Saturday, November 17, 2012

Fight for Life

Frigid morning air greets me as I step out the sliding glass door, a stack of cards and pen in hand. I walk down into the yard, and with tears dropping down remove a brick from the corner of the brown tarp. Pulling it back a bit I look at that peaceful, elegant face with silken lines and sweeping eyelashes pillowed on the grass.

I don’t uncover her more. I just want to see her face. I sit down and taking out the cards one by one I write thank you notes using her cheek as the desk. Thank you notes to all those who the night previous fought so hard to save the life of my dream horse. 

Yesterday morning I had fed her, strong and vigorous, in her pasture. At lunch she had  an apple, her favorite, and she enjoyed every bite. At 5 pm my neighbor saw her lying in the barnyard. Four horrendous hours later she was dead. 

Black Diamond
It is a horrifyingly unforgettable sight to watch 9 people and 800 pounds of velvet covered muscle fighting for life. Shouts ring out on cold night air as people summon this or that, anything might possibly help. My horse, sweating profusely despite the plummeting temperature, sprays gravel and rips sod while she fights, falls, arises again, groans and keeps fighting. It takes seven people to keep her walking, keep her from killing herself on the spot through the strength of her struggle. It takes two, sometimes three strong men on the end of her lead rope to try to prevent head injuries and more damage to her gut every time she goes down. And tears fall as I pace the yard and look up at the star studded sky and pray aloud and give this beautiful creature - this one that answered every prayer I prayed as a child when I begged God for a horse - give this beautiful creature back to God.   

The vet arrives, having left his family to drive over an hour on a cold night to come to our relief. The Christianity of this family friend has imprinted kindness as a permanent feature onto his face, and it is especially good to see this night. He joins the fight for her life. When he speaks to me I see he hesitates to tell me everything he could say, and I look him in the eye and tell him not to be afraid to tell me his opinion straight up. He wants to try a few more things but I can tell he thinks the likelihood of success is almost nonexistent.

Ten minutes later he comes back to me, watching him from the sidelines. I read what he has to say in his eyes before he opens his mouth. 

Pictured on the left with her full sister, Black Pearl, on a winter day. 

“I think we need to put her down.” I look past him to her, lying in the yard gasping for breath to renew her struggle, even though she is heavily sedated. She is beyond recovery. 


“I mean, we could try such and such...” I know instantly that the intervention named would be for my sake, far more than because it could do her any good at this point. There is no use in prolonging her agony. 

“No. The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away. You can put her down.” 

He heads for the medication chest in his truck and returns, syringe in hand.  I drop on my knees by her head and Joshua, still holding her lead rope after hours of fighting for her life, drops to his knees behind me. The vet and I stroke her face, noble even in suffering, until her heart flickers still. I close the sweeping eyelashes over her dreamy eyes. The vet stands up. I do too, shake his hand and thank him. His eyes fill with tears. So do mine, and all of ours... in abundance.

*               *               *        

The tears continue through the fitful night and the next morning as our wonderful neighbors return to help us bury her. My friend looks at me, both our cheeks wet, and says that after watching Black Diamond the night before she has a new appreciation of what it means to fight for life. Her words echo through my mind the rest of the day. They contextualize and redefine a passage so familiar, so under-estimated - “Ye have not yet resisted unto blood, striving against sin.”*

While grace is all God’s, salvation His gift, forgiveness His doing, freedom His miracle, and the strength to accomplish it His power alone, has He not given us a little part to play - to resist??** Then why is it, that when some besetting sin is taking the human down, we hesitate to rip up the sod of our life habits, shrink from spraying the gravel of our cultivated tendencies, withdraw from using every help in reach to fight for life?  

Four hours of the strongest battle I have ever seen fought teach me this lesson with agonizing force. I stand above Black Diamond’s freshly mounded grave while tears drop down, and through the ache understand what it is easy to forget during the easy times... 

Life is worth resistance. Even unto blood.  

Please Jesus, strengthen us to resist...

That nose was ten times softer even then it looks.
I miss kissing that little white snip.

*Heb. 4:12
**James 4:7, 1 Peter 5:8, 9.

Friday, November 9, 2012


[Note: this journal is from the week of September 23-29. My great apologies for the delay in posting]

A full week. 
Sunday my sister was married to the most wonderful brother-in-law I could hope for. I couldn’t be happier.
Monday was caught up in returning 400+ chairs to their respective homes and visiting with the still bustling crowd of happy friends.  
Tuesday I tried to catch up on work, which had been slipping for weeks due to wedding prep. 
Wednesday and Thursday I sat in EMT-Intermediate class all day. 
Friday I’m on a plane headed for MD for my grandpa’s funeral...

So here I am. Looking down over the flat, brown terrain somewhere between Albuquerque and Atlanta- probably over Texas or Oklahoma.  My mind-- tabula rasa. 

Suddenly my mind flashes back to when I’m 6 and on one of my first flights over this same terrain. I remember it as if it was yesterday. I imagine that airplane toilets flush straight into the sky, and puzzle about why hadn’t seen any particulate raining down in my back yard... 

That fresh young mind. Interest. Wonder. Amazement. 

Here I am,17 years later, looking over that countryside- and for a brief moment I wish for that simple life where my biggest perplexities are why I haven’t seen rain from the planes. I want that young mind back free of worries, with its insatiable desire for learning. 

No matter how much data, trivia, perplexities, joys, trials or blessings are packed into this little brain- when sitting at the feet of Jesus, I’m still a little child. I still know no more of the comprehensive wonders of the universe of Love, now, than that happy-go-lucky 6 year old did of life and its cares then.

Oh Lord Jesus, never let the wonder die. 

Saturday, October 20, 2012

That's My Jesus

July 29, 2012
I'm riding on the wings of the wind over the coast of Canada, homeward bound from GYC Europe. I love sitting on a window seat over a wing, because I can watch the wonders of physics real time - one glance at the beautifully flexed wing of this B767-400 and I can see those invisible forces at work which hold tons of metal and fiberglass and hundreds of people in the air. That same substance I walk through and breath in and which never resists me at all - that same substance holds me miles up and tosses me about. That same substance is evermore around me, in me, with me, unnoticed but indispensable; that ever-present lifeline that holds me even while I walk through it down the aisle of this plane. It rocks me to sleep in the hammock and gently tugs my hair, or it whips the sea to fury and demolishes the genius of man. 

Reminds me of Him who lets me "walk up and down in His name," and yet bears me up on eagle's wings and makes me to ride on the high places of the earth...* The One who hushes my spirit into peace and gives His beloved sleep, but can shake terribly the earth... The One ever merciful and mighty, whose gentleness is strength under control, who holds children and breaths out stars, feeds sparrows and governs galaxies, wipes away tears but wages cosmic war... The One who died amid a reeling earth and mighty thunder yet lives to love. The Almighty is so soft with me. The Immovable and Unchangeable allows me to move His heart, and will change the world for one soul's prayer. The One ever in universal demand is never too busy to seek out my friendship. 

That's my Jesus. 

Evermore around me, with me, too often unnoticed but unequivocally indispensable, that ever-present Lifeline that holds me while I walk. In Him I live, and move, and have my being. 

This is what life looks like strapped into seat 21A, inbound Munich to Atlanta. I see Jesus. And I love the sight. 

*Zech. 10:12, Ex. 19:4, Deut. 32:13. 

Recommendation: Always journal. Always. It reminds you of everything you forget... 

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Love is a Miracle

I don't believe we will ever be able to stop saying "thank you."

The gift of a lifetime of memories is itself more than enough.
We can't ask for more. And yet, we have more.
Far, far more.

We have more memories than usually fit into two lifetimes.
And more joy by far than fits into seven hearts.
And a few tears, but not even a hint of sadness.

Love is a miracle. That's all I have to say.

And you are miracles. All of you taht poured out weeks of planning, and days on the ground. Your kindness melts us. Really.

We'll never stop whispering "thank you."

All photos credit: Milton Nebblett Jr.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Wide Enough

“...This is the way thou must go.”

“B-b-but... it is so narrow.”

“It was cast up by the patriarchs, the prophets, Christ, and His apostles.”

“But... it is so narrow!!”

“It was wide enough for Christ.” 



“Then it be wide enough for me.” 


I stop quoting the venerable Christian and Goodwill* and glance at Sean, walking up the  driveway next to me at the close of exercise. “That’s the spirit, huh, Sean?”

He smiles slow, the way he always does when he’s in thought and I mention anything to do with Jesus.

“That’s the spirit.”


This way, this narrow way, that squeezes my self and is too tight for indulgence; that tells me to serve when I want to sit, to be silent when I want to speak my own words, to be still when I want to run ahead of my God; that has no room for unkindness, impurity, petulance, irritation, impatience, indifference; this is the way I must go. 

And it is the straight way - the way where everything good, true, and pure, everything loving and lovable, everything kind, generous, and noble, everything unselfish and loyal is to be found. It is where life more abundant resides. It is the road to heaven.  

But it is the narrow way. Too narrow for me - with all my self in tow - to fit. Here I cannot watch for myself first. Here I cannot stew over wrongs. Here I cannot love myself more than others. Here I cannot pursue my own glory. Here I must live the will of Another.

Here, the world, the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, must be relinquished. 

Here, I must be relinquished. 

It is narrow.    

But it was wide enough for Christ... truly

Then it be wide enough for me.

*Pilgrim's Progress

Friday, August 31, 2012

I Will Go - Available Now

My life, your life, has been preserved until this moment
for one reason.

That it might be given away.

While there is life and strength in you,
          While you are young and brave, and beautiful,


Go pour out every drop on thirsty ground 
where no flowers grow, but seeds lie dormant.

From its first heartbeat this project has been woven with your prayers, enabled by your gifts, inspired by your friendship and filled with your favorites.

And it's all been such a gift to us, we can't stand the thought of ending the giving.
And we've decided there's no reason to.

This CD is a bit different... Longer, yes. Filled with nominations, yes.
But more than that, squeezed out of hearts that are being wrung with longing to see dark places lighted with the Glory of God...

Hearts thankful beyond words for the inspiration of the soldiers young and old actually holding the torches.
They're our heroes. And some of their names can't appear in print.
But this CD is dedicated to them.

And we give thanks for them, but we want to do something a bit more.
So a dollar from every disk goes to Karen Outreach. (

That's our little part.
If you'd like to send a dollar too, use the second paypal button when you order. We'll send $2.

But don't just buy the CD and sit and listen and smile and say "that's sweet."
Go get on your face and ask to be broken and spilled out.

Then we can call this project a success.


p.s. Thank you isn't enough. 80 plus songs later, we have fodder for lots of dreams. And we wish we could sufficiently thank everyone that took the time to nominate songs. We still have the list..... :)
But I promised that your names would go in a hat, and a dozen of you would get free copies. So if your name is listed below:

1. Don't order a copy. It'll just come in the mail. (better email me at seannebblett[at]gmail[dot]com to give me your address though.)

2. Order a copy anyway. We'll send all 15 dollars to Asia...

Maria Adams
Esther Collier
Luther Coram
Christina Ford
Emily Heagy
Beth Johns
Lydia Keener
Cami Martin
Hope Montana
Libby Orthman
Allie Westermeyer
Sophia Wichmann

Thursday, August 2, 2012

When God Authors Love...

Note: This blogpost was written the day before my birthday (7.4.12) but the overfilled nature of life has kept me from posting it until now.
I remember the first time it occurred to me that I might be married someday... I was just finishing the recital of names I had decided upon for the dozen children I thought I would have. Six boys and six girls. :)
Perhaps I was nine or ten. I had thought long and hard about all those names, and was pleased to share them with my mother. Her response was a smile and question: “What if your husband has names he likes that you haven’t thought of?”
That made me stop in my tracks. Oh yes, I guess I need a husband first...
Fast forward several years. As a 17 year old, I climbed a rocky hill we call “Monument Ridge”. I buried a letter of promise* to him and to God that said I would wait for them both, to usher that season of love into my life. A small altar of stones marks the place.
Every year since then around my birthday, I’ve returned to that place to rejoice in the life God has granted me, and renew that promise. I will go up again tomorrow, but this year, it will be different.
It will be different because I will be rejoicing in the fulfillment of every hope I could have hoped, every dream I could have dreamed, and so much more. The promise and the gift have met! And my gratitude runs deeper than words... 
When I met Luke last spring, I was captivated by many things about him. But I had no idea what God had in store**. A year later, I find myself engaged to be married to one who has proven to be a man of integrity, a man of God. A man who more than fulfills my desires for a (future) husband. I am blessed, humbled, privileged. And excited!!!!
For all the prayers, for all the love you have showered upon me, for all the congratulations and encouragement, I thank you, my friends. 
For walking the road with me (through valleys and over mountains), for enriching my life every step of the way, for loving me through thick and thin, I thank you, my family.
For calling me to the High Places, for loving me with strength and tenderness, for being a diamond mine of endless treasure, for asking me to join you in the adventure of life and service together, I thank you, my Luke (and love you!!).
For gently leading and faithfully guiding, for knowing my soul in prosperity and adversity, for showing Your love in more ways than I will ever be able to fathom, I thank You, my God.

*Inquiring minds might wonder if that letter has been retrieved. Unfortunately, I lacked the foresight to realize I would want to unbury it someday, and failed to protect it in a plastic bag. Nature has long since claimed it.
**Visit to read our story.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

PJ Review: Day 5

Just love it.

And so many more. I may be able to post a few more at some point. 

Turning in early tonight. I hope to sleep for 11 hours. =) 
It's an awesome tired...

PJ Review: Day 4

I fell off the map because internet quit working for two days. I finally complained to IT today and got the problem resolved. 

In JK's seminar.

Awesome networking. Young people getting some exercise during a break.

Lunch with friends!

Elder and Mrs. Finley's seminar on health evangelism.

Tash doing a SIH segment. [Photo Credit: SN]

The call after DA's last evening message was a defining moment.
My spine was tingling for minutes straight. 
You may have seen what we saw, but oh- how I wish you could have felt it with us too...
History was made here this week I assure you.
We have a flame...

Sunday, July 22, 2012

PJ Review: Day 3


 Another view of the DC. The sun was glorious today!

 Celebrating a special B-Day :)

Cake substitute :)

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Photojournalist Review: Day 2

Today's rundown from the eye of the 5D

Lunch lines

Sorting. Counting.

Evening plenary by DA. Estimated around 1,700 today!

Another blessed day!

Friday, July 20, 2012

Photojournalist Review: Travel and day 1

Visiting in Amsterdam on our way to GYC-E.

GYC ECOM and SCOM tour venue Thursday evening.

Registration fun- just hours ago.

I'm pinching myself. It's happening. (Half of full seats pictured. Over 1200 first night. Lots of onsite registrants!)

The most awesome moment was when someone asked for how many this was their first GYC-- over 90% raised their hands! This is groundbreaking~ Prayers appreciated!

Off I go to much coveted rest- especially after last night's jet-lagged 4 hours!

Tonight's report...
--From the front lines.

Saturday, June 30, 2012

You Taught Him

Note: This post was composed the night my dear Abuelita died. 

Darkness settles. One breath follows the next. My eyes and sinuses ache from the evening's abundance of tears. And I listen, over and over, while piano and orchestra play Surely He Hath Borne Our Griefs from Handel’s Messiah, and express it with even more feeling than the lyrical rendition..

For months rare has been the night that I haven’t tucked my grandma in bed, kissed her soft cheek, and told her I loved her before I closed the drapes and turned out the light. For months I’ve walked out of her bedroom to the soft murmur of Mama praying in Spanish, while Abuelita’s little eyes slowly closed. And now Surely He Hath Borne Our Griefs plays, and her bedroom is empty... 
My mind brings up memories, relives them. One in particular stands out above the rest.
About 5 years ago, my older cousin whom we rarely get the blessed opportunity to see, came to visit. Between the transformation years had wrought on him and the toll of her dementia, Abuelita could not remember him. The first evening Mama and my uncle were trying to help her place him.  “He is your first grandchild”... *blank look*. “He grew up in Chicago, spent time with you every weekend”... *confusion*. Finally Mama said, “Don’t you remember him? You took him to church. You taught him to love Jesus.” 
Instant recognition. Those words made the connection.
Tears of joy welled up in her eyes and spilled down her cheeks. My cousin, that tall, handsome man who as a little boy had learned at her knee of the Almighty, crossed the living room, took her in his arms and kissed her cheeks. Her joy was complete. The smile on her face was radiant the rest of the evening, while my cousin held her little arthritic hand in his strong ones. That was the last time she was under one roof with all her children, grandchildren, and one great grand child at the same time.  
If I were to recount all the precious memories of my grandma, I should have to write a book. But that one memory frames best the 89 years of her life. Her devotion to God was the backdrop against which love for God took deep root in the lives of her progeny. 
Now she sleeps, and I remember, and He bears my grief. I can only hope and pray that when I come to die, such a thing can be said of me -
“Don’t you remember? You taught them to love Jesus.” 

Friday, June 22, 2012


The clouds gather outside. The wind blows gently. The Sabbath is quietly approaching.
This Sabbath, all of us will rest. Even our dearest Abuelita (Grandma). Her struggle is over. She peacefully breathed her last breath a few hours ago (just a few hours after her son arrived from across the country).
Our hearts rejoice even through the tears that fill our eyes. We serve a God of mercy. He gave a precious treasure to the world for 89 years. And more specifically, gave our home this precious treasure for the past 3 years. 
Her presence has been a benediction. Even with increasing dementia, she has been a catalyst for love in our little world. We will never cease to praise our Heavenly Father for the gift of her life.
We will miss her. But we are thankful that she is resting in Jesus. We will see her on that glorious morning.
“Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of His saints.” Psalm 116:15

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