Thursday, March 27, 2014

My Sweet Charlotte

During the 9th grade AHL year, the students study the Book of Psalms.
They also have the opportunity to write a few psalms of their own.
So, Charlotte, being understated Charlotte, simply handed me her finished assignment and said,
 "I finished my psalm."
This is what I read:
A Psalm of God’s Influence in My Life
Since the day of my birth You have been present,
Through trials and hardship, You have guided me.
Even when my tongue was restrained, You could hear my prayers,
When my eyes were wayward, I could still see You,
When my hands could not grasp, I continually felt Your presence.
Through the years, You have remade me,
Through continual supplication You restored me,
Only through You am I made new.
You have renewed my speech,
May my lips only sing Your praise night and day.
You have restored my sight,
May my eyes only see what is pure.
You have made my hands anew,
May my works glorify You.
For You have made mute speak, the blind see, and the deaf hear,
You are the great Physician.
I cannot even put into words what was happening in my heart when I read this.
I was overcome with emotion because she had been in speech therapy 3-4 days a week for years and years learning to speak.  I could see, in my memory, the little girl struggling to get words out and in the next second I recalled her standing and singing to a room full of people at a voice recital last year.
 When the speech therapy was completed, the occupational therapist worked to strengthened her hands so she could hold a pencil, cut with scissors, and tie her shoe laces. A decade later and she is an amazing artist, violinist, and has the most beautiful handwriting!
A few years later we discovered her severe food allergies which reduced her diet to meat, rice, rice milk and some strawberries.
Months and months of treatments with a naturopath enabled her to eat a varied and healthy diet.
We all remember the day she was told she could eat a slice of bread with peanut butter on it.
Bread and peanut butter was one of her most favorite things.
We, with Benadryl in one hand and an Epi pen in another, watched her eat with grateful, joyous tears trickling down her face.
We thought she was finished with therapy.
And then we learned about her ocular motor dysfunction.
Back to therapy and back to work, this time to help her eyes work together.
It was exhausting work, yet she did it, as she had done all the hard work with every other therapist over the years-- without complaint, without excuses, without self-pity.
She now reads at 343 words per minute.
Do you see the pattern?
In every area of weakness, the Lord has shown Himself strong in her.
She didn't just get a little better in each area. She was victorious!
She was victorious in Him.
Every delay and every deficiency and every lack was brought before Jesus in prayer.
Before every single therapy session, there was prayer. Before any visible result was evident, there was thankfulness for what we knew He would do.
And He did.
And He has, and He does, and He will.
Because He cares so much and loves so deeply and He gives, of Himself, so very faithfully.

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Pain Was A Good Thing/Introducing My Pet Rock

So, funny thing...
Almost two weeks ago on Monday, I was in ER for severe flank pain and it turned out I have a kidney stone.
(My aunt has dubbed my kidney stone my "Pet rock." hee hee)
 Unfortunately, the stone was blocking the transition from the ureter to the bladder so I had some "back flow" going on.

 A good description of the pain-- the pain is like having a hot breathed animal chewing on you from the inside out. This experience has made it into the top 3 of most painful things ever. But here is the funny part. I am SO grateful for this kidney stone! Like, actually happy about it!

Why? Well, with the other stuff that has happened over the last year, the side effects of the prednisone, and having chronic rheumatologic symptoms, I always have some level of pain. Usually it is joint pain, but other types as well. 

Having chronic pain isn't fun and it's constancy was really sucking the joy right out of me. 

Chronic pain wanted to swallow me up and I had to really fight and choose to focus on what I could do instead of mourning all that I can't do.


Enter Monday. It's been a long time since I've had that kind of pain. Pain that left me feeling close to passing out because it was so intense. Pain that kept me from sitting or standing. Pain that made me not care I was in a very crowded ER to the point I asked my Dad to get the "car blanket."  

Yes, I stretched out my mother's purple fleece blanket with Snoopy and hearts on the ER floor and laid down in between the rows of chairs.

What is so wonderful is that pain has given me a practical perspective. By that I mean, even though my daily pain is a drag, I now know how much pain I'm NOT in every day. And I am so, so grateful! 

Now that the kidney pain is managed, the every day pain seems quite dim in comparision.

I was telling Karl about this and he said it reminded him of the Apostle Paul and the thorn in his flesh. Although, he asked for it's removal and healing, The Lord promised that His grace would be sufficient. Paul also suffered acute bouts of pain from beatings and stonings. Through all of it he was able to rejoice in the Lord and the power of His grace. And he considered it all momentary affliction.

Although I would have never chosen the kidney stone, I am grateful that in God's mercy, He allowed me to have it because  I have such a joy in both the intense, acute afflictions, as well as, the chronic afflictions, knowing that both are momentary and light in comparison to the joy awaiting me.


p.s. If this doesn't make sense, I had a lot of pain meds on Monday. Brain is a little slow ;)

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Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Easy Grocery List




This isn't earth-shattering, but definitely a useful little trick!

I was so thrilled to receive my Gordan Ramsay Ultimate Cookery Course cookbook for Christmas.
It works fantastically with the video series which you can find on Youtube.


But this book is rather hefty.

I've been working my way through the recipes and am making the Spicy Meatball Soup (p. 177) for tonight's dinner.


Since time is always zooming past me, instead of writing down my grocery/shopping list for a new recipe, I simply take a photo with my phone!


Now, I can glance at that while I'm at the store without worrying that I forgot to write something down (which has happened more than once) and I don't worry about dropping the list.

It's a very simply thing to do that doesn't require hunting down pen & paper and is very fast.






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Monday, January 13, 2014

He speaks through Gandalf...again

*Disclaimer- the following is a bit disjointed. Words are hard right now. But I didn't want to forget.
Yesterday was Sunday.
I don't like to cook dinner on Sunday. I'm usually extra tired on Sunday and I really want a day of rest.
But, I do not plan ahead so leftovers or a crockpot meal can be eaten. 
I seem to hope that dinner will magically appear on the table.
I have had a particularly hard two weeks. The involuntary movement was back. This made the nerve pain I now have worse. Speaking is difficult. Walking effortful.
It was getting close to dinner time. I did not want to cook dinner.
Budget constraints made getting something to-go not advisable.
I hated feeling like I "had" to make dinner.
I was very grumbling in my spirit.
But, soon I found myself making dinner while internally arguing with the Lord about not wanting to.
"Yes, I want to obey you."
Make dinner.
"I don't want to make dinner! I have no idea what to make."
Are you willing to try?
"Well, yes, but have no idea what to make and I'm tired and..." blah, blah, blah
The next thing I know there is a really tasty dinner in front of our family.
"Lord, why do I complain about the silliest things? Why can't just just be more like my husband and simply do the next right thing without grumbling and complaining?"
I ate on the couch while we watched The Hobbit.
In my heart, I confessed the grumbling and I thanked the Lord for giving me the strength, energy, and ingredients to make dinner.
If the Lord ever asked me to do something "great," "grand," you know, BIG, I would do it without hesitation.

But the everyday tasks as a wife and mother can be overwhelming. 
Dishes, laundry, cooking, repeat.
It was then I realized the real problem.

My brain is so full of what happens when our nest is empty.
What will I do?
This is always my concern.
Doing.
It's been more at the front of my mind than the back lately.
Abby is 17, a Junior, attending community college.
Charlotte 15 and now a permitted driver soon to be licensed.
Elijah is months away from being a teenager.
What happened?!

How did we get here so fast??!!
After my confession, I prayed the Lord would help me to bless my family with joy and consistency especially while I have them here at home.
My rebellion against dinner cooking wouldn't slow down time and keep them home longer. 
Is what I am doing ENOUGH??!!
The Lord is enough.
"But, Lord, am I really doing what You want me to? Or have I missed it?"

And then this scene from the movie is suddenly before me.
It is a scene not in the book.
Gandalf is speaking with Lady Galadriel after being asked why (Gandalf is bringing) the half-ling (Bilbo):

 "Saruman believes it is only great power that can hold evil in check. 

But that is not what I have found. 

I have found it is the small things, everyday deeds of ordinary folk that keeps the darkness at bay. 

Simple acts of kindness and love."

He reassured me yet again that He has performed the Great Deed and all He asks of me is to simply trust and obey... especially in the small things, for they matter greatly.


1 John 4:12 No man hath seen God at any time. If we love one another, God dwelleth in us, and His love is perfected in us.

It is in the faithful small deeds that accumulate to great character. No one time "Great" deed can make up for a lifetime of slackness. In every faithful little deed, I am revealing over and over again, Christ in me. In every prayer, in every humbling service, in every gracious word where His will and Spirit reign over my fighting carnal nature that He is glorified as I am being sanctified.

Only the blood of Jesus makes me acceptable to God. But it is the daily blood-letting of this carnal nature that I painfully decrease so that by His life-giving blood "transfused" in me, He may increase. Daily dying leading to daily living of a powerful, resurrected life.

I Thess 1:3 "As we pray to our God and Father about you, we think of your faithful work, your loving deeds, and the enduring hope you have because of our Lord Jesus Christ."

The rest of the night passed uneventful. Kitchen cleaned, house tidied. Ready for another day.

Just before bed, I was reading in Genesis and savored the imagery of Christ in Isaac as Abraham's servant went to find a bride for the son. I was suddenly curious about the name of the well Isaac sat by.

"And Isaac came from the way of the well Lahairoi; for he dwelt in the south country."

Beer-lahai-roi = "well of the Living One seeing me"

The Living One that sees me. He sees me. In that moment. I had great joy and much peace. I am His "poeme," His workmanship. He WILL finish the work He started. He sees me and if anything needs to change, He, Himself, will see to it.

Phil 1:6
Being confident of this very thing, that He which hath begun a goodwork in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ:

Friday, November 9, 2012

Breakfast of Champions?


Me to Elijah this morning: Hey, buddy, are you hungry? Do you want some breakfast?

Elijah: I already ate.

Me: Really? What did you eat?

Elijah: Toast and peanut butter.

Me: What kind of breakfast is that?!

Elijah: Not a man's!



***

And that folks, is how I break my blogging slump.








Sunday, July 29, 2012

The End of a Sweet Season




Sometimes an accident is simply that-
an accident.



Strange. Surreal. Unexpected.

We hoped it was a simple break.

Instead, it was more of a shatter.

Little tiny bones, broken into too many tiny little pieces.









We feel so blessed to have had this sweet, furry little face 
bless our lives for the last three years.

Mr. Darren aka Agent Stinky McGuire-
we miss you terribly...

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Saturday, May 5, 2012

We're All Just Baby Zebras...





I'm sure most of you have seen this video...



After seeing it on Facebook and hearing some of the comments, my brain started picking up speed.

The basics of what we see in this video are:

• A small child wearing a very zebra-like jacket sitting by the lion habitat at a zoo

• A lion very interested in eating that child (perhaps thinking the child is a tasty baby zebra?)

• A child completely at peace and looking at his mother

• A mother completely confident of her child's safety

What my friend, Ann, pointed out on Facebook, is that this is a picture of 1 Peter 5:8 which says,

"Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour."

Now my momma heart isn't comfortable with a child being that close to a hungry lion no matter how thick the glass, but truly, this child was never in danger.

And that thick glass serves as a wonderful picture of God's invisible, protective hand between us and our Enemy.

I was reminded of this passage from John 10:

"Jesus answered them, I told you, and ye believed not: the works that I do in my Father's name, they bear witness of me.

But ye believe not, because ye are not of my sheep" (or baby zebra :) "as I said unto you.

My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any pluck them out of my hand.

My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father's hand.

I and my Father are one."

Safety glass is firmly in place... we are safe!

Here is where my brain picked up speed-- let's hope it doesn't crash ;)

I was thinking about how the little kid was dressed.  Because of those bold black and white stripes, he was "marked" as prey for the enemy.

We, as believers, are covered by the righteousness of Jesus Christ, and as part of the body of Christ, are marked as prey for the enemy.  Hence, the "seeking whom he can devour" thing.

But as Jesus' words assure us, we are safe in the hands of God.

As a believer, am I confident in God's hand to protect me?

Do I continue to delight in Him, giving my attention to who He is and what He has done? 
Or, do I get so distracted by the lion's gaping mouth and incessant pawing that I distrust the Father and lose faith?

Sometimes my brain thinks, "Lord! What are you doing??? There is lion and he's trying to eat me! Please do something about it!!!"

How silly of me to forget that He has already accomplish it on Calvary's hill. 
He defeated sin and death.  He paid my debt and set me free. I belong to Him.

But I also thought about this verse from James 4:

"Adulterers and adulteresses! Do you know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Whoever therefore wants to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God."

What if that child happened to be dressed in a little lion costume?

Of course, we'll never know for certain, but I'm guessing the lion's reaction wouldn't be the same.

I don't think that lion would have tried so hard to eat him!

Instead of an enemy, perhaps the lion would have recognized one of his own?

But the question occurred to me, do we doubt the love and power of the God who died to save us and determine instead to camouflage ourselves with the world in hopes of escaping his attacks?

Can you imagine a zebra dressing up like a lion in hopes of keeping itself safe?!

As believers, perhaps we have tried to look like the world, but we have been washed by the blood of the Lamb and would not pass a "sniff test" by our enemy.

And how confusing we would be to the other "zebras" around us.

My prayer is that we would be content and joyful to be set apart as belonging to the Lord and that we would have faith like child.
  
I love how at peace this little kid was with his situation. He had complete confidence and joy in his mama and his heart wasn't troubled.

May we keep our eyes on our defender, Jesus Christ, being identified with His death and resurrection, living a Spirit-filled life of victory in Him and for Him and by Him believing by faith this:

"But know that the LORD hath set apart him that is godly for Himself: 
the LORD will hear when I call unto Him." Psalm 4:3










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