focused on Glory...When You've Reached the End of the Rope

I'm a day late with this post, and frankly, I had decided this afternoon that I was just going to have to skip this week's focused on Glory post altogether.  I just didn't have the emotional energy and mental clarity to post (that mental clarity part may be very obvious as you read...:)).  It's been a rough week, and to be honest, the process of selecting and editing photos and coming up with text to go along with them was just beyond me.  

Last week was amazing.  God so knew that we were going to need vacation at that particular time.  Time spent with dear long-time friends, visits to the church where I was a charter member almost 25 years ago, a few days in a cabin in a beautiful mountain setting, and a couple of days in a hotel with an indoor pool...the doctor couldn't have given a more perfect prescription for our family last week. 

As we drove home, I thought  about the encouragement, refreshment, and edification God had provided during the week.  I'd had more hugs (from people outside my home) in that week than I'd probably had all year. :)  My kids had basked in the love of people who had loved on me for years.  There were some much-needed but all-too-short conversations with old friends.  And a sermon and a Wednesday night Bible study at my old church that were so perfectly what I needed to hear.  

As I thought about those things, I thought about the fact that I hadn't just been on a physical mountaintop last week, but a spiritual one as well.  And I thought about what always happens after a mountaintop...and I realized I needed to be prepared for the valley that was almost certain to come. 

And come it did.  It started Saturday night and got deeper and deeper until it was more of a gorge...or maybe the Grand Canyon...than a simple valley.  By this afternoon I was emotionally, physically, and mentally spent.  Spiritually, I was struggling, but feebly reminding God of His promises and determined to praise Him with what little strength was left.  I decided to attempt a foG post using just random photos from our trip with minimal text, and began trying to edit a few favorites.  

Physically, I wasn't really up to going to church tonight.  The stress was taking its toll.  I was sure when I left the house that I wasn't staying for adult choir rehearsal.  I would fulfill my responsibilities with children's choir and head home.  But when it was time to leave, I found myself walking toward the choir loft, wondering all the while if I'd lost my mind.  

I was still wondering when we started singing.  I didn't have enough breath support to hold a single sustained note all night, and more than once I had to stop singing completely.  As rehearsal progressed, I realized that it was one of those weeks when I certainly wasn't there because of what I could contribute, but because of what God wanted to do in me through it. 

We sang one of my all-time choir favorites, "Creation Sings", and I basked in the words, thinking back to the beauty of creation that we saw on our trip last week, and realizing that the Almighty Creator has not for one minute lost control of what is going on in our family right now.  I needed to be reminded of His glory, of the "wonders of Creation's King" and of the Plan of the Creator...the one set in motion before the foundation of the earth, against which NOTHING can prevail.  

I don't usually post video in foG posts, but I feel like I need to post this one. It's worth watching.  Be sure to listen to the words. :)

But God wasn't finished with me tonight.  The last song we worked...the one I almost missed because I came very close to leaving early...was a new one, as far as the choir arrangement.  The hymn itself was quite familiar.  It was a hymn I used to sing to my children when I rocked them as infants. 

My heart has been heavy this week for my children, one in particular.  The weight of that has been almost overwhelming.  As we worked the new arrangement to that old familiar hymn, I couldn't help but remember those long-ago days of rocking little ones.  So much has changed...so much is not as we planned it to be at this point.  And yet what hasn't changed is the power in the name of Jesus.  I thought about the prayer time I had had with one of my children this afternoon...calling on the power of Jesus's name and clinging to its comfort.  

What a perfect reminder tonight yet again of God's glory, His grace, and His love for us and for our children.  What a blessing to be reminded...again, and again, and again, that there is hope in that precious Name.  What a needed encouragement {and gentle prod} again that our first response, any time we are overwhelmed or hurting or confused, should be worship

Take the Name of Jesus With You, by Lydia Odell Baxter 
Take the name of Jesus with you,Child of sorrow and of woe;It will joy and comfort give you,Take it, then, where'er you go.

Take the name of Jesus ever,As a shield from ev'ry snare;If temptations round you gather,Breathe that holy Name in prayer.

O the precious name of Jesus!How it thrills our souls with joy,When His loving arms receive us,And His songs our tongues employ!

At the name of Jesus bowing,Falling prostrate at His feet,King of kings in heav'n we'll crown Him,When our journey is complete.

Chorus:Precious name, O how sweet!Hope of earth and joy of heav'n;Precious name, O how sweet!Hope of earth and joy of heav'n.

Be sure to see Tauna's focused on Glory post this week.  We had a wonderful (if way too short) visit last week, and she took some fun photos of our family while we were there.  I'm a bit partial to this week's post. :)

(And if you haven't already read my post from Monday, I encourage you to click over to it also.  Of all the posts I've ever written, it's one of the closest to my heart.)


From Awareness to Understanding to Ministry...Abuse and the Body of Christ

April is National Child Abuse Prevention Month.  Those who follow my blog closely may be aware of a couple of things related to this.  1st...I'm not terribly fond of "awareness" activities, for the most part.  I addressed that here (Bugs Bunny, Facebook, and Stewarding the Story) and here (The Anthony Case...My Thoughts).  2nd...Child Abuse is a subject near and dear to my heart.  Not only were my career days spent working as a foster care caseworker, foster care unit supervisor, and program coordinator for foster/adoptive parent recruitment/training/assessment for our six-county area, but our own family has experienced the trauma of abuse by someone we trusted. I've posted about that in various places on the blog as well. 

I follow an organization called G.R.A.C.E. (Godly Response to Abuse in the Christian Environment) on Facebook. I don't agree with everything they post/publish, but I am thankful for their work in this area.  

This morning's status from G.R.A.C.E. touches on a deep burden of my heart today.  As I said in the "Bugs Bunny, Facebook, and Stewarding the Story" post mentioned above, I don't think there are a whole lot of people out there who don't realize that child abuse happens.  And I don't really think that a lot of the "awareness" campaigns actually *do* a lot to make a difference.  But there *are* things that can be done to make a difference, and I am all about making people aware of anything that can truly help children and families dealing with this type of trauma.  

Here is this morning's status from G.R.A.C.E...

When a church fails to grasp the dynamics of child abuse, it is ill-equipped to “welcome these little children in the name of Christ” ~ G.R.A.C.E. Facebook Page

And my comment on it...

This morning's status from G.R.A.C.E. touches on a deep burden of my heart today. Blog post coming...even if you never click over to my blog, I hope that you will watch for this one and read it. We need to be prepared to meet the needs of children and families touched by abuse. Such a hugely needed area of ministry in our churches...to be willing and able to love, understand, and support those who are dealing with the long-term results of trauma...to be the hands and feet of Jesus to children and families who are hurting. A huge mission/ministry field not only in our back yards, but in our church pews...one for which we don't have to travel a mile or spend a dime. There are so many more families touched by this than we often realize...if our family, with two parents who had careers in child protection, can be affected, ANY family can.

This is such a huge area of need in our churches...ministry to children and families touched by abuse.  There are many more families dealing with this than we sometimes realize, in many different ways: families in which one or more children have experienced abuse, adults who experienced abuse as children, families who are fostering or have adopted children who experienced abuse in their family of origin, and others.  

And there are many ways that we as the church can help.  One of the most basic ways we can help is by realizing that these children and families have been through great trauma and that they are dealing with tremendous long-term pain and scars.  They need understanding, support, and love.  We need to care enough to get educated and then dig in and provide that understanding and support.   We need to understand that children who have been affected by abuse may not always respond in what we consider "normal" ways.  We need to understand that there may be physical manifestations of the abuse.  We need to understand that all kinds of things may trigger trauma responses in these children (and adults)...certain words, music, smells, etc.  We need to be sensitive to the fact that children who have experienced trauma may not always be comfortable participating in group games or activities, and we need to allow them the freedom to observe from the sidelines.  We need to realize that children who have experienced abuse may be delayed academically, emotionally, socially, and/or physically, and we need to respect their needs in those areas.

We need to understand that parents and families of those who have experienced abuse are under a tremendously heavy load, and we need to look for ways to make that load lighter rather than heavier.  That may be as simple as giving them a smile or hug, letting them know we are praying for them, or just not expecting them to act "normal".   It may involve a little more...taking them a meal or  offering/allowing them a break from their normal church responsibilities.  Or it may involve really getting down in the trenches with them...things like going to court with them, listening and grieving with them, etc. 

We can't all go outside our city, state, or country to do missions...and we don't have to.  There are so many people right around us...even sitting by us in church...who are hurting and who need to be ministered to.  Children and families affected by abuse are among those.  There is a huge mission/ministry field ripe for harvest that doesn't require travelling a mile or spending a dime.  Hurting children and families need to know that there is hope...that there is healing and comfort in the Father who holds us close to His heart as a Shepherd cradles a baby lamb.  We need to share the Gospel with those who are unsaved, and we need to minister to the injured members of the Body of Christ.  We need to let God's love flow through us to them; we need to be the hands and feet of Jesus to them.  Church needs to be a haven for those affected by abuse...a place where they can feel the safety they need to heal and grow.  

One of the hardest things for me...as a long time Christian, raised in a Godly home and strong Bible-teaching churches...was coming to grips with the fact that the abuse that caused such trauma in our family was actually part of God's plan for our children and our family from before the foundation of the world, and that it was part of His perfect plan for GOOD in our lives.  That has also been one of the most comforting things for me, once I wrestled through some tough questions and doubts about God's sovereignty and goodness and love.   I am so thankful for a pastor, church family, and dear friends who made a "safe place" for me to wrestle through those things, and who loved and prayed us through those days (and in the case of our pastor, preached a lot of "deep waters" sermons!).  And I am thankful that they continue to do so even now.  We are commanded in Scripture to bear one another's burdens...and we so have so experienced that in so many ways. 

We need to be that "safe place", those loving, praying, burden-bearing people for others who are dealing with similar trauma, pain, and questions.  We also need to realize that we have no idea what another person or family may be experiencing.  For the first few months after we discovered what had happened to our children, we weren't able (for various reasons) to tell but a literal handful...five people...what was going on.  Later we were able to tell a few more, and later still a few more.  However, for most of the most difficult days, almost no one knew what our family was dealing with.  There are still many who have no idea.  We went to church every week, put on our "everything's fine" happy faces (or tried to...some days we were more successful than others), and prayed that we wouldn't fall apart before we got home.   Due to legal, safety, and other reasons, we were unable to be more open about our circumstances for a long time, and because of that, there were times when we experienced unintended hurt from those who didn't know what we were going through.  

We need to realize that there is much hidden pain in our churches, and with that realization, we need to extend grace whenever possible.  Rather than assuming that the child who balks at participating in an activity is being anti-social and needs to be pushed to conform, we need to realize that there may be very legitimate reasons for their reluctance.  Rather than assuming that the person who passed us in the hall without speaking was intentionally slighting us, we need to understand that they may be carrying a heavy, invisible weight on their shoulders that has overwhelmed them to the point that they have no idea that anyone was in the hall with them at all.  We need to realize that trauma can cause behavior issues in children that have nothing to do with lack of discipline, and we need to react in ways that cause those children to feel safe and loved.  We want *all* of our children to feel like church is a safe, wonderful, special place.  {That's a whole 'nother soapbox for me, so keep an eye out for a blog post on that topic soon. :)}  God has so been working in me in this area in the last few years...and all over again in the last few weeks and months.  He's reminded me just this morning of some areas in which I need to extend grace, even as I encourage others to do so.   {I love it when my blog posts step on my own toes while I'm still in the process of typing them...ouch!}

Abuse can touch any family.  If any family should have been immune, ours should. Billy and I met through our careers in Child Protective Services.  We were, and are, super-protective of our children.  We have learned that while we need to do everything in our power to protect our children, we aren't able to protect them from everything no matter how hard we try.  My heart is heavy for other individuals and families, known and unknown, who are dealing with long-term effects of  abuse issues, and I pray that our church and the church at large will be the hands and feet of Jesus to love and minister to them. 

I realize this has been long, and I applaud you if you've made it this far!  I plan to post additional posts on this subject during what is left of this month.  If you have questions or comments, or if you have been impacted by abuse and need support or want to share more, please feel free to leave a comment or send me a personal message by clicking on "View My Complete Profile" on the upper right and then clicking "email".  I would love to hear from you. 

Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep.  ~ Romans 12:15

Bear one another's burdens, and so fulfill  the law of Christ. ~ Galatians 6:2

For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’ Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’ ~ Matthew 25:35-40


focused on Glory...God's Beauty at its Best...

Limited internet right now...quick post...better pics when I can upload from my real camera...:)

Be sure to visit Tauna's blog, Creative Confetti.


Multitude Monday...Overflowing Heart

Thankful for the gifts...

* Rain held off...and protection from storms...

* Wonderful worship with my "old" church family, and missing my "now" one...

* Abundant hugs from dear friends from the past...

* Heartzapping sermon from Bro. David...

* Lunch and afternoon visit with two of my very favorite people in the whole wide world...and gifts of sweet-smelling roses and sweet tasting (so yummy!)  cookies, but mostly sweet, sweet friendship over many, many years...

* Anticipation of the 25th anniversary
in just a few months of a church whose beginnings were a huge chapter in my faith journey...what an incredible thing to see where God has brought them in these years!

* Kids' laughter and soaking in love from seldom- seen but much loved friends...
* Sweet sisters snuggling...
* Relaxing sleep...so much needed...
* Super-cool Kroger Marketplace (doesn't take much to entertain these country-mice :))
* Praying friends around the world...
* Sweet notes of encouragement at just the right moment...
*Overflowing heart..

Please visit Ann at www.aholyexperience.com for more Multitude Mondays. (I'm on my tablet and can't figure out how to post the link or graphic...I'll try to fix that and the crazy spacing later. :))


The Detour is Actually the Road...

Last week, I wrote this in my "Whole New Chapter Daybook" post:

"We know that no matter how much it may seem like one to us, this is not a detour, but actually the route planned for us since before the foundation of the world, by the Author and Creator of all. It is "THE path"...totally unexpected by us, but no surprise at all to the One who holds us in the palm of His hand."

There are days...hours...moments...when I rest securely in that.  Times when my faith is strong and my trust in God's perfect plan is sure.  And then...there are the other times.  Times like this morning.  Times when we see, again, the reality of what we are dealing with clearly, and when we realize that there is much we don't even realize yet about the ways that this epilepsy thing is going to change our lives.  

Thankfully God has provided an understanding husband, the world's most patient friends, and most of all, Himself and His Word to carry me through those times.  And sometimes, He even uses crazy things like YouTube. :)

I've really been enjoying Laura Story's YouTube videos from her new devotional book, What if Your Blessings Come Through Raindrops? lately.   She posted a new one earlier today that was so perfectly timely...

"...and rather than say, 'Why are you doing this?' I'm learning just to open my hand and say, 'God, how might you use this situation in order to glorify yourself all the more?'

For those who aren't familiar with "the story behind the song" of Laura Story's hit song "Blessings", this article tells a little about her husband's brain tumor and the lessons God is teaching them through it: 

While I'd read/heard the story more than once, I had never read this particular article until earlier today. I was struck by her sister's comment that reminded me of mine earlier this week:

“I thought it would all get back to normal,” she [Laura] continues. “Here’s the road… we’re gonna take a detour. About a year into it, my sister said to me, ‘You know, I think the detour is actually the road.’”

A needed reminder today..."the detour is actually the road."

Or, as I've been reminded so often in the last six years..."Nothing is a surprise to God."

All part of His plan, from before the foundation of the world.  I so need to be reminded of that...several times a day sometimes. :)

All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.
~ Psalm 139:16


Easter {Not} Baskets ~ Works For Me Wednesday

I haven't participated in Works for Me Wednesday in forever. But through a bit of a rabbit trail in my mind this week, I decided not only to post pictures of this year's "Easter {Not} Baskets", but previous years' as well.  Then I thought...Oh! Works for Me Wednesday! :)  Then, of course, I could only locate two years' photos...two other years I was SURE I had on my hard drive have yet to be located.  Maybe someday I'll do a Works for Me Wednesday post on organizing my digital photos...if I ever get them remotely organized! ;-)

Anyway...our Easter {Not} Basket tradition started several years ago.  I had decided that we no longer had time or money for Easter baskets that could only be used once a year and then really served no other purpose. We don't have a good place to store baskets from year to year, so re-using them every year wasn't really feasible.  Besides, the kids had been asking for some plastic storage bins, so I set out to see what I could find.  

SOMEWHERE there are photos of those {Not} Baskets.  I found some great springy teal Sterilite tubs, about the size of a small dishpan, on sale for a great price.  Stuffed with a bit of Easter grass and that year's Easter treats, they were quite festive, and the kids LOVED having the tubs for their "special stuff".  ETA: Found a print to scan...not a good one...but at least it gives the general idea. :)

The next year, our {Not} Baskets were bookbags.  At our house, one can never have enough book bags!  I liked the springy colors, and again, I got a really good deal. :)

Last year we were going to be out of town on Easter, so the kids got their {Not} Baskets early.  Apparently in the melee of preparing for our trip, I didn't get any pictures of our {Not} Baskets (although I find that really hard to believe...SURELY they are there somewhere, and I JUST CAN'T FIND THEM.  Ugh!)   I found cool plastic beach totes in which to stash that year's Easter treats, and then the kids used the totes as their "carry on" bags in the van when we went on our trip.  

This year, due to scheduling issues, Bayley ended up helping me shop for Easter treats.  (She didn't mind a bit. :))  We found these nifty lidded storage boxes and decided they'd be perfect, since everyone has been needing something in which to store special papers, magazines, etc. These were the perfect size for that.  The kids were thrilled, and decided that these may have been the best {Not} Baskets ever.  

My favorite part about our {Not} Basket tradition is that the kids are still using their {Not} Baskets from previous years.  No more waste, no more trying to find a place to store the baskets till next year, no more "Where in the WORLD did I put those baskets last year??"  Easter {Not} Baskets work for us! 

Visit Kristin at "We Are THAT Family" for more "Works for Me Wednesday" posts.  And while you're there, go exploring a bit.  Her blog is fabulous. :) 


focused on Glory...He Directs the Hearts of Kings (and Insurance Companies!)

Note: This is not the focused on Glory post I had planned for today, but this one practically wrote itself and demanded to be posted! :) 

No matter how many prayers I see God answer, no matter how much I think I can't be any more amazed at His power and goodness than I already am...there are times when His glory bursts forth in a way that just leaves me crying tears of joy and shaking in awe.  

Today is one of those days.  

I went outside for a few minutes with Billy this morning before breakfast.  I was playing with a new photo app and decided to take some {more, as I've been taking a few here and there all week} pictures of my grandmother's honeysuckle.  This honeysuckle has been growing in this yard for well over 40 years...probably at least 50.  My grandmother LOVED it.   My dad, who was severely allergic to honeysuckle, hated it. :)   When I was very young, I used to torment my dad by putting vases of honeysuckle on the table before he got home from work.  For some reason, I thought his reaction when he walked through the door and saw it was funny.  (I really was NOT an evil child, and I loved my daddy.  I'm not sure why I thought his "Are you trying to KILL me? reaction was funny, but I did. *blush*)  I learned my lesson the hard way, though, when my allergies suddenly erupted in adolescence.  I am now the one severely allergic to honeysuckle, and my house is surrounded by it.  When I'm not sneezing my head off, I realize the humor in that. :)  

I can't bear to get rid of the honeysuckle, because of its beauty, its lovely scent, and the nostalgia involved.  Not to mention the fact that we'd have to practically burn down everything on our entire lot to get rid of it...it's everywhere! :)  

So this morning, I took honeysuckle pictures.   They aren't amazing pictures...just the first photos I took with the new "Instagram for Android Tablet" app that I've been waiting on {not so} patiently. :)   They weren't intended to be foG photos.  I actually decided to play around and come up with a new cover photo for my Facebook profile.  In the process, I came across these verses: 

"Yours, O Lord, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the victory and the majesty, 

for all that is in the heavens and in the earth is yours. 
Yours is the kingdom, O Lord, and you are exalted as head above all. 
Both riches and honor come from you, and you rule over all. 
In your hand are power and might, and in your hand it is to make great and to give strength to all. 
And now we thank you, our God, and praise your glorious name."
~ 1 Chronicles 29:11-13

And I just sat and soaked in them for a while...amazing verses about our amazing God.  

I made a quick little cover photo, using the honeysuckle photos and those verses...

...and then I went on about the business of the morning.  

And then Billy called from work.

And said, "The insurance company approved the medicine." 

To make a long story short, last week the neurologist prescribed a {very expensive} brand name epilepsy drug for our child who was just diagnosed with Juvenile Myoclonic Epilepsy.   While we typically take generic drugs and have experienced no problems, the doctor explained that in this case, the brand name was important.  Another long story, but the little bit of leeway given drug manufacturers in manufacturing generics can be a huge problem for people with epilepsy.  The small differences in dosage possible from one month to the next can actually exacerbate the seizure activity, which is obviously NOT a good thing.

The doctor and the pharmacist both warned us to expect a months-long battle for approval.  They told us that we would probably have to do a trial of the generic and fail (meaning increased seizure activity) in order to get the brand name approved.   For obvious reasons, we didn't want to go that route, but neither could we afford to pay for the very expensive brand name meds out of pocket.   We asked friends to pray that the insurance company would approve the brand name without a trial of the generic first.  

We were given "starter kits" of the brand name drugs to use for the next 9 weeks as we get up to dosage, but the nurse asked us to go ahead and submit the prescription so that they would have plenty of time for all the red tape.   Billy submitted it yesterday...and within 24 hours, the insurance company had approved it.  

Almost immediately, my mind went back to those verses I'd just read in 1 Chronicles 29...

"Yours, O Lord, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the victory and the majesty
for all that is in the heavens and in the earth is yours
Yours is the kingdom, O Lord, and you are exalted as head above all
Both riches and honor come from you, and you rule over all
In your hand are power and might
and in your hand it is to make great and to give strength to all. 
And now we thank you, our God, and praise your glorious name."

I couldn't help but think of this verse as well...

The king's heart is in the hand of the LORD; He directs it like a watercourse wherever He pleases.
~ Proverbs 21:1

The king's heart...and the insurance company's red tape.  Both in the hand of the Lord, and He directs them wherever He pleases.  

And we are thankful for another explosion of His glory....

Be sure to see Tauna's focused on Glory post today...the Glory of the Creator through the incredible beauty of spring flowers! 


Whole New Chapter Daybook...

FOR TODAY...April 9, 2012

Outside my window...Birds singing, sunshine peeking through the trees, a beautiful spring morning!

I am thinking...that we have started another "whole new chapter" in our lives this week.  You know those big events in life that everything else is categorized in between?   Before marriage and after marriage, before NICU and after NICU, before my dad died and after...and so on.  On Friday, one of our children was diagnosed with Juvenile Myoclonic Epilepsy.  We've had an idea that something was going on since just before Christmas, and we've been fairly sure that it was some sort of seizure disorder for a couple of weeks.  We now start a new chapter of living with epilepsy...working toward just the right medication control, learning a whole new language of "seizure vocabulary", relationships with a new group of medical people (and new numbers on my speed dial), a stack of books on epilepsy on my nightstand and a slew of new bookmarks from online research, immediate and future lifestyle changes, and a reminder once again of how blessed we are with people in our lives who love and pray faithfully for our family!  We know that no matter how much it may seem like one to us, this is not a detour, but actually the route planned for us since before the foundation of the world, by the Author and Creator of all. It is "THE path"...totally unexpected by us, but no surprise at all to the One who holds us in the palm of His hand. 

I am thankful...Oh, so thankful for family, friends, and the Body of Christ.  For the gift of family, even when it's hard.  For friends who have listened, and prayed, and listened some more and prayed some more, all in the midst of dealing with their own "stuff".  For the Body of Christ...for our church that we love so much...we are so blessed with our church family!...and for the larger Body of Christ...people all over the world who pray for our family faithfully, and many around the world for whom we pray as well.  And for the sweet friend from church who called while I was typing this blog post this morning and just blessed me to pieces.  We've never had any "outside church" contact, but she had heard about the medical stuff going on and just called to check on us and let us know she was praying.  She'll never know what a blessing that phone conversation was.  Not only was it a huge dose of encouragement, but she happened to mention something I hadn't thought of for dealing with one of the more minor side effects of the new med.  So glad for people who listen to and act on those promptings of the Holy Spirit.  I'm so convicted of my need to do better in that area!

In the kitchen...Working on a "use-it-up" menu before vacation, and a "cabin menu" to cook while we are gone.  Looking forward to trying some new "camp food" treats this time. :)

I am creating...lists, and lists of lists, as we prepare for vacation.  I'm way behind on this, due to all the crazy around here lately, the epilepsy research I've been somewhat buried in, and trying to keep up with school.  

I am going...on a cleaning spree this week, and whisking the kids along with me!  Cleaning has been a bit on the back burner lately, too, as I realized quite unhappily last night when Billy and a friend were climbing around under our kitchen sink dealing with a plumbing issue.  ACKK.  Bring on the cleaning bucket!

I am wondering...Biggest wonder on my mind this week...is this med going to work?  Will it cause side effects, and if so, what kind?  Will the dreaded rash appear, and if so, what then?  Trying to make that a matter of constant prayer, rather than worry...I'm more successful at that at some times than at others. 

I am reading...*Other* than seizure stuff, I'm trying to get back to Elyse Fitzpatrick's Give Them Grace. So good.  Also hoping to read some in Understanding Exposure, by Bryan Peterson, before vacation.  I'm in a huge slump, photography-wise, and from what I've read, this book is the book to boost me out of it. :)  And the kids and I are going to start The Hiding Place as a read-aloud this week.  

I am hoping...for a bit cooler weather in the next few weeks.   We had heard rumors that it was going to cool off quite a bit, but now it looks like maybe not so much.  Would love some cool but dry days for our vacation. :)

I am looking forward to...Being finished with testing, family time and catching up with some old friends on vacation.

I am learning...more about epilepsy than I ever wanted to know...but thankful for the ability to access information, and thankful for all the advances that have been made in recent years to enable many with epilepsy to live much more normal lives. 

Around the house...a little spring cleaning about to happen! :)

I am pondering...Just mulling over and meditating on all the things God has been teaching me lately, and marveling at the way they all fit together and fit with the circumstances of our lives lately.  His sovereignty is so amazing! 

A favorite quote for today... "Do not become self-sufficient. Self-sufficiency is Satan’s net where he catches men, like poor silly fish, and destroys them. Be not self-sufficient. The way to grow strong in Christ is to become weak in yourself. God pours no power into man’s heart till man’s power is all poured out. Live, then, daily, a life of dependence on the grace of God." ~ Charles Spurgeon

One of my favorite things..."Sonic Dates" with Billy. :)  We are entering a new season of life in other ways as well.  One of those is being able to leave the kids home by themselves occasionally for short periods of time.  There is a Sonic just minutes from our house, and during the stress of the last couple of weeks, it's been good for us to get out by ourselves for a few minutes for a drink run.  

A few plans for the rest of the week:  Normal school, church, and house stuff, testing, a little spring cleaning, a little vacation prepping, and hopefully in there somewhere, a little resting.  We're still recuperating from last week. :)

A peek into my day...

Actually a peek into yesterday...not the best photo, but a quick shot of everyone minus me on Easter morning. :)

Please visit Peggy for more about the Simple Woman's Daybook.  


And More Uncertain Days...

Not much time this morning, but I woke up thinking about this song and this blog post on this Good Friday morning.  We're facing another one of those "uncertain days" today.  I've barely even thought about our usual Easter weekend preparations due to the uncertainty swirling around us today.  But I was reminded this morning that the reason for this day...the day set aside to remember Jesus taking on the sin of the world at the Crucifixion...is also the reason that we can have hope even on days like today.  No matter what happens, He loves us, He is good, He is faithful, and He is carrying us in the palm of His hand.  What a glorious hope we have!

This is an old post, but I needed to re-read it today...

"...Uncertain Days..."

I mentioned in my Daybook post that one of my favorite things is "Singing a hymn I've sung all my life and suddenly being hit in a whole new way by old familiar words."  It happened again Sunday morning.   Sitting in the pew singing "Because He Lives", I was reminded as always of sitting in  church with first one and then another tiny baby snuggled on my shoulder as we sang "How sweet to hold a newborn baby, and feel the pride and joy he gives..." and basking in the truth of His blessing. 

I thought back to the first time we sang that after Ammah Grace was home from NICU and able to go to church...and not being able to sing because of the tears. :)

But Sunday morning, it wasn't the first part of that verse, but the last that jumped out at me as we sang...

"But greater still the calm assurance, 
This child can face uncertain days because He lives."

Our children have faced some very uncertain days already.  Ammah Grace's weeks in NICU and the days that followed as we wondered what kind of damage had been done to her brain were the most obvious and public days of uncertainty.  But there have been other much less visible, but no less frightening, uncertainties faced.  There are major uncertainties looming even now.  And, of course, there are all manner of future, as-of-yet-unseen uncertainties.  

We have already seen the truth of those words in so many ways.  We have seen God work massive miracles in the life of a tiny little girl.  We have experienced God carrying us through deep grief in the loss of my dad, our children's much-loved "Papaw".  We have walked a road we would never have taken on our own when God in His perfect plan chose to show us His power not by protecting us "from" the storms of life, but by sustaining us "in" them.  

What a tremendous blessing to realize that our children (and we!) *can* face the "known" uncertainties that loom as well as the "unknown" uncertainties of the future "just because He lives".  And how I often need the reminder to "fret not", as my grandmother used to say, but to *rest* in the calm assurance He has already provided.