Monday, June 29, 2009

Back Again

What a ride!!!!

I can't really even begin to describe it.

It was as close to perfection as possible.

Weather? Perfect

Company? Perfect

Accommodations? Perfect

Atmosphere? Perfect

The View? Perfect

Food? Perfect back side isn't all that sore. Go figure?

Our trip was wonderful. My eyes will not soon forget the majesty and glory on display in the Smoky Mountains. I couldn't take enough of it in. I just wanted to keep staring at the colors, heights, textures, and depths. I wished I didn't have to blink because I know I missed a few things. I took pictures but they will not come even close to showing all that we saw.

I praised and worshipped the Maker and Creator of all things. Believe was easy to do with all of that scenery. I felt like if I could have heard in the spiritual realm then I would have been blown away at the praise of those mountains, hills, and rivers. No doubt....they know their Maker.

Can you tell that I am not over it yet?

Truly....I wanted to witness a "rocks and hills crying out" moment.

Oh, the majesty of His creation. Can you even fathom what Heaven must be like???

Friday, June 26, 2009

A 2 Wheel Ride

Shep and I are leaving tomorrow for a motorcycle trip. Two of our best couple friends and us are headed north for a fun excursion on 2 wheels.

I am certain that my rear-end will be complaining come Monday, but I know it will be worth it.

Of course, I will miss my sweet babies.

I am so blessed to have people (momma, daddy, and Linda) that will give them tons of love and attention while we are gone. Honestly, I will enjoy the trip more knowing that they are in good hands.

However, I am really excited about getting to be right next to Shep for a long time. He is IT for me.

I love everything about this man.

Being on a motorcycle all snuggled up to him is TOO fun!! We get to see, experience, smell, and hear everything together and at the same time. We actually do even talk a good bit too. It requires a lot of me leaning up and listening hard.

I am taking my ipod on this trip. This will be a first for me. It is loaded with some of my favorite praise for those people who see hands will most likely be in the air giving praise to my God.

We will be back on Monday afternoon and I hope I have lots of fun tales to share. I promise it won't be boring. I am hoping that we can laugh a lot, see and hear God, and make some amazing memories.

Please pray for our safety. :>)

Thursday, June 25, 2009


"A man of sorrows....."

"Well acquainted with grief....."

These are a couple of the phrases that represent our Lord.

I don't like them. These phrases mean that I will have to endure sorrow and be acquainted with grief.

I would much prefer to focus on the miraculous, all-powerful, mighty, conquering, and victorious attributes of God.

However, we are created in His image....we are His workmanship.

That means that we must encompass ALL of His attributes....not just the ones we prefer.

I broke down.
I felt rejected.
I felt tired.
I wanted relief.
I felt smothered with questions.
I felt mocked by the enemy

So, what did God do for me at this point??

He came near.

He brought a friend at the most perfect time.

He released me to go be with Him.

He spoke to me from His Word...and still listened when I had my fit.

He spoke gently of my pain and said that IT IS NOT WASTED!

Others will be encouraged and strengthened in future days because of these trying days. I will be able to have compassion and a better understanding of those who are hurting....IF I HURT too.

We run to Jesus during our times of sorrow because He endured sorrow.

He showed me that this pain WILL SERVE ITS PURPOSE and that I will be nourishment to others because of it.

So....I CHOOSE to take a hit for the team. I CHOOSE not to be offended because He hasn't given me all of the answers. I CHOOSE to deal with it although I don't like it. I CHOOSE not to give up but to press in even more. I CHOOSE to accept this sorrow and grief that grips my heart. I CHOOSE to do so and still smile and still serve...and still believe HIM for the miracle to come.

May my faith be strengthened.

Is. 53:2b-6
He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him,
nothing in his appearance that we should desire him.
He was despised and rejected by men,
a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering.
Like one from whom men hide their faces
he was despised, and we esteemed him not.
Surely he took up our infirmities
and carried our sorrows,
yet we considered him stricken by God,
smitten by him, and afflicted
But he was pierced for our transgressions,
he was crushed for our iniquities;
the punishment that brought us peace was upon him,
and by his wounds we are healed.
We all, like sheep, have gone astray,
each of us has turned his own way;
and the LORD has laid on him
the iniquity of us all.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Can I fall apart?

Poor Brandi.

She called and checked in on me today. She asked all of the right questions. Little did I know that this would be the day that the tears would come and I would fall apart. I cried for the first time today. It just spilled out...kind of like a drink that is too full and has to pour over the sides.

It has been 11 days since June 12th. Life has gone on. I think most people don't talk to me about it because they don't want to remind me of what didn't happen.

I wish "reminding me" was the case. It is ever before me...always on my mind.

It started Saturday evening....this overwhelming....encompassing....closing in feeling of....being forgotten.

The 12th came and went. Now, summer is continuing on. We get up and do our deal. This huge expectation has melted away into the daily grind of life. To be honest, I miss it. I miss the amazing feeling of expectation.

Before anyone thinks that I am giving up or giving in....I AM NOT!!

Today is just a day. Right now is hard. The feelings are winning. It does happen sometimes. We just usually don't want to admit that to people even though we all know it is true.

I know all of God's promises for me. I know HE is here. I know HE cares for me. I know HE is in complete control. I know HE works all things out. I know HE is pleased with my faith.

But, I also know that I don't feel any of that right now.

The additional financial burdens that are hitting hard at our house also have a way of just chipping away at my resolve. It seems to just come at us from all angles.

I want to desperately pitch my fit....and beg God to make it stop. Fix it. Change it. Help tangibly that I can see it. Thankfully, He is patient through our fits.

I didn't want to blog any of this. Frankly, I have steered clear of the computer for that reason. Maybe I am too prideful or embarrassed to show this pain.....this weakness....this frailty....this frustration....and this REAL side of me. I knew soon after I shed my tears that I was to blog about how all of this feels. God knows we run from Him because of the way "this" feels. I believe He wants me to be raw and real about it.

HE is GOD over this too.

"You keep track of all my sorrows. You have collected all of my tears in your bottle. You have recorded each one in your book."

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Who's your daddy?

These are my two favorite daddy and my main squeeze!!!!

I have two amazing men in my life.

My daddy taught me, loved me, played with me, prayed for me, spoiled me, encouraged me, supported me, and showed me Jesus every single day.
I have wonderful memories of me and my daddy.
-sitting in his lap and driving his truck on back roads as a little girl
-going fishing with him and playing on the bank of the water
-going to Braves games
-watching football on t.v.
-sitting on his shoulders anywhere we went
-always knowing that he loved my hair in pigtails
-swinging on any swing together
-singing songs about Jesus
-laughing out loud at old Andy Griffith re-runs
-taking me out on daddy/daughter dates
-listening to him each morning as he prayed over me before he left for work

My dad made me feel safe and secure. He paved the way for the next man in my life.

Shep, my sugar daddy (so kidding) shares a lot of the characteristics I love so much in my father.

He loves Jesus. He is crazy about me. He adores our children.

He is playful, silly, strong, and straight as an arrow.
He prides himself on being a man of integrity.

He loves hard. His little girls love being caught up and wrapped tight in his arms. Zeke gets excited at a glimpse of him.

He is an amazing man. There aren't enough good things to say...

He still thrills me and getting to see him as a father to our children is more rewarding than I ever thought possible. I find new reasons to love him everyday.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Empowered and enabled

Has a week gone by already? Seems emotionally I have lived a lifetime.

I still have lots of questions. My emotions stay on a roller coaster.


I really am doing good. We learned yesterday (at Bible study) about God enabling and empowering us in the midst of difficulty.

I don't think I have ever experienced that like I am right now. It is funny because "how I feel" is secondary. What is amazing to me is that I haven't fallen apart. In times past, my feelings were all that mattered.

Today, although still sad, confused, and broken.....I know I was obedient. I know God is doing something. I know lives were changed. I am still standing on my belief that the healing is coming soon.

I mentioned before that Shep and I have asked at least 100 times in this past week, "I wonder if we ever really heard from Him?"

Yesterday my daily devotion answered that very question...

Oswald Chambers wrote:

If you debate for even one second when God has spoken, it is all over for you. Never start to say, "Well, I wonder if He really did speak to me?" Be reckless immediately-totally unrestrained and willing to risk everything-by casting your all upon Him. You do not know when His voice will come to you, but whenever the realization of God comes, even in the faintest way imaginable, be determined to recklessly abandon yourself, surrendering everything to Him.

-My Utmost for His Highest

Isn't God so cool? He answered me. He answered my direct question...with the very same words I used to ask Him.

God is my portion.
God is my rock.
He is enough.
He is my banner.
He provides.

Help me to continue to surrender and submit my will to you. I am still dealing with anger and doubt....take it all away from me. Fill me with faith and courage. Forgive me for my unbelief, cynicism, and pride. I thank you for your mercy and grace that was waiting on me this morning. Thank you for being sufficient and letting me really mean that. Holy Spirit please abide with me, fill me, and lead me today...lest I fall apart.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

The part YOU played

I feel like I left something out yesterday. The more I thought on this Cinderella analogy, the more the Lord fleshed it out for me.

Did you notice that Cinderella's friends played a huge role? They toiled right along with her....they hoped, they put themselves into it, and they were just as excited for her.

Doesn't that sound like most of you??

Last week, ALL of my friends (and some I don't even know) hoped, prayed, put their faith out there, and were just as excited as me and Shep.

When Cinderella's dress was ripped and torn by her enemy....her friends were just as crushed.

Thank you all for being willing to be crushed with us.

I asked the Lord yesterday, "Why did you even make me put the dress on? If I had never put on the dress of hope and expectancy, all of this pain could have been avoided."

The answer didn't come immediately...just thoughts that came to me.

-the story wouldn't have been as great without the pain....
-if the fairy godmother had showed up first....her friends couldn't have gotten personally involved.
(Isn't it funny that her friends were used by the fairy godmother to carry her to the ball? The fairy godmother transformed them into different objects that were designed for the trip.)
-I believe God will transform those around us who have gotten involved personally. He will transform them and they will never be the same. He will take them further in their faith so that they will be better equipped for the journey in their own life.

Praise You Lord!!

I will leave you with a sweet picture in your head. Yesterday Caroline was at a friend's house and she was in the middle of all of them on the floor. She turned to her tummy and began doing what looks like push-ups. She will muster up as much strength as her little arms have and push her head and chest up. Immediately everyone around her started clapping and cheering for her. She thoroughly enjoyed the attention and responded with her own laughter.

Ava suddenly left the circle and headed to a corner in the room.

When asked where she was going....she simply replied, "I am going to pray for Caroline!"

Let us keep praying. Keep watching. Keep being filled with courage, strength, perseverance, faith, joy, peace, love, and HOPE!!

Holy Spirit come again today and work in me....lest I fall apart.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

A lesson from Cinderella?

Anyone else still trying to make sense of all of this??

My mind reels with questions and pieces of conversations that are ongoing with God. As Shep and I continue to just do what we know to do, it is very difficult not to question everything. I mean everything.....the last 7 years....everything that has happened to encourage us....was all of that a lie?? Have we made it all up??

Honestly, I just can't go there. If I do, hope fades and I give up.

I laid down on the couch yesterday for about 45 minutes while the t.v. was showing one of the hundreds of fairy tale movies that we have. Ava adores fairy tales. We always root for the poor pretty princess, wait expectantly on her prince, and discuss all of the mean characteristics of the evil queen. (isn't that the way they all end..)

As I lay there, a picture of a scene in Cinderella flashed across my mind. I say that because that is exactly how it happened. We weren't watching Cinderella, but suddenly in my mind I picture the scene where Cinderella is so excited about going to the ball. She stands in her gown that her mice and bird friends had made. She had such pride and such anticipation. They had pieced together and worked so hard to make her pretty dress. She dashes down the stairs to catch her step-mother and step-sisters before they leave for the ball....only they take one look at her in her pretty gown and tear it to pieces.

Of course, she is devastated. Her hopes of going to the ball, leaving her current circumstances, and wearing that beautiful is all gone. She runs away crushed and crying.

As she sits in the garden in what's left of her torn gown....she is devastated. She has questions and wonders why things are so unfair.

***Wouldn't it be so sad for the story to end here?***

What happens next? Her fairy godmother shows up and works her magic. Before Cinderella just had a pretty dress. Now, Cinderella had a coach, a coachman, a driver, horses, and oh- a new dress. A dress that far exceeds the one she had before....and just to top it slippers.

All of the crying in the garden, the step-sisters and step-mother's mean motives, and the unmet expectations all vanished in seconds. She was going to get to go to the ball all along....she just got to stand back and witness all that was done for her.

In some weird way...I kind of felt like God was speaking to me through this. (work with me here, He knows that I am very familiar with fairy tales)

I feel like I had my dress on. I was excited and ready to go to the ball. However, at midnight on June 12th, I felt like the dress of expectancy and hope was ripped to shreds. My chances of going to that ball, to see Caroline healed, were gone. Now I feel like I am sitting in that garden crying, devastated, and wondering what to do next. I felt God saying to me. "You are still going to the ball, Andrea. I am still going to come and work my magic. It will be way better than just that pretty dress you had on before. The entire world around you will change and all of this pain will seem like nothing. And unlike Cinderella, you won't have to worry about the stroke of midnight looming over you. What I change.......stays changed!"

Some of you are probably thinking I am crazy. Me too! Could God really speak through this?? I don't know entirely. But I do know I was encouraged. My spirit was lifted. I shared it with Shep this morning and I really thought he would laugh at me. Instead he said, "You ought to write that down. That is really good."

So I took his advice.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

A hungry soul

Man, mornings are hard for me.

I don't want to get up and do the things I must do. Every morning since June 13th has been particularly difficult. I don't feel like "fighting the fight".

The battle that rages in my mind is ravaging.

I won't begin to blog all of the lies the enemy tells me. All to strip me of any hope, joy, life, or encouragement. To blog them would only make the enemy far too happy. But, don't for one second believe that I am not in a spiritual battle every second of the day. Because I feel disappointed, sad, hurt, confused, and fearful.....I make a great prey.

So-----in spite of my lying feelings------I must feed my hungry soul with TRUTH!!

Please know that I am blogging all of this because I feel very led to walk in my disappointment in front of you. I wouldn't do it otherwise. I want to be transparent about my feelings while clinging to the TRUTH. I want you (and me) to see that God asks us to take risks and be courageous. I also want you (and me) to see how He tends to us when things don't make sense. I want to live out and prove that His Word heals, holds, protects, and provides power when I don't have an ounce of "want to" in me. May He be praised!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

John 15:13-17 talks of the great love God has for us to lay down His life for call us friends...for us to do what He commands.....that He chose us to bear fruit....

He laid down His life for me. My devotion said that "laying down our lives" was the most difficult thing we could do. It would be easier in a lot of ways to just die and give our lives than to lay it down and to Him each day. It requires submission....completely. I want to be able to do that. I want Him to call me friend.

Phil. 3:14 Paul talks about "pressing on toward the goal to win the prize...."

Oh how I don't want to press on. If this were about "wants" I would live in a fairy tale. However, I MUST press on. God knows that through our pursuit of him....we find Him. We also find out the truth about ourselves.

I am selfish.
I am prideful.
I live in fear.
I worry a lot.
I don't trust God.

He knows that by turning to His Word and prayer I will lay down my selfishness, pride, fear, worry, and doubt. Only then can He replace them with humility, meekness, courage, hope, and trust.

Keep me filled with Your Spirit today lest I fall a part.

Monday, June 15, 2009

What now??

"When you DON'T know what to do, do what you KNOW to do."

That is where we are.

We have so many questions.

I DO believe that God asked me to take a risk and I was obedient. I know the reason that most people don't take risks is because of how I feel right now....disappointed.

It is hard and I hate it, but I WOULD do it all over again.

I saw faith rise up in people this week. I saw people praying and believing this week. I saw many people step out and take their own risks with God. (Craig and Leighanne :>))

So, the risk I took DID DO something.

I felt like it woke some of us up from a spiritual slumber.

God was and is pleased with that. He loves faith. He loves for His children to take risks simply because they love and trust Him.

I still pray that God does this healing soon.
I pray that this move He started last week among His people will just continue to swell and grow.
I know the enemy is furious by this outpouring of faith and he is loving this opportunity of disappointment to whisper discouraging things to all of us.

As I have mentioned, Shep and I are terribly gun shy about believing what we think we are hearing from God.

We need some clarity and understanding pretty quickly. However, we need to KNOW that it is from GOD!

We need to know....what now?

We can't back up or back down. We have no other back up plan.

My mentor, Marje, sent me these verses on the morning of the 13th....

Hebrews 10:35-39
"So do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded. You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised. For in just a little while,
'He who is coming will come and not delay.
But my righteous on will live by faith.
And if he shrinks back,
I will not be pleased with him.'
But we are not of those who shrink back and are destroyed, but of those who believe and are saved."

Heavenly Father..
I, like so many others are disappointed. We don't understand. We felt like our faith was huge. I do believe you were and still are pleased. Our flesh wants to shrink back from you. Help us forge ahead through determination and courage. Help us to not get bogged down in how we feel. Give us a hunger and a desperation to hear and see you. We want a revival to begin. We want to see the God we read about and not the god we have made to fit our needs and wants. Thank you for holding all of us during this time. You knew we would hurt. You knew we wouldn't understand. Show us what to do next. If it means just doing more of the same...that is fine. Despite how I feel and my many questions, I will believe you. I will trust you. I will still hope in you. I will still wait on you. I do love you.

Saturday, June 13, 2009


Here it is....June 13th.

The miracle DIDN'T happen.

I don't know what to say or how to feel. I am sure you have all been here at some point in your life.

"How did I miss you God?"

"How could you have wanted us to go through all of this?"

I KNOW GOD IS GOOD....but right now I feel cheated, disappointed, and cast away.

I have been here before. The feeling hasn't changed. I will say it is intensified. It hurts more and worse than before.

I feel like I have been holding on to a helium filled balloon for 7 years and I am tempted to let it fly into the air and disappear. Why should I hold on to it any more? I could do so much more and life would be easier to do things with both hands. That balloon feels like "the healing". I have carried this hope for so long. What if I just let it go?? I must say it would feel like a death to watch it fly into the sky and disappear. But, am I being silly by going through life with one hand tied up by holding a balloon?

Is anyone getting this analogy???

Please know that I am brain vomiting here. Feelings are hard to process and I am doing the best I can. I don't want to pray. I don't want to read the Word. I don't want to talk to anyone.

But.....I will.

I will pray. I will read the Word. I will talk about this.

I don't have a choice.

If I don't, I will spiritually die. That ISN'T an option.

Please pray for me and Shep. The mood in our home is so sad. We are utterly confused. Have we been wrong the whole time about Caroline? Have we only heard what we wanted to hear? Did God want us to walk through this disappointment in front of an audience? We want desperately to hear something from Him....the hard part is.....we don't trust what we think we hear now.

That is a hurdle that only God can help us jump over....

To my amazing faith-filled friends.....keep holding our hands up. Don't look at us with pity. We need your strength not your sadness. We need your assurance not your assessment of the situation. We need your love and not your judgement.

I don't know what all of this was about.

I know His ways are higher than mine.

I know that He will often sacrifice our feelings in order to complete His plan.

I am not as hurt as I thought I would be....I just have so many questions...

I don't know what else to say. It may be a few days before I can bring myself to post a new blog.

One thing I know. He has given us friends and family that have rallied like nothing I have seen. I still pray that He is about to move....maybe He was just lighting the fire to get us ready....

I hope so....

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Happy Birthday Caroline

7 years ago today our lives were forever changed.

We became parents.
We fell in love with Caroline Patricia Helton.

I will never forget the first time I laid eyes on her.

She was a vision. Perfect in every way. I had no idea of what lay ahead for us. All I saw was the prettiest little girl with delicate features and a head full of gorgeous black hair. The first time I actually saw or held her was 2 days after she was born.

I had been in the ICU and was medically sedated. When I improved to the point that I could be put in a room, I was moved. My first order of business was to hold my baby girl.

She had tubes everywhere. She even had an I V needle in her little head. But....the world around me vanished when I held her. I stared for what seemed like forever....I smelled her. I kissed her. I introduced myself....

Now, here we are 7 years down the road. I know her by heart. I know every whimper and what it means. I know how she smells every morning when I lift her out of bed. I know when she is happy, sad, jealous, or mad. I have snapshots in my head of every day we have lived with her. I think I could do her routine in my sleep. I know the strength in her legs and the weaknesses in her neck, arms and shoulders. I know what it feels like for my shirt sleeves to stay wet because of her drool......and only a mother wouldn't be grossed out by it. I love how she cuts her eyes to those that she loves. I love her big toothy smile that takes over her face. I love the belly laughs when she can't catch her breath. I love her sense of humor....her stubborn will....

I wouldn't have had it any other way! I would never have chosen it....but my sovereign Lord knew that she was mine to have. He knew she would bend me in ways I would have never bent on my own. He knew she would melt me to have compassion for others that I would have never allowed myself to have. He knew........everything she would do for us. He knew how good she would be for us.

My daddy gave me a verse shortly after she was born. James 1:17 "Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like the shifting shadows."

She was and still is a good and perfect gift. Exactly what I needed...

I believe, hope, and pray that today is the eve of her healing day. Not only do I want it for me, Shep, and countless others. But, I want it for Caroline. I want to hear what all she has to say. I want to meet this little girl that I have had the privilege to care for and love. I want to know her and what is in that precious little head.

I want her to tell us about her many encounters with Jesus. I want her to run, dance, and sing without the limitations of her weak body.

I pray that His power invades this place tonight and does what only He can do. I pray He raises her just like He did when He called Lazarus out of the tomb. I pray that she enjoys every moment of the transformation. I pray that the resurrection power of Jesus takes control of her weak and fragile frame and breathes the power of life and strength into her that was made available on the cross. I want her to see and be held by the One who took every stripe upon His back so that she could take part in His healing. I want her to remember Him....His smell, His eyes, His strong arms, His smile, and His voice telling her...."It is time, are to to dance...."

May my God receive all glory. My His name be forever praised and exalted. May lives be changed, addictions and strongholds be broken, and relationships restored. Nothing is impossible. My mustard seed faith believes that MANY can be freed by the healing of one. I pray that a revival like we have never known is upon us.......Father, find us faithful and ready!!

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

The Great Cloud of Witnesses

I have got to brag on some folks...

Momma.....with me no matter what.....
Lori........our cheerleader....counting down the days...
Deana....a peaceful voice of faith.....constant companion.....cries often from a tender heart
Brandi....says it like it is.....believe with all she has....never doubted
Mande.....creativity from God....makes us all sick...a white dress that couldn't hold a price tag
Leanne.....compassionate and doting just like a mother.....carries it on her shoulders...
Amy.....excited and awed.....encouraged me for years...
Leighanne.....studied with me, prayed for me, watched and believed with us for years
Jacquelyn....sends me many texts a day full of faith and scripture....lives her faith out loud
Mandi....dreams about her.....prays for her.....walks and stand with me
Kim.....excited like a kid.....cannot wait til Friday
Suzanne......marked it on her ink no less
Francine.....sending me e-mails of encouragement.....sharing her own life miracles...
Elaina.....constantly praying, fasting, and sending me scripture to stand on....
Kristen.....tears flowing.....smiling from ear to ear.....waiting to watch her dance...
Michele.....gave me a frame to use for her first ballet recital.....never stopped believing...
Marje....the mentor that speaks truth....stands on the Word....and never backs down...
Caroline.....urging me to little girl's name sake...
Tess.....wearing her blue bracelet....interceding always....expecting the impossible
Cole....fasting, praying, asking God for her place in this and to be obedient
Liz (Tootsie)....laughing and crying....encouraging boldness no matter what....a prayer to the core

Craig...not leaving to go out of town.....holy cow!! expectant, honest, hungry for God
Jon....believing....standing....God let him hear "I can only imagine"
JP.....Caroline's crush for years......loves her like his own.....
Derrick.....strong, steady, sure of what God can and will do
Corey....states it and puts a period on the end....simply believes and doesn't bend to emotional whims

Dana, Joanne, Peg, Kay, Lynn, Ann, Dot, Agnes, April, Corey, Jenny, Hannah, Dawn, Sonya, etc....

These are a few of the people who gather in and around us. They don't back up or back down. There are countless others that I have not mentioned or somehow in my crazy head...I have forgotten at the moment.

These people, these faces have been the arms, legs, feet and voice of Jesus in my life.

They love hard. They believe big. They encourage all the time.

Shep and I consider ourselves so incredibly rich to know them and call them friends.

You don't know what your encouragement has meant to are holding up my arms during this fight even if you don't feel like you are.....

Ex. 17:12 "When Moses' hands grew tired, they took a stone and put it under him and he sat on it. Aaron and Hur held his hands up-one on one side, one on the other- so that his hands remained steady til sunset."

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Courage 101

(Gulp) Still reeling from the fact that I posted that last one....

Last night Shep and I finally made it to the red chair together. It is one of our favorite spots. We end up there every night once the kids are tucked in. I huddled down into his arms and he knew. He knew the trepidation and anxiety that plagues me. It is plaguing him too.

I asked him, "Honey, is this what courage feels like?"

He just smiled and shrugged and said, "Yep, I think so."

For all of you who are dealing with butterflies in your tummies, restless nights, and shaky hands please know how much I appreciate you living this out with us. I stand constantly amazed at the friends and family who have hemmed us in. I know and sense how you are standing and believing with us.

I teased with one of my friends and said, "Is there any way to be expectant and still try to prepare my heart for disappointment.

She replied with a sigh, "I don't think so."

I just wanted to give you all some insight into my brain. Lest you think that I am sitting here every second with faith spilling out and pouring over, rest assured...I am not! I am, with the help of the Holy Spirit, giving my will, my mind, and my emotions over to Him.

I am running to the Word for constant encouragement. I need it to be life, peace, and power to me right now. He promises that His word can be our life and breath.

Faith is NOT the absence of fear...but standing, with knees knocking together, in the face of fear.

I don't want to fear disappointment so much that I miss out on the divine encounters with God Almighty.

I will tell you that I have asked Him repeatedly for me to be right. I don't want to be wrong anymore and I don't want to have to live out my disappointment and heartache in front of you. I say all of that.....still knowing that His plan may require that of me. But His plan could and hopefully is the mind-blowing, awe-inspiring, run-out-into-the-streets screaming miracle of healing Caroline.

I want to leave you with a few cool things God has let me stumble upon......

***John 13:19 (totally took this out of context....but still a cool thought that God could have given me regarding my situation...)
"I am telling you now before it happens, so that when it does happen you will believe that I am He."

***In a book that I love, "The God Chasers", Tommy Tenny writes:

"God chasers have a lot in common. Primarily, they are not interested in camping out on some dusty truth known to everyone. They are after the fresh presence of the Almighty. Sometimes their pursuit raises the eyebrows of the existing church, but usually they lead the church from a place of dryness back into the place of His presence. If you're a God chaser, you won't be happy to simply follow God's tracks. You will follow them until you apprehend His presence. The difference between the truth of God and revelation is very simple. Truth is where God's been. Revelation is where God is. Truth is God's tracks. It's His trail, His path, but it leads to what? It leads to Him. Perhaps the masses of people are happy to know where God's been, but true God chasers are not content just to study God's trail, His truths; they want to know Him. They want to know where He is and what He's doing right now."

Oh---how I long to be a part of what He is doing right now. I want to chase Him until He catches me....

Psalm 62:5-6
"Find rest, O my soul, in God alone; my hope comes from him.
He alone is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress, I will not be shaken."

(For all of you who leave comments....thank you. You have no idea how God uses those to flame my faith. Keep them coming....)

Friday, June 5, 2009

WHAT IF.....

What if...

This is the question that has stolen my sleep for the last few weeks.

What if believers really listened for God to speak?

What if we believed what we thought He said to us?

What if we acted on it?

What if we looked foolish?

What if we got it wrong?

What if we got it right?

What if the church stopped being a place of stale religion, fear-filled members, and boring ritualistic lessons and became a place of the Holy Spirit's power and presence, where all believers lived lives of faith, courage and reckless abandon?

The reason I ask these questions is this. Shep and I find ourselves in a crisis of belief.

We have believed for almost 7 years that God is going to heal Caroline. In the past few weeks, we feel that we have heard God getting more specific. June 12th.

Through a series of events, revelations in the Word, and undeniable providential occurrences that are far too detailed and lengthy to include, we believe that God is going to heal Caroline on June 12th.

I cannot deny that I am afraid. I have been wrong before...and it hurts...bad. I am so afraid that I may be wrong again. But I am more afraid of losing hope. I am more afraid of giving up. I am more afraid of blowing by all this and giving in to the fear of failure and disappointment.

If I am going to be wrong. I at least want to be brave...

One of Shep's favorite quotes inspires me..

As T.R. said,
"It is not the critic who counts: not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles or where the doer of deeds could have done better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly, who errs and comes up short again and again, because there is no effort without error or shortcoming, but who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions, who spends himself for a worthy cause; who, at the best, knows, in the end, the triumph of high achievement, and who, at the worst, if he fails, at least he fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who knew neither victory nor defeat."

What I do know is that I serve a great God. If June 13th rolls around and nothing has changed, He will still pick me up off of the floor, dust me off, wipe away angry tears, and encourage me to keep going.

Having said all of that........WHAT IF?

(Really cannot believe I actually wrote this.)

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Our medicine man...and BIG 4 year old faith

Doctors have always been a part of Caroline's life. Some we have liked, some we have loved, and others have been much less than desirable.

We attend church with Caroline's primary pediatrician. He has been in her life since birth. He has stepped out and prayed for her healing and given her special attention and treatment...kind of hard not to b/c Caroline captures your heart).

We went to see him yesterday as part of a pre-op visit. He had to do an over-all check on her because Caroline will have a dental procedure on Friday that requires anesthesia.

Caroline used to hate going to the doctor. I think she had just had enough. She was tired of looking at those people.

As we pulled in the parking lot yesterday...she was grinning from ear to ear. We checked in and got called back and she immediately began looking at the door...just waiting on the doctors arrival. When he came in the room, it was the welcome anyone would want. She outwardly told him in every way she is capable of that she loved him.

It was the sweetest thing.

She checked out great. She is physically in good shape for the anesthesia and the procedure.

As we were preparing to leave, our sweet pediatrician knelt down and prayed over Caroline. It was a wonderful moment. I felt so blessed and knew that God had placed him in her life for a special reason.

Later last night...Shep was home with the girls. I had gone to choir practice...and after bath time and other stuff Ava asked Shep the sweetest thing.

Ava- Is God everywhere daddy?

Shep- Yes, sweetie. God can be present anywhere.

Ava- Is God here right now?

Shep- Yes, but where God really likes to live is in our heart.

Ava- Will God heal Caroline once He lives in my heart?

Shep- Not necessarily, but He would like to live in your heart. Do you want to ask him to live in your heart?

Ava- Yes

Shep- Do you want me to pray with you?

Ava- No

(She runs into her room and Shep can hear her praying.....oh how I know God heard that sweet thing. This conversation is not ver batim b/c I wasn't is paraphrased...but you get the point. Also, we get that Ava doesn't really get the whole sin thing yet...but what a great start to knowing her Savior!)

This is the 4th time Ava has spontaneously mentioned Caroline's healing in the last 2 weeks....what sweet faith!!!!!

Monday, June 1, 2009

11 years.....and a Monday

Shep and I celebrated our 11th anniversary on Saturday. We had a gorgeous sunny day that we mostly spent on the motorcycle. My parents and Linda watched the kids for the day so that we could have the entire day together.

It was one of those days that I didn't want to end.

He surprised me with the gift he got for me. In his spare time (which there is none) Shep had gone to many special locations that held significance to us over these past 11 years. He took a picture of the door of each location.

-the church where we married
-the restaurant where we met
-the house he lived in when we met
-the house he lived in when we got married
-our first rental house
-the second house we lived in
-the hospital where Caroline was in the NICU
-the third house we lived in
and other special spots.

He then put these pictures in an album and wrote in poem style some type of descriptive phrase under each photo. Can I just say priceless????

Those places......those days....have shaped us into the people we are. Memories forever etched into my brain that are so dear to me.

His thoughtfulness and effort was unbelievable. He wanted me to feel know that he remembers each event...each place....each milestone...

That was Saturday......Today is Monday.

Oh my, what a day??

2 kids at the doctor
2 hours at doctor's office
3 prescriptions given
2 ears infected
1 horrible diaper rash
1 failed vision test
5 shots given
3 more appointments made
2 kids screaming relentlessly

Need I say more???