Through the Valley
of
Serenity
Our Family's Miracle Journey
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Journal
                
                 September 2008

September 2, 2008
"O give thanks unto the Lord; for he is good; because his mercy endureth forever.  Let Israel now say that his mercy endureth forever. Let the house of Aaron now say, that his mercy endureth forever. Let them now that fear the Lord say that his mercy endureth forever. I called upon the Lord in distress; the Lord answered me, and set me in a large place. The Lord is on my side; I will not fear; It is better to trust the Lord than to put confidence in man. The Lord is my strength and song, and is become my salvation. The right hand of the Lord is exhalted; the right hand of the Lord doeth valiantly. I shall not die but LIVE and declare the works of the Lord. I will praise thee; for thou hast heard me and hath become my salvation. Thou art my God; and I will praise thee; thou art my God, I will exalt thee. O Give thanks unto the Lord; for HE is GOOD; for His mercy endureth forever." Psalms 118 (in parts) 
I praise God for the knowledge and instinct to Trust the Lord.  For confidence in man often fails, but trust in the Lord ALWAYS prevails.  I can not even begin to count the number of times I quoted Psalms 118:17 over Serenity.  Over and over again as I sat beside her bed listening to the beeps of the machines keeping her alive, I would speak, "Serenity shall not die, but LIVE and declare the works of the Lord. God your Word has promised, Serenity shall NOT die but LIVE and declare the works of the Lord."  It was in these moments that I often talked with God about the testimony I would someday share with others.  Hence, the birth of this website and someday my book!  Forever God is faithful! O I give thanks unto the Lord; for HE is GOOD; His mercy and Love endureth FOREVER!

September 3, 2008
"Let thy work appear unto thy servants and thy Glory onto their children. And the let the Beauty of the Lord our God be upon us;" Psalms 90:16,17
"For he that findeth me findeth life, and shall obtain favor of the Lord." Proverbs 8:35
About a month after we were released from the hospital, I was standing in the checkout line at Wal-Mart.  Of course every trip anywhere is exciting and exhausting for me with five children. This trip was no different.  I was standing there clutching Reni in my arms, staring off into the distance from sheer exhaustion.  When a voice awakened me from my day dream. "I don't like children!"  Wow! What was that? I definitely  wasn't expecting to hear those words. I shook my head in amazement as I turned around to see a pretty scary figure. A woman stood before me, dressed in black and covered in tattoos. I could tell that she had led a very rough life, for she was aged way beyond her years.  At the time I thought, Oh no I'm going to get pounded in the parking lot.  Then before I could speak, she noticed the fear in my eyes. She quickly corrected herself, "What I mean is I don't usually like children.  I don't have the patience for them. So I just choose to stay away from them." Then she looked directly at Reni and smiled a very sweet grin. As she took Serenity's tiny fingers into her hand, she continued, "But there is something different about this one.  I'm just drawn to her for some reason.  For the first time in my life, I just want to hold a baby.  She's special isn't she?" I could see the tears swelling up in her eyes as I said, "Yes she is!" Then proceeded to tell her Serenity's testimony.  I know that Reni touched her heart.  She touched her heart just by being there.  Of course, I also know that it wasn't actually Reni that touch her, but the glory of God that surrounds her. I have often noticed a difference in the way people preceive Serenity compared to other children.  Now I don't truly believe that Reni is any cuter or more special than other children, especially my own four. All my children are beautiful and special.  However, Serenity did have constant prayer over her for several months straight. Prayer not only from family and friends, but from complete strangers as well.  Then because of that prayer, she was touched by the very Hand of God.  The Holy Spirit surrounds her even today!  People can sense His touch.  They want what she has. They are drawn to the sweet aroma of HIS presence.  I have notice this, not only with Serenity, but other miracle babies as well.  So this made me begin to think.  What would happen if we prayed as diligently for every child as we prayed for the ones needing healing.  Now I'm not just talking about saying a prayer once or twice a day, then going about our business.  I mean truly standing and declaring EVERY promise of God over them. Then taking the authority we have in Christ to make those things come about. How awesome would it be to raise up a generation of children, saturated with the presence of God?  Think of the miracles, the souls that would be saved, the healings that would take place. We would raise up a mighty generation of warriors for Christ!  All of this, because of the sacrafice of prayer and praise.   I often think about that lady in Wal-Mart and I wonder just exactly,  how much was she blessed that day? I think it would be a safe assuption to say, she probably hadn't spent much time in church.  That may very well have been the first time she ever felt the presence of Holy Spirit strong enough to recognize it. Then I wonder, how many more people out there are in deseparate need of that same blessing?    My heart answers me by saying,  Far more than you or I will ever know!

September 4th,2008
          
Sneaky Reni!  Okay, where can I stick these things now?
Sneaky Reni strikes again!  Last night at church, Serenity grew bored of running around and crawling under the pews. She can NOT sit still, even for a moment.  She loves to put on a show for everyone during service, and to be honest everyone enjoys watching her.  It just makes her day when she makes someone laugh. Like her daddy, she loves to be the center of attention.  So she decided to have a little fun with everyone's belongings.  She swiped her teenage cousin's shoes and her Aunt's car keys.  Then she headed for the door!  There truly is NEVER a dull moment around Serenity.  The constant joy she feels is contagious. She ALWAYS has a smile on her face, and her personality ensures that there is always one on everyone elses as well.
"Then our mouth was filled with laughter, and our tongue with singing; then they said among the heathen,  The Lord hath done great things.  The Lord hath dong great things for us, and we are filled with JOY."      Psalms 126:2-3

September 5th, 2008
I found Serenity on the girls' bed again!  As soon as she saw me heading her way, she immediately dropped her head down on the pillow.  "Serenity what are you doing up there again?" I asked.  She quickly raised her head and firmly replied, "SHHH! I nighty night!"  "Oh no," I said, "You're not going nighty night up there. You come down here and sleep."  She ignored my request by making snorting noises with her little nose.  "Reni are you snoring?" Again she quickly raised her head and yelled, "YES!"  "Oh, where did you learn how to do that?" She grinned from ear to ear and replied, "Daddy!"   Out of the mouth of Babes, right?
I love you honey, Snores and all! :)

September 6th, 2008
"And there shall be signs in the sun and in the moon; and in the stars; and upon the earth distress in nations, with perplexity; the sea and the waves tumbling and roaring: Men's hearts failing them for fear, and for looking after those things which are coming on the earth: for the powers of heaven shall be shaken.  And then shall they see the Son of man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. And when you see these things begin to come to pass, then look up, and lift up your heads; for your redemption draweth nigh." Luke 21: 25-28
Take a look at the middle of these scriptures, the sea and waves tumbling and roaring, hearts filled with fear because of the things coming upon the earth.  Does any of this sound familar? The increase in hurricanes over the past few years is incredible.  Also after the devestation of Rita and Katrina, people are FAR MORE fearful of them today. Did you notice that they didn't have many if any problems evacuating cities this year? People were afraid that history might repeat itself.  There has been an overall increase in natural diseasters as well, not just hurricanes, but more earthquakes, tornadoes, and tsunamis.  An exitement within me arises to know that the endtimes are very near. However at the same time an urgency also arises.  There is so much left here to do.  So many souls that need to be reached. Time is running out! Quoted from an article I found online;
"Now the evidence is in. It
shows that there has been a significant increase in the number of tropical storms and hurricanes in the Atlantic over the past century, and especially over the last 20 years."These numbers are a strong indication that climate change is a major factor in the increasing number of Atlantic hurricanes," says study co-author Greg Holland of the National Center for Atmospheric Research.
Although our ability to count tropical storms has improved a lot with the development of aircraft and satellites, "We are of the strong and considered opinion that data errors alone cannot explain the sharp, high-amplitude transitions between the climatic regimes, each with an increase of around 50 percent in cyclone and hurricane numbers, and their close relationship with SSTs," the authors state. (SSTs = sea surface temperatures, which have increased about 0.7 degrees C. in the Atlantic hurricane-forming region over the last century. The area of warm water has expanded also.)"  The Bible predicted all of this thousands of years before global warming. God divinely inspired these warnings to prepare His children. He does not want to leave one soul behind. The devastation will continue to arise. Christ's return is drawing near! All the signs are coming to pass, soon and very soon the clouds WILL part,  look up and lift your heads, your redemption draweth nigh.   ARE YOU READY?

September 7th, 2008
Some of you have heard me talk about this, others have not.  I have been thinking alot of this analogy God gave me a few months ago. So I thought I would share it with all of you.  It's no secret that I have been accused of being well, a little optimistic when it comes to the blessings of God.  However, you see, I don't view it as just being optimistic, but rather as declaring the TRUTH as I know it according to the word of God.  I believe that when you declare Victory through the power of Jesus Christ according to His will, He will ALWAYS back you up.( healing is ALWAYS God's will)  God will NEVER appear small to anyone.  God performs miracles only not because He loves us, but most importantly so that the unbeliever may believe.  Do you remember the first Holyfield VS Tyson fight? (not the one with the imfamous ear bite, but the first one.)  Now I'm not one to watch boxing, but this particular fight I tuned in for one reason.  I knew the outcome before the fight ever began.  Holyfield being the older, less fit, underdog at the time, declared victory by God's Hand.  During the pre-fight interviews, he used references such as David vs Golitah, and good vs evil. He said God was on his side, therefore he was sure to win.  Tyson on the other hand only made fun of Holyfields remarks.  Now I'm not an expert on the matter, but just as sure as I am that the Titanic had to sink when so many people stated, "Not even God can sink this ship," I knew that Holyfield would win that fight.  This was a huge opportunity for God's mighty power to be revealed to millions of people.  If Holyfield were to lose, our mighty God might have seemed small to the unbelievers.  That WILL NEVER happen!  We serve a GREAT and MIGHTY GOD!  He is NEVER small!  There was no other option than for Holyfield to win! You see, when we speak with faithfilled words, God is moved by our faith.  We speak, believe and God comes through with the action.  He wants everyone to know His power and goodness.  It is His main concern that no man shall perish for lack of knowledge. Therefore, He never misses an opportunity to reveal His Glory!   He has ALWAYS been and WILL ALWAYS BE a God of Victory!  I profess this Victory so that God and God alone will receive the Glory. And therefore revealing the power of our Saving God to the unbeliever.  So whatever your situation, Declare that Victory according to God's Holy Word and just see what mighty things God will accomplish! Forever God is Faithful!
"But thanks be to God, which gives us Victory through our Lord Jesus Christ."  1 Corinthians 15:57                                                                                 
"For of Him and through Him, and to Him are all things; to whom be glory for ever Amen." Romans 11:36
"Whether you eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the Glory of God." 1 Corinthians 10:31
"But as we were allowed of God to be put in trust with the gospel, even so we speak not as pleasing men, but God, which trieth our hearts."
 1 Thessalonians 2:4
"These things speak, and exhort, and rebuke with authority.  Let NO man despise thee." Titus 2:15
"And what is the exeeding greatness of His power to us-ward who believe, according to the working of His mighty power. Far above all principality, and power and might, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come." Ephesians 1:19,21
"Finally my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might." Ephesians 6:10

September 8th, 2008
                   Praise Report!
Serenity hadn't had a cardiac check up in almost a year.  The last time her cardiologist saw her she so active that they couldn't get any tests done.  She was still very young.  So she didn't understand bribes, threats or negotiation.  There just wasn't any way to keep her quiet and still.  They thought about sedating her, but because she was doing so very well, it didn't really seem worth the risk.  Anyway,  today she was finally able to have her checkup.  She did VERY well.  She held still during the echocardiogram by watching Curious George on TV.  Then the nurse kept her attention by blowing bubbles during an EKG.  After all the tests were finished, the report was in.  Just as we expected, the doctor confirmed that Serenity is VERY HEALTHY! He said that the coarc. repair looked wonderful and the unrepaired Mitre Valve was working beautifully. She is doing so well in fact that he doesn't want to see her back for another year!  When I think about how far we've come, all I can say is, "Thank you Jesus and God is SO GOOD!"
"Then they cried unto the Lord in their trouble and He delivered them out of their distresses.  Oh that men would praise the Lord for His goodness, and for His wonderful works, to the children of men." Psalm 107:6,8
"Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life; and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever." Psalm 23:6
September 9th, 2008
I mentioned before on our faith page how important my husband was during our journey.  It was his sense of humor that always kept us positive.  It didn't matter what the circumstances were at the time, he always found a way to keep us smiling.  Even though sometimes, I'm a little embarrassed by his approach, I thank God for his fun loving personality! Life would be pretty boring without him. Since I haven't spoken every much on his role through our journey, I thought that I might enlighten you to the silly guy I call my hubby.   I guess a good example to start with, would be our trip to Culver's fast food restaurant. It was a couple of nights before Serenity's open-heart surgery.  So we had a lot on our mind. We were very concerned, but desparately trying to hold it together.  Anyway, we pulled up to the drive thru and decided that we wanted to order a couple of hamburgers and an order of cheese curds.  Tommy was determined to lighten up the night and make me smile.  As soon as he heard the squeaky teenagers voice say "Welcome to Culver's can I take your order?"  My wonderful husband switched to his thickest Redneck accent and began ordering, "Uh ya, I'll take er a couple of hamb burglars, and a throw some cheese on there, but nun of those a onions, ya know they give me gas.  I might have to sleep with you tonight, cause my wife over here would kick me outta bed, ya know what I'm sayin'.  So no onions, Oh and a don't put any of that green rabbit food or any of  those squishy maters on there either, man those things ooze right out of my buns and all over my britches every time.  Makes a horrible mess. And a I'll take a sweet tea, give my little lady a coke.  Oh ya and yer beggest there order of those there Cheese Turds.(yes with a T)"  As the little voice tried to repeat our order, we could hear about a dozen people over the loud speaker giggling in the background.  Then when we approached the window, we saw teenagers EVERYWHERE laughing hysterically.  The ones who noticed us driving up, began poking the other ones in the ribs, trying to quiet them.  When the window finally slid open, the guy at the register was turning purple trying to hold the laughter in. His eyes began to water as he managed to squeeze out, "That'll be $12.65 sir."  Tommy then spoke in his normal voice saying, "Man, you look like you're about to explode. It's alright! You can laugh. I don't really sound like that." At that moment the laughter throughout the entire restuarant just exploded.  Before we drove away, several of them thanked us for bringing a little excitement into their dull night.  So there you have him, my husband. Now the best part of this story  is, it's not unusual!  That's just Tommy. He goes from one joke to another. He is either really happy or REALLY not.  There's no grey area.  Anyone who knows him, knows exactly what I'm talking about.  He's just goofy!  I could go on and on about the silly things he does.  Like for instance, He just recently made some CD's for my brother and sister, full of their favorite songs.  However, he had to throw in Veggie Tales song, "I Love my Lips" right smack in the middle just for fun. There was also the time back when a particular cell phone commerial was really popular.  Tommy was in the living room and I was putting clothes away in the bedroom.  He had to call my cell phone just to ask, "Can you hear me now?"  Then, I think this is his personal favorite; When the hospital staff was trying to plan Reni's life flight trip to another hospital, they had to count every pound of our baggage and keep it under a certain weight limit.   Well, Tommy convinced our nurse that we had 64 bottles of breast milk in the freezer.  So she was going crazy trying to, first of all, find all this estranged milk, and then figure out how much it would weigh once found.  She even called one of the pilots wanting to know if they had some where to keep it.  He told her, " Uh Maam, I don't think we have room for 64 bottles of breast milk."  In reality, we had eleven!  So I guess you see what I'm talking about!  There is never a dull moment around my hubby. We are complete opposites in every shape and form.  I guess that's why we make such a  perfect unified body; his strengths are my weaknesses and visa versa. In fear of sounding too cliche', He completes me. :) However, there were a lot of people that thought we wouldn't make it because of those differences and to be honest, there were many times that I was was one of them. Yet here we are, more in love now than ever before!  His song for me is actually a country song.  He just swears it fits us to a tee! I also can't deny the fact that everytime he plays it for me, it brings tears to my eyes and blesses my heart.  So honey for the first time, I'll play it for you. Thank you for always filling my days with laughter. I also have to admit that ten years and five children later, It sure does feel good to prove them all wrong!  I love you!
   ( if needed, pause top media player then click play)

September 12, 2008
One of the major eye openers for us during our journey with serenity was the realization of the delicate form of life.  As young human beings we can feel invincible.  We become sheltered in the perfect bubble of our lives.  Then one day, something happens, our bubble is burst and our eyes are opened.  We are not invincible! So many things can and do go wrong every second of every day. While being stuck in the PICU for a few months, we witnessed many of these occurances. Our eyes were opened to heart problems, lung problems, brain malfunctions, accidents, genic disorders.  Think about it, all it takes is ONE plus or minus chromsome in our genic makeup to destroy our normal view on life.  Every day we take for granted every breath we take and every beat of our heart.  We have faith that our brain will automatically send the signals that cause these normal bodily functions. We have faith that the car in the opposite lane will stay within the lines. We have faith that the pilot flying our plane is sober enough to do so. Yet many of us choose NOT to have faith in the God that created and controls ALL of these happenings.  Then of course there are those who believe well, I'll make my life right before I die.   If you are one of those people, blink your eyes just one time.  Did you have time to ask God for forgiveness?  In a twinkling of an eye, the word says absent from the body, present with the Lord.  All it takes is a split second for your heart to stop beating.  Every breath you take is a miracle of God's Mercy and Grace.  Our merciful God is allowing you time to prepare your eternal life, for He loves you and wants to spend eternity with you.  Although we have a prayer that defines the structure of our salvation, we do not receive salvation just by speaking those words alone.  You must believe within your whole heart that Jesus is the son of God, that he died for your sins and arose on the third day.  You must realize that he is a living God.  You MUST have a personal relationship with him. The word also says that there will be many people who do wonderful, mighty works and miracles in the name of Jesus.  However, once they arrive at Heaven's gates.  Jesus says, "Depart from me, for I never knew you."  These words should make EVERYONE want to seek more of Jesus, want to know MORE of Him.  You can never be close enough to God.  You should ALWAYS continue to search your hearts and draw closer to Him.  For these mortal bodies are but flesh and bone.  As true believers, we walk within the protection of the Almighty.  However, as unbelievers we walk outside that protection depending solely on God's mercy.   Once your time is up,  IT'S UP!  It can come so very fast! Over the last few years, we have known several people who went to sleep one night having no known problems at all,  and just never awakened. Search your heart today, if tonight were your last night on earth, would you awaken to a loving embrace from your Lord and Savior.  Would He say, "Well done my good and Faithful servant" or "Depart from me for I never knew you?"  Think carefully before you answer for your eternity depends on it!
Scripture references: Matthew 7:21-23, Matthew 25:21, 2 Corinthians 5:8

September 13, 2008
Tommy and I have decided to accept an offer to work with the youth at our church.  We are both excited and apprehensive. We are excited about all the fun plans we are making, yet apprehensive because  it's a huge responsiblily!  We can only pray that we are able to serve our purpose well.  I know that it's only been ten years since I was a teenager.  However, by having five children, I've had to mature a lot in those ten years, and  it feels like fifty.  I'm not sure I can still relate to the teeny boppers, but of course Tommy is six years older than I am and I KNOW he can!  So I'm sure that with God's intervention, we can make a difference in their spiritual growth.  We can take this opportunity to learn from Solomon and pray the way he prayed, "Now, O Lord God, let thy promise be established; for thou hath made me charge over a people like the dust of the earth in multitude. Give me now wisdom and knowledge, that I may go out and come in before this people."  2 Chronicles 1:9-10
Like Solomon, we pray for godly wisdom.  Let God speak with our mouths, walk by our feet, embrace with our arms, and love with our hearts. We pray that God within us, would be their teacher. Let thy light shine, O Lord, let thy light shine!

September 15, 2008
 My heart and mind fill with anger as I think about all the destruction that Satan causes.  I get so very angry when I think about all the blessings that he has stolen from  us.  Every second, he steals health, youth, joy or life.  Every second millions are suffering because of him, because of sin.  This anger consumes me like a fire ignited within my spirit.  It only makes me want to seek Jesus more.  It only makes me want to become more serious about my resonsibility as a born again Christian.  It makes me want to storm the gates of hell and pull souls from the very grip of Satan himself.  Some may ask if this kind of anger is biblical.  My answer is ABSOLUTELY!  Anger is very biblical when it is controlled and focused on a righteous cause. Christians do not have sit by quietly and reformed to be holy. Jesus himself became angry. The word of God says "to be angry and sin not,"(Eph. 4:26)  meaning they are two separate things.  All emotions are God given.  It is only the way we choose to use them that make them sinful.  As christians we had better become more angry with Satan.  For the more angry we become, the harder we strive for Godly causes.  It is the fuel that keeps us winning souls and spreading the gospel.  In this day and age, every where you turn you can see the trail of destruction left by Satan.  Our world is so full of violence, death and sickness. The hearts of people have become corrupt and harden by the disease of sin.  It's no wonder why they have forgotten about the goodness of the Lord.  I guess that is one factor that has been pushing me to spread Serenity's testimony.   I want everyone to know what God has done not only for us but for EVERYONE.  His love for each and every one of us is so great that the human heart and mind can not even comprehend it's extent.  Whatever your impossible, He is a God of miracles! Whatever your battle, He is a God of victory!  Whatever your sin, He is a God of forgiveness!  Whoever you are, He is a good of Love!  Adam and Eve introduced sin into this world by their disobedience.  God then sent His only begotten Son as our Savior.  Just so that tonight I could type, He is a God of Redemption!  He wants to restore ALL the blessings Satan has stolen. Physical death may be an inevitable task for those who pass before the second coming of our Lord. However, it doesn't have to be premature. I don't believe that any person should die by violence, accident or sickness. I believe that God's perfect will is for us to live a long fruitful life. Then one night in our oldest possible age, we lie down healthy and awake in glory land. We are to step from one life into another, not suffer until a misable end. Yes, we have trials, but we also have Victory! God is a good God. He is our Heavenly Father. Jesus suffered so that we wouldn't have to.  My heart is so full right now. I want to stand upon the highest mountain and scream out this revelation.  I want to grab people by their shoulders and ask them, "Why don't you believe?  Why do you want to suffer?"   The flesh in me wants to shake the gospel into them.  Even though my spirit knows that would never work. We can't force anyone to believe. They have to be willing to accept our words.  If you will, picture a man running as fast as he can straight into a brick wall.  Then watch him get up and do it over and over again.  Sooner or later, he's going to beat himself to death.  I'm confident that all those watching would think, Man what an idiot!  Right?  But yet millions of people are basically doing the same thing. Living a sinful life without Jesus has the same effect. Running from God only leads to pain, suffering and death. EVERY sin has a consequence! The good news is every painful consequence has a Savior.  I am crying as I type this.  For I know that many will read this, or hear the same from someone else and yet they will choose not to believe. Many are so caught up in this world that they refuse to let go.  There will be those that will perish. The only little comfort I take is in knowing that it will not be for lack of knowledge.  As long as we continue to spread the gospel, and pray as God leads, our hands are clean.  Miss an opportunity to witness and our hands become stained with their spiritual blood.  Examine your hearts, look around at your family and friends, are your hands clean?    There is so much hurt in this world!  Sometimes it feels like the bad always out weighs the good.  The truth is the good far and beyond ALWAYS out weighs the bad, you just have to be willing to see it!  In spite of all the pain, there is HOPE for every man! Whatever your question, Jesus is the answer.  Not only is there hope but through the blood of Jesus there is ALWAYS  Victory!  Serenity is living proof!  Every time I watch her sleep, I see His grace!  Every time I listen to her heart beat, I hear His mercy.  Every time I touch her scars I feel His as well.  Every healthy, normal thing she does, reminds me,, of His love!  As I wipe away my tears,  I pray she always serves as a reminder to you as well.  Whatever this world brings, remember Serenity and never forget the GOODNESS of the Lord!  For He loves you so very much!  "I will mention the lovingkindnesses of the Lord, and the praises of the Lord, according to all that the Lord hath bestowed on us, and the great goodness toward the house of Israel, which He hath bestowed on them according to His mercies, and according to the multitude of His lovingkindness." Isaiah 63:7

September 16th, 2008

I love to snuggle my babies in the recliner and have little chats. This is our nightly routine. Eli sits within the embrace of my right arm and Serenity within my left. Then we just rock and talk. The night before last our conversation ended up on the topic of Jesus. I have mentioned before that I believe Serenity saw many angels during her journey and possibly even Jesus himself.  Well, I decided to ask her,"Reni did you see Jesus?" She nodded her head and said, "Yes." So I continued, "Oh, what did He look like?" She pointed to her eyes and replied, "Eyes, Face." I giggled as I asked, "Oh, He had a face with eyes, did He?" Again she nodded. "Did He talk to you?" Again she nodded. I continued to pry by asking, "What did He say?" She then rambled something off in baby talk that only God himself could interpret. "Wow! that's nice!"  I assured, then asked, "Did you see angels?" "Yes!" she answered. "What did they look like?" Again she pointed to her eyes only this time with a great big smile, "Pretty! Eyes, face." I tickled her tummy and said, "Oh they're pretty like Reni, are they?" She laughed as she blurted out a great big, "Yes!" So now the curiosity had the best of me, I just had to know,  "What did they say?" She immediately answered with, "Blessing!" I was shocked by how very plain that big word was. Stunned I asked, "Did you say Blessing?" She grinned and again let out a big,"Yes!"
Later, I asked her the same question again. This time not only did she confirm by repeating the word blessing, but she also very plainly added a new word,  "Praise!"  Now I know angels were constantly surrounding her, I'm not amazed by the fact that she saw them.   I'm just amazed that she still remembers what they told her.  However, the more I think about it, that is something that would be pretty hard to forget! :) "For He shall give His angels charge over thee to keep thee, in all thy ways." Psalms 91:11
"Praise ye Him all His angels; praise ye Him all His hosts." Psalms 148:2

September 17, 2008
We had a great first night as the new youth leaders.  Mainly, we just spent time getting to know each other and talking about the vision we all have for our group. We also introduced biblical guidelines for praise and worship. We felt that it was crucial to discuss the importance of praise and worship as early as possible. Hopefully, this will set the atmosphere for the desired future meetings we are praying for. The kids also voted  and agreed on our idea for the group's new name. We will be the new Living Faith's Strong Tower Youth. Of course this name comes from the verse, "The name of the Lord is a strong tower, the righteous run into it and they are safe." Proverbs 18:10 We wanted to make it very clear that the youth group is a place where they can always feel safe from the pressures and concerns of their daily lives. We feel that it's very appropriate and it kind of has a nice ring to it as well. Don't you think? All and all our first night was very productive. It would have been even more productive it had not been for a very comical church mouse, that obviously was starved for attention. He kept playing peek a boo with the kids, sticking his head in and out of objects and running back and forth across the platform. He would even come out and do a little dance every time someone would read a scripture. I have to say, that if you have to have a mouse, might as well have a  mouse that loves the Word of God.  He was not scared or shy at all. The kids were actually able to catch him. We named him Fred George. He's now our new mascot. :) We'll see how long that lasts.

September 18, 2008
Our Prissy little Serenity grabbed the brush today and began primping. She then looked at me with a big proud grin and bragged, "Mama, I'm Beautiful!"    Yes,  Reni you are beautiful, inside and out!  Mommy and Daddy love their beautiful little miracle!                              
                                   I pretty Now!

September 19, 2008
"Now Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen." Hebrews 11:1
As I count my blessings, it's hard to believe that all the simple things that we so easily take for granted, were once things that I only hoped and prayed for. I can still vividly remember how hard it was to stand on the promises of God.  I would sit beside Reni's bed day in and day out, watching her motionless body.  I would listen to the beeping sounds of her machines only to be interrupted by the oh so dreaded doctor's reports.  I hate to say that they were negative, because they were not trying to be.  They were just simply doing their job by stating the medical facts. But oh how those facts would cut straight through me like the sharpest knife. It was so hard, that's all I can think to say, It was just so very hard! "Before him whom he believed, even God, who quickened the dead, and called those things that are not as though they were." Romans 4:17 Calling those things they are not as though they were is not as easy as it sounds. Especially when your child, your very heart and soul is fighting for her life. It's hard to look past the worldly reality when it's staring you right in the face.  I had to look past what this physical eye would see.  I had to mentally and spiritually step out of this world and view things from God's perspective.  During our hardest moments, I would hold on to a mental image of Serenity years older.  I would see her running and playing, like a normal child. I would envision her as a young adult, so very full of life.  I held on to these images until they were eternally branded on the walls of my heart.  I not only asked God to give me this vision, but I EXPECTED Him to.  I was determined not to settle for anything less, for God's Word had promised me nothing less. I didn't care how He would bring it about, I just knew that He would.  I knew that He would give me my healthy normal little girl. Every time the doctors would bring in their razor sharp facts, I would mentally return to the image of that grown healthy young lady. Now, I am not a strong person. I, alone am a very timid and weak individual.   However, during my weakest moments, God gave me a supernatural strength. He gave me the muscle I needed to hold on.  I held on to those images. I held on to God's promises.  As hard as it was, I held on and NEVER let go.  I sometimes still see her that way!  Do you know how I spent my day today?  I spent my day chasing Reni from one mess to another.  As quick as she would dump one thing, she would shred, or flush, or spill, or break, something else. Tommy has had to take apart both of our toilets within the past week.  He found a toothbrush in one and a potato, yes I said a potato, in the other. She is so full of energy, so full of life, so full of mischief.  I had to collapse in my chair a few times today just from sheer exhaustion.  It's hard for the human mind to comprehend the ability to go from one extreme to another.  God on the other hand, always saw her the way she is now.  He knew the ill side of her, but He didn't see her that way.  He saw her through the blood of Jesus, perfect in every way. He gave me the strength to see her the way He did. Now, here we are on the complete opposite side of the spectrum.  I have witnessed a creative miracle first hand, and every moment of every day, I am still in complete amazement by the Healing power of our Lord and Savior. I am so thankful for all of my blessings, the simple and the complex.  We serve such an awesome God! He loves and cares for all of us equally. Always remember that He is no respector of persons.  "Then Peter opened his mouth and said, Of a truth I perceive that God is no respector of persons:" Acts 10:34  What He has done for us, He has already done for you.  Envision those biblical promises! Envision them until they are branded within your heart. Then hold on, hold on and NEVER let go! God is always Faithful!

September 20th, 2008
"But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead?" James 2:20
Some may misinterupt this popular quoted scripture as an excuse to allow our flesh to "help" God out.  Make no mistake, God does not need our interferrence to bring His promises about.  He does however, require our complete trust and obedience.  The kingdom of God works in the way of sowing and reaping in God's harvest time.  We were faithful in sowing seeds for Serenity's healing.  Once we obtain total trust and we grasp tightly a hold of His promises, then we must ask," Lord, I know according to your word that you have promised me this, now what seed do I need to sow in order for it to manifest?" Once God reveals this to you, the next step is to be obedient to His words.  Then name that seed. "Lord, your word says that when we are obedient to sow, we will reap a bountiful harvest.  Right now, Lord I am bringing forth this seed in faith to receive Your promise."  During our journey with Serenity, we were faithful in this prayer.  God instructed my parents to fast.  However, for Tom and myself our hearts revealed something different.  We began sowing seeds for Serenity's healing by witnessing, blessing and praying for other families in similar situations.  You see, usually the seed that you will need to sow, will be the toughest thing for your flesh to let go of. God uses trials to help us become more Christ like, to strenthen us spiritually.  In order to do this, we must rid ourselves of the flesh.  As humans, we thrive on self pity parties. As parents, it's our responsiblity to ensure the health and safety of our children. When your child is fighting for their life, it is so easy to become engulfed in your burden. It's instinct to the flesh to become wrapped up in our own selfish pleas. You  become consumed with the thought, I must help my baby, Lord save MY baby!  All the while, a mom is sitting on the other side of a paper thin wall crying over her dying child because she doesn't even know HOW to call out to God.  No matter how difficult your situation is, there is always someone who's situation is more difficult. For, there is always someone who doesn't have the comfort of believing in the healing power of our Lord and Savior.   In order to become more Christ like we MUST become selfless! We must trust God enough to lay aside our own problems. God opened our hearts and our eyes to see the suffering of others.  We used this insight as an opportunity to witness to those without the benefit of our hope and faith.  We placed Serenity into the hands of our Heavenly Father, and focused our compassion on other patients and their families.  Even though, Tom had been without work for weeks, we blessed several families financially.  We spent time spreading the gospel to those needing hope.  We prayed fervantly for the children of others.  We stepped outside of our pity bubble and into the shoes of a true servant of Christ, or at least that's what we strived to be. We did all of this, while speaking healing scriptures and proclaiming health over Serenity. We never let go of the promise God had given our daughter, we just reached out to help others hold on to theirs as well.  You see, faith isn't just about believing, it's also about trusting God enough to be obedient.   We must allow our flesh to die out, place our situations entirely into His hands and embrace others with His love. Faith without works is dead! However, when we choose to combine our belief with sowing selfless seeds toward  healing and prosperity, God ALWAYS brings forth life!

September 23, 2008
"For I will pour water upon him that is thirsty, and floods upon the dry ground: I will pour my spirit upon thy seed, and my blessing upon thine offspring:   And they shall spring up as among the grass, as willows by the water courses" Isaiah 44:3-4 
 "Then shall we know, if we follow on to know the LORD: his going forth is prepared as the morning; and he shall come unto us as the rain, as the latter and former rain unto the earth" Hosea 6:3.  The Holy Spirit is described as two types of rain, the former and the latter.   In Israel there are also two types of rainy seasons.  The first is light and used  to help firmly plant the seeds in the ground. The second is much heavier which allows the crops to mature. Just like the natural, God pours out His Spiritual rain, in the same manner. 
This morning as I walked outside, I inhaled the fresh smell of the early morning dew.  Suddenly, my thoughts were consumed with this song:
"I feel the rain!  I feel the rain!  I feel it falling down on me!  Oh, I feel the rain! I feel the rain!  I feel it falling down on me.  Well, it's the former and the latter rain together.  Now I'm not talkin' bout the weather.  It's the Holy Ghost rain, and it's falling down on me!" 
When I was a child I use to love dancing in the rain.  I would strentch my arms out wide, tilt my head towards the clouds and twirl.  I would savor the taste of the rain as it dropped upon my lips. The heavier the rain fall, only proved to excite me more.  The wetter I became, the more I enjoyed the experience.   Now as an adult, I don't spend much time outside.  However, I still love to dance in the rain. I love to bask within the presence of the Holy Spirit.  I love to taste His remnants upon my lips.  It is something that I crave.  I long to become drenched within His midst.  Every moment of every day, the desire only grows stronger to want MORE rain.  I thirst for it.  "Ask ye of the LORD rain in the time of the latter rain; so the LORD shall make bright clouds, and give them showers of rain, to every one grass in the field" Zechariah 10:1.
The Lord has promised to cover every blade of grass who asks.  As I prepare for a mighty outpouring of the latter rain, I stretch my arms out in praise, tilt my head toward the clouds and twirl!   "I feel the rain! I feel the rain! I feel it falling down on me!"  Can you taste His remnants upon your lips?

September 24th, 2008
Okay, this game of hide and seek that I keep playing with my belongings is getting frustrating!  It is usually my cell phone or car keys that disappear.  It doesn't matter how high I place them, whenever I need them, they're not there!  This time my phone and keys are safe, Praise the Lord!  However,  now my dust pan has just vanished into thin air.  I have had the entire family on lookout for two days. We have searched  everywhere!  Still, it's no where to be found.  I will ask Reni, "Have you seen mommy's dust pan." she replies, "Not me, Eli."  Okay.  "Eli, have you seen my dust pan?" "Not me, ask Kayleigh and Gracee."  Okay! "Girls have you seen my dust pan?" At the exact same time they answer with, "Not me, ask Noah." I take a deep breath, "NOAH! Have YOU seen my dust pan?" Feeling my frustration, defensively he replies, "Mom! It's Not Me!"
Whatever the question, it's always the same answer.  There is only one person that causes mischief in this house.  So to this "Not me," whoever you are, PLEASE return my dust pan and stop getting my perfectly innocent children into trouble! :)

September 26, 2008
It's hard to believe that in just a little over a month, it will be two years since our little Reni was born.  So much has happened in those two years.  So many changes have taken place.  Yet, I still vividly remember nearly every detail of our journey, significant and insignificant.  I remember every tear and every laugh.  I remember every circumstance that took my breath and every sigh of relief.  I remember our journey, not only because it dramically affected my life, but mainly because I don't want to forget.  Some of you, may think that sounds crazy.   I know my husband would have agreed with you a couple of months ago. We had different views on that topic for a while.  He wanted to forget the whole thing, leave it in the past and be grateful that it was over. Those memories brought back painful feelings that he no longer wanted to feel. He was afraid of reliving our heartache over and over again in his mind.  So he tried to forget.  He also didn't want to hear about or see other families going through simular circumstances. For with every sick child he heard about, he pictured Serenity laying there instead. I totally appreciated where he was coming from, But yet at the same time I had my own way of dealing with things.  I embraced those memories. I did exactly the opposite.  I became obsessed with other PICU families. I used our experience as a guideline of encouragement for others.  Because of my painful memories,  I know exactly what other families are going through.  I have a connection that I wouldn't have without our experience.  This connection brings an overwhelming compassion and that compassion brings an obsessive impulse to pray.  I also look at this way, we learned so much during our journey.  There were so many things that  God was able to teach us. I know in my heart that was God's plan all along. He allowed it for two reasons, to draw us closer to Him and for His name to be glorified. Just about every lesson that the Bible teaches on faith and trust, we can relate to our journey with Serenity. Therefore,  I do not want to forget those valuable insights, because I never want to have to learn those lessons again.  Tommy didn't want to talk about it because he didn't want to relive it.  I DO want to talk about it so that I don't have to relive it.  Does that make sense? 
However, because of  prayer  Tommy is now seeing things differently.  He is seeing just how many lives have been touched by our testimony.   He is seeing how very few encouraging stories are out there and how very important it is to tell ours. He has since joined my crusade of restoring hope. I am so thrilled because the difference of opinion was starting to affect our marriage. I knew that one of us had to change.  I didn't nag him about it. Nagging only makes things worse.  I simply prayed that God would either lessen my obsession or change his heart. God answered by doing both.  Now there is balance in our family.  I am still driven by my compassion.  I may not be obsessed, but I am driven. I  remember just how devestated I was when I searched the internet for Restrictive Cardiomyopathy.  There was not one positive word  on the entire world wide web. I left the computer feeling completely crushed.  Now, I take comfort in knowing that every time a mom has to type in those words, she will be able to view at least ONE encouraging story.  As devestating as our journey was, I can't help but feel good about that. 

Okay, I just lost my train of thought as Serenity streaked by wearing nothing but a minature sized Dora the Explorer backpack. I am giggling now as her little boney hiney dashes away while images of Dora and Boots the monkey bounce with every step.  I do not know what I am going to do with her.  It doesn't matter how many buttons, zippers or layers of clothes I put on her, she always ends up naked!  Oh the joy of raising toddlers! Well now I guess I better go find out where she ditched the clean clothes and fresh diaper I placed on her less than half an hour ago.  I'm hoping she hasn't left a puddle full of surprise somewhere along the trail. If she has I'm sure I'll find it the hard way, by stepping right in the middle of it. Gross?  Oh come on folks, these are the joys of parenthood! :)


September 27,  2008
September 28, 2008
I thought that some of you might need a little giggle today!  My husband believes he has solved the problem of Reni running around naked.  Here is what he has come up with;
 
I know what your thinking, so typical of the man stereotype to think that all problems can be fixed with electrical and/or duct tape.  You have to give him props though, she has managed to go two whole hours without streaking the family.  Tommy's pretty proud of himself right now.  So I'm not going to spoil his moment by revealing some bad news.  I'm just going to insist that HE change the next dirty diaper!  Then he will soon discover the messy kinks (or should I say stinks) in his plan.  :)


September 29, 2008
So many times in our lives we may not fully understand the direction in which God leads us.  I know  there were many times during our journey when I wondered, why Lord?  Times such as, leading us to four different hospitals, and stopping surgery three different times.  Looking back now, I can see things so much differently.  My eyes have been opened to circumstances that at the time only God could forsee. Serenity ended up having her surgery at a hospital ranked within the top ten for pediatric cardiology. Receiving the diagnosis of Restrictive Cardiomyopathy, was the only way she arrived there.  I also wondered why God miraclously healed her of that disease but allowed the coarctation to become worse.  Then later I realized whenever someone reviews her chart they will see that Reni was a very sick little girl, no one expected her to get better until after transplant. As a matter of fact, for several weeks her condition was rapidly declining.  However something changed and suddenly she began to improve ( just so happens it coincided with the same night I received God's assurance of healing, hmm).  After she was released from the hospital, the coarctation only worsened.  If her problem was only the coarc. the entire time, then she should have never been able to leave the hospital, right? It worsen yet she improved.  I believe this was God's way of saying, "I healed what no man could cure. Now use the wisdom I have given you and finish my work." God was teaching us to trust Him in all aspects of His healing power.  He has so many different ways of healing; instantly divine, creative, through medical technology.  But make no mistake, whatever way He chooses, ALL healing is by the hand of God.  By guiding our steps to so many hospitals, we were also able to witness to a multitude of people.  Doors were opened and hearts were touched by our Faith in Jesus Christ.  We may not have fully understood God's direction at the time, but regardless, we trusted Him completely!  We walked through the doors He opened and were content with the ones He closed.  God's plan may be difficult to comprehend, but it's always in our best interest. We must believe that with our whole hearts.  The hardest thing for me to understand is why Serenity was delivered from a heart transplant when so many other God fearing, faith filled children have to endure one. It doesn't matter how hard I try, and believe me I've tried,  I can't answer that question.  The only explanation I can come up with is, God's plan is different for everyone. (He may use their testimony to speak to the hearts of those Serenity's story can't reach)  I know without a shadow of a doubt that it is ALWAYS God's will to heal and He heals in many different ways.  I also know within every fiber of my being that if He had chosen to heal Reni through a transplant, she would have come through with flying colors and would have suffered NONE of the side effects thereof. Despite the medical predictions, God was going to give me a normal healthy little girl either way.  This I know for certain.  I also know that He will do the same for anyone that trusts and believes in Him.  Whatever way God chooses, one thing remains for certain, He is a God that heals. Forever God is faithful! Therefore, whatever your circumstance, whatever direction He leads you in, TRUST God COMPLETELY! Allow Him to shelter you within His wings.  For His direction never fails to lead us to Victory!
"How precious is Your lovingkindness O God!  Therefore the children of men put their trust under the shadow of Your wings." Psalm 36:7
"For you have been a shelter for me, a strong tower from the enemy. I will abide in Your tabernacle forever; I will trust in the shelter of your wings." Psalm 61:3-4
"Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever."
Hebrews 13:8



Journal Continued on October 2008

                                 








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