Monday, November 13, 2017

Golden Calf

I joined a group that is reading the Bible in a year.    Here is the link if anyone is interested in joining in  https://www.facebook.com/groups/walkitoutscripturejourney/?ref=br_rs.  We started in September I believe, so I am in Judges right now.  The interesting thing is how God uses even men who are not fully following him to take care of Israel.  Samson is one good example of this, but the one that really stood out to me was the story of Mika. 

Mika stole 1,000 pieces of silver from his mother, he heard her cursing the thief so he returned the silver.  The mother had consecrated the silver - not as a donation to the temple, but in order to have a god made from it.  It gets worse, a Levite came into town and Mika hired the Levite to be his high priest.  This may sound good, but Mike like his mother also made gods and had a shrine and the Levite agreed to work for him.  It brought up some interesting questions for me.  These men were clearly not following the commands that God had given Israel, what was the point of putting this in the Bible?  So I grabbed my Life Application Study Bible - according to the authors of the companion that is in my Bible, the point is to show that while Israel was attempting to follow God, they had fallen away from following him 100% all in, no holds barred.  Each man and his household did his own thing.  Sound familiar?  It should we live in a world very similar to this now.  You do you and I'll do me is a common phrase I hear a lot these days.  In other words, I believe in God, but I'm going to live how I want to live and what pleases me, not God.  Talk about a passage that stops you in your tracks.  And it occurred to me that I may also be guilty of this.  It was humbling to see my sin.

In my desire to refrain from causing hurt or discomfort to others, I do them an injustice.  I refrain often from speaking when I should be and then again often I speak when I should be quiet.  And in do this, I unintentionally cause them spiritual harm.  If I am truly a sister in Christ, isn't it my duty to speak to those who are choosing a path other than the narrow one?  And in my desire to enjoy things and choosing to not refrain from the pleasures of this world, aren't I putting something else ahead of Christ? 

I grew up watching TV. It was an inexpensive way to entertain ourselves because money was tight.  So I was addicted to TV.  Then as I began reading my Bible more after our move to Washington, I began feeling convicted over not just what I was watching, but how much I was watching.  So I began to back off.  I still struggle with this, because there are some good shows, and yet they are not glorifying to God and have nudity and violence in them.  So slowly over time, I gave up watching anything above a PG-13, slowly this has gone down to PG.  And truthfully, I am not sorry.  I would rather watch things that I could watch with Jesus with me than sit and enjoy what I know would not please God - that is huge for me.

What else have I put above God?  This question became the focus of my prayer time.  And I again I feel him nudging me.  Give it all up, family, house, comfort and follow me.  Can I be that brave and that bold?  And just to clarify, I do not feel God calling me to walk away from Chris and the girls, but give up my need for control and to give up putting them above God in my affections.  That's a tough one for me.  Because family is very important to me, but should they be more important than Christ?  Then there is another question.  How uncomfortable am I willing to become to follow Christ?  Would I really walk away from everything to follow him?  Jesus asked the rich young ruler to do just that?  Can I let it all go solely for the purpose of doing what God would have me do?  YES!!!  A thousand times YES!!!

So now some tough questions for all of us to mull over.  What do you have that you have put above God?  Are you claiming to love God and yet doing your own thing and worshipping as you see fit instead of how He calls us to worship?  Do you struggle with things you have put ahead of God?
The beauty of having a relationship with God, Jesus, and His Holy Spirit is that we can continually come to him to help us and forgive us when we mess up.  So as you spend your time with Christ today, let me encourage you to spend time reflecting on what if anything you have put above God.  And know that we all make this mistake.  We all struggle and God is still forgiving anyway.  He realizes that sin is in this world, He was there when Adam and Eve fell and caused it.  And yet in spite of all of this He is willing to forgive us anyway.

I hope you all have a good day.

In Christ,
Maureen

Saturday, November 11, 2017

In The Center of God's Will

As a little girl, I dreamed of the typical little girl things for when I would grow up.  I wanted to be a singer, a dancer, a performer, you know, typical girly stuff.  The irony of the dancer and stuff is I wasn't really a doll kind of girl.  Give me a tree, a bicycle or something to climb and I was happy.

Then I became a teen and then an adult and those dreams began shifting and adapting to my life and it's reality.  When I was 16 years old I was sanctified (think Pentecost Sunday after Jesus ascended to Heaven - it's in Acts for those who are curious and don't know) and I knew my life would never be the same.  As I attended college, I began growing stronger in my faith and my personal walk with God.  My dreams shifted and became more about serving others.

Now as a 43-year-old woman (feel free to crack jokes, my kids do often) I find that my dream is simple.  I want to live my life to the glory of God, to be so in God's will that I leap without looking when he tells me to jump.  And as I grow stronger in my walk, it seems that I am getting closer to that goal. As I surrendered my dreams, God showed me that what I had quietly but never spoken out loud as my dream is coming to fruition.  You see even when I dreamed of a career, secretly when I was alone, I dreamed of having a stable family and home.  My mom did a good job making our lives as stable as she could for a single widowed mother of three, but I wanted to whole family. I dreamed of a house with space to grow and for the children to run and play and a husband who was by my side not just in our daily lives, but in our walk with Christ as well.  I didn't speak those dreams to anyone because I wasn't certain if it would ever happen for me.  When you grow up feeling like you aren't worthy of anything, it's hard to imagine that dream becoming real.  As God began taking those feelings of doubt, insecurity and low self-esteem and healing the wounds on my heart He had a dream in mind for me.

I'm not called to be a missionary, although I do have a heart for missions and hope to help more as we continue to pay down our debt and become financially secure. I'm not called to be some great orator or pastor either, but I am right where God wants me right here, right now and it is enough.  I have to home I dreamed of (maybe not exactly, but the idea of my dream home and I LOVE it) a family I love and a husband who loves me and whom I love deeply.  And then we have Lily and ironically, a cat who I didn't know I wanted until Sarah brought him home.  Now with all three girls under our roof, life feels complete.

I share all of this because as I was praying tonight I got that nudge again.  The same nudge I got in 2004 during Chris' deployment.  As I sat in church and we were praying and sharing our testimonies, I knew.  God spoke, I heard and I knew that someday we would have to say goodbye to our friends and family in Wichita and go.  I had no idea where we would go, or when, but he shared just a small piece of the puzzle with me.  Tonight, I got the same nudge and I actually had it last weekend during our church potluck as our pastor candidate and his wife spoke, I knew several things.  First, I knew that they would be our new pastor and I knew that at some point they would join us in prayer as God nudged us to leave Washington.  I never thought I would say this about Washington but when that time comes I will be sad to say goodbye but excited about the adventure God has in store for us.  


I hope you all have a good week as it comes up after tomorrow.
In Christ,
Maureen

Sunday, November 5, 2017

A Wonderful Weekend

After a toughish week, this weekend was wonderful.  It was tough because I was running on fumes because I am battling to get my body back on a good sleep cycle.  The other reason is we had an IEP/Evaluation meeting and it was a little tough for a few moments but then the rest of the meeting was easier.

So first, let's tackle last week.  Last week was spent with me waking myself up at 6:30 a.m. and forcing myself to remain awake.  This wouldn't have been a problem, except I wasn't falling asleep until 3 or 4 a.m. in the morning.  However, it is a necessary evil if I wish to return to a regular sleep pattern after my trip to a different time zone.  So I forged ahead and it's happening slowly but surely.  Second, the evaluation/IEP meeting.  So let's just cut to the tough part then I will discuss the good stuff.  The tough part was seeing how low Elizabeth scored on an IQ test.  At that moment my heart sank a bit.  After food and sleep though I think I can look at it with a better perspective.  First, I have always know that Elizabeth doesn't test well, she struggles with taking tests and always has.  Second, because I know this, I know that the test given to her was not a true reflection of her learning capacity, so we'll just leave it there and move on, because I know as her former teacher Elizabeth is much smarter than what is portrayed in the results.  Now on to the good stuff.

When we first started our journey with the Autism Spectrum, Elizabeth's IEP's were full of goals to help her improve and get to a place where she could hopefully make it in the world.  Lots of goals meant lots of tough discussions that often made me want to crawl into bed for days, but I didn't have that as a luxury, so I didn't.  Thursday's meeting has four goals, I believe total.  FOUR!  Let me say that again with joy and enthusiasm, FOUR!!!!!!!! Our girl has come so far from when we first began this journey and that is something to celebrate.  And the goals are not huge goals, they are manageable goals, but necessary goals.  Such as teaching her how to read social cues, how to apply what she knows to be right and wrong and use it so she actually acts on it.  Another goal is to help her bring up her Geometry grade, I'm encouraged and optimistic.  We also got to meet some of her teachers and I have to say, I am thoroughly impressed with them.  They were active and engaged and willing to make suggestions including her science teacher - he was possibly my favorite person in the room.  He has such a positive view of Elizabeth and it was wonderful to meet someone who sees the same wonderful things about Elizabeth that we do as well.

So now let's tackle this weekend.  Our pastor resigned from our church on Easter Sunday of 2017.  I was asked to join the search committee for our new pastor.  I felt so honored to be asked but asked if I could pray about it first.  I might have considered no, but Satan in his stupidity decided to mess with us within a few minutes of us coming home.  It became one series of mishaps after another for a good hour until I put two and two together.  After praying and asking God to tell Satan to take a hike, suddenly there was peace and calm, I mean that quite literally.  Before I prayed that prayer, I was in a turmoil, Elizabeth and Beka were all out of sorts and Chris was grouchy.  As soon as I finished it was as if whatever was messing with us, suddenly vanished.  Pains disappeared, children stopped fighting and getting injured and Chris' mood suddenly took a turn for the better.  And people don't believe in God or Satan?!  It baffles me even now.

If you have never helped find a pastor for a church, I assure you that it is no easy task.  We lost one of our members due to family health and other problems during the process.  And not all pastoral candidates are good fits for your church.  After months of searching, we finally found a candidate that I believe is God's man for our church.  I know this for several reasons, first, this candidate's attitude has always been, if God is behind this process then everything will work out in the end.  And his interview was filled with the Holy Spirit.  I left feeling as if I had just been to Revival services.  It was a breath of fresh air.  And this weekend we were able to introduce him to our congregation and we vote next week.  Saturday we had a second meeting and it was just as amazing as the first time we met him and his spouse.  Then we had a potluck and people could ask him questions and they did.  Today we had a service and our candidate preached for us (by the way I thought it was an amazing message) and then the family and the committee all went to lunch.  It was a great weekend, but I think I need a few days to recover.  LOL.  Reading is always a good way to relax.  I see me doing that this week.

Now for what we have coming up this week.  We have no school on Friday or the following Monday, we also have Elizabeth's Parent Teacher Conferences coming on Wednesday.  And this coming Sunday Chris has Boeing stuff coming up that will require us to see much less of him for a few days.  AND we have the pastoral vote this coming Sunday.  I am looking forward to seeing what God has planned for our little church and town.  I am so excited!

Last, but not least, I have a prayer request.  Our church is in need of a parsonage and our candidate and his family need a home. I know God has a plan for this because before Pastor Paul brought it up to the committee I felt God laying on my heart that we should begin praying for this to happen.  When that starts happening, you know God has something planned!  I started laughing when Pastor Paul brought it up because I had been speaking to Chris about this just the day before our meeting.
If God can part the waters for his children, give them a land for their own, send a child to be born of a virgin and that child can perform all of the miracles Jesus performed, don't you think a house is rather a small request in comparison?  I do.  My God can move mountains, calm raging seas and created the Earth in six days!  What is a house?!

I hope you all have a good week.
In Christ,
Maureen Myers Koeppel

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Halloween

It is that time of year again.  Where children cheer because they can dress up in a costume and parents and teachers alike groan because the kids also eat candy and are hyper for a week or so until the sugar rush goes away.  Yes, campers you guess it, it is Halloween.

For years, I let the girls go trick or treating.  Especially, once Sarah came to live with us because coming to a structured home from a vastly different home, is a huge change and I felt like she had enough things she had given up over time and Halloween was the least I could allow her to keep.  In the years since we moved to Washington though, we stick to church functions because honestly, we don't know the area well enough to feel comfortable allowing the girls to go to stranger's homes. 

This year, however, we decided that enough is enough.  In truth, neither Chris nor I are big fans of Halloween or what it represents and it's rooted.  So this year we said, no more.  This year we choose instead to watch a movie, eat pizza and go to bed on our normally scheduled time. And maybe tomorrow Beka will be the most well-behaved child who wasn't pumped full of sugar. 

Do you celebrate Halloween?  Where do you stand on the whole All Hallow's Eve tradition? 

In Christ,
Maureen

Monday, October 30, 2017

Awakened by Morgan L. Busse

A friend encouraged me to read Mrs. Busse's The Daughter of Light Trilogy a few months ago and I LOVED it.  So I was thrilled when I discovered the first book in this two book series Tainted.  Then I discovered that Mrs. Busse was working on the second book, Awakened and it was almost ready for publication. When she asked for beta readers and bloggers who would be willing to read her second book and write about it, I jumped at the chance and I was not disappointed.

Tainted tells the story of Kathryn Bloodmane whose father is a prestigious scientist in The Tower located in World City, a fictional steampunk universe.  Don't let steampunk deter you - it fits beautifully with the story and Mrs. Busse made a great choice when deciding to go this direction.  I say this as someone who isn't in love with steampunk but who doesn't hate it either.  Having been accepted as one of five women into the program at The Tower, Kat and her best friend Marianne are excited to spend the next two years studying and each student vies for the opportunity to receive a coveted apprenticeship at the Tower.  But she has secrets and she has special abilities and her caregiver Ms. Stuart has warned her to keep them a secret.

Meanwhile Stephen Grey meets Kat on her first day of school at The Tower.  His life seems wonderful with a beautiful and wealthy fiance and a job as a well-known detective for the World City police.  But his world crashes down around him when his engagement falls apart several weeks before the wedding when he finds his fiance and his partner together.   Now a bounty hunter two years later, Stephen has sworn to keep his heart closed to women and not allow himself to love again and walks away from his belief in God. When his aunt who works as the housekeeper for Dr. Bloodmayne and who was Kat's primary caregiver is murdered, Stephen finds himself helping a scared Kat who is running, but from what?  Will Stephen be able to help Kat and can his heart really open up to love again - especially to a young woman so rare who can do things with her mind that no one else can? And after he betrays her, can he realize his mistake and save the woman he loves?

Now for Awakened.  After finishing the first book, I wondered what else could possibly keep me intrigued.  I was not disappointed.  Upon finishing Tainted, I couldn't wait to delve into Awakened and I was not disappointed.  I read it all in one day and couldn't put it down.

Kat and Stephen have escaped The Tower, but now they must head out to find a Dr. Latimer who Kat is convinced can help save her before her powers take over her completely.  Boarding a flying ship The Lancelot in a harrowing rescue attempt, Kat and Stephen go to Austrium searching for the good doctor.  Follow them, as they learn to come together again and as their love grows not just for each other, but for God.  I could see the ship cutting through the clouds as it floated closer to Austrium and feel the tension between Kat and Stephen.  Mrs. Busse does an excellent job making the scenery and people come to life.  With everything from men with guns for arms and a honorable pirate to a friend who returns to save her, you will be on the edge of your seat.

Awakened goes on sale November 14th or you can pre-order it today at this link.

https://www.amazon.com/Awakened-Soul-Chronicles-Book-2-ebook/dp/B074VB27TS/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1509232438&sr=8-1&keywords=Morgan+L.+Busse+-+Awakened

 I can't wait to see what else, Mrs. Busse comes up with for her next book series.

In Christ,
Maureen Koeppel

Thursday, October 26, 2017

How Far Will You Let God Take You?

It is quiet in our house tonight.  The girls have gone to bed, except for Sarah who is an adult and a night owl.  Chris is sleeping soundly, even Lily is lounging on the sofa, one of her favorite places to sleep when she isn't on the foot of my bed.  I have this time of quiet to think, ponder and evaluate what I want from life. 

What do I want?  What do I need?  Do I really need to feel secure, or that a myth that society teaches us we should need?  If God called me tomorrow to leave everything behind and go where He would send us, would I be okay with that? How outside of my comfort zone am I really ready to be pushed? 

That last question is the biggest one really.  We as a species value comfort.  I think some of it is ingrained in us, but how willing are we to pick up and go when God says, "GO"?  When does comfort become an obstacle that hinders our growth with Christ?   When do we finally come to the place where we are willing to say, "I only want what you want, Lord, even if it means I am uncomfortable"?  I've been thinking about this a lot lately because it is easy to be swayed by outside voices.  For me one voice convinced me I needed a break from my family.  While my visit was nice, it also means I missed a week of life with my family.  And I really, truly and authentically enjoy being with my family. However, if I hadn't listened to that voice, I wouldn't have had the blessing of praying with someone as they gave their life to God, so while a part of me wonders if I was really supposed to go, the other part of me, KNOWS I was supposed to go for that moment alone.  Sometimes, the voice is the one in my own head making me wonder if I am enough or doing enough for God.  That voice plagues me often, and sometimes it doesn't lead me down a good path, because I fall into the trap of comparing myself with other people and what they are willing to do for God.  

As a teen, our youth pastor Tom challenged us to let God move us out of our comfort zone.  That's a pretty heavy thing to pray for a teenager, but it has been my prayer off and on since I was 17 years old.  And it seems to be growing inside me again that I need to pray this prayer again.  But this time is different.  This time I deeply love where I live, not just my people, but my house.  So it is with a little fear, I begin again praying that God would move me outside of my comfort zone.  Make me bold for You, Lord!  Let's pray together now.

Papa,
Thank you that we can always come to you.  Thank you, that You love to listen to us and what we need to say, or sometimes even what we can't say, but you know the burden just the same.  Thank you, for hidden blessings and for challenges.
Papa, help me move outside of my comfort zone.  Make me bold for you.  Use me as you will.  Just as Samuel answered, "Speak Lord, Your servant is listening" I ask you to speak to my heart and my soul and show me Your will for my life.  Even if it costs me everything, make me bold for you, open, willing to go where you send, or stay when you say stay.  
In these things we pray,
Amen.

Have a good weekend.
In Christ,
Maureen



FIRE!!!

I've waited a while to write this post because I needed time to process everything.  Truthfully, I am still processing everything that happened, but here is what I remember from June 3, 2017.  Some of this is what Sarah and Chris filled in for me later when I was more coherent.

It was one of the first warm Saturdays of the year.  This was unusual for Washington, but we had had a colder than average winter and a lot of snow (okay a lot of snow for Washington, not so much for those who live in say Alaska or New England).  But finally, after months of cold, snow, and ice, the weather was turning warm.  We had finally purchased a grill for our home and had broken it out several times already.  I decided I wanted to grill some chicken and started the grill.  But I got impatient and decided it needed to warm up quicker.  Now, something that you need to understand is we have a small door that opens to waist level on our grill.  So being impatient, I added lighter fluid to the charcoal and closed the top lid (those of you who are familiar with fire probably know where this is heading) and I grabbed the fire wand we had purchased.  I decided to open the smaller door and light the charcoal again and held the wand in my left hand and bent down to make certain I was aiming properly towards the coals.  I was, I did and was rewarded with flames shooting out towards me.  Since I was bent over, the flames flashed across my face, my chest, and nailed my hands and arms, my left hand receiving the brunt of the flames.  Several things worked in my favor here.  First, I am a grinder of my teeth and I tend to clench my jaw muscles, so my first instinct was to not inhale or exhale, just hold my breath.  That saved my life because had I gasped or inhaled, I would have died because my lungs would have been burned inside.  Second, I was wearing glasses, so while I did lose my eyebrows and eyelashes, I did not lose my eyesight because the glasses protected my eyes.  Finally, Chris and I both have medic training (Chris) and First Aid training (me).  Chris turned around and asked what happened after I stepped back and said, "Whoa".  Then he realized my hair was still smoldering near my forehead and told me.  At this point, my nerve endings were shocked into numbness so nothing hurt yet and I tamped out the embers on my head.  I told him we needed to head to the ER and since he hadn't seen what happened, he thought it might not be bad.  I hurried into the house and stuck my hands underwater to try to limit the burns, but it was too late.  I had first and second-degree burns and my nerve endings were coming to life again after being stunned.  When they did I knew immediately.  So I started yelling for Sarah and told Chris to grab towels and put them under cold water.  By this time Lizzie and Beka had come running as Chris and Sarah hurried to grab towels and help me wrap them around my arms and hands. 

Sarah still didn't know what was going on, because she too hadn't been there and she thought I needed soot wiped off my face and started at first to try and clean my face when I exclaimed I needed them for my hands and she suddenly realized I was burned badly.  By this point, I started sobbing.  Now it's important to note something.  I have had kidney stones, gallbladder stones, I have been induced labor twice and had open gastric bypass, all of those caused a lot of pain, but nothing like this level of pain.  I am usually not a cryer or a screamer, I did both this time around.  I started sobbing, the girls all started sobbing, Chris and Sarah gently helped me to my feet (I had sat down in my armchair) and lead me to Sarah's car.  She raced us to the ER.  What I didn't know at this time was my hair was still smoking, and Sarah told me later that her car smelled of smoke for several days. Only later could I joke about being a smoking hot mama.  At some point, I cried out "Oh God" and even now it bothers me because I'm not sure if I was crying out to God or swearing in the midst of my pain.  I've prayed about it, but it still bugs me A LOT.

As we arrived at the ER, Chris raced to grab me a wheelchair and helped me out.  He had to help me stand because I was unsteady on my feet and truthfully, I was so stunned I couldn't do anything except cry.  Chris signed the sheet they have and explained to them what had happened.  Until this moment, I have only ever skipped triage a few times.  When I was pregnant with Elizabeth because they sent me straight to the natal ward in case I went into labor and when I had my heart episode in May 2016.  They raced me back and helped me undress, then began bringing buckets of ice and then trying to figure out how to get my stats and not cause me greater agony.  Thankfully, they decided to not give me an iv this time around, because honestly, I wasn't certain if I could have handled any more pain at that time.  Every part of me that had been burned felt as if it were still on fire and the pain was unlike anything I have ever experienced before and I hope to never experience again. 

The doctor came in and talked to me, asking questions, some I remember, some I don't.  Okay, most of what happened, I don't remember, it's blurry.  But I remember he said something about getting my pain under control.  Little did I know that would be easier said than done.  I've shared I've been in pain before, but I was always a pain medication lightweight.  One round of pain medication and I was fine.  Not this time.  I was beyond a ten on the pain scale and the level of pain medication it took to get my pain under control says something about that.  Just to make me comfortable enough to go home, requires two doses of duladiad pain medicine and a two percocet after another half hour.  Between those three I went from agony to I could handle the pain at an easy two.  Somewhere between the first and second dose, I went into shock and began shivering and shaking.  They brought me warm blankets and I was talking to myself so I could stay calm, explaining to me what was happening.  Finally, after two shots and the Percocet, they were able to send me home.  I was able to get dressed, slowly and carefully, but still, I put clothing on.  Want to know what I couldn't do?  Walk.  You may laugh, but it's true and by the way, I even laugh at it.  I couldn't put my feet underneath me to save my life and keep them up. Chris had to guide/carry me into the house.  How I made it to the armchair without falling flat on my face is something I am still unsure of really.  But we got me home, the doctors had given him instructions, I lounged in his recliner with my favorite pillow and after attempting to eat but losing my food several times, I gave up and went to sleep.

Chris woke me a couple of times to take my pain medicine and finally helped me to crawl into bed.  Lily stayed with me the entire time, she even came and jumped on the bed to keep watch over me.  Chris had the bus for church that Sunday morning so he woke up and helped with bus ministry and didn't stay for Sunday School after taking everyone home, he came straight home.

I don't remember a lot about the first two weeks, other than I slept, A LOT. I remember not being hungry but sleeping most of the days away, even taking my doTerra oils and supplements, I think I slept on average about 14-16 hours each day.  Slowly my hands began to heal, I also finally asked Chris to help me wash the dead hair out and the smell of smoke coming up as he wet my hair down. I think week 2 I finally hopped into the shower and smelled smoke. It took three weeks to stop smelling smoke each time I showered.  I spent a lot of time inside.  Although in the evenings when the temperatures would drop Chris would get me out of the house and take me for a few drives.  Eventually, at night I would run to Wal-Mart to grab whatever we needed until I could get driving gloves to protect my skin from the sun and I could run to the commissary. 

Sometimes, I still think about it.  And there were definitely some consequences to my poor choice in judgment.  First, I always felt like I had pretty hands, even after I have several scars from cutting my left hand on knives or cans of cat food, I like them.  Now if they hang too long, the red from where I was burned begins to come out and it's going to take me a while to be okay with that.  I like other things about myself, but my hands have always been something I really liked about me. Second, You can be an incredibly intelligent person and still do stupid stuff.  This incident definitely ranks up there. Third, My husband is amazing.  In truth, I have always known this, but this just helped solidify it for me.  Finally, my children are amazing and helpful when I am down.  Each girl made it a point to try and be extra helpful to me while I recovered.  I'm still recovering, but it isn't the same.

These days I can be seen wearing polka dot gloves when I have to go outside.  Or I may keep my left hand in my pocket to protect it.  I have to do this for a year at the least, maybe two years depending on how well my hands heal.  I also wear a baseball cap as my hair grows back and often I wear extra layers to protect my right arm because it was also burned with second-degree burns.  My left hand finally can close all of the way, for about two months afterward, my pointer finger would not bend all of the way, now I can make a fist, but the left hand is definitely weaker than before it got burned.  I will be purchasing a hand grip to work on strengthening my hands soon.  I don't take the little things for granted anymore.  Like being able to walk and talk outside on the phone with friends.  I used to just assume anyone could do that, I can't right now until my hands finish healing.  Or the ability to go to the grocery store and not have to take off my gloves once inside.  I keep a spare pair of gloves in my purse so I can stay covered wherever I go and sometimes it's a real pain in the tuchas.  But really, I am one of the lucky ones.  My injuries could have been so much worse, I could have suffered third-degree burns and needed skin grafts, but I don't and I will eventually be closer to my old self as I can get. 

But the one thing that stuck in my head was my friend Cari Hocking.  Cari, praised God even as she was dying from cancer and I thought of her as I lay in the ER and made a choice, if Cari could praise God even as she was dying, I can praise God through burns.  So I made it my mission to do that and I am so thankful that He was with me while I stayed at home and recovered.  He sent me a wonderful husband who was a real trooper through this fun ordeal.  He gave me wonderful girls who did their best to help me and he blessed us with Lily who became my shadow.  Even now she loves sleeping at my feet and if I take a nap, she lays at the foot of the bed and watches over me.  Even now, I know that God has blessed my life so richly and I hope that I can continue to praise him even in the storms of life. 

I hope you all have a good weekend.

In Christ,
Maureen