Sunday, December 27, 2009

Tough Days...

Some days are so unbearable difficult and the weight of our situation threatens to squish me. But, I've seen the overwhelming love of our Father through all this as He comforts, provides and showers us with His protection.

Yesterday, my husband decided to try the chiropractor. We are quite familiar with chiropractic care and have wanted to see if it would help Bob's situation. However, the money has been a huge reason why we haven't gone thus far. The second reason we haven't given it a try is because of what happened to Bob at the physical therapy. We were concerned that it would send him into debilitating pain again.

After much insistence from friends and family, Bob went. It was one of the worst decisions ever. It was worse than physical therapy. A friend happened to take him to his appointment and literally had to back his car up to our steps to get him into the house. We got him to the couch where he laid and sobbed ferociously for quite some time. The pain was so intense and it would not let up even with the pain medication.

After quite some time of no relief, we were contemplating a trip to the Emergency Room. However, I wasn't sure how I was going to get him to the car and was wondering if it was worth an ambulance ride. He's been to the ER and they don't know what to do with him either so I wasn't really wanting to go in that direction if we could at all avoid it.

Our wonderful neighbor called to check on him and offered us her whirlpool bath which we took her up on her offer of. I managed to get him over there and up her stairs and into the whirlpool. How? I'm not sure other than it must have been God helping us along. It had an amazing affect on his pain and was able to relieve it enough for the medication to do it's job. Boy, do I wish we had one of those now. Not sure where we would put it but it would be a great help to Bob!

Since the whirlpool's amazing abilities helped relieve some of the pain, we decided against the ER. He's been very exhausted and hurting but is able to move without it causing such debilitating pain which is a good thing. So we are once again, back at our everyday pain management routine. I'm not able to get to church today as I can't leave him by himself but I am thankful we are through the worst of yesterday and on to a brighter day.

I am so thankful that God gives us what we need when the circumstances arise. It is so scary watching someone in so much pain every day. You feel so helpless. Yet, as I go through this with Bob, God gives me the courage to face it, the compassion to comfort, the wisdom to come up with ideas to try to ease and the empathy to pray, pray and pray some more. There are days when I feel like God is so far away and isn't hearing a word I pray but I know without a doubt that He is right here with us, carrying all of us day by day. I've seen the amazing ways God provides even in the midst of all this.

Sometimes I don't understand why God doesn't just fix everything especially since this has been going on and on and on no matter how much I pray. But, I do know that even when God decides not take our afflictions away, He is using it for a glory purpose. By that I mean, He promises to turn things for good and for a purpose that we may not understand at the time. It's not going to be restored until God's purposes are accomplished. Our job is to hold onto our faith, to not give up but to keep finding ways to honor God through it all no matter how much agony you are in. That is a tough place to be....waiting on God. We want relief like now. We are not patient. We wear out and become weary. BUT GOD knows this and He offers those things we need to keep our eyes on him, to keep on running the race, to keep faithful to Him.

I want to encourage you if you are in a place that seems so impossible and so overwhelming to bear each day, to keep your focus on our Lord, to give Him all your hurts, your desires, your dreams. Don't ever give up on God even if you feel like He's not moving on your behalf. Don't rely on what you think you see. Look to His Word, the promises in there are for you, for me and for all who trust in the Lord God Almighty. I've seen them in my own life and continue to be amazed by it. He is truly an amazing God!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Fall Birthdays

In all the hustle and bustle of my crazy life, I've failed to get the fall birthdays up on my blog. So in honor of winter arriving this week, let's take a moment and reminisce about warmer days and beautiful red and gold leaves....

Our beautiful Grace turned 12 this fall. She is now officially a pre-teen or in our family, a young lady would fit more appropriately. I have been telling my kids since they were wee little that we are not doing 'teenagers' here in this family. I am raising young ladies and young gentlemen. There is no reason for them to act all crazy-like as they find their way into adulthood.

Grace is developing into a lovely young lady. Her love of life and excitement for things around her is contagious. We've seen so much growth both spiritually and physically in her that has blown us away. God is amazing in how He creates our children, how they are put together in His image and how that all works together into this wonderful human being. Her compassion for people and her sensitivity to the heart of God is something to be treasured.

Unfortunately, the week her birthday fell upon was the same week we were moving. It was a crazy time but we managed a cake and had her birthday dinner much, much later. She was able to spend some time with her Grandma for their special birthday time together which is always a fun time.

Our spirited, fully animated Aaron who loves to be home turned 6. He is more of a homebody. We've found that he has about a 45 minute time limit on anywhere we go and that usually includes drive time. He is a joy and brings so much laughter to this family. He's a deep thinker and if you give him your full attention, he will talk your ear off about some pretty deep thoughts. Many of them pertain to God and what He is finding out about Him.

For his birthday, we had cake and ice cream. His dinner of choice was hot dogs. I always look forward to the day when they expand their horizon's and want something different. But for now, this is what he asked for and that is what he got.

We always have expectations that on these special days that we will receive gifts. I am proud of these two dear children because on both occasions, we were not able to shower them with any presents and they both handled it swimmingly well. To an adult, you reason and can understand that sometimes life just doesn't allow for that (unless your love language is gifts but that is for another time) but to a child or young person, it is difficult to deal with.

We've found out in the midst of our difficult situation, that much of what we use to do is a luxury and a blessing which we tend to take for granted but isn't really what our hearts should be about. God wants to shower us with blessings and He does but many times it is not physical gifts or presents. He showers us each day with His love, His mercy, His forgiveness and His provision. I pray that my children grow up understanding the love God has for us in all circumstances and that they never doubt that even when times are tough.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Closed Doors

We've had many closed doors recently. It's been tough to understand, difficult to walk through, and agony to endure. Have you ever wondered or questioned at the timing of things that happen?

One of the most significant events lately has been with applying for help with our state. We've not applied through this whole ordeal because we felt very strongly that that was NOT the way God wanted to provide for us. This proved to be true by what we've seen our God do. He has provided in such amazing ways.

However, when our neighbor opened up this rental home to us, she really encouraged us to apply for aid so that they would pay the rent and help us with the utilities which would benefit both of us. So in respect and honor of her graciousness to us, we went ahead with applying not having any idea what that would entail.

When we first applied, they gave us a date to come in and then we would have to decide who was going to go through the program. Well, it was our understanding that it would only be for a few days so my husband chose to be the one to go since the driving, taking care of most things, kids, etc lay on my plate. We knew this was going to be extremely tough on him since he can't sit or stand for very long but thought by taking his pain meds he could get through it.

What ended up being a few days continued on and on for a couple weeks which they kept adding more time to. The pain was just too unbearable at times and so it ended up that he was taking quite a bit of pain medication just to get through. By the time I picked him up at the end of the session, he could hardly make it to the car each day. He did end up missing a day because he wasn't physically able to move from the couch for more than a few minutes. At their request, we got a doctors note and a medical release form from our doctor.

At this point, they called him in and told him they wouldn't accept his doctor's note because it was for only one day. They only accept them for people who miss two or more days. Their decision was to put him on what they call triage. This is a period of time when he, the people at the works program and our social worker get together and decide what to do about our situation. However, a few days after that, we got notice that our social worker bypassed all that and just denied us.

It is obvious this is a broken program. It's good for people who need interviewing skills and help with their resumes but terrible and inappropriate for people who have physical issues that are preventing them from working or for single mom's who already have a job but are not making enough to make ends meet, who need some assistance to live.

Another significant closed door is the fact that we are losing our insurance within the next month. We are right in the middle of trying to figure out how to help Bob's health issues. He did finally get approved for medicaid but unfortunately, it's like an albatross around our necks at times. The doctors want to try epidural shots to see if that gives him some relief but the minute they found out we had medicaid even as a secondary insurance, they wouldn't even touch him. They told us that because of the medicaid, we are, in a sense, a liability. I know also, from my appointments with this baby, there are so many things that are not covered by medicaid. So we are not sure where to go from here and time is not our friend.

When I look at our impossible situation, it's hard not to get stressed, to bawl your eyes out and to lose hope. I have to remember that God is bigger than an insurance card, He's bigger than our broken state aid and He is bigger than all this mess. To me, it's overwhelming, it's never-ending, and it's always going to be this way. BUT, to my GOD, it's handled, it's temporary and it's fixable.

God promises to restore the years that the locust have eaten. He promises restoration. He promises that the things of this world have been overcome by Him, and Him alone. So we look to Him to continue in His provision which is far beyond my imagination remembering that all these situations are already being handled by our amazing God. To Him be the glory....

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Physical Therapy Evaluation

Today, my husband had his midpoint evaluation for physical therapy. He was suppose to think and then be able to tell them how much improved he is. Unfortunately, as we thought about this over the last couple days, we've come to the conclusion that he is doing much worse. It only makes sense since they are messing with the injured areas. Of course, we have to take into account that it's been this way for almost three years now. We are hoping that deterioration hasn't taken place over that period of time and are most hopeful that it's not causing more problems.

The physical therapist did say that one of the problem areas is that the muscle around one of his herniated disks have kind of wrapped themselves around it to protect it from the pain but as it is protecting it, it is also pulling it out even more thus causing more problems. The disks are putting pressure on the nerve that wraps around the abdomen area and builds up on the sides until it feels like an explosion of pain in his chest/abdomen area. It is also affecting his arms and his ability to hold onto things when he hits this 'pain wall'. We've lost quite a few dishes and his favorite Mackinaw Island coffee mug....poor guy! Now we've added some back pain since he started his therapy which is totally not fun.

The physical therapist is recommending that we go for another four weeks and re-evaluate how things are going at that point. In the meantime, we had a recommendation from a friend who is quite familiar with back surgery give us the name of a neuro-surgeon to get a second opinion on this. He is suppose to be one of the best doctor's in the state and comes highly recommended from several people. I pray that he will have some answers for us when we see him in a couple weeks.

I pray we get some answers soon. Bob is just not doing well and I feel so helpless as to what I can do to help him. He finally gave in and sent a pleading email to our family doctor for some stronger medication. He has been trying to avoid the hard stuff because he wants to be able to have his brain function when he gets the opportunity to work on people's computers. Tonight he hit a 'pain wall' and took some of the new pain reliever and it didn't even touch his pain. It is so frustrating because he has tried so many different medications and nothing seems to work very well. When you are in that kind of pain, you want it to stop immediately but his never does. The medication only takes his pain level down to a 4 or 5 where it's not bringing him to tears and this is where he tries to live within everyday. Then, that only lasts for a couple hours and then it's back up again. So the man doesn't sleep much which just exacerbates the problems more.

I just never dreamed at this point in my life that I would become, in a sense, his caretaker. He really is unable to do many things for himself when he hits these 'pain walls' throughout the day. It is very humiliating for him to have to admit that he can't as it would for any one of us. God has blessed him with such grace for which I am so thankful for. I've seen this amazing grace rest on my own father when he was told he was going to die and then throughout the 18 months that he lived after that. It is amazing to see it displayed. It is full of a peace that goes beyond the situation and it's faith building in those who have the blessing to watch it in action. That is God and God alone!

In spite of the amount of pain he is in, he still tries, during his better moments, to do what he can for us. He also tries to continue working as much as he can. I don't know how he functions with that kind of pain but we know that God is the one giving him the strength to continue moving forward every day. God has also kept depression from our door which I thank God for every day. Have you ever seen someone without a will to live? I have and it's not something I ever want to see again and I just keep thanking God and praying for stability in this area.

Amidst our circumstances', we know that God is moving and breathing life into our situation. He is not bound by any impossibility. I cannot tell you all the little miracles we've seen happen which gives us the strength to keep moving forward. God knows exactly what Bob is going through every day and He has a special plan for him. We continue to seek God for healing and for a miracle for our situation but until it happens, we will thank Him....for His provision, for His love, for Him just being the God of our situation.

Monday, December 07, 2009

Finally...some answers

Our six month waiting period for preexisting conditions has finally come to an end. Bob was scheduled for an MRI and we now have the results. Everything came back perfectly normal except for two herniated disks in his back. Now, I have to laugh at that because for the past two and a half years, no matter how much we tell people that his excruciating pain has been all along his chest area and his abdomen area, they always ask him how his back is. His back has not hurt at all...leaving the doctor and us scratching our heads in a quandary.

I am so very much relieved at the results as it isn't a terminal illness but at the same time, the doctor didn't sound very hopeful about the location of the herniated disks. We've spoken with some Chiropractor's that aren't wanting to touch it and the physical therapist this past week told Bob that she didn't want to scare him but the road to recovery with his kind of spinal injury is a long, long one if one were to recover at all.

The physical therapy has been extremely tough on Bob. I lovingly call it the torture chamber. After they work his back, he is pretty much incapacitated for a time leaving me with much to do for his care. It has been humiliating for him as well as extremely painful. Simple tasks are close to impossible. When you are faced with the reality that you cannot do these things, it is extremely discouraging and damaging to you emotionally as well. I keep reminding him that the things I am having to do for him is just a small dot on the scale of life as someday he might have to change my diaper. Does that make him feel better? I doubt it but it did make him laugh and that is something you must keep doing when life has so much to bear.

One of the things that the physical therapist told Bob was that he needed a heating pad. To us, this is a very difficult task due to our financial state. But we know who can provide and so I began to pray. Sometimes I have to snicker at what I'm praying for. Who would have ever thought that you would ask God for a heating pad but when it is a need, you ask God. That is one thing that I have learned over the past few years....to rely on God for our every need as He is the only one who is able to provide for our every need down to the very minute detail.

One day we had two offers to borrow heating pads right out of the blue. Bob asked me if I 'twittered or facebooked' our need and I laughed. I had not. But we know that God was on the move. Later that night, we had a knock on the door. I answered it to find that a friend had been at Meijer's and bought him a brand new one. She only said...I thought you might need this today. We both just sat there dumbfounded. I know, I know, with all the astonishing things that God has done in our situation, I should not be the least bit surprised. However, ever time it happens, it brings me to tears of awe and utter thankfulness to God who always follows through on HIS promises.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Moving forward...

I can't believe we have been in this home for a month now. We are still unpacking and settling in but it feels like home. The kids have resumed their happy noise making and are easing into somewhat of a routine. I feel like I can breath a sigh of relief once again.

We recently scheduled an appointment for Ryan with a psychologist. The appointment went really well and I thought the doctor was wonderful with him and with me as I explained some of our concerns. The outcome was that he didn't really want to get Ryan on a regular counseling schedule. He thought that Ryan was working through all that he has faced while we lived up north really well. The only problem that he saw was that Ryan was having a hard time processing through the stuff at night and it's getting stuck in his dreams.

So we have to encourage him to talk about his nightmares when he's up in the middle of the night. I thought this could be fun trying to form coherent conversation at 3 or 4 am. But it is important for him to talk about it so that this monster can get smaller and smaller. So that is what we are trying to do. So far, he hasn't been able to talk about them. He is afraid that it will keep happening over and over again so he refuses to say a word about it. However, the other night he did let it out that all his dreams were of my nephew coming after him. I guess that is progress. Baby steps.

He also keeps checking with me to make sure that they don't know where we live. So we have to do lots of reassuring and lots of reassuring. The doctor indicated this could be a lengthy process and to make sure he feels safe and loved. Big indicators that he does need regular counseling would be if he withdraws from the things he normally loves including the people around him, if he becomes sullen and does things out of character for him. If he starts hurting himself. So far, he's a happy little kid with great adventures to unfold as he continues to grow and learn with some horrible, horrible nightmares thrown in there.

We are continuing to pray that God will heal his heart and his mind erasing the terrible things that brought him to this point. I know that God will do that for him and we as his parents can love him and support him through this. With God, ALL things are possible and we hold onto that promise.

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Safe Haven

I've sat here for about half an hour trying to decide how to write this post, restarting it over and over again. It's not one I ever wanted to write about. My heart is heavy and it is hurting in so many ways.

A few weeks ago, I was scheduled to take my mother to a doctor's appointment first thing in the morning. I got up, got myself ready and headed out the door. My 8 year old son discovered that I was about to leave and became hysterical, clinging to me as if his life depended on it which is quite out of character for him. He has really loved having 40 acres to explore along with the animals he's been trying to tame and become friends with. He usually asks me if he can come along but if the answer is no, I get a kiss and off he goes on one of his adventures.

This time, though, was very different. The more I tried to leave, the more he clung to me, to the car and was sobbing uncontrollably. I finally got out of the car and took him inside to have my husband help me so that I could leave. Once things were a bit more settled or so I thought, I got back into my car to head out. Ryan came running for the car crying and crying and stood in front of it so that I couldn't get the car out of the driveway. At this point, I was getting quite concerned and quite irritated but thought that we would deal with what was going on after I got home. So in my irritated voice, I firmly told him to step aside so I could get by.

At this point, he finally listened a bit, enough for me to get the car onto the road and started heading down it. Then I hear this awful, heart-wrenching, blood-curdling screaming going on. I looked in my rear-view mirror and there he was. My dear son was running down the road after my car begging me not to leave him home. I immediately stopped the car and ran to him. I knew at that point that something was dreadfully wrong.

I ended up taking him with me. While my mother was in with the doctor, I took him for a walk and we talked. He told me about some pretty bad things that had been happening to him to the point he did not feel safe, he felt betrayed and he was terrified. Let me just clarify that at this point, no sexual abuse has come to light but instead, Ryan felt his life was in danger. That is a terrible, terrible thing for a young child to ever experience.

When we first moved to my mother in law's home, we were the only family there at that time. However, a short time later, my two nephews moved in and then eventually their mother came to live there too. They haven't come from a good home situation which led us to have concerns from the beginning. We immediately put rules in place for our children to help keep everyone safe. No matter how many rules you have, or how safe you try to make things, sometimes bad things happen anyway.

My 14 year old nephew had been hurting my son to the point that Ryan thought he was going to die. My heart is aching and hurting for Ryan who is still struggling with awful nightmares and having problems sleeping through the night. We immediately began praying that God would provide for the situation and HE did.

God provided a tiny two bedroom home, a safe haven, for us to move into. So we moved quickly to get Ryan out of that situation. We are so thankful for the ones who helped us move again, for those who helped clean, for that crazy painting lady who loves to buy cleaning products and are rejoicing at God's provision of a home to rent. I am still in awe at how the events moved into place at just the right time for us to move and the provision that was poured out onto us to get us there. So we say thank you, thank you and thank you not only to you, dear friends but to our Lord Jesus Christ who is our Provider, our Comforter and our Deliverer.

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

First Day

Today was our first official day of the new school year. I always have this wonderful idea in my head that it will go well, that the kids will embrace the day, that all the knowledge that I'm trying to impart into their cute little heads will be accepted and that they will be so happy to be learnin'.

That NEVER happens. In fact, it's quite the contrary. I'm usually fighting to round them up. I'm usually fighting to get them to admit that their school books even exist. I'm usually watching them put their heads down on the table in great dismay exclaiming loudly that they know enough to live.

Today was no different and I, being the seasoned homeschooling mother that I am prepared myself ahead of time and guess what??? They didn't let me down. They fulfilled my every expectation! Ryan played dodge em' like he usually does avoiding all and any parent that might get him to actually sit down for five minutes. Grace gasps loudly at every subject that was brought up like she is just so shocked that we have more to do. Aaron grumbled because he couldn't get his letter 'A' just right so we have to start over again and again, and Brad did his usual keep your head down, don't make eye contact with the teacher and look like you are learnin' something and you won't get noticed.

So I guess I would definitely say that today was one of great success! The kids may have not got much out of their lessons today but I sure did! I need a tee shirt that says...'I survived my first day of school!' On the back it should say...'It was a little iffy in the morning but then, lunch happened....

Monday, September 07, 2009

Holding On

I knew that moving would be difficult. It's never easy moving in with relatives or other people for that matter. You have different views on life, you make different choices and you live differently. Those differences are sometimes unacceptable to and even offensive to others. The road to living has many good choices, they are not all wrong. Sometimes we are not willing to allow people to be who they are and simply love them but instead, stand in judgment and criticism hanging on to our own rightness.

This is one of the most difficult circumstances that I've ever had to endure. We are very much hurting and feeling that attacks are coming from all different directions. My flesh does not want to embrace this, it wants to run as far and as fast as I can. However, God has made it clear to us that we are to hang tight and stand in His Grace. This is not simply something we are living in the flesh but in the spiritual realm as well. The answers that apply to life's situation, don't necessarily apply to this one. God's plan is different and it's contrary to what the world tells us.

God calls us to love and to pray when we feel we are in the midst of persecution (Matthew 5:44). It's easy to read that verse and agree with it; but, what happens when you are placed in a situation that you cannot get away from, a place where you don't want to cut off relationships, a place where it's evident and words have indicated that you are unacceptable. I know that in my human flesh that I cannot accomplish what God asks of me. I don't want to return good for hurt. I don't want to love and to pray for those whose words hurt me. My flesh wants this to end, to find another place to live so that my children can sleep well, a place where there is no tension, a place of rest. Instead, God has asked me to stay until He is done with us here.

That is agony. It is pure agony to give up what you want and to let God be God. It has to do with our will and our selfishness; it has to do with our pride and our desire to be right. I have to keep surrendering it to God and to keep asking Him constantly to give me HIS love to share. My love is broken and it's insufficient but His love is complete. He promises to give us what we need to accomplish the task before us. We may not necessarily know what that task is, but He knows. I have to trust and I have to hang on to Him and His word as if my life depended on it to get through to the other side.

It is easy to hold onto all the harsh words, to be offended and to lash out but God wants us to make a choice to let go of all that baggage. I've been guilty on many occasions of holding onto bitterness and anger, to hold onto those offenses but all it's done is hurt me. It's made my heart heavy and my sleep interrupted. Holding onto bitterness, anger and offenses rip health and wholeness from you. I believe that many of our health problems are stemmed from anger, bitterness and unforgiveness. I have examples of in my own life of people who have chosen to live a life of peace, like my dear Grandpa and then, people who have chosen a life of grudges. It ages you physically.

So what do I want? My number one desire is to be in the center of God's will no matter how difficult the circumstances are. I want to be able to love and forgive easily. I do not want to hold onto offenses and hurts. God has given me the opportunity to let go off those and to ask forgiveness. The most important moments are when God gives us the opportunities to right the wrongs and we actually seize those moments. His desire is for our obedience and He is so pleased when we are. It gives him lives He can bless and use.

I am so very weak and feel often times that God doesn't have much to use in me. I can't even trust myself to keep my mouth shut or to say the right things, words that are of love and not anger. So I humbly ask God to forgive me and to show me the way He wants me to go again and again. I'm so thankful for God's grace and His mercy because without it....I'm just a wretched sinner.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Another Year Older...

We recently celebrated Ryan's 8th birthday. Eight sounds so very grown up and he is trying to do that too fast!

In the process of moving and not being able to find a thing, my sister came to my rescue and threw a little birthday party for him. She cooked him up one of his favorite meals, hot dogs. She purchased a yummy cake and of course, ice cream too.

He was thrilled with his presents which were superheroes, another favorite. He's not too picky when it comes to superheroes. He likes just about all of them. Believe it or not, one of his favorite gifts was socks and his new Spiderman tennis shoes. Wonder what walls he's going to try to climb this year?

He is enjoying being out in the country where there is lots of places to run. He was thrilled to play with Grandmom's dog, Diego. I asked him the other day why he wasn't playing with the dog as much and he told me that he was a working man now. One of his most favorite things in life is to do projects around the house with his Dad, his Uncle Tim or anyone that comes over to do repairs. He asks lots and lots of questions and amazingly, does quite well when given the opportunity to help. He is not afraid to get his hands dirty or dive into cleaning out the chicken coop filled with old nasty stuff. He, in my opinion, is an amazing kid!

We pray that this new year is full of adventure, lots of exploring and growing in the knowledge of God and how much He loves all of us.

Happy 8th birthday, Ryan!

Sunday, August 09, 2009

I'm Back....

Wonder where I've been?

We moved to the country and apparently, it takes lots and lots of time to settle in, unpack boxes which aren't emptied yet and to find things.

The move went pretty smoothly. We had lots of help from friends and family which were a complete blessing. We are so grateful for the willing hands who stepped in to help us in so many different ways.

The kids seem to be adjusting pretty well and are enjoying getting to know their Uncle Tim much better. Whenever I see him, there is a couple kids following him around. I think it's wonderful that they have this opportunity to enjoy him in a way that isn't quite possible without moving in.

Through Tim's invitation, Brad, has met some people who are responsible in this town for a organization called Young Life. It's an organization that meets with young people in the schools, in the surrounding areas and is able to introduce them to Jesus Christ. Although Brad is already a believer, there are many opportunities for God to use him in this organization. Tim and Brad have both volunteered at the local county fair cleaning up trash, watching the inflatables and whatever else needs to be done and are donating their time/pay towards kids being able to attend a camp that is sponsored by Young Life.

I am amazed already at how God has taken this opportunity of us moving in with my mother in law and is opening doors for our family. Although not an ideal situation in my mind, God knows the plans He has for us and can only work if we are willing to walk the path that God has chosen for us no matter how uncomfortable it may be. It is hard to get our eyes off of what is seen and on to what is unseen.

All I can see around me is quite depressing with all the losses we have endured these past few years. I have to ask myself, if my faith in God is real, why do I not trust that He has what's best for me in His plan and in His will. I think somewhere in my heart, I base God's love on whether I'm in a comfortable situation or not. God never promised that this life would be easy nor did He promise that I would get all the things that I would want. He is after what is eternal and if that means I must endure some tough situations that help build my character and refine my relationship with Him, then that is what is going to happen.

I can fight it which I will tell you I have. I've felt, at times, like I've wrestled with God. It's my will against His will. God gives us the gift of free will but if you are truly a believer, your hearts desire will be that your will is in alignment with God's will. He has allowed me to flail, run and throw my temper tantrum and now He's giving me the opportunity to really embrace what He has for me here. I see a glimpse of it and for me, it's going to be extremely hard. However, I know that He promises to give me what I need to accomplish what He has set before me. He has also promised to give me courage and strength which I desperately need daily.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Sold Out

I've been contemplating what it means to be sold out to Christ. I used to think it was this person, much like one of Jesus' disciples, who gave up all he had and followed Christ. I envisioned that it was someone who was a missionary or a pastor or a ministry leader, someone who was a strong spiritual leader with a flock of sheep to tend to.

I was wrong. Being sold out to Christ is so much more than that. It's more than just believing in God, in trying to do what is right and in helping those along the way. Being sold out to Christ is giving all of your heart to Christ and letting him have complete control over your life. Many times we only let God have the safe parts, the parts where God can't mess with too much to make life uncomfortable.

It's fighting our strong will to get into alignment with God's will. It's choosing to live like God calls us to in His word. What His word tells us to do is quite the opposite of what the world tells us we should live by. Do you have the courage and the boldness to live like scripture calls us to?

We as American Christians are in great danger. We have access to money and so many things that it is extremely easy to replace our dependence on God for a dependence on ourselves and on our things. This happens so easily and so subtly that the believer is unaware of it until God removes the blinders on his eyes through adversity. We personally know this as we found ourselves in this position when my husband lost his job and then health problems entered our lives.

You suddenly realize where you have mistakenly placed your trust, your belief and your dependence. When those things are kicked out from underneath you and you no longer have those things, you are like a man in the middle of the ocean who cannot swim, who needs to desperately hold onto something that will keep him afloat.

I think many times we take God for granted. We think that we have all the time in the world to get our hearts right before him. We get busy with experiencing and doing life, taking care of our kids, running here and running there that God takes the back burner. Sometimes we even accept Christ but then only pull Him out when we are in trouble or need something. This only leads to a lukewarm, shallow relationship with Him. I can't help but wonder if a lukewarm, shallow Christian who only pays attention to God when he needs something will enter the gates of Heaven. God mentions that in Revelation 3:16. (So, because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to spit you out of my mouth.)

We have this mistaken idea of who God is. He doesn't always deliver us from every little trouble in the way we think. Instead He is the Father who uses trials and adversity to refine, shape and mold us into who we are meant to be...more like Christ, before He moves us on to the next thing. He is not a sugar daddy in the sky dropping money and mansions in our lap randomly, (He proves our stewardship in the little things, before He gives us the big things... for His use, to be used as conduits for HIS kingdom and not our own) and He most certainly is not a vengeful God who is ready to take you out everytime you make a mistake.

God is a Holy, a Righteous and a Just God who detests sin but He is also ferociously protective of His children, He is full of mercy, grace and He is extremely patient. He has also provided a way out of our sin but we have to be willing to accept that gift, the gift of salvation through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. He is always after our hearts and wants all of His creation to come unto Him, giving up all of our hearts to Him so that He can work and move in our lives.

What if you are one of those people who thought you were a believer or a christian but haven't really paid much attention to your relationship with Him, calling on Him in the midst of trouble only to find out you are the drowning man in the middle of the ocean with nothing to hold onto to. Do you really want to find out that the God you thought you had was just a mere illusion instead of a relationship?

I encourage you to dig into the scriptures and see how God wants us to live and then be bold and courageous enough to put it into action. Don't be deceived into thinking you've got this relationship with God under control or that you will deal with it later. What if you are wrong?

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Layers

We've had to make some pretty tough decisions lately. One of those decisions was to determine where we were going to live once the door for our home closed. My mother in law graciously has offered her home as a place for us to temporarily stay. I chuckle when I use the word temporary because when we had to move in with my mother years ago it was only going to be for six months..tops. Over the course of our time together, she ended up moving with us to our home and that lasted for 12 years. So you just never know what the word temporary means.

This decision of our move has brought to the surface many things in my own life that God has decided it was time to deal with. When God decides to work on the layers of your life, He means business and He gets right to it. He only lets you wander around for a time and then it's time to do some more refining.

One of the things that has struck me as interesting is the fact that over the past two years we've been stripped of what I thought was most everything. I'm not talking about just materially but emotionally and in character, in who we are and where we are with Christ. This has lead us to a breaking and liquified state for God to be able to work with and reshape into something more like Him. However, as I have found out recently, there are still layers upon layers that have to be scrubbed off for the new layers to grow. I seriously feel, at times, like my skin is being ripped off of me. It's agonizingly painful. But it's necessary as we grow in a closer relationship with Christ.

One of the things I'm really struggling with is that my mother in law's home is approximately an hour north of where we live currently. It's on 40 acres in the country. I never imagined myself living in the country with no Starbucks on the corner away from all our friends, our church, our community. Now my plan is to still drive to our church and its activities for the kids and our small group, to still be involved in our homeschool group so there is tons of driving in my future. Everything is going to become a road trip. I really don't want to rip the kids out of everything that they are involved in. This has been extremely tough on them also.

I have faced the fact that those could be more things that God has planned for us to give up which is disheartening just thinking about. It is one thing to have chosen this road for ourselves and an entirely different thing to have it chosen for you. It takes more to work through it. To me, this feels very much like I'm being placed on a deserted island. I know that He ordains all of our steps even those in the middle of the country or in the middle of a city. There is no place that He does not see and I will not be out of His sight.

Sometimes I just don't understand why God would place us somewhere where we have no friends, where my children are away from all they are familiar with, where we have to drive, drive and drive some more. I do realize that people do this all the time but it is a completely different way of life for me and for us. My husband had to remind me that God is in the country too. That He knows what our needs are there just as much as He knows what they are here. He's right and I am thankful for that reminder.

It's pretty easy to give in to a despairing, discouraged and upset attitude. It is in that place that our eyes and our heart is clouded to what God can do. I keep trying to figure out how this whole ordeal can possibly be best for us but that is where faith has to come in. As my husband lovingly reminded me just this evening, faith has absolutely nothing to do with your eyeballs. It has everything to do with our soul, our relationship with Christ. Sometimes He asks us to do some pretty agonizing things and just trust Him even when nothing makes any sense at all.

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Who does your heart belong to?

Does it belong to the things of this world or does it belong to the Lord God Almighty? Being a follower of Christ is not something to take lightly. It's not something you do and then, there is lies. It is an ever growing relationship. God wants every part of us. He wants it all. He wants us to be willing to give up all that makes us comfortable, all that we find security in and trust Him. Are you hot or are you cold? Are you sold out to Christ completely? Do you hear His calling?

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Happy 14


We recently celebrated our first child's birthday. He's fourteen now. So much growing he has done in the past year. It's amazing how many changes a teenager goes through emotionally, physically, mentally and spiritually in just a short period of time. No wonder they have moments of turmoil.

Brad is a brilliant, sensitive, and compassionate young man. At fourteen, he's making firm decisions for himself, is processing life with a more mature attitude and is such an encouragement to his family as we struggle through this journey we are on currently. We also have the honor of seeing the gentle side of his nature, of seeing him work out his own relationship with God and to make goals for himself for his future.

One of the neatest aspects of our family unit is that even though our children have moments they scrap with each other, the relationships they have with each other goes beyond friendship. Brad's siblings really look up to him and respect him for who he is. They enjoy wrestling with him, sitting on his lap, following him around till he can no longer stand it. Brad is their go-to guy.

We are so very proud of him, of who he has become and look forward to watching the rest unfold as he grows and changes.

We celebrated this very special occasion with the cake of his choice, an ice cream cake from Dairy Queen. He had lunch with Grandma and requested hamburgers for dinner which he grilled himself. He did a fabulous job and is in high demand from heretofore to be our grilling man.

Happy Birthday, Brad!

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Despairing...

This has been a pretty tough week. I just laughed as I wrote that because every week seems to be tough. How do you determine which is tougher or rougher than the other? Each has been unique in it's adventures that we've journeyed. This one though, has been tough emotionally.

I've been able to maintain a pretty good outlook other than a few days here or there. However, this week I've been really battling despair. I'm sure it doesn't help that I've also been battling a nasty cold. When you are ill, you become pretty intolerant of the little things that are all around you. The little ones yelling that their toots smell like moldy cheese grates on your nerves a lot quicker, the neighbor kid knocking on your door to tell you that one of your kids sneezed on him tends to give you a twitch, and the people in your home seem to find all your nerves and purposely stand on them while seemingly enjoying it. You find that your smile is no longer attainable but instead, Dr. Frankenstein is rearing his ugly square head.

I heard recently a little quote that seems to ring true. "Despair and discouragement are the quickest way to put yourself out of circulation." When you allow those things to leak in, it really does put a wedge in your communication with God, with those you love and with yourself. Satan just loves it when we knock our own selves out of whack. Makes his job much easier. His goal is to make us quite distracted and focused on ourselves so that we are useless to further God's kingdom.

So here I am, despairing about where we are going to live, where we are going to store all our stuff, what are we going to do with this or how are we going to handle that and the weight of the whole situation just kept getting heavier and heavier till I felt I was suffocating. I don't react well when I feel like I'm a cat in a cage. Claws can be pretty devastating to those who stand in it's way.

How do you get beyond all that frustration and discouragement is the question. Well...sometimes, it takes someone you love very dearly to help straighten you back around and to lovingly and firmly replant your feet in the right direction. Although, when this happens the hackles rise up and make me recoil at first thinking that perhaps it will be a long, long time before I ever have anything to say to him again but after pondering all that has been said, my heart seems to find it's way back home. I do believe that God knew we would need our mates not just to love us but to lovingly help us through tough times.

God is the most important part of this equation. His word encourages me not to be anxious, to not worry about tomorrow, to trust in the shelter of His wings and that He will provide for our needs. It's when I try to take on the weight of our circumstances and try to carry it all, that I get myself into trouble. It's hard to wait on God's timing. I do believe that the waiting is one of the hardest things to do. I know that God has got this whole situation under control and that no matter where we end up and where our stuff ends up, that it will work out in the end. It's getting there that is the struggle.

I'm just so thankful for God's abundant grace. I know that when I am at my weakest point, that God is waiting with open arms of love ready to embrace even the most wretched heart if we are willing to allow Him to do so.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

The Plan

We received the notice from the court that the date was set for the eviction hearing. Friday was that day. We went and explained our situation and it was determined that they would give us 30 days. So we have to be moved out by the 13th of July.

I have to admit that this whole situation is just heart breaking. I don't understand much of it. Why when we are able to connect with our neighbors for the first time in ten years now have to leave? Why can't the doctors figure out what is going inside my husband's body so that he can get better and go back to work? The questions just go on and on. Much of why things happen are unexplainable but we are left with two options. We can either continue trusting in our Lord who tells us not to worry, to let tomorrow worry for itself or we can give up, turning our back on the One who has promised to give us what we need to face the day and all that is in it.

We continue to praise, worship and serve the Lord. Serve Him as we've never served Him before. We choose to hang on to the promises that are in His word even in the face of fear, of being stripped of everything, of the unknown. He is our God and we will not turn our backs on Him. We feel an urgency to be a voice of hope. A voice that shouts the glory of God and speaks of His faithfulness. We will not be silent.

It is extremely difficult to share the intimate details of our struggles with friends, with family and with those of you we haven't met but feel that God is calling us to do this. We feel very strongly that we need to encourage and to leave people with the hope that is in Christ. Even when life is falling apart around us, God has amazingly held us up and shown His love to us.

He loves all of us so very much and His desire is to have a relationship with all of us. He wants us to have a faith that is real. A faith that goes beyond the physical agony. A faith that is pure and righteous through the saving grace of the Lord God Almighty.

Many of you want to know what our 'plan' is but to be honest, we haven't any idea what that might be. It would be helpful in knowing what stuff to store, what stuff to give away but I just don't know. What I do know is that we need to box things up. Where the boxes are going is still up in the air. So our plan is this...we continue to trust God and seek Him for direction, for wisdom, for courage, for strength and that in His time, He will reveal to us what the plan is.

Over the last few weeks, my husband has been through many rounds of blood tests and an ultrasound which have revealed absolutely nothing except that he has a bit of a fatty liver which will clear up as he looses weight. However, a fatty liver does not and is not the cause of the extreme pain that he is in. So we are back at square one without a clue as to what is going on. It's a vicious cycle when you are on medication. One of the side effects is weight gain plus the fact that he hurts so very badly that exercising is extremely difficult. The doctor changed one of the weight gaining medicines out for another which will help with the weight loss and he is just trying to endure the pain while exercising.

In a normal situation, we try to do things to change the course of life. This, however, is one of those times when every avenue we've tried has had the door shut. All we have is to take what is before us, explore all options, and depend completely on God for His provision. He has been so faithful to provide. His promises are true as we've seen them worked out in our own lives. So we continue on....taking one day at a time relying on God's grace, His mercy, and His wisdom.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Cake...it's not just for birthdays


We love to celebrate the accomplishments of our kids. Sometimes they are planned out and sometimes they come by surprise.

This past week, our Ryan was out and about playing with his good friend next door like he usually does. Only this time, their dad was out playing around with the kids. Ryan expressed an interest in riding his bike just like his good buddy Stephan was. Lo, and behold, after a couple tries of our neighbor giving him advice and helping him, off he went riding into the wind. Hi Ho Silver!

I must admit I was a little sad that it wasn't Ryan's own dad helping him but right now, he isn't able to bend over like that to help him balance nor can he run along side of the bike. It made me a little sad and a bit mad. I guess I was having a selfish moment and after being slightly miffed and letting my poor husband know of my great disappointment, I had to swallow my words and admit that it wasn't about what I wanted but it was about the excitement of the moment for Ryan.

So we watched with great enthusiasm at this wonderful accomplishment that our seven year old has conquered. After his riding adventures were done for the day, Ryan proudly walked into the livingroom and announced that we should have a party to celebrate him being able to ride his bike. I, teasing, asked him if we should make a cake. With the biggest grin you would ever be able to imagine, he answered with a yes!

The first thing Ryan asked me this morning was when I was going to bake that cake. Aaron, of course, informed me we could not have cake without ice cream. God provided the ice cream and it was the perfect shade of rainbow colors which the boys announced looked like playdoh. I think they might have been more thrilled with the ice cream than the cake but it was a grand ol' celebration either way.

I heard murmurings in the background mentioning that I hadn't made a certain older child a cake when she learned to ride so I guess I'll be baking another cake next week to celebrate previous accomplishments in this area. It was also mentioned that when she gets old and forgets how to ride a bike and at the age of 80 she relearns this skill....I'll be baking another cake then too. It's only fair, you know! Apparently, my job as cake baker is far from over....

Friday, June 05, 2009

Transformation

The day has come. The day we've been expecting. But yet, the reality is excruciatingly agonizing. We received our notice from the court to start the eviction proceedings. It is tough facing all the emotions that come with it and even more so when they are coming from our children. I know that God is working through all this in my own heart and so I have to know that He is also working in my children's hearts as well.

The word transformation and purification has been running through my heart for a few weeks now. Usually when that happens, God is bringing me through a revelation process. It's usually something He wants me to get a hold of in my head and in my heart.

I was recently listening to a sermon and a phrase hit me hard. God is not interested in your temporary relief--He IS interested in permanent change. For example, our values, our heart condition, our purpose. So all these things that we agonize over and don't understand why they are happening are simply because without these struggles our growth spiritually is stunted and we remain shallow, baby Christians who need constant attention and are easily tossed in the wind.

God is fiercely after our hearts and our relationship with Him. Have you ever had a shallow relationship? There is really nothing to hold on to and it easily slips through your fingers. God doesn't want that from us. So we must go through some tough stuff to strengthen that relationship, to change who we are in Christ...to be a better reflection of who Christ is. Of course, when the tough stuff happens, we've got to do our part and that is to hang on to God with all that is within us and open our heart to what He is teaching us.

It's hard to fight our fleshly emotions. I have to fight all the time the thoughts that try to torment me like if God truly loved me, this wouldn't be happening or why is God punishing me. Those are wrong thoughts but yet, I wrestle with them. We have to remember that God fiercely loves us and if you have an understanding of the love you have for your child, then, you will then have a glimpse...just a glimpse of how God views His children. We also have to remember that Jesus Christ already paid the price for our sin so we are not being punished. There are always consequences to our choices and those consequences are what we must endure. We have to keep those things in right perspective.

Even though my flesh is in agony and it's a scary road that we walk, I've seen the transformation in my own heart and in the lives of this family. We've gone through a purification process. We've been broken and liquified so that we now have a better understanding of our faith, of who God is, of our relationship with Him and truly what is important.

We are not perfect by any stretch of the imagination, we've still got much, much more to learn but I am saved by God's grace. His blood is what makes me clean and whole. His strength is what helps me have the courage to face each day. So even as we are looking at our eviction, I know that God is going to work all this out for His glory, His purpose and for our good. We place our trust and our hope in Him. No matter what may come, what the outcome may be, I want to be like Job who received the news of his children's death, his loss of all his finances, and the loss of all that he owned....He stood up, tore his robe in grief, shaved his head and fell to the ground before God saying....

I came naked from my mother's womb, and I will be stripped of everything when I die. The Lord gave me everything I had, and the Lord has taken it away. Praise the name of the Lord! (Job 1:21)

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

The Tooth Fairy

It's a happy day when the little guys lose a tooth around here. It means that the tooth fairy is coming to town. The kids come to me often to show me a loose tooth or what they think is a loose tooth. Kara, whose three, keeps wanting me to check her teeth because she is sure they are all loose.

Unfortunately, lately, the tooth fairy has been leaving I.O.U's instead of dollars. One time, the Grandma of the tooth fairy had to hook her up with a couple of dollars to meet the demand of the falling out of teeth in this family. It's a hard, hard job to keep this tooth fairy going. It's not like you can just recharge her battery so she keeps going and going and going, it's more like digging in the couch, looking in pockets, checking the laundry mug or on the dash of the car just to try to pull a dollar out of a hat. But that is all in the day and the life of a tooth fairy.

The kids have only one complaint about the tooth fairy that comes to our home. Sometimes.....she forgets. So then, they have to try again the next night hoping she will remember. She has many teeth to attend to so sometimes it takes her a little bit to show up. Persistence is the key. You just keep that little tooth under your pillow and one day....one day very soon she will show up with that special little dollar and the lovely note she leaves with it. Don't lose hope. Then, they look up at me with those beautiful blue eyes while placing their hands on their hips and I hear the words....Mom, we know it's you.

One cool little thing the younger ones haven't figured out yet is the recycled dollar. Once they figure this out, the tooth fairy is in big time trouble and she will probably have to come up with a way to smooth the waters. But for now, she's safe with a couple kids. When one of the younger children who had recently been visited by this lovely tooth fairy lady forgets about their dollar and a certain mother finds it amongst the toys or on the floor, she gives it to the tooth fairy to use again when a tooth falls out. Thus...the recycled dollar. It's a cost savings and it keeps the overhead low.

Aaron recently lost a tooth, one of his front teeth. He excitedly ran down the stairs interestingly enough just after I had tucked him in for the night. My tooth fell out...my tooth fell out, he squealed with delight. So we put it in a baggie and placed it under his pillow. Well...the tooth fairy forgot. She kept reminding herself and reminding herself but she still went to bed without replacing the precious tooth with a note and a dollar. So in the morning as we were sitting at the table eating breakfast it dawned on her what she had once again done. She scrambled into the office to write a quick lovely note and scrounged to find a dollar which she is glad to report she had and ran up the stairs to do what tooth fairies do....leave it under a pillow.

Upon her calm entrance to the kitchen, the tooth fairy disguised as a mother nonchalantly asked Aaron if he checked under his pillow this morning. With a frown, he sadly answered that he had and the tooth fairy was late again. His mother quietly suggested that maybe he should check again. Off he ran with speed and vigor, to check to see if maybe...just maybe his prize was there. The laughter and the happy boy noises that oozed from this five year old was something to be cherished. It's here...it's here he yelled as he showed me his note and his prize, a recycled dollar.

Sunday, May 31, 2009

The Dino Dig

Homeschooling is not for the faint at heart. It takes patience. It takes time and more time. It takes the strength of Goliath to meet each and every day with the curious minds of children and all their questions, not to mention what happens when someone is feeling particularly cranky. I have to laugh when I hear someone comment that homeschooling is 'safe' and that what my choice for education for my kids keeps them sheltered. It is not a 'safe' thing to do by any stretch of the imagination and they most certainly are not kept in a dark basement with out the hope of the light of day to shine forth. When I see them in action at a field trip or when they conquer a concept, or even when one of them is laying their head down on the table in agony because of a math problem, I know that they are just right where they are suppose to be...

Dinosaurs. There is something that is endearing to many elementary children about that topic. They are a bit mysterious. They are adventurous and they are BIG. From my seven year old's perspective, they look cool, they are so strong and it would be super awesome to ride one.

It happened to be that a field trip was formed and I signed the two younger boys up to participate. It was a beautiful sunshine-filled day. A perfect day to be outside digging for dinosaur bones. There were over 140 kids who were signed up for this trip. They were everywhere. I did notice a steady trail to the 'cookie' table which was a highlight for my two boys as well.

The mama Myasaura dinosaur bones were what were buried for the kids to dig up and clean off with a brush. They all had a chance to dig in the sand and to discover 'a treasure'. The instructor went over how to properly unbury a fossil so that nothing was broken off in their excited attempt to grab it up. After all the bones were discovered, the kids took them inside for the instructor to talk about the dinosaur and to put it together so the kid could see the skeleton as a whole.
The instructor had asked the kids how a mama takes care of her children. Aaron raised his hand and proudly announced that his mother took care of him by giving him food as he was rubbing his tummy and licking his lips. He also knew what the mystery bones were...the shoulder blades.
He is a pretty smart boy, if you ask me. It was neat watching them attentively interact with the instructor and what was being taught by her. Now if only they would do that at home....


You can't force all of your learning into four walls but need to provide moments for them to experience all that you are teaching them outside of that, to experience the adventure of it, to touch it, to see it, to feel it. It brings education alive and makes it real so that it not only is expanding their minds but also wrapping around their hearts.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Surprise Visitors

It is very unsettling when you realize the lock between you and the world beyond your front door could potentially not keep them out. We put a lot of faith in our front doors, our locks and our dead bolts. But what happens when your house has been foreclosed on? Do you still feel safe and secure? If we are not careful, fear could overtake us. We hear stories about the contents of the neighbor's house being thrown out on their front lawn by the sheriff. We hear stories of how realtors are demanding that people have to leave and then later find out that they themselves have moved in illegally. We hear stories about the tent cities and the rotation many homeless people are on in the state parks. How do we separate ourselves from the fear and anxiety that is everywhere we go?

Friday, we had a couple of visitors show up at our front door. One was a realtor that explained that he thought the house was unoccupied. He wanted to know what our plan was. He also wanted to come in and take a look at the inside. Of course, we haven't gotten any legal document from anybody other than the one we were served back in November stating that the house was going up for auction so he didn't get to come inside. My husband explained to him that the only thing that we have planned right now is to continue trusting that God will direct our steps and give us wisdom on what to do next.

Truly, saying that we are trusting God is not a pat answer. We really are diligently beseeching (to implore urgently) the throne of the Lord God Almighty for wisdom, direction, for guidance. We are not just sitting here idly, doing absolutely nothing. We are taking whatever computer work that comes our way. I, even, have put on a computer technician hat and am crawling under desks helping install computers. I never pictured myself doing that but you do what you can. I believe that God has put certain opportunities before us and I am trying to do the best that I can to take what God has placed here.

The second visitor showed up with a truck, trailer and lots of equipment. He arrived to board up the house. He was quite taken back that there was someone living in the home. I couldn't help but feel fear as I thought about what could have happened had we not been there. People leave their homes without taking anything. So in my thinking, we could have been away and come home only to find that our key wouldn't work, leaving us locked out of our own home. Could they just walk in? It is scary. It makes me not want to leave without someone being here to stop people from coming in.

There have been so many scary things that we've had to face and yet, God has been there to give us courage and strength to meet each of them. It happened that when the guy showed up to board up our home, some friends of ours were there. I believe that that was God's provision. They had come over to pray with us and to offer us their love and concern. The friends that showed up the next day, that called, that emailed just showered us with the confirmation that God was providing what we needed to face this. When you know that you have the strong support of friends and family, it enables you to pick yourself up and continue moving forward. Those were totally divine appointments.

In Proverbs 3: 5-6 it says that we are to trust in the Lord with all our hearts and lean not on our own understanding, but in all our ways to acknowledge Him and He will make our paths straight. In order for us to combat fear, we have to realize that God is the one who passionately cares about our lives and is personally involved. We have to trust Him even when we do not understand all of what is happening. He may not remove the trials of the day from us but He has already arranged for us to see His glory even in the midst of tough times. If we believe that God promises to never leave us or forsake us than we have to know that He is there to work things out for us. He gives us what we need...to face what we have to face.

I do not know what tomorrow is going to bring, what we are going to have to face or what mountain we are going to have to climb. But, I do know that God is worthy to be praised no matter what is going on. He is faithful to provide. He is a passionate Father who cares very deeply for His children. He will take care of all of our needs and that includes giving me the peace and security that I need to look fear in the face and loudly proclaim that I have nothing to fear, that those who live in the shelter of the Most High will find rest in the shadow of the Almighty, that He alone is my refuge, my place of safety, that He will shield me with his wings and His faithful promises are my armor and protection. (Psalm 91)

Sunday, May 24, 2009

A Gracious God

We've been walking this road of unknown for quite some time now. God has been stretching, pruning, refining and rebuilding a faith in us that strong enough to withstand what we are going through. Just this morning, during worship at church, we were singing a song about standing firm on the foundation and it hit me that that was what was happening. People comment to me that they just don't know how we are making it through this and the answer to that is this: We have firmly planted our selves on the firm foundation of Jesus Christ, the rock of our salvation. So that when the storm is raging around us, we know that foundation will hold firm. We may trip and fall but we will not crumble.

It's amazing to me how much an empty refrigerator can tangle my emotions into a knot. When you have hungry stomachs looking up at you because there isn't a whole lot to eat, it's enough to push you to the edge and beyond. The thing that gets me is that time and time again, my husband and I have stood in front of our refrigerator and prayed that God would fill it and He has. I know this. I've seen it happen over and over and yet, I still get distraught when we happen to go through a time that is quite sparse. I want so very badly to get my will and emotions to instantly act in agreement to what I know in my heart. God promises to provide and He has and continues to do so.

After enduring a few days of a lean and echoing refrigerator this past week, I found myself having a bit of a temper tantrum letting God know just how much I was frustrated that He wasn't answering our prayer when I thought we needed it. My husband once again, reminded me that God will provide and together we brought our requests before Him. Later that night, I headed off to see a friend of mine. During my time with her, I got a call from my husband telling me my freezer was full. A friend of ours had brought over a bunch of meals that filled the entire freezer and then mentioned that there was more coming next month. I was speechless and I felt really, really small and a lot like a heel. I quickly asked God to forgive my rash behavior. He is an amazing God and I am just overwhelmed by how much he provides for our needs even when my behavior is less than stellar. A dear friend gently reminded me that God was not taken by surprise by my behavior. In fact, He already knew how I was going to respond. In spite of it, God loves me and his gracious mercy covers me daily.

It is good to be reminded that in spite of who we are, what we do and the choices we make, God is there in His amazing mercy and grace to pour himself out on us. Why? Because He loves us so very much. It doesn't matter what I do or how I act, He is there loving me in spite of it all.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Thrilled to be Three


We recently celebrated little peanut's third birthday. It's hard to believe that she is now such a grown up or so she thinks. This tiny sweet thing has grown into this person who is simply sweet with a side of independence who is not afraid to tell you how things are going to be. How's that for a mixture. She's like Billy Bob's sweet and sassy dressing with a kick. I suppose she has to be. She's number five and she will be heard.

When I sit there and watch how she interacts with the world around her, she simply amazes me. Only God could have created such perfect uniqueness. Each stage is something to cherish. I know that there are some pretty crazy moments but I wouldn't trade it for anything.

She was pretty excited to have her birthday here. For days beforehand, she'd ask if it was time yet for her prizes and cake. We'd have to tell her nope, three more days or nope, two more days and she would drop her head giving us the most precious pouty face. Then the day arrived and the twirling began. She twirled and twirled telling each individual that it was her happy birthday. She even told the little old lady down the street who happened to be walking by our home on an afternoon stroll. Her birthday is something to be celebrated. Her life is precious to me. I always tell my kids that no matter where they are whether they are here with me or off on adventures of their own, I will celebrate the day of their birth because that is the day that our eye's met for the first time and my life was changed forever. A special day, indeed!

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

The Poverty Simulation

Our church was offering a poverty simulation recently. I debated about signing up to participate because well...we have our own level of poverty and it's real life for us. However, as I was sitting in church listening to Pastor Randy speak, I felt a real sense of urgency to go to this. Even though, we are going through this right now, I know that every situation is different. You just never know how God can use you. That has been my prayer--that God would take our situation and turn it around for something good and useful. I want to be open and willing for God to take our situation and use it for His glory. That means sometimes facing difficult opportunities that require you to open up and be vulnerable, causing you to relive the rawness of life.

It turned out that our oldest son also went. I was really proud of him for being willing to go to this, considering all that he's had to face as a teenager walking this journey. This isn't just hitting my husband and I. It's our whole family. Each individual has experienced it. For the older ones, it has been an extremely tough time. A life changing experience.

They had us separated into groups which were your family for the three hours. Each were given a description of their particular situation, a set amount of money, a few items you could pawn off and some transportation passes. As we were going about taking care of our families needs like getting food, paying bills and working, most were having a fun time with the simulation, really getting into the acting of their part.

After the simulation part was over, we sat around discussing our observations. Many noted how quickly the family unit fell apart, how many of the kids resorted to criminal activity to help their families survive, and how utterly hopeless and frustrated everyone was at the end.

It was really draining on me emotionally and I have to admit I was quite a bit out of sorts and cranky when I got home. It's hard to not be able to leave that behind and to have to live it day after day. However, there are two things that stuck out to me. First, it was noted that the more frustrated and hopeless these families felt, the less they focused on others. Instead, the focus was on their survival. Secondly, the kids were left to raise themselves as the parents were trying to work, get help from the agencies or take care of everything else leading the kids to pregnancy and drug use.

I am so thankful that even though we are financially drained and falling apart, that our family unit is sound. It is even stronger than it was before all of this happened. In fact, one of the neatest things to come out of this is the fact that my husband has had the opportunity to reconnect with His children and has had the time to share what burns on His heart. The love He has for God. It has been amazing watching this develop and grow and how much the kids have learned from him through all of this.

I also have felt very strongly over this past year to not focus solely on our situation but to focus on others. God placed that on my heart for a reason. It was so I wouldn't get so centered on my needs that I missed seeing others around me. It was so that I wouldn't become utterly hopeless. It was so that I would see what God was trying to teach me. It has helped me immensely. One way to get out of your pity party, feeling the hopelessness of your situation is to help others. The last thing I ever want to do is for God to lead me to an opportunity to help someone and I walk away from it. It means getting our hands dirty and getting involved with people's lives, it means being open for God to use us in someone's life. Now that can be a life changing experience.

I'm glad I chose to go to this simulation even though it was a bit agonizing. It was a reminder that everyone I come across whether it be a neighbor, a friend or a stranger--that you just never know what they are having to live, to experience and that I, even with a kind word or a smile, can have an affect on them. We, as believers, have a responsibility to share the hope of Christ, to encourage, to comfort, and to share what we have...our faith.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Dates

Dates. They are important to us. Birthdays. Holiday's. Graduations. Weddings. They signify the importance of people or events in our lives. But dates also represent some not so fun things. As much as I try not to fuss or worry about certain dates, they come. This past week our six month redemptive period came and went. It hurt. Not physically, however, I did feel sick to my stomach but emotionally and mentally.

I guess I was hoping something would happen to intervene. I realize that God is never late and that He is always an on time God but I couldn't help but be disappointed. It is so hard to get our eyes off of what we see around us and get them securely placed on where they should be. On God. He promises to take care of our needs and has done so over the last year. I know that He will continue to move on our behalf even in the midst of my feelings of insecurity. God is not bound by a piece of paper or a date or anything on this earth. He is God.

There are many things that do not make any sense. Most without any answers. But in spite of it all, we are to trust God. He is faithful. He has shown us that over and over again. He may not answer how I want Him to but He will provide for us. He knows the desires of my heart. He knows my thoughts. He knows every last detail of who I am and yet, He still created me. He created me in His image. How can I deny the love of my creator?

I will praise Him no matter what date comes and goes. I will praise Him when I'm at my lowest point. I will praise Him. My prayer is that all of this that we are going through is not for nothing. I know that we have grown spiritually as individuals and as a family but I want it to go beyond that. I pray that it will encourage others to fight for their faith. That it will be a testimony that points to God's faithfulness, that through it, you will see the real struggles, the real emotions and most importantly a faith that is real.

Monday, May 04, 2009

Standing Stones

I recently went to a woman's breakfast at a wonderful church. The theme was 'standing stones'. If you don't know what that is, I'll explain. Standing stones are a pretty big monument made of stone that was a visual reminder of something significant. In this case, it is referred to visual reminders of a faithful God or someone that has been a significant influence in your spiritual life.

One of the ladies spoke of an incredible journey that her family has been on over the last year. On her foyer table is a glass jar full of different size stones that represent how God has been faithful in their lives. Little stone for little thing and bigger stones for God meeting their bigger needs. I thought this was such a beautiful visual reminder as it is easy to forget all of the ways God moves in our lives. She also had written in a journal an account of every stone so that they can go back and read about each story along with all the details that the stone represents.

I thought this was a great idea for us. We've been on a journey for quite some time and I can only imagine what our glass jar would look like. I've shared here on my blog some of the stories of how God has been faithful to us but I've not written every day to day way that God has met our needs. The visual reminder is an encouragement that God is right here with us, that He cares about the little and the big things.

There also have been 'standing stones' that God has surrounded us with. Men and women who have encouraged and ministered to us in ways that only God could have provided. You know that old saying that God won't give you more than you can handle? We have come to the conclusion that He gives you what you need to face what has come across your path no matter what it is, if you'll let Him. Many of us push that gift away because we are upset and angry but God has it readily available if only we will accept it.

God knows exactly where you are, what you have to face today and is working on your behalf to provide you with all that you need to face the suffering of the day. He cares about your mental, physical and spiritual state. We've seen Him move to physically meet our needs but also our emotional needs. When we start to get lost in the fog, God always sends someone to encourage, to pray with, to make us laugh or to give us a hug. God is in every detail.

My hearts desire is for all of us to remain faithful to the very end, taking God's hand and letting Him lead us through whatever it is that we may face. He is our source of strength and courage. I pray that you will see the 'standing stones' in you own life and that it will be a visual reminder of God's faithfulness to you.

Friday, May 01, 2009

The One Kid Rule

A long time ago, I made a new rule. It's called the one kid rule. It only applies to going to the store with Mom. It's for my sanity. It is for productivity. It is for safety. It's for budget control. It is for the opportunity to have one on one time with whichever child is with me at the time. It has been a beautiful thing in my life. It's just so....priceless.

Recently, though, I made an exception to the rule. One time. Here are the results:

Ryan is an energetic child with the attention span of a squirrel. He's usually good and obedient but he get's a little squirrely if we are gone for more than hour. So I make sure the store attending adventures he is a participant of is short and of quality.

Aaron is lovingly nicknamed 'houdini man' because he likes to disappear. Not a good thing when a certain parent is looking at the yogurt trying to decide which flavor and how many would be sufficient for each family member. Poof...he's no where to be found. Then a certain parent is yelling out his name running up and down the aisles in a crazed panic trying to locate and put an end to the disappearance act. At which point, her energy is all used up and is ready to go home. Very unproductive. Usually a trip to 7-eleven is about the right store trip for him. Small store. Small aisles. Slurpee machine. Need I say more?

I needed a few things for dinner. It was going to be a quick trip to store. It was a great time for Ryan to come along. As we were headed out the door, I caught a glimpse of the sad eyes of a five year old who has been getting left behind too often as of late. His plea to come along pulled at my heart and I gave in. How bad can it be with such a quick trip to the store, I asked myself.

As all three of us walked into the store, I was feeling pretty confident that this was going to be painless and easy. I grabbed the cart and off we went. We cruised the hot dog bun aisle. Each boy had to grab their 'own' package and then Aaron said we needed a third one because we always run out which I agreed was correct so it went into the cart. As we headed over to the hot dogs, each boy ran to them and announced that they were getting them, shoving the other aside. I settled that as we need two packages...one for each boy. I had a painful thought that a pattern was being set right before my eyes.

As we headed over to the chips, guess what happened? Yep, each boy was in desperate need of a different flavor and since they had about crushed the bags in their little hands, I felt responsible to purchase both bags. (Grace thinks I bought faulty bags of chips but really it was a five year old and a seven year old that had a hand in crumbly them up properly.) Then, we headed over to the juice aisle. Yep, we ended up with two.

Now let me tell you about the ice cream which I had promised the children we would get since I made them pass up the first ice cream truck cruise down our street this season. We took the cart down the fun aisle, the land of rainbows and lollipops. One boy wanted ice cream sandwiches, the other wanted Jell-o pops. The next thing I saw was both boys on the floor in a scuffle. One in a headlock and the other with his arms wrapped around his brother trying to break free. (Note to self: do not ever, ever, ever bring both boys at the same time to store ever, ever, ever...again unless one needs to remember how much fun it REALLY is.)

As I lovingly and gently took them by the arm to break up the cute little squabble. I told them since we were going to purchase two packages, each would get to choose. Perhaps, mommy should have thrown something darkish, chocolatish Hagen dazish into the cart or maybe twoish for me to eat before I got home!

We, then, went to the cashier to check out. Both boys started grabbing things out of the cart to throw onto the conveyor belt before the other one could grab it. The buns were a bit more mangled, the chips were more crumbly and so on. As I was trying to save the merchandise from any more evidence that is was handled with such care, I heard the lady behind me softly say in a relieved sort of way that she was glad she left her boys at home.

It was quite an eventful trip. One I won't forget for a long, long, long time. It's always an adventure with two very lively boys. Now to explain to my husband why we have two of everything....

Monday, April 20, 2009

Brokenhearted

Revelation 21:4 (NLT): He will remove all of the sorrows and there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain. For the old world and its evils are gone forever....

It's been a really rough week. This is a tough post to write as my heart is once again liquefied and broken. This seems to be a familiar state for us and I wonder just exactly what God is trying to do as far as molding us and shaping us into what He needs us to be. It hurts. It's agonizing. It's gut wrenching awful. Yet, I know that as we go through these experiences that He is producing so much in us, helping it to take root and to grow. Changing who we are.

Over Easter weekend, I had some issues with our baby which led to a doctor visit and an ultrasound. The ultrasound showed that there was no heartbeat and that our baby had died around 8.5 weeks. A D&C was scheduled and I am now on the recuperating end of things. I am experiencing all the pleasantries of postpartum only with no baby and that makes this super hard.

Some may dismiss early miscarriages as easy to 'get over' but it isn't. Somehow God integrated a mother with her child at conception. Her emotions, her physical and her mental all are connected to the baby even before she ever lays her eyes on the child. I have lost two before this one between Grace and Ryan. It still makes my heart ache remembering. It is comforting to know that they are in heaven and I will get to meet them one day. But for today, I need all the courage and comfort I can receive from our Lord. The one who knows the pain and agony of losing a loved one. God promises to be close to the brokenhearted. He has shown me that comfort through many friends and family who have also lost.

Our Aaron has been an amazing source of encouragement to me. At five, he amazes me with his astute understanding and compassion. I know that God has placed that in him and is developing it. We all are given gifts and it astounds me how God uses them to minister to others. What is even more astounding is watching a child use those gifts. One day as I was laying on the couch, I realized that he had cuddled up to me, folded his hands, closed his eyes and was praying for his mother and our baby. The tears ran down my face as I listened to his prayer and the compassionate understanding he was sharing with God. It was a short prayer but it was powerful. He also had asked me where it hurt. I gently told him that my heart was where it hurt the most. He's been cuddling up to me, off and on throughout the day, blowing kisses to my heart because kisses make boo-boo's better.

One of the questions we struggle with is...Why? Why did this baby have to die? One of our children came to me questioning why God would take a baby from us when we prayed for it. I struggled to answer that. How do you answer your child when you struggle with the answer yourself?

Sometimes there just aren't any answers. You have to continue believing and trusting that God knew best. Isn't that what faith is? Believing without being able to see. I believe this is just another experience in our lives right now that is strengthening our faith, taking that faith to a new level and making us believe and trust even when we just don't understand and nothing makes any sense.

The battle is on. We are in a fight for our faith. Satan doesn't care about us but he does care about the faith we have in God. If you have that faith, he is determined to smack it down until you give up and turn your back on God. Then he has succeeded. God didn't take our baby away to be hurtful or as his judgment on us but He did allow it to happen because He cares about my faith and the strength that it has. He cares about whether my faith is real and whether I can trust Him no matter what is happening to me and around me. Is my faith authentic?

My husband asked me, the other night, whether I was trusting God because we have no other choice or if I was trusting God because I wanted to. The answer was heart breaking to me. I think, sometimes, that I am trusting God because we have no other choice, because we are not able to help ourselves, because I have no control over what is happening. It's hard looking at your heart in the mirror and finding out how wretched and sinful it is.

My heart's desire is to fully trust and believe in God's promises no matter what my circumstances are. That, when I look in the mirror, that my heart will reveal the character and Christ-like behavior that is pleasing and acceptable to my Abba Father. I've got a long ways to go. A lot of work still needs to be done in my life and in my heart but I am so thankful that my eyes have been opened so that those changes can be made and that I am willing.

God gives me the faith and the courage to meet each day no matter how difficult it is to face. He gives me the hope to share with other's as we walk this journey. He is our strength, our courage, our provider and the lifter of our heads.

Romans 8:18-19 (NLT): Yet what we suffer now is nothing compared to the glory he will give us later. For all creation is waiting eagerly for that future day when God will reveal who his children really are.