Through the Valley
of
Serenity
Our Family's Miracle Journey
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April 2010



April 1st, 2010

I never really understood the meaning of Grace until our journey with Serenity. In an online dictionary it's defined as..."
the influence or spirit of God operating in humans to regenerate or strengthen them."  But to fully understand, you must experience His grace firsthand.

Just as you must also experience a PICU before you can truly understand it's depressing nature.  In that area of a hospital, two large metal doors separate two completely different worlds.  On one side, there is normalcy. There are blue skies and butterflies, birthday cakes and laughter.  Then in an instant you walk through those large metal doors and everything changes.  Skies turn gray, butterflies disappear. Birthday cakes are left untouched and laughter, not only fades, but it ceases to exist. Moments are filled with tears. Helpless cries from desperate mothers fill the air. Expressions begin to vanish. The majority fear to feel anything, for if they feel something, than they are sure to feel pain. 

The PICU is a walk into a world of depression and the wonderful dedicated nurses of this unit experience this world on a daily basis.  I'm sure if you were to ask one of them, most would admit that they love their job, but they would also admit that they do have their moments... many, many moments, when they long for a better atmosphere. I know this, because those same nurses use to fight over our room assignment. They all wanted to work in our atmosphere.  We were the topic of many discussions.  My husband was always cracking jokes.  Even the most professional staff members couldn't keep a straight face once they entered our room. We were friendly. We were hopeful. We were joyful, because we were confident. We had our fair share of tears, but we had more than our fair share of laughter.  Our room stood out to the entire staff.  There was something different about us and everyone wanted to be a part of our world.  People were drawn to the very thing that gave us our strength.  They were drawn to a world where laughter could exist once more.  They were drawn to the Spirit of God which surrounded us! They wondered why we were so different. They knew, it wasn't because we cared any less than the other parents.  We just had something that they desperately needed, but didn't know how to obtain. 
                     We had God's Grace to carry us through.

About a month ago, I had a dream...  My family was driving down a street in our home town. We were enjoying the ride, smiling and having fun. Suddenly a storm hit.  The sky became dark and funnel clouds started to form.  I called out to my husband who was behind the wheel and insisted that he take us home.  He sped up the car... a funnel cloud touched down directly in front of us.  He slammed on the brakes.  I called out... "Back up, Back up!"  He put the car in reverse.  A funnel cloud touched down directly behind us.  I called out.. "Turn right."  Several funnels clouds surrounded us on the right.  I called out.."Go left."  Both of our hearts sank when three more funnels clouds touch the ground on our left.  We were completely surrounded by many powerful tornadoes.  There was no where left to go.  We were stuck in the midst of a powerful storm. The tornadoes on our left started to grow and quickly began to approach us.  I turned around and glanced at my five small children buckled in the backseat. Instinct told me to get everyone out of the car and into a ditch, but in my dream there wasn't enough time. With no other alternative, I told my family to brace themselves. I could see the powerful storm. It was uprooting trees, demolishing houses and everything within it's path. Debris was flying through the air. The storm leveled everything near and it was heading straight for us.  I grabbed my husband's hand, closed my eyes and started to pray. Several seconds went by.  The tornado should have hit our car.  I slowly opened my eyes to see... dirt, trees, dark wind flying all around us.  My husband opened his eyes.  He looked around, then at me.  Both of our mouths dropped in amazement.  We are in the very center of a tornado.  There was no sound,  There was no movement. Our car was completely motionless.  It didn't even rock with the wind.  The tornado passed to the other side...still no movement... still no sound.  My children looked up, and wandered what all the fuss was about. My husband started the car and we drove away.. utterly untouched by the disaster around us.

A thousand may fall at your side, And ten thousand at your right hand; But it shall not come near you. Psalms 91:7


When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they will not over overflow you.  When you walk through the fire, you will not be scorched, nor will the flame burn you.  For I am the Lord your God, The Holy One of Israel, your Savior.
 Isaiah 43: 2-3


I awakened and remembered our journey with Serenity. This is how grace is defined.. In this life there will be storms.  There will be LOTS of storms.  Storms that seem impossible.  Moments that seem hopeless, but as long as we focus our eyes on Jesus,  we can weather ANY storm. By the Grace of God, we can come through victorious, dry as a bone, completely untouched and not even feel the wind! 

That's the power of His Grace... 
No matter what lies within our path.. as long as we place our trust in You oh Lord.  Your Grace is MORE than enough!


"Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God.
Romans 5:1-2


"And He said to me, “My grace is enough for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness...”
2 Corinthians 12:9





April 4th, 2010

             
Last weekend Tom and I attended some young Christian workshops with our youth group. We heard several inspiring messages. During a special sermon on Sunday morning, the speaker portrayed himself as the roman man who built the very cross Jesus was crucified on.  As he built this cross, he talked about this man everyone called the son of God.  He argued with himself about why he should or should not believe the accusations about Jesus.  Then at the end of the presentation he made a very powerful statement. He said..."If this is true.  If Jesus really is the son of God.  If He really was sent to save this entire world.  If He really is dying for all of our sins.  Then even I... yes even I... have Hope!" 

So often we hear people say... God could never forgive me.  I'm a terrible person. No one could ever forgive ALL the things I've done!  Satan often uses this lie to keep people in bondage.

Who are we to say, we can't be forgiven? We think we can keep God in a little box.  There isn't a box big enough to contain God's love. The love of God is powerful enough to cover ALL sin. 

Jesus
was persecuted, ridiculed. He was beaten, tortured, spit upon.  He was cut, slashed, stabbed.  Our minds can not even comprehend the pain He endured.  Only the Son of God could sustain such brutality. 
Yet, after everything they did to Him.  What did He say?  Did He say.. Curse them Father?  Did He say...Just forget about them they're too far gone?  No! What did He say?  He said..."Forgive them Father! For they know not what they do!" Time and time again they spit in His face.  They cursed Him.  They beat Him.  Yet He said..."Forgive them Father! For they know not what they do."  If Jesus had enough love to forgive the very soldiers who tortured Him.  Then who are we to say, our sins are far too great for His forgiveness?

No man knows the extend of His love!
He was born for a purpose.  He died for a reason.  He  was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: was chastised for our peace, beaten for our healing.
He DIED so that we might LIVE!


As the Son of God, He had the power to stop them at any given moment.  He had all the angels in Heaven at His beckoning.  He had all the power of the universe.  All He had to do was open His mouth and speak. 
Yet Isaiah 53:7 tells us...

 
He was oppressed and He was afflicted,
      Yet He opened not His mouth;
      He was led as a lamb to the slaughter,
      And as a sheep before its shearers is silent,
      So He opened not His mouth.


He opened not His mouth. Why?

Simple!
1 John 4:8 tells us that God is Love and John 15:13 says.

There is no greater love than this, to lay down one's life for another.


Jesus LOVED us so much that He was willing to die for all of our imperfections.  He was willing to take the place of even the roman soldiers who tortured Him.  He was willing to die so that even THEY might live.  No one is worthy of His Love!  Yet to ALL, it has been freely given.   We all are born with the same opportunity. We all have an opportunity for redemption. We all receive it the same way... Through Grace and By Faith.
Grace gets us there and Faith makes it happen!

Do you believe Jesus Christ is the Son of God?  Do you believe that He died upon a cross for the sins of this world and rose again on the third day? Do you believe that He LIVES today?  Are you willing to surrender to His will? Are you willing to lay aside the things of this world for an eternal crown of righteousness?
If so... than even YOU have Hope!
Need to know more?  Click Here!

The Love of Jesus is waiting with open arms. It's waiting for ALL those who call upon Him.  Those who have never known Him...  Those who already know Him....  Those who despise Him....  Those who worship Him... Those who need Him... His Love is waiting for ALL those who call upon Him.

For love such as this, Deserves an earnest heartfelt praise.  Our Savior Deserves our time in Worship!  He DESERVES our undivided attention! He Deserves Hands lifted in Honor of Praise. He deserves hearts filled with thanksgiving!  He Deserves our Love in return!

Where ever you are today, I pray you take a moment to reflect on what Love accomplished for YOU! I pray you find a way to worship Him... whether it be by song, by prayer, or just standing still within the midst of His presence. However you choose, may it be earnest, sincere and heartfelt. For He is worthy to be Praised!

Today our family offers extra praises! We praise Him for ALL that was accomplished... Eternal Salvation, Deliverance, Prosperity, Healing... Oh to be offered Healing! True...There's no greater gift than eternal Salvation, but healing.... Healing is such a very precious gift! We are SOOO very thankful for the stripes Jesus took on the day He suffered and died.  We are so very grateful for the pain He endured.  

                    For it was By those Stripes, on THAT day,

                                                  that...

                    

                            Our little Serenity WAS healed!


From our family to yours,

  We pray you have a very blessed Resurrection Day!

              

             
      
           Rejoice! For today, our SAVIOR LIVES!



April 6th, 2010


I have some pretty awesome parents. They're always bringing goodies over for the kids.  Every time we visit them, we joke about going grocery shopping because we always come home with bags of goodies.
Well... apparently my Dad has been supporting a recent fundraiser for one of his other 17 grandchildren, because this morning he brought over a tub of cookie dough.  Serenity runs into the room all excited...

"Mom.. Papa gave us cookie go!"

"Oh wonderful! That sounds yummy, but just one question. Is it called cookie GO or cookie DOUGH?"

Serenity HATES to be wrong. She knows that something's up, but she's not about to admit that she made a mistake. So she answers with confidence... "It's called Cookie GO!"

I smile at her persistence. Then attempt to make her question her decision. I ask... "Oh yeah, and just why is it called cookie GO?"

She rolls her eyes & shakes her head... "Well...DUH! Because Papa goed to bring it over here and it's sooo yummy, it goes bye bye really fast!" 
She then walks away mumbling under her breath... "What is a cookie Dough anyway? A dough don't do nufin' "

LOL  You have to give her props... She's quick and VERY convincing! Hmm... maybe it IS called cookie go. Maybe I'M the one who's had it wrong all these years!  :)




April 7th, 2010

                      
SOMEONE really enjoys Springtime....

              

Serenity is absolutely LOVIN' this weather!  She's really enjoying all the perks that springtime has to offer.... like wearing her pretty flower hair accessories or cool hot pink sunglasses. 
                Yes.. She loves to wear all her springtime gear, 
                    But not quite as much as she loves to... 

       
                          Model them for the camera! :)
                  



April 8th, 2010

Spent the morning hard at work cleaning house. I was in the girls' room gathering laundry, when Serenity walks into the room...
 
"Mom, I need to apologize."

Stunned to hear such a word I ask. "Apologize? That's an awfully BIG word for such a little girl! Do you even know what that means?"

"Yep!"

"Okay then, What does it mean?"

She looks down at the ground and answers... "It means... I opened a banana and squished it on the floor."    LOL


Uh... Apology accepted! :)




April 10th, 2010

Serenity loves to sing.  She always trying to find new songs to master.  Sometimes she amazes me and memorizes them verbatim.  Other times... well... she misses the lyrics just a tad.

This afternoon, she runs to me all excited about a new song she just heard.... 

"Mommy... Mommy... I know a new song!" 

"That's great Honey... Let's hear it."

She begins to sing...
"Underwear Bridge is falling down... falling down... falling down!  Underwear Bridge is falling down... Poor... Little... Lady!"

Trying very hard not to laugh,  I applaud her...
"Yay Reni, that song is beautiful!"

With a grin of satisfaction she asks...
"Have YOU ever heard that song before, Mommy?"

"Uh...No Serenity... I can honestly say I have NEVER heard THAT particular song before." :)




April 13th, 2010

                   A Trip Down Memory Lane
                          Serenity Summer of 07

                  
                            Who put this HAT on my head?

                   
                             SERIOUSLY! TAKE IT OFF!

                      What did you say?  Not going to happen?
                                               Well...
                          
                     Mommy always did say to keep a stiff upper lip!
                           And find the good in everything
                                                 So...
                         
                   I guess it does come in handy during nap time!
                                   And What's that you say?

                     
                                    I LOOK CUTE TOO??
                                     I LOVE to look cute!
                                   So....That makes me one.....
                              
                                   Happy Cowgirl... BA-BY!






April 17th, 2010

God saw darkness and He said..."Let there be LIGHT... and there was light!"  What would have happened if He spoke more darkness into the darkness?  Obviously... the night would have become much darker!

Our lives are filled with dark moments.  The people we love all have dark qualities... our friends... our parents...our spouse... our children.. all have qualities about them that need refining.  No one is perfect. We all need correction. We all have bad days with dark moments, But how often do we see those "dark" moments and speak negative things in to them? It's just impossible...   How often do we rehearse the problems of are loved ones... You're so selfish... You're such a mess... Why do you have to be sooo lazy.... Can't you do anything right?
  By speaking negative things, we are actually looking into darkness and saying.... Let it be darker. 

What would happen if we actually took the time to think before we speak? What if we actually stopped and made the choice to be positive?  What if we only spoke the promises of God over our dark moments... With God ALL things are possible!  What if we actually put emphasis on all the GOOD qualities of our loved ones and encouraged them to do better... When you help others out, your face lights up and makes my day...

What if we made the decision to speak LIGHT into the darkness?
Our world would be a much brighter place!

"Death and life are in the power of the tongue, And those who love it will eat its fruit."  Proverbs 18:21

Look into your dark moments and say.... "LET THERE BE LIGHT!"




April 18th, 2010

Serenity loves to sit on my lap and gaze into my eyes...
"I can see me in YOUR eyes Mommy!" 
She will bat her eyes, tilt her head and smile.  She thinks she looks so pretty in the reflection in my eyes.

When I see her, I look at her with love.  I see my perfect, beautiful little baby girl.  I look past her ornery behavior.  I see past her smart little mouth.  The love of a mother looks past all wrong doings and just sees her beautiful, blameless child.

The love of a mother is only a taste of what our Heavenly Father feels.  When we become a child of God, Jesus sees us through eyes of love.  He doesn't see our mistakes.  He sees us covered in His blood... spotless, purified and blameless. He sees us worthy of even the greatest blessings!

The enemy loves to tell us we don't deserve God's blessings.  He knows we will easily believe his shenanigans because truth is... we don't deserve them. That's the reason Jesus came to die for us... but now oh now... through the blood of Jesus we are joint heirs to ALL His Kingdom.  By His LOVE we become sons and daughters of the almighty King!

When we look into the mirror, the enemy makes it easy for us to see all our flaws.. all of our imperfections.  But if we could just strive to see... if we could just draw close enough to Jesus... if we could just reach up and sit on His lap... If we could just gaze into HIS eyes and see our reflection in HIM....oh how beautiful we would appear and how worthy we would feel!

For He chose us in Him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in His sight. In love He predestined us to be adopted as His sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with His pleasure and will -- to the praise of His glorious grace, which He has freely given us in the One He loves.  ~ Ephesians 1:4-6





April 21st, 2010

      Our Toddler Photographers Latest Creations:

                              Serenity's Self Portrait
                        

                                   Eli's Self Portrait
                       

                                Eli's Portrait of Serenity
                     
                                          And....
                                Serenity's Portrait of Eli
                     
   
    Don't you just HATE it when your model REFUSES to corporate? :)



April 25th, 2010

Sitting around talking about vacation, Serenity decides she wants to go to Disney World. I explain to her that a trip like that takes A LOT of money and money is something that isn't easily obtained... especially for a family of seven, living on one income.  Well... my little speech did not influence Serenity's decision in any way.  She just smiled and replied... "Mommy... Jesus has plenty of money in HIS pocket and He will give it if we ask."
Her words just melted my heart!  As adults we can learn SOOO much about faith from a child!  She did not even hesitate.  She simply relied on Jesus as her source.
"Assuredly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a little child will by no means enter it.” Luke 18:17

I was simply inspired by her persistent faith.  I know that it is always God's perfect will to bless His children. He LOVES to give us the desires of our heart and He always honors a heart of pure faith. I wasn't going to shut the door on her desire. I simply explained to her that we just had to wait on HIS timing.  If it was God's will for us to travel to Disney World THIS summer that He would supply the funds to do it.  Meanwhile in my mind, I was just trying to figure out.... HOW! 

We live on a very tight week to week budget.  Last year, Tommy's job survived a couple of big layoffs within his company (PRAISE GOD) but he had to endure some major cut backs on his hours. This put was way behind on several bills and unfortunately we only broke even recently.  After almost an entire year in the red.  We finally are back in the black again.  We still owe, but at least we're no longer behind on payments. 

So here is my daughter, exclaiming that God will supply us a trip to Disney World... a trip worth several thousand dollars  ($1000 just to get my family through the park gates for two days of fun) and our savings is nearly non existent.  Did not seem promising... but then again matters that require faith never do! :)

Then came the BIG step.  God spoke to me to start tithing 20%, instead of our normal 10%.   Wow! Now if you don't think that took a lot of faith, then you've never cared for a family of seven living on one income. God has ALWAYS supplied all of our needs, but we were counting pennies to get by before.  So the thought of coming up with an extra 10%  on top of the normal 10%, was a bit scary.  But in my heart, I knew that even if God had to rain manna from heaven (Exodus 16:4-5) or give us money in a fishes mouth, (Matthew 17:27) He would supply our needs.  So I was obedient.  Guess what I learned?  God confirmed in a physical manner what my heart has always known...  No matter how hard you try you just can NOT out give God!  The more you give, the MORE you receive!

Since I started tithing 20 %.  I have had plenty to pay all of our bills on time, buy groceries, and still manage to put back some every week toward our vacation.  We are slowly inching our way there... but we ARE well on our way.  Serenity's dream vacation to see Minnie Mouse's house is not so far fetched anymore.  As a matter of fact, it may be a lot sooner than anticipated.  We have even been offered a FREE place to stay while we're there. God is Good! He always honors FAITH and OBEDIENCE!
 He remains faithful to all of His promises. 

"Bring all the tithes into the storehouse,
      That there may be food in My house,
      And try Me now in this,”
      Says the LORD of hosts,
   “ If I will not open for you the windows of heaven
      And pour out for you such blessing
      That there will not be room enough to receive it.
" Malachi 3:10-11





April 30th, 2010


Serenity wakes up this morning and runs to me....

"Mommy, I had a REALLY BAD DREAM last night." 

I reach down and swoop her up..

"Oh Honey, I'm so sorry.  It's okay now.  Mommy is here. 
Do you want to talk about it?"


She nods her head.

"Okay Sweetie... what was your dream about?"

She pouts up her bottom lip and begins to explain...

"The kitty cat played with the pretty lady bug, but he played TOO rough! The Kitty Cat knocked the lady bug off of her tummy. Her couldn't get up! Her tried, but her couldn't... And that Kitty Cat scratched her tummy!
"

She buries her head into my shoulder... too distraught to look up.
I try not to laugh as I comfort her! 

"It's okay Honey.  The pretty lady bug is alright.  It was just a dream."


Meanwhile... I'm thinking... Oh what it must be like to be three years old!  What it must be like to be so innocent... so sheltered.  Oh... what it must be like when your "REALLY BAD DREAMS" consist of...
                               
Kitty Cats and Ladybugs!  :)






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