Through the Valley
of
Serenity
Our Family's Miracle Journey
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September 2010




September 2nd, 2010

"I'm running back to your promises one more time.
Lord... that's all I can hold on to!

I gotta say this has taken me by surprise,
but NOTHING surprises YOU!
Before a heartache can ever touch my life...
It HAS to go thru Your hands
And even though I keep asking WHY...
I keep asking WHY....

NO MATTER WHAT... I'm gonna LOVE YOU!"


On July 6th, my world was shaken to the point of complete brokenness.  My older sister, my friend, my confidant, my shoulder to cry on, my encourager, my mentor, (in the eyes of a little sister) my hero... was involved in a fatal car accident and instantly met our Savior. 
The first couple of days were of nothing but sheer shock and questions. WHY?  Desperately seeking my Lord, I poured out my heart and asked my questions. God's love reached down, wiped away my tears and opened my eyes to His revelation.  He was not offended by my need for assurance. He simply gave me the answers I so desperately needed... peace that surpasses ALL understanding and supernatural joy.  He gave me a reason to sing and amazingly turned my mourning into dancing!

"There’s no way I can make it without Your help, I wont even try it. I know You have Your reasons for everything, so I will keep believing,

I came to the conclusion... You either trust God or you don't!  Simple as that! God ALWAYS has our best interest at hand.  We do not know the future.  We do not know what lies ahead.  We do not know our capabilities. Only God knows. For, GOD KNOWS ALL!  I can only taste the very tip of HIS love and yet even the tip is more than I can comprehend.  HIS Love is ENDLESS!!  HIS mercy endures forever.  With every fiber of my being I know God gave my sister as much time on this earth as He could without compromising HER good.

                 "NO MATTER WHAT.... I'LL TRUST YOU!"

After a long night of weeping, God awakened me to the words of the song.. Shout unto God... "The enemy has been defeated... Death couldn't hold you down... We're gonna lift our voice to victory. We're gonna make our Praises loud!"  Then He reminded me of how satan plotted against Jesus.  Oh.. as Jesus was beaten, tortured and murdered, the enemy thought he had won. I'm sure he was laughing with an evil sneer. But little did he know that his very own plot to kill was the very instrument used to defeat him. 
God turned satan's evil plot into his own demise. 
                   

                   The wicked plot against the righteous
                         and gnashes his teeth at them;

                            but the Lord laughs at the wicked,
                       for he knows his day is coming.

                                  Psalm 37:12-13

I know where my sister is... I know that as she walks the streets of gold,  My sister laughs with the Lord.  For the enemy's attempt to destroy her failed miserably!  She's more alive today than ever before.  She's feeling happiness that we can not even imagine.

We may not always understand God's reasoning for allowing circumstances into our lives. But we either Trust Him or we don't.  Once we understand the indefinite amount of His love, we have no other choice but to Trust Him. HE ONLY CONTAINS GOODNESS! Sometimes it's hard for our feeble minds to grasp His reasoning, because we want to look at things with carnal eyes, but God sees the eternal picture. Life on this earth is nothing compared to eternity. I would rather spend one day on earth and have all eternity to laugh, giggle and chat with my sister.  Then spend 100 years with her on this earth, only to part for all eternity.

We will all have moments of questions in this life, but I can promise you one thing... if we truly seek His face, He will always give us the answers we need.  I am able to understand that because of circumstances that I could not foresee.  God reached down and embraced my sister in the perfect, premise, exact moment she needed Him. God's timing is IMPECCABLE!

I've taken the last couple of months to allow God to heal me. I needed Him to mend my heart before I could truly pour it out for the would to see. I trusted Him to piece me back together again.  He is ALWAYS FAITHFUL! Although I miss her passionately, God's Grace once again carries me. I seek His presence often and bask within His peace.  "Within His presence there is fullness of joy", I understand this better now than ever before and it's that supernatural joy that is constantly keeping in awe of His magnificence.

                         "Whatever I might be feeling,
         God You are my Hope, and You will be my strength!"

         No matter what... I’m gonna love you, I’m gonna need you, 
                           No matter what.... I’ll trust you,                     
   No matter, No matter, No matter what!


                                           




September 3rd, 2010


          Well... School started while I was on my journal hiatus. 

                         
Noah is officially a sixth grader.  I can hardly believe it! They are all growing WAY too fast! Kayleigh is styling the halls as a big fourth grader and Gracee is embracing the second grade with open arms.  This mama is wishing time would SLOW down. 

If that wasn't sad enough.  Eli is officially old enough for big boy pre-school.  :(  I know... I cried.  However... getting him to go was not as simple as it sounds.  Eli has always been a shy Mama's boy.  When approached in public, he would duck his head behind his mama, blush and grin that bashful little grin.  He has never been one to really like trying new or exciting things.  He would just as well stay home, play games on the computer, watch cartoons, irritate his siblings, wrestle with his dad or sit in the rocking chair with his Mommy.  That is just Eli. 

Well.... after my sister's accident.  His shy, clingy behavior MAGNIFIED by about 100 fold.  He suddenly developed an overwhelming fear of losing me.  He went from liking to snuggle with his mom on occasion to not letting me out of his sight AT ALL.  He went from LOVING children's church to refusing to go at ALL.  He went from LOVING to play with his cousin Talynn to denying any playtime AT ALL!  He would cry and scream every time ANY of the above was even mentioned. He would not leave my side for ANYTHING!

At first I tried giving him more attention.  I would do special things JUST for him.  I would snuggle him and just spend good quality time with him. That only made things worse.  I came to the conclusion that it was just like falling off a horse.  Yes.. he had a justifiable reason for being afraid, but if he didn't get right back on immediately, he never would again.  I knew that I had to separate myself from him.  I was going to have to toughen up and be the bad guy for awhile.  So one Wednesday night I made him go to children's church.  He cried and He screamed.  He hit the walls and kicked his feet.  I walked away. (in tears myself)  My brother's wife ( the children's church leader) whom he LOVES, tried to calm him down.  She hugged him, talked to him, even BRIBED him... Nothing.  After about 15 minutes or so,  My Dad stepped in.  His Papa had to physically hold him down.  Eli continued to scream for about an hour until he literally made himself sick. Then, Finally he broke.  He sobbed while snuggling his Papa for while. After church he ran right straight back to my side.  

At this point I was REALLY beginning to worry about my son! I was at my wits end. Nothing we tried was working. He continued to stick to me like glue. If he even heard that I MIGHT be leaving, he would start crying... "Mommy don't leave me."  So I did the only thing I knew to do.  I had everyone I trust praying for him. As school started to approach, I began to consider keeping him home another year.  I didn't want to deprive him of that learning time but I honestly didn't think he was going to be able to go.  So I just prayed for God's will.  When it came time to enroll him, I went ahead and paid his first month's tuition.  Then I just trusted God. 

Literally THE NIGHT BEFORE school starts... Eli walks into my bedroom..."Mom, I'm going to sleep with Noah tonight."  "WHAT?" I shook my head in disbelief.  His entire life he had always refused to sleep anywhere except right smack in the middle of his dad and myself.  I asked again..."What did you say?"  He happily replied..."I'm gonna sleep with Noah.  We are both big boys now."  "Umm... Okay Sweetie. Have a good night."  After he left I patiently waited for him to sneak back into our room. I fell asleep waiting.

The next morning he was ready to go to school.  He only goes half of a day.  So I spent all morning listening to him ask..."Is it time to go to school yet? What time is it now? What time is it now?"

              Finally... it came time to go.  He was ALL smiles.
                 
         He was in SUCH a good mood... Making silly faces...

                 
                                      
and acting goofy!
        
                                              LOL...
We pulled up to the school.  We walked up. He sat down with the rest of his class... gave me a kiss... smiled... and said..."Bye Mom."  That was it. He thoroughly enjoyed his first day at school.  That evening he stepped up next to the pulpit in church and started telling the entire congregation about his wonderful day. Then he happily ran down through the aisles and headed to children's church.  There was not a closed mouth in the place.  Everyone was completely amazed at the 180 degree miracle turn in our little Eli and the fact that it literally happened OVERNIGHT! God is soooo very Good!

He is now a confident, outgoing little boy.  He's not afraid to speak in public or do big boy things. On the third day of school, as we were getting out of the car, he looked around for unsuspecting eyes, then quietly asked..."Mom, could you kiss me NOW?"  After our secret kiss, we walked toward the school and he added..."Oh and Can Noah pick me up today?"   A week later, I told everyone at church how much I appreciate all their prayers for Eli.  Prayer is a powerful thing and it has accomplished far and beyond what we could have hoped to expect, but.... PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE pray for ME now... Cause I'm missing my little boy!  :)



September 4th, 2010

            Here is Eli passing the time before school one day....

              
     Lil Rose loves to snuggle him while they watch cartoons together!





September 10th 2010

The one thing I've learned through the many trials in my life is.... No matter what the circumstances, We MUST remain with a heart of Praise and Worship!!  God commands it throughout the Bible.

1 Thessalonians 5:16-22 says
"Rejoice always, pray without ceasing,  in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. Do not quench the Spirit. Do not despise prophecies. Test all things; hold fast what is good.  Abstain from every form of evil."
Now I do not think that it's a coincidence that "Do not quench the Spirit" immediately follows, "In everything give thanks"  Everything God commands has a purpose and that purpose is ALWAYS for OUR benefit. God does not command us to be thankful and praise Him for HIS sake but for our own.  When we grumble and complain through circumstances or remain in an attitude of ungratefulness, we literally quench His Spirit and in turn are actually CHOOSING to exclude God's presence.
We are to set ourselves apart from the evil in this world.  We are to think on the things of Philippians 4:8.

Ephesians 5:17-20 tells us to walk in wisdom
"Therefore do not be unwise, but understand what the will of the Lord is.  And do not be drunk with wine, in which is dissipation; but be filled with the Spirit, speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord, giving thanks always for all things to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ"
It is WISE to walk with a praise filled heart.  It is WISE to be filled with His Spirit and therefore allow His Spirit to spew from your heart, out of your mouth with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs.  It is WISE to Offer Him Praise in ALL things!  Why?  Not for HIS benefit but for our own!

The word tells us that God inhabits the praises of His people and
Psalm 97:5 says..
       "The mountains melt like wax at the presence of the LORD."
When we enter a situation with an attitude of Praise and Worship our mountains literally melt like wax.  All that heaviness, heartache, uncertainty, fear, trouble, depression, worry... it just fades away.  I have truly experienced this first hand, especially over the last couple of months.  Whenever I feel depression starting to creep in, I immediately turn on some worship music.  I begin to lift my hands and suddenly my heart begins to rejoice and my troubles just fade.  I am taken away by an unexplainable supernatural joy.  I have found new meaning in Psalm 16:11
"You will show me the path of life; In Your presence is fullness of joy; At Your right hand are pleasures forevermore"
When we choose our attitude for the day, We literally choose to either walk in the path of life and light or take the road of death and darkness. 

We usher the presence of God into our lives through our Praise and Worship and in His presence is PURE joy.  The kind of joy that doesn't dissolve because of circumstances.  I find myself, weightless, smiling, even laughing, beyond reasoning.  Only God's presence can truly give us joy.  This world only offers a cheap imitation... a knock off of the real thing if you will.

Plain and simply put... When we grumble or complain, we are not completely surrendering our circumstances into the Hands of God.  If we are not surrendering... then we are NOT trusting... If we are not trusting... then we are NOT walking in Faith.  If we are NOT truly walking in Faith, we are choosing to exclude God from life's issues. Without Faith it is impossible to please God!

We must Praise God in ALL things!  We must walk with a grateful heart!  For no matter what this life brings... He is ALWAYS worthy to be Praised!  He ALWAYS has our best interest in hand, even when our carnal minds can not comprehend His reasoning, We have a reason to rejoice!  For He has promised to turn ALL things around for the GOOD of those who love Him and are called according to His purpose (Romans 8:28)!  God ONLY contains GOODNESS and you either trust Him or you don't!  Those who Truly KNOW Him, LOVE HIM and those who LOVE Him, TRUST Him and those who TRUST Him, will lift their hands and PRAISE Him in ALL things! 

"Serve the LORD with gladness; Come before His presence with singing" Psalm 100:2

 
"Repent therefore and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, so that times of Refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord."
Acts 3:19



September 12th, 2010

It's that time of year again! Kayleigh cheered her first football game of the season yesterday.
         
LOL... I think the sun was in her eyes.  She really is a very peppy cheerleader. She was sooo excited about her game.  She practices every day... so much in fact that the toddlers can recite most of her cheers from start to finish. Serenity actually put on quite a pep rally for some random strangers in the grocery store. :) She's so funny... completely fearless. Yesterday, she managed to keep the cheers to herself.  However, she was FAR from quite. She just decided to put her energy toward something more productive. 
                    She tried out her talent as a Spokesman!
               
                          Yep! She's quite the little model!
                    Makes you wanna drink some, doesn't it? 
      Gatorade we anticipate a call before your next commercial. :)
                   



September 14th, 2010

Today was an extremely hard day for me.  September 14th is the day my beautiful sister entered into this world.  Normally I would have called her up and declared..."Happy 24th anniversary of your 18th birthday Tam!"...completely avoiding the REAL numbers because she hated turning another year older.  Not really sure why she hated it so much because she NEVER looked her age anyway. 

      
Normally I would have bought her some roses and picked out some silly musical card.  I would have teased her about being another year older. Then playfully reminded her that I will always be ten years younger. :) I would have wrapped my arms around her neck and said..."Happy Birthday Tami! I love you!" Normally this day would have zoomed by.  I know for my sister the past 24 hours were just a blink of her eye, but for me and those who love her, it felt like an eternity. 

God's Grace is the only reason I'm making it.  I can feel literally feel Him carrying me.  I wish I could fully describe the feeling in words but no words can truly do Him justice.  It's an unexplainable joy that makes me laugh without reason. It's a peace that surpasses all understanding that suddenly sweeps over me. It's a reason to sing when I feel like mourning.  There are days when I don't think I'm going to make it... when the pain seems so real I just want to curl up somewhere and forfeit this great race.  But then I cry out to Him... Praise Him for simply who He is and He always shows up!  I look around and I'm completely amazed by God's amazing Grace working throughout our family.  My sister left behind three beautiful children...
                   
They didn't have any ordinary mother/child relationship.  Tami's kids were her entire world.  They were EXTREMELY close.  The harsh reality of this world SHOULD be that they are now broken without repair. By the standards this world has to offer, her children SHOULD be devastated to the point they can no longer function and no one would blame them if they completely fell apart!  Yet... I am completely amazed by their strength.  They miss her daily. I'm sure they cry often, but I rarely see it. They walk through this life with beautiful smiling faces.  They've embraced their new home and are adjusting very well. This deep deep valley has caused them to draw closer to God. I am sooo very proud of my nieces and nephew.  I know God's presence surrounds them. They are happy... not happy in the way they once were... but happy all the same. Only God can produce THAT kind of healing... ONLY GOD!

I too have drawn closer to God.  I'm only as strong as I allow God to make me and lately I have desperately needed His strength.  So I'm constantly seeking His face.. longing for His embrace.  The closer I get to Him, the more of an urgency I feel.
With every ounce of my spirit, I feel that our time on this earth is very short. The more I seek Him, the more I feel it. We are running out of time to reach the lost! I know that our entire family will be together VERY soon... I FEEL it sooo very strong! Right now as much as I hurt, my focus is on reaching others. So many are casually going through life & they don't see it. So many are lukewarm & refuse to get serious! So many are completely blinded. They think they're okay, but they're producing the wrong kind of fruit.  They are showing the characterisics of 2 Timothy 3 and they don't even know their wrong.  If they don't see it, how will they know to repent?  This has shaken my very core.  We are in a time of Great Deception....only those with a deep intimate relationship with Jesus will make it. We are in the final moments of the last days. No one will be exempt from the great deception in the last days. The word says..."even the elect will be deceived if possible." We must be so careful to not open a door to the enemy.  We must be very careful and be led ONLY by the Holy Spirit Himself. Each day, I seek God. Every day, I check my heart..."Lord reveal my faults, reveal my weaknesses, so that I may be strong in you!" Every day, I struggle to be obedient. I don't always understand why He leads me a certain way. I have suffered persecution because of it... to the point where I feel like I'm drowning, but I struggle to be obedient because I KNOW IT'S SOON! I refuse to take the chance of NOT being ready! This world is only for a season & I can feel the winds a changing!
I miss my sister dearly. I am broken without her, but I praise God every day for putting the pieces back together. I praise Him for surrounding me in His light, so all darkness is revealed! God is showing new revelations daily and I'm so very humbled by them. I praise Him for preparing my heart. I praise Him for the Grace that carries me daily. The day is coming soon! The closer I draw to God the more I feel it!
Until then I will continue to run this race full force! I will make the most of my time on this earth.  I will do my best to bring as many souls as I can with me. Then along with the rest of our family, we will put away earthly birth dates that no longer have meaning and forever celebrate our Spiritual Birth with our loving Savior! Oh what a GLORIOUS day that will be!!

                             Forever I will love my sister,
           
                      
But soon I will miss her no longer. 

t


September 15th, 2010

In honor of my sister's birthday, My mother, my nieces, the toddlers and myself spent yesterday afternoon shopping.  It was wonderful to spend such quality family time. We all needed the day out for sure. It helped to keep our minds occupied with HAPPY thoughts.  Since Tami absolutely LOVED shopping and ADORED family time,  it seemed quite obvious that we should spend her birthday, together shopping.  So that's what we did!

Of course when you're out shopping with several teenage girls, you get to browse through a lot of young and hip stores.  I saw styles I didn't even know existed! Good news is I liked most of them (except jeans with holes...such a waste) Bad news is I don't think they liked me! :)

I'm a girlie girl. So of course my favorite part was all the new BLING rage. I saw shirts with bling, skinny jeans with bling, hats with bling, purses with bling, belts with bling.  Everything is sparkly pretty. I was LOVIN it!  I just couldn't help myself... I went Bling Crazy!

While strutting my stuff... Serenity blurts out...
"Wow Mom!  You look like a ROCKSTAR!"

A smile beams across my face... Yeah I'm hip... I'm young... I'm lovin' it!
Then she finishes her statement...

"An old, chubby Rockstar Mommy!"

LOL... Ummm... maybe from now on I'll stick to the less hip and more age appropriate section.... Naaaahhh! What fun is that? :)

Thank God for the honesty of children! I SO needed that laugh!



September 19th, 2010

We have been fighting a nasty cold/flu bug at the Burk household.  Lots of congestion, headaches, some fever and just plain YUCKINESS!  I hate fighting sickness. I hate fighting period.  So it's a good thing I have my sword (Hebrews 4:12) and the certainty that the battle has already been won (Psalm 107:20).  When you feel really icky it's so comforting to know you serve an AWESOME, LOVING and POWERFUL Savior!

Anyway, the word says to spread the Gospel, NOT our cooties.  So in effort to contain that nasty cold bug, we spent a couple of days resting at home. At first all was quiet, since most family members were recuperating by sleeping the bug away.  Then toward the end of the day, it was very obvious that most were starting to feel normal again. How do I know this?  Only healthy kids suffer from cabin fever.  They were getting stir crazy and feeling quite bored. 
              Now boredom can make people do some crazy things...

      
   Like allowing your sisters to use you as their own personal Barbie Doll.
                    Poor Eli.  He thought it was funny at first. 
                             Until He looked into the mirror.

                  
                                          Then it was...
           "NO! I don't wanna be a girl! I don't wanna be a girl!"
           After that scare, he decided to do his own costume design!
                                    This is his Pirate look...
                 
     First time I had ever seen a Thomas the Tank PIRATE theme.
          I guess he wasn't happy with his underwear pirate.
           Because he came back with shark swimming trunks...

          
                                         "ARRRRRG!"
                  I CRACK UP every time I look at this picture!
                                Gotta LOVE that face! :0



September 20th, 2010
 

What happens when u combine a badly placed smoke detector, kids who LOVE to burn toast, and 1 toddler who thinks it's hilarious to crank up the heat on Mommy's stove burner while she's not looking?

Give up?

You get 2 toddlers who think the correct procedure for a fire alarm is standing directly under a smoke detector while waving a spatula!


SERIOUSLY... They do that!

Funny... Yet SCARY!  Think it's time for a household fire drill!






September 24th, 2010

We are blessed... especially Noah!  Besides getting the baby brother he asked for (which came as a BIG surprise to Mommy & Daddy), or the brand new bike down to the very color he wanted, (which someone just anonymously left on our doorstep), Noah has been blessed with yet ANOTHER answer to prayer...

             
                              A Brand New 4 Wheeler! 

  No one knew he had been praying for one, but God knew!  After he confessed he had been secretly praying, I said... "Wow Noah... God must REALLY love you!"  Happily he blurted out... "I know... I just keep praying and I get what I want." Oh... the power of having faith as a child! :)

 I explained to Noah that God always wants to bless us with the desires of our heart, as long as they don't interfere with the main desire of HIS heart, which is our deep and loving relationship with Him. As long as we continue to seek HIM... love Him... worship Him... Serve Him...and BELIEVE HIM, no matter what our eyes my see, those blessings will literally overtake us! We are His children and He loves us ALL and Because of that Love combined with our faith & obedience, WE ARE BLESSED.... a lesson I'm proud to say my son is LOVING to learn!

           
               Uh... we might have a slight weight/occupancy issue. 
     I think someone needs to think about praying for one of their own. :)
 
                FYI:  Just so you know, There's No need to be concerned.
                          When we take the 4 wheeler out to the land to ride,
            We don't actually ride like this and when we do ride it's with a helmet!



September 25th, 2010

As I rock my little miracle, I am so grateful for the blood that was shed for me! I pray I truly appreciate it's worth! I pray I walk within its FULL benefit, So that not a drop of His precious blood was shed in vain! From the stripes that brought forth healing, the blood covered brow that broke the curse of poverty, to the blood that provides my forgiveness, so that I can forgive others, Jesus thank you for your blood!


Understanding the sacrifice and truly appreciating the blood that was shed for us all, is a key factor to receiving all that Christ accomplished. For once we truly appreciate His blood, there is no limit to the abilities of our faith. We become sincerely devoted servants of Christ.  We become true disciples.  Our hearts long to repay a debt that could NEVER be repaid. So we strive daily to love, serve and praise Him no matter what this life brings!

Just as the parable of the unappreciative servant that Jesus tells in Matthew 18.  We must truly appreciate the kindness and mercy that is shown to us. When the servant pleaded to his master to be forgiven of a tremendous debt, the master found compassion upon him and forgave his debt.  Yet when the servant was owed a much smaller debt he was not so forgiving. Why? Because he did not appreciate what was accomplished for him.  So therefore the master threw him to the tormentors until the day that he could repay his debt. We must forgive to be forgiven and we can't forgive if we don't truly appreciate His love and mercy!

 Jesus paid a debt that we could NEVER pay.  Every drop of his blood was shed for a reason.  Every ounce He lost had a purpose.  Every pain endured was strictly for our benefit!  I know that our Heavenly Father did not allow Jesus to endure even a scratch more than He HAD to in order to provide our redemption.  He suffered and died for a REASON! He suffered and died for US.  So what we must ask ourselves is...
"Do I truly appreciate the blood that was shed for ME?" 


I pray I truly appreciate it's worth! I pray I walk within its FULL benefit, So that not a drop of His precious blood was shed in vain! From the stripes that brought forth healing, the blood covered brow that broke the curse of poverty, to the blood that provides my forgiveness, so that I can forgive others, Jesus thank you for your blood!





 

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