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


September 3rd, 2009


"Praise be to the Lord, to God our Savior, who Daily bears our burdens"  Psalm 68:19

How awesome is it that we can serve a God who bears our burdens DAILY.  We can find so much comfort in His promises.  So why do we struggle through our daily lives?  Why do we worry? Why do we hurt?  Why do carry that which we do NOT have to carry?  If we struggle it's not because God refuses help.  If we see others walking in God's peace.. we must know He will do the same for us. For
"
Peter said, Of a truth I perceive that God is no respecter of persons"
Acts 10:34

If we struggle, it's not because God has forsaken us.  We struggle because we choose to struggle.  It is true, we are not promised a perfect life.  There will be troubled times! But we do not have to drown within a sea of anxiety. Whatever our troubles, however troublesome that may seem, our Lord bears them FOR us.
WE CAN LIVE IN PEACE! 
WE CAN LIVE IN JOY!
WE CAN LIVE IN VICTORY! 
WE CAN LIVE BURDEN FREE! 
When we choose to...
Lay em' down. 


Cast all your cares on Him for He cares for you
(1 Peter 5:7)





September 4th, 2009
I have often heard people discuss how it's okay to commit a little wrong, if it works toward a greater good. So my question is... where do you draw the line?

Recently a nice young man approached my door. I could tell he was very nervous and wasn't use to speaking with strangers. He had a very well rehearsed speech on why I should buy one of his magazines, which in turn would earn him points toward a trip to Bermuda. The magazine purchases also help send children books to hospitals. Well... if you know me that's where he had me hooked. After spending so much time in the
PICU with Serenity, I have a certain soft spot for anything that makes the patient experience more pleasurable. So I had my mind set on helping out.. until... he mentioned the price.

As many of you know, my husband had his hours cut back quite drastically for awhile. For the past several weeks God has blessed him with an abundance of overtime. Praise the Lord! However, we were very far behind for a several months. Now it's taking every extra bit he's making just to catch up. Bottom line.. We are surviving but we still don't have extra cash.

I asked him if he might be able to come back another time. He refused. Instead he said he would be willing to accept a post dated check. I wouldn't do that. I explained that I didn't know when I would have the extra money to help out. So then he made me a
proposition. He turned the form around and revealed the fine print on the back. "It says right here that if for any reason you want to cancel your order, you have 10 days to do so. All you have to do is give me a check today. Then call and explain that you've had an expected bill and cancel. They will immediately stamp void on your check. I still get my points. The children still get their book and you get that warm fuzzy feeling inside for helping out. Everyone's happy!"

Sounded like a good deal! What makes everyone happy couldn't
possibility be wrong.. right? Wrong! God's doesn't give us exceptions to the rules. As my husband always says..."Where there is an exception to the rule.. there is no rule." No matter how much people try to make something sound good. Wrong is still Wrong and Right is always Right. There is NO gray area when it comes to sin. A lie (no matter how much we think it helps someone out) is still a lie.

In my opinion, if I were to sign my name to a check agreeing to pay a certain amount with the intention of never actually dishing out the dough. Then that is the same as a lie. Not to mention the fact that I would have to verbally lie to the operator just to convince them to cancel my order. There wasn't any unexpected bill heading my way... and I knew it!

I politely explained that I just didn't want to do that and thanked him for his time. He mumbled under his breath and left very angry. I felt badly because I knew he was very nervous and probably felt like a failure. Part of me wanted to cave, but another part of me knew the consequences of doing so.

We often prevent God's blessings in our life, by compromising the truth. God doesn't see big or small... God only sees disobedience. There have been many times when people have thought I was absolutely crazy for trying to do the right thing. I have walked back into a store to pay just a few cents for an item the checker forgot to scan. Some people might say.. "Well.. it was their fault or it was only worth a few cents... Therefore it's alright."    But I tell you what... if I'm going to risk missing out on God's blessings in my life... I'm not going to do it for just a few cents. How completely insane would that be!!!

I have also refused gifts from store clerks. One guy tried to give me a free fountain drink. "That's okay... just keep it." I asked him if he was going to pay for it.. "Nah.. don't worry about it." Well.. YES I'm going to worry about it because it wasn't HIS to give. It would be different if he happened to be the owner, but he was just a clerk. I ended up paying for my drink and I'm sure being the blunt of every joke for the rest of the night. But I know with every fiber of my being that God has honored my
persistence to always try to do the right thing. Sometimes I may fail, but I always try to be obedient! God blesses the obedient!

Satan knows this. It's his main purpose to kill, steal and destroy.
(John 10:10) He wants to stop the blessings of God from flowing. So he will often set up circumstances that appear to be good. He wants to set traps for God's people. He makes people believe they are doing a good thing, when in actuality they're stepping out of God's will and into dangerous territory.
Example.. a married woman/man starts out by innocently "Witnessing" to someone of the opposite sex. They ignore the fact that their spouse doesn't agree with their little talks. Soon they end up lying to their loved ones for the "greater good." Then before long they're caught up in an adulterous affair. By reasoning out what they know in their hearts is wrong, they end up destroying not only their marriage, but their mind, body and spirit as well.

So where do we draw the line? We don't!!! The bible tells us to shun the very appearance of evil.
(1 Thessalonians 5:22)
For God knows that one tiny snowflake can soon turn into a giant snowball of destruction!!!
    And  nothing is worth missing out on the blessings of God!





September 9th, 2009

                                                      Tiny Eyes...

Tiny eyes... they're watching me.  What kind of example will I be?

Will I help them grow up strong?  Will I teach them right from wrong?

Tiny eyes... they're watching me.  What kind of person will they see?

Will I be honest, true and bold... God's Shining Glory to behold? 

Will I always stand and fight.. never compromising what is right? 

Will I be faithful, loyal and true?  Hopelessly devoted to the words.."I Do."

Tiny eyes they're watching me... what kind of Mommy will I be?  

Will I be slow to anger yet quick to love.  Will I give plenty... always enough?  

Will I be understanding when they stray... always devoted to fervently pray?  

Tiny eyes they're watching me... learning... watching... carefully!

Will they see me Spiritually grow?  Will they hunger for the Savior I know?

Will they see my burning flame... Never weakened with life's rain?

Will they see me walk upright?  Will they follow my guiding light?  

 Tiny eyes... they're watching me. What kind of example will I be?




September 10th, 2009

                                 Honey... I Shrunk the Recliner!
                                             
                                              Or Maybe....
    Our Heavenly Father just Blessed us with an ABUNDANT garden!


              
    
 If you were to see our garden you would understand just how much of a miracle this really is! lol  This was the first year we tried gardening.  We had absolutely no idea what we were doing and it REALLY shows. 
Yet... our produce by FAR surpasses what we could hope to expect.  We planted early and it just KEEPS coming... HUGE veggies and LOTS of them!  Why?  Because...  WE ARE BLESSED!
             

"And all these blessings shall come upon you and overtake you, because you obey the voice of the LORD your God: Blessed shall you be in the city, and blessed shall you be in the country.  Blessed shall be the fruit of your body, the produce of your ground and the increase of your herds, the increase of your cattle and the offspring of your flocks. Blessed shall be your basket and your kneading bowl. Blessed shall you be when you come in, and blessed shall you be when you go out." Deuteronomy 28:2-6

             
             


“The LORD will command the blessing on you in your storehouses and in all to which you set your hand, and He will bless you in the land which the LORD your God is giving you.  And the LORD will grant you plenty of goods, in the fruit of your body, in the increase of your livestock, and in the produce of your ground, in the land of which the LORD swore to your fathers to give you." Deuteronomy 28:8,11

 
           Yes.. We are BLESSED Beyond Measure!




September 12th, 2009

 Kayleigh cheered for her first official football game today! After watching her, I have come to the conclusion that ... I think the girl has found her niche!  She did such an amazing job!  Of course we all know how peppy and enthusiastic Kayleigh is. Even during her softball season, she did more cheering than playing ball.  "You can do it.. Get that ball.. Great job guys.. Don't worry about it...You'll get em next time!"  She always has such a positive attitude and she knows how to bring the very best out of everyone.  However, to be honest I had my doubts about the physical part.  You see...she hasn't had the best experiences when it comes to... coordination. (she gets that from her Mama) After her first practice... well... let's just say... I had my doubts.  But I am so happy and proud to announce that I was completely WRONG!   Amazingly, She has come A LONG way in a VERY short time! It's like the difference between night and day!  With her personality and continued practice... I think she could do really well in the sport! Yep.. the girl has found her niche!

                       
The entire game she never stopped smiling. 
                    
                                She LOVES her new pom poms!

               
                      
And her new personalized shirt and hair tie!

                      
                      

                         As a matter of fact... She LOVES the entire experience!
                        

                    
                    In case you're wondering...Kayleigh's the one on the end. 
     You know... the one checking out the other team's football players!!


September 15th, 2009
                              Another Boredom Relief Lesson
                  With special guests: Noah, Kayleigh and Gracee.

When you fail to see the fun in sorting through stored winter clothes... what is a kid to do? Sure... you could just bite the bullet and do as mom says. I mean... you DO need warm clothes because fall IS just around the corner.  But seriously where is the fun in that?   Boredom is bound to hit! So what to do?  What to do?  Here's a suggestion...  Instead of sorting through the bags of clothes and neatly putting them away... Try stuffing them into your shirt or pajama bottoms.  Everyone knows a fat suit makes a hilarious alternative and is sure to get a few laughs...

                   
Where there is laughter... there is boredom relief!  Of course where there is boredom relief... there is also group participation.  Once everyone is rolling with laughter, the younger siblings are bound to want in on all the fun!  However, instead of explaining the concept to them.. allow them some creativity of their own.  If you give a toddler free reign of the undergarment drawer... you may just end up with this....

                   
   And.. A good toddler foul up is ALWAYS good for a few extra laughs!

              
Yes.. with a little bit of imagination and a huge after mess, you're sure to make some fun memories to last a lifetime... and most importantly...
                                    Some boredom relief!

Added bonus: 
Mom will also not have to worry about boredom because she will spend hours of fun separating the mess you created!!



September 17th, 2009
Serenity has struck again!  She found the mascara I THOUGHT I lost... turns out it was stashed away by everyone's favorite little toddler duo!

                   
Not only did she make her eyes pretty, but she also decided to decorate my walls as well! She never ceases to amaze me with her unique personality.
The older she gets, the more evident her fight becomes.  She definitely has a mind of her own... and she KNOWS how to use it!!  Today, when I scolded her for having something she knows she's not suppose to have... she replied with a stern..."You shut your mouth!"  Immediately I returned the slip up with an even MORE STERN..."WHAT DID YOU SAY?"  Without hesitation, Serenity backed down and calmly replied... "I said.. you're VERY pretty Mommy!" 
                    "Uh huh... That's what I thought you said!"  :) 


September 19th, 2009
 

Today our church held it's annual Back to School Bash.  There was LOTS of free food, games and prizes.  The kids had a BLAST.  Here are a few pictures of their amazing day. 






September 24th, 2009

“You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt loses its flavor, how shall it be seasoned? It is then good for nothing but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot by men. You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden.  Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in Heaven"  Matthew 5:13-16.

I have been thinking a lot about the power of witnessing.  My mind and my heart have been drawn to a lost and dying world.  My heart aches for those who are blinded my the lies of the enemy... Those who believe they can continue to live in darkness and still make it home. My spirit cries out for the Christians who have become complacent. Christians who look for excuses for their sin instead of falling upon their faces in repentence and the Christians who are so luke warm they don't even realize they are sinning.  God's word tells us the fate of all these people.  (Romans 6:23), (Revelation 3:16)

The more I watch the news.... the more I see biblical revelations coming to pass.  The end times are not just near... THEY ARE HERE!  An urgency rises up in my soul and I must DO something!  There are those who I love that I KNOW are lost!  Time is running out!  Is letting my light shine enough? No! We MUST speak up!

"And He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature"  Mark 16:15.

Every person we come into contact with is an opportunity.  If we truly believe God directs our steps... then EVERY moment has a purpose! Every person is in our lives FOR A REASON!  Sometimes they are there to witness or bless us.. Sometimes we are there to bless them.  Sometimes we bless each other.  Nothing is by chance.  God is all knowing and all powerful.  He has carefully designed the paths of our lives.  So over the course of this life... how many opportunites have we missed?

I hunger for a new boldness!  I thirst for a Spiritual awakening.  I fall at the feet of Christ and BEG for forgiveness.  I have set quiet long enough.  I have allowed those who I love to further slip away, while I have remained silent.  I see Christians doing the same.  I see many turning the other way while blanant sin continues.  I see them patting the sinner on the back and saying.." It's okay.. God still Loves you." 

What is LOVE?  God is LOVE.(1 John 4:8)  Does anyone remember Jesus... turning his back on sin?  Does anyone remember Him patting a sinner on the back and saying... "It's okay... God STILL Loves you!" 

NO!  Because God does TRULY Love us!  That's why Jesus declared over and over and over and over again.... REPENT! He was more concerned with the sinner's eternal soul than His own acceptence.  He never played games when it came to sin!  He never mickey moused around about finding excuses for sin... Oh this person has had a hard life.. This person just doesn't know better... He simply declared... REPENT! REPENT!   

What is TRUE LOVE?  If you KNEW with all your heart.. someone you love would be hit by a bus the very moment they stepped out into the street and yet, you said nothing to warn them... Would THAT be  Love?  NO! Then how much more should we be concerned with someone's eternal soul.  How much harder should we try to save them from everlasting torture? 

LOVE is doing everything in your power to protect that person.  Love is doing what's right, even though it's hard.  Love is being rejected and STILL declaring the Truth!

We can no longer set idly by and watch our loved ones slip further away.  Not only is it NOT love, but the word says their blood will be on OUR hands. Now...we are NOT to judge the condition of someone's heart by what they wear, how often they go to church, the strength of their faith etc.  However, we are to call blanant, scripture defining sin as what it is... SIN! We are to bring the light of God's Word into EVERY dark situation.  For if we fail to do so, the Word tells us... WE will be held accountable for their sins.  How scary is that!

It's time for a new boldness. It's time for Christians to rise and take their place.  It's time for us take a stand against wrong and boldly pursue what is RIGHT!  Not in our own power but by the power of the Holy Spirit.. In God who gives us Grace!
"To me, who am less than the least of all the saints, this grace was given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ" Ephesians 3:8

Through the Grace given by God,
It's time for us to demonstrate the power of TRUE Love!
"For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires ALL men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth."   1Timothy 2:3-4


September 25, 2009

God in His ultimate wisdom never ceases to amaze me. He knows the future... He knows all.. Every day is planned. Every day He is in preparation for the next. Today He is preparing you for what you will need for tomorrow... or a year from now... or even 50 years from now. How awesome is our God?

When I was about 18 years of age, I told a lie to my mother. It wasn't just some slip of the tongue kind of lie. I actually looked her straight in the eye and lied through my teeth. For a few years, I often thought about it and felt bad, but NEVER said anything. Then after awhile, the conviction lessened, I began thinking about it less and less. For several years I hardly ever thought about it at all. Then when I was expecting Serenity... about 6 or 7 months along, God suddenly reminded me about my little lie. I soon became consumed with conviction. Every time I would speak to her, I became tongue tied. I would feel sick to my stomach. Each time became harder and harder to look her in the eye. The the dark hours of the night I began crying out to God... begging for His forgiveness. But I couldn't receive a peace! Before long, I knew what I had to do... I had to confess to my mother.

The thought of telling my parents scared me. It was always SO important to me that both of my parents were proud of me. I didn't want to disappoint them. I didn't want them to know that I had let them down. A few more days passed, and the conviction grew stronger and stronger. Finally, I made a trip to their house to confess. I stayed for a couple of hours... trying to come up with the courage to speak, but failed. As I walked to my car that night, the burden overwhelmed me. Never in my life, had I ever felt conviction so strong. I turned around to see my mother walking back toward the house and I called out to her. Immediately I broke down and confessed with tears streaming down my face. "I lied to you." I spent the next few moments bawling my eyes out as I confessed every little detail. Once everything was out in the open, you know what she said? She said... "I've known that all along" It wasn't a big deal to her. What WAS a big deal, was the fact that I felt bad enough to confess after all those years. That night she developed a deeper respect for me. A few months later, Serenity entered into this world.

In hindsight, I can see God's reasoning for my confession. He was preparing me for the long road that laid ahead of me. He was preparing me to be a mighty prayer warrior. Few people truly understand the importance of repentance. Few people truly understand the importance of praying with a pure heart.

"For if our heart condemns us, God is greater than our heart, and knows all things. Beloved, if our heart does not condemn us, we have confidence toward God. And whatever we ask we receive from Him, because we keep His commandments and do those things that are pleasing in His sight." 1 John 3:20-22

In order for us to have the confidence of God answering our prayers we MUST have a guilt free conscious. Now of course, we all make mistakes every day. But there is a HUGE difference in making honest human mistakes and outward blatant sin. There is a difference in slipping up and harboring a hidden sin within your heart. So many people use the excuse... "I'm only human." as a scapegoat to do as they please... not realizing they are hindering God from moving within their lives. We must STRIVE toward Christ-like perfection. We MUST make EVERY effort to become perfect. We will never reach that goal, but we MUST strive toward that goal. A pure heart takes a DAILY effort. "Lord, reveal my faults on this day, so that I can correct them. Then forgive me Lord" With the obvious sins there MUST be a true heart felt repentance. Repentance is more than just asking for forgiveness

Repentance: Turning away from sin by changing one's actions to obey the teachings of Jesus Christ. The repentance process consists of feeling sincere regret or sorrow for doing wrong, confessing the sin(s), asking for forgiveness, making restitution for any damage done, and promising not to repeat the sin.

Throughout the bible God gives us examples of the importance of repentance, but one in particular has always hit me like a ton of bricks.

"If I regard iniquity in my heart, The Lord will NOT hear. But certainly God has heard me; He has attended to the voice of my prayer. " Psalm 66:18-19

God requires a prayer of repentance before He will even HEAR our other petitions! Therefore, a powerful prayer warrior requires a pure heart.

Before Serenity's birth God was already preparing me to become a worthy prayer warrior. After her birth, we made every effort to remain within God's good standing. I NEVER even DARED to ask God for her healing without first asking for forgiveness. "Lord, if I have knowingly or unknowingly stepped out of your will on this day, Forgive me, that I may come to you with a pure heart." Every time I prayed, I first searched my heart. Once my conscious was clear... then I proceeded with my petitions of healing.

Yes.. God never ceases to amaze me. He goes before us preparing our way.... as long as we are obedient to listen, we can NOT fail. God knew how Serenity's story would end. He planned her healing before MY existence. He knew every detail that would need to fall into place. All the way from placing the Charles Capps book into my hands months before her birth (that helped me understand faith in depth)... to purifying my heart. God planned everything! He KNEW that I had to reveal EVERY hidden sin. If I had not been obedient to the convicting power of the Holy Spirit, I am most certain our story would have turned out differently. I Praise a loving, mighty and Patient God... who never gave up on me!





September 28th, 2009

        Serenity and Eli quickly spotted this moth on our front porch.
   I think I was more intrigued than they were. I've never seen one like it.
                                       It's camouflaged

                         .

                    Eli:  "Mama... that bubberfly shoots deer?" 

  Uh...We might need to cut back on his "Outdoor Channel" privileges. :)




September 29th, 2009


While driving home earlier this week, a Jeremy Camp song came on the radio. I have heard the song a million times over, but for some reason the message suddenly hit me harder than usual. The question arose within my spirit... "Would you take the place of this man? Would you take the nails from His hands?" My first reaction was.... "Of course Lord... I would die for you. I Love you!" I mean it's easy to blurt out those words. It's easy to say I would gladly take His place. My life does not demand such a sacrifice. But then... I really searched my heart.... If the situation arose... If I REALLY had to make the choice... Would I die for my Lord? That's a hard question.

Oh... we think we really know what love is. We think we have it all figured out. But truth is we don't even have a clue. The word says... "Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends." John 15:13 Friends? Christ laid down His life for a world that despised Him. A world that rejected Him. A world that hated Him. He laid down His life for a species of humans not worthy of the dirt that formed them. Christ Loved the unlovable. He was tortured and beaten for a people who spit upon Him. He gave His life so that we might live. Yet most will not even take advantage of His great sacrifice. For most of us... His beating was taken in vain. For most of us NEVER receive it's benefits. Christ died for the ungrateful unbeliever. He didn't have to die. He was GOD! He could have spoke one word to stop the crucifixion. He could have called upon all the angels in heaven to save him. Yet, he even refused to drink the pain numbing solution he was offered. He wanted to feel it all. He wanted to feel all the pain so that we wouldn't have to feel any. He wanted to die for a lowly world. Christ suffered... FOR LOVE!

Earlier I was talking with Serenity and Eli. They have heard Bible stories in Sunday School. They have heard me talking with their older siblings. They know the basic story line of the birth, life, crucifixion and most importantly they know that Jesus is
no longer dead, but
ALIVE. Yet, their little minds can not even fathom the sacrifice Jesus made for them. They do not understand WHY Jesus had to die. Eli... in his loving concerned voice stated.. "Mama, I don't want Jesus to die. I Love Him!" Serenity's world was rocked when she heard the conversation. "Mama, why those people hurt Jesus? Why he falled on that cross. He's my friend." I long for their innocence. I hunger for their devotion. Their pure little hearts Love without condition. Any wonder why Jesus was so fond of the little children... they are the purest example of a Godly heart. They are the closest we will ever come to experiencing the Love of Christ.


I Long for that kind of loyalty. I long for the moment when I would know without hesitation... Just as I know I would trade my life for my children.... I would trade places with my Lord. Daily I will strive for that kind of devotion. I will make every effort for a closer deeper relationship with my Savior. I will search my heart until I am no longer haunted by these questions... Am I REALLY devoted enough to my Savior that I would die for Him? Do I LOVE Him enough to have taken His place on that cross? Daily I will strive until I, myself, KNOW and FEEL the Love of Christ. Because there is coming a day when we may have to face these questions for REAL. What will our decision be?

Take a few minutes and watch the following video. Then ask yourself.... "Would you take the place of this man? Would you take the nails from His hands?



http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UBAhvI0TRDs


 

September 30th, 2009

In an effort to be more cost efficient, we have been making our own laundry soap. This afternoon I began the process by grating a bar of soap.  After I grated the entire bar, I realized that I had forgotten to purchase one of the main ingredients.  So I pushed the plate aside on the counter until I could make a grocery run.  Several hours later, I cooked supper, fed the kids and was in the process of getting everyone ready for church when Tommy arrived home.  From the other room I yelled for him to hurry up and grab a plate because we were running late.  A few minutes later, I heard him say.... "Uh...Honey... how long has this cheese been setting out?"   I stopped and thought for a moment. Cheese?  "Oh No!"  I yelled back... "Don't eat that!"  Fortunately I caught him just in time.  He just laughed and said... "Oh.. I thought it looked kind of hard."  In his defense, the soap is yellow and does look exactly like... well here you take a look....

                   
   
                 

   See what I mean... it's a dead ringer!   All I can see is... It's a good thing he's been nice to me lately or I just might have yelled back.. "Not long, honey.. I just finished grating it."...  And given him a mouth cleaning he would never forget!  Nah... I'm too nice to pull it off... or... Am I?  :)




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