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

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

Saturday, October 21, 2017

Boston, Planes and Home

I am HOME!!!  It's wonderful to be home. Last Tuesday, late afternoon and headed to Boston, Massachusetts.  And it was a good trip, but my heart longed for home the entire time.  When we had to cancel our trip to Las Vegas that we had planned for September,  I was given a credit voucher from Spirit so I used it to visit my good friend, Maureen in Boston. And I learned a few things.
 
1. I still love knitting. So I did knit and enjoyed knitting with my friend. 

2. I'm still flexible about plans.  As I've aged I find somethings I am not flexible about. Thankfully, changing plans for travel isn't one of I am inflexible about yet. So yea!

3. Home is where my heart is, truly and deeply.  

4. A week away without my little family is way too long. 

5. Next time I visit anyone I need a hotel and a rental car. Staying with someone else is stressful for them and for me, so I don't sleep well and I do not like being at the mercy of someone else for transportation.  Next time, I will have a rental car or my own car so I can explore and go when I want to go. Then no one has to feel badly.

6. My home is always better . . .at least to me. Each woman has her own home and when another woman is there, it's tough. 

7. I have a love affair with my bed and the wonderful man I share it with.  I love my bed, it's soft and comfortable. But I also love the sweet black dog who sleeps at my feet and the warm, caring, and snuggly.  I never want to sleep somewhere where Chris, the girls and Lily aren't again. Sorry, friend, but no more visits without my family. 

8. Flights can be amazing places to meet new people.  I had blessing of meeting a nice man and was even more blessed by God to help him give his life to Christ.  It was absolutely all God, I was just willing to be used by Him. 

9. This one is really important for me. I am truly and honestly HOME.  Even before we purchased this house, I didn't feel that fully. Home was a place I lived and I always was tethered to Chris and the girls because I love them, but never until now did a place we live feel like I never wanted to leave a building or place we lived. I never wanted to leave Chris and the three girls, but I could take or leave our home building.  Now I feel like home is also a place,  not just the people in it.  I love this feeling.

10. I love history and books more than the average person. I loved seeing historic buildings and sites in Plymouth. And my favorite section of every store we visited had books. It took a lot of self-control to refrain from buying them all.  As it was, I had to grab an extra carry on bag instead of using my purse so I could come in under weight.

11. I still enjoy meeting new people and great one on one conversations.  I kind of felt like these past 6 years in Washington I had lost that part of myself. It was nice rediscovering it and meeting some truly amazing people in Boston and Las Vegas (all of my layovers were in Las Vegas).

12. Spirit Airlines, isn't a terrible airline.  It had it's pros and it's cons.  One of those cons was the weight limit on your luggage.  It is less than other airlines and they don't give discounts to retired military spouses or military at all.  Truthfully, I wouldn't mind flying them again, but only for a short trip that doesn't require more than two hours maximum.  Otherwise, it is worth it to pay the extra money to fly another airline who gives more perks with their fares.

Those are just a few of the things I realized while in Boston.  I hope you all have a good weekend.  I am looking forward to attending church tomorrow.  

In Christ,
Maureen

Thursday, October 19, 2017

It's All About Foundations

I am home.  It is a wonderful feeling really.  As I sit here in my favorite armchair and type, I hear the rain outside, the dishwasher running its last load for the evening and all is right or as right as it can be in a world flawed by man and sin's marks.

I spent last week and early this week in Boston, Massachusetts and it was a nice time, but I learned something while there.  Home is truly where my heart is.  It is where God gave me the pieces I was missing for several years as a young adult.  Here I am happy.  Here even in the tough times, I can find rest and listen for God's quiet voice.   It is home where Lily, the dog, and Mikhail the cat are curled up, where Sarah is resting in her room, and the girls are sleeping peacefully that I know God has me where He wants me.

The wind is blowing outside as if it is trying to come inside this house, and as I listen to it, I remember the parable Jesus shared about the wise man and the foolish man.
"24 “Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. 25 The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. 26 But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. 27 The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.”
28 When Jesus had finished saying these things, the crowds were amazed at his teaching, 29 because he taught as one who had authority, and not as their teachers of the law.'"
New International Version (NIV) Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

We need a firm foundation or like the man whose house was built on sand, our relationship with Christ will fall apart.  Allow me if you will to try another story to help make the point.

Chris and I purchased our home in August 2016.  As we began work on the home, dry rot was discovered, we knew this, it was written into the renovation portion of our loan.  What we didn't realize was that in an effort to save money, the previous owners had built walls that went into the dirt instead of a cement foundation.   They also used this technique when building a port area for an RV and as a result, the dry rot set in and began eating away at the support beams and wood around our house.  Lack of foundation and a good solid one meant that slowly over time, our house would have fallen down around us if we hadn't torn down the bad work.  Just as our areas needed a good foundation to prevent dry rot from setting in and corrupting our house, we need a solid foundation in Christ or when the storms of life come towards us, we will crumble and fall. It will eat away at our belief in Christ and make trusting him tougher and even believe in him.

So tonight I am thankful for good foundations.  Not just in our physical house, but also in our spiritual house to help my family fall in love with Christ.

I hope you all have a good weekend. I plan to spend it with my family and enjoying their company.

In Christ,
Maureen

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Mom, Mother, Mama

Halloween is coming at the end of this month.  Our family doesn't celebrate Halloween really, we celebrate fall instead and the season coming - a season of thankfulness and giving.  But since it is just around the corner, my mind drifted towards Christmas instead. 

Beka tonight began singing, "You're Here" by Francesca Battistelli a song about Mary and her song to Jesus as a baby.  And I began wondering.  What kind of mother was Mary really?  Was she jolly? Was she a lax mother or a strict mother.  Did she laugh if Jesus accidentally got her in the face during a change of clothe diaper?  Or was she incredibly strict and in control constantly? 

Keep in mind I only speak from experience I've seen several types of mothers.

1. The mom who is in control of every single aspect of their child's life.  They are so in their child's life, the child has no real identity of their own.

2. The mom who is strict and in control, but only for some things.  I tend to be this mom - we are cautious about what we allow the girls to watch, they can listen to different types of music, but not without us talking about the lyrics and then once they have the information they make an informed choice, but we are cautious about books, with Elizabeth this is a necessity.  However, the girls can walk to the library, the park and around our neighborhood because children need to be independent to some degree.  As they grow older we give more freedom.  We buy things that are needed, anything extra is for Christmas or birthdays.  The one exception to this rule is books.  I will buy my kids books all day long if I have the money to afford to do so. 

3. The mom who only creates rules as needed.  Leanne Tuohy is a good example - she allows her kids to live their life, but will create rules if it is needed because they made a poor choice.

4.  The inconsistent mom who issues a punishment for some random rule she's made up and then a day later forgets all about it and the punishment ends.    This is not a good strategy really - and it leaves a child wondering where they stand and they have no moral compass. 

5. The parent with no rules, but they care about their kids.  They just don't realize that rules are needed and would rather their kids like them than risk being unpopular or dealing with unhappy children.  This parent also usually spends money on their child for things they don't really need but gives them whatever they want whenever they want it.  These children are terrible to attempt to entertain - I speak from experience here.    I've seen parents who actually fit into 4 and 5 together and then I've seen parents who are one or the other.

6. The parents that have no rule, and don't even meet a child's needs at all   These are often the parents you read about in the news. 

7. Parents who abuse their child - not because they don't love them, but because they don't know how to love and it is often a cycle of abuse being repeated.   My late ex-stepdad, Jim fit into this .  he made sure we had food and clothing and medical care, always made sure we had what we needed.  But when you weren't raised by mentally healthy parents who are either mentally ill or a raging alcoholic and then in foster care or boys homes, it makes being a good parent tough.  I can forgive Jim because I know he didn't want to be that man, he just didn't know how to be any different.  And really, how can you hate a man who is miserable and whose brain is sick?

8. People who should just never be allowed to have children ever again.  I'm sure we have all seen a few examples of this.


Anyway as I was thinking over the lyrics of this song, I decided we won't know while we were alive.  We only have a few clues really.  Somehow I don't think Mary was an incredibly strict mother who never allowed Jesus any independence, after all, they were three days away from Jerusalem before they realized he wasn't with them.  But I don't know how joyful she could be either?  After all, it's very hard to be joyful when your country is under Roman rule and you are at the mercy of soldiers and a roman governor and his whims.  We know she loved Jesus, she was there at the cross as he was dying.  We know Jesus cared for her because he asked John the Beloved to watch over her.  Maybe she was in the middle of uber strict and a lax mom?  We won't know really until we get to heaven. 

I hope you all have a good week.

In Christ,
Maureen

Monday, October 2, 2017

PANIC and Prayer!

Every parent has something that sets their panic buttons off.  For some, it's health issues, for some it's not seeing their children, for others it might be a fear that they will stop breathing (Terms of Endearment, moments right here a few times). The point is everyone has something that leaves them suddenly worried and concerned or their heart racing in concern.  Obviously, being Elizabeth's mom, I have several.

1. Croupy, barky coughs.  After spending years racing for a nebulizer, to the urgent care of worse, the Emergency Room, that sound makes my hair on the back of my neck raise, my heart starts racing, I'm immediately vigilant and watching Lizzie or Beka like a hawk. I hate croup, hate is not a strong enough word for how I feel, really.

2. Three letters. I. E. P. I think we'd discussed this one ad nauseum.

3. When my girls don't come home on time.  Elizabeth was a little Houdini from birth.  She had three separate ankle and wrist cufflets in the hospital and she consistently managed to find a way to remove them as 2 days old.   I wish I were kidding.  I had no idea that it was a portent of things to come.
By the time Elizabeth was six years old, she had shut down the Kansas Visitor center on I-35.  She literally had a dress that blended with the neighbors of friends we visited swing set - I'm not kidding - it was the exact same pattern and colors.  Then she shut down both levels of Wichita's Towne East Mall because she decided to play hide and seek in the clothing racks.  And then let's not forget the debacle of 2013 when she gave me the wrong child's name and was upstairs while we all frantically searched for her throughout Everett.

And then there is Beka and her six-hour adventure in which she decided for some unknown reason to walk from our house to Burlington and see the Best Buy, stopping for popcorn along the way and seeing the chicks at The Country Store.  Six hours of police, Chris, Sarah and the search and rescue team looking for her while I was trapped in the house because I had second-degree burns and couldn't go outside without covering up.   I won't even paint a picture of how traumatic it was for Chris searching through the creek for Beka.  And people wonder why I have gray hair?!

So today Lizzie missed her bus, instead of calling us from the office at school, she decides to walk home instead.  So about the time, I began worrying and getting anxious, she walked into the house.  I knew she was coming because Lily heard her first and began going to the door looking for her.  Having a dog has proved very helpful.  One of these days the girls will be grown and out of the house.  Even Elizabeth will eventually have her own place and hopefully her own family and when those days come I will miss my girls.  I won't miss the moments when my hair became grayer faster.

And yet in these moments, I have learned to stop, pray and listen for God to prompt me.  When Elizabeth went missing the last time in 2013 praying told me I should head home.  When Beka went missing, it was a prayer that kept me calm and praying for Sarah and Chris to hear God speaking to them that helped find Miss Beka - walking downtown.

I hope you all have a good week.

In Christ,
Maureen

Friday, September 29, 2017

God is Real to Me

Chris and I went for a drive this evening on a date.  It's something we enjoy doing sometimes, to just spend time together and talk about our days or things on our hearts. It is always lovely and I always enjoy these drives.  Tonight was no exception.

As we drove towards home, I glanced over and then stared a bit longer.  It's been raining here off and on all day and as I looked at the sunset I was amazed.  The clouds met the skyline as a large black mass, but not an ominous mass, it was just there.  The sky we could see was colored dark blue, deep orange and some pink and we could see the rain coming down from the clouds and I was in awe.  These are those moments when I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that God is real. 

Those moments when you see the ocean waves coming into the shore and going back out again.  When it is worked up and tumultuous and the waves are topped with white caps and you wonder if anyone could ever survive on an ocean like that.  When I see babies or people when I hear my girls laugh and giggle. When the stars come out at night and they are so vibrant, I feel as if I could almost touch then - those are those moments when I know absolutely 100 percent that God is real. 

Tonight the house is quiet for the night.  Sarah is at work, the girls are sleeping, the dog is laying nearby and softly snoring.  I hear Chris snoring softly in our bedroom and I know that God is real. 

It hasn't always been so.  I still even occasionally ask myself What if I'm wrong and God isn't real?  Even Thomas doubted and so did the apostles after Jesus arose from the dead.  They wondered if it were really possible he was alive. But I find as I grow older and see God working in lives and intervening more, I know He is real.  I have seen him take my brother from death's doorstep and turn it around so that he is still with us.  He has healed me from emotional scars and worries and self-doubt.  I've seen him do amazing things in the lives of others and heal them in ways people would never dream could happen or intervene.  Like when Beka was missing for 6 hours. I was praying that God would help Sarah and Chris hear Him speaking to them and guide them where to find her.  Sarah was ready to come home when something told her that she should go back through downtown one more time and voila, there was Beka.  Or when after a year of financial hardship within two weeks time everything fell perfectly into place so we could move into a nice apartment complex while we waited to begin house hunting.  Seriously, it couldn't have happened that way by coincidence and the manner in which it all happened, I knew it was God at work.  And for some reason, he seems to really like February for our family. 

Tonight as you go to bed, I pray you rest well, have sweet dreams and that you find answers for your doubt. 

In Christ,
Maureen

Sunday, September 24, 2017

Walk It Out

 Have you ever read a book and felt convicted?  It was God using that author to speak to your heart and you knew you needed to listen closely.  Then you know how I felt reading Walk It Out by Tricia Goyer. 


I had the privilege of meeting Tricia online via Twitter after I wrote a blog post about how God can forgive you even after abortion.  It was one of those times God laid something heavily on my heart and I knew I needed to write it down and share it.  Tricia began following me and if I remember correctly she even shared my blog post.  I had never heard of her before that time, and I hadn't learned her story yet, but when I did I was amazed and inspired.

Growing up as a girl, Tricia's dad had abandoned her family when she was just a little girl and her stepdad was emotionally distant.  So Tricia did what girls without a stable and positive father figure do - she looked for love in all of the wrong places.  But after an abortion at 15 and teen pregnancy at 17 Tricia found God and he began to slowly transform her life.  As you read the book, she will share her story with you.  
 Open about her struggles spiritually, as a teen mom, a young wife, a woman hurting who needed healing and now as an adoptive mom of seven children (yes you read that correctly seven children and those are in addition to her three oldest children she and her husband had together biologically) Tricia will challenge you to begin putting your money where your mouth is and add works to your faith.  Her book is challenging and a great read.  I found that tackling a chapter a day was perfect and her questions at the end of each chapter will make you examine who you are and what God is calling you to do for him and the lives of others as well.

Walk It Out is a call to the church to begin being the hands and feet of Jesus to a world in desperate need to see his light.  It will challenge you to get off your tush and reach out to help those in need.  And let's be honest in today's world, there are many who need our help.  But it also acknowledges that we can change the world for Christ, one person at a time.  We just need to be open to listening to God's voice and allowing him to use us. 

Walk It Out is coming out October 1st and you can pre-order the book here today at this link.
http://www.triciagoyer.com/walk-it-out/

Don't wait, it can change your life and help change the world.

Proud Mom Moment

High functioning Autism Spectrum Disorder - what does that mean exactly?  For different families, it can mean different things. Some families it means their child can take care of their own basic needs, toilet, hygiene, basic skills.  For our family, it means several things.

Elizabeth can cook, clean, take care of her basic hygiene needs, sometimes make her own decisions depending on the situation.  Her deficiencies are dimmer than when we started.  She can speak now, although not always with proper grammar, she struggles with social skills, she lives in her own fantasy world - and truthfully after listening to her when she talks to herself I can see the appeal - imaginary friends don't judge you and you can do anything with no struggles.  If only life worked that way.  She is trusting to a fault - although I'm unsure if that is her ASD or just because she is my child and believes the best of everyone.  She struggles with money - as in not spending it or giving it away.  She loves to buy people gifts or little things.  We often hold her back from going overboard.  She also really, really, really, really struggles with impulse control - yes I used that many reallys and it isn't even close to the number it should be.  Thinking things through sometimes happens, but more often than not - it doesn't and if we aren't vigilant it will get her into trouble.

The neat thing is, she loves children and she has been wanting to babysit for some time now.  Tomorrow she gets her first chance.  And from this point forward, I'm going to unapologetically brag on my girl.  Elizabeth is going to babysit tomorrow while our interim pastor and I are interviewing a potential pastoral candidate for our church with other committee members. Chris will be in the house as a safety net so things should be safe. The biggest issue may be whether or not Dakota gets enough licks from Lily and has enough toys to play with from the toy box (not a problem, I assure you, we have a plethora of toys).  Today at church, Elizabeth took it upon herself with zero prompting from me to find Pastor Paul and ask him what she needed to know about babysitting Dakota his daughter.  She asked about food, likes, rules, and I couldn't be prouder of her!!!   These are those moments, I live for when I know she is going to be okay.  She will still need a safety net, but I can see a bright future ahead of her. 

In the beginning, we didn't know if we would have these moments where we could be proud.  It was tough, I won't lie.  Friends would brag about how well their kids were doing in school, and I was just thrilled if Lizzie made it through a day without a call from the school or a teacher's note.  When she began to excel in school and do better, it felt as if we should be throwing a parade.  It would have been a one family parade, but it deserved one nonetheless to me.  When she was given the Tiger Pride Award for most improved in 9 weeks of school, I wept tears of joy.  When she began reading, I cried off and on for a week because until then I wasn't certain if that was going to happen for our girl.  The battles have been hard, but slowly we are winning them.  Yes, we face new challenges sometimes, but it doesn't negate the victories won to get us to this point.  Someday Elizabeth may get married, she could even have children she may even go to college and have a steady job, we don't know what God has planned for her future.  But I know that no matter what, she can succeed and that is a huge win for this mom's heart.

Have a good week.
In Christ,
Maureen

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Tonight I Will. . . .


Cold and flu season has arrived as usual with the dropping temperatures.  While a cold or round of influenza isn't a big deal to someone who is relatively healthy for Elizabeth this means we need to be careful.  This year we are getting a reminder of why.

When we homeschooled, Lizzie was insulated from the majority of the typical illnesses that kids share with each other.  Now that she is back in public school though and so is Rebekah they are both being exposed to a lot of new things we haven't had to deal with for a while.  This may seem like typical kid stuff for everyone else, but for Elizabeth, it means a lot of watchfulness and making sure she stays healthy and she isn't even immunosuppressed.

Last week, Beka wasn't feeling well.  She had a sore throat and stuffy nose and a slight cough.  I figured it was allergies and still sent her to school.  Now I know it wasn't allergies, it was some virus and now Elizabeth has it and began showing symptoms Monday evening. I kept her home on Tuesday so she could rest some and her color improved enough that I felt she could return to school on Wednesday.  I should have kept her home an extra day and I'll be kicking myself for that a while.  We are approaching Friday and I know Lizzie will be remaining home.  She is coughing deeper and deeper from her chest, so tomorrow we go to the doctor's office and get her checked out, but more importantly, she is staying home and will spend the weekend resting, drinking plenty of fluids and trying to get her well.

I hate asthma.  I hate that it means her respiratory system is weaker than others. I hate late night ER runs and frantic calls to doctors when medicine and inhalers don't cut it.  But what I really hate is sitting by watching her struggle and being unable to do more for her other than trying to soothe her and keep her calm.  I feel so helpless when these spells come.

I will pray, always, and it really does help.  I know that God is with her and He knows my fears and worries.  It soothes the fear and feelings of being out of control.  Because in truth, life is short.  We do not have control, we have an illusion of control and daily, I take my hands off the wheel and give it to God.  Sometimes this is once a day, sometimes it is hour by hour, minute by minute and quite a few times second by second.

So tonight, I will probably sleep in the living room, listening to make sure she doesn't go into distress.  Tonight, I will pray and give my daughter to God, because he is the Great Physician and tonight, I will trust that come what may, He has a plan and someday I will hopefully get to see it.
Tonight, I will read, I will journal, I will blog, I will pray and pray and pray.  I will pray for blessings on my family, I will pray for healing for Elizabeth, I will pray for Sarah and James and his little girl Victoria.  Tonight, I will pray that tomorrow Elizabeth will be feeling much better or that we can get her some extra support to help ease her breathing.

Thank you, Papa, that we can give you our burdens and worries.  Thank you that you know our needs even before we come to you but that you like to hear us give them to you anyway.  Thank you that ultimately you are in control and you know the bigger picture.
Amen

Praising God in the Storms





This morning started off ringing - literally my phone was ringing at 5:30 a.m.  It was a friend on the East Coast, she had accidentally called me.  So I fell back to sleep for a whole whopping hour before it was time to wake and get the girls moving.  As a rule, I struggle with going back to sleep, but today that was not the problem at all.  YEAH!!!!

Then Beka went to the bathroom to brush her teeth.  The problem was she closed the door.  We knew the knob would need to be replaced shortly after we moved into the house. The knob likes to stick and the girls all share one bathroom.  It's nice having a separate bathroom so Chris and I can keep our bathroom cleaner than the girls keep theirs.  Today, however, I heard the familiar sound of someone wrestling with the guest bathroom door.  Usually, after a few tries, I hear a familiar click. This was not the case this time around.  Instead, I heard it become more frantic as Beka realized she was trapped in the bathroom.  I quickly went to go help her, but alas, it would not budge.  So I grabbed a butter knife and went to work removing the knob so I could see inside and figure out the problem.

The problem is that the doorknob and it's mechanism are older, so the inside mechanism is breaking down and it got stuck in the position to keep the door secured.  It took a little finagling but I finally got the mechanism to move into the position to unlock and we were able to free Beka.  Chris will be buying a new knob and system on his way home from work today.

Like the doors knob that became worn after years of wear and tear, our spiritual life can become stuck sometimes. Years of trials can wear us down and we can become stuck.  It's easy when we have spiritual valleys or even deserts to wonder if God cares.  We know he does, Jesus tells us it is true.  Remember we read in Matthew 6 yesterday, we learn from Jesus that God cares for the animals, and how much more must he care for us?!   Sometimes in the middle of the storm, it is hard to feel God's presence, but He is still with us.  I love the Casting Crows Praise You in the Storm and the new Mercy Me song,  Even If , here are the words to the chorus:


Even If

I know You're able and I know You can
Save through the fire with Your mighty hand
But even if You don't
My hope is You alone

It isn't easy to praise God in the midst of a storm.  I say this as a woman who spent the entire summer cooped up in her house because of second degree burns, that was an interesting storm.  For years, I used to shake my head at the first few verses in James Chapter 1, 
 "Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters,[a] whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything." 
https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=James+1&version=NIV
When I was younger I couldn't understand why we should be joyful when problems came our way.  I had certainly had my fair share of problems, but how was I supposed to rejoice when I faced them?  But as time has gone by I realize that God has used my trials to prepare me to help others who face trials.  From understanding Sarah and her unique situation to being able to help talk calmly to a friend who is very freaked out.  Those times of hardship allowed me to gain an empathy I might not have otherwise had if I hadn't gone through them.  
Probably the biggest example I can share though and had the privilege of seeing was a friend of mine who even as she lost her battle with cancer continued to praise God through it all.  She was determined to praise him even as she was dying.  If Cari could praise God through all of that, then I could praise God when I faced my small trials.  I still miss her, and my life will be forever changed for the better because I knew her.  
Today I ask, will you work to face your trials and praise God through them all?  Maybe you are struggling with something right now, I want to encourage you that God knows.  He may not calm the storm, but he can still calm you.  
I hope you have a good rest of the week.
In Christ,
Maureen 


Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Losing Control and Being Thankful.

I have a tradition I unknowingly started several years ago.  Unknowingly as in, I started doing it and now it has become something I do every fall.  I enjoy it as well.  I like making Gratitude Lists each day.

If you follow my blog, then you know of my love for Fall.  More to the point, I love all things Fall, except for Halloween, I can take or leave it.  I love the colors and so many other things about Fall, but one of my favorite things is Thanksgiving.  I love finding reasons to be thankful and I find that especially in times of trial or exceptionally awful times that making a list of things to be thankful for, keeps me humble, and it helps me keep my eye on the fact that even though tough times come, so do good times, it's really all about waiting out the storm.

I also find that in listing my reasons to be grateful that it helps me stay positive.  In a world with constant headlines and negative press right and left that can be a daunting task.  It takes an awful lot of energy to find good things in bad situations.  It also doesn't take as much energy to find the negative, but in reality how we view tough times is about our perspective. 

Right now, money is tight for us.  We are managing, but there isn't a lot of wiggle room for extras really.  I can choose to be pessimistic or I can choose to remember that God is always providing for our family and that He is faithful.  I choose the latter of the two.  And I have noticed that it helps me sleep better.  Before I would have been a mess, I would have had awful insomnia and struggled to stay positive.  It's easy to default to that, but I choose instead to be thankful that we have food to eat, a roof over our heads and enough money to pay the bills.  It sounds odd I know, but it is still important to keep that positive attitude because it also means I am doing several things.  First, staying positive means I am trusting God to take care of us.  As someone who came from instability that isn't an easy task for me to accomplish.  However, I know that in Matthew  Jesus himself said, "Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drinks; or about your body, what you will wear.  Is not life more than food and the body more than clothes?  Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them.  Are you not much more valuable than they?"  Matthew 6: 25 & 26  You are more valuable than the animals God created?  He takes care of them, so how much more is he going to take care of us?!  That's an awesome thing to think about.  Those verses have comforted me more often than I can tell you.  Secondly, I am slowly giving up control.  Believe me when I tell you that giving up control is not easy.  I like being in control, but I know that when I am in control that I mess things up.  And when I give God control, I see a much more favorable outcome.  So as I age, I am more willing to let God have control.   And when God has it under control, I know I can be thankful.

What are you grateful for today?  I will share my list, feel free to share your reasons to be thankful in the comments section.

1. I am thankful that God always takes care of our needs and that he is patient with me when I struggle to have control.

2. I am thankful that Chris really likes his job and he gets to chance to travel for work from time to time.  He enjoys traveling and seeing new places and things.

3. I am thankful that Lizzie and Beka are both feeling better today after needing a down day yesterday.

4.  I am thankful that we have phones now so we can stay connected to other people.  Can you imagine how lonely people must have been before phones came along?

Those are just a few things I have for today.  I would like to challenge you to find reasons to be thankful this Fall, yes, I said Fall.  Make this a season of being Thankful, not just for the holiday but for every day and see how it changes your perspective. 

In Christ,
Maureen

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

What Do You Do With Sick Kids


Today is one of those days when I have two out of three sick children at home.  I am one of the fortunate few who gets the privilege of being a stay at home mom.  It isn't something I take lightly because I have friends who don't have that option.  And I happen to like being a stay at home mom.

So what do I do when my girls feel under the weather?  It isn't a ton of fun, but it's our method.  When I was a little girl, if I was sick there was no tv until Mom was certain I was really sick.  Given how often I was home sick (it wasn't often), it didn't take long for Mom to realize that I was truly sick.  Once I began feeling a little bit better, I was allowed to lounge on the sofa for a bit, maybe watch TV, depending on if I felt well enough to do so.

1.  Lots of fluids.  Hydration is important and given that the average American is not properly hydrated, to begin with, I would be surprised if remember this one.  So drink up when you are sick, water is always best, but juice, tea, something fizzy if you have a funny tummy, I think you get my point.

2. Jello.  It sounds weird I know, but I add fruit juice into my Jello Knox Blox so they get calories and it's soft and easy on the throat.

3. Lots of rest.  Even now, the girls are snuggled up on the sofa with blankets and pillows resting and reading for now.  Depending on how they feel throughout the day, I may have them spend time on their school work.

4. Snuggles:  Snuggles help make everything seem less bleak.  In fact, it's often one of the orders I give, you need snuggles twice a day prescribed by Dr. Mom.

5.  Doctor's visit:  Depending on the severity of the illness a doctor's office visit may be in the cards.  Two years ago Beka was dreadfully sick near her birthday and actually on her birthday.  She even took naps snuggling with Chris or I and she was 8 years old at the time, so snuggles weren't usually something she enjoyed doing when she could run outside and play instead.  She lay listless and lethargic, it was scary to see her that way.  I am not especially fond of seeing Elizabeth sick either, but Beka is so rarely ill that is was especially scary.

6.  Stay on top of medicine.  If your child is sick enough to visit the doctor, the odds are good that they will tell you to give Tylenol and ibuprofen or some kind of medication.  Stay on top of that medication - it eases your child's suffering AND it eases your suffering as well.  I don't know about your child but mine tend to be whiny when they don't feel well so medication helps with a lot of things, but especially the whinies.

7.  Be patient.  This one sounds simple in practice, but in truth it is tough to be patient when you have things to get done and you can't leave the house because your child is sick.  I usually can send Chris or he gives me a break so I can run to the store or do what I need to do to grab what we all need.  But I admit even I get antsy if the girls are confined to the house for too long, but you want them to get better quickly, so be patients and rest with them.  

8.  Last but certainly not least. Pray.  It is a privilege to pray for our children. Never is this more needed than when they are sick or facing challenges.  Plus you can slip in a prayer for yourself as well if the illness is prolonged and let's be honest here, by the time our kids feel better we are just as ready as they are for them to feel better. 

I hope you all have a good week.

In Christ,
Maureen