Sunday, August 31, 2008
It is with that thought in mind that I ask you ALL to join me today and in the coming days in prayer for those who live in the path of Hurricane Gustav. This area has already had it's share of suffering and they are again fleeing their homes and all they know in hopes of staying safe. I cannot imagine what this would be like and my heart is heavy for all who are facing this evacuation.
You are the one and only Lord over the universe. You oversee the country in which we live and we are in awe of your power and thank you for your protection and for providing everything we need.
We pray Lord, that you will calm the winds of Hurricane Gustav and Tropical Storm Hanna please deliver us from this impending destruction. We are so unworthy of your protection and love and yet we know you will provide.
Calm the hearts of those projected to be affected by these storms and give them peace. We love you and know this is all in your hands. We thank you for holding ALL of us in the palm of your hand and praise you for the awesome God you are! You tell the winds where to blow and where the ocean can meet the land. We pray today for your mercy and grace to fall upon this nation and ask that you move many hearts toward you as you are the light of the world!
In Your Sweet Name We Pray!
Please pray this prayer and pray, knowing God WILL answer!
Friday, August 29, 2008
I have decided to disallow commenting on this post merely because I wasn't trying to start a debate. The anonymous comments have come back in full force! I clearly stated that I wasn't advocating that preschool is bad nor that all children should go. I was just presenting the other side of the argument, I found the article interesting. Many kids go through life without preschool and become fine adults who do well in school. We all do what is best for our kids! Bottom Line but we need to be careful of judging others for their decisions as we do not know their kids and there is no easy answer for all. I just think it is important to look at both sides of the story.
Politics aside, I thought this was an interesting article on preschool. I am in no way saying that preschool is bad or kids should never go, just thought it was interesting to see the other side of the argument documented.
Wall Street Journal Article on Preschool
Thursday, August 28, 2008
This has become one of my VERY favorite verses. The truth resonates with me beyond words. I pray each day for the power of God to rest on me, knowing that His grace is ALWAYS sufficient!
Lots of people ask how I am, most don't really wait around long enough for the real answer. They get the forced smile and "fine" that I have become so accustomed to giving. There are people though who are brave enough to say "How are you Kristy?" and when I give the smile and the standard issue "fine" they say, "Ok, but how are you REALLY?" They know. They want to know. They want to share in my pain and help me carry my burden. I am so very thankful for those people.
I know I am loved, I know I have more support than any person deserves and I am in no way complaining. God has brought all of the right people to me at just the right times and I have been lifted to new heights when I don't even think that it is possible to stand. I also know that suffering makes people uncomfortable. There is often an awkward silence that follows my truthful answer. No one knows what to say and there is nothing that will make anything any less excruciatingly painful. Bottom line. It is what it is.
People often say that time heals all wounds. I beg to differ. This is a wound that will never heal. The searing loss of my precious sons is something I will NEVER heal from. There will always be a big gaping wound that no stitch or bandage can close. What I am learning though is that even though this pain will never go away, each day God makes me just a little stronger. I am constantly reminded that I must lean on him and on the days that I struggle to even get out of bed he reminds me of how blessed I am. He brings friends who check on us even six months later, or drop off a dinner or gift card just because. It makes my heart smile just to know people still remember. My boys are not forgotten, our pain is not forgotten.
The road is tough and if you ask how I am honestly doing, all I can say is that I take it day by day and sometimes moment by moment. there are still tears every day, I still have tough conversations with God every day, it still hurts and I still have a hard time going out in public most times. I am trying, and am trusting in God and his infinite wisdom. The truth is I have no idea why he chose us for this journey. I have no idea why he has brought suffering into my life so many times, but I am also coming to realize that if I worshipped a God who's plan my simple mind could fully comprehend, he would not nearly be the God I do serve. The God that is so much bigger than anything I can even imagine. The God that is so deserving of every ounce of my worship and praise. The God who pours his love, grace, and mercy upon his children in abundance even though not one of us deserve it. So I will just have to accept that my mind is not capable of understanding his plan from where I stand. I have a limited view.
So I still hurt. I have a heavy load to carry, but God increases my strength daily. I have hope. I grieve, but I have hope. I know that God loves me and is going to do great things in my life. He has blessed me with the most amazing husband anyone could dream of and four of the most precious boys I have ever had the privilege to lay eyes upon. I am forever broken, but equally blessed. That is how I am doing!
Wednesday, August 27, 2008
Make a wish!
Birthday cake for his birthday
Monday, August 25, 2008
I want you all to know that last night I slept great! I used many of the verses you provided and just kept my mind focused on my God, putting on His full armor as my mind drifted to sleep and last night my mind stayed right where it needed to be. I even woke up once around 3 and just kept repeating verses so that that fear did not even have a tiny opening. YEA! Praise God!
When we got home from church last night we were surprised to find that our kitchen had been taken over by a colony of ants. We have NEVER had ants before and I have had many people say how bad they are this year, but we had not had any. Well before church we brought in a bountiful harvest from the garden and I believe our veggies provided the vessel that allowed the ants to take up residence in my home, my kitchen nonetheless.
Now, for those of you who know me this is something that would put me over the edge normally. I am a neat FREAK and the idea of critters in my home, much less my kitchen where I make food for my family was enough to make me completely insane (as opposed to moderately insane :-))! So I took a deep breath, googled what to do to get rid of them and I began. I began scalding tomatoes (for a super salsa I made) and preparing veggies to get them put away so the ants would have no reason to enjoy our kitchen. Once I got things put away I sprayed everything down with vinegar which I guess is supposed to get rid of them because it removes their scent or something...then we went to bed.
This morning I woke with kind of a yucky cloud hanging over as today was Howard's first day back to school. He is a Middle School Social Studies teacher. I knew I would have to face the day without him and I was kind of apprehensive. Usually I am so ready for him to go back so I can get back into a routine with the kids, but not this year. He has been here for me to lean on every day this summer. I have never had to be alone. I knew I would miss him!
I read my devotional and got the boys some breakfast. Ben then insisted he was done with diapers today, which for many of you would say WAHOOO! But I was not planning on doing that today! Oh well, potty training begins...needless to say with a little frustration and a few puddles! :-) He is getting it though. Smart kid!
Frustration was peaking around 10 as I needed to get dinner in the crock pot and Ben refused to even put underwear on. They were going along behind me like little tornadoes undoing everything I did. Saved by the bell...the telephone rings and it is my in-laws who, God bless them, wanted to take the boys outside to play and pick berries! Thank you Jesus for grandparents!
I had a moment to breathe so I threw the roast in the crockpot and sat down to check email and this is what I found in the old inbox...
Hi Kenzie, Angie, Yvette, Kim, Kristy, Chrissy, and Emily,
I have been reading each of your blogs for awhile, and have cried and prayed for each of you and your sweet stories. I am so thankful that God was able to lead you all to one another for friendship and support during this season of your lives.
I just wanted to let you know (in case you had not heard yet) that this past weekend at the Beth Moore conference in San Antonio, TX, Beth brought up your group from the Deeper Still conference! (It was cool sitting in the audience, feeling totally in the "the know" when she brought you up.) She sounded utterly amazed at your strength and the work God was doing in and through you. I sat there and thought to myself how awesome that must be for each of you.
So many of us are deeply touched by Beth Moore and her amazing teaching gift, and yet SHE was touched by YOU. So, not only have each of your stories helped and encouraged so many ladies over the blogosphere- reminding us to hug our little ones a little tighter, pray a little harder, and realize that we CAN do all things through HIM who gives us strength- but, your children's legacies are continuing to live on, as people, like Beth, remember your story and use it as an example of God being glorified through hard times.
I continue to read each of your blogs and I still pray for your sweet hearts. I cannot imagine anything more difficult than what you have experienced, and without sounding cheesy, I want you to know that I have been incredible inspired by each of you. May God bless you each richly, and I cannot wait to meet each of your special little ones in heaven.
It was written by a sweet woman from Texas and I sit here typing through tears as I try to get my mind around the hugeness of God. Of what he is doing here in my life. On a day where I had been allowing frustration to get the best of me I was losing sight of what God is doing. Something so much bigger than a colony of ants, a messy house, or a potty training toddler. God is using our family, our brokenness, our sadness. He is working in and through us.
I can rejoice and praise God as I clean up Ben's puddles and wipe away ants because this is not it. This is not the end of the story. God is allowing me to be here to be the mommy Ben and Luke need and he will reunite me with Isaac and Asher some day as well. Right now they have the best caregiver possible. I guess what I am saying is that as I sit here today, still broken, still sad, arms still aching for my boys, there is a joy in my heart. A joy in knowing God has this. He loves us and will bring all of this around for our good. A joy in knowing that my boys are NOT forgotten. They were created in His image for an amazing purpose and they are living on! My heart today is filled with joy and hope and Melody, I thank you for sharing!
God continues to provide everything I need. He sends his grace and hope in ways I could never have imagined, whether verses from blessed blog friends, wonderful grandparents or a sweet email from Texas. God is good my friends and he is at work and I am super excited to see what the next page of the story brings!
But as for me, I will always have hope; I will praise you more and more.Psalm 71:13-15
(Is that not the coolest verse EVER?!) With God I will always have hope! I will praise Him more and more!
Sunday, August 24, 2008
Thank you all for your sharing your verses with me. I am sitting here copying them all onto index cards to place next to my bed. I have GOT to get some sleep tonight. Howard returns to school tomorrow and though he was kind enough to let me sleep in this morning knowing how I struggled last night. He will not be here to do that tomorrow, not to mention the fact that I will need patience tomorrow. Benjamin has developed a strong attachment to his Daddy and it will be tough to go all day with out him!
I will post more on Luke's birthday party which was super fun and other stuff soon...now I need to prepare myself for bed and keeping my thoughts guarded and where they need to be. I love you all and thank you for loving me and praying!
Ok, so it is almost 4 in the morning and I am awake, and nearly paralyzed with fear. I had a nightmare and can't shake the fear. This happens so often and it is usually a dream about me protecting my kids from harm in some way. I woke Howard up to check all the locks and such. I am sure he was thrilled. I am asking for prayer from anyone who happens to be up at this insane hour and for the rest of you I need some verses I can say to myself when this happens. I know you will help me out here. I know this fear is not from God and I need to address it. I feel like my mind is so vulnerable when I sleep and I need some verses to combat the fear when it happens. It is so intense. Please help.
Friday, August 22, 2008
Thursday, August 21, 2008
As I have thought about this the word that came to mine was wrestling. That is what I feel like I do each and every day. It is a constant struggle and yet I fight with everything I have. Every morning I have to make the choice to be thankful for the day and allow my feet to hit the floor with the mindset that this life is not about me or my comfort or discomfort. It is about Jesus, the one and only. It is about what I can do to serve him for all he has done for me. It is exhausting, but I know it is necessary to my survival. He always gives me what I need to get through each day. Yesterday a verse from my devotional was this...
"Jacob was left alone, and a man wrestled with him until daybreak" Genesis 32:24
The man Jacob wrestled with was God in human form. He wrestled with God. But in the morning he was victorious, not because he could overcome God, but because he had given all he had and was weak and broken. He was so exhausted all he could do was collapse into the arms of his Savior and trust in Him. Jacob had come to the end of himself. He had nothing left to give. A few verses later in verse 28 the Bible says:
"Your name will no longer be Jacob, but Israel, because you have struggled with God and with men and have overcome."
Sometimes it feels like I am so deep into this grief thing that I cannot move. It is like being in quicksand to your neck. It presses on your chest and makes it difficult to even breathe or move. Anymore everything is a struggle. Tomorrow marks six months since I held sweet Asher in my arms and kissed his soft forehead. Tomorrow is also my oldest son's fifth birthday party. I have wrestled all week with why on earth I did this to myself. It was the only date we could get at the park we are having Luke's party and his heart was set on it. So tomorrow I will be celebrating five years with Luke and six months since Asher breathed his first and last breaths.
How is a person supposed to feel about that? Why does everything have to be so complicated and difficult? I want so desperately to be happy and to celebrate and yet I have this weight pushing down on my chest. Squeezing my heart. Anymore I feel like I am surrounded by new babies and pregnant moms and as badly as I want to rejoice with them and be excited for them, there is this gnawing pain in my gut. I pain I have to fight back daily so I can be the friend I want to be.
I also "wrestle" with borderline insane thoughts...Would you believe that one of the reasons I wanted my boys cremated was because I knew my crazy insane self and I knew that there would be a point down the road that if they were buried I would have this overwhelming urge to go dig them up and just hold them again? With ashes, this isn't a possibility. I just want to feel that weight. I didn't want to end up in a mental ward somewhere so I decided I would take this struggle out of the equation. A preemptive strike if you will. (Looking back this is maybe something I shouldn't have shared, but maybe some other mom out there can relate and will be glad to know we would be roommates in that mental ward) I am thankful for that decision tonight because I am not sure I could resist the urge if it were possible as awful as it would be.
Six months seems like so long ago and yet like just yesterday. I am so thankful for February 22, 2008 and yet I desperately wish the outcome would have been different. I wish I did not have to explain to Luke AGAIN why his brothers cannot die again and come back to Earth for his birthday party. I wish I were up tonight, not because I am going crazy and typing through tears, but because I needed to feed my six month old boy.
On Sunday at church I was asked (again) if I am pregnant again. This question I have to admit is the one that drives me nuts more than anything. I am not. I am just still fat. I had a baby six months ago and the evidence still resides around my midsection. (That and the Dove chocolate I use for comfort on the bad days or the ice cream that temporarily fills the void that exists in my heart, they do say the way to a person's heart is often through the stomach.). Nevertheless, the question stuns me and I have been asked three or four times now by different people. Note to all: NEVER ask a woman if she is pregnant unless you KNOW she is! Another thing I wrestle with...what to say when asked such things....What would Jesus do? :-) HMMMMM....
I come to you all tonight asking for prayer. Tomorrow will be a day that I wrestle with joy and grief yet again. My prayer is that the God of Jacob will continue to be faithful. That he will again give me the grace to get through a tough day, that I will come through my wrestling with Him victoriously, with a new life, one better than I could ever have imagined. If we have to keep wrestling until he beats all of the old out of me I am okay with that. I just pray I, like Jacob come out a new person. I don't necessarily need a name change, but I can only imagine what it would be like to hear God say, "You have wrestled with God and men, and have overcome." Oh, Lord how I want to overcome. I know He is the only way to do that so I am white knuckled, clinging with every ounce of strength I can muster, but man some days and especially nights are so hard.
I am continually astounded that so many of you continue to check in on our family and I covet each comment and email. Your prayers and encouragement mean more than you could know. If there is any way I can pray for any of you please feel free to email me! I would be honored. Again thank you for reading my insane ramblings of a grieving mother!
Wednesday, August 20, 2008
Tuesday, August 19, 2008
This is a simple verse, but the meaning of it is profound. I think a lot of times when bad things happen we want to believe that God could not have intended such pain for us, maybe it was just a mistake or it must have come from Satan. I have had many people say in trying to comfort us that it wasn't God, but Satan who took our kids. I have searched for answers and I do not find that to be truth.
I believe the mighty hand of the Lord has brought us to where we are right now. Psalm 139 says that God knitted Isaac and Asher together in my womb. He knitted them just as he knitted Luke and Ben. The term knitted is significant. It refers to the intricate handiwork done by God. God placed every cell and chromosome exactly where he wanted. There was not a slip of hand, no mistakes were made. They were created perfectly. Just as God's blueprints read. They were just not created for life on this earth.
That is a reality I have to admit I don't like. It breaks my heart to wake up every morning to face the knowledge that my family is not all going to be sitting around the breakfast table each placing their own order for food. My mind cannot even begin to comprehend what on earth God is trying to accomplish here. But, I believe the Bible to be God's Word, and I believe God's word to be true so I also have to believe that he is working all of this out for my good even if I don't understand it or like it.
I don't believe my boys' death was an act of Satan because that would mean that Satan had power over God in creating life and I know that is not true. Yes, God allowed my boys to die, he allowed us to suffer, and I am tired of the pain, but I know there is so much more to all of it than what I see. I have seen some beauty coming from this. I have been able to reach and minister to people that I never would have had the opportunity to even meet had I not known what it is to grieve a child of your own. I am learning so much about myself and about God and though my heart is aching still, I will continue to praise Him even when I don't feel like it.
My Bible verse in Streams in the Desert today was 2 Corinthians 6:10
"Sorrowful, yet always rejoicing"
Four words, yet they sum it up. My heart is broken, sorrowful, but because I know that God will have the last word, I will rejoice. Satan has not done this, my boys are a gift from God. Death is a part of life because Adam and Eve chose to disobey our Father. (sometimes I wonder if there will be a line in Heaven for a dunking booth where they sit atop the platform!?) Yes, I grieve, I am sad and broken, but I know there is One who can and will make it all right. The mighty hand of God has done this and because this is the path He has chosen for me I will walk it no matter how tough the road ahead may seem.
Last night I read a book to Luke before bedtime. It was the story of Creation. A storybook we picked up at Ollie's yesterday. (If you ever need books, look there first if you have one. It is a discount store) As I read the words of God commanding Adam and Eve to not eat of the tree or else they will die, Luke's eyes got big. Then when the serpent got Eve to take a bite he began to BAWL! I set the book down and picked up my boy. I asked him what was wrong. He said he didn't like it that God lets people die. It makes people who are still on earth sad. I nodded and said, yes it does. But we will get to see each other again in Heaven if we continue to trust God. He nodded and said "I know, but it still makes me sad." I hugged him and told him it was okay to be sad and he could cry all he wanted. He said that he really wanted his brothers, ALL of them to be at his birthday party this week. I told him I knew. We hugged and cried together and then just as quickly as it all started, it ended. He asked how the story ended and I finished the book. He said, oh, so because they ate that apple we all have to die, but because Jesus loves us we go to Heaven and live again? I nodded because I could not speak. Ok, he said, and he went to bed.
So, that is it, we live in a fallen world where death is a reality, but NOTHING can happen to us outside of God's plan. We have to just keep on trudging along rejoicing in the fact that one day we will all be together, the body of Christ, and what a glorious day that will be! God has chosen our family to be the exact family we are and though we are sorrowful we will rejoice.
Sunday, August 17, 2008
Grief is such a tough thing. There are no words to adequately describe it as it is so very different from person to person. While in the midst of grief it feels like we are completely alone and though many people love and comfort us, no one truly understands our exact feelings, or exactly what the person who died meant to us. Even those who have endured similar losses, get it on a level most don't but still have varying ways of moving through their own grief.
Grief is such a personal thing. It is completely different for each person and I guess that is another thing that is driving me crazy! I want a formula, a 12 step program or something. I do well with that...it involves planning and knowing what is ahead. Grief is just not like that and now that I think of it, neither is faith. You make progress steadily for a period of time only to be thrown backwards having the wind knocked right back out of you. It is okay to get knocked back, we just have to continue trudging on even if we don't like it (and right now I don't). God will reward perseverance or so I am told :-).
It has been amazing to have so many other moms come along side me and share their own journey with me. It certainly makes things seem so much less lonely. It makes me feel a little less crazy when I confess some of my crazy quirks only to hear "Oh my goodness, I do that too!" I am thankful that God has provided me with such a wonderful blog family in addition to my family an friends close by to pray for me when I can no longer pray for myself. Please know I read each and every comment and email and I try to respond to each email I get.
For the past few years I have really struggled with fitting in. I often feel alone even in a group of people because I never feel like I quite fit. Kind of like a square peg in a round hole ALL the time. I have shared these feelings with a few of you. I feel misunderstood by everyone, I feel like I can never quite convey what I mean to. I am kind of young to be so old and I guess that is part of it. I am still in my twenties (barely) and many of my friends my age have not even had children, much less had four or lost one. I find myself frustrated that no one understands the depths of my pain, not that I would even want them to, and no one knows the beauty Isaac and Asher brought into my life, I mean some people can understand largely, but it is such a personal thing, only I know what they REALLY meant to my life and I try hard to convey it here but always feel I fall short.
I have been going to God with these feelings because after confessing my fear of not fitting in while in Atlanta my sweet friend Emily so kindly pointed out that those feelings were not coming from God, so "Where were they coming from?".
This is the Psalm I feel that God has given me to meditate on and it has really helped me to spend some time here today as those ugly feelings began to take over my heart.
It is Psalm 139 it is my new favorite...I have always loved verse 13 but the whole thing just rocks.
Oh Lord, You have searched me and known me, You know my sitting down and my rising up; You understand my thought afar off. You comprehend my path and my lying down, and are acquainted with all my ways. For there is not a word on my tongue, but behold, O Lord, You know it alltogether.
This is just verses 1-4 and really the entire Psalm is amazing.
The author of this Psalm obviously also feels misunderstood, but he knows there is One who does understand. It is God. The author feels all alone yet he knows his God is right there with him each and every step of the way. It is just another example of feelings not matching the truth. Often we feel all of these things, but we are NEVER alone, God always understands. Feelings do not equal reality.
I have had some REALLY rough days lately. Days where I feel alone and days when I feel like I am about to be consumed by my grief, but each day God gives me the grace to keep my head above water, even almost 6 months out he brings people to help carry me in whatever way they can. He is the light in my complete darkness and I am so grateful. My heart breaks tonight for those who grieve without that hope. Without knowing they can cling to their Heavenly Father and that he alone can provide peace and comfort that can be found NO where else. No person or thing will ever fill that void. God is it. Things are still tough. I am still clinging with every ounce of strength I can muster but I will not be moved. So I guess even if I never fit in anywhere else on this earth, I always have a place I fit perfectly in my Father's hand.
Saturday, August 16, 2008
This post is likely to make no sense...I am in a rambling sort of mood today so bear with me!
I have had a really tough couple of days. It is crazy because I will feel like I am climbing steadily out of the deep valley I am in, having good days, having fun days where my boys are always in my mind, but I am able to think of them and smile, and then all of a sudden without warning it is like I am kicked forcefully back down to the bottom of the pit. Every thought about everything makes me cry. That is where I am right now. I have tried so hard to keep it together and today I am just not sure I can. There is no rhyme or reason to any of it!
I find myself angry. Angry because one of my best friends in the whole world had a baby this week, I have gone to visit them and held him and enjoyed being with them so much, but there is this little part of me the whole time that cannot help but wondering, and yearning. Watching them in the hospital made me wonder if I will ever be there again. There in a place where I am caring for an infant after giving birth knowing we will be going home in a few days to start a whole new life. Sitting in a hospital bed with so much to look forward to. Going home with a baby instead of a bag of things that touched him.
I am angry because I don't want these experiences to be marred by my grief. I want to be able to hold a friend's baby without that twinge of jealousy and that sickness in the pit of my stomach. I don't want to have to choke back tears just walking into the hospital. I want to be able to go and buy baby things without having a meltdown, but that is just not reality for me anymore and that frustrates me. A few of my friends have been wonderful knowing how hard this week has been on me, and just their acknowledging me still in my grief means so much.
I know that I need to be gentle with myself and Howard constantly reminds me that it is okay to have limits and respect them, but I just am frustrated with those limits. I am tired of hurting. I am learning to live with it, but it is like I have to make a conscious effort to simply breathe some days.
My friend (who just had the SUPER cute baby)Shelli's mom even called yesterday morning and left a message on my machine that meant more than she could ever know. She just acknowledged how hard going to the hospital must be for me and thanked me for being a good friend to Shelli. She cried and said she wished she could take away some of the pain and just the fact that in her joy of her new grandson she took the time to reach out to me meant the world. I am truly blessed. The thing is that though that phone call soothed my heart immensely I HATE the fact that it was necessary.
Yesterday Howard took Luke fishing and so after Ben's nap we went to see baby Michael at the hospital again. Just me and Ben. I was astounded when as we rode the elevator up he asked if we were going to see baby Asher. He remembered. I have been unsure of what he remembered if anything. He can point to a picture and say Asher's name, but he can do the same for Isaac and he never met him. It amazed me that walking onto the 5th floor brought that memory back for him just as it does for us. It made me feel good that he remembered, I wasn't alone.
We walked in together and had a great visit with the new family. Ben LOVED touching Michaels little toes and arms. He did great. I hope and pray that someday he will know what it is like to love on his own baby brother. Asher was born at Ben's naptime so shortly after meeting him Ben fell asleep. That is one of my biggest regrets. But, it was something I had NO control over.
Please continue to pray for my sweet friends as they go home from the hospital today a family of 3! It is sure to be exciting and exhausting for them as Shelli recovers from surgery. Pictures of them can be seen at www.thepittsburghhites.blogspot.com Since my boys were each tiny, around 4 or 5 pounds (except for Ben who was 8lb 6 oz), holding baby Mikey or "baby Monkey" as Ben keeps saying was like holding a toddler for me! He is a BIG little guy! We love them all so much! They are the friends who loved and cared for Luke and Ben while we had Asher and we are so honored to have them as a part of our family and cannot wait to watch Michael grow!
Friday, August 15, 2008
I have shared before that we live next to my in-laws ( I know, a whole post in and of itself, :-)), but my sweet mother-in-law has been earnestly praying about what to get Luke for his birthday. We had requested no more toys. The boys have so much and we are really trying hard to minimize the toys in this house. Luke really needs clothes as the seasons change. So I had suggested maybe some new PJs or something.
Well, just the other day we all went outside and as they always do, the boys went running to Grandmas as soon as they were free. (Yes, the sandbox, playground, bikes and all outside toys are in our yard, but there is something magical about going to grandmas and just playing in dirt.) As they were feeding the birds, Luke had mentioned to Grandma that he had seen these new shoes on TV that he REALLY wanted. They were called Airators and they breathe!
This is where the confusion comes in for me, Grandma saw this as her answer especially when she went to the JC Penney flier and saw that they were on sale this week. These shoes were 40 dollars on sale! For a five year old? I hardly thought that was God answering her prayer, more like a good advertising campaign on the part of Sketchers!
So, last night was the big night. Luke got to go with Grandma and Grandpa to Wendy's for a special dinner and then to JC Penney's. Much to their dismay when they went to get Luke fitted for shoes they found that Penney's had NO Airators in his size! They did however have a pair of blue Sketchers which were on clearance for 20 dollars. Luke saw the Sketcher symbol and insisted they were just what he always wanted. So everyone won. Luke has what he thinks are Airator shoes and Grandma and Grandpa purchased a more reasonable 20 dollar shoe. Everyone is happy!
Or are they? I had gone to meet some friends for coffee last night and when I returned Luke was waiting to tell me all about his night. I did not know any of the story of what had occurred so we he brought me the shoes, I said "Oh you decided on something other than the Airators?" He said, "Mom, they ARE Airators!!" I was confused, but I looked up at Howard and he shook his head and said "They ARE Airators". But then sweet Luke went on to say that the commercial said that those shoes were supposed to breathe, and his don't work. They don't breathe, he watched and watched, no breathing!
He came to the conclusion that he still loves his shoes, but sometimes the people in commercials lie so you will want their stuff and that is just not cool! :-) (I guess sometimes parents and grandparents do too...they let you believe you are wearing the ever cool Airators when you are truly not.)
Another life lesson learned!
Thursday, August 14, 2008
As I search God's word for the hope and grace to get me through another day I am continually reminded of the Israelite's journey to the Promised land. Until just this year I had no idea that a trip that could have taken nine or ten days, even then, took them forty years.
Isn't that crazy? If you look at a map the journey the Israelites took vs the most direct route will make your head spin. It seems absolutely ludicrous. As I have done some more thinking about what it must have been like for Moses and the Israelites, I feel I am gaining a better grasp on what God is doing in and through this broken world.
Prior to the Exodus (the Israelite's flee from Egypt) the Israelite people were enslaved. They did not know freedom. While in Egypt they married people with different beliefs and in turn many adopted other beliefs or adapted the beliefs they held to adapt to their current lifestyle. By the time Moses led them out of Egypt very little of their original belief system still existed.
As I try to imagine what that may have been like it seems like maybe some of that is happening today. I wonder if this lifetime in a broken world, filled with suffering, isn't our journey through the wilderness to refine us for our arrival in the "Promised Land". We as a society seem to be doing much of the same. We are compromising our beliefs and allowing a gray area where there should be plain black and white. We adapt to culture and pick and choose what we believe about God and quite simply that just isn't how it works.
He led the Israelites on a tough 40 year trek through the wilderness to lead them into places where they were completely cut of from the world, where they had no choice but to seek God and re-learn their core belief system. God waited for an entire generation to die off before leading His people into the Promised Land. Their survival was completely dependent on their faith and those who failed the faith test perished.
When they first left Egypt I wonder what was going through their minds. They did not know freedom, so I imagine they drank it in fully, perhaps so fully that they became drunk. Drunk on freedom. Now free to do as they pleased, to be their own boss. No one to tell them what to do. That is until they began to whine that they had no food and no water. God brought them to a point where they were starving and parched and then they had come to the end of themselves and had no choice but to turn to Him or die.
God provided as he always does. He gave water a plenty and manna from Heaven, but at this point he re-taught the Israelites what it meant to have faith. He set up rule for how they could go about getting their manna. Never allowing them to save up so they would ALWAYS have to rely on Him.
After that you would think that the Israelites would have learned quickly that God was so worthy of their obedience and worship, but they continually screwed up, much like us and God continually forgave, but continued leading them through the wilderness until they were ready for the Promised Land.
I guess my point in all of this is that my prayer is that it doesn't take me forty years to get the point. I will spend whatever time in the wilderness that my Father sees fit, but man I have my eyes open and my ear listening toward Heaven because I do not want to wander around for the next forty years missing the point!
Wednesday, August 13, 2008
Baby Michael made his appearance at 11:30. Mom and baby are doing well. He is SOOOO cute! We enjoyed visiting him and hope to see him again tomorrow. It was harder than expected walking in there though. They were in the room we were in with Isaac. Just walking in the entrance to the hospital made me sick. Howard commented that he felt the same, which really surprised me. Once we were holding Michael though, he was our only thought! Well worth it all!
Two of our closest friends will be welcoming their new son into the world today. Please pray for them, he is expected to be a BIG boy so he will be entering the world via c-section. We will be going to see them all this evening. We can't wait to meet you baby "Franklin"!
Please also pray for us as it will be our first trip back to the hospital since Asher was born. Same hospital, same floor, same doctors.
Tuesday, August 12, 2008
It was. It is just that I am not so much the outdoorsy type. I prefer shopping malls, zoos, restaurants, amusement parks, and any place where the path is clearly laid out in front of me void of creepy crawlies and dirt. I had no clue what Panama Rocks was, but knew that Howard knows me and if he thought it would be fun it probably would.
HA! Basically we went hiking. When I say hiking, I don't mean we went for a walk in the woods, I mean we climbed rocks, scaled enormous hills and crept through caves and crevices that I never thought my post four baby body would allow. It was certainly an adventure. Luke deemed it the best day of his life, he said we were explorers! We left filthy, sweaty and tired. It was a fun day.
As we stood in the woods amongst the incredible scenery formed by these gigantic rocks I wondered how on earth after seeing sights like this, people could even doubt that there is a God. He was so evident in every moss covered rock, tree and hill. The beauty of it all was breathtaking, we left talking about what a creative God we serve and how good he is to give us such marvelous things.
Heather (my sister in-law) and her boy Andrew, Howard, Luke, and Ben
Monday, August 11, 2008
(Thanks Joel Natalie for working on this for us! It means so much!)
Isaac Video (before watching, go to the bottom of the page and pause the playlist, you will want to hear it, the song was given to us by the NICU nurses and the ending is me reading stories into a tape recorder for Isaac.)
My Testimony, small group questions, and video (in case you missed my "sermon")
We miss you so much baby boy, we think of you each and every day and love you so much!
Sunday, August 10, 2008
The past week has been a whirlwind of emotion for me. As I shared on Wednesday, I babysat for my sister-in-law on Wednesday. Howard had a meeting at school so it was just me and the three boys. I got up early to get my housework done in anticipation of a crazy day and I have to say it was one of the most fun days of the week. We had a great time. I had carefully planned out the day and had things organized and ready to go and everything went pretty smoothly.
Howard called at nap time to see if the house had imploded, and there was silence. The children were napping and I was reading. Peace had dominated the afternoon. As I sat reading that afternoon and reflecting on my day, I sipped my blueberry coffee (which is utterly delicious to all of you close minded naysayers. :-))and I thought about what it would be like to have three or even four boys in my home daily. I have often secretly wondered if God had taken the boys from me knowing that there was no way I could handle that many children. Maybe he knew that it would put me over the edge. I like order. I do not like noise and chaos. If I am speaking honestly, I cannot deny that I have wondered if that wasn't why God had chosen to take Isaac and Asher.
This day proved to me that I CAN do it. Having more children will certainly cause me to rise early and plan a little better, but at the end of the day, a house full of children would be worth every early moment. I don't believe that is why God allowed my boys to enter Heaven so soon. It wasn't that I would not have been able to handle them. We would have adapted and we would have loved each moment. More children doesn't have to mean more chaos, it just means a little more thinking ahead.
All that said, this week, I had a pregnancy scare. Not scare really, more surprise. I suspected, I took a test, I got a positive result (continue reading before jumping to conclusions). We had been praying about all of this and wondering where God might lead us when it comes to growing our family and we had been preventing pregnancy right now mainly for my health for a bit. I have had four sons in less than five years. We had chosen to use Natural Family Planning for many reasons ( and I am not looking for birth control advice), but when I saw the two lines on the test my heart leapt. While waiting the two minutes for the results I had prayed, I had prayed that God WOULD bless us with a child, and there WAS a faint pink line, I decided to keep this to myself completely remaining in prayer all the while. I thought about the fact that this baby would be due about a week after Asher's due date, I thought about how strange that would be since Ben's due date was about a week after Isaac's. I prayed that if God were choosing to give us another blessing, that he would allow us to keep this one here on earth.
In disbelief I took another test two days later...this one turned out to be negative. And as it turns out I am NOT pregnant.
All of this got me thinking though. When I thought I WAS pregnant I felt a relief that I was a bit surprised by. I felt a peace knowing that I did what the world would have me do, I was trying to prevent getting pregnant and if I were in fact pregnant it was "a God thing" and therefore I had that to hide behind. It was not a decision I had made, it was a decision God had made and I would just have to go along with it.
I must admit that upon finding out that the first test must have been defective, I was disappointed. I had gotten a bit excited and I had shared my excitement with Howard before taking the second test and the look on his face was simply priceless. He has never had a doubt and has been ready to have another baby all along when the time is right for me physically. I could see the excitement in him. We were disappointed. We long to welcome another little one into our home.
As I have prayed about this the past day or so, God has again spoken to my heart and I am learning a hard truth about my Father. The thing is that I was excited and more than anything I was relieved that I had an excuse, we WERE trying to prevent a pregnancy, so I could not be blamed for those who think we are NUTS. It happens, but at least I wasn't asking for it, it was all on God. Now, this is not to say that the conception of a child is not a "God thing" it totally is, he is our creator, the creator of ALL life.
The lesson is this, God was speaking softly telling me that He knows the desires of my heart and that he will bless our family, but not under these circumstances. Not hiding behind his coattails. I must step out in boldness. I must step out in faith. It was as though He was asking "Don't you trust Me?" and my reply was something like "Yes, but...." and then he cut me off again and said, "again that is not how it works, either you do or you don't, there is no but!" You should check out Emily's post on this, I assure you, you will be blessed by her writing! I always am!
If we want God's blessings, we must be BOLD enough to ask for them. We must trust Him completely. I am so very quick to say I trust him, but it seems I am just as quick to take it back. People probably thought David was nuts as he approached Goliath, a giant, with a stone. People probably thought Peter was nuts as he stepped out of the boat, people probably thought Daniel was nuts, heck imagine how nuts some people must have thought Jesus was. The thing is that all of these people were BOLD in faith, they made a choice to step out in faith, not cower behind excuses. God is not the excuse! He is the answer!
My prayer for tonight is this:
Hi God! Thank you for continually teaching me and molding me. You are such a generous and loving God, who has blessed me beyond measure. Lord, I pray that you continue to teach me and that you give me the strength, faith, and the grace to step out of this boat I am in. I pray for the strength, David had as he stood facing a giant with a mere sling and a rock, the faith it took for Peter to step out of that boat, I pray that I am able to tune in to your voice only, tuning out the voices of those around me, for Your voice, is the one and only voice of truth, the one that will lead me down the right path, whatever that is, I pray that you mold my desires to your will and that I will be able to stay focused with my eyes solely on you and not the things or feelings of this world. Lord I am so unworthy, yet so incredibly grateful that you ARE my rock, my salvation. I give it all to you Father, again, I give it to you for you and only you can bring beauty from these ashes!
In your wonderful name I pray! AMEN!
"Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is - His good, pleasing and perfect will." Romans 12:2
Wednesday, August 6, 2008
SO....I don't really do commercial like posts, but today I have to say I am so very grateful for my special reserve of Green Mountain, Wild Mountain Blueberry Coffee! It is one of God's greatest gifts to mankind. I am certain he had me specifically in mind when he gave someone the genius idea for this! If you have not tried it, you are so missing out! It is a fair trade coffee. Green Mountain is what we always have at our house, but I reserve the Blueberry when I need a special pick me up and it did the trick today!
Thank you God today for my little cup of Heaven right here on Earth!
PS...More details on the Bible Study coming...it is going to be a weekday morning thing I think, either at my house or my church depending on the number interested, so if anyone has a day preference email me.
PPS Have I mentioned that I tried my hand at PICKLING! I made 36 pints of pickles with Ben the other night! I am so proud of myself. I will share more on that later too...I am being beckoned by three screaming preschoolers doing laps around my kitchen island so I better go, (perhaps fruit by the foot wasn't the best snack?)! I need to get some more Wild Mountain Blueberry sanity and we will chat later! Please pray for me! :-)
Luke holding baby crayfish
What a catch!
What a cutie!
An action shot if I ever saw one!
Saturday, August 2, 2008
I have prayed, studied the Bible, done devotionals, gone to church, served, worshipped and all of the things that seem to fit into the formula of being a good Christian. I have talked to women that have said that God tells them things. This was not something I had experience with. I have always been really curious about this, yet extremely skeptical. It seemed weird, I mean how could he do that and what would he sound like?
I had come to the conclusion that I am sure he truly does speak to people, just NOT me. I mean what could God have to say to me? Of all of the people on this earth, why would he take the time to speak to me? No, I had never heard God so he must reserve his words for special people, people who are doing great work for His Kingdom. Not ordinary me.
In the past few months I have been PLEADING with God to make an exception. Just once. Just give me a word, something to go on, something to cling to. All I have been given is "Be Still", I have literally seen it on billboards, in songs, several places in my devotional and in several other encounters, that is all he has given me...
That is until just recently when I actually began to take Him at His word. I have never been a person who is comfortable just sitting with her own thoughts. Often times that leads me to tough places, places I would just as soon avoid. Finally in the last week or so I have forced myself to buckle down, in a desperate search for some form of hope.
In all honesty it has been a terribly uncomfortable week for me emotionally, I have forced myself to be still and deal with things I have been pushing aside for some time in an attempt to just return to normalcy as quickly as possible. I can honestly say that this week, I have stilled my heart, my mind and my body in an attempt at actually hearing God, and guess what, He has spoken...
It wasn't the way I had imagined, (you know Morgan Freeman popping up in a white suit somewhere) but it was as clear as could be. I had been torn about a few things lately and I was really struggling. One of those things was sending Luke to preschool and the other was growing our family. I have shared with all of you in previous posts my battle with those two situations.
I was praying a few days ago and I was praying specifically for my children and for any children God may bless us with and that was when I heard WHY??? it just kept repeating in my head. I remember shaking my head thinking ok, so now I am hearing voices in my head?? Then it was like I had this epiphany. Why was I wrestling with these things if I knew in my heart what I was to do? God was already telling me what to do. That was when I had to force myself to answer the question.
I have always been a people pleaser. I desperately care what other think of me and I seldom feel as though I fit in in any given situation. It is one of those strongholds that I have been battling for years and years. I want to appear to have it all together, to be a good mom, a good wife, a good Christian. The thing is, when we do things for appearances they are just that, superficial. I have had a really superficial relationship with God in the past and I am so sick of it, I am thirsting for more.
The cold hard truth is that I knew I wasn't to send Luke to preschool, but I worried about what others would say when they found out I wasn't sending him. "Oh she's gone off the deep end, she lost two sons and now she is never going to let the others out of the nest." or "Now she has become one of them, one of those overprotective Christian mothers who wants to shield her son from the world." It was like God was shaking me saying, "Kristy, look at your answer, just look at it." I did and I have to admit, I was ashamed with the reasons I gave.
When it comes to having more children I have this desire that is unexplainable to have more children and God was asking me WHY on earth I would question Him now. The cold hard truth here is that I am afraid of what people will think. I have already been told that I better not dare put my family through the heartache of losing a child again, I have no right to put a child or myself through any of this again. As I type this I am certain that my fear is not of living this journey again, I KNOW without a doubt if another special baby is what the Lord gives, then He will certainly give me the grace to get through, He always does, my fear lies in the idea that we would lose our support because people would think we are "asking for it".
God has really been dealing with me lately and as I have really done some listening and being still and this is what God has given me. I am certain he shared this truth with me this weekend. It is this: Life is but a moment and we can do what other people want us to do and live a life of obligation or we can do what we want to do, and if we in fact are living a life with a firm relationship with our Heavenly Father he will mold and shape our wants and desires to His will. This will be a life of true joy because any life lived to glorify god in accordance to His will could be nothing less.
My prayer tonight as I type is that God would continue to mold and shape my desires, not for me, but for his glory. Whatever that is, I pray that I will remain still and listening for his whisper. I pray that he will continue to be the guiding light in my life and in the life of my family and I am confident that where ever he leads his grace is sure to follow! It is always there and it is always sufficient! I KNOW what I need to do, I need to stop worrying about what others think and just focus on the only One who matters.
I am more at peace right now than I have been in sometime and I am convinced it is because God has spoken to ME! Ordinary me! He loves me! He has asked me to just give it all to him and stop listening to what everyone else says and feels, that is not a life that will lead to joy or give glory to God. He practically yelled at me "STOP!" He gave me this verse to solidify our conversation.
He humbled you, causing you to hunger and then feeding you with manna, which neither you nor your fathers had known, to teach you that man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of the LORD. Deuteronomy 8:2-4
May we all depend on God's word to satisfy our every hunger and every thirst.