Equipping ourselves through hard times

 

So in our household right now we’re preparing for surgery. I go in at 7:30am Monday, August 22nd to have a large portion of my colon removed. Because I know my propensity to become discouraged if things don’t go the way I’m hoping for them to go I purchased myself a gift. Ha! I know – but seriously I think I need this. And no it’s not a pair of black shoes contrary to what my husband would automatically think. I do occasionally gift myself with a great pair of black shoes because…..well because I’m female.

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No black shoes but instead I purchased this 40 days of Prayer and Gratitude journal with my name on it. Is’t it adorable? It’s a May Book. They have all kinds of designs and inside choices of paper to choose from. I always purchase when they go 50% and offer free shipping otherwise it would be too much to pay in my opinion. But they run sales all the time. Anyways, I love this one because for 40 days you write out a scripture, a prayer and the things you’re thankful for.

I bought this journal with the intention of starting the day before my surgery. This morning Sophie and I did it together. She wrote out a prayer and I did and we talked about the things we are thankful for. A sweet couple in our church sent me flowers yesterday and they had Isaiah 41:10 written on it. So we took that verse and made it our verse for today. “So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed; for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”

I know staying in the word will be important for me. And having this 40 day journal will help me stay intentionally thankful in the midst of hard days ahead. I also have some verse cards written out to hang onto during my recovery time. Of course I can’t prepare myself in every way but building in some tools to help stay focused is a good thing.

Oh, and may I ask you to pray for a certain little nine year old girl who is really struggling with fear right now? Her name is Sophie. She’s my baby girl and she’s really having a hard time with run away thoughts. We’ve held each other and she has cried too many times to count in the last two weeks. She’s afraid I might die. She even has a picture conjured in her head of her teacher pulling her out into the hallway to say she just got a text from Randy saying, “She didn’t make it.” (OMGosh! Really? She thinks we’d send that kind of information through a text message? She is definitely a Generation Z kid) Oh how my heart just crumbled into a million pieces when I heard her tell me that. We’ve prayed and read scripture and talked about the peace of God and taking captive our thoughts and all that. I’ve assured her I feel so confident about this surgery going smoothly and that I truly feel like I’m going to do great but only God knows the outcome. And He is so worth trusting because He is good all the time and His ways are perfect. I am asking God to stretch Sophie’s faith and to work out something beautiful inside of her through this process. We would love your prayers too.

And for the rest of my family – Randy who will be next to me through it all as he has every other time we’ve walked this surgical road. It’s not easy on the caregivers. For Mitchell who is a typical teenager doing life at his own pace and not too troubled by this surgery thankfully yet sensitive about it. Randy’s parents and my Mom who are traveling up today to be with us and to help with the kids. We have incredible prayer support through our families, church family and friends. I am so thankful.

Well, that’s the update friends. The next time you hear from me could be interesting as communicating under the influence of anesthesia is always intriguing. Don’t hold too tightly to what I say over the next few weeks. Pain meds do a number on me but who knows I just might crank out some amazing pieces of literature. Bahaha!!!

Thank you for your prayers!

Great reads & Bible Studies

Thought I’d post about a few great reads that have been helpful in my life lately…..

Giddy Up, Eunice by Sophie Hudson

Sophie Hudson is absolutely hilarious and yet deeply profound. You will simply love her. I love this book that reminds us God designed us for relationships – with Him and with others.

The Armor of God Bible Study by Priscilla Shirer is A+mazing. I’ve had the chance to join an existing women’s group the last few weeks doing this study. And I’ve loved it so much. The study. The ladies. The discussion. Everything about it has been so wonderful. This is a 7 week Bible  study with 45 minute teaching sessions. Homework is 5 days and takes about 20-30 minutes give or take. I love how LifeWay is mostly producing 6-7 week studies now and this seems to be a good fit for many people. The study I’m in is not bound by the weeks and takes more time to discuss the homework before moving on to the videos. So you can do it however you’d like.

Tough Guys and Drama Queens – how not to get blindsided by your child’s teen years. by Mark Gregston.

A few of the chapters: Overexposure to everything; Overresponsible Parents, Irresponsible Kids; Loss of Gender Differences; Authority Cannot Be Forced; Relating is More Important that Winning; Pick your Battles Wisely; Offer Freedom to Make Mistakes.

And what I want to order soon is this……

Because I love Fern Nichols and these dvd’s are her teaching a 6 week prayer curriculum which includes time for discussion and prayer. You can order this brand new curriculum at the link below

Igniting A Passion To Pray DVD Set – Moms In Prayer

What about you? What are you reading right now that’s having an impact on your life? 

 

 

 

 

The hard stuff I’m dealing with right now – the stuff I don’t care to talk about.

So here’s the deal and the low down about the stuff I don’t care to talk about but it’s a big part of my life right now. I want to remain transparent on this blog and not just in the good times.

I’m having surgery on August 22nd to have 20″ of my colon removed and resectioned. I have ischemic colitis as a result of a recurring volvulus. That means my colon has been twisting and kinking and forming a blockage preventing blood flow in that area so it has to come out. Yeah. Not fun. And no, I don’t have to have a bag. Thanking God for this because I just really don’t think I could handle that. I was scared to type that because you know how sometimes things go after you say something like that. Yeah, but we’re not doing to dwell on that are we. Nope, cuz it’s not going to happen. No bag. Just a simple little resection procedure. La-lah-la. Ha! Okay, this is where I get weird. Randy tells me I get weird whenever I have surgery. I’ve had a few. More like six. And apparently I start making jokes and act like it’s nothing but then I do what I’m doing right now which is just being totally weird and all.

Talking about weird……..at my last colonoscopy I told the dude that was going to knock me out with sleepy medicine that I was afraid of not being totally out during the procedure. So I asked him to make me count to 10 before doing anything to me. He said, “Nah, it doesn’t work like that with this medicine. You’re awake but not awake.” Apparently this answer didn’t satisfy me and I talked to him incessantly and looked at him with eyes wide open during the entire procedure. CREEPY!!! I don’t even want to know what I said. How do I know all this? Because after the procedure he came and told us.

So yeah, I get weird when big things like this come up.  So if you see me and I’m being weird it’s because I’m trying to pretend that everything’s perfectly normal when it’s not. My hubs is helping point this out to me. Like when I got really sick one day with this colitis stuff and wasn’t able to finish some VBS work I was doing in decorating. I didn’t call or text the person in charge to let them know why I wasn’t there. Because I didn’t want to talk about it. Rude and weird. But I wasn’t ready to acknowledge it.

Getting to the point of recognizing the weirdness is a long process. I’m stubborn. It takes a 2×4 to show me where I’m wrong or being weird. So after years of trying to convince my man that it’s perfectly normal to play counting games with your anesthesiologist…. or to send out dress up accessories (wigs, sunglasses, etc.) to your family in the waiting room while I’m having surgery with a note of who to give the china to if I died. (Seriously yes. Don’t even ask. First surgery.) I’m finally realizing that it’s true. I get weird.

So these days I’m trying not to be weird about this upcoming surgery. I’m talking about it in this space which may or may not be weird. But it’s my blog and I can write about my colon if I want to. Ha! Yeah, I’m pretty sure this is weird again. But I want to thank you for journeying with me as I learn how to un-weird myself.

Here’s how you could pray for me if you’re willing:

*For the surgery to be a smooth procedure with no complications or infections.

*For my husband and kids as they walk through this with me. It’s not easy on the caregiver. My husband has been by my side with every single surgery. And while he is willing to point out my weirdness he has allowed for my weirdness ALL these years with incredible grace. Cheers (holding up my miralax cocktail) to the hopefully new unweirded me!

*That I will tolerate the pain meds okay – I have issues with medicine.

*For Sophie & Mitchell not to be worried. They will have one week of school under their belt when I go in for surgery. New routines and schedules will still be under way so I’m asking God for grace in this process for them. Sophie has already shed a few tears over this.

I am thankful that according to the Doctor taking this section out will take away the issues I’m having completely. It’s a mechanical problem and so having this area removed removes the problem itself. This is a huge blessing. My stay in the hospital should be 2-4 days. Recovery (if done laporoscopic) will be 4 weeks or longer if an incision is made. I have a lot of adhesions and scar tissue so that’s why we don’t really know if it can be done laparoscopic.

I thank God that he has provided us with an amazing support system through our family, church and friends. We will be covered in prayer and encouragement in this time and that is a gift directly from God.

Thank you for your prayers friends! And thanks for putting up with the weirdness. I’m pretty sure there was plenty of it in this post. Ha!!!

Shutterfly – a great resource for personalized stuff

I’m digging Shutterfly right now because everywhere I turn they’re offering a FREE gift. You have to pay S/H but they don’t rip you off so I don’t mind paying it. So far I’ve racked up at least four free albums, three mugs, an 8×10 art print and now this really cool memory game.

I saw a Facebook promotion last week and snagged this awesome memory game. It was relatively easy to make. You just snag photos from your computer and load them up into the project. This one was a little more difficult and I ended up having to call the help desk and he said a lot of others had called as well. But once he walked me through the initial hiccup it was smooth sailing. Typically their projects are all very simple and easy.

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I wanted to share in case you’ve not used Shutterfly before because you thought it was hard or too expensive. Check out their Facebook page and look for those Freebies – they offer them all the time.

Writing Letters

Oh don’t get me wrong – I love sending and receiving an encouraging text, sweet phone call and real live conversations. They are convenient and a wonderful part of daily life. But I’m old school enough to still be sad that the hand written letter continues to fade ever so fast.

That and because I love any excuse to go to Barnes & Noble I bought the kids note cards and had them write letters to two people of their choice while sitting at Starbucks. Mitchell has more beautifuler handwriting than I do and Sophie is to the point in one or two sentences but hey she gets her point across. So there we sat putting the discipline of hand writing a note into practice.

What was so cool is that when we came home I had this sitting in the mailbox. A handwritten note from my best friend’s daughter. Apparently she’s teaching the old fashion art of handwritten notes as well to her daughter who’s a little younger than Sophie. What I love is that they let her do it all by herself because take a gander at the address under my name. She had a lot of trust in the postman. He didn’t need a zip code. The Piedmont Triad area as she accurately puts it – very smart girl – covers about 48 counties. Oh how I will treasure this handwritten, self addressed note forever. How did it get to us? Well, her Daddy put it in an envelope and readdressed it for her.

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Here’s to the hand written note – toasting with my #2 pencil and paper in hand.

3 Back2School Tools that Make a HUGE Difference

So school is here and you’re either crying, shouting Hallelujah or just chill about the whole deal. I’m somewhere between crying and chilling. During the preschool days I was getting all pentecostal and shouting Whoop-dee-doo all the way to school but now as the kids are getting older I view it differently. I see that the days are going by fast and long for more time with them.

Either way I have learned there are 3 things that help our back to school transition and school year.

A week in advance start bed time and morning routines that resemble your school schedule. Notice I didn’t say exact same unless you just really want to get them up at 5:30am if you don’t have to. Instead of later nights get them in bed just an hour earlier to be preparing for that first week of school. Transitions are HARD in our household. It takes a few weeks to fully get in a groove. Summer and Christmas break are awesome but the transition can be extremely hard. Talking about the upcoming routine and expectations is healthy.

Find a verse in scripture to pray over your kids for the school year. Write it on a notecard with his/her name on it and pray that powerful word of God over your children. Not sure where to start? Pray about it. And maybe check these verses out: Psalm 119:14; Is. 40:29Proverbs 3:5-6; Romans 5:4; Col. 1:11 they are great ones to be holding as a banner over your kids as they walk out that door into a crazy world.

Join a Mom’s In Prayer Group and spend one hour a week praying for your children with other Moms. All kinds of groups are out there and they meet at different times and places. My schedule works around my MIP group because it’s one of the best things I can do for my kids and their school. For some reason I can’t link to the Mom’s in Prayer page but you can google it for more information. You can enter your zip code on their site and find a group that already meets in your area. Feel free to message me for more information if you’d like.

What about you? What helps make for a great school year in your home? 

 

Passing on a keepsake

You know how little girls are – they love rummaging through their Mama’s jewelry box. And from the time Sophie was a tiny thing she has loved a certain ring of mine. It was one my parents gave me when I was 13. A simple gold ring with a small ruby and two little diamonds in it. In my heart I knew I’d be giving it to Soph one day. I wasn’t sure when but I decided I would give it to her today at lunch.

And this is how it went…….

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Oh how fun was this! She loved it. We got it cleaned up and sized together at a jewelry shop around the corner and she is enjoying wearing it already. We even got her nails doodied up for it.

Had to share the joy!

 

She who dwells – what God is teaching me

“sHe who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the Lord, “he is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.” Ps. 91:1-2

The next 15 verses explain what happens when we dwell in the shelter of the Most High. And you guys it’s incredible. Listen to some of the life giving words that follow the discipline of dwelling. 

Rest. (vs 1) Covered and Protected by God Himself (vs. 4) No fear in night or day (5) You will see calamity around you but it won’t come near you (8) No harm will befall you (10) God personally sends angels your way (11) Because you love & acknowledge God he will RESCUE you (14) God will answer, be with you in trouble, deliver you from trouble, satisfy you with long life and show you salvation. (15)

I want that!

You too? Okay, well we need to look at what it means to dwell.

Webster’s:
dwell: live in or at a specified place.
synonyms: reside, live, be settled, be housed, lodge, stay; informalput up; formalabide, be domiciled.

 

To dwell in the shelter of the Most High is to live in a state of depending on and yielding to God. He is who we wake up to.  Not our phones or computers. We go to him for daily food and shelter. He is in our thoughts and hearts all day long because where we live is a part of who we are. We dwell there – the ins and outs of life happen there. It’s reading God’s Word so we know Him more which produces love and trust. It’s cultivating a prayer life and yielding to our Most High God. This is dwelling in the shadow of the Most High.

So let’s talk about the tension in these verses. You may not feel it but I do. When I read these verses I found great comfort but then I quickly thought of a GA friend of mine who has a godly friend – one who would be considered a “dweller” in the Most High from my outside perspective. This woman was 5 months pregnant and went outside to her driveway and was bitten by a rattlesnake. She became extremely ill and she lost her baby. She delivered their dead baby boy who they had already named, prayed over, and were bonding with. She is a strong Christ-follower. Even in all this she gives praise to God. Incredible woman of faith.

When I read all of Psalm 91 I couldn’t get this woman out of my mind. Because she’s a dweller but harm came her way. It in fact took their baby.

So I asked God to open my eyes to this. I trust Him. I trust His word but it didn’t seem to make sense to me. My thoughts even went towards myself and an upcoming surgery I will be facing.  20″ of my diseased colon will be removed (ischemic colitis/recurring volvulus). This will be surgery #6 in the last 10 years and there were 3 prior to that. Not fun. You’ve got your own stuff or know someone else who is walking through tough stuff.

So why all the stuff Lord? Am I not truly dwelling in the shelter of the Most High?

It is worth it to evaluate ourselves honestly before God. To ask Him to reveal what we need to see. He will do it. While He is a God of unconditional love there are conditional promises all throughout the scripture. If -then’s. So I spent time doing that before the Lord. Asking him to search me and try me.

I know I have growth to do in my dwelling for sure. The natural “go-to’s” in my life sadly do not always include running to God. Some times it looks like accomplishing stuff in my own strength before even spending time in the shelter of the Most High. So when other things come my way during the day they pile on top of what Melody planned and Melody’s ideas. I want to grow in the discipline of dwelling. But generally speaking I believe I am a dweller in the Most High. And I think the snake bitten GA girl is a dweller in the shadow of the most High.

So can I trust Psalm 91? Because it talks about no harm coming your way. Calamity won’t come near you…..

Oh Yes, I absolutely can and so can you.

Notice the wording in verse 15 which is what I know the Holy Spirit alerted me to.

God will be with you in trouble (15) – This was the game changer for me. In verse 15 we see that God is with us IN troubled waters. He doesn’t alway take us out of them. But He’s right there with us providing shelter even IN the trouble. Have you experienced this before? I have. Trouble yet a covering of God’s protection surrounding me. Health issues yes, but yet a covering and protection in place that I know is from God. Tough stuff – yes – but a peace and hope at the center of it that can’t be explained other than shelter from God Most High.

Yet contrast this truth with the very next statement in the same verse of scripture….

God will deliver you from trouble (15) –  Sometimes God allows the trouble to come our way and is with us IN the trouble and sometimes He delivers us FROM the trouble.

He does both. He chooses. Because He’s God Almighty.

Of course if it were up to us we would choose the “delivered FROM trouble” part of Ps. 91:15 every time but God’s ways are higher than ours. Here’s our good news. Whichever it is – “IN or FROM” the trouble, we will find shelter and rest in our God Most High. Either way – IN or FROM – we have a fortress and a refuge as we dwell in Him.

So let’s dwell and trust in the God Most High and trust that He will do what He says He’ll do.

 

 

 

 

True Love……

23 years of marriage and even more years of true love. That’s what my man and I are remembering today. We’ll celebrate tomorrow but today we look back on many years of love and where it all started as two 7th graders. I can’t say it was true love in 7th grade but that’s when our friendship started. And God knew it would grow into true love.

Yes, true love.

True Love…….wears his jacket while holding your own jacket because it’s just so much better to wear an oversized jacket that smells like him. And true love lets you post shorty short pictures 25 years later.

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True love laughs at all the years of taking pictures of me pretending to pin on a boutonniere even though I still can’t pin a flower straight. (My Mom did it all those years!)

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True love makes your cheeks flush. It makes you wear an uncomfortable high neck lace dress that you’d never otherwise wear in a million years. Love in the 80’s made your hair almost taller than your man.

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True love sometimes dressed up tacky to test the waters. Yep – it was true love. I wore that and he still loved me. (bought at Goodwill and surprised him on a hot date.)

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And all the scars, pounds, scrapes and bruises later – it’s still true love that keeps us together. And only God can do that kind of work.

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Happy Anniversary Sweetheart!

Faith isn’t enough

Faith isn’t enough.

Ya’ll I didn’t say it.

God did in a powerful set of verses in Corinthians.

Here’s the gist: We can preach like Billy Graham. Dig wells in Africa. Work like crazy to rescue sex trafficking victims. Speak in tongues. Be a martyr. Give away everything we own to the poor. And have the kind of faith that moves mountains. But……

BUT if we don’t have love there’s no gain whatsoever. 

One might assume all those really great things is the equivalent of love. Why would you give away everything you own if it wasn’t fueled by love right? Or become a martyr – who would do that if they didn’t have love for God and others. But we must not assume love is the same thing as service, faith or hard humanitarian work.

Here’s how God defines love in I Corinthians 13.

It’s patient. (letting go of the sighs, loud voice and rolling eyes when repeating something you already said ten times to your child.)

It’s Kind. (offering to help someone you don’t know. others first – me last.)

Love isn’t envious. (not becoming distant to a friend you once were close to but not anymore because you’re jealous of her: house, kids, husband, income, etc.)

Doesn’t boast. (doesn’t brag about that promotion or latest accomplishment to co-workers and friends.)

It’s not proud. (doest brag about that promotion or latest accomplishment – inside your mind and heart.)

Love is not rude. (doesn’t say, “your service stinks here – where’s your boss?” it offers grace instead. Maybe you don’t return as a customer but love isn’t a rude customer.)

It’s not self-seeking. (doesn’t approach life saying, “what can I get out of this?”)

Or easily angered.  (honking at the lady in front of you who is still sitting at the green light)

It doesn’t keep score – (“that’s the 100th time he left his clothes on the floor”)

It doesn’t delight in evil  (“well they got what they deserved!”)

Love never fails. (we succeed every time we love the way Jesus loves.)

So yeah, let’s keep digging wells, rescuing sex slaves, giving to the poor, preaching and having faith that God can do anything. But let’s remember that God is most interested in us loving well.

I have circled four items on God’s love list that I need his help with the most. Check yourself and see where you’re coming up short. And ask God for his help and watch how you transform and grow in loving others well.