. Soon the smell of warm vanilla fills the air. When I go to bed I turn off the little light and put up a baby gate so her door can remain open but the dogs can’t stop in for a sleep over.

On certain days I take a moment to sit on the edge of her bed, look around her room, and remember her precious life. All medical paraphernalia is now gone (it was the first to go) so only her favorite things remain. Her former dwelling is peppered with pinks, whites, stuffed animals, jewelry, pillows (we called them squeezers), and lots and lots of giraffes. She collected giraffes. They were unique like her.

Come with me.

Let’s take a tour.

“The Queen” pillow says it all.

She was our queen and serving her was a privilege.

Dani

(Below) Dani loved to turn her radio on and listen to our

Christian radio station KLJC.

Her pink tiered jewelry box is full of rings and bracelets.

They were her joy and delight. She was all girl.

Dani

(Below) My sister, Phyllis, drew this picture of Dani.

It’s a perfect reflection of when she was healthy and strong.

The frame glitters pink, Dani’s style.

Dani3

(Below) This banner was hanging for Dani when she

returned to her day program after a long stint off ill.

Little did we know her return would only be for two weeks.

She was never able to return.

This giraffe collection is extensive but not complete.

More delicate giraffes reside in other areas of the house.

Dani4

(Below) This scented light keeps her room lit at night till I head off to bed.

I often whisper into the air, “Good night my sweet baby girl.”

scentlight

Navigating through grief is very personal. My way may not be yours and yours may not be mine but it is important. The pain of loss can destroy our life if we do not funnel it properly and I don’t do what I do with Dani’s room blindly. I’ve thought about why I go through these motions and have come to the conclusion that it feeds the need in me to tend to her. I know she doesn’t need me, God has all her needs met, but I still desire to care for her in some way. This is how I accomplish it at this stage in grief.

If you are in pain I pray you find your own way through the grief. I encourage you to honor your loved one however you need to but above all remember one thing, this is not our home. We were designed by Perfection for perfection. In heaven every tear will be wiped away and joy will be our new never-ending normal.

Until then keep your eyes on Christ, our maker and perfecter.

I heard a voice thunder from the Throne: “Look! Look! God has moved into the neighborhood, making his home with men and women! They’re his people, he’s their God. He’ll wipe every tear from their eyes. Death is gone for good—tears gone, crying gone, pain gone—all the first order of things gone.” The Enthroned continued, “Look! I’m making everything new. Write it all down—each word dependable and accurate.” ~ Revelation 21:3-5 (MSG)

October 23, 2014 - 9:59 pm

Cheryl Barker - Nancy, thanks for sharing so beautifully and honestly one way you are managing your grief. So much wisdom here in your advice for everyone to find their own way through grief. My Dad, sisters, and I are still each one on our journeys through the grief of losing Mom one year ago this week. I love the things you’re doing to still tend to Dani and feel connected to her and honor her. My heart is with you!

We’re Going to the World Series!

RoyalsIt’s been said to me and I’ve said it myself, “We’re going to the World Series!”

Truth is the Royals and Giants are going, the greater lot of us will watch from afar.

I’m a fair weather baseball fan. Our blue guys have not been so good in recent past and it hurt too much to watch. I remember 1985 when our team won the flag-rimmed trophy, it sat where my husband worked for all to see. That year in particular everyone in Kansas City was super proud of the Royals.

Twenty nine years later, it’s the same song second verse and our city is singing it loud.

Why do so many of us include ourselves in the we of who’s going to the World Series? Because each of us have a need to succeed, belong, and be a part of a group. Living vicariously through our home town’s team is one way to strike all three of these reasons out of the park.

It’s up to the Royals to help us feel successful; we the fans pull up the rear feeling like we belong when we display team paraphenalia like decals, car flags, mugs, banners, shirts, hats, jackets, socks, flip flops, necklaces, tie clips, baby bibs, boots, bows, sunglasses, and I actually saw with my own peepers…Royals Crocs.

It’s difficult not to hop on the band wagon with our team. I feel attached to these players in a motherly kind of way. I want them to do well and feel proud of their so far good behavior. They are just out having fun and it’s rubbing off on the whole town.

So tonight. What’s for dinner? Hot diggity dogs with all the fixings’ (of course), BBQ beans, chips, dip, and a piping hot flat screen suspended on the living room wall.

It’s good to be going to the World Series!

A Time to Praise

PathIt’s been a month and a half since our baby girl went to be with our Lord. Life is different down here; a new normal that enables us to get out into the world. Since it’s time to close the pool our yellow Lab will need daily walks to exercise his arthritic hips. I made a casual commitment to walk him each day even if only a jaunt around the block.

As I walked “Blondy this morning it dawned on me that blessings abound even on short outings. Things like:

  • How great it is I am physically able to walk Ecclesiastes. I need to move just as much as he does, I’m glad I can.
  • Walking amidst God’s grand creation is prime time for praise. It lifts my spirit, softens my soul, and perks my ears to hear His gentle whisper.
  • Treks are perfect to fill with prayer for myself, family, friends, the ill, grieving, depressed, and unsaved. I even pray for those driving by because I know all to well how trying a day can be.
  • Walks removes me from home’s controlled setting to the outdoors that stimulate the senses and awaken my lazy parts.
  • Lastly, little journeys tend well to the grief. I find myself truly thanking God for the time He gave us our queen Dani. I inevitably smile up into the sky thinking about how proud I am of her. Oh, the immeasurable joy knowing she is in the presence of our Lord. I never grow tired of the thought. She deserves the very best and she has it, she has God!

Though the Holy Spirit lives inside each who believe in Him through Jesus, we cannot see God down here on earth as Dani sees Him now. We must wait. It doesn’t mean we cannot see Him at all however. God reveals Himself through His Word in the Bible, through the life of Christ, through other believers, and through Creation.

Perhaps that is why walks and prayer go hand in hand.

Guide me in your truth and teach me, 

for you are God my Savior, 

and my hope is in you all day long.” 

Psalm 25:5 (NIV)

 

October 20, 2014 - 8:11 am

Cheryl Barker - Nancy, being out in God’s creation ministers to us in so many ways — so happy to hear He is ministering to you through it in your grief. What a tender Father we have, huh? Much love and continued prayers!

October 19, 2014 - 6:47 pm

Nancy - Thank you Annette for your faithful prayers. They are so powerful in God’s hands. I can honestly say I have never loved God more than now, after such loss. It is supernatural, something not of human strength. We appreciate your intercession. Much love!

October 19, 2014 - 6:43 pm

Nancy - Kay your prayers continue to be answered faithfully. We feel God all around, close, loving us through each day. I do not ever want to experience pain without the prayers of saints such as yourself. Blessings sweet friend.

October 19, 2014 - 4:26 pm

Annette Bartle - Nancy, you and Jimmy remain on my daily prayer list. Your faith and perseverance amazes me! May God hold you closely and shower you all with blessings. BIg hugs.

October 19, 2014 - 4:25 pm

Kay - So blessed to be able to read your posting. Your words are beautiful. I pray our Lord has His arms around you and your family.

October 19, 2014 - 2:44 pm

Nancy - Thank you Leah. I can honestly say I’ve never loved the Lord more. In the worst of pain He gently revealed more of Himself to me. I appreciate your prayers. Blessings!

October 19, 2014 - 2:39 pm

Leah Adams - Bless you, my friend. How often you have come to my mind these last few months. I pray the Lord is holding you closely, just as He is sweet Dani.

Art Journaling

ArtJournalingMy Bible study teacher is wonderful in every way. I love her studies because she is creative and thinks outside the box. Yesterday, in passing, she mentioned Art Journaling.

“What? What’s that?” I asked.

Out of her bag of wonders she pulled, Art Journal by Stampington and Company, a curiously beautiful magazine. Before it escaped back into her satchel I was wholly hooked. After class I traipsed to Barnes and Noble to purchase the exact magazine and a tin of colored pencils.

Kandy (don’t you love that name) explained the whys of it all. She likes to expand the ways she learns, sticking not solely with words on a page but includes listening, watching, and doing. Art Journaling taps into the creative side of the brain, further enriching intake. The idea of it all quickened the doodle bug inside me.

Today’s first attempt was rudimentary but understandably so, my brain was cold and stiff from never having done it before.

I didn’t know where to begin so I took my phone’s daily verse, My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.” Psalm 73:26 (NIV) and contemplated it visually. Up popped a road sign pointing in different directions. This verse warns my heart that when I go off on my own away from God, I become weak and sure to fail. But when I remain intimately tethered to God’s side, my heart is strengthened forever.

Nutshell: Alone I’m hopeless. In Him, cared for in full. 

Assessment: I’ve fallen in love with art journalling.

Are you interested in giving it a try?

 

October 17, 2014 - 11:09 am

Nancy - I must remember to show you my magazine and let you visit it for a while. It gives me ideas and it’s beautiful:)

October 17, 2014 - 10:44 am

Debbie Williams - Nan-I used to draw pictures for Natalie and Clint when they were memorizing verses for Awana. I do it occasionally when I’m trying to memorize a verse , but I’m now very curious about the magazine and ready to dig out my colored pencils. I just remembered years ago we attended a conference and the teacher did chalk art to illustrate scripture. It so helped in remembering the principle being taught.

October 17, 2014 - 9:21 am

Nancy - I love the idea of topic journaling too. I’m not artistic either but do try to come up with something that represents what I’m writing. My journalling primarily consists of choosing scripture, writing it out, looking at it more in-depth, praying it into my life and for others, and then drawing some representation of it. Sometimes a doodle is good enough as I pray for those I know in need. It’s very calming in this busy world.

October 16, 2014 - 10:05 am

Cheryl Barker - Nancy, I love journals and keep several topical journals already. I am definitely not artistic, but this idea is tempting since it involves a journal :)

Perhaps Not So Mad at God Anymore

Smirky FaceDefinition: Mad (adjective) • unable to think in a clear or sensible way.

Some things just naturally irritate. Like really needing a restroom while stuck in traffic, hitting my head on an open cabinet door, our 95 lb. Labrador stepping on my foot, or a stride through steaming dog poo and smelling a hint of it the rest of the day.

Then, there’s things that make me so angry I can’t see straight. I was there not so long ago.

Our daughter’s health was taking a frightful nose-dive. Her body hurt so badly even narcotics could not bring relief and she succumbed to one life-threatening infection after another accompanied by multiple hospitalizations. She suffered terribly. It was exhausting. Nothing helped. The doctors were stumped.

After one particular night with her at the hospital I came home mad as a hornet and let God have it.

“Why won’t you help her! I am but dust yet seem to care more for her than you. You won’t heal her and you won’t take her. You allow endlessly suffering offering no answers or relief. You are supposed to care! How can you watch and do nothing? Where is your love?”

My fists hurt from clenching them so tight, leaving crescent fingernail marks in the palms. Pacing the carpet in her room, I yelled at the top of my lungs and pounded on her empty mattress shuddering wildly out of control. It was beyond comprehension. How could a loving God allow the suffering of this innocent child. The very idea made me livid. It was beyond logic.

Later, as I shared with my husband the miracle of being spared a lightening bolt from heaven, he offered insight.

“Dear, I don’t think you are so much mad at God as you are at sin and it’s affect on this fallen world.”

I paused, speechless, suspended, pondering this truth.

Finally, something made sense. It’s true. God never designed pain, sickness, or death, that was man’s choice. Our heavenly Father offers only the best for His children including our Dani. Her Autism, illness, and death was a result of this fallen world not failure of God’s love. After all, it is because of His grand mercy and through His Son Jesus Christ she is now healed in heaven. He cared so much for her that He reached down from His throne, touch her little heart, and reveal Himself to her. Now she is with Him whole and complete for all eternity!

God loves you and me just as much. Discomforts of the world do not diminish this truth. Some trials are allowed while others held at bay all according to His will. Having Dani for 26 years honed significant servanthood in my husband and me. We learned the lesson of self-sacrifice so that we could serve her in joy. It was a trial custom designed to mold us into His image.

Are you by chance mad at God, perhaps furious as I was with fists in the air? If so, let Him know. He understands. Ask for greater insight then listen for His still small voice. Remember your trials are not a barometer of His love. Don’t let the enemy trick you into believing God does not care about you. Your Creator is alive, active, orchestrating a plan set to unfold with your best interest at heart.

Trust Him.

God really is love!

“Even though I walk through the darkest valley, 

I will fear no evil, for you are with me; 

your rod and your staff, they comfort me.” 

Psalm 23:4 (NIV)

 

 

October 20, 2014 - 8:17 am

Cheryl Barker - Just now seeing your reply here, Nancy. Thanks so much for praying for me. Love the thought of your sweet Dani and my precious Mom meeting in heaven. Makes me smile, too :)

October 8, 2014 - 2:19 pm

Annette Bartle - Precious words! Praying God will hold you all tightly as you continue to grieve the loss of your beautiful daughter. Love you all, AB

October 8, 2014 - 10:39 am

Nancy - Oh Cheryl how I pray God continues to use Dani’s life to share His love and compassion. She was such an inspiration, so graceful in death. Her hope and faith in God was admirable to say the very least. Oddly we cherish these recent dark days even though they can be most difficult to reflect back on. I pray for you too as you continue to adjust to the loss of your mother. Praise God she is in heaven! Do you think your mom and my Dani have met already? I think likely. It makes me smile:)

October 8, 2014 - 10:14 am

Cheryl Barker - Such great insight, Nancy, learned through the crucible of suffering. God is going to use you and Jimmy and your testimony in wonderful ways to be a help and comfort to many. May He continue to comfort you! Hugs!