Friday, October 22, 2010

we aren't the monkey or the dog...

so, this last week or so, i have been thinking a lot about sheep.


i know, it seems random. after all, i did not grow up on a farm. i was never a member of the FFA or the 4H fact i don't even know what the four H's stand for. i never "showed" livestock and won a ribbon. i didn't say i liked sheep. or that i had spent a lot of time around them, even. but, i have been thinking about them quite a bit.

my Bible study homework this last week was all about the Good Shepherd. in John chapter 10, Jesus talks a lot about this subject...sheep, shepherds, gates, gatekeepers, shepherding, Good shepherd, bad shepherds...all of it. we are, obviously the sheep that Jesus speaks of. have you ever heard this reference? surely you have seen those typical oil paintings of Jesus with beautiful white lambs sitting at His feet, calm, obedient, peaceful, sweet little fluffy things...almost adorable enough to want to take home and make pets of them, huh? almost.

ever been around a sheep? well, like i clearly pointed out earlier, i haven't spent a great deal of time around them, but i've spent enough. i've been to the fort worth stock show and rodeo. you don't really have to get much past downwind of the parking lot to get a nice whiff of all the livestock. no, it wouldn't be fair to blame it all on the sheep, of course. but, when you get to their pens, you see they carry a fair weight of the stench. and you also discover they aren't the little white, fluffy peaceful things you see in the flannel board images of children's church. they smell. and they are dirty.

this, you and me. this is the animal Jesus chose to compare us to. gee, Lord, thanks a bunch. but, true isn't it?? and while i can honestly say that i have been less than "clean and sweet" every day lately thanks to the fact that i can't stand up long enough to shower, and even just taking a simple bath completely and utterly wears me out and hurts my head therefore i have to space it out. now, i don't space my baths out week to week, although it is so awful, i'd sure like to. (hey, just keepin' it real here) but, the literal smell of us isn't really what i'm speaking of, obviously. and the literal dirt isn't what i am refering to either. it is our sin, friend. yours and mine. thankfully, He can make it as white as snow (isaiah 1:18) but for now, you and i are living in this world and we are sinners. we are smelly and dirty.

because i am so visual, another thing that i am reminded of as i sit back and ponder about one of my favorite anecdotes that my pastor tells. he, too, has spent time at the stock show and rodeo....actually as a self-proclaimed "good ol' boy" he's actually probably spent a lot more time around sheep and livestock than this city girl. but, let's face it, shall we? sheep are dumb. don't believe me? one of my pastor's favorite shows at the rodeo is this little trained monkey that comes out, riding a sheep-dog and herds sheep. that's is the darndest thing. someone has spent their time training a little spider monkey, dressed him up in cowboy duds, and hooked him up to a sheep dog, who he rides around the rink, herding sheep. now, friend...let me let you in on a little secret.....they perform this show over and over, a few times a day, day after day, for weeks while the rodeo is in town. and you know what?? they use the SAME sheep each show. and each and every time, those dumb sheep come out of the gate and run around like fools as if to say, "holy sheep, look at that, it's a monkey riding a dog, help, help, run for it! what's going on! ruuuunnnn!!!" that's right. over and over. same sheep. same monkey riding a dog. same reaction. friend....we are not the monkey riding the dog. we are not even the trained dog. get this...WE ARE THE DUMB SHEEP!! love it. and again, gee, thanks Lord. :)

if you aren't careful, you could get a bit offended that Jesus would choose to liken us to sheep. smelly, dirty, d - u - m - b sheep. but, at least for me, i don't have to stop and dwell too long on my life and the choices i've made, to think...hmm, maybe He's right. maybe i do sit a little too long in the dirt of this world, the pride, the worry, the gossip, the self-righteousness..maybe i don't smell like i should often enough. (2 cor 2:15 "For we are to God the aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing.") and maybe i do run around like a fool, doing the same old stupid thing and expecting a different result. gee, maybe i am a sheep.

and this week it hit me.....hmm...maybe i want to be a sheep.

the more i studied about this chapter (and i highly recommend you study it too, there is SO much great stuff in there!) the more i learned about the spirit i should have. did you know that the sheep depend completely on their shepherd. completely. they don't do anything without him. nothing. in fact, sheep that are wild graze with their heads up, always on guard, having to look out for predators. but not sheep with their shepherds. those sheep graze freely with their heads down, knowing they are being looked after. they have full confidence in the fact that they are safe. full confidence, friend.

they also can be led. did you get that? they are a humble creature. they simply follow. you don't hear about the sheep that leads the shepherd. it doesn't happen. they simply follow their Shepherd wherever He leads them, not asking where or why they are headed that way. "c'mon ol' shepherd, that pasture over there looks easier to get to, and the grass is greener, let's just go there, my hooves hurt!" nope. not happenin'. and yes, a sheep may wander sometimes, but that Good Shepherd will do all He can to find it, rescue it, bring it back. (John 18:12-13) ooohh, not sure about you, but i am more than thankful for that truth.

but, how do they know to follow? that's even cooler....the shepherd would come to the pen, full of sheep...some His, some not...and He would make His special call out to them, a whistle maybe, or a certain tone of His voice, and only His, that's right, only His sheep would know to come. they would know because those sheep, though dumb, know their Shepherds voice. (John 10:4-5) how did they know? simple. because they had spent so much time with Him, that's how. John 10 warns us about bad shepherds, which back then, ibelieve was the Pharisees who worked so hard to push their rules and regulations on people. but, nowadays we have a warped culture, religions and people (maybe even your family and friends) all over saying lots of things that are flat out NOT right. "good" people don't get into heaven. you can't "earn" your way in. you can't "buy" your way in. and no, friend, if you are faithful to give, you aren't promised to be "healthy, wealthy and wise" fact, you may be faithful and end up "sick, poor and stupid" but that is when you are to praise Him the loudest. it isn't easy, trust me on that one.... but be careful...don't be led away by bad shepherds...even if they share your same last name.

and that Good shepherd had spent the night, yes, even the darkest of nights, sleeping along that gate, protecting the flock, ensuring nothing got to them, that didn't come through Him first. do you think those sheep slept well? i do. i surely do.

makes your outlook of sheep a bit different, doesn't it? oh how i want to be humble. i want to simply follow Jesus wherever He follows. He certainly doesn't need me nipping at his heels saying "Baaa, Baa, Byyy the way Lord, i'm ready to be healed." or "Baaa, Baaad things are happening to me, Lord, please make them stop!" He knows, friend. He knows. He is aware of it all. He is in control. He is the gate (John 10:7) and nothing comes to us that has not first gone through Him. trust in that. maybe we need to be a little more dumb sometimes. maybe we don't have to have it all figured out. ya think?? isn't that what trust is all about. if we have evidence of something, if we have reasoned it all out and made sense of it, then we no longer need faith for it. we need to simply rest, sleep well, knowing who is guarding the gate....scratch that...who IS the gate...even better.

we should graze with our heads down.

we should simply follow, and stop trying to lead.

we should be thankful for the times He has searched us out and brought us back from wandering.

we should sleep well knowing Who is our gate.

we should accept our dumb-ness and be thankful for His wisdom.

we should spend TIME with Him and in His word so we know His voice.

we should be thankful that He makes us clean from our smelly and dirty sin.

we should remember that we aren't the monkey riding the dog, we aren't even the dog...we are the sheep. be humble and accept that. it isn't really that baaaaaad after all. ;)

Thursday, October 21, 2010

and we got to have faith - a faith - a -faith ahhh

ok, so i am aware that nowadays when someone hears the name of george michael, they may be inclined to think negative thoughts. i get that. he is, um, shall we say...older...yet, had a little "help" in not looking older, maybe. did i say that nicely? and then there's his "life choices" and all of that. ok, i get all that. but, c'mon....anyone who is around my age (especially us girls) can vividly remember the super cool music video from the man back in ' bomber glasses....leather jacket....guitar....ultra rad black and white video, except for the acid washed, holey jeans (quite snugly fitting, too) that were bright blue. way. too. cool....dude. :)

i loved that song. it was so much fun to sing. and i got to have faith-a, faith-a, faith-ahhh...and who can't help but shake a little booty when they hear that rhythm?? now, as an adult, i can see that the lyrics weren't so much about having the kind of faith that i would recommend to you or i, but as a silly, young girl, i had no idea. sidenote: i've found that out a lot in my adulthood is amazing what happens when you listen to a song with "grown up ears" and think, "oh my goodness, that is what they are saying! that is what that song was about!" yikes!

well, friend...let me say to you that my faith-a, faith-a, faith-ahhh has been tested quite a bit lately. today was no different. here i am, on week SIX of being out of the hospital and i don't even want to waste your time with all of the run arounds i have been through. i mean, really. it is almost laughable. almost. ok, not so much.

my pain has only gotten worse. my "medical plan" has become no more clear than it was the day i got home from the hospital. in fact, it has gotten cloudier and muddier day by day.

and today was the straw.

you know the expression...the straw that broke the camel's back. funny visual really...a big ol' fat, ugly, smelly, spittin' camel with straw being stacked on its back. a piece of straw weighs like, what...1/10 of an ounce?? but stack 'em up for a while...all day every day....let's say for about a year or so (ok, i'm actually only at 11 months and three weeks here)...and then there's that straw...that ONE little bitty straw, and that is the one that sends that HUGE animal to its knees. such an interesting phrase. such a powerful visual.

but let's be honest, i have been on my knees for a while, so really not all that accurate for me, eh? :) i genuinely love how God keeps letting me go to my knees and yet He meets me there....every.single.time.

today was the culmination of yet another week of waiting for a procedure that is designed to provide relief for this spinal fluid leak thing. red tape with doctors, mis-communication, all of it has happened. i have been ok. not thrilled, but patient and faithful. i have been thankful for how God has shown me a few victories as to WHY there have been some delays. that has been a blessing. but, i honestly thought this thing would happen this week. (ok, ok, and last week and the week before) but, i'm not kidding friend, i just keep getting a BIG FAT no to so many things i would like to the whole healing thing. yep..big fat no after

so, i am focusing on strengthening my faith right now. it is nighttime. i feel AWFUL, this is my worst time of day. tomorrow is friday, the day i thought this would all be resolved, fixed, "healed" by. and friend, i am strengthening my faith for it. regardless, tomorrow is going to come. and i want to face it with a right heart. a submissive heart. God knows how i have felt this evening since i got the latest big fat no. in fact, He has always known what He gets when it comes to me. He made me.

but tonight i am focusing on faith (a, faith-a, faith-ahhh) :)

i believe that i will be healed. i KNOW i will be back to my "normal" life soon. now, i do not know what "soon" is in His terms. i know for a FACT that they aren't as quick as my terms, and you know what, i have to be ok with that. but i also love what my sweet friend told me recently, "Jesus didn't call us to an impossible life." love that! and it is true, friend. He hasn't allowed anything to come to me that He won't deliver me through, or give me strength to endure. and can i be frank with you?? God must think i am a stinkin' body builder lately. :) i don't feel like i'm that strong, but i do trust Him.

mark 11:22-24 tells us to "Have faith in God, Jesus answered. I tell you the truth, if anyone says to this mountain, 'Go, throw yourself into the sea,' and does not doubt in his heart but believes that what he says will happen, it will be done for him. Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours."

important things about this verse....Jesus is telling us to have faith, plain and simple. and i believe it is important to speak out this faith, which is why i am telling all of you lovely people that i will be healed. your mouth is very powerful and what comes out of it is too. i have heard the analogy of a parent saying that their child wanted a new pair of shoes. so the mom told them that soon they would go get new shoes. how do you think that parent would feel if for the next two weeks, all that child did was walk around saying "i won't ever get those shoes! i'm going to be barefoot forever! everyone else has shoes and i have nothing!" that wouldn't really help the process would it? as a mom, it wouldn't make me want to go out and buy shoes for my kiddo. but what if that child spent those two weeks saying every chance they got, "i can't wait to get those shoes! i know you will get them for me and i am already so thankful for them! those will be the best shoes ever!" change of heart. change of attitude. change of faith.

now, we are blessed that God is a better parent than we are. He doesn't react to our impatience like i would as a mom. and i don't think he is sitting up there waiting for me to "pray the right prayer" or "say the right thing". i do KNOW that He is allowing this for whatever reason that i can't understand and so until then, i will just have to wait for my "shoes" and only i can choose how i wait for it.

i do believe that i will be healed. i do not doubt. in fact, i believe that i have received it, whether i see it in my body yet or not!

in fact, hebrews 11;1 says to do that..."Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see."

trust me, i do NOT see it, or feel it for that matter. but, i believe it. i am certain of it.


now i will just wait. again. His timing is best. my timing is not.

the sooner we (maybe you don't struggle with this as i do?!) realize that He can be trusted with every little and big thing...the sooner our faith grows even more...we release that bigger, stronger faith...and then we act accordingly. we SHOW that faith by walking day in and day out with whatever comes our way. or, in some cases, we LIE DOWN day in and day out....with whatever comes our way. all the while, strengthening our faith-a, faith-a, faith-ahhhh. :)

Sunday, October 17, 2010

my feet are clean and sweet

not sure about you, but there are those things that my folks say that have stuck with me...

to this day, my dad still calls me "toots", which is pretty funny and cute. he also now calls my sweet little baby girl that, but she really is a little toot...i'm sure i was not. (ya sure)

my mom always woke me up in the morning with the exact same inflection in her voice as she entered my room, kinda sing-song-ish..."caroliiiine" fun. and yes, i sing-song the same to my girl..."abigaaaiill" it fits perfectly. :)

also, my mom always asked me when i got out of the bath if was "clean and sweet"? i'm not sure which one she wanted to be more true, the clean or the sweet? but i always answered with an emphatic "yes!" because i was pretty sure i was always both clean, and of course, sweet. :) so, i, without even planning to, always ask my kiddos that once they are bathed if they are "clean and sweet"? they, too, always answer with a yes. we are really quite sure of ourselves aren't we!?! :)

well....friend, today, as i lie here on my couch for the 2,924th day (a slight exaggeration) i have an empty house....a quiet house....well, fairly quiet, really. my sweet husband is happily banging around outside in the garage even as i type. our kiddos have been kidnapped. now, before you sound the alarm, it is just a metaphorical term i'm using....i know the kidnappers pretty well, so i'm good with it. :) the amazing members of our home group at church called me up last week and said they were going to be picking up our kids after church and taking them for the ENTIRE day, on sunday and bringing them back home in time for bedtime. huh!?! i didn't know what to say. i just cried. (i know, shocking!)

now, the "old me" would have panicked about the thought of other people driving my kiddos all over town town, watching them at a huge public place, feeding them (i have one with severe food allergies), just having all three of them for the entire day! ooohhhh, that would have been torture for me. literally. a day FULL of worry. actually, to be completely honest, i probably couldn't have done it. isn't that awful? what bondage worry and fear can be. uughh! it is awful!! but, thank God....that was the "old me". well, pretty much, it was. :) ok, it is pretty much the old me, but the old me doesn't live that far away from the new me and he sure does like to call up the new me and remind me of how i used to be at times like these! :( the "new me" has chilled out. some. i mean, the kids are gone, aren't they? :) i did put a little piece of paper in the boys pockets saying "if lost call this number", but is that unreasonable?? (don't answer that) i did have worrysome thoughts. i'm just being honest here. my first thoughts were on the awful movie screen that runs through my mind often enough of all the terrible things that could happen. uugggh! but PRAISE GOD i cast them down and replaced them with happy thoughts. man, my kids are going to have a blast! man, oh, man does ryan deserve these hours of freedom more than anyone in the world! and i hugged them tight, kissed them a bunch, covered their little heads with prayer and i....let...them...go.

yes, i trust the people they are with very much, i honestly wouldn't do this with just people i just"kinda" know. but, honestly friend, this is a big step for me today. and when i was talking about it to my sweet friend that would have the boys all day, she (an elementary principal and her hubby a police officer...i mean, c'mon, my kids are totally secure!) assured me that this was allowing them (my friends) to take part in a blessing as well. she reminded me, so wisely, about when Jesus was washing His disciples feet and how He humbled Himself to serve them. He wanted to serve them. He needed to serve them. to show them. little did they they could serve other. but, good ol' peter insisted "no, way jose...Jesus, you're not washing my feet!" (see john 13) to which Jesus replied "unless I wash your feet, you have no part with me." and so peter replied, "then not just my feet, but my head and my hands as well!"

that is so me. not wanting to let people bless me. i am sure peter didn't feel worthy to have his Lord washing His feet. i am sure peter didn't think at all that Jesus should be humbling Himself like that, especially not for him. i find it quite ironic that the very man whose feet got soaking wet WITH Jesus walking out on that water, didn't trust Jesus enough, even still, to just let him get his feet wet this one more time.

oh, how i can relate to peter.

i don't feel worthy of people serving me. i am sure it is a double edged sword for me. and such an odd combination, too. for me, i think it is partly an insecurity thing...not thinking i deserve all thsi serving at all especially over and over and over like i am having to accept from people right now during this time. but, oddly, on the other hand, it is a pride thing...not wanting others to be in control of my life, my kids, they can't do it all as well as me. that probably makes no sense. welcome to my world. when i invited you here, i should have warned you it often makes no sense here. but, hey, the food is good. :) (or at least i think it is, but my food tastes are weird, and if you've read other posts, you know that...ha!)

anyway, i can sooooo relate to peter in the fact that he sat there and watched Jesus wash other disciples' feet...i close my eyes and imagine that it was a very moving sight. in fact, i know it was. i took part in a foot-washing ceremony once at women's retreat. it was unbelievable, and it wasn't my Savior doing it. i really cannot even imagine. but...still....peter says no. no, Jesus, you can't wash my feet. not mine. thankfully he had enough sense to change his mind when Jesus made His point clear. i, too would have said something like that..."bring on the dunking-booth Jesus, get me soaked, i'm yours! sorry for what i said before! i'm diving in!" again, i'm so visual, so i kinda picture Jesus shaking his head at peter (like i'm sure He does at me all the time) and saying (loosely translated by me) "no, you've had a bath, peter, you just need your feet washed, silly" in other words, to me, don't overdo aren't who you were. you aren't that dirty. c'mon, i know you best. i know what needs cleaning. just trust me, here.

and when my friend described to me how they wanted to do something practical for us like Jesus did, it touched me. i love and appreciate SO much all the prayers people have been putting up for us. it is priceless to know how many people have been on their knees for us. talk about humbling. but, as my dear friend pointed out, Jesus also did the practical. and she was right. it was customary in that day for a servant to wash the feet of the men at the table because of the way they reclined at the low table, their dirty feet would be right in the face of the person eating next to them. their feet had to be cleaned. and Jesus wanted to be the one to do it. in fact, i LOVE how john says it in verse one "having loved his own who were in the world, he now showed them the full extent of his love." then he goes on to tell how Jesus humbled Himself to wash their feet. then Jesus asks them if they know why he did what he did. i am sure he wanted to make sure they didn't think it was JUST so they'd have clean feet for this meal. he tells them flat out in verse 16 "no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. " they loved Jesus so much and served Him, and now He was telling them they were to serve all. then, He takes a minute to call Judas out, cause let's face it, he wasn't paying attention anyway. Jesus knew that. but, to me, it's sad that the one with the dirtiest feet there missed out. but, then He tells them something new (verses 34-35) "a new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another."

love. serve and love. THAT is how they will know you are mine. that is how they'll know. not the preaching. not the miracles. not the money you give. not the wisdom. love. that's how they'll know.

but, the two....loving and serving....they completely go hand in hand, friend.

and can i tell you how unbelievably loved and served i have been these last months and months. people have prayed. and people have completely and practically served and loved. i am so thankful that God has been stripping me of so much of this junk. and yes, it is still hard to be the one that people are still having to help out so much. i SO look forward to it being my turn to bless others as i have been blessed. but, for now, i just keep trying to humble myself and accept this blessing.

and my heart is SO full hearing my sweet husband banging around outside. he MORE than deserves this day. i can't even remember the last time he had six hours to himself to do projects, chores, or anything on his own, really. it has been waaaay too long. i am most thankful for that today.

so....where are you at with all of this, friend? are you like me...with feet that are "clean and sweet"? thank Him for that.

or are your hands wet from washing? may our great God bless you for that.

oooh, are you dry on all ends? i sure hope not.

but, if so. that can change. be practical. find someone to bless. it is easy. and more than rewarding. do it is His Name and be blessed. don't do it for the blessing. do it because He has already blessed you.

"oh, but i'm not creative, i don't know what to do."

fine, i'll help you.

put a $20 in an envelope for a friend and put no return address on it and just label it "babysitting money", and maybe they can then go on a date!

get a gift card to a restaurant near someone's house and leave it on their front porch, that will surely make one dinner easier for them.

flowers. plain and simple. daises make anyone's day brighter. they are, after all, the friendliest flower! :) (that was for you, dana!) :)

who couldn't use a wal-mart gift card!?! or target? or payless?

buy lunch for the person in the drive thru line behind you. that is one of my favorites!! that blesses the person working at the window, too. just watch their face when you tell them what you're doing and WHY! God gets the glory here, people!

maybe your budget squeaks it is so tight...i totally can relate. you can get a card of encouragement at the store for less than a dollar. look up a few verses for them, write them on note-cards so they can tape them up around their house or carry them in their car...and mail it. that is less than $2. you can afford that. if you can't let me know, i will send you the $2, and i mean that.

goodness, where did you get such great ideas?? i'm telling you, friend. my feet are VERY clean and sweet. they have been for months because of amazing friends and family.

God wants us to wash people's feet. maybe not literally. maybe so. only you know what He wants you to do.well, only you and Him, that is.

as for me...i lie here with a full heart hearing my hubby mowing the lawn now. i haven't texted once to check on my kids. that is big, people. big. and my feet are "clean and sweet". i am blessed. and friend, so are you.

proverbs 14:21 "He who despises his neighbor sins, but blessed is he who is kind to the needy."

proverbs 22:9 "A generous man will himself be blessed, for he shares his food with the poor."

jeremiah 17:7 "But blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, whose confidence is in him."

psalm 41:1 "Blessed is he who has regard for the weak; the Lord delivers him in times of trouble."

psalm 89:15"Blessed are those who have learned to acclaim you, who walk in the light of your presence"

psalm 119:2 "Blessed are they who keep his statutes and seek him with all their heart."

psalm 128:4 "Thus is the man blessed who fears the Lord."

Thursday, October 14, 2010

three and a half forever...

so recently, my sweet hubby and i got a phone call that we had hoped to get for a while. that's right, ladies and gentlemen, a video we submitted months ago had been picked to be on america's funniest home videos. :) we are big fans of the show (not always of the people in the video clips, of course). my man especially has watched it from way back in the bob saget beginning days of the 1990's. it is often hilarious and silly and fun. and over the years, there are a few life lessons we have gleaned from the show, just so you know...

1. standing on top of a table is almost never, ever a good idea

2. trampolines absolutely do have a weight limit and a certain lifespan for safety

3. boys brains leave their bodies from about age 12 through age 18 (and sometimes significantly longer)

4. holding a newborn baby above your head after they've eaten is not wise - ever!

5. a pinata must be clear of people in a 32 foot radius in every direction to ensure absolute safety

6. at a wedding you can expect one of the following to happen: a unity candle catching someone on fire, a groomsman passing out, a flower girl tantrum, something awkward being pulled out from under the bride's dress instead of the garter, or a silly mess of cake all over a dress she spent months picking out and paid more for than any other item of clothing her entire life

and last but not least...

7. clearly no one from CPS has ever, ever watched the show...ever, or the whole thing would have been shut down decades ago

anyway...we got picked and a video of our sweet son was going to be on the show. we didn't get picked as a finalist, but still, we were excited. and the video of our then two-year-old jacob being blown in the face with a leaf blower was absolutely hilarious. and no, i am not biased. :) it really was. and yes, CPS did not need to be called, the kid loved it! :) anyway, since we didn't "win", it got us thinking about the other clip we always said we'd send in someday. and me, with all this "spare time" on my hands decided to search the external hard drive on our computer for it. it didn't take long to find because i remembered the exact date the video was taken. how could i remember that, you ask? that's easy....

the video was taken on our eldest son, jacob's fourth birthday. ryan and i video each child as we wake them up, singing happy birthday each year. we have done that each year for each kiddo, and this year was no different...or so we thought. as it turned out, it was quite different. so, we go in and start singing to him "happy birthday to you, happy birthday to you..." and all of a sudden, from the darkness of our adorable, precious first-born we hear, "NO! NO!" at first, ryan and i thought jacob was dreaming or not quite fully awake. he is, shall we say, a bit more like his daddy in the fact that he needs a bit more time before he prefers to be "cheerful" most mornings. (finally, a less desirable quality that our kids didn't get from me!!:) anyway...we kept singing and sure enough jacob started crying and saying "NOOOOO!!!" we stopped and asked him what was going on, to which his sweet little voice replied "i don't want to be four years old!"

what!?! we were shocked! the kiddo had already had his birthday party at the bounce house, which was (thankfully) a huge hit..which is more than i could say for his third birthday disaster at chuck-e-cheese...don't even get me started about how terrified the kid was of chuck-e and how he had his eyes closed the ENTIRE time, yes, even opening presents and blowing out his candles! ugh. we could probably send that video in, too, in fact! we were shocked, he had been so excited about being four, at his party, all the build up to the big day and everything and now this!?! so we asked him..."why buddy, why don't you want to be four years old?" and the conversation went a bit like this....

j: "cause i don't want to have a lost tooth."

us: "well buddy that doesn't happen until you are at least five."
(but for the record, in his logical brain, four was one step closer to five, so that was bad enough! not sure where the kid learned to worry like this!??!ugh)

j:"well i don't want to be four either!" (tears)

us:" well, buddy what do you want us to do?"

j:" change me back into three!"

us:" we can't buddy! you are four today."

j:"well then, get a magic wand."

us:" magic wands aren't real jacob, that is just on tv."

j:" but i don't want to be a grown up. i don't want to grow and grow!" (more tears)

us:" you aren't a grown up buddy, you are only four years old! you won't be a grown up for a long time!"

j:" well i just want to be three and a half forever!!" (lots more tears)

oh was absolutely pitiful. funny sort of, because he was just precious with his little speech impediment that he couldn't quite say his "r's" and his sweet, innocent round face. but really it was just sad. i left out a LOT of the story. we tried to remind him about how God made his body to get bigger and stronger each year and how silly it would be is mommy and daddy were still three and a half. and how his best buddy was four and how exciting it is to be four...we even tried to appeal to his naturally greedy child self and talk about all the four year old presents he'd have to give back if he wasn't four, but he didn't care. he pouted and cried and insisted that he wanted to be three and a half forever.

sounds so silly, doesn't it? so childish. but as i watched the video again and again, it hit me so square in the face....ooohhh, we do that, don't we??

we pout. we cry. we kick and we scream at God about things that we simply cannot change.

maybe you don't. but i sure do.

but i don't wanna be sick, God. (tears)

i don't wanna spend one more stinkin' day on this couch. (more tears)

why can't i just be healed already!?!?!

why in the world didn't you heal me in time to go to that women's conference? it's a women's conference, God where i get to learn all about you?!? why would you not want me to go to that???

i'm tired of having bills pile up. why do i have to have all this stress in my marriage? why can't my husband treat me like "so-and-so's" husband does? these extra 35 pounds are awful. i am sick, do i have to feel fat and ugly too, seriously!?! what is the deal with these doctors, why can't they just figure this out? i don't want to be sick, God! i want to be happy and healthy forever! change me back into "me" again!!

again, maybe you don't do this. maybe you don't whine about how much your husband does or does not make. maybe you don't complain about how someone else has characteristics that you just don't possess. maybe you don't pitch a fit about your life at all. good for you! unfortunately, i can't say the same.

the fact is this, friend. ryan and i love jacob so much. we love each of our children, obviously. but jacob is our firstborn and there is something special about that. of course, there is something super special about our adorable middle child and our precious baby too. but, the point is that we love him so much. we would do anything him. but, on august 31st, of 2008 there wasn't anything we could do for him, he was four years old and that was that. we listened to his concerns and his feelings. we validated them. we comforted him. but in the end, we had to tell him that he was in fact, four and the best thing he could do was try to have a happy heart about it.

i've heard it said that "you can get happy in the same panties you got mad in."

so true.

life is tough, friend. there is a lot that is going to happen to us that we are not going to like. i have seen that a lot lately. in fact, today marks the day i was supposed to be taking a wonderful road trip with a lifelong best friend to new mexico to spend the weekend with an another amazing college best friend at the women's conference that SO many people have been praying for me to be healed enough to go to. we had the faith, that is for sure. but, i am not healed. i am not there. you wanna know where i am?? on. my. stinkin. couch. shocking isn't it? ok, not so much. and you know what? i do not know why. i may never know why. you know what else?? the mayo clinic denied my case. can you even believe that? i have applied for a re-review, but still...denied!?! really God? ugh.

i have said it before, friend. Jesus actually promises from His very own mouth that this world will bring us trouble (john 16:33) but He also promises that He has overcome this world. don't know about you, but i am so thankful for the second half of that verse.

ask yourself how much time you spend wishing you were three and a half forever. what is it in your life that you just can't seem to get over? you just can't seem to be happy about? can you change it? then can i just look into this screen with a humble heart and tears in my eyes because i know how hard it can be sometimes and say, with LOVE....maybe you should just try to get over it? can you get happy in the same panties you got mad in? i encourage you to. life is too short, friend.

God is God. he doesn't need your help figuring all this out. and He really doesn't need my help. trust me, i've offered it up plenty of times. He consistently and politely refuses.

i've heard it said that "He wants for you what you would want for you if you knew what He knows."

trust in that. rest in that. embrace everything He allows into your life as best you can. i know it is hard. trust me, i know. but, He will help you. Psalm 28:7 says "the Lord is my strength and shield, my heart trusts in Him and i am helped." see...He'll help you. :)

Psalm 29:11 says "the Lord gives strength to His people. the Lord blesses His people with peace." what a blessing it is to know that! i can live without a lot, but peace, I NEED!!

in fact, matthew 6:8 says "do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask Him." sigh. nice to know. :)

now, go blow out those four candles and have a happy birthday! :)

Monday, October 11, 2010

freak out or peace out

have you ever noticed how jumpy little wildlife can be?? ok, i know this is random, but really? have you? i live on a fairly quiet street...and in case you haven't read my other posts...we happen to have a lot of trees on our property. if you have read my other posts, you may go ahead and insert your comment here. (uh-oh, here she goes about her trees again) :) i do love my trees, but that is not what this about, this time.

but really...these trees and their little animal friends were here long before we were. i am sure this was a beautiful and dense forest before some dude came along with a bulldozer in the early 1980's and made hickory hollow lane. thankfully, thousands of the trees were spared, each lot still has a hundred or so, i there is still ample room for the common furry friend to make his home and his fellow feathered friend as well. but, i must say...they sure do spook easy, these little guys.

back in my mobile days, when i was all over my property with the kids, i can recount many a time when i would be walking, minding my own business, even on the sidewalk for goodness sake...and then all of a sudden, AHHHH!!! a squirrel would dart from out of nowhere, almost covert ninja like, somehow right from under my foot and shoot across the grass, in two different directions, like a pinball clinging back and forth in a pinball machine, then propel its little self up and around the side of one of my glorious oak trees. all in 3.2 seconds flat. whew! it would make my breath catch in my throat and my heart skip a beat each time. and often, i felt the need to say "hey little buddy, i was just walking here, just taking the mail to the mailbox, dude.... i wasn't trying to hurt you, i didn't even see you there, don't freak out, man!"

but, that's not even the worst of it, sometimes, in fact, that was just the beginning. sometimes, that little furry guy would no sooner have scurried himself up to a safe distance away from me (his apparent mortal enemy), and then he would cause a freak out himself. he'd scramble out on a branch and then whoosh, a couple of our feathered friends would get spooked and then, squawking, would fly around in a frenzy, which, believe it or not, would sometimes freak their "next-nest" neighbor birds out in a nearby tree. i swear i could almost hear them "holy bird flu, what's going on at the robin's nest again, what's that noise? we're being attacked!! protect the eggs! protect the eggs!" (i know, i know, i'm a dork)

but, seriously....all this because i walked along my sidewalk to take the mail out. talk about an un-needed freak out. good thing i'm more stable than that. (insert sarcasm here)

the reason i bring this up is because i read something amazing recently that really stuck with me and God brought it to mind just this morning. why this morning? i'll explain that later. first, let me share with you what i read.

i found it in a book i was reading by joyce meyers called "battlefield of the mind" and she was talking about having a worried and anxious mind. obviously something i can't relate to at all. (again, me with the sarcasm) is the direct quote from her book......

"concerning entering God's rest i would like to say this: there is no such thing as "the rest of God" without opposition.
to illustrate, let me share a story i once heard about two artists who were asked to paint pictures of peace as they perceived it. one painted a quiet, still lake, far back in the mountains. the other painted a raging, rushing waterfall which had a birch tree leaning out over it with a bird resting in a nest on one of the branches.
which one truly depicts peace? the second one does, because there is no such thing as peace without opposition. the first painting represents stagnation. the scene it sets forth may be serene; a person might be motivated to want to go there (um, yes, me=motivated! i'll go there!!) to recuperate. it may offer a pretty picture but it does not depict "the rest of God."
Jesus said "peace i leave with you; my [own] peace i now give you and bequeath to you. not as the world gives do i give to you"... (john 14:27) His peace is a spiritual peace and, and His rest is one that operates in the midst of the storm -- not in its absence. Jesus did not come to remove all opposition from our lives, but rather to give us a different approach to the storms of life. we are to take His yoke upon us and learn of Him. (matthew 11:29) that means that we are to learn His ways, to approach life in the same way He did."

did you notice that this little bird she described is peaceful? resting calmly in its nest. no freak out there. i know they say pets start to take on the characteristics of their owners, but surely that doesn't count for the wildlife around my house...or does it? if so, my furry and feathered friends don't stand a chance! :)

but, when i read this, it was profound....truly. as i have said many times before, i am an incredibly visual person. i truly feel like this has been a burden and a blessing. the enemy has used this in the past when i can't get a hold of a family member and i get worried, i have a running movie screen playing in my mind...i've pictured, literally, the car accident, or the fire, gotten the call, had to plan the funeral, tell my children...all of it. it is awful. not at all how God intended my creative and visual brain to be used, but welcome to my sometimes awful reality. our great God, however, uses this unbelievably visual brain of mine for great good sometimes. like this time. i can literally smell the water raging behind this little bitty bird. i can hear the raging waters. i can feel the pounding of the waves below and the reverberations as they hit the weak little birch tree branch i dangle on. you see...i am that little bitty bird. am i resting peacefully, though? i guess that depends on the day...the hour...the minute.

today i received some discouraging news. to make a loooong story short(er)....i was "supposed" to have a procedure done two fridays ago....a procedure by the way, that should help me out tremendously and maybe even heal this current issue, or at least provide quite a bit of relief...but due to some mis-communication between two doctors offices, it didn't happen. so, a few days later, i was calling to find out why, discovered the mis-communication....ok, no big deal...gonna hold my peace. ok, well, let's just get the two doctors talking and then we will be fine. but, then i found out that one doctor is out of town on vacation for a week. so, wait some more. ugh. is the day (now, 12 days later) that i should be able to get a hold of the docs and clear it all up and schedule the procedure. i had planned to call the doc at 9am and get this going. but, alas, my phone rang at 8:04am and it was his office! cool!! i thought. not so much. instead of the good news i was expecting, i found out that the two docs did in fact talk and they feel that we should wait some more, we should not in fact, even do the procedure. let's just wait for the mayo clinic to get back to us. i was thinking relief would finally come. and now, i am left to just wait some more. still in pain. still no answers. still no end in sight. and for those of you who have been praying for the last month...this thursday marks the day i was supposed to go to that women's conference with my dear friend from college at her church. supposed to. barring a flat out miracle between then and now, which i completely believe could happen...i will not be going. i still cannot even sit up. talk about my desire to just flat out wanna freak out. ugh.

so, here i am...dangling out on my birch tree branch...being splashed in the face, once nest is eggs are soaked...daddy bird is beyond weary from taking care of us all....but friend, i must choose to rest. i must.

the other option is to leave the nest. but, what good would that do? opposition would follow. if it isn't a raging waterfall, it would be a forest fire, or for goodness sake, a freaked out squirrel. and my faith would be no stronger.

i was upset at first. i won't lie. bummed. frustrated. confused. sad. but, then, i had a great moment this morning when God gave me a wonderful praise song i was able to blare ridiculously loud (my folks took the kids to run errands, so it was just me here!) i thought these lyrics were amazing and fit so well with where i was today. not sure about you, but i often am spoken to through lyrics as well. i love it!

this is from the band - fee - and the song is "everything falls"

You said
you'd never leave or forsake me
when you said,
this life is gonna shake me
you said
this world is gonna bring trouble on my soul
this I know

when everything falls apart
your arms hold me together
when everything falls apart
you're the only hope for this heart
when everything falls apart
and my strength is gone
I find you mighty and strong
you keep holding on
you keep holding on

when I see
darkness all around me
when I see
that tragedy has found me
I still believe
your faithful arms will never let me go
and still I know

when everything falls apart
your arms hold me together
when everything falls apart
you're the only hope for this heart
when everything falls apart
and my strength is gone
I find you mighty and strong
you keep holding on
you keep holding on

i encourage you to look it up and listen to it. it is powerful and has a very cool violin part, i love. i pretend to play the "air violin" - which i know isn't quite as "cool" as the air guitar, but still, it's cool. and so true. my strength is beyond gone, friend. but i find Him mighty and strong. He does keep holding on....when everything falls apart. this is a promise for me and for you.

john the baptist tell us in his gospel that Jesus said (16:33) ""I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world."

and this written by a guy who got his head cut off about a guy who was hung on a cross. i'm thinking my troubles aren't as bad.

and this isn't a "maybe" things will be tough. it is a promise from Jesus' own mouth. this world isn't going to be easy. sorry, i'm not trying to be negative or pessimistic. trust me, that is not my nature. in fact, to a fault, i am usually a blind optimistic. which is why i choose to focus on the end of the verse more...HE has overcome this world. whew. thank goodness!!!

so, i will stick this out. and dear friend, i encourage you to do the same. don't freak out. let's me and you be like those hippies of the 70's man, and just pace out, man, peace out. :) like i always say...your deal right now may not be health issues. maybe you are having drama with your finances, or your marriage, or your job, or your kids, or your parents. i don't know. i know Who does know, though. the One who rested amidst the storm Himself while His 12 buddies did the freak out thing. (mark 4) the One who knows exactly where you are... in this very nest, by this very raging, rushing waterfall. He knows. so...don't pray for the stagnant lakeside serene painting. faith is not grown there. just rest. and i will try to do the same.

peace out, man. :)

Friday, October 8, 2010

i am not alone

here first, i will write a VERY brief (ya sure, it is me here) medical update so that you can sort of understand what in the world has been "wrong" with me....(feel free to skip this first part if you know it all already or don't feel like hearing it all!)

almost exactly three years ago i got viral meningitis. i was pricked six times (ouch!) for the spinal tap and then i developed what they call "spinal headaches" from that, due to a leak in my spinal fluid. this leaking causes the pressure in your head to change because your brain is no longer being cushioned by spinal fluid that is leaking out and causes severe headaches when you are upright, but is relieved when lying down because leaking is much less. so, i got two blood patches (where they take blood from your arm and shoot it into your spine in hopes that it clots) to "patch" up the leak. i suffered a bulging disc and serious numbness in my arms and legs for a year after that every time i lied down, and then it kinda all went away, sort of. then, last november i got the spinal headaches again (this time i knew exactly what they were since i had them in the past) and after months of being flat on my back because the doctors weren't convinced that's what it was (it "didn't make sense" to them why i'd be "leaking" again two years after the awful spinal tap) i had two more blood patches and the headaches went away. but, also at that same time, i had NO energy, literally couldn't lift my limbs to move or walk at all. they did blood tests and discovered i had ZERO cortisol in my body. this is the stress hormone that helps you get out of bed, deal with stress, illness, "fight or flight" reaction, basically function in life...and i had none. they concluded that my pituitary gland was failing to tell my adrenal gland to make the stuff. ( i know, i know...what are those glands? just go with me here, it is too much to explain and it goes beyond my knowledge of the hip bone's connected to the thigh bone) they jacked me up on WAY too much steroids (hydrocortisone- the fake version of cortisol) and told me it was all unrelated. so, for months i had to deal with the AWFUL effects of having WAY too much steroids in my body and having to taper this drug lower and lower every few weeks. i went into adrenal crisis a few times and was hospitalized because any time i got real sick, or got a ruptured ovarian cyst, for instance, (SO not cool!) my body couldn't react. fast forward about eight months and this summer i began to have the spinal headaches again, yes...again. i went back to hospital again, this time for 16 days while they ran tons of tests and still decided it was "just" a spinal fluid leak. they tried two more blood patches and apparently they didn't work. that was four weeks ago and i am still flat on my back, in serious pain every time i get up for more than about 5 minutes. whew. (yes, that really was the short version)

now...back to the good stuff :)

so, lately i have a lot, and i do mean A LOT of time on my back and with the ability to be on the computer. now, i honestly don't just lie around and watch tv and play on facebook all day. what a waste that would be. in fact, i don't do either that much at all during the day...for lots of reasons. believe it or not, that gets OLD very quickly. there is nothing good on tv during the day, and one can only watch so much hgtv, friend. and, being that my friends are not also lying around all day on their facebook, it isn't much fun to not be updated every minute or two. but, the main reason is because my wonderful parents are here with either abigail and/or benjamin during the day and i want to be a part of it. often, they are just fine with only nana and grandpa ( that hurts a bit... ok, it hurts a lot) but i do try to get them to interact with "mama on the couch" as much as possible. but, they are four years and eighteen months old so, that gets old for them, pretty quickly. they wanna run around, play games all over the house, go outside, etc. understandable. still hurts mama, though.

anyway...i was actually on the computer the other day and decided to research online what i was going through. now, for those of you who have ever had a medical drama of any kind, you know this can be dangerous. often, you find out waaay more than you wanted to know. you can look up three harmless symptoms and find out that you are for sure either the carrier of a 1 in a million chance of liklihood rare disease that gives you three months to live, and those same symtoms might turn up that you have a foot fungus, go to walgreens and get some anti-itch cream and it will be gone in a week. who knows. it is retarded really. and something i have tried not to do too much in all these months and months, because honestly, it can be dangerous. there is a fine line between being your own advocate, researching for yourself or taking every thing the doctor says as truth, and then obsessing over this thing. anyway...i hadn't been online about it all in a while and wanted to see if there was anything else i could be doing to help heal this spinal fluid leak to heal. (i was pretty sure i knew the answer, (wait and PRAY!) but i felt the desire to check...thank you holy i know why!)

i was looking around at some results that came up...some people who had gone through similar history as mine, some way worse, others not as traumatic...and how their doctors treated it...what worked, what didn't, etc. then, i found a link to a facebook group that someone had made specifically for spinal fluid leakers. interesting. i was intrigued. so, i got on my fb account and looked the group up. i couldn't believe it. 256 members. whoa. i read through pages and pages of posts of people who were going through what i was going through RIGHT NOW and how they were supporting each other, updating each other, giving advice to each other, praying for each other, just being there for each other. it was unbelievable. and you know what i did?? that's right, i cried. (shocker, i know) it is hard to explain what it was like to see that there were other people out there describing the exact same pain i am in. some of them were on the other side of it, but still posting comments for the "rest of us" to help us get through. wow.

one girl has been bed-ridden for 18 months and just found out that her daughter inherited this disease (likely makes her susceptible to a weak dura, or lining around spinal chord, and causes problems like mine) and has a tumor now...her 10-year old daughter. so sad.

one girl had been flat on her back for 56 days and had to postpone her wedding. her wedding!! can you imagine?? she was praising God because she was feeling better now, her leak had healed and she will be married next week. what a joy everyone on the page shared with her and they couldn't wait to see pictures!

i posted my story and heard back from people within an hour. i was stunned. they were so compassionate and understanding and they KNEW exactly what i was feeling and going through. all of it. they opened up their lives to me immediately!! they were kind, empathetic, had great advice...and they were just THERE for me, ya know??? in fact...i met three women who had even had the adrenal crisis that i have had too at the same time. I COULDN'T BELIEVE IT!! they explained to me how it is all related. (yep, insert more tears here) all this time, my doctors have said that my two "problems" were "un-lucky" and un-related. i didn't believe it. i just knew it couldn't be. now i knew that there were others who had the same issues i had. and it gave me a whole new sense of hope.


i love Jesus. so, i have always had hope. well, maybe i shouldn't say always. always is what we call in our house, a "strong" word. i have had my less-than-hopeful moments here and i am sure you can imagine, over the last year or two...or three. but, overall, i have remained hopeful...for sure. why? because i have faith. they go together. hebrews tells us that.... "now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see." (heb. 11:1) i am hopeful of my healing, although i do not see it right now. i am certain God is with me even though i do not see Him physically.

but, oh do i see Him.

i saw Him through my computer screen yesterday. this had Him written all over it. for sure. i can't do anything but grin from ear to ear and thank Him for this gift.

i sit here now though (ok, i lie here) and ache a bit. this has got to be what people who don't know the Lord feel like. they think they have it all together. they are tootin' around in their lives, doing "ok"... but, deep down somewhere they are missing something. they know it. whether they acknowledge it or not is one thing. they might bury it deep, deep, to the darkest part of their hearts...but it is there. God put that longing for Him in each of us. but, friend...what happens when they finally come?? when they meet you??? when they meet me?? when they reach out and find YOUR facebook page???

i can't help but think what would have happened had this group not accepted me? "de-friended" me? if no-one would have written back and tried to relate to me at all?? or if my drama would have been too much for them? oh, that would have crushed me. to finally feel like i may have found a place where others might "get me" and all i've been through...only to find i was wrong...again. oh, that hurts so deep.

a sweet friend of mine came over to help out and "babysit" me :) recently and she was talking about an old boss of hers. he wasn't a very nice man at all. very rough to work for. he treated everyone with rudeness, contempt, arrogance, harsh words, get the idea. he was awful to work for, apparently. then, he got non-hodgkins lymphoma. and he survived it. and you know what...nothing changed. that's right. he went back to being the exact. same. way. and something she said hit me so hard... "you'd think after something like that, it would really change a person and you'd be able to tell a difference!"

whoa. that one got me.

NO...i am not AT ALL comparing my awful last year (or even the pretty rough two years before that, when all this started) to having not mistake me here. not even close. but, i will tell you this....when she said that, later i was replaying it in my head and i thought of myself. ooooohhh how i want to learn every single gigantic, enormous, big ol' thing and every itty bitty minuscule thing He is wanting to teach me through this trial. every. single. thing. i want not one of these days wasted. not a one. oh how i want others to be able to see a huge change in me. huge. bigger than huge. well, i don't want them to see me at all, actually. i want them to see Jesus.

so, friend. no matter where you are. no matter what you are going through or what you have been through. or what you will go through. if you are breathing in and out right now, He's not done working in and through you. be assured of that. in the past, He has tried to teach you things. He has tried to mold you. have you let Him? my answer has been NO so many more times that i would prefer to admit to you.

oh how i encourage you to be like these wonderful "fellow leakers" as they call themselves. be so open with people. don't put up walls. we, as believers should have no walls between us and others who are trying to figure out what it is about us that is "different". we dress up our walls with Scripture and crosses and faux finish...but they still keep people out. ugh. be authentic. God made you the way you are. He makes no mistakes. He didn't get done with you and say to Himself "oh man, that one didn't turn out so great, i'll do better next time. four million three hudredt thousandth time's a charm, eh?!"

maybe you haven't had health issues. but, friend, YOU HAVE ISSUES. i'm willing to bet the ranch on it. and i don't even have a ranch. :)

let Him use it. every last ugly part of it. if it was ugly and now it's not..guess what?? HE gets glory for that! how cool is that!?! if it was ugly and it still ain't pretty, then, well...maybe you should go to Him about it and let Him know something fresh you are thinking and feeling about it. give Him some confessions about it. lay it all out. get that thing pretty, so He can get some glory and the walls can come down.

i have never been alone. i have God. i have an amazing support system. people, who, for some reason (it's gotta be cause they love God, and me, i guess, too) stick right by me through all my drama.

but now i also have fellow leakers. i have a new group to support me. isn't that just like God. He's fed me (the five-thousand) but now He's also gathered up the left-over 12 baskets full (my fellow-leakers) and is not letting one thing be wasted. (see John 6, or any of the gospels, really)

i just love Him. and i love you all, too!!


Monday, October 4, 2010

hold the mayo

oh friends, i have soooo many issues. (shocking, i know) but, i do, for real. :) many of my issues, at least the non-serious ones, have to do with food. i have shared in a past blog or two about some of them...

can't handle smooth texture and crunchy and chunky together...ex: eating yogurt, oh yum, nice and smooth, and then AH! oh wait, a random chunk of something, UGH! no thank you. not happenin' way, no how.

cottage cheese - never, no way, can't handle it. it is spoiled, chunky milk, people!! i can't even type anymore about it. (shudder!)

i don't like my food to touch on the oozing of the ketchup over onto the peas, or the juices from the corn over near the potatoes...yuck! God gave some amazing person the wisdom to invent the divided plate for a reason, people. c'mon.

i have a firm no "funky salad" rule. salad, by sheer definition is leafy and green. the end. no pasta salad. no potato salad. no chicken salad. no tuna salad. (no tuna, ever, actually) no jello salad mold. no molds of any sort. let's keep salad at it's fundamental meaning here, ok? somehow, a long time ago, probably at some baptist pot luck event, this got waaay out of control. it is time to rope this thing back in. can i get an amen? (a nice respectful one from the front row?) i'm only teasing. i LOVE baptists, presbyterians, catholics, non-denominationals...we all serve and love Jesus right? i'm just being silly people, please don't get your Sunday britches in a bunch, ok? :) laugh a little and let's move on....

this leads me to the whole concept of mustard and mayo. not a fan. of either one. people are often astounded of this. they look at me as if i have just told them that i really have a third arm that i have been hiding all this time under my shirt. seriously?? no...i do not like either one at all. and no, i'm not a communist. after they have gathered their composure, i always get the same exact question..."well, what do you eat on a sandwich?" and i always reply "i either put ranch dressing on it (like any good texan would...or at least i did pre-gluten free life) or i" gasp. wide-eyed stare. again, as if i have just shown them the third arm and waved happily to them. people can't imagine a sandwich without mustard or mayo. but, trust me, it ain't half bad.

now, i will admit that i have been a "big girl" and at least tried them both. held my nose to do it, of course, but i did it. and the reason i confess that to you is because there are a lot - and i do mean A LOT - of things that i claim not to like, but i have not technically tried them. i do, however know myself well enough to make it a pretty fair bet that i won't. want a list?

peaches - like the flavor - can't handle the fuzz. c'mon people, fuzz?!?! ugh.

calamari - ain't no way that thing is sliding down my throat. my dad fed it to my darling baby girl, without my knowledge of course. yes, she loved it. i guess she is her daddy's girl.

most chinese food (most "ese" foods actually, as i call them, japanese, tawainese, etc) - i figure if i can't even handle the smell, how could they possible taste any better? see...i do have logic. i have tried and do like the lettuce wraps at pei wei (again, pre-gluten free life) and enjoyed them thoroughly so as to not be a complete loser and embarrassment to my sweet hubby who eats and loves just about anything. poor guy. ( i promise he picked me people, and he loves me, he didn't lose a bet or anything!) :)

i could go on and on, but i am quite sure that you already think me a total fool and i feel sure i've made my point. i am a weirdo. :)

so, when ordering a sandwich, i have become quite accustomed to saying, "hold the mayo"... and eating it dry. and liking it really. but, i must be honest....over these last 11 months, through this medical drama i have been facing...this phrase has been rattling around in my head as something altogether different.

ya see...there is this great place, the mayo clinic, up in rochester, minnesota (which is up north somewhere, yes...i looked it up. my atrocious geography is a hole 'nother blog for a whole 'nother day) that many people dear to me have been subtly (and sometimes not so subtly) mentioning to me..."you just need to go to mayo"..."why haven't you gone to mayo?"..."girl...maybe the mayo clinic can figure it out"...i have heard it all. and these people love me. they mean well, they truly do. i know that. but, i have been responding like i always do, "hold the mayo" dude, i will eat it dry. and trust me, i have been.

if you have read any of these other posts, you know that i have likened these months and months to my own "blessed and blasted wilderness" own journey through a very long, sun-scorched, dry desert with no Promised Land in sight. (where are joshua and caleb when a girl needs them, eh?)

why in the world would you put off going to the mayo clinic you fool?...might be what you are thinking right now. or some nicer (or not nicer) version of that. i have no good answer. or at least none that makes a heck of a lot of sense outside my weirdo brain. but, here's what i've got....

maybe because i didn't want to think things were that bad?

maybe because the thought of having to travel that far and be away from my kids that long again was only for the terminally ill?

maybe because that was a sign of defeat? (see, at least i'm over the pride thing, right!?! ugh.)

maybe because the thought of starting over AGAIN with a whole new set of doctors AGAIN makes me wanna scream?

maybe because it would cost a CRAZY about of money for two people who have already spent a crazy amount of money?

maybe because what if i go there and they can't figure anything out either, then what?

maybe because that place is so amazing, they could find out something worse is really wrong?

silly isn't it. ya, is easy to judge. trust me, i have. i have tried on the distinguished black robe, swiveled around in the big fancy chair, and done it myself. i do NOT reccommend it though. (matthew 7:1-2) and, is hard to explain it unless you are in it...when it is your life so very altered.....and your kids' faces asking the questions again and again....and your arms full of bruises from yet another round of iv's and is hard to explain to immense difficulty that comes from month after month after month of unanswered questions. you would think i'd jump at the chance to get this over and solved. but you are forgetting that i have a relentless enemy (1 peter 5:8) who is working overtime to keep me under the rule of the ONE THING that drives every one of those questions up you know what that one thing is? do you recognize it from experience? i pray you don't. however, i recognize it as well as my own three armed reflection in the mirror. it is the most awful four-letter word in my is F E A R...and it has been a driving force for me for a good portion of my life. no longer, friend. no longer.

throughout these last months, this fear thing (along with about 14 other things like pride, my controlling nature, patience, humility...the list goes on and on, unfortunately, and on and on) has been the thing God has been working on the most. faith and fear are like oil and water. they do...not...mix. so, for all this time, when i have had these thoughts running around, i have picked fear. yes, i still have faith in God, but in this case, for this instance, i am living in fear and not in faith. and i hate it. so...i am fighting against that now...and fortunately i have help. (psalm 118:7) i have been collecting LOTS of great truth from God's Word about fear and been standing firmly on that....i have been careful about what i think about (phil 4:8) and watch and listen to and read. and God has, obviously been faithful the more and more i seek Him. He's amazing like that. (heb. 10:23 psalm 28:7 deut. 33:27 eph. 6:16 1 cor. 10:13) we are quickly approaching the one year "anniversary" (no, please, no gifts:) of when this all started back up again. yes, it really all began three years ago with an awful case of meningitis and six..that's right...SIX pricks in my back for the spinal tap. that, followed by a year of numbness in my arms and legs every single time i lied down. and one denial from the mayo clinic. that's right. i allowed it back then. i think, i kinda knew they wouldn't take me then. they didn't. now, i think they might. and now i'm not afraid. why?

maybe things aren't really that bad?

maybe the road trip will be fun for ryan and i and maybe i will be the "well-est" (i know, it is so not a real word) person they've seen in a while and be back home quickly?

maybe this is a sign of true victory?

maybe i, or at least my case, will be a blessing to this whole new group of doctors?

maybe insurance will cover the whole stinkin' thing?

maybe they'll figure out the whole thing (adrenal stuff, spinal stuff, all of it!) and how it all relates to each other, finally!?

maybe because this place is so amazing, they'll find the answer to be so minor and so easy we can hardly believe it!?

did you see what i did there friend? i went back. that's right. i went back and i took every thought captive that was made from fear and CHANGED it to one of faith. i encourage you to do the same. it is an action. it takes a conscious decision on your part. but, it is worth it.

be brave.

i love nichole nordeman. some of her lyrics fit perfectly here....(from song,"brave")

The gate is wide
The road is paved in moderation
The crowd is kind and quick to pull you in
Welcome to the middle ground
You're safe and sound and
Until now it's where I've been

'Cause it's been fear that ties me down to everything
But it's been love, Your love, that cuts the strings

So long status quo
I think I just let go
You make me want to be brave
The way it always was
Is no longer good enough
You make me want to be brave
Brave, brave

so, bring it on. bring on the mayo. in fact, can i have extra mayo here please!?! pile it on. layer upon oozy layer. i am ready.

thank you Jesus.


ps. this is figurative obviously. i'm not a fool. i still won't actually eat the stuff. sorry. unless of course, they find that is the cure for adrenal insufficiency and spontaneous spinal fluid leaks...then i will. and personally, i would find that quite ironic. and unfortunate, to be honest. but, i'd do it. i'd hold my nose, but i'd do it. :)

Friday, October 1, 2010

and the one after....

i heard a whole sermon once about looking at the verse after. it was fascinating. this man or woman (i honestly can't remember where i heard this! was it women's retreat? was it pastor bill? my dear friend beth moore?? ok, we aren't really friends, but oh i think we would be fast friends if she lived here! :) but, ugh, i hate it when i can't give credit where credit is due. i can tell you for sure it wasn't me!) anyway, they had taken time to look up all these "famous" verses....sorry, but that makes me laugh, as if some of God's Word is less famous that others. sorry.


ok, so they had taken the ones that lots of people know like John 3:16 and Colossians 3:23 and Jeremiah 29:11....etc. anyway...they did a whole discussion on how ALL of God's world is great and relevant and how sometimes, we, silly little humans (my words, not theirs) get stuck in a rut and only focus on what we know. we constantly go back to the truths we have always gone back to, and sometimes we are missing another equally great truth right there next to it! anyway...this fascinated me and it sort of became a game. so, now, sometimes when i am studying, i will do that just for fun. it doesn't always work out to be beneficial when you get something random, but then you could always try the verse before as well. although, for me sometimes, it becomes a vicious cycle of sorts because then i find a great verse after and think "ok, now i should look at the verse after that!" i guess you can't really have a "vicious" cycle of studying God's Word, can you? :) but, often, you will be shocked at how context can truly help you better understand where your "old faithful" verse you've known and gone back to, is coming from or leading to.

well, i recently (about 10 minutes ago:) wrote all about my life verse, which is philippians 4:6-7 (ooh it feels so comfy and warm to call it that! my life verse! i don't drink hot drinks, but if i did, i would imagine that is what i feel right now)

and now i truly want to share the verse after it with you...i am sure you have heard it...but it is such a good one too...and then, friend...i am going to live it out.

phil. 4:8 "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."

i love this verse, because paul (inspired by God, of course) was covering all bases here and making sure he had everything covered as to what we should be "thinking" on. He knows me too well. for me, anything worth doin' is worth over-doin' i appreciate that He didn't stop at just true...or even just true and noble. He gave us a lot of other options. and also, noteworthy, is the word "think" here....also used as "dwell" in another version. it is the greek word λόγος translated logizomai. from what i could understand, looking it is more of an accounting word... read this stuff i found :) "to reckon inward, count up or weigh the reasons, to deliberate; to consider, take into account, weigh, meditate on; This word deals with reality. If I reckon (logizomai) that my bank book has $25 in it, it has $25 in it. Otherwise I am deceiving myself. This word refers more to fact than supposition or opinion."

ooh, LOVE that. it has more to do with fact.

so....friends....the rest of this blog post will have to do with all of the true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent and praiseworthy things that i should be thinking about and thanking God for on a VERY regular basis.

i encourage you to do the same. take time. (i know, i know...who has time?well, um, you do.) and either write them down, and at least speak them out. be thankful and think (DWELL) on these facts. i am so blessed. and friend, so are you.

ryan. that's it. my sweet hubby...especially over this last year embodies so many of those characteristics. is he perfect? well, no silly. but he is a better person that i am. and i sure do love him and thank God for him!! (plus, he's hot! i know, i know that doesn't matter, but it is true and he's my man and i'm allowed to say it, but again, i know he's gonna kill me :) sorry baby! :)

my jacob. he is six now and getting too big. but there is still that moment first thing in the morning, when he comes out of his room to find me on the couch and he will just crash into me and stay there. letting me hold him, tell him how happy i am to see him and how much i love him and missed him overnight. pure joy there for mama of such a "big boy".

benjmain's joyful spirit. my sweet middle child and how he will run up to me and for no apparent reason say "i love you so much, mommy, i just love you SO much" or "i'm gonna take good care of you, mommy, i promise!". God placed quite a special heart in that boy.

oh sister friend. my darling baby girl, abigail. what a mess she is. a beautiful mess. just like her mama. (the mess part, not the beautiful me, i am not vain!) she is the sunlight in any room. and she flat cracks me up. and can i just say how i love that God made her hair soft golden blonde and curly. i get joy from running my fingers through it. when she stops long enough to let me, that is. :)

the way my backyard sounds when it is just me and the wind and my trees. (i know, i'm obsessed, but i wish you could see...hear...feel it, trust me, you'd get it)

scrambled eggs just the way i like them, made by my loving mom who just does all things just right for me

being served day in and day out by my dad and step-mom, who have sacrificed so much time, sleep, money, LIFE to care for my family. talk about noble.

a letter i received exactly when i needed to receive it that spoke truth and wisdom into me about how much God really loves me, by someone who i can't thank God for enough. (yes, little sister, it is you.:)

cheery yellow flowers in a happy smiley face mug...who could not love that!?! and then daises too! after all, they are the friendliest flower! :)

taking a nice warm bath, and feeling clean and sweet after days of feeling, well, not so much

friend after selfless friend who has taken time out of their busy schedule to come over and help take care of my kiddos, bring us a meal (or three!) throw the ball to benjamin, chase after abigail, drive various kiddos to school, and love on me all at the same time. noble and pure hearts you all have.

my dearest friend and neighbor who calls each and every day to check on me. who knew how God would bless us so much, after 12 years of friendship and now neighbors, raising our kids together, talk about praiseworthy!!!! couldn't be more thankful, just flat couldn't be.

not having to wear makeup for days on end and getting to wear gym shorts and tshirts daily (one for the few perks of my current situation) :)

an anonymous gift, a love offering. whoever you were, wherever you are. i am humbled and so grateful. i hope you got your thank you note. i meant every single word.

hearing that complete strangers are praying faithfully for you...can't describe how humbling that is and how grateful i am.

writing. isn't it amazing when you are in the middle of doing the thing that you feel you were meant to do? it feels right, pure, peaceful, true. i thank God for that. He gets the glory too. (but don't blame Him for the atrocious grammar, and laziness for not capitalizing, that's all me!)

ice cream. enough said there. :)

hearing from someone that you haven't heard from in forever but that you love so dearly. isn't it awesome how God can bless your day so tremendously like that!?! i mean, you just wanna jump through the phone or computer and wrap your whole self around their whole self and sit and talk for a whole day. my life has been filled with those kinds of people.

silly kid talk. hearing jacob read a word wrong but sounds so cute and "big" trying to fix it. benjamin still saying "yogret" instead of yogurt. abigail's sweet voice saying "day-du mama" for thank you, mama. don't you wish you could just trap their little voices in a bottle???? sigh, i do.

puppy dog breath. i know it sounds awful, especially cause i'm not a dog person and i DO NOT mean actual puppy dog breath, because that is gross to me, but for some reason (probably got this from my sweet friend i nannied for in college, i get lots of fun phrases from her, including "sister friend" and "love, love":) that is what i call it when my kids first wake up...they hug you and they have puppy dog breath. so innocent and so sweet.

watching each of my VERY uniquely made, very different kiddos and seeing them grow each day into who they will be. a little of me...a little of ryan....what a joy to be a part of.

a middle of the night hospital visit in the pouring rain by a true man of God, a faithful friend a faithful "tent-maker" :)

text after text with prayer after prayer from step-dad, friends, family, everyone...these truths, this excellent of all of you, so needed by me

watching football with my man and having my kiddos playing all around us their own re-enactment of what is going on, taking turns...yes, even abigail, with the texas tech is hilarious

i am just so blessed friend. i could go on and on and on. i have left out so much. the problem with this type of post is that i will remember more later and want to add on. great problem to have though. to be that blessed. to have that many true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent and praiseworthy FACTS that i can DWELL on.

in my current trial, i can think of no better way to spend, account for, weigh to or reckon my thoughts than by dwelling on all He has done for me. I truly hope you will do the same.

enjoy your day, friend. enjoy.

shopping for a life verse

ok, so have you ever heard of anyone saying that they had a "life verse"?? well, i have, and i was always a little jealous of that. i know, i know...i am awful, aren't i? jealous of a life verse? seriously?? how pathetic can one get? gimme shall see. and ignorance breeds lots of emotions that we aren't intended to have, friend. stick with me.

i didn't get it. i wanted to ask them...where did you get this life verse? was it given to you? assigned to you in children's church and i was absent that day and didn't get my little sticker for attendance? cause c'mon people, i was a good little presbyterian, i went to church every week...i wasn't aware of a life verse.

maybe it was when they were older? maybe when they went to church camp and a super cool counselor with a name like "chief" or "jellybean" gave it to them after a profound experience with God at the age of 12. well, i was always a, BIG time, and wouldn't stay away from home for a week, so that didn't happen. but, shoot...i did WORK at a Christian camp for like almost ten summers...and it was never listed as part of my staff training manual. (ooh, staff training manuals...sorry, gotta take a minute here. if any camp people read this blog, didn't we just LOVE those staff training manuals!?! he he he. by the way, if you didn't return yours, you still owe camp $2..he, he, he!! and yes, i used both chief and jellybean's names on purpose up there!! love love you both!)

was it in youth group maybe....our church growing up didn't really have a "youth group", i was very involved in young life at my high school. was i too busy playing hot potato with raw spam that i missed the "get your live verse here" booth one week at metro or something??

my wedding day, maybe?? barnone one of the best days of my life, but still we didn't dance back down the aisle to james brown's " i feel good" with life verse in hand. ok, maybe when i was baptized as a grown up?? man, that was a very cool day, though! and i got a very cool certificate, but no life verse written on the back. maybe when we dedicated our kiddos in front of the church? again, nice certificate, but no life verse for me...oh shoot..or them either! oh no, now i'm a bad mom, too....ugh!! maybe when i was blessed to get to go on staff at my amazing church?? (if you read, i miss you guys and girls!!) we were asked to use a verse for our password into the computer system. oh man, i bet all the other staff members used their life verses for their passwords. shoot, i wonder if they knew i didn't have one. could i have been a Christian this long and have no idea where to pick one of these bad boys up??? oh man, i've got it!! i didn't go to a Christian school. is that it?? do you think they only pass them out there? i sure hope not. i actually thought that once. so sad, isn't it. i could ask around i guess....but ooohh, that pride thing can be tricky, can't it?? didn't want to see the look on someone's face as if to say "seriously dude, you don't have a life verse by now!?!" well, how about Ez 14:6 " Repent! Turn from your idols and renounce all your detestable practices!" well, clearly pride isn't getting in my way anymore since i am writing about it for all to read.

i have come to terms with the following truth, and i could be would only be like the 2,396 time today (by the way, it is only 9:45am) and i'm ok with that.... it is what it is. but here is what i think....maybe this life verse is something only God can give me. hmmmm. and maybe He's been trying to give it to me for a while now. a looooong while.

can i tell you the verse that has impacted me the most in my entire life? can i tell you the verse that NO MATTER WHAT, i can always quote, word for word...doesn't matter how long it's been? can i tell you the verse that hits me in the eye, through the heart, in the depths of my mind every...single...stinkin'...time??

phil 4:6-7 "Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus."

that is it friend. that is it. man oh man...someday i will open up more to you about how the first five words of that verse have changed my life....seriously, i could write a whole book about it. and if He keeps stripping this pride down and down and down like He is...maybe i will. i could write on and on and about how His faithfulness even just these last few months has LIVED OUT LOUD how His peace alone, which transcends all understanding (in my speak "which makes no stinkin' sense to me!") WILL absolutely guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. again, i could write a whole book about it. not because i have a degree in theology. not because i can ever keep straight if sarai was married to abraham or memory stinks. (i was right! i just looked it up....sarai (sarah) was abram (abraham's) wife and poor jacob had the whole rachel and leah thing going...another story for another blog)...but i could write it because GOD alone has shown off in my life with how He can prove Himself true through even just one verse, not to mention the whole Bible. my life is testimony, friend. trust me.

i am a person of words. i know that surprises some of you. ha.

i have waaaay too many of them for a day. i think this blogging thing blesses my sweet ryan most of all because it allows me to get at least some of my words out of my head and not all over his sweet self in the few minutes and hours we get together a day! :) "hey honey,. i got to write today" huge sigh of relief comes over his face. :) poor thing, didn't stand a chance when he picked me for life.

my point is this. for someone who never ever lacks for words, ever. for someone who has multiple conversations a day with me, myself and i...quite witty conversations by the way...i find myself quite funny. :) see, i can't even stop telling you about how much i like to talk. ugh, it is a sickness. anyway....i do not think i can yet fully express how profound this verse is to me. even now, i sat here for a good two minutes (which for me, is an eternity, considering it only takes me like 30 minutes to write an entire blog)...and still....i cannot think of how to fully express it to you. i guess i will just have to work on that one.

but, for now. know this. His Word is TRUE. His Word is ALIVE. it is there for you every single day for every single issue, in every single circumstance. you don't believe me, try Him out. read it every single day and you see if He won't lead you to exactly what you need to read, when you need to read it. don't be lazy, friend. read it every day. more than once if you want to. you have no excuse. especially those of you with "fancy" phones. if you can tell me on facebook that you are ordering a panini, or sitting in traffic...then you have an "ap" for the Bible, friend. i'm just sayin'.

so, there you have it. my life verse. for all to see. God has known for a very long time that i would need the truth in that verse. He knows how anxious i can get about every little thing. He knows that i need to face Him with prayer AND petition, which means all types of specific requests. He knows how selfish i can get and how even still sometimes, i have to remind myself not to forget the "with thanksgiving" part when i am reciting my verse. (isn't that something awful to have to confess...but i must keep it real with you, friend) oooh He knows i need His peace desperately to guard my heart and especially my mind. and He knows how controlling i am and that sometimes...ok, A LOT of times, i need to rest in the peace that he give that just...doesn' and at the end of my verse, who do i owe it all to?? that's right...Christ Jesus.


ps. i would like to mention though, for the record...when i was on staff at church...phil467 was my password to get in the computer system...i can tell you that now since i haven't been on staff in months. but, whew...i guess i was good all along. :) he he...just me being silly here. :)