Monday, March 30, 2009

How God works...with me

I don't know how any of you feel about dreams, visions, prophetic words and the like...but if you know me or our story at all (you can go back and read the beginning of our story) you know that we have come to accept some of these as means of encouragement from God.

Before Caroline was born and my desperation for God...I didn't really think that God spoke through or used dreams, visions, or prophetic words. Not that I didn't believe it exactly, just that I didn't think about it. No one I knew ever talked about God using those means in their lives. Please understand...I was born and raised in church so if someone were to have talked about it...I would have known.

Anyway, He has graciously stretched our faith and truly pursued us to believe Him...especially to believe Him in an "out-of-the-box" kind of way. I don't know anyone else that is believing Him daily and waiting in faith for Him to perform a miraculous healing.

This isn't to say that Shep and I (or our countless friends and family standing with us) are prideful about our faith. We just simply have TOO MUCH that we believe that God has told us to NOT believe it. It has been in this TOO MUCH that over these past 6+ years that we have received countless dreams, visions, and prophetic words regarding Caroline and her healing.

So, all of that to say, God has used it again.

My prayer life has been full of petitions to God for encouragement.

In the latest installment of enemy attack...he has used specific tactics that involve guilt, questions, and fear to try to discourage me and cripple my faith.

I am rebuking him every day...every hour. But, in my petitions to God I have talked to Him about these things... these guilty feelings, the questions I have and the fear that grips me. I KNOW that because I am HIS child, He wants to hear about it. He wants me to tell Him that I trust Him....that I hope in Him....that I love Him and that I hurt. He wants it all----the good, bad and the ugly.

It is funny...I don't get an immediate answer to these things during prayer. Usually I will sense a peace and an affirmation that I have just done the right thing. The answers or encouragement will usually come later...

Last Friday....someone called me with a specific "word of encouragement"...regarding Caroline.

Today, Monday the 30th...someone called me with a dream of Caroline. In her dream Caroline was attempting to walk and sit alone.

Now, what does this mean for me?

Assurance....sweet assurance that my Jesus heard my plea. That HE knows exactly how to encourage me...usually in the most un-expected ways.

Did I expect either of these things? NO

Did I hope to hear from God? YES

Do I now have to accept that these were gifts of encouragement from God? YES

That last one is especially hard. Our natural tendency is to "explain away" things like this. We will write things off as coincidence....

I have to choose! God has given...will I accept?

How many times have we chosen to believe in coincidence rather than providence??

Saturday, March 28, 2009

My unfortunate test


Yesterday I wrote an entire blog just bragging on my man. Believe me, I meant every word.

However, I didn't pass the test as a wife yesterday. You would think from reading how much I adore him that I would act like a grown up when we get thrown a curve ball.

Yesterday we got some news that required a re-arranging of our schedule for this weekend....especially Saturday. Well...I am just telling you that there could not be a worst day to re-arrange than today. Busy doesn't even begin to accurately describe my day. I was depending on Shep to care for the kids most of the day...that had been the plan.

But, as we know, when things happen you've just got to adjust.

My point in telling you these details is basically this: I was a jerk to my man yesterday. I got mad at the "situation" not him. I was irritated for having to re-plan my day. ME! ME! ME!

See how completely sweet my day started out and how quickly I turned into mean...and look...isn't that interesting...the word "MEan" actually accentuates why I was mean. It was all about me. Truly sad....

I did come to my senses after much conviction from my ever-present friend and guide... the Holy Spirit. I repented to Him and Shep. I confessed how awful I behaved and then the hard part came. Choosing NOT to walk in condemnation the rest of the day.

It wasn't too bad though. Shep was never unkind...even when I gave him good cause to be.

So...Andrea didn't pass this test.

Can I confess I was never a good test taker?? I have a feeling that one doesn't work with God!!

Friday, March 27, 2009

One-of-a-kind man

I just wanted to dedicate this entire post to my main Shep.

He hasn't bought me anything....or done anything particularly this post isn't about bragging on him for material things.

However, he still should be bragged on....a lot.

We have been married almost 11 years. They have been wonderful, fun, exciting, unexpected, sometimes tragic, and completely beyond all I could have ever wanted when I was wishing for my prince at age 5.

Shep is a complete gentleman. Still opens doors....when I leave the table at a restaurant, he will stand and then do it again when I sit back down...he protects me from having to hear things that maybe a woman shouldn't hear. You know, these are the things men USED to do.

Anyway, I hear so many women knock their men with their words....I am not saying that I haven't done this on occasion...but NEVER have I slandered HIS character. Many women do. I have the utmost respect for him. I live with him. I know him. He is the same jolly, joyful, spontaneous, grateful man whether he is at home, church, or work.

Ask his friends they will tell you the same thing.

Also, that brings up another good point: his friends. They are my friends too as well as their wives. I must tell you that being surrounded by good, no GREAT marriages in our friends help us so much. Our friends love each other in ways that are not common in 2009. We do it old school.

We women submit.
We accept the weaker role.

Before anyone balks...let me say it is a joy. I think my friends would agree. My husband and theirs make it easy. They truly lead by being servants. What could be better?

Back to his friends...great men. They pray for him, support him, listen to him, counsel him, and always, always, always point him back to Jesus.

O.k. I have got to go start my day.....but as one of my favorite old songs says:

"Let's hear it for the boys, let's hear it for my man...."

****In case you are reading this thinking that I am going to get bonus points from my man....think again....he never reads my blog.

Also, we are a normal couple. It isn't all blissful and sweet. We are real...we argue...we have our times as all couples do. But---still I am crazy about him.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Only the WORD would do

Last night was restless for me. My sleep was off and on. I would wake up to an assault of thoughts and persuasions....lies, accusations, manipulations, and messages of fear and doubt.

See...this is part of the waiting process. There is another part too. I must go on the offensive and fight back. The WORD of God is my weapon and I am learning to be a better fighter with it.

But, getting back to that other part. During this waiting period (almost 7 years) the "mind game" that the enemy plays with me is vicious and constant. I don't get a day off because the enemy doesn't ever take one.

Unfortunately I am one of those people who others can read like a book. If I am not doing friends can tell. I might as well have a neon sign flashing across my forehead. But, guess what...the enemy sees that too. He has become brilliant at reading people...just think...he and his nasty followers have been doing it for thousands of years.

They study their prey...and that is exactly what we are to them. Prey.....something to steal, kill, and destroy.

They studied Abraham.
They studied Isacc
They studied Jacob
They studied Joseph, Job, David, Paul, the disciples...the list goes on.

Well...they also study me. They know when I am down and that is their signal to attack.

This was the case last night.

My season of life right just simply: tough. Shep and I have a lot going on...many reasons we could worry and be fretful and anxious. However, we are (with the help of the Holy Spirit) standing on the Word and renouncing those thoughts from the enemy.

(I say all of this so that you understand....there is NO giving up here...we may feel like it...but we are praying and persevering. God has not promised that our entires lives would be pleasant mountain tops, the seasons in the valley can be long and the length of time in that valley serves an important purpose.)

(Oh, how I get de-railed...back to last night)

So, finally after much tossing and turning....praying and quoting scripture...I decided to get up. I felt led to get in the Word. I went to our den and my Bible fell open to a familiar passage in Isaiah 55. I decided to start there and continue reading until I felt God speak to me. I made it to Isaiah 58: 6-12 and my spirit quickened. There was something in this for me. I read it several times...I must tell you that I liked the part about healing. God knew I would...I think it was especially for me.
Then, I decided to move on. I was headed to the Psalms but my Bible opened to Hosea 6. I have verses 1-3 highlighted in my Bible. I felt my spirit quicken again. This was for me.
These verses also spoke of healing....

Anyway, I am going to pray about all of this. I don't know what these verses are to say to me or if I am to apply them in any way. But----I desperately want to know!!

This blogging thing helps me get things out....definitely cheaper than therapy.

However, right now, the Great Physician...the best Psychologist to help me during this time is reminding me of our appointment. So, I am off to pray....

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

A Different Spin on This

This morning I was reading in my devotion book, My Utmost for His highest. The title of the devotion was "He must increase, but I must decrease...".

Of course I knew where this was going. I have read this verse countless times in my Christian life. I always kind of took it to mean that my sin nature ruins who God wants to be in my my flesh must be dying daily so that Christ can more fully reign in me. Isn't that the idea...I become less so He can become more.

Well, this morning Oswald Chambers put a different spin on things. My hubby, Shep doesn't really care for Oswald. He thinks he is direct and a bit shall we say----grace and mercy LESS. He prefers C.S. Lewis and others who pen devotionals in a more POSITIVE way...if you know my man...this makes total sense.

Anyway, Oswald proposed that if we become necessary in some one's life (obviously excluding caring for our children) then we are increasing and therefore in sin.

He went on to say that when those we love face terrible difficulties that we should pray more for those difficulties to increase!! (What?!?) He says that these current difficulties that Christ allows for people are for the sole purpose of making them a better follower of Christ. If we then pray for that difficulty to stop or become less...then we are actually thwarting the will of God.

You can see that this would possibly be troubling. I have many, many wonderful people in my life. My family and friends are like no other.

It seems so unfair to pray for things to get harder when I see them in pain.

So...I am gonna ponder on this and talk to God about it some more.

I will say that during these past 7 years of my life, my friends and family who have walked it with me have been powerless to change the pain that I have encountered or the events that God has allowed to take place.
However, most of them tell me often that they wish they could take the pain away.( and oh how I love them for sweet...just wanted to take my heartache)

I will also say though, that most of those friends who were there in the beginning KNOW a very different Andrea ( and Shep) today. This PAIN and these DIFFICULTIES do work to bend the knee. I am desperate now for Jesus in my life like never before.

Anyway, I guess I struggle with the "woman" factor in all of this. As a woman, I am a nurturer. I want to dry tears and bring smiles. How do I look at people hurting terribly and pray in my heart...."Bring it on God. Keep hurting them until your will is accomplished."

That just seems harsh to me. So- I guess I must pray God's will and His way over them. That should cover it, right??

I can still cry out to God on their behalf...but ultimately I MUST decrease my wants and desires for others. This is where I will have to increase more of Him....because only through Him can I endure watching those I love hurt.

Praise you Lord joy, pain, sorrow, fear, and whatever may come....praise your holy NAME!

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Calling All Thrill-Seekers...

O.K. so before anyone freaks out about my kids on the motorcycle w/o helmets or anything....Shep only took them down the 1 road in our neighborhood. And yes, for all of you who are wondering...that really is a snugglie. If you were wondering how sturdy your snugglie really is, then just look at us. Our snugglie (bought long ago) held Caroline and Ava while Shep drove them down the street. Pretty cool, I thought. Anyway, they had a blast. Caroline loved it! She actually sulked when Ava got to have her turn.

I can promise you that Shep was beside himself too. Two of his favorite things together...his girls and his bike. I also love riding with him. Some of my best talks with the Lord have been on the back on that bike. Somehow it just feels different...better. It is like you're not just looking at the are with it.

Things have been pretty quiet from me this week. Not that I haven't had things to say...just not the TIME to say them. This Esther Bible study is wearing me out! I love it and hate it at the same time. This past week in video session 2 I learned just how mean us girls are....that means me!
Oh, I hate it! Why do we tolerate meanness?? I hate this trait in others but I will somehow explain it or justify it in myself. God help me. I don't want meanness in my life. I know I will slip up and occasionally be mean...but I don't want to be mean on purpose. I know girls who are...simply mean on purpose. I have been on the receiving end and it isn't fun.
So, Father help me gain favor by being kind. This trait seems to have gone away and is looked at like something our grandparents used to be. Well...I want kindness back. And I don't want the kind of kindness that always looks for an angle (thanks D) but the sincere, genuine, Jesus kind of kindness.
Well, I am off to go ride. I can't wait!! Some sweet time with my hunky man....and I am sure I will encounter something along the way that will require a little bit of kindness.:>)

Monday, March 16, 2009

Rain couldn't stop us!!

Ava and Joseph (one of her best pals ) were born just two days apart. They have literally played together since birth. Anyway, Joseph's mom and I decided to have a combined birthday party for them. Let me just say that when we planned it...we were hoping for beautiful "springtime" weather. Well, what we got was rainy with a high of about 50 degrees. Oh well, we had to make the best of it. We had rented a big inflatible jumper and (thanks be unto my sweet God) it actually stopped raining during the party. The kids were troopers and didn't seem to mind the cold and wet too much.
I wanted to include pictures of these two. They are precious together. Shep and I along with Joseph's parents (who happen to be some of our best friends) are endlessly amazed at how sweet and attentive they are to each other. I think it has something to do with the boy/girl mix. If this were two boys or two girls it probably wouldn't work this way.
Anyway, the party was a hit! I love the picture of Ava looking at her cake. She was filled with delight...the baking, preparing, worrying, wrapping, buying, and packing was all worth it. That look on her face was priceless to me.
Happy 4th birthday to you.....
(where has the time gone?????)

Friday, March 13, 2009

Oh...the dreaded question

***Remember I am just shy of 10 months past being pregnant*****

Last night I was enjoying moving hanger after hanger as I scowered over consignment clothes at a nearby church sale. I was focused and intent on finding Caroline some clothes. She has hit a growth spurt and suddenly needs new clothes. Anyway, my lips were pursed together and anyone looking at me would have known that I was on a serious mission.

Then IT happened. A friend (who really is sweet and I am sure wants to now bury her head under the ground) approached me. These were her words...

"Did you swallow a cantaloupe?"

Then she smiled at me...with that knowing she just knew she had uncovered my secret.

Again...she went on..."Are you expecting again?"

At this point my face must have been 20 shades of red as I begin looking down at my waistline to see if there was something protruding that I hadn't noticed when I put my jeans on.
Nope! Nothing had changed!! There was that little shelf of leftover flab from having three kids which I do in fact HATE. But that was all. So maybe that leftover flab screams to other people...pregnant!!

O.k O.k. O.k.

I am getting a grip and I have had several good laughs about it. Some of my friends joined in my painful laughter and tried to console me.

But of course my Lord has pointed out to me that I have to move past this quickly or else it turns into a prideful and vain thing.......I don't want that at all. But.................if you are reading this and you think a woman you see MAY be pregnant. Just don't ask!! Don't even look! It may just be the shelf of flab in her mid-section playing tricks on your eyes. Don't risk the embarassment for yourself or the binge of eating that the lady you ask is going to want to do. :>)

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Life today

So...I have been busy today. I have cooked soup (home-made creamy tomato, fennel, and dill and Ava loved it) done laundry, commandeered as Zeke tried to take over the house in his baby walker, and now we are preparing to leave for ballet.

In the midst of all of this we are preparing for Ava and Joseph's (one of her best buds) birthday party. We have rented a big inflatable jumper and wouldn't you know it is calling for rain. I am praying with all that is in me that God would either hold off the rain until after the party or get it all done the night before....can't I pray this with authority?? :>)

My devotion (it was a quick one) said something interesting...

"Even the natural heart of the unsaved will serve if called upon to do so, but it takes a heart broken by conviction of sin, baptized by the Holy Spirit, and crushed into submission to God's purpose to make a person's life a holy example of God's message".

Isn't it sad that often times we have to be "crushed" into submission. I can certainly identify with this one. This "crushing" that God has to do is painful, confusing, and often times lonely. I think about how I am already having to pop Zeke's hand and tell him "NO" in my firm voice. He will cry (especially when I pop his hand) and his little fact looks "crushed" to this mommy. But, I want him to be an obedient kid and one who respects authority. If he learns to respect mom and dad then respecting and submitting to God shouldn't be too much of a stretch for him. It is already a part of preparing him for what is to come....

Well, same with me right?? I have no idea what God has around the corner for me. I do know that this "crushing" into submission is necessary. It will prepare me! He loves me too much to take me to a place without first preparing me for it.

Go get "crushed"!

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Ladies Conference

Today was a great day at our church. We had our annual ladies conference. Angela Thomas was our guest speaker...she was wonderful. We also had our former interim pastor's wife give her was equally as wonderful.

Anytime a bunch of women get together for anything there is usually laughter and tears. Today was no exception. It was and always is medicine for this soul.

What is it about laughter?? It makes you just feel good all over. I love to laugh. I wish I did it a lot more.
I also love to listen to people laugh. Some of my favorite friends and family have the best laughs. Even if I don't find the topic funny...I will smile and enjoy someone else's laughter.

Today's topic from both of these ladies was just dealing with the unexpected that life may throw our way. Both of their stories entail devastating events that occurred in their lives. They were turned upside down, broken to pieces, and even felt abandoned by God. In hindsight, however, they knew and saw His plan better. They still may not understand but they do see Him written into each day. Every moment of their devastation...He was knee deep in it with them.

This message is so appealing to our world. Pain is no respector of persons. It doesn't acknowledge race, ethnicity, age, religion, or gender. It just is.................................pain is universal. We will all have it at some time. What do we do with it??

My plan right now and what I continue to understand in the midst of my personal pain and struggle is this: don't waste this pain. Take it and run to Jesus. Yell it out...cry it it out...and when all that is done..............................................................keep pressing on.

Thanks to these ladies...I was encouraged today. My Lord was glorified through them. I saw His power resonating through their stories. I want that too. I want to tell my story one day and encourage others as well. The difference is that I don't want to be alone telling my story...I want my sweet Caroline standing right beside me.

Until then....we wait on Him. We learn in this process....and we keep living every single day.:>)

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Me and Caroline

I am just sitting here with my girl. She is babbling on and on to me. For those of you that do not get the privilege of spending time with Caroline...she loves to talk. Talking is a stretch....she doesn't say words necessarily...but she babbles with loud noises and funny facial expressions. I just know she is telling me all about her day...what she has thought about. I even think she tells me of her talks with Jesus.

I am sure she has them. She is so pure of heart. She is weak physically and I know He tends to her.

She cracks me up. She is beautiful and loves to laugh. She also loves men...Shep(daddy), grand-daddy, Pop, Pa Paw Wes, J.P., Derrick, Jon, Drew, Craig, Danny and the list goes on. I think she is typical and likes the attention.

This is what most people assume incorrectly about people and kids with special needs. Most people see the handicap and lose sight of the person. Caroline is a hoot and for those people who take the time to know her...they discover how special she is.

When I tell people that Caroline has a temper on her and she can pitch a fit with the best of them...they cannot believe it. Hah!!! She is beyond stubborn!

She will also use "pity" to her advantage. The other day her therapist, Heather, accidentally fell while holding Caroline. Now, she didn't fall far. She was only about 8 inches off of the floor. Well, Caroline was tired of working in therapy and used this event to begin crying like a mad woman. She cried and cried and cried. I held her. Heather apologized. Still 30 minutes later she is still working it.
Then her grand-daddy calls. He asks her if she is feeling alright. (She talks to him at least once a day...we call and I hold the phone down so she can babble to him)

Anyway, as soon as he asks her she pokes out that lip and begins to cry AGAIN. Are you kidding??? It had been 3 hours already....can anyone say DRAMA QUEEN???

Can you imagine? She is this fun now and I can't really even talk to her....what will she be like when Jesus opens her mouth to speak and strengthens her legs to walk. I think we will stay in stitches with her.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Back to the basics

Don't you wish sometimes that you could go back to the "God is great, God is good, let us thank Him for our food. By His hands we all are fed, thank you Lord for daily bread" kind of faith.

The simple basics.

God is great. God is good. We should thank Him always.

This is a season of my life that I am seriously trudging through. I would love to catch a plane and go over it....dig a tunnel and go under it...find some way around it. But nope....trudging THROUGH it. I am not myself. I feel the full weight of all that is swirling around in this head.

I don't think that it is coincidence that I am studying Esther. Beth explains that God is strangely absent from this book of the Bible. Can I relate??? YES!! I feel like God is strangely absent and on purpose I might add. God worked through people and behind the scenes in this book of the Bible. Why does He do that??? This working through me is for the birds....(I am laughing). It is hard.

I will say this though. In the midst of this trudging... I am still finding fresh freedom, mercy, and grace every single time I whisper prayers to my Father. He is there beside me (even if I can't see or feel Him) and He is trudging every step with me...probably even carrying me. I have had some sweet moments with Him the past few days.

Simple things....watching my children do zany and annoying things and enjoying it...finding patience with myself and people when I want to yell and scream (that can only be the Holy Spirit)...loving just "being" with my handsome man...finding freedom in boundaries...and my circle of peeps. Are you kidding me?? Anytime I want to see tangible proof of His love for me I don't have to look too far. He has encircled around me some stubborn folks...they won't for the life of me let me slip too far. You know who you are.....I love you. I don't deserve any of you....your annoying love for me and Jesus both convicts and champions me. Thank you.

Sunday, March 1, 2009


Talk about convicting?!? Given the past few days of my life...Shep and I have had some pretty intense discussions. We were primarily discussing how most Christians we know just go along trying to make it through life. Where is the joy? What ever happened to the "joy of the Lord is our strength"?
Shep said to me, "Sometimes I feel like joy is a million miles away". I agree. What is wrong here?

Anyway...I am going to march forward and continue to believe God for something that I can't see and don't feel at all. I feel like at least by marching forward...that is a step of obedience in the right direction. And obedience (whether felt or not) brings blessing, right??

I have had many people concerned about me these past few days. So many calls and e-mails of encouragement. I am truly rich....not with money...but with amazing people I get to call friends (and family:>)
I want you all to know I really am o.k.
I just selfishly want things to feel better...and soon.
Can anyone else relate? I just want some of the pain to know the emotional stuff.
God spoke to me strongly through the first Esther video when Mrs. B was teaching...she said, "Seek God and His will is going to find you". I like that.
It is simple and something that I can tackle right now.

I can't do much. I certainly can't look far ahead or else I start freaking out.
But I can just seek Him.
I want to mean it when I say, "He should be enough".

Father, give me strength through the Holy Spirit within me to get up tomorrow and live the day. Give me ears to only hear You speaking to me. I am fragile and I need your steady hand to guide and sustain me. Help me love and give kindness to Shep and my sweet children. I want joy Lord. True joy...the kind that doesn't wane in difficult times. Show me how to get it.
I admit I can do nothing apart from you and I am tired of trying. Help my unbelief...