Friday, August 26, 2011

Setting Some Things Straight

There seems to be a need to clarify some things concerning Sara.

It's been 10 days that Sara has had a migraine.  She has been miserable and very few things have given her very much relief at all.  Coming from her mama, who deals with migraines very often, it's so hard to see her suffering so much.  If you've ever had a migraine, you understand what I'm saying.  I wish I could take it away from her.

We have no idea what triggered her migraine.  She came home last Tuesday with a headache and it spiraled from there.  By Thursday night, she was begging to go to the ER it was hurting so bad.  Around 9:30 p.m. Nathan took her and she didn't get home until almost 3 a.m.  They gave her what is known as the "migraine cocktail", did blood work and did a CT scan.  Her blood work and CT scan were normal, and the meds dulled her headache enough she could get some sleep.  But when she woke up the next morning, the pain had increased once again.  We alternated Tylenol and ibuprofen and gave her phenagren for the nausea through the weekend and stayed in contact with our doctor.  Monday morning I took her in to see our family doctor.  She was given a couple of shots and we were instructed to bring her back in the next day if she still had the headache.  Tuesday afternoon we went back.  She was thoroughly examined.  Her neurological exam was normal.  I discussed with Dr. Richards a plan of action.  One of the issues is the meds given commonly for migraines are not recommended for those under the age of 18.  We discussed sending her to a neurologist.  None of them in town see pediatrics.  We would have to go to Vanderbilt or UT Hospital.  Getting an appointment will take some time.  Part of our hesitation with sending her at that point was some of the pedantic neurologist will give those meds given to adults.  One of my very best friends has a daughter who had meningitis a couple of years ago.  She was given the meds commonly given to adults for migraines and the side effects were horrible.  She was more miserable with the side effects than just trying to cope with the migraine.  We made the decision to give it a few more days, and change her diet.  We've eliminated caffeine, red meats and hard cheeses.  She was also given a nose spray in case she had some inflammation in her sinuses due to her allergies.  The only thing that has changed is she has been outside much more than usual due to being a football manager at school.  She's been doing this for months, but she's so allergic to so many things it is a possibility.  She does not have any drainage, cough or fever.  

Yesterday she thought her headache was manageable enough she could go to school, but she had to come home after 2 1/2 hours.  She said she's even having trouble "thinking".  Last night she said her headache was minimal, but she was weak and dizzy.  She had been dizzy the entire time, but more so last night.  She stayed home again today.

I've had many of you ask who is her doctor and what exactly is he doing about it?  I've also had a few of you all but make the accusation we are not doing enough for her.  Here's the deal folks.

Sara is being watched very closely.  No, I'm not taking her into the doctor's office every single day, but I don't have to.  Dr. Richards is one of our very best friends and we are communicating with him frequently every day.  He has also been to our house this week and will come at any time needed.  It takes time to get in to see a specialist.  If you've ever had to see one, you get it.  If her CT scan, neurological exam or blood work were abnormal, it would be different.  Her blood pressure isn't even high.  We don't want to give her meds that are going to harm her more.  Since her headache has not gone away, we most likely will be doing an MRI next week.  Had Nathan and I been insistent for her to have one, Darryl would have ordered one.  But we don't want her exposed to any more radiation than necessary.  A CT scan would have shown a bleed or a growth on her brain.  She has had migraines for a few years.  She's just never had one that has lasted this long.

I know some of you are well meaning with your questions and suggestions, but some of you not so much.  It makes me angry and is hurtful you would insinuate we are not concerned enough for our daughter, and we are not taking care of her.  We are very concerned about Sara and we want what is best for her.  Instead of being accusatory, I ask you spend your time and energy praying for her to have some relief and that we would have wisdom to know what to do for her next.  I welcome sincere concern and sincere suggestions.  If you are being anything other than that, I ask you keep  your opinions to yourself.

And yes, medical care is costly, but we would spend every penny we have, beg and borrow if we needed to, in order to have the best care for Sara.  Why anyone would suggest otherwise is beyond my comprehension.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

What a Week!

It has been sort of a weird week.  We've had things happen that have brought us celebration, things that have brought us much concern and every other emotion in between.  I have been meaning to blog for several days, but I just have not had the energy.  I sit down to start writing and my brain literally is drained to the point I can't formulate one thought... much less write a post that makes any sense at all.  I fully intend to write about many of these events... hopefully soon.

Here are some highlights. 

My cousin Andy married.  It was so fun to be with family that I don't get to see often enough.  I have lots of pictures!

My Sunday school class has been very hard to process.   I seriously have much to share about the things the Lord is teaching me.  Just when I think we are approaching the end of the study on The Peacemaker, the announcement is made that there will be a ladies bible study begin in the next couple of weeks covering the book.  I think I'm not going to participate, yet I end up ordering the book this past week.  I had put it in a cart on Amazon I forgot about, along with a cookbook and 2 CD's I've wanted for months, and I get an email telling me there has been a price adjustment on the items in my cart.  Everything has decreased in price.  The total is $26.62 for all 4 items.  I think, jackpot!  I intended to remove The Peacemaker because there was only 2 more classes left, but I forgot.  This past Sunday the announcement is made about the bible study.  Later that day I'm talking to a friend about whether or not I should consider doing the bible study, and he tells me our Grace group is also going to expand on the book.  Hmmm...  I must be missing something huge the Lord is trying to teach me.

My sister-in-law and nephew make a surprise visit.  My brother-in-law is in the military.  My sister-in-law came for a visit since my nephew was starting school this week.  It was so great to spend some time with them!  We are hoping to get to go visit them over Fall break.  I'm praying I'm strong enough to be able to make the trip.  

Hannah cheers at her 2nd football game.  I am so, so proud of how well all of the girls did!

Sara develops a migraine that is now on day 8.  Please pray for her.  Her CT scan is normal and her neurological is exam was normal.  We made the decision yesterday to eliminate some things out of her diet before seeing a neurologist at Vanderbilt.  We may still end up there, but I'm very hesitant.  One of my best friend's daughter developed meningitis a couple of years ago, and some of the medicine they gave her for her migraines had such terrible side effects.  Side effects that actually were worse than the migraine at times.  We are keeping a close eye on her.  I am grateful our family doctor is one of my best friends.

I get the sweetest letter from a friend who is working in Korea.  It was such a happy surprise!  And the envelope was PINK!  I cannot wait to be able to sit down and write her back.  I love, love letters, notes and cards that arrive by snail mail!  There is just something so wonderful about having a handwritten note that someone has taken the time out of their day to sit down and write for you.  She has a blog she tries to update often, but I am so excited about having a pen pal.

The youth girls at our church had a fellowship this past Saturday and I cannot wait to write about the details of the day.  Such a fabulous day!!

I have been given the opportunity to work some from home.  I'm not sure how I'm going to be able to handle it, but I want to give it a try.  We are currently still trying to work out the details.  Hopefully, I can share more later.

My friend Deborah finally announced she is expecting.  It's been a hard secret to keep because I am so excited for her.  You must see the cute way she made the announcement to everyone on Facebook and on her blog.  Love it!  They told their family at her twins' birthday party by having them open up a onesie.  So cute!

My cousin, Stephanie, had major surgery this past week.  She's been battling cancer for a long time now.  She's a fighter.  Please pray for her and her family.  Her husband is so supportive.  She has 3 small boys.

My cousin, Heather, is expecting baby number 3.  She currently has 2 kidney stones.  Please pray they will break up on their own so she will be able to pass them and will avoid surgery.

There are other things that have happened this week that are too private to share on a blog.  None of them pleasant.

Hopefully, I can at least sit down later tonight and write about one of the events of the past week.  What a week!

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Frustration with CIDP

I feel like CIDP is kicking my rear end this week.  I'm hoping it's only because I have tried to do too much lately.  Maybe once I get some rest it will be better.  It's a catch 22 though.  I need rest to feel better, yet I can't rest because of the symptoms I'm having.  It's very frustrating, and when this happens I usually end up having to fight depression.  My emotions become haywire.  You should be praying for my family.  Bless them!

I don't think I'll ever learn to accept my limitations.  I think it's because I think if I do I'll waste away.  So many days I just feel like laying in bed or sitting on the couch.  I rarely actually feel up to getting out of the house, and usually have to literally make myself go to church and bible study.  Most days when I have plans to try and get out of the house, I sit in the shower and cry.  I just pray the Lord will make it possible for me to be able to.  I get very restless when I have to stay home for any length of time.  There have been times when I've not gotten out for 3 weeks.  It's awful!  Before getting sick I stayed on the go constantly.  In a blink of an eye that all changed.  Now I need to plan ahead.  If I want to go to church on Sunday, I need to be careful Friday and Saturday.  I haven't learned this yet.  I just don't want to miss out on life.  I've already missed so much.  My cousin got married this weekend.  I was bound and determined I was going to make it to all of the events.  I'm paying for it now.  I almost didn't make it to church on Sunday, and it's mostly likely playing a big part of how I'm feeling this week.

I have a fear of becoming so weak I won't be able to walk safely, or even at all.  I have to purposely use my muscles to keep them from atrophying.  So I push myself; usually too hard.  Some days, though, the weakness wins.

My pain has been excessive the past few days.  It feels like I have electrical shocks shooting through my legs and arms and it's burning the inside.  At the same time it feels like I am being jabbed with needles.  My muscles ache, and I'm have muscle cramps often.  They just hit all of a sudden.  They feel like charlies horses (wonder why someone used that name), and I'm having them in weird places... like my rib cage area.  The muscles in my left eye are becoming weak, so my eyeball at times doesn't track correctly.  It makes me dizzy and starts triggering migraines.  So far I've been able to keep the one I'm fighting right now at bay.  At the same time my face becomes numb and cold.  It's the strangest thing.

All of that makes me irritable.  It makes me angry.  I seriously hate CIDP.  When I have these "episodes" I get depressed.  I often wonder if my doctors will ever figure out a treatment plan that will put the disease in remission, or if the disease will ever just go into remission.   My frustration is at an all time high today.  

I haven't exhausted all the treatments for this disease, well with the exception of the immune suppressant medication.  I'm currently taking a high dose of Cellcept.  The theory is because CIDP is an autoimmune disease, if they can lower my immune system enough it will cause my body to stop attacking itself.  Although it hasn't solved the problem, we do think it's helping.  Without it, we think I could be so much worse.

Cellcept is risky.  When Dr. Gaw gave me the option he told me several times, "You do realize this medication can kill you.  It can cause diseases most people don't get."  We weighed the benefits against the risk for some time.  I finally just asked him if he was in my shoes, what would he do.  He said he would take it.  So I've been taking it for a little over a year now.  So far I've not had any issues.  I have to have blood work done often to monitor blood counts.  Because CIDP lowers my immune system and the Cellcept lowers it even more, I have to be careful to not be around anyone who is sick.  It's also frustrating I can't make people understand that.  Some people are careful to stay away when they are sick and will keep there children away from me, but some just don't get it.  I had someone hug me at church on Sunday who had a cold.  I didn't even realize it until she had already done it.  I've managed to not have any communicable diseases in quite some time, and I'd like to keep it that way.  Sometimes I'd like to wear a sign that says, "Stay away if you are sick."

So, that's where I am today with CIDP.  I feel miserable today, but I am hopeful it will get better.  If I could just figure out a way to rest, I think that would help.  As weird as it sounds, sometimes heat helps the pain.  It can be 90 degrees outside and I'll be wrapped up in a heated throw.  Sadly, I've burnt out two because I used them so much and currently don't have one.

I know there is something the Lord is trying to teach me in all of this.  Wonder what I'm missing...


Saturday, August 13, 2011

What Does It Mean to Glory in Christ Jesus?

For 2 weeks my bible study group has chewed on this question.  We've dug deep into scripture.  I have 2 pages of notes and scripture references written in my notebook.  However, today if you asked me this question I would stammer around trying to give you an answer.  Outside of the group I have pondered, read over the notes and scripture references written in my notebook and asked the Lord to reveal to me what exactly this means.  I have learned over time that God doesn't always give us immediate answers.  Sometimes the answers don't come easy either.  I believe this is one of those times.

Last night this question started weighing heavy on my heart... well, it was actually about 2 a.m.  I got out my notes and my bible and started reading.  This passage kept standing out to me...

Psalm 105
 1 Oh give thanks to the LORD; call upon his name;
    make known his deeds among the peoples!
Sing to him, sing praises to him;
    tell of all his wondrous works!
Glory in his holy name;
   let the hearts of those who seek the LORD rejoice!
Seek the LORD and his strength;
    seek his presence continually!
Remember the wondrous works that he has done,
   his miracles, and the judgments he uttered
He kept bringing me back to this passage.  Every time I would read it, something one of the ladies shared this past Wednesday kept coming to my mind. 

One of the ladies in our group is going through a tough time.  She has some big decisions that need to be made and she's confused and scared.  I think she even feels a bit alone.  She shared her struggles with us, and we loved on her for awhile.  We offered advice, offered our help and prayed for her.  And prayed for her some more.  Several of the ladies said a prayer for her aloud.  When we were done another lady in our group, who rarely speaks up in bible study, said she had something she wanted to share.  I am going to paraphrase what she had to say.

She told us there was a time when she was so anxious about something she didn't even know how to pray.  She was just one big ball of nerves.  She had a very close relationship with her father and he is no longer here.  I get the sense she was a daddy's girl.  She talked about she how she would crawl up into his lap, and he was able to make her feel like everything was going to be okay.  It occurred to her, why not do the same with her Heavenly Father?  She asked Him to just wrap His arms around her so she would feel He was right there.  She made the decision to not think about what had her so upset, but rather she was only going to rest in the arms of her Heavenly Father.  When she laid down in her bed that night, it was like she literally could feel Him holding her.  She fell asleep resting in His arms and had the most peaceful sleep she had ever had.

When she shared this with us it was much more beautiful than how I've typed it out.  This came from a woman who is timid when it comes to sharing things in a group.  Knowing the courage it took for her to speak up gave it weight, this was clearly from the Lord.  He had laid this upon her heart to share.  She shared it for the benefit of the one who had broken down in front of us, but I know every lady in that room saw the glory of our Lord as she spoke.   The expression on her face showed how peace filled and loved it made her feel.  Not even her earthly father could have given her the depth of her Heavenly Father's peace.

Every time I think about what she said tears will start streaming down my face.  It's one of the most beautiful things I ever heard anyone say.  When I have prayed for others, I have often asked the Lord to wrap His arms around them so tightly they can feel His presence.  Not once have I ever prayed this for myself.  I have had said I can't wait to get to heaven so I can crawl up in Jesus' lap and know every thing is okay, but I don't know why I haven't prayed for Him to wrap His arms around me when I'm anxious, hurt and lonely.

I don't have the same relationship with my father she had with hers, but the relationship I have with my Heavenly Father far outweighs any relationship I will ever have on this earth.  Nathan has a way of making me feel safe.  Just having him near me makes me know everything is going to be okay.  But even the safety I feel with him doesn't compare to the safety I have with God.

Resting in the arms of Jesus.  Having complete peace in your heart, mind and soul He has everything worked out and everything is going to be okay.  Waking up and realizing His mercies are new every morning.  He's as faithful when you wake up as He was when you fell asleep.  He still has you held tightly and will never let you go.  Knowing these things and praising Him for them.  Singing those praises so loudly that all those who are around you can hear.

Well, I think that's glorying in Christ Jesus.

Friday, August 12, 2011

She's Always Known She is a Cheerleader

Since kindergarten Hannah has talked about how should could not wait to be a cheerleader.  Since the age of 5, she's had it all planned out.  7th grade would be the year.  It's the first year she could cheer for her school.  She has always said, When I become a cheerleader.  It's never been, If I become a cheerleader.  It has never been an option in her mind she might not be one.  That's one of the things I love about her.  Her determination.  All of her 6th grade year she talked about how try-outs were at the end of the year, and then she would say, Next year when I'm cheering..."  Sure enough...

Tonight was her first football game to cheer.  She has been so excited!  Earlier today was the first pep rally at school.  One of the great things about having daddy teach at the same school is I get to see pictures.

It's so hard to believe she is already in the 7th grade.

See that curly pony tail?  Those curls were so white she looked like she had a cotton ball on top of her head just yesterday it seems.

I love that this happened right before the game began.  Yes, prayer has to be student initiated.  What a bold statement for this group of young girls to make in front of their classmates.  There was another young lady who said a prayer before the game began over the loud speaker.   I think it's amazing.  In a time when our kids are made fun of and often bullied because of their beliefs, it brings me to tears they are still not ashamed to boldly say, " Jesus' name.  Amen!"  And standing right there with them is their coach.  She very well could have stood off to the side and used the excuse the prayer was for the students.  Instead she stood with them and held their hands.  That folks is a true leader in my book.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Meet Alex

This is Alex...

I'm rather attached to him.  We've had him since he was just 8 weeks old.  Hannah wanted a dog for her birthday.  We had to have a hypoallergenic dog because of Sara's allergies.  So Hannah sat down with the computer and researched dogs until she found one she thought was a good fit for our family.  Then she found a breeder nearby.  Please don't judge us for not going to the animal shelter to adopt a dog.  We had to be careful with the type of dog we brought home.  I know I have several friends who are against breeders.  I can see your point of view, but look at this way... Alex was already born and he had to have a home.

When we went to meet with the breeder, Alex was the only one left that hadn't been adopted yet.  I remember asking the lady if there was a reason why he was the last one.  She said no, but sometimes I really wonder.

Isn't he adorable...

He went from being this shy puppy to thinking he now rules our house.  We currently are at stand-off over his food.  He thinks he should be eating what we eat, and I am standing firm he needs to be eating his food.  Dog food because after all... he's a dog!  I don't think he knows he's a dog.

He is pouting because I'm refusing to give him part of my sandwich.

When I told him to move so I could sit down, he goes to the other couch to pout.  I was watching The Dog Whisperer, so he started watching it also.  I don't think he learned anything.  I don't know if he's going through the rebellious teenage years or what, but he's wearing me out.

He barks the whole time the lawn is being mowed... and the whole time our neighbors mow their lawn.  He barks when he's hungry and refuses to eat his food.  He thinks if he barks long enough I'll give him what he wants.  I admit, I have before but I'm trying to not give in to him.

He barks... A LOT!!!  And his bark is ear piercing!!
He can be the sweetest dog ever.  He loves to lay right next to you and has to be touching you at all times.

But then...

He can be a terror!!  Any suggestions on how to improve his behavior and make him more obedient????

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Being Exhausted is Worth the Fun

I am so tired this morning!!  I would still be in the bed if getting my family up for school wasn't necessary.  Yesterday was a fun day, but I way over did it.  I'm seriously paying for it this morning.  I'm really doubting if bible study this morning is a wise idea.  My legs are weak and heavy and I'm in a lot of pain.  Falling terrifies me ever since Dr. Gaw told me if I fell and broke a leg or a hip I may never walk again.  In the time it would take for either of them to heal, my muscles would atrophy too much.  That was what pushed me to start using the rolling walker.  I mainly just use it at church because the hallways are so long, and it helps to have the seat when my legs get shaky.  I don't go anywhere else that much.  If I do go to the grocery store, I have the buggy to hold on to.  If I go out to eat I just hold on to someone's arm.  Mainly I just go to church activities and to doctor visits... oh, and bunco once a month. : )  I'm already like a 90 year old woman.  I even have a medicare card.  It is embarrassing to use the walker at 38, but if using it keeps me walking I will swallow my pride.  It's one of those walkers that is complete with hand breaks, a seat and a basket.  It's lovely (I say that with much sarcasm).  Right now it's in the back of the van, and I don't want to ask Nathan to bring it in.  I'll take a picture of it later and post it.  Then you can get a visual.

Well, that was a bunny trail...

I've spent the last few weeks having a major pity party... complete with tons of kleenex and gofer wood to start building an ark because I have cried so much and was starting a flood in my house.  I decided on Sunday night I was going to try really hard to focus on the positive this week.  I'll admit it so hard though.  Pain, sadness, frustration, etc. can overtake any positive emotion you can have.  However, I am determined to give it my best shot.  So...

Last week my sweet friend Elizabeth asked me if I wanted to go lunch this week.  She told me a few weeks ago she knew Connie's move was hard on me.  She understands how close we are.  I love spending time with her.  She is our pastor's wife, and instead of being so rigid and trying to be so perfect, she's honest about her own struggles and shortcomings.  She's like your best girlfriend.  That's one of the million things that caused me to love Connie so much.  When we first came to Grace, she was our pastor's wife.  She too is very honest about her struggles and shortcomings.  Caleb and Elizabeth came when Joey took a position within the Presbytery with the youth.  Connie and Elizabeth are different and yet they are so alike.

LOVE them both!!

Mercy, I'm going down another bunny trail.

Anyway, I've been so excited about our plans to do lunch.  Sunday she asked me if I wanted to invite a couple more friends she knew I was close too.  Cheryl could come but Mary was busy.  So Cheryl picked me up, and we met up with Elizabeth at my favorite local Mexican restaurant.  When we got there she told us she invited one of our other friends, Deborah.  She's had a rough time lately too and needed some girl time.  I was so excited she came!!  I love her so much.  She's like my little sister and spending time with her is always so fun!  We had the best time.  We talked non-stop but the time went so fast... too fast actually.

This is Deborah, with her twins Ty and Micah, Cheryl and me.  Elizabeth was taking the picture.  I don't know why we didn't just ask someone to take one of all of us together.

This is Elizabeth with Cheryl and me.  Deborah took this picture.

Deborah, Ty and Micah.  There was a baseball game on the TV up above us.  They love ball!

It was so good to be together!  I LOVE spending time with friends!!  I was sooo worn out though and had to come home and take a nap.  We had Grace group last night.  I took my camera with me but forgot to take any pictures.  I was so tired I could hardly think straight.  I'll take some next time.  We had to leave early because Sara had a football scrimmage last night and we had to get her picked up.  The game was over before Grace group ended.  No, she doesn't play.  She's a football manager.  I rode with Nathan to pick her up, and when we finally got home last night I collapsed.  I way over did yesterday.  Last was also bunco night, but I had to miss because we had Grace group.  So here I am today exhausted and trying to figure out if it's wise to go to bible study this morning.  It wears me completely out to try and get out of the house, but I would much rather have a few hours of fun with friends and be completely exhausted for days, rather than sit at home for weeks at a time.  It can be a high price to pay, but it is absolutely worth it!

Monday, August 8, 2011

His Mercies Are New Every Morning

Unable to sleep, I spent the early morning hours sitting quietly listening to what the Lord had to say to my heart.  Last week was a hard, hard week.  Even still today my heart is aching and tears are flowing easily.  I am so tired... physically, emotionally and spiritually tired.  I just wanted desperately to hear the Lord speak something to my heart that would comfort me.  But the silence was deafening.  I probably spent 2 hours sitting and waiting, yet hearing nothing.

"Where are you, Lord?  I need you.  If you give grace for the moment, I need it in this very moment."

I still heard nothing.  Again I asked...

"Lord, where are you?"

It was then the light of the morning sunrise began to peek through the shades.  I opened up the blind and as I looked out the sun begin to shine over the hill, I heard that still, small voice...

"Here I am.  I was here the whole time.  You just couldn't see me in the dark."
I sat back down and cried.  How could I have doubted Him?  Again.  All of a sudden I remembered a devotion Connie sent me a year and a half ago.  Here is where you can read the entire devotion, and I suggest you do.  But this is what speaks so loudly to my heart.  The part that Connie, Mary and I have reminded each other of over and over again.

Jesus spoke of the kingdom as belonging to the likes of little children, and many have speculated the child’s ability to see the world with wonder as one of the reasons for it.  G.K. Chesterton saw the child's ability to revel in the monotonous as another.  The child’s cry for more, reasoned Chesterton, is a quality of the very God who created them.  "It is possible that God says every morning, 'Do it again' to the sun; and every evening, ‘Do it again’ to the moon.  It may not be automatic necessity that makes all daisies alike; it may be that God makes every daisy separately, but has never got tired of making them.  It may be that He has the eternal appetite of infancy; for we have sinned and grown old, and our Father is younger than we.  The repetition in Nature may not be a mere recurrence; it may be a theatrical encore.”(1) 

For the child on the slide or the toddler with a story, "Do it again!" is far from a cry of boredom or routine, but a cry for more of life itself.  This is likewise the joy of the psalmist, the cry of the prophets, and the call of Christ:  "Consider the lilies, how they grow...if God so clothes the grass of the much more will he clothe you?" (Luke 12:27-28).  Jesus asks the world to consider the kingdom around us like little children, and thus, something more like God—finding a presence in faithful recurrences, grace in repetition, rumors of another world in the ordinary world around us.  Here, even those within the most taxing of life's repetitions—the daily care of an aging parent, the constant burden on the shoulders of those who fight against injustice, the labor of hope in a difficult place—can find solace.  "But this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope," said Jeremiah in the midst of deep lament.  "The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases, his mercies never come to an end;  they are new every morning... 'The Lord is my portion,' says my soul, 'therefore I will hope in him'" (Lamentations 3:22-24, emphasis mine).
Morning by morning, the daily liturgy of new mercies comes with unapologetic repetition to all who will see it, the gift of a God who revels in the creation of yet another daisy, the encore of another sunset, the discovery of even one lost soul.  

*Jill Carattini is managing editor of A Slice of Infinity at Ravi Zacharias International Ministries in Atlanta, Georgia.

Sunrise after sunrise the Lord is reminding us, ""The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases, his mercies never come to an end;  they are new every morning..."

Sunset after sunset I believe the Lord is saying, "Do it again.  Show them I am steadfast in my love." 

I wish you could hear the enthusiasm in Connie's voice and see the joy on her face every single time she reminds us of this.  She sent me this devotion on May 28, 2010.  Still to this day the Lord is using it again to speak to my heart in the dark silence.  I am so grateful the Lord understands I often loose sight of His promises and need to be reminded of them over and over again.

The Lord will do it again.  Tonight the sun will set; tomorrow the sun will rise.  The Lord will use them both to remind us His love is steadfast and His mercies truly are new every morning.

p.s.  The photos were taken by friend Ginger Dunn.  You can see more of her photos on Facebook under Ginger L Dunn Photography.  She also took both of my photos on this blog.  She is amazing.  She gives God all the glory for her talent.


Saturday, August 6, 2011

It's a Sad Day

The weather is dreary right now.  It goes along with my mood.  In a couple of hours I'm having lunch with Connie.  This afternoon she will be moving.  My heart is broken and I am a bit of a weepy mess this morning.  I hope the tears will stop long enough to have a fun lunch.  After all, it's not a good-bye lunch.  Someone said to me this week that some friends are just for a season.  I not so politely let her know Connie is my forever friend.  Always and forever!  At least she will be close enough I can take a day trip to go for a visit and can even arrange it to where I could see Robyn all in the same day.  And she's also far enough away that I could justify an overnight visit.

I'm going to miss having you so close...oh, and you too, Joey. : )

Love you so much!

Thursday, August 4, 2011

I Must Be Missing Something

I must be missing something the Lord is trying to teach me this week.  Some of the same frustrations seem to be happening over and over but in relation to different situations.  I am usually a slow learner when it comes to life lessons, but I wish I would "get it" already.  When Sara was little and she would get frustrated she would hold up her fist, clinch them with all her might, close her eyes as hard as they would, shake her arms and grunt as loud as should could.  Or bite you.  I don't want to bite anyone, but I sure feel like shaking my fist and screaming as loud as I can.  Well, unless you count biting someone's head off.  I fought the urge to do that all day long yesterday, but last night my poor family got the brunt of it.  Someone said something to me at bible study yesterday morning that angered me so much I almost responded in a way I would have made a fool out of myself.  The Lord quickly reminded me we were about to sit down and continue our study on Philippians, and Paul was telling us how to behave as Christians.  The Lord was gracious and bridled my tongue.  I don't think I said a word until I had a burning question right at the end.

As I was sitting there seething in my anger, I started thinking about all of the ladies in that room.  A sweet lady that sits beside always has a smile on her face and always has a praise for the Lord.  She doesn't have an easy life and she's not in good health herself, but in the year and a half I've know her I've known her, never once have I heard her complain.  Not once.  She constantly thinks about others.  She brings me her coupons from her paper every week.  The first words that come out her mouth when she sits down beside of me are, "How are you?"  She brings a stack of little cards with bible verses on them and passes them around for everyone to take a many as they want.  Yesterday she won a drawing for a homemade bag another sweet lady brought.  Bless her heart, she wanted it so much, but she said to give it to someone else because she already had a bag.  We finally convinced her to take it and she was tickled pink.  She really wanted it but was willing to pass up for someone else.  Why can't my heart be more like that Lord?  The lady who was sitting on the opposite side of me made a point to come to me twice and tell me what a blessing my blog had been to her.  Thank you, Gale.  You are one of the most tender ladies I have had the privilege of knowing.  I don't think you realize how you bless me.  Lord, why can't I be an encourager like her?  Why can't my heart be that tender toward others?  Another lady, who honestly is the kind of grandmother anyone would want, is always so quick to love on me.  I really would like to just bring her home with me.  She is so in love with the Lord.  She wrote me the sweetest note right before bible study began yesterday and walked it over to me.  I get handwritten cards in the mail from her often (handwritten notes delivered by snail mail is a lost art folks), and she brings me little gifts all the time.  Lord, I'm so sorry I fail to love you that much?  Why can't I be as thoughtful and loving as her Another lady makes tote bags and brings them for a drawing each week.  She volunteers to take my girls to youth group each week and to be a back up for my ride to bible study.  She makes quilts and crochets blankets to give to others.  Lord, why can't I be that generous?  Another lady who's health is poorer than mine, puts me on her prayer list every week.  She makes it a point to come up to me every week at church and ask how I am doing.  She usually arrives to bible study about the same time I do each week.  She meets me at the car to help me carry in my things, and she has an oxygen tank on her shoulder.  Lord, why am I not that concerned for others?  I am so self absorbed.  The lady who drives me to bible study every week sends me an email the day before to let me know she will be picking me up or to remind me she'll be out of town.  She will make it a point to ask how my week has been.  We have such special, uplifting conversations while traveling to and from my home.  Lord, why am I not that faithful to my friends?  And then there are the ladies, including those I've already mentioned, that have such insight to His Word.  Their knowledge and understanding for the bible blows me away.  Lord, will I ever understand your word at that depth?

I am sitting there wallowing in my anger and self pity, when I should be concentrating on Paul's instructions on how we are to act as Christians.  Looks like I would "get it".  After all, the Lord has been gracious enough to surround me with examples of exactly what Paul is teaching us.  Instead I'm allowing my self pity to frustrate me to the point that every small thing, like the comment that was made, to blow out of proportion in my head.  I'm not setting a good example of a Christian, am I Lord?

Just the fact I even have to ask that question proves the answer is "no".  I'm not hearing Paul's point of how we are to respond to affliction.  I'm not hearing how we are to behave as followers of Christ.  I need to go back and read it again.  As many times as it takes for my heart to "get it".

p.s.  As I am finishing up writing this post, this song began playing on the music channel I have on my tv...

Just how providential was that??

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Not a Wordless Wednesday

"Wordless Wednesday".  I've seen this title on so many blogs and then they show a cute picture.  I am full of words this morning.  Full of words, tears, panic and sadness.  This week hasn't gotten any better and it's seems like things just keep piling up as the hours go by.  Some big and some are just little things that seem bigger than they truly are because I'm in this "woe is me" state of mind right now.  I hate it when I get like this.  I have so much to be thankful for but I just focus on the hard things.

The closer Saturday gets the more I seem to panic.  I really would like to wrap my arms around Connie's legs and beg her not to go.  Logically I know she's only moving 2 hours away, and I'm not saying good-bye.  However, having her 10 mins away is comforting.  She won't be showing up anymore at my door with chicken soup, no more spur of the moment Sonic runs and no more hanging out on her couch for the day just so I won't be alone and can get out of the house for awhile.  This is hard.  I want them to be where the Lord wants them to be.  I really do.  I just wish His plan had been to keep them here.  Honestly, I'm also having to fight against anger.  Not with Connie, but I hate the circumstances.  I'm just going to hang on to the hope that when we get to heaven Connie and I will live next door to each other.  She'll be in her yellow house, I'll be in my pink house and Mary will be right there with us.  Mary will finally enjoy a lemon slush with us and not remind Connie and I how much sugar is in them. : )

This is my favorite photo of the day...

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Hannah's Latest Project

I wish I had a heart like Hannah.  She has such heart of mercy, service and giving.  Her mind is constantly moving trying to decide what her next project is going to be.  How can she help someone?  She seems to have a way of rallying people together to give to whatever she's decided to do.  And her theory if someone decides not to participate?  Tough for them that they missed out on blessing someone.

One day during Vacation Bible School she went missing for a little while.  When she came back I asked her where she had been.  "I went to talk to Pastor Caleb because I want to collect diapers for the Cookeville Pregnancy Clinic the whole month of July.  I wanted to know if it was okay for me to put a box in the hallway at church."  So, for all 5 Sundays throughout July she collected diapers.  She collected from our church, family, friends and even some of the ladies that teach with Nathan.  She even had someone our family knows buy them and leave with her Pa at Krogers.  The look on her face was precious every time someone gave her diapers to add to her stash.  It wasn't a look of look what I've done.  She would just smile and say, "I'm so glad people are helping."  I really do wish I were more like her.

Yesterday the 4 of us headed over to the clinic to drop off what she collected.  This is she and Nancy, the director of the clinic, standing next to part of what she delivered.

They were completely out of the sizes Hannah had collected, and providentially at the same time we were there, a lady was there to get diapers in one of the sizes Hannah took.  God's timing is always perfect.  They are in great need of diapers.  They were almost out of all sizes.  I know they would appreciate having much more donated to them.  Would you?

After all the diapers were carried in, Nancy gave Nathan and the girls a tour.  I sat in a chair trying to recoup a little from walking into the building.  As I was sitting there, I could hear Nancy talking to my girls.  She was giving them a talk about she didn't want to see them at the clinic unless they were walking in the door to volunteer or to bring a friend who needed help. : )  It made my heart swell to hear them talking to her about wanting to come and volunteer sorting clothing, etc.  Sara had the opportunity to help at a CPC when she was with the youth group on a mission trip in June to Philidelphia.  She came back saying she wanted to do that here.  This was her opportunity to talk to Nancy about it.

This is me and my sweet, treasured friend.  This is a horrible picture of me, but it's with my friend that I love dearly.

Love you, Nancy.  Thank you for giving of yourself to help so many people.  You are precious to me!

I'm totally serious when I asked if you would be willing to drop diapers off to the clinic.  Even one pack would be greatly appreciated.  Maybe you could even follow Hannah and collect diapers. 

p.s.  Stay tuned for Hannah's next project.  She already has it picked out. : )

Thank you for praying...

I am working on a post about a precious thing we were able to do with our girls yesterday, and I hope to get it finished later today.  For now, I wanted to thank you for praying.  I've had about 25 messages (text, emails, Facebook) friends have sent me to let me know they are praying.  I will say it again, I have the most amazing friends.  Their is no greater comfort than to know you are being laid at the foot of the Throne of Grace.  I had a friend say in an email last night, "Sometimes life comes crashing down on us all at once - that's the devil trying to make us give up - don't let him win!!  I will be praying for you!!"  Miranda, you are so right!  He's already lost the war, but he certainly tries to win many battles.

I am writing this so I can go back to read this to remind myself how blessed I am to have friends who love me enough to carry me to Jesus.  And even though satan tries to kill, steal and destroy, he's already lost the war.

I also want to ask you to pray for my friend's husband.  He was with friends at Cummins Mill on Sunday afternoon and fell about 9-10 ft.  He was sitting behind the falls and one of his friends was climbing up to to where he and another friend were.  His friend lost his footing and when He reached out to grab him, he fell.  His friend is banged up but is okay.  Praise God!!  He, however, fell face first.  He has stitches and staples in multiple places and a concussion.  He's experiencing short term memory loss also.  It's scary for them.  He goes back tomorrow for more test.  Please, please keep in your prayers.  It could have been so much worse.  Praise God it wasn't!!  I would give you his name but I haven't asked my friend for permission yet.  When I do and she gives me the okay, I'll let you know.  A lot you already know about this and know him, but for those don't... well, the Lord knows who is.

And pray for my friend Connie and her family.  Some many details to workout still about their much sadness.  Mercy, my heart hurts!

I am praying this is a much, much better day.  God is sovereign.  I'm holding tightly to that truth this morning! 

Monday, August 1, 2011

Grace for the Moment

I was concerned Saturday night after my date with Nathan I would be too wiped out for church on Sunday.  I have to carefully plan any outings, taking into consideration anything coming up in the near future.  Missing church messes with my entire week.  I need to be there.  I need to hear the Word, and I need the fellowship.  The Lord has been so gracious, and I've only had to miss only one Sunday this entire year.  There have been many Sunday mornings I've spent in the shower crying asking Him to give me the strength to go.  Yesterday morning wasn't one of those mornings though.  I was tired and didn't feel well, but it wasn't anything that caused me to wonder if I was going to be able to go.  Before I went to take a shower, I sat down to check email quickly.  Then it hit me and the tears began.

I've said it before and I'll probably say it a million more times, I am very blessed to have some of the greatest friends.  I'm not one to use the word "friend" lightly either.  One of the many wonderful things about Sunday mornings is I get to see most of them then.  I get to hug them, provided they don't have runny noses or a cough... thank you, Deborah, for wanting to hug me yesterday morning but loving me enough not to because you wanted to be careful. : )  I look forward to Sunday mornings because they are so encouraging.  This one was hard though.  Very hard.  As I was checking email I realized today was August 1.  August 8 was the date one of my very best friends is moving 2 hours away.  I've been in denial over just how soon the Stewarts will be moving.  I had just said the day before they were moving in 2 1/2 weeks.  I think that was the original plan, but this past week they realized it had to be sooner so they could get their girls settled before having to start school.  Connie had told me this but it just didn't click in my head exactly how soon that really was.  When I had that moment, I quickly typed out an email to Connie in a panic.  A very sad panic.  I didn't want to think about it after that.  I knew if I didn't try to put it in the back of my mind I would be a mess all through church.  That would not be good.  Crying causes you to have a runny nose, and I can't exactly excuse myself from Sunday school or the service discreetly.  It would just be gross to sit there an blow my nose.  He gives us grace for the moment and not a moment before we need it, I told myself.  I was reminding myself of the very words Mary has said over and over to me.  She's on vacation right now.  I really wish she had been here yesterday morning.  I suppose you could say Mary, Connie and I are a little threesome.  We have a tight bond that goes beyond being friends.  They are my sisters.  The sisters I never had but had always wanted.  We have laughed, cried, disagreed, prayed, held each others hand... just lived life together.  And now all of that is going to be very different.

Joey and Connie moved once before about 4 years ago, and the Lord brought them back to us.  They moved back right before I got sick.  I think that's one of the reasons He brought them back.  He knew how much I would need her during that time.  I know He had other reasons beyond that, but I also know she was brought back because I desperately would need her close by.  I thought for sure they were brought back forever, but He had a different plan.  I know it should be somewhat easier because they've moved before, but for me, it makes it harder.  Probably because I really did think He surely would not have brought them back and move them again.  After all, I still need her.  I will always need her.  Always and forever.

Several years ago my friend, Robyn, moved 2 hours away.  Actually, she lives only 30 mins away from where Connie will be living.  From here both are/will be 2 hours away because you can get there going different directions.  Just like with Connie, I was devastated.  Robyn is also one of my very best friends.  We've been friends since the 5th grade.  We prefer to say the 5th grade instead of saying we were 10 years old because it doesn't make us seem we are as old as we really are.  We had lived in the same town our whole lives.  One thing I've learned is a move changes friendships and you have to work harder at nurturing those friendships.  Robyn and I are still very close.  We always will be.  She holds a very special place in my heart and I love her deeply.  It's just different.  I don't like it.  We don't see each other very often and when she comes to town she has to spend time with her family.  So it makes it difficult when she has to divide her time.  I don't want to take away from the time them.  I haven't been able to go visit her since getting sick.

Because of what I've experienced with Robyn and how hard it was the first time Connie moved, I know how hard this is going to be.  Connie doesn't have family here, so her visits here will be rare.  Their house hasn't sold yet, so for now she'll be going back and forth.  Once their house sells... well, the move will be final.

I was doing okay this morning until during Caleb's prayer.  He prayed for those who are having to work through the details of moving.  I lost it.  I was fearful I wouldn't be able to pull it together long enough to get through the service, but once again the Lord was gracious.  I just took notes.  I kept writing trying to keep my mind off of her sitting near the back across the aisle.  I have no idea what the sermon was about... even though I took 5 pages of notes.  I just wrote.  When the service was over and we finally made our way to where we could hug, I couldn't stop crying.  This would be the last time we would worship together while she was living here.  She won't live 10 mins away from me anymore.  How will my heart ever bear this?  All I know to do is to beg the Lord for grace and mercy.  To help me remember it's only 2 hours away and not the 5 hours it was the last time.

This is so hard.  He gives us grace for the moment and not a moment before we need it.   Now I need to go call Mary and let her know the moving date has changed.