Tuesday, December 31, 2013

A Christmas miracle

On Friday December 6, 2013, we got a call that froze our world.

Our Dad was taken to the ER. Chest pains, a 'pop', feeling faint.

Little did we know what God had planned for our family. We will tell you one thing:

He showed His miraculous healing power & beyond any shadow of any doubt that could ever cross your mind let us tell you...

Jesus saved our Dad's life because logically & medically speaking he should not have lived.

Dad had a dissected aortic aneurysm. In laymans terms: he busted the crap right out of the entire layer of his aorta. By the time he got to the hospital he had no pulse & no blood pressure but he was STILL CONCIOUS. He talked his way through his symptoms & less than 2 hours from the time he heard his aorta pop (yes...he heard it pop!) he was on a bypass machine being prepped for surgery.

Here is Renae's personal account of how this has changed her life.

My dad and I have had our trying times all of my life. Over the past twelve years there has been a very fragile relationship between my family (Kdog & our kids) & my dad.

 Let me throw this out there: divorce is tricky & hurtful. Watching your parents get divorced as an adult is heartbreaking.
But let me also say this: The Lord can work miracles to heal wounds that you thought could never be healed.

Kdog & I are very open with my dad. There was not a feeling unsaid regarding our relationship. Over the past four months my dad had reconnected consistently with my children. The Lord was preparing our household for what was about to happen. My children are very attached to my dad & I've never been able to say that before. And this was happening BEFORE his miraculous aortic repair.

When I got to the hospital & waited with his wife & my brother it felt like a bad dream. We didn't know if he would live through the surgery. 



We waited for five hours and during those five hours The Lord melted away resentment & uncomfortable feelings.  He replaced them with love & compassion.

As we waited for the surgeon my dad's wife said repeatedly 'I have a peace from The Lord that he is going to be ok.' 

And he is.

 The surgeon replaced his aortic valve & grafted a new aortic arch. His 'new parts' will probably outlast the rest of his body. 

One new 'part' is a pig valve. My oldest has named him 'Bacon'.

We waited 8 hours that day before my brother & I followed 'Mamaw' (as our kids call her) into the ICU. 

It was the best feeling in the world to kiss my dad's hand, pray over him, & realize The Lord had given him a second chance at life.

The next several days are hazy but mostly I remember seeing him sedated with tears rolling down his face. I knew my dad was in there. 

My sister came and we had lots of time together (which is unusual since she lives 3 hours away!!). We prayed over Dad, stroked his hair & held his hands. 

My most precious moment was praying over dad & my sister started to pray outloud. Dad was still sedated, breathing tube in & he became restless. He was responding to our prayers!!! 



Dad has made a miraculous recovery. He came home on December 23. He's weak but progressing everyday. He had a small stroke & some vision damage but they are both resolving with each & every day!

While mamaw is at work he comes & hangs at my house. It's never dull here. And we keep him moving. 



The love of children & laughter is the best medicine of all if you ask me!




This entire life changing experience has brought my entire family closer. Yes, even my mom & 'step' mom. We all have one thing in common: LOVE

Love for our Lord & Saviour. And do you know what He commands?

“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” (John 13:34, 35 NIV)

Tomorrow is never guaranteed. 

Relationships are worth repairing.

Love always comes out ahead.

God is Healer, Sustainer, Giver of life.

Through all things God gives us strength to endure whatever life may bring.

I can do all this through him who gives me strength. (Philippians 4:13 NIV)

When something like this happens your perspective changes. You learn a lot about yourself & your family. The biggest thing I've learned is this...

Love.
Give. (Your time. Your support. With no strings attached)
Pray.

The Lord empowers you to do whatever it takes to come together if you ask Him first. 

I'm thankful for this experience.

 Weird, maybe?!?

My dad is a miracle through whom The Lord can use to bring other people to His Kingdom.

Amen.








Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Why We Elf



He's back.

Actually, THEY'RE back. There's a host of scout elves haunting houses all over Middle America and creepily spying on innocent young ones across the world. And it's all in the name of Santa...that jolly old bearded fellow who magically shimmies down chimneys everywhere to deliver lots of commercial stuff to our impressionable babes who have been induced with toy-madness since the end of August when they started playing Christmas music in Wal-Mart.

You be good. Really good. Your elf will tell Santa. You will get lots of presents.

Oh, mercy...it sounds just plain wrong. But I'd love to tell you why we do it anyway.

IT'S FUN (!)

More specifically, WE think it's fun. You don't have to like the elf. You don't have to have one of your own if you don't want one. And I won't love you any less if you don't. In fact, if your child is under the age of two and/or you still can't pee by yourself on a regular basis I might even suggest that you don't have time for the elf. That's ok and I also promise you will pee alone again one day. One fine, fine day.

Simply put, Christmas is about God sending his son, Jesus, to the earth in flesh as a baby. It has nothing to do with Santa or elves, we all know that was just a byproduct that happened much, much later. The common denominator here though is that the heart of this holiday is two things: JOY and LOVE.

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,  gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.
~Galatians 5:22-23

Check out the first two fruits of the spirit! LOVE and JOY!

We move that (insert your own adjective here) elf every night, and make it do silly, sometimes involved things, because we LOVE our children! We do it because it creates JOY in each of our hearts! The morning beasties are sweet and cooperating these days because they are so full of joy while trying to find where "Doc" is the morning! Not to mention the hours that my husband and I spend TOGETHER (what??) during the Christmas season planning, plotting, and crafting this little guy's next crazy scheme!

We also do it because we can make it into something teachable. The other day we read this article: http://voices.yahoo.com/5-elf-shelf-ideas-havent-thought-of-12409891.html. Meet Renae's elves, Hervy & Vivi, and the note Hervy left her kids last week:


 
Vivi & Hervy Bake                          Vivi Arrives 
 


This isn't just experiencing love, this is TRAINING UP LOVE! I have no doubt that her Fab Four will remember how they actively paid it forward with Hervy and Vivi's money far more clearly than when Mom simply told them with her words that they should always pay it forward.

It's also a way for moms who take care of others all day and limit their creative sides to show a little creativity of their own. We were creative once...before sleep deprivation killed two thirds of our brain cells.


Hervy's Marshmallow Bath
 
 
I look forward to Doc. I love how excited my kids are to find him each morning. I love the JOY that it brings them. Seeing them experiencing JOY brings me JOY in return!


Clap your hands, all you nations; shout to God with cries of joy.
~ Psalm 47:1
 
 
Nehemiah said, "Go and enjoy choice food and sweet drinks, and send some to those who have nothing prepared. This day is sacred to our Lord. Do not grieve, for the joy of the LORD is your strength." 
~ Nehemiah 8:10
 
 
JOY IS OF THE LORD!
 
 
Doc Repents
 

You can also click through to Denyse's other blog, The Super Mom Chronicles, for Doc's 2012 adventures! http://momchronicles.blogspot.com/2012_12_01_archive.html

Doc has a few groupies after last year's antics. Feel free to follow his progress on instagram using the hashtag #doctheelf as well as #elfontheshelf for a few great ideas IF you need them. ;)

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Denyse's Top Ten Thankful List

1. SALVATION
2. My family, friends, church, the bible, my house, my car, my cats, having a job...you know...the "BIG" ones.

But then...I'm thankful for these:

3. Contact Lenses. I've been wearing them for 27 years. I just can't see right out of glasses. They almost make me dizzy.
4. Living three miles from work. It has changed my life. I can get to work in five minutes most days. I can run home during specials and change my pants if someone accidentally spills their lunch all over me.
5. Flat irons. I don't think I have to explain that one. You know. 
6. Fiesta Mexicana. It's my favorite food. The fact that my family loves this place probably has more to with the way the people there make us feel than anything else. We've taken nearly every good friend or family member there to eat at least once.It makes us happy. Love.
7. Lowes Foods to Go. Because I can't take my children into the grocery store after we've all been at school all day. I just can't. And there are better things to do on Saturday.
8. Clumping Cat Litter. Praise Jesus!
9. Heated Car Seats. Heaven on earth.
10. Facebook. It has its down side. But I love seeing pictures of my niece and nephews and my friends' children on a daily basis. I love the perfect passage of scripture that pops up on my feed exactly when I need it. I love that it's the fastest way to get 200+ people praying in less than five minutes. I love redeeming technology, one post at a time.

Oh, I could go on! But I will get back to my Loves now. Happy Thanksgiving! EnJOY!! <3


1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 (NLT)

Always be joyful. Never stop praying. Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.                                                                            

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Renae's top 10 Thankful List

1. Our Heavenly Father who saved me from eternal darkness & brought me to Light
2. Sweet baby tooshies
3. A Redhead that loves me despite of my annoying flaws
4. Deodorant
5. Coffee. Really really great coffee
6. Freedom. That MANY men & women sacrifice time with their own families to protect. 
7. Pie. Cheesecake. Cookies. And appetizer dips.
8. Clean water to drink. All. The. Time.
9. My family & 'village' who help me with my litter of children
10. Flip flops (and sunshine and sea breezes)


Today we will be on a huge country farm that belongs to Kdog's aunt & uncle. We enjoy the simple things today, slowing down to embrace the gorgeous landscape our Heavenly Father has created. Praying we learn to slow down more & rush less as we head in to the Christmas season. 

Being grateful is a constant effort in a fallen world but through His grace & love it is possible to find JOY. Always.

'Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name. For the Lord is good and his love endures forever; his faithfulness continues through all generations.' (Psalm 100:4, 5 NIV)

Gobble gobble, y'all!!

Monday, November 18, 2013

A Different Thanksgiving

In light of Thanksgiving coming around the corner I'd like to share about how my definition of thanksgiving has been forever changed.

 Thankful is a very heavily used word around our house.

You see, we are thankful for death, disease, pain, & suffering....

HUH?!? Yeah. I know. You thought we were weird before but now I'm telling you I'm thankful for some terrible things?

Let me explain...

About twelve years ago (give or take a few) Kdog & I began an unimaginable journey to thanksgiving. 

Thanksgiving in the terms of being thankful everyday for the small things. 

But also for being thankful for circumstances & life events that hurt. 

Being thankful for pain.

Thanking God for the struggles Because of where we are on the other side.

After the rainy stormy foggy crappy dark hole of desperation & anguish that held us in bondage there was LIGHT & beauty.

There is JOY.

I know, right?!? I'm such a perfect wonderful thankful Christian. Pfssssst.

Go ahead. Kick my face.

I mean, come on, do you really think we got here easily or without strife?

Rewind:
When Kdog & I were first married we noticed his mom forgetting things. She was YOUNG. In her 50s. Clinically depressed for years after losing her husband (Kdog's daddy-o). But one of the sweetest (unless you crossed her wrong & that redheaded woman would cut you with a look so deep it would make a grown man pee himself) & soft spoken women I've ever met. She was modest and could bake up the BEST poundcake & poppyseed bread. She treated me like her own & once I got to know her, fell in love with her sweet spirit.

She loves The Lord & instilled in her children the importance of God, family, & perseverance (after kdog's Dad died [when he was 12] she went back to nursing school).

I LOVED listening to stories of how much she loved Kdog's father. She would say 'I had the best & nobody will ever compare.' 

She ALWAYS had her bible beside her chair with lists & lists of people she was praying for.

She was an intrugal part of establishing my solid faith & at the time I didn't even know it.

Soooooo....

At the age of 56 my mother in law was diagnosed with Alzheimer's. And we began the journey that would change our world forever.

When you're 22 you don't exactly have the maturity level to take on the responsibility of being a caregiver for a parent. That comes later in life, right!!??

You learn fast when times get REAL.

Taking away car keys 
Moving out of houses
Assisted living
Medications
Laundry...

We also found out quickly that in order to cope you have to find humor. And boy was there some humor!

I've clipped toe nails
Washed buttcracks (what, you've never washed your mother in laws buttcrack?!?)
Gotten phone calls from assisted living about naked dancing in hallways (kdog's mom would have NEVER done anything like that in her right mind.)
Accused of taking her to jail (Kdog was the sherif, you know.)

But in the midst of the humor there were walls being built preventing us from feeling. Loving. LIVING.

Fast forward:
A good five years went by and we were melting. Fading. 

We thought we were clinging to The Lord.

But little by little we started realizing how bitter we were becoming.

Then God opened our eyes:

"For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what they already have? But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently. In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose." (Romans 8:24-26, 28 NIV)

There was so much bitterness in this house for a long time & holding on to why & how long...what should of been, etc (the list is huge).

 But ever since we prayed together to release ALL of this to Jesus we've been freed of the stronghold stealing our joy.

There are still tough days but they are manageable through Jesus's gift of amazing GRACE. 

 Kdog is a much better husband & father bc he realizes how precious time is...

And I'm a better wife & mother because I realize tomorrow isn't guaranteed.

My mother in law is still clinging to life here on this earth. We've stopped asking why & pray His will be done.

I'm thankful for what this whole experience has made our marriage...solid. Centered on Christ. And I can guarantee without having lived the dark, difficult years before, we would never have gotten to where we are now.

" Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, 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." (Philippians 4:6, 7 NIV)

We are thankful.

Everyday we are thankful.

Focus on the good.

Find the joy.












Saturday, November 16, 2013

Gifted

This has been on my mind the past two weeks, I've been all over the place trying to organize these thoughts into words that make sense.

Denyse and I were always singing as we grew up. I can't tell you how many times Crazy Rathma has asked us to 'sing for me, honey.' (You know, in the church fellowship hall in front of random people after our Poppi's funeral). So, 'I'll Fly Away' (as did our embarrassment after we started singing) we sang to Granny's delight...

Music moves me. It speaks deep into my inner self. Singing is one of my most important spiritual connections to The Lord. I've sung at church for years. Inconsistently since I've had an entire litter of Keffer offspring.

So, this weekend I officially start back feeding MY spiritual soul singing on vocal team at church.

Hooray! Right?!?

Ummm...

Honestly, it comes with so much scheduling, arranging, practicing, logistics of just getting there that it makes me feel old. And whiny. AND STRESSED OUT.

SLAP. <----- that's Jesus. 

He spoke directly to my human, flawed, judgemental face on Tuesday evening after rehearsal.

Singing is a spiritual gift. It is to honor Him. Worship Him. It helps feed my soul to form a deeper & closer connection to Him. 

It's actually a passion of mine. 

He leads me to this verse:
From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work. (Ephesians 4:16 NIV)

We who are in Christ have a responsibity to serve. And finding your spiritual gift helps you figure out where you 'belong in ministry'. 

I learned at a VERY young age that I loved to sing. But it took a long time to realize that it was a specific gift given to minister to others and share His love. 

Now, let's also get it straight that I am by no means Aretha Franklin nor am I any where close to BeyoncĂ© in vocal talent. (Dance moves, maybe). Whatever. 

Spiritual gifts are given to those in Christ to encourage, help, minister, & love others.   

There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit distributes them. There are different kinds of working, but in all of them and in everyone it is the same God at work. Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good. (1 Corinthians 12:4, 6, 7 NIV)

It is important to find your passion in ministry. The Lord has specifically given you, YES...YOU, a gift that is especially intended to further His Kingdom. YOU have a gift that He wants you to use for His good. 

Working with children?
Singing?
Greeting?
Praying?
Organizing closets in the church warehouse?
Cleaning toilets in the youth room?( that is a gift bc teens are stinky)

You can be a blessing to others no matter where you are in your relationship with The Lord. He will meet you in the middle...wherever you are...He will guide you and plop you right where you belong! 

Denyse has an awesome testimony about finding and applying her spiritual gifts:

So...what if you don't know what your spiritual gift is? Or what if you know but you are utterly and completely terrified to use it? My spiritual gift is the same as my sister's, yet my experience with this gift is completely different. To make a very long story short...years ago I used my gift of music through both church and secular opportunities. It was a path I considered taking as my profession. I didn't, for several reasons. Along with that dream, my love of serving God through my gift died away.

Fast forward twenty years. Yes, I said twenty years. I didn't sing much more than the Good Morning song to kindergarteners and Itsy Bitsy Spider to my own two little ones for TWENTY years. (And those times that Rathma forced me to.)

God had been gently pushing me toward my return to church. Not just a go to church kind of thing, but a be the church kind of thing. He not so subtly shoved me into newhope church's Garner campus on it's opening day in 2010. I cried every Sunday for a year knowing that His presence was so thick in that place that I couldn't brush it off of me when I left each week even if I had tried. When the first plea came for serving in this budding campus I opted for the children's ministry. I knew how to do that. And I did, but without complete fulfillment. But that was ok, I was helping and I was happy to be helpful.

For one whole year I sat in service each Sunday trying to sort through what God was trying to tell me. About lots of things in my life really, but specifically about serving. I LOVED the worship music! It was loud! It was fun! And best of all, it was not a four part hymn sung in a dragged out 4/4 time, heavy on the Southern drawl! I wanted to sing those new songs all week!

This went on and on within me until the following summer. I went home to Virginia to visit my family and attended my family's church like I often did. Soon after I arrived my sister said, "Hey, I'm singing this Sunday. I know it cuts our time a little short but I've had to say no the last couple of times they've asked me."  I didn't mind. I liked her church.

Sitting in my seat that Sunday, watching and worshiping with my sister, God said to me, "NOW! YOU GO DO THIS!"

Petrified, a few weeks later I talked to our worship arts pastor. We arranged an audition. It was scary and my rustiness was apparent. But I had no doubt that I would be invited to be a part of the worship arts team, not because I was anything amazing, but because this was what God had told me to do. I listened. Good things happen when I listen.

Two years later, I am still using my gift of music to serve God through my church. I never grow tired of serving. My body may grow tired...because it's a long day with three worship services each time I do serve...and it seems that somehow I am now twenty years older. But I never tire of the actual serving part.

Serving feeds my soul because I use the gift that God gave me.

If you feel like you haven't found your gift...just listen. Pray about it. Talk to people you know about how they found their gifts and listen to the advice they have. Think about your passion. What do you love? Maybe not focus quite so much on what you are good at...although that can certainly be beneficial if your gift does happen to be singing! ;)

If you know your gift but have been a little afraid to use it...please allow me to encourage you to give it a try! You know if God is speaking to you. Listen to what He is saying and listen to his direction. He is always right!

Isaiah 30:21 (NIV) 21 Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, “This is the way; walk in it.”

 
And I will say this as well...if you are not so sure that your relationship with the Lord is exactly where you want it to be just yet...(Is anyone's?? Mine's not!) there is a very good chance that by jumping in and using your spiritual gift to serve Him...that you will actually become that much closer in the meantime.
 
God gave us gifts for a reason. His plan is oh so perfect and I promise you...someone out there needs for you to use your gift! It just may be that using your gift will help them find theirs!











Tuesday, November 5, 2013

FULL OF AWESOME

On December 17, 2007 I called one of my best friends to tell her that I was pregnant with my second child. She answered the phone with "I've been meaning to call you! I'm pregnant!" Two friends pregnant at the same time for the second time? To say we were excited would be a complete understatement. We both had little boys who were under the age of one...ok hers was nearly one and mine was only six months old. But regardless, we were excited to share another pregnancy together and were, of course, hoping for girls to round out our families.

It turned out she was a few weeks ahead of me so she got to go first to have the 18 week ultrasound to find out if she was having a girl or a boy. She was going on a Friday so I waited excitedly for the call. Friday ended and turned into Saturday. I fretted but chalked it up to a busy weekend. Sunday rolled around and I thought surely their appointment was cancelled...or something. I'd call tomorrow. But later Sunday afternoon the call came. The technician had seen something concerning on the ultrasound...something on her back...maybe on the spinal column...they weren't completely sure...spina bifida...sending them to Duke for more tests...the baby might not be able to walk...but they were going through with the pregnancy.

Breathe.

I don't remember what I said. I just remember trying not to cry. Trying to be supportive. Trying to reason through something that hurt worse than anything I could think of up until now in my life and it wasn't even happening to me. My friend's little girl would likely not be able to walk.

This couldn't be happening.

We prayed for a miracle.

I had to wait two more weeks for our ultrasound. It was an eternity. And it was worse than you think. You see, my husband was born with a birth defect called cranium bifidum. You can google that if you'd like, but honestly I don't recommend it. The photographs are upsetting.

Encephalocele, sometimes known by the Latin name cranium bifidum, is a neural tube defect characterized by sac-like protrusions of the brain and the membranes that cover it through openings in the skull. These defects are caused by failure of the neural tube to close completely during fetal development. Encephaloceles cause a groove down the middle of the skull, or between the forehead and nose, or on the back side of the skull. The severity of encephalocele varies, depending on its location. (Wikipedia)

Here's a glimpse of what an xray of someone with encephalocele/cranium bifidum would look like at age 3 months and after the skull has had time to continue to grow by age 2 years:



My husband is part of a less than 1% population with cranium bifidum who survived during the 1970's. Even though he had large skull openings, there was no membrane or portion of the brain protruding through his skull openings. In short...

My husband is a miracle.

We had already been through genetic counseling with our first child. We knew that there was an 80% chance that our children could be born with cranium bifidum or any other nerual tube defect. Spina bifida is a neural tube defect. Our friend's baby, more than likely, had spina bifida.

It was supposed to happen to us.

But it didn't. 

After many level 2 and 3D ultrasounds, it was determined that our baby was fine. 

In July of 2008 Miss Awesome was born on the very day that our family closed on and moved into our new home. (Still not sure how I did that 8.5 months pregnant.) I will never forget that day. Awesome's mom was on bed rest for the latter part of her pregnancy because of low amniotic fluid so they scheduled a c-section a few weeks early. I remember the text:

Me: We have keys!
Her: We have blood tests!

We got to see Awesome a few weeks later because she was in the hospital for awhile right after she was born. I was so distressed that I couldn't visit at Duke because I had my own little one with me who had just turned 1. If I was distressed I couldn't even fathom what my friends were feeling.

Exactly four weeks after Awesome was born, I went into labor with my little one. The texts from that day:

Me: My water just broke.
Her: Go to the hospital. (although I think that one was courtesy of Awesome's dad)

Few people know this and I often forget, but we did find after our daughter was born that she had a very diluted form of cranium bifidum where only her top fontanel was larger than normal - the diameter was about three inches - but it closed on its own by the age of three. She even has the classic hairy spot at the base of her spine that can indicate a neural tube issue. 

We know what 'almost' feels like. But we don't really know.

Not long after that, two little girls began a friendship that would permeate any type of disability, struggle, or stereotype. They were like two peas in a pod from the beginning.


All these years later my husband and I have watched our dear friends live life with complete grace, facing something that is just plain hard. Somehow, they have made this unknown a part of day to day living that is more seamless than brushing your teeth each morning.

We have watched this unshakable family tackle clinic days, braces, therapists, and medical bills for five years now. We have watched this unshakable girl learn to sit up, crawl, scoot, climb stairs, wheel, and even to walk.
 
We know a miracle when we see one. A miracle is what everyone prayed for, after all.
 
A few weeks ago we had the privilege of walking in the Walk and Roll for Spina Bifida. I was not expecting all of those memories to come flooding back, but for some reason they did. Teary-eyed with gratefulness, I just said a prayer of thanks for the love we share with this family who is so special to us. I thanked God for every what if, almost, and unanswered prayer. Because everything that IS, is just as God intended it. And I believe that this little girl is just perfect exactly the way she is.
 
She is, of course, full of awesome!
 
Psalm 139:16-19 ESV        
For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother's womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well. My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them.





Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Seasons

The fall season here is gorgeous. This time of year always makes me think about how in scripture it says, 'Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!' (2 Corinthians 5:17 NIV).

Every spring the leaves bud on the trees, everything is new! Then summer is gorgeous & lavishly green. Fall comes around and the leaves turn amazing brilliant colors displaying His beauty in nature. Sadly, the leaves fall & the trees are bare. Winter is cold & desolate. But yet again, every spring He makes all things new!! 


That is the road I travel everyday to my house. I was stopped in my tracks today at the gorgeousness.

There are many seasons of life. I've been thinking of a few a lot the past two weeks. A couple of my friends have had babies in the past 14 days. I've held them & snuggled them & done lots of thinking how I'm really glad I don't have a newborn. Hahaaaa. So many things change in a year with small children. Last year I was in a newborn sleep deprived haze at Halloween. 

This year I am ON IT.

Obnoxious baking. 

But to me it isn't about this 'stuff'. It's about making memories & instilling tradition in my children. I have such wonderful memories of my childhood doing these types of things. 

The season of having babies and sleepless nights is really hard.

Foggy thoughts surround all of my memories after each of my children were born. 

This season is full of life changing and soul defining moments. Becoming a parent (for me) was a process that I had to gradually accept. I remember thinking when my first born was 6months old 'am I just going to sit in the floor and play with my kids the rest of my life?'

Naive. 

Young.

SELFISH.

If only it were that simple & easy.

Having babies made me grow up. I became an adult because I had to put on my big girl britches & get out of bed every morning...because someone NEEDS me.

 They need a momma who gets up (not always cheerful) and tends to their needs because they matter. 

Putting my aches, exhaustion, laziness, MY wants aside & doing what The Lord has called me to do.

 And dang it, I don't like to rise early & I want to take naps too!!! (Insert a fabulous Kdog that has taken more than his fair share of middle of the night children shenanigans). I am mildly evil at 3am. Honest. My children tend to call for their Daddy in the night. Truth. 


Thinking of the infant season NOW, I realize it's quite easier on some level than a new season we are approaching...


This little (big) gem can read, comprehend, & emotionally connect with the fallen world. He can be influenced, enticed, & purseuded by the devil in many more ways than I'm ready for!!

"Fix these words of mine in your hearts and minds; tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Teach them to your children, talking about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates, so that your days and the days of your children may be many in the land the Lord swore to give your ancestors, as many as the days that the heavens are above the earth. "(Deuteronomy 11:18-21 NIV)

Don't you put it past me to tape a relevant bible verse on my forehead so every time they look at me they are reminded to stop being turds. Seriously.

It goes along with my 'if you don't clean your crack or scrub your pits I'll scrub them for you, even if you're 12' philosophy. 

They have all been warned. 

I dread the stinky tween phase. 

Seriously, I never dreamed I would be this passionate about how we raise our children. I've always loved The Lord & knew I wanted our children to know Him & have a relationship with God.

But over the last 8 years, as I've become an 'adult' there have been so many spiritual moments that have changed my life. 

I'm excited to share how I've gotten to where I am spiritually. Life's lessons are only useful if you learn and grow from them. Happy or sad. 

There are plenty of crappy things that have gone on in my life. But I made a permanent decision to choose joy.

I'm just as cranky & mouthy as the rest of you. But I am joyful in my soul & only through Him did I find peace.

Being obedient & faithful to raising children who don't just love The Lord but who want to further His kingdom is DIFFERENT. 

And no matter what season of life I am in I know one thing that never fails, never gives up or runs dry...

His love remains the same.




 


Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Witness

When you ask God to break your heart for what breaks His, He does not hesitate to answer. I've always had a soft spot in my heart for people (and for animals) but lately God is using this and doing something different in me. I was walking through Wal-Mart today and happened to pass by a muslim woman and her sweet little boy who was riding in a shopping cart. I smiled. She didn't, but that didn't matter to me. And then my heart broke. Right there in the middle of the paper products isle.

Usually I can't tell by just passing by whether or not someone knows Jesus. But because of her head covering, it was blatant that she was not a Christian and did not know Jesus. Not that I've never passed by a muslim person before, but today was the day that it hit me. If nobody intervenes, this woman is going to hell. And what's more, she'll never teach her precious son about Jesus either.

My eyes filled with tears. I'm not sure why God chose today to let me see this child of His through His eyes, but He did. And I think I may have failed. Was I supposed to stop her in the middle of Wal-Mart and ask her if she knew Jesus? I'm not sure. But what I do know is that it wrecked me and I was extra thankful that I was by myself.

My first thought, as I was standing there crying by the cat litter, was that I am not a good witness. And I don't know if I'll ever get much better. Then my thoughts turned quickly to my own children. First, I just stood there and thanked God for them. I thanked Him for their pure hearts and for their willingness to pray anytime, anywhere, for anyone. But mostly I thanked Him that my children already know Jesus. My heart has been at ease for some time knowing that if anything happens to them or to me...you know what I mean...I KNOW WITHOUT A DOUBT that we will meet again in heaven one day. I take incredibly strong comfort in that. Tomorrow is not guaranteed, folks.

Still, my question is: How do I help my children do better than I do? How do I teach them to witness? And God said to me...

1. Take them to church. Every week. Or more. That's kind of obvious, I know, but that's one place that children can gain knowledge, language, and experiences that will help them to put the story of Jesus in their own words.

2. Model. Even when it feels awkward. Let them see you talking to others about Jesus - even if it's only with people you know and are comfortable with. Help them to know that it's perfectly natural and ok to talk to other people about Jesus. It's the best news in the world! It's exciting and it should be shared!

3. Talk about witnessing. Ask your children if they've ever talked to friends at school about Jesus. Tell them that it's ok to do that if they want to or if they feel like God is telling them to share. It feels good to obey what God is asking us to do. And it feels beyond good to know that our friends will be able to go to heaven if they know Jesus!!

4. Encourage them. When you hear your child talking to others about God, Jesus, church, or even things like fruits of the spirit, praise them for it! If the angels are rejoicing in heaven because your child is helping to expand the Kingdom, you should be rejoicing too!

5. Let it stand that they can invite any friend to church anytime. No matter if you really wanted to sleep late and slip into church right as the service starts the next day. No matter if you don't feel like having one more noisy kid in the car on Sunday morning. Guaranteed, you will end up being blessed in some way...and someone's little soul may be hanging in the balance.

Jeremiah1:7-8
But the Lord said to me, “Do not say, ‘I am only a youth’; for to all to whom I send you, you shall go, and whatever I command you, you shall speak. Do not be afraid of them, for I am with you to deliver you, declares the Lord.”


Matthew 21:15-16
When the religious leaders saw the outrageous things he was doing, and heard all the children running and shouting through the Temple, “Hosanna to David’s Son!” they were up in arms and took him to task. “Do you hear what these children are saying?”
Jesus said, “Yes, I hear them. And haven’t you read in God’s Word, ‘From the mouths of children and babies I’ll furnish a place of praise’?”








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