You Can Never Out*Give God...My gift of Addison


      Annie and Cornelius ( A true story with a new prose by Susan.)


      A anomalous teenager, devoted Christian and resident of King William  Virginia,  Annie was the proud owner of Cornelius, a striking and handsome thoroughbred horse. Not only was Cornelius her very best friend in life, her comrade, playmate and the one she shared every intimate secret of her heart with but he was also a great source of pride. Cornelius was a stalwart, valiant sport horse, competitive in many a race and was quite a sight to behold.a young woman and her horse

      One day the unthinkable happened. After her morning ride with Cornelius, Annie was spending time with the Lord as she often did on her Saturday mornings. As Annie was waiting upon the Lord, she heard Him begin to speak to her in His still small voice.   “Annie, I know how much you love Cornelius. I am going to ask something very hard of you but I want you to trust Me. I want you to surrender him to Me and put him up for sale.”

    As she pondered the words that she had heard in her spirit, a copious and troubling fear began to grip her entire soul.   “Lord, how on earth can I possibly live without my Cornelius?” She asked  feeling that surely she  must have misheard.

      At this point, she could not help but feel a high level of anxiety flooding her soul.   Fearing what she may hear, she asked the Lord to speak to her again,  if it was indeed His voice that she heard.

      There was no mistake as the Lord lovingly confirmed it was Him that spoke. Her heart began to break as she could not imagine her life without her best friend. She didn't understand why the Lord would ask this of her.  She wrestled, cried, wrestled some more but finally her battle ended and she said;  “Yes Lord, if this is what you want, I will trust you.”  She informed her family of what the Lord had asked of her. It saddened their hearts as well as they saw her broken heart and felt so helpless to be able to mend it. They knew Annie well enough to know that she did hear from God and they could only pray for her  and not interfere.

      She asked her dad to make the arrangements to put Cornelius up for sale in obedience to the Lords call. She spent every waking hour with Cornelius before the day she would loose him forever, constantly hugging and kissing him, stroking his neck and telling him how very much she loved him.

      The day had arrived . There were quite a few interested buyers that came to the stables to see Cornelius. Annie chose to stay home for she could not bare to see her beloved Cornelius sold to a complete stranger.

      It was  Annie's favorite time of the day, twilight,  otherwise known as dusk or the gloaming hour. She was sitting at the  antique oak kitchen table  sipping coffee with her mom when her  dad walked in, hung his hat on the coat rack and gently spoke the words that he knew would be  terribly hard for Annie to hear.    “ Honey, Cornelius was bought by an elderly gentleman from North Carolina  this afternoon. He is a prominent equestrian that owns many acres  of land up in the mountains."     Annie held tightly to the Lord with all  of her being as the words she heard brought a sharp stab to her heart.  Suddenly, she felt a calming peace fill her soul. God knew her sacrifice was from the depths of her soul and He was already healing her broken heart. She did not understand the sacrifice the Lord had asked of her...she only knew that what He desired was more important than what her heart wanted.  Jesus was first.

      It was within the next few days that her grandmother Mimi stopped by to see her. She knew of her granddaughters pain and was apprised at what a difficult time she was having in her obedience to the Lord.

      “Annie dear, I have something to show you . Will you come and take a ride with me?”

      Annie absolutely adored her grandmother and was cheered up a bit just to see her smiling face. As they began driving, Mimi in her sweet loving voice began to speak. “Annie, how are you feeling about giving up your precious Cornelius?"

      “Mimi, my heart hurts as I miss him so much but I must say that in the midst of my loss, I feel a peace inside that is surprising to me. I am sad,  yet I am not if that makes any sense. I know I did the right thing and believe God will be with me each day ministering to my feelings of grief. I just miss him so much!" 

      Right about the time Annie had finished her sentence, she noticed they had arrived to the road where the stables were.


     Annie spoke, feeling  a bit lugubrious at the reminder of all of her wondrous days at the stables with Cornelius, “Mimi, why are we here?"

      “Honey, I have something to show you. Do you trust me?”

      Still feeling a bit disheartened, she got out of the car and began walking with her grandmother.

      Suddenly, Annie looked up and who did she see? There behind the gate was Cornelius. He began nodding his head up and down and stomping his leg as he saw his beloved playmate of  many years. Immediately  she ran over to him and began stroking his face...tears running down her cheek as she had believed she would never see him again.

     “Mimi, why did you  bring me here? I am so happy to see Cornelius  but saying good bye to him all over again will be even more painful?”

      Mimi spoke the words which would change Annie's life forever.     “ Honey, the Lord asked you to sell your horse, He then spoke to me and told me to buy him and at His signal, return him back to you.  I obeyed His voice and had my dear friend Joshua come and purchase him.  The Lord told me this morning that today was the day to give him back to you."

       Her heart overflowing with joy and an escalation to deep for words, Annie hugged her grandma as if she would never let her go, then she looked up to the sky and thanked the Lord for giving her Cornelius back.

      In the following days, the Lord spoke to Annie sharing with her that it never was the horse that He wanted...What He desired was to rearrange the place the horse held in her heart.  As she was obedient to let Cornelius go, the Lord was faithful to set her free of the horse and the place he held in her life competing with Jesus. When Annie let Cornelius go, she could not do it with the thought  that God would not take him for it is in the absolute surrender to His will that He is able to set us free.... Oh, the loving heart of our father!

      Why am I sharing this story with you? Because there came a time in my life, ( my fifth year of walking with the Lord ) that He asked something very similar of me. Football is good for everyoneNo, it was not a horse but it was 'my Cornelius'. He asked me to give Him my 4  BFF (best friends forever) from high school. When you look back to your high school years, you remember that life was all about  your friends and if you are a woman, it was all about driving around town, scouting out where all the cute guys were hanging out,  going to the football games  and spending hours chatting and laughing together on  the phone at night until your eyelids could no longer stay open.

      " For the Lord breaks up the fountains of the deep within us...For deep calls unto deep , deep calls unto deep and I call unto you."

      Have you ever had the Lord call unto the depth of your soul asking you to  give Him something that you dearly loved?  A part of your soul longs to hear and connect with His heart for you and to surrender to Him all that He would  ask for.  At times, because something is so important to us and He asks for it, we allow fear to trickle in.   Once in fear , we loose the  consciousness of  that sweet intimacy of the Lord Himself  as we dwell on our anxieties of letting something we cherish go.   That fear is even worse when you do not understand and truly know the father heart of God towards you, His precious child.  This was me at 18 years old. I had not  yet read this story  about Annie and Cornelius . I often times saw the Lord as someone who would take away all of the things or people that  made me feel loved and  happy. I thought given an arduous path or one of bliss, God would say; "Take the laborious one."  But soon, I would know the love of my fathers heart in what He was asking of me and it would change my life forever. 

      I heard the Lord loud and clear the night He asked me for my four best friends in  high school.  Yes, just like Annie, I asked Him to confirm and He did! He showed me that they held a place in my heart that was  higher than my dependence upon  Jesus.  Not knowing 'if and when' He would give them back,  I obeyed His call. As I surrendered,  He filled me with that wondrous peace that passes all understanding...the kind of peace that is so soothing you don't want to move as you are afraid it will go away and you'll be back in that horrible pain again.  God was so faithful to me...He did not give me my girlfriends back as quickly as He did Cornelius to Annie  but what He did do was very special and to this day, brings such a joy to my heart that I must tell the story. He brought me  the  gift of Addison. 

      Let me take you back to the year before the Lord asked me for my friends as I am sure in His heart, He was already setting the stage in my life as He knew giving them up to Him would be one of the most difficult 'Issac's' in my   Christian walk.

      The Lord first introduced me to His precious gift during my last year in High school. I was 17 years old, filled with an abundance of quixotic dreams of my, dating, weekend trips with my best friends and a capacious anticipation of graduating with a sense of a new found freedom and independence. My parents had just moved our family to a much smaller home in Mission Viejo, California.  Our former home of 5 years, (the place I grew up in from junior high to my senior year),  was a gorgeous two story 5 bedroom home equipped with a luxurious  pool, kindle nook, 2 fireplaces, picturesque front lawn and a street filled with just a handful of friends who had not yet moved away.  Our new home was an entirely different scenario. It was actually less than a mile away and was  situated in a beautiful medley of quaint town homes. Our new haven was adjacent to another home  where we shared a courtyard area with a partial wall and inviting gates. It was very cozy and though much smaller, it was inspiriting  and pampering on every level. One morning while sharing a cup of Louisiana chicory coffee with my molittle girlm, I passed by our front window and standing out in front was the most beautiful little girl...she looked like she was no more than 18 months old, had a smile that could warm the heart of even the most devout pessimist or grouch. She just stood there grinning ear to ear, her sweet spirit beckoning me to open up the door  and introduce myself. Imagine one morning, you look out of your window and unabashedly  standing there is very young Shirley adoring and captivating winning your heart from moment one.

     As we began talking I found out her name was Addison. She and her family had moved to California from out of state. She had an older brother named Lee and her two parents Paul and Debbie were a delightf.  We all became  good friends   very quickly. I began to babysit for Addison and Lee and they became a wonderful addition to our new life in Mission Viejo. In my final  semester in high school, I only attended classes until noon. It was such a joy to come home and see Addison in the courtyard, her bright spirit so calming. She was always so happy, full of joy, laughter and unconditional love. Truly, I could not help but smile every time I saw her as she would run to me...  I'd pick her up holding her as I  listened to all of her sweet thoughts and  the many adventures of her day.

      My High school graduation arrived and life was fabulous. The summer was filled with community parties at our  new  clubhouse, trips to our mountain cabin, meeting a new guy and  going out on convivial dates, (he was older than I and had a fancy made me feel special and embellished my 'hey I am now a high school  graduate and ready to explore the world stage' but soon ended as he was not the one for me!)   I enjoyed many a wonderful time with Addison and Lee, (our bond was growing all the time) and many delightful times with my BFF from high school.

     There is nothing like the perfect autumnal days that October brings, yes even in sunny southern California. Though not as exorbitant as the east coast, California falls bring the cooler breezes, delightful aromas escaping the chimneys of near by homes and the falling leaves rustling in the wind . Our family enjoyed many incredible trips to our cabin in Big Bear where the autumn season was  showcasing in its highest peak and performance. The Red Aspens, Cottonwoods, Maples and Poplar trees were awe inspiring. It was during this very season  that the call to surrender my friends to the Lord came...I had the peace of Jesus but I also felt a void as they had been the center of my life and took up much of my time.  I missed them dearly.  I had already begun my first semester at College which was a great comfort as I loved school and learning.   All of my courses were General Ed classes as I had no idea of what I wanted to major in.

      Though Addison had been a blessing in my life thus far, it was now at this time when God was healing and rearranging my heart that she and I became new BFF. I never imagined that a 3 year old little girl could be such a dear friend...(kind of like the little sister I never had) and such a colossal blessing from the Lord. Addison and I  began to be  inseparable. .

      She possessed an innocence and purity I had never seen in a child. She had such a loving  giving heart, was funny, inquisitive, sensitive and we loved nothing more than spending time together. As God was mending and reconstructing my heart, He gave me a gift that was so unexpected and superlative.  Even now, I find myself smiling with that warm, cozy feeling inside each time I recall how very precious she was and the joy she brought to my life.

      One of Addison's  greatest joys was to go to the Pet Store. First, we would go to the aquarium section where  she was in awe  over all the yellow and black Angelfish, blue and white Minnows, bright red Betta's and the amorous  Rainbow fish. Addison loved the turtles, birds and frogs but was spooked and aflutter at all the creepy-crawlers such a s the lizards, snakes and tarantulas. ( And don't you know....she was not the only one.) Her little heart raced with excitement as we came to the kitties and puppies. dark briardShe adored the docile Golden Retrievers, laughed at the wrinkled Pugs but her favorite of all were the big furry pups. I would have to bribe her with an ice cream cone or  freshly baked chocolate chip cookie and soda to get her to leave the store. The employees loved it when we came as they too were touched by her adoration and excitement for the animals. It was like being a child again to be with her and see first hand her pure  innocent heart and amazement of all the critters. Who would of thought I would enjoy such a lengthy time hanging out in a pet store?  It seemed like all of our hours passed like minutes. Speaking of sodas... Another memory that brings such a smile to my heart is when I was teaching her to drink from a straw. When we would get our sodas at the mall, she wanted so much to get hers with a straw as she saw me sipping with mine.  So I would put a straw in her cup and show her how to suck the drink up through the straw.....she was so hilarious as she did not realize I could see through her straw. No matter how hard she tried to suck on that straw to get the Coke, it was just not happening.  But, she assured me over and over that her drink was so good and would  excitedly proclaim  to me;  “Look Susan, I am sipping like a big person.” I  could not help but smile and would tell her I was so happy she was using her straw.

       Our favorite thing in all the world to do was to drive over to Balboa Island and ride the ferry boat across to the Pavilion. She loved to get out of the car on the ferry and ride up front with the wind blowing on her face as we excitedly observed the dancing lights of the Ferris wheel  and the magical  fairy tale ambiance of the amusement park up ahead. She was so inspired and animated as we arrived to the  shore, parked the car and entered the world of make-believe. We'd get our cotton candy, ride a few rides and I found myself once again looking through her eyes, so filled with awe at the simplest of things. God was restoring my broken heart through this fabulous little girl.  He showed me His love, hope and peace, all  flowing through her.  My friendship with Addison  brought so much joy, laughter and love but also a personal revelation of the unconditional love of Jesus.  I was in awe that in the midst of my transition and loss, He would fill my life with such bliss and revelry.  Addison loved going to Coco's Bakery and restaurant.   We'd often go for her two favorite things in the fudge sundaes and French fries (with lots of ketchup).  We would sit at our table, talking about everything from her favorite movie and story to what we were going to do on our next adventure as we shared our ambrosial  comfort foods.   She was so thrilled and felt like such a 'big girl'  to be going up to our cabin in Big Bear with my mom and I one Friday afternoon.  Part of  Addison's charm  was that she (at her young age) was so prim and proper.  About half way up the mountain road, she let me know that she needed a bathroom break. The only place available to stop was a small park area with  very rustic bathroom facilities.  I do not think she had ever been to a bathroom like this one in her 3  plus years of life. I got out of the car with her and took her in to the restroom. She made me laugh so hard as she immediately remarked on how dirty everything was and that there was no way she was going to sit in there and go 'potty'.   I kept trying to convince her that it was clean even though it did not look like it.  "No way.” she would say over and over again.  My mom and I chuckled and smiled as we quickly scouted the area to find a real bathroom for her!  Once at the cabin  we had the best weekend  hiking up the mountain trails enjoying the  fresh clean air, getting A&W Root beers and  hot dogs,   enjoying movies by the snug and cozy fire, making up adventurous stories at bed time and taking wondrous drives around the legendary lake. She loved Big Bear but most of all I think she loved feeling like a grown up and being away for the weekend with us.  My heart could never say no to Addison.  I had just tucked her in her bed and was sitting upstairs by the fire enjoying a movie with my mom and dad when suddenly, I heard a soft quiet voice calling my name. She was at the top of the stairs... a sight to see in her flannel pajamas looking at me with eyes that  melted my heart as she asked;   "Susan, can I watch TV with you?”   Of course, I said yes...we snuggled together enjoying the movie until she fell asleep. (I love that quote by R. Gallagher,  "Anyone who thinks the art of conversation is dead ought to tell a child to go to bed").  When we arrived back to Mission Viejo, I walked her over to her front door...  it was so hard for both of us to say goodbye as we had such a wondrous time together.

      She loved to come over and bake chocolate chip cookies with me almost weekly.  She'd sit up on the counter as I began the 'Tollhouse process.'  She would pour,  add, stir, taste and of course  be the first sampler when our hot cookies came out of the oven.  One by one, my 5 brothers would come downstairs as they smelled the fresh aroma and take a few cookies off the pan,  only to leave it empty and ready for Addison and I to bake our next batch. My entire family adored her and you could say that  we all felt she was a part of our family. 

      It was not long when the Lord spoke to me and told me He had done the work within my heart. He returned my High school BFF  to me as I was set free where the Lord was #1 in my heart. He had done the same work in me as  Annie and it was a  priceless gift. Along with this gift I had a wonderful new addition to my life...a pure joy in Addison as well as a new discovery of a love that God had placed deep within me for His little ones. I never knew that watching Snow White and Sleeping Beauty, reading fairy tales , making up our own stories, singing songs together and going on all of our mini-adventures would be one of the greatest pleasures of my heart.

      After my first semester of Junior college, I began looking for a part time job. I was led to go to a company  that hired temps and was introduced to Mark, the man who would interview me and help find me my ideal  job. My first interview with him  was on a Monday afternoon and it just so happened  Addison and I were out and about so she went with me. I filled out the paperwork in his office and we chatted awhile. The second visit, again she was along side and He asked me if she was my daughter.  I said no, just a dear little friend. By the third visit Mark asked me; “Susan, every time you come by to see me, you have this little girl with you like working with kids?” I said absolutely and with that, he set me up for an interview at the Saddle back Valle y YMCA in El Toro California where I was hired to be a Tiny Tot assistant.  I began working part time with 2  to 5  year old kids  and within a year or so, I was promoted to the Director of t his admirable program.  It was one of the happiest times in my life. I had a passion for children in my heart  that the Lord revealed and it was definitely His calling. In the years that followed, I began working with after school childcare and was also promoted to Assistant Director for the Latchkey program.  I taught preschool in Irvine and then upon moving to South Carolina, was the director of childcare there for several years. Not only did the Lord bless me with Addison, but through His gift to me in her, He began to orchestrate the next 8 years of my life, working with kids of all ages in other YMCA facilities, schools  as well as several awesome Nanny positions.

      I will never forget the evening that Addison's mom shared with me that they were going to be relocating with her husband Paul's new  job in the Midwest. As she spoke, I began to get that anxious feeling in the pit of my stomach... I knew it was not going to be easy saying goodbye to my newly found BFF.  It was a great opportunity for her dad and I was happy, I just was saddened at the thought that things as we knew them would change.  I knew that Addison  and I would call one another and write letters but it would not be the same as being next door neighbors, seeing each other everyday.   Our last adventure before she moved away was driving to one of our favorite places, Coco's in Newport beach. Of course before our dinner we enjoyed our last  ferry ride, the Pavilion and the enchanting  Ferris Wheel on the Island.    As we sat at our table with our French Fries and hot fudge sundae  she observed, (the sensitive and loving little girl that she was) that I was feeling quite melancholy  with the thought of her moving away.  She was doing everything she possibly could to make me smile. She then spoke the words; “I know Susan, lets talk about Jesus...” Just seeing her big  beautiful eyes looking up at me, sipping her coke through a straw, (yes this time, the big 4 year old she was, she really was sipping her drink),  I could not help but smile and feel encouraged. I was filled with such joy from her that the pain began to leave...she was so precious and trying so hard to brighten my heart. So much wisdom in my little 4 year old friend.

     The day she and I said goodbye, the tears flowed like a river... Though they were tears of sadness,  they were  also tears with HOPE  as I knew the Lord held us  both in His hand and would continue to bless us, even though miles apart.

      Over the yealauguna beachrs, Addison traveled back to California and we spent many a wonderful time together, going to our old stomping grounds, enjoying the Mall with the pet stores, the Carousel at South Coast Plaza, visiting the candy shops, Pet stores, etc...One of her last trips to California  to stay with  me was when she was in elementary school. Our times together were  still just as wonderful, just a little different. Instead of the Ferris Wheel and amusement park she now challenged me to put roller skates on, (yikes) ,  and skate along the ocean on the bustling and lively  Newport pier. (We had a blast!) She loved to talk about her school and new friends as we'd get an ice cream and stroll along the shore in Laguna beach.  We indulged our nostalgic side and went to Coco's  but this time we both ordered a little healthier! Even though our times were different, I enjoyed her just as much then as I had when we were next door neighbors.  The Lord blessed us with a wonderful 'day visit' as she and her mom drove up to my parents home in Laguna Niguel in the late 1980's...though we only had a day together, it was such a gift. By this time Addison was  in her  early teens,  a young lady, as beautiful as ever, creative  and so very grown up.  Our hours together  passed like minutes and once again, we found it hard to say our goodbyes but were so thankful for our special friendship that had grown over the many years. She was my gift from the Lord ...His love, comfort and joy all wrapped up in a beautiful child and now young woman.

      It has been just this last year that the Lord allowed me to reconnect with Addison. (We had lost touch in the late 90's or early 2000's). I am beyond blessed to see  what a beautiful wife and mother she is. As I look back at this story and gift from Jesus, I see that He is beyond comparison in the gifts He gives us.  He loves us to a depth that we can't fathom. In every 'Issac'  we give to Him,  He has a blessing far greater than what we have given Him. He gave me my 'Issac' back (or you could say my 'Cornelius'),  with the gift of being set free and along side of it  Addison,  His special gift of love and joy .   So, I thank you Lord that you became my healer, rescuer and peace during this time in my life and for your wondrous and marvelous gifts, far greater than the things we would ever choose for ourselves.

     You know, the Lord didn't have to give me my girlfriends back to me. He did not have to heal my heart so that Jesus was my everything. He certainly did not have to bring one of His greatest gifts of love into my life with Addison like He did, especially at a time my heart was  broken, But He did... all because He loves us so much.  He is not a father who takes away...and He doesn't choose the harder road for us all the time, only in times where HE KNOWS it will bless us in the end to the utter most.  Thank you Lord for your marvelous works and unfailing love for your children.   

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The Healing In the midst of all of the heartache, something unbelievable happened....a warmth invaded my soul....
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