Sunday, April 3, 2016

More from the Weekend Parenting Conference

Last night I shared some of the ideas communicated by Dr. John Street at the parenting conference our church hosted this weekend.  I cut it short as I was bleary-eyed and needed some shut eye, but I have more things I want to share here on the blog.  What I share will be a hodgepodge of various nuggets of wisdom from my conference notes.  In this post I am primarily sharing notes on the topic of wisdom versus foolishness.  Please forgive any typos as I'm pretty much cutting and pasting a bunch of stuff from what I typed during the conference.  Hopefully something I share here will be encouraging to my readers.  I know many of these truths were refreshing for me to hear and pray about this weekend.

Proverbs 4:3 says, “When I was a son with my father, tender, the only one in the sight of my mother, he taught me and said to me, Let your heart hold fast my words keep my commandments and live.  Get wisdom; get insight; do not forget, and do not turn away from the words of my mouth.”  

Your children do not naturally go after wise things!  This is not naturally in keeping with their nature.  They have to be instructed and you’re the one to do that.  This culture is ruled by self definition.  Everything is self defined today.  Children need to say, “I don’t define myself.  God defines me.”   We do not want to raise foolish children.  

Our psychologized culture says a foolish child: 

*Is a slave to close-minded principles, the child must be free to self-expression! 

*Is not educated in all world-view systems and does not accept each as equally valid! 

*Is limited by authoritative structures! 

Proverbs 1:22 has a description of three stages a child will go through in becoming thoroughly foolish!  

*Open minded/without discernment/Naive
*Scoffer: Thinks high of his own opinions/A know it all (Psalm 2:4)
*Fool: Believes restrictions are bad/ “I am a law unto myself.”  

This is oftentimes our children.  How do you deal with children like this?  Wisdom and knowledge begin with the fear of the Lord.  

Proverbs 1:7 “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction.” 
Proverbs 1:29 “Because they hated knowledge and did not choose the fear of the Lord, would have none of my counsel and despised all my reproof, therefore they shall eat the fruit of their way, and have their fill of their own devices.” 

The child has to choose the fear of the Lord before they can become wise.  They have to daily choose to obey God over their natural inclinations.  A child who is respectful of the Word of God and humble and teachable will live a secure, confidant life.  This is a truly wise child, and it begins with the choice they make to fear the Lord.  Teach your children that fearing the Lord is a choice they make daily when they choose obedience to God over their natural desires.  It is a dangerous sin before God to belittle godly counsel.  
One type of fool is thickheaded and stubborn.  This comes from a heart given over to laziness.  Another type of fool lacks spiritual perception……the Hebrew word Nabal.  A third type is arrogant, having dangerously high self-esteem.  (self-love, self-esteem, self-focused) This fool will belittle godly wisdom, counsel and discipline.  Like walking off the top of building your child will eventually suffer the consequences of this.  Warn your child about the appeal of the wicked life.  Wicked living will always carry a sheen of alluring excitement.  (1:11-14) A person who is genuinely wise thinks about long term consequences and what this behavior is going to do.  But God has designed it so that the wicked will never ultimately be able to enjoy their spoils. (1:15-19) Evil and sinfulness has a boomerang effect.  Crime doesn’t pay in a God created world.  Children need to understand that is the way God has designed life.  Spurned wisdom will haunt the child that rejects it. (1:24-32)  God will mock those who mock His truth.  A parent cannot force child to walk in righteousness, but the parent can sure warn the child of the consequences of sin.  

 “Disaster pursues sinners.” - Proverbs 13:21

 If our children will devote themselves to godly counsel there will be an attractiveness to their lives.  God’s grace will be evident in their lives.   

“But whoever listens to me will dwell secure and will be at ease, without dread of disaster.” - Proverbs 1:33

A godly heart and godly disciplines begin in childhood.  

Saturday, April 2, 2016

Parenting Conference

This weekend our church hosted a parenting conference with John and Janie Street from the Master's Seminary in California.  I took extensive notes and thought I would share some of the content here on the blog.  I am just going to share some various thoughts on different subjects as there were so many great things shared!

Parenting in the 21st century presents new challenges.....our children are faced with ideas and choices we never had to make at such young ages.  As parents it is imperative that we view the Scripture not as one of the answers out there but as THE ANSWER!

On the topic of how young can a child be saved this quote was shared: "A child who knowingly sins can savingly believe." - Charles Spurgeon

A common form of parenting in our post modern culture is that of lots and lots of instruction and very little structural parameters.  An example of this is saying to your child, "When you do that you make Mommy unhappy" without giving a consequence.  The child likely does not care if Mommy is unhappy......he just wants his own way.  If a parent only gives verbal input without consequences the child will be left to go according to his or her own sinful nature.  This kind of home is a permissive home and brings harm to the whole family.

"Discipline your son and he will give you rest.  He will give delight to your heart." - Proverbs 29:17

The opposite of the permissive home is a more dictatorial home where there are many structural parameters and instruction, but there is not a lot of heart connection where parents disciple and explain the why behind the rules.  It is more of a police state home where parents are like cops looking for any infraction of the law.  This kind of heavy handed leadership without relationship is also very dangerous.

What should be happening in the christian home?  

We can help our child exegete their own heart.

Proverbs 29:15 “  The rod and reproof give wisdom, but a child left to himself brings shame to his mother.”  

What desire made you willing to disobey God in………?
Was that desire godly or ungodly?
What does the Bible call that?  
What do you need to do? 
Admit your sin and ask for forgiveness.  
What did you do wrong?  

It is much easier to be a behavioristic parent and say, “STOP.”  These mundane moments are the most teachable moments in our parenting.  Buy up these opportunities.  Help your children exegete their own hearts.  

Well, that is just a sample of pages and pages of notes I took.  It was a blessing to attend a parenting conference and be reminded of some foundational principles to parenting according to the Word of God.  

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Resurrection Sunday, Birthday and Baptism

This picture was taken of my first son Gabriel back in 2003.  This little man stole my heart when he was born thirteen years ago.  To be honest when I found out I was having a boy I was scared.  I have always been such a girly girl and did not know if I could be a good Mama to a boy.  While I was still pregnant the Lord encouraged me with this verse.  

"Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us." - Ephesians 3:20

I was doing a Bible study,  and when I came across that verse I felt the Lord was reassuring me that having a son was going to be far more wonderful than I could imagine.  

When Gabriel was born I instantly fell head over heals in love with my little man.  It was so fun to dress him up in little ties and suspenders for church and to experience the sweet affection he has always displayed for his Mama.  I quickly learned how to get excited about trains, tractors, and bulldozers.  

Time has flown and thirteen years later I find myself still very much in love with my precious son.  He is quickly changing from a boy into a young man, and there is still a very sweet connection I enjoy with my son.  He tells me often that he loves me and seeks to step in and help me with things.  He has always had such sweet ways of making his Mama feel loved.  

Years ago Gabriel prayed that the Lord Jesus would save him, but he was not baptized for five years.  It has been an interesting journey watching this play out.  At the time that he prayed to be saved we were attending a Presbyterian church, and we were not quite sure what to do about his baptism.  We loved the church but our views on baptism were a bit different.  

Then we joined a church where children were not baptized until at least the age of twelve.  This was to give time to make sure they knew what they were doing and that there was fruit as an evidence of their profession of faith.  Then just about the time he was turning twelve we ended up leaving that church.  

Over the past year we have been settling into a new church, and we were not comfortable jumping straight into baptism.  

Well, just a little over a week before Resurrection Sunday Gabriel came to me and asked if he could be baptized on Easter Sunday which happened to also be his thirteenth birthday!  He told me he thought it would be a very special day to be baptized.  I asked him why he all of a sudden was bringing up baptism.  Gabriel told me that he had heard our pastor teaching about how once you have believed and trusted in Christ that you need to be baptized.  He wanted to take that step and do what he should do.  We talked about how being baptized is identifying publicly with Christ.  I think it is inborn in human beings to want to identify with something and thus we have the tattoo craze in our culture.  People are looking for something to identify themselves with, but in Jesus our identity is wrapped up in Him.  We do not need a tattoo to give us a sense of significance.  When we follow Christ in baptism we are proclaiming the greatness of what He has done in our hearts and our desire to follow Him and be identified as a Christ follower.  That is all the identity we will ever need!  
My husband was able to set up a meeting with our pastor, and a last minute baptism was scheduled!  We are grateful for Gabriel's desire to publicly make known his profession of faith and walk in obedience to Christ in baptism.  Praise the Lord!  

I feel blessed to be the Mama of this young man, and I look forward to seeing what the Lord does in his heart and life as he enters this new season of young manhood.  On his birthday I wrote him a note and shared this verse with him.  

"Let no one despise you for your youth, but set the believers an example in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity." - I Timothy 4:12  

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Heroes of the Faith and Cultivating Vision in Our Children

 In my last post I mentioned several saints who have recently graduated to their eternal home in heaven.  Their pilgrimages through this earthly life have ended, and they have left inspiring legacies behind them.  I also asked the question, “Who will be the next heroes of the faith?”  Who will step into the shoes of those faithful saints who are finishing the good fight?  
  I would like to follow up that question with naming a few men and women who I feel are currently engaged in the battle.  These people  have run the race faithfully for a long period of time and have demonstrated long term faithfulness.  Having grown up in a christian home and having been involved in christian circles my entire life I have unfortunately seen many examples of christian leaders who started the race well yet did not finish well.  I am encouraged by those men and women who have stood faithful over the stretch of time.  
  Once of these men would have to be John MacArthur.  I remember growing up in a home where Christian radio was played daily and the ministry and teaching of John MacArthur filled our home on a regular basis.  My pastor father was influenced by the preaching of John MacArthur and it was a regular thing to hear the Grace to You broadcast playing in our home.  I appreciate the fact that John MacArthur relies on the sufficiency of Scripture as enough in his teaching.  He does not fall into the notion of thinking he needs to entertain people in his books or teaching.  He just simply explains the Word of God progressing verse by verse in an expository style and with no apology for remaining true to the Word of God.  He does not water down or sugar coat the Word of God.  He just simply explains it verse by verse and trusts the Spirit of God to speak to people through it.  In a day when many pastors are using gimmicks to draw in crowds I really appreciate this approach to trusting the sufficiency of God’s Word as being totally and completely sufficient.  I also appreciate that John MacArthur has lived a life above reproach and has led by example and not by words alone.  

  Another Bible teacher I highly respect is Nancy DeMoss Wolgemouth.  Years ago I found myself a young wife and Mama in need of encouragement and longing for wisdom from an older godly lady.  I began praying, “Lord, please send an older woman to me to encourage me in how to do this job of wife/mother that you have called me to.”  As I waited no such lady appeared on my doorstep, but I found myself tuning into the ministry of Revive Our Hearts (  more and more frequently.  As I heard Nancy teaching the Lord was breaking me in some areas and convicting me of areas in my life where I needed to surrender more to Him.  Around that time I was able to attend a conference at Houston’s First Baptist where Nancy was teaching.  I remember sitting there and bawling as the Lord was working in my heart, convicting me, and drawing me closer to Himself.  That was about eight years ago now, and I am still listening to and being encouraged by the Bible teaching of Nancy DeMoss Wolgemouth.  At some point along the way I realized that the Lord sometimes answers our prayers in different ways than we had in mind.  He did not actually send me a Titus 2 mentor in the flesh but provided that mentorship to me through the radio teaching of Nancy on Revive Our Hearts.  If you have not tapped into the blessings of this teaching ministry I would encourage you to look it up online or download the app for Revive Our Hearts on your phone.  I respect Nancy so much, because she has lived a life of faithful devotion to Christ and to ministry.   She is focused on the Word of God as the core of her life, teaching, writing, and ministry.  Her teaching is not based on emotion but rather rooted firmly in the Word of God.  That is a refreshing message in today's culture.  

  Another ginormous hero of the faith in my eyes is Joni Ereckson Tada.  She has been an inspiration to me since my childhood.  I remember listening to her early musical recordings on the old fashioned vinyl records…o.k. I am dating myself now!  If you are not familiar with the life story of Joni I would encourage you to read her autobiography. The  basic overview is that she broke her neck in a diving accident when she was eighteen years old and has lived life as a quadriplegic ever since.  She has lived for decades now serving the Lord, singing beautifully, creating beautiful artwork with a  paintbrush between her teeth, writing books, and speaking to crowds about the faithfulness of God.  The thing about Joni is that she has a contagious spark and joy about her; she beautifully adorns the gospel of her Lord Jesus Christ even in the midst of great suffering.   In addition to these things she has a ministry called Joni and Friends that takes wheel chairs and Bibles to needy people around the world meeting practical needs while sharing the great love of Jesus.  A couple of years ago my children and I were blessed to be able to tour her ministry headquarters and meet her in her office.  At that time she sang “Amazing Grace” with us, read the Scripture with us, showed us her art studio, and blessed us immensely.   I was on cloud nine and feel it was one of the highlights of my life.  I was so excited that my children were able to meet such a great hero of the faith.  

  There are others of course……..these are three people who have impacted me greatly, but I am also thankful for so many others who are using their energies and lives to point people to the Gospel and to the Lord and His ways.  
  It is vitally important to me that my children grow up knowing that they were put here on this earth at this time "For such a time as this." - Esther 4:14  I pray for a kingdom minded vision for our family.  I pray that we will not be worldly minded but that we will understand the seriousness of the times we live in and live not for ourselves but to spread the Lord's kingdom and His righteousness.  I talk to my children and pray with them often about these things.  
  One way that we have chosen to prayerfully try to cultivate this world view of serving the Lord, serving others in need, displaying His glory, and living intentionally for the glory of God is by using resources that open our eyes to the lives of men and women who have lived and served well.   Below I am listing some resources we have found helpful in building vision in our home for how we can serve Christ and live with a missional perspective wherever He has us.  

We have a large collection of Torchlighter videos.  They are animated movies telling the life stories of great men and women of God.  Here is a clip from the story of Jim Elliot.

This is just a sample of some of the kinds of resources we use in our home to teach our children about serving the Lord, living for His glory, and spreading His Gospel.  We want these kinds of men and women to be their heroes.   Our culture is chronically consumed with media and pop culture idols but we want different kinds of heroes for our children.  We want them to see that a true hero is someone who lives out his calling in obedience to the Word of God and to the glory of God.  There are many other great resources but these are a few we enjoy.  

As I reflect upon the lives of great saints from previous generations, who have finished their course well, I feel a burden that it is time for younger generations need to step up and live purposely in our generation.  It is my hearts desire to raise my children with such a mindset.  We were not put here to live the status quo.  As christians we are here for a purpose, and that purpose is to glorify the Lord Jesus and to share His Gospel with a hurting world.  Let's shine brightly!  

"Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil."  - Eph 5:15-16

"Let no one despise you for your youth, but set the believers an example in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity."  - I Timothy 4:12

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Who Will the Next Heroes of the Faith Be?

  I have been thinking about something the last couple of days.  I'm asking myself who will fill the shoes of men and women who have run their race well and are graduating on to heaven.  It seems to me like the Lord has been calling several of His great saints to their eternal home over the past year.  I think of the death of Elisabeth Elliot who went home to glory last year.  This lady has impacted me since my girlhood.  I grew up hearing about her work with the Auca Indians who murdered her first husband, Jim Elliot.

  I had the privilege of seeing her speak at Houston's First Baptist when I was a young lady.  I remember hearing her on our local christian radio station during my formative years.  She would always remind her radio listeners that, 

"You are loved with an everlasting love, that’s what the Bible says, and underneath are the everlasting arms." Elisabeth Elliot

  Elisabeth Elliot is one of the godly LADIES who impacted me to desire to be a Biblical woman.  Her frank proclamation of the truth without compromise was unique.  I look around me and sadly do not see too many Elisabeth Elliots in today's christian culture.  

  At the close of last year news came out that Vonette Bright, who co-founded Campus Crusade for Christ with her husband, Bill, in 1951,  died from complications of acute leukemia.  She was 89.  While I was not personally as impacted by the life of Vonette I am aware that she was a woman with a vision for the kingdom of God.  Her life impacted many for Christ and she remained faithful to the end.  What a lovely example of a woman fully devoted to her Lord and Savior and living for His kingdom purposes.  
  As I think of saints who have passed to glory I also think about the many who have proclaimed Christ and taught His Word but who have not finished the race well.  Growing up in a pastor's home and being familiar with the evangelical and homeschool landscapes I have been devastated time and again by men whom I respected who fell hard off the pedestals I had put them on.  There has been a huge lesson for me in this.  The lesson is that I can learn from others, but "On Christ the solid rock I stand.  All other ground is sinking sand."  May I never hold up any author or teacher with such awe and respect that I put my hope in their teaching rather than in knowing Christ and seeking His face.  
  Just this past week news broke out about two more men of God passing away.  Jerry Bridges and Gary Smalley went home to their Lord.  Gary Smalley's death hit me in a personal way, because when Matt and I were preparing for marriage we watched a video series where Smalley taught about marriage.  It was an exciting time of listening to him and anticipating the marriage the Lord was preparing us for.  

  A few years back Matt and I went to an event in Houston with Gary Smalley.  During the break we were surprised to walk right past him in the back of the room.  We stopped and shared with him how we had watched his videos while preparing for marriage.  He was very personable and kind towards us.  Now that he has gone to be with the Lord I treasure that we were able to have that opportunity to talk with him.  

  So back to the question that has been going around in my head lately.  Who will fill the place of the men and women who have run their race, served Christ and are graduating to heaven.  I can think of several more that might not be on this earth too much longer.  

  Our culture has degraded itself morally and is becoming darker all the time.  We need men to rise up and lead their families and spread Christ and His gospel in their places of work.  We need women to be godly ladies and not women who buy into the lies of the culture.  Our children and future generations deserve for those of us who are older to rise up and be strong leaders for Christ.  I look around and wonder who God will use in the macro scale. Who will be on the platforms proclaiming His truths in the years to come?  Will those proclaimers be faithful unto death......even if it eventually means persecution?  I also am acutely aware that we don't have to be on a platform to greatly impact those in our sphere of influence.  For us Mamas our greatest contribution to the kingdom of God may not be in something we do but may be in the people we raise.  

  So for myself I ask myself am I pointing my children to Christ and His gospel day by day?  Am I prioritizing the Word of God and His ways in our home?  Am I teaching by example that things of eternal value are what is most important and that all we do should be to the glory of God?  Am I giving my children vision for knowing Christ, for seeking Christ, for loving Christ, and for sharing His light and His gospel with a dark world?  

  This culture desperately needs Dads to rise up and take spiritual leadership in their homes and train their sons to be godly men.  It breaks my heart to see how many young men are confused as to what it means to be a man.  Fathers need to be discipling their sons to have spiritual vision and lovingly lead their future families.  
  When I think of the kind of ladies we need to step up and impact the next generation I think of the words graceful, godly, feminine, intentional, focused, wise, winsome, discreet, nurturing, and surrendered to Christ.  Truly "The hand that rocks the cradle is the hand that rules the world." - William Ross Wallace

  I truly hope to see more men and women rising up as Queen Esther "For such a time as this."  I pray to be that kind of lady.  I know that right now my biggest arena of influence is tucked away on our little farm with my seven children.  I pray that I am faithful in this mission field the Lord has placed me in.  I pray that wherever the Lord has me in each season of my life that I will be a lady who makes a difference for the kingdom of God.  Life is short, and I really desire to not fritter it away caught up in the enticements of this world.  There is a lost world out there, and I have seven young lives growing up in my home who are looking to me for spiritual direction.  Their eternal souls, their commitment to Christ, and their character training is far more important to me than chasing after worldly pleasures.  I look at my life and know that if I don't live to be extremely old that I have probably hit midlife.  My life so far has passed quickly, and I know the second half will pass even more quickly.  Time is definitely not slowing down.  I am inspired by those who have gone before me to prayerfully do my best to make my life count to the praise and glory of my Savior.   May the Lord raise up many strong and godly men and women to proclaim His kingdom and His righteousness.  

“Two little lines I heard one day,
Traveling along life's busy way;
Bringing conviction to my heart,
And from my mind would not depart;
Only one life, 'twill soon be past,
Only what's done for Christ will last.
Only one life, yes only one,
Soon will its fleeting hours be done;
Then, in 'that day' my Lord to meet,
And stand before His Judgement seat;
Only one life,'twill soon be past,
Only what's done for Christ will last.
Only one life, the still small voice,
Gently pleads for a better choice
Bidding me selfish aims to leave,
And to God's holy will to cleave;
Only one life, 'twill soon be past,
Only what's done for Christ will last.
Only one life, a few brief years,
Each with its burdens, hopes, and fears;
Each with its clays I must fulfill,
living for self or in His will;
Only one life, 'twill soon be past,
Only what's done for Christ will last.
When this bright world would tempt me sore,
When Satan would a victory score;
When self would seek to have its way,
Then help me Lord with joy to say;
Only one life, 'twill soon be past,
Only what's done for Christ will last.
Give me Father, a purpose deep,
In joy or sorrow Thy word to keep;
Faithful and true what e'er the strife,
Pleasing Thee in my daily life;
Only one life, 'twill soon be past,
Only what's done for Christ will last.
Oh let my love with fervor burn,
And from the world now let me turn;
Living for Thee, and Thee alone,
Bringing Thee pleasure on Thy throne;
Only one life, "twill soon be past,
Only what's done for Christ will last.
Only one life, yes only one,
Now let me say,"Thy will be done";
And when at last I'll hear the call,
I know I'll say "twas worth it all";
Only one life,'twill soon be past,
Only what's done for Christ will last. "
--- extra stanza ---
Only one life, 'twill soon be past,
Only what's done for Christ will last.
And when I am dying, how happy I'll be,
If the lamp of my life has been burned out for Thee.”
C.T Studd


Saturday, February 27, 2016

A Birth Story of God's Faithfulness Part Ten

I remember when I walked into my house full of family and friends.........I remember how the tears fell.........I remember how sweet it was to FINALLY hold my sweet newborn daughter and to know I was home.  I was where I was meant to be and where my calling is.  I have long felt that my home is the mission field the Lord put me in, and I am so grateful to be given the privilege of serving the Lord in that sphere.  
  Although I was home I was far from being well, but at this point just being home was enough!!!   We prayed for the Lord's mercies and that my health would be restored.  It has been a long process, but I have come a long ways with no setbacks.  

During the first weeks after returning home I had several doctor's appointments, blood tests, and a strict regiment of medicine.  I also had to rest a great deal and pace myself.  My body was very weak and it took time to rebuild strength.  For a good while I still slept in the recliner, and I remember taking a daily nap there and listening to my playlist of hymns and sacred music that I had played in the hospital.  Even through my recovery at home the Lord continued to use those songs to minister peace to me just as He had in the hospital.  
  I remember dear friends coming over and swinging with me on our porch swing and keeping me company.
  That helped so much just to be able to take my mind off of my health concerns and fellowship with my sisters in Christ.  We did have some stresses for awhile not knowing if we were really out of the woods or if I would go back into more serious illness.  It took some time for my white blood cell count to stabilize which was unnerving, but eventually the numbers came out right and all blood tests ceased.
  Once I was home there were things that would dawn on me and I would realize how much I had missed of Ella Ruth's birth and first weeks.  For one I never knew when her cord fell off, and another thing is I did not even hear her birth stats until I got home and looked them up.  It just wasn't something I was thinking about when I was struggling for life in the hospital.  Things like that would pop up, and I would grieve once again for what had been lost.  I grieved not even knowing when she was born because I was asleep, I grieved being separated from her for weeks after her birth, I grieved not being able to take her home from the hospital and all the firsts I missed.  I also grieved that she had grown and was not as tiny when I finally was reunited with her.......I felt like I had missed her tiniest first days of life.  Another big one for me was that I had to give up on nursing my sweet baby.  After nursing all of my other babies I was brokenhearted to have to lay this down.   I had tried to pump off and on when I was well enough, but my milk never fully came in.  I had several doctors tell me I should not nurse.  They said my body was so depleted of nutrients and strength that it would not be prudent to take the tiny bit of nutrients I might possess and give that to my baby.  They said that my baby and my other children needed a healthy mother more than Ella Ruth needed to nurse.  This was so hard for me and I tried but finally gave it up.  One of my sweet friends told me she thought I should surrender this to the Lord and do what was best for my own recovery.  I talked to my husband who also felt better with me focusing on regaining my health for the good of our whole family.  It was hard but I decided this was probably best, so Ella Ruth has been our first exclusively bottle fed baby.  Even so the Lord blessed us through friends and family who shared frozen breast milk during her infancy.  That was so sweet of the Lord to provide that as it made this Mama's heart feel better about things.
  I continued to take my meds and rest.  The rest was possible as friends continued to rotate through our house to help with the chores and the children.  We had daily help for weeks after I returned home and these people were all driving long distances to help us.  It is something we will never forget.

The day came when my strong antibiotic, designed specifically for c-diff, ran out.  It was exciting and scary all at the same time as I wondered if I would relapse.  

How grateful I am that there has been no relapse of c-diff.  That is HUGE as c-diff has a high rate of recurrence.  The Lord is so good and faithful.  

Big Brother Adores Ella Ruth!

With time I have grown stronger and resumed all of my normal activities.  I am grateful for how the Lord has lifted me up out of the pit and given me back so many blessings.  I am thankful that I had the opportunity to feel the Lord carry me through such suffering and make His faithfulness so evident to me.  I am grateful that I know as Corrie Ten Boom said, "There is no pit so deep, that God's love is not deeper still."

Here is my testimony, "He drew me up from the pit of destruction, out of the miry bog, and set my feet upon a rock making my steps secure."  - Psalm 40:2

  Thank you so much for reading and listening to me share my heart and testimony.  My prayer is that anyone reading this story will be encouraged by the greatness and love of Jesus Christ.  Although I could write on and on about all that transpired during this time, I think it is probably time to draw this long series of posts to an end.  Perhaps there will be other posts where I will refer to this time in our lives and lessons I learned through it all.  The Lord has been gracious and we give Him all the praise and glory.  We are forever grateful for everyone who prayed and helped carry us through by meeting practical needs in our lives. Thank you also to all who have encouraged me through this series of posts.  It has been sweet to hear from people as I have written and posted these.  To God be the glory; great things He has done!  

I leave you with another song from my playlist.  Be blessed!  

"He Is Worthy!"

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

A Birth Story of God's Faithfulness Part 9


In the last post I was describing one of the hardest days Matt and I experienced in the hospital.  That day of the Sigmoidoscopy showed us just how desperately needy we were before the Lord.  As I was rolled back to my room I was experiencing a huge rush of fear and heartache.  I had just heard my GI doctor explaining to another doctor by phone how severe my situation was.  In recovery the nurses tried to reassure me as I lay there crying and explaining that I had seven children at home with one of them being my newborn baby.  I remember the moment when I tried to adjust myself in the bed only to be made painfully aware of how the procedure had caused increased soreness in my abdomen.  I already had pain from the caesarean, but when the probing was done it left me feeling as though I had been cut open again.  I remember this one nurse who tried to encourage me as she wheeled me down the hall and situated me back in my room.  She stood over my bed trying to exhort me to guard my thoughts and trust God.  I so appreciated all that she was saying, but it was one of those moments when I wanted everyone to disappear so that I could be alone with Matt and talk about all that had just happened.  I just felt overwhelmed and like I had to be able to converse with Matt alone.  It was then that one of the best nurses of my whole hospital stay sensed the need Matt and I had to be left alone and thus she cleared out the room for us.  At this point I told Matt of my fears based on what I had heard the doctor saying as I was waking up from the anesthesia.  He also was able to share with me what the doctor told him.  Matt and I cried out to the Lord for His mercies as we did many times during this whole ordeal.  Matt tried to be strong for me, but he was falling apart inside.  In review the doctor told Matt that I was a very sick woman, that my colon had been decimated by the c-diff, and that my body was breaking down on multiple levels.  I had the immune system of an HIV patient.  He was calling for a special IV diet and no food by mouth as he wanted my colon to have a complete rest.  He was also calling for changes in my medicine, and we were going to give it a few days to see if I would improve.  If I did not start improving then he said I would have to have my colon removed or it could burst leading to death.  It was very clear to us both that there was nothing in all the world either of us could do to bring about the outcome we so desired.  This was totally in the Lord's hands.  One of my favorite quotes from Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth has been, "Anything that makes me need God is a blessing." Well, this was something that definitely made us need God.  There was nothing we could do but follow the doctor's plan, pray and wait to see what would happen.
  The next morning a surgeon was sent to my room.  He introduced himself to me explaining that if my colon had to be removed that he would be the one to do the surgery.  He was very nice, but it was hard to talk about this possibility.  I remember breaking down in tears and telling him how I have seven children and asking how I would be able to be the mother I want to be and lead a normal life if my colon were removed.  He tried to encourage me, but honestly his best case scenarios were not too encouraging.  As I was processing this I was wondering if I would ever be able to go to church or leave the house to run errands, etc.   I visited with him two or three times over a few days, and Matt and I let him know we were always happy to see him in my room but that we did not want to meet him in the operating room.  ;)
  Soon after the Sigmoidoscopy I was given the Picc Line that I described in an earlier post.  This was stressful having it inserted but brought much relief for the rest of my hospital stay.  Since it had two ports I could have meds in one port and blood withdrawn with the other.  It was nice to be done with all the needles that I had previously endured.

  At this point we were in the waiting game to see if my body would respond to the medications and the nutrition.  We were so blessed to have massive prayer support.  People were praying from many different churches, states, and I even heard of ladies in Mexico praying for me.  I remember Matt praying with me and reading Scripture and others coming and reading me Scripture and praying.  
  I guess I had previously had this false notion that maybe if I ever had a hospital stay it would be a time of rest and maybe reading.  When I look back at those days it seems that all I did was a cycle of taking medicine, blood tests, ultrasounds, cat scans, X-rays, talk to doctors, etc.  I don't know where the days went.  I was too weak to even want to read or be on the computer. 
  One morning a man came in my room early in the morning with an ultrasound machine.  It was a rude awakening to the day and hard to endure.  He was pressing hard on my abdomen and really hurting me.  Right after a caesarean is not a grand time to have an ultrasound in this area.  I did not know it at the time, but my infectious disease doctor had seen something on my liver and was having it checked out.  My memory of that ultrasound is just being in so much pain and feeling like I couldn't take it.  
  Following that another infectious disease doctor brought up the fact that this other doctor had a concern about liver cancer.  She said she was not concerned.  I could not understand why one doctor was and the other was not.  I remember the morning when the doctor who was concerned came into my room and discussed the matter with me.  At this point I was not only concerned about c-diff and whether I would keep my colon, but now all of that was overshadowed by the fear of liver cancer.  This infections disease doctor rattled on about the possibility of cancer like it was no big deal.  He said we would get it checked out later after I was discharged from the hospital.  I told him that I had just had my seventh child and that I did not need to carry this concern home with me.  I asked him if he could please schedule an MRI for me that day.  I waited hoping a nurse would come and get me for an MRI, but that did not happen until bedtime.  Just as I was ready to wind down the day a nurse came for me and wheeled me to radiation.  I had previously had an MRI, so it was not totally new territory for me but I felt so claustrophobic.  I was really trying with all of my might to cooperate and be totally still, but even breathing made the pictures fuzzy.  I prayed for help, but when the MRI was over the lady taking the images said that they were fuzzy.  I just prayed for the Lord's mercies and for a good report.  The Lord answered that prayer as I received the joyful news the very next morning that the spot on my liver was not cancer.  This was a HUGE relief to me.
  As the days progressed my body began responding to the c-diff medication and I began stabilizing some.  When I was finally able to eat something again I was first given clear liquids, then full liquids, and then a heart healthy diet.  Being able to eat again was so refreshing, but once I was put on a heart healthy diet I was in a conundrum.  I would call the kitchen and ask for something like a potato, and it would be refused because of the salt content.  The things I thought would be gentle on my stomach were being refused because the doctor had ordered a heart healthy diet.  I asked what I could eat and one thing suggested was a hamburger.  I am still baffled over that.  Everyone knows beef if hard to digest, so why could I eat the hard to digest food but not a soft potato???  Sometimes things like that get so mixed up in the hospital.  Due to this confusion I continued to be mostly on the liquid diet until I was released.  When I got home I had to be very careful with what I ate as my stomach was still very sick and needed time to heal.  

  I began walking around the hospital with my IV pole just to rebuild strength.  It is amazing how fast your muscles begin to atrophy when you are laying around for weeks.  I was very weak, so the slow walking in the hallway was needed for me to regain strength.  
  My children sent me many "I Love You" pictures while I was in the hospital.  Matt would arrive in the morning and often had another card for me.  He would hang them on my wall, and some of the cards moved from room to room with me.  These cards would sometimes make me cry as I missed my children so badly.  Matt would also send me pictures or videos that made me long to be back home with my family.  

    Towards the end of my stay I became very antsy to get home to my family.  The day that I was discharged I waited into the afternoon for the doctor who would give the yes or no to my home going home that day.  When she finally walked in and said she would discharge me I was so happy!  Her main concern was that I would walk back into my house and resume my normal activities too soon.  She said I had to find help and that I needed to expect that a full recovery could take months.  There was also a real concern about a relapse of c-diff which is very common.  I agreed to follow doctor's orders and take it easy at home.  I could not get out of there fast enough.  I was going home to my family and to hold my Ella Ruth again!!! 
I remember how everything outside looked so much more beautiful than what I normally take the time to notice.  After being in the hospital for so long I saw beauty in everything around me.  

By God's grace I was on my way home, and the tears fell as I walked into my house where my friend Dianne handed me my little infant daughter and I was finally surrounded by my family once again.  

"Through many dangers, toils and snares
I have already come;
Tis Grace that brought me safe thus far
and Grace will lead  me home." - John Newton

Friday, February 5, 2016

A Birth Story of God's Faithfulness Part Eight

 When I was readmitted to the hospital I started out in a normal room and at some point transitioned into the ICU.   The doctor wanted me in the IMU but it was full so I went to the ICU for a day.  I was at a point where I needed more oversight.  Nurses moved me into the Intensive Care in the middle of the night.  I remember being rolled there on my hospital bed.  Once I arrived a whole team of nurses picked up the sheet I was on and lifted me over to the larger bed in the ICU.  It was strange to have all these women hovering over me and lifting me from one bed to another as I was unable to move myself.  I stayed there throughout the night, and I remember hearing a man in a neighboring room screaming out and moaning throughout the night.  The nurses said that he had some mental issues.  The next day I heard a nurse screaming for help as this same patient had attacked her.  I was thankful to have my playlist to help block out some of that noise.  The next day Matt came and helped me all day.  He basically had to help me in and out of the bed about every thirty minutes due to the violent diarrhea I was still experiencing.

 I have been dragging my heels a bit in sharing the main contents of this post.  It is both humbling and emotional for me.  There was one particular day while I was in the hospital that Matt and I remember as being particularly horrifying.  That day struck fear in us and brought forth tears and the pouring out of our hearts to God like none other.  It was the day of the Sigmoidoscopy.  It is a touchy topic to even write about considering the extremely modest lady that I am.  I am going to swallow my pride in this post and share what happened.  I think that is part of me humbling myself so that the Lord may be glorified.
  To start with I had been in the hospital a couple of days and was not doing well.  My GI doctor came  daily, and one day he told me about this test and that he was going to need to go in and do a scope of my colon to rule out Ulcerative Colitis.  He did not have the best bedside manner and told me that he needed to make sure I did not have this terrible condition called Ulcerative Colitis that was so bad that he would not tell me what it was unless I had it.  Those words were not assuring at all, and the thought of the humbling nature of such a test was not either.  I think he could tell that I was trying to process what he had just told me, and so he told me in his blunt way that this is what he does all the time and he had to take a look.  Well, I really had no choice in the matter and so I started preparing for the test which meant starving myself so that I would not have anything in my stomach.
  I remember being wheeled into the room where the Sigmoidoscopy would take place.  I was put into a bed, and as I looked all around me I was surrounded by large computer monitors and wires strung all over the room.  I felt small placed right there in the middle of all this technological equipment with medical staff surrounding and preparing to conduct this test.  I also remember praying and thinking what if I never awoke from this test.  I believe my prayer at that moment was that all my children would repent and believe in Christ so that one day we would all be in heaven.  It is sobering to come to moments like that where you realize that you are going to be put under and you are in control of nothing at all.  Your life is in the hands of the Lord and the doctors whom you have trusted your life to.   Well, I was put to sleep and what I heard upon awaking was horrifying.  I woke up before I was wheeled to recovery, and what I heard was my GI doctor on the phone saying things like, "We have no margin for error here.  This could be a liability case.  I think he thought this was one of the worst cases he had seen.  I guess he was not expecting me to be awake yet, but these are the things I heard while coming back to consciousness.
  I was completely overwhelmed and left trying to figure out what the doctor meant by those statements.  Some nurses then wheeled me to recovery where I laid in the bed crying.  Some of the nurses asked why I was crying.  I told them how I had seven children at home and had just given birth and what I had heard the doctor say.  These nurses tried to comfort me and downplay it, but I was not to be consoled at this point.  The tears were not to be stopped.
  Meanwhile my husband had not eaten all day and was emotionally distraught.  The doctor who performed the Sigmoidoscopy found Matt and had him sit down to discuss my condition.  He told Matt that the baby had been like a cancer to my body and left me with the immune system of an HIV patient which is why so many things were breaking down in my body.  My Albumin level was the lowest he had ever seen in a person without liver failure.  Albumin is the main protein of human blood plasma.  It binds water, cations, fatty acids, hormones, and other substances.  Its main function is to regulate the colloidal osmotic pressure of blood and carry water out of the body.  There was a fear of staff infection on the skin of my legs because the skin was so inflamed.  I also had mouth thrush.  All of this was on top of c-diff which caused sever colitis.  The doctor showed Matt the pictures of the inside of my colon.  It was black, bleeding and oozing puss.  He told Matt that he dared not go very far into my colon because he was afraid he would rupture it.  He told Matt that I was in very critical condition, and that I was a very sick woman.  He also told Matt that he wanted to start some new treatments.  First he wanted to give me TPN (Total Parenteral Nutrition) to help build my strength and immunity.  Second he was going to give me a special anti-inflammatory drug that is used for Ulcerative Colitis.  Third he put me on Fidaxomicin.  This is a new drug specially designed for c-diff.  The doctor told Matt that they would watch me closely over the next few days and that one of three things would happen.  Either the treatments would work and I would start improving, the treatments would not work and they would have to remove my colon, or if I did not improve and they did not remove the colon it would rupture and I might die.
  After this talk with the doctor Matt went back to my room to wait on me.  He stood there at my window shaking and trying to compose himself as he waited for me to be brought back to my room.  At the same time I was being wheeled back to my room reeling with fear and confusion and waiting for someone to explain what was be continued.

"Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
    I will fear no evil,
for you are with me;
    your rod and your staff,
    they comfort me." - Psalm 23:4