Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Let No Sin Rule...

 Caroline did horse therapy from the age of 2 til she was 7 years old.  She felt right at home on this sweet horse.
 Words cannot describe how much Ava loved this!  She was instantly in love with Daisy Mae. (the horse's name)
 Zeke just wanted to follow suit.  Anything his sisters get to do...he must as well.
 Me and my brood....dang they are cute!
 My main squeeze busted out a flannel shirt for this family outing ....I love the look on him.
Ava loves taking pictures of us....I always let her because we won't get a picture together if she doesn't do it...and I happen to think she does a great job for a 7 year old.  (No I am NOT pregnant.  The shirt was just pulled down in the front for some reason.)

A dear friend and I are getting a jump start on some scripture memory. 

Our current scripture is one we have done before.  But we are re-visiting to get ourselves back into the groove. 

It is from Psalm 119:133.

It says, "Direct my footsteps according to your word; let no sin rule over me."

I love the idea of coming before God daily, hourly, or even minute by minute and asking the Almighty to direct my footsteps.  I desire to walk in His will but sometimes I follow my own desires.  Sometimes I get distracted by circumstances and other times I fall for a trick that my enemy has designed just for me.  I know I am not alone in this.  We all do it.

Yesterday was one of those days where irritating things happened repeatedly.

-Ava left her glasses at I stopped my day and took them to her.
-Our garage door opener stopped working.
-Zeke had an accident at school because he couldn't properly work his button on his I had to go to the school yet again and take him a fresh pair.
-We were supposed to have family pictures taken outside yesterday...however with 20 mile per hour wind gusts and low temperatures....that had to be cancelled.

This is life.  Stuff happens.  Things break.  Conflicts arise.

I was not what you would call "godly" in my response to these interruptions.

I was in an ill temper.
I was frustrated.
I pouted and sulked a bit.
I griped, groaned and complained.

Why?  Because things weren't going my way.

Well I want to pose a question out of my scripture verse.  Could it be that God Almighty directs your footsteps so that the sins that rule over you can be exposed...and handled?

 At least for me....I am thinking yes.

Saturday, October 27, 2012


I am pleased to report that Caroline has had no more seizures this week.

I believe the one I witnessed could last me more than a lifetime.  But I want to praise God for each day that passed in normalcy for us. 

As last Sunday evening unraveled before our eyes, I longed for days that were boring and uneventful.

As I mentioned in my last post I knew I would be at war with fear this week.

I completely feared the unknown....all the "what ifs".

What if Caroline seizes at school?
What if Caroline seizes in her bed at night and no one knows?
What if she has a seizure disorder?
What if Shep and I can't get to her?
What if we have missed some of the warning signs?

These and many more were the thoughts that passed through my brain at the speed of about 100 per minute.  I knew I had to get a grip.

My sweet and godly man could sense it too.  I knew he was battling through also but he had to get up and go to work.

So Monday morning he sat us all down and gave us what I like to call a family pep rally. Shep told us that our home was bathed in the perfect love of Jesus Christ.  (1 John 4:18)  He is our Rock.  He is our Foundation.  We worship Jesus alone.  We will not shrink back in fear.  We will walk forward in faith.

I am pleased to report that this family did just that this week.

In spite of the fear, and believe me it was there, we chose faith.  More than that....we prayed for God to give it to us....and I believe He did.

God showed me his mysterious and miraculous grace in action during choir practice on Wednesday night.  We were going over a song that I love.  It is called "Made Me Glad."  As I sang the words chill bumps sprang into action.  Tears brimmed over my eyelids and a lump caught in my throat because I was singing what we were living and believing this week.

These words were our living testimony...

I will bless the Lord forever 
I will trust Him at all times
He has delivered me from all fear
He has set my feet upon a rock
I will not be moved
I 'll say of my Lord

You are my shield.
My strength
My portion
My shelter 
Strong tower
My very present help in time of need

Whom have I in heaven but You
There's none I desire beside You
You have made me glad
And I'll say of my Lord 

You are my shield
My strength
My portion
My shelter
Strong tower
My very present help in time of need

Fear had to take a back seat this week.  Gladness was my companion.  I was strengthened by faith and carried completely by grace.

He has made me glad!!

I chose it.  But He made it possible!

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

The Seizure

We were sitting in our family room doing our usual Sunday night thing.  The kids were dressed in their pajamas but, of course, were prolonging the trip to bed.  Zeke, Ava, and I were snuggled together in our big red chair.  Shep and Caroline were snuggling on the floor.

In the moment of 9:00 pm....everything changed.

Shep began to scream Caroline's name.

The atmosphere in the room went from calm to panic.  Literally you could feel it.

Time stopped.

Shep yelled for me because our oldest daughter was having a seizure. In an instant I was on the floor looking into the face of my girl.  Instead of seeing her typical smile I saw bulging eyes, erratic blinks, and a contorted mouth.  I couldn't see her at all.  I just saw that something was overtaking her and she was helpless to it.  So were we.

I immediately called on the name of Jesus Christ in a frantic and desperate prayer.  "Lord Jesus please stop this.  In the name of Jesus heal my girl from this."  Shep joined in and we called on the only One who could make any difference at all.

I could hear Ava and Zeke crying in the background but it seemed muffled. 

Shep directed me to call 911 because her breathing was shallow.  We had never experienced anything like this.

Were we really just sitting here quietly 2 minutes earlier?  How did this happen?  Why?  What triggered it?

I managed to call 911, pray, and comfort my other children somehow during all of this.

Shep had scooped Caroline up and held her....trying to will her body to stop jerking.   He was praying and talking in soothing tones.  Finally, after only 2 and a half minutes,( it seemed like 20) her body slowed and stopped convulsing.

The night continued with us taking her to a Children's hospital.  They did a CT scan and bloodwork.  Everything came back clear and good.

Wish I could give you the same report about me.

I wasn't clear at all.  I certainly wasn't good.

We were discharged in the middle of the night to come home.  We were told to follow up with her neurologist for an EEG and further testing.

As Caroline dozed in her car seat, Shep and I began to open up to each other about what in the heck had just happened to our lives over the past 5 hours.

We have been through so much together.  We have earned the badge of being the other's best friend.  We relived it.  We cried.  We wondered.

We were headed back home.  But was this our new normal?

We have dealt with a severely disabled child for 10 years.  We know how to handle that.  But now we have a disabled child who had a severe seizure for no apparent reason.  Will there be more?

Fear set in.

Shep and I both felt like this had been spiritual warfare of some kind.  It just felt evil and wrong.

We clung to God with our questions and prayed against the fear that seemed to come from all angles.

I sit here two days removed from these events and I am still trying to wrap my brain around it.

I struggle with this fear that wants to overtake me.
I just want to sit and stare at Caroline just to make sure that she is ok.

But....I know better.

God has called me to live a life of faith.  The enemy wants to sabotage that in any way he can.

I can't allow it.

So I have to fight hard against how I feel.  This fear has got to go.  It must be replaced with the truth of God's Word.

I have taken great comfort in the story of Job.  The bible says that Job was "blameless and upright, a man who feared God and shunned evil."

Now I am no Job.  I am not blameless.  I try to be upright in the sight of God but I fail miserably at times.  I do fear God but, truth be told, I don't shun evil.  I try to do right.  I try to live right.  But I sin and sometimes I even go out of my way to do it.

I say all of that about myself because I want to be clear that I am not comparing myself to Job in merit at all.

 But I am God's child.  I love Him.  I trust Him.  I want to live my life for His glory.  I do think Job and I have at least those things in common.

And what I know is the enemy, or Satan, wanted to mess with Job.  He wanted to hurt him.  He wanted to steal, kill, and destroy him.  He wanted Job to curse God.  But he had to ask God for permission to test Job's faith.


Before my enemy could mess with me he had to go before God Almighty and get it approved.

I also know that for God to approve must be for my good and His glory.

I can't see how any of this is for our good and His glory but I have seen God show off in weirder ways before so who am I to question His authority?

He loves me.  He loves Shep.  He loves my Caroline more than I ever could.

So...I will trust Him.

Even if it hurts to relive the nightmare.  Even if I wonder every moment when the next one might come.  Even if fear continues to bang at my door....I WILL TRUST MY GOD.

I still believe with everything in me that God is going to ultimately heal my girl.  I don't understand how all of this fits into that picture but I don't have to.

God works in impossible situations.  They are His specialty.

He just requires that we have faith...and He even gives us that too.

Thank you God for this seizure.  Thank you for a fresh reminder of my need for Your grace and guidance.  Thank you for sustaining us in the midst of the crazy and chaotic moments.  You held us whether we knew it or not.  I ask for Your protection in the future.  I ask that this would be a one time thing and that we never have to endure this again.  But, if that isn't your plan, prepare us and strengthen us for whatever is to come.  Your ways are marvelous even when I don't understand.  I do trust You.  Thank you for the many friends and family who interceded for us.  Would you bless them and show Yourself mighty in their lives.  Hold us close and give us courage.  Build our faith and bless our efforts to further Your Kingdom.  Amen.

"Shall we accept good from God, and not trouble?" ~ Job (Chapter 2:10)

Friday, October 19, 2012

Make Believe Martyr

This week has held great joy, sadness of heart, and some boiling anger....with anxiety thrown in on the side.

I guess you could say I have tasted the entire realm of emotionality and yes, I am sufficiently drained.

God allowed me to lead someone to Him this week.  It was precious and utterly exhilarating.  I volunteer at a local Women's Resource Center in our area.  This girl came in to take a pregnancy test and left knowing our Savior.  Watching someone else experience grace for the first time is truly magnificent.  It is like electricity in the air.  It was joy, pure joy and I savored every second.

Some other events of this week left me less than joyful.  Angry, even.  Shep and I are praying for something specific to come through for us.  After seeing a glimpse of sweet relief, it looks as if it may not happen.  Anger set in.  I fell into my typical tantrum toward God.

"Why can't this happen for us?"
"Does anything ever come easily for us?"
"Why did we even get our hopes up?"

These were the thoughts that surfaced over and over in my head...and sometimes even out loud.  I balled my fists toward heaven and just expressed anger over and over again.

Then I was hit with some personal family drama. We all have it.  I have had to sit back and watch someone I love dearly be betrayed and hurt in the worst possible way.  It just rips me apart.  Due to the choices of others, this hurt just continues and I had to face it this week.

Already in the grip of anger I piled sorrow and sadness on top.

Needless to say I did what I do best.

I pulled away from God.  After all... this anger, hurt, and sadness must somehow be His fault, right?

As drove myself around doing errands I felt the Holy Spirit begin to awaken inside of me.  He reminded me of a story that I had been reading this past week.  It told of a martyr who lived and died for his faith in Jesus Christ.  He was tortured, beaten, starved, chained, and ultimately, burned alive for proclaiming His faith in Jesus.

We all know stories of those who have been martyred for their faith.  Suffering was their plight.  BUT...what the Holy Spirit spoke to me was about the unspeakable JOY that was theirs as well.

This particular man that I read about had many people who followed and supported him.  He would write to them constantly and give them reports of his situation.  Not once did he focus on the fact that he was chained, wrongly accused, tortured or sitting in his own excrement.  Instead he boasted of how the Holy Spirit encouraged him in his dire situation.  He would brag on the goodness of God despite the ugliness that surrounded him.

Then reality hit me.

Here I am acting like some make-believe martyr.  Mad at God because I have had to encounter some mild "suffering" this week.  Some disappointments and frustrations have come my way....and what have I done?

I have acted like a complete baby.

My issues don't even come close to torture, starvation, or an isolating cell.  Yet I act as if I have been completely burdened by life.

We do have hard stuff.  I don't mean to make light of some of the sufferings we do have.  But I don't know a single person who is really a martyr.

So why do we act like it?

Our sufferings, as real and heavy as they are, don't compare to the sufferings of those who have to live in fear because of their faith.

If we did....I bet our lives would be vastly different.

At least for me....I want to worship Him regardless.  He is worthy.  He died for me.  He set me free.  He gives me hope.

So as the week has progressed so have I.  God has made some progress with me.  I have practiced some "just because" worship this week.  My situations have not changed.  The anger, sadness, and anxiety still linger.  But they aren't leading me around with my head in a noose.  Instead I am bringing them before Him in an act of worship and surrender.  In spite of them I rejoice.

Let's not be make believe martyrs.  Let's be real people of real faith.

1 Peter 1:6-9  "In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer griefs in all kinds of trials.  These have come so that your faith-of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire-may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls."

Monday, October 15, 2012

Why we love the farm...

 We get to play with our cousins and twirl umbrellas without a single drop of rain as an excuse.
 We accept dares to see who can jump from the highest point without breaking anything.
 We snuggle and sway on the perfect swing that always seems to catch a breeze.
 We look for a reason to shuck our pants and haul out the slip-n-slide...of course the dishwashing liquid only makes the ride more fun.
 We get to play with Daddy's kind of toys.

 We get our heads wrapped in bandanas and tickled by our favorite uncle.
 We climb trees and stay barefoot all day.
 We get thrown high into the air.
 We watch Daddy act like he is 12 again.
 We simply sit in the shade and do nothing.
We get to be on the other side of the camera and take pictures of Mommy.

I finally uploaded my pictures from back in the summer and of some very recent days.  We look for days to escape to the farm.  We love it and I am sure you can see why. 

These pictures were taken over the 4th of July and this past Saturday.  The sky just seems a brighter shade of blue there.  The birds sing and you hear them.  The breeze blows and you stop to feel and enjoy it.  Family is close and time kind of slows down.

Happy Fall y'all!

Thursday, October 11, 2012


Shep here.

I heard a pastor talking one time.  It was a pastor that I am not particularly fond of listening to.  That is not to say that he is not a good pastor...I feel certain that he is an outstanding pastor.  He just doesn't happen to be my favorite guy to listen to.  Anyway, on this particular occasion he said something that really stuck with me.  If you will excuse the paraphrase, he said something like this,

"You have precious little control over most things in your life.  You can't control who your parents are, who your family is, how  tall you are, how smart you are, what you look like (mostly), weather, who harms you, who helps you..." the list goes on.

"But," he said, "there is one thing that you can control.  You can control your choices.  They are entirely up to you.  You can choose a good attitude or a poor one.  You can choose to doubt.  You can choose to believe."  The list goes on.

So, the other night I was praying.  For whatever reason, I felt a need to pray that God would speak to me.  I felt Him calling me to pray about my dreams.  Specifically, I felt that I should pray that He would speak to me in my dreams.  So, I prayed, "Lord, please talk to me in my dreams." That was about the extent of it.  I did not go on and on or wail and cry.  I simply lifted back up to God the prayer that I felt like He had laid on my heart.  And frankly, I did not think about it again.

I did not think about it again that night.

I did not think about it again the next day.

I did not think about it again the next night.

But...the second morning, I prayed for Zeke, that the Lord would make him strong and courageous and that He would call Zeke, irresistibly at  an early age.  I prayed for Ava, that she would find delight in Jesus alone, and that she would seek His approval above any other.  I prayed for Caroline, that somehow, God would speak to her clearly, and that she would hear His voice, and that the two of them would share conversations in a supernatural way that would bring her unspeakable comfort...

And then I remembered my prayer from two nights ago.  I remembered my prayer because this night I had dreamed of Caroline.  I dreamed that I saw her standing in the kitchen, unsupported, and perfect.  I rushed to grab her, afraid she would fall; but there was no need.  Her little hand was so light in mine, simply holding it, but not for support. And just as pretty as you please, she walked with me into the den to show her miraculous healing to Andrea, Zeke and Ava.  We were all speechless...unable to put into words all of the wonder we were feeling.  And then the dream ended.  I only remembered it as I was praying.

Now some of you are thinking, "Isn't that nice!  You had a sweet dream about your baby."

Some of you are probably thinking, "No surprise there.  You had this idea rumbling around in your mind, and through the mysterious world of the subconscious, you pulled up this thing that you had been really wishing for."

Some of you are thinking, "I wouldn't have thought Shep was such a wacko."

Some of you are thinking that God doesn't speak through dreams anymore.  I have no idea where you get that.

Well here is what I think.  I think God answered my prayer.  You see, there is a choice here.  It is a choice over which I have control.  I can choose to believe that God answered my prayer, or I can choose to believe that my dream just happened with no influence from God whatsoever.  Well, this time I choose faith.

You see, In John chapters 14 and 15 Jesus says multiple times, in various ways, that when we pray, He will answer.  If you read this yourself, you will see that his promises here are conditioned upon precious little.

In Hebrews it says that without faith it is impossible to please God.

James wrote that when we pray we must pray, believing- not doubting- that the doubter is like a wave of the sea tossed by the wind, double-minded, and unstable in all his ways, and further, that he should expect  nothing from his prayers.

I mess up all the time.  I fall.  I fail.  I quit. I snap.  I shirk.  I blame.

But, God help me, I don't want to live a life without faith.

I don't want to get by.  I don't want to just make it.  I can think of nothing worse than getting to the end of my days and thinking, "I never believed God for anything.  I never stepped out.  I was never "all-in."  Whatever else happens I do not want to be counted among the timid souls who have tasted neither victory or defeat.

Jesus died for me.  I think choosing to believe Him is the least I can do.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Stubborn Boy. Hot Chips.

Yesterday I taught Sunday school for a close friend who has just recently had a baby.  The lesson wreaked havoc on my thoughts before I taught it and it has lingered even after.

The main point was that believers can become numb to hearing from God.  The material compared modern day believers to bible-day lepers....except without the oozing sores and rotting flesh.

Leprosy was a devastating disease that separated people from society and marked them as outcasts.  Lepers would lose fingers, toes, feet, even the nose from their faces.  On top of looking disfigured, the disease also attacked their nerve endings so that those infected could feel nothing.

Imagine feeling nothing.  Nothing at all.

These people would harm themselves even more because they couldn't feel when they were hurting themselves.

So how might Christ followers do this today?  Well the parallel is that we don't heed God's warnings and instruction in His Word.  In fact we ignore them.  So we spend our lives in disobedience.  Each bad decision makes us numb to the next one that comes along and so forth.

I have had periods of this in my own life.  I would become angry with God for decisions I had made.  Then I would not do the things that would please Him just to get back at Him.  The more I disobeyed the easier it was to disobey again...and again...and again.

After a while of this kind of living a person gets numb.  The have cut themselves off and no longer feel anything.  Not the pain of hurt or even the exhilaration of joy.  All feeling goes away.

I have been asking God to keep me fully awake and alert to areas of my life where I consistently disobey Him.  I have been numb before and it was a dark place.  I never want to return there again.  Staying tender to God's voice through prayer and His Word help us avoid this nasty pitfall, as well as a humble and contrite spirit, which should always been found in us.

Today I caught a real-life picture of my stubborn 4 year old dealing with this exact issue over potato chips.

Zeke loves chips.  Any kind...he doesn't discriminate.  Cheetos, Doritos, and Sun Chips always top his list of favorites.  He will even choose chips for dessert.  The rest of us might opt for ice cream or a cookie.  He stays with his own brand of carbohydrates and it is almost always chips.

He saw a new pack of Pringles in our pantry that I had recently bought for Shep.  They were labeled "hot and spicy."  He begged me for some and so I agreed to let him have a few.  I figured that he would not want them after he tasted how hot they were. 

I put some water next to him in preparation of what I knew was to come.

Sure enough his little hands went up and he began kind of fanning his face.  "Mama, these are too hot."

I replied, "Drink some of your water buddy. Those are hot.  You don't need to eat anymore."

After taking a big gulp and whining some more he put another chip in his mouth.

The exact same reaction occurred.

More fanning.  More crying.  More gulping water.

I said, "Zeke, stop eating the chips.  They are too hot for you."

Through tears he said, "No mom.  I like them.  Maybe if I turn the chip over to the other side it won't be hot."

Well you can see where this is going and where it went.


Aren't we all?

Even if something is clearly causing us pain we will continue in our quest if it is something we think we want.

Thank goodness Zeke isn't numb to pain.

That pain in his mouth was alerting him to stop.

God allows pain like that many times.

Let's not be stubborn in our disobedience.

Instead let's be stubborn in our faith.

Zechariah 7:11 "But they refused to pay attention; stubbornly they turned their backs and stopped up their ears."

Thursday, October 4, 2012

A few things...

This week has just blown past me...I can't believe it is Thursday evening already.

I don't have much that I want to write in the way of a lengthy post...just a few noteworthy things that I thought would be fun to share.

A couple of quotes that I have seen recently:

~"The greatest proof of Christianity for others is not how far a man can logically analyze his reasons for believing, but how far in practice he will stake his life on his belief."  -T.S. Eliot

~"Tomorrow has two handles:  the handle of fear and the handle of faith.  You can take hold of it by either handle." -Unknown

~"It is when we are in the valley, where we prove whether we will be the choice ones, that most of us turn back."  - Oswald Chambers


Something that cracked me up this week was from my quarterly visit to the Rheumatologist.  He is very nice and an excellent doctor, but he can be a bit dry.

He examined my joints checking for inflammation and nodules.  Then he asked me to rotate my neck and stretch it from side to side as far as possible.  (He was checking for any loss in my range of motion.)  Then he said, "Mrs. Helton, that is the best examination I will see today."

I got so laughing out loud tickled.

It wasn't that he said anything really funny. 

It was just an ironic and backward compliment.

Most of his patients are over 65 and I am 35.  I hope it goes without saying that my examination will be one of the best.

Anyway, even if no one else gets it, I laughed. 


Lastly, I would like to have some type of device for mothers of small children that would allow me to remove inappropriate bumper stickers from vehicles in front of me. 

Seriously my children are observant and they are trying to learn to read.

The last thing I need is to constantly try to avoid being behind goofballs who display their vulgar and heinous pastimes on their bumpers. 

Any other mothers with me here?!?

Monday, October 1, 2012

I Need You Jesus

I need you Jesus
to come to my rescue.
Where else can I go?
There's no other name 
by which I am saved.
Capture me with grace
I will follow you.

I love the lyrics to this song.  If you don't know it...learn it.  The song is called "Rescue."

This was the cry of my heart from my bathroom floor just last week.

No I wasn't crying out from severe stomach pain although I can see why your brain would take you down that road.

I had actually gone into my bathroom and closed the door to either shut myself in or shut everyone else out.

Call it a personal time-out.

For me it was rock bottom that day.

It should not surprise you at all to learn that earlier in the day I had led the ladies bible study group.  It had been an awesome time of encouragement and refreshment in God's Word. 

Rock bottom didn't come until after I got the kids picked up from school.  Things were going along just fine.  The kids and I had done snack time, gotten caught up on the day and we were settling in to watch a movie together when it all went down

I have mentioned before that Caroline has a hard time of the day.  Well this is it.  Something will not suit her and she will take it out on everyone.  Because she can't talk to us she uses other methods to get our attention and let us know she is unhappy.

Usually she does this by kicking and screaming...yes, a FIT.

If these days were the rare occasion I think I could handle them better.  But sometimes (and a lot here lately) these days become the norm.  It almost seems like clockwork that the fits come and life is just kind of miserable for the rest of us.

Well this particular day I just couldn't deal.  Instead of responding to her....I reacted in anger and fired-up frustration.

I hated that Caroline, Zeke, and Ava all saw my angry reaction.  The self-control that I ask them to exert each day was found nowhere in me.  I hate even thinking about it now.

But...Caroline and I needed some time....and space....between us.

I took her to her room.

I took myself to the bathroom and laid face down on the floor.

Despite the situation, it turned into a pretty sweet time of communing with God.
Motherhood and the hope of being a good one made me desperate to go to the One who could step in and rescue.

After a good 10 minutes of sobbing and praying I knew I was ready to be the adult and handle the situation with somewhat of a better grip.  

This day in the bathroom is proof that God delights to come to our rescue. 

Our only problem with this is that we don't want to admit that we need rescuing.

So He allows us to see ourselves for what we really are.

For me it was an un-checked temper that was lacking self-control.

 Desperation that lands you face down on the bathroom floor rips any pride you have.  Rescuing demands that you surrender to your hopeless state.  Only then will you stop fighting.  Only then can you even be rescued.

When I left that bathroom I was pretty amazed at just how good God is. 

I walked in revved up.  I left rescued.  Captured by grace....