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






March 2nd, 2009

Lord... you take my heart away with your Love...And I am willing to put all my faith in Your plan! Come and take my Life!

"Listen to me, all of you in far-off lands!  The Lord called me before my birth; from within the womb He called me by name. He said to me, You are my servant, and YOU WILL BRING ME GLORY."  
Isaiah 49:1,3 

"God who hath saved us and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began"
2 Tim. 1:9

Jesus said:
"You have not chosen me, but I have chosen you and ordained you, that you should go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain:" John 15:16

We all were born with a calling. We are chosen by Christ!  Even before the world began, God called each and every one by name.  He has a purpose, a plan, a place for you and for me within His body. 

I am so in love with my Savior.. So often I find myself completely breathless!  I find myself weeping within His presence.  I tremble at His touch. I'm so caught up in His glory...my lips quiver just to utter more...more....more of you, Jesus.  I am thirsty for the rain of His spirit!  I am hungry for His Word.  I am eager to hear His voice!

He called me before my birth...My entire life,  He has been preparing me!  There were times when I ran from His calling. I pushed aside His anointing.  I wasn't ready to completely surrender to His plan. Now my heart breaks for Him....Now I can only pray..Whatever it takes.... I'm needing to make your will be done...And I'm letting go of my control... for I see what you've done in me!
I am ready for you! 
I am ready for you!


Father,  I hear you calling me...Rise up! Rise up my daughter! Rise up and take your place.  

           Lord... I am ready for you!


March 3rd, 2009

Oh Serenity...What would we do without her fun and charming personality to keep us going.  Yesterday I found her with one foot stuck inside the toilet. She was moving it around in circular motion as if stirring a pot.  Immediately I yelled, "Yuck Reni...NO!"  She turned around with a very suprised look..."What?" she said "I washin' my feet!"  Like no big deal! Don't we all use the toilet to wash parts of our bodies in? Nothing disgusting about that!  I explained to her that toilets are NOT for washing! Then spent much time de-germing my daughter! EEWW!

However, she always knows exactly how to win me over again.  She  looks up with those big puppy dog eyes, curls that bottom lip and sighs. "Mom, er my ESTEST friend!"  Melts her Mommy's heart! :)


March 7th, 2009
                             "Daddy, can we go bye bye?"
                   
                 "Please Daddy! OPEN so we can go bye bye!"
                    
                              "Daddy!  I say PLEEEESE!"
                     
                           "UH UH! OP---EN THIS DOOR!" 
                     




                              "Oh Well....I'll just drive myself!"
                     
                              "I'm outta here babe! See ya!"



March 8th, 2009 

                  More Good News / Bad News

Good News:  We remembered to set our clocks ahead one hour
Bad News:  We still managed to arrive at Church late!

Good News: We weren't the only late arrivers.
Bad News:  We were just the only ones lugging in five small children!

Good News:  Tommy finally had some help working on his garage.
Bad News: After two years in the making, it's still missing two walls, a roof and a floor.

Good News:  Since it was Sunday, Tommy said I didn't have to cook! :)
Bad News:  I had to make sandwhiches for everyone instead!

Good News:  Eli has taught himself how to log on and play cartoon games on the computer.
Bad News:  I CAN NOT GET HIM OFF! 

Good News: Lately, Serenity has managed to stay dressed much longer.
Bad News:  She's still naked the other six hours of the day!

Good News:  The babies are wanting to snuggle me!
Bad News: ???....Nah....snuggling's always good!!!!


March 10th, 2009

I am so grateful for the compassion God places within my heart.  Sometimes His compassion just completely overwhelms me, but the more I feel for others....the closer I feel to God. 

I feel compassion for complete strangers. I feel compassion for people that I literally know nothing about.  This kind of compassion can only come from God.  When I experience compassion of this magnitude, it always reminds me just how close God really is! 

A few weeks ago Kayleigh and I were watching one of our favorite shows, Little People Big World.  It was the episode where Matt travels to, I believe, Iraq.  He visits with another little person family, who have children struggling with some very difficult disabilities.  Immediately, my heart just broke for this family and I began to cry. 

I was trembling all over just weeping for these precious children, when Kayleigh looked up at me and said, "Mom I know what you're thinking."

I wiped the tears from my eyes as I asked, "Oh you do? What is that exactly?" 

"You're thinking...you wish you could just go lay hands on those kids and God would heal em', huh?" 

I smiled in awe at how well my daughter actually knew me.  "Yes, Kayleigh!  That is exactly what I was thinking."

At that moment God's presence just engulfed me.  I dropped to my knees, stretched my hand toward the TV screen and began to earnestly pray for this family. 

After a few moments I opened my eyes to see my eight year old Kayleigh knelt beside me.  She too had her hand stretched out toward the TV, praying for God's healing touch.  When she finally looked up at me, she had tears just streaming down her little face.  At that moment, I thought,  this is what life is all about!! 

I may never know if our prayers led to this family's healing.  I may never see them again.  But I do know that it brought forth healing in a way that I am forever grateful. It brought a refreshing to my spirit, a bond with my daughter, and a healing touch to both our hearts.   

The compassion that God gives us...isn't only out of this world, larger than life, or completely overwhelming....it's contagious as well!!


March 11th, 2009
                              Life Lessons By Serenity
                Understanding God's calling is like chasing a balloon:

   Sometimes it seems so far away. You think you could never reach it...

                              

Sometimes it's right under your nose and you don't even realize it's there

                      

              Sometimes you have to climb mountains to reach it....

                           

 Sometimes it comes quickly! Sometimes it takes lots of time and devotion!  Sometimes you run in all different directions! Sometimes you walk in a straight line.  But once you finally achieve that goal...you ALWAYS receive it with open arms....

                           

                 You hold on....HOLD ON and NEVER LET GO!

                      

Because that is your happy place and no one can take it away from you!



March 12th, 2009
                              Only our Serenity..... 
                          

Only our Serenity would tattle on her daddy every time he bites his nails. Then when daddy teases her by saying, "You can't tell on me, I'm your Daddy!"  Only our Serenity would reply with, "Uh uh, Mommy is MY Daddy!" 

Only our Serenity would push her OLDER brother out of his chair at breakfast time...making him cry.  Then when confronted..Only our Serenity would reply with,  "He bugs me!" 

Only our Serenity would follow Mommy outside to take out the trash.... completely naked!  Then make pajama wearing Mommy chase her around the yard for several minutes while the neighbors watch in amusement.
 
Only our Serenity would knowingly break a rule by coloring on the walls. Then when she hears Mommy coming, only our Serenity would decide to spare Mommy the time and punish herself by sticking her nose in the closest corner.

Only our Serenity would get caught red handed with a near empty Krispy Kreme doughnut box and with a mouth covered in icing, only our Serenity would blurt out, "Wasn't me....Ligah do it!"
 
Only our Serenity would spend 90 percent of her time naked...Run her Mommy ragged trying to keep her dressed. Make her parents resort to duct tape just to keep her diapers on..(which by the way obviously failed) Only our Serenity would make a trip to the bathroom...realize that it's occupied...Run into the her room...retrieve a Pullup....FINALLY cover her bottom...but...only to go potty...then immediately remove the Pullup and place it in the trash!  Then run off happily naked once again! Oh yes, Only our Serenity!!

Only our Serenity could stress out even the most patient person with her ornery behavior and in the same moment melt the hardest heart with her smile!

Only our Serenity could fill our lives with so much joy, laughter and excitement, yet at the same time have such a supernatural peace surrounding her entire life! Oh yes, Only OUR Serenity could be such a miracle blessing in so many ways!

                            

 

                              Reni Mouse says...."Cheese!"


March 15th, 2009

       The Power of Prayer: An Act of Faith

Does prayer really change things? ABSOLUTELY!!! Let me say it again....Does prayer really change things? AB..SO..LUTE...LY! We should never underestimate the power of prayer. Take Elijah for example, he prayed that it would not rain and it did not rain for three and a half years. Then again he prayed and the rain showers came and the land once again become fruitful. (James 5: 17-18) Prayer most certainly moves the hand of God. It is a powerful tool when used in connection with God's will.

God moves by faith! Every blessing that we will ever receive is received through faith! All the way from our very salvation to the smallest of blessings! We receive them all by faith.
Prayer is an act of faith...for if you did not have faith in God...you would not pray. Prayer is an act of faith therefore prayer moves the Hand of God.

It is true God is omnipotent. He knows all. He knows how every situation will turn out. Which also means, He knows whether or not we will be faithful in doing our part.

Do you remember the story of the woman who touched the hem of Jesus' garment. She knew that if she could just touch him she would be healed. She didn't say, "if I touch him he might decide to heal me?" NO! She KNEW she would be healed. Within a multitude of people who were pushing, touching, and tugging on Jesus. He felt her touch. Why? Because her faith actually drew His healing power from Him. Jesus replied, “Who touched me? Someone deliberately touched me, for I felt healing power go out from me.” "Daughter be of good comfort, for thy faith has made thee whole; go in peace" (Luke 8:40-48). We have to be open to receive God's blessings. We have to BELIEVE that we WILL receive them. When we pray we have to EXPECT God's promises to be fulfilled in our lives.

There have been times in my life when I've been awaken in the middle of the night, knowing that I needed to pray for a particular person. Out of obedience I prayed. Later I would find out that particular person was in a terrible car accident and miraculously walked away, or had a relapse in an illness but somehow made it through. These were all incidents of the power of prayer. On the other hand I have experienced a couple of people who died very suddenly and I never felt led to pray for them. Why do you ask? Simple...it was their time to go. When we feel the need to pray it's because God is wanting to move in a certain situation. He is wanting to make a change! Our faith filled prayers are the instruments He chooses to use! Prayer is a POWERFUL thing!! It should never be taken lightly or spoken in vain.

We must expect God to answer our prayers and we must EXPECT Him to do that which He has promised according to His Word. It's all about our belief! Just like the Israelites I talked about in this blog entry (also posted on August 13th of our July/August journal page). All of the Israelite children were promised a land flowing with milk and honey but only a few received God's promise. Why? Many lost out on God's promised blessing because of their presistant unbelief. Many chose to believe the negative report of the spies. Caleb, however, received the promised land because even though the circumstances said something else, he chose to believe a God that can not lie. He did not see the worldly circumstance! He chose to only see God's promise laid out before Him. He chose to believe the report of the LORD! We too must CHOOSE to believe.

There are nearly 100 times in the Bible where Jesus said, "I tell you the truth! I tell you the truth!" The circumstances in this world often SCREAM out worldly facts. But Jesus said, "I tell you the truth!" "I tell you the truth, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, 'Move from here to there' and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you" Matthew 17:20
"Whatsoever you ask in my name, that will I do that the Father might be glorified in the Son!" 1 John 5:4. We have to ask....then believe He will do just as He says!

If we doubt even for a moment...we have already lost the battle. "For verily I say unto you. That whosoever shall say unto this mountain be thou removed, and be cast into the sea, AND SHALL NOT DOUBT IN HIS HEART, but shall BELIEVE that those things which he saith comes to pass; he shall have whatsover he saith. " Mark 11:23

We pray according to His will, we ask in the name of Jesus, and we BELIEVE our prayers are answered. We EXPECT the promises of God to be made manifest in our lives.

When his disciples failed in delivering a boy from an evil spirit, they asked Jesus why and Jesus replied "because of your unbelief" Even Jesus when visiting His home city, would not perform miracles because of the city's abundant unbelief. (Mark 6:1-6)

Sometimes we get so caught up in the Almighty being that God is, we tend to forget that He is also our Heavenly Father. He only wants what is best for His children. He does not want us to suffer, not even in this world. That is why Jesus said, " And now I come to thee: and these things I speak in the world, that they might have my joy fulfilled in themselves. I have given them they word; and the world hath hated them, because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. I pray that thou should not take them out of the world, but that thou should keep them from the evil. They are not of this world, even as I am not of this world. Santify them through thy truth, thy word is truth. " John17:13-17 . We do encounter the things of this world. However we are governed by a different truth than worldly truth. We are governed by a GODLY truth. A truth that offers us VICTORY in all aspects of our life.

Satan would love for us to believe that it may not be God's will to save, deliver or heal. He would love for us to believe that prayer is not effective. His battle DEPENDS on whether or not we buy into LIES! He wants to destroy our faith. Corrupting our faith or placing our belief in his lies is what hinders us from God's blessings. Satan is the one who wants us to suffer. He's the one that wants to keep us in bondage. Jesus came that we might have life and have it more abundantly. (John 10:10) Christ came to save, deliver and heal. That's why we must HOLD ON TO God's promises! We must HOLD ON TO THE TRUTH!

If you do not believe in the protection of God. I incline you to read Psalms 91. For a thousand may fall at my feet and 10, 000 at my right hand, but it shall NOT come near me. No plague shall come nigh my dwelling. For God has given His angels charge over me to watch me in all my ways. We have protection as the children of God!! God allows trials in our lives to perfect the vessel He has created us to be (James 1). But we belong to Him, He loves us and He remains in control. And he says do not fear the things of this world for "For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world; and this is the victory that overcometh the world, EVEN OUR FAITH." 1 John 5:4.

It's a given, that God's first and foremost concern is our salvation. There are times when he uses situations to bring salvation to someone and/or their loved ones who might not have received it otherwise. There are times when He delivers us from unknown circumstances in our futures they could eventually overwhelm us. In these circumstances He grants us the ultimate healing of going home to be with Him.

God's omnipotent wisdom and mercy knows the very best for us. Sometimes He answers prayers differently than we expect. But WE NEVER DOUBT HIS GOODNESS! WE NEVER DOUBT HIS ABILITY and WE NEVER DOUBT HIS WORD WHICH DECLARES UNTO US.....BY HIS STRIPES WE ARE HEALED!

"Pray at ALL times in the Spirit, with all prayer and entreaty. To that end, keep alert and watch with strong purpose and perseverance, interceding in behalf of all the saints. And pray also for me, that utterance may be given me, that I may open my mouth to proclaim boldly the mystery of the Gospel. For which I am an ambassador in a coupling chain Pray that I may declare it boldly and courageously, as I ought to do." Ephesians 6:18-20

"....For the effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much." James 5:16


March 16th, 2009

I was washing dishes while the kids were eating lunch and out of the blue Eli says,  Eli says, "Mommy!" Still washing I say, "Yes dear?" "Mommy, do I have something on my face?" "What was that?" "Do I have something on my face?" "Just a minute honey and I'll look." I finish rinsing, dry my hands and turn around to see this....


                     
"Uh yeah, I think you got a little something there!" I immediately start laughing and Eli responds to my laughter by saying, "What?  What Mommy? Wipe it off!"  I start laughing even harder.  So then it suddenly became a game.  He kept blurting out "Wipe it off! Mommy!" Then waited for the laughter...Then  "Wipe my face off Mommy!"  He had the whole kitchen in an uproar. 

                     


Evidently, Eli really enjoyed his lunch, but he wasn't the only one, Reni liked hers as well....


                         

March 18th, 2009
I've been asked on a few occasions, "What's the point? What's the point of telling Serenity's Story?"

I can not express the compassion God has placed in my heart. I can not put into words the magnitude of it's affect on my life. There are times when it completely overwhelms me. There are times when I lie awake in bed and just cry for those I have never even met.
Now I'm not talking about just feeling sorry for someone or pity. I'm talking about compassion, the feeling of truly wanting to make the situation better! True compassion can ONLY come from God!

When we were in the PICU and received Serenity's diagnosis of Restrictive Cardiomyopathy, my husband and I wanted to know exactly what we were up against. So we made a trip to the hospital's computer lab to do some research. We spent hours trying to find just ONE positive sentence to hold on to. We tried to find just one MEDICAL hope. It all came down to Transplant or death...and even then the outcome was not very comforting. Underneath was a list of all the possible side effects of a heart transplant then stated even IF she survived the transplant, she would need another a few years down the road, then another one a few years after that. The medical prediction of my daughter living a long fruitful life was not good!

If it had not been for our hope in Jesus, there would have been NO hope at all. From that moment I vowed that the next time a mother had to type in those dreadful words, She would find at least ONE positive story! At least ONE testimony of Hope to hold on to! Even if our daughter endured a heart transplant, her story WOULD be a positive one and God WOULD receive ALL the Glory for it!

A few months ago I received a comment from a mother in California who was stuck in the hospital awaiting her son's heart transplant. She was also doing some research on Restrictive Cardiomyopathy and came across Reni's website. She wrote, "Serenity's story gives me so much hope and has helped to strengthen my faith. Thank you so very much for posting her story and being open enough to share your journey."

That's it folks....That IS the point!

That is the reason what I feel compelled to SHOUT our story from the mountaintops. That is the reason why I want to scream..."GOD HEALED MY DAUGHTER...GOD HEALED MY DAUGHTER and HE CAN DO THE SAME FOR YOU!" It's an excitement that fills me. It fills the pit of my stomach. It burns within me like a comsuming fire! I want to share the good news! I want people to know MY God is a God that saves, delivers and Heals. I want everyone to see the goodness of the LORD that I know!

The compassion God places in my heart doesn't just stop with children facing heart transplants. Oh NO! It goes far beyond that! It goes from the most difficult form of cancer or birth defects to the simplest colds or conditions. God's healing power stretches far across ALL sickness, whether mind, body or spirit!

I want EVERYONE to receive God's blessings. When faced with someone who is not willing to receive the message of hope. I can hardly contain my sorrow. I feel like my spirit has been completely broken and I just want to grab them by the shoulders and shake them. I have found myself alone at night weeping and crying out to God..."Why won't they believe.. Why won't they believe." In the stillness of my prayers, I am reminded that we ALL have a choice. We can not make everyone believe. Not everyone will receive ALL of God's blessings. Not everyone will even receive God's salvation. There will be those who will parish.

However, I am also reminded the intense sorrow that overtakes me, to the point where I can barely function and I suddenly have a revelation. This tiny bit of compassion that God gives me, is merely a drop of rain in His own Ocean of Love. Oh how He must feel to see His children parish! How frustrated He must become when they choose NOT to accept His blessings!

You see, this blog is not about me or my family. Serenity's website is not about promoting her, as cute as she may be :) No...it's about doing what I feel God is calling me to do. It's about spreading a message of Hope to a dying world (physical and spiritual). It's about quenching this fire of compassion burning within me. It's about making a difference in a Godly way.

Not everyone will receive the message of Hope! Not everyone will be open to receive the blessings Jesus has provided. But if one person's life is made better because of our story...then our journey has fulfilled it's purpose!

It's ALL about God's Glory! So that others may see the HOPE we have! So others may witness Goodness of the LORD in their own lives.

You want what we have? All you have to do is ask...then Believe!

March 20th, 2009
       The Young Lady who lived in the Shoe's trip to the Zoo!

     Once upon a time there was a young lady who lived in a shoe. 
         She had so many children she didn't know what to do. 
                   
They hung from the roof and slept on the toe. They were stuffed inside and out with no where to go! So time it came to move away. Off they went to find a new place to stay. They search on the ground. They search in the air.
                     
They searched in the mountains, but not a spot to spare. So the search went on day and night. Looking for a home, a place just right.

Danger and trouble soon caught them unaware 
An unexpected hero came through armed only with prayer.

Walking soon began to tire them some.
Their legs were sore, their feet were numb.
They decided it would serve them better to ride for awhile

Some were natural born riders,
while others were....well....just in denial.

Horses were not the best option for all. So they looked for another animal to make the haul. They found hippos helped to carry the load. 

They all rode together down the bumpy road.
Finally the time came when the jouney was over,
no more need to roam
      
They found a house big enough
to call HOME SWEET HOME!


             Here are some more pix from our trip to the zoo today.            

March 23rd, 2009

Someone found Mommy's Beauty supplies!  Oh who, oh who could that be.....?

                     

"Reni, what did you do?"   "Mommy, I make Neni pretty!" "But you were already pretty! Only old people who aren't pretty already need to wear makeup!"  With a puzzled expression smart little Reni replies, "Old Mommy, you air makeup all da time!"  I guess I set myself up for that one! :) But how could anyone be mad at this pretty little face:

                    

 

 

March 24th, 2009

Some telemarkers just don't quite get the message! We tell them that we are not interested, but they just keep calling, and calling and calling. Well not anymore.....

Phone rings.....

Serenity, who just LOVES to talk on the phone runs to answer.


Reni: "Helwo"

Lady: "Umm....is your mommy home?"

Reni: "Yep"

Lady: "Can I speak with her please?"

Reni: "NO"

Lady: "I can't speak to her?"

Reni: "No... You talk to Neni K?"

Serenity calls herself Neni but this poor lady doesn't know that. She thinks Serenity is referring to another adult.

Lady: "Okay, that will be fine."

Serenity settles down in her chair for a nice long conversation.

Reni: "Neni watch Mickey Mouse eber day. Ou like Mickey Mouse?"

Lady: "Uh huh... is there someone else I......."

Reni: "Neni has Mnnie Mouse ouseshoes. I air em ober my toes."

Lady: "That's nice honey... can I speak to....."

Reni: "There's a bunny on our porch. Bunny's eat carrots. Neni feeds bunny carrots."

Lady: very quickly "Is your daddy at home?"

Reni: "Daddy at work... He snores in the bed...like this (makes snorting noises with her nose)

Lady: "Is there anyone else there that I can talk to?"

Reni: "Yes"


Lady: "Ok honey could you put them on the phone please?'

Reni: "K....Ligah....phone!"

Eli: "Helwo?"

Lady: Big Frustrated Sigh then CLICK!

Eli: Looks at me with a big pouty lip "ER Hunged up on me! That's rude!"

I have a feeling that our telemarker problem is solved for awhile!

What do you think?

 

March 25th, 2009

              
 
For about a week, I kept finding Eli on the computer playing games on the Disney website. Since he's only three years old, I assumed the older kids were forgetting to log off the computer. I falsely accused them for several days.  Each time they would  blatantly deny and each time I would regretfully not believe them.

Until one day I found Eli playing while the other kids were at school. Hmm...Now I KNOW I shut that computer down! After taking a closer look, I realized he wasn't just playing, he  was WINNING!

"Elijah, how did you get on that website?"


"I click it Mommy!"


"You clicked it? But how did you type in the address to get there?"


"I click it Mommy!"


Okay....
So I shut down the computer and said, "Show Mommy how you click it."


With a confident touch, he moved the mouse over to the start menu, "I click this." Then he scrolled up to the Internet server..."I click this." The window popped up and he moved the cursor to the maximize icon..."I click this." Boom full screen mode. Then he placed the cursor in the browser..."I click this." He typed in a P. This made all the previous websites that started with a "p" pop up. Then he scrolled down until he found the one that said, "Pooh" (as in Winnie the pooh) "And I click this." Viola instant Disney website! "See Mommy I click it!"

I could not believe my eyes! This little boy is three years old!! I never taught him how to do this. Tommy never taught him how to do this. Sure he sat and watched the older kids a few (and I mean a very few times) but he was never instructed. I know some very intelligent older folks who can't even figure out the start menu. Yet here is 3 year old Elijah, a confident computer wiz.

I am reminded of a couple of things. One the story of Esther and how God divinely placed her for "such a time as this."(Esther 4:14) I am also reminded of how God created our inner most being, knitting us together while in our mother's womb (Psalm 139:13). God carefully weaves our personality traits. Before we are ever born He instills every trait we will ever need to fulfill His purpose or calling. He knows the traits that will be needed by every future generation. He knows every trial, we will ever face. He knows ever tool we will need to overcome them. Serenity was born with a God given fight or spunk. God knew she would need to be a fighter! Just as He also knows this generation will need computer skills!

I believe that every generation is created for "such a time as this." Moses and Noah were created with the skills they would need for their time. My grandparents had the skills they needed for their generation. Eli was created for the computer age. The next generation will be created for their time, whatever that may be! How awesome is that concept to think about. How great is our God! How much Love does our Heavenly Father have for us! Just as a loving mother would make sure her children were prepared for a rainy day by supplying them with an umbrella and raincoat. God takes the time to supply us with the tools we each will need for "such a time as this." (Whatever time that may be!) We serve a Big and Mighty Omnipotent God! Doesn't that just make you want to Praise HIM?


March 30th, 2009

Over the Weekend Tommy and I hauled Strong Tower youth to Young Christian's Weekend at Silver Dollar City.  
                    
The weekend started out cold and rainy! It was actually just plain miserable on Saturday! We had layers of clothing under jackets, coats and rain ponchos and were still wet and FREEZING!

All the kids wore their rain ponchos at first. After awhile the rain turned into more of a cold mist. So I allowed the girls to remove the ponchos. Tori conveniently placed herself inside her jacket for easy carry. Then realized it made her look pregnant.
                   
We had been discussing the harmful affects of quick judgements against people. We often take one look at someone and assume we know the condition of their heart. However, only God knows the heart!

Tori thought this would be a good opportunity for a little experiment.  She wanted to see how many evil glances or snide remarks she would receive right smack in the middle of a "Christian" retreat. How many Christians are quick to judge? How many Christians actually share the Love of Christ. So she remained "pregnant" the entire day.

We were really amazed at how many evil glances she received. Everyone was quick to judge her based on the fact that she "appeared" to be pregnant. For surely she must be a very bad person to be 15 and pregnant...right? Imagine a Church Youth group placing such a girl on display. Huh! What a witness! I hope you're catching my sarcasm. For this is why so many young people are turned away from church! Tori not only received hateful glances, but she was also the victim of ridicule. Some boys from another "Youth Group" walked by and made some very hurtful remarks. Tori's feelings might have been crushed, if it had actually been true. Instead, she just smiled, patted her fake belly and said, "The joke's on them!"

Our group is well aware of the importance of making Godly choices! They know we are always to STRIVE for that Christ Like perfection. However, this weekend they also learned another very important lesson.... always showing the love of Christ! We are not God! We do not know everything! We do not undstand the circumstances surrounding someone's behavior, or the mistakes they make. Whatever the circumstances, we are to give them Jesus, and HE will take care of the rest!

We waited all day in the rain. All the rides were closed due to the weather. Everyone was cold and miserable. Then about two hours before the so anticipated Kutless concert, we received news that their lead singer was stuck in an airport due to weather delays! The concert was canceled for the day. We decided to leave the park early. We spent the evening playing games in an arcade, gorging on junk food and ice cream.

The next day the sun was shining! All the rides were open! The kids didn't waste time! They all enjoyed the thrill of the roller coasters.

                
Notice I said THEY! This particular experience is not MY cup of tea! I prefer to remain with my feet firmly planted on the ground!

Of course the best part of the trip was finally getting to see Kutless in concert! They performed the praise and worship for the Sunday morning service. It was Awesome! God's presence was so strong throughout the Amphitheatre. We were all the way up in the nose bleed section and couldn't help but just weep within HIS presence! It was something we will soon not forget!
                
All in all, Strong Tower Youth had a very nice trip. We were bonded with life learning experiences, spiritual awareness and just plan goofy behavior!
                   
Thanks to my goofy husband! You just gotta love him! Or least I do! :)
 

 


 
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