Wednesday, December 6, 2017

TWELVE



Twelve Hours.  Twelve hours from when I received the phone call that Mom was being admitted to the ICU with urosepsis.  Her sugar levels were through the roof, so she was also in  Diabetic Ketoacidosis, she was now officially a diabetic.  

Twelve hours.  In the first twelve hours, doctors raced to get her sugar levels low and start her on high doses of Rocephin and get the infection under control, but we were unsure of what it would mean in the long term because she was incoherent, she was trying to pull on tubes and other things.  And they said in twelve hours we would know the difference between her living and her dying. In those twelve hours, I learned how much my younger sister has matured and grown up and I couldn't be prouder of her.  My aunt says she was here, she was engaged and asking excellent questions - she also kept me in the loop, so I would know what was happening.

Twelve hours. In twelve hours, my girls sprang into prayer with me as soon as they heard, that was a proud mom moment for me there, Beka who is 10 lead the charge.  Elizabeth happily followed suit and Sarah asked for prayers via FB.  I got everyone off to school, sent voicemails and emails to keep teachers in the loops and called Chris to let him know.  Then I got busy on Facebook requesting prayer for her.  The response was overwhelming.  I was also encouraged to start a Go Fund Me account.  Within twelve hours, I had most of my food and gas covered.  

Twelve hours. In twelve hours, I had a plane ticket, a rental car reservation (I opted to not use it to save money), was packed and ready to head out with a friend driving me to the airport.  In twelve hours, I traveled from the Pacific Northwest to Oklahoma City and saw my brother who I hadn’t seen in seven years and my sister who did an amazing job staying with Mom and keeping Matthew and myself in the loop. 

Twelve hours.  Mom could talk to me some, at least enough to let me know what she wanted. In another twelve hours, she could answer questions better for myself and her doctor.  In twelve hours, she went from eating a little jello to finishing it off and asking for a Diet Coke.  She enjoyed each sip.   In twelve hours, it appeared that Mom was still very weak.  She is making headway but will need short-term nursing care in a facility to help her improve and become strong enough to go home.

Twelve hours. In twelve hours, I knew it was okay for me to look into going home. Mom is doing very well, she is cognizant and feisty and able to tell me if she thinks I’m being bossy.  She’s doing great!  I’ll take her feisty attitude over what I found when I first got to Wichita.  Even better she was able to walk herself over to a makeshift hair sink and her friend, Eileen and I were able to wash her hair with real shampoo and conditioner for the first time.  And then she walked back to her bed.  Granted she is using a walk, but she was twelve hours away from death, it’s going to take her a bit to bounce back from that. 

Twelve hours may seem as if it isn’t much time, but so much can happen in twelve hours; including a doctor saving a life.  I am so thankful that God was watching over Mom and she is still with us.  I will hate leaving her, but I know she is in excellent hands with Bud here. 

Have a good weekend.  
In Christ,
Maureen

Saturday, November 25, 2017

Reflection

If my thirties were a time of closure, my forties are proving to be a time of reflection.  Never more so, than these past few months.  Settled into our dream home, which has some work to be done on it, but truthfully if we never did a thing to “improve” this home, I would love it anyway.  This freedom has offered me the ability to read, dream and contemplate what exactly I want from the life I have here in Washington.

 When I burned myself this summer, it gave me time to be quiet, to listen for God’s voice. As I have there are some things that I am slowly recognizing.  First, I am a sprinter, not a marathoner when it comes to helping at church.  My family are the ones who jump in when things need setting up, helping with VBS even and just pitching in for the short term.  This means I have the freedom to focus on my calling from God, my family.  I am even now the anomaly in church and among Chris’ coworkers.  He is our sole provider and I stay home.  It probably seems to some as if I have a life of luxury, but it affords me the freedom to focus on the things God has given me, my family.  When Beka was struggling with beginning school, I was able to take time, pray about it and listen for God’s wisdom and it struck me.  This is the same age Sarah and Elizabeth struggled with many things – their hormones were all over the place and their bodies were gearing up for changes.  Once I understood that I was able to help Beka learn to navigate school better.  She still asks if we can go back to homeschooling often, but she is resigned to staying until she finished fifth grade. 

One of the things I have that weigh heavy on my heart is my love for children.  I love the idea of adopting an older teen or sibling group who are not usually adoptable.  The ones who struggle or who are older so they’ve lost their cuteness.  I get how tough adolescence is, I want to be able to help them navigate that.  And as I prayed over it, several  months ago,  God said, “no.”  It was and is hard to accept that.  I know God’s will and ways are higher than my own and he can see the bigger picture.  This past week as I was listening to my friend Tricia’s podcast, she was interviewing her oldest daughter, Maria who is the oldest of four sisters that Tricia and John adopted.  Tricia and John felt called to adopt the unwanted children and their story is amazing.  As I listened to Maria tell her story, my heart ached to help others like Maria and her sisters.  And I asked God, “Why would you let me have this in my heart if you only plan to say no.”  His response, was, “It’s only no for now.”  So do I believe our home will grow at some point, yes, I do.
            
Then there is that moment earlier this month were while listening to our new pastor and his wife talk about how God has worked in their current pastorate, when I felt that shot straight into my soul and it said, “This is your road soon.” They were discussing praying and crying with friends of theirs who were seeking God’s will.  So as I pray I know something is coming.  I don’t think God having Tricia write Walk It Out was a coincidence.  I know it wasn’t, I’m also sure I am not the only woman or man who will read it and it will lay the groundwork for God to begin working on them and teaching them to surrender.  Surrender is tough, but I would rather surrender myself to God and follow His will than anything else in this world.  That wasn’t always the case.

So do I know something is coming?  Yes.  Do I know what it is?  Nope, not yet, but I know God will reveal it when it’s his time.  My only request was that he allows us to be debt free first so that money wasn’t an obstacle for us.  God is bigger than money problems, but I would like us to not have debt hanging over our heads.
            
As this new week begins and as the new year comes racing towards us, what are you willing to surrender?  Will you let go of control?  Will you let go of pride?  I know I struggle with wanting to be in control.  I struggle with the idea of letting go of that control.  I struggle with the idea of poverty again.  I’ve lived that time in my life and it wasn’t fun.  I found ways to work around it, but it wasn’t fun. 
            
I hope you all have a good week.

In Christ,
Maureen

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