Winter Blessings

Winter Blessings

IMG_1760 2I am not a fan of the winter. The blistering cold that makes it hard to breathe, the extra time each outdoor adventure takes to suit up, the cold and germs that free reign during that icy season–never on my list of favorites.  The shortened days and the constant risk of danger on the roads as the temperatures can give me the winter blues and put my anxious heart on high alert. Winter–no not a fan.

But there is something I love that only the harsh conditions of this season can provide.

I love to look at the snow.

Whether it is pouring down by the bucket load or drifting elegantly like feathers from heaven, I love what a new fallen snow does to our winter world. I love way that each flake glitters in the sunshine and how together they clothe the barren trees with a new coat of splendor. Not to mention the amazing way that each ice crystal is crafted uniquely.  I find the snow in all its wonder absolutely breathtaking.

Similarly, I am not a fan of the nightshift.  Me pulling an all nighter means that my sweet Elena is very sick.  It means we are in prevention mode, whether it be pneumonia prevention or hospital stay prevention, both are places we do not choose to be.  It means that my role as mom now becomes that of a nurse as I am forced to muscle through our action plan checking vitals and tracking meds.  I have to let adrenaline lead, never allowing the heart-wrenching pain of seeing my own child suffer take me captive.  Not for a minute, there is no time.

And as the dust begins to settle, and Elena’s vitals have stabilized, I realize that it has been quite some time that I actually took a deep breathe.  I remind myself to breathe. Big deep breaths.  It is just me, Elena and the low hum of the oxygen machine and as I slowly exhale the tears begin to fall as I release a thousand sorrows from the broken heart of a mom who was just fighting for her daughter’s life.

As the tears fall, my entire heart pours forth, crying out to Jesus. I lay every sorrow, every heartache, every fear at the feet of my Lord and Savior.  I am broken, with none of my own strength left to give. Sometimes I cry out begging Him for this cup to pass, pleading that there must be another way.  And sometimes I just trust that what He has done before He will do again.  But each and every time, He meets me in the nightshift, when it is just me, Elena and the low hum of the oxygen machine.

I love how He meets me here.

There is a pure sweet intimacy that I have found with God in my nightshifts, my moments of greatest sorrow, when I am at the end of me.  I absolutely hate what it takes to bring me here, but I love the safety and trust that I find being wrapped completely in the arms of my Savior.  With none of me left, I am certain that He is providing for all of my family’s needs far better than I ever could.  I have seen the church step in and be the hands and feet of Jesus, seamlessly blessing us in areas we were not even aware that we needed. It is here that I know within the depths of my heart that He is good and that all of His promises are true. I love how He meets me here, in the middle of the nightshift faithfully every time.

IMG_1674I have learned how to rejoice in my season of suffering.  Not because I love all the cold and danger that the winter season brings, trust me the pain my sweet girl has had to endure is unbearable but when I cry out to Him, He always meets me there.  And as I turn to Jesus, He does what only he can do. Taking a harsh, and brutal season of heartache and tears, and coats it with a fresh blanket of new fallen snow.  He makes all things beautiful.   Finding Him in my cold harsh season, makes it praiseworthy.

May you find joy and new found beauty in your season and rejoice at the glory revealed through your suffering at the revelation of Jesus Christ our Lord.

In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith–more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire–may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. 1 Peter 1:6-7

Have you learned to find beauty in your long harsh seasons? What promises of God are leaning on to get you through?

 

 

 

 

My Hardened Heart

My Hardened Heart

Last year was a tough year for us.  We were building our new home which was every bit as stressful and painful as people who have gone before us have said. We faced betrayal and broken relationships with people we called friends.  We were tested at home in the way that can happen with family.  We were hit hard.  We felt broken.

But what made it even more challenging, is that I was confused.  You see earlier that year, I was confident that God had lead us to this very place.  I was confident that I had prayed for some of the very blessings that had us in this place of complete chaos.  And so I cried out,  “God, I don’t understand, did I hear you wrong?  Was I so motivated by my own wants that I missed where you were leading us?”

This storm has since passed.  We are now in our new home and like the birth of the child the labor pangs of getting where we are today are a distant memory in the glow of it’s blessing.  God once again came to our rescue, maybe not perfecting every situation like I had hoped, but He certainly made a way.

Last week I was reading in Mark 6:45-52NIV. It is a scene that many Christians have come to know well, Jesus walks on the water, but this morning something popped out at me.

45 Immediately Jesus made his disciples get into the boat and go on ahead of him to Bethsaida, while he dismissed the crowd.

Did you all catch that? I had to read it twice to make sure I was getting it right.  Jesus MADE them get into the boat.  The same boat where they would later be straining and struggling against the wind wondering if they would ever make it to shore, Jesus MADE them get on board.  These 12 disciples were exactly where they were supposed to be. They were living God’s will for their life, because Jesus MADE them get on the boat and their ride was about to get hard.

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Sometimes we can begin to believe the lie that when we have God’s blessing, everything will go as planned.  We believe that God’s will for our lives means we are free from trials or hardships and most certainly heartache. We believe that if it gets too hard we have made a wrong choice or in my case, that I misinterpreted where God was leading.

But this is not the case. We serve an all-knowing, loving God, who is willing to make us get on the boat, that will face a mighty storm so that we can learn something about Him.

47 Later that night, the boat was in the middle of the lake, and he was alone on land. 48 He saw the disciples straining at the oars, because the wind was against them. Shortly before dawn he went out to them, walking on the lake. He was about to pass by them, 49 but when they saw him walking on the lake, they thought he was a ghost. They cried out, 50 because they all saw him and were terrified.
Immediately he spoke to them and said, “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.”51 Then he climbed into the boat with them, and the wind died down. They were completely amazed, 52 for they had not understood about the loaves; their hearts were hardened.

Jesus sometimes sends his disciples, his brothers, his friends into the impending storm. He allows the fierce winds and the fight against the raging waves to break through the hairline cracks of our hardened heart, so that we can see that Jesus is exactly who He says He is.

So that He can reveal to us something about His character that we have not known before.

So that we can be completely amazed.

Lord, thank you for having your way with my hardened heart.

 

 

 

 

 

Fragrant Offering

I had just found that perfectly comfortable spot in bed. You know that moment when you finally feel yourself shutting off the to do list of your mind and drifting into the sound first sleep of the night when my bliss was interrupted.

“Honey, would you mind putting that oil on my hands?” my husband asked.

I felt my inner self grumble but I sat up because I knew how hard that he had been working. He had been tirelessly laying the tile floor in our new house giving every spare minute that he had for weeks now. His hands bearing the evidence of his commitment were cracked and painful from his sacrifice of love.

I went to retrieve the oil from our dresser in the dark, refusing to turn on the light in an effort to not disturb my state of near slumber.

I unscrewed the cap, and attempted to rub the roller ball on his cracked finger tips. It didn’t take long for me to realize that the top had popped off, and one of my most expensive oils was pouring all over him.christin-hume-505815-unsplash

My mind immediately went to the scene when Mary anointed Jesus with oil in John 12

12 Six days before the Passover, Jesus therefore came to Bethanywhere Lazarus was, whom Jesus had raised from the dead. So they gave a dinner for him there. Martha served, and Lazarus was one of those reclining with him at table. Mary therefore took a pound of expensive ointment made from pure nard, and anointed the feet of Jesus and wiped his feet with her hair. The house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume. But Judas Iscariot, one of his disciples (he who was about to betray him), said, Why was this ointment not sold for three hundred denarii and given to the poor? He said this, not because he cared about the poor, but because he was a thief, and having charge of the moneybag he used to help himself to what was put into it.Jesus said, Leave her alone, so that she may keep it for the day of my burial.For the poor you always have with you, but you do not always have me.

But who did I resemble in this story?

Martha, the organizer and planner was going through great effort to make sure everything detail of their dinner party was taken care of.  She was most likely immersed in her work.  And then there is Lazarus, still basking in the joy of his miracle he rested comfortably near the presence of the giver.

And Mary wanting to just be in the presence of the one who had given her so much, she once again chose to sit at His feet.  But today, she not only wanted to be near Him and hear His every word, she wanted to serve Him with all of her heart. So much so, that she was not at all stingy in what she was willing to give and she was not at all worried about the cost. She used a pound of expensive ointment equal to a years wages according to Judas’ estimate.  And it is quite possible that Judas was not the only one in the room to glare with judgement as this costly oil was poured out on the feet of her Lord and Savior.  But Mary was not at all concerned about what anyone in that room thought. She was acting purely and selflessly.  She acted in love.

Immediately I was convicted.

I wanted to be like Mary, but it was obvious that my heart was not in that place.  I was worried about the cost of the oil that spilled.  I was worried about the few minutes of sleep that I was missing out on.  Even though my actions were honorable, my heart was not.  I was only thinking about me.  Horrified I realized that all of my graveling made me a lot more like Judas, the betrayer.

As I prayed, overwhelmed with sorrow by the sin revealed in my heart, I realized that Mary’s actions were honorable because her heart was honorable.

 “Lord forgive me. How do I love my husband and others with a pure heart, setting myself and my selfishness aside?”

He whispered to my soul, “How much have I poured out for you? Have I held anything back? I want you to love like that. Pour yourself out like the oil.”

Still stuck in my selfishness, I immediately protested, “But Lord if I continually pour myself out, I will be empty?”

“Not when you are sitting at my feet.”

Psalm 23:5 He anoints my head with oil, my cup overflows.  When we are sitting at the feet of Jesus, we will not run empty.  I cannot love the way I am called to unless I am constantly being filled up with Jesus, gleaning his every word and allowing Him to restore my soul. Then and only then can I pour out my oil again and again no matter the cost bringing Him glory with my every relationship.

Ephesians 5:2 And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. 

I wiped the excess oil down with the sheets, the bottle was empty.

“I love you.”  I said, but he was already drifting off to sleep.

My heart was changed. The room smelled delightful.

 

 

The Path Unchosen

The Path Unchosen

Because today I write in sorrow, my sadness is all the greater that I did not spend more time celebrating with you all that was wonderful in my world. So I will start there.  Last fall shortly after starting school, we began wrestling.  Wrestling with what Elena’s best days looked like.  What provided her the most value and what we could do to help her light shine to the best of all abilities.  And since we saw illness as a major obstacle that caused her to miss a significant amount of school time and then therapy time, and since she had back to back pneumonias the first few weeks into school, we decided to pursue a schedule that increased therapies and offered Elena school at home through google classroom.

This has been one of the most beneficial decisions that we have ever made for Elena.  I would love to be able to take credit for it but that would not be appropriate.  This was an amazing collaboration from the school district, an idea from Elena’s caseworker and an answer to prayer.

Dear Lord, Help us find the right environment for Elena to thrive and for the world to see all that is within her.  To you be all the glory.

Sometimes, it really is that easy. When the answers to our prayers come, all we have to do is reap the sweet rewards of His blessings that are so freely lavished on us.  We might not be sure of how things will work out, but the path seems bright and promising. The path is open and free from obstruction. You can see all of the rewards clearly, maybe you can even see the end and all of its benefits.  We said yes.IMG_3609

Elena thrived these last few months.  She was healthy.  She fought off colds.  She had more intentional school/therapy time in the last few months than in the last years. She was free from pneumonia for 5 months!!!!

We had no idea that it would be this good.

But sometimes, it is not easy at all. Sometimes when the path appears you are certain that it goes to somewhere you didn’t want to go.  The path might be dark, and you are unsure of what the other end looks like because there are so many abrupt turns.  You can see that this path is going to cause you pain.  The thick and thorny brush that is overgrown on the sides is sure to leave a mark.  There is no way that you can go through this unscathed.

But this is the path that was given.
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This path might be marked with words that evoke your greatest fears.  Words that take you places that you never want to go.  Maybe because of the unknown. Maybe because of what you have experienced or watched others go through.  This path will hurt.

But this is the path that was given.  You were not given a choice.

So you say yes.

But on this path because it is dark and you are frightened you cry out to God.  You walk on in faith. You are beat up and bloodied from fighting though the thorny bushes of your greatest fears.   They try to pull you in and trap you holding you captive unable to move on.  You feel as if you have no strength to go on.  And so you cry out to God.

Before you know it you can see the light.  The path is beginning to clear.  You have emerged with some new scars, your face is dirty and stained with tears.  But as you look back at all that you just went through, with an overwhelming joy at all that has been overcome, you cry out,

“I had no idea that HE was this good.”

IMG_3612It has been through some of the darkest times that I have found the sweetest intimacy with my Father in heaven.  May your greatest trials and your unchosen path be the source of your greatest blessing. May you find great privilege in the walk He has called you to. Let your cry of your heart be a hymn of praise as you realize just how deep and far and wide His unending love it for you.

He leads me down paths of righteousness for his names sake.  Psalm 23:3

Please pray for my sweet girl, she does have pneumonia but we are praying and trusting God for her quick healing.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

To You

I have sat down at the computer more times than I can count this season.  But each time I sit with expectation to pour out God’s goodness on all of you, I find that I am met with a barrage of items that must be checked off the list swirling thru my mind. The season’s lofty expectations packed on top of building a house and our already complex schedule has left me chasing the squirrel in front of me instead of focusing on what deserves my time.

So I sat down to check another thing of my list.  I wanted to read and share the Christmas story with my kids, Blake, Evelyn and Truett, who were going to be shepherds in our church’s live nativity, The Streets of Bethlehem.  I wanted them to understand the significance of their role and the joyous time they are getting to represent not just that they were getting to hang out with live sheep for a few hours.IMG_450F68B0E944-1

And so I opened up to Luke chapter 2.

8 And there were shepherds living out in the field nearby, keeping watch over their flock by night.

Well I could relate, not to the living in a field part, but that these shepherd’s job was never done.  They worked all night long.  I could also understand the tending of the flock. There was always a sheep to find and wolves to ward off.  They were always planning the safest place to get water and thinking about where to find the best grass to nibble.  They were busy. And every day they were checking things off their list.

9 An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified.  10 But the angel said to them,”Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause you great joy for all the people. 11 Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. 12 This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”

Wait, the news of the birth of the the Savior of the world, was brought first to the shepherds?  God interrupted them in the middle of their busyness to proclaim the most important thing that has ever happened to this world.  Not to a king, or to the town cryer but to the shepherds.  The ones who were busy all night long tending their flock and caring for their sheep.

And what I love the most was that it says this,

 a Savior has be born TO YOU;

That is right, to you.  He was born for you, personally.  You who are weary from all of the tasks that have been placed before you.  You who is pouring into others all day long. You who have burdens that seem too big to carry.  For you weighted down by sins from your past.  For you who has it all under control.  He was born for you.

13 Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel praising God and saying. 14″Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.” 15 When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.”

Yes God is so worthy of praise, that the shepherds dropped what they were doing to go and see this thing that has happened.  They abandoned their to do list to go and see their Savior, the Messiah, the one who would bring their souls peace.  They stopped worrying about their sheep and they went to see the one who the Lord told them about.  The one who will cause great joy for all the people.

16 So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. 17 When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, 18 and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds had said to them. 19 But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. 20 The shepherd returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.

And when they had seen Him, when they had spent some time in His holy presence, they spread the word of what had been told to them.  And they returned to their business, their to do list of tending their flocks. But something was different. Their hearts had been changed by being in the presence of the Savior of the world. So when they returned they were glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen.

Take some time. Stop what you are doing to go and see Him.  Go and spend some time in the presence of your Savior.  The one we celebrate. The one who was born for you.  Let your heart be changed. It is just as you have been told.

 

If you would like to see the Streets of Bethlehem it is going on tonight Thursday December 14th thru Sunday December 17th from 5-9 at Appleton Alliance Church and FREE!  My little shepherds will get to play their role in the most joyous story this world has ever known on Sunday night.  But any night this event is a must see! You can see more about it here! Streets of Bethlehem

 

Given a name

Twelve years ago today, we were given a name.   The name of the disease with no cures or treatments that doctors ensured us would take the life of our daughter by the age of two.  The name that invited us down a path that no parent dreams about going. The name of the disease that had stolen her ability to laugh, to smile, to roll, to sit up, to sleep thru the night, and to make eye contact.  The disease that had caused tens of thousands of seizures and countless hospital stays.  The name of the disease that would take away her ability to swallow, enjoy food, and to organize her movements.  The name of the disease that makes the common cold a dangerous battle. The disease that has caused us more sleepless nights than I can recall. The disease that introduced us to the world of therapy, medical equipment and specialty doctors. The name that gave us a care team of several specialists including palliative or comfort care. The name that would force us to completely rely on friends and family in so many circumstances because two hands are never enough.  The name that introduced us to having nursing care in our home. The name that would give us entry into the special needs community, birth to three, and IEPs. The name that opened our eyes to handicap accessibility and how one size never fits all. The name of the disease that has had me bedside, night after night, praying that she would turn the corner, that the breathe I see would not be her last. IMG_4471

This morning, my husband gave thanks for this day twelve years ago, for the name of the disease that brought us completely to the end of ourselves and caused us to rely fully on our Lord and Savior.

The name of the disease that would cause us to reevaluate all that was important to us and appreciate time together.  The name that would cause us to give thanks for the little things like an appropriate smile because they are such an amazing gift.   The disease that would teach us that some of the greatest teachers can teach without saying a word. The name that would be a label on medical records but never a definition of who she is. The name that would introduce us to an amazing world of some of the most selfless and loving doctors, nurses, teachers and therapists. The name of the disease that would teach us what real love looks like. The name that would continually open our eyes to the love of the church and what it means to be the hands and feet of Jesus. The name of the disease that lead us to the cross and gave our family life.

How big is our God?

Psalm 28:7  The Lord is my strength and shield. I trust him with all my heart. He helps me, and my heart is filled with joy.  I burst out in songs of thanksgiving. (NLT)

Pardon our Dust

Pardon our Dust

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Welcome!  I am so glad you are here.  This site is a long time dream for me and a step in obedience.  I felt God’s prompting to create this site months ago, but I had been waiting for everything to line up perfectly.  The perfect picture, the perfect plan, the perfect time to launch and I finally realized (at 2 in the morning) that it was never going to happen. Something was always going to come up.  Perfect does not exist in my world.  But God was not asking for me to be perfect.  He was asking for me to trust Him, to walk forward in faith, just to make the next move. And so here it is.

Victories in the Valley.

I hope to share my journey here about being a wife, mom, special needs mom, and most importantly daughter of the King. We will laugh, learn, and probably cry a little bit here.  I will be honest with you.  I hope you will do the same.

But as we get started please pardon our dust as construction is happening all over the place for our household.  Until next time!

Blessings,

Mindy

Psalm 127:1 Unless the Lord builds the house, They labor in vain who build it;

When the Door Closes

lock-1234978I opened the email and immediately a pit formed in my stomach and tears welled in my eyes. This invitation was yet another confirmation that something I was waiting for would not come to pass. I had been overlooked-again. With kids in school I had been seeking God‘s best for the next step, searching where He wanted to use me for His glory, patiently, intently. Many doors had been presented, but all of them closed abruptly and with little explanation. This email was a confirmation that this door too was closed. And it hurt. In fact it took my breathe away. The truth was that now was not the time and I could give a million reasons for that but it still hurt. And in my disappointment, the accuser began to whisper in my ear. “You don’t belong there.” “You don’t have anything to offer.”

And so I paused. Thankfully I paused.

It was at this moment I had a choice. I could agree with the father of lies or I could remember what the one who gave me breathe in my lungs says about me.

“You are beloved.”

“For it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose. Philippians 2:13”

We have an opportunity to pause at every frustration, every disappointment, every heartbreak and focus on the author and perfecter of our faith. The one that we will to write our story. Trusting in His every move, knowing that when one door remains locked, He holds all the keys, and the door He chooses will be good.

My heart hurts Lord, and I am disappointed, but I am trusting that this door closing means that you have a better door. A plan to prosper me and not to harm me. Be glorified in my life, in the joys and the disappointments and may I always pause to stop and seek your truth.

As If there was no one to help you

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It is 2:13 am on the ninth morning of school.I was awakened by what I first thought was playful banter from Elena. She loves to blow raspberries these days. As I listen, I am jolted out of bed almost instinctually as I hear the pattern of her breathing change. I actually think I hold my breath as I race down the stairs, I am not sure if this is out of fear or adrenaline. I touch the light and confirm my gut instinct. I recognize that the time of night most certainly indicates illness. My hand on Elena’s tummy confirms to me that her body temperature is rising, I make sure her arms and legs are safe, comfort her and dash to the kitchen to prepare ibuprofen. Knowing that if I can stop this fever train dead in it’s tracks we may be able to prevent the other side effects that go along with the rescue medications. I fumble through the cabinet. It has been a while, the ibuprofen hiding itself in the back of Elena’s overflowing cabinet is a small reminder of the victory of good days. As I return she is taking a rescue breathe from another seizure. I push the meds in Elena’s tube and ask myself if it is even worth it. It is only the ninth day of school.

Our last pneumonia was on the fourth of July. We had nine weeks illness free. I hate where my mind is going, fear and the illusion that I have control over whether or not Elena gets sick. There is a fine line between living in fear and fighting for prevention. I have learned that both of these fall short.

I begin to pray.

The seizures begin to slow. The minutes between activity increases and their intensity is softened.

I am awake now. I decide to give Elena a vest treatment and nebulizer guessing that pneumonia is our adversary. Although we had so little warning. I am still wrestling with the disappointment that we are only nine days in.

I open Charles Spurgeon.

“How can you glorify God if you are playing the coward?

Saints have often sung God’s high praises in the fires,

but will your doubting and hopelessness,

as if you had no one to help you,

magnify the Most High?”

“Do not let your heart be troubled and do not be afraid.”

Thank you God. Forgive me. As if we had no one to help us.

Elena is back to sleep.