Friday, May 29, 2009

Hard Ground

Today is four of summer break.

It has been a good week. I am thankful that this was a short week...thanks to Memorial Day. It helped to gently break me into the new routine.

This past Monday evening, Shep decided to plant us girls a flower garden. Ava loves flowers...and more than that, she loves picking flowers. My mother-in-law gave me some ideas of a few fast growing flowers and we gave it a try.

I say "we". Shep did ALL of the work part...we watched, cheered him on, and threw in the seeds.

As I watched him till the ground. I was amazed at the difficulty of the job. He worked for a long time on a very small piece of ground. It had to be plowed up and worked through to make the soil fit for planting.

As you might imagine....God spoke to me through this.

He diligently works, digs, tills, and turns the hard ground in my life...

Pride, unbelief, resentment, jealousy, bitterness, deceit, doubt, arrogance, etc....

It is hard for Him and for me. It requires work on His part, and it requires me allowing Him to work.

(I hope you enjoyed the pictures of my man and his little girls working on their flower garden...hopefully we can show you the results of all that work soon!)
Tomorrow is my anniversary. Shep and I have been marred 11 years....

I still know that he is "the one" for me. God chose him....and I am still thrilled with God's choice for me. I respect him immensely and I look forward to every adventure we have ahead of also doesn't hurt that my hearts still skips a beat when I get a glance of him. He is my eye candy!!!

Continue to pray for me and Shep. God is speaking some pretty cool things to us. I want to share, but don't feel exactly free to do it just yet...but maybe soon. Waiting on God and expecting to hear Him is NOT for the faint of heart....

Oh, how He is building our faith muscles......

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Day 1

Here we go...we are off to the races.

Day 1 of summer break.

If you know me, then you know that I have dreaded this day every year. It is not the typical parent's know...having the kids all summer. It is the kind of dread that involves the thought of being locked inside for the next 10 weeks.

There are many adjustments that have to be made when God gives you a handicapped child. Caroline happens to be severe. She is the size of an almost 7 year old...but she has to be cared for like Zeke. Feedings, diaper changes, and transportation issues are never ending.

Please don't take this as is all I know. Shep and I have done it every day of her life. But when you throw Ava (4 year old) and Zeke (1 year old) into the gets interesting....and hard to manage....especially when you want to get out of the house with them.

Three children under the age of 7 is already hard...but the disability throws a giant sized weight with it that usually makes me want to crumble under the pressure.

However, I sit here this morning....and I am o.k.

For some of you, you don't realize how big of a deal this really is. Some of

God has taken away my dread. That is NOT to say that I don't have moments of apprehension. But the dread.....the pity......the hidden anger......GONE!

This is a miracle. I have lived through 7 summers and not had this peace that has so filled me. Let me clarify that I believe it was always available to me....I just was not at a place to receive it.

Anyway, pray for me.

Pray for my children. (Ava has already been in here 5 times asking me if she can wear a skirt today.....can I scream??)

I just want to boast in my GOD. He has lifted my head. He has set my feet on a rock...and for once I don't want to jump off of it. He has offered a peace to me that for once I don't want to trade in for self-pity.

I am resolved. I am determined. This is going to be a great summer. I'm actually excited!!

God is doing some cool things that I hope He allows me to share with you soon. Please pray specifically for discernment, clarity, and understanding. Shep and I are expecting to hear God speak to us about a specific matter and we want to recognize His voice and be ready to act.

Friday, May 22, 2009

One Year Ago

One year ago...I was lying in a hospital bed at Northside Hospital. It was a great day! My little Zeke man was born.

He has been a delight to our family. This little man has stolen all of our hearts. He is laid back, into everything, and loves to laugh.

I also must tell you that I am his favorite person in the whole world....I love it!!

Today, on his birthday, he clapped for the first time. I mostly captured it on film. He is taking some steps on his own...and if it looks dangerous to do....he is game.

These two pictures were taken today. The fake little four-wheeler is self-propelled but it makes all of the cool sounds.(this was his b'day gift from us) The other picture is of him clapping...he was so proud of himself.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

View from my zoo

Here is the crew in my zoo. I love this picture of Caroline and her daddy...she loves being in his arms....just like me! I also could not resist adding this picture of Zeke in a fit. He was mad because he couldn't reach Ava's sippie cup....oh if only our problems could stay that ridiculous.
Ava loves being a "little mama" to Zeke. He likes it too until she gets too bossy and prohibits him from getting into whatever is around him that is off limits...probably the nearest electrical outlet in the wall.

Doesn't Ava look beautiful in blue? My first ballet outfit was was such fun to see her dance her little heart out. She was good too!! The recital was fun for me...I know now how my mom used to feel when she would watch me.
Caroline and her peers had special Olympics last week. Wouldn't you know it rained??? But, we made the best of it. I am saying something that has her pretty tickled...which I love...she has a great laugh.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

A time for everything...

A dear friend gave me a quote that she had found and I find it comforting during this time when I can't make things make sense.

The quotes says..."If God were small enough to understand...He would not be BIG enough to worship".

You may not like that quote or even think that it doesn't make sense, but on this day, I need to hear that He is so BIG and He is holding all things together. I need to know that He is not missing any thing going on down here. I need to know that HE is in our midst....comforting, encouraging, strengthening, empowering, pruning, and working...His will and His way.

The prayer requests I entered on my last blog have mostly been answered.

Melissa, praise Jesus, is doing good.

My brother, praise Jesus, is being sustained.

My sister in Christ, Rhetta, has gone on to be with Jesus. It was NOT what I wanted.

Here is where I remind God that I am dust (formed by His hands) and I just don't get it. This was a vibrant woman. A servant of her God and devoted wife and mother. I taught her precious daughter in Sunday school her 10-11th grade years. I hurt for Hannah.

She is a special young lady. God has BIG things for her. I know from experience that when BIG things await you....God has to get you ready. I also know (from experience) that there is no better training ground than pain.

I hate even saying that....but it is true.

Pain takes us to places of surrender, compassion, and desperation that we would never go on our own.

He knows it too.

Anyway, I feel like I am sounding really gloomy, I want to rejoice in My GREAT GOD!!

I told Him I would praise Him no matter what...and I will!!

Please continue to pray for Hannah and her sister and dad. They are grieving terribly. God will grant the grace that is needed for healing....

I want to agree with King Solomon and praise the Lord...

Ecc. 3: 1-8

"There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven:
a time to be born and a time to die,
a time to plant and a time to uproot,
a time to kill and a time to heal,
a time to tear down and a time to rebuild,
a time to weep and a time to laugh,
a time to mourn and a time to dance,
a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
a time to embrace and a time to refrain,
a time to search and a time to give up,
a time to keep and a time to throw away,
a time to tear and a time to mend,
a time to be silent and a time to speak,
a time to love and a time to hate,
a time for war and a time for peace.

vs. 14 I know that everything God does will endure forever; nothing can be added to it and nothing taken from it. God does it so that men will revere Him. "

We don't have to understand to still stand in awe, even with our hearts broken, and revere a mighty and gracious God.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Need to Intercede

My Almighty God...

You alone are worthy of praise. You are patient and long-suffering for us. You are kind, you are gracious, and you give strength to the weak.
My heart is joyful to know with assurance that I have a God who hears me and thinks that what is on my heart is important to Him.
I come before you, Lord with a heart that is heavy. In just the last hour I have heard of several prayer requests that have broken me up.

For Paul, (my brother) oh God I cry out and ask for strength during this time. Protect him from the evil one. As he sits on that jury, give him clarity, peace, and a sense of Your purpose. Where he should be him to be. When he should stand for what is just and him to do so. As he has to listen to brutal testimonies and see gruesome pictures...keep his mind guarded from what the enemy would tell him. Surround my brother with your protective angels. Help him to sleep peacefully. God, do BIG things in Paul's life...use this time for Your preparation. Give him assurance of Your power and presence during this time.

For Melissa, I just pray for peace for her and her family. As the questions surround them, I pray for clarity and healing. God, I pray that they would cling to You during this time and find strength in Your Word. Hem them in...before and after...let them sense you so strongly. If there is anything to this issue I ask you to please heal her.

For Hannah, Tiffany, and Rhetta...
Father, I sit here so stunned at this news. Tears brim over as I imagine how they must be processing this news. It seems there is such sadness. We KNOW You are on Your throne. You give and You take away. But Lord, in our human-ness we don't know any other emotion than sorrow. WE BOLDLY ASK FOR HEALING. Every scar you bear on your back was done for our emotional and physical healing. We also know that Heaven is our final destination and if we really knew how amazing it was....we would want to go now. But Father, we can't imagine that. We trust it, but we can't imagine it. We just know that we don't want to lose our loved ones. This momma wants to see her daughters marry and have children. These girls desperately want their mother to live and stand as a mighty testimony of Your healing and power. I know no other way than to plead with you. Lord, there are instances in Your Word where You changed Your mind....if You are planning to take Rhetta...could we be so bold as to ask You to change Your mind.

Give us all strength, wisdom, and discernment in these difficult days. Draw us to prayer and time in Your Word for rest and restoration. Help us love how You love, give how You give, and fight hard because in You we already have VICTORY.

We trust You when it hurts. We say it even when it doesn't seem possible. We choose to believe You. You are good. You are right.

I long to see You show-off. I see Your hand at work all around me. I sense Your presence in the midst of these struggles.

Show Your Power!!

No matter what....we WILL praise You...the One who suffered for us.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Who is Betty Baxter??

My last two days have been a whirlwind. We have had a dress rehearsal for ballet, rehearsal for the school recital, doctor's visit, actual school recital and we rounded out today with Caroline in the Bartow Special Olympics.

Hopefully I can get some pictures posted soon. I have some cute ones to show.

Anyway, I got to spend some time with my mom today. She was gone all last week and we had a lot to catch up on. God is doing some wild things in her life right now...most of which were prophesied to her five years ago...they are just coming to fruition right now before our eyes and it is amazing to see. Hopefully I can share more of that later....but let's just say that I actually got to hold a Bible study written by my mom in my hands. I have watched her labor and write this study; I have also watched her live through this study.

I cannot wait to see where God takes her....speaking engagements and more studies are sure to follow. (Do you see the shoes I have to fill and walk in...she is leaving me a mighty strong legacy.)

The title of this blog was supposed to get your attention. A friend of mine gave me an encouraging note that directed me to read Betty Baxter's story. I had never heard of her...I didn't know where to look.

So..............I googled it.


There is was. An amazing faith-filled story of a woman who was miraculously healed as a child. Not only was she healed....God told her the day and hour she would be healed. I was blown away....and encouraged beyond belief.

I am so grateful to my friend for suggesting that I read about her. I wonder about the timing of all of this....

I ask God all the time if He will tell me when He plans to heal far I haven't gotten anything that specific. The number 7 comes to me often, but who knows.....

This story just blew air into my sails and allowed me to experience a grand I hope that is much like the healing He has planned for my little girl.

If you want to be thrilled and encouraged...if you need a jolt and just want to see that God is the same today, yesterday, and forever.....

then....go to your home page.....go to the google section.....and type in: Betty Baxter story.

Then sit, read, be awestruck, and praise Jesus for what He did and what HE is going to do!!!

Hebrews 13:8 "Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever."

Monday, May 11, 2009

Faith for sale???


Hebrews 11:1 "Now faith is being sure of what we hope for, and certain of what we do not see."

As I walk through my faith journey...I wonder how many times I have sold my faith.
When I was scared...
When I was prideful...
When I was in sin...
When I didn't like the circumstances...
When I was being selfish...
When it seemed that God had all but vanished...

See, I am amazed at how carelessly I have sold my faith in exchange for lies.

"Do it the easy way.."
"Doesn't that feel better..."
"Aren't you glad you don't look so stupid..."
"Why should you have to sacrifice..."
"God doesn't really care about your situation...:

I am here again.

Sitting at a crossroad.

I want to just sell it. I want to just say.....whatever....I am tired of this.

What is so interesting to me is how quickly others help us in this. Others (not meaning to) will aid us in our abandonment of faith. They will give us lists of pros and cons. They will tell us to think logically. They will talk about what seems best for those involved.

As I look through the pages of God's Word....I see very little logic....I see very little weighing of pros and cons...I see very little of doing what seems best.

To the many people who know our story...or any time I get to share it...I get a positive response.

People love the idea of miraculous healing. They really want to see a miraculous healing.

But, how many people are living day in and day out BANKING ON IT to happen??

It really is quite simple.
God has told us He is going to heal Caroline.
We believe it will be soon.
It goes against anything logical.
It defies medicine.
It is really hard to imagine.

So, I sit here typing all of this. Shep and I have firmly made a decision that does NOT seem logical. It doesn't seem like it is beneficial. It makes others criticize our decision and our motive. matter how stupid I feel....I won't sell my faith to appease my ego.

I won't sell my faith because I can't make things make sense.

I won't sell my faith because others question my judgement.

I won't sell my faith because my knees are shaking...and I hate the unknown.

I won't sell my faith so I can make my life easier....

I won't sell my faith...

Echoing Nehemiah in chapter 6 where time and time again he has been threatened, conspired against, and intimidated as he does what God has told him to do....

"I am about a great work and I cannot come down".

Andrea's translation

"I am about God's great work in my life; my faith in His calling is NOT for sale".

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Too much to say

So...I hope you enjoyed that last blog!

Isn't God so cool to us??

( friend's daughter is AT HOME and doing well. She has to stay still for the next few days but everything looks good...Praise the Lord.)

Now...this is really a continuation of my last blog...this was all on the same day. I didn't want to include all of this on that last blog because I just knew that you would give up reading because of the length....I probably would have.

After leaving Bible study on Tuesday, I headed straight for the courthouse. Kim, Sonya, and I had been given the honor of kicking off our National Day of Prayer festivities with a song. We sang one of our a capella favorites.

I can honestly say that I was excited about this event but I was emotionally unprepared for all that I experienced. My emotions were put into overdrive.

First of all, we have had more rain in the past few weeks than I can ever remember having this time of year. The days have just been dark, dreary, and overcast. This day, however, God pulled back the cloudy curtains and allowed the sunshine to pour down on His people. It was spectacular. (so much so that I got tan lines from my shirt simply from being outside)

The next thing that jarred my brain was the sight of a man in his army fatigues carrying a full size cross. He never spoke but carried the cross around the courthouse parking lot. Finally, he stopped on the edge of the courthouse lawn....knelt down....and held that cross into place. The simplicity of the scene was breath-taking. Just a man kneeling at the foot of this cross. People would stop...some would just stare, some were moved to tears, some would kneel down beside him and pray. My favorite scene was of a biker that came alongside and laid one hand on this man while holding the Word in the other hand.

Aside from singing with my girlfriends, (Kim and Sonya) I got to join in and sing with a choir made up of people from all the different churches in our county. It didn't matter...Baptist, Methodist, Presbyterian, Pentecostal, or Primitive...our main goal was to lift high our voices and reach heaven with our praise. We got to sing three songs. Each song had profound effects on those singing and those listening and participating in worship.

We were also blessed to have approximately 100 pastors gather there as well. They stood down in front of the choir and their presence brought both humility and honor. They stood as servants of this community. They stood to intervene for the people. They also stood to say that they could do better...pray more...pray harder...

Lastly, we got to hear from one of my favorite preachers. He admonished the crowd to learn the discipline of prayer. So often we attach prayer to the end of whatever we are doing. In other countries where revivals are occurring...people will pray for hours BEFORE a service starts.

Would we be willing to do that?

I have never attended a church that taught or emphasized the power of prayer in that way.

He said a powerful statement that spoke volumes to me. I will leave you to ponder it too...

"When I pray, it takes me 30 minutes to get all of the religion out of me first. Then I can get real with God, cry out to Him, and quietly listen."

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Wow! What a day!

(So far things are looking good with my friend's daughter...more on that later)

So today...

God woke me at 5:00 a.m. sharp. Some days I really hate that....but today I felt fine about getting right up. I ventured into our den and piled up in my (and Shep's) favorite red chair. I just sat still and began to pray...silently to myself.

I knew He could hear and He was all I cared about. Normally I don't pray quietly b/c I easily lose my train of thought. But, this morning it went really well.

I talked to Him about some regular things and some requests as well. He knows that anything I lay bare before Him is important to me. I specifically asked him for "a word" and "encouragement" about Shep's business, His vision for our lives, and Caroline's healing.

After praying, I worked on the last day of my Bible study. At some point it lead me to Jeremiah 33. When I finished with the study...I felt lead to keep studying His Word. I am NOT one of those people who can just automatically KNOW where to go in the Word. So, I started where my Bible was opened...Jeremiah 33 and some of 34.

I read it once. Certain phrases and verses literally jumping off of the page at me.
I read it again. Nope! It wasn't my imagination...certain things I had prayed were being addressed.

I prayed and asked God to re-direct me if I was taking this out of context.

So, I read it again.
And again.
And again.

I started circling the verses in my Bible. I really couldn't get over it. I felt like He was all over this...and just think if I hadn't gotten up??? Was He really speaking? Hadn't I prayed and asked for His Word to speak??

Specifically...some encouragement was given about Shep's business and our finances.
Specifically...some encouragement was given about my city and church.
Specifically...God graciously grinned on me asking Him to reveals such secrets...check out Jer. 33:3.

If you were to read these may think I am crazy. It may seem foreign that Jeremiah speaking to God's chosen people so many years ago could be relevant to me...right now! is. It was and is so powerful.

I mentioned a couple of posts ago about God using the number 7 in relation to Caroline.

This morning was no different. I even prayed specifically about that very thing. Does it surprise you that God happened to use the number 7 again?

In chap. 34 Jeremiah is talking about Jews being slaves. There was a certain agreement that after working for 6 years...these people would be released and set free on the 7th year.

I couldn't help but think....this is her (Caroline) 7th year.

Will she be freed from living as a slave in this body for the last 6 years?? A slave in the way that she is so limited by her disability. Not being able to speak, eat, sit, stand, run, dance or play.

I broke out in some cold chills!!

So, I got to share all of this with the kids ready...and headed out for my day. I prayed quickly in the car that God would continue to confirm these things to me.

You won't believe what happened about 10 minutes later. My friend (the one with the daughter in the hospital) sent me a text that read, "Caroline will be 100% healed. We just finished praying for her".


How did she know I asked for confirmation?
How did she know what I prayed this morning?
How did she know?

I text ed her back and tried to explain my excitement. I was so moved that God was allowing this to happen. When I asked her why she was praying and why she sent me that text...she wrote back saying, "God prompted me to pray for you this morning at 4:51a.m. (Remember God woke me at 5:00)

At this point I am floating on air as I go to church to facilitate Bible study. I am just full of joy and excitement over my morning.

One of my sweet ladies in the study had given me a charm bracelet a while back. She just-so-happened to talk to me this-particular morning to explain to me that the bracelet had been passed around from person to person in need of healing. She told me that I should let Caroline wear it.

So----I sit down to prepare to watch the video and I decided I better write all of this down in my book before I lose it or don't remember (and believe me..the enemy wants us to forget).

Wouldn't you know when I went to write the date I couldn't believe that it hadn't already hit me.

Today is the 7th.

..and it just happens to be the National Day of Prayer!!

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Thank you

God intervened in a BIG way.

Thank you for praying. I think our entire town was praying for this sweet girl.

Shep and I got to visit with them at the hospital last night. Mom and dad were still a little shaky (ya think??) but little miss was doing good. She was sitting up in bed, talking, smiling, watching Dora, and chewing gum.

This was a far different scene from the little girl just a few hours earlier. She had been in and out of consciousness and there was bleeding on her brain. of now we are waiting for the results of her 2nd scan this morning. The doctors will compare them with the scan from yesterday. We are expecting good news!

God hears us...
He loves our children more than we ever could...
He is moved by our prayers...

Hopefully we will know the results soon...all is well for now.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Hit Your Knees

If you are reading this and can do it...please get on your knees and ask our GREAT GOD to intervene on behalf of one of my friend's children.

This little girl has a head injury and has been air-lifted to one of our Children's hospitals.

My friend is going nuts as you can imagine. I want to be there so badly...

See..this particular friend holds a special place in my heart. Six and a half years ago when I woke up after the ordeal of having Caroline and almost leaving this world...she was one of the first faces that I saw. She came all the time...stayed with me...prayed over me...held my hand. During the first year of Caroline's life we had doctor's appointments every week. She would go with me and help me with all of the pumps and stuff that had to accompany my little girl.

She is a joy to be around and my heart aches to not be with her right this moment. floor is probably the best place to be. I am asking that my amazing God would heal what has been broken and provide a miracle for this family. That my Prince of Peace would weave in and out of that waiting an assurance and comfort only He can provide.

Please pray with me...

I will update soon!

Monday, May 4, 2009

Secrets with God


That would be one word to describe this past weekend. It could also easily describe the next couple of weeks in my life.

So much going many obligations...appointments....meetings....the list goes on...

Anyway, tucked inside this packed weekend was a wonderful couple of hours. I was surrounded by praise-filled women at a local church. This is not my home church but it is an awesome church and the pastor's wife invited me to be her guest at the Spring Ladies' Event. She bought me a ticket and sent it in the mail.

My day (Saturday) was beyond crazy so at first I blew if off because I thought that there was no possible way that I could attend.

However, Shep really encouraged me to go. He somehow knew (Holy Spirit) that it would be good for me.

So...I went.

I walked in and knew a few people there. It was decorated in a springtime decor...pretty tables and pretty ladies and delicious food. I felt welcomed and suddenly, even strangely, excited to be there. It was like I knew I was going to receive something.

My seat was at the front table next to Ms. Becky...this is the pastor's wife. She was busying around doing her duties so I sat down and took in the view. I noticed that two seats over there was a woman sitting there pouring over her notes. I knew instinctively that she was going to be our speaker.

I felt led to pray for her so I silently lifted her up and asked God to anoint her and give her power through her words.

I need to mention that one of the little things that had already gotten my attention was our table number. It was 7.

To you...that may not mean anything. But God knows (it is one of our secrets) that the number 7 has great significance to me. It means perfection, complete, or whole. These past 6+ years with Caroline have been peppered with inferences to that number....and her healing....maybe because we believe she will be completely healed....hence the number meaning "complete or whole".

Back to it...

So Ms. Becky came to sit and introduced me to the speaker. She was an attractive woman...probably late 40's or so. I told her that I had prayed for her. She thanked me and went on to tell me that the story she would be telling would be hard for her to re-tell.

It turns out her daughter (23 yrs. old) had been in a horrible car accident. Her car hydroplaned off of the side of a cliff. She was not expected to live. She was in a neck brace, tube down her throat, feeding tube inserted, many bones broken and several organs were cut and torn. Several of her vertebrae had been completely of them is the vertebrae that causes instant paralysis.

This mother prayed. This mother believed. This mother looked at a seemingly impossible situation and asked God for the impossible to be done.

I won't go through the entire ordeal...but it was horrendous, painful, difficult, expensive, and exhausting. I understood why she had such heartache when she retold this story.

But...4 years later...her daughter (the one who should have been paralyzed, wheel-chair bound and g-tube fed) is now 100% HEALED!!

PRAISE GOD!!! Shep was right I needed to be there. God had secrets to whisper to me through out her entire testimony.

"Andrea, I still do this"
"People still testify to my miracles"
"I see your plight"
"I understand your pain and see each tear"
"I came through for her and I will come through for you"

These were the secrets I felt Him telling me the whole time. I cried (the good kind) like a baby. I felt so encouraged. My heart was overflowing with praise and thanksgiving.

God intended for me to be there. He made sure I got that invite in the mail. He had a date with me in that church. I felt Him all around me....literally like I was being held by the One who can read my mind and answer me back with secrets.

It was sweet and surreal.

Ps. 44:21 "God would surely have known it, for he knows the secrets of every heart."