Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Some Random Thoughts

 

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Last night marked another “momentous milestone” for Earl and I.

We had planned on using some money my mom gave us to go see a movie and have dinner. We thought since it was Earl’s day off and I was done with school by 2ish that we would leave at 4pm and catch the matinee and then go have dinner and talk over the movie (Courageous) and other things, and then get back home for an early night. But then we realized that morning that we couldn’t leave at 4pm because Molly and Annie had piano lessons at 4:45. As we were discussing this outloud, Emily chimed in that she would be glad to walk the girls over (the next street over from us) and stay with them and walk them home. Hmmmm . . .Earl and I looked at each other and silently questioned each other on whether we felt comfortable with this. We decided . . . “Why not?”

So, we ended up leaving about 3:45ish and Emily cooked dinner AND walked the girls to piano while David entertained Jonathan here at the house until the girls got back at 6:30. They ate dinner, cleaned up the house, popped popcorn and watched a little “Shaun the Sheep” and then got ready for bed. When we got home, the house was all cleaned up and everyone was in bed asleep. I still marvel at this! It seems unreal. But I am enjoying it and so grateful to the Lord for those whom He lovingly placed in our lives early on to give us a vision for this. And I’m grateful for the children He’s blessed us with . .. I love them “terribly so” and think they have all been the BEST GIFTS!

By the way . . . the movie was great too.

And the dinner was delicious.

And my man is also the most amazing. Sweet times!

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I love Sunday afternoons in the fall.

This past Sunday, it turned a little chilly as the sun got ready to set. I was in the kitchen fixing dinner and the rest of the family was just relaxing doing quiet activities and enjoying some down time or alone time. I noticed David sitting in the recliner reading and thought, “He looks so comfortable and cozy.”  The next time I looked over, I noticed Jonathan had climbed up with him and had gotten David to read one of the Thanksgiving books to him that we had just put out, even though Jonathan can read it himself. Now they both looked so cozy. I couldn’t resist running for the camera!

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David and Jonathan have a very special relationship. I’m so grateful for it, and in awe of the God who has given it.

The other day, I noticed that Jonathan had gone over and asked David for help with his spelling lesson instead of asking me. Again, I had to run for the camera to capture the moment. They are so very comfortable with each other!

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Strength to Strength

 

A few weeks ago, I read Psalm 84:5-7 and was meditating on it during my morning time alone.

“How blessed is the man whose strength is in You, in whose heart are the highways to Zion! Passing through the valley of Baca they make it a spring; the early rain also covers it with blessings. They go from strength to strength. every one of them appears before God in Zion.

The phrase “strength to strength” caught my attention.

I had the thought of stepping from stepping stone to stepping stone.

What would the stones represent, Lord?

Christ. They’d be Christ. The Bible tells me that He is my Rock. He is my strength.

So, walking in Christ means standing on the promises that He has made me. His promises are founded in the life He lived, in the death He died, and in the fact that He has been given all things by His Father and ever lives to make intercession for me.

I pictured me, walking on stones spelling out the name of Jesus, upheld by His arms (pictured as dying for my life), and reading the Scriptures which remind me of the promises and give light to my path.

I drew a rough sketch and then gave it to David to see if he could do a better one for me. This turned into a really fun exercise for me! Here is what I gave him:

Strength to Strength Jans

 

Here is what I ended up with from him. I’m so proud of him and incredibly blessed. It has really fueled my continued meditation of this verse!

Strength to Strength

At first, the person at the top looked like a man. I was thinking it would look more like a “mother” (me!). But then we got talking about it and decided that it was a fight to “keep walking” by faith and I asked him if he could put the guy in combat boots and camo pants. He did not disappoint me.

I just LOVE what this pictures for me! It is how  I see my life right now. It is where I gain my courage and strength.

I have always loved trying to draw a visual of what I’m meditating on, and now it is super exciting to know that I have a “resident artist” who can help me with that now on occasion.

Any ideas of what else I can do with this artwork?

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Say to the righteous . . .

The other morning in my Bible reading, I came across this phrase in Isaiah 3 . . . “Say to the righteous that it will go well with them . . . “

I thought on that awhile.

“It will go well . . .”

What does that mean, Lord?

How would I define “well”?

Is “well” the same as “comfortable”?

I believe the Bible teaches that “well” means that I can depend on all of my needs being met and that I can trust my God who says He is the Good Shepherd and will have my best interest in mind at all times.

In my last post, I told how we were waiting to find out if Annie had something a little more serious than just “needing more calories”. We were facing possibly life-altering news.

That was the context in which I was pondering the above Scripture.

And yet, God has not asked of us, (at least at this time), to walk down that road of suffering.

Annie had a repeat test done this past Tuesday and it came back negative. Praise the Lord!

The test was a Sweat Chloride test, which is used to diagnose Cystic Fibrosis.

The patient is given some small electric stimulation to stimulate the sweat glands.

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Then the arm is wrapped in plastic with some small pieces of testing strips on the skin to collect the sweat. The first time Annie had it done, she and Earl had to go sit out in the truck in the parking structure with the heater running so Annie could work up a sweat. This time, she and I were more fortunate. The nurse wrapped her arm and then Annie donned all the warm clothes we had brought (“Dress like you’re going to spend the day in Big Bear” they told us). We were then told to go walk around and keep her arms moving to work up the sweat.

Annie always has been a good “test taker”!

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When it was all over, we high-fived each other and headed to the truck. We then stopped at Coffee Bean for a non-coffee blended drink to celebrate what we hoped and prayed would be the last of the testing.

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Good to the last drop!

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By 6pm that evening, we had spoken with the doctor who called to let us know that the test had come back negative. She said we did NOT need to continue with the genetic testing (very expensive – thank YOU, Lord!), or the echocardiogram or the pulmonary function test. We are going to complete one more easy test that has to do with the lower GI which is where Annie’s symptoms seem to stem around. We will go back to talk with the doctor in a few weeks.

Both Earl and I are confident that the next visit to the doctor will be but a formality to close this chapter. We still don’t know what Annie’s “episodes” were caused by, but she has not had another one since July and has seemed more healthy than ever lately. So we are at a point where we are ready to rest and resume life as “normal”.

“Say to the righteous that it will go well with them.”

In light of sickness . . . or in health.

The Lord who promises, doesn’t change.

Saturday, October 08, 2011

Grace Lavishly Poured Out

Our family’s testimony has been and continues to be, “Our heavenly Father delights to bless His children and withholds no good thing. He faithfully provides all they need without exception. We can trust Him.”

That testimony has not so much been tested as it has been proven time and time again. Though we know we are not exempt from difficulties and hardships, we have not really felt the incredible “fiery trials” that we have watched others go through.

That may be changing.

Though, our hope is secure in the LORD’s faithfulness to us through times past.

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During 2010, our little Annie began having what we started calling “episodes” where she would become nauseous, extremely pale, and very tired. She sometimes would throw up and sometimes not. I would put her to bed and she would sleep awhile. Sometimes she developed a fever, sometimes not. She almost always had no appetite for awhile, but was usually back to normal by evening. And these “episodes” would almost always occur on a Sunday right after the worship service began. We explored all possible reasons . . . diet, rest, anxiety . . . you name it. And we prayed. And we sought counsel from others. We looked up symptoms on-line. And we prayed.

2011 began with various different illnesses for her . . . none out of the ordinary, but different than what any of our other children ever had (she had a kidney infection for one). Finally in June she had another episode and then another one a month later – both on a Sunday. That was the last straw for me. It was summer and something was definitely going on. I had already spoken with her pediatrician about this and so decided to pursue some testing while school was out. We tested for allergies (a blood draw), but all tests came back negative. Our pediatrician then referred us to a pediatric gastroenterologist who took our history and ordered a complete workup of lab tests. We saw her again on September 14 and were told that all of Annie’s labs came back fine. It didn’t look like she had hypoglycemia issues or Celiac’s disease. The numbers that would have pointed to mal-absorption issues looked normal (Annie’s weight is below normal and she seems so small for her age . . .though not in height). The doctor told us to continue to supplement Annie’s diet with calorie-enriched smoothies and to come back in November and we would look at possibly running some more tests and see if they still came back negative. Oh, and just to rule out all possibilities, she ordered one more test, “Though I don’t think she has it.”

Well, we completed this “last test” on Wednesday, September 28th, and later that day got a call from the dr.’s office saying that they wanted to see Annie back at the next available. Earl and I both knew what that meant: she tested positive.

Sure enough, we saw the doctor two days later and were told that Annie’s test came back positive and we were being referred to another specialist. (I am refraining from naming the condition we are exploring until we have a positive and definitive diagnosis.) We saw the specialist and we are in the midst of getting further testing done to rule this out. It could go either way. Our visit this past week was encouraging in that Annie is not showing any of the classic symptoms and if her symptoms (lower GI) are related, she most likely will have a much more mild form, if it turns out that this is the cause of her “issues”. If it is not . . .than PRAISE THE LORD!!

My purpose in this post is to update and also to testify of how kind and gentle the Lord has been with me through this all. The Potter certainly knows the clay! He has given me much time to gradually grow in my understanding of the possibilities and to think through things instead of being overwhelmed with sorrowful news all at once. Whatever the future holds for our family, I have had sufficient time to make sure my feet our grounded in the truth of all that God is and in all that He has promised for us. I am confident I (and we) will be fine . .. .in fact, we will be better as I know my Father works all things according to the good that He has purposed for us. Even though there be tears.

Right now, life seems very normal and Annie seems very healthy. It almost tempts me to try and stop this whole process. We are spending our days doing school and keeping very busy with activities and ministry and normal running-a-household-of-seven routines. We are fitting in phone calls and visits for testing and flexing constantly to accommodate the ever-changing schedule. All the children have helped wonderfully and that has been a huge relief for Earl and I as we have found the freedom to run to make unplanned appointments without having the time to really make plans for the home front before leaving. But . . .oh how disappointed I am that this is such a busy season . . . I truly want to just have some cozy days and evenings with nothing to do. But THAT, dear reader . . . is a whole ‘nother post about what the Lord has been challenging me with . . .

Keep checking back . . .

He remains faithful to us!

Enjoy this song by Laura Story that has blessed me continually this past week:

Faithful God by Laura Story

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