Monday, December 31, 2012

Give Me A Break

It's okay to take some time to rest. Sometimes we need that get-away, that time to recharge and refresh. Give yourself a break today. A literal one. Let the Lord refresh and refill you.

Jesus even had his disciples get some down time.

Then, because so many people were coming and going that they did not even have a chance to eat, he said to them, "Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest." Mark 6:31
But do not miss one very important detail, the disciples had been ministering and were worn out. Scripture says in the previous verse:

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

My Christmas Ev-il

Christmas Eve - a day many set aside for tradition, family, maybe some last minute shopping. Often a day to stay home and not go into work. The smells of holiday baking waft through the house, Christmas music echos in the background. 

Mine involved family, the kind I am slightly embarrassed to claim as my own at the moment. My husband did go into work... until my frantic texts brought him back home. The only smells wafting through the house were those of sewage, and Christmas music was replaced with sounds of flushing, plunging, and a good christian lady's version of cussing. 

Let me back up and fill you in a little better... Cause I know you are dying to hear all about it. Jarrod woke up Christmas eve morning and went to work. Before he left the toilet was being a bit rebellious but I wanted him gone so he could hurry up and get back home to us. So I assured him I had it under control (I've plunged a few toilets in my time) and sent him on his way. By the time I saw him off and made it back to the bathroom it looked like the commode was going to fix itself. I decided to take a shower and then give it one more good flush. I kid you not, in the time it took me to take my shower and get dressed for the day, all four of my children took care of their business - the number 2 kind. Since mommy was in the shower and my kids don't like it when I am grumpy, they did not flush. One bathroom, 4 children. You can imagine what it looked like when I went to check out the bowl and give it a flush. Being the optimistic person that I am I said my prayers and and pulled the handle. Gravity was not on my side. I did all the right things. Turned off the water, plunged, a few other disgusting details I will spare you... you're welcome. Gravity and I continued our disagreement. Turns out that even after the water has been turned off the toilet bowl will still fill up with water when flushed. Either that or gravity got in one last jab at me and then laughed it's head off at my expense. 

My children's waste, that had still been in the bowl was now on my bathroom floor. Isaiah had just come to the bathroom door and I sent him outside to tell his brother and sisters that the toilet was not working and they could not use it. I asked him to stay outside for awhile and tell the other kids to do the same. 

Wouldn't you know it, gravity and I must have made up because everything was down hill from there. I had NO drain-o in the house and Christmas Eve, at the grocery store, with 4 kids sounded like as much fun as mopping my poopy bathroom floor. There was only one obvious solution... pinterest. I checked for homemade drain-o recipes, found ONE and it worked about as well as the rest of the pinterest projects I've taken on. A dream in the pictures they post... a nightmare in my real life world. Now I had poop, baking soda and vinegar on the bathroom floor. The good news was that my house now smelled like sewage and vinegar. 

I texted Jarrod, "all I want for Christmas is some drain-o. Call when you can." He called, I filled him in and he told me where the snake was and gave me the readers digest version of how to use it. He told he'd come home as soon as possible but had a few things to finish up first. I would have loved to wait on him, but remember the four kids I told you about at the beginning of the story? I didn't think being bathroomless for another hour was an option. I mean what were the kids suppose to do, go outside? Well yes, apparently they thought that was a viable option. During one of my panicked runs to the kitchen for more cleaning towels I saw the van door close. I asked Isaiah, who kept magically appearing whenever I needed interference run with the kids, what Elyse was doing in the van. "Getting kleenex," he said. I, like an idiot, asked why. "To wipe." He said, his tone seeming to fully acknowledge the stupidity of my question. She had gone potty outside by a tree. As had her little brother. (It turns out it was all thanks to miscommunication on Isaiah's part - I decided to buy that answer and not ask more questions. I am still pleased with my decision.)

So... I snaked the toilet, in order to avoid more public nudity on our lawn. As I stood, in my pajamas, make up less, wearing a stylish neck brace, let's not forget, surrounded by filth and soiled towels and up to my elbows in... well... crap, I glanced over to find my neighbor and new friend standing in my bathroom doorway with her daughter. I might mention, Amy, this new friend of mine is drop dead gorgeous, always. And just kind of seems to have it all together, always! She had brought Christmas cookies (because she HAD spent the day baking - with family, her husband home, and I am not sure because I did not ask, but I am guessing Christmas music serenaded her lovely Christmas scene at home) Isaiah, who had clearly ganged up with gravity in a plot to ruin my day had sent her on inside.  

When it was all said and done - I had washed up and graciously accepted the cookies and laughed off our little Christmas Eve disaster with Amy. I gave the kids a lecture on always checking with mommy before pulling their pants down outside no matter what a sibling has convinced them of. And before Jarrod could make it home I had successfully snaked and unblocked the toilet. I am not sure if the reality show Survivor is still on the air, but if it is I am totally sending in an audition tape because I think I could win it all... I mean, come on, I snaked the toilet all by myself! 

And though I felt a bit frumpy when Amy showed up yesterday, today I picture myself looking a bit like Lara Croft... because I totally snaked the toilet... by myself! 

And Christmas Ev-il became Christmas Ev-en on my worst day I am awesome! 

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Monday, November 26, 2012

Where's His Hand?

Nearly three years ago, when Hannah was 2 months old, she got sick. It started with a stuffy nose. Baby's noses get stuffy. We suctioned, this was kid number 4 a stuffy nose was nothing to get excited over. However her symptoms progressed and soon she had a yucky cough. So we took her to the doctor. Our doctor looked Hannah over and said it looked like a cold. But, just to be safe she sent us over to the hospital to have her swabbed for rsv. The results came back negative and so we went home. Hannah continued to get worse, she was now sleeping strictly in her car seat so we could keep her head elevated. We did everything we knew to do to keep our little baby from getting bronchitis or pneumonia. She continued to cough, mostly just at night, slept almost constantly and her appetite began to drop. I kept the car seat next to my side of the bed and slept very little, checking constantly to make sure Hannah wasn't gagging between coughs.

We went to Fredericksburg one weekend to have Hannah dedicated at my parent's church and then a baby shower. They prayed over her at Journey Church that Sunday morning. Anxious moms gathered around Hannah later that afternoon, concerned. Several of them tried in vain to get her to eat. Most of them begging me to have her taken back to the doctor. I assured them she had another appointment the very next day at home.

That night, in the middle of the night Hannah did begin to gag. We were back home now. She was once again next to me - propped up in her little car seat. I woke my husband up in the middle of the night and told him that Hannah was so congested she was having a hard time breathing. Immediately he was up and had he and Hannah in a steamy bathroom, the shower water on as hot as it would go. I reminded him we had an appointment with our doctor first thing that morning. But that still being 7 hours away, Jarrod decided she couldn't wait. In between her coughs her skin was turning blue. Breathing had become very difficult for Hannah, her cries were quiet and when she was not working to breath she was sleeping.

Jarrod set out around 2:00 that morning for the nearest hospital 20 minutes away. She was monitored for awhile, another rsv test was done and came back negative. The emergency room doctor deciding there was nothing more to be done, told my husband we just needed to be suctioning her nose right before feedings (though feedings had become nearly non existent by this point and the doctor was informed of this) and sent in a nurse to, "show him how to do it." Father and patient were then sent home even though Hannah's blood oxygen level was 88 during her time in the ER.

Jarrod called with the update on his way home and I WAS LIVID! We both knew enough to know that a blood ox of 88 was not good news. Jarrod called our family doctor and described his visit to the emergency room. She hesitantly called in a decongestant, there was not much they could give Hannah since she was so young.

A few hours later we were all dressed, took our oldest to school and, not knowing what else to do, headed back to the nearest town to pick up the decongestant.

I am SO thankful for the wisdom my husband displayed next. In the parking lot of HEB in Hondo, Texas Jarrod dropped his head and prayed a simple prayer for help. Neither of us were comfortable giving her the medicine, especially when the doctor seemed so unsure herself. But we felt so lost. After his prayer Jarrod drove us to McDonald's. He told me how ridiculous he felt with our baby struggling just to breath and here we were headed in for burgers and playtime. He felt the Lord telling him, "Wait". We waited, the boys played. We picked at food, no interest in eating, and we waited. Jarrod had paged his aunt sometime earlier that morning. She is a pediatric nurse practitioner at a teaching hospital in California. Aunt Jonelle has been called too many times to remember for medical advise and we have come to really trust her judgement. As we sat in McDonald's obeying God's word, simply to wait, not knowing really what we were waiting for, the phone rang. Jarrod explained things to his Aunt, she recommended we take her to a hospital in San Antonio for a second opinion. We wasted no time throwing away nearly whole hamburgers and loading three kids into the car.

An hour later we were in a small room at Methodist Children's hospital. Hannah was on oxygen, and had tested positive for rsv. We had not even had a chance to sign our baby in before a nurse had glanced at her, rushed us through the doors, calling her an emergent case, and immediately getting the oxygen mask on her.

She spent a week in the hospital and received excellent care. It took me nearly that entire week to "get over" how poorly Hannah had been treated at the other ER. To fathom how we got two negative rsv results, one of them just hours before the positive test.

Oh to be so mature and confident in the Lord's work in every detail of our lives. I wish I functioned with a lot more foresight and a lot less hindsight. Weeks later, when I would look back at the events before Hannah's hospitalization, I would see so clearly God's hand. I shared with Jarrod some of these new insights and in the midst of the conversation it hit me, and I told him. "Really if you look at it this way you really can't be offended with anyone."

You see, if Hannah's rsv tests had come back positive, like they clearly were. If the emergency room doctor in that tiny hospital in Hondo had been concerned about her blood oxygen level and admitted her, there we would have stayed. In a small town hospital not equipped to handle such serious respiratory problems as our sweet Hannah was experiencing.

Methodist Children's Hospital has a fantastic respiratory department. I am not sure she would have gotten better if we had not been in a bigger hospital that was designed strictly to care for children and babies. God's hand in things does not always look like I think it should. I would love for it to be obvious and seamless. But often times His hand is in the obnoxious co-worker, it is in the middle of a long line of traffic, a doctor who seems inept. He is in the midst of lost jobs, dwindling paychecks and sick family members - working, always working for our very best. Thank you Lord for using bad judgement and inaccurate tests to save my sweet baby's life!
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Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Why I Will Never Be At The Cool Table

Why I will never be at the cool table...

  1. I make obnoxious jokes to help ease tension when people are upset
  2. I will forever look like I am twelve. Oddly enough when I was twelve I was the oldest girl in the class and therefor more physically "mature" which, at twelve, makes you uncool.
  3. I stopped physically "maturing" at age 13
  4. I make obnoxious jokes when I am nervous.
  5. I make more obnoxious jokes once I am comfortable in a situation.
  6.  I was a pastor's kid growing up.
  7. Despite all of my efforts I married a pastor in the making (who has been involved in some form of ministry most of our marriage).
  8. I have Groucho Marx eyebrows on barbie's face.
  9. I have JLo's rear end on Peter Pan's body.
  10. I was homeschooled from Junior High to graduation which made me a bit of an outcast.
  11. These days I don't homeschool my children which, guess what, makes me a bit of an outcast. (I know, seems backwards to me too.)
  12. I'm 4'10... and 1/4" - - -  I can't even see over people's heads to find the cool table.

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Monday, November 19, 2012

The Differences In Boys

A few years ago one of our kids was having some medical issues and so we were driving an hour back and forth to and from San Antonio often. Because we seemed to spend more time in our car those days than we did at home we ate a lot of Mc Donald's and the boys became well acquainted with happy meals and happy meal toys. I don't remember what the theme for the toy was at that time but it was some sort of super hero thing. Our sons kept getting the same character over and over. We tried to soften the blow by showing excitement about the toy before passing it to the back seat of the van.

On one occasion the boys had brought along a few Mc Donald's toys from previous meals (several of the same character). We stopped for happy meals and pulled out of the bag, none other than the famous match to their already growing stash. We talked it up big and passed it back.

"What can I do with all of these?" Our older son, Isaiah, asked glumly.
"I know, " I responded enthusiasticly. "Why don't you have them fight each other!" Because what good mother doesn't encourage violence when raising young boys.
With pure joy Isaiah said, "ok". And immediately a fight broke out among his super heros.
Elijah, his younger brother looked horrified and asked "Or could they just be friends?" Bless his sensitive heart.
"Of course they can Elijah." I smiled and his super heros began to happily play together.

I have always known our boys were different. To begin with they look nothing alike. Isaiah was blessed with my apparent eversion to growth and is also skinny with straight blond hair. Elijah is stocky with his daddy's dark brown curls. Things I took into account when buying clothes and planning hair cuts, but I was not considering their other differences when relating to them. Certainly I was not careful about how I talked to them or the things I said to them. Isaiah is a fighter, a protector. I am confident that if somebody were to break in and try to hurt one of us Isaiah would be armed and ready. He likes a playful punch on the arm, a sarcastic answer and a little rough housing to feel at home and loved! I speak that language well and can totally relate to him.

 Elijah, however, is sensitive - a peace maker, lover of all things! With him I have to be so careful. I have to reign in my dry sarcastic responses, tone down the teasing and throw a whole lot of cuddling into our play time. This is a life style I am not so familiar with (although I do love me some snuggle time) but it's what my little boy craves.

It is my job as a mother to know my kids - to understand what drives them, encourages them, makes them feel secure. When I understand what motivates them I can more effectively discipline. I can be the mom they need individually rather than just - mom my way - take it or leave it! I can be a better friend, confidant, interim girlfriend, therapist, and teacher.

I am so grateful I do not have two cookie cutter boys. They are 100% God fashioned for their very own purposes.  I also love that I have had to stretch myself with these two individuals. It is impossible to be selfish and be a good mom. It is impossible to stay in your own comfort zone and be a good mom. It is impossible to be immoveable and be a good mom. I want to be a good mom and this requires change on my part!

My handsome boys, Isaiah (left) Elijah (right)
and of course their angry birds, it's not easter without some angry birds.

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Thursday, November 15, 2012

The Kids Are Still Awesome

My children chatted excitedly about their day at school while eating popcorn and drinking koolaid. We looked over report cards and gave high fives all around for another successful six weeks. They quickly finished up homework and all four were out the back door to play until dinner time. My heart swelled. I never understood that statement until my kids began to do things to make my heart literally feel like it was doubling in size in order to contain all the joy I was experiencing. What fun it was having the kids home in the afternoons. There was joy, laughter, lots of excitement! I was a very happy mommy! I immediately took appropriate action and let the facebook world know what I was feeling. My status update, and I quote, " I love the way my house fills with noise and energy when my kids get home! They are AWESOME!" I hit post, smiled and sighed. And then I heard, "I am not!" Then kid number two, "Wahhhhhh!"

I stepped outside, asked questions, did some CSI work, solved the crime and saved the day! One minute later, a hysterical 7 year old came in to say he had been called the "S word". Not the adult version, not even the kid version. Because his sister is a good kid and tries really hard to follow the rules she did not call her brother stupid. She actually told him that he was the "S word". And five minutes after my facebook post, my home, that had once been filled with noise and energy was blustering with cries and whines. My kids, who had just five minutes earlier been deemed, AWESOME, looked like this...

Fights had broken out in twos and the kids were in the house, on the couch - learning to appreciate each other while holding hands. 

But something good came out of this. After all of that I still thought my kids were awesome, I was still loving having them home, and feeling blessed to be their mommy! This was huge! It was only a few short years ago that on our best days, during even the most precious moments I was wondering how I had ended up here and why in the world I was spending my life doing something so meaningless, raising kids. That's it, nothing really important. 

This change did not come about overnight. I did not wake up one morning with mommy revelation! I have prayed and asked to learn to be content right where I am at and God has faithfully given me that contentment. My children have come home telling about the people they have ministered to at school. The kids are not aware that is what they are doing. They are loving the God they are getting to know through us and sharing that love with friends and teachers. And little by little I am beginning to realize how important my job is - what a difference I am making in a school, in the home of a teacher, in the life of other little boys and girls just by doing my job here at home. God has convicted me about making our house more home like, a place that our kids look forward to coming back to. It may not be huge or all that new but it can be safe, cozy and clean. This job is a big job, an important one, and it was given to me - of all people! And suddenly here I am loving this life and enjoying my children in a way I have longed to. And I get to do it all again tomorrow, and the next day, and the next day, and the next...

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Tuesday, November 13, 2012

What Do You Think?

I love sharing what I am thankful for on facebook during the month of November. I also really enjoy reading what everybody else is thankful for as well. I know, I know, everybody else is doing it... it's just a trend... I should be an individual and not get caught up in it just because it is "the thing to do". Well, I don't care! I love that we all take 3 weeks to reflect on the good in our lives, the special in our day. There are worse fads to follow and this one I proudly take part in! The other 49 weeks of the year however... 

Stopping to take a look at my life and praise God for what he has given me is too often not a priority! And somedays I just flat out don't want to be thankful.  In some ways this has been an icky year for us and I find it so easy to let that determine how I view the big picture. Have you ever had people in your life that you have done for and done for and done for and the first time you fail them it seems to be all they remember? Ugh, I hate that! 

God has not once failed me. He has, however handed me circumstance I would not have chosen myself and with a snap of the fingers I'm asking, "why are you always picking on me God?" It's the reason I started my Praise Journal, which darn-it, I have GOT to start keeping up with better. (See how I forget, you guys!) 

I spend plenty of time on my computer, you would think between facebook and my blog, both of which I take a look at daily, I would keep the blessings of the Lord at the forefront of my mind. But I don't. God has really been dealing with me on this issue though, about where my focus is, what I am choosing to dwell on. 

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Philippians 4:8

Because of this I have a new project going in my house. My super duper sweet husband hung some poster board on a wall in our house. It is the perfect spot. I pass it often - with a few exceptions I can hardly walk into a different room in the house without seeing this wall. On it I am beginning to catalog the things I am thankful for - not just the day to day little things, although these are great too, but those miracles that God has done in our lives. Moments that have had us nearly, 
and sometimes literally, on our faces before God - praising Him because He is the only explanation for it! It is my wall of fame, if you will. (LORD, I have heard of your fame; I stand in awe of your deeds... Habakuk 3:2) A constant reminder of how rich our life is because of the Lord's great blessings! When I pass by it I remember what He has done and is capable of doing. Sometimes I shudder to think of where we would be without His great works in our life.

Not the best picture. I am SO not an artist... but it gets the job done! 

If this doesn't help get my attention the next step is tattoos. Since I like me and I don't like pain, I am going to give my wall of fame a really good try! 

Praise the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits Psalm 103:2
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Sunday, November 11, 2012

Marriage 101.2

As I have already mentioned my marriage to Jarrod works really well! (click here for that post) It is simple and secure. This is, in large part, thanks to him. 

I would like to mention another little trick we have stumbled upon over the years. Once again, Jarrod earns the trophy for this one and anything I might contribute has been thanks to his example. 

It’s the little things, you know the little things I am talking about? The towels on the bathroom floor, the empty toilet paper roll. I guess we can call these the pet peeves. Sometimes pet peeves start out as a simple silly little thing that people joke about in a marriage but often times they become sources of frustration and resentment over the years. Well we have a few of those. Let me begin by cataloging all of my pet peeves that Jarrod does...

Just Kidding, that would kind of defeat the purpose of this post. But as an example I love shoes, in theory. They are cute and fun and when you wear a children’s size like I may or may not (I’ll never tell) they can be fairly economical. In reality I HATE shoes and they are off my feet the minute I realize I am home and don’t have to be wearing them. Sometimes this is right at the back door. Other times on the floor in front of the couch. Often times under the kitchen table, and I don’t even realize I have taken them off. Sometimes I think I should just get an extra long table cloth and that could just be my closet. It sure would make the chances of finding my shoes in the morning increase. Unfortunately one of Jarrod’s pet peeves is, shoes strewn all over the house. Hmmm, what a predicament. 

Along similar lines are the chores. Wether you set down and divvied them up or they just became assumed over the years most partners have at least a few chores that are “assigned”. In our house my husband shows off his big strong muscles by taking out the trash... sometimes. Other times he forgets, often he is at work and the trash can overfloweth and the diaper is way to stinky to leave sitting out for the next 4 hours. In the early years of our marriage this use to bug me to no end. I’d go to throw something away, open the lid of the thrash can and be reminded for the dozenth time that day, “Oh yea, the trash can is full.” Then the agrivated thoughts would come up all over again. “Couldn’t Jarrod tell that it was nearly full on his way out the door for work this morning, remember that I am 13 months pregnant and take it out?” This lasted for awhile until I had the brilliant idea to take the bag out of the trash can myself, tie it up nice and tight and fling it on the floor next to the back door, (which sure showed him even though he was not there to witness my tantrum) for him to take out later. One day in the midst of building a trash bag pile in the corner of the kitchen, (yes we are incredibly wasteful people who throw away an alarming amount of stuff in one day) something ocucrred to me. Jarrod left the house early this morning, after packing his own lunch, getting his own water bottles filled, and kissing me good-bye as I snuggled down into our nice warm bed. And I was angry because he had the nerve to not go lift the lid on the trash can predict how much we would throw away and take out the trash as a precautionary move. The nerve! 

Maybe Jarrod didn’t notice the trash can. Maybe, just maybe he wasn’t trying to make our marriage miserable and uncomfortable by going on strike and refusing to take a bag out of the trash can. Could it be?

I did a little experiment. I pulled the liner out of the trash can, tied it up and walked a few feet to the big trashcan outside. And you know what, I lived to tell about it! I began to do this more and more. Instead of the resentment towards Jarrod growing like I thought it would, it slowly and quietly died. There were no more mazes of full trash bags lining the back of the kitchen, reminding me of how I had been “wronged”. I did not have to smell stinky diapers hanging in a grocery sack on the back door knob. The really crazy part, I don’t think Jarrod noticed one way or another. He had been so clueless that the trash was such a problem in our marriage that he did not even know it was something that needed to be fixed. I had gotten mad at him for no good reason, I got upset when he did not read my mind or take my hints and I let it fester. 

I began to apply this new thought to all those little pet peeves that I had. Was Jarrod trying to tick me off by leaving clothes next to the bed or could it be that it was the most convenient place to throw them after a long day at work? In a short matter of time I found myself going through my day smiling as I worked around a pile of clothes in my room. Reminding myself how lucky I am that my husband is willing to work until he is beyond tired so that I can stay home with kids. Taking out trash became just another thing I did when it needed to be done and Jarrod was not around. I have even been known to take out a bag or two when he is home but is in the middle of playing with a kid or his favorite team is playing football. As it turns out Jarrod has been doing this same sort of thing all along. He could have pitched a fit about shoes EVERYWHERE but he stepped around them or carried them to the closet if he was on his way. 

When you stop and realize, wether it is a spouse, a friend or, dare I say it, the person who cuts you off in traffic that likely none of these people woke up determined to ruin your day and likely are oblivious to the fact that they have. It makes showing a measure of grace and letting them “off the hook” a little easier. 

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Friday, November 9, 2012

All My Little Lovies

  • I love how my kids say things like, "Back when I was five..." You mean like 6 months ago?
  • I love how when I make my kids sit on the couch and hold hands because they are fighting, 5 minutes later I am having to get on to them because they are sitting on the couch, holding hands and laughing hysterically. (works every time)
  • I love how incredibly loudly my kids talk in the car and then when they are saying something to me from the back of the van they are incapable of talking above a whisper. 
  • I love that my daughter was so excited to get to sing "The Star Strangled Banner" over the PA at school today.
  • I love how one of my sons needs to be hugged 18 times a day to feel loved while the other son responds better to a punch on the arm (To him that's like a hug.)
  • I love that when my kids play house I ALWAYS have to be Grandma.
  • I love that the ONLY time my kids ever remember to flush the toilet is when I am in the shower.
  • I love finding poop in an unflushed toilet but no sign of toilet paper.
  • And how could I not love these gorgeous faces! 

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    Wednesday, November 7, 2012

    Whom Shall I Fear?

    My daddy just stopped by! It is always such a treat when he shows up at our house. Especially after 5 years of living 2 and at one time 5 hours away, I am loving the closeness that allows us a quick face to face visit whenever we want.

    He was talking to me about the body and how different things, including fear, can ultimately affect our health. I told him I was going to steal everything he said, blog about it, and call it my own. Alas, I realized I still have too much to learn about it and so I will have to postpone plagiarism for another day. He actually has been preaching a series about this at his church and I will be listening to the sermons on his church website. (which you can find by clicking here I believe the first one in the series is Thinking God's Thoughts part 1) 

    While we were talking though, two things kept going through my mind. Because I swear I have..."Good grief I need to dust my living room!" Oh sorry, I swear I have ADD and am ALWAYS thinking something else while listening to others talk. But I really am listening too, honest I am. What echoed in my spirit over and over again was a passage in 2 Corinthians which says:
    ...take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ. 2 Corinthians 10:5 

    and an old hymn (I think it's a hymn, correct me if I am wrong you baptists) that says:


    We were talking about something completely unrelated to yesterday's presidential election, but after my dad left my wandering mind couldn't help thinking of that and applying these two thoughts where my own concerns are - regarding this country.

    Whether the person you voted for will be in the White House next year or not I think most of us would agree our country is lacking in some areas. This generally idealistic girl here has her own anxieties about where we are headed. So today I believe the Holy Spirit spoke to me, through the words of my father. My dads words hit their intended target with regards to what we were discussing but also brought clarity to this situation as well.

    When doubts, when anger, when anxious feelings and all the "what ifs" rise up and tell me we are in trouble as a nation and there is no way out, I am to take those thoughts captive. Not to grab hold of them and let them control my day. But to confiscate them and if they are not lining up with what God says throw them out! 

    What lines up? Here are just a few ideas:

    For I have not given you a spirit of fear but of power, love and a sound mind. 2 Timothy 1:7

    For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Jeremiah 29:11

    Here is the promise (as my dad mentioned today) when we are thinking His thoughts instead of our own:

    You will keep him in perfect peace, Whose mind is stayed on You, Because he trusts in You. Isaiah 26:3 

    So I will take these thoughts captive, but what then?

    I was so excited when I looked up 2 Corinthians 10:5. The words Paul spoke just before telling us to take our thoughts captive were exactly what I believed God had already been sharing with me.

    For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ. 2 Corinthians 10:3-5

    I believe there are stronghold on us today, I fear our freedom to worship may be at risk. I see our freedom of speech slipping away a little bit more everyday. I tell you, I have wanted to storm through some doors on more than one occasion. It is time to be Bold as believers - bold and strong. We can wage war and be effective. I have the power, and also authority to storm the gates of hell.

    I have given you authority to trample on snakes and scorpions and to overcome all the power of the enemy; nothing will harm you. Luke 10:19

    We all know who our fight is ultimately against anyway.

    For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. Ephesians 6:12

    There is another place I can go to confidently

    Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need. Hebrews 4:16

    We are the light in a world that is slipping rapidly into darkness. The freedom we have to fight this darkness can never be taken away from us. Remember who your fight is against. As you beg for mercy for this country also ask for mercy and grace to fight - as this dark world is always watching us.

    One last thing I can do is this. I can encourage other Christ followers so that we do not lose hope. This next passage is lengthy but amazing, I encourage you to read it. 

    So, as the Holy Spirit says: “Today, if you hear his voice,do not harden your hearts as you did in the rebellion, during the time of testing in the desert, where your fathers tested and tried me and for forty years saw what I did. That is why I was angry with that generation, and I said, ‘Their hearts are always going astray, and they have not known my ways.’ So I declared on oath in my anger, ‘They shall never enter my rest.’ ”See to it, brothers, that none of you has a sinful, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God. But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called Today, so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness. We have come to share in Christ if we hold firmly till the end the confidence we had at first. As has just been said “Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts, as you did in the rebellion.” Hebrews 3:7-15
    1. Take your thoughts captive 
    2. Fight with boldness and your God given authority 
    3. Encourage one another daily
    Linked up here:

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    Tuesday, November 6, 2012

    The Final Answer

    Is anybody besides me sick of hearing about my “medical problems”? Maybe this will be the last time for awhile. I have done so much griping here about it that I thought I should at least share some good news for a change. 

    After 5 months of joint pain, muscle pain, muscle weakness, tremors, muscle jerks, and fatigue, we seem to be making progress and getting answers. It only took 1 family doctor, 2 specialists, 12 vials of blood, 3 x-rays, 4 different medications, a nerve study, a muscle study a few thousand dollars and an MRI to come to 1 very simple conclusion. I have a herniated disc that is putting pressure on the spinal cord. This in turn makes for some angry nerves and explains just about everything. I am kind of wishing we had worked backwards and started with the neurologist and MRI. 

    I am waiting for a consult with a Neurosurgeon in San Antonio to see what needs to be done. In the mean time I am supposed to avoid activities above eye level. Umm... I’m 4’10” unless I am tying my shoes it’s pretty much all above eye level. (actually she said to try to keep my neck in a neutral position) I am also suppose to avoid accidents like falling which is really going to put a cramp in my style. But I’ll do my best.

    Though the thought of surgery of any kind, I HATE having surgery, does not sound very fun. Especially not fun when you are allergic to nearly every pain killer known to man. I love the idea of this being such a simple fix. No life long medications, no scary diseases, no life altering conditions! Thank you Jesus! The neurologist was not 100% sure but felt fairly confident that this could be our answer. And who knows, maybe the surgeon will decide surgery isn’t needed and some sort of physical therapy would be beneficial. 

    Either way, yay for answers and doctors who are willing and desire to help patients and get to the bottom of things!

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    Friday, November 2, 2012

    If Patience Is A Virtue, I Don't Want To Be Virtuous

    Our family doctor thought a few weeks ago that all the crazy bizarre symptoms I have been having (click here to if you want to catch up) were starting to sound like they might be more neurological than rheumatological. So in addition to the check ups with the rheumatologist I started seeing a neurologist. She did an exam and ordered a nerve study and muscle study. I waited a week, went back to the office, had the nerve study. Then waited 6 more days, went back for a muscle study and results from both. She said my nerves are beautiful (what do you know, I really am beautiful from the inside out) ;) My muscle study was normal on the machine. AND she told me three times how strong my arm muscles are (please pass along that last bit of info to all who know me, I really think that kind of thing just needs to be shared... Sarah Brook's has confirmation from a doctor, NICE ARM MUSCLES!) But in the midst of the muscle study my arm started doing the funky muscle jerk my muscles do. The neurologist saw it, and then tried to get it to happen again. She could make the arm muscle relax and contract by pushing on my elbow. This was frustrating to her as it was not showing up on the study but she could see it happening with her own eyes.

    She decided to order an MRI of the neck (interesting experience, you can read about that here). Had to wait another 6 days to do that. Waited patiently all this week to hear those results. I finally called her office today to find out if they had seen the MRI yet. The nurse called back and said they do have the results, she definitely sees some issues with my neck but wants to see the actual films. They will call me when they get those. Hmph! More waiting. I have to say I am getting better at waiting. However, if all of this has just been so God could to teach me patience I'd rather learn the lesson in a line, maybe at Disney World, or a pizza buffet!

    (if the neck issues do not explain the majority of my symptoms next up is an MRI of the brain. Oh... and more waiting.)

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    Wednesday, October 31, 2012

    Marriage 101

    Jarrod and I recently celebrated our nine year anniversary. Now there is a chance I may be biased but we have the best marriage of any couple I know! Really it is so good and so easy. 

    I told Jarrod recently that we should write a book about how to have a successful marriage. His response, “that would be a short book.” He told me his opinion on why ours works so well. It’s really quite simple. Put the other person first! 

    No way! It cannot be that simple. One reason I knew this to be true it that I don’t really put others first. I would have a very good marriage to me! But it just does not come naturally to me to think of others. I like me, I like to give me what I want, and meet all of my needs. 

    Jarrod is always putting my needs above his own, thinking of what would bless me first and making me number one priority. He is so much better about it than me. But I leaned somethings during this conversation. (because my husband is so wise, and very good at helping people see things clearly)

    Jarrod started pointing out the areas in which I do put his needs and wants above my own. I hadn’t seen it before, but he was right. As he rattled off this list I began to protest. “Well yes, but those are such simple things. I don’t consciously think, ‘I am going to make sure the freezer is stocked with Jarrod’s popsicles so that we will have a good marriage’ I do it because you love them and I love you.” 

    Come to find out this was his point exactly. This sounds like a silly example, I know. But it is the simplicity of it that makes it so beautiful. Let me show you another way this has worked, on a much bigger level. Every few months Jarrod sends me away to spend the weekend scrapbooking with my mom. He watches all four kids by himself and I am “off” for 36 hours of fun. 

    Now, let me just say my husband works very hard - but instead of thinking “Boy, I work hard I could use a break?” He realizes that I also work hard and if he wants a break chances are I probably also want one! This in turn gets me thinking, “Gosh that time away to play is nice, I bet Jarrod would enjoy that too.” And so the cycle begins. 

    In nine years this concept has seemed to spill over into every area of our marriage. Because my husband is most always thinking first what would be best for me and now also our kids I can plainly recognize that his decision making is done with this in mind. It is so easy for me to trust the choices he makes, not because he has never been wrong, but because I know they have been thought through with my best interest in mind. 

    Recently we made a big decision for our family. Jarrod and I had prayed together about it, talked about what was the most biblically sound thing to do and ultimately left the final say to Jarrod. The choice he made was a good solid one...and it came back to bite us in the rump. We are STILL paying for it. Sometime later Jarrod told me how much he appreciated my not getting upset with him for having made what seems to have been the wrong choice. “Why would I?” I asked, “You were doing what you thought best for us, you could not have seen this coming.” He makes it so easy for me to trust him. He doesn’t demand my honor and respect he earns it every day in the way he cares for me. In doing this I have slipped so easily into the habit of caring for him above me as well that I had not even noticed. Because he has shown me by example what it looks like and because it is the natural response to the honor and respect he pours out on me. We don’t always do this perfectly, but it has become so natural that it is not work. Our marriage is pure joy and security. 

    I am sure you more seasoned couples are thinking “just wait” and I know we have not faced every challenge a marriage brings. But I will say these past years together have been extremely eventful and we have not wavered in our commitment nor our love. Marriage to Jarrod is a piece of cake and it turns out I’m not so hard to live with either. 

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    Monday, October 29, 2012

    Rant Against The Machine

    Had and MRI of my C-Spine (that’s fancy talk for neck) this morning. Though I was very calm about going in today, I did have one fear a few days ago that I had to discuss with my husband. Our conversation went something like this. 

    Me: “I have always been afraid of getting an MRI because I have that permanent retainer that was bonded to the back of my bottom teeth when I got my braces off.”

    Jarrod: “What does that matter?”

    Me: “I can just see it, I just know that they are going to slide me in there, turn on the machine and ‘whack,’ my whole face will slam into the machine having been pulled in by the magnetized force.”

    Jarrod: “I am pretty sure that is not going to happen.”

    See this is why I discuss these personal fears with my husband, he always has a way of calming me down with his level headed reasoning. 

    Me: “Really, you think it will be ok?”

    Jarrod: “Of course, it’s not going to magnetize you face to the machine. The most it will do is rip the retainer out of your mouth taking your teeth with it.”

    See, level headed reasoning! 

    Also talking to the lady at registration a few days ago and being assured by her that it was fine to get an MRI with a permanent retainer in did a lot to calm any anxious feelings I might have had. She also asked if I was claustrophobic. I wasn’t sure if when you crawl under one of your kid’s beds and then fear that your head will not fit back through on the way out, counted... so I said no!

    So today I went in without any (other) preconceived ideas. There was really very little to it, just a few observations from my experience. 

    1. Tying my own hospital gown takes a lot of concentration and would really be made easier if I had access to some go-go gadget arms. I tied the middle ribbons together. Used the contortionist skills I have acquired over the years to reach back and tie the top ribbons. Did a quick back check in the mirror and noticed the middle strings had come undone. Got those tied back nice and tight only to have the top come undone. I am pretty sure I spent more time on that gown than Diana Ross spent on all 4 of her super bowl half-time show costume changes.
    2. The MRI tech gave me padded headphones to muffle the noise of the machine. I was surprised when he told me I could choose some music to listen to during the scan. I settled on The Eagles and thought, “this is going to be nice. I’ll lay back and relax for 20 minutes and listen to one of my all time favorite bands.” Instead what I heard was, “Take it easy... CLANG, CLANG, CLANG, CLANG, CLANG, CLANG...Well I'm running down the road trying to loosen...DEET, DEET, DEET, DEET, DEET, DEET...She got a lot of pretty, pretty boys she calls... CLANG, CLANG, CLANG, CLANG, CLANG, CLANG...” and so on, for 20 minutes. Was not relaxing!
    3. When a person is having an MRI done because one of their symptoms is muscle jerks, said person cannot be expected to “hold completely still” said person will experience 2,553 muscle jerks in 20 minutes.
    4. The best way to get me to need to clear my throat is to tell me not to clear my throat. 
    5. The best way to get me to swallow like I am chugging a gallon of milk is to tell me to try to swallow less.
    6. If I am going to lay still in a tunnel like contraption and feel like my skin is literally melting off my face from the heat of the light - I at least want to come out with a fake tan. 
    Other than that, not so bad! 

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    Friday, October 26, 2012

    I Looked My Gift Horse In The Mouth

    I suppose it’s no big secret that I LOVE to write. I have for a long, long time. I remember the first thing I ever wrote (of any sort of significance). The Lord woke me up in the middle of the night with it. It ended up being some sort of dramatic monologue. When I was 19 I wrote an ewwy- gooey christian romance novel. Every spare minute I had was devoted to that thing. To tell the truth I am terrified to go back and read it now, there are many ways I can think of that I do not want to die... embarrassment is close to the top of that list. In my early twenties I worked as a receptionist at my church. One of my duties was to create and write in our church newsletter. I rushed through ALL other tasks and spent about 90% of my time on this one. (shhh, don’t tell my boss, aka dad)

    Nobody is paying me to write any more and I learned my lesson with the first book, I am NOT a novelist. This blog has become my outlet now. As much as I enjoy the writing, and now here is my very ugly admission, I also love the comments, the “likes” on facebook, and people telling me in person how much they enjoyed reading a post. 

    I found out earlier today that my comments have not been working for a few days and I was so bummed! I tried to figure out what was wrong, asked my husband to comment (ahem, from work), to see if I had fixed it. I tried to retrieve old comments I had missed. I was like a crazy lady searching for the answers to life’s most meaningful questions. 

    After I gave up and installed a new commenting format, which makes it look like I have never had a single comment ever, which makes me really annoyed, I went blog hopping. I visited one I have not been to in awhile but really enjoy. (Here’s a link to it: In The Trenches) One of the writers posted this "I am praying that I would honor... my (heavenly) DAD by doing nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit but in everything consider others better than my self.” (Philippians 2:3)

    Ugh, I didn’t want to see this! But I realized I had completely lost focus somewhere along the way. I usually hear God best through writing - and blogging is a great way for me to learn. This is what I told my Aunt Becky recently, “apparently He (God) knows how much I love to hear myself talk that He realizes the only way I will learn anything is through hearing myself say it.” That’s about the truth! Strangely I can hardly ever just sit down and start typing UNLESS God gives me something to say. You would think this alone would be a huge tip off. That it would move me towards humility and I would not seek my own glory. For what? Quite obviously I have nothing to say on my own. I have not even been blessed with the eloquence of most lovers of journaling. God has given me the privilege of being able to throw some random words together in a way that makes sense to me (and often times me alone) so that I can learn a thing or two. He has taught me to see Him in everyday events around me because I am horrible at looking for Him myself. And, I believe, God has used technology to keep me accountable to what He has revealed to me. I cannot deny it when I have put it out there for all to see. 

    I do want everything I do to be done for the right reason, to put others first and, most importantly, to please God in all I do. I just haven’t quite learned how to keep myself out of the way. The only place I know to start is to meditate on scripture and keep humble prayers always on my lips. Prayers of thanksgiving - to a gracious Father - that will pursue me using any means by which He can get through, prayers to keep my focus in the right place, but also prayers for somebody other than me.