My story is always the same. God always comes through.
My little family strives to live our lives the most obedient to God as possible. Not to say we are even near the mark because no one is ever sure. We may be completely off! I read a quote recently that went something like this… (Paraphrasing) “Just like a dad catching his child jumping into the swimming pool, God’s will moves with you. No matter how close or far that child jumps, the dad is going to move to catch him.” Isn’t God just like that! I’m jumping! I might not be jumping far enough or fast enough, but I believe God is reaching out to catch me where ever I may land! Isn’t there freedom in that statement? We don’t have to be perfect because it’s impossible!
I have a thousand stories to share about how we stepped out in faith and God provided. I always say that we are quite spoiled by this god we serve. I look back and see an overall favor upon us. We are healthy and happy and so much more.
John 16:33 I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”
Notice that scripture, along with many others, talks about “tribulation.” In the back of my mind, I’ve wondered how long this favor can last. I have believed in miracles. I know that God answers prayers. But, something has been looming over me that says, “bad things happen to good people.” How long can this goodness last?
My husband, David, has been ill for months. It has progressively gotten worse and we’ve been worried. A little over a month ago, we finally got in to see a fantastic family practitioner who wanted to run several test. One of those test was a CT scan. We anticipated the day as anyone would. We stated before the test, “As long as your pancreas comes back clear, everything else we can manage.” You see, David’s grandmother died at a young age of pancreatic cancer. David seemed to be displaying many of the vague symptoms of this terrible disease…..
The test went well and I left to visit family in KY. I wondered if I should leave with David being sick. Two days after being there my 7 year old developed a horrible virus that mimicked meningitis. We spend hours in the ER and cried many tears. I didn’t think my heart could take any more hurt and worry. Thankfully, he was cleared and sent back to my mom’s house to recover.
Upon leaving my mom’s house, David called. I was alone there with my kids and the van packed. We were walking out the door to drive 5 hours home. David said “There is a mass on my pancreas.”
Needless to say, my world collapsed. I didn’t need anyone to tell me about pancreatic cancer. As a nurse, I’ve seen it too many times. Nearly every mass is cancerous and almost no one survives it.
David had been sick for a long time. He had lost 20 pounds and even his bilirubin had been elevated. Often that is the first sign of pancreatic cancer. I’d seen him lie sick on the couch for days, unable to move with stomach pain and exhaustion. In that moment, I was defeated. It all made sense. I drove home with swollen, bloodshot eyes and tears streaming the whole five hours. I asked God a lot of questions like “Is this how my story is going to go?” “Has our favor run out?” It was like a dagger in my heart I’ve never felt before.
So, there is where our true journey began. The journey of test, studies and procedures. You name it and he had it done. We had to wait to see the only doctor in Chattanooga who could do the actual procedure to look directly at the pancreas. In the meantime, doctors were ruling everything else out. We crossed our fingers every time we completed a new test, hoping the doctor would say, “We found what is causing the pain.” Maybe if they could find it, the pancreas thing would be nothing. But, no one could find anything.
Each and every time, I sat alone, waiting. Once specific time, I was in a conference room that couldn’t have been bigger than 6x4ft. I wanted to pray but my mind kept on imagining. “Is this going to be the place where I find out the bad news?” “Is this the moment our life officially changes forever?” I even took a picture of the chair across from me where the doctor would sit to deliver the news. Once again, he delivered no bad news. He didn’t even sit in that stupid chair.
My stomach had been in knots since the day David called me in KY. I couldn’t think about anything else. I tried everything to trust God. I tried every way to distract my mind and stay busy. But, that knot in my stomach didn’t go anywhere. It was a constant reminder.
Two weeks after the CT results came, the day arrived. It was time for the big test. The ONE that would tell us what was going on with David’s pancreas. I needed someone to watch my kids again. I needed someone to sit with me at the hospital. I couldn’t sit alone and imagine again. What if the news was bad? How could I handle it alone? My family felt further away than ever.
I reached out. I’m not good at reaching out. But, let me say that I am grateful I did for so many reasons. I didn’t know that there were people who loved so deeply right beside me. We aren’t “home” per say. The home I grew up in is KY. But, isn’t this what “home” is all about? Isn’t it about people who truly love and support one another? There were friends who watched my kids at 5:30am. There were friends that took days off work to keep me busy while I waited on results. I am grateful for the opportunity to see what was there beside me all along.
The doctor finally came out to deliver the results. He said, “I didn’t see anything unusual about the pancreas. It looked normal. There wasn’t even anything to biopsy.”
Psalms 34: 19 Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the LORD delivers him out of them all.
I haven’t processed all the emotions enough yet to write too much about life “after” our good news was delivered. After all, it was only a few days ago. Of course, we are beyond grateful and give God all the credit. God has delivered us once again. My story will remain the same. God always comes through. I get to grow old with with man that I married. My kids will have a daddy to see all their great accomplishments.
Strangely, a part of me has felt sad. Why do we get good news and so many people get bad news? There are so many out there who are scared like I was. Do they have support like I did?
There was something completely remarkable about our lives being laid out before God. It’s like we were cut right open and only God controlled our fate. Nothing we could do change or fix a thing. We were helpless. All we could do was wait.
Also, over the years, my faith has become more “reasonable.” I have found myself hesitant to pray for miracles. It’s like my grown-up brain wants to think things like “sometimes bad things happen and we don’t understand it.”
Matthew 14:31 “Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. “You of little faith,” he said, “why did you doubt?”
Why should I walk around waiting for our good favor to end? What a miserable and sad idea?
God heals. He changes. He delivers. Nothing is impossible with him. David has felt better than ever since the day the test came back clear. Something happened inside of him. Was it a miracle? Months and months of sickness and now nothing? He’s fine just like that?
This process broke us down and humbled us. I want to stay here. It is the most realistic place.
Isn’t it amazing that the most realistic place of faith is also a place of miracles and dreams?
That grown-up, stuffy place is NOT real. That place in your life where you wonder if God is involved or if he just left you here to survive, it’s not true. Neither is truth waiting for your luck to run out and the bad news to be delivered.
The truth is that God will supply every need of yours according to his plan!
Phillipians 4:19 “And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus”
Some things in life are worth documenting.
Photos by their cherished daddy.
I hope you all had a wonderful Easter!
Here are a few little reasons why ours was so blessed!
Help me. It’s bath time!
Greta has a special affection for soft cuddly blankets, Estella and stuffed animals.
Piggie snoozing & snoring.
Worn out from the afternoon ordeal.
Many people ask about my decision to homeschool. Those who don’t ask, assume a lot of things.
Here are a few of my thoughts on homeschooling.
- I find it completely remarkable that I am able to birth children, raise them as I please, and choose to school them at home where I, an educated mother, can teach them. The entire process is beyond comprehension and a complete blessing.
- I am not the type of person that believes everyone should homeschool. It is a matter of where your child will receive the best education and upbringing. If you are not educated, motivated or have the available time, then homeschooling is not for you. Public school offers many great possibilities and I personally had an overall good experience growing up in the public school system.
- This is a big one. Everyone assumes that homeschooling is exactly what I am passionate about and love to spend my days doing. This is a completely bogus assumption. Keep in mind that I said that I would never homeschool before I had kids. I made a decision for my family that is currently the best choice for us. I don’t love to sit home and make crafts with my kids. Actually, most days I think, if I skip this craft, we will finish school much faster. But, those hands-on activities are what help my kids learn the most. I do them because I want my kids to learn and receive the best education I can give them.
- Homeschooling is not easy. I don’t sit home and fold laundry or surf Facebook while my kids do their work. I choose to be a teacher and completely invested in their learning. I have given up a lot of things because of this choice to homeschool. I have given up a 2nd income in our family and temporarily given up a nursing profession that I enjoy. I have given up a lot of freedom. The hours that my school age children would be in class, I spend teaching. I’ve given up a lot of free time in preparation in the evenings and on the weekends. I give up a clean organized home on a daily basis and also my involvement in many things that I care about. But, I don’t regret the choice to homeschool at all. For me, the sacrifices are worth it.
- I love that our learning is not limited. We take classes in a classroom atmosphere with teachers and students just like public school kids. But, we also get to be a part of many great activities. We visit business, museums, orchards, do outreaches, etc. We do all this on group field trips with our friends! Also, I get to buy those extra supplies that teachers can’t often afford to do science experiments, artwork and history projects!!
- I don’t have to worry about cultural issues like homosexuality being addressed by other teachers. My children will be exposed to culture. They are pastor’s kids! Trust me, they get a lot of culture! But, I will be the one who will explain these important topics.
- If we are having a productive day, we finish school by lunchtime and have the rest of the day to do what we please!
- I know exactly what level of learning my children are at. We can move ahead on topics they know and slow down for the ones they struggle with. I don’t cut any slack though! I’m a tough Momma teacher! Trust me, you can ask them. We can test regularly to make sure we are up to state standards just like public school! Most of the time we are well beyond state standards.
- We can go on vacation whenever we want. We are on our own schedule!
- My kids get to be a big part of the family. We spend our days together! They help me do everything and they learn a lot of life skills. They get to go to work with their Dad and learn from him too! They cook, imagine, create, plant gardens and anything else we desire. Our possibilities are endless.
- Our conversations are priceless. All those days we spend discussing science and history drives us towards many deep topics about God and our world. I feel I have much more control over their influences in the homeschool setting. Keep in mind, I’m not trying to brainwash my kids! Seriously, I let them think and figure things out on their own. I give them the facts and then we talk about them. For example, we were just discussing the Muslim religion and where it originated. I let them form an opinion. Of course, it is influenced by our family’s core beliefs, but it is better that they discover rather than be told.
- New doors are opening every day for homeschoolers. They can now join public school sports teams and apply for the same scholarships that public school students can.
- I learn a lot of interesting things! I must have either slept through elementary school or wasn’t taught much of anything. Regardless, I do find myself asking “How did I not know that?” on a regular basis!
I’m sure I could go on and write a book. I did not include all the things I appreciate about homeschooling. These topics I’ve addressed seem to be the most controversial. These are answers to many of the questions or assumptions I’ve encountered since beginning this journey. I did not list the cons to homeschooling. There are those too. Nothing is perfect. But, for me, in my current situation, homeschooling is the best choice for my family. We may not do it forever. Regardless, we take every decision to God in prayer and follow His guidance.
I’ve been watching a bird, the same one for days, trying to fly through a window in my house. Repeatedly, it comes towards it, slowly as if it knows there is a barrier, feet first, grabbing and flapping at he window. It’s quite odd. I keep wondering what it sees. Why the same window over and over? God made those birds. Is he trying to tell me something? Yes – my mind goes there. I believe God is deeply connected to everything. No way are we all here counting on good luck and circumstance to get us by!
God told me it was the Holy Spirit wanting so much to move freely, in and out of my soul, without all the restrictions I keep placing on Him. Most of those restrictions are rooted in selfishness. My heart’s walls close in, leaving only the smallest space for Him. I’m mostly too busy. Sometimes, I’m too frustrated with God. I am 100% sure that nothing will EVER go the way I want it to without Him. Even the dreamiest dreams that come true are no good without Him. But, every ordinary thing is ridiculously fantastic with Him close-by! I KNOW these things. Yet, again and again, I loose sight and move on with my own things. Regardless, His spirit awaits, inside my heart, trying to make room, trying to pass through my walls. He tries to move past my barriers, grabbing and flapping, hoping I’ll let Him out again.
Roman, my 7 year old, began today with a smile.
The morning was strangely quiet. So quiet, in fact, that David and I slept until almost 9am! Seriously, that has not happened since Roman was born. He and his brother, Jude, had been up since 7am. It seemed quite dreamlike to wake up after the sun had begun to shine, our boys quietly and happily playing, Estella still snoozing.
By noon, David and I began making comments to Roman about his unusual demeanor.
Tranquil: free from agitation of mind or spirit.
Oh yes, that would be the word to describe it.
You see, we’ve been praying for changes in this little one’s spirit.
He is an unbelievably wise child, understanding things beyond his years. Very observant, never missing a beat and very headstrong.
We have noticed him recently feeling very defeated. He has been in trouble, on average, 5-10 times every day for various things like yelling or throwing or pushing or saying hurtful words. If things haven’t gone as he wanted, an outburst almost always followed. He has felt very guilty after these outburst and had convinced himself that he could never be better. He comes up with the craziest ideas about growing up and becoming a bad guy or having a “bad” heart. Completely aware that these outburst are wrong, he said things like never being able to stop, that he can’t be better.
I can never stand to hear him so down on himself because, of course, I know the goodness that really abides in his heart. I know that he truly wants to show love and not anger. But, I will not be disrespected nor will I let my other children be treated poorly. There is that great parental responsibility to show love through discipline. So, no matter how much I’ve wanted to just tip-toe around him, I’ve, instead, put on my armor and stood my ground
I’ve worried about him feeling very overwhelmed at not being able to control things. I’ve seen frustration rise up in his eyes and a complete change come over him when things didn’t go his way. Had there been something deeper I was missing? It has taken solitude and time to find his way to other side of these episodes.
We’ve tried everything and we have prayed our hearts out. I’ve wanted, more than anything, for him to feel loved and to be able to show love. I’ve wanted him to feel like he had control over his emotions. I’ve wanted him to know that he can call out to God and that God will help him. It has been heartbreaking to see such turmoil inside this little boy’s heart.
Sometimes, though, when you feel like NOTHING is working, God is doing the work.
The entire day today was drastically different. I couldn’t believe the way he was responding when I asked him to do things. He was speaking very softly to his brother and sister. He was stopping in his tracks to assist them. He was pleasant. I hadn’t seen this side of Roman in a very long time, months even. Honestly, throughout the day, I was waiting for the everything to change, waiting for another complete breakdown. That moment never came.
Tonight, just before our nightly reading, I asked Roman why he had acted so different today.
This is what he said. “I was praying alone in my room a couple nights ago before bed. I asked God to please help me to be good. I told him I didn’t want to be bad anymore. Today, God gave me a New Year’s present. The present was courage. I feel like He changed me. I feel like a brand new person. I’m a brand new Roman. I’m so excited! I can’t wait to be better! Now, I understand what I need to do. I feel good in my heart. I mean, look at me, I have tears in my eyes. I’m so happy.”
As he said these words, he was smiling and tears literally came to his eyes. He leaned over to embrace me as if the most wonderful thing in the world has just happened.
He was looking at me with these big contented eyes and I could see down to his soul. It was like he was saying, “Mom, everything you’ve been telling me about Jesus is true! He really is with me always. He really does come to help me when I call out to Him. His spirit really does live inside me.”
This boy has had his first God experience. I know exactly what he was feeling. I had forgotten but now I remember. The burning warmth behind the eyes as they well up with tears. An aura. A sort of giddiness.
God had always been with Roman, but now he senses His presence. I know the future for us all will be full of mistakes, full of learning. Nevertheless, progress comes when we are changing, when we are allowing God to teach us, when we are asking and listening and feeling.
And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:19
What would I like this year to be?
This is not about resolutions. It’s just about hopes and dreams.
My 30’s have caused me to think much more about passing moments and time standing still.
I’ve become more likely to do things I’ve dreamed of doing.
I find myself asking, “why not do that?” and realizing the risks are much lower that previously assumed.
Moments stand apart from others – like the green crispy lettuce on my sandwich this morning.
Just that one, simple & organic detail made it taste so much better.
Like mixing batter in vintage ceramic bowels is more beautiful than mixing in those ugly plastic ones.
It makes me feel like I’m creating something wonderful that will fill my children’s tummies.
Like walking outside in the early morning cold to care for my chickens.
I take a deep breath and the coolness expands my lungs full.
It is quiet. The air is crisp. The sun is rising. The squirrels play.
I am not alone here in this world. God is with me always.
Like the sound of the stream running behind my home in the dark woods.
Though it looks desolate out there, it is not.
There is the sound of water flowing, moving across the ground, carrying things here and there.
I would like to continue on this path of progression in 2014.
I am a person who changes. My thoughts morph as I am inspired, as God speaks.
I want to pull myself together when I feel weak.
I want to feel compassion deep and always have time for another.
I want my words to mimic God’s heart.
I want to be so close that I feel His spirit envelope me.
I want to teach & inspire & love.
I want my sight to be focused and undistracted.
That is what is so special about this God I serve.
He is gracious. He is present.
And He makes my dreams come true.
What would you like your year to be?