Through the Valley
Our Family's Miracle Journey
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July 2009

July 3rd, 2009

This month marks the one anniversary of the birth of this website. So much has happened over the past year.  I don't even know where to begin. One night last July, Tom and I were casually talking.  I mentioned I would like to some day have a website to share Serenity's testimony. A few moments later we were on the phone with a website company. That night I sat down and began typing.  The words just began to flow out of me.  The very next day I launched Through the Valley of Serenity.

I believe God definitely had His hand in directing our steps. Our entire world was shaken during our valley with Serenity. Our eyes were opened to a completely different perspective on life. This website has only broadened that perspective.  God has forever changed our path. He set us in a direction that I believe is securing a certain calling on our lives. We are growing spiritually in a way I never could have imagined. We have a deeper love for our faith. We have a more intimate relationship with our Savior.  We have a hunger for Him that words can not even describe. 

Before we were living.... Today, we are ALIVE. 

Suddenly our lives have a meaning.  Suddenly... our tasteless existence has a flavor I LOVE to savor. We have past the point of ordinary.  We have gone beyond normalcy. We have a purpose.... God's purpose.  With every fiber of my being I do NOT want to disappoint my Savior.  I pray I never become complacent.  I pray I continue to grow and mature in my faith. I pray each day...

God give me the Grace to NEVER go back to okay. 

July 4th, 2009

"Now, the Lord is the Spirit, & wherever the Spirit of the Lord is, He gives freedom." 2Cor. 3:17

 As born again Christians we have the kind of freedom that can only be bought by the blood of one man.  The blood of our Savior purchased freedom from the law of sin and death. He gave His life so that we might live. He freed us from all the bondage this world has to offer.  He freed us from eternal damnation.

Today we celebrate our nation's freedom. We take time to honor the sacrifice of all the brave men and women who gave their lives for our independence. 

But...Have you ever wondered WHY our country has prospered?  There are many other countries who have also lost many brave souls for a great cause,.. yet their death was in vain.  Why is our country so different?

"Now, the Lord is the Spirit, & wherever the Spirit of the Lord is, He gives freedom." 2Cor. 3:17
233 years ago our forefathers made a decision that would set forth a prosperous path for our country.  233 years ago they decided to give God the Glory for our independence.  They decided to stamp God's name into the future of our nation.  They made the decision to unite these United States of America as "One Nation under God."  We are blessed because we welcomed the Spirit of the Lord into our country.

"Now, the Lord is the Spirit, & wherever the Spirit of the Lord is, He gives freedom." 2Cor. 3:17

This Fourth of July let us not forget the sacrifice of all the brave men and women who gave their lives for our independence, but more importantly let us not forget the reason WHY their lives were NOT given in vain. Praise the maker of Heaven and Earth you are able to live a life of abundance. Praise Him because you are FREE to do so!  Praise God for the ability to choose the God you serve.

Praise God because GOD BLESSED AMERICA!

July 7th, 2009

Combine one of Kayleigh's old night gowns along with Serenity's new fetish to put, what she calls a "Pony" in her hair and what do you get?


                                         Yabba Dabba Dooo!

July 8th, 2009

         Playtime with Eli and Reni: Cops and Robbers

Eli asks... "Reni.. you wanna play bad boys?"

Reni nods with enthusiasm.

"K.. run and I'll getchu."

Serenity takes off running and Eli begins to follow singing as he goes

"Bad Boys.. Bad Boys.. watchu do.. watchu do when I comes for u.. bad boys.. bad Boys.. watchu do... watchu do... when I comes for u?"

Eli catches Reni in a corner.

"Bad guy.. you wanna mess with me?"

Reni vigorously shakes her head...  "No!"

Frustrated Eli throws down his guard and confronts Serenity.

 "Rennni.... Your POST to say YES!  I can't getchu if you say NO."

 "Oh... K."

"Now Bad Guy... you wanna mess with me?"

Again Serenity shakes her head... "NO!"

"RENNNNI... I toad you... YOU HAVE TO SAY YES!  You want to mess with me or NOT?"


"Why not?"

"Mommy said... NO make a mess."

Looks like Eli's gonna have to find himself a new bad guy.  This one has decided to start listening to her Mommy. :)

July 10th, 2009

Okay... So a couple of recent posts from some dear blogger friends of mine have my mind wheels turning over a certain topic. Kathy @ theknittingbasics and Stephanie @ livingasetapartlife are blogging about some issues concerning church.

"Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day (the last day) approaching. " Hebrews 10:25

The word is pretty clear. We are not to forsake the assembling of ourselves together. We are at all costs to make the most possible effort to attend church. God is to be first and foremost.

My family was blessed with a very Spiritual and loving church. So attendance come very easy to us.  My kids LOVE to go to church. That in itself is a blessing. 

However... many people have not been so fortunate. Many churches have become stale and complacent. Many Ministers are actually doing more spiritual harm than good. Many people are being turned off to the structural church and even Christianity. Unfortunately, the closer we come to the end times. The worse it's going to get. More and More people will be led astray. The Word says if possible even the elect will be deceived. (Matthew 24:24) That's why it's even MORE important to have a good spiritual support. We need to be surrounded by those who are sensitive to the discerning power of the Holy Spirit.

Now there is no doubt in my mind that there is a HUGE difference in Religion and Christianity. There is a major gap between those religious and those born again. There are religious people and there are Christ-Like people. There is religion and there is.. having an intimate relationship with our Savior.

In my opinion...Religious people develop a routine instead of a relationship. They are complacent. They act a certain way because of tradition without having a change of heart. They are the ones who declare Christianity without knowing Christ. They are the reason Christians are labeled hypocrites. That's why when people ask me if I'M religious I say ..."NO! I'm Born Again. I'm a member of the blood bought, the church, the redeemed." There is a difference.

I have often heard it said..."I'm not going to a church full of hypocrites." Well.. let me pose this question. Would you rather go to church with hypocrites or to hell with hypocrites. Would you rather spend a few hours a week sitting next to them in a pew or suffering with them for all eternity?

Now before you ask... I DO NOT believe a person will go to hell just because they don't go to church. However... I do believe that it makes it a whole lot harder to spiritually grow and a lot easier to become complacent or lukewarm. Why take the chance? Also... you're cheating yourself out of a tremendous blessing by forsaking the assembly.

We are blessed by blessing others. I want to be the exception in a world full of hypocrites. I don't just want to BE blessed. I want
to be a blessing. If I stay at home in my own little world, how is my light going to be seen? Who's to say that there isn't someone at church on Sunday that needs to hear something God has laid on MY heart? How many opportunities to honor God am I missing by staying home? Maybe there is a little old lady that's waiting for my friendly hug or a young girl who needs to see my example. I want to be there to make a difference. So that even if the church is crowded with hypocrites, an unbeliever might see me and think "Well, maybe they're not ALL bad." By staying home.. I'm missing out on opportunities for blessings.

So we agree that we need to go to church regularly. Now Stephanie poses another question. How do we know which church to go to? We do not want to be led astray. We do not want to become complacent or stale in our faith. We want to spiritually grow. Well.. Kathy posted some great guidelines to follow. If you're already attending a church ask yourself these questions.

1. Were you inspired to live in a Godly way?
2. Were you rebuked and corrected in your Spirit by God's word?
3. Were you encouraged by God's word?
4. Did you want to dig deeper into the Spiritual realm of God?
5. Was there focus on God and God alone?
6. Was God's presence felt in the worship service? Was the
music simply entertaining, or could you tell the people were
singing to praise and not just show off?
7. Is your church involved in society.... and changing it?

If you are looking for a church, observe the other members and answer the questions on their behalf. You will also know if they are spiritually growing by the fruit they bear.

"Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles? Even so every good tree brings forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree brings forth evil fruit. A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit.Every tree that brings not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire. Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them." Matthew 7: 15-20

Are the elder members living a Godly life? Are they bearing good Godly fruit? We know that the Holy Spirit brings forth spiritual growth. For He is the one who brings forth conviction. If you want to be in a church where you will mature in Christ.. then the Holy Spirit must be present!

If you see routine members of the church living a life without conviction... then it's NOT the church for you. Party on Saturday.. church on Sunday. Is NOT Spiritual growth. The Holy Spirit brings forth a desire to change. Those living a worldly life
who desire to continue to live a worldly life are not going to want to show up in a church where the Holy Spirit is present. For they're not going to want to feel conviction. Now to add to that scenario... back to the "religious" spirit. God is LOVE. If you see the elders of the church acting with an attitude of judgment instead of LOVE. Then Christ is not the focus there either. The Holy Spirit convicts NOT the church. Where the Lord's Spirit is you will feel convicted not condemned. His Spirit will bring forth continued change and growth. For we are ALL only merely STRIVING for Christ like perfection. NONE of us have actually obtained it. Therefore...Those who are not wanting to grow will not want to stay within the presence of the Holy Spirit. If they're staying and NOT feeling convicted. He's not there. Plain and simple.

There you have it... Spiritual growth. I believe that in today's society it's a necessity to continue to grow spiritually. In these last days, it will become easier and easier to be led astray it will become easier to be deceived... easier to become complacent... easier to become lukewarm Christians.

"So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth." Revelation 3:16

Why take the chance? We have so VERY much to lose! We must do everything within our power to be obedient to God's word and then His grace will carry us.

In these last days, we must remain on fire for God. We must continue to grow and mature in Christ if we want to remain within the Master's protection. We need our brothers and sisters in Christ to encourage us and help us grow. Therefore let us not forsake the assembling of ourselves together. Let us unite as the body of Christ and together triumph over the works of the enemy.

July 13th, 2009

One year ago today, I posted our very first journal page entry:

July 13, 2008
Reni has picked up a new thing.  She loves to tell 'Knock, Knock " jokes.  Every morning she crawls over me and knocks on the head board of our bed.  "Knock, Knock" she says,  "Who's there," I reply with a yawn.   "Neni,"  "Reni who,"   "Neni Burk"   Hey,  I didn't say she was good, I just said she loves to do it.   :)
Well... one year later, Serenity still LOVES to tell "knock knock" jokes. Fortunately she's getting much better at it.  The latest goes something like this...
"Knock, Knock."

"Who's there?"

"Dora."  (she also loves Dora)

"Dora who?"

"Dora is locked! LET ME IN!"

She then proceeds to giggle.... way longer than than anyone should legally be able to at their own joke.  Yet... somehow you just can't help but laugh along with her... over and over and over and over and... did I mention that she LOVES to tell "Knock, Knock" jokes? Well... She DOES!  Did I also mention that she currently knows... ONE?   Ahh.. ya gotta love her!

July 16th, 2009
                             Meet Boxer the Turtle!

Isn't he cute? I found Boxer by chance one day. I nearly tripped over him on the sidewalk next to my parents house. As I stared at this lonely creature I began to recall the dozens of times I refused to pull the car over when one of my children would spot one stranded along the roadside.

Hmm.. what a great surprise... I thought.

So I snagged him. The kids immediately feel in love.

For several days they played with him and cared for him. I was very proud of how responsible they were proving to be. Then a few days ago, Noah surprised me with an odd question...

"Mom did you know turtles LOVE marshmallows?"

"Oh No... Noah tell me you aren't feeding him marshmallows!"

"Uh... yeah! He's already ate a few large ones. Why?"

I sat down and had a long talk with the kids about why marshmallows are not the best food for turtles. However, despite my efforts, I still noticed marshmallows were suspiciously disappearing.

Anyway, a few days passed and Daddy began to worry that Boxer may not be the happiest turtle cooped up in a tiny little box. He needs grass, fresh air and bugs. And even more importantly, he needs to be TODDLER free. So Daddy suggested the kids let him go. Oh.. they were very disappointed, but eventually understood that it would probably be for the best.

They placed him on the drive way and said their farewells.

"Good -bye Boxer! We will miss you! Farewell dear friend! So long! Remember... we'll always love you."

Boxer slowly crawled away. The kids sat and sadly watched as he crossed the barren street. It took him only a matter of moments to reach the other side. Soon he would be gone for good.

But wait... what's this?

Boxer suddenly pauses. He turns around. He quickly (as quickly as a turtle can move) begins crawling back. The kids begin to cheer.

"He came back. He came back because he LOVES us."

Boxer stops at their feet and waits for them to pick him up. Oh... freedom was so close. Yet he gave it all away. Gave it away... For what? Love? Love for a tiny little box and toddlers who LOVE to shake his whole world... I don't think so!

No.. there could only be one reason he would trade in his freedom. Boxer the Turtle is.... is.... is.... addicted to marshmallows. Yep! He has a marshmallow dependency and knows that our house is the only place that can supply his shameful habit. There just isn't any other reasonable answer. Poor Boxer... imprisoned by his love for gooey puffed treats.

We brought Boxer home and placed him back in his tiny little box. We were determined to help him kick his nasty habit. So over the next couple of days, I made SURE he was marshmallow free. Then this evening we set him free again. This time he RAN! He RAN as fast as his little legs could carry him. He never even looked back.

Okay.. Okay... so maybe I'm being a little goofy! Maybe he wasn't exactly addicted to marshmallows. But oddly enough he DID love them and he did come back the first time and when we took away the marshmallows, he did finally leave. So you draw your own conclusions. :)

Farewell Boxer! You will be missed!
We hope you find happiness in someone else's pantry. :)

July 18th, 2009

Serenity crawled over me in bed this morning.  She awakened me with gentle kisses. Her pretty little face was the first thing I saw today.  I gave her a tired grin, and then asked... "Do you know how pretty you are?"  She rolled her eyes and replied...
                "Yeah... EVERYBODY always telled me my pretty." 
You have to admit... She DOES have a good reason to be so confident. :)

July 21st, 2009

In our house there is NEVER a dull moment and rarely a quiet moment.  Kids are constantly fighting, screaming, jumping, pushing, laughing, giggling, sighing, moaning, complaining, tattling, singing... well, you get the picture!  It's noisy in our house!  However, on a few occasions, the toddlers will REALLY focus their attention on something...In these rare moments there is silence.
So fair warning:  If you come to visit us and our house is quiet...
                        BE AFRAID... BE VERY AFRAID!


    I didn't happen to see my husband before he left for work this         morning but I'm guessing he left in a rush with a nice clean shave.

                  Eli and Reni however, we're in no HURRY!
  They took their sweet time while taking care of his shaving cream.

              Yes.. They definitely remembered to put it up!


    Up on their face.... Up on the WALLS... UP EVERYWHERE!

                 Gillette may be the BEST a MAN can get...
  But as a mom I can honestly say I've had BETTER moments!  :)

July 24th, 2009

"And the Lord said, If ye had faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye might say unto this sycamine tree, Be thou plucked up by the root, and be thou planted in the sea; and it shall obey you." Luke 17:6

So many look at this scripture and bring forth the fact that the mustard seed is the smallest seed. It's true that faith starts small and God will always give us what we need to help it grow. However, did you also know that the mustard seed is a PURE seed? Faith can not be corrupted with worldly views. Faith can not be compromised with doubt. In order to grow, faith MUST be PURE!

I know that I must sound like a broken record. Some may be tired of hearing me talk about faith. However, God has laid such a burden on my heart to understand what it means to fully trust Him. I am not claiming to know it all. I just merely have a hunger to understand more. So when I come across those who completely misinterpret even the basic concept of the word. It bothers me! I become consumed with wanting to help people understand.
Everything God has to offer is received by faith. Therefore, the key to receiving God's blessings is fully understanding faith. Because of the compassion God places in my heart, I want to see EVERYONE blessed! Yet, so many miss out on God's blessings because they "think" they are truly believing... When in actuality they are being double minded.

One of my absolute biggest pet peeves is the phrase..."Hoping for the best but preparing for the worst." This has GOT to be the biggest oxymoron to ever cross the lips of a believer. Now, We go back to the definition of hope... "to expect with confidence." If you are EXPECTING the best... you are NOT going to be preparing for the worse. If you are EXPECTING a bright and sunny day... do you carry an umbrella with you all day long? If you are CONFIDENT that your brand new car will start.. do you call a friend and say... " I may need a jump start. Standby just in case."  No! because no one who is TRULY HOPING for the best EVER prepares for the worst.

Once again the biblical meaning of faith... "The substance of things hoped for. The evidence of things not seen." Hebrews 11:1

Faith is EXPECTING a promise of God even when your eyes can't see it's outcome. EXPECTING something despite the circumstances.

If you are truly standing in faith for a miracle healing... you are not going to make funeral arrangements. If you are standing in faith for God to save your marriage... your not going to retain a lawyer.

A few years ago I read a story... A woman was a devoted Christian. She loved and served the Lord with all of her heart. Her husband, on the other hand, was running from the call God had on his life. He wanted nothing to do with her or her God. One day he told her their marriage was over and left... pledging to NEVER return. The woman knew that even though the bible does indeed give a couple of allowances for divorce, it is NEVER God's perfect will that a family be destroyed. So she prayed. She prayed daily and EXPECTED God to answer her prayer. Every night she went about her normal routine. She would cook dinner and set TWO places at the table. Then she would sit down and stare at the door... waiting for him to come home. After their normal dinner time had passed she would go ahead and eat without him. Then the next day she would do it all over again. Friends would come over for dinner and she would set and extra place. They would ask.. "Are you expecting someone else?" She always replied, "Yes.. my husband! God is bringing him home and I want to be prepared." Now the friends all knew that the husband wanted nothing to do with her. So they pitied her... thinking she was in some horrible state of denial. However, their unbelief didn't affect the woman's faith. She continued to trust God. For months, the woman was genuinely disappointed each time his seat remained empty. Then one night, as she sat down at the table and stared at the door, the knob finally began to turn. The husband to whom she hadn't spoken in months, walked nervously into the house. He was sure he was going to have to beg and plead for her forgiveness. Yet, the woman simply smiled and said.."Welcome home... Supper is ready." Together they ate. He later went on to have a flourished ministry for God.

Faith is Expecting! Faith is KNOWING without seeing. Faith is PREPARING FOR THE BEST because you are EXPECTING THE BEST. If this woman would have said.. "Well I'm believing that God is going to save my marriage... but I better call a lawyer 'Just in case' " She might have missed one of the greatest blessings of her life. She might have missed God's perfect will.

When the doctors made Serenity's future seem grim, my parents went out and bought her a diamond heart necklace. Now they didn't buy a tiny baby necklace. No.. they bought her an adult necklace. This necklace was a step of faith toward the bright healthy future, we knew God was going to give her. It remains put up until the day she's old enough to wear it.

A person who says... "I'm hoping for the best but preparing for the worst." is living a double standard. They are claiming to have a spiritual view but in reality are thinking carnally. They are being double minded. What does God's word say about the double minded?

"A double minded man is unstable in all his ways. "James 1:8

And an unstable man will surely fall!

That's why the Word also tells us to have faith as a child.
"Verily I say unto you, Whosoever shall not receive the kingdom of God as a little child, he shall not enter therein." Mark 10:15

A child does not reason things out. A child just BELIEVES. If you were to tell a child the sky is green. They would grow believing the sky was green until the day they were old enough to reason it out. A child never doubts the truth. A child's faith is PURE. Just as a child, we must be free from all doubt. Just as a mustard seed, our faith must be PURE!

"And the Lord said, If ye had faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye might say unto this sycamine tree, Be thou plucked up by the root, and be thou planted in the sea; and it shall obey you." Luke 17:6

July 25th, 2009

As I'm sure you've noticed over previous posts, Our little Monkey LOVES to climb. Remember the fun picture of Reni swinging from the canopy on our bed?  Or how about the numerous times I had to retrieve her from the top bunk of her sister's bed?  She has been climbing since before she could walk.  Yes... Serenity is definitely a little monkey. 
Here she is at the park...
She climbs on everything!  I have found her on top of cabinets, counters, tables, book shelves, dressers, bunk beds.  Then just when I thought there wasn't anything left for her to climb.... She surprised me!  Believe it or not Serenity has actually found a way to climb.... THE WALLS!  Yep!  I've been saying it for years... "The kids are climbing the walls today."  Well.. Serenity has finally proven me to be a truthful mama.
          How does she accomplish this unbelievable ask. 

                             She uses the curtains for leverage!

July 27th, 2009

                              More "Picnic at the Park" Pix!

July 28th, 2009

Today after lunch, I wiped down all the kitchen counters and left the room for a brief moment.  When I returned I found an open canister and this mess...


Now who do you suppose is responsible? Hmm... let's think about it?  Who LOVES to climb and thrives on making messes?  Well... I could solve this mystery quite quickly and tell you that I found a naked Serenity standing right smack in the middle of it... OR... I could just let you take a closer look! Because....

          Our favorite little monkey left her footprints in the sugar!

July 29th, 2009

            Ah ha! Here's our little monkey and her helper now!

                              Now on to her latest mess...
 For several days I noticed my potatoes had been disappearing out of my  bin. I looked and looked... but no potatoes anywhere. Then I just happened to open the oven door on Serenity's Dora the Explorer kitchen and low and behold... POTATOES!  Upon examination I noticed, they were all covered in bite marks.  I couldn't help but giggle!
I just had to share the story with her daddy who
also laughed and said.. "Well she had to taste them to see if they were done!"
I asked Reni.. "Were they good?"  She replied with a definite "NO!" I asked her why not, but she only shrugged her shoulders.  However after today's mess... I'm no longer curious as to "WHY" the potatoes weren't very yummy.  Serenity made it pretty apparent that they lacked in flavoring.  As you can see... they needed just a little extra seasoning. 

Or... an ENTIRE bottle of Sea Salt...
             Because "season to taste" is different for everyone! :)

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