A Few of My Favorite Things

  • God and all that goes with Him
  • Time Spent With Family
  • Bedtime Prayers
  • Family/Group Hugs
  • The Beach
  • Good Friends
  • Good Music
  • Laughter

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

A Time of Being Broken

This is one of those articles I'm not really sure I want to start or how to start, but here we go. If you know me at all, then you know I spend my time riding this crazy roller coaster called my life. I have days where pain seems to be the only thing I can see. Sometimes that's OK because I can see the blessings it has brought into my life, how it has shaped the person I am today, and even how I react to children who are dealing with sensory overload. I guess it's true that you have to walk in someone’s shoes to really get their personal journey.

So, I deal with the pain and so does my family and those who love me. I could spend a lot of time talking about just how we sit down at the beginning of a month and plan just how we want to use the meds so I can be an active part in family activities. It's not to cause drama or pity or attention, it's simply living my life. With all of that comes this great burden of guilt because I keep us from the fun, I've missed so many firsts just because they happened as they are supposed to naturally and out of the blue. The guilt is almost as hard to deal with as the pain. Then there's the anger that comes with dealing with it all, and the questions of why should I deal with this.

There are times when it's not entirely my fault and I feel like it's fair that my family has to share in the struggle. I know that sounds ugly but it's true. Maybe the day could have gone smoother if only...and you fill in the blanks. I push to do because I want to please those who live with this every day battle of pain with me. I'm willing to do more, and it maybe that it's just another few minutes, or delaying taking meds so I can drive. It's all OK, yet it's not.

It's at times like this the devil whispers sweet promises of not caring how what I say or do, or don't say or don't do isn't important. He whispers, “Just take the path of least resistance.” Do what makes those around you happy and do what you need to do to make them happy. Sometimes there really is nothing wrong with listening to those whispers, except that it makes listening and doing so much easier the next time.

So I feel broken, not just health wise, it really is such a small part of it. Broken in those small corners of the heart that only God and the devil sees. When I feel like Humpty Dumpty and no matter what happens can all the pieces really be put back together again. Am I so broken that the God I believe is all powerful and capable of all things and love beyond understanding can't put me back together because I've allowed the whispers of the devil to be what I listen to? The answer to that question is “NO”. God's spirit resides in that broken heart and continues to hear my pleas and carry them to the throne of grace. Yet, I'm still broken. The parts that where fixed yesterday, have need of being fixed again today. The grief that comes with the what ifs and why nots, chip away at the heart I put in the keeping of the King when I paddled out to Daddy and he baptized me when I was 9.

Here is the answer, above all else, who holds my heart? Who can break it and put it back together again even better than it was before? The King of all Kings, the Alpha and the Omega, the great I AM is the keeper of my heart. Sometimes, He has to break it so it can be His again, and sometimes he softens it with humility and gentleness found in conversation with precious ones who are righteous and fighting their own battles, but willing to share in my fight and me in theirs.

James 5: 13-16 Is anyone among you suffering? Let him pray. Is anyone cheerful? Let him sing praise. Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer of faith will save the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven. Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.

How thankful I am that we have promises like the one above! It lets me know what to do when all is right in my world, and it lets me know what to do when it feels as if I'm so broken I can't be put back together. The promise is there will be comfort. The comfort that comes with sharing just how broken you feel with someone you know won't judge you, and to learn that you aren't alone. This battle of life we fight was never meant to be fought alone. God tells us exactly how to win the battles. To confess (share) your brokenness with others. Be willing to drop the barriers and let them see what you feel is the ugliness of all that brokenness, and pray. PRAY!! Pray for each other and you will see the great power of God as it is working. I am not alone!! You are not alone!! We are together in prayer and as we go there and reach out our Father draws ever nearer to me and you.

Does this mean that there are days, moments, weeks when I don't feel broken? NO! Because I am still fighting and as long as I'm trying and working to live for the true keeper of my heart, He will always be there for me. You see, God doesn't move...I do. If I choose to listen only to the devil's whispers then I move myself further from the Father. But if I am humble and persistent and I don't give up, then my Father carries me close to His breast, and that heart that feels so broken is being mended and made perfect with each and every trial.

James 4:7-10 Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Be wretched and mourn and weep. Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you.

Here I am standing at the end of another year feeling more broken than I ever have in so many areas of my life, yet I get to choose to submit myself to the will of the Father. As long as I keep resisting those whispers of giving in and giving up, I have the promise that all these tears I cry feeling like my world has fallen apart will be what purifies my heart and this broken spirit will be lifted up and exalted by the Father who is the true keeper of my heart. If I let Him keep my heart and I work to please him, then He will draw near to me and all those things the devil uses will flee. I can't get there by myself, but God has promised me and you that when we share those things we don't want the world to see with one another, and we pray together then we will see His power working through our prayers.

Dear Father, thank you for giving us your word with all its promises. Thank you for sending us righteous women and men who we can confess our sins to and in so doing magnify the power of prayer by adding more voices petitioning your throne. Be with us as we begin a new year and help us to please you in all we say and do. Help us to draw closer to you every day, and to resist the empty promises of the devil. Help me to let you be the true keeper of my heart and to put all my faith in you. In Jesus' name, Amen.

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

The Salt of the Earth

It's been several weeks since our minister taught a Bible class on this verse from Matthew 5:13 “You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under people’s feet. It's one of those lessons that when you've grown up in the church, you've probably heard more lessons than you can count from this scripture. I always come away from it with a renewed sense of wanting to be the salt that flavors.

But this time not only did he talk about how it only takes a little salt to give flavor and that once that flavor is gone the salt is only good for walking on, but he brought out the point that salt makes us thirsty. It's true you know like when you have popcorn or chips you need something to drink to go along with it. I have to admit I'd never really thought about how salt makes us long for fresh water and the implications that has in my spiritual life.

The more I thought about how salt makes us thirsty, the more John 4:7-14 kept coming to mind. It says A woman from Samaria came to draw water. Jesus said to her, “Give me a drink.”(For his disciples had gone away into the city to buy food.)The Samaritan woman said to him, “How is it that you, a Jew, ask for a drink from me, a woman of Samaria?” (For Jews have no dealings with Samaritans.) Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God, and who it is that is saying to you, ‘Give me a drink,’ you would have asked him, and he would have given you living water.”The woman said to him, “Sir, you have nothing to draw water with, and the well is deep. Where do you get that living water? Are you greater than our father Jacob? He gave us the well and drank from it himself, as did his sons and his livestock.”Jesus said to her, “Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”The woman said to him, “Sir, give me this water, so that I will not be thirsty or have to come here to draw water.”

So, this got me thinking along two points. The first is that if I'm living the life that Christ wants me to and I'm sharing him with those around me then I am the salt and those I come in contact with should become thirsty for the living water. There needs to be something that people will see in me that makes them want to know how I can still find joy with a 16 year migraine. If I've become the salt then those I come in contact with will want the Living Water. The second thing it made me think about is am I thirsty for the Living Water? Am I living my life in such a way, that I long for the Water that will satisfy my thirst for all time? Do I spend enough time with those who are salty so that my thirst for the Living Water becomes even stronger? Do I spend enough time in the Word to crave the Water of eternity?

Sometimes I really struggle with this. There are days and weeks when the migraine keeps me confined to the house and the devil whispers: “You don't need to study, It's o.k. to be grouchy and mean you hurt you have a right to be, and It's not just your job to be an example to your family...they're supposed to take care of you.” The devil knows right where to get us and how to make us doubt the Father, given enough time he'll have us craving bitter water filled with poison. I know that the Living Water has already won the war, and it's my job along with the rest of His followers to fight the battles until the day He returns to call us home.

Father, please help me to make others thirsty for your word. Help me to spend time with those who will make me long for you and to study more and more. Help me to become saltier each day and help me to season the lives of those I come in contact with, with a desire to get to know you better. In Jesus' name, Amen.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

A Time to Fight

It's been a very long two months. It has felt as if we are having to fight battles on every side that we really shouldn't have to fight. The biggest battle has been with insurance companies and once again my White Knight is fighting for all he's worth. His armor has dings in it and yet he keeps fighting. He's been hit by friendly fire simply because he's the one delivering the message, but he keeps on fighting. I've watched days where I see him weary in ways I haven't seen since the beginning of this battle 16 years ago. You see this wonderful man is a Fix-It man and when he can't fix it then it becomes a huge battle for him.

We're looking at a procedure that if I'm in the 80% success rate would radically change our lives for the better. It would take the pain and interrupt it with electrical impulses. As it seems to be in everything, the insurance company has denied treatment and we are now working through the appeals process. To be honest at first I didn't even want to try this. We've been told so many times over the years that a particular treatment plan has a good success rate for chronic migraines like mine that to even hope becomes a little scary. This is where my sweetheart shines, he's there to listen, to hold me, and then to encourage. So we've now done everything we're suppose to do to prepare for the treatment.

Yesterday we checked off our final “have to” by talking to a psychologist who helps determine how you're dealing with the pain and if your coping skills are adequate. Part of the time was spent in the rehearsal of telling my story and how my pain works and how it affects our lives. I actually don't mind sharing the story anymore, but he has certain questions that he has to ask and that is the part I hate. He was very nice but he wanted to know if I ever get depressed. The answer to that one was “Yes sir I do. I miss out on family outings, church functions etc. and I'm home alone with just God, me, and the pain. I decided a long time ago that a finite hell here on earth is more doable than an infinite one, so I'm not going anywhere.” He then asked if I worry or have panic attacks because of fear of the headache. My answers was along the lines of...I know what my normal high level of pain is, so when the headache behaves like “normal” then I do deep breathing and visualization exercises and we get through it. When it's not normal and I get scared, I wake up my sweetheart and we breathe together until I get centered and the pain comes down enough to deal. I don't know why it always happens in the middle of the night or at church but it does. So that's how we handle it. He asked if it affects our home life...I'm thankful it was a phone consult. I rolled my eyes and went on to describe how we have named the house “The Bat Cave” and that what would have driven me nuts at the beginning of the headache I've learned not to sweat it. If the house isn't as clean as I'd like it to be or the clothes have piled up or the dishes haven't gotten done (all of these things require some type of repetitive noise that pushes the pain higher), then that's life and we worry about the most important things like relationships and loving each other. I told him we have learned to keep a supply of paper goods and plastic ware in the house because dishes aren't something that my sweetheart will do. He does do all the shopping and handles most of the errands and gets my little guy out of the house for some activity because Mama just can't always do it. I've learned to pick and choose what activities to do and when. I've learned that if on a good day I can do some small something outside the house then we're better off.

Anyway after 45 minutes on the phone, he tells me that I've really paid attention over the years and that my coping skills sound like their good and working and that I have a good support system in place. He then told me one of the things he was doing was finding out if I needed to be on something else to help with the depression or if I needed to learn some skills to help me move through the worst parts of the pain, and he felt like I was doing just fine, and he would get his report to the doctor who would be doing the procedure and we would hear from them once the insurance gives the go ahead. Finally he says now I need to collect my co-pay. At this point I handed the phone to my sweetheart because the headache plays with my vision and I can't see the numbers clearly on the card. It also gives the doctor a chance to hear my support system in action. I knew the doctor asked him how he was when my sweetheart said, “I'm hanging in there like a hair in a biscuit. It's been a long 16 years of watching her hurt and we really appreciate anything you can say that will help the insurance company see that we're ready for the procedure.”

I have to say I am very thankful to have this part finished. I'm ready to either hear a yes or no from the insurance company, so that we can learn what the cash cost of the trial procedure and implant would be. Then we can make long range plans. I know that whatever goes on God has this and we will get through this time of waiting just like we have so many other things. Ultimately we know God has this and we just have to do our part by keepin' on keepin' on.

I didn't quote any verses to the doctor while we talked, but he does know that my faith is what I cling to in this battle with pain. It's the unwavering faith that comes with the promises given over and over again. Philip. 4:13 “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” James 5:16 “Confess your trespasses to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.”
It's these promises and so many others that get me through. Please pray with us as we hurry up and wait again. Pray that God will give us healing whether through this procedure or something else. Ask him to grant us contentment and peace in the waiting and ask that we glorify Him in all we say and do.

Thanks for listening and praying. Thanks for being there for our little family and for helping us to remember that we are a part of God's family and it is more numerous than we know and that faithful men and women pray for us daily. We feel those prayers. They are what God uses to see us through those long, dark hours of pain. May our Heavenly Father bless all us, and may we look to Him as we prepare and anxiously await His return.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

A Time of Doubt

Romans 12:9 Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. 10 Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves. 11 Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. 12 Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. 13 Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality

Working hard tonight on v,12. The first part to be joyful in hope...I've got that part figured out for the long term, but the short term is more of a struggle. Who really wants to smile when pain seems to be the status of every single part of the day. I can find joy in the small things like a husband who does laundry (actually that's a big one), my young man who chose to hit the punching bag outside after school instead of in his room, and that supper was easy enough to put together w/o much effort.

The hardest part is being patient in affliction. I'm tired of waiting, tired of fighting a battle that feels never ending. I'm ready to have answers. I'm ready to find something that makes all of this just so much easier. It's been a long 16 years! Time spent in waiting rooms, time spent in the dark awake because the pain is ugly, time spent sitting at home instead of next to my guys as they worship the Father at church but I'm stuck at home because I hurt. I'm tired of the guilt and the questions that come with how chronic pain affects our whole family. I tired of some small part of me deep down inside wondering if maybe just maybe I'm not praying the right way...is my faith not really strong enough.

The faithful in prayer part...well I think I've got that covered. I know that God is carrying me through this journey. I know that it is His strength that gets me out of bed, sets up school assignments, and carries out some small tasks around the house. It's his strength that got us out of the house just to ride down the rode a little while with the radio on and the sun shining in on us. I know that the Son lights the way every day.

Yet the Deceiver, he's been busy too. He's the one who fills up that section deep down inside with guilt and doubt. He's the one who whispers, “It's been a rough pain day take it easy don't push, you'll make the next service.” He's the one who I allow to take my contentment for the day and bury it in frustration over what I can't do.

So am I losing this battle...maybe, will I lose the war... NO!!! I can do what I need to do. I can count my blessings. I can notice the beauty that the Father puts in front of me at every turn. I can know without a doubt that the war has already been won. Christ has done that already, it's in the knowing that it's not about being the best Mama in the world or that person who tries to smile even though everything seems to be falling apart. It means I finish the race to the best of my ability giving God the glory and honor no matter the difficulty.

It's knowing that hating the bad things in this world is okay, because Christ said so. It's knowing that I find the good things and I tie my knot there and cling to them. It means I love even those I don't feel much like loving because God loves me at my ugliest. It's in realizing that I have a spiritual family that encompasses more people than I realize. It's knowing there are precious people who are sent my sweetheart's way who listen to all he has to bear and then takes the time to pray for him, for me, and for the pain to leave us be. It's in the recognition that we are not alone not ever. It's knowing that as long as I take care of my little section of the world, all those doubts and frustrations they don't have to control just how I look at the world.

God created me and you to be his daughters. He made me a daughter of the ruler of the Most High King. He made me special so that there has never been anyone just like me before or after my time here. He has promised me a room in His house for all eternity...all I have to do is finish the race. He doesn't ask me to do it a top speed, sometimes it's a shuffle, a step, or sometimes it's all Him carrying me just because I am His and He is mine.

He may not ask me to give money or to open my filthy house to visitors, but He does ask me to open my heart and share just what I've learned from pain. It's opening my heart and taking a chance of being judged instead of loved. It means that I comfort those who may just be starting this difficult path, or maybe it's allowing someone to see the flaws in me, so that they can see the perfection of the Creator. Hospitality takes on new meaning when many days are spent inside a dark house. It means admitting to my tween-aged son that I really blew it. It means apologizing for curt replies to questions asked. It means encouraging even when I don't feel like encouraging. It's accepting that I have no control over some of the things in my life, and changing the ones I can. It's taking the time to remember that I don't always say what I think I said because that's just how the headache works. It's trying to remember to use a kind tone when asking for things to get done around the house. It may even be remembering what it was like to be the little kid who felt like she carried the world, and that my big boy may feel that way too.

It means I get still and let God have His way with me. It means finding ways to store up scripture and songs in a brain that has a hard time remembering just what this sentence was supposed to say. It's allowing the Holy Spirit to take my petitions to the Savior who will then take them to the Father. It's believing in the hope of today and tomorrow and eternity. It's taking life moment by moment and being thankful for the opportunity.

Father help me to keep my eyes on you, my heart open to those around me, and to give forgiveness even when it hasn't been asked for. Help me to be who you want me to be, help me not to be jealous and help me not to focus on the can'ts but the cans. Thank you for being with me in all things. In your son's name, Amen.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

A Time of Song

Music has always been an important part of my life. I was blessed with a sweet Mama that sang to teach us from the beginning that Jesus loves me and that God expects a loving heart, prayer, kind words, and that He answers promises. I can honestly say my childhood was full of love and blessings. So many of my memories are wrapped in song...Grandma Dean and Uncle Steve both hummed the same song when we went for rides in the car, Grandma Lyles would rock and sing The Teddy Bear Picnic, and Daddy listening to the radio.

Today I heard a scripture, Zephaniah 3:16, and it was like hearing it for the first time:
“The LORD your God in your midst,
The Mighty One, will save;
He will rejoice over you with gladness,
He will quiet you with His love,
He will rejoice over you with singing.”

It got me thinking of all the times I've rocked my little man and sung songs just for him. The closeness that comes from singing for someone you love is special. It brings joy to the heart of the singer and the hearer. He's a big boy now and I no longer sing him to sleep, but when we sing together or sing with the radio the words to songs take on a deeper meaning. There are songs that become prayers as they're being sung for him to grow in wisdom, love, and joy.

If I can feel that way about my baby, those who I'm worshiping with or just rockin' out to the radio with, then how much more is it for the Father to do that over His children. How incredibly special it is that God Almighty rejoices with us and quiets us with His love, and that He does it in song! How awesome it is that God in all His power takes the time to sing songs of rejoicing over us! We are special to Him and He expresses that love in song.

Can you see it in your minds eye, the Father caring so much that He sings songs of rejoicing just for you! When times are hard and we wonder why we must face the hard things of this world and we keep our eye on Him in the midst of the storm. He rejoices over us with singing. When we tie our knot and hang onto our faith when the Deceiver is trying to strip us of it, our Father sings for us. Songs that one day we will get to hear in person. Their is such joy that comes with the knowledge that not only does the Father know how many hairs are on my head, that He stores up my tears in a bottle, but He sings over me and you. His love poured out in song.

My prayer for us is that we can take that knowledge and rest in the knowledge of our Father's love, that we will follow His example and sing of our love for Him. May we rejoice in the bond we have with Him and with one another. May our hearts be so full that our songs flow back to Him.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

The Hem of His Garment

Matt. 9:20 And suddenly, a woman who had a flow of blood for twelve years came from behind and touched the hem of His garment. 21 For she said to herself, “If only I may touch His garment, I shall be made well.” 22 But Jesus turned around, and when He saw her He said, “Be of good cheer, daughter; your faith has made you well.” And the woman was made well from that hour.

I've spent a lot of time in this passage that talks about the woman with an issue of blood and how she had spent all that she had to find a way to stop it. I identify with her because over the past 16 years as a family, both immediate and extended, we've spent lots of money searching for the cause of my headache. But finances are not what draw me to this passage over and over again. It's the faith of this women and her incredible courage. According to Jewish law and tradition, she had spent the last 12 years of her life unclean, that also meant that anything she came in contact with or anyone who touched her was unclean as well. Those people who chose to maintain contact with her knew that they would be unclean until evening after visiting with her. How incredibly alone she must have felt! Women in general were not to even look men in the eye when out in public let alone talk with them. Yet she had heard about the Master and decided to take the leap of faith and work her way through a crowd that was so thick around Jesus that his apostles wondered why He would ask who touched Him when she touched the hem of His garment.

She was willing to risk everything for the chance to be close to Jesus. How tired she must have been just moving about on a regular basis considering she had dealt with an issue of blood for 12 years. I can imagine that it took all the strength she had to be a part of that crowd and work her way to the Master. Her faith was so great that she didn't feel like she had to talk to Jesus. I imagine after spending 12 years in an unclean state she didn't even feel worthy enough for Him to lay eyes on her. Yet she knew that He had healed so many and the opportunity was one she could not pass up. In my mind's eye, I see her as the Savior turns to her and asks who touched Him. She probably wished the earth would open up and swallow her right then and there. Yet she was brave enough to admit that it had been her that touched Him. I can only imagine what joy she felt when the Savior told her that not only was she healed, but she was forgiven of her sins and she was made clean. For 12 years she spent her life living on the fringes of Jewish society because of the laws that dealt with having an issue of blood. Now she could reenter society. She would once again be clean and able to worship in the temple.( Imagine 12 years without the fellowship of the brethren.) The place where we draw our greatest source of strength, she had been denied for 12 years.

With just a few words, Jesus changed her whole life and made her clean. This is the freedom we read of in Hebrews, that the blood of Christ has cleansed us once and for all and so long as we strive to do His will His blood continues to cleanse us. We can do away with the self-doubt, the self recrimination, and the questioning of our faith. Jesus has allowed us to not only touch the hem of His garment, but to place our fingers in his nail scarred hands and the gash in his side. What a blessing to no longer worry if we have offered the right sacrifice in the right way, because He was the ultimate sacrifice.
We also can see from Matt 14: 35 (And when the men of that place recognized Him, they sent out into all that surrounding region, brought to Him all who were sick, 36 and begged Him that they might only touch the hem of His garment. And as many as touched it were made perfectly well.)and
Mark 6: 56 (Wherever He entered, into villages, cities, or the country, they laid the sick in the marketplaces, and begged Him that they might just touch the hem of His garment. And as many as touched Him were made well.) that she set an example that other's followed. In her courage and faith, she gave others another way to contact the healing powers of Christ. In the hardest of times, God promises us that He will use all the things in our life for good. How encouraging that thought is!

So I can rest in a safe assurance of knowing that my headache is not something I suffer because of a lack of faith, a sin I've commited that is unforgiveable(there is no such sin) but that it is a part of the human condition and the fact that because of sin pain and suffering are a part of this world. I can know that as long as I hang onto the Father, He'll not let me fall and that He will find away to make all this world's pain work together for good. When we" touch" the hem of His garment, we won't receive a miraculous healing like the women with the issue of blood, but we can know we will spend an eternity with Him where there is no pain, tears, or loss.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

What's It Feel Like

It's been a very long time since I've written specifically about what it's like to live with this ugly old headache. I don't want this to be a "whining post" or an "old poor me type post"; however I do believe that to really know me now, you must know what is going on in my head. So here we go, I'll do my best to put into words what the headache feels like.

To begin with since the pain is constant, there is always some type of background noise in my head. Many times it's just the constant throbbing of the pain (those are the good days). Other times, it feels and sounds like a stake being pounded from the back of my head to the front. With that comes the light and noise sensitivity, most days normal inside lighting feels like the bright sunshine in the middle of the day. If we go outside or places with brighter lighting it's like having all the lights in the football stadium on and shining directly into my eyes. I have some people who have not seen my eyes and on the off chance they see me without sunglasses some of them don't even recognize. There are times that even in the dark the headache itself has a light show that goes on even when my eyes are closed. It's painful and draining simply to deal with just that part. Then you add to that the noise sensitivity. Repetitive noises, squeals, and high pitched sounds are the hardest, but there are also times when just the sounds of a room full of people talking feels like it's being put through a megaphone. Sometimes out of nowhere even small sounds can feel like they come through an air horn.

I know that I am guilty of snapping at people during times when I'm dealing with both sets the noise and the light. It's a knee jerk reaction like yelling “Ouch” when someone steps on your toes. Over the years, my sweetheart has been the one to sit and watch me cry after pushing to be out and about. He is forever my protector and will work to prevent this amount of extra pain when he can. There have been many times when I'm sure people have found us to be very rude, because in stereo we will express displeasure if the noises is one that isn't necessary.
For this reason, it has to be a good day for us to choose to eat out. If the restaurant is one that is full or one that noises bounce off the walls, it becomes even harder. When I was teaching school the lunchroom was the hardest place to be, now it's usually the fellowship hall at church. I want to be a part of family gatherings, church dinners, and conversation before and after church. I will push to the point of needing to make a trip to the ER(which doesn't work for me and is a complete waste of time, but that's how ugly the pain is). There are times when the pain in my head is soo loud I feel like I have to yell over it. There have been times when I wanted to stand in a chair and yell “Shut up” from the top of my lungs. I've learned how not to do just that, but I may leave quickly after services or in the middle of a meal. It doesn't mean that I don't want to be a part of things or that I want to stop all the wonderful visiting and fellowship, so I leave. If my sweetheart sees me leave, he follows relatively quickly and we take home a very disappointed little boy.

I'm not saying all of this to hinder those I love from making a joyful noise when they are together. I just want you to know that I'm not mad or don't want to spend time with you, it's just that I've reached my capacity for handling it all.

As always, it is my prayer that my words are kind and my disposition sweet, but on those days when I fail I ask that you take the above into consideration and forgive me. Many thanks to all. Please keep us in your prayers. There are many times when our plans have to change at the last minute and I'm home alone. It is during these times when the devil tries to work on my faithfulness. Your prayers are coveted. Thanks for reading.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Please Heal Me

I wrote this song about 2 months ago. It was one of those rare moments when it all just seemed to flow. It's still a little rough and there are few little things I am waiting to change, but it also feels like its time to share it. I've tried to add a link for the melody, but I haven't had any luck getting my program to work. I'm ready to share the lyrics and we'll pray I can come back later with a link to how I hear it in my head. The fight with the headache and sin in general are ever present. Hoping this helps someone else as much as it's helped me. P.S. Remember, I'm sharing the depths of my heart with you. May God bless all of us with healing.

Please, Heal Me by Samantha Moore

Father, hear my plea
I'm tired and I long for thee.
This life is hard,
It's full of pain
But I have faith, you'll come again.

I have faith.
You are strong.
Heal this heart,
Make me whole.
Just let me touch the hem of your robe, Lord.
Please heal me.

The days move on, the nights are long.
My heart is full of hurt again.
Please Lord, listen to me.
Dry my tears and let me sing.

I have faith.
You are strong.
Heal this heart,
Make me whole.
Just let me touch the hem of your robe, Lord.
Please heal me.

My Sins are many,
Your love is great.
I want to walk with you each day.
I long for you, the rest you bring.
Precious Lord, forgive me.

I have faith.
You are strong.
Heal this heart,
Make me whole.
Just let me touch the hem of your robe, Lord.
Please heal me.

I'll Shout your praises,
Sweet, Sweet Savior
Even when this soul feels torn.
You've made me your 's
Savior hear my song.
Make my your will my own.

I have faith.
You are strong.
Heal this heart,
Make me whole.
Just let me touch the hem of your robe, Lord.
Please heal me.

Oh, help me, Lord,
To keep my eyes on you.
Please let me in this crowded world,
To just hold onto the hem of your robe.
For I know you are my way home.

I have faith.
You are strong.
Heal this heart,
Make me whole.
Just let me touch the hem of your robe, Lord.
Please heal me.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Time for Some Fun

I find that too often I take myself way too seriously. I hate having my picture made, and I definitely don't enjoy drawing attention to myself. The headache literaly had kept me in the house for a month. When I finally started feeling better, we made a trip to our favorite classroom...the park. We had it all to ourselves and little man ran circles around me while I called out spelling words. During a play break, he picked up my camera and shot the video I hope will show up below.

My sweet boy loves to make me laugh and he succeeded. Listen close and you can hear just how much the headache affects our lives when he gives out the scientific name of the habitat for the elusive Mateacher Foot. Originally I said no way to letting anyone outside the immediate family see the footage. Then I remembered to take a deep breath and enjoy making a memory. I want him to look back on his childhood and remember so much more than my daily fight with pain. I want to encourage the carefree fun and creativity of moments like this one. It was a good day in April, and we have had a good afternoon getting it uploaded and edited. Hope you enjoy the fun as much as we did. Solomon tells us in Proverbs that a merry heart is better than medicine. It has been good for both us to sit and laugh together for him to have a chance to share a goofy experience with this old Mama.

May God help us to find the fun moments in each, encourage our children to be silly and creative, and may we shine His love to them and for them in our actions.

Monday, May 19, 2014

A Time of Questions

It seems the older I get the more questions I have. It fits right in with something my sweetheart told our son this weekend. He said, “Son, the time will come when you think that Mama and I are absolute idiots and you'll question everything we do, but remember that I predicted it would happen. When you realize I was right, you're really going to hate having to admit that Dad really does know something; in fact, he just might be a genius. And you're going to hate it all the more.” Really and truly that's what the adolescent and the young adult years are all about..questions. Questions that race widely around in their head about everything from how's my hair look to is there really a God.

I guess where I'm trying to go with this is that we have to give our children the tools to answer all those questions for themselves. Have we helped to cultivate a spirit of confidence; so that they can walk around with confidence no matter the hair style. Have we helped them to cultivate a love for God's word and encouraged them to decide God is the Creator and author of salvation not because Mama and Daddy believe it, but because they can study and make that decision for themselves.
God gives us some parameters for raising children and here are a few:

Proverbs 22:​​6 Train up a child in the way he should go,
​And when he is old he will not depart from it.

Ephesians 6:4 And you, fathers, do not provoke your children to wrath, but bring them up in the training and admonition of the Lord.

Colossians 3:21 Fathers, do not provoke your children, lest they become discouraged.

These verses remind us that we must train our children. They don't come into this world programmed to obey, speak politely and use their best manners. In fact, children will take a chance even when all the odds are stacked against them just to see if we're going to hold the line we said we would. If we aren't consistent then we won't get the results we want. It means that even when my head is screaming with the pain from the headache that I will still enforce our family rule: to do right. In doing this, I must be careful to mirror the same love God has for me as I discipline/train. It means that my son understands that I don't like the way he is behaving but I still love him. In the heat of the moment words that cannot be taken back can place scars on the heart of the child. There is an understanding that this is the behavior I expect from you and I'm sorry that you chose to make a bad decision. It is one of my big pet peeves to hear a child be told they are bad, stupid, etc. The child is not bad the decision was. God sent his one and only son to die for me while I was still a sinner. He hates the sin, but loves the person. It's one of those things I must work really hard at to remember.

It is important that the rules stay the same for the same situation. It meas I must train him to know the difference in how to act inside, outside at home, outside away from home, and how I expect him to sit and listen during worship. It is important that I don't change the rules mid- stream. In our house this is when the pouty face will appear and hands will clench. It's often done because his expectation for my reaction (based on past experiences) doesn't meet up with what happens. This definitely provokes anger. As a small child, he didn't know how to express that anger except in tears. Now, it means I'm dealing with a sullen non responsive tween. It's at these times that I'm learning just as much as he is. If I don't listen to his concerns then things can escalate to a level where I may be provoking him to anger/ make a bad choice.

It is my desire to encourage and train at the same time. If I like the behavior I'm seeing I tell him. By letting him know what I like to see, he gets a better picture of my expectations. We have done this since he began to crawl and climb. Our children long to please us, just as we should long to please God. If there are certain actions you don't want to see, prepare them to act the way you want when they are small. I enjoyed visiting the shut-ins and widows one night a week with a girl friend before our son's adoption. I wanted to be able to take him with me and not fuss at him the whole time about don't touch. So I put a bowl with flowers on our coffee table, he was not allowed to touch it at all because it was not his. In fact from the time he was able to talk to age five (aside from the word no) the words he and I both said where “If it not mine/yours then don't touch it. I tried to keep something of his on the table as well. He could play with what belonged to him, but if he went for my flowers a small pop on the hand was a reminder it wasn't his. It worked (most of the time) and I could take him with me. He would begin to crawl to a table with someone else's pretties and I would say “If it's not yours don't touch it.” If He kept moving then I would go pick him up and give him a toy that I would take with me. This was training him in a safe place to make the right choice. We are still trying to do that as we begin to give more freedom and more choices where the consequences are punishment in themselves.

OK, this is my last suggestion, but for me it's a big one. Allow your child to make choices as often as possible. From at bedtime, do you want water from the kitchen or water from the sink in the bathroom? Always provide two choices that you can live with..” Do you want to snuggle and watch a short cartoon or read a book before bed?” Being able to make even the smallest choices is empowering and allows for the child to trust their own judgment. As they get older the choices change from “Do you want to do an extra days school work today, or stop now?” By doing the extra day early they have a whole day to play or be away from the house, or possibly missing out on something that he wants to do the next day because he wanted to stop school the day before. As the consequences make a bigger impact on the outcome, the child learns more about himself and what works and what doesn't.

So, what did any of this have to do with my sweetheart and me being geniuses in the eyes of our son. It's about the answers to the questions or choices. It's allowing him to see that we've been there done that, and by the very nature of our being human he will repeat it. Maybe the questions that I find myself asking myself are much like the choices I'm giving my son. As I strive to make God's will my will, maybe He is allowing me to learn from the consequences as well. It means that I must spend more time in His word looking for the answers and more time interacting with others to put my solutions into practice. If I don't like the result then I've learned a valuable lesson. Know I need to study more and do things differently the next time.

Dear Father, please help me to make good choices both as a parent and as your child. Help me to honor you in all things, and help me to train this precious soul you've placed in my keeping and to encourage him to love you. Help me Father to allow Him room to chose you for himself and not because I chose you for him. Be with me Father and help me to be the Mama You want me to be, and to glorify You in all things. In Jesus' name, Amen.

Saturday, May 17, 2014

A Four Letter Word...Hope

I haven't written much since the beginning of the year and once again it's because we have dealt with a longer period of high pain levels. I can say that the last 4 weeks have been better, but the battle with pain is constant. It is only through the power of prayer that I have pushed through each day. It has meant that we as a family have had some hard times because it is incredibly hard to be sweet when the only thing you want to do is bury your head under the pillows and stay in bed.

It is only through hope and faith in God's promises that I've been able to get done the absolutes as Mama and wife. It has been because with each moment there is the belief that God is able to take my pain away either in this life, in his return or in death. It is because hope is such an important part of every moment that I decided to see just how many times the word hope occurs in the Bible. It occurs 167 times in 159 verses in the NIV version of the Bible. It occurs 18 times in the book of Job, 31 times in the Psalms, 10 times in Proverbs, 7 times in Jeremiah, and 9 times in the book of Acts. When you take a look at where the word is used most frequently it is in times of pain or trials. When Job and his friends are talking Job questions why he still hopes and his friends question if he has enough faith in his hope. In Lamentations 3:19-33, Jeremiah offers up this prayer:

19 I remember my affliction and my wandering,
the bitterness and the gall.
20 I well remember them,
and my soul is downcast within me.
21 Yet this I call to mind
and therefore I have hope:

22 Because of the LORD’s great love we are not consumed,
for his compassions never fail.
23 They are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.
24 I say to myself, “The LORD is my portion;
therefore I will wait for him.”

25 The LORD is good to those whose hope is in him,
to the one who seeks him;
26 it is good to wait quietly
for the salvation of the LORD.
27 It is good for a man to bear the yoke
while he is young.

28 Let him sit alone in silence,
for the LORD has laid it on him.
29 Let him bury his face in the dust—
there may yet be hope.
30 Let him offer his cheek to one who would strike him,
and let him be filled with disgrace.

31 For no one is cast off
by the Lord forever.
32 Though he brings grief, he will show compassion,
so great is his unfailing love.
33 For he does not willingly bring affliction
or grief to anyone.

He reminds us that God wants only good for those who love him and obey his will. He reminds the people that though they have been torn from their homes that God has not forgotten them. It is so often through suffering that God allows us to minister to others. It gives us a perspective on the pain others feel. It helps us to know how someone might be best helped during periods of grief or isolation. So yes, we can be thankful for the tough times. They bring us to our knees which is where we are closest to the Father. It refines our character and makes us better for the pain or trial we've endured. Hope is a four letter word that should be at the very center of who we are, for it is only through hope that we can get through the moments, days, weeks, and years of suffering. May we find strength in knowing we serve a God who hears each heart felt plea and stores our tears in a bottle. He is not blind to our pain and there is joy to be found in the comfort he sends our way.

Are we keeping our eyes and heart open for the answers and comfort he sends? If we fill our hearts with bitterness, then we will lose sight of the joy and comfort that can be found in even our darkest moments. It may come in the form of an article we read, a smile, someone who has been there and listens, and it can come from jumping in water puddles after the rain. It may come in quick hugs and “normal” conversations and it comes in the form of prayers being prayed by many that we don't even know.

It has been all of these things that have seen us through this last 6 months. It's been cards received in the mail, and the recalling of scripture hidden in my heart. We thank you as a family for all you do for us. For those of you who I've never met yet you read my blog, you to have been a source of encouragement. When I'm house bound and unable to teach in a class setting, you allow me to continue to carry out the command to teach. It helps me to feel useful to the kingdom even when I sit alone at home in the dark.

The last four weeks have also restored a portion of hope. To be able to get out in the sunshine and to spend time with my boys away from the house has been medicine to my soul. It has been a blessing to celebrate another triple shot of blessings that come from Agape's Run For a Mom, Mother's Day, and Gotcha Day celebrations. It is being able to be at church surrounded by both my physical and spiritual family while my sweet boy presents a lesson that he put together without my help. It has reminded me that each day holds blessings without number, and that I can conquer the blows that the Deceiver sends my way because God hears and answers prayer.

May your day..life be filled with hope in the knowledge that God does care and He is with us. In all things may we bring honor and glory to the Father, amen.
Consider the Lilies

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Discovering the Importance of What A Life Taught Me

If you are new to my blog or don't know me very well, then it's important to me that you know that in January of 1998 we lost my sister and cousin to the stupidity of a high, drunk driver. One moment they were to very independent young people and the next they were gone. Every year I use this time to remind those young people (or young at heart) that the choice to drink and drive has repercussions far beyond those of the moment. The young man that drove drunk died in the wreck as well. I'm still searching for some type of forgiveness, not for his sake but mine. We'll explore those ugly emotions another day. Today, I want to share some things that I've learned from their lives. I have a sweet sister/friend who reminded at Christmas to value the lessons learned from their short lives instead of just concentrating on the missing. She has no idea how much that suggestion has helped me over the last month. It has actually made it possible to look at both lives and their cumulative effect on my life. I know that just because we lost two family members at once doesn't make my grief any harder or different from others, but I must admit that the emotions feel like on ocean trying to pull me from the safety of the shore when I think about both of them being gone and so quickly. It is so much easier to deal with pieces at a time, but I'm still digressing from my original intentions. So, I'll leave this alone for now and talk about the kids and the joy, adventure, and frustration they brought me and what I learned from them.

I'm the oldest of the three of us and then Willard was nine months younger (we actually buried him on his birthday) and Jenny was 2 years younger. I always felt like Willard was more of a brother than cousin and the trouble and fun the three of us found our way into made for a wonderful childhood. I learned to use my imagination with those two, whether we were hunting lions in the tall grass around the clay pit or tracking Indians in the woods. The toy box was a ship, a plane, a car, or a treasure chest. We transported ourselves from the house or backyard and went on adventures that only wonderfully creative minds can come up with. I was not the creative one, but once given the situation would willingly bury myself in whatever adventure we were on for the day. So the first thing they taught me was you could have fun without toys and that the imagination could carry us where ever we wanted to go. It was wonderful and the adventures didn't stop once we left our young childhood they just expanded and included going places and still being just as silly as we where when we were limited by location.

They taught me how to laugh and laugh. Jenny because it just seemed to be in her nature and Willard because he loved to irritate Jenny and as the mean big sister I must admit to enjoying those moments. He had the ability to make her fighting mad and then turn the switch back to laughter. (Family members, I realize some of my memories are clouded by what I want to remember and those things I don't.) When we were all younger there was so much fun in tackling Willard and him ending up on the bottom of the dog pile. As we got older he was able to tackle the two of us and with a handful of her hair in one hand and mine in the other finally made the top of the dog pile. So we learned that you can play rough, get mad, and forgive and move on.

Jenny and I both shared the same room for most of our childhood. So that meant secrets shared into the night. She was a cover stealer, but a great keeper of secrets....at least I think she was. She was hard headed and found joy in taking the heads off my dolls and hiding clothes and baby bottles. She taught me the joy in climbing trees by shaming me into being too scared to climb and follow her. She loved to spend time outside and I would have been just as happy playing school inside. She taught me the triumph that comes with overcoming fears, the excitement in facing the unknown, and the need to stand up and be bold even when you're shaking on the inside.

Willard taught me a lot about how a guy thinks and just how much grief hurts. We lost one of his brothers when I was about 11. I didn't really have a picture of pain until we lost Matthew. He taught me how important sincerity is and that sarcasm can often cover pain that the mind cannot share. He taught me to see the world with a little less naivety than I had before. He was also the true keeper of secrets. If you asked him not to tell, he didn't. There were times I needed that. He taught me how to play cards and the fun that comes with just goofing off at home (along with an infusion of caffeine and candy). He made sure I was sure I loved my sweetheart and then once he saw how determined I was accepted Rich probably before anyone else did. He taught me that sometimes there can be too much hurt to pray for yourself so you ask someone else to do it for you. (I wish I had remembered that lesson earlier than I did). He allowed me to see his hurt and taught me that sometimes just being there to listen can help mend broken parts of ourselves.

I love them and what they could help me become with the two of them I was loud and silly. I was a head scrubber, leg pincher, and someone who laughed easily. They taught me that. They taught me not to worry what anyone might say or think if I was at church in play clothes that being there was what was important. Jenny taught me that no matter how shy I felt and how much I wanted to stand behind someone else to teach the gospel that I needed to be bold. Right was right and wrong was wrong. Willard helped me to see the need for grace and mercy that sometimes life wasn't as black and white as Jenny saw them that you needed to be willing to give people space. The most important thing they taught me together was to lighten up and have a good time. Jenny also helped me learn that I could make it through anything I didn't want to do, was sad or happy by singing.

I have to admit that since their deaths I haven't sung as much, I don't just get silly with laughter very often, and I take myself so much more seriously than I even did back then. It's been 16 years without them and there days when it feels like it all happened yesterday, and yet it feels like a life time ago. Their loss is one that has changed how we interact as a family. The silliness, the laughing until our sides hurt, and how much time we spend together has changed. Our babies don't know these two sweet souls who would have loved them. We miss them, the drunk driver left a hole that will only be filled completely when we see them again on the other side of Jordan.

You see there's where our hope is...It's in the knowing that one day they will meet us at the gate of heaven along with other precious souls that have moved on. There's comfort in knowing there's more to come and that is why we move through the moments of deep grief and pain because one day we'll join them in a land without pain.

You will call upon Me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek Me and find Me when you seek Me with all your heart.
Jeremiah 29:12-13

The Lord is faithful to all His promises and loving toward all He has made.
Psalms 145:13

The Lord is my strength, my shield from every danger. I trust in Him with all my heart.
Psalms 28:7

It is my prayer that if you are someone who has been known to drive drunk or drive while on drugs, or even drive while texting that just knowing the pain caused by another bad decision will help you to decide not to repeat the stupidity of the young man who killed my sister and cousin. You have the ability to choose not to drive under the influence. If you find you must drink or get high, please call a cab or have a designated driver. You never know you might just save your own life as well as that of someone else. Don't steal the laughter, silliness, and songs from your family or that of another.

May God help us to concentrate on the love He has for us and the joy that we carry because of His promise of salvation. May He help us to honor the lives of our loved ones by sharing the very best parts of ourselves that they helped to mold and shape.

Thanks for your love and support. This blog has been a big part of helping me to see that I can still share the Savior with others even when I feel like hiding. Your support is lifting up this tired soul and helping to put the pieces back again. I love you.