Through the Valley
of
Serenity
Our Family's Miracle Journey
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August 2009


August 5th, 2009


As I recall all the trials in my life, my heart praises my Lord! I can not express how grateful I am for His security.  I do not fear death! I do not fear loneliness! I do not fear failure! I do not fear a broken heart! I do not fear loss!  The only thing that truly frightens me... is facing all of these things WITHOUT my Savior!

I've witnessed the Victory of Jesus Christ and I've witnessed the horrible alternative without Him.  I've witnessed God perform healing miracles and I've seen parents wheeling their children to hospice.  I seen loving mothers praying over their sick and  I seen frighten babies crying alone in their hospital beds.  I've witnessed mothers standing strong and declaring victory when there seemed to be no earthly Hope and I've seen parents give up when faced with less serious circumstances.  I've witnessed Hope and I've seen failure!

With every trial I've endured, I've had a supernatural peace that surrounded me... a supernatural strength that carried me, a supernatural boldness that pushed me forward, and nail scared hands that lifted me higher.   I am not a strong person! I am not anything special! I am NOTHING without my Savior! 

My heart aches for those without that security.  I cry for those who suffer in vain.  I'm at a loss for those who are broken without the knowledge of their hope. I cry for those who are falling apart with nothing to hold onto.

Even when I'm barely breathing, His love becomes my air.  Even when my heart is broken...He keeps it beating!  In every pain I endure, He brings forth healing!

With every trial I face... He's there giving me something to hold on to...

"We are hard-pressed on every side, yet not crushed;  We are perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed...." 2 Cor. 7: 8-9
Therefore:
"Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because the Lord your God goes with you. He will never leave you nor forsake you." Deuteronomy 31:6."


As I recall all the trials in my life, my heart praises my Lord! I can not express how grateful I am for His security.  I do not fear death! I do not fear loneliness! I do not fear failure! I do not fear a broken heart! I do not fear loss!  The only thing that truly frightens me... is facing all of these things WITHOUT my Savior!




August 6th, 2009

One of the many blessings in my life, is being able to follow the story of an amazing little boy... Granton Bayless.  If you've read our "join us in prayer page," then you know we have been praying for his family since their journey with SCIDS began. (We continue to do so and ask that you do as well.)  My ministry to share Serenity's story in an effort to encourage PICU families, all started with little Granton! God gave me such an incredible compassion for their family and at the same time filled my heart with an assurance that all would be well. There were many times when the doctors didn't expect Granton to make it, but God remained faithful!  For several months I was consumed with his journey. I had to check my computer several times a day for his current status.  I remember going out of  town for a few days and being without computer access. Every few minutes I was saying.. "I wonder how Granton's feeling.  I wonder if there's anything specific I need to pray for."  My husband grew frustrated after awhile. "This is getting ridiculous. You're worse now than when we leave our own kids at home."  :)  Of course he was just teasing me, but my point is... Sometime during their long journey, I feel in love with that little boy and he will forever hold a special place in my heart!!!

Even though Granton and Serenity's diagnosis were very different, there are so many similarities in their journeys.
They are true examples of the power of God's word! (healing scriptures spoken over both of them regularly) They are true examples of the power of faith filled prayer.  They are true examples of God's grace (How did we make it through? Where did that strength come from?)  They are true examples of the goodness of the Lord!  And they are true living examples that... Forever God is Faithful!!

          Recently the two little miracles were able to meet in person:

"They cried unto the Lord in their trouble & He delivered them out of their distresses. Psalms 107:6
  
                      

"Then our mouth was filled with laughter, and our tongue with singing; then they said among the heathen, The Lord hath done great things for us! The Lord hath done great things for us and we are filled with joy!" 
Psalms 126:2,3




August 7th, 2009

                            Happy Meal Princesses!

                   Apparently... when you're a prissy little girl....
                             
                                                                       
                EVERYTHING looks like a tiara!!





August 9th, 2009

I have come to a new realization today! It's taken me awhile but I have finally made peace with the fact that it may be YEARS before I can go to the bathroom alone again. I know it sounds kind of drastic... but you do not live in my house nor do you have to raise a Serenity. I've said it once and I'll say it again... the chick works at hyper speed! I'm telling' you, it's not natural.  She literally goes from one mess to another. Now add a tiny toddler accomplice plus an unsupervised minute and what do you have?  D.I.S.A.S.T.E.R. Yes that spells Disaster!  
The other day I caught Bonnie and Clyde in the bathroom! What do you suppose they were doing? Why...finger painting with red and blue toothpaste of course! I had little toddler masterpieces all over my counter and cabinets! So.. while I was cleaning up that mess.. what do you suppose they were doing? Sitting around twiddling their thumbs?  Oh NO! Less than two minutes later, I'm facing Reni and THIS MESS...

                        

                    "SERENITY! NO! DON'T MAKE A MESS!"
                    "I not make a mess, Mom.  I makin' Supper!"

But wait... It only gets better. Remember.. she has a little accomplice. So right next to her stands little Eli.... red handed with his "Handy Manny" tools just sawing away. Cause, Everyone knows that supper isn't complete without a little dessert. Right? So what yummy treat serves well with a mixture of sea salt and parsley?  Evidently...

        
                                  Butchered Watermelon!
   (Don't ask cause I STILL don't know how they pulled this one off)



August 10th, 2009

I caught Serenity red handed (actually black armed) with one of her Daddy's Permanent markers...

       "Serenity... You have tattoos! Did you mark on yourself?"

             
          "NO!  MY NOT DOED IT! ELI MARKS ON ME!" 
   "Serenity.. You're the one with the marker! Did you mark on yourself?"
          
"NO! MY NOT DOED IT! ELI MARKS ON ME.. MOM!"
                     About that time Eli walks into the room....

        
               "HEY MOM...LOOKED WHAT MY DRAWED!"
                                  Uh....Oops!  My bad!
                 "I sincerely apologize Reni! Mommy was wrong!"


                              
                   "Yeah.. Cuz I TOAD you, you not know EBERTANG!"

                                 Ahhh.. and this time she was sooo close!
    Yet... At the last moment, Innocence spoiled by a sassy mouth!
:)





August 11th, 2009



Today my eyes are opened to a harsh reality. Today my view on the world has changed. Today my desperation for a world wide spiritual awakening screams out to all who will listen!!!

While Serenity was in the hospital my eyes were opened to the abundant suffering of the ill or forgotten. Now my eyes have been opened to the cause of all that suffering. The world has grown cold. It's conscience has been seared. It's heart blackened. In the middle of an economic hardship, everyone should be drawing closer together... working with one another toward a greater good. Yet... more and more souls have become devious, self loving, stepping on who ever gets in their way just to earn the all mighty dollar. People have become inhumane, heartless, immoral.

"But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come: For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good, traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having a form of godliness but denying its power. And from such people turn away! For of this sort are those who creep into households and make captives of gullible women loaded down with sins, led away by various lusts, always learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth." 2 Timothy 3:1-7

As most of you know, toward the beginning of the year, Tommy's place of employment drastically reduced his hours. They had two large lay offs. So at the time we were just thankful that God's favor protected his job. But at the same time, the loss of income sent us into a temporary financial whirlwind. We had to make a priority list of bills needing payment. We had a medical bill that in comparison to food and shelter, was just not high on our list. Tom and I both called on this bill to make payment arrangements. They wanted twice as much a month as what we could afford and REFUSED to accept anything less. The lady actually told me that even if I sent a payment in that amount, they would not credit it as a full payment and would still refer our account to collection. She was completely unsympathetic to our situation. Basically she told us we would have to make payment arrangements with the collection agency. Although at the time I was FURIOUS (I had never heard of someone refusing a payment before) I went ahead and sent in what I could afford. A couple of months later I no longer could afford half the payment. A couple of months after that we received our first letter in the mail from the collection agency saying.. it was now referring us to a lawyer for... refusal to negotiate payment. "WHAT?" I never received any notices from the collection agency... not sure if they made a mistake and never sent them or if somehow there was a mix up on our end or on the post office end. Either way, we had missed our opportunity. We immediately called them and they told us there was nothing they could do. It was in the lawyer's hands now. So we called the law office and we're told.. the only way to stop it from going to court was "Payment in full" Well.. that was just out of the question.

That night we called a debt consolidation place. We gave them all of our information. In return they told us they would contact all of our creditors. We were tied to them for an entire month. All the while thinking they are negotiating everything. The day after are first payment goes through, we get a call. "Sorry to inform you that our company is not licensed to work within your state. We're sorry for the inconvenience but it may be four to six weeks before we can refund your check." YOU HAVE GOT TO BE KIDDING! Immediately I start praying and call our bank, it turns out the transaction was still pending. I put a stop on the check with 15 minutes to spare. Praise God! Our money was returned! However, the fact still remains that for an entire month we thought these people were negotiating with our creditors. Yet.. they had done NOTHING! The very next day we receive a summons to court.

Meanwhile I'm just beyond words. "Lord why is this happening? You know that I always try my best to cover my debt. This wasn't even something that was frivolously spent. It was a medical bill.. a necessity at the time. " Not to mention the series of unfortunate circumstances. It was clearly an attack of the enemy. I mean... who has this kind of thing happen to them. But... just wait it only gets worse.

Tom takes off a day of work (which obviously was something we did not need) and we head to court with all five of our children. As we walk in the door, we have no clue where to go. We have never done this kind of thing before. I sit down with the kids and Tom goes off to ask someone for directions. He returns with a very unhappy face. "Man.. see that guy over there in the white shirt and all the piercings?" "Yeah." "He's not very nice at all. Actually he's down right mean!" "Oh.. really?" End of conversation.

Several minutes later we are corralled into the courtroom with an entire herd of people. There isn't even standing room left. All being sued by the same hospital. One by one our names are called. We go before the judge and one by one he depicts some legal jargon then tells us to go wait in the lobby. After another long wait with five kids, we're led into another room to discuss payment arrangements with a legal assistant. Now remember, we had already called the law office before our court date pleading for a payment arrangement, but we were told they would only accept payment in full. Now after dragging us to court suddenly we can payment arrangements, plus court cost, plus interest. Does that make sense? We didn't think so either.

As we enter the room our heart sinks... There sits... yes you guessed it.. the mean little man. For the first couple of minutes he seems nice enough. Tom even mentions his turn of behavior. "Hey man, thanks! You're nicer than you were the first time I saw you." "Yeah.. well. I was just really stressed out." He asks us a couple more questions, punches some numbers into his calculator than blurts out... "Let's see can you do..." then proceeds to announce a number three times as high as what the hospital was asking. Our immediate simultaneous reaction... like a hit in the gut... "UUUH... NO!"

The guy screams out at the top of his lungs... "THAT'S IT! GET OUT! WE'RE DONE HERE!" Tommy and I just look at just other in astonishment. "What?" Again at the top of his lungs. I can see the vein bulging in his neck with ever word... "I SAID... WE'RE DONE HERE! YOU'RE NOT GOING TO RAISE YOUR VOICE AT ME. YOU CAN LEAVE! GET OUT!" My husband says.. "Hey man... we didn't raise our raise. You're the one yelling." Meanwhile I glace over at my children lined up quietly against the wall and reply.. "We're not going anywhere! You're are not going to treat us like dirt." I thought the vein might burst in his neck... "DO YOU WANT ME TO GO GET THE LAWYER AND JUDGE INVOLVED." I very sternly reply.. "YES I DO. I WANT TO TALK TO SOMEONE WITH A HEART, BECAUSE YOU ARE HEARTLESS!"

The little guy storms out of the room. A few minutes later, he returns alone and declares.. "YOU'RE GONNA HAVE TO GET OUT OF THOSE CHAIRS BECAUSE I NEED THEM." Tom pulls at my arm. "Come on let's just go." I look at him shaking from the adrenaline pumping through my body... "No.. it's the principle of the matter now." I turn toward the man.. "I pray you're NEVER treated this way." He gets right up in my face and again starts screaming... "YOU BLEW UP AT ME FIRST! NOW GET OUT BEFORE I GO GET THE JUDGE." I can feel tears streaming down my face as the man continues to yell. "I SAID... GET OUT BEFORE I GO GET THE JUDGE." I look directly into his eyes and a chill runs down my spine. This is not just some caulky young man. I was in the middle of a spiritual battle. I relax into the chair... "I said.. you go get him!" At this point, I had made up my mind. I was going to wait out this situation even if they had to drag my bottom to jail. I wasn't going to allow my family to be plowed over by some goofy, evil little guy in a suit.

About five more minutes into the waiting, a woman who works with him walks over to me, "Mam.. I understand you're trying to uphold a principle but we really have tons of people waiting for these seats. Could please wait in the other room?" I looked up at her and wondered how could she be so oblivious to what was happening. Does this kind of thing happen a lot? She had no emotion, no concern... just "let me do my job" attitude. I wiped the tears away from my eyes and thought about the multitude of people waiting to enter the room of doom. I didn't want to cause them anymore stress or a longer wait than necessary. So I got up out of the chair and walked out the door. We passed evil man and his lawyer friend in the hallway. "Oh.. there they are. They're leaving now!" The lawyer caught us and announced "As soon as I'm finished in the courtroom I will meet up with you to discuss a payment arrangement."

We waited for quite awhile. The entire time I can't seem to stop crying. The kids are growing more tired and more hungry and more thirsty. Finally, the lawyer comes back and we make a settlement. Although he does not yell at us... he does not offer an apology nor does he offer any sympathy for situation. Finally our settlement is close enough to our budget range. We leave broken but not destroyed.

Looking in hindsight, I realize that I should have stood strong and demanded to speak with the judge. I feel like I compromised too soon. People who are already struggling are being beaten down and broken. They know these people can't afford help for their defense. Therefore they think that gives them free reign to treat them how ever they want. It's cold and heartless and they should be held accountable. Part of me feels like I failed them. I feel like I back down too soon. But.. like all bad situations, You live and you learn.

Just two days prior to this happening, my husband's step mother called me for some advice on a particular situation. It seems every where she turns people are trying to take advantage of her. She asked.. "Do you think God is trying to teach me to be more bold?" I explained that God has been trying to toughen me up for some time now. I use to be a MAJOR push over. But over the last few years, He has been teaching me to become stronger. I think he is trying to strength his warriors, Because in these last days, He is going to need an army that isn't afraid to not back down. He's going to need an army that isn't easily swayed from what is right. So often Christians compromise what is right just to make peace. Jesus said..

“Do not think that I came to bring peace on earth. I did not come to bring peace but a sword." Matthew 10:34

The sword of course meaning...the word! This scripture is clearly defining that we must stand for what is right according to the word of God. We are NEVER to compromise the truth just to make someone happy. We are never to give in to evil just to make peace. We do not invoke violence, but when attacked we have to take a stand. We must be willing to fight for what is right and just! We must NEVER back down to the enemy. We must always stand up for what is right! In the last days, weak little Christians who are easily conquered are not going to make it! God is trying to strengthen His army. Because a spiritual battle like our minds can not even comprehend is soon at hand!

So as I recall my words to her just two days prior, I realize the purpose behind this entire attack. God is teaching me how to become a strong bold Christian and I'm learning... slowly.

I also view it as an opportunity for prayer. Just as I mentioned before when discussing the nurse in  Serenity's story, People like this do not become cold without reason. It's rooted from some sort of void or hurt in their lives. They all have different reasons for their actions but they all need the same solution... Jesus!

So I will pray for the healing power of Christ to touch this young man's heart. I will pray for the convicting power of the Holy Spirit to change his life. I will pray for God's mercy as we all know.. what goes around, comes around. I will pray his heart is softened and love fills his soul. I will pray for all those involved who made my life a little more stressful. But forgive me, because for now... I just want to cool off for awhile!



August 12th, 2009


Okay.. now that I've had a little time to vent, I feel much better. Everyone is being hit hard right now. Lately... it seems we've been attacked on all sides. God's people are definitely being tested. Does that mean we become discouraged? NO! Does that mean we accept defeat? Absolutely NOT! Whether our trial is big or small... whether or valley is deep or shallow... We always start climbing that mountain! WE always look toward Victory!! I am a child of the KING of KINGS and victory is already mine!! When the enemy tries to bring strife into my family... I take the authority Christ has given me and I stop him dead in his tracks! When the enemy tries to attack my finances... I stand on 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. And I will rebuke the devourer for your sakes, So that he will not destroy the fruit of your ground, Nor shall the vine fail to bear fruit for you in the field, Says the LORD of hosts; And all nations will call you blessed, For you will be a delightful land,” Says the LORD of hosts." Malachi 3:10-12

When I'm obedient to His commandment to tithe, (even in...no..
especially in my lack) then I have His promise that He will rebuke the devourer on my behalf. I do my part... then I EXPECT Him to pour out blessings on me that I can not contain! God is ALWAYS faithful to His promises!

Over the past few months we have endured a little tightening in our belts, but we have never been without. God has remained faithful to supply our needs. Tommy was able to hold onto his job through two large lay offs (a miracle in itself) They DID cut out all overtime, which hurt our way of life. However, the company had also warned him of at least one 30 hour week per month. I stood firm on God's promises and prayed faithfully. For months, they chose only a handful of employees to work full time during these short weeks. Tommy was chosen every time! Each week he was able to work the full 40 hours! Praise God! Many similar companies sadly had to close their doors completely. However, the company Tom works for was founded on tithing. The owner gives God all the glory for it's success! They were down for awhile but not destroyed. While so many other companies are failing, This company recently hired back several more employees!! For the last couple of weeks, Tom has been able to work 10 hours overtime. (Praise God we're catching up) Then today, they announced everyone would be working 20 hours of overtime. God is Good! He is faithful!

You can put me on record as saying... There is a mighty blessing heading our way!! I know because... for one.. God has promised it! And two... the enemy has been desperately trying to discourage my family. Whenever the enemy attacks at full force, you can almost guarantee God has something BIG in the making! He sees it coming and he wants to stop God from moving. The only way he can do that is if he gets our eyes off the prize. Sometimes it doesn't take much to discourage God's people. Sometimes he has to hit us FULL FORCE! If you're being attacked from all sides, take it as a compliment that you're a strong warrior worthy of a mighty battle! No one said fighting the good fight of faith would be easy, they just said it would be victorious!

The enemy comes to kill, steal and destroy. (John 10:10) He walks around like a roaring lion seeking whom he may devour. (1 Peter 5:8) But.. whether or not he succeeds, is
always up to us! The enemy can and WILL attack but we can either let him have our blessing or we can be obedient to God and HOLD onto God's promises! We are to trust fully in our lord, knowing that God is allowing our trial as a teaching tool... using it to perfect His vessel. (James 1:2) Then EXPECT God to shower us with His love and blessing! We are always to EXPECT Victory in every situation we face, because we are promised VICTORY!

"But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord."
1 Corinthians 15:57-58


"For whatever is born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world even our faith" 1 John 5:4

I will NOT be moved by circumstances around me! I will be praying and PROCLAIMING Victory! I continue to look toward the future in expectation of a mighty blessing... financial and spiritual!! :)




August 15th, 2009

        When is it time to upgrade a baby bed into a toddler bed?

           When the safety railing becomes the Baby's favorite toy!
                  

                 "Look Mom... I a Cowboy!  Giddy Up Horsey!  Wee Haw!"



August 19th, 2009

                And... They're off...!  It's the first day of school!
               And now it's finally quiet around here...TOO quiet!
                                       I miss them already!
                                  






August 20th, 2009


"Now it happened as they went that He entered a certain village; and a certain woman named Martha welcomed Him into her house. And she had a sister called Mary, who also sat at Jesus feet and heard His word. But Martha was distracted with much serving, and she approached Him and said, “Lord, do You not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Therefore tell her to help me.” And Jesus answered and said to her, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and troubled about many things. But only one thing is needed, and Mary has chosen that good part, which will not be taken away from her.” Luke 10:38-42


Recently God has been dealing with me on a certain issue. Throughout my life, I have made a vain effort to please the people I'm close to. The thought of disappointing or letting down those that I love, somehow consumes me. Almost to the point of an obsession! I am constantly asking myself..."Did I do the right thing?... "Could I have done more?... Did I say the right thing?... Should I have said more?" I become frantic when I believe I might someone down. Then when things don't go the way I believe that should, I always blame myself.

My Christian life is no different. I have been living my life to please my Savior. Which is a GOOD thing... helping others, spreading the gospel, sharing our testimony and encouraging those needing hope. However, when things happen that I do not understand. I immediately blame myself... "Did I miss God? Did I say or do the wrong thing? Lord forgive, I will try harder!!" I truly believe that the desire to please our Lord is a good quality... a GOD given quality. Until.. it becomes the center of your focus and you end up missing the greater picture.

Lately I find myself as a Martha yearning to be like Mary! Just like Martha I feel like I have become frantic in my preparations. I've been so busy trying to please my Lord that I'm missing out on the only thing that really matters... being in His presence. At night in my desperate calls out to him, I hear him saying... "All I need is your Love. Then all these things will come." If I want to accomplish my purpose on this earth, if I want to be the person God created me to be, if I truly want to please my Savior, then first I must be content with having ONLY Him! He is the ONLY thing that matters! If I'm truly walking in His presence then I don't have to worry about letting Him down, because He's guiding my steps!

I do not want to be a Martha. Jesus was in her house. He was right next to her, but yet...she missed the only thing that mattered... His closeness. Mary savored every moment with her Savior. She worshiped Him! She loved Him! She was happy to just be near Him! Martha tried frantically to please Jesus, but in the end Mary's the one who was truly adored!

I have cut back on my ministering and blogging. Because if I truly want to be an instrument that God can use, then I must first center in on my relationship. I must focus on ONLY His presence. I must enjoy the closeness of my Savior! Get to know Him again! Love Him! Worship Him! Then I will grow and do as HE leads me!

I want to please my Savior! I want to help others! I want a flourishing ministry of Victory and Hope.. because I have a strong desire to make a difference, a deep compassion for complete strangers. I want to be a servant of the Lord accomplishing great things in HIS name! But I must be obedient...
"All I need is your Love! Then all these things will come!"




August 22nd 2009

                            "Look Mom... I a Big Boy!"
             
                        
"Cuz...Big Boys Mow da lawn!"

                     
                         "And Pretty Girls just... Ride Along!"




August 25th, 2009
 
                                                      Here... Kitty... Kitty!

                                

                                                        Oh....Pretty... Kitty!
                             
                              "Hey could you help me out up here?"

                              
                               "Sorry Man... Better you than me!"
                                                "Fine... I GOT THIS!"
                              
                                                "RARRRREEEER!
               
                                     Oh Silly Kitty... I still love you!
               
                              You're my baby! 
                 "Mommy.. Look what My found!"
               
                                       "Oh NO way... I'm outta here!"


  Lesson:    What goes around, Comes around
                                        and
                        Every Cat has His day! :)





August 26th, 2009

Eli woke me up this morning with a great big hug and kiss!

"Mommy... I LOVE you!" 

"I LOVE you too Eli."

"Why?"

"Because you're very special to me!"

"Why"

"Because I'm your Mommy."

"Why, you my Mommy?"

"Because I gave birth to you!"

Without hesitation... He takes a deep breath and releases it right into my face.

"Hhhhhaaaaaa! 

Then very satisfied he adds...

There... I give breath back to you!"


I Love the fact that he wanted to repay the favor.  I just hope he doesn't think this means he's MY Mommy now! LOL










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