Friday, December 11, 2015

No for Now

 One area that I think non-followers, and even a lot of followers, like to throw around in anger and hurt with God is that He doesn't answer them in a way they want. He doesn't remove the pain. He doesn't fix the difficult situation. He doesn't heal. Ultimately, God has answered with a "no." 

 God has every right to say no or yes. That right is part of His sovereignty. Why He answers the way He does is from His holiness and righteousness. If we continue to cultivate anger because of His answer, we must think we have something in us that trumps His sovereignty, holiness, and righteousness. Seems ridiculous. 

 Sometimes I find myself upset that God has said no to me but then I realize that He is on the other side of the situation. He sees the big picture and therefore the purpose of why things are happening and it is for His glory. 

 Wouldn't it be great if I could just keep that in my mind? But, nooooo.

 Today I woke up whining to God that I was tired and hurt and not sure I could keep going. It had been a hard week of doctor appointments, disagreements, and court that turned ugly and next week, if God sees fit to keep me here, promises more of the same. So, I stood in the bathroom in my jammies, uncombed hair, un-brushed teeth arguing with God why I should not be where I am. Pure ugly. 

 Graciously, God reminded me that sometimes His no is momentary. Where we are now is not where we will be when we die. What is happening right now will end and we will have something so much better when He takes us to the place He has prepared for us. That's a promise if we are in Christ. 

 We do not need to whine or keep asking. He removes death, He wipes away the tears, He takes away reproach. It just may not be today or tomorrow. 

Monday, December 7, 2015

I Haven't Gotten What I Deserve

 You heard me. All these years and after all I have done, I have not gotten anything even close to what I deserve. I could stamp my foot or throw a fit and demand my right to what I am owed...

 ...but that would be foolish. And it is not just because it is childish of me but it would be ridiculous. Nowadays it is a commonplace attitude that people walk around with a sense of entitlement thinking they deserve something. 

 What have any of us done or what do any of us deserve? We definitely do deserve something. 

 I am glad, no, thankful that I have not even gotten close to what I deserve. 

 Growing up was hard and anger ate at me because life seemed unfair and I was right. It was unfair but not in the way I imagined. 

 When a righteous, holy and just God looks at the world and does not completely wipe it out, none of us have gotten what we deserve. When He allows us to live and breathe and have family, He exacts an abundant amount of mercy. It is sort of like a convicted killer sentenced to death and he is not put in jail. Not only is he not put in jail but he is given the freedom to walk around and choose to continue doing what he was doing. 

 Shaking my fist at God as a teenager and saying that I hate Him was more than enough to deserve His wrath but when I set out to actively pursue anything that He defined as sin, I was knowingly seeking His punishment. But God did not destroy me and not only did He not give me what I deserve, He worked in my life to save me. How many of us would pursue the murderer of someone we love and make them part of our family? It is kind of what God did but on a much larger scale because this criminal continued and, even still today, continues to commit crimes of sin. Instead of reaping the wrath of God that I am clearly owed, He made me His own. He cleaned me up, He gave me new life and purpose. 

 On top of that, I see that He has given me an amazing group of brothers and sisters in Christ. It is a family that is ever growing and so beneficial to my spiritual growth. He has given me opportunities to love others and resources to use when that love needs to be displayed in a provisional way. He has given me eyes to see that people, no matter their color or culture, are His creation made in His image with a soul. 

 That last one is important because although God has withheld doling out justice, it is coming. For now, we can choose to live however we like (earthly consequences and all) but a time is coming that we will reap what we deserve unless we stand redeemed in Christ. This is mind-boggling. God will not punish one in Christ no matter because God the Son took the punishment on Himself??? It's true. 

 "Yes God, I am a murderer, a liar, a thief, and more but Christ has taken my penalty and I am free." There is not one single thing I need to do except turn to Christ and even that is a work that God does. My brain still has a hard time wrapping itself around why God would do that but I most certainly want to make sure other souls know that He did and that they have a chance to not get what they deserve. 

 This is why Christians celebrate Christmas. Jesus, Lord and Savior, operates according to His plan of love, grace, and obedience. Soooo...why did we invent the idea of Santa who operates according to our works???? I'll pass, not getting what I deserve is much better. 

Thursday, November 19, 2015

A Strategy for All Situations Except Food Stains

  Of all the things in all the world, I would never say that I was a mentor or a guide or a leader. I hide and I cry. It's what I do. Of all the things in all the world that I would love to be it is a Titus 2 older woman teaching women about godly women things. I am passionately passionate about it but have yet to attain that goal. This is why it throws me off when another woman says something like, "Give me a strategy for getting through this situation." My face surely displays a look of "Who me!?" 

 Is it the silver highlights that are starting to grace my head or the hands that look like they belong to my grandmother that has fooled them? Something has made them take leave of their senses because they are talking to the woman who left the house with a toothpaste stain on her shirt and possibly forgot to brush the back of her hair (I am still trying to remember if I did, it's a terrible tangle). But, there it was a woman who looked tired and worried asking sincerely for wisdom and wanting to know how I got through situations like her own. 

 This is why I think discipleship is important. No, it's not because I have so much to share. It is because it puts my feet to the fire and it makes me accountable to how I live out my days. Am I walking the walk that I'm talking or am I all hot air? 

 In this situation, it may be that my walk and talk aligned in faith. It was a moment where I got alone and just poured out my heart to God then I was quiet and still and I listened to God and His Word rang out. He reminded me of His sovereignty, that He has given me my being, that He has gone before, and that He is and was and will be. For any situation, a good strategy is to remember that God is in every moment at every moment. He is at the beginning of an issue, in the middle and already at the end. If He put me there then He'll be there on the other side of it. Do I trust that? Do I trust that He is good and holy? Do I or does it just sound good to say? 

 Part of the strategy is to walk through the doubt and come out to the end of it so that you can confess it and move forward. There must be a sorting out of feelings so that they do not wrongly influence our perceptions and we can see Truth unclouded. 

 It is not for His pleasure that we have sorrow or trouble but it does bring Him pleasure when we grow from adversity. The other part of the strategy after you have walked through the doubt and sorted out emotions is to get some solid sisters to ground you in Truth and pray for you. This is where it would be great to have that older woman in your life being all Titus 2. 

 For one brief moment, I thought I may have been close but then I spilled cole slaw all down into my cardigan and all over  the baby. It might be a little longer before I am there. 

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Giraffes say...

 Playing with our Noah's Ark toy, Jellybean takes out an animal and I make the sound for it. Lion says, "Roar!" Tiger says, "Grrr." Zebra makes a whinny. Elephant trumpets. Giraffe says...

 I have no clue and so I look at Jellybean and roll my eyes. He thinks this is funny so that's our new game when someone picks up the giraffe. 

 A giraffe is an awesome part of creation but because it does not have a recognizable sound attributed it does not make it any less valuable in creation. We just get to learn to appreciate it in a different way and take advantage of other senses in perceiving its attributes. 

 Kangaroos say...

 When we look at a giraffe with expectations of it making a sound like a monkey or behaving in a way like a horse, we err. Not only do we err but we miss its beauty and its uniqueness. We miss seeing what God's hand has done. 

 Rabbits say...

  I think of this when I think of my nephew. When he was small no one questioned my sister carrying him or looked at him differently. He was an adorable little tike and he met their expectations but as he grew, she would carry him in places when it was hard to get his wheelchair out. People would stare and some not only stared but made comments like, "You're too big to be carried." They missed the beauty of a mother willing to take her child with her even on snowy days when it meant more work. They missed meeting a child who is really funny, so easy to love, and never forgets a friend. 

 Platypus say...

  I think of this since we have started to get some stares for the tubes and equipment we have. On the rare occasion we do not have to drag in all the accessories, we just get a few stares because this older woman of one color has this baby of a different color. Mostly, he meets people's expectations because he's small and cute but he will grow and what if he still has to have a tube hanging out to eat or he is still flapping his hands when he gets excited or he grunts loudly and points at something he wants. What then? More stares and possibly comments. 

  Antelope say...

   But God says this: "But he, desiring to justify himself, said to Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?” Jesus replied, “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and he fell among robbers, who stripped him and beat him and departed, leaving him half dead. Now by chance a priest was going down that road, and when he saw him he passed by on the other side. So likewise a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. But a Samaritan, as he journeyed, came to where he was, and when he saw him, he had compassion.  He went to him and bound up his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he set him on his own animal and brought him to an inn and took care of him. And the next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper, saying, ‘Take care of him, and whatever more you spend, I will repay you when I come back.’  Which of these three, do you think, proved to be a neighbor to the man who fell among the robbers?” He said, “The one who showed him mercy.” And Jesus said to him, “You go, and do likewise.” - Luke 10:29-37

 Mercy did not question why the man was walking alone. Mercy had compassion, not pity. Mercy reached out and took care of the immediate need then went beyond that to get the man in a place where he could stand on his own. Mercy presented a clear picture of God's love. 

 God didn't just pity us in our sin and under His judgement. He acted by sending Christ to pay the penalty for the sin but He doesn't just leave us alone after we are in Christ. He gives us the Holy Spirit to strengthen and grow us. We are not just living but thriving. 

 It seems we should not have expectations of which people get to be our neighbors and which should not. A neighbor is whomever God has moved into our path and the response to them is clear - show God-glorifying mercy. When we get to the things in life that do not meet our expectations or we do not fully comprehend, we need to remember one thing:

 Jesus says do likewise. 

 P.S. Just in case you are wondering what giraffes say, you can watch this informative video: What does the giraffe say?

Monday, November 2, 2015

Life Measured in Ounces

 20 - the number of ounces Jellybean was when he entered this world

 28 - the number he lost from August to October this year

 9 - the number he has gained the last week and a half

 5.5 - how many he eats every 3 hours

 4.5 - how many per hour his feeding pump runs

 1 - how many he has been eating by mouth each day recently

 These are numbers that make up almost every day of my life. Striving, I work to increase some and decrease others. The ounces are only in my control as far as what I can do and the rest I have to leave in God's hands. 

 That is a difficult thing some days but most days the struggle is my mind. 

 The gap between me and the world, what I used to do, what I could get done, the people I was connected to...would take enough ounces to fill the Grand Canyon. 

 At the same time, I love caring for Jellybean and seeing him overcome the obstacles in his life. I praise the Lord for the ounces he has gained, the fact that he can be moved around without freaking out anymore, how he can sit and play toys for a few minutes on his own. Every babble and finger point is a milestone celebrated. Even the tantrums are joyous. He has likes and dislikes and he wants to communicate them. 

 Maybe the struggle is in not knowing anything about the outcome. In raising children, you have hopes for their future. You educate them and they go off to college or get a job. You raise them up and they grow into adults and  build lives of their own. 

 Fostering a child...the outcome is unsure and you cannot think that things might go one way or the other. You can work with the family to reunite them with their child. You can work to keep a child safe when reunification is not an option. You can work to do what is best for the child but you have no way to know what the end will be. 

  In one short moment a judge could make an 18 pound 3 ounce hole in my life and then what? A Grand Canyon to cross with a wounded heart.  

  This is where I have to give everything over to my Lord, Jesus. Surely, I know His foot has already crossed the gaps and His plans are better than any I can fathom. He knows much more of loss than I and He also knows the eternal joys that await His children. He poured out ounces and ounces of blood to make it possible for us to have eternity. 

  The only ounce required of me is the one of faith. May each moment of this life be steeped in faith. Praise to God Almighty. 

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

You Don't Get One Without the Other

 Traveling the road of life, it would be great to have a map that shows what is ahead. In some respects, the Bible is that but it is not picture of what will specifically happen in your life next week. Sometimes that is hard if you are going through struggles. 

  You want answers. You want direction. You want to know when you will get to the end of the tunnel and come out on the other side. 

 As humans, we like to map out our lives from a past perspective showing where we have been. That alone should make us realize that our maps of joy and our maps of sorrow are the same map. Instead, I think we look at them separately...or at least I do that on occasion. This month has given me a clearer view of how entangled these two elements are in life. God does not remove one or the other. He weaves them together.

 It is like Fall. You get the beautiful colors of the leaves and relief from the sweltering summer but with that you get nippy winds biting your cheeks, shorter daylight hours, and eventually everything turning brown. 

  We don't get to compartmentalize joys over here and sorrows over there or try to avoid sorrows altogether. The two intermingle. Joys sweeten sorrows and sorrows highlight joy. I learned that even more this month. 

  Jellybean lost weight during August and September from vomiting and a nasty cold. Despite feeding him more calories and more volume of food, he is not gaining anything. In fact, he lost a few ounces. I am worried and discouraged and blaming myself. His unrelated surgery next month is quickly approaching and how he will fare without some extra weight? On top of this, it seems he will linger in the system a while because his case is a mess. My daughter is dealing with some strange anxiety and fatigue from her chronic disease. My son has been sick a lot lately and we fear that he may need to be tested for tick-borne illness as well. 


  In the past month, Jellybean has also been able to sit for 15 minutes and, not only can he sit, he can play with toys while he is sitting. He has rolled from his tummy to his back twice. Much to our delight he has been reaching for us and even learned to sign "up." Just the other day, he picked up on how awesome it is to give high fives. So fun! My daughter is making really good grades in her first semester of college. She has become an ace paper-writer even though she was the most afraid of writing college papers. My son is on track to graduate college in a few semesters and will probably do it with honors. 


 But even if I did not have any of that, joy and sorrow still exists as a Christian. Sorrow for a world that does not acknowledge God. Joy for a God that is unchanging, righteous, just, and merciful. Sorrow for the effects of sin. Joy for the Savior that overcomes sin. Sorrow for death. Joy for Jesus who can bring us victory over death. 

 One day, those who belong to Christ will live without sorrow but for now, our lives are woven into a picture of Him using both and there is a way to glorify God in it all. 

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

I Eat My Vinegar with a Spoon

 Uh heard me. A big glob of vinegar on a real big spoon, straight shot.

 Vinegar is something I take for a lot of reasons but it is a cringe-worthy event. This past week was a lot like taking vinegar - it had some benefits but it was hard to swallow.

 Jellybean's medical test results were surprisingly discouraging. When the doctor came in, I was smiling, prepared to hear, "Everything looks good." Nope. Instead I heard, "More intervention is required." I think I needed a hit of O2 at that moment. Another surgery????

 Today we saw the ENT and she is very hesitant to take the other doctor's recommendation. She feels the risk of complications is too high. So we are scheduled for surgery before Thanksgiving and we will see what has to happen once she takes a look around. One more surgery no matter which direction she decides to go. My heart aches even though I know something has to be done.

 And ending that week, our oldest dog died. A lot of times, I get up first in the morning but on this particular morning I was sleeping extremely sound so the hubby got up first. The routine is always start coffee, let dogs out, open chicken coop, then let pig out and dogs in to eat. On this brisk day when my husband opened the laundry room door, our old dog lay snuggled on his blanket instead of getting up and he continued to lay there after several attempts to call him. The hubby scooped him up and carried him outside where I would not see him.

 Once I drug myself out of bed, my mind realized that it was terribly quiet in the house and that no dogs were inside. I kept thinking that maybe the hubby had taken the old dog out back with him for some reason, even though he never did  that because the old dog just could not walk that far. 

 It is funny how my mind will allow me to be happily unaware that something could be wrong. I naively sat drinking a cup of coffee until my hubby came walking up from the back with a troubled look on his face. That is when I cried. 

 So maybe you are wondering what the benefit was in that week. Well...God is infinitely wise and merciful and some  benefits are not noticeable right away but I can say that in spite of it all, I managed to help out a friend (just being able to be useful to someone is a big deal for me right now) and Jellybean's current issues have caused DCS to finally decide that he is officially "medically fragile" which means that for anyone to get custody of him, they will have to prove themselves to be sufficiently competent. Of  course, I would much rather prefer him to be healthy but since he has so many issues, I am glad that some measure of insurance is in place to ensure that he will be cared for properly should he be moved from our home. On that note, at the end of last week we celebrated one year with Jellybean. Oh yea!

 If God deems that vinegar must be part of my days then I will take it and trust that He is in control and knows what is best. Hopefully, I will not cringe in the process. God is good all the time - sometimes we just need to be reminded because we are not. 

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Not a Food Fight...A Food War!

  The food war is on. Every day battles are waged. Some are won. Some are lost but the war continues.

  Jellybean has been cleared to start practicing eating but we have one problem that cropped up just a few weeks ago. After my boasting that Jellybean had no oral aversions, I am kicking myself. Technically, I guess I was sort of right. It is more like a food-in-the-back-of-his-mouth aversion. Anything that squirts or squeezes food into his mouth can bring on a gag attack.

  At first, I was despairing because I love to feed people and how could a baby in my house not want to eat???? Apparently, it is very easy. Google "tube weaning" and you will find story after story of children who struggle to eat by mouth, not to mention the scads of websites that claim they can help.

  My goal is to offer as many interactions with food as I possibly can throughout the day but that makes it impossible to go anywhere and even harder to keep the house clean. Baby  food is on my coffee table. It is on the baby and his seat. It is on his toys and blankets. It is on just about every dish towel I own. It is on this laptop screen and for reasons I wish not to explain right now, it is on the ceiling. It. Is. Everywhere.

  Are we making progress? Um. Maybe.   

  Jellybean is a tough cookie to crack (no pun intended). He is not motivated by many things. Usually, we have two choices if we want him to do something - make him do it or forget the whole thing. Forgetting it is just not an option so everyday I am offering food in some way. 

 Two days in a row he took food into his mouth using the sponge brushes we use to clean his mouth then the OT came and he refused to use them and hasn't since. Yesterday he sucked a teething biscuit in a mesh eating utensil. He refuses to use it if you put fruit into it. He has rejected every bottle and sippy cup we own except to chew on the underside or handles which pose no threat of putting liquid into his mouth. 

  Sometimes, I admit, it is frustrating and in my head I am yelling, "Eat, just eat! It's a necessary thing and will be good for you to come off this feeding pump!" He would not understand if I did yell it out and there is a reason that he does not want to do it. Part of it is that he still cannot maneuver food with this tongue correctly and he just freaks out if something gets too far back. It is hard to watch and not be able to do anything except keep trying. 

  I realize that I do not do a lot things that I should for a lot more silly reasons and this helps to keep me patiently persistent. Sometimes I wonder how God is so patient with me or how godly friends are so gracious...or wait, are they just not doing something they should do? 

  We have things that we battle against as we follow Christ and many of us struggle with doing things we should do, we know we are commanded to do, and that honor God. Making disciples is a big one. I have heard every excuse in the book from women on this one yet, Jesus commands us to do it. Correcting a straying brother or sister is another. That one causes a gagging fit of words from us because we "aren't qualified," we "are sinful," and we "don't know how to do it." 

  Now, I am shaking the finger at myself when I say these things. There are really no good excuses. IF we are taking in spiritual food, we have plenty to give, plenty of resources to use, and plenty of qualification. I think we just prefer the spiritual tube feeding. It is a whole lot easier to sit back and just take it in. Easier for day we will have to explain before God why we did not do what we should have and I think that will be the time that we get choked up without excuse. 

  So, to the battle in the armor given us by God! (It does sound easy blogging it but let us hold each other accountable) If you eat an elephant one bite at a time then we can serve God one step at a time. What does it look like to do that right at this moment? 

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Restfully Trusting

  Tummy time can wear a little soul out. The breath was a rhythmic sighing sound in my ear as I laid on the floor next to my Jellybean. He had been kicking his legs vigorously for about 10 minutes  as if he was sure he could swim on land. When he proceeded to not move one iota of an inch, he just went to sleep.

 I contemplated my options because it was, after all, a little late for a nap...but he had worked so hard...but I will have to stay up later to get him to go to sleep...but building muscles really is exhausting. Finally, I opted for moving him to his reclined seat so that he could get his next feed without refluxing. If he woke up, it was fine. If he slept, it was fine. Old age has taught me not to be so finicky about situations.

  Scooping up his tiny body, I could feel it was utterly relaxed and he would not be waking up.

  How blissful it must be to trust so much that you can sleep even while someone is moving you. You don't know what is being done with you and yet you continue to rest. To quote a line from my favorite scene in Napoleon Dynamite (I know this does nothing for my credibility so just give me some grace), "I want that!"

  I want that kind of faith in God so that no matter when or how He moves me, I completely rest. I want to lay flat out trusting in the midst of whatever turbulence is brought my way. The kind of faith and trust that Peter had when he defied all he knew about water and gravity and stepped out of the boat. He knew he could trust that Jesus had power above all creation.

  Don't get me wrong. What I want is not to be unemotional or uncaring like a zombified shell. It is a complete peace knowing that God is in control no matter the circumstances or outcome. Sure, tears will come in difficult situations but the moment does not imprint an immovable marker that becomes an idol for wallowing. My eyes should not be moved from my Lord. 

 I do so want that, especially in this season of battling isolation, differing doctors, and aversions to feeding and social settings. I do, I do, I doooooo!

 "In my distress I called upon the LORDto my God I cried for help.
From his temple he heard my voice, and my cry to him reached his ears." - Psalm 18:6

Thursday, September 17, 2015

The Puppetry in Life

  Some of you may know that one of my secret desires was to be Annie, which doesn't really make it a secret does it? Well, my top secret desire is still virtually unknown but I suppose I must reveal it to get to the idea that has been rolling around in my mind as of late since Jellybean and I watched Sesame Street the other day. 

  Long, long ago in a land not too far away was a girl who loved puppets. She spent hours making elaborate paper bag puppets with stories behind each character. There were no random puppets that were just dogs or just a girl. They had personalities and life before they were developed out of construction paper and odds and ends. Most of them were part of a circus. This girl especially loved the Muppets. She dreamed, even in high school, of working for Jim Henson and cried when he passed away a week before she officially graduated. 

 When she first started dating her boyfriend-turned-husband, he unknowingly but endearingly, called her a muppet and then began to call her Fozzie. And even though, this was her sister's favorite muppet and not hers, she knew she would spend her life with him because he had somehow tapped into her secret being. She was, after all, very awkwardly cartoon-ish in real life and someone would have to find that quality charming to live with her. That is one reason why she loved puppets. You could hide your real self while being anyone or anything and secretly it would be your real self. 

 It was easier than being Annie because one didn't have to look at the crowds of people or feel their judgment. Singing a wrong note or stammering while talking was what made puppets so easy to love and made people smile. Who doesn't love a puppet? 

 Now she is old and a slight wisdom has set in - of course, it has not done much for the awkward cartoon-ishness that still exists in her DNA. Although, she realizes that she is a lot more settled, content, and finds it somewhat easier to be who she is, but why? 

  She never became successful making puppets or being a puppeteer. She never worked for a puppet show. She didn't even make paper bag puppets any more. The one thing that is different is Jesus as her Lord. That difference gave her the Holy Spirit living inside her, guiding her, correcting her, and strengthening her. Kind of like being a puppet...yet, it makes her more of who she really is and more alive than she ever was at any time. 

 Or maybe the truth is that we are just puppets without Jesus??? However you choose to think of it, this girl will unashamedly proclaim that Jesus is the one who moves me and gives me my being and I pray that it shows.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

What's in a Name? It Makes Things Worse...Right?

  My hackles were slightly raised, as yet another person referred to my jellybean as a girl but this time it went further. Sure his name could be for a girl and, yes, he does have beautiful eyelashes but he is dressed like a boy. True, his button-down shirt is plaid with pink in it but it is still boyish. These experiences are so common that I normally just let it pass but when a person continues on and on and gets in his face telling him "what a beautiful girl" he is, it is wearisome so I gently corrected her. She was defensive about it and accusingly said, "Well, his shirt has pink in it." Ah, not a battle with eternal value but why did she get so upset when I called it like it was????

 At our appointment that day, the neurologist gave me some encouraging news. Jellybean is not completely missing his right cerebellum as I was previously told. He is just missing a small part of the right side and otherwise, his brain looks good. Then he said more. Just one more thing. "There's not much more I can do but you need to be followed by the Cerebral Palsy clinic from now on." The words hit my ears and sunk in like a lead pellet, a slow, heavy sinking into my mind. Of course, I should not be surprised. Cerebral Palsy is common in premature babies, especially ones with brain trauma. Why did it seem worse now with a name? 

 Think of it in terms of sin. Don't we like to cover sin  up by disguising it and hiding its name. A lie is just merely kidding around or joking. Lust is just doing what makes us happy or satisfying our appetite. Pride is strong-willed or confidence. It is easier to swallow and keep repeating if does not sound like sin. 

  The truth is that giving sin a nickname does not change the fact that it is an offense to holy God.  One day we shall stand face to face with the Lord of all and there will be no way to diminish what is really there. 

  Knowing what you are dealing with does not actually make it worse; it just opens the door to more specific prayer, more resources, more ways others can come alongside you, more awareness of what God will see you through.  God sees the sin in its ugly reality and its ugly effects and He still was willing to offer the ultimate sacrifice to redeem us. So call it what it is, face things as they really are, then live to glorify God. 

 Recently, I revisited a wonderful blog I follow and found verses from Ezekiel that I think speak more than adequately to this topic:
Ezekiel 16:2-8   Son of man, cause Jerusalem to know her abominations, and say, ‘Thus says the Lord GOD to Jerusalem: “Your birth and your nativity are from the land of Canaan; your father was an Amorite and your mother a Hittite.As for your nativity, on the day you were born your navel cord was not cut, nor were you washed in water to cleanse you; you were not rubbed with salt nor wrapped in swaddling cloths.No eye pitied you, to do any of these things for you, to have compassion on you; but you were thrown out into the open field, when you yourself were loathed on the day you were born.And when I passed by you and saw you struggling in your own blood, I said to you in your blood, ‘Live!’ Yes, I said to you in your blood, ‘Live!’  I made you thrive like a plant in the field; and you grew, matured, and became very beautiful. Your breasts were formed, your hair grew, but you were naked and bare. When I passed by you again and looked upon you, indeed your time was the time of love; so I spread My wing over you and covered your nakedness. Yes, I swore an oath to you and entered into a covenant with you, and you became Mine,” says the Lord GOD.

Friday, July 24, 2015

Colorful Random Thoughts

 Why God? Why God? Why?

 Is not that the question that drives disbelief and faithlessness? 

 That was a rhetorical question...aren't all blog questions rhetorical though???

 I know the answer to the question anyway. Every time I examine myself when it arises and realize that it rears is ugly head whenever I do not like my circumstances. Oh yes, that kind of immaturity still exists in my faith. 

 Today as I sang praise songs at the top of my lungs on the way to another doctor appointment with jellybean, I started thinking about Noah and the flood. Many sermons exist that discuss the idea of the ark being a picture of Christ but what about the water flooding the earth as a picture of Christ. It washed away the sin in the world and doesn't Jesus do that? 

 As I drove on, I saw a rainbow flag over a dance club and those always make me want to yell, "The rainbow is God's." Although today a new thought struck me. Why was the rainbow adopted as a symbol for the homosexual community? Interesting question, so why?

 God used the rainbow as a promise that He would not destroy the world with a flood again but that was after He wiped out the sin and depravity that had overrun the earth. Could it be that using the rainbow is a way to try and throw God's promise back in His face? 

 Ok, ok, I know people doing it are not thinking of it that way but subconsciously and in the scheme of the enemy it makes sense to me. 

 The other thought I had was how awesome it is that every example of God punishing sin in the Old Testament has a match in the New Testament in Christ. The obvious one is the Passover but my mind wandered back further to the Garden of Eden and the eating of the forbidden fruit. Just look in the New Testament though, Jesus is the fruit that we can "taste and see" as the words of the Psalmist say. Instead of death, He brings life. Instead of opening our eyes to evil, He reveals holiness and righteousness. And, we are not told to question God as the serpent did to Adam and Eve in the Old Testament but see that He is really good. 

 Don't you just love that about God? He has had purpose in every thing and used it all to put His plan of love into motion and, yes, that means that He does still include correcting us because that is what a good father does. What a blessing and it seems waving a rainbow flag is a lovely thing to do when we are doing it to remember what a gracious, awesome God there is that gives us breath and life and meaning and grace and a chance for reconciliation. He is worthy to be praised and that always strengthens my faith and quiets my doubt. 

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

plain jane and captive

 Yes, it has been a while and long periods of silence are not really conducive to producing a popular blog. Then again, being popular is not something with which I am acquainted. Growing up, my mother told me several times that I am just a plain Jane and it is something I have come to realize is ok. Being plain Jane is like plain yogurt, it is not fancy or exciting or anyone's favorite on its own BUT it is a base for something better to be built. Add some granola or chocolate chips or pineapple and wow!

 Unfortunately, this plain Jane kept looking in the wrong places for its definition, for glory. It is completely obvious that there has to be more than just me. Thankfully, God scooped me up and He has taken this plain Jane to all kinds of places and used me in all kinds of ways. Sure, I fouled parts up at times but He knew and kept working, sculpting, softening and He still does the same today. Sometimes I have sense enough to recognize when He is using me.

 I see it right now, at the moment.

 This little boy who is missing a small piece of his brain and how he was put with this plain Jane has learned some great lessons from an amazing nephew with 2 brain disorders and has an awesome resource in an experienced sister and has a foothold in persevering through challenge watching her daughter's drive to overcome illness. But more than anything, God has richly blessed my heart with this little guy.

 Yeh, I whined and wallowed about the hospital stays every month and the frustrations of dealing with his mother but I learned...uh, am learning. The lesson was hard to swallow and I am still processing it fully. This plain Jane was a captive to negativity and no true believer should be captive to anything but God. My bondage was...or, to complaining and losing sight of contentment. Plenty of reasons exist to be grateful and content. 

 Since April, my precious daughter graduated high school (I am no longer a home school mom, which is actually a sad part). Jellybean has been in the hospital two more times which included more tests and a surgery but he is doing better and blooming into a spunky little boy. 

 One blessing started out as frustration and fear. We had a meeting with foster care review for his case. It was going to be necessary for me to stand up and advocate for Jellybean. His lawyer does not even know what he looks like much less his medical issues and his DCS worker is too overloaded to keep up with everything. 

 Let me admit, I was scared. His mother has a past of being physically confrontational. At first, I prayed that she would not show up but then I realized that it was not the right prayer. The right prayer was that God would be glorified so I switched my prayer to Isaiah 26, specifically verse 3: "You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you." She did not show up and I did speak and it went just the way God desired it to go. Their recommendation was not exactly what I wanted but it was a small step in a positive direction and I will surrender my desire for God's plan any day.  

 Faith can bring clarity in all situations. God's plan falls under His righteousness, justness, love, and holiness. I cannot fathom what all that means but I can trust that He knows what He's doing even if I  do not understand it all. It is not a cause for doubt or worry. I understand that God is way bigger  than our comprehension and that is comforting. If I could wrap my mind around His ways, I am pretty sure I would tremble in my boots because after all, I am just a plain Jane. Because of that I will remain captive to my Lord alone, plain and not always simple. 

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

I am Clean

 As I was sitting here watching the traffic flow and the world pass by eight stories below our hospital room, I tell myself that this is not really my baby but my mind and heart do not believe it. Yet, I cannot even sign for him to be treated when we go to the ER and I cannot take a trip with him out of the state without approval and a letter stating that I have that approval. 

 Sometimes our hearts do not quite grasp the world's rules and sometimes they grasp them all too well. In the hospital, I experience both sides. To my heart, this is my child fighting to just breathe and I ache for him. The other side of me, struggles with the world telling me that I should not have to deal with all the drama that comes with having someone else's child. The world tells me that I deserve to have things my way and my heart likes that confirmation.

 The Spirit, on the other hand, lets the heart know that it needs to adjust to Truth in spite of what I feel or what the world affirms. So the battle rages everyday to slay the flesh. Yep, I am one of those people - one of those people who are not perfect unless you count perfectly depraved, one of those people who struggles to stay the course, one of those people who wrestles with faith, one of those people who finds themselves falling flat but realizing that it is a good position to seek repentance.

 Why does God lovingly hear and care even for the smallest detail of such a silly woman's life?  

 I justly deserve wrath for sin but instead God gave me a shower. Maybe that does not seem like a  big deal but, you see, I prayed for one. The situation I am in made it impossible to even take a shower. It is such a trying situation and I was not being very Christlike but I prayed for God to give me the power to honor Him and to just let me have a shower. He answered and not only did my attitude change, He gave me a shower yesterday and today. Today was extra sweet because the volunteer who showed up to sit with jellybean was a sister in Christ and I almost wept when she was so joyful in being able to give me a few minutes to just clean up. Okay, I did weep but only in the shower because it was the perfect camouflage. 

 How come God cares enough to give such a prideful, selfish sinner a moment of respite, of refreshing? 

 I am one of those people who believes it is because He predestined it to be so, Christ made it possible for Him to offer us grace instead of punishment and His Word tells us that and it can be completely trusted. 

Monday, April 6, 2015

How DOES She Do It????

 So many elements intertwine to make up each of our stories and therefore each one is different, although some can share similar elements. 

 This past half year is made up of so many mosaic pieces that fit together forming the picture of my life - home school, a graduating child, my last child leaving home, a child with weird chronic illness, connecting with a grown child, family that does not share my faith, being a foster parent, a micro-preemie, a medically fragile child, working to get a diagnosis for a child, handling feelings from abusive past, shifting from being a stay-at-home mom to something else, being a friend to hurting friends, and just plain being married. And no, the list above is not referring to seven different children - only three but each one has many branches making up their own life that is connected to mine. 

 Hopefully, no one reading this is thinking, "How do you do it?" 
Image result for tired wonder woman

 I am not Wonder Woman, although it is ironic that you will never see Wonder Woman or me in the same room at the same time (sorry...I love that joke). I ain't her but there are occasions where finding my car in the parking lot is like finding Wonder Woman's invisible jet (I apologize...again)

 You want the ugly truth? 
I'll tell you in all honesty how I do it, here it is:
Image result for ugly dog

 I wake up and convince myself that I really do need to get out of bed. Lurching down the stairs, I remind myself that God has laid out the day for His glory and will provide all that is necessary. Somewhere in it all is usually a spell of crying, mine not the baby, and the spilling of some liquid on to my clothes - this can range from hot coffee to half-digested, mucusy formula. At some point, I brush my hair and teeth...usually. Then I carve out time to do some type of clean-ishy things in between preparing and starting tube feedings, diaper changes, therapy exercises, baby snuggling, oxygen adjustments, phone calls, and whatever random thing is going on with my daughter for the day. Then I try, I really do try, to contact several people and check on them to offer encouragement or prayer. 

 Very often part of my day is spent fighting off resentment from various thoughts that plague me. If I am successful in submitting to Christ to get me through the resentment bog, I am sometimes hit with bouts of frustration, lust, a lot of pride, or really ugly discouragement. My really awesome friends usually bring in the much needed correction in the form of God's Word or God just sends me a very obvious message that I need to re-focus. 

 For example, the other day was a very long day at doctor appointments. All I wanted so badly was to come home and go to bed which is not possible at this time. Then my husband asked me to pick up a particular food for dinner on the way home and I was irritated. Now, I know that I should be glad that I did not have to cook, that we have money to eat out, that I have car to get around in, and on and on, I could list all things that I should have been thankful for but I was not. Frustration built up about having to unload the baby and all his equipment plus keep him away from people just to get this food. I did pretend to be okay with it and called in the order. 

 Arriving at the restaurant, I was relieved that it was empty and there was a parking spot right by the door. After carefully removing the baby carrier attached to the feeding pump and synchronizing those movements with the oxygen tank, I went in to find that they were already bagging up my order. I paid and was back out the door with my load. Once everything was loaded in the car, I sort of fell down into the seat with an exhausted heave and that is when it happened. Scrrrrrrttttccchhh! I put my head on the steering wheel and laughed and laughed as I reached under my behind to find that my aged capris had ripped wide open.

 Yes, Lord, that wake up call was needed. I chuckled all the way home and more still in the garage as they ripped further when I bent to get out all the baby's stuff and even further when I squatted to pick up the oxygen tank. God had hit my reset button. The time spent being irritated was not worth it and had only succeeded in exposing my sinful attitude - which is no laughing matter. 

  So, do I do it, people? It ain't by magic or smoke and mirrors or with style and finesse. 

 It is done the way God wants it - one step at a time in His grace and Truth with intermingling spurts of ugliness that Christ turns into lessons of living in the Spirit and repentance. It is done with other brothers and sisters who are diligent to remind me of Truth and correct me when needed. It is done with faith that He is always with me and remembering that it is all about glorifying Him.

 So you see, there's no super hero cape or cool bullet-proof bracelets or magic rope. Just an old pair of capris ripped from pocket to kneebend and Christ.

 How are you doing what you do?

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Probably the Best Wallower...if anyone was keeping tabs

 Today is a hard day and see how fast it happened after just posting about small stuff and sweat. My world is feeling very small and wallowing is the natural posture that I tend to turn. Trying to work through my thoughts is probably a good idea because let's face it, feelings can just be manipulative liars. 

 So yesterday ended up being a terrible, horrible, rotten, cruddy, miserable fail after fail after fail. The feeding pump got disconnected early, early in the morning and fed the bed instead of the baby. I left behind important paperwork that I have to turn in for foster care at our first appointment of the morning which is a long drive, I squeezed in to the doctor to get jellybean's ear checked and have her listen to his congestion just to be sure we weren't getting worse then I was hit with the fact that our EEG appointment was supposed to be at that time and we missed it. I had worked so hard to get that appointment and I fouled it up. 

 Finally, we get home and about 30 minutes later, jellybean's g-tube is lying on the floor because it came out somehow, some way I do not know. That was a panicked drive to the ER to spend 7 hours getting it put back in and getting an x-ray to make sure it is in place and did not damage anything going back in. 

 Fail. Fail. Fail. It is a loaded bat that I proceeded to beat myself with as soon as I jumped out of bed after 3 hours of sleep to get jellybean ready for his therapy visit this morning (which he did an amazing job with considering all things). 

 I want so bad to keep this little guy out of the hospital and the emergency room and yet, it happens time after time after time. Caseworkers are quizzing me on why he has to go back so much or informing me that they have never had a child get so bad. 

 Yes, please add some more weight to the bat and help me aim it at my head. 

 "Please, LORD, please. Just let there be a time that this is going to let up and there will be one small piece of normal," I beg. (I hate the word "normal" by the way so you can see my desperation)

 The reality is that time might not come and maybe I will not be the person they keep little jellybean with but Jesus is God and getting that right trumps all my faults, flaws, foibles, and failures. There I can rest my faith and trust that His will cannot be thwarted not even a smidge by my failing or wallowing. And, the best part is that it's not about me any way. So ha! 

 Now can I make my mind listen and not go back to sweating everything? I don't know but I could be in the running for "best wallower." Let's see if it is possible to wallow and read Psalm 96 over and over and while I'm at it, I could probably check in on some dear friends who are going through serious trials and could use encouragement and prayer. Sounds like a much better plan. 

Monday, March 23, 2015

Drowning Small Stuff in Sweat

  Yep, I used a cliché with a twist and I could throw in "It takes a village..." but I won't. Not in its entirety. This past week has wracked my nerves and it is really my own fault. I let it. Little jellybean wheezed and sounded congested and Bam! The anxiety level in my body shot up off the charts. 

 The oxygen did have to be turned up but then it got turned back down but then back up again and then down. Yesterday, I really, really, really just wanted to go to church but I was afraid. Fear of getting the little guy out and going back to the hospital was freezing me up. Then it hit me, "If he is already getting sick, there is nothing you can do. Go to church." 

 Thankfulness that I did overwhelmed even the biggest feeling of being disconnected and an alien because it had been so long that I had been there. It was a beautiful message from 1 Thessalonians. A message that my heart, mind, and spirit needed. But what to do about that awful worry? 

 Everyday the oxygen concentrator sighs like an exasperated mother and the pulse oximeter beeps sporadically like some wild jazz tune with no real beat while the feeding pump whines quietly in between it all and the worry about going back to the hospital was louder than all of it. I heeded its call to diligently use the "magic" inhaler and trust that it would keep the hospital away. And if that didn't work, use the other inhaler, too, plus the nose drops. Yes, the nose drops! They would surely work. Then my own theories - maybe he needs to work with less oxygen as much as possible so that his lungs "learn" to work better or maybe he needs more oxygen so his body can rest and heal. 

 So sad. See how easily I fall off the track? 

 Maybe the only thing I needed to do was stopping trying to control it so I did. I came home from church and threw out the worry. Yes, I am giving jellybean his meds as prescribed and no, I haven't quit keeping tabs on his oxygen. The difference is I stopped believing (for the moment any way) that any of those things are the answer. So my sweat level has changed and the only small stuff I am paying attention to is the blessings I can count. 

 God must have wanted me to test out my faith because it was a hard night of crazy oxygen dips and coughing and crying (not me this time). Before midnight the little guy was back up to his half liter of oxygen that we had weaned down from over a week ago. This time I prayed and trusted that God knew what He was doing even if we went back to the hospital.

 This morning was a new day. Jellybean awoke with his "goo" babble and when I peeked at him, he squirmed with excitement and the biggest smile. Strangely, his oxygen has been able to be turned down to less than a quarter liter and he is the happiest of campers right now. 

 Hmmm, I wonder what caused him to change so quickly? Not one single thing in my power, this much I know. 

 I will say to the LORD, “My refuge and my fortress,my God, in whom I trust.” - Psalm 91:2

 You can't trust a preemie, especially a 24-weeker, but you can always trust in the LORD.