Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Living up to Her Name

Two years ago we were blessed with one (of five) of the greatest gifts of our life. We thought we had it all planned out. Howard was scheduled to have his last day of school June 1, and we were planning on having June 2nd as a day to celebrate our anniversary and just spend time together. My c section was scheduled for June 3rd and we were so excited. Little did we know...this is not how Hope rolls.

As Howard got ready for work June 1, I remarked on how horribly I slept because I was having cramps all night. A couple of times I had to catch my breath as I helped pack his things for the day. He asked if I was okay. I assured him it was nothing...Braxton Hicks get stronger with each pregnancy and this WAS my fifth.

He headed to school and I went on with my day. As I got breakfast for the boys I found myself needing to sit down. My back was killing me. Then I had a flashback. I had no idea I was in labor with Ben but it did feel something like this. YIKES! I began timing contractions. We live about 40 minutes from the hospital so I was told as soon as they were every 10 minutes or regular at all really to come in and they would get me in for the c section. They were every 8. I called for babysitter help and called Howard, who had just gotten his school day started. He came home and we headed in so I could be checked.

I was put on the monitors for a while and it was confirmed that I was contracting regularly and pretty strong. (You know because you need monitors to tell you that) The nurse was ready to send me home to continue to labor. I began to cry and asked to see a doctor. I did not want to labor only to have to had a c section and was assured that if I was in labor the c section would happen. They obliged and squeezed me in for a quick check by Dr. J. She delivered Isaac and I swear my PTSD kicked in. She said that I was four centimeters and should probably just head over to the hospital.

We headed to the hospital where nurses once again hooked me up to monitors for a while. I was then told that they weren't sure they would do anything terribly soon. Dr. S came in. He is no nonsense and a God send. He breezed in and said, "Hey honey...you ready to have this baby?" I said I was and he said, "Get her ready...let's have a baby!"

From there things flew! I trembled in fear as I remembered my two previous c sections. Both ending with a dead baby. Dr. S had delivered Asher and was beyond fabulous. He had also been there after I had Isaac and was again STELLAR! I knew he was the best and more than competent. I cried as he came in to have me sign the forms, with all the crazy scary stuff. He grabbed my face and looked right in my eyes and said, "Kristy, you are going to be fine. NONE of this is going to happen to you. I promise."

She was born at 2:22 pm (Asher's birthday is 2/22) :) She was amazing and I had a bit of a hold up in recovery (that may have involved a nurse miscounting instruments and xrays having to be done to be sure i didn't have one sewn up in me) Holding Hope was magical. She was perfect.

The following day was tough. I felt attacked on all sides as we once again feared for the life of our flesh and blood. She was diagnosed with Epidermolysis Bullosa and her future was uncertain. Life was a roller coaster in those first few days. A baby's first week should not include bandages, biopsies, and wound care.

The truth of the matter that many people do live with EB. They endure pain and suffering and go right on living, probably more fully than most of us ever dream of. I have hated EB and what it took from us in those first few weeks. I am happy to say that though Hope's skin does seem more fragile than a typical child, she is doing awesome. I cannot complain. She does not have to endure painful baths, blister lancing and bandaging. She lives up to her name more than she will ever know.

My heart still breaks though because for some children, EB affects everything for them. For some children it means insane amounts of pain and limitations. The simple things we take for granted are not so simple for a person living with EB. While my heart breaks for them, I have been immensely blessed by the EB community. I am here to tell you there is nothing like it. In those first few weeks we were inundated with support, supplies and information. We were loved and taught what it meant to live moment by moment.
Hope has blessed us beyond what we could ever imagine. She has taught us so much and has opened our eyes to EB. It isn't a well known disorder and we have got to get the word out. EB sucks. We have got to find a cure. To do that money is needed and the word needs to be spread.

In honor of Hope's second birthday, I'd be honored if you would:

1. Consider donating to the Cannell family's adoption of two sweet boys with EB who live on the other side of the world and have never known the love of a family.

2. Consider donating to Debra to help support families who are affected by EB and help find a cure.

3. Get the word out. Tell someone about EB.

4. Pray for all of those affected by EB.

I would love it if you would consider choosing one of these things we can do to make a difference.

Happy Birthday sweet Hope Amelia. I am so thankful that I get to be your mama and I cannot thank you enough for helping to make me a better person.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Memorial Day According to Ben

Friday I took my little ginger haired babes to the grocery store to pick up a few things for the upcoming Memorial Day festivities. Ben noticed that Giant Eagle was decked out in red, white and blue...here is the conversation that followed:

Ben: Mom, why exactly do we celebrate Memorial Day?

Me: Because it is a day to honor and celebrate the brave men and women who fight for our country to keep us safe and free. We remember the men and women who died for our county and celebrate and honor those who fight for us today.

Ben: Oh, I get it...like Jesus.

Me: Not exactly buddy, the men and women I am talking about are the soldiers who fight in wars to keep us safe.

Ben: Well I sure am thankful for them, but if you ask me, Jesus fought the most important war ever.

My jaw dropped and I gasped trying to think of what to add...I had nothing. Sometimes we wonder how much of what we are teaching the kids sinks in and then moments like this come up and remind us just how much they really are grasping. I am with Ben, VERY thankful for all of the service men and women who sacrifice SO much to protect this country, and also VERY thankful for Jesus who fought and won the most important war ever.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Must Read

I have been reading and re-reading Ann Voskamp's book "One Thousand Gifts" for the last few months. It is not the type of book that you just read and pass on. It is a book that you rad and have to soak in...stop, re-read and really allow it to transform you. It has been a tremendous blessing for me and I am finding it changing my whole outlook moment by moment.

Since I have begun really putting some of Ann's perspective into my own and really trying to live a life of "eucharisteo" I have also started checking her blog each morning as part of my devotional. All I can say is WOW. Today' post was exactly what I needed today. You should check it out...you will be blessed!

Monday, May 23, 2011

Life Changing

Five dollars...doesn't seem all that life changing to most of us. I mean, what's a missed Starbucks trip, run through the drive through or one less item at Target?

I am coming to learn that though we live paycheck to paycheck here, and we feel like we are poor. We are rich. While five dollars may not make a big difference in our budget it is powerful enough to move mountains for others when put to good use.

Carson and John are brothers in orphanages on the other side of the world. They have a family who desperately wants them to come home and the only thing stopping them is money. Both boys have Epidermolysis Bullosa and would thrive SO much better in the Cannell family's loving home. Won't you give up your coffee run just for one day to help bring them home?

Jesus tells us that whatever we do for the least of these, we do for him. Let's show these little boys what Jesus is all about!

Click HERE to donate. EVERY penny counts!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Good Intentions Aren't Enough

The man answered, "'You must love the LORD your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your strength, and all your mind.' And, 'Love your neighbor as yourself.'"

This verse just keeps popping up for me lately. Does that ever happen to you? You just keep encountering the SAME verse or concept over and over until finally you say, "Okay, God. I get it. You are trying to show me something here.". I shared before that I have been in a weird place lately. That I am trying hard to follow God but sometimes to my detriment. Sometimes I am so concerned with what I want to DO for God that I forget that more importantly I need to BE who God wants me to be. If I work on my character the "do" will come easily because I will be the person for the job.

I believe with all of my heart that God is sovereign over all things. I don't believe in fate or in chance. I believe God orchestrates a story that unfolds for each of us in an unbelievable way. He intricately weaves our story together in a way no human mind could comprehend. That said, sometimes we take wrong turns. We take our eyes off of God. We focus on our own desires and agendas and we (sometimes even with good intention) make choices that cause us to take the long way around. I recently watched a sermon by Francis Chan that likens this experience to a GPS. God doesn't yell at us for taking a wrong turn...he recalculates. It will likely take longer and may cost us a bit more, but f we continually seek Him, even when we make poor choices and take wrong turns He will bring us back to Him.

Can I tell you how thankful I am for this? Seriously. In an effort to do big things and be "Radical" I have lost sight of some things. Sure, in comparison with some my character is pretty good. I mean, I don't do anything criminal. I am generally a good person. But is that enough?? Lately the word to describe how I have been feeling is ineffective. God is showing me that in order to remain effective for His kingdom I have got to take care of my character.

5 For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; 6 and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; 7 and to godliness, mutual affection; and to mutual affection, love. 8 For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. 2 Peter 1:5-8

Imagine that! God has already given us the tools we need and instruction against becoming ineffective. This verse tells us to make EVERY effort to add each of these qualities to our character...that we should be increasing these qualities within ourselves. Nowhere does it say...once you are "pretty good" it is good enough. Nope...continual growth and forward motion.

God is showing me that in order to remain effective for his Kingdom, I have GOT to stay focused on MY character. What I do won't matter a lick if I am not seeking Him first. We are called to love the Lord with ALL our hearts, souls, strength and mind. If we give it thought, because this is the greatest commandment it should be the thing we are working hardest toward and putting EVERY effort into, and yet when I examined my own life, I find this is not always the case. I spend a lot of effort on things that don't matter. I have a lot of distractions taking my mind off of God and onto the things of this world.

I am seeing very clearly that right now God is calling me to be present in this very moment. To soak it in, to be in His word and in constant communication with Him. I need to check my heart and be sure I am living a life of gratitude and giving thanks for all I have and not worrying about what I don't. I need to open my hand and receive the good gifts he is giving and make sure I am seeking Him first because even the best of intentions will cause me to fail if He is not the center. I need to be less concerned with what grand things I am doing for Him and concern myself with my own heart and character because I have three little hearts watching my every move each day. I am investing into them all that I invest into my own self and being the woman, wife, mom, sister, daughter and friend the Lord wants me to be. Sometimes it really isn't about what you are doing for Him...it is about who you ARE because of Him. Is He reflecting through all you say and do? I know I've got some work to do.

To my faith I need to add goodness. To the goodness I need to add self control ( a REAL issue for me). To self control I need to add perseverance. To the perseverance I need to add godliness. To godliness mutual affection, and to mutual affection LOVE. We need to be increasing these virtues each and every day. If we want to be and/or remain effective we have got to grow...we have got to move forward and we have got to increase! I sure have some work to do...how about you?

Monday, May 16, 2011

Spring Cleaning

Though I love to clean, I am not talking about cleaning of our house today...I am talking about spring cleaning our hearts and our lives.

5 For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; 6 and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; 7 and to godliness, mutual affection; and to mutual affection, love. 8 For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.
2 Peter 1:5-8

I have been in a funk lately. I tend to go through these cycles and typically good comes from the funk. :) I am not saying I am in a funk in that I am sad or depressed or anything like that. I am just in a constant state of unrest and confusion. I think that in many ways my desire to do God's will is my downfall. I know that likely makes little sense, but I feel like I often get gung ho about something and I desperately DO want to honor God and so I go full speed ahead...sometimes perhaps leaving God in the dust so to speak.

I want for God to look at my life and the things I accomplished and I want Him to smile and say "Well done, good and faithful servant". I want to please Him, but in all honesty I think sometimes in an effort to do just that I accomplish the exact opposite. I have always been a people pleaser. I got good grades, not because I liked school or learning, but because it pleased my dad. My whole life I have wanted to please others and many of the paths I have taken have been largely to please someone else. I have thus far approached my relationship with God much the same. I want to please him so He will love me more.

When am I going to get it through my thick skull that there is NOTHING I can do to make Him love me more or less? I have in effect been rejecting the gift of love He has given by putting conditions on it myself. He hasn't done this. I have. He loves freely and without condition or stipulation. It is so hard for my finite mind to grasp such things.

In an effort to be a good girl and DO what the Lord calls us to do I have neglected becoming WHO he wants me to be. I have busied myself with the things I think the Lord would have me do all the while busying myself to the point of getting snippy with my children, and not having time to listen to what my husband has to say and spend time with him. I have literally spun my wheels and gotten nowhere.

As I have taken some time to really seek out the Lord and to know Him better so that I can know His will, I have come to realize that while he does want us all to DO good things, he is more concerned with us BEING who he wants us to be. I have lost sight of that. Sometimes we need to realize that the state of our heart and soul matter. God commands us to (above all else) love Him with all our hearts, with all our soul, all our strength and all our minds. ALL. Not part, not what is left over after the world has its way with us. ALL of us.

"'You must love the LORD your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your strength, and all your mind.' And, 'Love your neighbor as yourself.'" Luke 10:27

Last night Howard and I sat down and had a much needed talk about our family and our direction and while I found it disconcerting, I also know that God is at work. Howard is reading Watchman Nee's "The Spiritual Man" and claims it to be (aside from the Bible) the most profound book he has read. He said that he feels like our life is filled with too much distraction that is taking us away from God. That things, even if they are not bad in and of themselves, if they direct our attention away from God that they are not worthy of our time. God should be the center of EVERYTHING.

I have to admit...while I didn't want to admit to him initially that he was right. He was. Satan uses all of the chaos of the world to distract us from the One who brings peace and contentment. I am not even talking about things that are obviously inappropriate to spend time on...even things that seem innocent enough...if they are not done in a way that honors God or with him as the focus, they are not worthy of our time. Consequently, we can spend ALL of our time doing good and noble things, but if we are not seeking God first, none of it matters. We cannot put the cart before the horse. God first and then he will use us for good...not the opposite.

As we look forward to what the Lord really IS calling our family to do, we know He has a good plan for us. We know big things are to come. The thing is that it isn't about our plan and what WE can do for him...it is about what He can do through us and unless we make sure he is the central focus of it all we won't succeed.

In their hearts humans plan their course,
but the LORD establishes their steps. Proverbs 16:9

This verse hangs on an index card next to our family calendar and I try to take care when planning our weeks and days that we do not fill them up so much that we lose sight of what is truly important and what the main focus is. I have kind of missed it in the big picture though. As we work on spring cleaning our house we will also be spring cleaning our hearts, our souls and our lives. We are renovating at the Bolte house and trying to rid ourselves of the distractions that are cluttering up our lives and not allowing us to see God's will as clearly as we need to. God is not confusion. Satan is. Satan wants to sneak in subtly and steal us away...he wants to divert our minds to things that don't matter and we have got to be on guard. We have got to rid our lives of the distractions. Sometimes we have got to stop DOING and just BE. We need to work on our relationship with the One who matters most before we can know how He wants to use us.

What are some of the distractions in your life? Do you have any spring cleaning to do?

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Sorrowful Yet Always Rejoicing

When I think of the idea of Mother's day, the words that come to mind are "gut wrenching". I woke up this morning, after waking several times last night with various children and the "Mother's Day" wall hit. I pulled the covers over my head and began to cry, I then decided to jump in the shower where tears streamed down my hot cheeks as I tried to gain some perspective on a day that brings so much mixed emotion.

I have always for as long as I can remember dreaded Mother's day. To me it seemed just another made up holiday to make people buy flowers and candy and a day for some to celebrate while others hide in their closet and cry For some people to flaunt the relationship they have while others mourn what they don't. Kind of like Valentine's day.

It is true. My own mother took her own life when I was nine years old. She left me motherless and broken and I will never be the same girl I once was. My reality was changed forever. As a kid, Mother's Day for me was getting shuffled to another classroom while all the other kids made Mother's Day gifts, so that I wouldn't feel bad, they meant well, but it always magnified the loss for me. I have no idea what it would be like to have a mother to call when my heart has been broken, when I am not feeling well and need a hand or to go have coffee or lunch to celebrate life's joys. I try to imagine what that might be like because I desperately want my children to know what that is like, but sometimes I fear I have been so scarred that it is tough for me to be what I do not know.

As I sit here in bed at this moment typing on these keys, I am determined to turn this day around. It hurts to be without my mom and it hurts like Hell to be missing Isaac and Asher. My heart hurts...BUT, I have Luke, Benjamin and Hope here. The Lord has trusted me with training them and I have such a desire to do it well. The time I get to invest in them IS an investment in their eternity and I am so grateful that I get to be the mom to each of them. All five of my kids have blessed me beyond words. Being the mom to Howard's children has proved to be the toughest task of my life but also the most amazingly rewarding. These children have taught me so much and they really do inspire me to do better. They deserve all God intends for them and God has trusted me with making sure they know His love.

Motherhood is tough. Motherhood is exhausting and thankless and heartbreaking. Motherhood has stretched me beyond my own capacity and taught me what it means to trust in the Lord, it has taught me what love is. It makes me want to strive to be the woman God wants me to be for them. Because of those five little blessings, I want to be a better person. Motherhood has brought intense laughter and anguishing tears.

So, I guess, really why should Mother's day be any different? Motherhood is an amazing gift that entails all of the most intense emotions a woman can experience. It involves allowing a part of ourselves to be exposed, a part we never knew existed. For me, Mother's day is much the same. It is, like motherhood, filled with heartbreak and loss, but also so much more...it is filled with hope and joy and love. It is worth every tear and broken heart.

Our Father is orchestrating something so much greater than we even know. He chooses each mother for her children and each child for that mother. It is no accident that my motherhood journey has taken the winding twists and turns that it has. Each experience in my life is shaping me into the mother, wife and woman that the Lord wants me to be and for that I am grateful. I am beyond thankful for Lucas Robert, Isaac Matthew, Benjamin Oliver, Asher Joseph and Hope Amelia. They have each made me love deeper, live harder and cherish each moment. The gift the Lord has given me in those five little people humbles me to my knees. I don't deserve any of them and yet He has blessed me still. The idea of cards and gifts seems so insignificant in comparison to the gifts they give me every day. I am thankful to just get to be their mommy. I don't take the job the Lord has given me lightly and I pray that in the coming year I am able to honor Him and train them in the way they should go.

So I woke up crying, and tears will likely fall throughout the day, but the joy is there too. It is always there. I will spend the day rejoicing that the Lord chose me for this journey and I will give thanks that I get to live this life. For me the journey of motherhood is full of sorrow and full of joy and it is through sorrow and joy that I get to grow and love the family the Lord has blessed me with. Motherhood is beautiful, but sometimes it is finding the beautiful in the ugly. I am determined to seek out the beautiful and celebrate that today.

Our hearts ache, but we always have joy. We are poor, but we give spiritual riches to others. We own nothing, and yet we have everything. 2 Corinthians 6:10

This IS the day that the Lord has made, I WILL be glad and rejoice in it!