Monday, July 11, 2016

Slovenia, Here We Come!

For the past few years, we have been praying about where God would lead us next.  Would it be a new country in Africa or perhaps Asia?  With a site already developing in South America, we were eager to see how God would direct our paths.

And now, we have an answer.  Slovenia.  I'm sure you all know exactly where that is, right?  Sure you do.  It's close to Italy, Croatia, and Austria if that helps!  No?  Well, here it is on a map of the world!

For several years, our good friends, Wade and Joan K., have been working to move their family to Slovenia for the sake of the Gospel.  We have watched them train, learn, pray, and so much more to the glory of God alone.  And now we have the privilege of walking alongside them on their first short-term trip to the country.  As God wills and directs, they will move their family in the next year, and we will lead trips to help them with their ministry.

You can read more about their adventures here!!!  We are so excited to be a part of what God is doing in this part of the world and look forward to how He will bring glory to Himself through the obedience of believers!

Thursday, June 9, 2016

It's been a while...BUT THIS IS IMPORTANT!

Ladies, have you ever felt deep loneliness? You were surrounded by people on Sunday morning and found yourself crying because you felt isolated and out of touch.  Looking at photos on social media left you sad and hurt.  Everyone seems to have a true friend but me, you thought.  You longed for something more, something real, something true?

You’ve seen other women in deep conversation at the local coffee shop, two friends running through the park, mamas laughing as they stroll their babies, ladies huddled together on Sunday praying for one another. You’ve watched a friend in crisis as women bring meals, provide childcare, clean her house, and lift her up. And through it all, something is still missing.

Let me tell you a secret…come in really close…closer….closer. Listen carefully to what I am about to say to you.  It will change your perspective and potentially your life.  Stop whatever you are doing and buy this book: GIDDY UP, EUNICE by Sophie Hudson.

Stop reading and click on one of these links RIGHT NOW LADY!!! I MEAN IT. It is exactly what you are looking for and will give you insight into what is missing in your life!


Christian Books

Giddy Up, Eunice is the newest work of my dear friend, Sophie. Unlike her first two books centering around comical family life in the South, this is about friendships and biblical community among women.  It is what God has designed for believers everywhere.

Ladies, it is what we we long for here on earth - community. Taking our cues from God’s Word (think Mary/Elizabeth, Lois/Eunice, etc.), we look around us for women in all stages of life. We need one another. We learn from one another. We encourage one another.

For me personally Giddy Up Eunice was SPOT ON. I started to use my highlighter for moments I wanted to remember but then realized that the WHOLE book would be a sea of green, yellow, and pink.  Reading it made me cry, laugh, ponder, and pray about my own life.  I can clearly see women who are in every decade of life that have taught, encouraged, challenged, confronted, supported, and loved me so well. We are involved in one another’s lives, and we learn from each other.

I have my family that I adore deeply.  They are truly my heart in so many ways!  And then there's the community of women God has surrounded me with who have been my teachers, confidants, mentors, and framily.  Three times I've typed this same paragraph and started to name names.  But I have so many that I can't do it justice.  These ladies are everywhere, and they are mine.

EVERYONE has something to teach you. Every single person. Seek those women out. Bribe them with coffee. Do what you have to do people. But, biblical community with other women awaits you.

What are you waiting for? Giddy Up.

Monday, February 29, 2016

The Mysterious Plan of God

For over five years, our sweet Madison has experienced various symptoms that ranged from mild to severe in a roller coaster train of events. Increased fatigue and a droopy eye were the first signs but she was only 11 so we didn't pay too much attention to it. We dismissed it as pre-teen years and stress.

Then came the colds and allergies that wouldn't go away. Visits to the pediatrician more frequently for respiratory infections and allergy testing. She had asthma and couldn't breathe easily. She started to run and things seemed to improve. But, then she would get another infection and feel worse.

As she moved into the teenage years, she began to have difficulty walking, breathing, forming sentences, and remembering things. The optometrist found a visual field defect and an MRI was ordered. Perfectly normal. Neurologist appointment. Nothing wrong. We watched our bright-eyed, social, and friendly child struggle to deal with a body that was rejecting her.

The worse part was at the office of a rheumatologist who told her that it was all in her mind. She had made it up. She had muscle atrophy...after running a half-marathon. The damage was done and irreparable.

More doctor's visits with no answers. We were so frustrated. She was depressed and anxious (more on that later from her vantage point). We were left with a great sense of helplessness.

BUT GOD...oh praise the Lord for His glorious plan.

Whenever Madison gets sick we take her to the doctor immediately to nip it in the bud because illnesses cause her to be sicker longer than our other kids. She had developed an ear infection so we headed to the pediatrician on a Monday morning. Our usual gal wasn't there so we saw another doctor. He wasn't familiar with her POTS diagnosis and gave her some ear drops and an antibiotic. He said she would be much better by Wednesday. She wasn't. In fact, she was in a fetal position and crying on Wednesday from the pain.

We went to the after hours clinic which we had never seen before. We were the first patients for the evening and wondered if we were even in the right place! Madison was taken to a room where the doctor arrived within minutes. I gave him the run down of the situation, and he acknowledged that he knew about POTS (thumbs up for him). But then, he began questioning me about her dental issues, flexibility, and family medical history.

At this point I am repeating "ear infection" in my mind over and over again. I wonder how I pronounced it and what it was he thought I said. I'm trying to rearrange the letters into some other illness to see what he is doing. He proceeds to have Madison do "tricks" with her body and asks her a ton of questions. Then, he checks her ears.

Yep, she has an ear infection. The medicine given to her won't work with POTS patients. She needs a different type. He prescribes it and then...

He begins to tell us that he doesn't usually work at the after hours clinic. He is a geneticist at the Undiagnosed Disease Clinic at UAB. Well, of course he does. He has seen this type of patient before and he thinks Madison has Ehler's Danlos syndrome with POTS as a secondary condition.

Well, well, well. We couldn't get into the undiagnosed disease clinic because she already had the diagnosis of POTS (postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome). BUT GOD...He sent us a geneticist on a Wednesday night who could request a referral from our pediatrician. On a Wednesday night. At the after hours clinic. When we went for an ear infection.

We were able to see the geneticist this past Friday, and the diagnosis of Ehler's Danlos syndrome as her primary condition was confirmed. Praise the Lord above. Six years and we have a real name for her issue! She has POTS as a secondary condition that is caused by the Ehler's Danlos.

With that knowledge he is sending us to the Mayo Clinic in April, and Madison will learn how to deal with her condition more effectively. Some physical therapy, occupational therapy, continued diet changes, and medicine will go a long way. She still has to get the sleep issues under control but the pulmonologist is helping with that!

We praise our Father for His mysterious plan. He has refined us in ways we cannot even explain. We are in awe of the ways He has worked in Madison's life for His great glory and all of our good. He is a good, good Father. And we are humbled and grateful for His ways.

Monday, September 14, 2015

I Think I Can

Mrs. Emily Smith was my kindergarten teacher. She had a classroom set up in her room where we went to school for 3 hours a day. It was private so I have no idea how my poor parents afforded it. I have a feeling my dad traded off surveying work for all of us kids to attend.

Mrs. Smith was a lovely woman who fed us chocolate milk on Fridays and read books galore and wiped the scrapes on our knees. What I remember most was that we would gather around her chair and she would read "The Little Engine That Could" fairly often. It was my first introduction to thinking about endless possibilities and tenacity. "Perseverance and diligence," she said. And I believed her. After all, she was Mrs. Smith, and no one was more perfect in my five-year-old mind.

Many teachers over the years taught the same message. It wasn't about what we learned as much as it was about how we learned to learn and loving to learn. "Keep at it," they said. And I believed them.

More importantly many significant people in my life have pointed me to Christ and encouraged me to "keep the faith." Stay strong and just put one foot in front of the other. In fact, I've said those exact same things. And they are true. But, they are hard. Very hard.

This past week was my very first time to try and run again. I run because God impressed it upon my heart several years ago. It is NOT from me. I can think of many other things I would/could choose to do, but none of them involve exercise!

It was difficult. Did I honestly think I would just be able to run 5 miles again? Apparently I did, or so I realized after I was disappointed for a few days.

But in my quiet time, I've been studying the book of Hebrews. That's just a book full of good stuff. The main theme of Hebrews is that Christ is superior to everything else - angels, Moses, Abraham, the old covenant, all priests, Melchizedek, etc. - and He is sufficient. He is ALL we need. He is our All in all.

And I believe that (not that what I believe matters in light of the truth). He is enough. And He is good. And He has a plan for me which involved surgery and recovery. And running again. I have to trust that He will enable me to do just what He desires in His timing. So, I run for Him and no one else. I run for His glory. May He receive all the praise and honor and glory for what He chooses to do.

Monday, September 7, 2015

Starting Over...

Back to square one. That's where I am. And it stinks.

But God, in all His faithfulness, has been good to remind me of the lessons He has taught over the past few years. And I'm sure I'll be relearning those important points and some new ones too.

This morning was a two mile walk but I also ran...please don't interpret that to be Sheryl sprinting and jumping might want to envision Vicky Lawrence from Mama's Family trudging along in house shoes at a snail's pace. There was a time when I could easily run 3 miles in that amount of time, but it's still a start. And since patience is NOT my strong suit, I'm asking you guys to pray that I would see the Lord first and foremost each day. Pray that I would seek His wisdom and discernment in getting healthy again.

I am eager to be on this journey with the Lord and I pray that He would be most glorified as I seek Him above all else.

Monday, August 31, 2015

Slow as a turtle in quicksand....

Our friend, Bill, always has the funniest responses when we ask him how he's doing - better than a frog's hair split in half; if I were any better, there would have to be two of me; and happier than a dog in a butcher's shop. It always make me laugh because it's just so much more creative than the typical, "I'm good" answer.

And today I found myself answering that question a lot but my words seemed more like grunts...with a few head nods and tilts. I think answers fall into two categories - good and not so good. And Southerners can hide a sickness/illness/death/impending death behind a good answer any day of the week. It's a gift, really. Not a good gift...a deceptive one.

I am now 10 days out from a hysterectomy, and I can tell you that I'm glad that it was done. And my excellent doctor was right, right, right. The full pathology report says so...I do not intend to go into the yucky details but it was a really good thing. Be glad to tell you more if you really want to know but it just showed me God's abundant faithfulness and grace, and I am so grateful.

Speaking of thankfulness, I have been overwhelmed with all the texts, emails, notes, calls, meals, and acts of services (including babysitting, cleaning, and bodyguarding) that have been done for my family and me. The body of Christ is alive and active and has been surrounding us with lots of care during this time.

As for me I was cleared to walk on the treadmill this past week, and as you can see from the picture above, I'm as slow as a turtle in quicksand. But, it's a start. When I asked the doctor about running, he just lowered his glasses as he always does and smirked. And slowly shook his head at me and said an adamant, "No!" But, he did promise that I will be able to run again (and I'm hoping he means soon).

Since January I've now gained 50 lbs without changing my diet or exercise until a month before the surgery. And nothing I did helped. NOTHING. So now I'm excited that I can finally exercise again without feeling the fatigue I had before. Yeah!!! I find myself jealous of people who are running because I want to so badly. And yet I know it will be a very slow process.

Please pray with me that God will still my heart and I will wait on His perfect timing. I love you all and thank you for your love, encouragement and support!

Friday, July 17, 2015

Houston, we have a problem...

Sometime around the first of this year, I realized that I was feeling "off" and couldn't quite explain it. Since most of our days were filled with running Madison back and forth to doctor's appointments and trying to figure out what was the culprit of four years' worth of symptoms, I didn't make the time to see the physician.

Then, I picked up a parasite from Guatemala in April and that pretty much wreaked havoc on my system. I returned to Guatemala in June and again came home with another parasite. Now, I can see God's plan in pushing me into the doctor's office using the parasite (whatever it takes). Accompanied by some other concerning symptoms (as a Southern woman, I'm required not to discuss such things, you know?), I trudged to my annual appointment.

I was really hoping for some answers, and after multiple blood draws, a few visits, some tests and a biopsy, we have discovered the reason behind the constant fatigue and weight gain. Have I mentioned that I have gained 40 lbs since the first of the year, and I eat healthy and run/exercise regularly? Cause that is a big pain in my southern hemisphere! It is frustrating and embarrassing especially when I KNOW that something is causing it!

The fatigue was the biggest symptom that worried me. From the time I get up, I think about going back to bed. While sometimes I can rest easily, most of the time, I just need to sit and do nothing. I can't walk too long or stand on my feet. It exhausts me. It's 8:45 in the morning right now, and I'm worn out already. I have done nothing other than shower, take one kid to a driving class and have my morning quiet time.

But now, we have an explanation, and as GI Joe and my brothers would say, "And knowing is half the battle." So the plan is to have a hysterectomy on August 21st to get all the bad stuff out. I had cancerous cells on my cervix over 20 years ago and now they are all over my uterus. Since I'm too old to be birthin' babies, it's the best option!

Hopefully, this will relieve the exhaustion and get me back into fighting shape. Just knowing that there is a reason behind the madness helps more than anything!

And no matter what, we recognize that the Lord is in charge. He is good, and He has a plan. We believe in Him. We love Him. We trust Him.