Life In The Midst Of The Storm

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When we were on our way to Louisiana for Papaw’s funeral we ran into a rain storm. You know the kind where you can hardly see the car in front of you? The picture above was taken in the midst of the storm. The storm was so bad and visibility was so low that all of the cars had their flashers on to try to be more visible.

In April a storm hit our family full strength. Like a hurricane we had warning signs, but when the warning signs were coming we didn’t know the strength of the storm that was behind them. This storm was in the form of illness in one of our children. Unfortunately it wasn’t the type of illness that you can put a band-aid on or treat with medicine. It was an illness of the heart and mind brought on by extreme heartbreak. Our daughter Sarah will be 26 next month, but mentally she is 6 and along with that comes the innocence of a young child. She loves and lives in a world that doesn’t comprehend unkindness and the inability to show love. She was plunged head long into that realization, and it took a hard toll on her.

For weeks that have turned into months we have been unsure of her outcome. We honestly don’t know if she will ever be the same again. There are changes that I think will help her in the future, she is seeming to learn to cope with things which she had be sheltered from in the past. At times we see a break in the clouds and in the distance we can see hope. But it’s in the distance.

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I have been trying to get life back to some semblance of normal. I don’t know what normal really is anymore. For 8 weeks it was me sitting on the couch beside Sarah every waking minute trying to make a connection with her and sleeping on the couch in the family room while she slept on a air bed a few feet away. Many of those nights were sleepless, full of worry, anxiety, confusion, prayer, and desperation. I can say I have never felt so desperate as I have in the last few months. Desperate to know how to help my child, desperate to fix things, desperate to have God give me clear direction. And He has. I can’t count the times that He has given me clear direction as to how to help her, and when I have followed that leading, I have been given what I need most of all . . . hope.

He really does offer help for the hopeless, because I have been that hopeless person as of late, not understanding, feeling like I am walking through a storm that has no end; hoping I don’t get lost in the process.

I have been so blessed to have the husband I have and Hannah, Rachel, and Caroline who have all been here on a daily basis to bring encouragement to me when I felt I couldn’t make it another moment, much less another day. Life has been raw. Ripped open. Shredded. But even in the midst of this God is glorious! He is brings restoration to my heart and healing to my soul.

Sarah needs your prayers. We all do. We are so thankful for the prayers and encouragement of extended family and friends. It can be heartbreaking to not know if she will be the same again. Mourning is part of daily life here now, mourning and missing the Sarah that was, and now mourning the loss of Papaw.

I don’t know what lies ahead. I just know that I’m trusting my Savior to bring us through it and sanctify us in the process.

About Lora

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Thirty years ago, when I was 19,  I met the love of my life. I say we met in Sunday School, he says we met before that at a pool party. What happened in the next few months after Aug. of ‘83 changed my life forever. Most people don’t get married to someone after only knowing them for a few months, but we did, and boy am I thankful. Since our marriage I have been pulled and stretched in ways I couldn’t imagine. I was a new Christian having only been saved two months when we met, and the Lord had/has a lot to teach me.

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In the following years we had 5 daughters. I had my first, Lindsay, when I was 20. Then came along Sarah (who has many special needs), Hannah, Rachel, & Caroline. A gap of 8 years divides Lindsay and Hannah, and due to that I tend to lump them into two categories: Lindsay & Sarah & “the girls”. I have homeschooled them all and this will be my 22nd year. It’s hard to believe it’s been that long but I wouldn’t have done it any other way.

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The years have been full of many trials and tribulations but also much joy. The Lord has taught me many things through my tears and fears, the most significant is that He is sovereign and always faithful.

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My goal is to serve my Lord with all that I do which includes being a wife & mother. I am always seeking ways to improve and by no means do I think I have arrived. I will never arrive until the day I die and sit at the feet of Jesus.

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This blog is written with the desire to encourage women, young or old, married or single, mothers or childless, to be the women God desires them to be. I want to share my life and experiences with you in the hope that through my mistakes, failures and trials the Lord can encourage and strengthen you.

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I hope that we can have many fruitful conversations on marriage, children, motherhood, homeschooling, and being followers of Christ. Please feel free to leave comments or to e-mail me at Lora @ MyTitus2Journey DOT Com. You can also subscribe, follow me on your favorite reader, follow me on Twitter ,or become a fan on Facebook.

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The girls and I all love photography and most of the images you see on my site will be either my work or one of theirs. We feel that photography is a way to capture and share the beauty and grandeur of the Lord’s creation.

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I wrote a blog post on the purpose for my writing and have decided to include it as part of the “About Me”. You can read it here.

 

Recent Life In Our House

Well, it’s 2 am and I am watching Fellowship of the Ring with Hannah, Rachel & Caroline, and listening to Lindsay cough uncontrollably in her bedroom.  In the last 24 hours the girls have had about 6 breathing treatments for their asthma, we have done several steam treatments tonight, countless doses of medicine, and hot tea by the gallon.  Sarah, the child that though she has special needs is rarely sick, even has an upper respiratory infection.  Gene seems to be getting over his URI, and I hope it stays away for a while.  Me, well, I’m not sick, I’ve just been running like crazy trying to keep up with everything that needs to be done (and quite honestly, I’m not succeeding).  I have started about 5 blog posts, which are currently waiting to be finished.

The opening to this post isn’t very cheery, but in all honesty, it’s not as depressing as it all may sound.  The Lord is teaching us all a great deal through this trial, and for that, I am very thankful.  Our holidays, while not full of activities, parties, and excitement, were full of meaningful times and expressions of love for one another.   For Christmas it is our common practice to have the girls draw another sister’s name, and they are given a certain amount of money to buy that sister a gift, or gifts.  They look forward to this with great anticipation, not looking forward to what they will get, but toward what they will give.  They spend countless hours in thought and preparation of their gift.  This year something spontaneous happened that surprised me.  The girls individually began spending their own allowances to buy small things to make for the sisters whose names they didn’t draw.  I know of many people who eschew gift giving at Christmas because of the belief that it causes greediness and the desire to get more and more.  In our family I have found the opposite to be true. The girls are appreciative of the gifts they receive, but generally have trouble even telling you what they want as gifts.  We have tried to nuture in them a desire to be cheerful givers whenever the opportunity arises, and we have seen good fruit from this thus far.December 31st, was our 25th wedding anniversary and Gene planned a big surprise for me.  On Wednesday evening, December 17th, Gene told me that first thing Thursday morning we would be heading out for a trip to San Antonio.  I have wanted to go for years, and love history, so this was the perfect surprise for me.  I was so excited to get to go to the Alamo after hearing about it for so many years. This may sound strange, but it was all I could do to not start crying as I entered the building for the first time. The realization of what had taken place there was heavy upon my heart.  The grounds of the Alamo are beautiful; it is hard to believe that they are right in the center of the city.

After the Alamo we went and checked into our Bed & Breakfast before going to the Riverwalk. It was a beautiful little B&B right on the river.  It was so peaceful and beautiful. It was quite overcast the two days we were there, which gave the city an unusual feel.  The river was beautiful, as was the boat ride down it.  As I was riding on the river, in the fog, under all of the bridges, it felt as if I was in London.  Once the sun went down and all of the Christmas lights came on, it was even more beautiful on the river.  I felt as if I was a child in a wonderland of lights.  After walking along the river for a while, we then at dinner at Boudro’s.  The food was amazing, and the bread pudding was a great end to the meal.  It was nice to eat on the riverwalk, watching the people as they walked by.  After we walked a while longer we went back to the van.  Gene knows how I love to take pictures, so he took me by the Alamo, so that I could get pictures at night.  It was an amazing site to see it with the lights illuminating it’s historic walls.  The next morning we ate breakfast at the B & B and then drove through a historic district nearby.  After a quick stop at the Buckhorn Museum downtown, we headed home.  The trip was wonderful for me, as it gave me a much needed break from the holiday rush.  It was nice to spend a day not thinking about all that I had to do to finish preparing for the holidays.  I don’t know that I have ever been so completely able to lay my thinking and planning aside.

San Antonio Album 1

San Antonio Album 2

San Antonio Album 3

Lindsay went to Little Rock the afternoon we returned from San Antonio for the wedding of some friends.  While there she was able to stay with Gene’s sister and to see her cousin’s new baby.  She had a wonderful trip, but picked up a bug on the return plane ride.

We had a very subdued but nice Christmas enjoying a lot of time together, with us all playing the new Wii together when the girls were up to it. Gene surprised me, and the girls, with a very nice present for Christmas. He had taken the girls shopping, and they picked out several nice things for me, not knowing about the secret gift.  He surprised us all with a top of the line Kitchen Aid Professional mixer.  The girls were as excited as I was to receive it.  We didn’t wait long to try it out either!

Since we had already celebrated our anniversary on our trip, on the 31st we just went to our favorite pizza place, New York Pizzeria and the mall.  Gene didn’t make it until midnight (I think he was beginning to get sick at that point) but the girls and I did.  We went outside at midnight to watch the fireworks, which lasted quite a while.  The next day Gene’s brother, Guy, came for a visit. We had a really nice visit while he was here, though the girls weren’t feeling quite up to snuff.I haven’t been taking a lot of pictures as of late, but I did get a chance to Friday at Gene’s office.  Lindsay was taking pictures inside for a brochure and the website, so I went outside to take pictures.  Gene’s new office is located on an acre of land in old Katy, in the middle of a neighborhood, which provided a few flowers and such to take pictures of around the office.

These are a few of my favorites.

It was fun to watch this little fellow flit from flower to flower. He almost looks as if he could fall in on his head and get stuck!

One of the things I have come to appreciate about nature photography, is the details that pop out at you that you didn’t even notice while taking the pictures.

I have also come to see many things I would have overlooked before, such as this flower.

These little fellows were none too happy that I kicked their mound to see if they were home. Yes, they are fire ants, but none of them got me…. mwahahaha.

This tiny fellow was almost invisible, until I got down really close to take this picture. Isn’t his little red self cute?Well, it’s after 4 am now.  Fellowship has finished, they have taken another round of breathing treatments, and they have started Two Towers.  I hope they are feeling better before it ends, but we’ll have to wait and see how that goes.  You are pretty much caught up with everything going on here.  I hope to begin posting more often, but only time will tell.

It’s A Wonderful Life

One of our family Christmas traditions is to watch “It’s a Wonderful Life” together.  This year as we watched it together many thoughts came to me.  Maybe it is because of the economic climate and the realization that many are having a very hard time this year, or maybe it’s just because I’m getting older that I saw the movie through a different light.  I see so many parallels in this movie to our Christian walk, and it was a much needed reminder that my life, no matter how humble, is really quite wonderful.

George Bailey always had a plan for how he wanted to live his life, which included travel, adventure and excitement.  He saw Bedford Falls as a sleepy, boring town that constrained him. He wanted to do something important. Don’t we want this?  I know that I do.   I often see others’ lives as important or exciting and see the life they lead as somehow better or more important than mine.  In reality, I have been placed in this life, to serve the purpose that God has for me.  When all the girls are having asthma trouble, the nights get long, and my work seems never ending, I can feel overwhelmed.  I see my life as mundane and unimportant.  As I begin to pray for encouragement, the Lord reminds me that He has placed me here. He has me going through this circumstance to help me to grow to be more Christ-like.  The role He has given each of us is important.  We only need to serve Him faithfully and work to bring about His purposes.One of George’s greatest character traits was his unselfishness. When there was a run on the bank, in order to keep the Savings & Loan afloat he used his own money to help others out. I know that selfishness is a battle we must all fight.  One of the greatest things I have learned through being a mother of many, and one with special needs, is to set my own wishes aside.  Like George, I often don’t set out to do this and may even resent doing it.  With time I am learning to set aside my desires, and the way I am able to do this without having resentment is by realizing I am doing the task in service to the Lord. When I try to do things with other motives, it always seems to bring about frustration and resentment.  When I see every task as a service to Him, it seems that the frustration and resentment melt away.

Mary Bailey was great at making lemonade out of lemons.  When the money for her honeymoon was gone and George had spent the day saving the Savings & Loan, Mary could have built up resentment toward George and their circumstances.  Instead, she made the best out of a bad situation.  She put her own desires aside and looked for creative ways to serve George and to make their honeymoon special.  We often put pressure upon ourselves to have everything “just right.” We especially heap these expectations upon ourselves during the holidays.  On Christmas Eve as I was cooking our holiday meal and things began to go wrong, I started to feel that pressure. The three younger girls had been down with asthma & colds, and Lindsay was the only one who was able to help me prepare the meal. Then mid-afternoon, she realized she had the flu.  I sent her to bed and continued cooking.  For a while I let the pressure of trying to have everything “just so” get to me.  As the feelings of frustration and defeat began to take hold, I began praying.  I realized that I was taking the burden of the holiday being special on my shoulders, and I felt it’s success or failure rested wholly on me.  It was only when I began to realize what made the holiday special was our time together and enjoying one another, was I able to relax and enjoy the day.  I still had a good deal of work to do, but when I saw it as serving my Lord and my family, it became a joyful task instead of a burden.

As George’s life went on, he became more and more dissatisfied with his circumstances. He seemed to always be wishing for something other than what he had.  Discontentment is a joy robber.  When we are discontent, we are truly being ungrateful. We are saying to God, “I know that these are the circumstances that you have given me, but I would really like to be somewhere else. ”  Think on that for a moment.  We are telling the God of the universe that we have a better plan.  I cannot count the number of times I have done this very thing, and not even subtly.  I have flat out said that I had a better plan.  It makes me cringe to think of it.  How often do we ask God to deliver us from our current circumstances, when we should be looking to see what He is trying to show us.  Through many trials the Lord has shown me so many truths. I look back on my life and see the various trials I have gone through, not with regret or remorse, but with a thankful heart.  I feel blessed that the Lord has seen fit to show me His mercies and truths.

Times of despair will come to all of our lives, just as they did to George’s.  Often they are not of our own doing, just as George’s desperation wasn’t through any fault of his own.  Where do we turn when those times of despair come?  Who or what do we lean on? When we first found out that Sarah had medical problems, all we were told was that her head wasn’t growing.  Because we had no health insurance we had to wait for three months to see a neurologist.  I knew enough to know that if her head wasn’t growing, but her brain was, there were serious issues. All of this sent me into the pit of despair.  I had nowhere to turn, no one with any answers, except God.  I did a lot of praying during those three months.  When we finally did see the neurologist, the news was not good.  We were told to institutionalize Sarah, because she would never walk or talk and would basically be vegetative.  At those words the bottom fell out of my pit.  It felt as if the world were crushing in around me.  The only thing that got me through it all was the knowledge that God was in control.  I knew that He had me in His hand, and that nothing would happen that He wouldn’t help me to handle.  That doesn’t mean it was easy. Each day had a great many struggles, but I made it through each day.  He gave me the grace and mercy to make it through each hour, but He only gave me the grace I needed for that moment.  I learned a great deal about faith , and with each step I learned to have faith that He would be there to hold me up for the next step.

At the end of the movie Harry makes a toast to George saying, “To my big brother George, the richest man in town!”  Harry was right, George was rich . . . in everything that mattered. This is such a wonderful picture. Mr. Potter, who had all the worldly riches a man could desire, had none of the riches that really mattered. He may have lived in comfort, but he was bitter and lonely.  George, while poor in the things of this world, had love, family, and friends.The jewel of life that matters most can’t be purchased for any amount of gold.  That jewel is what Christmas is all about.  It is the redemption that was bought for us through the birth, death and resurrection of Christ.  As the decorations and lights come down, please think about the meaning behind your life and who you have served through it.  Though you may be rich or poor in the things of this world, at the end of time only one jewel will matter, that is the jewel of Christ Jesus.  If you would like to understand this better, please read this article.

Love and Ministering To Friends

These last few weeks have been long on one hand and speeding by on the other. All of the girls, except for Sarah, have been battling severe asthma/allergy issues, and this last week, Gene, Lindsay and Hannah have all been battling extreme sinus infections as well. This has caused many late nights, and little sleep for me. The girls and I all sleep late, to make up, somewhat, for the late nights. Starting the day late causes me to feel hurried and rushed, not being able to complete the unending list of must-dos, which in turn can cause defeatism to set in.

We have been battling these issues for several years now, and when this time of year hits, it can become very disheartening for me on many levels. It’s disheartening to be discouraged by friends instead of encouraged, not being able to make the girls well, and seeing them discouraged also. I have friends who tell me, that the real issue is that the girls have their days and nights mixed up… like an infant. We’ve been told it’s all in our diet, in our heads and that we should just put ourselves on a “regular” schedule and it will all work out. At times these types of comments anger me, though I don’t say what I’m thinking, mostly, they just discourage me. People tend to think, “Oh, it’s just allergies, and asthma can be controlled…. it’s really no big thing.” They obviously have never watched their child struggling to breathe. They don’t know what it is like to have their child exhausted and wanting to sleep, but can’t because when they lie down their breathing only gets worse. Over the last few years we have tried many treatments, medical and natural, though none of them alleviate the symptoms for any period of time, and some even seem to exacerbate them.

Due to the girls’ illnesses I have been unable to attend church for nearly 6 months. We were going to church an hour away, but now see that it will be impossible because of the girls condition. Last Sunday we hoped to begin attending a church about 10 minutes away, but we were unable to attend because that is when Gene became sick. Being at a church that is close will allow me to attend church even if the girls are down. Gene and Lindsay are beginning to show improvement, though the high dose antibiotics are making them feel run down.

My hope in sharing this is not to garner sympathy, but to express that we all need to be sensitive to the needs and trials of others. It’s easy to judge from the outside and feel that people are just not really trying to get to church, or other functions. The girls and I have had to miss out on many fun things over the last few years due to their illnesses. It has caused us to have to re-structure much that we do. To those on the outside it may seem that we are just being unsociable, which is not the case. We have to choose our functions based on a different criteria than most people do. If it’s an outside event during the height of ragweed season, we most likely won’t attend. Knowing that if we do, many of the girls will be sick for a couple of weeks afterward. Just a couple of weeks ago, Gene, Rachel and Sarah traveled to Shreveport for his mother’s 70th birthday party. We all would have loved to be able to attend, but due to health concerns I stayed home with three of the girls.

If you have friends that are suffering through chronic illnesses there are things that you can do to help and encourage them. If they are friends of your children; have your child e-mail the sick child to see how they are doing, or just to talk about everyday stuff. Send a card or note through the mail, handmade is better. It’s a great project for your kids to handmake a card for a sick friend. Recently the daughter of a friend of ours in Arkansas had a ruptured appendix and had to spend several days in the hospital. Because the girls knew what it was like to be unable to do much, and the boredom and doldrums that it can cause they wanted to do something to cheer their friend. I took a couple of the girls to Dollar tree and we created a gift basket for our friend. We got word find books, Sudoku books, cards, puzzles and many other little items to pass the time and even some comfort items such as cozy socks. We boxed it up with handmade cards and sent it on its way. I spent maybe $20 on the items, but that was a small price to pay to bring joy to someone else and to teach my children to think of others and to show compassion.

Don’t forget to think of the mom, she is probably having long days caring for sick ones. I remember when we lived in Alabama, and had only been there a couple of months when I had a very hard time. Hannah got chicken pox, and I was home with her for a week and a half. As soon as hers cleared up, Rachel got them and I was home with her for another week and a half. After she was better, Gene’s grandmother died and we had to travel for the funeral. The day after we returned home, Caroline broke out with the chicken pox. At this point thier ages were 5, 3, 2, and the days at home were very long ones, and my discouragement level was high. One day a card arrived in the mail from a friend who lived in Prattville, not 2 miles from me. That card meant a great deal to me, and encouraged me to no end. In this day of technical communication, we have forgotten the gift of the written word. A card or note can be read again and again during a discouraging time and can be a great source of encouragement. I still have that card and the many I received when Sarah was young and we were just finding out about her disabilities. To this day I will occasionally look at them, remembering how the Lord lifted me up through the words of a friend.

Scripture tells us that their is no greater love than to lay down our life for a friend. Does that necessarily mean to die for the friend, or can we lay down our life by putting aside our wants and desires to minister to someone else? Are we willing to drop what we want to help someone out? Are our days truly ours, or do they belong to the Lord? We should be willing to meet the needs of others in real ways. We also need to make sure that the way we are meeting their needs, is truly something that will bring comfort to that person, and not just ourselves. One of my daughters loves to hug, not some little soft hug, but to hug the stuffing out of you. If you are having trouble breathing, you really don’t feel like having your lungs compressed paper thin, so we were having some issues about this. We had a talk about how if we are truly trying to show love and compassion to someone we need to meet their needs, not their perceived needs. This daughter thought she was showing her sisters she loved them, but her sisters didn’t feel love, they felt pain. We often do the same things when trying to minister to people. Your church may have a meal ministry and whenever someone is in need, they take them meals. This is a great ministry, and I have participated on both ends of this ministry. But there are times, when the real need isn’t a meal. For a mom home-bound with sick children, a call or a card for her or the children might meet their needs more effectively. An encouraging word is great medicine. Don’t be afraid to ask someone how you can minister to them, and if asked, be honest and tell the truth. If you’re the mom, don’t be afraid to say, my child really needs an encouraging word from a friend, hopefully the person asking will truly wish to show love and compassion in a way that will minister to you and your family.

If you have any ways that you have ministered to others that are creative, please share. Not in an effort to toot our own horns, but to show real ideas of how we can minister to one another. I know that I am always looking for a new creative way to do so. Also share if someone blessed you in a special way that meant a great deal to you.

Hurricane Ike– Our Unwelcome Visitor

There are so many thoughts running through my head in regard to the last week that I hardly know where to begin. I guess the obvious place to start is with last week. On Monday the 8th I was so very excited when they said that Ike was heading toward the south Texas coast, between Brownsville & Corpus Christi. Not that I wish a hurricane on anyone, but I figured the cattle and cactus wouldn’t be as adversely affected as a city of over 2 million would. But, Ike had different plans.

Wednesday was Sarah’s birthday. It was already complicated by the fact that all of the other girls were having asthma problems, and at the last minute we changed the plans. Our original plans were for us all to go out to eat and go to the Galleria, but at about 4 we changed them. Instead, Gene and I took Sarah to Red Lobster and Katy Mills Mall. She was quite excited about going to Red Lobster, and very pleased that she got her much desired shrimp. While at the mall she had us look at Circuit City and FYE for the Swan Princess, which we didn’t find. All day the girls had been asking me what we were going to do about Ike, and my firm reply was I would not discuss it until 10pm. I wasn’t able to stick to that plan completely, as Brenda, Gene’s boss’s wife, was trying to make evacuation reservations for us in Waco and they kept trading phone calls. On our way home we knew we would have to evacuate but really didn’t have any firm plans. After we finished our party at home, Brenda called to tell us there wasn’t a hotel room to be had in Waco, which we were pretty sure would be the case. Plan B was to head to north Louisiana to Gene’s mom’s house.

Even though we were going to be evacuating there were many things we needed to do to prepare for the hurricane. At 11pm Lindsay and I decided we needed to head to Wal-Mart to get supplies for our trip, and to stock up on things we needed to have at home when we returned. Wal-Mart was a zoo! No other word to describe it… okay… chaotic, crowded, pandemonium, frenzy all describe it pretty accurately as well. The lines were about 8 -10 deep, with everyone stocking up on water, ready-to-eat foods, snacks, and any other necessity they could think of. Earlier Wed night when I had to run into Sam’s to pick up medicine one woman had in her buggy: 2 packages of Chex mix packs, 3 cases of Bud Light, and a case of vodka. I’m thinking she was going to be making hurricanes, not preparing for one. I digress, back to Wal-Mart. I did pretty well, and was able to get what I needed, though it did take a while. We arrived at the store at 11pm and didn’t leave until 12:30am. The shelves were already beginning to get bare and I knew it would be a while before they were re-stocked again. ( I just didn’t know how long… more on that later)

As Thursday morning rolled around, our evacuation preparations began. All of our clothes were clean, because I had been preparing for the eventuality of evacuating, so all we had to do was pick out our clothes. Once again we were having to make tough decisions about what we had to leave behind. With the path the eye was on at this point, the eye was going to be passing 30 miles west of us, putting us on the dirty side of the storm. That would mean our mobile home had a good chance of being severely damaged or destroyed. It was very hard to leave things such as family pictures, a guitar, a mando, and a violin behind. There were special treasures we all had to part with knowing they might not be there when we return. Going through this process is very hard; to leave your whole life behind and never knowing if you will see it again is emotionally draining. I think about the Jews who were told by the Nazi’s that they were being relocated and to pack what they could in one bag. Of course, we know the end of that story. But I did wonder what thoughts went through their minds as they hurriedly made their decisions of what to take and what to leave. These are choices most people never have to make. Our homes bring us great security, and comfort. They are our refuge, and the thought of losing that is unnerving.

We spent the night packing up the van and all piled in at 5am. Lindsay, Hannah & I hadn’t closed our eyes all night, and Caroline and Rachel had only had short naps. When we left the house, we expected the worst, much like we experienced with Rita. I have a photo album up with pictures from the first part of our trip; hope you enjoy them.

BTW, the pictures on the Rita link don’t work.  I lost them somewhere along the way.

Edouard

I can’t believe it’s almost been a month since my last post.  Things around here have been busy, and time has flown by.  Lindsay has been doing some free-lance computer work for Gene’s company; working out of the office and from home. The other girls have been battling with their asthma, Hannah’s being the worst. Hannah hasn’t been able to go to church for a couple of months due to her asthma. At times the solitude is hard for her, but the Lord is teaching her many things through this time.

If you have seen the news at all, you are aware of Edouard heading for Houston. We have spent the last couple of days preparing for the storm. They predicted that we would see sustained winds of 60 mph near our house, but thankfully that didn’t happen. There is another band that will hit us later today, but that will not be until this evening.

While we were hanging out around the house I took some pictures, there wasn’t really much else to do.  We had made all of our preparations for the storm, and there was nothing to do but wait wait for the storm.  The first group of pictures are some that I took before the heavy rain began, after a slight rain shower.

The storms coming in causes the girls’ asthma to act up, and this storm affected Rachel the worst. She had to have a breathing treatment first thing this morning, but after resting for a while, she seems to be better.

Hannah and Caroline had a great time playing Nancy Drew on the computer.

Maggie wasn’t sure what to make of the storm.

All Belle was concerned with was taking cat naps.

Hannah enjoyed playing the keyboard.

Lindsay had fun taking pictures of the rain with her new (used) Cannon 20D.

Sarah watched the storm come in.

Tomorrow is Rachel’s birthday, so it will be a very busy day. I hope to start posting more regularly…. again.

Whose Time Is It?

During the holidays, our home, like many, is a flurry of activity. One of the things I love about the holidays is all of the special things the girls and I do together. I especially love it when we are all in the kitchen together dodging one another trying to get our special dishes cooked. For several years, each of the girls has taken on a particular dish for the holiday meal, and sometimes that led to way too many desserts. This year through a comedy of errors, I ended up cooking almost all of the Thanksgiving meal alone. Rachel & Caroline were able to help a little, and Lindsay did make the pumpkin pies, but they were unable to prepare all that they normally do. Early in the day on Thanksgiving, I began to notice that I was slipping into discontentment. As I worked in the kitchen alone, I had a great deal of time to think about my attitude and began to realize that I had a choice to make. Was I going to play the martyr and make everyone feel guilty for all the work I had to do, or was I going to put off the selfish feelings I was having and serve my family with gladness?

As I stood at my sink washing dishes I began to think about time. Whose time was it I was spending at my sink and stove? When my feelings of discontentment were overtaking me, I felt that it was my time that was being taken from me. That I had my desires and wants too, so why should all of the work fall to me… why shouldn’t I be served. Then it hit me, I am blessed above measure to have the family I have. My daughters all love the Lord and desire to serve Him, my husband loves me and does all that he can to lead and provide for our family, at the same time throwing in a great deal of laughter along the way. The Lord further showed me that it’s not my time I’m giving… it’s His. Every moment of my day belongs to Him. If it is truly His, and He asks me to give it to someone else, who am I to complain about it? This may seem like a simplistic thought process, but it helped me greatly. When I put into perspective that I was serving Him, by serving my family, the discontentment went away. My heart became thankful when I realized I could serve my Lord while serving my family.

This last year has been a hard one for our family due to the girls’ illnesses, and one might think that bitterness and frustration could have easily taken hold… and you’d be right… it could have. The Lord has been merciful and allowed us to use this time of isolation to reflect and ponder. Pondering is a great thing that in our busy lives today we don’t really take the time to do. We always have some sort of sound pollution around us, be it the TV, music, or just chattering voices, so the silent thoughtful moments are nearly non-existent. I have come to greatly enjoy times of deep pondering as they allow me to sort out things, be they deep theological questions, or just simple everyday thoughts. I have come to see that busyness and constant input from artificial sources has robbed us of this.

All of this pondering has brought many questions to the forefront, causing me to question most everything we do in our lives. Some of this has been posted about here in the last few weeks, but there is much more I haven’t yet written about. Today I will just concentrate on time. In Eph 5:16 we are told to redeem the time because the days are evil. As Paul begins chapter 5 he tells us to be imitators of Christ, and a sacrifice to God. I could ponder all day on just those two thoughts, but I want to go ahead with the thoughts on time. In verses 3 -7 we are told what being an imitator of God/Christ is not, and then in verses 8-14, he tells us that now that we have the light and how to walk in the light. In verse 15 we are told to walk circumspectly, which means perfectly, or diligently; as the wise do. What is impressed upon me by this is that we are to have a purpose as we go along the way, not just meandering along. A vision of a Smurf dancing through a field with a basket singing, “La, la la….” comes to mind as to how we shouldn’t be. Conversely, we also shouldn’t have every minute planned.

In verse 16 we come to the verse on time that we hear so often quoted. I have seen this misapplied often using an overly strict interpretation. I have known people to be so strict in their schedule that they were greatly conflicted when ministry opportunities would arise. They didn’t see their unsaved neighbor knocking at their door as a ministry, but as a hindrance to their schedule. I have also seen this verse used in conjunction with the thought “idle hands are the devil’s workshop.” To combat this, some will always be doing something “constructive”, which is laudable, unless we take it too far. The problem I have seen in this area is that work or activities become more important than people. I am all for visiting while you work, it makes the work pass more quickly, but there needs to be a balance. When you won’t take the time to give someone your undivided attention, whether it be your child or a guest, the message that is sent is, my work is more important than you are.

In this day of multi-tasking, this is becoming even more prevalent. We’re on our cell phone, while surfing the net, and talking to our children all at one time. I know that I find myself frustrated that when I’m driving, I can’t be accomplishing more. Though, I must say, here in Houston, we have many people combating that feeling everyday. I am trying to become more aware of this habit, as I am finding it difficult to give my girls 100% of my attention when they are trying to tell me something. I feel like I need to be doing something else as well. What message am I sending them when I do this? I am not referring to overdoing it as some parents do, but I should, if possible, stop doing what I am involved with, focus on them, and give them the same attention I want when I’m speaking to someone. I’m sure we’ve all been in the position where we didn’t feel like the person we were talking to was listening because they were watching TV while we tried to talk to them. My girls do know that there are times they must wait to talk to me, for instance, when I’m on the phone, or talking to someone else, but, unless I’m speaking to someone else, I should be willing to stop and listen to them. I find in examining myself, that the times I don’t do this, it is based on a selfish desire that I have, and that I’m not seeing things through the lens of God’s eyes.

We have all heard that we should give our money to God, but I think our time is as valuable, if not more. In the busyness of our lives, we protectively guard our time. We have become like Ebeneezer Scrooge, giving away what little time we can, trying to keep a great portion of it for ourselves. I can remember when Lindsay entered school and Sarah entered pre-school I thought, “Now I have both of the girls out of the house, and I can have my freedom!” How wrong I was! I look back on that time with such regret; if I had only listened to the leading of the Holy Spirit I could have spared Lindsay a great amount of pain, but through my selfishness, she suffered. The Lord taught me a hard lesson, and I learned a great deal of it quickly, but there are still times that the selfish Me-Monster will rear it’s ugly head. Selfishness in regard to time it a difficult beast to master. Especially in light of the fact that the world and the church are often telling us to feed that desire for self.

Jay Adams makes a great point that sheds some light on the mis-teaching of self-love that has been proclaimed in most churches. I can remember hearing this teaching when I was a teenager, up through recent years. It is a dangerous teaching, and has caused many problems within the body of Christ.

“Moreover, in order to square the Bible with Maslow’s thought, many declared that there are three great commandments: to love God, neighbor, and self. Self-love is presupposed in the command to love others as one already loves himself. There is no need to learn self-love; we have too much of it already. Our problem is to learn to love our neighbor in the same way.

Indeed, to posit three commandments (the third non-commandment being more basic than the other two since one supposedly cannot love others until he learns to love himself) directly clashes with Jesus’ words, “On those two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets” (Matthew 22: 40). In the context Jesus also distinctly refers to a first and second commandment, but never to a third”

I have heard many times that we need to “love ourselves” before we can love others. I agree with Adams, we love ourselves quite enough already… my problem is learning to set my love for myself aside so that I can show true love to others.

Time is a gift the Lord has bestowed on us just as He has salvation, health, life, family, and money. We tend to not recognize it as such, or if we do, we don’t value it as we should. It is so easy to allow time to pass without thinking about the things of the Lord, or doing the things that bring honor and glory to Him. In one of my recent ponderings, I was remembering how a church I used to attend had offering envelopes that every member received at the beginning of the year. On the envelope, there were some boxes you were supposed to check: Tithe, Bible read daily, Worship attendance, Sunday School attendance, and there were boxes to write in how many people you contacted during the week. They also gave you a quarterly devotional to help you out with your daily Bible reading. As I was thinking about this, I thought of how many people checked their little boxes, and then never thought about what they had read or heard again during the week. That is our nature, we like neat little boxes and checklists that tell us what to do. As a list-maker, I love them. It would be so easy for me to have a checklist of right and wrong or activities that I could check off. Then I could feel pleased with myself for accomplishing all that was required of me. There’s the real crux of all of this, I would be pleased with myself… not God… no need to lean on Him for guidance. I find that the more questions I ask and more direction I need, the more I lean on God.

I’d like to challenge you to take some time and do some pondering. While you are folding clothes or washing dishes is great pondering time. Find an area of your life that you see needs some work, and give it real thought. It is amazing what the Lord will show you, if you just give Him a little of your time.