Sunday, December 11, 2016

Triumph

Thankful to see how God is using us for something bigger than ourselves. Thankful that He is taking our story and transforming it from death, illness, loss and suffering to one that reflects the beauty of God. Redemption is at work. The process is happening. When I look at these two pictures of Samuel I can't help but be amazed that God has not left us where we were... that He is taking us through life and through the struggles and creating in us a strength and compassion that allows us to love and serve others. We were made for more... Another C.S. Lewis quote I love comes to mind: 

"If I find in myself desires which nothing in this world can satisfy, the only logical explanation is that I was made for another world.”



Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Life with Boys

I never knew this life would be so full of wonder, and noise and confusion and loud. I never how much I would be tumbled upon and above and under. swinging of arms and legs. ninja chops. Ducking blows. Hanging on my arms around my elbows.

I never knew how my heart would be so full. Of tender whispers. And deafening yells. Cries of indignation. and joy. Noises of all kinds. Burps... and "bottom burps" and all sorts of disgusting noises that I can't put into words. Shouts of triumph. Laughter over flatulence. Silly jokes. Boisterous cacophony.

Wiping tears. Wiping bottoms. Scraped knees. Paper cuts. Splinters. First Aid kit... in the car, at home, in my purse. Doctor's office. X-ray. Splint. Referral to specialist.

Eyes eager to please. Flash of anger. Spark of Curiosity.  Quick obedience or reluctant dragging of feet.

In my washing machine and dryer I find rocks, and pebbles. Sand. Legos.
On the floor is dirt and dust and cereal along with a plethora of pieces of randomness... boardgame piece, magformer, rubber band, star wars figurine.

 Full of motion. Swinging. Climbing. Digging. Burying. Unearthing. exploring.

Change, change, change. Change of clothes, again. Change of attitude. Change of expectations.

A life never dull.

Flexibility always required.

Wouldn't change it for anything.

Monday, November 07, 2016

Peter- 6 years!




Six years ago I gave birth to my 5th baby. Samuel, age 4, was getting treatment for cancer at the neighboring children's hospital. The twins were 2 and Libby had just turned 6. I was technically on "bedrest" due to prior early term labor issues.

Peter was ushered on to the scene November 7th and brought tremendous joy. In the midst of deep trial and heartache hear came this lump of love. It was a reminder of God's tremendous love for us... and a cause for hope.

I am so thankful to God for each child that I have been given. And I'm thankful that His timing is perfect. That He knows what we need for each moment. And He knew that Peter was needed for such a time as this.

I still remember nursing Peter on the bed and holding a puke bucket for Samuel to throw up in. I was holding new life in my arms and sitting next to a child who was incredibly sick, for all purposes dying.

I still marvel at the miracles God has done in Samuel. I'm amazed that he is alive and thriving... what a gift. And I also am so incredibly grateful that God brought incredibly joy in the midst of such difficult circumstances.

I have loved seeing the boy that Peter has become: funny, sweet and tender-hearted. He had genuine tears yesterday for accidentally hurting someone at church yesterday. He's having to learn his own power and strength... but I'm thankful that although built sturdy his heart and nature is gentle, like his Papa's.

Happy Birthday Peter Joel! We love you and are so thankful that God gifted us with you!!!


Saturday, October 08, 2016

The Heavens Declare the Glory of God

“The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands. Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they display knowledge. There is no speech or language where their voice is not heard. Their voice goes out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world.” (Psalm 19:1-4)

“Ask the animals, and they will teach you, or the birds of the air, and they will tell you; or speak to the earth, and it will teach you, or let the fish of the sea inform you. Which of these does not know that the hand of the Lord has done this? In his hand is the life of every creature and the breath of all mankind.” (Job 12:7-10)

“Praise the Lord from the heavens, praise him in the heights above. Praise him, all his angels, praise him, all his heavenly hosts. Praise him, sun and moon, praise him, all you shining stars. Praise him, you highest heavens and you waters above the skies. Let them praise the name of the Lord, for he commanded and they were created. He set them in place for ever and ever; he gave a decree that will never pass away.” (Psalm 148:1-6)

Friday, October 07, 2016

Beware the white whale...

"'Whosoever of ye raises me a white-headed whale with a wrinkled brow and a crooked jaw; whosoever of ye raises me that white-headed whale, with three holes punctured in his starboard fluke- look you, whosoever of ye raises me that same white whale, he shall have this gold ounce, my boys!'" ~ Moby Dick

Thursday, October 06, 2016

Lyrics of my Life.

Settle down. Gather round children. Come to the table and color as we listen to words spoken aloud. Words that transport us to another place, another space, another time. And as they calm, poking the play-doh with toothpicks and making impressions with loose change; here a nickel, there a penny, the words saturate in their brains, the images coming to life. Each one's head filled with a different picture. 

I gather and sigh and breathe.  I pick up my skein and knitting needles and lose myself in the story. Greek and Roman gods. Mythology from a time long past. From a culture whose echoes reverberate into the present. 

The dishes sit in the sink. The laundry complains. It's mountainous avalanche threatening to cascade. But the muffins were delicious and the butter melted on them while they were still warm. 

The sticky faces and dirty hands abscond out the back door until this evenings bath calls to them. Serenading them sweetly with the promises of bubbles and splashing and pretensions of pirate play. 

Though the sweeping was done just hours before, new piles of what-nots litter the floor. Here a cheerio. There a scrap of cardboard and construction paper. The table sticky with glue and glitter. 

The crockpot bubbling merrily filling the air with enticing aromas that will sadly not be savored. Cries of delight or protests of disgust... this is what occurs when there are five children afoot. Alternative PB&J is offered, only if made by the disagreeing party or else to bed... with no food. Make your choice.

The brushing of teeth. The giggling. The scrapes to be bandaged. The late night hours of work and planning. Building dreams. Budgeting means. Creating anew. The joy of parenting. The heartache of this world. The pain of loved ones that are hurting. The scary diagnosis. The unspoken future. 

The soft breath on my cheek as my child slips in my bed under my covers and falls into deep slumber only to awaken me at an early hour. The cold toes that touch me in the night. 

The warmth of blankets pulled high. The smell of coffee freshly ground. The hope that comes from Christ. Exhale. Inhale. Repeat.

Tomorrow has enough worries of it's own, I dare not borrow them for today. Instead I pause and sink in the moment. Capture the memory like a fleeting butterfly. Beautiful but won't last forever. Encapsulate with a picture or allow my brain to open and close like a shutter preserving this moment to be remembered or forgotten at a later time. 

The distant humming of song in the distance. The sound of broken glass for the 4th time in 24 hours. The thrumming of the dryer. The wheels continue to churn. Pressing on. 

The wet cloth on the warm forehead. Tender words spoken softly. The soup warmed. The tears wiped. 

They bounce back. Eyes bright. Bounding outdoors. Seeking adventures. More stories to be made and then told. The mischief managed. The lion tamed. The alligator caught. 

And dark turns to light... the morning comes with all it's promises hovering on the horizon. The hope of a new day. The promise of a clean slate. The reminder that all is being made new. And as my tea steeps in my favorite cup I ponder my life and think... I am blessed. The darkness has not overcome me. My strength is in the Lord. This day will be surrendered to the One who knows all the days. And I breathe in... and I breathe out.

Monday, October 03, 2016

Cancer and our friend Coleson

I had the honor and privilege of attending camp at Joni and Friends this summer in North Carolina. It was an amazing time that was a tremendous respite and refreshment for our family. One of the highlights for us was getting to know our short term missionaries who served as one-on-one assistants for Michael and Samuel. What was so special is that they are brothers! And in fact their Mom and other brother was at camp.

Cade and Coleson spent so much time with Michael and Samuel. I was so amazed to see these boys so selflessly give of themselves. And not only did they care for the kids that had special needs but they played and helped us with all of our fabulous 5.

Samuel and Coleson

One of the things that struck me was the special bond I could see between Cade and Coleson. You see  as a young child Coleson was diagnosed with Diamond Blackfan Anemia (“DBA”). DBA is a rare inherited bone marrow failure syndrome, characterized by a failure of the bone marrow (the center of the bone where blood cells are made) to produce red blood cells. This failure causes DBApatients to become severely anemic.

And the beautiful thing is his older brother Cade was his donor. These guys are amazing, talented sweet guys.

They were servant hearted and worked tirelessly to give Mike and I breaks. They did incredible things like climbing up humungous rock walls and zip lining with our boys. Cade even ended up participating in Michael's portion of the Talent Show. It was such an epic night for us. 

Their act of serving us gave me excitement that maybe one day my family in turn could be a blessing to others. That we would be able to extend ourselves to bless others with special needs.

So the rest of the summer flew by in a whirlwind and I was not up to date with the Shaw family until recently when on Facebook I heard some very difficult news. Our friend Coleson has cancer. He actually has the same cancer Samuel was diagnosed with, rhabdomyosarcoma.

So I ask all of you to be praying for Coleson and the whole Shaw family as they go through this treatment with him.

I know it is not a coincidence that God put this family and ours in the same place and the same time. My heart breaks for them as I know the difficult journey that lies ahead. I also know that this family loves Jesus and knows Him personally. Their faith is incredible.

Jesus please strengthen Coleson. Protect him during his chemo treatments. Shrink the tumor in his pelvic region. Help him bear and manage the pain. Give him favor with doctors and staff. help him adjust to this new "normal" that will affect so many aspects of his life. Provide and meet every physical, spiritual, emotional, mental and financial need that they have. Give comfort and encouragement and rest and peace in spite of such turbulent times. Favor them with friends and support and love and comfort. Lord, heal our friend Coleson. Thank you that you love him and have promised to never leave or forsake him. Comfort and strengthen him and his family. In your Name Jesus we pray, Amen.

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Change and Transformation



I have been loving this new season of my life: traveling all over the country, engaging in training, growing mentally and physically stronger and gaining new perspective on life.

 


This year I have been to Missouri, flown to LA and driven to Phoenix, seen the Grand Canyon, gone to the ocean numerous times, experienced almost two weeks in Nashville, trips taking me to North Carolina and the western part of VA, and a special time in the mountains of N.C. at camp with my family and I just got back a couple weeks ago from my travels to Florida. 

The word God gave me at the beginning of this year has been abundance! To look at our circumstances you would think it would be anything but... and yet this truly has been a year of exceeding abundance for me. I have seen God provide time and time again. He makes a way when there was no way.  

Our circumstances would have you think that we lack options and choices but the new vision God has given me allows me to see these situations as opportunities. I don't have control over the things we face but I do have control on how I see them and how I respond. My heart is so full of joy and peace in the midst of crazy unknowns. 

This isn't wishful thinking. This is God providing and leading me to every step. I have never been more excited about the future. I'm marveling at the beauty and greatness of our God. I'm overwhelmed by the majesty of His creation and inspired by the works of His hands. 

A few months ago we experienced another "scare" as we thought Samuel's cancer had returned. The doctors were extremely concerned and even calling the oncologist. And through it all I knew that God had Samuel. That He would sustain Samuel for whatever purpose He has for him. Samuel, had asked me as we were waiting for an ultrasound to be performed, "Mom, Is this really bad?" I was able to tell him, "Samuel, whatever this is, God has you. You are His. And we don't need to be afraid because He has an amazing plan for your life. No matter how "bad" they say it is, God has you and has promised that He will always be faithful and will never leave or forsake you."

Hallelujah! All was well. 

Mike and I have experienced deep heartache and struggles in our life together. We have tasted grief and sorrow. And yet this merciful God has healed us. Has strengthened us. Has renewed us. Has kept us. Has reminded us again and again of His faithfulness. 

If you were to look at our situation you wouldn't think all is well but I see God moving, I see the provision coming, I see the tides changing. I am no bereft of hope. I am planted firmly and held by the One who holds the stars. 

My prayer for you today is that whatever you are facing today that you can give it to God. I am asking that He will change and renew your mind and thoughts for His purposes. May His truth reign in your heart and mind. Jesus said that He came to give life and life abundantly. Asking God that in whatever you're experiencing you can find joy and renewed strength in Him and the courage to press forward and know His deep and abiding love for you.

Take hope friends. We are not in this walk alone. As terrible as your suffering may be it is not eternal, it is temporary if you belong to Christ. A beautiful message was shared during a ladies tea at Joni and Friend's Camp. The speaker said, "We don't rejoice in the wreck. But we rejoice in the One who redeems the wreck."

And in that, I do rejoice in the Redeemer. He is restoring and making beautiful things from ashes in my life. What an amazing God we have!


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Wednesday, March 02, 2016

LIFE ABUNDANT!!!!

I love my life.

It's at times intense, overwhelming, and challenging, but never boring but I love it. It's full but I love what I do. I love being a mom to 5 brilliant, bright, beautiful and bold babes! I love teaching them at home. I love getting to meet new people. I love growing healthier. I love learning new things. I love writing. And I'm loving my home-based business!

It's been a long time I feel like I could say I love my life. It's been hard for a long time... and in many ways that hardness hasn't changed. We still deal with special needs. We still are managing trying finances, we still live in a house where there are too many bugs, a broken dishwasher, a half working dryer, a leak in Libby's ceiling and the car is in the auto shop... We still have brokenness and disagreements. I still face grief every day with the loss of my sister and nephew.... with the loss of what my life would have been. Mike travels for work and is gone a lot and then there's the bigger issue if there's no work.

But I'm abundantly rich. Abundant with friendships and relationships. Abundant with good memories old and new. I'm seeing God's hand and His provision in so many things. He's giving me strength despite difficulties. He's guiding me and leading me and growing me.

He's planted this seed of hope deep in my heart... and I see it sprouting and about to bloom.

I see His transformation in me and I'm thrilled at the butterfly I am becoming!

I am thankful for God... for His love, His grace, His blessing, His provision, His faithfulness. My security is sweet and stable... it's in Him. In His never changing, never failing, never stopping love and the fact that He is not just a promise maker but a promise keeper!

Life isn't "easy" but it's worth it. I'm thankful to be alive. I'm thankful that God hasn't given up on me... that my husband hasn't either... thankful that my kids forgive me when I screw up.

John 10:10 tells us in Jesus' own words, " The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly."

Abundantly: 
adverb
  1. in large quantities; plentifully.
    "the plant grows abundantly in the wild"
    • extremely.
      "my boss made it abundantly clear that if I didn't like it, I should look for another job"

Abundant: 
adjective
1.
present in great quantity; more than adequate; oversufficient:
an abundant supply of water.
2.
well supplied with something; abounding : 
a river abundant in salmon.
3.
richly supplied, as with resources:
an abundant land.

I look forward to what lies ahead knowing that the best is yet to come!

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

A Happy, Healthy Birthday Wish!

I love that as a community we can work together to help change lives. Instead of looking the other way and dismissing people's needs we can accomplish so much more by linking arms and blessing those around us.

I know what it is to be in need. Walking through the loss of my sister and nephew,  Samuel's cancer, Michael's special needs. I know what it is to struggle financially and to struggle with my health. Juice Plus+ has been a tool that has produced so much change in my life and the life of my family.

I want to help gift my friend, Cheryl, who has been having chronic and serious medical and health issues for over a decade.

I'm eager to help her by jumpstarting her with nutrition! Would you be willing to give $5 or $10 to help her have a healthy and happy Birthday?! You can make a donation below.

YouCaring!

I'm having a FB
party to give people the opportunity to learn more about JuicePlus+ and what concentrated fruits and vegetables can do you for your immune system, endocrine, respiratory, and cardiac systems.

Please feel free to join us in wishing Cheryl a Happy and Healthy Birthday on FB.


Saturday, January 30, 2016

Fighting Sugar Dragons and the Demon Called Cancer.

I started this morning on a sugar binge... chocolate chip cookie dough and sweet tea! What the hell was wrong with me?! I've been eating great. I've lost 28 pounds. I have all this momentum and today I start by self-destructing... It took me a few minutes of praying and asking God what is going on with me????

And then I realized. I was jumping into old habits. Emotional intensity leads to sugar bingeing for me. I was eating my emotions and stress. I couldn't let go of the tension so I thought I could eat my way through it. I stopped.

I drank a glass of water and flooded my body with the nutrients of over 30 fruits and vegetables. I made myself a Complete Smoothie and I paused to thank God for opening my eyes and stopping my destructive patterns.

Samuel's Lump
Yesterday was an intense day for me. Samuel had been complaining of pain for the past 4 days. In his hip socket area and in his groin. Way too close to where his primary cancer site was. Monday Mike took him in for a lump on his foot... it had turned out to be a hematoma (burst blood vessel)... nothing traumatic. Just a very large, scary looking protuberance.

But I was gone this past weekend and I wasn't sure how big the site looked originally... and yesterday it appeared to be bigger. I took a picture and sent it to Mike (who is out of town).... he agreed. Looked bigger.

And Samuel was limping. And crying. And it re-triggered so much of those first days leading to his cancer diagnosis. So I called the docs and got him in.

And I waited. All freaking day long. Thankfully I had the blessing of being distracted by my wonderful hairdresser, who I told, "Cancer or not, we're going to do this with our hair looking awesome!" She agreed. (Kristen, you are my rock star!) It takes an amazing and special person to cut hair for 6 people... (5 kids and me).

My heart was tempted to despair. I was tempted to be overwhelmed by fears of my future. I was scared of being shaken. We've come so far. We've worked so hard. We've climbed out of this slimy pit... okay, more like God dragged us out... and I was afraid we'd slide back in.

I kept having to remind myself to breathe.

And then God.

God in His mercy kept giving me peace. He kept reminding me to take my thoughts captive. I reached out to others and asked for prayer. And they prayed. I cried out to God, entrusting Him again and again with the life of my son, knowing that He is ultimately God's.

I don't know why I got good news. The dreaded demon we called cancer is not present!

I'm praising God. For sustaining and for giving life to us.

And I'm thankful for His wisdom in creating fruits and vegetables. We've been flooding our bodies with the concentrated nutrients of fruits and vegetables for over 8 months now. And I see a difference. Difference in skin, hair, nails. Difference in immunity. Difference in respiratory. Difference in what foods my kids crave... they want fruits and veggies. They drink water more than ever. We've been eliminating sugar from our diets... making one simple change at a time.

So yes, I still have to slay the sugar dragon. It still looms large to devour me. But Christ in me is overcoming. The Holy Spirit is empowering me and I'm not the same woman I used to be. I'm a new creation in Christ.

My story is being re-written. It's a powerful story and a good one. And it's not over yet.




Tuesday, January 26, 2016

What's Still Broken...

You can clean your room and organize so that everything is in it's place. You can work hard and be productive, meeting goals that you've set. You can eat well and be disciplined and lose weight and trim up... and it feels great.

But it doesn't fix the brokenness of this world.

I want it to be all better now. I want my heart to no longer hurt and ache because of my shortcomings and failings and my sins and the effects of others sins. I want things to be good now.

But even when you do the best you can. Even when you've righted as much as you can. Even when you've reconciled. Things will not be as they ought to be. And as much as you work to satisfy your longings, goals, desires, it will never TRULY satisfy.

Only Jesus. Give me Jesus.

He's the Only ONE! The only one who can satisfy. The only who can meet my needs. And He's what my heart longs for. I long to be with him on the other side. Here I know in part. Then I will see in full.

We are all waiting for the Resurrection. Not just us here on earth but those in Heaven... Adam and Eve, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, King David, my sister Libby and my nephew Sam... they're all waiting with us... waiting for things to be made right. Waiting for all things to be made new. Waiting for the New Heavens and the New Earth.

We're not home yet. We're all waiting. But it's coming. When it does it will be glorious. It will be amazing.

Until then, expect broken. Don't be surprised by suffering and trials and difficulties. Don't be shocked that things are falling apart. Things will all fall down until Christ returns. This is what I'm having to remind myself. I can't make things perfect here... even when they're getting as good as they're going to get.

But we have hope. We aren't alone. We're not left to ourselves. And our great Savior is continuing to change us and mold us into His likeness. We don't need to be fearful or afraid or beat ourselves up that things are off... we can hold onto Him knowing that He is holding us and will never let go.


Sunday, January 17, 2016

Protection. Provision. Prosperity.

New Year's Eve the suburban was shaking and stuttering. It felt like the front left wheel was about to come off. Mike was gone on a business trip and I had five kids in the car just having purchased Libby's ballet ensemble. We were on our way to my parents to wish my Dad a happy birthday when we decided we couldn't make it that far.

Pulling into a Fireston station, I went in and quickly asked for help.

They were kind enough to squeeze us in when we shouldn't have been able to be seen and were caring about the safety of the kids in our vehicle.

2 bars of the suspension were broken. The manager showed me how the tire could completely wobble and shake on the car. We needed at least 2 bald tires replaced.

And yet God provided for our almost $1,000 repairs. And the guy threw an extra tire (on the house) because there was still one tire that he didn't feel good about and he wanted to be sure we were safe.

At this point it's well after 3:30 p.m. and my kids hadn't eaten lunch and I had nothing to give them and nowhere to go to get food. And a friend came to the rescue bringing Chick-fil-A nuggets and fries for the kids and a salad for me.

He met our big needs and our little needs.

New Year's Day there was a fraudulent purchase made with my bank card. Someone had used my card # to make an online purchase of over $400+ in gaming equipment. Thankfully Mike caught it and we were able to block the purchase and cancel the card!

I had been struggling the past couple months with trusting God's provision- I knew He was faithful and I knew He'd take care of us as He always has but I wasn't aware of how it would occur... and then people anonymously blessed us with a very generous gift right before Christmas. Here God was taking care of our needs at every turn. I could see God's hand at work. Blessing us beyond our expectations. Blessing us beyond our needs... so that we could in turn be a blessing to others.

God has also been graciously providing work for Mike.  Sometimes Mike is gone out of town working all sorts of days and nights, getting very little sleep and putting in 60+ hours but I am so blessed to have Mike willing to do what it takes as well as him having a job. Work is not to be taken for granted. Somedays are harder than others when he's away but I'm thankful to God for Mike's job. In addition, I've been working hard on my small business. It's exciting to see it grow and see people getting healthier!

God has been incredible in His provision, in his protection and in prospering us.

God had given me the word ABUNDANCE for 2016. At first it felt somewhat mocking considering our circumstances at the beginning of December, my hope and prayer for Christmas was to be able to pay rent but I chose to believe God even when there seemed to be no way I could feasibly see how things were going to turn out. Now I have the benefit of that faith being sight.

God is transforming our health as a family. He's enabling Mike and I to take big steps towards securing our future. He's helping us to be faithful with what we have. We are eating well. We are exercising. We are being disciplined... with money, with food, with all that He's given us. And I'm so thankful. I'm thankful to see how God will meet us in the future. Surrendering my hope and trust to Him. Not in myself. Not in my abilities. Not in what I can accomplish but what He has done on our behalf. How He is meeting our needs, seen and unseen. How he's bringing joy to us through a grateful heart. How we can be content with what we have and don't have.

I won't pretend that I have arrived. That I won't doubt again. That my faith won't flounder. But I can rest secure in a God whose character never changes.