Friday, October 30, 2009

Difficulty That Lead to Destiny

I remember when the doctor came in and looked me in the eye and said "We're not sure she's going to make it."  After that, I sort of blacked out.  I woke up and there was a man with a collar in the room, asking me if I wanted him to pray for me.  He prayed and then once he left I said my own prayer.  I knew I didn't deserve to have my prayer answered because I wasn't living a life for God at all - as a matter of fact, since I left my home to get married and start a family, I had completely turned my back on God and didn't even go to church anymore.  But things seemed dire at this point.  Would He listen?

A few days before, my daughter Stephanie, who was four at the time, had come down with the chickenpox.  She was very sick from the get go but the second day of her illness, it got much worse.  Her fever had gotten up to 106 and I was scared.  I'd taken her into the doctor several times and was told "It's just the chickenpox.  Give her ibuprofen and give it time, she'll be fine."  But things weren't fine.  Her body was swelling and she was moaning as if she was in tremendous pain.  She couldn't even stand for me to touch her.  I finally called the ambulance and said "You are taking her to the hospital right now and I'm not bringing her home until you tell me what is wrong with her!"  They took her to the hospital.

Now, they were telling me she had the flesh eating bacteria and that her body had gone into septic shock.  The doctors had cut off her hospital bracelet twice and replaced it because it kept getting so tight from the swelling that ballooned her tiny body.  She was now unconscious and it seemed hopeless.  Doctors crowded around her, poked at her, took x-rays and blood and now they were telling me they did not think she would make it.  I was absolutely devastated.


I think a part of me believed God was punishing me for running from Him.  I even think a part of me, due to a legalistic upbringing, believed I deserved it.  But that morning I found myself praying for the first time in years.  Through loud sobs, I begged God not to take my baby away.  I told Him I was sorry for turning my back on Him and that if He took her away I wouldn't survive.  I begged Him to please let me keep her.  I told Him that if He would allow me to keep her, I would dedicate her to Him - she would be all His.  I wasn't sure how that would all work out, but I remember vividly that I was not willing to give up myself, but that I was willing to give her to Him.  I knew I had already proven that I couldn't live up to the standards of a good Christian, so maybe she could?  My ideas of God were so twisted.

God chose to heal my daughter, much to the doctor's surprise.  She was in intensive care for two weeks at a Children's Hospital.  It was the longest and most frightening two weeks of my life.  But God gave me the grace I needed to get through this time.  To this day I think "How did I do that?!" and then I remember the grace.  He helped me through it.

Once we were home from the hospital and she was all healed, Stephanie developed a love for Jesus that I cannot explain.  I certainly cannot take credit for it!  She wanted to go to church.  So my husband and I would drop her off and come back and pick her up or we'd send her with her grandparents.  I didn't go with her - honestly I think there was a part of me that didn't want to ruin it for her.  She was doing so well and I knew I was a failure in God's eyes (or at least that's what I was convinced of).

As I watched my daughter grow up loving Jesus, I saw something in her that I desperately wanted.  It was a relationship.  She wasn't religious at all - it wasn't about keeping rules and playing the church game - it was about grace and relationship.  It was beautiful.  I began going to church to see if I could find what it was that she had.  Eventually, the Lord did open my eyes to the Truth and I gave my life to Him.  I often smile when I think about how I thought dedicating my daughter to Him was such a better idea than dedicating myself. God knew that He would use that relationship with her to get to me, too!  He's so good.

Today, Stephanie is a 19 (almost 20!) year old student at North Greenville University.  She is passionately in love with Jesus.  She is majoring in Intercultural Studies and wants to be in missions.  I look at her often and thank God for allowing her to stay here with us and for showing us Himself through her witness.  I know that few weeks back in 1994 had to have been the most difficult of my life, but I also know that through that difficult time, God brought me into a real relationship with Him.

If you are feeling overwhelmed by life right now - please remember that God has a plan.  You may be able to look back on your life in a few weeks, months or years and see how God was weaving His will into your life through these situations all along.  He will give you the grace for the moment - for whatever you are going through.  Trust Him.  He loves you!

Jeremiah 29:11 For I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord.  They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Waking Up

I have determined that waking up my teenage son each morning is the most dreadful thing I have to do all day. He just won't budge! He says "I'm up!" and then I get distracted, picking up things, doing laundry or blogging (haha) and then ten minutes later I realize I don't hear any movement at all.


Are you awake??! I yell. "Yeah, mom. I'm up." Still nothing. I go up and try begging and pleading "Please, you don't understand. I have so much to do. I don't have time for this! I don't know how you're ever going to make it out in the world without me to drag you out of bed every morning."


I'm kidding but serious at the same time, of course.I love my son so much, he's a great kid. He just really likes to sleep. Well, unless it's night time. He's a night owl like I used to be. I'm convinced that by the time he falls asleep, he reaches the REM state of sleep right around the time I go wake him up!


Anyway, this got me thinking this morning about the night Jesus asked the disciples to pray for Him but they kept falling asleep. Remember this? It was the night before His crucifixion and He knew that even though they were in the nice, quiet, peaceful Garden of Gethsemane, the time was coming and He knew that it was merely the calm before the storm that would be upon them within minutes. (You can read about it in Matthew 26)


Three times Jesus asked them to pray and He kept finding them asleep. In the Bible it actually says "they couldn't keep their eyes open" (NLT version). I know that feeling, and I think my son does too!


This story always broke my heart when I read it but then I realized that often I do the same thing. If you notice, Jesus even says in this passage of scripture that we have to pray so we don't give into temptation because the spirit is willing but the flesh is weak. He was very adamant in telling them that He was crushed with grief - to the point of death, even! And yet they slept.


I can't help but wonder if it is because the garden was so peaceful. What could possibly go wrong on a night like that? It didn't make sense to them. And they probably remembered that just a few days earlier, they were in a storm, fearing for their lives on a boat in the middle of the water and Jesus was sleeping! Why couldn't He stay awake during their time of need? (Luke 8:22-25)


I think it's another subtle way that God is teaching us a very important life lesson. Jesus is the One we are to pattern our life after, right? So when was He actually resting? Was it in the peaceful garden? Or the fierce storm? 


Interesting. 


I think it's amazing how easy it is to forget about God, to fall into temptation and follow my own ways and desires when things are easy - peaceful and serene. But when those storms come, the times when He tells me to "rest and trust", I panic.


We can get things so backwards sometimes, can't we? But God is patient and loving and He gives us encouragement in His word to show us the right way. Jesus told us to watch and pray so we don't fall into temptation and I believe the temptation He could be talking about is the temptation to forget about God during times of bliss. We must be intentional in our prayers during those times.


I truly believe this is a message for us today.  It's time to wake up, get up, clean up, dress up and stand up for God's Truth.  It's easy to get complacent, it's easy to forget that every good thing we have is from Him.  But the Word of God instructs us to "forget not His benefits" and Jesus specifically says we are to keep watch and to be alert to what is going on - He will be coming back for us.  His words in Matthew 24 are coming to pass...but are we going to be awake to see it?

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

The Learning Curve


I went to a different grocery store today.  I love the adventure of learning something new but I'm not sure I appreciate the learning curve so much.  It took me over an hour and a half to find what I need.  Usually I'm in and out in about 20-30 minutes at my regular grocery store.  It's usually pretty quick unless I run into a friend and chat for awhile! I always make a list in my mind knowing the order in which I will find everything because I know the layout of the store so well.  It's productive and efficient.

Not today.


Today I was up one isle, down the other, on the wrong side of the store from where I should be and the olives were nowhere to be found.  I could not understand the layout of this store and honestly it was overwhelming!  I was taking mental pictures in my mind of what was on the shelf so it wouldn't take so long the next time.  I think one lady thought I was stalking her because I kept going up and down the same isle, hoping what I was looking for was there.  I was so frustrated at one point I looked this older gentleman in the eyes and said "I can't find anything!" He smiled and looked at me like "Yeah, been there, done that!" but I could tell I freaked him out a little bit.

By the time I checked out, I had made so many compromises, I couldn't even remember what it was that I was initially there to get.  I bought things I didn't really want because I couldn't find the things I really wanted.  My mental list had changed, my stress level went up and I began to wonder what the heck I was thinking by going to a store I didn't know!

I remember feeling the exact same way before I began reading and studying God's Word as a new Christian.  I would find myself in situations where I wasn't sure what to do.  It was new territory and because I'd never been there, I would find myself wandering around, wondering what to do.  I would tell other believers "I can't find anything!" and they would smile, remembering they had been there before, and show me the scriptures to help me in my time of need.

As I began to spend more time in God's Word, I found myself navigating more through life like my trips to my familiar grocery store.  I knew where to find things and the stress levels decreased.  I found myself not compromising more and more as I would find God's perspective and learn His ways through His word.  It's actually quite wonderful, this learning curve.

Jesus tells us in John 14:15 "If you love me, you will keep my commandments."  But if we don't know what His commandments are, how will we know what to keep?  As believers, the Holy Spirit is the One living in and through us, teaching us the Way and the Bible is a very important resource He uses to do that and if we don't know what it says, we will not know what to do.  Being in His word teaches us God's ways, His desires, His provision, His likes and His dislikes - His heart.

I pray that you find the time to get into God's Word.  There is no better way to get to know the layout of the Christian life! The benefits of reading and studying God's word are listed in Psalm 119 - a great place to start reading if you haven't yet.   If you need accountability in this, we offer that on our Facebook Fan Page and you can join us by clicking here.  We are currently reading through the Bible in a year and jotting down thoughts, observations and questions along the way.  We're helping each other navigate through, I suppose you could say.

Now, I want to help others who may be wandering around, wondering where to find things!  Been there, done that.   I still have so much more to learn, as it seems there is a bottomless well of truth in the pages of God's Word!  But I'm finding more and more that the things He is teaching me are helping me to navigate through this life with more victory each day, through Christ.

Psalm 119:1-2 How blessed are those whose way is blameless, who walk in the law of the Lord.  How blessed are those who observe His testimonies, who seek Him with all their heart. 

Monday, October 26, 2009

Oh, Happy Day!


My daughter was doing the dishes the other night and she held up a bowl that had been through the dishwasher and said "Mommy, this isn't clean, should I put it back in the dishwasher?"  I looked at it and it was one of those white bowls that had become stained from spaghetti sauce weeks ago.  I told her it was just stained but that it was clean, so she could put it away.  She said "Ewww!!!  Can we throw it out?"  

I didn't throw it out, but I realized something as we spoke.  Even though the bowl could have been used, it would have been a constant reminder every time we used it of the time we stored spaghetti sauce in it.  I used some diluted bleach water and off came the stain.  Now, we can use it without the memory of the spaghetti sauce that used to be in the bowl every time we use it!  Funny how something can seem clean, but still be stained.

My mind couldn't help wandering off into a thought about how sin had stained me in my life.  As I thought about it, I kept finding myself singing "Oh, happy day, happy day...when You washed my sin away!"  I decided to look up some scriptures on the word stain and found something interesting in Jeremiah 2:22....

Although you wash yourself with lye and use much soap, the stain of your iniquity is still before me," declares the Lord God.


This verse just reminded me of all the failed attempts I made to wash my own sin away in the past.  I would say I was sorry, but then do it all over again.  I'd do good works, hoping God would look past my bad because of them.  I would say all the right things, do all the right things, but my heart was still stained with guilt because I was trying to take care of things in my own power.  It was like I was the bowl that would come out of the dishwasher, thinking I was all cleaned up but in reality there was a constant reminder of the stain of my sin in my heart.  My self-cleaning cycle didn't really help the situation at all.

I'm so grateful the Lord finally showed me that nothing I could ever do would wash away the stain of my sin, except to repent (repent is not just saying I'm sorry, but saying "I'm through!") and trust Christ to wash my sin away - for good.  Since that day, there isn't a stain left in my heart.  He's changed me, forgiven me, saved me and given me a fresh start.  Only He can do that.

Purify me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.  Psalm 51:7

Oh, happy day....

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Reading Through the Bible in a Year - Together!

We all know how important it is that we are in the Word of God.  And yet sometimes it can be hard to know where to look, where to read and what to make of it all.  I thought it might be fun for us to go through the Bible - together! 

If you go to http://www.leslienease.com/ and click on "Free Resources", there is a Bible Reading Schedule there for you to download.  If followed every day, it will get you through the Bible in one year!  On our Fan Page on Facebook, we will post the scriptures each day and have a place where you can leave comments and insights into the passages.  It will be a great way for us to be accountable. 

Please know, you do not have to read the entire passage every day.  Each day's reading is suggested reading.  Even if you only get a few verses in, that is fine!  I know you will be blessed by being in God's Word each day - and it will be a blessing for us to share this journey with you!  You can find our Facebook Fan Page by clicking here.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Gone Fishin'

Thought you'd enjoy a laugh today...this is me and my daughter, Kennedy, fishing last summer.  It was quite humiliating....haha

Monday, October 5, 2009

Groundhog Day


Did you ever see the movie "Groundhog Day"?  You know, the movie where the guy (Bill Murray) wakes up every day and lives the exact same day over and over again?  It's been years since I've seen it but I remember thinking how freaky that would be if it ever really did happen.  Well, guess what.  I'm living that movie lately!

Ever since Peyton got the flu last Thursday, it's kinda been like that around here.  Wake up.  Check her temp.  Give her medicine.  Give her fluids.  Watch kid movies and reruns of Suite Life on Deck or True Jackson.  Make soup.  Feed soup.  Change sheets.  Check Temp.  Give meds.  Play Battleship.  Win and feel guilty about it because a mom should let her sick kid win.  (I know - shame on me!) Say prayers. Go to bed.  Then we wake up and it's the same thing all over again. 

It's times like this that we, as humans, tend to get in a rut.  As monotonous as I feel it has been, I feel for little Peyton even more.  At least I'm not confined in one room.  I've got the whole house to run around in - she's stuck up in the playroom and unless it's me, she's all alone.  It's like she's completely alienated from her life.  It is heart breaking to watch!  Yesterday she said "Mommy I'm bored.  Is that a symptom of the flu?" hahaha

It's easy to cave into the "poor me" syndrome at times like this.  It's the monotony of every day life when our faith is really tested.  Can we handle the pressure of having no pressure?  Can we handle the stress of having no appointments? Can we do the monotonous and do it with excellence?  Can we do the tedious and do it with joy? 

I have a feeling that there are a lot of moms in my boat right now.  As prevalent as the flu and other bugs are this year, the "Mom Brigade" is out in full force!  And it can be a little monotonous.  It can be a little tedious.  It can sometimes feel a little like "Groundhog Day". 

But it can also be a glorious, amazing time of reflection and re-prioritizing, too!  I've been blown away by the perspective these past few days have given me.  It's a great reminder of what matters most to me in life.  It's also a huge reminder that the greatest impact I can have in this life is on the little people God has given to my husband and me to raise and love - our children.

Psalm 127:3 Children are a gift from the Lord; they are a reward from Him.

Friday, October 2, 2009

The Mommy Zone

"Your daughter tested positive for the flu."  Those are the words I've been terrified of hearing for the past few months as the flu has swept across our state and yet I sat there this morning completely dumbfounded (that in itself is noteworthy, but I digress...) as those words came from the Doctor's mouth. 


Yesterday, Peyton was completely fine.  Then her throat started to hurt so we got ice cream after school.  Yeah, that's usually what does the trick!  Then we went to Wal Mart and as we looked around, I noticed she was looking a little "puny".  I brought her home and took her temperature and it was around 99.8.  It slowly crept up to about 100.6 and she was feeling pretty icky at this point.  She said everything hurt, especially her throat and head.  I gave her some night time cold medicine and some advil and she slept through the night.  She woke this morning feeling about the same, so I immediately took her into the doctor for a flu test. 

I honestly thought I was over-reacting, but I also knew that if I didn't over-react, she could miss the window to take Tami-flu if it was indeed the flu. If you catch it in the first 48 hours, your chances of getting the Tami-flu and it actually helping are much greater.  Within 15 minutes, we had our answer - it was indeed the flu.  By the time she got home, her temperature was 102.2 and she was miserable.  We prayed the drug store would have the Tami-flu (I'd heard that there was a shortage around here - if that gives you any indication of how severe this flu is) and our prayers were quickly answered as the first drug store I called had it available.  Thank the Lord!  She's already had a dose of it.

I'm not sure what the next few days hold, but one thing I know is that this is the time when my "Momminess" goes into full gear.  I call it the Mommy Zone.  I'm always amazed at the grace God gives me during times like this.  I become like super mom or something - with all the energy, determination and fight of a Navy Seal!  When our kids are down, somehow God equips a Mom to be up!  Interestingly, all the dread I've had about this flu infecting one of my children is gone - I'm completely trusting the Lord.  Of course, it helped a lot when Peyton said this morning "Mommy, my body hurts, but I know God is going to do something good out of all this so I'm ok."  Oh, how wonderful to be reminded of God's sovereignty at a time when a mom is tempted to go off the deep end of worry!  Thank you, Lord, for equipping Peyton to keep me straight this morning!

I also have to say, and I'm not quite sure how to say this without it sounding weird, but I find a strange sort of joy in snuggling with my kids when they are sick.  It's so special.  They are so full of trust and love and appreciation when they are down.  I was snuggling with Peyton this morning and she said "Mommy, are you gonna get sick since you're hugging me?"  I told her not to worry about it, I would be ok even if I did, but I wasn't going anywhere - nothing at all would keep me from being there for her today!  She smiled and looked up at me and said "Thank you, Mommy.  Thank you for taking a risk to love me."  Tears filled my eyes as I held her even closer after she said this.  Man, this is what it's all about.

Do you think this is why God allows us to go through the tough times?  When else do we slow down enough to allow Him to snuggle with us, love on us and comfort us?  When else do we feel so trusting and full of appreciation for Him?  When else do we feel so vulnerable and still?  I can't think of too many situations in my life when I trust my Father in Heaven the way my baby girl has been trusting me today.  I think God gives us our kids to teach us a thing or two about His deep, abiding love for us.  What a precious and thoughtful gift!  Nothing can separate us from His love for us....nothing.

Romans 8:38-39  And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God's love.  Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow - not even the powers of hell can separate us from God's love.  No power in the sky above or in the earth below - indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Jesus Christ our Lord.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Humorous but Convicting

A friend of mine had this on his facebook and I thought I'd share it with you (it's pretty good!)...

Germ-A-Phobe

I was at a ladies retreat this weekend and at one point we were sitting at a round table and after our discussion we held hands and said a prayer.  It was a sweet, intimate moment!  But later on, my girlfriend told me how she giggled to herself when right after the prayer, I took my hand sanitizer and cleaned my hands right in front of everyone!  I don't even remember doing that.  I'm horrified that I did it, too!  It must have been subconscious.  I hope nobody was offended.  I can be such a goober sometimes.


Anyway, I began to wonder why I would do such a thing, even if it was subconscious.  I suppose it's because I know that the flu is going around and I'm way too undisciplined to keep my hands away from my eyes, nose and mouth.  I use hand sanitizer more and wash my hands more often than I ever have!  Keeping my hands away from my face is quite a challenge, for some reason. I even thought about how I needed to train myself by getting one of those Elizabethian Dog Collars...you know the ones that they put on dogs when they have surgery so they don't bite at the wound?  Yeah, that's a great look.  Think I'll go get one later.

My point in this is that I don't always realize how the things I do, whether conscious or not, are always seen by others.  I never want anyone to get the wrong impression, but sometimes they will, whether I like it or not.  I could drive myself crazy worrying about making the wrong impression (you've heard the saying "perception is reality"?) or I could hope that others just realize I'm human and know that my God loves me just the way I am - even if I am a wacky, germ-a-phobe who occasionally does really dumb things subconsciously.  I'm glad He loves me anyway! 

My friend laughed as she realized how horrified I was about the subconscious "offense" because she said her first thought, and probably the first thought of everyone else at the table, was "Hey, pass that stuff over here!" and when she told me this, I realized that I may have made a bigger deal of this than I needed to in my mind.  Why do we do this to ourselves? Can you relate?

Now, if you'll excuse me, I need to go wash my hands.  No tellin' who or what has been on this keyboard....

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