Please Don’t Pray for God to Heal Me

I know I haven’t written in a while and my next several blog posts will give you a fuller picture as to why I haven’t. Before I get into why I don’t want you to pray for God to heal me, I want to give you a snapshot of my life at this very moment. If you are unaware Hannah, Rachel, Caroline and I all suffer with chronic Lyme and for the last 3 years Sarah’s has been recovering from a breakdown (read about that here). It’s 11:43pm, I’m sitting at my desk with most of my joints hurting in addition to an unexplained pain in my lower back that is shooting down my leg with no end in sight. I have been suffering from much more frequent Lyme attacks and many nights am unable to get to sleep until 6am because of muscle spasms, Sarah, or both. If Sarah is asleep before 3am I will be happy. Now, waiting for her to get to sleep doesn’t consist of just sitting back chilling, it is a constant battle to get her to stop screaming- and I mean screaming- blood curdling screams. The other night, she never went to sleep. I finally tapped out at 7am and Hannah took over for me. Hannah is battling extreme fatigue, muscle weakness, brain fog, confusion, difficulty communicating, and exhaustion. Rachel has been dealing with atonic seizures, general overall weakness, brain fog, and exhaustion.  Caroline has been having migraines and has hardly left her bed for two weeks. She has many of the same Lyme symptoms as Hannah as well as some others. The other day we went to a new doctor to have her checked for POTS and EDS. The doctor found an arrhythmia and did an EKG at that time. They have also run blood work and she will be going in for an echo-cardiogram and CT.   All 3 of the girls are pretty much home-bound. They each haven’t left the house more than a couple of times for anything other than chiropractor visits since Thanksgiving. 

I’m not listing all of this for sympathy, but to put the following in context for you. As of late the girls and I have had many conversations about where God has us. Due to a conversation one of the girls had with someone I have really been thinking about this. Over the past almost 5 years we have had a lot of conversations with people about our illness. Actually, it’s been longer than that. For many years before we knew what was going on they had issues and symptoms that kept them at home most of the time. 

We have heard many different comments from people over the years. Some meant to encourage, some were veiled criticism, and some were just plain unkind. Here are a few of them. 

“I think the girls just have their schedules switched around like a baby’s. If you flip it, everything will be fine.” — Referring to the girls insomnia

“I think we should all want to be at church so that we can fellowship with other believers.” — from an elder’s wife when the girls were too sick to attend for months

“There must be sin in your life, if you repent they will get well.” This comment has been made by everyone from pastor to layperson to Gene and I as well as the girls. 

“You just need to eat this/use this herb/oil/supplement/routine.” This is something often said to us by people who haven’t really taken the time to understand what is going on and who are offering us a cure all. We do have people that know what’s going on that make good/informed recommendations and are helpful.

“They don’t look sick.” or “I saw a picture of them on FB and they looked like they felt fine.” They don’t realize that because of whatever outing they were on in that picture they could be in bed for up to a week or more.

“I saw that they did _____ why weren’t they up for ______.”

“God doesn’t intend for us to be sick, if we’re doing things right, we should have good health.”

Many of these comments are meant with good intentions. They are often borne out of a lack of understanding of our circumstance and of scripture. The reality is, it’s easier for people to lay blame rather than face the reality that God doesn’t promise us an easy life. If we look at the life of our friend Job, we will see this to be true (he’s become a very good friend of mine over the last few years. If he’s not your’s, you really need to get to know and understand him). God called Job “blameless and upright”. All of the tragedy that befell him wasn’t due to his sin, though his friends said it must be (sound familiar?). Job never cursed God though people told him he should. He suffered, he agonized, he didn’t understand, he felt overwhelmed. I have felt all of those things many times over- on an almost daily basis. Yet in all of the despair, he knew God was there and in control.

The thing is, God didn’t promise me happiness, he promised me joy in Him. He didn’t say I wouldn’t have trials- He said I would and that they would bring about fruit in my life and work together for my good. He said I would be weak, but that I could find strength in Him. He said I would despair to the point of not knowing how to pray- but that the Spirit would pray for me. He never said that He wouldn’t give me more than I could handle- He will never give me more than HE can handle. 

You may be asking yourself, “Why don’t you want me to pray for your healing?” Because I want God’s perfect will for my life, as do Hannah, Rachel, and Caroline. We recognize that God has allowed this in our life for a reason- to bring glory to Him. To think otherwise would imply that God is not in control and He is. He is in control of every molecule and atom in this universe. Nothing escapes His notice, so therefore, He must have allowed this in our lives. Does that mean we sit back and do nothing? No. We treat our illnesses as best we can, but trust God for the outcome. 

Many believe that God’s main purpose is to heap blessings upon us. It’s not. Our purpose is to glorify God in all that we do and say. If I am spending my days and prayer time saying, “God, please heal me- take this away.” I’m not saying,  “God, show me your will in this and how I can best serve you through it.” To be honest, as of late my prayer has been more along the lines of, “God, I don’t know how to bear this. I am overwhelmed, exhausted and hurting. I can’t even focus to read your word or pray. Please help me! Give me the strength I need to take care of my girls. Give me the wisdom I need to help them! Forgive me where I fail you and let my fatigue and feelings of being pressed down and spent cause me to be unkind, selfish, and self-pitying.” 

So, how can you pray for us and others in similar circumstances? We need prayers in so many areas. 

You can pray for: 
                Strength, Wisdom, Sleep, Encouragement, Seeking His Will, Being Accepting of His Will, Contentment, Compassion, Patience, Joy, Peace, and so many more Godly traits. 

Every trial that has come into my life is for a purpose. I don’t pretend to understand it. And please don’t think I am above total despair- I’m not (just keepin’ it real here). I can’t count the times I have asked God to deliver me from this. To deliver my girls- as a mom it rips my heart out to not be able to help them. But God has taught me so much. I think I love them- but His love for them greatly surpasses what I can even imagine. He’s got this! I just need to be reminded of it sometimes. 

This song is our hymn of the month at church. God knew it was exactly what I needed. I hope that you will be blessed by it as well. 

 

Looking Back- 2014

This last year has been one of changes and growth for our family. It started out with our family being in a very hard place. We had been dealing with Sarah’s breakdown for 9 months and it was taking a toll on us all. A year later we are still dealing with it, but we are in a much better place spiritually and emotionally.

In 2014 we confirmed what I had  suspected for years, Sarah is autistic. It plays a great role in her breakdown and inability to handle the great rejection that was placed upon her.  We have learned so much in the last year about how diet can help or hinder her autism. Sarah now eats gluten-free, grain-free, dairy-free, egg-free and low sugar foods. She also avoids artificial preservatives, colorings and additives. This has put us on a huge learning curve as to how diet, nutrition and medications affect her.We found out that some foods are like a drug to Sarah and she is addicted to them just like an addict is to drugs. We also found out the hard way how something as simple as rice can send her to a place you don’t want to go.  Sarah has been off of her seizure meds for over a year now and hasn’t had a single breakthrough seizure. She used to have them whenever she didn’t sleep enough, but she has had some nights with no sleep and still no seizures. We are working on getting her on a decent sleep schedule which hopefully will allow me to get to sleep before 4:30am (sometimes it’s 10am).  

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Gene has been working 10 hrs a day (before dawn to late afternoon) 7 days a week since July only having a couple of days off during that time until last week at Christmas. When he did have a day off he was on the road to Louisiana (more on that in a bit). Hannah, Rachel & Caroline have been such a blessing to me during this time. I couldn’t have survived if it wasn’t for them and I wouldn’t have gotten any sleep. Thankfully, when I can’t stay awake any more they can usually take over for me. Though there were several days where I only had an hour of sleep a day for several days in a row. Thankfully we seem to be past that and boy am I thankful. 

From August until October things with Sarah were off the charts crazy (that’s when I got little to no sleep) but things have evened off greatly. Sarah is much more cooperative and has improved greatly since then. We still have a few days of craziness when her hormones flair, but she is much better than during those 3 months. 

Sarah is improving in obedience and awareness of others, though there is still much work to be done. We are so thankful for what the Lord has shown us in this area. A year ago I wanted the “old Sarah” back. This year I am much more realistic about it (more on what the Lord has taught me in a subsequent post). Now she is the new and in some ways improved Sarah. I would say she is at about 75% of where she was. I think it will probably be harder for her to trust others in the future. It’s hard for anyone to learn to trust again after being hurt in such a way. 

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I can see a great deal of spiritual growth in the girls this last year. They have been my right hand and my left. They have encouraged me when I am discouraged and helped me greatly when Gene is working. They are each battling Lyme and are at different stages of treatment. Hannah and Rachel are both seeing progress with their treatment. Caroline will be starting back on hers after the first of the year.

The last half of the year has been prepping for a move back to the town in Louisiana where Gene and I grew up. We hope to be moving back in early  spring, Lord willing. Gene has already made a couple of trips up there with boxes and will make a couple of more before the big move. Last Sept it seemed like spring would take forever to get here, but now that it’s a mere 12 weeks away, it seems awfully close and there is just so much to do. 

We’re ending our year on a very special day as we do every year.Today Gene and I will be celebrating our 31st wedding anniversary. I am so thankful to be married to the man I am! He is above gracious and understanding with me. He has been a rock for me during these difficult times and I am so blessed to have him here to help me. 

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As our year wraps up I look back and thank the Lord for every day in it. He has taught us to rely on Him, to rest in Him, and to trust in His faithfulness (I will share more on that in a following post). We have been blessed beyond measure and the Lord has given us what we have needed moment by moment. I pray that this new year will find you seeking the One from whom all blessings flow. 

 

 

 If you’d like to read more about what’s been going on with Sarah, this link will give you all of the articles I have written on her.  

A Fresh Start

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This month marks 9 years since I stepped into the blogging world. My writing has been hit or miss, but that’s because  I’ve always tried to put my family’s needs ahead of my blogging. Rachel and I have been doing a lot behind the scenes to freshen up my blog (Rachel has been doing all of the heavy lifting, I just throw my ideas out to her). I’ve been thinking a lot about where I want this blog to go and what other avenues I want to pursue. I think I’ve come up with a plan, we’ll have to see if my life cooperates with it. 

I’ve had another blog, Joyful Homemakers, that I started several years ago. The plan was for it to be a blog that the girls and I would do together. The girls are pursuing their own blogs and youtube channels and it just makes more sense for them to keep their content on their sites. Since I don’t want to have two blogs Rachel has moved all of my content from that blog to this one.  I hope to be posting at least twice a week, though I don’t have my schedule quite firmed up yet. I will be sharing about my life, recipes, how-to posts, shopping trip hauls and if and when I begin the youtube channel I’m considering I will also share those here. I will be sharing similar content on my youtube channel that I do here. 

I’ve been thinking a lot about what I want to share and the purpose for this blog and future youtube channel. My desire is to be an encouragement to other women in their lives, relationships and running their homes. I have done a lot of thinking about pretense over the last year or so and want to be real. Sometimes real is rough around the edges, it isn’t always pretty and sometimes it’s just plain hard. I think that we have created a society (at large and in our churches) that promotes wearing facades and keeping up appearances. I hope that you will come along with me on this journey that is life, and be real with me as well. 

You might want to take some time to look around the site as my homemaking posts are interspersed between the original posts from this blog.   If there is a part of my life that you’d like to know more about, please ask. If you’re interested in how we juggle several different and some quite restrictive diets, or what our day looks like, let me know. What types of how- to posts would you be interested in?

Since I’m considering a youtube channel I’d love to hear what you enjoy watching on youtube (please no cat videos 😉 ). If you have a favorite channel, post a link to it and share what you enjoy about it. I will do another post about some of my favorite channels in the near future.  

A Break in the Storm

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We are rejoicing that there is a break in the storm that has been in our lives for the last year! The Lord has been so faithful! I don’t want to give the impression that He is faithful because the storm is breaking, He was faithful when the storm was at it’s worst. He was there to calm the stormy seas that were about to topple us, not by removing the storm, but by helping us through it.

Sarah has been on the SCD diet for almost a month now and she is showing great signs of improvement. Since I first wrote about putting her on the diet I have done more research and made further changes. One of the things we have eliminated is all dairy. Apparently dairy can work like a narcotic on the brain of an autistic child. I can believe it. Since we have taken her off of cheese she has behaved like an addict about it. We finally had to duct tape the cheese bin shut so that she would not be able to steal it before we could get to her. In the last few days we have had to remove eggs as well. We were suspecting that they were causing some issues and I did some research on them and found out that many who are negatively affected by dairy and gluten are also affected by eggs. This article was very interesting on the subject.

In the last week it is as if a fog has lifted from her brain. She is alert and you can see clarity when you look into her eyes. She will tell you what she wants and answer questions (sometimes). She is much more attentive and is paying attention to things. She has become interested in her surroundings and is actually focusing on movies, coloring and conversations. For the past year she would just sit stimming for most of the day seemingly staring into space. We still have a lot to overcome. If you ask her what she wants, needs or is upset about her first response will be, “I don’t know”. If she initiates it though, she has very precise desires. I found that out on a recent shopping trip. Her favorite color is yellow and she wanted a yellow hand towel to match her bath towel. I was fine with that, but then she started getting towels of every color of the rainbow to put in the cart. It took everything I had and a few tears on her part, to get out of there with only 2 towels.

We want to thank all of you who have been praying for her over the last year. It means more to us than you can know. We still covet your prayers as we now have to go through the stage of re-establishing boundaries and getting her on a schedule and getting some semblance of normalcy in our life. I’m sure there will be times of regression, they are to be expected. Today I feel more confident in her prognosis than I have all year. We are so thankful for the Lord’s provision and direction in all of this.

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Making Hard Decisions

Last night as I was typing up my post I got the kind of phone call we all dread. My brother called me to tell me that my mother had fallen in a hospital parking lot (actually she was blown over by a strong wind) and had broken her hip. I was faced with some hard decisions. My parents live a 6 hour drive from us, so that makes things complicated. For some people picking up and going at the drop of a hat isn’t a big deal. For us, it’s a big deal. I have two daughters who can’t eat anything other than what we prepare, and we have to make all of our food in advance. The last few times we have gone Hannah and I have pulled all nighters preparing several days worth of food, for 6 people with 3 different food restrictions/diets.

As moms we all have many decisions that we have to make every day. What meals to cook, what errands to run, how to do school. . . the list is endless. Some decisions are easier than others. Trying to decide what to do about traveling was making me physically ill. I don’t know about you, but I hate to feel like I’m letting someone down and not living up to their expectations of me.

As I tried to decide what to do several things were weighing on me.

Sarah- I’ve shared about her trials here, here, and here. Just last night I was up with her all night. Caroline relieved me at 8 am and Sarah finally fell asleep at 8:30am and slept for a few hours. Right now Sarah sleeps well about every third night. Sleeping well means that she is asleep sometime between 12 am-2 am and waking between 5am-8am. We just started her on the SCD diet and are starting to see some results. A trip might throw a wrench into things as she tends to regress after a trip or any additional stress.

Hannah- has been battling Lyme which presents in her differently than the rest of us. She has vestibular hyperacusis which can cause her to have anxiety issues, which can in turn lead to bouts of depression. These are chemical issues that we are treating, but it has flared to a severe level lately like it has only one time before. I have been staying up at night keeping watch over her. She often wakes between 4-6am having a mild panic attack and needs someone to be with her. Since we have added some supplements to help with this she is doing better, but they are not completely effective yet.

Rachel- has been battling her Lyme which can present with atonic seizures and many other symptoms. She has to take things easy a lot, though she tries to do as much as she can when she is up to it. She has written about her Lyme here, here and here.

Caroline- has also been battling Lyme, her symptoms have started getting more severe in the last few months. She has a lot of fatigue and brain fog. She has also been battling her asthma  a lot lately.

Gene- works long hours and has been working 6-7 days a week since last September. Between my schedule and his, we are getting to see each other occasionally on Sundays and about an hour and a half before he goes to bed.

Right now my sleeping schedule has roughly been 8 am – 2 pm. As I was going to bed this morning I got a text telling me that my mom’s surgery was happening in just a few minutes. At that point I was too exhausted and emotionally drained to think about what to do. I prayed before I went to sleep wanting some direction. It took me a while to fall asleep but once I got to sleep I rested well. When I awoke, I knew the decision I needed to make. We already have a trip planned to see all of our parents for Memorial Day weekend, so I decided to wait until then to go home.

This decision wasn’t easy, but I knew it was the right one. Often there will be demands coming at us from all directions. All of these things may seem urgent and like something we must do. It helps me to stop and think about my priorities. Right now the most important thing for Gene, the girls and me is to get Sarah better. We will sacrifice most anything for that to happen. So as I weighed out making a rushed trip, lots of long hours and the stress this would put on Sarah and the other girls (I knew that if we did this, there was a high probability that the girls would be in bed for up to 2 weeks after, trying to recuperate) I decided that the cost was too high. Going by myself wasn’t an option due to Sarah needing my constant attention. I also didn’t feel that I could juggle Sarah’s needs and the other girls while on the road alone.

Was this decision hard? You bet, but once I made it I knew it was right. I decided to stop beating myself up because I can’t be everything to everyone. I have made the wrong decision plenty of times, and my whole family has paid the price. It is so easy to fall into the trap of doing a lot of good things and pushing yourself harder than you should. It is important to know your priorities, which will help you not over-commit.

Choices come in different forms, whether to let the kids play ball, or take a class, to go on a trip or commit to something at church. All should be weighed according to the responsibilities God has given to you. We need to be good stewards of our time, just like we are with our money. I have also learned to sleep on such decisions before I make them. Things always seem clearer after sleeping on them.

Over the last 30 years I have made the wrong decision many times. I have worked over the years to streamline our commitments and to focus on our priorities, but I don’t always get it right. Everything we have been going through in the last year has really helped me solidify my priorities. My hope is that when life gets back to normal (whatever that is), that I will continue to be diligent in guarding our time and making the right decisions for it.

How do you make the tough decisions? How do you know you are making the right one?

Sarah and Autism

Many who know Sarah now don’t know all that she went through as a child to get where she is today. I have been talking a lot about where she is now and the events that have transpired over the last year.  Since I wrote my post yesterday I have confirmed some suspicions I have had for years and wanted to share it with you. I thought it also might help to have some detailed background as it might be helpful to someone who comes across this blog.

Sarah was born full-term on 9/10/87 weighing 5 pounds 10 ounces. That was average for me, though small for many. During my pregnancy there was an issue with ultrasounds, every ultrasound said she was due Oct 15, but I saw my doctor at 2 weeks gestation, so we knew that was wrong, just not why. That mystery is still unanswered.

Sarah did fine for the first three months. She rolled over on time, smiled on time and seemed normal. She had her shots at 2 and 4 months like babies are supposed to. At 6 months she didn’t sit. She was like a floppy doll with no upper body strength. Then a friend moved in next door with a baby 2 days older than Sarah. The differences were so obvious. I will never forget the day I took Sarah in for her 6 month check-up. The doctor told me her head wasn’t growing properly and that she was micro-cephalic (that is a big word meaning she had a small head).  We had to wait 2 months to see a pediatric neurologist who then told us that Sarah would never walk, talk or do anything and that we should just do ourselves a favor and institutionalize her. During this time she also had her first seizure. A month after this we realized she was probably deaf.

There were no answers coming from any doctor. They didn’t give us a diagnosis or prognosis other than what the neurologist said. Right before her first birthday we moved to Dallas. At Texas Scottish Rites Hospital we saw the first doctor that gave us any hope. I will never forget that day either. He looked me in the eyes and said, “I can’t give you any medical reason to back this up, but I believe Sarah will do things. Let her try what she wants and don’t give up on her. I see something in her eyes that tells me she’s there.” That’s all this mamma needed. At that time we were trying to get her a special chair called a freedom seat because she couldn’t sit.  Even though Sarah couldn’t crawl, she could get around really well though. She rolled everywhere and she was quick. At 18 months she sat for the first time and we canceled the freedom seat. After that came scooting. She never crawled because she had a right side semi-paresis. Once she could get around she would pull herself up into a chair by grabbing the rungs in the back and pulling herself into it. She was very strong in her good arm. Things continued like that for a couple of years.

During this time of her life Sarah also had a lot of choking/gagging issues. Usually the hardest foods to eat were things like mashed potatoes. At two we had the diagnosis that she was profoundly deaf. In other words a jet could be behind her and she wouldn’t hear it. A very small percentage of people with hearing loss are that deaf.

As she grew she had several things that were different that she did that I didn’t have any explanation for. Because she wasn’t walking she was in diapers still. Every day, after lunch, she would dirty her diaper and then proceed to smear it’s contents all over her bed, her wall and anything else you she could smear it on. Sorry if this is TMI, it’s just how things were. You might say to yourself, wait her out. We tried, didn’t work. I tried duct taping her diaper on. I tried everything I could think of, all to no avail. This finally stopped when she was potty trained and never has someone been so happy for potty training!

She is the only child I had who would climb out of her bed. Long before she could walk, she would work her way out of the baby bed. After a while we gave up and put a mattress on the floor for her. Then the battle of staying in bed began. Oh, what a battle that was. When she was 3, before she could walk, I would put her to bed, put two gates in front of her door, and then a small dresser in the hall in front of that. She would lie on her back and push with her legs until she has moved the gate and the dresser enough that she could escape, and then off she would scoot. I don’t know how many times a night we did this.

She loved going to church, but wasn’t really social when she was there. At home, church, playground, everywhere she pretty much stayed to herself. You could interact with her for a short while but not for very long. She loved having her toys/dolls but she was not really one to cuddle with them or play with them a lot. She was very OCD about them though and wanted them in their certain spots.

Sarah finally began walking at 4. Then she took off! We jokingly nicknamed her “Stopper”, because we were always yelling ahead to people in the halls at church to, “STOP HER!” as she ran off.

Sarah has been diagnosed with several issues. She is classified as having a seizure disorder, cerebral palsy, an anxiety disorder, developmental delay and she is deaf. I asked one of the many doctors for a “name” for what she had. Her response was, “Does it really matter?” We could have done lots of testing, but it wouldn’t have changed anything. In the back of my mind I always wondered if she might have autism. Just because of how anti-social she is and how she doesn’t like to interact a lot. Recently a friend spent some time with us one evening and she suggested that Sarah might have autism. She has a son who is a high functioning autistic so she recognizes the signs.

I have been reading the book, Breaking the Vicious Cycle, because we are putting Sarah on that diet(referred to as the SCD diet). It has helped children with emotional issues which is the reason I was putting Sarah on it. As I read and researched more online I began to see Sarah in much of what I was reading. Since her breakdown she has begun doing odd motions/movements and making odd sounds that she didn’t make before. Her behavior and actions drastically changed. Today she is nothing like before. Though we get glimpses of “the old Sarah”. I came across this video last night and it is amazing how much like Sarah this is. I found out that those odd mannerisms, movements and sounds had a name, it’s called stimming.

It may be true that having a diagnosis for what she has doesn’t really change anything, but it helps me greatly to understand what is going on better. We started the diet about a week and a half ago and we are already seeing great changes. When I got up today I was surprised at how different she looked. The Lord is in control of her progress and we are trusting in Him as we go through this daily. We are thankful that this diet may help her. Our hope is once she works through the stress and anxiety that she is working through the stimming will diminish

Please share any thoughts or experience you may have. I’d love to have input if you have encouragement to offer.

5 Reasons I Want My Daughters To Watch Frozen

Spoiler Alert!! There will be many plot spoilers in this article. Read at your own risk.

1. Conceal, Don’t Feel, Don’t Let It Show— Elsa’s parents in not knowing how to deal with her abilities and differences told her to hide them. They were told that fear is what would be a danger for Elsa, but instead of teaching her to deal with her differences they told her she must suppress them. They created the very fear that would be a danger to her. She was afraid to feel, afraid of herself.  If there is anything I have learned over the last year it is that suppressing feelings and emotions doesn’t make them go away. They will come out eventually. We have to learn to address the issues in our life head on and learn how to work out our differences. If we don’t they will come bursting forth in ways we don’t expect with unintended consequences. As a mom, I want to teach my daughters to deal with their emotions in a scriptural and healthy way. They don’t need to bottle their feelings up, deny them or be afraid to face them.

2. Be The Good Girl You Always Have To Be— Elsa didn’t fit the mold of what was expected of her. She was different, and this caused problems. She was told she had to be a “good girl” and hide who she really was.  Having been in the homeschooling movement for the last 20+ years I have seen this same thought process and have seen it be terribly detrimental. Young women (and men) are expected to fit a cookie cutter mold. They should dress alike, talk alike, like the same books and movies (but only those that are approved by the gurus), do the same crafts/hobbies and pursue a common dream. I fell prey to that as a parent. It’s so easy to think if I just check the right boxes and use the right formulas I will have the perfect adult children. I hate to be the one to break the bad news to you, but it just ain’t so. You can do everything perfectly(not that any of us can achieve this) and still have children who aren’t what you expected when they are adults. God has created us uniquely and we need to develop and encourage our children in their God given talents. We have to be cautious that we don’t allow legalism into our families. We shouldn’t be following gurus, they are just sinners like us, we should following scripture.

3. Prince Charming- Maybe Not— In the movie Prince Charming wasn’t so charming after all. I want my daughters to be discerning about young men. To know the character qualities and personality traits that are important to their success as a wife. I don’t want them to fall for the first guy who shows interest, just because he is showing interest. I would rather them marry a blue collar man who loves the Lord with all his heart and wants to serve Him, than a man who desires riches, position or fame.

4. Actions Have Consequences–  Some of them unintended— Elsa had kept her emotions pent up for so long that releasing them felt good. She didn’t realize that letting go like that had unintended consequences. We don’t live in a vacuum and everything we do affects someone else- either positively or negatively. We have seen that in the last year in more ways than you can imagine. I want my daughters to know that they are responsible for setting things right when their actions have unintended consequences.

5. Selfless and Self-Sacrificing Love— Anna was told that the only way to get the coldness out of her heart and to be healed was to do an act of true love. Everyone thought of a true love’s kiss. This time Disney got it right. It wasn’t the kiss of a prince or a pauper that would save Anna, but her act of selfless and self-sacrificing love. She was willing to sacrifice her life to protect her sister. I want my daughters to see that message and apply it. As a Christian we have the example of Christ laying down His life for us and it is how we should be living. We may not have to actually give our lives, but we should give them every day in service to one another. When we put someone else’s needs and wants above our own we are being selfless, that is a lesson our world needs to see.

I am not a Disney fanatic, I think some of their movies send a wrong message about many things. We have chosen to take those things in the movies we watch and make examples of them to our daughters. One of my goals as a mom of daughters is to raise my girls to be discerning and to be able to see the deeper meaning in what they are reading and watching. I want them to not just see the surface issues, but to understand the motives and thoughts of the characters they read about and watch. I often see many Christians parroting what they have heard some guru claim about a book or a movie without having taken the time to read or watch it. Scripture tells us to be like the Bereans and to study for ourselves, comparing what we see and hear against scripture. Paul told them to check what he said to make sure it was truth. When we start repeating what someone else has said without checking the veracity of a statement for ourselves, what we are doing is akin to gossip. It isn’t much different that telling everyone that Sally told you Joe had an affair. If you don’t know the fact to be true for yourself, then you shouldn’t be discussing it.

On more than one occasion we have had an adult tell our young adult daughters why they didn’t like this or that book or movie and in some situations tell them why we shouldn’t have let them read or watch it. This is dangerous ground for a couple of reasons. First, they are out of line for correcting our daughters for something we have allowed. Second, they usually have not read or watched the movie or book they are talking about, but parroting what someone “they trust” has told them. Going back to Paul, he didn’t say, “trust what I’m telling you”, he said to check it out for yourself. Things get really sticky when these well meaning people say such things to my daughters because our daughters  have been taught to be critical thinkers and know how to discuss the complexities of these subjects. The adults who felt the need to criticize the choices we have made are then shocked when my daughters will defend our choices. When our daughters were young we taught them a phrase that applied to different choices our family made, “Others may, but you may not.” There need not be judgment about such things.

Being a Godly woman doesn’t mean you are demure, sitting and waiting for someone to tell you to think or believe. There isn’t a uniform, or certain hairstyle, or a certain type of literature you have to read. We are all made as unique creations with our different giftings and personalities. We do our young women a disservice if we try to make them all cookie cutter copies and don’t allow them to develop the gifts that the Lord has given them. There are limitations set up in scripture and we should follow those, but we must be cautious about adding to scripture and being legalistic.

Darkness

Writing has been difficult as of late. Words don’t flow – emotions are percolating too close to the surface. I have shared in the past some of what we have been dealing with both here and here. Last night was a difficult night – I’ve had quite a few lately. It was filled with tears, raw emotions and a lack of sleep. When I awoke today, this free verse poem was floating around in my head – well, really it was stomping around and wouldn’t stop until I wrote it down. I’ve never done this before, so please don’t judge too harshly. It shares some of the emotions and feelings we have been going through for the last 50 weeks. Yes, it’s been that long. Truth be told, many days I don’t see a light at the end of the tunnel.

 

Darkness

My eyes open with a start!

I’m surrounded by darkness.

Where am I?

How did I get here?

I’m alone, afraid, panicking!

How do I get out?!

I just want out!!

I want to feel the sun on my face and hear the birds singing.

I hear the slow drip of water- it’s damp and cold.

Little feet are scurrying around me.

Where am I?

Why has no one come to help?

 

I move, but am aimless.

I can’t find my way in the darkness.

I feel it pressing down on me.

I stumble and fall – scraping my knee.

I cry out!

I Am! Where are you?

He is here! I can feel His presence.

I feel peace in the midst of the darkness.

 

I hear someone crying out.

Pain – torment- agony – terror!

I run toward the sound, stumbling again and again.

I Am! Help me find her!

He calms me.

I move toward the sound talking to I Am as I move.

I can’t see anything but I know that He is with me.

He reassures me – He will provide a way.

 

I reach the crying one- in a heap, covered in dirt.

The gut wrenching wailing continues.

I reach out to comfort her.

She thrashes at me,

directs all of her anger and sadness toward me.

I feel heartbreak – sadness – confusion – panic!

How can I help her?

 

I try to get her to come with me.

We must find a way out of the darkness!

She resists.

She wants to stay?!

I try to help her along but she fights me.

In the dark and dank we argue for hours.

I call to I Am.

He is there- I can feel His presence.

The battle rages on.

Eventually she trusts enough to come with me.

 

We find a tunnel and see a speck of light.

A way out!

Pulling her toward the light – still she resists.

I Am! I need strength!

Struggling with her is making me weary!

I don’t know if I can go on!!

Rest.

He wants me to rest?

The end is near! I can see the light!

Reluctantly I rest.

She rests.

 

We move toward the light –

a little less resistance.

The light!

Disappointment and despair!

This is but a crossroads-

not the end of the journey!

 

I can’t continue- the struggle is more than I can bear!

What direction do I go?

I don’t want to go back into the darkness!

Is there no other way out?

She doesn’t want to go!

She seems to like it here.

She rails against me – blames me – yells at me – fights me.

I Am! Help me!

Which way do I go?!

How do I help her?!

We bow together.

She calms.

Peace returns.

I have direction.

I step into the darkness once again – she follows.

Afraid- but at peace.

 

I don’t know how long the darkness will last.

It may never end.

I Am will be with me.

He will guide and direct me.

No matter how dark it gets – He will be there.

 

This doesn’t end with a “happy ending” because life isn’t like that. The truth is, God isn’t up in heaven saying to himself, “How can I make Lora’s life easier so that she will be happy all of the time?” He has a purpose and a plan. Sometimes that plan is raw, painful and difficult (just ask Deitrich Bonhoeffer). It has a purpose none the less. The hard part for us is to figure out how to glorify Him in the midst of the darkness. Because my purpose above all others is to bring glory to Him.

If you feel as if you are in the darkness, please share. I will pray for you. It helps me to have others to pray for, to remember I’m not the only one trying to find my way in the darkness.

Rachel re-did my blog for me! She is a great blessing and encouragement in my blogging adventures!

How Do We Show Love?

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Today is Valentine’s Day and I know that most people write about love for our spouses today, but I have been thinking about a different type of love. Love for friends, family, acquaintances and the lost. Scripture tells us that we are to be devoted to one another, show love to one another, and of course, love your neighbor as yourself. We can’t forget the love chapter of 1 Cor. 13; in it we are given many examples of what love is.

Several years ago I wrote a post in which I shared some practical ways to show love. In this post I want to cover heart issues as opposed to practical suggestions. This past year has taught us many things that you can only learn through heartache, sorrow and despair.  I am still working on many of these areas as well and am learning from my own failings.

Be genuine- So many times we use the phrase “How are you doing?” as a greeting and aren’t really interested in how that person is. We would be shocked if they actually shared what is happening in their life. We live in a culture that boasts of self-sufficiency and independence which makes it difficult for people to be transparent and genuine. We need to be willing to listen to & help those who have needs and also be willing to share ours.

Be Selfless- We live in a time that everyone has their days booked and scheduled to the point that we get frustrated when someone’s needs interrupts our day. We should be on the lookout to meet the needs of others. Christ showed His compassion to many by meeting their physical needs. Shouldn’t we strive to follow His example?

Be Thoughtful- Valentine’s day (and other holidays) are special and everyone needs to be shown love on special days. We need to look to those who may not have someone in their life to show them love on these days and encourage them. I had not thought of this until I saw the example set by a family I know. They showed up at the door of a single woman from our fellowship with a bouquet of balloons to wish her happy Valentine’s day. Maybe you know a widow, widower or single adult who needs someone to show they care. Perhaps a young mom would enjoy meeting at Chick fil a to chat. Also be thoughtful and don’t put added pressure on those you are trying to minister to. For instance the young mom might prefer to meet out as opposed to you coming to her house because she would feel pressure to clean, or maybe just getting out of the house and letting the kids play on the CFA playground would be nice.

Be Encouraging- Try to catch a child doing something good when you are out and tell the parent about how well they did. Something as simple as, “Joe held the door open for me on my way into church this morning. He sure blessed me and I’m sure he blesses you too.” I fondly, with tears in my eyes, remember Mrs. Bennett. I was the only homeschooler in our church and our growing family caused great consternation for those around us. I would get the rudest & most critical comments from friends about my pregnancies. Not from Mrs. Bennett. She was about 80 years old and every time I saw her she would give me a big hug and say something about the blessing all of my children would be and how she loved big families because she came from one. Those words literally made my time at church bearable. It is hard to be different from everyone, even if you are following your convictions.

Don’t judge- Let me start out by saying, there are things we are told in scripture to judge and those are things that God has deemed sinful. We are not to be speck inspectors though. We aren’t to judge whether we think someone’s need is great enough for compassion. The rule should be that we show compassion and let God worry about the rest of it. We should never judge someone’s motives. We can judge their actions but we don’t know their hearts. For instance, we can say someone acted in a prideful (angry, rude, you fill in the blank with the adjective) manner but we cannot say the did the because of ______. We don’t know their motives. I had a woman get very angry at me and when she finally came to me she exploded in a tirade of judgment and assumptions. She was mad because I didn’t hug her on the way into church, and that I didn’t talk to her as much anymore and on and on. She then gave all of the reasons I was doing these things. When I said that my reasons were quite different, she called me a liar. What she didn’t take into account was that I was going through a lot emotionally at that time. If she had watched, she would have seen that I didn’t hug anyone (unless they came to me to hug me) because I’m just not a huggy person. We don’t know what someone is going through and it is best not to assign motives. If a person’s actions hurt you, go to them calmly and in love and ask them about it. Don’t judge and assume.

Don’t take a meal- I know that sounds crazy. Everyone knows that when a person is in need you take a meal. At least that’s how we do it in the South. I have been the recipient of countless casseroles (way too many frozen lasagnas. . . whatever you do, don’t do that) after babies, miscarriages, surgeries and during illnesses and I appreciated them all. But it also would have been nice to have a conversation. A real conversation about how I was really doing. Oh, and don’t say call me if you need anything. You call, be there, let them know you care.

Live it- In many churches I have seen that so often we spend time studying and learning about what we should do as Christians but not a lot of living it. We spend a great deal of time in busy activities that make us look good and feel good about ourselves, but what are we doing for the cause of Christ? Do the lost see our compassion? Do they feel we empathize with their pain? Or do they hear us criticize them? Make judgments about what they do? There is a passage in scripture that I seldom hear discussed. It points out that we aren’t to be judging the unsaved that’s for God. We weren’t told to judge them, we were told to love them and pray for them.

 For what is it to me to judge outsiders? Do you not judge those who are inside? But God judges outsiders. . .   1 Cor 5:12-13

As Christians we should be continuously showing love and compassion. We are to be a light to the world. Not by hammering the lost over the head, or shouting at them, but by showing them the truth in love. We should be showing the love of Christ to our brother’s & sisters in Christ as well.  We often hear 1 Cor 13 during this season of love, usually they begin at verse 4, but to me the truly telling verse is verse 1. Are you a clanging cymbal? Am I?

 If I speak the languages of men and of angels, but do not have love, I am a sounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have [the gift of] prophecy, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so that I can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing.  And if I donate all my goods to feed the poor, and if I give my body to be burned, but do not have love, I gain nothing. Love is patient; love is kind. Love does not envy; is not boastful; is not conceited; does not act improperly; is not selfish; is not provoked; does not keep a record of wrongs; finds no joy in unrighteousness, but rejoices in the truth;  bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.  1 Cor 13:1-7

My Journey: 2014- My Personal Journey

I’ve shared with you some of the things I learned in 2013 and now I want to share with you the direction I’m heading on a personal level in 2014.  I’m not exactly sure what to call this, because goals just doesn’t seem to fit the bill. I guess that “My Journey” will have to do.

Gene’s work: Last September Gene switched jobs/careers. Up until 9 1/2  years ago he had been a machinist full time and built scientific equipment on the side. He was offered a job to build scientific equipment full time and has done that since then.  For many reasons he decided to go back into a machine shop to work and now his hours are vastly different. He works from the afternoon until the early morning hours usually working 10 hours a day. Since the beginning of November he has worked every Saturday and most Sundays. This can be difficult at times, but we have some goals we are trying to attain and this will help to get us there. His work schedule is also giving me a lot of “free” time which plays into many of the things I am pursuing.

Personal: I am really trying to lose some weight this year and am changing my diet to help with that. I haven’t had a Dr. Pepper or other high fructose soda since the first of October. That is the longest I have gone without them and the first time I haven’t really had a desire to drink them. I cut out most sugar back at that time as well. If I talk about what I’m eating and how I’m doing on my diet, it will most likely be on our homemaking blog. 

I am also working on several other areas like reading, organization and self-discipline at this time.

Spiritual: I have really been trying to work out my best times for Bible study/reading with Gene’s new schedule. We are all on his schedule so that we can spend as much time together as possible but that raises it’s own set of difficulties. I am planning on reading a couple of books a month that will be spiritually challenging and uplifting. As I complete them, I will share them here.

I’m not going to beat myself up if I don’t read my Bible every day. My main goal is to walk in closer harmony with God. Over the last year I have learned how important it is to have continuous and open communication with the Lord. I’m working on improving in this area this year as well.

Financial: I’m not going to go into complete detail on this, but the goal we are working toward is to be debt free in two years, including our home. We would like to eventually move back to our home town to be near our aging parents, but we need to take care of this debt first.  We are sacrificing now, so that things will be better in the future.

Writing: Writing is a passion of mine and because I love it, it can feel like a luxury. I feel led to write and share what the Lord is laying on my heart, and I am working hard at spending more time doing so. My goal is for my blog to grow and if the Lord allows that in the future I am able to speak to women about the things He has taught me I would love that. The difficulty comes in being true to myself and God’s word. It is so easy to fall into the trap of writing for an audience for the sake of readership and numbers. I don’t want to be that person. I want to write in a way that reveals my heart as broken and sinful as it is. I want to be real, honest, and challenging, but always from a place of love. I hope to encourage other women to love and respect their husbands, to raise their children with grace and mercy, and to show the love of Christ to the world around them.

If you know of resources that will help me on my journey, please share them in the comments. What journey are you on and how will you get there in 2014?