Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Down, But Not Out

It seems God would like me to practice what I have preached here the last month. From Out Of Control Faith to The Choice... No Matter What!  To believing for and relying on the strength that only He can give. 

Last Wednesday I was driving Elyse home from a doctor's appointment and a pain shot through my right hand like an electric shock. Afterwards both my hand and arm were weak, tingling and in pain. Because of a heart defect that I have that puts me at risk for a stroke we were advised to go to the ER. Praise God the doctor ruled out a stroke. He thought I might have Tennis Elbow. However based on some other symptoms I was having he was concerned about Multiple Sclerosis and told me to follow up with our primary doctor ASAP. 

The next day the kids and I were rear ended. Nothing serious, everybody was fine! Can I hear another Praise God! But the car was not too happy about it. So the next few days were calls to body shops, car insurance companies and the car rental place. In the midst of all of this we got into see our wonderful doctor. She too ruled out stroke but listened to my heart and was concerned. She has been my doctor for years, delivered three of our babies and listened to my heart scores of times. My heart murmur (that I was born with but is rarely heard at regular exams until last year) was very clear and there had been an obvious change in it. She told me we could not put off seeing the Cardiologist. She also said she did not believe the problem with my arm was tennis elbow. (we had already thought this to be true because the pain had since moved up to my shoulder and I was beginning to have problems with the other arm as well.) She said it may be a pinched nerve in my neck. She also said there is a chance it could be MS. For now we will look into the possibility and treat for a pinched nerve. Never thought I'd be hoping for a neck injury! But I AM! She advised we go home and try to get insurance. (I do not have any and the tests she is ordering are EXPENSIVE!) We found out I am uninsurable (how rude!) because of the pre existing heart condition. And then God showed off in a big way and things seem to be working out in that area! Let's hear it one more time... PRAISE GOD! 

I realize I may be over reacting but all of this made for a LONG week. I am worn out physically, mentally and somewhat emotionally. I feel slightly like a shell of myself right now because this occupies my mind constantly. And the pain and tingling in my hands and arms, while not unbearable by any means, is annoying and sometimes more uncomfortable than I would like. I will admit I am scared about the answers we might find. Insurance will not be effective until July 1 and I do not wait well. 

My sister-in-law, Laurel,  who is both humorous and loving sent me two texts the night we got home from the emergency room. 

One was this: 
Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise—the fruit of lips that openly profess his name. And do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased. Hebrews 13:15-16

"The peace that makes no sense."  
This was from the blog post I had written the night before. 

Her next text was this:
“By faith Sarah herself also received strength...” Hebrews 11:11 
From a post earlier this month A Promise Is A Promise 

I told her God was making me practice what I preached on this blog. 

Her response was, "Yeah, He's also really good at reminding us of His promises and love right before we need it most." 

HOW TRUE! (my sister-in-law is also very wise) I wonder if God put the blogging bug in me last month for such a time as this. He has reminded me again and again of the things he has taught me in the past weeks. I do not know if it would have been as clear if I had not "written" them down.  I realize this post may not hold any deep meaning for anybody else. It is not eloquent or humorous. Likely none of my other posts are either. But I am glad to have a place to go now, and in the future, to be reminded of God's faithfulness in our lives. I know this time, like every other, He has a plan and is at work in our lives. My mom said she was not sure if I could take much more... sometimes I think she may be right (although I know compared to many this is just a cake walk). But I also think that it is not that God does not give you more than you can handle. Rather he first prepares and equips you to handle it and then comes the struggle, whatever it may be. I believe we will be prepared for whatever we discover in the next weeks and months and I will be able to declare his good works no matter what! 

Praise the Lordall you nations; extol him, all you peoples. For great is his love toward us, and the faithfulness of the Lord endures forever. Psalm 117:1-2

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Lips That Cannot Stop

Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise—the fruit of lips that openly profess his name. And do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased. Hebrews 13:15-16

There seems to be so much negative talk out there about where our world is headed. And yes, I am guilty of it too. Apparently Jarrod and I have reached that creepy age where you are allowed to start saying things like, “back in my day...” But I have been struck lately with some encouraging news and I think it should be shared. Actually I want to shout it from my roof top but I am pretty sure there is a verse in Proverbs that discourages that... and quite frankly I am just too tired to climb up there. So I’ll blog it from the comfort of my couch. 
Right now I have so many family members and close friends that are struggling in one huge way or another. Sickness, loss, we are fighting our own discouraging battle as well right now. Deeper than this common thread we all share, woven into every fiber of it, is a faith that does not crumble. A heart that will not turn cold. Lips that cannot seem to stop praising. 
I am blessed and my heart is so encouraged. It seems every time I hear the smallest piece of discouraging news it is right on the heels of a testimony of God’s faithfulness. Because He is good in the midst of it! My Aunt recently coined the phrase “The peace that makes no sense”. And I hear it ringing out from so many hearts. 
Where Satan would very much like to clench his fist around us and pull us to himself, instead believers are rising up to praise God! 
It so encourages my faith and no doubt countless others, and pleases God to no end. So fight the good fight all of you! I believe Satan ain't seen nothin’ yet! 

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

The Dirty Truth

I was talking to my dad awhile back and had some prime material for a great blog post. But thanks to a little thing I like to call blackmail I have sworn a vow of silence and, sadly, my dad’s reputation will remain in tact... this time! 
However, speaking of my dad, he texted me today. I was out of town on a field trip with my daughter and he was in town and needed to drop some stuff off at my house. He was asking permission to go in so he could leave the stuff inside. I cringed! My house was bad... I mean really, really dirty. I did not want anybody seeing it like that. But I gave all kinds of warnings to my dad and granted him permission. 
When I got home later today I decided to enter my house with the eyes of a visitor. Let me tell you entering it with just the nose of a visitor would have been bad enough. I had chopped up a bunch of onions yesterday and left them in a bowl uncovered in the fridge. The minute I opened that back door I was assaulted by the odor. And then I remembered the haste in which we had all left the house that morning. Getting big kids to school and little kids to sisters to be watched for the day, Jarrod off to work and me out and ready for a field trip. The house, as you can imagine was worse then I had remembered. I was mortified. Why do visitors never pop by when my house is clean? (Because I promise it really is sometimes.)
Then I started thinking about it. Why do I care? Am I so concerned with people thinking that I have it “all together” that I want them to think my house is always neat and tidy? And I came to this conclusion. Why yes! Yes I do want people to think I’ve got it all under control and my life is in perfect order all the time. That would just be really nice! 
Upon deeper inspection though I realized that as much as I want people to think this. In those moments that I am hurting or scared and desperate. I cry out to God. “Can’t somebody just know me well enough to know that I need, such and such...” I need help but I have made so sure that everything looks just right on the surface that how would anybody know? 
I was telling my sister about my dad’s impromptu visit and she said she has a friend that once told her she always keeps her house “company ready”. That would be great! And I would love for my heart to also be company ready. Warm and welcoming to all I meet. But sometimes, when I am overwhelmed or stressed out and things inside just really aren’t “presentable”, I wish I was bold enough to just throw the doors wide open and say. This is what it really looks like... come on in! Imagine what God could do with a heart like that! 
I wrote a post right here years ago about something Elyse had said. 
She had walked into the room one night and said, “Mommy, I am going to tell you the same truth I told Daddy.” 

I mentioned that I sometimes wonder which truth I show people about me. I may feel like I am, "keeping it real" because I am showing everybody the same truth about myself. But is this "truth" that I have so perfected the real me? 
Apparently 4 years later I still haven’t figured it out. But my daddy got a peak at my real house... let’s see if I can get up enough courage to show somebody a little part of my real heart! 

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Just Like Mommy

My older daughter is a riot. She always has been. I had a fellow mom keep her in a nursery once when she was 9 months old. When I went to pick Elyse up she told me, “that is the funniest child I have ever been around.” That included her own kids. She has a GREAT personality. She’s helpful. It is a very rare day that she complains if I have asked her to do something. She is a care taker. She looks for ways to care for family members. Sometimes it’s helpful, other times... not so much! But shhh, that’s our little secret. If there is not a family member to care for she will find something else. I am not a pet person. I have no desire to take on a pet at this time. But Elyse wants a pet. She is desperate for one. She has kept snails in jars and fried chicken to go boxes. She’s built houses around a stream of worker ants. Two weekends ago she spent the entire weekend trying to catch a fly in an easter egg so she could keep it as a pet. And she succeeded. Sadly she lost her pet in a store a few hours later. Sorry Hastings, be glad it wasn’t her entire collection of slimy snails. I have not yet found a frog in one of my boys pockets but I would not be a bit surprised to find one in Elyse’s someday. She feeds her pets, drowns them from time to time in her attempt to give them water. Worries over them and checks on them obsessively. She is a mother. Some of these characteristics are just in her. She has capacity for compassion that blows my mind. It is way beyond anything I possess. A lot of it she gets from me though. She has to, they are characteristics that are learned. She watches me. She knows when she is sick she gets water and crackers on a T.V. tray and a bed made up on the couch. Guess what I get from her when I am sick? 
I am her picture of what a mother is. 
She is also bossy! If she is playing anything with anyone - everyone will be playing HER WAY or NO WAY! That’s just a fact. It irritates her to no end when she tells one of the boys something and they do not believe her. Guess where she learns these things? That’s right, her dad! Ok, ok... it’s from me. I tend to be a bit of a control freak. It’s my way or no way. And though I think often times at this stage in my children’s life that is the way it should be, they do need to follow my rules, and trust what I say. I think often times I have the wrong motivation behind my control freakishness. And I have to remember 
I am her picture of what a mother is.  

I am also her picture of God. When I am not quick to forgive, she may see a God who is not quick to forgive. If I am not patient and loving in my discipline she may see a God who is quick tempered and waiting for her to mess up so He can “lower the hammer”. I have been listening to a series my dad is preaching on Knowing Who God Really Is. And while she is too young to be studying the scriptures herself I have a big job to do. To know my God so well that I begin to mother in the same way that he so gently and kindly and patiently fathers me.
Know your God and then be your God to those around you. I bet you other people will want to know and be just like him too. 

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

A Promise Is a Promise

This post is all about ME! Just as it should be!

Seriously, my birthday was last weekend and it got me thinking about this story. It really is just too good to not be told. And, well... it just happens to be about me!

I was tiny when I was born, 4lb. 11oz. Maybe not by today’s standards. But (ahem) 32 years ago that was pretty small. I had a lot of problems at birth. I am not even sure what all was wrong but the doctors told my parents that I would likely not make it and if I did I would be a vegetable. Obviously grim news. So my dad went to his motel room to pray and God took him to this verse in the bible.

“By faith Sarah herself also received strength...” Hebrews 11:11 

He returned to the hospital and assured my mom that I would be okay because of the promise the Lord had given him. And I was!

In my late teens and early twenties I began seeing a doctor regularly for some medical issues I was having. Every appointment was more of the same bad news. It would be very difficult for me to able to have children if I could even have them at all. It was a huge disappointment. I had spent the past 10+ years day dreaming about someday being a wife and mommy.

Five years later I was married and two months after that I was pregnant. To be honest I wasn’t all that shocked. Surprised because we did not plan on starting a family that quickly? Yes! Surprised that God had gone ahead and done what he wanted in spite of doctors reports? No, not really. It wasn’t until several months later, as I sat pregnant in the babies room writing an article for the Church’s newsletter that God revealed something to me. I was writing about this very same promise God had given my dad all those years ago and I wanted to get the wording just right. So I opened up my bible to Hebrews 11:11 and here is what I saw...

“By faith Sarah herself also received strength to conceive...” 

Cool, right?! 24 years ago God had given my dad a promise. Little did any of us know that word held more than one promise. And God always keeps His promises. Praise the Lord!

If you can stand it there is even more awesomeness to this story. One weekend, a few weeks before my wedding my mom, sister-in-law, and I were talking baby names. My mom mentioned a name she had recently heard that she thought was so beautiful. Elyse! I fell in love with it instantly! The next morning at church Jarrod informed me that our friends Paige and Lisa had just given birth to their little girl. This got us talking about baby names. Jarrod said, out of the blue, “you know what name I really like? Elyse.” I told him about the conversation I had had with my mom we thought it was a little crazy. When we found out we were having a girl sometime later we felt confident God had already given us a name for her.

So as God gave me this new revelation that night as I worked on the newsletter I looked knowingly over at our daughter’s wall. There hung a poster with her name-to-be, the definition printed under the name.

God’s Oath 

I mean, WOW! First God gave us the oath and then he literally gave us the oath. 

And this was not only a promise of strength for me to maintain life or to conceive. I have a promise of strength to sustain life. Strength when I am overwhelmed by my circumstances, strength when I just do not have the energy to hand out one more consequence to one of my children. Strength to trust when I do not know where the money will come from for the next bill. Even better, the promise of strength is not just for me. It’s for all of us. 

"And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.” 2 Corinthians 12:9

“but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.” Isaiah 40:31

“I can do all things through him who strengthens me.” Philippians 4:13

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30

Be strong in His perfect strength! 

Friday, May 4, 2012

The Boy Makes His Grand Entrance

So today is my youngest boys happy birthday! 5 years! NO WAY!! What a blessing this little man has been to our family. He is incredibly funny! One of those effortless funnies too. It’ the best kind. He’s insanely cute. Dark curls, big brown eyes with long dark curled eyelashes that the very best in mascara has not managed to give me. He’s got this alabaster skin (not sure where that comes from) and a perfect little dimple in his right cheek. And the kid is smart. My two big kids... also geniuses of course can be sitting with their hands in their laps looking right at you while you are reading a story. And then when you are done they might not even be able to tell you who the story was about. (they get their wandering mind from their mama). Elijah can be flailing about all over the place and when you are finished he can tell you more about the story than even I can. He is so kind, going out of his way to please his sister even when she is being not quite as gracious to him. (that is of course when he is not the one ticking her off. But hey every little girl needs a pesky older brother sometimes....right?) Cuddly as all get out, he is. 
You get that I am kinda crazy for this kid don’t you? He’s been a blessing from day one. But getting him here... well that caused no small amount of stress in our lives. 
6 years ago, Jarrod and I lived in Tyler, Texas with Elyse and Isaiah and 3 (and for a short time 4) fabulous high school kids. We worked in a group home as house parents to these foster kids. It was awesome. One of THE MOST rewarding experiences of my life and Jarrod agrees! We began work there in May of 2006. We knew going into it that we could not work there with more than 2 biological kids. (something with the adult to kid ratio) This was fine. We were pretty sure we were done having kids and if we changed our minds it would be some time in the far future. 2 kids in 12 months, 2 weeks, and 2 days was enough insanity for the time being. I am sure you can guess where this story is heading. If you consider crossing your fingers and relying on pure dumb luck a good form of birth control, then Hannah is really the only kid we were “trying for”. As it turns out finger crossing and stupidity are not all that reliable so we took a more direct route after the "2 kids in 12 months, 2 weeks and 2 days incident". This also proved to be unreliable. Wouldn’t you know it, 4 months after our job started at Children’s village Elijah showed up on the scene, in a manner of speaking. We told our supervisor in October that we were expecting and the response from her and the director was, “Congratulations, you will be missed.” Pretty to the point! 
We began looking for another job. Our arrangement with Children’s Village was that we would give them two weeks notice when we found something else and they would give us the same courtesy. Meaning at a moments notice we could be told that they had found a replacement and we had 2 weeks to pack up and move out of our house and find another form of income. The race was on! My incredibly talented husband could not find a job that would pay the bills. For that matter he couldn’t really find one that did not pay the bills. Eek... 

For 5 months we looked, they looked... we panicked they interviewed... It was a LONG 5 months. I shared a bit of this story on here once upon a time. Elyse, who was 2 at the time and in love with the song "God is so good, God is so good, God is so good, He's so good to me." Would walk around the house singing it all the time. One night as we sat down for dinner she began singing, out of nowhere, "God is okay..." We laughed and realized that was kind of what we were thinking at the time. As is ALWAYS the case with God he showed up in time and we moved to Sabinal, hardly exists on a map, Texas where Jarrod was a youth pastor for 4 years. And where, 7 weeks and 4 days later Elijah was born!!!!!! I mean God showed up JUST IN TIME! He has been pleasing us to no end ever sense . Though it was hard to say good-bye to 3 very precious kids in Tyler we are so very blessed that Elijah came and turned our world inside out and upside down! We love him muy, muy nacho as the goofball himself says!