Saturday, December 11, 2010

Beauty is in the Eye of the Beholder

Saturday, December 11, 2010

True beauty is all around us especially this time of year. It might be your home. I was in a beautiful home just a day or so ago and mesmerized by the beauty and warmth that was flowing through every room and every touch of d├ęcor she had in her home.

It might be in a supermodel. I recently met Cindy Crawford (yes, the Cindy Crawford) and the woman is just a natural beauty. No wonder men can't stop looking at her. She is so strikingly beautiful but also very lovely on the inside. I could see myself hanging out with her at Starbuck's just talking about real life. That is when I got over the "WoW" you look like that and well, I look like this, LOL.

It might be in a moment when an old memory dances across your mind and reminds you of something that brings back that smile. Maybe when you met your husband for the first time or maybe an old family memory.

It might be that new outfit you bought that makes you look and feel like a million bucks. You waited and waited for it to go on sale or you splurged for the first time in years just to get it.

It might even be that lady friend that is your mentor that just shines and oozes Jesus every time you talk with her. She reminds you of the things that are most important in your life and the priorities because she has gone ahead of you and knows the wisdom of a life well lived.

It might be your circle of friends that you laugh, cry and pray together through this road called life. That you hold them up in prayer before the Father with a little extra blessing because of who they are.

For me this Christmas I see all of that beauty but I also see something I have not seen before. The true "Eye of the Beholder" of beauty is the ability to see the handiwork of God through those eyes. The most precious place I see that handiwork of God in Olivia. I guess it has just caught me by surprise. She has been sick for so long that the personality of really who she is and what she thinks has been hidden. Now she is getting a little better everyday and she is talking. We are talking like we used to, or she is talking non-stop it feels like, but the conversations are so different. I am amazed at her heart and how she handles different situations. The love, mercy and grace in her heart is liking watching a rose unfold. Each day it opens a little more and the full beauty of the petals and the smell of the rose rise. After all she has been through, she could have made so many different choices about the person she wants to be. She could have been bitter, angry, frustrated and closed off. She could have been shy, scared, and ashamed because of all the different scars she has endured. But, instead of all those things, she has embraced beauty, mercy, grace and friendship as the character traits she wants to be a part of her life. She has chosen to allow God to heal her inside and out from all the things she has walked through. What a miracle. What a blessing. What a beautiful heart.

So, as Christmas is unfolding for you. See the beauty around you. Take a moment a let God shed some light through his eyes in what is happening with those around you, those in your home, and all the special things we love about Christmas. We celebrate the life of Jesus this time of year and I know his heart and eyes saw the true beauty in each of us.

Merry Christmas and thank you for continuing to journey with me through this life. It is a blessing that touches my heart in so many ways and I feel truly humbled and blessed by it.

Oh, and PS. I am starting my book in 2011…so look for it :)

In His Grip



Barb

Thursday, December 02, 2010

The Real Heroes of the Faith

The Real Heroes of the Faith




Be Still and know that I am God ! I have been sitting in my house just listening and enjoying the sounds surrounding the moments. I listen to the quiet, stillness of the morning. I listen to the dog barking her warning as the birds fly by the window. I hear the rain outside as it is coming down and I rejoice. My heart is soaking in the peaceful existence of being still and knowing He is God.

Sometimes when we describe our life it seems to form a picture of a book. From beginning to end is the book and we close chapters as we walk through these adventures of life. This chapter in my book is hopefully and prayerfully done. It is written. Yes, there will new chapters to write but today, after a long ten year battle this weary warrior has been allowed to come home to rest. Rest in the peace and quiet of restoration knowing He is God.

We all have our chapters don't we? The battles that are so intense that we literally have to gird ourselves in the full armor of God to take on the day. To even be able to put our feet on the floor to start the next day from the pain, bruising and continual onslaught of whatever road we are walking down should be written down as a monumental moment. The story, as it unfolds in this chapter of your life, seems to be the part where gloom seems to hover just at a distance. The cloud a constant reminder of the weight of the battle that is raging. We pull every fiber of our being to the Word of God and stand. We weary as the battle rages on. At times we think we cannot take another hit and survive it. But yet we do. We press on. We hold on to the truth.

The truth that He is God and He is our Father and has our very existence in the palm of His Hand. One of my favorite verses to hang on will surprise you but to me it shows me that God is a Father foremost. The scripture says the "what Father would give their child rocks instead of bread". So through the battle I hold on to the knowledge that God loves me more than I can imagine and His purposes will be for my benefit and not rocks of nothing.

For some of us the battle sends us into to places we never would have thought we could go. I never thought I could weather that first transplant and a second one unfathomable. It has been the hardest walk I have ever been in and yet I know so many that have harder walks. But it just never felt that the end was within my grasp. The pain and suffering that I have watched Olivia endure is insurmountable. Your mind cannot even wrap around it anymore. I cannot even begin to understand all that she has come through. I think a Mom any day of the week would rather it be her life in the balance all the time instead of her child. And the battle raged on.

It raged on with Olivia, it raged on in our lives as we saw my Mom pass away from cancer. A year later we sat numb as we attended the funeral of Dean's Mom, Stepdad and sister that were killed in a single car accident.

The devastation of moving to Atlanta. The financial burdens. The last two years when Olivia had been really so very sick it was scary. I knew way to many parents that did not make it to the hospital in time or get a liver in time. The battle just raged and there seemed no relief.

If I lived within those circumstances I think I would have gone insane. If I did not have a Savior and faithful Father in my life that gave me more than I could ever imagine I would not be able to even write this down. But in my peace filled moments right now I am learning more than I could have ever realized through the battle. My Father provided for me more than I can ever imagine and girded me with strength that surpasses all understanding. All by His Grace. But those things came with a big lesson. One that I will always remember and keep tucked in my heart.

I have learned the power of a praying people. I have seen the arms of so many linked together in prayer to the heavens that I know millions of angels were put to flight. The cloud of the mighty warriors were not from me but from heroes and some I may never know. I have learned that the real heroes in my life are not the superstars on television or the dynamic pastors with the great messages or books.(Though those pastors and books can speak into your life) I have learned that it is those around me that have laid down their lives, sometimes daily, to pray for me and my family. It is also the children God reminds every night to pray for Olivia. It has been those that have put hands and feet to the gospel in my life by holding up my arms, letting me be "real" at times, letting me be hard headed at times and also those that have been a friend and told me to get back up, brush off my clothes, check for any damage to vital organs and get back in the battle. Those to me are the Heroes of my Faith.

In your battle there will always be someone standing at your side, filling in the gap between the altar to hold your arms up in battle. To see things in a different perspective because they are not called to be in the battle with you as much as they are called to walk beside you. Giving you a drink when you are thirsty, giving you scripture when your spirit needs the balm of Gilead, giving you room to stand back up on your own when you need to, giving tough love, giving sweet merciful love and lots and lots of grace. Those people, those friends, those prayer warriors, that sweet family in Christ, those are the real Heroes of your Faith. They are the ones that have learned what it means to lay down their life for a brother and they know the value of the prayer of a righteous man. Because the prayer of a righteous man avails much. I am a walking testimony of those prayer warriors' and I am so thankful for each and everyone.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Comfort?

Comfort?


Saturday, November 13, 2010

Who doesn't love a good cup of hot soup in the winter or snuggling in a blanket in front of a good fire with a nice steaming cup of hot chocolate with those nice marshmallows in them. I know I do. I love sitting in a comfy chair and reading and I love a good pot of home made soup but most of all I realized yesterday that I love stability. When I think about the things that comfort me and allow me to heal, to think, to get perspective the one thing I know, it starts with some comfort. Sometimes small things that the smell of walking in my front door and sometimes big things like sitting watching a movie with Dean and Olivia. But the healing can start when I have something to lean on.

In my life of constant change I did not realize how much I crave comfort. You see, underlining all this whirlwind of surgeries, disappointments, frustrations and constant back and forth to the hospital you would think "Wow, she has it down". It seems like everyone else's week, we just go to the hospital. Sometimes it does become routine. But here is the reality, as long as I can prepare myself and I have the one thing that underlines it all….my nurses, then I survive. Those ladies on the floor that love me no matter what! When I had to handle life and death stuff they held my hand and my heart and helped me make it another day. When I could not take another Doctor they took the time to help me talk it through. They have loved me, cried with me and helped me walk a little straighter and stronger. So, why, oh why did God have to rock even that boat for me.

For the last week the Doctors have had this "something" about who is taking care of Liv. The Liver Doctors have written her off because according to them she is fine. If you have the chance to really look at her I would beg to differ but hey, the surgery went well. Her scar healed. She is losing blood everyday but I am sure that is just normal…UGGH. I had to draw their attention back to that point because they seemed to overlook it as they were so assured of her liver numbers. Then the pulmonologist. You never see them, they never come by, they have been just writing orders here and there and all the while…in this world of limbo Olivia and I have been at least assured of one thing, our nurses on the 6th floor. They love her. They don't judge her. They allow her to be afraid, hurt, mad, happy, and to work through so many problems that she has to face. So the idea of changing floors has been a looming dark shadow over us. Most of the fifth floor nurses are more about protocol, process, orders than the person. Of course they are nice and helpful but they are just not used to seriously ill kids. They are used to the teenagers with no parents here. Attitudes, frustrations and fighting them to follow protocol. You would think we would be a cup of fresh air.


So, last night, all of sudden we had to make the move to the 5th floor. I had prepared myself all week. I had prepared Olivia all week. But, when the time came I just fell apart. I just couldn't stop crying. I tried to hold it together but it just seemed my world was being ripped apart. I just could not figure out why I was so upset. Then it just hit me. That comfort. That stability. That kindness was gone. I would have to start over with new nurses. The struggle of having to make it all work on my own again was just ahead. The simple things and nuisances that you look for in a transplant kid is lost on this floor. My anxious thought of "what do you think" lost on a protocol than really just a Mom trying to get a thought or opinion to relieve the anxiety.

Then the big picture just loomed above me. God, "Why are you taking this away from me!"…"I just made friends that really understood where I am!" …"I am not the one always giving this time, there are people here that help me too!", " God I am so tired and weary". Dean wasn't even here to help me make the move to the fifth floor because he was home sick. I had to do it all by myself and boy that led to, " I feel like I am doing this all by myself most of the time"…(which is a silly pity party on my part and so not true but hey, there are times that you have to vent something out.) Then, as I was unpacking Sophie came to the door. Dear Sophie. And part of the picture that is bigger than my pity party came to light.



You see, Sophie's Dad left them the last time she was in the hospital. He decided he did not want to be a Dad anymore. But not just that he did not want to be a Dad, but he took the time to tell the kids that. Her Mom is in the middle of trying to start over and move to another state. Sophie is here at the hospital for the first time by herself. Even though she is fourteen, still, when you have had your Mom all the time it is hard and my stubborn attitude melted just a bit. She is two doors down. How can I not know that God moved us down to help her. And yes, comfort is nice. Walking this life is not easy but, God knew at the end of the day I could handle it. Because the picture is bigger than my comfort.



Don't get me wrong, when I get home I am making that soup, I am watching all the TV I want to and I am having a good cup of coffee and hot chocolate. You can count on that. I am even going to curl up in a chair and enjoy a good read in my fluffy housecoat. Then, I am going to cook and get ready for Thanksgiving at the King household with all the trimmings I can muster. We may have to freeze some food by the time I get through or give it away but who cares….my life is bigger than those moments of comfort.



I am called to lean on God, not nurses for my comfort. I am being called to a higher walk with God than I ever knew I could do. Because today people need to see real people living a real life with God. I love that at our church we don't call ourselves Christians but Christ Followers. Because the word Christian has become symbolized as something negative. But those that live life out as a follower of Christ just naturally draw people to them. Why? Because people need God. They need love. They need that comfort that I received from the nurses. They have emotional and spiritual needs that they can't even identify but when they feel it or see it…they know it! The sad part, it is the person going out of their way to help someone is out of the ordinary these days. It is the person caring for just a moment about someone else and not themselves that seem strange to our society anymore. The Christian walk is harder now than it has ever been because of how the morality of our culture has changed. So one person at a time. One moment of the time we are called to make a difference. Even if it costs us that one thing that means most to us. For me it was that small bit of comfort. But I know and God knows, I am strong enough to handle even losing that and like I told Olivia some child needed our room up there and they needed what we received more than we did. And down here, we will make the best of it and God will bless our time here…it will just be different.



Someday soon we will go home and I will be able to heal wrapped in the warmth and stability of my own house. My own living room, bedroom and kitchen. So I will look forward to that and not look back at what was lost but more importantly what was gained. I gained invaluable friendships. I gained love that I did not realize I needed so badly and I am learning one step at a time to trust God's design. He knows what we need and how much we can handle.



Oh, and just as I am finishing writing this the Doctor's come in to tell me that her blood problems might be related to an antibiotic she is on. Wow, they could have saved me so much worry if I had seen them yesterday. Yet again, give me a little comfort that things may not be what they appear or just trust my God to know what is ahead and just breath. Just breathing…..in and out…in and out…….

Thursday, November 04, 2010

Wow, I am humbled to be honored

Wow, I am humbled to be honored


Thursday, November 04, 2010

The days have gone on and on and I am so grateful for this opportunity to talk about my thoughts, feelings, and all the emotions that go with it. What memories I experience when I go back through some of these blogs and see how far we all have come. Because this journey has not been just my own, but all of you that have walked with me. I have been amazed at the journey. Sometimes good, sometimes heartbreaking, sometimes shouting from the mountain top. But each and every day I see the hand of God in this walk and that is all that matters. I have been amazed at the at what God has brought me through not only through the last few months but really, my whole life. My life has taken many rough climbs up the mountain with so many falls, spills, scrapes, cuts, and sometimes a broken bone or two but every step, every breath, every move with God is worth it.

More importantly I am amazed at how God uses this blog. For me, I am just writing my thoughts and heart…but for some it has been life changing. Now, that is a God thing. That God would even use such a simple writer to reach someone else. That makes the experience worth it to me. This is a writer that had to take writing twice in college to pass it. So even when someone says something good about my writing I just chuckle inside because I know God has blinded them to all the infractions, errors and grammar mistakes I know I have made along the way. So when I begin to tell you about a pretty cool award the blog received I hope you know it was a little more than humbling for me.

In His Grip received the Versatile Award



My dear friend Anita passed on the Award to me and I was completely taken by surprise. You have to understand that I am a member of a writers group that has stellar writers and Anita is one of those writers. In fact, she writes some incredible devotions on her blog called "From the Mango Tree". They all have books written and/or published. They all sit on some board for writer's somewhere and their abilities far surpass mine. The fact that they allow me to participate is amazing to me. In fact, when I started my blog I tried to hide it from them but ever so slowly I think they have all found it. I am truly humbled and honored to receive the award.


As a result of the award, I have to do two things: pass on the award to other bloggers, and share a few things about myself…so here is my list:


1. I love good coffee. I love Starbucks but my home Kuerig machine is the bomb to me.

2. I am so introverted though no one seems to believe that.

3. I am passionate about family , friends, Olivia and my husband.

4. I am passionate about writing even though I know I am not a writer. My friend Melissa's says it is all in the editing anyway.

5. I love to entertain and decorate my house for the seasons and/or holidays. Having friends over and just chatting is always the way to go with me!

6. I love my job. I love Marketing anything. If I could, I would work all the time so I have to force myself not to.

7. Spending time with my friends is the best medicine in the world to me. People are important. Their lives are important. Their friendship is the most important. To me, people matter!

8. I do not like rude people! I can't stand to be in a crowded store and see where the world has gone in rudeness. It makes me crazy!

9. The number one thing you need to know about me, I am passionate about living for God, knowing God and having a relationship with God. That supersedes anything else with me.

I am giving away the Versatile Award to these blogs that mean so much to me:

1. www.wordmom.com, Melissa is one of the best writers I know and has such a great humor

2. http://amellott.wordpress.com Anita really does have the best devotions

3. http://www.guideposts.org/blogs/woman-woman My friend Julie and her Mom write the best blog. It makes me miss my Mom so much. Great blog

4. http://2moms2kids1help.blogspot.com this blog I am proud of. My friend Kim and I started this blog to help other Moms with Chronically Ill Children and Kim is a great writer.

5. http://www.anemulligan.com/Ane_Mulligan/Home.html Ane has a great blog. I love the title Southern-fried Fiction. She makes me laugh.

6. http://psalm516.blogspot.com from Nora called Novel Journey. She writes about new books coming out and does and excellent job with the site and with her book clubs.

7. http://robertbeeson.com Robert happens to be a serious writer like me. We don't throw in many jokes and we seem to be more introspective. That may be why I love it. His blog is so worth the read.

8. http://livingwithbiliaryatresia.blogspot.com this is my new friend Kirk Kraft that is writing about his daughter's story but also including other hero kids going through liver disease

So now you have the blogs I like, some new things about me but what about you? Do you have some things you would like people to know about you?

Thanks Anita, I am quite humbled and thanks for all of you that read this. I pray all the time that God give you something new. Just maybe we will all learn more and I won't give up on my writing :)



In His Grip

Barb





Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Puzzles, perplexes, frustrations and then there is God!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Do you like jigsaw puzzles? I do, well, sometimes. I don't like the ones that are all one color. That is way to tedious for me. I need something that is challenging but not so detailed I can't get it done in a day or two. But when you open the box all the pieces pour out on the table and you start to organize them. The ends pieces in one pile and the middle pieces in the other. Each piece uniquely fits into some unknown piece. You place them in groups too if you can. You are hoping to find those pieces that relate and fit together.

Life can tend to be that jigsaw puzzle. Some problems you pour out on the table and try sorting to piece it all together. You know God holds the box with the picture but you can't quite make out the different lines and shapes that color that picture into your life. So you start putting things in different piles to see what might fit together.

For the last several months I have been trying to put together this puzzle of explaining God's plan for Olivia. I have hit that table more than a thousand times trying to get the right pieces to fall into place to help her understand how this life isn't always easy. We don't always get the road travelled well but, we get the road less travelled. That being angry with Doctors, or God…while is understandable is not healthy and will eventually lead you down a path of bitterness and unforgiveness. Discussion after discussion. She sits there listening. I know she is thinking "great! I got it! This is lecture 4,780!". She listens and most of the time is respectful but you see that in her eyes and head this is not getting to the heart of the problem. My words are only correcting actions not attitudes and definitely not heart motives. Her head understands but her heart is covered with the muck and the mire of disappointment, pain, emotions, and never ending struggles that seem to have a promise of hope and yet those hopes get dashed.

Then one day I do something completely unrelated to this situation. I have no idea why I was frustrated but that frustration led to a big piece of the puzzle that will unlock that girl's mind and open her heart.

I accidentally walked into God's plan. I was not praying and had an epiphany. I was not reading the Bible and the Holy Spirit whispered the answer to me. In fact I was completely in a frustrated place. It totally came from my frustration rather than a Godly place. I will insert here that I have been concerned and praying about this problem for a while so I can feel a bit better about the situation. The sad thing is that it was still my frustration that allowed me to see what God was doing. (insert a V-8 moment here).

So on to the problem of the day! Olivia loves to read. She has a passion for reading. I always approve the books she reads but I try and encourage her to branch out and read other things. She seems to get set on a series and will not put it down until she finished the whole series. When she is enveloped in a book she loves, that is all she talks about. That saying "you are what you read" characterizes Olivia to a tee. I do understand that most kids have so many other outlets going on and she is captured inside her room but still it makes me crazy at times. So, the other day she is going on, and on, and on, and on about a book she is reading. Oh, did I say she was going on and on…as a Mom I hope you get the implication. If you have girls in your house, really at any age, you completely understand. Girls are chatty. So, as she was telling me about the dragon book she was reading, the conquering hero, the size and shape of the creatures and the complete plot of the book, all 600 pages, I asked her about a devotional she was supposed to be reading each day. Of course she had forgotten, had been tired, had left it in the car and the list went on and on. I had purposely bought that book for her to do a daily devotion so she would be pouring in some about God each day. Did she not understand I was trying to help her with that anger problem she has been having? Did she not get that God was not going to talk to her if she spent all her time with those stupid dragons? Oh, did she not know that Mom was not trusting God at that moment but trusting Mom to help her? The answer to the last question…neither one of us got that point. Shhh…don't tell Liv the answer to that question because I was the only one privileged enough for God to show that answer to me.

The girl had promised me she would read the book. She had promised! I was so frustrated. In hindsight, not because she did not read the book but because I was desperately trying to open her mind to a more world view. The book had several stories about other kids that had gone through some devastating stuff and God had walked them through it. She was not getting it if she didn't read them. It seemed those other books were such a hindrance. I was hopping mad on the inside. So out of frustration I find my favorite book, besides Oswald Chambers, "Hinds Feet on High places". If you have never taken the time to read it…you will regret it. I search the whole house to find my copy and I march into Olivia's room and announce that she will not be able to read anything else until she finishes this book. I knew she would immediately jump on it and start reading so she could get to her next book in the series she is reading. That would fix that problem. She would have to read something about God. The book is set in a story manner like the Chronicles of Narnia so I knew she would not be "brow beat" by reading something too boring. But at least I would know that she was spending time, kinda, with God on her own. Insert here that obviously that might have been the point but God was using it in so many other way.

The funny thing. I forgot the significance of the story. I had forgotten how the story weaves the role of Jesus in our lives. How, when we are afraid and having to walk through the hardest valleys, He is there. His role is there to love us, to help us, to walk with us up that mountain. I had forgotten the whole premise of the book actually. I was too busy concentrating on getting a book I thought she would read than realizing the impact it could have.

So, as we are walking through the Suwanee Square I ask her about the book. She is telling me that the character names are weird but that she can really relate to the main character "Much Afraid". She also talks about the The Great Shepherd in the book and how that is Jesus. She starts talking about the things that Much Afraid is going through and how that is exactly what she feels and understands. When I wasn't lost in my own thoughts about what God was doing, I was mesmerized by the depth of understanding my daughter had. It was truly amazing to hear her talk. Then it hit me. It hit me like a ton of bricks.

There I was, standing stunned with my mouth wide open, realizing that Olivia's main problem was not anger at all. Her main problem was fear. And without me even realizing it, God was answering my prayer. He knew all along that the explosive volcano spewing out at times had nothing to do with being angry. He knew her more than I ever could and had the answer for her all along. He just needed me to step out of the way and let Him work. That moment of realization walked me into a few new places as a Mom.

One, Olivia was taking that next step of independence and two, it was time for me to start letting go a bit and let God do His work in her. That she had reached that age of accountability in some area's and that He was able to reach in and be her God, her Father, her Teacher, her Comforter.

In that split second of a moment, my little girl grew into a young lady. Most importantly, a young lady of God. She had always gotten it. The anger was never the problem. It was the fear of walking through those dark valleys over and over. Through this book I know she will start seeing the wonder and amazing grace of God that will help her. I just pray that I step out of God's way and learn to be her guide now. But that transition is awfully hard.





Monday, October 04, 2010

Facing our Fear

Facing our Fear

Sunday, October 03, 2010

What a statement. Fear just starts rising up thinking about facing those things in our lives that we try not to think about. Then that fight or flight wells up in us and we are ready to go. We either start running or we pull out the armor.

This past year has been a multitude of fears and challenges for me. Most of the time I did not get the choice to run or fight, I just had to stand there and hold on, fighting with what seems like every breath I had. Praying harder than I have ever prayed and trying to listen to the Holy Spirit whisper every step of the way.

For me this is not so unusual though. Most of my life was and is a serious of situations that are fearful, out of my control and yet I have to face them head on. But there are times though, we get to choose. We have the opportunity to say, "no thank you, I will pass on this one" or "I am going to pull my big girl pants up and let's ride". Unfortunately or fortunately, I happen to be one of those girls that live in the "let's ride" category. This can be a blessing and a curse. You feel life more. You see life more. But you bleed more, you self evaluate more, you love harder, you expect more but it is so hard to keep yourself in a cage.

I think something changes in you when you have a choice. For so many of us our fear is a result of bad choices. I was sitting in my "Chasing the goose" class with Pastor Chuck last week and he was talking about the cage of guilt. All of us in the class could relate to the cage of guilt. We may have dressed our cage up so beautifully that it blends in with our lives. We have so eloquently positioned it in our lives that blends in with our view so that we do not even see it anymore. We know it is there, we heard it rattle at the beginning of reading this. But we have chosen not to face it.

Another view for me is fear is usually related to that guilt cage in some form, sometimes. That the conformity of our "church life" allows the devil to not only create guilt in our life from some bad choices but also creates fear that if anyone really knew me? That fear keeps us bound inside the cage of guilt. Our perception of what the Christian life should be keeps us bound by our own fear. Oh but the freedom to open that cage and choose to face it all and use it for God's glory. Real freedom. And that is a whole other thought.

As adults we can all relate, can we not? We have, at some point, created our cage. But what about a child that has faced fear and guilt with no baggage. No cage that has been built around her from bad choices, just life has created the fear and the guilt. What does this look like through their eyes. This weekend I was mesmerized with God, with people and with Olivia. It never occurred to me how much she would have to face being a part of the youth retreat. I never realized how much I would have to face allowing her to go.

When we arrived, Olivia was having a hard time finding anyone to really "hang" with. She was really new in this group of 127 kids heading out. Her friends were there but by now, after a year and a half of not being there, had created their cliques and she was outside the circle. I see her walk from one group to another as they walk off to see yet another friend. I saw her hope dash several times as she moved around the crowd and tried to fit in. As a Mom my heart just fell. I had to hold it all in and let her sink in that ocean of kids and it was killing me on the inside. At one point, I was about to cry so I had to move about talking to my friends to get myself steeled against the flight mode. Finally, she came up to me and just stood. I knew in that moment if I just mentioned she could ride with us instead of the bus, she would and that would be the wrong thing. How did I know that, all I can say is the Holy Spirit and prayer cover because this Mom wanted to scoop her up and protect. I am sure none of you have had that moment, LOL.

So, I gave her a minute and then I suggested she ride with us. Never in my life have I seen such fear and determination in my life. She rose up and told me that there was no way she was not getting on that bus. Wow. A girl that age, feeling lost and alone, having a back up plan. She could have run but not my girl…she bolstered herself up and got on that bus. If you are a girl reading this you can just imagine how much that took to stand there, take a deep breath and choose to face that fear. That fear of being different, not fitting in, not being accepted. She chose to face that fear head on. She knew the kids knew she was different. If not, well you couldn't miss the nose tube across her face and the tube hanging out her side. She knew she was a little awkward sociably because she doesn't always understand that teenage code because she has been growing up with adults and in the hospital. But instead of shielding herself from the fear she put her big girl pants on and went on that bus. I wonder if Jesus at some point always knew He was different He would always stand out and be different for the rest of His life. I wonder if, through His eyes, He saw more, He felt more and yet He chose to face it all. Choice is a freeing thing. It lets us soar...

That first fear was only the beginning. The challenges and the fears kept coming this weekend but Olivia and I had a huge step of growth. She was determined to keep up just like everyone else and that first night was a good one. She went to the first session, came back to her cabin and they played games, and she was making some head way into friendships. She was hurting and did end up coming to our cabin after everyone was asleep and tried to get some rest because the morning came very early. After the morning session and lunch they had free time to climb the Alpine tower and the alpine swing.

My first thought and really I was quite vocal with Liv about this.."You are not doing that!". It is 25 feet up climbing tower, you are harnessed but the climbing is difficult and well, she has all these tubes that could come out. The better part of parenting would be to say absolutely, emphatically, "No!". But, when you face so many things life, death, being different, things are way out of your control, as a person you have to be able to face that fear and know that you can face it and conquer it. So, Olivia pleads her case of facing her fear of heights. How simple that sounds to her but in reality she was facing so many more things than just that. How easy it was to see that my fear of protection was what I had to face. And well her Dad, he went along with it because he has two girls that keep him off kilter just enough to give in every once in a while. Somewhere deep inside I knew she had to do this if there was anyway possible. Because she is like her Mom. Face it, move on. Face it and live!

So we worked with the volunteers to get that harness just right. We worked with the other volunteers to make sure she was secure and off she went. Up that climbing tower. The first hard part she hit, she wanted to stop. It took all I had in me to keep urging her on. My Momma's heart wanted her to come down but my other Momma's heart knew she had to do this. Not because she was afraid of heights but she needed to conquer her fear. Her fear of dying, her fear of being mad with God, her fear of being different, her fear of being alone. There were so many things she was conquering in that moment because she had control and a choice. You see, those other times she was courageous because she had to be. There was no choice. She had to walk through them because what else could she do.

But, that day she had a choice. She chose to conquer her fear and have the control. So, she took that next baby step and kept going. I was cheering her on but then all of the kids were cheering her on. She was so proud of herself and yet still pretty terrified. But she made it! She faced her fear and won. She would not build a cage around her and allow the devil to take away her life. She was going to live it. Wow.

No one but me was able to witness all of that. Olivia has no idea that is what happened on Saturday. She just knows she did it and something changed in her heart. All of those kids have no idea how much it took for her to even take on that climbing tower. The month before she could barely lift her head off of a pillow. Physically, emotionally and spiritually it took five times more strength for her to conquer that tower than all of us on the ground. They never saw the accomplishment like I did. Most of the adults around were happy for her and loved seeing her but I realized how much they could not relate to where that child has walked. The depths of pain and courage that she had if she never even attempted to climb that tower. And no one will ever know the depths it took this Mom to push her on. To conquer instead of live in that cage. I know some of you know that depth because you do the same thing. Whether you send a child off to college, to the military or to give them a chance to move on in life the letting go is so hard. The dying to yourself is more than you ever imagined. But once they take flight….and you see them leave that cage…Wow.

I sit here reflecting on all of this I see how much God sacrificed for us through Jesus. So much more than we can even imagine. But, He had to let Jesus go. He had to let Him make the right decisions. He had to watch Him sacrifice Himself because God could see the bigger picture. That picture of all of His children knowing Him. Not lost and forgotten. Not different and alone. Accepted, loved and adopted into a family that allows mistakes…that allows sin to be forgiven…that allows us to free ourselves from our own cages of fear and guilt. And when we soar, all heaven rejoices! Can you even imagine.

Pastor Chuck, thank you for the inspiration. Your class has helped we walk back into that deep relationship with God that I have so needed for so many years. I have felt revived, energized and challenge to finish well.

Pastor Richard, thank you as well. For reminding me to always be a Christ Follower and not a Christian. Because I think sometimes we truly have forgotten that Christ is the one to follow, not each other.

Dean….thank you for always being there and always challenging me on what I believe.

Donna…thank you for challenging me to do even more. Girl, if I could just keep up with you I think I would be alright.

Barbara D...my dear, dear friend.  Thank you for always reminding me to look to Jesus and to get off my rump and walk and always speaking truthfully into my life.  No matter how hard it is...I love you for that.

Olivia…if you ever read this, thank you for being you. Because you are the reason that I know how much God cares for all His children.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Why Won't God.....Heal Me?

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Yesterday was a great day in some ways because we, what Olivia and I call "breaking out" of the hospital were able to come home. We give it a spy theme to make fun of finally getting out of that place. This last time we were in a room so small I called it the broom closet. So we were ready to be home to say the least.

On the way home we dropped Dean back off at work and headed to the house. You know how it is though, in the car the chit chatting starts. Firing off all those random thoughts so that she has someone to bounce it off of and see how it sounds. The conversation is pinging off the windows in rapid fire fashion until she gets to the one that she is trying to ask but not sure if she should.

Some of my best and worst conversations always happen in the car with Olivia. I guess there is safety in the car than any where else. No one can interrupt you, add their two cents, listen in, or over hear except the person who you are talking to. Olivia I think decides then is the time to throw out those hard questions. These are the times that usually I get the big questions. The ones I can't answer, the ones that have to do with random things from being a teenager, to friends , to God. As she throws out question after question I promise I always get that one question that throws me for a loop and I start begging God for the right answer. The praying starts when the question starts because I feel it coming out almost like turning the arm on a Jack in the box. You are not sure when "Jack" is going to pop out but you know it is coming. So I start praying right then as she turns that question into another until she gets to the root of what she really is wanting to know. Because it is always that question that will make the difference in how Olivia sees life. What lens she chooses to use to view her life and those moments are not in the parenting handbook. And can I just say that sometimes I want to throw that parenting book out because it never covers those life things that get really messy.

Yesterday I finally got the question that I truly was dreading. I knew one day she would get the courage up to ask it out loud but I was hoping it would be with her Dad, youth pastor, friend…okay I am reaching here…I want to be there in the big question moments but I just do not feel adequate to answer them all the time.

Here comes the question, firing out like a bullet because she is mad. No build up to the question. "Jack" just popped right out with no time. Her question is wrapped in the fact that she is going home not feeling well. She is mad and she needs someone to understand she is just mad at her life at the moment. I believe you can get mad with God, He can handle it. But it is more how we deal with our anger that sin really gets into our heart and creates bitterness. This would be a critical answer for her to help her from wrapping that anger in bitterness. So Venting with God can be a good thing so here comes it comes in the overflow of anger "I know God can do miracles, I know He can heal people so "Why Won't He …..Heal Me". Now I put in the "…" because I know everyone has that question from time to time and those "…" allow you to put in your crisis with God. When Olivia asked that question, at that moment she wanted a real answer. Not a christianese answer, not bible references, not a moment to stop and pray, she wanted me to answer her because she knows I know Him. She knows that I depend on God for everything. I know His character and His believe and trust Him. Not just for myself but for her as well.

In her mind if anyone might have a clue, it would be me. Now, every Mom, friend, wife, sister that is walking with God has had this question asked of you at some point. Because we should know, shouldn't we? But the reality is, there are questions that do not have answers yet. Some questions we may never have answers to this side of heaven. And that is where trust comes in. That is where knowing Him and His character helps us trace his miracle at each turn. Her pain, her hurting, her frustration of not being able to be a normal teenager slipping away, her dreams seem impossible to conquer and day to day she can help people, love, make a friend for a moment but in the big picture "Why don't He Heal Me?".

Over and over we discussed so many views of our life walk. We have talked about how it helps people, we have talked about life getting better a little further down the road, we have talked about God's glory being revealed but today…those were not the answers she wanted. Today she wanted it all over. She wanted to move on. We have been going to church, shopping, cooking, getting together with friends when we are out of the hospital and this taste for life has just been enough for her to want more. And when you know God can heal, well, you want to know why you are still not healed.

Today my answer had to be more honest and more real for her. Today, it just had to be the thing that she could hold on to for another minute. For today, she just needed to know "why me?". Because she was asking as well, why is He letting all this drag out and go on and on and on. Why do I have to be in pain? Why do I have to look at another horrible operation? Why do I have to be the one to go through all this? Yes, I know Mom, there are so many others worse and I am thankful but Mom! The only answer I had at that moment that was raw, real and honest was "I don't know why?"'

But in my desperate plea to the Lord to help me because these are life changing issues she is talking about. Huge spiritual issues, I start begging for help. In my mind I am desperate for the Holy Spirit to show up and audibly talk. For God to provide that "dang" burning bush in the car so I can point to it. Some huge miracle that will engage all her senses so that she would see how Big My God is.

Then I see her face in the rearview mirror, but not just her face, her ng tube and it all comes together, for me anyway. Because that is only one of the many battle scars that child has on her. If you were to see her stomach, it could make you cringe the amount of scars on her body from surgeries, stents, and g-tube placements. But they all have on thing in common. A walking, breathing testimony of God's grace, mercy and healing. I choke up and can only talk in a whisper as I tell her my story. My truth. My raw honest truth as I pray it pricks her heart and shows her something about God that she may have not seen before. Because we are always looking for the big miracle but really the small miracles are what cling us to the cross and draw us closer and closer to Him. The big miracles we eventually forget…but the small ones…well, they seem to change our perspective, longer.

We started talking at first about why God is allowing this all to drag out. Would this next surgery be the end or just the beginning to another long path of surgery and another transplant? The only thing I told her that I was sure about is that God was in the middle of it all. I started talking about how if God healed her right away that maybe, like so many others, she would forget what God had done. That each step we walk we have those small miracles that remind of God's hand in our life. This way we all would have that moment we will never forget….when Olivia starts to run again. …that God had been with us the whole way. That each step was designed by Him as long as we press in to hear where the next step is supposed to be. I am not sure why some people are miraculously healed and some of us walk this path of bruises and heart ache. That I was not sure if that was a reflection of how stubborn we are or not, but at least God loved us enough to allow us to keep going.


At fourteen she may not feel healed but this Mom knows her path of healing. I have walked this path so long with Olivia that I had really forgotten during the battle the miracles that God has done. So I explained to Olivia something that I just realized myself. All of those scars etched in her body are my miracles. All of these days are a miracle of His healing. No, it does not seem that way but in reality it is almost like the Israelites building an altar when God did something for them. That stone altar always represented God's might and His answer. And there is a Olivia. The traces of God's hand all over her body. His protection and mercy on her very life represented by each day that she has made it through. Her entire life is an answer to "Why Won't He…." because those scars represent when He did. No, we did not have that miraculous healing but we have something more. Something precious. We can see the Hand of God in our life daily. And I told her that when I look at her, I see more love of the Father for me than anyone in the world. Because she means so much to me and His Hand has held her through it all. That she is one of the strongest, bravest, stubborn people I know and that every trait she has, has been etched by His Hand and her scars are there to prove it. His answers don't come easy for us but His provision, His love, His comfort is evident throughout her life. "That might not mean as much to you" I tell her but to me, it has changed my life. You are my walking miracle and so I can keep believing for the next one, the next one and so on.

Praying for your miracles today. Praying for the answer "Why won't He…?" for you.

In His Grip, always,

Barb

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Routine? What is that?

Thursday, September 16, 2010

First I am going to apologize to my dear friend and Pastor, Chuck. You see, last night Dean and I had the privilege of being in his class at church titled "Chasing the Wild Goose". The study is good but I have to tell you that the teaching from Pastor Chuck is phenomenal. It is not so much the rich text of the bible, though we have that, it is not so much years of expertise in teaching, he has that already, it is the incredible transparency that he uses from his own life experience that transform the outline to a living, breathing, life changing word. God is using his testimony to challenge, enrich and spur us on to finish this race we call life, well. Not well I in our own eyes, not well in the world's eyes, but in the one that matters more than anyone, God's.

So the apology is this….I am taking all that he said way out of context into my own world, rearranging it and seeing a different view of my world because of his teaching. So, sorry Chuck if you read this and it misses the mark. It was not your lack of ability at all to convey the word for us, LOL, it was my crazy head going in all directions.

The teaching last night was breaking out of your routine to see the divine appointments that God has for you, if you just did it one day. That our routines in life keep us from seeing the divine. Even the mundane routines in life of taking the dog out…really, have we stopped to see what God might have for us in just that moment. Great thoughts. And we all can relate to that at some point, and really at anytime.

But what if routine never exists? What if you are constantly in some form of chaotic state and you are doing your best to manage your chaos? I know some of my friends here that have chronically, life threatening illnesses or children with those illnesses, or financial stresses, or lost friends or family, we yearn for routine. We desire to have normal days like everyone else.

Why? Because the chaos keeps you in survival and protection mode a lot of the time. In the last ten years, since Olivia became ill and had her first transplant, I think we have been through it all. Our small family has seen our baby almost die, have to raise a gazillion dollars for her first transplant because it all was so new, went into bankruptcy because of all the medical bills, had to move from our home in Nashville to Atlanta to be closer to Liv's Doctors and get back on our feet. Dean has gone through several job changes and went back to college, has had two heart attacks, Iost his parents and a sister in fatal car accident. I lost my Mom to cancer about a year after I moved back home, we both have suffered through the financial burden of all of Olivia's stuff not even considering and talking about the frustration with medicaid, insurance, etc, etc etc…the list just goes on and on. We haven't even touched Olivia's health that has been just pure torture trying to get her well.

Okay, now we can all breathe. I made the list. If you look at the list, or even your own list, breathing can be hard. Do you see any place routine has been allowed to creep in. Really? Even in our marriage, Dean and I are always working on communicating, challenging each other, loving each other because as the days get long, the stress gets insurmountable we know we have to stay in the right place with each other or we will lose the other so easily in the chaos. Those are the physical, immediate things you can see with your eyes. My relationship with God becomes even more critical to keep all the other balls in the air without falling and sometimes that relationship is tenuous depending on the day.

It is so obvious at times that routine can blind us to the obvious but I dare to say that sometimes chaos can do the same. Sometimes the moment God has designed to drive us to the edge of his throne is missed. We all have a moment when we first start walking through the fire where we recognize that God has pulled us through but, I loved the point Chuck brought home last night, if when Moses met the burning bush, said "yes" to God ,went to Egypt and God had not harden Pharoh's heart and he let the Israelites go….we may have never heard the story. Because Moses could have easily credited himself with the victory. Yes, he listened to God but he (Moses) orchestrated everything else. So it got me to thinking about the chaos that surrounds my life. That the point God is trying to make with me is that life is about me. Not me to be a super hero, not me to leap tall buildings, not me that is able to do anything without him, but about me that my life be all about Him. Because when my life is all about Him, all those chaotic things seem to come back in order. That the blindness I had to see the miracle He was doing could be seen through the refiner's fire of gold and that the dross has been pulled away to reflect Him.

When I look through those glasses I see something completely different. You see, I stopped asking "why?" a long time ago. There are no answers to the questions I have this side of heaven. What I do know is that this life is not without purpose. That each day is a gift that is given freely for us to do whatever we want to do with it. It is our choice to see God in it all or choose to see the circumstances of it all. You know, when the electrical company is at your door for payment and you have no where to turn to pay it…well, it is hard not to see the circumstances. I have been there. You are working three jobs just to make the ends meet. I have been there. When you have no idea how you are going to get to work that you need to pay the bills because you have no money for gas…I have been there. When you have seen all hope drain from your child's face, I have been there. When you see cancer eat up your Mom's body unto death, I have been there. You see your husband scared and helpless after a heart attack. I have been there.

I have been in so many places where there seemed to be no way out but through those moments, through those heart wrenching circumstances I witnessed more miracles than anyone should have bestowed on them in a lifetime. I realized sitting in that room last night, listening to my Pastor that I am so blessed. Not because I have no routine, not because I live a chaotic life but because God chose to not leave me to my own devices. That, like Moses, when He called and I said "yes" he hardened Pharoh's heart so that when the Israelites walked out of Egypt they never questioned "who" set them free. They knew without a shadow of a doubt that God walked them out. Yes, he did use Moses. But stripped, broken, and feeling so helpless Moses obeyed as the Father told him what to do and say and he gave all the glory, all the credit to God because he loved Him. Moses was called God's friend. What an honor.

I chose a long time ago to love God but I pray that I always remember that my life here is all about me. It is about how I lay it down daily to know Him more, love Him more, and allow Him to use me so that others know how much He loves them too. Because really, that is our purpose. For people to see real people having a real relationship with a God that has more love than they can imagine just for them.

I know I have been stripped of most of the things that have hindered me in my past through all I have been through. These days I don't look back in horror at those moments, I see moments on my knee's and seeing my Heavenly Father do things for me that in the natural never will make sense. His blessings have overflowed. It wasn't easy walking through each day but it has become a blessing. A chance for me to see my heart. My real heart and make a change that I needed to make.

My scars, a lot of them are healed and I am proud of them because they represent a day that I finally died to myself and allowed God to come in and truly heal and set me free. Not everyone needs to walk through such a hard place but for me…I guess I did. But I appreciate it. I pray each day to be real and transparent so that my life can be a true reflection of the best Dad ever. That I make Him proud and that I honor Him because He loved me this much. He loved me enough not to leave me. He loved me enough to show me my heart and He loved me enough to walk me through those dark places and hold my hand without condemnation. He loved me, more than I can even imagine.

So, today I am praying for those divine moments so that my life can be something that gives someone else strength…that maybe their path will be just a little easier because I walked before them and cleared out some of the rocks. But I have to tell you, if you say "yes" to God…well, you will have to pick up a lot of your own rocks and deal with them along the way….but I urge you to say "yes" to just one day….just one…and your life will never be the same.

In His Grip

Barb

Monday, September 06, 2010

Learn To Dance

"I have learned not to spend your life waiting for your storms to pass... instead, learn to dance in the rain."


Monday, September 06, 2010

Can you picture that summer rain. It's falling on your face as you twirl around and around. Not too cold and not too wet. Just right to make you feel alive, happy and carefree. In real life, these are really just moments. Not even moments, just seconds that we get to enjoy something spontaneous. Our minds work in the future, now that we are adults, seeing the next meeting we have to get to or the next dance lesson, soccer practice, ballgame…well, you get the idea. So we rarely take that moment that we jumped at in our twenties. But, boy do we need to. My Mom taught me this valuable lesson. Live, laugh and love with all your heart and always, always dance.

My life was very hard growing up. But no matter where we were financially, or emotionally, or even physically, Mom always made the best of it. At Christmas you would think she had a million dollars. The Holidays were always her favorite. I saw her struggle through so much and yet, she always laughed, she always loved with all she had, and she never held back. What a great lesson to learn. God obviously knew that I would need that picture for my life.

When I read that line this morning I thought about all I have gone through and grown through. I had forgotten the other day what life is about. It is not about the struggle, it is how you deal with the struggle.

You know, I was frustrated the other day. I was tired of going through all of this. I wanted an end to my poor little girl's suffering. I told Dean last night, I just wanted the storybook ending. And yet, that is not what my life has been about, really ever. I have weathered so many storms in my life. Not just Olivia's issues. I have faced hard times growing up, Dean and I have faced hard marriage issues, we have faced financial growth and death, we suffered through three miscarriages, we suffered through Olivia's premature birth, then three years later…this story began. But even after ten years of Olivia's suffering, Dean and I have lost parents to cancer and car accidents, we have had to move to Atlanta, Dean has had two heart attacks, but yet we press on. And what I hear from all of you is how I never give up. I always make the best of it. Well, I do. Because this life is not about our circumstances. I don't always like it. I am not always laughing and loving with Dean because he is my safe place and well, he has to take it, he said I do. But, I am always looking for the glass to be half full.

You can get overwhelmed with those circumstances. I bet if you listed the things in your life that have been hard, you would have to take a minute to breathe. It is not just my life, but everyone I know has struggled and lost. Sometimes we win, but always, in everything we give God Praise because He is and that is all there is. My life has become less about my circumstances and more about God. And the view through His eyes is so different from our earthly eyes.

When things are really tough, I really want to worship. I want to sing His praises and walk through His hallways. In worship, a lot of times I will envision walking down this long hallway. That walk allows me to free myself of all the earthly worries, the to do lists, shutting out those around me, and getting to the door. That hallway can be really long…then some days it takes no time at all. But when I get to the end of the hallway, I see this tall door that leads to His throne room. I guess I could be reverent but if you knew me, well, I am a rebel at heart. So I fling open the door into what I view as the throne room. When the doors opens there is just a wave of love, anticipation of expectation. In that room there is only unconditional love. You feel it, you see it and if you could…you could taste it. That room is made just for me and my Father in Heaven. You know, I never envision anyone in that room but Him. No angels on high, not even Jesus, just a Dad that has been waiting on me to show up. He always has such expectancy on His face.

And really, according to my day, I usually run right up to His chair and hop in his lap. Sometimes I cry. Sometimes I smile and laugh. Sometimes I just sit. Just to be near Him. Just to let Him know how much I love Him. To feel His love surround me and to know that this will pass, this hurt will only last a moment, and that He holds all the answers in His hand and knows what is best. And then, I dance. Not really outside, but on the inside. In my heart. It takes a leap of hope. It grabs hold of love and relies on faith. I begin to see things in a different light. Because He holds the truth and so light can shine on the truth and open up a whole new way of looking at your circumstance. Then, I see the joy of the moment and I can dance in the rain.

Now, I know this may sound so crazy to you. I have no idea why I have shared such an intimate moment I have with God. And truly, you may think I just took the time to write this picture but you would be wrong. Every time I am in worship of any kind, this is truly what I do in my mind. So, when you see me with my hands held high, or you see my tears, or you see me smile in service, you will know I have just walked into His room and been loved.

So, I am going to dance, sing, love and laugh as much as I can. Life is short. Storms Pass but attitudes can last a lifetime. I want to be full of life and not full of bitterness. Full of fun and laughter not sorrow and mourning. Because new mercies I see :)



In His Grip, always

Barb

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Couldn't we stand to kneel a little longer (4HIM)

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Olivia and I are lying in the hospital bed together doing her favorite thing "talking". Since the moment is tender and she is listening I take this opportunity to find out what is in her mind and heart.

In the last five weeks she has been so sick, so tired, so worn out that even the event of rolling over in bed seemed to take her very last bit of energy. It has been so hard to watch this incredibly vivacious, fully of energy, stubborn girl of mine wither to the point of just a lump of emptiness. It is so hard to describe because it was so unimaginable that even I have been taken aback at how sick she has been.

But, the last two days that feisty attitude and that determination has come back. Oh, she is tired. The tired though is a good tired. She is talking, chatty even, moving her body more, socializing and being her vibrant self most of the day. By the end of the day she is worn out but to me it is a wonderful thing to see.

During this sweet time of talking we start talking about what she has been through. How hard it has been and what the future might hold. Because, darn it , we have that awful, ugly stent that is draining her liver's bile, getting rid of the infection and we have to talk about it because it is the "elephant " in the room. She was told it would only be very temporary. She was told two weeks for the stent and we are realizing that it may be months now. She was told a new liver would make her life better, she would feel better, have more energy and be able to have a life outside the hospital. Unfortunately, everything that could go wrong, has gone wrong and she barely feels like she did when she was really, really sick waiting on this liver. Big points of credibility weigh in the balance as we move through each day. For a fourteen year old, the ability to see beyond a day, week or month is so very hard. There is just not enough life experience to be able to view a time ahead.

Dean and I as her parents, have the privilege and heartache of helping her walk through all of this. The ups and downs. The disappointments and the heartaches. The fears and helping her see the victories. This moment in life seems to hold little hope in her eyes and more trust each day seems to ebb away at her heart. We discuss one procedure with her and then the Doctors decide to do another which throws another cog in the wheel of trusting and of trying to move forward. We are barely balancing all the plates in the air so we can stabilize her mind, emotions and spirit at the same time so she has something to "fight" with to get better. The Doctors are not helping. The experience of walking through this to me is close to fighting a war. But this is a spiritual war. This war is not about Olivia's body as much as it is about her heart and her spirit. This realization brings a new prayer to our lips for her. We are putting a fortress around her heart so that the enemy cannot take this opportunity to discredit God.



I never realized this as much as when we were laying there talking. When I was explaining to her about the stents, how they might stay but would not be years. I asked her specifically "Olivia do you trust me?" she answers "Of course" . The next question that just stopped me in my tracks "But, do you believe me?" her answer " A Little". Wow!



I get it. I totally understand where she is at. I have been there with God more times than I can count. Do I trust Him? Without a doubt. Do I believe Him, well, as I have gotten older and marched through so many wars, today I can answer an emphatic yes. But that answer took years in the making. But this is reality, is it not. We walk through this life and we have expectations. We read our bible, we go to church, we are a blessed people by God, so our expectations are high. But what do we do when our hopes, our dreams, our expectations that are honorable and just are not met?



I am realizing more and more we stand! We stand until it hurts. I can't tell you why one man suffers more than another. I can't tell you why God has taken my life and made it full of a walk of suffering. Then, my child is walking down the same path of suffering, which adds more suffering to my heart. I have been through more than I can write here on a page. I have fought hard and lost more times than I have won….I have sat and cried until there was nothing left. My heart has been broken and torn. But, God took a hold of my heart years ago and I will stand until I can stand no more, and even then, when it seems all hope is gone, I will stand.



Isa 40:31 but they that wait for Jehovah shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; they shall walk, and not faint.

My commentary says this for this verse "Such a God is able to deliver and restore his distressed people if they will wait in faith for him to act. They are to trust in him and draw strength from him."

We have been walking through so much uncertainty. We want to get excited about each step forward but then we see four or five steps back. Is that not true of so many of our circumstances. We are walking through this huge event in our life and we know God is able but we cannot see even the "trace of His Hand" at times through the darkness. Some of my stand favorite verses through those times are job 13:15 "Though He slay me, yet I will hope in Him", "Jeremiah 29:11-14…summarized says "I know the plans I have for you, a future and a hope….come and pray to me, and I will listen…You will seek me and find me…."

There is a 4HIM song "Couldn't we stand ?" Mark Harris penned a timeless classic in these lyrics:

(chorus)

Couldn't we stand to kneel a little longer

The time is never spent in vain

In the light of all we stand to gain

Finding the faith that only makes us stronger

Touching what we cannot see

Reaching to heaven from our knees

Couldn't we stand

Pasted from

I am praying that fortress over Olivia. Because today, she does trust Dean and I but she is having a hard time believing. Not just us, but God as well. I wish I could pour out the years of wisdom I have learned from God, friends, Pastors, teachers and my own walk so she could see past the moment and know that God is doing a great thing even though it seems so dark. What if we end of with stents, or another transplant or another problem? Those are the days that trust has to override our belief…and belief will come because my God has always proven that His ways are much higher than my ways. His expectations for my life are much higher than mine. Yes, I have suffered. Yes, I have lost battles. But I have never lost the war….remember, we win in the end. The books says so :)

In His Grip

Barb



Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Obedience is better than Sacrifice

In the bible God says "obedience is better than sacrifice". I read that all the time. I thought I had a grasp on it until we started walking down this road again with the second transplant. God really has given me such a clearer picture of that statement and I want to run out of the room and say "no more!".

You see, there is never a more clearer picture when you see God demonstrating a scripture, a heart motive, a principle you have never seen before, an innocence, a sin, really anything until you see it in your own child. Within our own home, we learn more about God than we do every Sunday in Church. I believe God designed the family unit specifically for us to understand the kingdom of God and His love for us. I truly believe that the kingdom of God is more about relationship than we realize. Throughout the bible God talks about it. In fact, that is all He talks about. His desire for us to know Him. Ultimately stated, He desires relationship with us. And so with any relationship it has the ebb and flow of life. Those moments that are wonderful and those moments of frustration. But at the end of the day, when the lights are down and the moment is quiet…you check the kids and see their innocence, you lay down next to your husband and you realize and feel the peace and love of God. That these people around you have taught you that no matter what happens, how you have acted at the end of the day they still love you for you…and no other reason. So therefore, warts and all God loves us that same way.

It is our relationship to Him that He longs for. That was the one and only reason for Him to send Jesus to help us, His only son, so we might understand how much He loves us. I think as a parent we see more through His eyes than ever as we watch our child grow and make a place in this world. We are able to envision that care and love that He demonstrates to us more than we have ever known by watching our child grow. We see the helplessness when they are born, the struggle for independence as they get older, and their walk into adulthood with the growing pains of their youth. No matter how old, how wise, how accomplished they are…they are still the babies we held and loved and our heart still yearns to protect every part of them. On occasion, we get a small glimpse into the sacrifice that God and Jesus made just for us. That selfless act of His son.

So my walk with the Lord has always been about love and obedience. I cherished the love He has poured out into my life and appreciated all the steps we have walked for good and maybe not so good. But never have I seen demonstrated so clearly the act of obedience based on love more than I have in Olivia these past few weeks. No one will ever know everything she has felt and gone through except her and God. The Doctors want to push her hard to protect her and my job as Mom is to honor that and to protect. But protection can sometimes mean a lot of unbearable pain.

Olivia goes to Physical Therapy each day. I really had not been going down with her because it had become a place where she and Dean did this together. But on Thursday she begged me to go down with her the next day. She said that Dad and the therapist really pushed her beyond what she could do. She held it together while she was at therapy but the minute she saw me she immediately started crying. Dean felt so bad. He felt he had not been paying attention but that really was not the case. Olivia has always, since a little baby, held her pain until she saw me. She broke her collar bone once in two and no one believed it was broken but me. Because she was not crying in pain. But yes, it was broken and the technician profusely apologized.

So on Friday, off we went to physical therapy. Honestly, I knew she was working the treadmill. She was doing about 18 minutes a day and I knew she did a few leg stretches but I had no idea how it all went together. Off we go to the gym to work out. I was in for a bit of a shock. They really make her work hard but the problem is not them, it is Olivia. They tell her what she needs to accomplish and except for a few, "I can't go anymore" that sound like she can but doesn't want to push…she does exactly what they tell her. She stretches every part of her body, walks on that treadmill, and works out for 30 minutes. I sat (it is not the parent gym, LOL) and watched her. I saw those eyes plead with me to stop but those feet that continued on…I saw the pain in the stretches but the determination to do it in her manner and I saw something else. I saw a trust that was beyond words. I saw her eyes pleading, begging and in much pain but I also saw this respect. This heart wrenching trust that if I said she needed to do it, even though it was taking everything out of her, then it must be the best thing for her to do. I saw obedience out of trust. I was almost in awe of the moment. That look on her face I will never forget. Pure trust that was etched in pain, struggle and a trust that is beyond words.

I am not sure I have ever obeyed anyone out of pure trust like that when there was pain involved. When I could not see past the moment to the ultimate goal. To feel there is no hope and yet trust in someone else's hope that there will be better days. Because in Olivia's world life is hard to see past this 8x8 room. She is struggling to believe that there will be a day when she is better. At first there was much hope and joy. Things went very well. Then we rebounded and there was still a glimmer of hope but now on the third crash she is weaker and holding on. She is holding on to my faith. My belief that God will bring us through this. That He has a bigger plan because she feels He is just not listening to her. But yet, through all of that, that need to be obedient to Him, that need to trust in her parents is so much stronger, and a heart that needs to have hope still seeks it even though there is doubt. Her obedience is what is giving her hope and she does not even realize it. For the first time I can see why obedience is better than sacrifice. Obedience happens in the midst of the storm, in battle of war, the downward spiral of a crisis and instead of desperation to fix it all by sacrificing ...obedience through it all brings a consistent hope, though we are discouraged we are not beaten down because obedience knows the scripture and has a relationship with the Father that far exceeds the circumstances that we are standing in.

I am working daily to trust that God has it under control but that pure obedience without a question is hard. I know the scripture, I know I love my Father but, that pure obedience without a rebuttal, an argument, a well" I have thought it out and I agree with you" is still a bit of a struggle. But there is my child, with all her strength, all of her spunk, all of her ability to argue but not once did she argue. She just pressed until she finished the task because she trusted that one day she would be better for it. That her obedience is the grounds for hope in her hopeless situation.

Again, I am in awe. I can look over my life with the Lord and see the references to it through different moments in my life. I hear those words about obedience and at times I have been obedient but after a few arguments and a final "I get where you are trying to lead me!" but obedience for obedience sake. I am not so sure. My life has not been easy and life situations have made me mistrust many of my relationships because of pains from the past. But that purity I see in Olivia I long for.

The purity of trust, the purity of obedience because I know He loves me so much that He would not allow harm to come to me. That I just need to work through the hard stuff and I will see the better days…WOW. Yes on some level we all obey but truly I can say I need to become a small child again and learn that lesson over. Because now I have a new vision of what that verse truly means and applying that to my life will forever change me and my relationship with the Father.

In His grip eternally
Barb

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

The Simple Faith of a Child

The last several weeks have not been easy to say the least. The ups and downs of transplant, the transplant itself, and then the constant recovering process. In the midst of this harrowing, crazy, roller coaster ride you have moments that will never leave your mind. They make such an impression on you that they will be forever etched in my mind. The most tender part of my heart though are Olivia's friends. To see them support her, stand with her and continuing to love her through this is more than my heart can take at times.


I could write on and on about all those precious kids/teenagers. Notes after note. Coming to the hospital. Some of them scared to see her and yet do it anyway. Some of the cards and notes that have been encouraging and loving. But, one those moments was with her friend Tyler.

Most of her friends really have no idea how hard this is for Olivia. When you see her, most of the time, she is so full of life and pushing through so much but kids do not really see all that. When they see it for the first time, Olivia with all her tubes and not herself, it can be quite overwhelming. To be honest, some of my friends had a hard time. But Tyler gets it. He understand the depth and magnitude of what she is walking through.

Ty has a genetic disease called Mitochondrial disease. Now before you ask, I have no idea the ins and outs of the disease I just know at times poor Ty is tortured with pain and really has no relief. He also spends those times in ICU and personally, I don't know how they do that. My experience there is hopefully my last. In my opinion, what he goes through is so much harder than anything we have to endure. But Ty thinks Olivia has to struggle more and Olivia thinks Tyler has to struggle more. All in all, they both struggle about the same I think.

That day and most of that night before Ty came, everyone was extremely concerned. It seemed that not only was Olivia sick but her fight had gone out of her. She was so frail and so weak. We kept talking about how the second surgery had taken all the fight out of her. Everyone was worried. The conversation was worrisome because we did not think she could handle anything else. When Ty wanted to come I asked Olivia and she said she did not want to see him. Then I asked her , "Can he stay for a minute…just one minute? " and she said "yes". I was so relieved because I knew he just needed to see her and she really needed something. Anything to get her out of that place she was in.

Tyler has been very concerned about Olivia. She is never far from his thoughts. But the moment that won my heart was seeing him with Olivia. His mom brought him up here because he had to see her. He had to know she was okay. But, when he walked into PICU, he wasn't sad, he wasn't scared (not sure if he was on the inside though but if he was he did not let it show) he was just there. He pulled the chair up by her bed and though Olivia could not really talk or do much at all, he just sat by her bed. For hours they sat there together, in silence, watching mind numbing television. He was not in a hurry to leave. He was not expecting anything from her, he just understood. He understood what she was going through and wanted to be there for her. It was such a precious sight. In my Mom's eyes I don't think anyone had given her that much comfort before. They just have an understanding that no one else can relate too. They have both struggled to survive. They push through more than most kids (or even adults) could ever even think about and the maturity they have in understanding life is way beyond their years. Though, both of them could be angry, upset and bitter they are precious, full of life and live in the moment to make the best of each one they have. As he sat there she knew he understood more than anyone.

He left for a minute to go get some dinner and while he was gone Olivia started getting a bit better. He just smiled. He knew. Something about that time together helped her get over the moment and push back through. Then, he just as quietly went back to the room and just "sat" again. There are times we talk about people that are Angels to us. At that time, I know Tyler was Olivia's guardian Angel with skin on. By the next day she was on her way back to a regular room.

God has the ability to use us all in so many ways. I was so thankful for Tyler that night. He had some understanding that he needed to be here. Maybe he heard God, maybe it was just a "feeling" but whatever it was to him, I know for me….God sent him to help my little girl get stronger and get her fight back and I will never ever forget that moment. Through my eyes I may have felt God needed to do this or that..but, through Tyler's eyes…he knew exactly what he needed to do and followed through.

Kim and I are very fortunate to have these awesome kids. Kim has three others and we are constantly challenged with our walk with God by their simple faith that speaks volumes.


Thanks Ty. Ms. Barb loves you so much.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Standing in Awe

Standing in Awe




Saturday, July 24, 2010

12:23 PM



Today is ten days out from surgery. But it seems like a year. It seems so much has happened in a week that I can't even fathom that a whole month hasn't passed by. My body is weary. My emotions are all over the place but I am still standing.



I was sitting here in the quiet the other day when Olivia was in surgery thinking about how awesome God is to each and every one of us. You know, never in my wildest dreams would I have thought we would have so much support, prayer cover and love extended to us through this journey in our lives. We have been thrown out of the waiting area twice because we had too many people here with us. Wow.



But the wow is in the oneness (I know it is not a real word) of the body of Christ. You all seem to be in such unity to pray for my precious daughter and that unity has to please our Heavenly Dad. I can see him on His throne listening with a smile upon his face that his children were agreeing in prayer. He is so proud to send forth those warring Angels on Olivia's behalf. Because, so many have laid down their lives to pray for this one girl . You have stopped and whispered her name to him, some of you have fasted for days as you prayed a hedge of protection, healing and love around her, some of you have herald the trumpets of prayer to all of your lists and some of you have physically surrounded us with a hedge of love and protection that has held up our arms while we are in this room standing vigil over our precious little one. The body working in one accord, a strand not easily broken. What a beautiful picture.



My heart is full of the humbleness of how blessed we have been. I know every moment I have not been sane but I know that I have been able to watch over Olivia and walk through this without much sleep because I have been held up. What an awesome God we serve that binds us together in one accord, in love, and reaching out beyond our own lives because our hearts are bigger than ourselves. I love all of you for that. What a precious gift it has been in my life and I will never forget that outpouring of love. My cup truly runs over. Today the Lord's Prayer seems the best picture to me:



Psa 23:1 A Psalm of David. Jehovah is my Shepherd; I shall not want.

Psa 23:2 He makes me to lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside the still waters.

Psa 23:3 He restores my soul; He leads me in paths of righteousness for His name's sake.

Psa 23:4 Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.

Psa 23:5 You prepare a table for me in the presence of my enemies; You anoint my head with oil; my cup runs over.

Psa 23:6 Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life; and I shall dwell in the house of Jehovah forever.



Today as I ponder this life and write out my thoughts, this is where my heart is besides next to Olivia's bed side….because I am in awe of God, awe of my friends and in awe of the power of prayer.



In His Grip

Barb

Monday, July 19, 2010

Love---Is Tough

Love-- Is really Tough


Monday, July 19, 2010

12:26 PM

Perspective is really in the eye of the beholder. I know it says beauty but really perspective is true as well. I have really seen over the last few days how important perspective can be. It changes your view of your world. It may not change someone else's world view but can make an incredible impact into yours.

When we got the call on Tuesday (Wednesday morning) at 2:00am my world changed. For years, this is what I had begged God for. For years I had seen Olivia wither away in her world of pain and sickness and no way to bring her out. I had seen what she had lost and begged God to give her chance to experience a life without so many complications, pain and sickness. But when that call finally came I couldn't breath. The reality of what that call meant was overwhelming. I kept busy so I could not think about all the things that could go wrong. All the things the Doctors were apprehensive about. All the things that would change in our world if God decided to heal Olivia and take her home instead of here. So, I took a breath, decided to Trust God and move ahead. Then all day I saw my beautiful girl enjoy friends and family coming by and doing what I was doing in her own way. Avoiding the inevitable and someone's perspective of reality. But, as we left her at the OR that night, as she begged her Dad not to make her do it, as she cried and begged me with those big brown eyes to please make it all stop .I stopped breathing. And then I had to walk away so she could go to surgery. Not ever knowing if I would see her again in this world. Not ever knowing if that was the last thing she would ever know and I would hear from my little girl. I almost ran out of that room when she was gone. I was amazed how strong God made me to smile, love and give her the best I had because I collapsed onto Dean about a minute later. God gave me what I needed for one minute then he gave me my husband to hold me up the rest of the way. The toughest love I think is letting someone go to see if they do come back to you. Letting go without a net to catch her. Letting go without knowing what will be on the other side.

Back to perspective. So fast forward through a long night of waiting, waiting and waiting. Then she arrives in PICU. All going well. WOW. Breathe…but then the real hard part starts that I had forgotten all these years. The pain, the up and downs, the screaming, the begging, the holding on. I had friends dropping like flies in the PICU because of the pain and hurt she was suffering and still suffering. I hear their perspectives of my life. How they see what I really have been walking through now. I don't think you can see it without walking in the trenches or having been there. But, to me Love is what gets me through. Being tough on her is so hard but so needed. Walking through this has been more than I ever thought but I had a friend show me how to see past the moment and into the future. The future is so much brighter for her. So God helps me remain calm, not letting it in, keeping it in perspective because my perspective and Olivia's is two different things.

Now, four days later, she is setting records for recovery. Her liver is working, her lungs have finally kicked and Dean and I are elated. Olivia on the other hand, not so much. All she can see is the pain. All she can do is worry about the next therapy session full of pain. But, all Dean and I see is the future. When we are home and maybe, just maybe, not bound by the hospital anymore. Running to and fro to drama lessons, ballet, COOP, whatever she wants to do. Walking in a new place. We are constantly reminding each other every day that our paradigm has changed so our perspective has to change.

The bottom line. God is a God of miracles. We received our miracle today and will always remember that though we walked through years of uncertainty and concern. Though we have lost a lot through the years we have gained so much. Our Faith is strong, our marriage is strong and Olivia is strong and will be stronger. I can't imagine how hard it is on God, our creator, to be tough on us so we are better and stronger but I know that He knows that when it is all over we will be the best we can be. Because I know that when this is over, Olivia is going to be the best she can be. I have seen the Father walking through all of this and I have a new appreciation for His heart, His eyes and His wisdom . Just one more day closer to really trusting Him.