Tuesday, December 20, 2011

What A Long, Strange Trip It's Been~

As I've spent some time this morning making some preparations for Christmas, my thoughts have wandered over the last year, and over the last 5 months in particular. Even now, as we are just coming out of a storm, so to speak, it is overwhelming to me to think of all that God has done.

Those who know us are familiar with some of what we have faced. My husband became ill in early July of this year. Within days, what had begun as one illness seemed to morph into several different conditions all at once. We do not know, and will probably never know for sure, whether the conditions my husband faced were all medically related to one another, or whether having them all occur so close together was simply a part of God's plan.

I think we must have felt, at some point during the last 5 months, every emotion that it is possible to feel~fear for his health, and a brief period of fear for his life.

There was frustration with our inability to "get a handle" on my husband's condition, weariness with the seemingly endless medical appointments, moments of fear over what the next medical test might reveal, concern over the financial fall out of all the time lost at work and the ever mounting medical bills, and I could go on and on.

However, what I really sat down here to write today was about all the GOOD things that have happened to us along the way, and the amazing God that we serve, Who gave us these gifts in the midst of our storm.

He led us to EXACTLY the right doctor for our family. I was SO upset a couple of years ago when our doctor, whom we liked very much and felt we could trust, decided to leave his private practice. I see God's hand in it now. He led us to a doctor who loves the Lord and is not shy about sharing that with his patients. Several times over the last five months, our doctor has stood in the esamination room and prayed with us, and let us know that he is praying for us. That has meant SO much to us.

There came a night during all of this when the onset of yet another medical conditon caused my husband to undergo a sudden and marked personality change. This was a VERY unsettling thing, but God was present through it all, and He allowed us to feel His presence in an almost tangible wasy. God also worked miracles the next morning by removing scheduling obstacles and other hindrances so we were able to find and begin treating the problem quickly.

God has been good, and merciful, and faithful to us. While my husband has been through a LOT in the last five months, we know that it could have been so much worse.
While we both have had moments of asking God why He allowed all of this to happen, we both take comfort in knowing that HE has a plan, whether we can clearly see it or not.

God has led us to not only the primary care doctor we needed, but every specialist to whom we have been referred, (all 6 of them!) have been caring and helpful. We have come in contact with some wonderful folks in the medical profession, many of them christians~from many of the nurses who cared for my husband during his six day hospitalization, to the nurses, assistants, technicians, and office staff of every doctor we have seen, I cannot think of a single time when we encountered anyone who seemed uncaring, unprofessional, or incompetent at their jobs. Given the number of medical professionals with whom we have come in contact, that is remarkable.

We have witnessed God's miracle of healing. It may have come slowly, but it came in God's time. We have witnessed financial miracles~income from completely unexpected sources, bills being paid when, in man's view, there was no way to pay them, but God made a way. My husband missed a solid three moths of work due to his illness, and more than that when you consider his hospitalization and the large number of days missed for medical appointments, and yet, our bills have been paid, there has always been more than enough food on the table, the money has been there for ALL of the seemingly endless co-pays and prescriptions, and our children have had everything they needed, and then some. ONLY our loving, all mighty Heavely Father can do that!!

Beyond the excellent medical care and the financial provisions, God has blessed us with so much more. All of the time out of work, while financially difficult, has allowed us time toghether as a family that we would not otherwise have had. Our children have been first hand witnesses to the power of prayer, the power of God, and what it feels like to truly have His peace that passes all understanding. To say that this is pricelss is an understatement.

I have come to beleive that sometimes God DOES let us have our cake and eat it too, as the saying goes. In addition to restoring my husband's health and meeting all of our needs, we have just come back from a wonderful weekend trip with family, we've been able to put more gifts under our tree than we thought would be possible this year, and I will be spending the next couple of days preparing for what I know will be a joyous and peaceful celebration of the birth of our Lord and Savior.

On that note, we want to say thanks, with all our heats, to everyone who helped us through these last five months~during the time that my husband was out of work, we had folks come by the house with groceries, others shared provisions to meet specific needs, some cared for our children during my husband's hospitalization and many, many medical appointments, and many more called, sent notes, and prayed. We are grateful to each and every one.

We don't believe that God is finished yet. We believe that some of God's purposes in all of this have yet to come to light, and that He has and is still using all that's happened in the last five moths for our good, and for His glory. Praise His Holy Name!

In His Love,

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

So, Why Are YOU Weird?

My kids are constantly telling me I'm weird. When I tell my 13 year old that I would never have been caught dead wearing jeans with holes in them at her age, she says "Mom, you're weird". When I tell my 11 year old daughter that her hair hanging in her face bugs me, she says "Mom, you're weird." When I turn up the radio and sing along, my 9 year old son says, "Mom, you're weird".

So, I've come to accept the fact that, for one reason or another, my kids are going to think I'm weird. That's okay. I don't suffer from insanity. I enjoy every minute of it :)) Tonight, as I watched one of the sessions of Beth Moore's Living Beyond Yourself study, she gave an illustration. She shared the fact that one of the ways she enjoys praising God is by applauding Him when He answers prayers or shows Himself in her life. One day, after finding something they really needed while out running errands, Beth asked her college aged daughter to join her in giving God a round of applause. Her daughter, with a grin, said "Mom, you are the weirdest person in the entire world!"

My first thought was that I am so glad that other people's children think they are weird too!! YAY! I feel so much better now! Then, I thought about this~my kids think I"m weird because of my opinion of the current fashions and hair styles, and my music, and my quirky likes and dislikes. Beth's daughter called her weird because of the way she chose to express praise to God. You know what? I think I"m a little jealous!!

Let's face it. If you have children above the age of 5, I'm almost positive that they think you are weird for SOME reason, so why not let it be for how you praise God, or how excited you get over church services on Sunday morning, or how happy you are to go to Bible study every week, or how you pray about EVERYTHING ?

So, why are YOU weird?

Thursday, October 20, 2011

The Best Laid Plans

Listen to me. Hold close what you have. Your wives, husbands, and children. Every fantasy I had that what is precious to me is too good to be taken was destroyed last night. There are NO guarantees. Every moment we have here is a gift. Live that while you can.

What you read above are the words of Christian Hooker, who last night lost his wife and the mother of his 5 precious daughters to a massive heart attack. Christina was just 35 years old, and in apparent good health 2 days ago. She was a loving wife and adoring, homeschooling Mom to 5 girls, ages 3 to 15.

It seems, as I look around me today, that there is SO much suffering everywhere! Last week, I learned that my friend Lisa had not survived a risky surgery. Just a few days later, antoher friend, Jim, died suddenly of a heart attack. Then, I got word that Christina, whose husband's words are quoted above, was in ICU fighting for her life. That same night, I learned that my friend Mary Ann's cancer has returned, and that the doctors are offering her no hope.

I sit here and comtemplate all of this, and my own problems, which seemed so large a few days ago, now seem insignificant. My husband became ill in mid-July. He spent 6 days in the hospital and the next 3 months unable to work, or even to drive. But, because of God's grace, there was never a point at which his life was in danger. The condition he had could have developed in to something dangerous, but it did not.

Certainly, we struggled with "cabin fever" at times, with neither of us being able to drive, and even now, we are feeling the financial effects of his having been out of work for so long. Yes, life has been something of a struggle for the last 3 months, but today, it matters not in the least.

Late last night, I found myself unable to sleep, and talking with God. I did what I think many of my friends were doing~I asked God WHY? Why take Lisa, when her family needed her? Why break the hearts of Jim's mother, wife, daughters, and all who loved him by taking him so suddenly? Why NOT grant full, immediate healing to Mary Ann, a mother of 3 who has all ready battled cancer twice? WHY take Christina from the husband, parents, and sister who loved her so much, and the 5 sweet girls who need her so much??

As you might have guessed, I didn't get a clear answer for any of my questions. What I DID get was the Holy Spirit repeatedly bringing 2 Scriptures to my mind:

Jeremiah 29:11 (KJV)
For I knwo the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you an expected end.

Isaiah 55:8,9
For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my thoughts than your thoughts.

That was the Holy Spirit reiterating to me that I cannot and will not always understand God's plan, but at the same time reassuring me that He HAS a plan.

As I thought on these Scriptures, I began to contemplate some other whys~ Why have I been spared so many things? I've dealt with illness at times, as has my husband but I have never suffered a devestating illness, or had a close family member suffer a catastrophic illness. We have financial hardships, but we've never lost our home, as some of my friends have. Why not?

I don't know. My first reaction is to say "because of the goodness and mercy of God", and in one way, that is true. But, that implies that God has been good and mreciful to ME, but not to Lisa, or Jim, or Mary Ann, or Christina, and that is certainly not true. Any one of them will testify to the goodness and mercy of God.
So, it's not that I have been spared a great deal because God loves me more, or has more mercy or grace for me. I beleive it is simply because His plan for me is not the same plan He has for others.

I am still praying today. I am praying for a miraculous peace and comfort for Lisa's family, for Jim's family, and for Christina's family. I"m praying for peace and a supernatural healing for Mary Ann. And for myself, I am praying that God won't let me forget how I feel today. I am praying that He will constantly remind me to stop complaining, to treasure the time He has given me with the people I love, and most of all, to embrace His plan for my life, trusting that it is for my good.

I fervently pray that each of you will do the same.
In His Love,

Monday, May 9, 2011

They Have No Wine

I heard some teaching from Beth Moore recenly, via the "Life Today with James and Betty Robison" television show. It stuck with me, but I wasn't really sure why~wich is to say that I wasn't sure how to apply it to myself, exactly. Then, I took a look back at my last blog post. After I recovered from my surprise at how long it's been since I posted anything on the blog, I re-read my last post.

In that post, I wrote about what Jesus can do with the little that we have, if we just bring it to Him. Then, the significance of what I heard Beth Moore speak about clicked for me. She spoke from John 2:1-10. This portion of Scripture tells the story of the wedding at Cana, during wich Jesus performed His first recorded miracle.
Beth placed particular emphasis on Mary's words to her Son. " They have no more wine".

Not "there's only a little wine left" but "They have NO MORE wine."

So, this thought came to me. I know that even when I only have a little, I can take it to Jesus and He can make it more than enough. But what about those times when there is just NO MORE? Not even a little~but really, truly, NO MORE.

I defintely have times of feeling like I have NO MORE, and I know I can't be the only one who feels this way. I think we all have moments when there is just no more~no more money to pay the bills, no more tolerance for aggravation, no more patience for the trials of life, no more love to show toward those around us, no more wisdom to figure anything out, no more energy to expend any effort, no more time to accomplish everything that needs to get done, no more....well, you fill in the blank.

So, what do we do then? Well, we do what Mary did. She went to Jesus, and said "There is no more wine". And what did Jesus do? He created wine where there wasn't any. You see, He's God. He can do that :)

He CAN create more resources, more tolerance, more patience, more love, more energy, more.....you fill in the blank.

Just as Jesus can take the little bit that you have and make it more than enough, he can create something from nothing. We need only to go to Him and say "Lord, there is no more_______. If we give it to Him, trusting Him completely, He will give us more than enough, even where there was no more.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Bring it to Me

Last night, I was reading my Bible and this verse just sort of jumped out at me, so I thought I"d share it.

Matthew 14:18~He said, Bring them hither to me.

This is Jesus speaking to his disciples. The multitudes following Jesus were hungry, so Jesus told his disciples to feed them. The disciples replied that the only food to be had was a little boy's lunch of 5 loaves and 2 fish. It is clear in this passage that the disciples were thinking "NO WAY can we feed all these people with those loaves and fish!"

Jesus' simple solution? Bring them hither to me.

When they brought Jesus the bit of food that they had, He not only fed the multitude that was there, but he had the disciples collect the 12 baskets full of leftovers!! He took their little bit and made it MORE than enough!

We often think we don't have enough~we feel like we don't have enough time, enough energy, enough strength, enough patience, enough money, enough talent, enough knowledge, and on and on the list could go. But what did Jesus say?
Bring them hither to me.

Take the little bit that you have~that little bit of time, money, faith, patience, strength, wisdom, etc, and bring it to Jesus. HE will make it MORE than enough. But ONLY if you bring it to Him.

In His Love,

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Dating, Courting, and Social Networking, Oh My!!

Yesterday, a discussion took place among some friends of mine about the dangers that social networking webistes like Facebook and MySpace can bring to a marriage. People set up accounts and start spending time on these sites, then find themselves re-united, though perhaps only electronically so, with old friends and with old flames. Sadly, I've heard a handful of stories about marriages that have been broken or badly damaged by online "reuntions" that lead to affairs.

Of course, there are some obvious solutions to safegaurd your marriage from this kind of attack. First, you could just not use social networking sites like Facebook or MySpace. Secondly, you could limit your online "friends" to family only, or persons of your own gender. A thrid option, and the one my husband and I employ, is to keep the computer in a central location in the house, and to allow each other ABSOLUTE access to ALL accounts~usernames, passwords, etc.

So, when this conversation took place, I started thinking. My husband and I have a wonderful marriage. It's not perfect, but it's pretty great :) So, I started to think about why it is that we have been spared a lot of the pain and anguish that others have gone through.

It most certainly is not because we are any better, or any smarter than any other married couple. I DO believe though, that we are very, very blessed.

Part of the reason that I don't fear "old flames" harming our marriage is because I don't have any :)) My husband is the only man I ever dated. Now, there is a popular concept among some christians called "courting". I am not sure I understand the concept completely, but from what I gather, in families that promote courting ( as opposed to traditional dating) young men and young ladies spend time together with groups of friends, or with each others family memebers. The young man and young lady do not spend time alone together until they become engaged, I guess. As I said, I"m not sure of the particulars of courting.

In any case, it was never my intention to only date the man I was going to marry. I simply never had any intrest in dating anyone until I met him.

I was blessed with a lot of good friends in high school, and many of them were guys. But I never had any intrest in dating any of them. I just didn't think of them that way. After high school, the first couple of jobs I had placed me in situations where I worked with other women, so I just didn't meet a lot of guys. I could go into a lot of long, boring details here, but I"ll spare you. My point is that even though it was not really a conscious decision on my part, I never went on a date with anyone other than my husband.

It may not have been MY design, but I believe that it was God's design. I was sparend the teen age trauma of break ups and all of the angst that goes along with typical teen dating relationships. My husband is spared any emotional baggage I might have brought into our marriage from relationships like that~and as an added bonus, he knows he has no reason to worry about anyone on my Facebook "friends" list. :))

I can't really see us encouraging our daughters or our son to "court" rather than "date". But you can be sure that we will teach them NOT to date for it's own sake, and I pray earnestly that they will never feel the need to have a "boyfriend" or a "girlfriend" simply because all their friends are "dating someone". My prayer is that they will take to heart what we have taught them~that God has all ready chosen a spouse for them, and that He will bring that person into their lives in His way and in His time, and that He doesn't need our help to do that.

You see, I believe with every fiber of my being that the man I am married to is the man that God chose for me to marry. Believing that with absolute certainty goes a long way toward curbing ANY behavior that could harm our marriage. I hope that each of my children will have that same rock solid belief about their spouse.

I'm not naive. I realize that no marriage is untouchable, and that satan can be very powerful in his attacks, and marriages and families are his favorite targets. I get that. I am just taking this opportunity to say that I believe God placed in my life some protections for my marriage long before I was actually married, and I am far more thankful for that than I feel able to express.

No marriage is perfect, but am more thankful every day for the one God gave me.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

What I Learned When I Read Twilight

I had NO intention of reading Twilight. Ever.

I first became aware of it while playing with the "Flair" application on Facebook. I began to see a ridiculous amount of "Team Edward" and "Team Jacob" flair. I had no clue what it meant, and frankly, didn't care.

I mentioned this to my 17 year old nephew, and he explained to me that these were characters in a series of books. He told me that the books were really good, and encouraged me to read them. I told him right away that I had no intrest in reading about vampires and werewolves, and that he shouldn't be reading that junk either. His reply was that there was nothing "wrong" with stories about vampires.

Not long after this conversation, my then 11 year old daughter began to hear about Twilight from her friends. She asked to be allowed to read the book, and I told her no. I told her that there were much better things that she could spend her time reading. When she asked me WHY I objected to the books, I told her that I didn't like the idea of her reading stories about vampires.

Now, please understand that when my daughter asked her next question, she wasn't trying to be a smart aleck. She certainly CAN be one of those, LOL! but in this instance, she simply wanted to understand. So, she asked, "Mom, if you don't want me to know about vampire stories, why did we go see the play "House of Frankenstein", and why did you let us watch that "Young Frankenstein' movie?"

A while back, my Dad played Dr Frankenstein in a local theater production of "House of Frankenstein". The play was a comedy, very light, very funny, but two of the characters WERE vampires. Just before seeing this play, we had also watched the old Gene Wilder movie "Young Frankenstein"~again, very light, very funny, but contained characters that were vampires, along with werewolves and various other 'monsters".

So, my daughter had a legitimate question. Why were vampires and werewolves okay in a play or movie, but a popular book was forbidden to her simply because it was about vampires and werewolves??

The answer is that I ASSUMED that because the book was about vampires and werewolves, that it would be violent and graphic, and that because it also involved a romance, it would contain inappropriate intimate scenes. I ASSUMED that because a few people that I know objected to the books, they must be bad. Then, my daughter asked another question "But Mom, have you actually READ the book?

So, I told my daughter that I would read the book myself, and THEN decide if she should be allowed to read it or not. MUCH to my surprise, this book did NOT contain gore, it was NOT violent, and it did not contain any inappropriate scenes of intimacy. Having read the book myself, and taking into account my daughters personality and maturity level, I chose to let her read the book. I made a point EVERY day of asking her where she was in the book, and talking with her about what was happening in the story. After about 3 days, she was coming to me on her own to tell me what part of the story she was reading. She was enjoying it, and was excited to be able to discuss it with me.

These conversations led to some WONDERFUL moments with my daughter. We had some great discussions, and I got some good, clear insights into my daughters character, and the kind of person that she is becoming. We followed the same patter with the 3 sequels to Twilight, with me reading each book first before allowing her to read it. Each book led to more really good discussions.

Now, having said all that, let me also say this....I'm not saying that you won't find ANYTHING to object to in these books. I'm not saying that they are appropriate for everyone. I would NOT allow my almost 10 year old daughter to read them. She has no intrest in them at all, but even if she did, I would not allow it for her right now.

I"m not suggesting that everyone run out and read the Twilight books, or allow their children to read them. I"m only saying that in this case, I almost missed out on some great talks with my daughter because I formed an opinion based on assumptions and the opinions of others. One of my goals in homeschooling our children is to teach them to THINK, and to form opinions based on what they learn, NOT on what they ASSUME, or on what they hear other people say.

I just want to make sure that I teach by example.
PS~For the record, I thought the books were okay~sort of light, fluff reading. I couldn't care less whether the heroine ended up with the vampire or the werewolf :))