Monday, May 18, 2015

Functionalty trumps Pinterest pretty...

Over the weekend, we took on a project I had been planning for a long time, "Project 2 kids to a room." For the past 5 years and 3 months (since Auntie Marge came to live with us), we have had 4 children in ONE bedroom. Initially it wasn't SO bad. Sure bedtime was a NIGHTMARE (trying to get 4 wiggly bodies to go to sleep in the same room is NOT for the faint of heart) and their bedroom was a CONSTANT pigsty (4 people sharing ONE bedroom, even if it is the biggest bedroom in the house, is almost a GUARANTEED mess), but the kids were little, and it wasn't that bad.  However, little they are no more. They are big, (smelly) sweaty teenagers, and they are just too big for one room.

So on Saturday, we split the kids up... moved Hannah and Elijah to our bedroom... moved our bed down into the basement... purchased a couple of dressers off Craigslist (still looking for a twin mattress but don't think Craigslist is the venue for that) and spread them and their stuff OUT... The kids were ECSTATIC.  For the first time in at least 3 years, Jeremiah SLEPT soundly. Noah and Jeremiah bragged about how "now our room will always be clean" (yeah I won't be betting on THAT any time soon). Elijah and Hannah marched around with the CONFIDENCE that comes from being old enough to have their "own room." It was awesome!

However, downstairs was NOT as positive an experience. In spite of a new-to-us, Craigslist dehumidifier, the basement was DAMP and dank.  John sneezed (and didn't sleep) all night.  Because of my basement and bug phobias (and because I was not on the same level as my babies), I slept 3 hours in the basement and 3 hours on the couch in the living room.  We woke Sunday morning tired,  CRABBY and very discouraged.  At one point, I was actually crying I was so darn tired.
We talked over our limited options. We could NOT put the kids back together in one room. Not only because they LOVED having their own rooms, but also because they actually SLEPT the whole night... IN THEIR OWN BEDS

John suggested we move our bed into the living room, and I LAUGHED. Who has a BED in their LIVING ROOM???? What will people THINK?  However as my sleep deprived muscles began to SCREAM at me, I realized there was no other option. So we did it.  We moved or bed into our living room. We have a BED in our LIVING ROOM. I was a little mortified but too tired to muster up any real shame. Until Amanda stopped by... and then Tracy knocked on the door to get Hayley...

But I SLEPT last night. Better than I have in a LONG time... on the same level as my babies... No dampness... nothing dank.... It is so AIRY out in the living room with a FANTASTIC cross breeze.
When I woke up and started pulling my blanket back into place (so if someone stops by at least my bed is MADE), I felt God whisper to me, "A house is for LIVING IN not for LOOKING PRETTY." This WORKED for us, and all 7 people in this house SLEPT last night. That is more important than a Pinterest appearance. (However, please don't test my resolve by showing up for a visit.  I'm not that confident yet.)  Although I do feel I can HONESTLY say,  I have learned to be content in this situation. (Although I won't lie I'm still scouring Craigslist for 4 bedroom houses and trolling Pinterest for Murphy bed plans to make this living room/bedroom more presentable).

I guess the whole reason I wanted to share this blog is because this morning I'm thinking about what matters and trying hard to let what MATTERS be good enough for me.  I hope this blog reminds you to do the same. God bless!

Our living room bedroom

I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.
Philippians 4:12

Saturday, April 11, 2015

An answer....

The phone rang at 6:35 this morning.  It was the imaging center calling. "What time did they tell you to be here this morning?"  was the question.  Long story short, the time of John's procedure changed yesterday, and they forgot to call us.  The morning started with an adrenaline RUSH... up and out of the house (with a shower for me) in just 28 minutes! No time for loosening up.... no time for morning meds (well to be fair he couldn't eat or drink anything anyways)... no time for coffee for Jami (most of you know what a disaster that is!).... We arrived at the imaging center just 55 minutes after they had woken us up. (and PRAISE GOD they had a Keurig machine!)

That crazy start to the morning led to an EXCRUCIATING procedure for John. First of all, it took a LONG time for them to get the medication to take effect and make him drowsy so they could start the procedure. Then during the procedure, John's neck muscles were so tight (partially from not loosening up with movement that morning and partially because he had yet to take any muscle relaxers) that it caused extreme pain when they turned and twisted his head the way they needed to in order to examine the flow of blood through his vessels. By the time they called me back to see him, it had been 2 hours and 15 minutes, and I was struggling to not get worried.  When I walked in, the look on his face was pretty scary.  The radiologist said, "It was an extremely painful procedure for him."  As if to highlight the doctor's statement, a lone tear trickled down John's cheek. Broke. My. Heart.

After 2 long hours of lying still and a trip to change into street clothes, the doctor came in and let us know that 3 out of 4 of the vessels look clear.  One of the vessels has a slightly inhibited blood flow, but not enough to do anything invasive about it. However, the imaging reveals _____(blah, blah, blah, blah, insert a bunch of words I didn't really understand)_______, and the answer to _____(again the words I didn't understand)___ was more surgery.  The catch is, they have cleaned out and then fused as much as they can from the front, this would need to be done from the back of his neck. A surgery with a posterior approach means cutting through the thick muscles of his neck, which is MUCH more invasive and may lead to a longer recovery period.  They sent us home with these instructions:  evaluate your pain level, understand that the only chance to fix it is surgery (a surgery that might not even work), and then decide when (or IF) you want to have the surgery.

At this juncture in time, John is currently in a place of wanting to just tough out the pain for as long as he can before consenting to surgery (if he even does).  He is NOT interested in another surgery. I am at COMPLETE peace with that.  In fact, I 100% feel that this has to be HIS decision alone. I feel God telling me to take ONLY a supporting role in this decision because only John will be able to say when the pain has become too much to bear any longer. 

It wasn't exactly the "we went in and couldn't find anything wrong, you're cured" kinda miracle answer we would have loved, but at least we know the answer.... more surgery.  

Now, John has to lie low the next few days to recover from his femoral artery being cut open, and then he can return to work on Tuesday to start this new chapter which I'm titling, "How much pain can you take"... When he gets to the point that he can't stand the pain any more, he is going to have to cry, "Uncle!" and then we can walk down the road of his 4th surgery.

Thanks for your prayers, supports, texts, and encouragement this morning.... As always, they were greatly appreciated.

Monday, April 6, 2015

This moment....

Sometimes the valley we are traveling through is so arduous that the only thing we can do is focus on THIS MOMENT.  (Heck who am I kidding most of my overwhelming, overfilled, overEVERTHING life is this way!) It's like the saying, "How do you eat an elephant?"  "One bite at a time."

This morning, I am focusing on THIS MOMENT in order to get through.  See yesterday we had a bit of a medical situation around here.  (John was really in rough shape, and we were debating going to the ER.  Praise the Lord things eased up and this morning after some rest he seems to be MUCH better.) In addition, if you caught last week's blog you know we're facing ANOTHER week of him being out of work AND an angiogram on Saturday, along with NO ANSWERS and few hypotheses about what is going on with John. So right now our situation seems quite similar to eating an elephant.  The things I could worry about are MANY and not necessarily very small.  Instead of worrying, I'm trying hard to focus on just THIS MOMENT and what I know about THIS MOMENT.

*At THIS MOMENT, I have an amazing husband (albeit a bit under the weather but still AMAZING)
*At THIS MOMENT, my children have TONS of extra time with their loving dad
*At THIS MOMENT, we have plenty of food in our cupboards, no bills are currently overdue, the amount in our checking account is still in the positive
*At THIS MOMENT, I have a job that is giving me PLENTY of hours.
* At THIS MOMENT, I have INCREDIBLE parents and AMAZING sisters who pray, text, check-in and basically CARRY me through all of this nonsense.
*At THIS MOMENT, God has NOT forsaken me, and I know in the depths of me, He never will.

If you would, please be in prayer for us this week.  We are TRUSTING that God is in control, but we will ALWAYS covet your prayers.

For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.
2 Corinthians 4:17

Friday, April 3, 2015


Yesterday John had his follow up appointment with the neurosurgeon.... the word we got was, "Wait." Just "wait." No answers.  No understanding.  Very little hope.  Just "wait."

Apparently the scans reveal that his fusions look great.... the pictures didn't give insight to why he has so much soreness and weakness and numbness going on. The doctor had no answer for why John can hardly use his arms. Just "wait."

John is out of work for another week (be still my wavering heart), and next Saturday he will have an angiogram to see if something is restricting the blood flow in this area. If something is found,  I guess we have yet ANOTHER surgery (trembly knees STOP knocking). Just "wait."

I'm having a hard time getting a read on where john is with all this.  I mean I know he is tired of this seemingly never-ending trail of medical woes.... but I can't tell if he's hopeful or nervous or defeated. My guess is he has a little bit of all three (and more) emotions running through his heart right now.

Me?  Well I feel like those times in a movie when someone is dangling off the edge of a cliff or gripping the edge of a building.... and their hand is slipping with just their fingertips impossibly clinging to the very edge... and then out of nowhere the larger than life hero swoops in and grabs them by the wrist, and you know it will be okay.  You aren't exactly sure yet how the hero is going to get that person off the side of the cliff/building, but you know that the day has been saved.

See while I can see all the stuff in the GREAT expanse I'm dangling over (another week without pay,  the possibility of ANOTHER surgery,  the fear that John's pain, weakness,  soreness and numbness might not be solvable, the pain and discouragement in my husband's eyes) I also know FULL well that this isn't just some action-movie hero grasping my hand and keeping me from plummeting into the depths.  It is the God of ALL the universe Who has me in His capable grip. And if I should have to tumble down the hill of another OR waiting room, or even crash onto the rocks of him NEVER being allowed to return to work, even if I drown in the sea of losing my love,  He will BE RIGHT THERE to brush me off, to pick me up, to resuscitate me, even to carry me home to glory...

I've been WEARING out this song by Kari Jobe.... It is like a life preserver buoying my soul through this most recent storm...

Sometimes, I just sing this part over and over:

I am not alone
I am not alone
I am not alone
I am not alone
I am not alone
I am not alone

I'm not thrilled with this "wait" answer (although I will admit that "wait" is a much better answer to the question, "Will John EVER return to work?" than "no" would be.) I'm not excited to be dangling over this cliff, trying hard to focus on the Hand that is grabbing me instead of the rocks and waves below.  But I am so glad that we are NOT alone in this "wait."  He will NEVER leave us.

So "wait" we will.... hoping and praying that God will help us to be faithful as we wait... we so desperately want our children, the doctors and nurses, my blog readers, EVERYONE we come in contact with to see God glorified through this "wait." Beyond that, we are praying, "not our will but Your will be done."

I am Not Alone

When I walk through deep waters
I know that You will be with me
When I'm standing in the fire
I will not be overcome
Through the valley of the shadow
I will not fear

I am not alone
I am not alone
You will go before me
You will never leave me

In the midst of deep sorrow
I see Your light is breaking through
The dark of night will not overtake me
I am pressing into You
Lord, You fight my every battle
And I will not fear

You amaze me
Redeem me
You call me as Your own

You're my strength
You're my defender
You're my refuge in this storm
Through these trials
You've always been faithful
You bring healing to my soul

Friday, March 20, 2015

God doesn't give us more than we can handle and other lies we've been told....

God doesn't give us more than we can handle....

I can still hear the gut-wrenching screams like it was yesterday.... Only it wasn't. It was about 20 years ago...There were three little adorable girls who attended the Christian school I taught at, two of them were in my classes.  I don't know if the screams are real or added after the fact to the awful memory in my mind, but I do remember the facts:  the mother of those beautiful little girls was thrown from her vehicle and killed.  The way I remember it, the girls found out at school.  Do you think those girls could "handle" losing their mom when they were in high school, in junior high, in elementary school?  Do you think their dad could "handle" instantly becoming the single-father of three motherless girls? Do you think God "gave" that to them? I don't.

Yesterday, John went to an appointment with his neurosurgeon. As of today, he is out of work (without pay) for two weeks while his doctors scramble to find a solution for his constant and SEVERE pain.  A solution that will allow him to continue functioning... A solution that will allow him to continue working.... A solution that will allow him to continue living....Do you think he can "handle" waking up every morning in pain?  Do you think we can "handle" watching him go through it?  Do you think God "gave" this to him?  I don't.

Ironically yesterday another one of my former students posted this blog that GREATLY resonated with me.  See that comment, "God doesn't give us more than we can handle" has always galled me.  I knew what scripture it was based upon long before I read that blog (I Corinthians 10:13), but that blogger did a GREAT job of debunking the myth of that concept being in the Bible.  My personal grievances with that platitude are different. So I'd like to add my "addendum" to that post.

First and foremost, I do not believe that God "gives us" bad things.  I have scripture to support my belief:

Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.
James 1:17

God gives GOOD things.... not bad.  But Jami, you might say, the Bible says that God corrects us when we are wrong.  True. But that is not God GIVING us bad things.  That is us reaping the natural consequences of our actions.  But Jami, you might say, the Bible also says that Job was tested. True. SATAN tested Job. God didn't.

See my first problem with the statement that God won't give us more than we can handle is that I do not believe that God is the one who took that mother from her little girls.  I don't believe that God is the one who has John in such a precarious position, I believe that it is God's desire that we walk in perfect obedience to Him with no negative consequences.  I believe it is God's desire that this earth be redeemed from the grip of the sin that has held it captive since Eve bit the apple.  I believe that God is good. Period. End of sentence, No disclaimer. No room for bad.

My other bone is with this "handle" concept.  If the trials we faced, if the tests we went through were always within our capacity to "handle" them how would any growth take place?  where would trust in God fit in?

Growth:  As a cheer coach, I am not only well versed in the importance of conditioning, I understand the science behind it.  When we train we must push our muscles to the point they are broken down a bit so they can be built up stronger.  We must give our muscles more than they can "handle" in order for them to be strengthened. It is true in strength training, in flexibility training, even in cardio.  We must push ourselves to the edge of our current capability in order to see improvement in our fitness level.  Same-same here. If we are not pushed to the edge of our ability to "handle" things on our own, how would our faith ever grow?

Trust:  Finally trust.... just trust.  If we can "handle" all the things we go through, then why in the world would we even need to trust God.  In truth, I don't even want to live in a world where my God fits into the tiny box left because I can "handle" everything I'm going through on my own.  If I am gut-level honest, I have to admit that as scary as this faith world is.... as terrified I am of the future right now.... I ADORE living in a world where my GREAT BIG God has so much room to move, to amaze, to heal, to fix.... I like serving a BIG God.  I like having a TON of room in my life for him to show up.

So once again it looks like I'm back to blogging through a mess of feelings.  I can't promise it will be pretty, I can't promise that it will be fun, but I do know that it will be honest, real, as bare-naked in truth as I can get.  If you'd like, walk along with me.  You might learn something (even if it is only, "Gosh I am SO glad I am not her.")

God bless!

Friday, February 13, 2015

A seal on the stone....

Matthew 27:62-66

The next day, the one after Preparation Day, the chief priests and the Pharisees went to Pilate. “Sir,” they said, “we remember that while he was still alive that deceiver said, ‘After three days I will rise again.’ So give the order for the tomb to be made secure until the third day. Otherwise, his disciples may come and steal the body and tell the people that he has been raised from the dead. This last deception will be worse than the first.”   “Take a guard,” Pilate answered. “Go, make the tomb as secure as you know how.” So they went and made the tomb secure by putting a seal on the stone and posting the guard.

This is an excerpt from my morning Bible reading.  As I read the words "by putting a seal on the stone and posting the guard," it occurred to me that these final steps to make it "impossible" for the tomb to be opened actually just made it all the more spectacular when God did open it!

This called to my mind the way we came to live in this house.... the TINY houses that fit our budget.... the despair over how much we'd have to give up to return to the city... and then the BLAZE of glory when we found this place (not as tiny as the rest) and saw it,  applied for it and moved into it in the span of just 11 days!  It was as if the TERRIBLE house we visited was for the sole purpose of making the miracle God was about to do shine brighter!

Well we've got another sealed stone in front of us now.  We have SEVERELY outgrown this miracle house. We have 3 teenage boys and one little girl sharing a bedroom.  We have 7 people (one of them an old lady with "bathroom issues") sharing one bathroom.  We need to get this family into a bigger space! At bare minimum, we need one more bedroom and one more bathroom. 

We have been PRAYING, and we have been SCOURING craigslist.... Buying a house seems improbable.... 4BR/2 bath rentals are FEW and far between & PRICEY too... the other day what seemed like the death blow to our mortgage dreams was dealt, and John was VERY discouraged.  I told him God was closing doors that we should not go through,  and I REALLY believe that.  But this morning I wondered, "What if God was just allowing the stone to be sealed and a guard to be posted so that He can "roll away the stone" in a blaze of glory? What if God just wants to KNOCK OUR SOCKS OFF when He answers this prayer?

Whatever the deal is,  I'm just along for His ride. I'm doing my part: searching for houses,  praying my butt off, and remaining hopeful, and I'm also watching and waiting to see what He does with this. I just wanted to invite you all to have a front row seat in case God is about to put on another spectacular show.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

A final chapter...

Nervous and very excited about tomorrow.  We are poised to start the final chapter of this story titled "Third surgery in 5 years. " Tomorrow John returns to work!

I am excited for him to go back to work.
*He goes NUTS when he can't WORK.  (Dude NEEDS a job to do). 
*While this current out-of-work-without-pay stint had been the least painful one so far, it still feels icky to have him not bringing in a paycheck.
*I am READY to get this family back to our REAL schedule.

At the same time,  I'm a little nervous.
*I'm expecting the return to be physically STRENUOUS for him.
*As much as I'm anxious to re-establish order in our schedule,  I will miss having him around all the time.

Alas, this is the way it goes. In every situation, there is good AND bad... excitement AND nerves...

We're just going to embrace both and cling to God as we walk through this concluding chapter.

Thanks for always journeying with us.

God bless.

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