I asked God to give me something to share with a beautiful, familiar group of women. I would soon have the opportunity to speak to them and I wanted to leave something inspirational, something worthy of remembering, in their hearts. I’m not a speaker. My mind seems to forget everything I want to say when I want to say it. So, every time this type of thing comes along, I plead with God. Less of me, more of You.
He quickly dropped “I Will Enter His Gates” in my heart. I sang it for a week and nothing I conjured up came together in the beautiful way I had imagined. Maybe he wants me to talk about this or that…. No, that’s not it, again and again. I crumbled up papers and deleted notes on my phone.
I woke up at 5am Sunday morning, the day of the event, with a reason. The song I had been singing was a song I loved when I was a child, a song from our hymn book. It was a memory I needed to unwrap.
This is a small part of my story. But, you all have a story like this, a story of how god has always been calling out to you.
When I was born, my parents weren’t christians. We were lost. What was it that brought us to him? I was five and I remember. I remember the tiny churches in the country. I remember the open arms and the looks on their faces. They knew my mom was coming home. But, my father, they were working so hard. They visited him in the hospital when he almost died. They spent hours and hours there. The preacher prayed over him when he was asleep for a month. He prayed when my dad didn’t know us. He even stayed when he woke up and lead him to Jesus. I was five and I knew my dad had died but God woke him up because he was so close. He was close to finally winning his soul. Maybe the accident would show him how far God had gone to save him?
Dad recovered at home and we went to church. They sang “At the Cross”and “Victory in Jesus.” They worked tirelessly. They cried when my momma cried. They threw baby showers when my sister was born. There were so many embraces. They sang “Jesus Loves Me” and lead the crafts in Sunday school. They cared when we didn’t come.
Family reunions when I was 8 and 10 and 12, my uncle sang “Amazing Grace” with a guitar under the trees. They all stopped. All those people, 100 of them, stopped and felt him. The music, the prayer, it begged us to notice. He was there, calling to them too. I remember looking around and seeing that they all noticed Jesus was there too.
Then, when I was 15, I gave my heart to Jesus. Those people actually had the guts to come and get me from my seat. They knew so much about me. More than I had told them. Their eyes said it all. But, I had been hiding. Hang out with us. We’ve got this thing called The Holy Spirit and you need it too. That’s when I decided. All those years, all that work and I finally said it out loud. Although, I had known long, long before that I could never live without Jesus. He would always be home, my resting place.
When my mom almost gave up on people and stopped going to church, it was me that begged. If we don’t have them, what hope do we have? Those people, the church, they are Jesus. We can’t hold on to him alone. She listened.
It was always him calling me, following me, loving me. He worked hard to keep my attention. From my earliest memory until right now, it has always been him.
We are the church. We are those baby showers, the embraces, the workers. We are the ones that sing songs and cut and glue in the classrooms. We are Jesus in the flesh.
When I asked God for something this week, he took his time and showed me something profound. The pulling, the tugging, the noticing, the calling, it was always him. From my earliest memory until this very moment. The entire thing, its been a journey towards him. Just like it has been for you.
As we enter into the holidays thankful hearts, may it be full of those moments in time that cause you to notice. He’s been calling to all of us since the very beginning. Through music, prayer, love, embraces, pain and everything in between, it’s been him all along. He is the hope that shines in dark places. He is the joy that comes in the morning. He is everywhere, in everything. He has always been, and he will always be.
Make a joyful noise unto the Lord, all ye lands.
Serve the Lord with gladness: come before his presence with singing.
Know ye that the Lord he is God: it is he that hath made us, and not we ourselves; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.
Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise: be thankful unto him, and bless his name.
For the Lord is good; his mercy is everlasting; and his truth endureth to all generations.
THERE it is… THAT moment again. The one where God shows me that He is absolutely real. The moment when I pray and I feel him. Mostly, it’s when I thank him. Oh, how he rushes over me. So often, I think “Did that just happen?” Did I just feel God’s presence with me? Can we replay that because it was amazing?! It couldn’t be emotions. I’ve replayed it over and over. I am happy at times. I am sad and overwhelmed sometimes too, but I never feel that. I might jump up and down when something makes me feel excited and thankful. But, I don’t feel that. It’s when I talk to Christ. That’s it.
There has never been another sensation comparable in any way. I could turn inside-out with the thrill of it. It makes my heart feel like it could burst open with excitement. Usually, its head to toe goosebumps too and a quick rushing through my veins. Really, there is no way to describe it appropriately. It’s like a drug. I need more of it. When you feel him, you KNOW it’s him. It is God almighty, the creator of the universe. His presence is made known and like no other.
This past week, I said “thank you” and there it was, rushing over me. That’s all it took, one simple “Thank you.” No planning. Nothing strategic. Actually, it took me by surprise…. again. It was like a GIGANTIC “You’re welcome,” right back at me. Ummm… can we repeat that God? Let me try that one more time. “THANK YOU… Darn!!” It didnt have the same effect the second time around. But, it was so good!
And every time it happens, I think to myself, but why? I’m so messed up, so sinful. He loves even though I’m imperfect. How can this be? I surely didn’t deserve that. Regardless of the fact that I’ve made plenty of mistakes this week, he still made me aware that he was there, with me. It’s really fantastic and quite thrilling to know a God like this. There is no earning this type of love. He gives it away freely and unassuming.
He isn’t like us. He is loyal and covenant-keeping. He is merciful, gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness. He forgives iniquity and transgression and sin. (Exod. 34: 5-7)
These are things I have to keep reminding myself when I don’t understand God. The Israelites lost faith, grumbled and built a golden calf. God remained merciful. His presence remained with them, despite their repeated offenses. He gave them another chance. Mercy and forgiveness to thousands.
Jesus sent to a growing world to show us the way. His body broken on the cross for our failures, for another chance. He gave and became our sacrifice forever and ever. Again, mercy and forgiveness to all.
“I have come as a light to shine in this dark world, so that all who put their trust in me will no longer remain in the dark.” Jesus
He is loyal, committed and unchanging.
He isn’t like us. He doesn’t think like us. He remains focused and present at all times. We are vulnerable to sickness, death, persuasion, and weariness. We can’t see his interventions and protection. We can’t comprehend his goodness. Mostly, we aren’t grateful, whether from lack of knowledge or lack of understanding. We can’t see what is coming or all the ways he has shielded us and hovered over us. Yet, he keeps going before us, continuously. We aren’t aware of all his workings but he continues. It’s the ultimate humility, the ultimate kind of love. Giving and protecting with no credit, no boasting or, in most cases, no recognition at all.
So, when I grumble, he remains. When I am lost for days upon days, he follows me into the darkness, searching out my heart. When I walk far away and his voice is no longer heard, his presence remains. When I think I don’t need him, he stays anyway. His love is not removed when I fail or doubt or blame or grow bitter. He isn’t like us. There is another chance. Mercy and forgiveness to us all forever and always.
Oral Immunotherapy, aka OIT, is used to treat life threatening food allergies.
About two years ago, I came across a few mothers in an online food allergy group from my area. I soon discovered this new treatment. One of the mothers was already driving several hours biweekly to have her son treated for a severe milk allergy. She was right in the middle of OIT. I was amazed! After a while, one of the mother’s organized an evening to meet and discuss OIT. We all sat on her patio and soaked up all the knowledge we could from this brave mom who was already treating her son. At the end of our evening, we prayed. It was a hopeful and earnest prayer from a group of mothers who were desperate for healing in their children.
I believe that even in the early stages of this process, God was behind it all. The coincidental finding of these local mothers, the one brave mom with all the knowledge and all the rest, it’s all God’s story.
There were two main reasons why this treatment was not an option for my son at the time of this meeting. #1 It wasn’t covered by insurance. #2 The closest doctor was 8 hours away.
Only a few months ago, we discovered that another doctor was added to the list of physicians providing OIT and he was only 2.5 hours from us. Also, he files with insurance. Not only does he file with insurance but, he is in our network, even though he is out of state. The procedures have already been pre-approved by our insurance company. There are currently only about 25 physicians in the country providing this treatment.
I met with one of those same mothers again last week because two of her children are already seeing this doctor and now in the middle of their treatment! She said, “I believe this doctor starting an OIT practice is a direct reflection of our prayers that night on my patio.” God knew I was going to need some major support on this one because he has brought some amazing Godly people into my life who are on the same journey I’m on.
Our start date is May 11th. The treatment itself takes about one year. The first day of dosing takes 6 hours in a room at a hospital. You start with tiny doses, literally invisible, and gradually increase, approximately every 15-20 minutes. Doses are given in clear liquid. The goal is to get to 3mg (still tiny) of peanut by the end of the day. You go home with doses to take at home every day. There are several rules that must be followed. For example, doses must be taken about the same time every day. Also, there cannot be any exercise or activity that gets your heart rate up for two hours after the dose. Studies have shown that this increases the chance of reaction. Also, illness complicates the process. Doses must be stopped during illnesses and you have to backtrack in your dosing. So, you may have worked really hard to get to a certain place, but often have to go backwards.
We will drive back to the doctor once every two week to “up-dose.” Then, travel home and continue our daily doses on our new dose. Once we are eating enough peanut flour, we convert to actual peanuts. By the end of the year, we will be eating around 8 peanuts a day.
This begins the maintenance phase which is ultimately forever. For at least a year, you eat a specified amount of the peanut every day. Sometime later, a food challenge is given where a higher amount of the food is given and observed in a clinical setting. If the challenge is passed, the child often goes on to eat whatever form of the food they wish.
This is the gray area. Doctors aren’t sure about what happens next. A recent study showed that children who stopped consuming the food redeveloped the allergy within 3 months. Therefore, it is recommended at this point to continue consumption of the food indefinitely. But, seriously, who wouldn’t want to eat 8 peanut M&M’s every day?
Am I scared? Yes. I’m completely scared. In fact, more scared than I ever have been about anything in my life. It’s on my mind constantly. I’ve imagined every bad scenario. I’ve had nightmares and near panic attacks. I’m afraid he will have a reaction and never trust me again. But, I’m putting on my brave face. I’m in the process of turning off my worrying and picking up peace.
On the way to our first consultation with the doctor a few weeks ago, I felt like God spoke to me. I was praying and begging for confirmation. This is what I felt Him say to my heart. “It’s just like your pregnancies. You were afraid and there were bumps along the way. But, I sustained you. At the end of each pregnancy, your miracle was delivered.”
I don’t know what this process is going to be like for us. Many children race through with no reactions. Others have constant tummy aches and some have bad reactions. The unknown is frightening.
Here is what I do know. I know that my son can have an accidentally exposure at any moment. Every single day is a risk. The older he gets, the less control I have over the situation. Fear hovers over us. In the news, children are dying from this allergy.
But, no one has ever died from OIT. In fact, 80% of kids make it to the end of the treatment. They can safely eat the very food that would have hurt them only a year prior. This treatment is much more controlled than any accidental exposure without it ever could be. I see pictures of my friend’s child with the milk allergy doing things like eating ice cream for the fist time and my heart skips a beat. They are done with milk OIT. A part of him is free that wasn’t before. I’ve seen many videos of kids safely eating real peanuts for the first time in their lives. I want that for Roman. I want him to conquer this!
All the moms, they say it is the best thing they have ever decided to do. They say it is all worth it x 1000! I have yet to speak with one that says they would go back and not do OIT. They are all very glad they did. All I can do it trust God. How could I not go for a chance to let God use this to heal my son?
As we approach the start date, please pray for these things. 1. Roman’s environmental allergies to not flare up this spring. (This could delay the process or make it hard for us to distinguish between environmental allergies and dose reactions.) 2. Health and strong immunity in Roman’s body. 3. Peace and strength in Roman’s mind and mine. 4. No side effects from dosing.
More post to come on our journey towards OIT!
Roman was my first baby. When he was six months old, I let him lick a No-Bake cookie. Immediately, he broke out in a rash around his mouth. That was my first sign there was a problem. I chose to avoid peanuts for the time, until he could be tested with an allergist. Months later, he was skin tested which resulted in a very large skin reaction that left us for sure he was allergic to peanuts.
When he was two, he had an unknown reaction while traveling on a bus with a ton of teenagers in the middle of no-where Georgia. We were youth pastors on the way home from youth camp. It started with body hives and lead to profuse swelling. The skin over his joints was literally overlapping at the creases. We called 911 from the bus, they met us on the side of the interstate and Roman took his first ambulance trip to the nearest hospital where we stayed for several hours.
From very early on in his life, fear and anxiety had a chance to take root in him.
Several more times, Roman had unexplained reactions. Once, Roman was in classroom with someone eating a pb & j sandwich. Even though my son was instructed to sit at a different table, later in the day he had a reaction where his eyes swelled shut and he had difficultly breathing.
These instances always lead to antihistamines, steroids and breathing treatments. Our epinephrin pens are never far from us. Its our greatest fear that we will have to use it. The actual use of it isn’t what is scary. It is the idea that if we use it, he is having an anaphylactic reaction. Anaphylactic reactions can lead to death.
What is your greatest fear? Many of us would say suffocation. Imagine the fear of suffocation from an anaphylactic reaction. Imagine that fear in the mind of child.
When he was six I finally decided to have blood work drawn on him that tested further for the allergy. His results came back at the highest possible level. We were heartbroken. We had hoped he was one of the few that outgrow this allergy but he was not. It was here to stay. Not only was it here to stay, it was bad. The doctor made sure that we understood. If he were to have peanut, he would not get a rash, he would, more than likely, have an anaphylactic reaction.
The problem with peanut allergy, like many other food allergies, is that it is never completely avoidable. It can be hiding anywhere at any time. Foods can easily be “cross-contaminated” in a factory when several different items are made on the same equipment. Workers can cross-contaminate in a restaurant. If a worker touches something with peanut in it, then touches your food, you can be exposed. The tiniest amount of exposure can bring about a reaction. Imagine a kid in the movie theatre eating a Reese Cup and wiping his hand across the fabric seat. Then, my son comes along and touches the seat, while he eats his popcorn. It can be fatal. Imagine that you just ate peanuts and then kissed my son on the cheek or touched his face.
As a mother, it is on my mind at all times. Every food label in my home has been mulled over so he is safe here. But, when we are anywhere else, safety is never felt. He is now eight years old and is crushed by the weight of fear. We have seen him have full-on panic attacks in restaurants when he got a little choked, thinking he couldn’t breath because he was exposed to a peanut. Everywhere he goes, its on his mind too.
If he is having problems with environmental allergies, it often get confused with a possible peanut exposure.
He played basketball this season. I could tell on the court that he was “in his head.” Sometimes, he withdraws and is quiet which is definitely not his normal personality. He later told me he worries about things like whether or not someone ate peanut butter then touched the ball. He concentrates on not touching his face which consumes his thoughts.
This is the most heartbreaking part of it all. It is the anxiety and fear my son feels. We don’t care that we can’t have peanuts. These years are so vital in his development. His personality has literally been shaped by this allergy. In 6-8 years, he will no longer be at my side 24 hours a day. I won’t be able to monitor every bite that goes into his mouth. I wont be able to wipe down tables and scan the room for possible culprits. What if he kisses a girl or eats the wrong brownie at a friends house?
So, here we are. Life has brought us to this crossroad. My eight year old has a severe peanut allergy and now there is possibly a treatment when there had not been one before. For years, the only treatment has been avoidance. But, now, there is something new, a possibility. Oral Immunotherapy. The treatment isn’t without risk though. It involves actually feeding your child the food they are allergic too! Can we do this? Can we handle this pressure?
More to come on our steps towards Oral Immunotherapy, aka OIT.
There is a war waging for our hearts, to shut them down and disable those who love Jesus.
I feel it stronger than ever before. I went away for a women’s retreat and found God in a place I hadn’t visited for a while. Not a physical place, but a place of depth within my soul. I found Him waiting for me for to crawl through the haze and reach Him.
There is power in people, in bodies who hold the same spirit. When we are together and dig down deep, our spirits unite and God seems to swell up and make Himself known in a way no one can deny. There is strength in unity and love. There is strength in wanting and needing God. There is strength in honesty and humility.
We found God. Anyone who was there can confirm that their hearts melted into one big pile of butter!
That is where I am finding myself now. I am butter before God. The moment I begin to worship Him, whether in my car or church, read the Bible or pray, there He is. I feel Him close and my eyes continue to instantly well up with tears. It’s like all that “stuff” that was between Him and I has diminished. I don’t have to work as hard to find Him. I don’t feel like He is a million miles away. He is close and I trust Him.
But, I have a feeling that something doesn’t like it.
I feel a strong pressure in my weaker moments to collapse, to give my thoughts back to the one who confines them. It feels like spiritual tug-of-war. Satan sees power in the hands of those whose hearts and minds move freely within God’s will. My days, since being home, have been harder than ever. I’ve thought things like “I should have just stayed in bed today.” On the other hand, my moments with God have been richer than ever. He is worth it. I choose to fight this fight against the one who devours. Our fight is not against flesh and blood, but against rulers, against authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against spiritual forces of evil. (Ephesians 6:12)
“I lift up my eyes to the mountains, where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth. He will not let you stumble; the one who watches over you will not slumber.” Psalm 121:1-3
If this is you, I encourage you to fight. Lift your eyes up and realize where your help comes from! He is worth it!
In His hands are the depths of the earth, and the mountain peaks belong to Him. Psalm 95:4
HLC Women’s Retreat starts TOMORROW!
We are heading to the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains of Georgia! From the moment the retreat was scheduled, I began praying that every women who was meant to be there would find a way to make it happen! Every time someone added, I began dreaming about all the things God had in store for them. So, for those of you who are going, it is meant to be!
God has something fantastic waiting for you this weekend!
See you there!
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”
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’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?
The favorite present: this baby (she hasn’t put it down since the party) We’ve given it baths, changed it’s clothes 1000 times, fed it, and taken it for a walk in her stroller.
I have to admit that my heart is broken, just a little, because she is no longer 1. I have loved every second of 1.
And 2 sounds SO much bigger!!
Have you ever loved anything so much that you didn’t want one part of it to pass by???
That is her in our family…
We all, including her brothers, ooh and awe over her so many times a day.
She melts our hearts with her batting eyes and little twirls.
My favorite part of ALL is her tiny mommy heart.
She keeps her eyes on everyone and everything, making sure things are running smoothly and everyone is obeying.
She doesn’t mind to tell her big brothers to watch for cars or to slow down when things seem dangerous.
What a precious little gift she has been since God brought her into our family!
We love you forever Miss Estella!
Mommy, Daddy, Roman & Jude
Beginning with the nomads, my son and I have studied history through the middle ages. We have examined Islam, Buddhism, Greek gods and goddesses, and Christianity. It has been intriguing to learn how various religions began and where their stories originated. This investigation has given us a much better understanding of the core of each religion. There are so many that ask, “How do we know our God is the real one? How do we know we are right?”
Others are often more devoted and even more passionate than we are as Christians. They follow outward rules and rituals without hesitancy. We’ve seen the daily devotion from those like Muslims who bow towards Mecca to pray five times a day. Some are peaceful with beautiful beliefs and traditions like Buddhist who believe in being truthful, non-harmful and wise. Following a path to an “awakening” seems dreamy and romantic.
Their thoughts are noble, to remain completely devoted to their god or goddesses, or the teachings of their leaders. On the other hand, when you dig deep, you realize that Buddha never intended himself to be worshiped. He wanted to help people live fair and honest lives and to be awakened to a sense of self. His ideas of the afterlife were his own. Good intentions they were, but not actions of a God. He was a man. There was no pre-curser, no follow-up, only him and his ideas. Then, when you look at the life of Mohammed, you ask yourself how one could trust a man who stole and murdered as “the only prophet of Allah.” It is an entire faith based upon the stories told by one man, one who prospered much by the lands he conquered and controlled, then died a sudden unexplained death and left his followers with no guidance.
Christianity is a faith in existence from the beginning of time. The birth and death of Jesus Christ was prophesied by many before His coming. History documents Biblical truths repeatedly. His story is one of love and forgiveness. He is one man that lived a sinless life, leaving us with the Holy Spirit, guidance, testimonies, power, and promises.
I’m tired of weak-mindedness. I’m tired of the lack of commitment and how easily we question our core beliefs. We have all greatly taken for granted our fruitfulness. We, as a nation under God, are broken. “How abundant are the good things that you have stored up for those who fear you, that you bestow in the sight of all, on those who take refuge in you.” Psalm 31:19 God has, no doubt, stored up and released many great things for us as a nation. However, I worry that we have grown lazy and undecided. We expect everything for nothing and how long will this last? Muslims stop and pray five times a day. How many times a day to do we stop and pray to our God? We are idealistic, believing we should accept all religions. How many times have we closed our mouths and hidden our hearts in fear of offending. We want to take the best from each religion, believing that whoever is “up there” will have mercy on us if we are good. Where are our rituals? Where are the things that hold us down and keep us centered: church on Sunday, our spiritualism, our goodness? Are those enough? Is expecting God’s grace and love with no commitment on our parts enough? Where is His power? Jesus walked on the Earth, performed miracles, then left us with the Holy Spirit. We have power in Jesus Christ. There is power to heal and to restore. There is love and wisdom to stand firm and love everyone, regardless of religion, without being persuaded to change our minds.
I say all this because I’m tired of these things in my own life. I’m tired of not being prepared to defend my beliefs. I’m tired of days passing and “forgetting” about God. I’m looking for ways in my daily life to make Jesus Christ my center and my family’s center. I’m tired of being distracted and caught off guard. I would like to have meaningful rituals that remind me why we exist, our purpose, and our future. What can we do daily to help us remember that God is truth and He is all that matters? What Christian rituals does your family practice?
Some days my heart aches for home.
God called us to Chattanooga. This was the place God had been telling us about for so long. He carved the way for transition and peace . We pastor a church here in the city and feel a strong connection to this place. There is so much goodness to come. The things we dreamed about, God is bringing to pass. There is always a certain sacrifice though.
I told my husband last week I was “homesick.” He looked at me surprised and immediately started describing the lack of opportunity for us in our hometown. His lack of understanding lead to my complete conclusion that men are completely different than women when it comes to emotion. And it’s okay, even natural.
My heart aches for these people we left behind, not the place. I said “left behind” like we are now moving on without them, which is not true. But, oh, how it feels that way.
We moved just far enough away to make it difficult for frequent visits. No one is at fault for this. It is the distance, the road between us I contend with. I feel a certain ambivalence towards those miles. They are some of the most beautiful I’ve ever traveled – winding roads, over the mountains and around the vast waters. Then, they change into the lush flat farmland, familiar to my home, for miles upon miles to see. But, they keep us apart. They separate us into here and there. I wish I could pick them up and set them aside.
I miss “come over for dinner” and “stop by on your way home from work” phone calls.
I miss all the talk about absolutely nothing particular.
I miss my kids running to the door when they knock and the loving embraces that only a grandparent can give.
They are the people who care about all the details.
They are the ones who ask about it all. They listen to my rambling words and feel them.
There is an acceptance and love that I crave. They haven’t gone anywhere. They’re always there, just further away and harder to feel. If I’m busy I can ignore it, the longing for them. But, in quite moments it’s always there.
When days go on long, and I don’t know what they are doing, what they are feeling, I feel separate. I feel excluded. Not purposed by any means, just an unavoidable circumstance.
I have them. Not everyone does. I can visit. I have that. Not everyone can.
It’s okay that my heart aches a little sometimes but, I’m thankful all at the same time. I have a father that loves my children endlessly, a sister just like me, and an endearing lovely mother whom I can’t live without.
Love and complete acceptance are vital, whether it is from family or friends. I wish we could all show it to each other better. As a pastor’s wife, I hope I can show this family love to others, in the way I’ve learned it from these people.
BIAC serves those with brain injury, special needs and other disabilities.The camp is on 42 acres in Henderson County, KY and is an outdoor site created to provide adventure activities for those with and without disabilities.
The facility is also used for team building and outdoor education.
The camp has low ropes course, fishing ponds, one mile trails, zip lines, therapeutic horseback riding, adaptive trikes, gardening and arts.
BIAC began after David’s cousin, T.K., suffered a traumatic brain injury while snowboarding in Colorado in 2003 at the age of 25. T.K. was in a coma for three months. David’s uncle, Tim, T.K.’s father, never left his side and when therapy ended, Tim continued to encourage and work with his son. Although doctors did not give much hope for life beyond bedridden, T.K. continued to improve. Tim explored opportunities for T.K. to grow physically and mentally and discovered an adventure camp in Colorado. After volunteering at this camp several times, Tim was convinced that such a camp was much needed and would be utilized in the western part of the US.
That began the long road of prayer, work, donations, research and so much more. Today, this is an amazing nonprofit organization that serves people in an awesome way.
We were amazed at the passion and love found within this organization. Most of all, we loved spending time with family we hadn’t seen in a very long time.
You can find more information about BIAC here:
I love summer mornings on my mom’s farm.
The air is hollow. We rock on the porch and feel the breeze. We talk and watch them run and play.
Beads of dew on the grass and my pulse slows.
Clouds puff up early and the sun melts them away.
Deer prance in the pasture and God finds His way into my daydreams.
Life is moving faster than ever but this time I slow down to see.
Freezing moments of baby smooth skin and loving embraces.
Carefree laughter and a heart full of this very moment.
We embrace what God gives.
Today, it feels like a gift, tomorrow it may not.
What ever the day holds, it is a day given by God, with all things considered.
We believe, hold strong and breathe deep.
A year ago, I had NO idea I would be here or that I would be anywhere different than where I was for that matter.
So, for all our family and friends, near and far, here you go!
This is where we landed.
It’s our place.
Looking out & Looking in.
Baby Bear wanted a picture.
My favorite room.
This is where we learn & play.
This is where it is just “us” and books and art!
Little parts of the dining room.
Peeking in the half bath downstairs.
I am in love with this print my mom and I found antiquing last weekend.
“The Shepherd” 1909
Also, you can see my funky curtains from World Market on the right.
Left: Looking into the kitchen
Right: Looking over our dining room table into the living room.
(Notice how convenient it MIGHT be to put your kids at this table for lunch and turn on a cartoon for them to watch. I mean – only if you were that sort of mom 😉
I finally found something to do with all those old clay jars I had laying around…
I can’t believe I didn’t photograph my pantry.
You can see the first door to the right in this photo. That is it!
It very big and amazing. This is my first actual pantry can you tell?
I love it!
The second door is the laundry room which leads to the two-car garage.
Corner of living room.
Just found this old bookshelf mostly for kids novels and a few of my favorites.
Now that Roman is really reading, I love collecting all the classics for him.
Did I mention how appreciative I am of this laundry room?
It’s right off the kitchen and when I do laundry, (which is much more often now that my washer & dryer are indoors) it smells like warm fluffy lavender all over the house.
It may be the widest, longest hallway I’ve seen.
Apparently, this is good for nightly kickball tournaments.
I’ll pause here and mention how incredibly blessed my kids are at this moment in time.
This playroom is amazing.
Upstairs Hall again on the right.
A gigantic walk-in closet in the playroom full of toys.
Plenty of space inside for sleeper sofas, huge outdoor playhouses and wrestling matches.
(Don’t ask me why Roman is wearing Estella’s bib in this photo. I’m pretty sure Jude is feeding Roman pretend baby food.)
Guest bathroom/Kids brush my teeth space.
(This would be the kids bathroom altogether but it seems that everyone would rather bath in my large jacuzzi tube.)
(I’m reminded of the “Master of the House” song from Les Miserables right now.)
It really is wonderful.
David made this headboard for me. Isn’t it beautiful?
Oh why didn’t I remember to pick up candles to fit in those lovely vintage candles stands?
Do I dare show you our closet?
Well, just a peak… I cleaned it up just for you!
It is truly the size of a small bedroom.
Roman and Jude’s room.
Could these boys fit any more stuffed animals in their beds?
By the way, my husband made these headboards too.
“The Stolen Kiss”
I found a little treasure today digging through some old books.
When my grandmother, Margie, passed, she left behind some medical books that were passed along to me.
I think this may have been lost among those.
It is called God’s Minute: A Book of 365 Daily Prayers Sixty Seconds Long for Home Worship.
Published in 1916 and written by 365 Eminent Clergymen and Laymen.
Within the first pages there is this poem written by Blinton Scollard.
A CALL TO WORSHIP
Let us put by some hour of every day
For holy things! – whether it be when dawn
Peers through the window-pane, or when the noon
Flames, like a burnished topaz, in the vault,
Or when the thrush pours in the ear of eve
Its plaintive monody; some little hour
Wherein to hold rapt converse with the soul,
From sordidness and self a sanctuary,
Swept by the winnowing of unseen wings,
And touched by the White Light Ineffable!
It’s remarkable to read words written nearly 100 years ago, knowing they were worshiping the same God as I.
They were seeking guidance from the same Bible.
They plead with us regarding the importance of spending time with God in their words left behind.
Many of the writers are now with Jesus eternally.
And who was Mamie Billups that lived on 906 Bellemeade Av whom this book belonged?
I may never know but I’m glad this little treasure somehow landed in my hands.
You can imagine how my heart melted just now when I found these printed words.
Roman, my 6 year old son, typed and printed this with no prompting or assistance.
It isn’t the spelling or grammar that is so stunning.
It is the heartfelt words of my sweet boy who knows the love of Jesus.
He said that these are the lyrics to a song he wrote and wants to sing on the microphone.
I asked him if he really cried and he said “I had one little tear.”
Of all my days as a mommy, today is one of my most happy and thankful so far.
This morning, Estella and I were eating breakfast at my mom’s harvest table.
The sun shone through a windowpane and a bird sang right outside.
It warmed our skin and our hearts.
Estella loved hearing the bird’s song. She gasped each time and repeated “bir bir.”
The morning sun whispered to us the secrets of the day to come.
It would be an unusually kind winter day.
I’m a sucker for wide open spaces, cool breezes, flocks of swarming birds and unspectacular farm houses.
I love when the sun makes my children’s skin glow and their eyes sparkle.
Simplicity is the best.
I thought I was strong enough.
Turns out I’m not feeling strong at all. I’m going to need His help this time.
Just when I thought this move was going to be easy, the weight of my thoughts and life press down. I’m the type of person that believes God has a plan. I believe His path always leads to somewhere great. I’ll give up anything to follow Him. But, this time, it’s harder…
I keep pressing forward even though my heart hurts. I’ve shed some of tears. By no means are they tears of regret but, instead, a sort of realization.
It’s a realization that familiar takes time and I don’t want to wait.
It’s a realization that I’m homesick. Although, I’m not exactly sure what home I’m longing for. There is nowhere I long to return. Yet, home hasn’t settled here in my heart either. So, I stand here, somewhere between where we were and where we are going. Displaced.
It’s a realization that family is far away and that isn’t going to change. I want them here to love my kids, to embrace them and warm their little hearts.
When things are out of sorts, everyone feels it. My kids feel it and I can’t fix it. I show it and they see it on my face. I’m having a hard time disguising my thoughts. Roman said, “Mom, you look sad about something.” My general countenance seems to be taking a toll even when I’m not aware.
The problem with all this “realization” talk is that it’s admittedly self-indulgent.
We all have the right to fall apart every now and then, right? It’s times like this, in my vulnerability, that I recognize Jesus reaching out to me. After all, in the Bible, Jesus didn’t typically run around helping those who had it all together. He was moved by people who knew they had needs.
Psalms 61:2 “I will cry to you when my heart is overwhelmed.
Lead me to the Rock that is higher than I.”
The solution is not found within myself. The answer is not the resolution of all my concerns. I can’t even suppress my fears with the power of positive thinking.
I simply need a Rock (Jesus) for shelter from my little storm. I need a higher place, higher than the floodwaters.
To achieve peace, I need to anchor my mind and heart on Jesus Himself. I know that He keeps His promises. I know that He loves me passionately. Now, it is time to trust that He’ll save me, even if there is a storm raging inside.
It’s safer to stay anchored to Him than to drift off on my own.
Psalm 100:4 “Enter into His gates with thanksgiving and into His courts with praise. Give thanks unto Him and bless His name.”
This scripture is a call to rise and look, in faith, to the God who loves us. It’s time I fill my mouth, heart, and mind with praise; I have a feeling that I’ll find that God’s presence is right there, ahead of me.
Very uncharacteristic of late December in Kentucky but very appreciated.
We ran and played on grandmother’s farm for Christmas this year.
We finally got our hands on growing baby Violet who is almost 6 months old.
They help us to settle down.
Recent changes have been a little more difficult on me than anticipated.
Cozy & familiar are nothing of the sorts.
As a mother, a sense of security in my children is important.
I want them to feel at home and peaceful within.
I place a lot of value on this because it is important to me.
With our move, as expected, things were turned up-side-down.
They still are and will probably be for a while.
Why have I been struggling so much with that?
You will keep in perfect peace
all who trust in you,
all whose thoughts are fixed on you!
Trust in the Lord always,
for the Lord God is the eternal Rock.
I have to re-evaluate.
Is my security found in myself?
Does my peace come from control and perfection?
Are my eyes really fixed on the Lord?
I have to ask myself these questions and be transparent with myself.
Did you know we can lie to ourselves?
It’s called denial.
The answers are not what I wanted to hear.
So, here we go Jesus.
I’m having trouble trusting You.
For some crazy reason, I’m finding myself more capable than You, my creator.
This mindset looks like a lot of disappointment and heartbreak for my future.
So, let’s talk about changing it.
Show me how to let go.
I don’t want these frustrating feelings in my heart and now I know why they are there.
I am Yours.
My heart is Yours.
My mind is Yours.
My life is Yours.
My family is Yours.
My days are Yours.
I do not know what is best, You do.
I’m setting my mind on You.
Every moment & every second.
Thanks you Jesus that you love me so much that you show me how to feel better.
This week at my mom’s house in the country has been a gift.
Did I earn such a gift? Probably not.
But God loves me despite whether or not I’m deserving.
Today, we say goodbye to this house.
It’s only a house.
But, it has held us for six years.
Roman was less than a year old when we first moved in.
We celebrated his first birthday party down the road at a local park with family and friends.
Two years later, our Jude was born.
We brought our little red head home and watched him grow.
Two more years went bye.
Lovely Miss Estella won us over as she became a part of our family last year.
It has been are such a warm cozy place.
I know it was the love & family within that made it what it was all along.
And that will be with us wherever we go.
Many of you have heard that we are moving to Chattanooga to pastor a church.
One of my greatest heartaches at this moment is over THIS group of girls.
Never in my dreams could I have known how I would LOVE these students so deeply.
They have inspired me beyond words.
They’ve changed me in some way each time we’ve met.
Their desire is to show God’s love, become more like Him and humbly inspire others.
I could write a story about all the things that have happened among us over the years.
I’ve seen their hearts.
They are beautiful, honest and genuine.
I’ve watched many of your grow from children into young woman.
The openness among this group is something truly remarkable.
They listen to each other and encourage one another without judgment.
They have inspired me to love and not judge, to embrace life to it’s fullest and trust God wholeheartedly.
The time I’ve spent with them will forever hold a special place in my heart.
To all those who are a part or have been a part in the past:
Girls, I love you dearly.
Thank you for letting me be a part of your lives.
I’ve loved every moment.
I cannot wait to see the amazing path unfold that God has chosen for each of you!
Call me. Text me. Facebook me.
I’m not far away!
I’ll miss you.