Monday, November 30, 2009

Thank You!

Brian and I wanted to thank you all so much for your prayers these past few weeks and months! We really appreciate them and they mean so much to us. The Lord continues His work in our hearts.

I thank my God every time I remember you. In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy!

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Out of Darkness Comes Great Treasures

Do not fear the darkness, for great treasures come out of darkness
Darkness was upon the face of the earth . . . And God said, 'Let there be light . . .' (Genesis 1:2)

. . .great darkness has come on . . .behold a smoking oven and a flaming torch . . . He made a covenant with Abram. (Genesis 15:12 & 17)

. . . thick darkness was under His feet . . . He made darkness His secret hiding place . . . the Lord lightens my darkness. (2 Samuel 22:10, 12, 29)
Light arises in the darkness for the upright . . . (Psalm 112:4)
I still feel like I cannot even grasp, never mind put to words all the Lord is doing in this dark season of my life. It has been a little over four months now, and I feel like its only just begun. I feel so "not done" yet. (I know I never will be 'done' until glory) Just when I think I might be coming up for air, another wave rolls over me.
I don't mean to paint a depressing picture here. It is not that at all! It is amazingly wonderful to be in this place with the Lord. Yes, there are many times it is overwhelming and I feel like I am drowning and am terrified, but there are also times of sweet, intense fellowship with Jesus that are beyond description.

I cannot wrap my mind around how deep the work He is doing in my heart . So much revealing and so much healing. I wonder why so much all at once. I have been through a few very, very trying times over the years, but they all seemed so focused on one particular thing or lesson. This feels so different, so multifaceted. He seems to be coming from so many angles.

In the darkness, when he shines the light of the Holy Spirit on the deep recesses of the heart, things tend to shine quite brightly. Trust me ;-) It is not aways pretty. Well, most often times it's not!

This time of darkness has unearthed many precious treasures. For even the sin and weaknesses, when exposed and repented of, become treasures.

I marvel at the amount of self He has revealed. Self-will, self-love, self-focus, self-consciousness, meaning being so conscious of one's self.

The lack of surrender. Many things on the surface that looked surrendered, yet when examined closely, I was holding onto with both hands. (tightly!)

Many fears, hurts, unresolved heartaches, and most recently, a few 'golden calves' thrown in for good measure.

Out of this darkness has come many treasures of healing, comfort, encouragement, hope, strength and love.

I have no idea how long this intense time of darkness is going to last. There are days I want it to be done, then still others, I don't want it to end.

I am learning so much, about Him, (that's the fun part) and about me. (the not so fun part ;-)
His darkness doesn't always come so intensely, wave after wave. More often, I think it can come to us here and there, little by little. I just want to encourage you not to fear the darkness no matter which way it comes.
Remember, Who it is Who brought the darkness, Who is there with you, and Who will bring you out of it. Trust there will be great treasures that come out of the darkness!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Visit Me "At the Well"

Hi Ladies!!

First, let me say, "I miss you!!!"

Just peeking in to let you know that I have a post up over At the Well. It is entitled Powering Down. I hope you enjoy it.

I also want to share a little prayer I read today that was beautiful.

“All-loving Father, sometimes we have walked under starless skies that dripped darkness like drenching rain. We despaired of starshine or moonlight or sunrise. The sullen blackness gloomed above us as if it would last forever. And out of the dark there spoke no soothing voice to mend our broken hearts. We would gladly have welcomed some wild thunder peal to break the torturing stillness of that over-brooding night.

“But Thy winsome whisper of eternal love spoke more sweetly to our bruised and bleeding souls than any winds that breathe across Aeolian harps. It was Thy ’still small voice’ that spoke to us. We were listening and we heard. We looked and saw Thy face radiant with the light of love. And when we heard Thy voice and saw Thy face, new life came back to us as life comes back to withered blooms that drink the summer rain.”

"Be still and know that I am God"

Wishing you a very blessed and Happy Thanksgiving! Reminding you to slow down, take time to be in His presence, be still and listen for that still small voice. Even in the possible busyness, keep your eyes and heart on Him, the Giver of all blessings in our lives!

At the Well Blog Button

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Time For Rest

Okay, so I went to the doctor again this week. I expressed my frustration with how sick I still am and that I didn't even want to be there. I just wanted to quit! And, to top it all off, I have gained a little over ten pounds since all this started four months ago, and it seems to keep going up! After fighting so hard to lose a significant amount of weight earlier this year, this was just too much! My doctor is addressing the weight gain and believes that my pituitary and thyroid are 'tanking'. (His words) This explains the sleeplessness, weight gain and increase in depression of late. He has changed my diet and made some significant changes with my supplements.

As we talked and he tried to figure out what might be going on, he asked if there were any other stresses that he didn't know about. He was shaking his head because it seems I should be getting better. Something is still causing serious drain on my body.

Brian said, "the only thing I can think of is her passion to learn, which seems to get her jazzed." When I want to know something or the Lord puts something new in front of me, I attack it with a vengeance. I can spend hours researching, printing, reading, ect. For example, when I came across a wonderful book on the rest of God, I ended up buying five or six books on rest and tried to consume them all at once. This is just how I operate ;-) The ironic thing is they were books on REST for crying out loud! I even attack learning how to not attack.

My doctor looked at me and said, "no computer for two weeks!" Brian and I were almost in tears as we both secretly felt the Holy Spirit's leading in this. My doctor has no idea how much or how little time I spend on the computer or even what I do on it.

So much of all the things I love to do, things I have found my significance, in have been removed from me during these past four months. Homeschooling, homemaking, being a cheerful and helpful wife, being a good friend, daughter ect. At least I was able to still pursue healthy ways to nourish my family, new recipes, new ideas and projects, help other women, ect. All this while not at all recognizing the stress I was causing my body.

I have learned a lot about stress and our bodies during this illness; things I think one can probably only learn by going through it, for which I am thankful. Our bodies are bombarded by stresses each day without us even knowing it.

For example, my husband goes to the doctor for a routine check-up. He doesn't seem nervous and doesn't even feel nervous. But his blood pressure is up significantly without him even knowing it.

Seeing an old friend and being all excited to see her, even though it seems like a good stress, your body still goes through significant hormonal changes to deal with the situation.

Other seemingly insignificant things which might cause stress would be a frustrating morning with your children, multi-tasking (this is a future post topic), or hearing of a tragic story in the news, or watching an intense movie (which I don't recommend;-) All these call on our bodies to handle the incoming stress. For me, having had my ability to deal with stress basically removed from me through this adrenal fatigue, I am able to feel things that wouldn't even phase another person. (or me for that matter, six months ago)

So, I say ALL of this to say that I am going to be taking a computer break for two weeks! I am extremely excited because I believe this is the next step in the major work the Lord is doing in my heart. I believe this is, in part, an answer for balance and rest in my soul. I believe He wants me alone with Him. I believe I have let my passion to learn and to help others become a replacement for the significance I need to find in Him alone. And, I can only guess, that my limited mind can only think of a small portion of what He is really doing.

If I am being honest though, I am also sort of scared. I don't know what I am going to 'do' instead. Notice the need to 'do' something. I use the computer because I just don't have energy for anything else. I might just need to be quiet, alone with Jesus and my own heart and my own thoughts. I will miss it, I am sure. I will miss hearing from you very amazing women almost daily. It is hard because I have several posts already written out that I feel the Lord has given me, with several more ideas floating in my head. But I will trust His timing. Maybe this will be a time of writing.

Would you mind praying for me if the Lord puts me on your heart? I would appreciate it. I have no reason to think He won't give this back to me. I think that it will probably be in a more balanced way. I tend not to be a balanced person ;-)

I still plan to check my email for important matters. I will be praying a lot during this time and if there are any urgent needs that you would like prayer for, please let me know. It will not be a bother, but a huge blessing to me! Okay, now I am crying. I'm going to miss you ladies, but it's only for two weeks right?

My prayer for you,

God be with you till we meet again;
by his counsels guide, uphold you,
with his sheep securely fold you;
God be with you till we meet again.

Till we meet, till we meet,
till we meet at Jesus' feet;
till we meet, till we meet,
God be with you till we meet again.

God be with you till we meet again;
neath his wings securely hide you,
daily manna still provide you;
God be with you till we meet again.

God be with you till we meet again;
when life's perils thick confound you,
put his arms unfailing round you;
God be with you till we meet again.

God be with you till we meet again;
keep love's banner floating o'er you,
smite death's threatening wave before you;
God be with you till we meet again.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Our Families Health Plan

I thought I would share what we are planning to do during this cold and flu season, beside trust in the Lord of course;-)

The following is what I have come up with all the research I have done. I am in no way an expert and couldn't begin to explain how I came to these conclusions. I will provide links where I can so you can research and come up with what is best for your family. Okay?

Elderberry Syrup

Maybe you have heard all the buzz these last couple of years of the benefits elderberry syrup. All you have to do is google it and start reading. It is quite expensive at the health food store so I was thrilled to find a way to make it. With 10 people taking it, I needed a frugal alternative.

I bought my dried elderberries from The Bulk Herb Store, but I think Mountain Rose Herbs actually has them cheaper. You can make a syrup or even a tea out them. We plan to take a tablespoon or so a day to build our immunity and will take it up to every hour if needed if we get sick.

This is the link for How to Make Elderberry Syrup. It is so easy and cheap!
This is one of the many links explaining the benefits of elderberry.

Cod Liver Oil

I cannot even begin to go into the benefits of Cod Liver Oil, nor will I try. I have become beyond convinced of the benefits over the past couple of years. I take it daily, year round. It is even more important during the flu season.

Here is a good place to start for information on cod liver oil. You can google it also, if you need more sources. I do have to say that with the most recent information about how it is processed, I would never buy any other brand than Green Pastures Fermented Cod Liver Oil. I am almost positive that all other brands strip the natural vitamins and add synthetic back in. And, most, if not all of them are highly refined. Also, the 'fermented' part of this CLO makes it more digestible and makes the vitamins more available. This article might help convince you.

The plan is to take it daily and if we get sick we will definitely increase our dosage.

Vitamin D3

Surely you have all the buzz over vitamin D3. Make sure it is D3! Google vitamin D3.

We take about 2,000 to 5,000 IUs daily. If we get sick I plan to go up 10,000 IUs daily for a few days.

Vitamin C

Vitamin C, need I say more? I have Emergen-C in the house for the little children and TwinLab C-plus Citrus Bioflavonoid Caps for the rest of us. The Emergen-C is a yummy drink for the children. The reason I chose this particular Vitamin C for the rest of us is that it probably has the highest amount of bioflavonoids I have seen, which is very important to make the Vitamin C more usable.

HOMEMADE Chicken Broth

I personally would not make broth with regular store bought chicken, but that's just me. I make a really rich chicken bone broth every other week and we incorporate into our weekly meals. If we get sick, we will be drinking lots of the broth. I plan to add extra garlic!

This link is an excellent recipe and the reason behind the benefits. This link I have shared before, but it is great for explaining the benefits to homemade bone broths.

Herbal Remedies

Double E Immunity Booster

I got this from The Bulk Herb Store, which is a phenomenal resource for all your herbal needs. I learned so much! I am 'brewing' my very own Double E Immunity tincture right now. I am so pleased with this, they made it so easy. You could spend hours and hours learning on that sight.

This post by Passionate Homemaking is a great resource.

This post by Keeper of the Home is also great.

Ten Ways to build your immune system by Kelly the Kitchen Kop.

Natural Remedies, also from Kelly the Kitchen Kop

Home Remedies for a Cold. . . This has amazing information in the comment section. Don't miss it!

Nourishing a Sick Child from Nourishing Gourmet

Random tips:

Cut out all sugar and lower carbs, especially refined carbs.

Get plenty of rest.

Reduce stress. (I know, that's a funny one ;-)

Need I mention to diligently wash hands, cover mouth when coughing, and sneezing into your arm?

We personally choose to avoid over-the-counter medicines, but do use them if absolutely necessary. They only mask and often times only hinder natural healing. We also try not to reduce fevers with Motrin or Tylenol because I believe it is the body's natural way of 'burning out' the bug. Now, if I have an absolutely miserable child, I do give them some 'mercy'
Motrin ;-) After I have tried to make them comfortable in other ways.

There are other things we do and use, but these are the most important one. Please share any health remedies you have and use!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Random Fun

I just thought it would be fun to share some of the goofiness that sometimes happens here.

The kids were jumping rope this afternoon in the house. It was fun, the older boys competed to see who could jump the most. Son number 3 jumped 50 jumps. So of course, Son number 2 jumped 100! He is very competitive. The cute part was watching the baby 'jump rope', which really was just holding the jump rope and jumping up and down. We counted thirty for our little man.

Tonight, after devotions, we decided to involve Papa. Brian jumped just about 50 times. Yeah, Papa. I decided I should try it. Now, it has been many years since I last jumped rope, and dare I say several children ago. I got about 10 jumps in and . . . let's just say a mama who has been pregnant 15 times, has given birth to nine babies, and doesn't do her Kegel exercises nearly as much as her midwife would like . . . well, maybe she should just watch! LOL If you know what I mean. (wink, wink) I was laughing so hard I had to sit down and cross my legs.

One other silly story. . . Brian and I were at an Antique Store in an old warehouse. It was very crowded with junk, I mean antiques. There was a doorway with a sign above it that said "No hilos beyond this point". Being the ditzy person that I am, I whispered to Brian, "is 'hilos' (heelos) Spanish for children or something?"He cracked up! It is hi-lo, as in the piece of machinery. After he told me we laughed so hard! I just assumed that part of the store must be off limits to children or something. Apparently it was an old sign from back in the day when it was actually a warehouse. Who knew? Oh, and I never had a day of Spanish lessons in my life, can you tell?
They say laughter is the best medicine for adrenal fatigue. I sure got a healthy dose this past week! Okay, now you know, I can be extremely ditzy. Do you still love me?

How to Know God's Will

I read this today in my quiet time and was slightly challenged by it. Mostly because I seem to get stuck at number 1 with many of the things I really care about! It is easy to surrender the things I don't care so much about, but then again that isn't surrender is it now?

1. I seek at the beginning to get my heart into such a state that it has no will of its own in a given matter. When you're ready to do the Lord’s will, whatever it may be, nine-tenths of the difficulties are overcome.

2. Having done this, I don't leave the result to feeling or simply impression. If I do so, I leave myself liable to great delusion.

3. I seek the Will of the Spirit of God through, or in connection with, the Word of God. The Spirit and the Word must be combined. If I look to the Spirit alone without the Word, I lay myself open to great delusions also. If the Holy Ghost guides us at all, He will do it according to the Scriptures and never contrary to them.

4. Next I take into account providential circumstances. These often plainly indicate God’s will in connection with His Word and Spirit.

5. I ask God in prayer to reveal His will to me aright.

6. Thus, through prayer, the study of the Word, and reflection, I come to a deliberate judgment, according to the best of my ability and knowledge. If my mind is thus at peace, and continues so after two or three more petitions, I proceed accordingly. I have found this method always effective in trivial or important issues. (George Muller)

How about you, do any of these 'trip' you up?

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Power of Praise

The Lord has been speaking to me even more lately about the power of praising and thanksgiving. I say 'even more' because it seems like this message is a constant for me.

What I am wondering is, 'Might there just be a powerful spiritual principle to this praising the Lord?'

One of my favorite Old Testament stories on the power of praise is in 2 Chronicles 20. Please read it if you have a chance to get the full effect of the story.

The verses that speak to me today are:

2 Chronicles 20:21,22

When he had consulted with the people, he appointed singers to sing to the Lord and praise Him in their holy [priestly] garments as they went out before the army, saying, Give thanks to the Lord, for His mercy and loving-kindness endure forever!

And when they began to sing and to praise, the Lord set ambushments against the men of Ammon, Moab, and Mount Seir who had come against Judah, and they were [self-] slaughtered;

When they began to sing and praise, the Lord set ambushments against their enemies!

For me, when by His grace, I am able to praise and thank Him for all He is in my life, all the blessings, all the mercy, the darkness flees! It is so easy to forget this when I feel so swallowed up by the concerns of life . . . the overwhelming task of discipling these children. . . health issues . . . loving the unlovable . . .hurts and heartaches . . . disappointments . . .

The last thing I feel like doing is praising God, and He gently reminds me of the power of praise. I choose praise, and even when I can't seem to, I pray for grace to praise. The darkness lifts, my heart feels lighter, and hope and joy return.

I think all we truly need can be summed up with one word. JESUS.

Psalm 100:4

Enter into His gates with thanksgiving and a thank offering and into His courts with praise! Be thankful and say so to Him, bless and affectionately praise His name!

It is by praise that we enter His courts.

Somehow, praise brings Him to the forefront. We know He never leaves us nor forsakes us, but somehow praise seems to instantly bring an awareness of Him. Most likely because my eyes are now on Him instead of all my troubles.

Below are a few quotes I have read in the last week alone. They are from a devotional called Daily Moments In His Presence.

"Praise Me out of a heart full of love. Praise Me for every blessing and every victory. Yes, praise Me when the most difficult thing to do is praise. This is the victory that overcomes the world, even your faith, and praise is the voice of faith."

"So praise, My children, and never cease in your praising, for in the midst of it I will manifest Myself, and you will understand that when I demand of you your praises, it is for your highest good. Praise will transform the humblest dwelling to a hallowed haven."

"Praise Me, and rejoice while I work it all out for My glory."

Lift up your eyes and begin praising Him right now!

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Amazing Gift of Marriage

Today, I want to praise and glorify God for an amazing gift He has given me. You see, besides the incomprehensible gift of salvation through His Son Jesus Christ, for which I am so thankful, the gift of marriage is the biggest and most wonderful gift He has given me.

1 Peter 3:2

". . . your [a] reverence [for your husband; you are to feel for him all that reverence includes: to respect, defer to, revere him--to honor, esteem, appreciate, prize, and, in the human sense, to adore him, that is, to admire, praise, be devoted to, deeply love, and enjoy your husband]. "

As I attempt to praise, honor, esteem, appreciate and adore my husband, let me preface it all by saying I recognize that anything good or worthy of praise in him is from the Lord. And let me tell you that Brian would be the first to tell you "it's not him, it's the Lord". So, all praise and glory goes to God the Father and Jesus Christ, His Son.

When I met this man I was a scared and hurting little girl in a grown up body. I had spent several years chasing after and longing for love. I desperately wanted to be loved and cherished. I made countless poor choices that left the wounds in my heart only deeper and the ache only stronger. A very broken person.

Brian, equally broken and desperate to be loved, took notice of the 'cute little waitress with the beautiful smile'. (his words) He pursued, I feigned ambivalence. I was unwilling to reveal my attraction to him for fear of falling into my old patterns. It didn't last long though, it became apparent very quickly something huge was growing.

As we look back, we see how God took two broken individuals with unique and jagged edges and put us together to make us ONE. One whole from two broken, so perfectly fitted together.

There is much grace and redemption woven throughout our love story. I hope to someday write it all down, it is beyond beautiful. Praise to the Lord.

Today I want to share just a little of how God uses this man to love and heal and mend that little girl's wounded heart.

Brian truly lays down his life for me everyday. He serves me, loves me and encourages me.

He listens to my heart, really listens. I talk a lot! We share everything with each other. There is nothing we don't talk about. No matter how 'personal', how intimate or vulnerable, no topic or feeling is excluded in what we talk about. He not only listens, but he really hears my heart, and he still loves me.

I came with a lot of insecurities about myself physically and intellectually. He has adored this body of mine through numerous pregnancies and many ups and downs on the scale. He even loves the road map of stretchmarks and c-section scars, assuring me that they represent our love manifest in each one of our children. When I wanted to hide, he pulled me into the light and assured me of his love and acceptance.

When I felt so dumb compared to others and even him, he believed I was smart and would tell me so. I've grown to believe that I am not so dumb after all.
He protects me from others and even myself, when needed. He defends me fiercely and guards me vigilantly. When he sees me choosing a path that could harm me, he gently lets me know and encourages redirection.
He serves and blesses me in so many ways. This man 'draws' a shower for me every night, makes sure I have towels, and while I shower, he fills my cups that hold my supplements for the next day.

He puts toothpaste on my toothbrush each morning. Most mornings he prepares my tea and makes sure I get to my quiet time. Which, by the way, he recognizes as essential to my well being and always encourages it and lets me have as much time as I need. I feel, at least in part, this is him 'washing me with the water of the word'.

Through many pregnancies, births and surgeries he prays for me, holds my hand, wipes my brow, even showering me after my surgeries when I am in too much pain to do it myself. He prays for me each morning, with me before he leaves for work, and anytime I am crying, in pain or just plain losing it!

He is such a man of his word. His integrity is something I have admired since the day I met him. He is my 'steady' man, strong and faithful. He bears my burdens with me. He picks me up when I have fallen.

He will be very uncomfortable with this post because he will be saying "yes, but . . ." at each paragraph. He is well aware of his shortcomings and weaknesses. I am aware of them too, I am not trying to say this man is perfect, he is not. But, I will tell you that he is perfect for me!

As I read back over this post, what keeps coming to my mind is 'husbands love your wives as Christ loves the church'. This is what this flawed husband seeks to do, and does very well, everyday of his life. I see so much of my Father's character in him, love, acceptance, strength, wisdom, faithfulness. . .

I am at a loss for words to describe the depth of my thankfulness to my merciful Father for the gift of this marriage. I fall to my knees, remembering that scared and wounded little girl, who still, in part, resides within me, and praise and worship You, O Lord, for Your goodness poured out to me in Brian.

This is by no means an exhaustive description of the wonder of this man to me, just a little glimpse into the beauty of this amazing gift of marriage.

Happy Anniversary, Honey. I love you . . . ALWAYS!

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Special Kind of Love Works!

It is working! If you remember, we were having great troubles with our youngest. We tried everything we knew to stop his screaming and nothing worked. Well, God spoke to me to just love him. He had 'special needs' right now, and we were to love him however he needed to be loved.

Either he is a different child, or we see him differently, but things are significantly better! We still train him regarding obedience, but we love and distract through the screaming. Sometimes in the middle of a rant of his I will start singing, "if you're happy and you know it . . ." everyone joins in, he sees the fun and forgets the screaming.

Or, I'll just scoop him up and start showing him something else and he slowly forgets what he was screaming about. Other times, some love and compassion are all that he needs, not a firm hand and demands to stop screaming.

Brian and I are much less stressed since starting this new approach! We are back to enjoying this little man who, we knew would bring great joy to our family since the moment we found out we were pregnant with him.
Note to self: God's ways are always better than man's ways. ;-)

A few other adorable things about this little guy, if I may.

I often sing hymns to him whenever he lets me snuggle (which isn't nearly enough) and he has taken to singing with me. Most times through his pacifier and never a discernible word, but just a sing-songy sound coming from his heart. This past Sunday during our time of worship, we were all singing from the hymnals and he wanted to join in. He climbed up on Papa's lap and grabbed a hymnal and began to sing with us. It was so precious!

He joins us in prayer by folding his hands, (or holding ours) bows his head, and squeezes his eyes shut tightly. Very adorable. This past Sunday, while we were praying, he spoke out the words, "Jesus . . .Mama". He was praying for me! Such a gift!

Behold, children are a gift of the LORD,
The fruit of the womb is a reward.
Like arrows in the hand of a warrior,
So are the children of one's youth.
How blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them;
They will not be ashamed
When they speak with their enemies in the gate.