The Struggle

I was listening to AirOne today and Tenth Avenue North was promoting their new album, The Struggle. One of the members was talking about the meaning behind the title and basically said everything isn’t all-of-a-sudden perfect when you believe in the Son of God. It’s not supposed to be. We are supposed to struggle with God.

I’m always amazed when I hear or read things that allude to ‘Christians’ as being simple-minded, afraid to ask the hard questions, desiring to live in a world with the happy ending of a fluffy clouded heaven, or, let’s be honest, idiots without the common sense to know the whole Jesus thing is a load of crap meant to pacify the masses. All you have to do is think about it for a minute and the whole thing is obvious nonsense.

I laugh.

And remind myself … you don’t know, you don’t know, what you don’t know.

Us followers of Christ may be guilty of a lot of things but taking the easy way isn’t one of them. Faith and belief in a God so much bigger than your, or my, mortal mind can ever hope to wrap itself around is much more difficult than believing in nothing … or everything. I speak from experience. The one constant in my faith walk has been The Struggle.

I resist the idea of a God powerful enough to show and teach me things beyond this world, yet posses an unquenchable longing to know more.

I shy away from a love so great I can never be enough to earn it, yet bask in the glory of such grace.

I want to run and hide from a God who overwhelms with the softest of whispers and faintest of touches, yet long with a desperate heart to always be found.

I often find myself with a face turned away saying, ‘OK! I can’t take anymore! This is too sharp!’ I fall down.

And the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, the God of Moses, the God of Elijah, the God of David, the God that watched His only Son suffer the unimaginable simply to make it possible to be near to me, is the same God forever reaching down to gently pick me back up. I am reminded. I am rejuvenated. I am renewed. I am ready to begin The Struggle again.

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I don’t want to be the one.

Chris and I are getting our passports for our trip to the Philippines today. I wasn’t going to tell anyone. I would prefer no one know I am the crazy loon planning a ten-day missions trip to the Philippines two days after my child gets out of the hospital for another seizure. But then again, that is exactly what I want everyone to know.

Life has been unbelievable for our family the past three months. Our daughter was diagnosed with a rare form of bacterial meningitis (bacteria from a sinus infection moved through the thin bone separating the sinuses from the brain), spent two weeks in Denver Children’s (three days in the PICU), received ten weeks of intravenous antibiotics, and now, it would seem the infection, while gone, may have irritated her frontal lobes enough to cause these really bizarre seizures that may or may not ever go away.

And I refuse for all this to scare me into not doing what God has made so clear He wants us to do! So there! Kiss my ass!

This has been my attitude the past few days. Not the serene, peaceful, good Christian girl of Tuesday morning, but the pissed off mom that is sick to death of her daughter being sick. As soon as I realized Cailey was having another seizure, this person took over. I stomped off to my room to grab my purse and hollered at my stunned family, ‘Get in the damn car! We are going to the damn emergency room!’

I am mad. So mad. I feel as though someone is trying to get to me by messing with my kid and, oh my gosh, it makes me furious! I wonder if this is how all disciples feel? I wonder if this is how Paul or Peter or Timothy felt? Doesn’t it just piss you the F off guys? It does me, and that is where I am, so proceed with caution.

Chris and I decided to give God everything three years ago. There was a lot that happened to bring us to that moment of surrender but the point is, we surrendered. We held our lives in our hands and handed them to God. We said here, we will do ANYTHING.

I for one was pretty pumped when that ‘anything’ seemed to be missions. I liked the leading a youth camp outside Yellowstone that our ‘anything’ seemed to be headed at one point but missions … going where no one else wanted to go, loving the ones no one else wanted to love, giving what no one else wanted to give. Now that I could love. That seemed sufficiently enough to satisfy my over achieving heart.

And we are getting close, so close.

This trip is just the beginning. God is moving in mighty ways and He is not letting me think for a moment it is anything but Him. He is well aware of my tendency to explain away the ‘weird’ aspects of a spirit-filled life of faith and He is taking no chances.

What could ever make me step away from the edge and say, ‘No, I don’t think I will.’ At one time I would have said, ‘Nothing! Absolutely nothing!’

And then Cailey got sick.

My mind immediately went to, ‘What if we were in the Philippines ….’ I looked into nurse aide courses at the college because I don’t want to be the one that tells God no and maybe if I knew how to take her blood pressure this wouldn’t be so scary. Chris says, ‘If it will make you feel better.’ But it won’t make me feel better. Nothing will make me feel better. No one ever said this was going to be easy but I don’t guess I thought it would be quite so hard.

I don’t want to be the one that tells God no.

It makes me mad to think there is something that would make me say no. It makes me mad that someone is attacking my weak spot. It makes me mad to have to be stronger than I want to be. It makes me mad that the ones I love are having to endure with me. It all just makes me SO MAD!

And maybe that is not such a bad thing. I did just tell Satan to kiss my ass after all.

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My Worst Case

I wish I had been able to write through what happened with Cailey while it was happening. I started to many times but the words would not come and I decided not to force them. Now, almost three months later and on the other side of her healing, I feel the tug to share the amazing moments that could so easily get lost in our worst-case-scenario.

The first of these moments came when I was forced to sit still on a tiny, dark, very loud aircraft that made conversation with the flight nurses taking care of my very sick baby girl, impossible. That may have been the longest hour of my entire life. Up to that point I had spent every moment on the phone with my husband, my mom, my sisters, my friends … I had not let myself slow down long enough to think about what was happening.

Earlier that day I had taken my 11-year-old daughter to the doctor for the third time because her headache was not getting any better. She had been through two rounds of antibiotics for a sinus infection and, if anything, things were getting worse. Now she not only had an excruciating headache, she could not hold down food and water. The doctor ordered a CT scan. I herded my four children (one with a jacket over her head because she could not stand the light) to the hospital where we waited, I filled out paperwork, showed my insurance card, waited some more, and finally led my child into a room and left her there while they scanned her head. We headed home to see if the anti-nausea pills the doctor had given us would help Cailey finally be able to eat and take something for her pain. We had not been there five minutes when the doctor called and said Cailey had a severe sinus infection they could not treat and she needed to go to a specialist immediately. She had set up an appointment at an Ear, Nose and Throat (ENT) doctor and we needed to be there in thirty minutes (Thirty minutes? To see a specialist?). I herded my four children back out to the car (one crying, with a jacket over her head, because all she wanted was to lie down and go to sleep)

‘Please Mama, don’t make me go anywhere else.’

‘We have to Cailey. Something isn’t right.’

We made it to the ENT’s office in record time where we waited, I filled out paperwork, showed my insurance card, waited some more, and finally were shown to an examination room. The PA came in to look at Cailey. I calmly went through the past week and a half, the doctors appointments, the antibiotics, how she was not getting better, how something was not right. He left and came back with the doctor. The doctor looked at Cailey and I calmly explained everything again.

‘We are going to admit her. She does have a sinus infection but that does not account for the pain she is in.’ (HALLELUJAH! Praise the Lord, my baby will get some morphine or something! I cannot stand her being in so much pain!)

I will not even go into how long it took to admit her and get her into a room and bed while I tried to keep my four children quiet and still (one crying that she just couldn’t stand it anymore)

A pediatrician saw us coming down the hallway and immediately came in our room and began to examine Cailey. She gave her a full neurological exam. Cailey passed with flying colors (as she moaned and refused to open her eyes all the way because the light hurt) The pediatrician said she thought it was a bad sinus infection that had triggered a migraine. (Sigh)

‘You do?’

‘Yes, I do. But we are going to do some tests just to be sure.’

They hooked Cailey up to an IV, gave her morphine (sigh), and some anti-nausea medicine. I ordered her some jello and a popsicle from room service. I told the nurse I needed to get my other children something to eat and give them a break from the room (she knew, they had already pulled the emergency cord in the bathroom twice).

‘My husband is out-of-town, I have no family here, I have no one to come and be with Cailey while I take care of her brothers and sister. Will you please watch her for me?’

‘Of course.’

‘Mama, please don’t go.’

‘I have to baby. I have to get Cade, Cian and Cara something to eat. I will be right back. You go to sleep and I will be right back.’

I waited until the morphine started to take effect and she fell asleep. I told the doctor I was leaving for a minute but would be right back.

I left.

I took my three children down to the parking garage and got the snacks I had packed earlier that day. I called Chris and told him what the doctor said. He said he was on his way home. He would be there in four hours (sigh) We went to a vending machine and got everyone something to drink. We walked back to Cailey’s room. I walked in. She was on her back and her eyes were open (wow, that morphine must really be working, she hasn’t opened her eyes all day)

‘Cailey, we’re back honey. How do you feel?’

‘Cailey?’

‘Cailey?’ I grabbed her face and shook her.

Cara screamed.

I ran into the hallway and hollered at the doctor and nurse standing right there that she is was not responding. They ran in the room.

I stood looking through the door as more and more people came running down the hallway that was empty only moments before. I started to cry. Cian and Cara started to cry. Cade kept patting my back and saying over and over, ‘It’s going to be okay Mama. It’s going to be okay.’

A nurse came and took us to the playroom. They would tell me as soon as they knew something.

I started calling. Everyone. Please pray, please pray. I don’t know what’s wrong. She wouldn’t respond. Her eyes looked funny. She wouldn’t respond.

I called my closest friend. I am not too proud to ask for help with my children now. She came immediately.

Twenty minutes later a nurse knelt beside me.

‘Cailey has had a seizure (what? why? she has a sinus infection!) They had to give her two large doses of a strong sedative to get it to break (what?) They are having to help her breath. They are having to give her a lot of help. They are taking her to the ICU and are going to  life-flight her to Denver Children’s.’

I broke. The nurse stayed with me.

I called. Everyone. Please pray, please pray.

Three hours later I was sitting on a tiny airplane headed for Denver. Cailey was on a stretcher beside me. She couldn’t speak, she couldn’t move anything except her hands. She kept hollering out. I thought she might be trying to say, ‘Mama!’ but I wasn’t sure.

The battle begins.

A voice I know well tells me this is my fault. I knew something was wrong and I didn’t take her to the emergency room right away. My baby has been in terrible pain and I thought she was just being dramatic. I let this happen. I let it go on too long and now she may die, or be a vegetable her whole life and it is ALL MY FAULT!

A quiet voice that is not mine, calmly tells me, ‘You know that is not right. You know what the truth is. You know this. You have got this.’

The panicked voice that is mine hollers, ‘Yes it is! It is my fault! People say I am laid back but that is not true, I am LAZY! I do not take good care of my children! I am a horrible mother! What more proof do I need? My child, that was fine a few days ago, can’t speak, she can’t move. This is my fault and I am going to have to see what I have done to her for the rest of my life! She will never …’ It took me a long time to list all the things my beautiful, smart, strong-willed, compassionate, hard-headed daughter might never do again.

The quiet, calm voice, ‘You know that is not right. You know what the truth is. You know this. You have got this.’

Would I have heard the small, quiet, calm voice of God over the panicked, judgmental, condemning voice that was mine, had I not been forced to sit still? Maybe. But I kind of doubt it. I don’t go around hearing God’s voice all the time. And never has He spoken as clearly as He did during that horrible, hour-long ride on a life-flight jet.

By the end of the flight I decided to listen to the calm, quiet voice. I decided I did know the truth. I knew God was in control of this terrible situation and I had done everything I could to help Cailey. I was a good mother. This was not my fault. This just was. God was letting it happen, not because He wanted to hurt me or Cailey, but because He was going to use this for good too. He was going to show me how He could use the terrible stuff too. He wrapped me up in His mercy and grace. He quieted that evil, panicked voice and held me firmly to His side.

And I felt peace.

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MRI

It is so late and I know I need to be sleeping. Tomorrow will be a hard day. But I am finding it more and more difficult to take my eyes off of Cailey.

She had an MRI today. It was this big, ugly machine with ‘Danger! This magnet is ALWAYS on’ stickers all over the door. Sure, take my baby in there and strap her in that thing and do, only God knows what, for half an hour while she lays perfectly still. She did great. She threw up as soon as she got out. She is the strongest, bravest, most beautiful person I know. It is tearing me up inside to see her hurting so bad.

As I was sitting waiting for the MRI to finish I kept praying, ‘Ok God. I’m ready. I’m ready for you to come down and heal her now. I’m ready for you to take away all her pain. I know You can do this. I am ready.’

I think of the Lazarus story. Lazarus was Jesus’s friend. Jesus loved Lazarus. When Lazarus’s sisters sent for Jesus because he was sick, Jesus said he would be there soon. Jesus continued to teach and love and heal perfect strangers while his beloved Lazarus grew sicker and sicker and even died. Jesus went to Lazarus three days later and His heart was broken. He loved Lazarus. Mary and Martha did not understand at all. But then an amazing thing happened … Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead. So many that saw came to believe that day. So many more than if Jesus had healed Lazarus when he was just sick. I know God’s timing is perfect. This story tells me that even when it doesn’t seem like it, God’s timing is always perfect.

We got the results of Cailey’s MRI tonight. She has small abscesses of infection between her skull and her brain across her forehead and beside her eyes. She is in terrible pain. She can’t hold anything in her stomach. The Neurosurgeon said they may have to go in and wash the infection out.

My dearest, heavenly Father, I am ready for You to heal my baby. I am beyond ready. I can’t stand to see her hurting this way. I can’t stand it for one more second. I am begging You to heal my baby and take away her pain. I am begging you Father. YOUR BELOVED IS BEGGING YOU! I lay before You now, with my face on the ground, clutching Your feet sweet Jesus, giving You everything I have and saying the hardest words I’ve ever said. They get stuck in my throat and burn my insides up … not mine, but Your will be done. Your perfect and beautiful will.

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I am thinking about a couple of things today….

Thought #1: I am no longer interested in what people have to say. I am only interested in what people DO. I’m not sure if this is because my best friends moved to the Philippines to be missionaries and I get to talk to them every week on Skype about what they are DOING every single day of their lives and that amounts to a whole heck of a lot more than what most people have to say any day of the week. Or if it is because I am currently reading 7: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess by Jen Hatmaker (you may have noticed my thoughts are greatly influenced by whatever book I am reading) and she is actually DOING what she says in the book instead of just telling me to do it. Actions speak louder than words. I’ve known this for forever but I think I am just now learning what it really means.

Thought #2: During the sermon this morning the pastor asked us to read John 18: 28-40 and then write down two things that struck us about the passage ….

Jesus’ Trial before Pilate

28 Jesus’ trial before Caiaphas ended in the early hours of the morning. Then he was taken to the headquarters of the Roman governor.[a] His accusers didn’t go inside because it would defile them, and they wouldn’t be allowed to celebrate the Passover. 29 So Pilate, the governor, went out to them and asked, “What is your charge against this man?”

30 “We wouldn’t have handed him over to you if he weren’t a criminal!” they retorted.

31 “Then take him away and judge him by your own law,” Pilate told them.

“Only the Romans are permitted to execute someone,” the Jewish leaders replied. 32 (This fulfilled Jesus’ prediction about the way he would die.[b])

33 Then Pilate went back into his headquarters and called for Jesus to be brought to him. “Are you the king of the Jews?” he asked him.

34 Jesus replied, “Is this your own question, or did others tell you about me?”

35 “Am I a Jew?” Pilate retorted. “Your own people and their leading priests brought you to me for trial. Why? What have you done?”

36 Jesus answered, “My Kingdom is not an earthly kingdom. If it were, my followers would fight to keep me from being handed over to the Jewish leaders. But my Kingdom is not of this world.”

37 Pilate said, “So you are a king?”

Jesus responded, “You say I am a king. Actually, I was born and came into the world to testify to the truth. All who love the truth recognize that what I say is true.”

38 “What is truth?” Pilate asked. Then he went out again to the people and told them, “He is not guilty of any crime. 39 But you have a custom of asking me to release one prisoner each year at Passover. Would you like me to release this ‘King of the Jews’?”

40 But they shouted back, “No! Not this man. We want Barabbas!” (Barabbas was a revolutionary.)

I only came up with one thing but he only gave us like 30 seconds so it’s not really my fault … “Sometimes it is the people who ‘know’ the most that make the biggest mistakes. Pilate, who knew nothing about the Messiah, was the only one that was interested in justice and doing the right thing.

Conclusions: I first believed in Jesus when I was 14. I spent the next 20 years ‘riding the fence’. Still believing in Jesus but trying to live in the world. I did not ever want to be one of those people who let God take over their whole lives. Yes, I was an idiot. Then when I was 32 something happened. I was in a very desperate place and I needed to believe that this Jesus thing was really real once and for all. So I asked God to make Himself known to me … and He honored my plea. How He did that is not important (although at one time I thought it was very important). From that point on I no longer was able to ‘ride the fence’. I was no longer able to give God only one corner of my life – I had to give it all to Him. In the years since I have been consumed with learning as much as I could about the bible, about the Holy Spirit, about God’s will, and some less admirable topics, such as Christianspeak (this language involves an obscene number of variations of the verb ‘bless’) While this knowledge is important (except for the Christianspeak part – that’s not important at all, it just helps you fit in a bit better) it is not really as essential as I thought. People throughout the bible that had an insane amount of ‘knowledge’ made a total mess of things all the time. Over and over God shows how He doesn’t need people with a lot of knowledge to carry out His will – He actually seems to prefer the ones that don’t know all that much. So how did I get to a place where I thought I needed this knowledge to let God have all of me? What I know and what I say is not nearly as important as what I DO. It is time for my actions to speak louder than my words.

I am not interested in what I have to say anymore…. I am interested in what I do.

 

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What I have learned from a Cheerleader and Rough Necks

My mom thinks I am crazy. She does not understand this missions stuff at all and does not want to. She thinks it is super irresponsible and it makes her mad when I talk about it. I get it. I get that I am her kid and she is worried for me and she is worried for my babies if this turns into something more permanent. She wants us to be safe and happy and have plenty. She also wants people to bring the love of Jesus to the Philippines – she just wants someone else to do it. Not us. Like I said, I get it and while it is hard not having the support of the people closest to you, sometimes I think it is a good thing. Sometimes I don’t, but that is not my point. I HAVE to find words to explain the unexplainable to my mom. I have to dig deep and try hard to help her understand how I can absolutely not want to do something but at the same time have a deep desire to do that very thing. She challenges me with her skepticism and her doubt that I am functioning at full capacity and I have to constantly be ready to answer the hard questions and know exactly what I believe. I have to be sensitive to her feelings while at the same time being firm that we will do whatever we feel God is leading us to do. Period. It is a very fine line. And I am brave enough to talk about it on here because my mom does not read my blog …. and I hope she doesn’t start anytime soon.

It’s hard when family questions our sanity, but not unexpected. I kind of knew it was coming. I’m pretty sure I even had a conversation with God when I realized He might actually be serious about this overseas missionary stuff that ended something like … ‘Okay, but You’re telling my mom!’ The harder thing is when other people question our sincerity and our calling. Unexpected people. The people I thought would be some of our biggest supporters somehow turned out to be our biggest critics. And I don’t get it but I’m not sure how much I want to talk about that on here. I don’t want to hurt any feelings or make anyone angry so I’ll just leave that one alone for now.

Then there are the people who are as excited as we are about serving ‘the least of these’. People who have had nothing but encouraging and loving words. To be honest… most of the people who have contacted me wanting to help through prayer, or financial support, or raising money have been a surprise. Not all … but most. They are the people I almost didn’t send our missions letter to because I really didn’t know them well but something told me to send it anyway (I wonder Who that was) and I listened. I sure am glad I did because it is those unexpected blessings that have kept me going when I have started to question everything.

One example, is a girl I went to high school with. We did not hang out in the same crowd. She was a cheerleader; I was in the band. We became friends on facebook a few years ago because you become friends with everyone you went to high school with on facebook – it is the great equalizer. We have interacted maybe twice since becoming friends. As I was going through my friends list deciding who I should send our missions letter to, I came across her name. I immediately thought, ‘No, I don’t know her’ and moved on down my list. But her name kept popping up when I would type a person’s name in to send a message. Finally, I clicked on it and sent her our letter. She contacted me today wanting to know how she could help. She said she wanted to donate to our mission. She said she was going to take our letter to her son’s catholic school and see what they could do about helping us raise money.  She said her family would do everything in their power to help us. I DON’T EVEN KNOW THIS GIRL! I’m not going to lie, I started crying when I got her message. Some of the people who know us well and know our hearts are not willing to help us, yet this girl I barely knew almost 20 years ago will do everything in her power to see us fulfill God’s calling. How amazing is that?

Another example is the men Chris works with. Chris works with some pretty rough guys – it is the oil field – enough said. Most of them don’t go to church, don’t read their bibles and don’t really like ‘Christians’ at all. Chris is perfect for this environment because he is a pretty rough man too. He will take no crap off anyone and lets you know it in no uncertain terms. He is a bad boy. And he is a Christian. He is perfect. Chris does not shove his faith down anyone’s throat but he doesn’t hide it either. He just is who he is. He doesn’t care what anyone thinks. Really. He loves Jesus and wants other people to love Him too. He listens to the Christian radio station in the truck and reads his bible on his phone. If anyone asks about his faith, he will tell them about it. He is rough, tough and real. The guys he works with respect him. So when he told them about wanting to go and help feed starving kids in the Philippines and help fix some houses so people did not have to suffer through another rainy season with no protection – they all wanted to know how they could help. Not one of them asked if God had called Chris to do this or if it was just something he wanted to do. Not one asked if their donations were tax-deductible. Not one asked if Chris’s church was going to take up donations to help feed these children and repair these houses. They heard about a need from someone they trusted and wanted to know how they could help.

These are just a few of the unexpected places I am seeing Jesus these days.

I don’t know everything there is to know about the bible, I don’t know how to always be in the center of God’s will, I don’t know how to be like Jesus all of the time … but I am learning in a very real way that God doesn’t need me to know everything. He just needs me to believe that He does and be willing to move when He says, ‘Go!

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With all my heart and all my soul

I posted this from an amazing book I am reading on facebook yesterday ….

“Fear. It’s part of human nature, but it’s not something we got from God. Second Timothy 1: 7 says: “For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.” When I imagine God creating each one of us and planting a purpose deep in our hearts, I never imagine that purpose being mediocrity. While the Bible doesn’t tell every person on earth specifically what his or her life’s calling will be, it does include a lot of general direction:

“You are to find me in the least of these.” Yes.

“You are to leave your earthly possessions and come follow me.” Yes.

“You are to love and serve the Lord God with all your heart and love your neighbor as yourself.” Yes.

“You are to go and make disciples of all nations.” Yes.

“You are to entertain strangers and lepers and tax collectors.” Yes.

“You are to show mercy.” Yes.

“You are to live a life of mediocrity and abundance, holding on tight to your comfortable lifestyle, lest you lose it.” No.”

These words pierce my heart. They speak to a place deep inside me. They are truth. They are for me.

Sometimes I wonder if I am driving people crazy with all this talk of ‘loving your neighbor as yourself’ and ‘leave your earthly possessions and follow me (Jesus).’ I would be driving me crazy. I might would block me from my facebook feed like I do those people who tell everyone what are having for lunch every single day. But I can’t help it. I honestly don’t think everyone should sell everything they own and move to some third world country to serve God. I just think maybe that is what I am suppose to do. Until then I pray God keeps my eyes and heart open to the opportunities to be a missionary right where I am and I pursue those opportunities on purpose (thanks friend).

“I don’t think so. “Mediocrity and abundance” aren’t there. However, mediocrity and abundance, comfort and ease, do seem to be safe choices for many people, myself included. In stark contrast, leaving our possessions, following Jesus when we don’t have a well-defined plan, and entertaining strangers— well, that does sound a little scary. But what if, just beyond that risk, just beyond the fear is a life better than anything we have ever imagined: life to the fullest.”

Clark, Beth; Davis, Katie J. (2011-10-04). Kisses from Katie (p. 101). Simon & Schuster, Inc.. Kindle Edition.

Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. Psalm 139:23

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‘If you have faith and don’t doubt’

The kids and I are in Denver for a few days visiting Chris. He works out here for 2 weeks and then comes home to us for 1. This week is the kids Spring Break so we packed up the car with what looked like everything we owned and headed to see Daddy. I had planned to come earlier this week but there was bad weather and Chris didn’t want me driving over the passes. It totally cracks me up that I drive over mountain passes all by myself now. I am from the piney woods of east Texas! I remember not too long ago getting a thrill driving down the steep feeder road on the way to Mandi’s house.

Chris is sick. I took him to the emergency room once I got here. The doctor thought he had pneumonia at first but after a chest x-ray diagnosed him with severe bronchitis. I love this man to pieces but he sure is ornery when he is sick. Good for me he doesn’t get sick often.

I am glad for the timing of this trip and the distraction of keeping four kids entertained in a hotel (thank you Lord for an indoor pool). If I had stayed home alone, surely I would have been impatiently waiting for a reply to every missions letter I sent out. That sounds like a very me thing to do. But oddly enough, I don’t feel impatient at all. I really haven’t even been thinking about it. I am almost beginning to think I may have finally learned to be patient. Almost.

Every time I do get an e-mail from someone telling me that they most definitely will pray, or contribute, or pass on our letter, or all three – I am completely shocked. Every. single. time. I have these conversations with God…

‘I can’t believe You’re doing it!’

‘I told you I would.’

‘I know and I believed You but …. I CAN’T BELIEVE YOU’RE DOING IT!’

Tonight after I made sure my husband took ALL his medicine (it’s a little selfish as he has one of those full body coughs that not a soul could sleep through) and my babies got baths and lathered their poor dry skin up with baby oil and lotion and got everyone tucked into their bed/pallets and said a thirty minute prayer (those kids LOVE praying to Jesus) – I opened my bible and God lead me straight there. To a little story about a withered fig tree …

Then Jesus told them, “I tell you the truth, if you have faith and don’t doubt, you can do things like this and much more. You can even say to this mountain, ‘May you be lifted up and thrown into the sea,’ and it will happen. You can pray for anything, and if you have faith, you will receive it.” (Matthew 21: 21-22 NLT)

… ‘if you have faith and don’t doubt.’

What must that be like? To never have any doubt that God will fulfill His every promise? To have complete faith He will do just what He says He will do? I tell myself I believe, I tell God I believe. I tell myself I don’t have any doubt, I tell God I don’t have any doubt. And I really think the whole time that I have complete faith. God knows better.

Because I am completely shocked. Every. single. time.

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Missions letter sent!

Man, am I glad THAT part is over with! Sending out this missions letter was so over-the-top hard for me. Asking for help does not come easy to me. I wring my hands and fret and put it off … until finally I can’t take one more person asking if I have sent it yet and just do it.

I have pride issues.

And what people will think of me issues.

But then I remember WHY we are going and WHAT we will be doing and WHO we will be helping. I remember that I didn’t come up with this idea – this was God’s idea. Am I going to say ‘Yes!’ or am I going to say ‘ No, I don’t want to do that.’ I will always say yes. It may take me a minute but Jesus did tell us to count the cost after all, didn’t he? 🙂

I have gotten A LOT of encouragement along the way ….

Of course, John and Mandi – no missions trip without them! And no letter without Mandi’s talented self helping me write it.

Autumn and Philip Wilkins were so helpful and even in the midst of moving their family of 6 to Prague to plant a church, took the time to read our letter and give us awesome tips and the encouragement that I can never get enough of.

Our pastor from our beloved little church in Texas, Jason Bay, has the most amazing gift for giving encouragement that I have ever seen! He has also been a major help on how and what and when and where. And he always lets us know how much we are missed – which is huge for me.

My sister-in-law, Chesica – I don’t know how she knows exactly what it is I need to hear but her words help me more than she will ever know.

And so many others – Misti, Andy, Mike, Suzanne, Crystal, Pat, Shari … the list could go on and on!

Thank you all so much for your love and your never-ending encouraging words. We could not do the hard stuff without you!

**big sigh of relief** Now it’s in God’s hands – the rest is up to Him 🙂

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What if Jesus wasn’t kidding?

I have not wanted to go to church lately. The kids had state testing this weekend and I felt relieved that I had an excuse not to go. Chris has been asking me about it. It’s not like me. He is worried.

I have blamed it on the big church we are going to and say I prefer smaller churches. I have blamed it on the fact that I still miss our church family back home everyday and don’t want to find a new church here at all. And while both of those are true, they are not really the reason I don’t want to go.

I don’t like going to church because of the uneasiness I feel every time I go. It is getting worse. I sit in church and I listen to the Word of God being preached and I know it is right. I watch the people around me praising and worshiping and I know they love and adore Jesus just as much as I do. But something is wrong. I don’t know what it is. I can’t put my finger on it. I can’t figure it out.

And then I read things…

Like in Jen Hatmaker’s book ‘7’ – on the very first page she talks about her church … “A poor church plant operating on half its intake means we rent a worship space with dancing frogs painted on the back wall and carpet that saw the Nixon administration. Our parking lot looks like it was hit by an earthquake – and then patched up by drunken monkeys. We have no support staff, no secretaries, no copy machine …. We won’t buy carpet at the expense of orphans. $10,000 for a new parking lot could fund a hundred thousand tree seedlings to reforest Africa’s decimated land and stimulate their local economy. It’s kind of a no brainer.”

Yes it is.

I’m not even sure how I found the blog of Katie Davis, a missionary in Uganda, but I love every one of her words. Especially these …. “Twice in Scripture Jesus is asked what needs to be done in order to enter the Kingdom of Heaven. Twice He answers.

The first time, He says to Nicodemus, “In order to enter the Kingdom of Heaven you must be born again, baptised in water and the Spirit.” We take this quite seriously and celebrate baptism with joy.

The second time, Jesus is asked the same question by an unnamed rich man. This time His answer is this, “In order to enter the Kingdom of Heaven, you must sell everything you have and give it to the poor.”

We skip this one because it is a bit more difficult.

But what if Jesus WASN’T KIDDING?”

Yes. What if He wasn’t?

I wish I had better words to explain what is going on in my head and in my heart tonight. I wish this issue was black and white. But it’s not. I recognize the amazing things the church I go to is doing for the orphan, the poor, the destitute. And I don’t want to take away from that by saying, ‘I have a hard time walking into this multi-million dollar building and being taught the word of God.’ But that is the truth. I simply cannot hear the stories about the starving people in the village where John and Mandi live and not feel like we are missing something when we hear the teachings of Jesus in our big, fancy churches. I can’t help but feel that we have all gotten really good at loving Jesus, but we just don’t listen to Him.

These are the things pushing me out of the boat.

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