Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Look UP

Ever notice how babies don't look down when they crawl or walk or climb?

They don't look at the obstacles in their way 

Instead, they look ahead...and UP.

Today, Rhodie crawled over to the stairs. We've been trying to hide it from him...that we have stairs...because we knew that once he found them, it would be ALL HANDS ON DECK all the time.

Rhodie caught sight of the stairs today, out of the corner of his eye. He crawled over blocks and other toys to get to them. When he got there, he didn't look at how big that first step was, or calculate the best and most effective way to climb that step.

He didn't ask his baby friends what they thought about it...should he climb the stairs, or not. He didn't ask them what they would do.

He didn't form a committee to discuss strategy, or make a detailed plan.

NOTTHATTHERESANYTHINGWRONGWITHTHAT.

No. This baby knew exactly where he wanted to go.

And even tho he had never actually climbed a stair before, he looked up...not at the next step...but at the TOP of the stairs, fearlessly raised that left knee, and began to pull himself up.

Lots of lessons here.

"Not that I have already reached the goal or am already fully mature, but I make every effort to take hold of it because I also have been taken hold of by Christ Jesus. Brothers, I do not consider myself to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and reaching forward to what is ahead, I pursue as my goal the prize promised by God’s heavenly call in Christ Jesus." Philippians 3:12-14

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Clark and the C/T Scan Scare

To quote Annie James* (pretending to be Hallie Parker), our youngest child "gave us a fright" this week.

*Parent Trap

Clark has had some stomach/chest pain for over a week...and it hasn't gotten any better with time. I finally convinced him to go to the campus nurse on Wednesday, and he almost passed out during the exam (from the pain). She sent him straight to the doctor's office.

With Clark, it's hard not to go straight to "cancer" in our minds, because of his medical history, and because he is NEVER sick.

And because this pain was in his abdomen...same as before.

After the exam, the doctor scheduled him for a c/t the next morning. I immediately started planning my trip down there. In fact, if I'd had my way, I'd have slept on his bottom bunk THAT VERY NIGHT.

I know...I'm terrible.

But I made plans to go down there early the next morning, because Jim said he had an early meeting. Clark, of course, told me not to come. He said for me not to "make it a thing," and that it "wasn't necessary."

It's like he doesn't know me AT ALL!

And lest you think it was all ME, let me just tell you that my husband woke me up up to tell me, "bye" before he went to work...except something seemed different. It was pitch black in our room...and outside. I said, "what are you doing?" He said, "heading down to meet Clark at the hospital."

It was 4:45 a.m.

Yep.

He was gonna be late for that early morning meeting of his, but what is that old saying..."babies won't keep?"

It's true, even when your "baby" is a 21 year old college student.

So, after taking Joshua to his Therapeutic Recreation, I headed down to see Clark. I took him out for a late breakfast at Ye Olde Cracker Barrel, while we waited on the results...and I listened as he told me about his morning.

In typical Clark fashion, he struck up a conversation with the radiology tech lady doing his scan., and then began to bring the conversation around to God. He asked the lady how he could pray for her. She wasn't expecting that, and said, "exCUSE me?" Clark asked about her family, and learned she had children and grandchildren. He told her he would pray for her.

Clark is fine, PRAISE GOD. He was diagnosed with something like an "intercostal strain" (a tear in one of the muscles located between the ribs).

But you know what?

Even if the results had been our greatest fear...God is still good.

Clark really didn't want me telling people until we knew what we were dealing with, but I shared this prayer request with a few people anyway. After an anxious night, I woke up with the greatest sense of peace. And all through the very long day of waiting, I felt His grace being poured out all over this situation.

Last Sunday, I wrote a long post about Clark's 21st birthday. Even as I was writing it, praising God for 21 years of Clark, I was fully aware that a long, healthy life is not a guarantee...for Clark, or for any of us.

And then, on Thursday of this week, I posted a picture of Clark's baptism...back when he was a little boy. It's because of the decision he made BEFORE his baptism...the decision to follow Christ...that Clark can (and does) say in times of trial, "it's a win-win situation" for me."

Do you know his Jesus?

"God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in times of trouble." Psalm 46:1

Friday, February 17, 2017

Discipleship and Other Things Rattling Around in My Head

At the beginning of the year, our church began an intense focus on discipleship. Every member of our church was encouraged to get a journal, and do the daily reading and Bible Study. The study was written by our staff, and specifically for what our church is focusing on this year.

Every small group is discussing the same lessons each week, and the sermon corresponds to the Scripture reading from the week...so,we are all on the same page, so to speak.

I was excited to find that a section of Scripture for this week's focus included one of my most favorite verses, 1 Corinthians 12:22: "In fact, some parts of the body that seem weakest and least important are actually the most necessary."

And, ya know, you can read that verse, and you can know what it is so special to me.

(It reminds me of Joshua, and his "people")

But I'm also thinking about our young kids, our youth, and our senior adults...who may have been told they are "too young," or "too old," or "too out-of-touch," to have a place in church.

And I'm thinking about the ones who have been incarcerated, Christians, or those who have turned to God and are trying to turn their lives around; and I'm thinking about the unwed mothers who made the choice to keep their babies...and the women who didn't.

I'm thinking about the foster children, the divorced man or woman, the kids from the group home...and the lady who brings the kids from her neighborhood to VBS and they are wild as banshees and don't follow the rules;

I'm thinking about the ones fleeing persecution, or abuse; and I'm thinking about that one person in every class or in every Bible Study or in every church, who drives you nuts because they are so annoying, or difficult, or critical, or uneducated, or dirty...or weird.

I think it is very wise to be cautious and vigilant in many of these situations. Right is right, and sin is sin, there's no question on any of that. Still, if a church is a body of sinners saved by grace, and if the ground is level at the foot of the cross...what about all of these people?

If they are a part of the body, are THEY the "most necessary?" And are THEY welcome in our churches?

"Don’t you realize that those who do wrong will not inherit the Kingdom of God? Don’t fool yourselves. Those who indulge in sexual sin, or who worship idols, or commit adultery, or are male prostitutes, or practice homosexuality, or are thieves, or greedy people, or drunkards, or are abusive, or cheat people—none of these will inherit the Kingdom of God. Some of you were once like that. But you were cleansed; you were made holy; you were made right with God by calling on the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God." 1 Corinthians 6:9-12

Monday, February 13, 2017

Clark Turns 21

Twenty-one years ago, I gave birth to our 4th child. He was 12 1/2 weeks early, and he weighed barely 3 lbs. He spent 7 1/2 weeks in the NICU, and then we brought him home to live happily ever after with us.

But, at age 2, he was diagnosed with hepatoblastoma, a type of cancer. He had surgery to remove the tumor, and along with part of his liver. And, within a few days, he started his chemo regimen.

People who know Clark's story may get tired of me rehashing it every year, bur that's okay. I just never want to forget what God did in our lives...what He did for Clark.

Because, by God's plan and provision, Clark turned 21 today. I've seen God's hand on his life every step of the way. So now, when rough or uncertain times come...and they have, and they will...I go back.

I go back to the tiny baby who was born way too early...and I go back to the toddler who endured what no child should. I go back to the fear and the unknown and the sleepless nights of crying out to God...and I remember the faithfulness of God.

And I remember the love, attention, and constant support of family and friends from near and far away.

I am grateful to everyone who has walked, and continues to walk, this journey of life with us. You are a part of this day, because God used your prayers to sustain us on many occasions, and I never want to forget that.

Psalm 139 reminds us that the number of our days was planned, before we were even born...so none of what happened to Clark came as a surprise to God.

And I remind myself that, before the foundation of the earth, God made a plan to send His own Son to die for me. And for Clark.

And for you.

It's because of this, if you know Him, that any of us are able to face the difficulties and challenges of life.

amiright?

Jesus alone gives us strength when we are weak. Jesus alone gives us peace in the midst of trials. And Jesus alone fills us up when we are empty.

So, I will keep telling Clark's story every year of his life. Really, it's God's story of what He's done in Clark's life...and in ours. It's a story He continues to write.

Happy 21 years of life to Clark! I am so thankful to be his Mom.

"The LORD has done great things for us and we are filled with joy." Psalm 126:3

Monday, February 6, 2017

Finally Friday, Lazy Saturday, & SUPER (bowl) Sunday

Yesterday was Friday, and I was never so happy to see a Friday. I've written about our new puppy, and the way she likes to get up at 4:15 in the morning, right? And I've written that she is conditioned to get up at 4:15 in the morning, because that's when my husband gets up and goes on his run, right?

It's super fun to get up that early.

Except the exact opposite of that.

I've been so tired all week. I think I am trying to fight off a cold or something. UGH.

But Friday? Friday was awesome. I stayed at home all day, and it was glorious. Holly came over with the baby, and we got to play with him all day. Jim was so happy to see Rhodie...and Rhodie was happy to see HIM.

But, by Friday night, we had to get out, because Joshua's group was having a "thing."

Once a month, his Therapeutic Recreation group has a night called "Weekend Warriors." They will go to dinner and a movie, or have a dance at the Center or something like that. Last night, they had a night called, "Canvas and Cupcakes."

On Thursday, during their regular meeting time, they made the cupcakes. When they got to the Center on Friday night, one of the leaders instructed them in painting a canvas. Kind of like those "Painting with a Twist" type of things, where everyone paints the same thing.

And then they had cupcakes...which is really the main reason 99.9% of the FRIENDS showed up.

Just sayin'.

After we dropped Joshua off, and got him settled...Jim and I went on a DATE.

An actual DATE.

Wonders never cease!

Saturday morning, the dog was up again at 4:15-ish...barking her head off in her cage. Jim is the early riser in the family, so he got up with her, and I was able to go back to sleep. Thankfully. I got up around 7, and went into the kitchen. Jim said, "what are you doing up?" He had planned on running in a 10k this morning, and I thought he said he had to be there at 7:30. He said, "I don't have to be there until 8:30."

Mmmmmkay...zzzzzzzzzzzzz....

Actually, I did not go back to sleep. I made pancakes, bacon, and eggs for Joshua (and I) to have for breakfast, and then I settled myself in my chair for a long winter's nap. Jim came home. He said he made a personal best time in his race. He ate his "2nd breakfast," and then we pretty much vegged out all day long.

Sunday morning, we got up and went to our small group and church. The words of the sermon are ringing in my ears, 10 hours later.

Here are some of my notes on "Redefining Fellowship" from Hebrews 10:10-25.

*It's not about food, but relationships.
*It does not take place in a specific building, but by living life together.
*It is not an event, but rather a commitment.

Hebrews 10:24, "And let us be concerned about one another in order to promote love and good works..."

The word for "concerned" means: to get under the skin. We can't just skim the surface of our relationships, and think that is "fellowship." It is not.

Fellowship is pushing each other towards Jesus. It can be uncomfortable at times, but ask yourself if you'd rather be comfortable...or more like Jesus.

This sermon hit me right between the eyes. We have to get involved in each other's lives, y'all. Get all in...even if it's messy...even if we don't have time. News flash: we will never have enough time.

Life is hard, but we can make it easier if we are intentional with our relationships.

We need each other.

"And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works..." Hebrews 10:24

Thursday, February 2, 2017

Cracker Barrel, OBU, and a Trip to Craftyland

It had been 17 days since I'd seen his face, my college bowie.

Which, I realize is nothing to most or many of you out there...but we live 1 1/2 hours away from his college, and 17 days is a long time for us. Even if our college bowies (Logan is also in college, working on his doctorate) can't come home-home, we try to meet them every 2-3 weeks, at a halfway point for a meal.

Clark has been working youth retreats on the weekends, since he's been back at school...so we haven't seen a lot of him. I'm super proud of him for giving up his "free" time to invest in the lives of younger boys...but we miss him.

So, today, Holly, Rhodie, and I took off down to his college for a visit. We had planned on meeting at a little sandwich place in town, but Clark got there first, and called us to say it was packed. He called to ask us to meet at Ye Olde Cracker Barrel.

We had a great visit. I was so happy to see him. He had asked for a few things from home, and I loaded up a box and 3 grocery bags FULL of goodies for him.

Because, I am Mommy.

After lunch, we drove back to the campus, and went to the bookstore for some swag. And then we had to take Clark back to his dorm, and say our good-byes.

(sniff)

I miss him so much. He told us that 3 of his classes this semester are 3 of the hardest classes he has EVER had in his life. Bless him!

He also told us that he tries to go to bed around 8 p.m. during the week. 8 P.M. Yes, this is a COLLEGE BOY. Now, not EVERY night...it depends on what is going on...but he said he has figured out he thrives best on structure. He said he gets up at 4:15 a.m. during the week, has his quiet time, and then either goes to the gym to work-out...or, goes for a run.

We stopped at a little vintage market place on the way home...I called it "crafty-land." Rhodie was SOUND ASLEEP, and I carried him all over that place. Holly kept offering to take him from me. Not gonna lie...he was heavy...but I told her I would carry him til my arms fell off.

I just love him so much.

After we left there, we headed to pick up Joshua from his Therapeutic Recreation. He told me they went to fitness at the gym today, and that "good, ol' Mr. Lee" led the class. After fitness, they came back to the TR Center, and ate lunch. After lunch, they baked cupcakes for their outing on Friday night.

We finally made it home around 4. It was a LONG day, but a good day. And a FUN day. Rhodie did GREAT! The last 10 minutes or so, he tried to lose his mind...and Holly had to pull out every trick in the book to keep him happy in his car-seat.

I love my family, and I love all 4 of our kids. I wish I could see them all every day, but I am thankful for the lives they are creating, the goals they are pursuing, and how they are seeking God's will for their lives. They are all doing well, but let's be real honest here...seeking God's will, laying down your wants and desires, waiting for His plan to unfold...can sometimes be very hard.

Keeps me on my knees, because I am relentless in my prayers on their behalf.

"I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth." 3 John 1:4