Thursday, May 14, 2015

a bottle sprayer, a scale, and a hairspray cap

Curious?  This morning I walked into our bathroom to get ready for the day, and there, right in the middle of the floor, blocking my path to get to the sink... sat the bathroom scale.

First reaction? "Ugh!  What is so difficult about putting the scale back once you've pulled it out? I ALWAYS am the one who puts it away when I wasn't the one to get it out!" (Maybe I should get it out more!  I think I'm putting on a couple extra unwanted pounds!)

The Holy Spirit immediately hit me with two other things lying on the floor that apparently had fallen while I was getting ready yesterday... a bottle sprayer and a hairspray cap.

How many times are we quick to judge what someone else does or what they have not done that we think they ought to do?  And all the while, we ourselves, have double the trouble in our own lives... It's like the Gospels talk about... we're quick to point out a speck in our brother's eye while we have a beam sticking out of our own.  Let's remember to extend grace to others in their shortcomings... chances are that we've got double of our own, but we are blind to them.

When I walked into the bathroom, I did not see the bottle sprayer or the hairspray cap.  I saw the scale.  But taking a moment to be introspective, I realized I had no room at all to judge another when I myself had not done due diligence to pick up what I had apparently dropped in a hurry yesterday.  Why is it that we see problems of others as shortcomings in their character, yet we stack up excuses as to why our own shortcomings are what they are?  You see, I could have blamed that scale sitting there on my husband being lazy and not putting away what he got out. All the while, I would have said, that the reason my own things were on the floor was because I was in a hurry and didn't even realize that they had fallen.  But what if I turned that around, and gave my husband the grace rather than myself?

Is there something that really irritates you about the person you live with or minister along side of?  Chances are, there is... but don't forget to offer grace rather than judgment today. Chances are... they were the ones who need grace, and we are the ones who need to work our character.

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

blessed with this man

If you aren't interested in the ramblings of a wife who has been married a couple years, you'll just want to skip over this post because I'm about to ramble about just how blessed I am to have this very man in my life. 

This weekend, I watched him...

swing the twins in circles till he was sick to his stomach
get tackled repeatedly
laugh uncontrollably as he explained what ribs were
teach them how to lick their Cookie Monster Ice Cream cones before they'd melt all over the place
clean up potty messes
and tuck the boys into bed at night


spend hours finalizing his messages for Sunday's service till late at night even though he was completely physically and mentally exhausted


when Sunday morning came, and my health completely gave out,
he tended to my every need... gently lifting me up, feeding me, and assuring me that everything was ok.  And he knows my heart, he put on worship music while I lay in bed unable to move - He knew God's truth through music was what I needed to hear... and God gave me sufficient health to recover strength and still go to both services with him that day!

That evening, after the church service, this guy ran into the grocery store for a GF pizza (so I wouldn't have to worry about dinner) and grabbed a movie that I had been wanting to watch... and chocolate ice cream!  

Seriously, I am just sooo blessed to have him in my life.  His patience astounds me.  His love overwhelms me.  It's not every guy that would tend to the needs of his wife (lovingly!) when he has his own stresses and responsibilities on his shoulders.  

"Thank you, God, for giving me such a man of character. His authenticity, patience, and true love inspire me to be more.  You have blessed me beyond my wildest dreams."

Saturday, May 2, 2015

This Moment | Life Right Now

Stolen!! Davis, I absolutely L O V E D this idea! :) 
to Everlasting God

Coffee! (hello!)

to get a move on this day

super happy and content

my pj's and a very cozy sweater

more breakfast

about good God really is to us

finishing up my devotions and then a blog post

to share news about a possible business venture

on my couch

for my tummy ache to go away

I'd rather have Jesus than anything

what life would be like if we Christians would really follow Christ 

I can go to my brother's boot camp graduation at the end of this month

cleaning the bathrooms (ok, so I just did this yesterday, but seriously, I hate cleaning bathrooms! lol

to see my little (now almost 5!) twins tonight, serve at another church tomorrow with my preacher man, and also a Bible study tomorrow with a friend

from eating gluten (wah... such is the life of one who eats out the day before because you never know where it's hiding)

the flames flicker in my fake fire place

because I had an amazingly productive morning

that I really appreciate a minimalist approach to life

pizza tonight because that's what my guy requested

because it is ALWAYS better to start your way that day even if you have to force it at first

At peace 
because all is truly well

when you're called to step UP

What happens when you're called to step up?  What exactly does it look like to a leader in your community?

Maybe that thought does not even appeal to you. You're the one who is more than happy to stay in the shadows and help out when possible, but have no interest in being considered... a LEADER!  Man, that involves some major responsibility!

Or, you could be the one who L.O.V.E.S. the limelight.  Now, you may not want to admit that, and you may even hide behind false humility... but deep down, there's nothing that gets you more excited than being out front and recognized!

Today I want to take a closer look at Joshua's call to step UP.

First, it is interesting to me that Joshua is introduced as Moses' minister. Before Joshua was ever called to a place of leadership in his community, he was a servant.  He attended to the menial tasks of whatever Moses needed him to do.  He'd probably be called Moses' right hand man in today's terminology.  Isn't it interesting that in Matthew 20:26-28, Jesus taught that whoever wants to be great should be a minister... that even He, the son of GOD, came not to be ministered unto, but to minister?  Before we can ever be effective leaders in any capacity, we must first take a step down and practice serving others.  Servant leadership.

Secondly, it's hard not to notice how many times Joshua is told "Be strong and of a good courage." Why do you think Joshua is told that so many times?  In this passage it's three times, but if you look back in Deuteronomy 31, you'll see that Moses had just got done telling Joshua this very thing THREE times.

I think that Joshua may have been that person who was more than happy to be a right hand man.  Honestly, I think he loved serving God by assisting another person.  The idea of leadership though?  It terrified him.  But, here he was being called to step UP.  He desperately needed strength and courage.

Being strong and courageous involves both physical and mental capacities.  What is it that God is calling you to?  Are you keeping yourself physically able to do that, or are you running yourself down with a thousand other things than what God has for you?  How about mentally?  Are you giving yourself time and space to meditate on God's word?  For each person, it will look different.  But don't get caught up with trying to keep up with the Jones' or even that Christian leader that you admire so much.  God has called YOU to live YOUR life for Him.

What does God tell Joshua NOT to be? Afraid or dismayed.  Afraid carries with it the idea of "awe" or "dread."  Dismayed means "to be broken down by violence or confusion and fear."

When God calls you to step UP and out of the shadows, how do you feel?  What's your reaction?  Are you giddy with excitement because you'll be in the limelight?  Don't forget it's all about being a servant - not being filled with power.  Are you terrified of the responsibility before you and how it will ever get done?  Don't give place to that confusion or fear.  Why?

Well, let's look at the third thing in this study: God's presence.  All the time, everywhere, in every capacity, our God is with us.  He is not a God that is distant and will not hear.  He is not a God that comes through for us only sometimes.  He is always with us. Always. Always. Always.  And He is always working everything together for His glory and our good.  Was Joshua going to have trouble ahead of him? Oh, you better believe it.  Some days were going to be harder than others, but in each and every moment, God was with Him.

Too often, we take on whatever lies before us in our own strength.  We try to be better Christians, better leaders, better moms, better wives... but that's just the problem.  WE are trying to do it. Next time, rather than push through and try harder, how about whispering a prayer to the very God who is with you?  Acknowledge His presence.  Yield to Him, and let Him live through you.

So, when you're called to step UP, remember first to take a step down - always be a servant.  When you're terrified to even think about what lies before you, be strong by calling to mind the fact that God is with you.  Claim the promises He has given.  And when confusion and fear threaten to reign, cast them down by lifting Him up.

Friday, April 17, 2015

My Periodic Paralysis Prayer

After sharing that poem another HKPP patient wrote, I have decided I'd like to also post my own that I just happened to write down on Sunday morning as a prayer to God.  It is very free form - I never was good at poetry, but the heart is there.  One song that comes to my mind over and over again is "Why Should I Worry." You'll recognize it in the very last line.

Here I am again.
I can't even stand.
In tears because I'm so weak.

I fight for my next breath
And feebly open my eyes.
My heart is racing fast as tremors shake my body
And I struggle to even speak.

But you hear the cry of my heart, LORD.
You know I wanted to be there.
It's not news to you that I wish I could do - 
Everything. All the time. Faithfully.

Yet, I am so weak.
Funny thing is that's what you seek.

So take my weakness and show your strength.
Help me open my eyes, and dry my tears
Hold my feeble, trembling hand.
Calm my heart and soothe my mind.

As I remember that
When sickness comes, and my body's in pain, 
All I have to do is call on Your name.

A Day in the Life of a Periodic Paralysis Patient

It's that time of year again that I love but absolutely hate at the same time. How refreshing to hear the birds singing and see the first buds appear on the trees... I am even getting into gardening for the first time and rejoicing over my little herb garden!

But any changes in weather are always a tough time for a HKPP patient. So far, this week alone, I have had three episodes. One caused me to miss church Sunday morning. The other came on right during the middle of our church's midweek service. By God's grace I never had to make the ambulance ride mentioned in the poem below, but my sister has.

I am committed more than ever to discover more about this disease, raise awareness, and find some answers. For some reason, Diet Coke seems to have helped some patients ward off attacks. Sometimes it works for me. I was on Acetazolamide for quite some time when I was first diagnosed, but the cost of the medication grew out of control, and I surprisingly started reacting negatively to it - to the point where it was triggering attacks.

I am on the path of looking to find something natural that may work better. I want to find answers, and I want to help people and the families of those who suffer from this disease. My husband is a champ - takes better care of me than anyone ever could without ever once complaining, but with a smile on his face and love in his heart.

So I share these posts not for you to say, "oh, poor Anna"... not for sympathy. But for more awareness, more understanding, and hopefully one day, more answers.

Here's is a poem that I found in my most recent research. You can find it directly here. She writes so well of exactly how one feels prior to being diagnosed, and there even doctors who are yet unaware of the disease. She expresses their sentiments perfectly, "The patient is faking, playing possom I see... Potassium is low, but you will be fine."

A Day in the Life of a Periodic Paralysis Patient

The 911 call placed, you feel like you're dreaming,
You’re not, from afar you can hear sirens screaming;

The ambulance ride, your body’s not moving,
They wonder aloud, whoa, she's not improving;

Respiratory muscles won’t respond to a breath,
You know once again that you’re so close to death;

Whizzed in on a gurney, it’s all moving fast,
What? You’re parked in a hallway, suddenly bypassed;

How are you this evening? Then give you that look,
The oxygen, sensors and wires they unhook;

They make you feel guilty, as if you are faking,
You’re frightened, can’t breathe, and everything’s aching;

The ER visits, the doctors, the begging and pleading,
You would not desert me if I were here bleeding;

Weakness, paralysis and cognitive decline,
Inverted T-waves, arrhythmias are fine;

The patient is faking, playing possum I see,
With his hammer he can't get a jerk from my knee;

Agonizing pain, it strikes with a flash,
The doctor shrugs shoulders, departs in a dash;

Positive tests, plus symptoms and signs,
Potassium is low, but you will be fine.

~ Victoria Cecil-Shover
Solon, Iowa

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

the old paths

Have you ever found yourself in a spot where things just aren't like they used to be?  Things could be ok, but it seems like there's just something missing.  It doesn't mean that you're not reading your Bible or going to church or ministering to others... something is just off.

This year, I read the book "Today We Are Rich" by Tim Sanders at the recommendation of a friend and coworker of mine.  What a GOOD book.  It was written by a Christian who was raised by his godly grandmother.  The premise of the book is not how to get rich quick or even slow... it's about what true riches really are. Tim had what he called some "sideways" years after he graduated from high school and left his grandmother's.  When he went back to his grandmother years later, ready for a change, she asked him the following:

"What are you not doing in these days that you were doing then?"

I began re-reading the book this week, and that question stuck out to me yet again.  Sands post, "The Power of Music" really has been on my mind a lot lately.  It has taken me back to those days of Bible College when everyday we were learning and growing and drawing closer to God.  We sat down and played our guitars at any given time of day and had a worship session.  And the worship wasn't just limited to then - we were always playing music when setting up for meals or singing Victorious Valley songs at the top of our lungs in beautiful harmonies while cleaning up dinner afterwards.

As I was having my devotions last night, my mind wandered back to those times... and what I was doing then that I am not doing now.  It's easy to say that we were in Bible College, and those were the best days ever. The fellowship was phenomenal.  We were always learning.  The spirit of worship was so sincere.

But why let it be days gone by?  Why not bring that very spirit into the heart of our homes?  Why not implement those years of training and blessing and our routine from then into our daily lives?

So last night, I pulled out the dear old guitar that Leam L. Leam gave me, and I started singing those songs... "Field of Grace," "Paid in Full," and "Father to the Fatherless."  Why not just pull out my guitar and sing to Jesus in my very own home at any given time of day... just because.

I realized that there were other things that worked then, that would still work if I would just implement them.

What about my routine?  I got up every day at the same time and curled up in a comfy chair and read the Word.  Every evening, I tried to head to bed a little earlier than lights out and spent time journaling and reading the Word.  And every evening, we would fall asleep to some wonderful CD like "Hear My Prayer."  Every day was filled with God's Word and His music.

I have to say that though I would not really call my years after Bible College "sideways years," all the change that happened so frequently got me out of good routines and practices that really did work.  I came to the place where life was so crazy that no kind of routine existed in my life - unless you count routine randomness as routine.

But I'm so grateful that God has brought these things back to my mind.  I'm grateful that He's helping me find not just a routine to get things done, but to create a wonderful, glorious Spirit filled home.

I've struggled since quitting my full time job to find a flow that works well for me.  There is a ton of work to be done on our home still, and we are getting more and more opportunities for ministry which is awesome. One day, I look forward to being a mother.  But... going back to what worked for me then will help me find the rhythm that will work now.

In the words of Tim Sanders, "My mind swirled with excitement... I knew how to do this. I had simply allowed the uncertainties of life to get in the way of doing what I needed to do."

So after singing those good old songs at the top of my lungs for an hour or so last night, I pulled out "Hear My Prayer," turned on my wonderful little fan, and fell asleep with my mind set on Christ and looking forward to returning to some of these old paths.