Surviving Christmas

I received this cartoon in an email the other day and it meant so much to me. We don't have a lot of money for Christmas gifts this year, and all that I have bought is contained in 2 Walmart and 2 Target bags in the guest bedroom. Fortunately, we have family (my parents) who have been willing to pitch in and be "Santa" for the kids...they'll never know the difference. I have been overwhelmed with the peace that comes when lacking the "Christmas Crazies." I have had more time to focus on Jesus, and less worry about the commercialism of the holiday. I find myself searching for creative, inexpensive ways to bless others...like chocolate covered spoons for dipping in coffee and homemade goodies for neighbors/ needy. Anyway, the cartoon made me smile so I thought I'd pass it on you. Enjoy! God bless you and Merry Christmas.


Mountains of Faith

Mountains are my thing.

As a matter of fact, some of my most meaningful quiet times have come in the mountains…on the side of a cliff in Utah, by a rushing river in West Virginia, and so many wonderful times in the Collegiate Peaks of Colorado. I have never experienced the beauty of the Lord so richly as I did sitting on top of Bob's Rock on Sunday afternoons watching the sun sink low behind a landscape of rugged peaks. I often wonder if my life would be filled with just a little more joy if I could step out on my balcony every morning (of my log cabin, of course) and smell the fresh mountain air as I view God’s majestic mountains before me.

If you were to open my Bible to Psalm 121, you would see RMH 1999 written beside the title. That is where it all began for me. Rocky Mountain High was an outdoor leadership program where I first encountered the Rocky Mountains, and my future husband. I vomited all over him as I suffered through Acute Mountain Sickness and one of the most humbling experiences of my life. My passion for the mountains and my realization of the need for the Lord’s help in my life began there. It’s a good thing I started to learn it then…cause I am no where near as strong and confident today as I was back then!

Psalm 121, verses 1-2 say, “I lift up my eyes to the hills- where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth.”

As I was reviewing this verse the other day, I realized something for the first time. If the writer of this psalm was lifting his eyes UP to the hills – he was NOT standing on top of a mountain when he wrote it. Looking further into the history of the psalm, I found that travelers would sing this psalm, probably as the traveled to Jerusalem…looking up at Mount Zion. They would sing out loud the attributes of the God they knew as they endured a gruesome journey. They confessed out loud that God was their helper, that He would not let their foot slip and that He would not slumber during their journey. They knew in their hearts that he would protect them despite the perils of this trip.

Now, my family is facing a season of “trials” right now and, as we have done so I have learned something very interesting about myself. While most people run to the Lord in times of trouble, and draw a little further away when times are good…I am the opposite. When things are at peace in my life, I enjoy great fellowship with the Lord. I guess I feel his favor and love and want to be close to him because I know he "likes me." But when times get tough…I start running. After pondering this for as long as a mom of a 2 and 3 year old can…I think I might know why.

I am pretty certain that we are being disciplined right now for some poor decisions made over the last 2 years. I feel like God is disappointed in me, and the details of daily life seem like they would be annoying to him. I feel like God has put me in a spiritual time out. No talking, just sit there and think about what you have done wrong (that's what I tell my 3 year old when I put her in time-out). But how do I treat my own children when putting them in time out? I follow it up with a period of great love and concern. Lots of cuddling and talking and making sure that they know I love them dearly. Surely, if I know how to give my children good gifts, my Father in heaven is able to do so much more for me!

Psalm 121, verses 7-8 say “the Lord will keep you from all harm – He will watch over your life; the Lord will watch over your coming and going both now and forever more.” These verses have always instilled a mental picture of God looking down from on high, watching tons of people go back and forth…kind of like an aerial view of New York City streets. But I realize now that it is so much more than that. Matthew 10: 30-31 says. “And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. So don’t be afraid; you are worth many sparrows.” If God cares enough about me to number the MANY hairs on my head (and I have A LOT of hair), he must also care about the daily details of my life. Yes, there is the huge looming darkness of possible foreclosure on our home, but what about the fact that my dear son, plagued with so many health concerns already, may now need hearing aids and I can’t even bring myself to tell his daddy because it is one more thing about his son that will break his heart. Or the fact that David is in tryouts right now for a job that he so desperately wants…and needs! Or how about my own job situation...being 7 and 1/2 months pregnant and needing to return to nursing ASAP to help pay the mortgage. We spent several hundred dollars updating my certifications and I have not gotten one call-back regarding my resume. Do I dare ask for God’s help with these things during a time of discipline? Am I being like my 3 year old who asks for ice cream after she has just received a spanking?

1 Corinthians 13 is the quintessential chapter regarding love. Many times I have heard my name inserted in the verses to encourage me to love others the way God intended. Leah is patient, Leah is kind…but last night I read something profound. If God is love, as noted in 1 John 4:13 , then it is only logical to assume that God’s love towards me is patient, God’s love towards me is kind, God’s love towards me does not take into account a wrong suffered, God’s love towards me bears all things, God’s love towards me endures all things. And God’s love towards me will never fail. I can never out knuckle-head God’s love for me. So yes, he MUST care about the details. Everyday and in every way.

And while I cannot run away to the mountains right now (as tempting as it is), I can look up to mountains around me and dream of all the wonderful adventure God has planned for me. I can look up to the women who represent mountains of faith in my life, women like Violet, Caroline, Bonnie, and Laurie…and know that they have endured valleys and I will endure too. And I can be thankful for this time in the valley, because only then can I truly lift my eyes up to the mountains and praise the God I know for the work He is doing in my life.


In a Haze

Things were going so well...

We were on a high with our new diagnosis, a happy son, and hope in our hearts. I had new energy, enthusiasm, and felt like I could reach the world for Jesus with my knew knowledge and passion. And then it happened. The backslide....

I don't know if he ate the wrong food, started cutting a tooth, or (as my dear friend Heather suggested) is just suffering from "growing pains," but all of a sudden our son is a wreck again. He is still cranky, defiant, and VERY needy. Now granted, he is NOTHING like how bad he was before...but I was just getting used to his new joyful attitude and independence.

And how have I responded to this? With the patience and grace that Jesus supplies a desperate mother? With love and gentleness for a child who is likely hurting more than being defiant. Sadly, no. I immediately became exasperated with him; defensive of my time and my priorities and unwilling to spend hours holding my son like the old days. Oh, how wretched we are when left to ourselves.

In 2 Cor 12:9, Jesus tells me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness."

I am so ashamed of my weakness and my need for daily renewal by Christ. I was totally busted today by an older mother from my church...she caught me yelling at Joshua! I wanted to crawl in a hole...but it makes me understand what Paul was talking about when he said: "Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me." Getting caught only made me realize even more my need for Christ's power...I can't do it on my own. I do need daily renewal...surrendering myself and my desires to Christ and allowing him to work in me and through me...in order to make it through even one day with Joshua. Realizing my weakness brings me to my knees. Sharing it with you helps hold me accountable, and will hopefully help someone else out there realize the need for Christ's power in their life.

Will things be peaceful and normal in my house again? Who knows. My husband broke his finger at work last week (crushed the bone/ 5 sutures) and we found out that we are expecting baby #3 in February (hey, God's timing is perfect, not ours :-). Peaceful may not be the first word that comes to mind regarding my household, but I can and will be FULL of PEACE thanks to my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, whose power (and peace) are made perfect in our weakness.

God Bless you all!


At the Bookstore...

I was cruising around Barnes & Noble yesterday when the Lord taught me a very nice lesson. I had finished looking at Gluten Free Cookbooks (mmm, sounds yummy, huh) and had a feeling that I should look in the children's section before I left. Enjoying a few minutes of mommy time (sans children), I headed that way.

I came across a lady with an infant in a stroller and the baby was wearing a skull molding helmet. I thought...wow, what a bummer! As I browsed for a book on children and celiac's disease, she asked me what I was looking for her. I told her and she immediately pulled a book off the shelf. She had obviously been sitting there for a while. She asked me if my child has celiac's disease and I said yes. She started telling me about her daughter and wondering out loud if she should try a gluten free diet for her. You see, her daughter was 6 and was on the verge of being diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder. She had heard somewhere along the way that food allergies can cause very disturbing behavioral problems. I immediately heard the Holy Spirit whispering..."pray for her." I thought...ok,ok, hold on.

We kept talking. Next, she told me that her mother had recently passed away. This was the first death she had ever experienced and she was having a hard time learning how to grieve. This lady had her plate full! She told me that she had been to see a "spiritualist" who was able to receive messages from her mom "on the other side." She had told her children about this and was encouraging them to leave notes and pictures around the house for Grandma to see. By now the Holy Spirit was screaming...PRAY FOR HER! This was a well dressed middle-class normal looking woman who was desperate. I know, I've been there. She was searching for encouragement...from her mother, from anyone who would be her advocate while she watched her child suffer. She explained that her daughter was tearing apart her home...been there too. My heart broke for her as I wondered if I had the courage to witness to her.

I could tell that the conversation was winding down and that she needed to go take care of her baby. I told her my name was Leah and, as she shook my hand, I asked if I could pray for her. She enthusiastically said yes. So I did, right there on the floor of Barnes & Noble. My prayer was not elegant and I probably did not say the right things...but hopefully I planted a seed and I know that the Lord will watch over her and her family in the days ahead.

I came home and, with a few minutes to spare before the children woke up, I decided to do my Bible reading for the day. I was reading from the book of John and came across the following verse:

John 12:27-28
"Now my heart is troubled, and what shall I say? Father, save me from this hour? No, it was for this very reason I came to this hour. Father, glorify your name."

I thought back to my own troubled heart and the many times I have asked my Father to save me from this trouble - a son with a chronic illness. Why us Lord? Why Him? Am I being punished? Did I somehow bring this on him? Would my God actually cause a child to suffer in this way as punishment for something I had done?

John 9:1-3 tells about a man who was born blind. The disciples asked Jesus, "Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents that he was born blind?" "Neither this man or his parents," replied Jesus, "but this happened so that the work of God might be displayed in his life."

And all of a sudden it made sense. Who cares what the reason is...or what the outcome is for that matter. But that the name of God might be glorified in our lives! Maybe, just maybe, God put this on our plate so that we might reach others (frustrated, angry, watching their children suffer and getting no support) and direct them to Him. Oh Lord, glorify your name!


How I got here...

A blog?!? You want me to do what?

This has been my thought for the past few weeks. But in the end I realized...the story is too good not to share.

You see, the Lord has blessed me with two beautiful children. One energetic, fun, happy and healthy 3 year old little girl and one not so happy, not so healthy, challenging 21 month old little boy. And let me tell you...they grow me!

Joshua started getting sick around 5 months old. Over the next 17 months, I took him to more doctors than you could imagine. We evaluated for everything from sleep apnea to well, you name it...And the general doctors' consensus was not in our favor. He's spoiled. He's bored. He'll grow out of it. But the Lord put a conviction on my heart that Joshua was hurting. So we pressed on. Finally, at 18 months (still not walking or talking) Joshua was diagnosed with "silent" refux. This means that he has acid refux but does not throw up like most babies...he swallows it. Reflux medicine made significant improvements in his quality of life, but we still wanted to know why he was suffering from the reflux in the first place. Well, after much struggle, we have reached a diagnosis...Celiac's Disease (or gluten intolerance).

When I first decided to start the blog, Joshua was still really suffering. But I am happy to report that he is doing VERY well. He is on a new diet and is enjoying life for the first time EVER! He laughs and has an amazing smile that we never knew existed. He dances and tickles and gives hugs and kisses...things I never thought I'd see him do! He is eating and sleeping (yes, this is a miracle) and has gained 2 pounds since we restricted his diet. Amazing! We are praising the Lord and yes, we are dancing ~ for He has given us much to dance about!

Leah's Psalm

I praise you Lord, for you are my all -

All I have, all I need, all I desire.

When I am down, I try to run to you

yet often I am unable to move.

But you are faithful to meet me where I am.

All I need to do is turn my thoughts to you

and You are there.

You renew me, lift me up to a high and solid place

and set me on my way again.

By your grace and strength alone can I stand.

Stand before your throne, before your people,

and again the enemy.

By your grace and mercy alone can I dance -

wild with joy and passion,

For you have given me much to dance about.