Saturday, June 30, 2012

A Child Like This

On his birthday, taking his first breath in the doctor's able hands, it seems to the Momma nothing could be more perfect than this. A newborn babe to nestle in your arms, the one you longed to hold for many months, but could only feel in the water-womb.

For three weeks straight your babe slumbers quietly and you weep as you hold him and thank God for the miracle of new life.

More awake and alert after those three weeks, your babe needs you constantly.

You're weary but smitten in those many months. Sleeping in becomes a foreign concept indeed...something you did eons ago. But your child giggles much and toddles so sweetly and his wonder at the world? It blesses and your smiles outnumber your frowns.

Things change later, for some of us.

Only God knows why...but some children? Their very presence creates frowns. They fit, argue, negotiate, push. On their best days they seem possessed. In a whole day you're hard pressed to find two fleeting moments of blessing.

Losing them seems like an unthinkable nightmare, you love them so. But everyday with them? It takes the breath out of you, it's so hard.

I want to cry with you, put my arms around you and say...I know this truth. 

It's never pretty and it seems no one understands and how can a mother really say her child is a nightmare? Who says that? Visitors see a smidgen of your reality and how can they really know?

Can they understand how you love your child with an unimaginable ferocity...and yet you feel like crying through your days with him? I don't know. Because outside of this space, my anonymous Christine Doe-space, I'm strangely quiet about it. Even when I tell my husband how hard it is, I feel like I'm betraying my child. As though I'm telling God I don't want my child.

This is what we can do. Keep thanking the God of the Universe...the Person who is Peace who worked out every minute detail of our lives...of our children's lives...for His glory.

Thank Him and trust Him and know that this isn't your fault. Your difficult child is not your failure. He is an instrument to sow and reap your heart and his someday-wife's heart and life. 

The greatest gift of all? The one Our Heavenly Father gave us? It was Grace. 

When God gives us a difficult child? He gives The Gift all over again...Grace. Called to love this child in action and word, not just in heart, we become Grace. We have to.

It doesn't happen overnight in us, this work of Grace. Our responses shame us before they surprise us. They grieve Him before they honor Him.


By the time our difficult child walks out the front door as a welcome visitor and not a daily the time he walks down the aisle with his beloved...will we resemble Grace then?
I think yes, friend

If we keep our hearts open to His chiseling. If we focus not on how hard it is, or on how long it is, or on those who say we're to blame.

We must know Him intimately, focus on Him, cling to Him. Let Him bestow peace in our hearts, even whilst turmoil boils in our midst.

Prayer Time:  Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for the gift of my son. Thank you on behalf of all those mothers who know what I'm talking about. Few things change us more than a difficult child...more than motherhood itself. Let us submit to you fully in all our days, and give thanks in all things. May we wake up and learn of you and be an instrument of your love and grace. May we forgive ourselves for our ugly responses, as you forgive us. May we reject the notion that it's our fault and know that it's Your will. Remake us, Lord. We want to resemble You.

In your Son's name I pray, Amen.

photo credit

Friday, June 29, 2012

Medical Prayer for my Husband

A call for prayer: We've discovered that my husband has an inguinal hernia. Surgery can be done on a outpatient basis with a one to three week recovery time, but without insurance he'll most likely have to wait until it becomes a medical emergency (strangulated hernia--risk of gangrene in the area and sepsis).  Thank you!

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Thankful Thursday in Photos

James 1:17
Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change. 

Psalm 118:24
This is the day that the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it. 

1 Thessalonians 5:18
Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.

Dear Lord, thank you for these graces... 

~ A neighborhood to ride bikes in, while some live in slums with streams of trash and sewage running by their front doors.

~ Funds to keep each child in a bicycle helmet. And thank God they're a mainstay at garage sales!

~ A nice Indian pediatrician who has served our family cheerfully for 5.5 years. He allowed us to take a picture for our Divya, a Compassion child we write to who lives near Bangalore, India. The doctor's wife is from Bangalore.

~ Peter taking practice photos of flowers for the library photo contest. He's allowed three entries, any subject. Our camera, inexpensive, will not hold up to others in the I'm praying. The key to a beautiful photo is a nature close-up taken in late afternoon sun, I suspect. Last year he took a magnificent dragonfly photo that a nature park featured in a photo class.

~ Fun crafts at the rheumatology zoo event. All the children received Go Wild For Rheumatology t-shirts.

~ Having a little one small enough for my arms.

~ Eager children harvesting radishes in our garden--maybe a little too soon. Peter made leaf compost and spread it in the garden this year. Very few weeds--something to say Amen to. I'm proud of his industriousness! Perhaps he'll make enough mulch next year to cover our flower beds?

~ For two smiling daughters I thought I would never have!

~ A yard perfect for lunch picnics, while some have no space to play. We're ministering to a neighborhood girl (to the left of Beth in this picture) who had to move into her grandmother's house after her mother's boyfriend went to jail. The mother is now back with this man, who's abusive and volatile, though the mother, young girl and her brother still reside with the grandparents down our street.

The ten-year-old girl has oppositional defiant disorder along with severe ADHD. There's evidence she's cutting herself. While extremely pushy and stressful to be around, she has a sweet side and the kids tolerate her well and show her love. She possesses a love for creepy crawlers, frogs, and all things nature and outdoorsy, like my Peter and Mary. It's amazing how God sets up ministerial situations...down to the minute details! We can relate to and understand her ADHD side and sympathize with her on a level those who haven't tasted the ugliness of these disorders, could never do.

I've explained that in ministering to someone you don't expect anything back, so if she's irritating--for example, she's a compulsive liar and controls everything--pray to hold your tongue and extend grace. There are times I see her coming down the street and I want to roll my eyes, but then I remember...I was lost and now I'm found...and Jesus wants the same for her. We invited her to Vacation Bible School in July, at which I'm helping with crafts and baking. Her mother tentatively said yes..she can come! Praying for truth to penetrate the whole family...and with that truth...peace. Please pray with us for our friend and her family?

~ A dinnertime picnic at a local nature park.

~ Little Miss Beth fashioning a fishing pole from a stick and coming after Momma repeatedly with a glob of green slime, aka algae. It was so wonderful to see her running again--flare free at last!

~ A son whose heart beats with the sights and sounds of nature. He worships outside, as his father does.

~ The world may be upside down, but it is well with my soul. Thanks be to God.

Just Another Morning

~ Just Another Morning, a delightful children's book by Linda Ashman about a little boy whose imagination takes the reader on a rhyming zoo trip, via his bedroom and stuffed animals. "Read it again!" said my three year old.

Cover art for HANNAH'S WAY

Hannah's Way, a heartwarming tale by Linda Glaser about a young Jewish girl who, lonely in a new town, can't go to her new class picnic because it's a two-mile drive away on a Saturday. Driving in a car on a Saturday is something her orthodox Jewish faith prohibits, because of the Sabbath rest. The solution that she and her classmates comes up with is truly beautiful in its portrayal of love and friendship. I didn't just get teary-eyed at the last page--I bawled! 

What are you thankful for today?

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

No Other Gospel

Sometimes one or more of my children seem so needy, or I'm so battle-weary, I can read the Word but not study it. Other times two weeks might go by in which I read and study. Whatever stage you're at, never feel like it's all or nothing. Never give up.

Sometimes I read the Bible aloud with my children because it's the only time I'll have with the Word that day--not just because they need it. Do what you need to do to get those living words in, not as a condition of your salvation, but as a means to the abundant life here on earth. God designed our souls to crave Him. We need Him more than we know and nothing else satisfies. That is why we read and pray..because man cannot live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.

Matthew 4:4
Jesus answered, "It is written: 'Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.'"

Deuteronomy 8:3
He humbled you, causing you to hunger and then feeding you with manna, which neither you nor your fathers had known, to teach you that man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of the LORD.

John 15:26
"When the Counselor comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth who goes out from the Father, he will testify about me.

Now on to our study for today...

Today God has a message for us about the simplicity of Christianity. Beware of those who make it complicated and burdensome, as the Judaizers did in Paul the Apostle's day, forty-nine years after Christ died. And secondly, beware of pleasing man instead of God.

Our Text Today: Galatians 1:1-10

1 Paul, an apostle —sent not from men nor by a man, but by Jesus Christ and God the Father, who raised him from the dead — 2 and all the brothers and sisters[a] with me,

To the churches in Galatia:

3 Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ, 4 who gave himself for our sins to rescue us from the present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father, 5 to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.

No Other Gospel

6 I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting the one who called you to live in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel — 7 which is really no gospel at all. Evidently some people are throwing you into confusion and are trying to pervert the gospel of Christ. 8 But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let them be under God’s curse! 9 As we have already said, so now I say again: If anybody is preaching to you a gospel other than what you accepted, let them be under God’s curse!

Paul's words here? Very strong compared to his other letters. Paul and Barnabas had just completed their first missionary journey, in present-day Turkey. Soon they received word of poisonous preaching by Paul's Jewish-Christian opposers, called Judaizers. We know that Christ called Paul to preach to the Gentiles, who naturally knew nothing of Jewish laws and customs. Christ came to save all, through faith in his blood, not by works, so no man can boast. What Christ did was not simple by any means, but the message for us? Beautiful in its simplicity. Just believe that when Christ said, "It is finished", he meant it. We mustn't add anything to that statement...mustn't burden believers, or potential believers, with rules or customs.

The Judaizers undermined Paul's authority by telling the Gentiles they must be circumcised and follow other Jewish laws, in order to be saved. In other words, they had to become a Jew first, then a Christian.

The new Gentile Christians? How did this make them feel? Extremely burdened I would imagine, and equally confused. How angry this makes God, as evidenced by Paul's strong words here. "If anybody is preaching to you a gospel other than what you accepted, let them be under God’s curse!"

I know of one Christian woman who quit wearing her wedding ring because the Bible says women shouldn't be adorned with expensive jewelry. Some Christian women cover their heads and secretly think every Christian women should. Some wear only long dresses and secretly think every Christian woman should.

While covering your head is fine--the Bible never said to stop doing it and some argue it is more than a cultural thing--it isn't fine to see this as a good deed or as something a more spiritual woman does. All these things--dropping a wedding ring, wearing prairie dresses, covering the head--smack of the Judaizers. Is faith in Christ's blood not enough? Is it our own lack of humility that makes us want to add things to the Gospel? We want to feel as though we have something to do with our salvation?

The zealot Jews who insisted Gentiles get circumcised? What was their real issue? Did they want to stand out in the crowd of Believers--feel extra special and extra spiritual, like a mini-God? They weren't willing to get down low, and be under God?

We are utterly dependent on God. Worthless without Him, even. We are called to believe, and then to develop and maintain relationship with Him. Christianity is very much about relationship. God wants relationship with much so that he willed his Son to suffer just so He can get back into relationship with us (like He originally had with Adam and Eve).

That's God's heart...relationship with us. While there are certainly behaviors, such as caring for widows and the poor, that please God, these behaviors have their root in relationship with God. God infiltrates our heart, making it beat like His. The longer we are in sustained relationship with Him, the more our lives will resemble His will.

10 Am I now trying to win the approval of human beings, or of God? Or am I trying to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ.

It's very hard to cling to Christ and do what's right...especially when it isolates you. If all your peers have the latest gadgets, the bigger houses, the most fashionable clothes, where does that leave you, who wants to honor God with first fruits and with charitable giving?

Or if your friends go to worldly movies and invite you along, or take worldly media into their homes and invite you over, where does that leave you, who wants to dwell on the pure and lovely?

Philippians 4:8 NLT
And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.

It leaves you isolated. Cling to God and know that as your peers grow relationship with Him, they too, will want to give rather than store up treasure, and want to dwell on the pure and lovely. Let God take them where they're at. And love them where they're at, as He does.

Just don't follow them. Excuse yourself before the movie comes on, for example. If pressed, explain why, and say that your position is one that comes from the Holy Spirit, who works on different areas at different times, in each person.

The Jews who knew the Judaizers were wrong? They had to stand firm in the True Gospel. They had to reject the false one, even when it isolated them from their Jewish peers and created tension.

The key is to live as Christ but not burden others with all the "shoulds". Be an example, but a humble one--not a haughty, self-righteous one. Let Christ in you speak.

And if you're clinging to something burdensome in your own life, be sure it's from the Holy Spirit and not from a desire to stand out as more "spiritual" than others. Is it a "circumcision" issue? Or a God-honoring issue?

Prayer Time:  Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for creating us for relationship with You. Thank you for filling us with living water, for satisfying our souls. May we never complicate it, God. Not for ourselves, nor for others. May be humble ourselves before you daily, knowing we are nothing without you. May we love others where they're at, and let Christ in us speak. Guide our every action and thought through Your Holy Spirit, whom you sent to give us the Spirit of truth. Let us be receptive to the Spirit and maintain relationship with You, despite the difficulties of caring for young children. Strengthen us always, give us an overpowering thirst for your Word and for prayer. Forgive us for our sins, Father.

In your Son's name I pray, Amen.

photo credit

Monday, June 25, 2012

Mutitude Monday: Thanks-living and Overflowing Cups

The month of April brought a new gait. Stiff as a stick, three-year-old Beth's left leg hobbled along, never bending until the afternoon. Part of her winter and spring arthritis flare in the diseased knees, I supposed.

Praise God, her functioning improved throughout May and June, allowing me to forget the new gait.

Until Friday, that is. Cuddling on the couch with her, I kissed her feet and told her "this little piggy" stories. She giggled and I froze.

Her diagnosis is Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis (JIA), more commonly referred to as Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis (JRA). Her subclass diagnosis is oligoarticular JIA, indicating disease in four or fewer joints--by far the most common subclass, associated with the best outcomes. This subclass is given to patients who present with four or fewer joints in the first six months of disease. Patients who go on to add more joints, surpassing four, are put into another subclass called "extended oligoarticular JIA", a class which essentially behaves the same as polyarticular JIA, associated with poorer outcomes.

As I kissed those feet, I noticed something. A swollen left ankle, the joint warm to the touch--barely detectable due to her tiny bones. Was it merely a swollen mosquito bite, I wondered with hope?

But no, I could find no entry point for a bite.

It's the JIA, an auto-immune disease in which the body attacks its own joint cells. Her ankle joint succumbed and I hadn't even noticed. Her new gait back in April? The result of ankle pain, not knee pain.

It hit me. We're prisoners of this disease. Prisoners of a vague prognosis...only time reveals the truth. Over 50% of oligoarticular patients grow out of the joint problems before puberty or in the mid-teen years. But 40% continue to have problems in adulthood, including joint damage, pain, and prolonged use of dangerous drugs. The eye inflammation is often more persistent than the joint problems, persisting into adulthood after the joints return to normal, making it harder to completely avoid profound vision loss, along with cataracts and glaucoma from too much steroid eye-drop use.

My pediatrician recently told me of one of his other patients, also diagnosed with Beth's condition. A five-year-old patient who needed the steroid eye drops for six straight months. She already has cataracts. Beth's needed the drops twice--once for a month in both eyes, and once for two weeks in one eye.

Will she ever need them for six straight months? Can I gather enough Believers in prayer? Will more voices and hearts change things for Beth?

She's up to three joints. Will she get past four? I'd stopped looking for new swelling at the sixth month mark (Feb.), so convinced was I that her two knees would be the end.

My ankle discovery sent me into a tailspin of worry and fright, though I'm thankful she's experiencing these two good months, with lower swelling overall and improved function.

Will she be one of the chosen ones? Hitting remission and experiencing a miraculous end to eye inflammation early in life? Would God spare her?

How do we live as prisoners to a disease, never knowing what the next day, the next year, brings?

After I notice it that day, the hours? They're heavy. I grieve through the laundry, dishes, and face wipings. Though I try to put it at His feet, the what-ifs control me for a time. Will she have trouble conceiving someday after all these medicines...especially the immuno-suppressants? Will she ever walk right? Will she be left with a deformity? Will she raise her children whilst living in daily pain?

And then I realize it. We are all one in this blindness, for no one knows their tomorrows and would we even want to know?

When tomorrow isn't yours how do you live the minutes and hours in today?

Should we take them as a if they're our last? If our eyes don't see another dawn...if tomorrow won't be pain-free...then today? It's that much more precious. With a gift before us what do we do? We give thanks. We live thanks. Thanks-living is hunting for beauty in today, as though we're looking for our lost spectacles in the clutter. So we can see. Naming the beautiful hidden in the mundane and knowing from Whom it came, we lift up our hands in worship.

Thanks-living is really God worship...for we don't only worship with our songs, our Bibles, our prayers. Gratitude is worship too. The more we give thanks? The more He fills our cups to overflowing.

So we live not as captives to a disease. Not as captives of Adam's and Eve's legacy. We live as receivers of grace. Giving thanks? It's receiving Him.

None is more impoverished than the one who has no gratitude.
Gratitude is a currency that we can mint for ourselves,
and spend without fear of bankruptcy.

- Fred De Witt Van Amburgh

Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life.
It turns what we have into enough, and more.
It turns denial into acceptance,
chaos to order, confusion to clarity.
It can turn a meal into a feast,
a house into a home, a stranger into a friend.
Gratitude makes sense of our past,
brings peace for today,
and creates a vision for tomorrow.

- Melody Beattie

“Thanksgiving creates abundance; and the miracle of multiplying happens when I give thanks–take the just one loaf, say it is enough, and give thanks–and He miraculously makes it more than enough.”
- Ann Voskamp

Dear Lord, thank you for these graces...

~ A day at the zoo courtesy of Children's Hospital and the rheumatology department.

~ Hearing a nutritionist speak about inflammation.

~ Eating strawberry shortcake as a family while giggling over Chitty Chitty Bang Bang the movie. Vastly different than the book but still delightful...a steal at the thrift store for only $1. 

~ My daughters and I oohing over the beautiful hats worn by the female lead. 

~ Daddy and Paul playing Chinese Checkers and Paul blossoming with the individual attention. 

~ Peter doing much better on his lower dose of medicine. 

~ Cuddles in the big bed...all six of us.

~ A husband who enjoys my legs though six pregnancies left them varicosed and ugly. What a gift that he sees through the damage of genes, not holding it against me. 

~ Learning that chronic leukemia only rarely affects children and that acute childhood leukemia (ALL is the most common--Acute lymphoblastic leukemia) is fast growing, so Beth would be getting weaker fast, not growing stronger by the day. I still don't have test results but I have more hope. And ALL survival rates are 95% to 98%. Given the high white blood cell count, her doctor has considered this diagnosis in addition to her JIA, but considers it unlikely given the normal platelet count and the absence of anemia. I had opportunity to speak with her about it in greater length at the zoo. I wish I could say my mind has stopped wondering, but it's hard, especially after learning that oral prednisone would raise white blood cell counts for only about 10 days...not two months. I'm trying hard to keep my hands open to what God has, and to live what I've written here.

~ Peter saying about The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe: "I can't believe how exciting it is, Mommy! It's the best book I've ever read." He's done with book 2 and moving on to book 3. I should have handed it to him much sooner but I figured the witch would be a problem with his OCD (the religious distortion component--he battles an OCD voice telling him he will forsake God and go to the dark side, be it evolution theory, witchcraft, etc. ). He tells me because it was written by a Christian author (C.S. Lewis), he's okay with the witch. Anyhow, his excitement is a gift.

~ Paul reading and loving the Dr. Dolittle books I read to them a year a half ago.

This one is not all....

1) The Story of Doctor Dolittle (1920)
2) Doctor Dolittle's Post Office -- (1923)
3) Doctor Dolittle's Circus -- (1924)
4) Doctor Dolittle's Caravan -- (1926)
5) The Voyages of Doctor Dolittle (1922)
6) Doctor Dolittle's Zoo -- (1925)
7) Doctor Dolittle's Garden -- (1927)
8) Doctor Dolittle in the Moon -- (1928)
9) Doctor Dolittle's Return -- (1933)
10) Doctor Dolittle and the Secret Lake -- (1948)

~ All four children excited about the summer reading program at the library. Every three hours of reading they get to visit the treasure box. The trinkets there? Junk to me but treasure indeed to them.

~ Peter excited about the tween photo contest at the library. He's looking to capture beauty and I love it.

~ Watercolor fish paintings and Paul's love for art. He encourages the others.

~ Bunnies and baby squirrels in the backyard.

What are you thankful for today?

Linking with Ann and other grateful ladies today.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Thankful Thursday

The unthankful heart... discovers no mercies; but let the thankful heart sweep through the day and, as the magnet finds the iron, so it will find, in every hour, some heavenly blessings! --Henry Ward Beecher

It's time to count blessings. Yes, indeedy. The repetitive nature of dishes and crumbs and reminding the kids to close the front door all. the. way... rattles the spirit like a pesky fly. Counting the beautiful swats the fly away, squashing the ungrateful, monotony-driven inner tirade.

I don't mean to compare my darling children to flies. I would never.

My children bless my socks off. Honestly. But their crumbs? Not so much.

Dear Lord, I thank you for these graces....

Tikki Tikki Tembo, retold by Arlene Mosel...because my girls get so excited when they successfully recite this long Chinese name. It's so catchy.

Tikki Tikki Tembo [Book]

~ Cornfield Hide-And-Seek, by Christine Widman...because we're having a heatwave and my kids can totally imagine hiding in a shady, cool cornfield. We're sun dazzled too. They can't get enough of this sweet story.

~ Wallace's Lists, by Barbara Bottner and Gerald Kruglik. This story of young Wallace, who writes endless lists about anything and everything and fears many things, especially change, is incredibly heartwarming, especially as he starts a friendship with the adventurous boy next door. "Read it again!", they keep telling me. I cried at the end the first time and it isn't even sad. "You're not crying, are you, Mommy?"

Front Cover

~ The tween summer program at the library.. Tonight they threw paint-filled balloons onto a Styrofoam canvas. And the result? Striking art work. Every Thursday night is a different project or theme...not always art. The boys can't wait for next week.

~ Caring for young children in the evenings? Exhausting. The dinner and devotions, the vitamins, the dessert, the baths, the pajamas, the teeth. All of it with the time pressure to get them into bed at a decent hour while still enjoying stories, lends itself to aggravation. (Except the stories and prayer part.) My husband could easily let me do it all. He's gone twelve hours a day and many a man would just sit in a chair and expect to be served after such a long day. But not my husband. He tackles it all with me because we're in this together and he would never consider it my job exclusively. He's not always patient or exemplary about delays, but who is night after night? Certainly not me. Tonight I give thanks for a faithful, steadfast, sacrificial dad. A faithful, steadfast, sacrificial husband. I praise you God for this man in our lives. He didn't get his due on Father's Day because of my string of headaches. He makes a low wage and the world tells him he's nothing. But to us he's magnificent. Faithful, steadfast, sacrificial...that says it all.

~ Paul loves baking more and more all the time. A side job as a baker someday, he wonders? He feels so grown up to be doing it all himself, except for opening the oven--I draw the line there for now. His peanut-butter blossoms? Stunningly delicious. I daydreamed today about his someday bakery business. Could he call it Baking For His Glory and hand out baked goods to people in hospitals and nursing homes, along with encouraging Scriptures? A man's burden to provide makes it challenging to advise boys on job prospects. So many wonderful things don't make enough money (ask Shaun Groves). We can hardly send our boys out there to provide without devoting years of prayer. Many a Christian woman will want a high-earning man, but working for Christ doesn't always bring an impressive financial yield. And I want my boys working for Christ, above all. We can do many things for His glory--I suppose even at the stock exchange. But still. We mommies need to pray now for the right Christian girl to come who will honor and uphold our boys' commitment to the things of the Lord. (Paul also wants to be a math and art teacher.)

~ My 3-year-old and 10-year-old wear glasses now. So studious, their new looks. (Our old, slow computers make it painful to download pictures, but I'll get around to it eventually.)

~ Simple things turn summer into little water guns and $5 sprinklers and sidewalk chalk and bubbles and wands. Kids live to the fullest, uninhibited. What a privilege to witness it all.

~ Mary and Peter have taken up Japanese Beetle hunting. These pests attack the young cherry tree in the backyard every year and need to be annihilated. Mary and Peter? They're experts at catching any kind of insect. You'd be amazed (they keep a running tally). But Paul? Not so and that makes his competitive spirit come alive, even though insects aren't his thing. He wants his "yield" to be as high as brother's and sister's. Go figure. Not sure why I'm listing this as a blessing but it's an amusing slice of childhood. I need these slice of life moments to make me smile through dishes and laundry.

~ Daddy started The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe with the boys last night. More than a little smitten with this "very exciting" story, they were torn this morning about whether to read it themselves or wait for Daddy to continue at night. I think they're opting for both. 

~ Three-year-old Beth slept poorly through her arthritis-flare months. I ended up in her queen bed many a night, soothing. Frequent night pain passed away, followed by her dreams as my nighttime enemy. Several times a night she would cry out for me following vivid dreams. Sometimes a funny one would follow a bad and she would giggle in her sleep. According to other moms this is common for her age. Last night she woke up whimpering and after nursing briefly I thought she was asleep again. But minutes later she asked, eyes wide with fear, "when would we go outside?". A sleepy Momma responded, "After my shower in the morning I'll take you outside." Then she began crying and I realized she had a scary dream about being outside. I told her she didn't have to go outside at all and I pulled her toward me, completely engulfing her in my embrace--something she usually rejects because it's too confining. But her fear made the embrace welcome this time. And I loved it! It was a blessing to melt away her fears with my love and hear her return to sweet slumber in my embrace. Someday I'll sleep through the night again. But for now these night soothings can be so sweet. Being a nighttime Jesus to a fearful child? Awesome.

~ Without a working lawnmower our yard became an eyesore with the clover taking over. Bees became a big issue and the kids couldn't use the yard. My aunt and uncle heard about it from their son, who helped my husband change out our toilet last weekend. (Can I get an Amen?) Always generous, they gave us $200 to get a good used lawn mower (we've had a used lawn mower go out every year for the past three's nearly comical by now, except for the bees). At the same time one became available through my husband's job, for just $40. So we tried to give the money back to my aunt and uncle but they wouldn't take it. Well, our kids have never had swimming lessons, ever. The cost was always prohibitive. Until my aunt and uncle's gift. I'm teary-eyed writing this. I hated taking this money, especially after their very generous Christmas gift of van- and car-repair money. I rejoice that in spite of my ugly pride, my boys are getting something they truly needed. (The girls are younger and can wait longer.) The Lord is faithful!

All of this generosity became possible after my uncle's father passed away last fall at the age of 93. He was a wonderful Christian man--loving, prudent, faithful, self-controlled. He and his wife--who died three years before him--lived in the same tiny house for over sixty-five years, even though on an engineer's salary they could have afforded bigger and better. They said no to materialism and ego. And because of inheritance my uncle and aunt can afford to be generous with us--because they, too, say no to materialism. When a Christian honors God faithfully, putting Him first and allowing His spirit to penetrate every aspect of life? Endless blessings flow, often for generations, because one man chose to worship God over himself. My boys will hear how their swimming money got into their hands--through one man's godly leadership and holiness. I hope they remember it long...for years after the swimming lessons end.

I realize it's no longer Monday or Thursday, but linking with these grateful ladies anyway. Ann's Father's Day post? Amazing and beautiful tribute to her husband. I cried over the unexpected gift from their kids.

Monday, June 18, 2012

White Blood Cell Count Concerns (and a correction)

Just popping in here to correct something from a previous post. I stated that a normal white blood cell count reading was about 5,500. I've now researched this quite a bit: the normal range is actually between 4,000 and 11,000. A typical reading for a three-year-old child is about 9,200.

Beth's reading was high in February and April (23,000 and 24,000). Any reading over 15,000 begins to concern doctors. Readings over 30,000 can be indicative of a bone marrow disorder such as leukemia. Other markers for leukemia were normal for Beth, but there is one type, chronic leukemia, in which only the white blood cell count appears abnormal.

So wow...I can't even rule out leukemia.

As much as I'm praying and trying to feel peace, the blood tests results? Worrisome.

I spoke with a nurse at the rheumatologist's office and learned that Beth's doctor wrote in the chart: are we missing a tumor or cyst in her knee?

She'll order an x-ray and possibly send Beth to a hematologist if the next reading is also high.

Funny how they write such things in their notes, but don't tell the parents anything? Don't you love medicine? Too much information isn't good, but too little can be even worse.

For the record I looked up pediatric knee tumors and thought it unlikely in Beth's case. The only red flag is her rapid growth in height, which sometimes put kids at greater risk for tumors. Most pediatric knee tumors occur in teenage boys with growth spurts.

The rheumatologist didn't mention this, but I've learned that Prednisone--given to Beth in late January/early February for 9 days because of a particularly bad arthritis flare--can cause high white blood cell counts. How high and for how long seems to be an individual thing. This would be an unusually long-term reaction to Prednisone, so the doctor's discounting it...not even mentioning it? Or she didn't review the chart from January and she forgot the prednisone? There are too few pediatric rheumatologists in the United States (most have high case loads).

NSAID's (she's been on naproxen for many months) can also cause higher counts, but not this high. Auto-immune diseases and inflammation can also contribute to higher readings, although most Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis patients have normal white blood cell counts, despite chronic inflammation.

She doesn't seem sickly and she's quite active--even using her knees better than she has for months. There's been a slight weight gain recently and she's grown three inches, making her quite tall for her age. The pediatrician said Beth's weight is only 1.5 pounds lower than average (at just over 30 pounds). He's not concerned about weight gain and doesn't think I should be, since we're all on the skinny side.

Don't you love that they look you over to decide what your child's weight should be? My Mary is packed with muscle and doesn't look skinny at all, at 5.5 years old and 42 pounds (about average). Hopefully the pediatrician doesn't make any comparative comment in front of Mary at her upcoming physical. I don't want an eating-disordered child who became sensitive when her doctor said she wasn't skinny "like the rest of us".

Sorry for that digression....Anyhow, I want to think the abnormal white blood cell readings are a combination of a lot of different things, but mainly an unusual reaction to oral Prednisone.

I will have her blood test repeated this week (the third time). Please pray for peace of mind? And no more health issues for Beth? Thank you.

How can I pray for you? I am faithful and it's worth the effort to share. Comments are on delay and I won't post prayer-request comments. Bless you, friends.

P.S. I really do like our pediatrician. 

Saturday, June 16, 2012

A Prayer When Nothing Goes Right

Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee.
Isaiah 26:3

I can honestly say that very little is going right this week. Usually I would feel too ashamed to write that. It sounds ungrateful. Whiny. Self-centered.

But this week, it's true. A four-day hormone-induced migraine has me popping pills day and night. I'm fearful that my liver--despite following bottle instructions--might fail someday from too much acetaminophen, making it impossible for me to help my children when they have their own families.

I have aspirations as a grandmother, you see. Without the daily responsibility of feeding them, clothing them in clean, unwrinkled clothes, keeping their faces clean and hair combed, and wiping up their spills? That sounds like a recipe for real quality time. Quality time that lasts longer than twenty minutes.

I love these days and realize that the mundane is beautiful in and of itself. When I read on Ann's blog that her youngest turned seven, it made me sad for her, and grateful that my own youngest is still 3.5 years old. (Never mind that Beth's having fit after fit and seems as needy as a baby.)

The days of grandmother-hood? They will be sweet indeed. A different kind of sweetness. As long as my health holds up.

The headaches aren't all of it. My Beth is holding in her poops, creating havoc in my mind and heart. It's like a daily birthing, these poops. Sometimes just a little at a time. The fear of pooping? It. takes. up. a. lot. of. time. Her diet? Not the culprit. It's just fear.

That same three year old woke up and cried out for me, every time I rose early for devotions. The dinner dishes got completely finished on only one night. At least two loads of laundry were done per day, but very little got folded or put away.

Imagine it. Laundry on the couch, unfolded. Some laundry on top of the couch, folded. Laundry in the dining room, hanging. Laundry equals clutter and it makes me want to scream! And the kitchen counter, which I usually manage to completely clear at least three times a week, remains cluttered for the fifth day in a row!

I feel like an utter failure. Nobody has a house messier than this one. Order isn't everything, but it sure lends to a person's sanity.

I feel ready to admit this to the whole world. I am a horrible housekeeper!

I know this much. God wants me to hold my needy children. To sing to them on the potty. To whisper I love yous into their tiny ears. To kiss their ten-year-old cheeks. To give them the long hug they didn't know they needed. To tell them how good it feels to be with them on the couch, watching Stuart Little 3 from the library, while mommy's headache rages.

Children's hearts are so full of grace for mommy. At least at these ages. I wish my own heart could be so itself.

Prayer Time: Dear Heavenly Father, I'm at the end of myself. Heal this headache. Protect my liver. Help me, with patience and good will, catch up around here. Give me a heart of grace for myself. Help me with the fruit and cookies we're preparing today for our annual church town party. May hearts be beckoned to attend church. May all of us radiate your love, despite our infirmities and imperfections. May all mommies everywhere know that they are more than their clutter. More than their sticky floors. Help us to focus on You, and on Your Kingdom, while walking through our homes without tripping. I love you. Thank you for plucking me out of this world at age 31, and remaking me in your image. Help me to do you proud and be humble in heart. I owe you everything. May my life be a daily offering to you.

In Jesus' name I pray, Amen.

Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee.
Isaiah 26:3

photo credit

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

If We Could Only See

I ran across wonderful truth words. It's the truth I feel. The truth I live. The truth I look for all around me. 

Have you ever heard a testimony similar to this? A person loses his job, prays to the Lord for help, and then finds another job with a better salary in just a couple of weeks?

While we can all rejoice with that person, many times the situation does not turn around that quickly. Sometimes it may even get worse in spite of our most earnest prayers.

I wonder if the angels rejoice even more so in a testimony like this one: “Things got bad, I prayed, they got worse, I prayed again, they didn't improve. But I am still trusting in God and praising Him.”

Courtesy of Compassion International:

What if...

...the disease doesn't go away. 

...the problem personality doesn't soften. 

...the mother-in-law doesn't become more encouraging.

...the husband doesn't get more spiritual. 

...the family member doesn't come to the Lord.

...the poor family doesn't stop hungering for daily bread.

...the child doesn't remain in the faith.

...the problem neighbors don't move away.

...the bank gets the house.

...the tumor gets bigger.

...a second miscarriage occurs.

...the infertility never resolves.

We live for improvements, for success, because we don't see with God's eyes. We don't understand the brevity of this life. The weight of problems--either our's or someone else's--bury us. We fail to see past them. But God sees. God never stops working to win souls to himself. One more soul. That's His heart.

The challenge of this life is not to solve the latest problem, but to adopt God's heart. God's eyes. The real problem is not the mother-in-law, or the disease, or the lost job.

The real problem is our vision.

Prayer Time:  Dear Heavenly Father, Thank you for the cross. Thank you for your commitment to winning souls, above all else. Thank you for Eternity. We can't understand it all, Lord, but we want to see with your eyes anyway. Please help us. Please heal us of a here-and-now mentality. May we focus on the lost souls, instead of the lost jobs. May we be your hands and your feet, and your heart, to others. May we keep our eyes on you. 

In Jesus' name we pray, Amen.

photo credit

Happily linking with Jennifer

And with Emily

Sunday, June 10, 2012

The Parenting Dance

Mother and Child by a River with Wild Roses
Mildred Butler, 1900

Trying to keep my three year old from using her injured (inner) wrist is a full time job. I can take up regular blogging again after her stitches come out next weekend. The wrist is an area that naturally gets a lot of movement and I have to watch her activity level closely to achieve the best possible healing. We are so thankful her veins weren't involved! The scene could have been far worse.

Last Thursday, June 7, she bent down slightly to look at a critter and lost her balance on the way up, because of her arthritic knees. She used a glass critter cage to try and break her fall. (10-gallon fish tank, dry, empty, but turned on its side by Paul to allow some bees to escape). Her wrist went right through the glass, shattering the cage and giving her a nasty skin flap wound, which needed four stitches. It was very close to veins but didn't hit any and didn't bleed much at all.

Maybe because I have a family history of anxiety--or maybe just because I'm a mom--any accident makes me anxious for weeks. I begin to feel as though I'm helpless in protecting my family. My mind switches to overdrive as it considers all the possible mishaps.

While I'm anxious this time too, I also feel a certain assurance from the Lord regarding Beth's condition. Her balance may not be right until her arthritis goes into permanent remission. She is always at greater risk of injury. But the Lord protected her. I feel as though he'll let her stumble, but not fall--so to speak. There may be more scary scenes, but I must trust Him to again protect her.

I can try harder to keep any glass or metal out of her playing environment, but I can't go overboard and take childhood joys away. She needs to fully live, regardless of her arthritis.

Parenting is as much about letting go, as it is about conscientiousness. It's a fine, delicate dance. It's clinging to God, the true owner of my children, and trusting His plans.

It's so hard. And such a privilege.

The greatest mothering blessing comes to those who lay it all at His feet. When we take it all back--the full weight of it--we fail and make ourselves, and our children, miserable.

If mothering is exhausting you, as it has me lately, maybe our sin is in thinking it all depends on us?

1) Pray much. 2) Point the way to Him. These two things, we must do.

Prayer Time: Dear Lord, thank you for the gift of children, for the gift of mothering. Help us to relinquish control over to you, as we parent the children you so graciously trust us with. May we remain in You, so we can point the way. Heal us of anxiety and stress over outcomes, whether for next week, or for the next decade. Teach us to lay it all at your feet. Come alongside us and teach us to pray, and to point the way. May we never crowd You out, as we seek to give the best to our children. You are the best.

In Jesus' name we pray, Amen.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Today's Blessings

Blessings spill here every day. I'm so grateful for the Lord's faithfulness in providing grace and wonder.

First, my cousin came and fixed our leaky shower. The sight of Mommy in the tub filled my children with giggles for three days. "Mommy! Adults don't take baths!"

One day my three year old stripped down and invaded my bath, singing Barney's song: "I love you, you love me, we're a happy family. With a great big hug and a kiss from me to you, won't you say you love me too?"

Then she preceded to help me rinse my hair.

As sweet as I found that serenade, and as much as I'll remember it forever, baths use up a lot more water and more time. I'm so tickled to be back to showers.

Another blessing? Paul, who has earned more chore money than any of the four, heard the Ice Cream Truck and decided it would be a good use of a portion of his hard-earned money. Usually I would object, but this is his money.

He stopped hearing the singing truck and grew disheartened. He promptly prayed, and seeing his downtrodden countenance, I took pity and prayed as well.

Fifteen minutes later the Lord provided. Paul had begun to loose faith. I kissed him and told him that Jesus loved him. The ice cream truck coming back was a sure sign that his hard work on chores was pleasing to the Lord.

My excited children, all laden with chore money, partook of ice cream truck favors for the second time in their young lives. I would think that the ice cream in our freezer tastes far better, but you wouldn't know it by their cheery smiles.

Lastly, when the boys expressed interest in baking something, I suggested searching for recipes with Cheerios, since we had extra boxes.

Oh, these bars! So delicious.

Betty Crocker No-Bake Cereal Bars  print recipe here

No-Bake Cereal Bars


1 cup light corn syrup
1cup sugar
1 1/4cups peanut butter
6cups Cheerios® cereal
1bag (12 oz) semisweet chocolate chips (2 cups)


Step 1
Lightly butter 13x9-inch pan. In 4- to 5-quart Dutch oven, heat corn syrup and sugar to boiling over medium-high heat, stirring constantly. Cook until sugar is dissolved; remove from heat. Add 1 cup of the peanut butter; stir until smooth. Add cereal; mix well. Immediately press in buttered pan. 

Step 2
In 2-quart saucepan over low heat, melt chocolate chips with remaining 1/4 cup peanut butter, stirring constantly. Spread evenly over bars. Refrigerate about 30 minutes or cool completely at room temperature until chocolate is set. For bars, cut into 9 rows by 4 rows. 

And what's better than a Psalm to go with a little praise and thanksgiving?

Psalm 107:1-9

Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good;
his love endures forever.


Let the redeemed of the Lord tell their story—
those he redeemed from the hand of the foe, 

those he gathered from the lands,
from east and west, from north and south.
Some wandered in desert wastelands,
finding no way to a city where they could settle.
They were hungry and thirsty,
and their lives ebbed away.
Then they cried out to the Lord in their trouble,
and he delivered them from their distress.


He led them by a straight way
to a city where they could settle.
Let them give thanks to the Lord for his unfailing love
and his wonderful deeds for mankind,
for he satisfies the thirsty
and fills the hungry with good things.

Prayer Time: Dear Father, Thank you for your faithfulness and lovingkindness. You fill us to the brim with blessing and love. Thank you for my cousin, his skill, his help. Bless him in every way. Thank you for blessing Paul with an ice cream favor, and for building his faith. Thank you for confirming for him that you listen and answer prayer...that you love him and seek to bless him. Thank you for my boys' work in the kitchen. Thank you for "filling the hungry with good things", both spiritual and material. We love you. We worship you. May our lives bring you glory.

In Jesus name, Amen.

Later this same day, Beth cut her wrist on a glass critter cage, meaning we spent three hours in emergency. It was a skin flap wound. They did their best to repair it, using four stitches, but a bit of skin stayed behind in the cage so it won't be the best looking spot on her arm. Good thing we have lines on our wrists anyway, to mask any scar. She did well--her strength is a miracle--until we came home at 10:00 PM, at which time she completely fell apart, along with one of her siblings (who can't take any change). As exhausted and disheartened as I feel right now, I know there will be grace in the morning. Grace enough that we'll all find many blessings to count. There will be many stories read, and lots of cuddles. A day to just be together, nurturing one another.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Trouble in this Life

Photographic Print: Worried Man
by Andre Burian
John 16:33
"I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world."

People's New Testament Commentary on John 16:33: Be of good cheer. The world can only afflict for a season; it is a conquered world; Christ has overcome it.

Beth's appointments went well yesterday. Her doctor, prepared when she walked in to push the cancer drug, saw that Beth's swelling was considerably down, and that Beth could jump on both legs, straighten them, and walk reasonably well.

She responded, "You must have poured on the prayer." What a relief and thank you for praying along with us!

Beth's white blood cell count was elevated twice in a row (Feb. and late April), which usually indicates infection. We were sick frequently in late winter, early spring; Beth suffered three colds that I remember--one accompanied by viral bronchitis. She also had two dental cavities and seasonal allergies. I'm hoping all these things, in combination with increased swelling in her knees during those months, elevated her white blood cell counts (between 4,000 and 11,000 is normal; her's were around 24,000). Leukemia can cause an elevation too--one very good reason not to ignore abnormal readings. We'll have the blood test repeated soon. 

Her arthritis-associated eye inflammation is gone. Again, thank you for praying.

Her strasbismus (lazy eyes) have worsened (unrelated to arthritis). If her glasses for an astigmatism don't correct the strasbismus by the end of summer, she'll need surgery to straighten her gaze. Her ophthalmologist is famous for this; people from all over the world come to him for strasbismus surgery, so if she needs it, she's in good hands. While an uncorrected astigmatism can lead to lazy eye, it's most likely inherited in Beth's case. My paternal grandmother had a bad case of it.

Of my four children Beth seems to have gotten the worse of the inherited conditions, Peter excepted.

I was on cloud nine for a time after the appointment, but sad for all those who left children's hospital the same day, with heartbreaking news. Each visit there I'm reminded that so many children have serious issues. Every parent I see potentially spent time crying themselves to sleep, or sickening themselves with worry. So leaving with good news for Beth is bittersweet.

How does God choose who gets the bad news, and who gets the good? Do you ever wonder that?

All illness and disease is a result of the sin curse, but God can change the course of a body's inherited or acquired condition. Prayer can change the course, but only if God decides that healing from prayer will bring more hearts to him than the divine grace to endure.

He's all about bringing hearts to himself, and he desires that same focus from us.

My troubles don't end with Beth's conditions, or with Peter's. The front storm glass door no longer latches properly. It was bad for awhile, but now it's worse. And yesterday we realized our shower is leaking; the shower pipes need to be replaced. Taking a bath this morning instead and trying to wash my hair that way? Not convenient. And don't even ask about the toilets, one of which badly needs replaced.

So much of life is not convenientAnd trouble comes in batches. You've probably noticed that? Perhaps this makes His lessons sink in better?

I have a side note for you on the trouble we bring on ourselves. Not all trouble is randomWhen my husband lost his job in 2009, he found part-time work fairly quickly, and then a second part-time job. But still, we could only make credit card payments for one year after that. Then we had to default in order to eat, make the house payment, and keep up with repairs on our home and our old cars. Two years later there are lawsuits to contend with. Even for a balance as low as $1200, a credit card agency will sue, depending on the company. Some choose to sell the bad debt instead. Don't believe it if you hear they don't bother suing.

When things get tight financially, God will provide for your needs, but not for your credit balances. He allows them to default to discipline you. He hates debt and you'd do well to pay all your balances down to zero. His discipline in this area is humiliating and extremely stressful. And avoidable!

Now back to my main theme regarding how to overcome more general, random trouble--not that anything is really random.

How Believers handle the inconveniences and heartaches of life determines how many hearts draw close to Him. No, God doesn't need us to save souls. But He prefers to use usAnd why? When using us gets messy and comes with delays? 

For His glory. His glory is magnified through His work in us.

Whatever troubles you have, take heart and be willing to say to the Lord, as Mary did:

Luke 1:38
"I am the Lord's servant," Mary answered. "May it be to me as you have said." Then the angel left her. 

In the midst of trouble we are never without comfort. Because of Christ's blood, which reconciled us to our Father, we have the Comforter. The Holy Spirit. Draw close to Him and know the comfort that is your inheritance. Don't leave it uncollected.

John 16:33
"I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world." 

Monday, June 4, 2012

Multitude Monday and Psalm 34

Can't help but wish we had a walk in the garden to look forward to,
instead of doctor appointments.

I find myself up in the middle of the night, seeking comfort
My Beth has two appointments Monday afternoon. One is with her rheumatologist and the other with her ophthalmologist. The last check on her eyes, about three weeks ago, revealed just a little inflammation in her right eye (part of Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis in 25% of cases), so she had to go back on the steroid eye drops. At this appointment we check to see if the inflammation is gone. 
And the rheumatology appointment is her routine, every-six-weeks arthritis check-up (she has the disease in both knees). At the last one a cancer drug was mentioned, which we are opposed to. Since that appointment Beth's visual swelling has been down, and she's suffered no flares, thank the Lord. I am hoping the drug will not be mentioned again.
These appointments always spark fear in my heart. It's hard to relax and let go, since so much rides on what the doctors determine. And attending two back-to-back appointments with four kids in tow? Not exactly a picnic. 
And what better comfort than Psalms, and giving thanks for His gracious gifts?
Psalm 34 is indeed a gift. I urge you to share it with the brokenhearted in your life, and with all who need comfort.
Scripture in red, my words in blue.
Psalm 34
1I will extol the LORD at all times;
his praise will always be on my lips.
2 My soul will boast in the LORD;
let the afflicted hear and rejoice.
3 Glorify the LORD with me;
let us exalt his name together.
It's hard to lament when praise is on our lips. We can't grumble or fear when we praise. Praising God? It's the answer to every problem.
I sought the LORD, and he answered me;
he delivered me from all my fears.
Yes, he always answers! How glorious is His love and faithfulness!
5 Those who look to him are radiant;
their faces are never covered with shame.
Yes, this is so true. Those who pray, who read the Word faithfully, they have something special. Radiance from being in His presence. Don't forsake His presence; it's your lifeblood.
6 This poor man called, and the LORD heard him;
he saved him out of all his troubles.
7 The angel of the LORD encamps around those who fear him,
and he delivers them.
8 Taste and see that the LORD is good;
blessed is the man who takes refuge in him.
Taste and see? It means to spend time with the Lord. To know him intimately.
9 Fear the LORD, you his saints,
for those who fear him lack nothing.
10 The lions may grow weak and hungry,
but those who seek the LORD lack no good thing.
Yes, yes! He is enough.
11 Come, my children, listen to me;
I will teach you the fear of the LORD.
12 Whoever of you loves life
and desires to see many good days,
13 keep your tongue from evil
and your lips from speaking lies.
14 Turn from evil and do good;
seek peace and pursue it.
15 The eyes of the LORD are on the righteous
and his ears are attentive to their cry;
16 the face of the LORD is against those who do evil,
to cut off the memory of them from the earth.
Not only must we spend time with the Lord, but fear Him as well. To fear him is to know he is a righteous God who detests sin and will not tolerate it. To fear him is to obey him. And we must always confess our sin. Yes, he died on the cross to redeem us--we are forgiven--but we continue to sin and that sin needs to be confessed. Don't assume the cross means we never have to humble ourselves before the Lord and loved ones, to confess wrong deeds and a wrong heart condition. Let us not keep sin hidden, so that our prayers are not hindered. 
17 The righteous cry out, and the LORD hears them;
he delivers them from all their troubles.
18 The LORD is close to the brokenhearted
and saves those who are crushed in spirit.
He became man and He knows our limitations, our afflictions. He loves us and is faithful to hurt with us and for us. Hallelujah!
19 A righteous man may have many troubles,
but the LORD delivers him from them all;
Does this mean He takes all our troubles away? Not always and not immediately. To be delivered from something could very well mean to be given the strength to rise above live for eternity.
20 he protects all his bones,
not one of them will be broken.
21 Evil will slay the wicked;
the foes of the righteous will be condemned.
22 The LORD redeems his servants;
no one will be condemned who takes refuge in him.

Prayer Time: Dear Heavenly Father, once again I must thank you for the Psalms. How they heal and make my heart and soul soar. Thank you for your grace and mercy, for your faithfulness. Thank you for always answering our cries. Thank you for being close to the brokenhearted. Thank you for delivering us from our troubles, if only in our hearts and minds. Thank you for the redemptive quality of praise and thanksgiving. May it renew my friends and family also, today. May you be with them intimately. May you draw them to yourself. In your Son's name I pray, Amen. 
Giving more thanks today...
~ for Paul and Peter, who finally graduated from Momma's School of Baking. I have given up control and let them loose in the kitchen. No longer do I stand by and make sure just the right amount of flour and other ingredients make it into the bowls. They love the freedom and every second or third day, they bake something. So far we've enjoyed chocolate chip muffins, pumpkin pie, brownies, strawberry muffins, and now, today, snicker doodles
~ for my littlest girl, whose hugs and cuddles soothe my soul.
~ for my husband, who never has harsh words for me.
~ for opportunities to minister to Lexi, our new neighborhood friend.
~ for getting caught up on the folding.
~ for boys and little girls who fold their own socks and underwear.
~ for sunshine and cooler temperatures.
~ for a wonderful variety of birds at our feeders.
~ for a marriage rooted in peace and charity.
~ for my boys becoming consistent in their personal devotions. Trust the Holy Spirit and the Word. They will beckon a child's heart, if we provide the opportunity. Make it mandatory at first. You'll find that it grows on them.
~ for Peter, who remarked today, when Lexi went briefly home to check in with her mom, which she must do every thirty minutes: "That's good that she checks in with her mom when she's supposed to, isn't it Mommy? It makes me feel good when kids obey their parents."
Lexi is in the middle of a two-week restriction from using her bike, for going home too late one night (not from here). I think that really made an impression on her. Once today Paul even reminded her to go check in, which made me chuckle inside.
~ for a God who always provides, though on paper, it seems impossible.
~ for the Book of Jonah. It's taught me more about mercy than any other Bible lesson.
~ for little girls who sit on the couch with a book in their hands, though they can't yet read.
~ for the wonders of intercessory prayer. Think you got troubles? Start praying for others and feel the wonder of relief. A trouble is not a trouble unless we focus on it intently. Praying for others is an outward focus, rather than an inward one. And outward focus heals. No, it's not avoidance. Once you pray about your trouble, letting it go means to stop focusing on it. You've given it to God and that's all you can do at present. If He wants you to do more, he'll tell you. In the meantime, interceed for others and your heart will grow in charity and gratitude. Prayer is powerful in so many ways! So redemptive, so beautiful.
Linking with Ann for Multitude Monday.