Monday, January 31, 2011

The beauty in flaws...

John and I have a new obsession on television. It is called Brothers & Sisters. We found it on Netflix. It is tawdry, fake, sassy and at the exact same time REAL. I literally cry through every episode. It is weird that I like this show as much as I do because its political and social agenda differ VASTLY from mine, plus Calista Flockhart has never been my favorite actress. Alas I love the show anyway.

Over the weekend we watched this fantastic episode. (SPOILER ALERT! SPOILER ALERT!) Kitty was struggling to fight lymphoma, and she just wanted a night out.  Her husband Robert (a senator and filthy rich) surprised her with  a rooftop dinner for two. It was perfectly staged and BEAUTIFUL... a complete surprise... even included fireworks. As they stood there gazing on what he had done for her.... So wildly imperfect [Kitty had cancer running through her veins.. Robert was a pretty recent survivor of a heart bypass... Just a few episodes ago their marriage had nearly fallen apart due to Robert's overzealous ambition and Kitty's affair]... all I could think was how BEAUTIFUL they were. How beautiful their story was. How beautiful their love was.  And I heard God whisper, "That is LOVE Jami.  That is LOVE."

Love isn't the perfect couple that has never fought, never betrayed, never doubted. Love is the couple that has been to Hell and back and is still standing together. Love is facing health catastrophes, financial destitution, barrenness, legal battles and even infidelity and coming out on the other side TOGETHER. I always feel so ashamed of my flaws. I want so badly to present to the world this picture of perfection. A perfect person.. a perfect marriage... perfect children... perfect home...  All of a sudden in that moment, with Robert and Kitty standing on that rooftop strong and BEAUTIFUL, I realized that it is the FLAWS that make something/someone beautiful. Perfection is overrated! There is beauty and STRENGTH in triumphing over the hurdles you have faced.

There is an added layer for those of us who love and serve Jesus. This lesson goes beyond the beauty of the human spirit triumphing over adversity. A whole new wave of BEAUTY rushes over me when I look at my flaws and appreciate the beauty of them and then WOOSH! come the realization that those flaws are SO beautiful in me because it is then that God is shining through me most brightly. In our weakness HE is strong....

So I challenge you, look at your flaws differently today. Appreciate their beauty... but most of all delight in the chance for God to shine more brightly through the "bare spots" in your life.

God bless!

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Lessons from last week...

Last week was a Jami FOR SURE!  Now that the insanity has settled down to a gentle simmer, I stand in awe-struck wonder at the way God's fingerprints were ALL OVER the insanity of last week. It was a GREAT reminder to me that:

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose.  Romans 8:28. 

Or the Jami paraphrase:  What Satan means to be our defeat, God LOVES to turn into our victory!

Ways that God left His fingerprints all over my crazy week last week:

*Auntie Marge fell on Wednesday morning at about 10:15 a.m. I was supposed to be at Physical Therapy for my Achilles tendon at that time; however, because my mother was in the hospital, Gramma spent the night at my house and I cancelled my appointment.  If I had gone to physical therapy, who knows how long Auntie Marge might have laid on the floor in agonizing pain.

*We have been slowly and casually leaving the children (boys only NOT Hannah... she'd burn the place down in < 2.2 seconds) home alone while I run to Mayville for a QUICK trip to Piggly Wiggly.  They have done VERY well with that responsibility.  So they were PREPARED to stay at home for a little bit with Gramma Hilly while Hannah and I ran Auntie Marge to the hospital.

*When Auntie Marge moved here, she needed a doctor. Mom sent her to Gramma's doctor on the south side. But that was not an optimal situation.  She was living an hour away from her doctor AND as it turns out that doctor was not the best one for her... he probably should have tweaked her medications a little because the dosage on one of the was WAY too high which led to a VERY low heart rate which is VERY likely the reason she fell... regardless that's all kinda babble... here's God's fingerprint:  she landed in the care of THE MOST amazing doctor in the WORLD!!!! (If you live near Hartford and are looking to be seen by the MOST amazing doctor in the WORLD, look up Dr. Tye at the Aurora Clinic... AH-MAZE-ZUH-ZING!)  Dr. Tye is tweaking her meds, taking good care of her, and providing AWESOME bedside care... She REALLY, REALLY likes this doctor and he is SO kind to her too!

*After Auntie Marge had surgery, she was going to need to be transferred to a Rehab Center for Physical Therapy and Rehab. My family wanted to have her rehab at the nursing home near them (in Greenfield), which made sense in the natural:

---5 families sharing the load of visiting an elderly relative is easier than 1 family doing it
---my mom is her power of attorney, I am just her daily care giver... it made sense to put her nearer to her POA
---we've had a trial run of that center because Gramma Hilly was there before
---I have a friend who works there

But my spirit was VERY unsettled about Auntie Marge being that far away from us.  I was not trying to be selfish, but I really felt that for HER healing and motivation to get out of there it would help for her to be around the family she lived with ever day.  Not wanting to cause a feud, I just presented my feelings to my mom and then prayed.  I prayed, "God you do what YOU want, and make it ABSOLUTELY clear to ALL of us that YOUR will is being done."  Later that day, mom called to say that there was not a bed open in Greenfield.  Auntie Marge was going to the center in Mayville!

So now here's where I attempt to wax poetic... or at least make this make a little sense.....  Last week was HORRIBLE!  Seriously it was... there were SEVERAL times where I was just bawling, unable to handle even one more tiny hiccup in the plan.  But through it all, He was right there... He was working things out... He was weaving His loving plan through all the fear, pain, tears, and stress...

Guess what?!?!?!  He's there for you TOO!  I know you feel tired!  I know your body aches!  I know you are sick and tired of struggling through this SAME EXACT TRIAL!  But He is THERE!  He is leaving His fingerprints ALL OVER your situation!  You just have to look for them.  Sit back and look for them.

You know I watch WAY too many crime dramas on TV.  I fancy myself an amateur sleuth of course.  Well I was just thinking about how Gill Grisham's peops sprinkle that powder on the surface they are fingerprinting, brush away the excess and then the fingerprints STAND OUT.  Do that today... Sprinkle the powder of God's word on your situation... use a little meditation and contemplation to dust away the excess... and then look and SEE God's fingerprints standing out!  I promise you if you look hard enough, they are THERE!

God bless everyone and have a GREAT day!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Part 2...

I am literally starting to wonder if my SOLE purpose for existing is so people can look at me and think, "PHEW! Am I glad I don't have HER life!"

So I was cruising along, basking in the warmth of the glow from the good report my mom got after her heart cath this morning. Since Gma was staying with me while dad stayed at the hospital with mom, I had called in and told my work I wouldn't be very available. I was concentrating on ONLY having to homeschool (and care for two old ladies). We were SO far ahead of schedule!  The kids were doing GREAT!  Gma was folding laundry with wild abandon.  I didn't even notice Auntie Marge slip away from the kitchen table. All of a sudden I heard a THUD!  I jumped up to investigate and as I walked down the hallway I could see Auntie Marge's head sticking out of her doorway.  She was lying on the ground.  I took ONE look at her and I KNEW something was wrong with her right leg. It was just at an odd angle AND it was completely lame. She couldn't move her foot AT ALL.

This day has SO many more twists and turns that I will skip all the details of how I got her into the chair, arranged an adult to supervise the boys staying home with Gma, notified my parents and John, cancelled the rest of our school day, etc... I had to CARRY her to the car because she could not use that leg AT ALL.  She is VERY light; however, she was dead weight, and she kept slipping out of my arms.  At one point, I almost passed out.

I kept thinking this CANNOT be happening!  This canNOT be happening!  They discharged my mom from Waukesha Memorial at about noon, and she and dad headed straight for Hartford Hospital to check on Auntie Marge. Really???  Two ER visits in two days???  What kinda crazy family does that???  We do apparently.

Soooooooo Auntie Marge is having surgery to repair her broken hip/femur tomorrow at 1 p.m. (PLEASE pray for her.  She is VERY scared as she has never had a surgery before.... 89 years she made it without ever having surgery!) But now we get to the part where I was finally reduced to tears.

John met us in Hartford after work, and we ate at Culver's.  Then he took two kiddos home, and I took two to do the Walmart shopping. We finished our shopping without a hitch (I had my mode of payment with me this time) and got in the car.  We turned right onto Hwy 60 from the Walmart parking lot.  We traveled.. idk... about 100 feet??? and reached the place where the streetlights stop, and I was INSTANTLY and COMPLETELY disoriented.  I couldn't see the road AT ALL.  I had NO headlights!  Panic mode kicked in, and I held back my tears.  I called John, and we problem solved.  We decided (with hazards on) I would return to Walmart (they have an automotive shop) and see if they could help me.  I will NOT lie. Last summer's almost unsolvable taillight issue was haunting my soul, and at that point the tears were JUST under the surface.

I got to Walmart and started incoherently babbling to the automotive guy. He walked into the shop and voila! I had lights.  I was like "WHAT???"  He reported, "You have brights (I didn't think of that)... which means it isn't electrical. I'm guessing your low beam bulbs just burned out."  Apparently I am just SO lucky that BOTH bulbs burnt out at the SAME time.  WHATEVER!  that was it... I holed up in the waiting room and let the tears start....  Whose life is LIKE this????  I tell you I couldn't MAKE this stuff up!  Fact TRULY is stranger than fiction!

Have you seen Evan Almighty???  God (Morgan Freeman) tells Evan that everything He does, He does because He loves Evan.  At one point, Evan's family has walked out on him.  The whole city thinks he's nuts (he is building a boat in his subdivision just like Noah built the ark)... Evan says, "I know, I know, everything You do You do because You love me."  His lawn sprinkler comes on timer and squirts him in the face, and he SCREAMS, "Could you love me a little less!?!?!?"  Let's just say right now I can relate to that scene.

But I gotta bring it around to something inspirational... and really and truly the tears were just tears of exhaustion... I'm not despondent over here.   I'm just DEPLETED.  Here's the verse I'm clinging to:

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose.
Romans 8:28

Tune in tomorrow for another episode of Calamity Jami  Will she plummet off a cliff? Be struck by a rogue wind turbine? Or just lose her pants in the middle of the hospital waiting room? Only God knows and only time will tell.

Peace out my faithful readers.  And don't forget to say, "PHEW! Am I glad I don't have HER life!"

Worship Wednesday: Hear my Cry

[disclaimer: I did not mean to go all reggae on you this morning, but this little snippet was the ONLY version I could find on but I figure it is kinda a nice taste of Jamaica for those of us who are stuck in 12 degree WI]

Wowzer! The past 48-hours has been a whirlwind. Christina and I have decided that we should contact Webster's and ask them to add the following definition:

Jami (noun): a 24-hour period in which more catastrophic and minorly irritating events happen to you than happen to most people in an entire year.  Car accident, forgotten lunch, trip to the ER, and cat peed all over the comforter, what a Jami yesterday was!

It started when I received some heart breaking news about a dear loved one of mine. (names and details withheld to protect the innocent who didn't sign on to be a part of my blog)

Hear my cry, Oh Lord 

Next came some GREAT news... but it was hugely momentous as well and not without a great deal of stress. (same as above regarding details)

Attend unto my prayer

Then began the truly sketchy part... Awoke to a text from my mom:  Dad's taking me toWaukesha Memoria ER... heart... will text details.

From the ends of the earth, will I cry out to Thee

The entire day was FILLED with stress:
*snoblowed the driveway TWICE because John's neck flare up didn't allow him to do it; propane truck STILL couldn't get up the driveway; had to PAY THE SNOWPLOW GUY to plow driveway even though I sweated and labored and slipped my way through snowblowing it... TWICE!
*got ALL the way through the grocery store AND CHECKOUT only to find I had left my checkbook at home
*as I raced home to get the checkbook I didn't get over into a lane fast enough for some jerk behind me... he decided to just LAY on his horn until I moved... by that point I was ready to go POSTAL on someone.
*Mom was kept in the hospital overnight and scheduled for a 6 a.m. heart catherization.

And when my heart is overwhelmed
Lead me to the ROCK
That is higher than I

I have often wondered how people get through tough stuff without God.  I mean I can hardly get through it with Him!  I'm so glad I don't have to know.

Well my Jami is behind me (hopefully)... Today peace and calm has settled about my house. Gma spent the night last night so my dad could stay at the hospital with my mom. All four kiddos are still sleeping. John got off to work on time.  I'm on my second cup of coffee.  And BEST of all, I just got a text from my dad, Great news.  All arteries virtually unchanged from ten years ago.  Sending her back to room. We may be out by noon or so.

Thank you Jesus for being my Rock.  I could NOT do this thing called life without you.

Monday, January 17, 2011

For better or for worse....

I remember vividly the day.... It is one of my favorite days to remember.  There I stood, twenty-nine years old sure I'd be forever single... but I was wrong... oh so wrong. The day was absolutely perfect!  Melinda Toy sang like an angel... my sisters, cousins and friends walked down the aisle before me... Dad walked next to me and gave me away... Mom cried... John did too... I often say my ONLY regret of the ENTIRE day was that I took my veil off at my reception. My hair never looked quite the same once I removed the veil. I stood there at that altar stars in my eyes and love in my heart and there I vowed, In sickness and in health.... For richer for poorer... For better or worse...  I had no idea what poorer would look like.  No one forewarned me how dark worse could get. And no one explained the excruciating pain of the sickness.

I'm not sure whose pain is worse. John, again incapacitated in the living room, unable to turn his head AT ALL to the side, struggling with discouragement over the realization that this will LIKELY be the rest of his life... intolerable neck pain, trips to the NICU, continual medications... Or me, torn in half watching the man I love struggle through the despondency of realizing he is just NOT the same and will probably never get back to what he used to be.  We are both struggling through so much YUCK!

Last night we had the discussion (with tears in BOTH of our eyes) that as SUCKY as this is... it really, truly DOES beat the alternative. We could have lost him. I could be struggling to raise these four babies alone. I could be lonely and scared and without my BFF. I could be spending every night wiping tears from the faces of my precious babies instead of schlepping him medication and a warm sock buddy. As hard and gut-wrenching as this is, the alternative is just way worse.

So here's the deal... when we pledge for better or for worse, we have NO idea what that means. We have this strong conviction that we'll "stand by our man" but we have only a vague idea of what that will look like. As the details become clear, it's not like we wish we hadn't pledged this but we kinda realize WOW! I had no idea it would look like THIS! 

It's like our relationship with God. We choose to accept His free gift. We ask Him to come into our hearts and our lives. We have a FIRM conviction that we'll stand by Him NO MATTER WHAT, but we have NO idea what NO MATTER WHAT will look like. We have to just blindly trudge forward waiting for the details to be revealed to us.

I hope this e-mail doesn't strike you wrong.  I am NOT lamenting the struggle through the worse.  I actually embrace it. I really truly do! First of all because the alternative is so much worse, but second of all, I embrace these times because I really don't get to see enough of my husband. While I don't like him being in pain, I really do like him being home.  I guess I just wanted to put it out there for anyone else who is struggling through the sickness, poorer, or worse right now.... Struggling in their marriage, in their life or in their walk with God.... Hang on! Do NOT give up!  For better or worse!  You promised it to your spouse, to your God, to yourself!  You can DO this!

Thursday, January 13, 2011

The current of God's will...

I've always kinda thought of God's will as an umbrella. The closer I was to the center of His will, the less of the world's rain would get me wet. Tonight I'm thinking of it a little differently.

I'm at the TAG Ctr. The kiddos are swimming. I tried water walking, but my foot is acting up again, and I only made it 20 minutes before the pain was too much for me. Now I'm just sitting at a table right by the current pool.

I was noticing how quickly the current pool moves people around that little oval shape. Some people, however, fight the current trying to walk in the opposit direction. Whether they do it to be irritating or to get a good workout, doesn't matter. They have chosen the "hard way". Still others fight to stand still. They aren't necessarily going AGAINST the current, but they sure as SHOOT aren't gonna go with it.

Maybe that's what God's will is like too? There are some people who just FIGHT against His will. Who knows if they are just being obstinate or if they really WANT to do it he hard way, but regardless they have chosen the most difficult route.... the one that goes against God's current.

Then there are the people who are standing still. They aren't necessarily going AGAINST God's will, but they sure aren't moving in the direction of His will either. They may not be caught in secret sin or heading up the local Satanist sect, but they just stand in place not loving sacrificially... not stepping out in faith.

And then, OH THEN, there are the people who allow the current of God's will take them where He wills. They are giving until it hurts. They are taking BOLD chances because His spirit impressed it upon their hearts. They are FLOWING And MOVING in the powerful current of God's love. And Oh! Oh! Oh! Oh! OH! Does it show! God's will is gliding them along... Flying them at warp speed... Through the things HE purposes for them. I'm not saying they don't encounter bumps and snags along the way, but because they have submitted to the current of God's will they are moving in the exact direction HE wants them to go and they are getting there VERY fast.

Well I think that's all for today. I've gotta stop blogging on my Blackberry now. Its giving me a BAD headache. But that current pool was so strongly on my heart I just HAD to share it with you all. Here's hoping you're busy letting HIS current take you away!
God bless!

Worship Wednesday: Better is One Day

I love this song! It gets my thoughts on Heaven, but not just that, it brings a little piece of Heaven here to earth.

How lovely is
Your dwelling place
Oh Lord Almighty,
For my soul longs
And even faints
For You
Oh, here my heart
Is satisfied (is satisfied)
Within Your presence
I sing beneath
The shadow of
Your wings

Mmmmmm beneath the shadow of His wings. What comfort there is in picturing myself there, resting, protected, safe, in the shadow of His wings.

Better is one day in Your courts
Better is one day in Your house
Better is one day in Your courts
Than thousands elsewhere
Better is one day in Your courts
Better is one day in Your house
Better is one day in Your courts
Than thousands elsewhere
(Than thousands elsewhere)

One day in Heaven is SO going to be better than thousands elsewhere, yet I always feel MORE when I sing this part. I feel... One day spent in worship is better than thousands spent: working, cleaning, even playing. Being in His presence just TRUMPS all!

One thing I ask,
And I would seek,
To see Your beauty
To find You in
The place Your glory dwells
(One thing I ask)
One thing I ask
And I would seek,
To see Your beauty
To find You in
The place Your glory dwells

That's really truly the ONLY think I seek... I want to see Him, find Him. I want to see Him in the gentleness of a summer breeze. I want to see Him in the fierceness of the worst winter storm. I want to see Him in my child's sweet face. I want to see Him living, breathing, and moving THROUGH me.

(My heart and flesh cry out)
My heart and flesh cry out
To You, the Living God
Your Spirit's water to my soul

I am a BIG water girl! Ask anyone. Any one of my cheerleaders.... Any one of my children... Anyone who has met me.... Jami LOVES water and Jami PREACHES:  Drink more water! Water! Water! Water!  One of my favorite stories is after a b-day party I had some leftover Kool-Aid (a sugary bunch of garbage that I don't keep in the house except for special occasions). I wanted it GONE because it was in my way. So I was trying to get Jeremiah to have a glass.  He was about 3, and he stood in the kitchen red-faced and SCREAMING at the top of his lungs, "Don't give me that KOOL-AID! I want water!"  Love it!  

God's Spirit, God's voice, His presence.... it's like water to my soul. Refreshing me, replenishing me, flushing away all my impurities.  Just like Jeremiah, I'm screaming, "Don't give me that busyness or stupid television show! I want God's presence!"

I've tasted, and I've seen
Come once again to me
I will draw near to You
I will draw near to You
To You

And there it is... the money maker... the part of the song that it's all about... I will draw near to You....  He's already there. He's already waiting. He never, ever left. I have to draw near to Him. One day in His presence is always RIGHT there waiting for me.... Will I choose to draw in??  If I do, it will be better than anything else.  So much BETTER!

Have a great day everyone!

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Something new...

Where did you go Jami dear? Yes... I've answered this question several times as of late. Well to begin with, we were on vacation... Oh blessed vacation! John and I had off of all of our jobs from Christmas to New Year's. (Well sorta... I still was writing for Demand Media in an attempt to offset the pain from the fact that John wouldn't have a paycheck from McDonald's for that week.) We had the MOST amazing vacation! Literally, truly in twelve and one-half years of marriage we have NEVER both taken time off besides when we were having babies or brain surgery. So this was a BIG treat for us. We didn't really go anywhere... Hit up the waterpark at the TAG Center in Mayville... had a GREAT date day in MKE while the kiddos had an "Oma & Poppa spoil us" day....  did a LOT of laundry and a WHOLE lotta resting.  It was AMAZING!

Then the New Year started and I had all these Resolutions!!!
*more God
*get healthy
*more structure

Well, resolutions require time so I have been too busy to blog.  I can report, however, that I have already lost 14 pounds... that the kiddos are working their ways to a better sleep pattern... our new semester is off to a BANNER start! we are ROCKING the homeschooling thing... and my babies are all covered in the extra prayer I've been bathing them in...  So it was not for naught that I tossed you all to the side like a once-loved-but-now-forgotten toy.

But I'm back!!!  Kinda! I'm not letting my resolutions suffer AT ALL!  I like having the laundry caught up and feeling like a success in homeschooling and LOSING WEIGHT! However, I promise that I will continue to check-in now and again so as to not lose touch with you my blog readers. ESPECIALLY when something exciting comes up!  Like now!

I've been accepted as a guest blogger for (in)courage!!! SERIOUSLY I am just jumping-up-and-down excited for the opportunity this represents.  I submitted a post (an original one that none have read yet) and they considered it AND... sometime in February (stay tuned for the exact date) they will post it on their site! I can't believe it! I felt like, "Somebody pinch me!" I am finally making a step in the RIGHT direction of getting published!!!!!

As in all things Jami, this is not without a lesson...  I clicked on a link at their site and up popped this verse:

For I am about to do something new.  See, I have already begun!  Do you not see it?  I will create rivers in the dry wasteland.  
Isaiah 43:19

Shivers ran up and down my spine... Goose flesh broke out on my arms... Doncha just LOVE it when God just SPEAKS to you? I mean SPEAKS obviously, directly, and COMPLETELY to your situation!  AMAZING!

What a GREAT God we serve!  He is doing GREAT things all around us!  You'll see them if you just look.  I for one am looking, and I am seeing, and I am waiting expectantly for him to create rivers in the dry wasteland for me.

Have a GREAT day everyone!  and stay tuned....
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