Tuesday, August 30, 2011

I made it through...

Yesterday as I was driving Hannah to a follow-up appointment with Dr. Patterson, it came across the wires... Matt Redman "You Never Let Go." That's been the theme song through this recent trial... In fact, it is what I was singing to Hannah as I held her, waiting for her to come out of anesthesia.... And oddly, (well maybe not so oddly) she has been singing it ever since her surgery too. It was a gentle touch from God. A little reminder, that He's there... He's always there.

I started to think about the rest of the soundtrack of my life. See music is so powerful for me, and it seems every season of my life comes with a theme song.  Of course, John & I have a song... I chose songs for each of my babies when they were born. In addition, every tough thing I have gone through has a song that "attaches" to it. It was either a song that "got me through" the season or sometimes a song that came out after the fact that reminds me of the time, but regardless when I hear the song, powerful emotions surge. It is as if I'm transported back in time. I can feel the emotions, feel, wonder, excitement of that season of life as real as if it was just yesterday!

I always mean to burn a mix CD of the songs... problem is life keeps adding more songs to my list :)  Here's a little snippet:

Blessed Be Your Name - when Luke was diagnosed with Leukemia
Praise You in This Storm - financial devastation of 2005
By Your Side - tumultuous summer of 2009
Stronger - John's Brain Surgery
You Never Let Go - Hannah's Eye Surgery

But see yesterday as that song came on the radio, a thought was planted in my soul and this morning it grew into a big grown up concept to blog about.

Here's the thing with all those songs.... Here's the thing with all those seasons... They represent the PAST... I'm through them. A few of those songs still stab me like a hot poker in the gut when I hear them. Some of them bring a warm fuzzy, my God carried me through that feeling. And some of them cause my hackles to rise as I get myself in fighting stance ready to kick the devil's butt for what he tried to take from me. This morning though it occurred to me.... All of those seasons are IN THE PAST.  

I remember that I feared losing my husband... I remember fearing being evicted because we couldn't pay the rent... I remember having the air socked out of my gut with one word, "Leukemia".... I remember the constant dread of lining the bills up against the salaries and ALWAYS coming up WAY short.... I remember the cloak of humiliation I couldn't seem to shake because of the financial troubles we were struggling under.... I remember telling God time and time again that SURELY His bookkeeper had lost track and Jami Lynn Kastner was getting HER share of struggles and someone else's too....  Mostly I remember feeling that SURELY this would be the one thing to "do me in"..... SURELY I would NOT make it through THIS struggle... this battle for my life, heart and soul... But guess what everyone??? I did.  I made it through. Sometimes it wasn't pretty. Sometimes I could have stood taller. Sometimes I should have trusted more or held it together longer, BUT regardless I MADE IT THROUGH!

Someone out there needs to hear this today!  You are facing one of those bloody knuckle, gripping for dear life, I canNOT do THIS one more second situations! You feel at the end of your rope, strength depleted, can't see two feet in front of you, hope tank on E. But I'm here to tell you, "HANG ON!" You will make it through. And when you're at the end of your rope... when you have NOTHING left... when you are empty... you are in the PERFECT place for Him to work.

One day in the not too distant future, maybe you too will have a song that triggers memories of this time, this season in life. Your gut may knot up in remembrance. Your heart may surge a little. But then you will STOP and realize, "I MADE IT THROUGH!"  Please hang on.  Please stand strong. You WILL make it through!

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Grace and cotton balls....

Romans 5:1-4
Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom He has given us.

We stand in GRACE!
     not condemnation -- which we deserve;
     not hopelessness  -- which is what we have earned;
     not FEAR -- which is what is rightfully ours;

I try hard to teach my kiddos what GRACE is because it is sometimes hard to grasp the FULLNESS of it. When they screw up [for example, like when Hannah scattered by brand-new cotton balls all over the bathroom negating them of their sterile condition], I say to them, "Did you ________________ (insert offense here, for example: throw all of Momma's cotton balls all over the ground)?"  [furtive nod.... rarely do words come in these times]

"Did you know it was wrong to do that?" [another little nod]

 "Do you deserve to be disciplined?" [one more nod... even smaller... because admitting to this part is even harder] 

And every once in a while, when they have done something wrong, typically when it is something BIG (not something donkey like cotton balls) and only when I can see they are contrite about their sin, I say to them, "You did  ________________ (insert offense here, for example: throw all of Momma's cotton balls all over the ground) and you do deserve to be disciplined, but instead I am going to give you GRACE, just like Jesus gives us."

The other day I was in a rush. I just didn't have time for the discipline part. I just zipped through a scolding and didn't take time to dole out the consequence. (I wasn't trying to teach about GRACE. I was just trying to get back to working.) I heard Noah say to Hannah as she walked away from my lecture, "See that's GRACE Hannah."  So apparently it is sinking in for my babies. Has it sunk in for you?

Ask yourself?  Have I done something wrong?

For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.
Romans 3:23

We ALL have done something wrong.

Did I know it was wrong?

c'mon... be HONEST!  you knew it was wrong to lose your temper like that!  you knew it was wrong to talk about that person in that manner! you knew God didn't WANT you to ______________ (fill in the blank with cheat, steal, lie, betray).

Do I deserve discipline for my sin?

For the wages of sin is death.
Romans 6:23

We ALL deserve death.

Now STOP! and let this wash over you....  GRACE.... Instead of what we rightfully deserve, God gives us GRACE.

But God demonstrates His own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
Romans 5:8

Today for just a little bit, focus on the GRACE of God. You did it. You deserve the punishment. But He gives you GRACE instead, and we stand in GRACE. Isn't that beautiful?

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Just DO it....

[spoiler alert! spoiler alert! not that we ALL don't know the Bethany Hamilton story already but SPOILER ALERT!]

We got this movie in the mail from Netflix the week before's Hannah's Surgery and we watched it at least 8 times before we FINALLY sent it back.  To say that we LOVED it is the HUGEST understatement in the world!

*We have ALWAYS loved Anna Sophia Robb.  Bridge to Terabithia??? Need I say MORE???
*Good, clean, FAMILY entertainment... no cussing to bleep out, no wild sex scenes to explain away, none of any of that stuff I always say, "Now they could have done without THAT." about.
*It was nice to see a cinematic example of the family we strive to be. One that loves God and family. One that finds it NORMAL to love God and serve Him. One that HOMESCHOOLS without denim jumpers!!!

But the BIGGEST and BEST part of this movie is the PURE, UNABASHED INSPIRATION!

What a girl! What a family! What a STORY!

Because I am a mom, the mom parts TORE me apart!
*Bethany's mom thanking the family friend who was INSTRUMENTAL in saving Bethany's life.
*Bethany's mom holding it together when the doctor unwrapped Bethany's bandages and then collapsing in the arms of her husband afterward.

But the single most poignant moment for me... the reason I couldn't blog about this movie until now....

Bethany just got attacked by the shark. The ambulance is racing her to the hospital and passes her mom's minivan on the road, and her mom tearfully cries out to God, "Please don't take her! Please don't take her!"

I can't even BLOG about that part without crying!!!  It was poignant to me because I am a mom, and I would have BAWLED at that part even if my daughter wasn't about to go "under the knife."  But every time we watched that movie, I cried out along with her... crying on behalf of MY baby, "Please don't take her!"

See here is the conundrum I live in. I love God. I trust God. I KNOW God. But I have been around on this earth long enough to know that bad things happen ALL the time. I have seen enough to know that people who LOVE God lose people they love ALL THE TIME!

I have a KEEN and ACUTE awareness that these four precious, AMAZING, beautiful, smart, funny, God-loving beings are NOT mine.  They are merely on loan to me. Their Father has entrusted me with their care for as long as they are on this earth, but they really truly aren't MINE.

And as much as I know that God WOULD get me through the loss of this flesh of my flesh and bone of my bone, my stomach was in KNOTS for the week leading up to the surgery because I did not WANT to have to walk down that road.

Sometimes that is just how it goes. I know that God has my back. He has walked me through some hellish situations in this life, and He has never ONCE left my side. I know that WHATEVER I face, He is right by my side. Yet there are some roads, I'd just rather not walk down. Maybe you're facing one of those situations right now. Maybe there is something ahead of you... You're not really AFRAID of it, but you just aren't thrilled about walking through it. I just want to tell you, that's okay. You don't have to WANT to do it. You just have to DO IT. One foot in front of the other. Keep on moving. Like Nike says, "JUST DO IT!"

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Hannah Banana

(just an aside... did you ever hear the story where someone asked Hannah what her last name was and she said, "Banana?"  FUNN-EEEE!)

Hannah Beth is doing GREAT! We saw the doctor yesterday morning. She said that Hannah's eyes look GREAT! The weird discoloration we are seeing in one of her eyes is similar to a bruise turning yellow and green prior to fading. It is okay that the bloodiness is fading at different rates in each of her eyes. Her eye alignment looks VERY straight which means she is seeing better and her vision in that crossing eye will still be able to properly develop. The "pain" Hannah is reporting is likely simply for a little more attention. I had wondered that; however, with the AWFUL way her eyes look I was not able to be an impartial judge tthe topic. I kept getting distracted by how scary her eyes looked.

In fact, today when she told me her eyes hurt and I tried distracting her she said, "But I want to go see Dr. Patterson." She is still taking the drops like a champ, and she is (with the doctor's okay) running about a little. Although she is still firmly entrenched in Momma and Daddy's bed each night (aye carumba!)  Still I don't think that's too bad.

Thank you all again for praying us through this far!  Hannah doesn't have to see the doctor again until 8/29. So I'll give you all a report then.

[I tried but I can't get a pic of her icky eyes... I mean they are still beautiful but they are all bloody in the corners.]

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Longer update....

In case the tweets aren't providing enough details for you:

Milking it for ALL it is WORTH!
***Hannah saw the eye doctor for her post-op appointment yesterday morning. Everything is looking great!  Eyes will take 6 weeks to heal from surgery, and we won't know for sure if the surgery worked until then, but SO FAR SO GOOD!

[Oh and SHAMELESS plug here... if you are ANYWHERE in the Milwaukee Metropolitan area and you have need of a pediatric opthamologist, Dr. Maria Patterson in Brookfield, WI is the BEST one, HANDS DOWN, you will EVER find! Look no further!  Just call her and then never ever leave her!]

***Hannah is doing VERY well!

***She is not rubbing her eyes too much.

***Her pain is quite manageable with just over-the-counter Tylenol when she tells us, "My eyes hurt." She only been taking it like every eight hours which is GREAT cuz it wears off in 4 so that means she not in that much pain.

***Blood-tinged tears have stopped AND her eyes have NOT been crusted shut once yet (knock on wood)

***Eye drops are going okay. She still cries and is scared of them, but we made a deal with the devil (bubble gum... you KNOW how I feel about bubble gum!!!) she gets one piece every time she bravely endures the drops (3x per day!) please pray that she doesn't end up bald from this deal!  I'm gonna CRY if she gets gum in her hair, but I keep telling myself, "Hair grows back. Eyeballs do NOT!"

***Hardest part right now: keeping her down!  She is not supposed to "swim or run for 1 week."  Swimming - easy peasy lemon squeezy. Running - are you kidding me? this kid BOUNDS to and from everything she does! She JUMPS off the bed, RUNS down the stairs, BOUNCES in place when she's trying to tell you something exciting. She is the EPITOME of energy, and she feels fine most of the time. Therefore, the hardest part it convincing her to lie low. I think I'm gonna take a trip to Walmart today to grab some new exciting coloring books and some fancy princess crayons to engage her.

***Mom & Dad are recovering from surgery slower than Hannah :) We are WIPED and in fact after not sleeping AT ALL last night because he kept startling awake to see if Hannah was rubbing her eyes, John took another day off today which is a HUGE blessing because I have GOT to catch up on my writing!  I got SO far behind the past three days. I haven't written A THING!

Regardless the one thing I wanted to end with was a few thoughts about how blessed I have been over the past three days knowing how MANY are praying for us.

There came a point during Hannah's surgery that I literally could not pray. Every time I closed my eyes to pray I got a glimpse of a bloody eyeball or a clamp holding her eyelids open. It was AWFUL! Finally I just said to myself, "I'm gonna have to let other people pray for me right now." I turned to FB for a distraction because I could not HANDLE the truth (sorry just channeling a little Jack Nicholson there).  Also, just the constant stream of FB comments, e-mails, texts, and phone calls reminding me how MANY were praying for us. People on FB that I didn't know even cared... My mom's canasta friends.... Hannah's AWANA church... Jodi's FB friends... Cori's work friends... A&A's mom... prayers were POURING in from sources I'd expected and ones I hadn't thought of too...  I know I said this when John had brain surgery but I think it bears repeating:

Your prayers carried us through!

Don't let Satan tell you that your measly little prayer won't do anything!  That is a LIE from the pit of Hell! Your prayers are MEANINGFUL! Your prayers don't just move Heaven and earth, they ENCOURAGE and lift up the people you are praying for! Be encouraged yourself because you MADE A DIFFERENCE!!!

This morning I prayed that God would POUR blessings onto each and every person who prayed for our little Hannah. That He would prosper you, heal you, comfort you, fulfill you.  Thank you once again my faithful blog readers. You carried me through yet ANOTHER trial and you did a BEAUTIFUL job of it!  You all are my JOY!  Thank you.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

An epiphany...

Today was a grueling day. Rose at 4 am (after not being able to fall asleep last night and then startling awake every 1-2 hours cuz I was afraid we'd overslept), dropped the boys at Jodi's, and headed to the surgicenter. It was a HORRIBLE experience.
We were doing fine until it was time for Hannah to take some Versed. Just like her Momma, she is NOT one for liquid medication. John and I had to pin her down, TWICE, before the medicine went down. Then they started to wheel her away, and she cried, "I want my MOMMA!" all the way down the hall! Talk about ripping a mom's heart out and STOMPING on it!
And then all those children having surgery! Some of them (8's & 9's) came in crying, obviously not wanting surgery. Some were YOUNG, and it was awful. I was crying for at least 3 of them who weren't even mine. Surgery took longer than expected, and it seemed an eternity before they called, "Family for Hannah."
The doctor met us and said everything went JUST as hoped for, and Hannah did great! When we were called back to recovery Hannah was resting peacefully. She awoke and said,  "Mom! I can see you!" And then dozed again.
After an hour in recovery we headed to Auntie Jodi's, by way of Walmart first (to get Tylenol and a baby doll reward), and picked up the boys. We were home by just after noon. John, Hannah and I took a 2-hr nap. Then we ate dinner. The patient is doing GREAT. No nausea from anesthesia. No fever. No complications. We are actually having a hard time keeping her down right now. She wants to run about and play, but we want to be careful cuz she's still a little off-center from anesthesia. (Weird how quickly kids bounce back!)
So now to the epiphany part...
I literally took time to pray before I shared this. It was such a REAL, STRONG word from God, and I really hope I can properly express it to you all.
It happened post-op, as I was sitting in the chair holding Hannah. It occurred to me that Hannah might be thinking, "Momma why did you let this happen to me?" Indeed I did have the power to stop that from happening to her. The doctor required OUR authorization before she could operate on Hannah. John and I did NOT have to agree to it. She cried out, "Mom! My eyes hurt!" I could have prevented that pain. I had the power to avoid it. But because I want what is best for my little girl, I had to give authorization for this surgery to take place. From her finite 5-year old perspective, the Versed, the wheeling away from us, the pain, our refusal to let her itch her eyes... they made little to no sense. But John and I looked at it from a different perspective... one that focused on our daughter keeping her vision. So we forcibly administered the Versed. We gave authorization and let them cut into our baby's eyes causing her pain, agony, and itching that may drive her insane. Because that was what had to happen to bring about the best results for her.
In a light-bulb-above-my-head moment, it occurred to me what a perfect example this is of why God allows us to walk down difficult roads. Often we cry out, "God why are you letting this happen to me?" And indeed He does have the power to stop it. He could help us avoid the pain, but He sees from a different perspective. Our finite perspective cannot understand why God would let these things happen to us. However, He sees with eyes that are focused on a different goal. So He forcibly administers the Versed, allows them to wheel us away, and lets them inflict painful procedures on us.... because He knows what is best for His babies.
If this analogy didn't minister to you, then just ignore it. But God impressed it on my heart today because SOMEONE needed to hear it.
God bless, and have a great night.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Thinking of Jesus tonight...

Don't get your undies in a bind!  I KNOW full well that what I am walking through pales in comparison to what He did!  Yet I can't help but REALLY, TRULY relate to our Savior, in the garden. Sweating drops of blood as He prayed, "My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will." 

Oh what I wouldn't give to have the rapture come TONIGHT! I just feel like I don't have the stomach, or the nerves, or the guts to walk through yet ANOTHER surgery.  I do not want to!  Alas, the choice is not mine. I need to do this, and I need to be brave while I do it.

So PLEASE keep on praying! You may not feel like you are doing much, but your prayers are how I am getting through this!  Keep on praying, and I'll keep on being brave for Hannah. Have we got a deal?

Thanks everyone!  His will be done.

One more thing....

Tomorrow I will be tweeting status updates for anyone interested..... You can read this updates via Twitter, Facebook, or right there on the left side of my blog on my twitter feed (underneath my Blog Archive).

surgery is scheduled for 7:30 a.m.

Thanks in advance for praying us through this!


Ugh... I'm so unsure how to even blog about tomorrow, but I need to get this information OUT THERE because we need some prayer support.

Tomorrow is the day. Hannah has her eye surgery. 
Dr. Maria Patterson (the BEST Pediatric Opthalmologist in the WORLD) will be operating on my baby's eyes at 7:30 a.m. tomorrow morning. 
Dr. Patterson will be detaching Hannah's inside eye muscles and reattaching them further back so that they do not pull so tightly on her eyes, causing them to cross. 
This is a routine surgery she has done a gazillion times before. But this time it is different.
This time it is MY baby girl's eyeballs she is cutting into. This time it is MY life, soul, heart and breath on her operating table. I trust God (and Dr. Patterson) implicitly, yet I am still VERY nervous. I know that He has this in control, yet I wait with anxious anticipation of the fear, stress, agony, and WAITING tomorrow will bring.

See it is like I am a little girl waiting in line to go on the Demon at Great America (come on... all you old peops out there... you remember when we called it just Great America right?  and you remember the Demon... maybe they still even have it???)  Anyways, it's like I'm standing in line with my dad waiting for the Demon. My dad is right next to me, and it gives me courage to know that he will be with me the whole time. I  know that he will protect me from any preventable tragedy he sees coming my way: if someone in line tries to push me down to get ahead of me, he will protect me from their assault.... if I forget to buckle my seat belt, he will check it before the ride starts... and if I stumble with dizziness and nausea after the ride, he will catch my elbow to keep me standing up. However, even though I am just a little girl, I realize that there are some things my dad can't prevent: the ride could go off the track, my seatbelt could snap off, etc...

That's how I feel today.  I know that my Dad is standing in line with me. I know that He has the ability to protect me from awful things that might come my way. However, I have been through enough (and I have seen those I love go through enough) to know that my Heavenly Dad won't always protect me from everything that COULD go wrong. I know that brains slip out of place, children get terribly sick, and husbands walk away from 25+ years of marriage. I trust that if after this "ride" I should stumble and fall nauseous and dizzy from the results of it, my Father will be right there to grab my elbow and keep me standing. Yet, still a little fear of what might come resides.

That's just life. God loves us desperately and dearly, but "bad" things happen to "good" people ALL the time. What's the answer? I think it is the same things I have been saying for just over 2 years on this blog:

*CLING to Jesus... when the ride gets rough, when the waves get high... CLING TO JESUS

*tell the world... I really think here on earth we suffer in silence TOO much. I do NOT believe that God wants this. I strongly REFUTE this concept that God knows our needs so we should just be silent and let Him impress those needs upon other people's hearts. (I have heard this one A LOT over the years... especially when John was having brain surgery, and especially as it relates to financial needs) I think we need to BLAB our worries, fears and needs to the WHOLE world. Satan wants you to keep them quiet because Satan knows what a POWERFUL resource we have available to us in the prayers of the saints, and Satan does NOT want us tapping into that. So if you are struggling tell the WORLD! (or at least tell someone) so they can lift you up before the throne of Him who has the power to do something about it.

*buckle up that seatbelt cuz it is gonna be a ROUGH ride... I am covering my own self in prayer. I am randomly spouting out encouraging scripture as if I have Tourette syndrome. I am surrounding myself with Christian music (thank you Klove and Pandora) and I am just casting down EVERY thought that is not from above (worry, fear, trepidation.... these are NOT from God).

If you have something looming on your horizon, will you join with me today? I know it is scary. I know what COULD happen. I know that you fee INCAPABLE of overcoming the mountain in front of you. But PLEASE stand with me and CLING to Jesus, tell the world, and buckle up!  It may be a bumpy ride, but we are NOT on it alone.

God bless, everyone!

Saturday, August 13, 2011

God used Pandora???

I recently downloaded the Pandora app to my smart phone. I'm slowly but surely getting the hang of it. I guess you type in a song (or artist, or genre) you like and it creates a like-minded "station" for you to listen to. Every once in a while you have to endure a few commercials, but other than that it is free. I downloaded it for the purpose of working out. I didn't want to go purchase a bunch of new workout songs from iTunes, and I didn't want to listen to the SAME old music EVERY workout. So I got Pandora.

Yesterday I found the genre search function and "created" a radio station Contemporary Christian, and POW! it was like God Himself was choosing the songs for that "station" to play and I got a few messages from God while I sweated my butt off tackling the EVIL stair treadmill.  Each song that played spoke to my heart and soul... Each song brought me a word from God (some for others but mostly for me).  Here's the playlist that resulted and the lessons that came with it:

Get Back Up - Toby Mac
I <3 this song!  I just love every word of these lyrics! In fact, I've even blogged about it before. But today the message related to my new fitness plan. I have been doing SO well working out. I've been "on the wagon" for about three weeks now with a goal to get to the gym five or six days per week. I'm doing High Intensity Interval Training, weight lifting, and stretching. The first and second weeks, I worked out at the gym five days, did a stretch only workout one day and took one day off. This week has been not as good. My workload TRIPLED this week and I have been SWAMPED. In addition to Gramma Hilly being in and out of the hospital and preparing for Hannah's surgery, it has been an INSANE asylum around here!  Today is the last day in my workout week and so far I have worked out at the gym only three times, taken two days fully off, and done abs and a full body stretch on the other day.  I was feeling VERY discouraged and loathing the stench of failure in my nostrils when Toby Mac SCREAMED at me from the ear buds connected to my Smart Phone:  We lose our way... get back up again... its never too late... to get back up again... with each repetition of the chorus I was more and more encouraged and by the end of the song I was ready to battle the beast of getting back in shape ferociously again.

Call on Jesus - Nicole C. Mullen
This song makes my heart SWELL with encouragement. When I call on Jesus... mountains are gonna fall... But yesterday this song was for someone else.  Someone I have been praying for all week. Someone who made an AMAZING choice, lying down her own desires in the name of doing what He was calling her to. Someone whose heart is breaking from the pain of what he asked her to lie down.  Standing in front of her is this mountain of sadness, uncertainty and pain... And I want to tell her: When I call on Jesus.... mountains are gonna fall... and I want her to hear He'll move Heaven and earth to come rescue me when I fall.  And any of the rest of you with a mountain in front of you, I want you to hear this message When I call on Jesus... all things are possible... with Jesus on your side, you can DO IT!

You Never Let Go - Matt Redman
Blogged about this one before too... This time is for my family.... We are walking through a very tough time with my Gramma. She is in the end of her life. I don't know when she will pass (only God does)... this year... next... but I do know that we are losing her a little more each day. These lyrics soothed my soul that is mourning each tiny loss of her memory Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death... Your perfect love is casting out fear... And even when I'm caught in the middle of the storms of this life... I won't turn back... I know you are near.... Mom... everyone... He's right there. He sees your pain. He knows your loss. Don't turn back!  Walk right next to Gramma all the way to the end... and KNOW that He is near.

You Love Me Anyway - Sidewalk Propehts
This week the wretchedness of my sin reared its ugly head again. In a heated "discussion" with someone, after maintaining my patience and godliness for quite some time, I snapped, lost it, and BLEW UP! I felt justified. I had held my tongue for a long time. I avoided blaming the other person. I took responsibility and apologized for unintentional slights that I really did not NEED to take blame for. So I was RIGHT when I finally drew the line in the sand! It was okay that I finally tried to STOP THE MADNESS and that I told that person OFF!  Until late Thursday night, as I read through my blog, and God poured CONVICTION on me with my own words. Such a strong wave of conviction that I nearly vomited. I immediately composed an e-mail repenting through my tears. Yet the guilt of my wretchedness was still lingering like that acidy feeling after you puke. This final song in my little Pandora Treadmill Time with God poured oil over my guilty conscience. I am the thorn in Your crown... But You love me anyway... I am the sweat from Your brow... But You love me anyway... I am the nail in Your wrist... But You love me anyway... I am Judas' kiss... But You love me anyway... See , I am the man who yelled out from the crowd for Your blood to be spilled on this earth shaking ground... Yes then, I turned away with a smile on my face... With this sin in my heart tried to bury Your grace... And then alone in the night, I still called out for You... So ashamed of my life, my life, my life..


So, you might ask, "What are you SAYING today Jami???"

1. Get your BUTT back up!  I don't care what wagon you have fallen off of: fitness, addiction, sexual sin, lying, temper.. I don't care!  GET UP!

2. With Jesus on your side, you can do ANYTHING!

3. God is right THERE! Through sickness, death, divorce, loss, fear, unemployment, a failing economy, surgery on your baby girl's eyes... God is RIGHT there!

4. He LOVES you anyway.  I always tell my babies:  "I love you when you're good. I love you when you're bad. I love you when you're clean. I love you when you're dirty. I LOVE YOU!"  He LOVES you!

Have a GREAT day everyone!  And check out that thing called Pandora  maybe God will use it to give you a word today too.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

My Gramma...

My gramma is not doing well. She is back in the hospital, second time this week. I can't focus very well right now; my grief is kinda fogging up my brain. I can't think of how much of Gramma I have shared here on this blog, but just to be safe, let me tell you a little about my Gramma.

Gramma & her sisters:  Auntie Dodo, Gramma, Auntie Birdie
In 1950, she gave birth to twin baby girls, and when they were just three years old, her husband left her for another woman. My gramma was a single mother in the 1950's, that was NO easy gig. She raised those two little girls into amazing, successful women. Those two girls went on to give her 7 grandchildren who have so far given her 9 great grandchildren.

Last night a friend and I were texting about how special grandparents are. She told me her Grandpa was "the love of her life." What a special sentiment! I started thinking about what I would call my Gramma. I've decided that I would have to say that my Gramma is the gravity of my life.

My Gramma sometimes can be a little crotchety, and she doesn't always earn a PG rating. She isn't a warm and fluffy, knitting kind of Gramma. But she is a FAITHFUL Gramma. I can always count on her. Just like I can always count on gravity to hold me to this earth, I can count on my Gramma to be there. Every single important memory of my life has her in it. She was ALWAYS there:  birthdays, graduations, recitals, weddings, baby showers, at the hospital EVERY time I had a baby, at every single one of my children's birthday parties. Gramma is ALWAYS there. She shows me her love by being PRESENT in my life ALWAYS.

Gramma and her great-grandchildren

And just like gravity keeps me centered and steady, my Gramma's love, and the love she poured into my mom, keeps me centered and steady.
And gravity isn't frilly and neither is my Gramma.
And gravity isn't flashy and neither is my Gramma.
But gravity can be counted on, and so can my Gramma.

Two years ago, just after John had brain surgery, Gramma had "an episode." Doctor's really couldn't give an exact diagnosis but the result was pretty tragic. I guess in some way I always knew that 2009 was when we first lost Gramma, because after that "episode" she was never the same. It was then that she started to struggle with confusion. It was then that she stopped remembering how many kids I had. It was then that she moved back in with my mom, and we all started caring for her.

Gramma reading to Hannah

This week it seems she has had another "episode." She is slipping away even more. When I went to visit last night, I really, truly don't think she knew who I was. Every once and a while she would start to say something that made absolutely no sense, "The sock is... on the TV... talking about that..."  I would say, "What Gramma?  What did you say?" and she would reply, "I didn't say anything."  It was heart breaking and left me sad.

But finally here we are to the part where I find a way to put a positive spin on this. It came from something my mom said to me tonight. This is hard and horrible for all of us who love Gramma. But it is also inspiring. We should all be so lucky to be LOVED and CHERISHED as much as Gramma Hilly is. Losing her slowly like this is torture, but it wouldn't be if she weren't so darn LOVED. I know in my heart, her time is drawing near. And guess what I am GLAD it makes me so sad and I am GLAD that it tears my heart out to lose her because those facts are an AWESOME testimony to the amazing woman she is.

If you think of it, please pray for my Gramma. As much as I don't want her to leave, I do pray that Jesus will take her home soon so she doesn't have to suffer anymore. But as in all things, His timing and not mine.
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