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Tuesday, August 23, 2016

What/Who Do You Treasure?

This was written by a friend. Makes us think, doesn't it?


A  teenage boy walked over to his neighbor's house as his neighbor was washing and waxing the new Lexus he had just purchased.  The boy had never seen such a beautiful and expensive car up close.  With pride the neighbor showed the young man all the fancy gadgets and luxurious features of his new car and even allowed him to sit in the driver's seat.
After looking at the car for a few minutes the teen asked the man, "Do you think I could borrow this to go out on the town Saturday night?  I'm a real good driver and I'll take good care of it."

At first the man thought the boy was joking, but when he realized the boy was serious about wanting to borrow his new Lexus, the man responded indignantly.  "Are you crazy?  Do you know how precious this car is to me?  Do you realize how long I have had to work and save to be able to afford this car?  It is brand new.  It doesn't have a scratchon it and I intend to keep it that way.  You are only 16 years old and I know how 16 year old boys are...I used to be one.  You are much too inexperienced and immature for me to trust you with my new car.  What could you possibly be thinking?  What would give you the audacity to ask to use my new car to go out on the town Saturday night?"

The boy ducked his head and apologized, "I'm sorry Sir, I didn't know the car meant that much to you.  Is it still alright if I take your daughter out on the town Saturday night?"

"Sure," the man replied. "Just be sure to have her home by midnight."    
  -By Wendell Ingram, father of two girls and one boy.

Monday, August 22, 2016

Whatever You Do

“All a person’s ways seem pure to them, but motives are weighed by the Lord. 
Commit to the Lord whatever you do, and he will establish your plans.” 
Proverbs 16:2-3

Maybe it's out of duty. Maybe it's out of pride. Maybe it's out of selfishness. Maybe it's out of love.  Whatever we do and with whatever motive we may think we are doing it out of, God knows the truth.  Our motives are weighed by Him.  

In our busy and hectic lives, it's easy for us to get into the mindset that what we are doing is right. We can justify our behavior, our attitudes, even our 'busyness', but God knows the real reasons of why we are doing what we are doing.

The key to the passage above is committing our lives to the Lord.  Instead of us doing OUR WILL, we allow God to establish our plans and we do HIS WILL.  

It's not easy!  In fact, it's really hard to give up what "I" want to do what HE wants.  It's a constant battle of self vs. God.  I want Him to win the battle, don't you?

Today is a new day.  Today commit to the Lord in whatever you do and He will establish your plans.  And then wake up tomorrow and repeat it again....and again....and again. 

Friday, August 19, 2016

The Chronicles of Biscuit - "The Snack of a Lean, Mean, Fighting Machine"

The Chronicles of Biscuit: Stories about our youngest son, Tyler, whose nickname is Biscuit.

It's been a long time since I had a "The Chronicles of Biscuit" story, it seems. Interestingly enough, Biscuit, himself, said I should blog this story.  I think he likes it when I read him the "Biscuit" stories from his younger years. He can't help but laugh about them and be interested in the fact that he was a pretty deep thinker about spiritual and life matters.  He looks forward to the stories being given to him one day. I look forward to his own children reading them.

So this week began football practice with pads.  As soon as I picked up Biscuit from school Wednesday, I could tell something was going on.  He said he was just tired, then just hungry, then seemed better, then a little down again.  I asked if it was because his oldest brother had left for college. He said it was.  I know that's hard.  I didn't think much more about it.  Later, at bedtime, I could again tell something was wrong.  Biscuit finally told me what was bothering him:  Tackling the bigger boys that were older than him.  He wasn't sure if football was going to work out.

Last year Biscuit didn't practice for football at first.  He decided AFTER the first game to play.  His dad thought it was okay to ask if he could play and so Biscuit asked the coach.  The coach happens to be his cousin, which makes it a little scary to ask, even though our nephew is very nice.  I didn't want him to allow him to play just because he was related, either.  He said he could play and he didn't have a problem with it one bit.  

So since that had happened, and he ended up playing after not starting out, I wasn't wanting him to just quit since he had enjoyed playing last year.  But, on the other hand, our nephew has said about our middle son who didn't play last year, if there's any fear there, it can cause a player to be hurt more. Football is just different.

My husband was asleep already when this happened, but has told Biscuit in the past to get down low to tackle...that even big NFL guys can be tackled if you get low enough.  His next oldest brother gave him the same advice.  My advice was for him was to pray that night, the next morning, before practice, and any time he got scared.  I shared with him the verse, "Perfect love casts out fear" and told him that God would give him the faith and courage and strength to do what he needed to do to be braver and not as scared.

When Biscuit got up for school yesterday morning, I could tell he was better, but I still went through everything again with him, reminding him to pray.  His dad and brother again reminded him to go low to tackle.  I also thought of a funny thing that is on a bug show at Animal Kingdom at Walt Disney World.  There's an anteater character on a 3D show and he stands really funny and sticks out his long nose. He says, "I am a lean, mean, fighting machine.  I can destroy."  Biscuit thought that was funny as I told him that was his new motto and to think of that as he tackled. He got a kick out of me standing and acting like that anteater!  The anteater then 3D blasts the humans with sticky goo, which leaves the audience yelling and screaming!

After school, as Biscuit go into the car, I asked how his day went.  He said, "Good!  Guess what?  I tacked _____!  Not all the way to the ground, but I stopped him!"  We high-fived, I yelled, I chant, "Lean, mean, fighting machine"!  I was so excited!  He kept telling me it wasn't really that big of a deal, but I assured him it was.  I asked if he had prayed.  He said, "Yes, I prayed every hour yesterday during school".  That was in addition to the times I had told him to.  It WAS A BIG DEAL!  In fact, that's a huge deal.  That's how we all should do when we have a problem, or when we don't have a problem, for that matter.

So, I felt like the lean, mean, fighting machine needed a celebration of some kind.  I even offered him a trip out of town to eat or do something since everyone else was going to be gone for the evening. He opted for a trip to our only convenience store for Powerade and Funyuns!  Ha ha! We deemed this photo "The Snack of a Lean, Mean, Fighting Machine".  I'll take his word for it :).

So proud of you, Biscuit!  You learned that prayer can change things.  It can change you.  God can give you strength when you're afraid.  Thank you for that example for all of us.  I love you! MOM

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Seasoning Your Words

At the beginning of each new school year we begin a new ladies' Bible class study on Wednesday nights.  This fall we are doing a book by Nancy Eichman entitled, "SEASONING YOUR WORDS - 
GOD’S RECIPE FOR CONTROLLING YOUR TONGUE". It's a great study and very needed for me, but it seems like everyone else things they need it, as well.  

The scripture the book is based on is this: “Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt so that you may know how to answer everyone,” Colossians 4:6.  Learning to have gracious speech, which is well-seasoned, is difficult, yet necessary for the child of God.  Striving to imitate our Savior, Jesus, we must learn to control our tongues better.  Consistency of life must be followed by consistency of speech.

 “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.” Ephesians 4:29

“Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it. Keep your mouth free of perversity; keep corrupt talk far from your lips. Proverbs 4:23-24.  

The words that come from our mouth are almost always from the motives of the heart.  When we are murmuring and complain, we have a critical heart.  When we say mean, ugly, nasty, foul things, our heart is unholy.  When we gossip and tattle, we have a careless, thoughtless heart.  And when we boast and brag, we have a proud heart.

It can be summed up with this quote:

***Usually when our mouths speak out of order, it’s a sign that our hearts are out of order.***

How is your life?  How is your mouth?  How are your words?  How is your heart?

Monday, August 15, 2016

Back to College Time!

After a little more than three months of having our two college kids home, our son had to go back yesterday.  I got to help him move in, which made the whole process a lot more bearable for me.  This closet area is really nice! He's an R.A. (Resident Assistant) this year, so his room is FREE, bigger, and has a bathroom he shares, but is in between his room and the other, so he doesn't have to go to the general dorm floor bathroom.
We quickly filled up that nice closet, making it for clothes and a mini kitchen.  His bbq grill lives in his trunk, along with all of his grill utensils, so that frees up a lot of space!
The room is basically like last year's dorm room. In fact, pretty sure that he set it up almost the exact same!
Making up his bed made me feel like I was getting to do something big! I doubt it stays looking like this, though :).
His desk area was expanded a bit with some shelving.
It's not all put together yet, but will be soon. He took his really nice desk chair, so at least he'll be comfy when he sits there.  He doesn't like the window open.  I sure would!  Maybe he will sometimes, though.
He got the TV all hooked up, even though he's really disappointed that he won't be able to watch the Olympics at college. The college cut cable.  Guess the tens of thousands of dollars tuition couldn't cover that! Ha ha! (Thankfully we're not having to pay all of those tens of thousands due to scholarships and awards, but still.....cutting sports channels is crazy! Gonna be lots of unhappy college kids!
The bathroom is so big!  It must be handicap assessable, which is very good to do in all private bathrooms, of course.  It will be so nice to not have to go down the hall if he has to get up during the night.  I wouldn't have liked that, either!
And now something interesting: Zachary had a ziplock bag full of sunglasses.  I displayed them for him, commenting on how many he had.  He said, "Oh yeah, if you didn't know, I collect sunglasses!  I pick them up whenever I can!"  Ha ha! A lot of these were free!  Some I know he'll never wear (thankfully!) :)  

As I hugged Z bye last night, I cried. I cried leaving, but not for long.  This morning I get a little sad when I look in his room. It's straighter than it's been in many months, not just because of his stuff, but with our kitchen remodel, a lot of things were stored in his room.  His bed is straight. His high school graduation t-shirt quilt is laying out on top, showing me years and years of memories.  It's bittersweet.  I'm proud of him and excited for him.  I want him to be where he is and to be doing what he's doing.  But I'm selfish, too.  I miss him.   It takes me a few weeks to adjust to the "new" and since the two oldest are leaving at different times, it gives special time with me and our daughter to do some things before she leaves.  

God has ways of preparing us for all of these transition times.  It also brings us closer to Him.  This morning I'll start writing out my ladies' Bible class lesson for our new year which begins Wednesday night.  I've had a long summer break from that, so it's time to dig deeper in God's Word in a different way that I did this summer.  That's a good thing.

Please pray for all of the college kids as they begin this new semester.  They are at such an exciting time of life, but, sadly, for so many, it's an unsure time of life. They need our prayers.  They need  to know people care about them. 

Thursday, August 11, 2016

1st Day of School!

It's "back to school" for our two youngest children.  They were actually excited, but not necessarily for school.  Jacob is excited because he's a Senior this year, and Tyler is excited about football and FFA.  Neither are excited about the academic/learning part! Ha ha!  I suppose that's typical of most teens.  Actually it's probably true of many/most adults, too.  I know in our small town football is highly anticipated this time of year!

Because we had two extra weeks of summer this year due to our school ending in early May for budget cuts, it actually seemed like a long summer.  Those two extra weeks were great! I wouldn't mind us doing that all of the time.

It is also nice that the two college kids are still home.  It makes it not so quiet and lonely on this first day of school.  They'll be leaving soon, then I will have to get into my regular "school time" routine.  I usually get there after Labor Day.

I pray that these two boys have a great school year.  More importantly, I pray that they let their lights shine brightly for Jesus.  I pray that they are kind and compassionate to others.  I pray that they look out for those who may be sad or lonely.  I pray that they stay on the straight and narrow path.  And I pray that they always know that I am praying for them each and every day.

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Rock a Bye, Baby

Seventeen years ago, our daughter started to Kindergarten. Her P.E. teacher was expecting a baby, but about five months she went into preterm labor. The little girl was born alive, but passed away a few hours later. I thought to myself, "That would be the hardest thing to go through".

That next summer, my sister had her first child, a little boy. While we were at the hospital visiting, there was a huge family out in the waiting room. Many of the family members were crying. We found out that the full term baby they were waiting on had died. Their family member was delivering a baby that wasn't alive. I thought to myself, "That would be the hardest thing to go through."

A few years later, in the spring of 2001, a friend told me of a family with four children who lived in West Texas. One of their children was swimming in a neighborhood pool and accidentally drowned. She had heard from a friend of hers about the little boy's funeral. Those in attendance were given helium-filled balloons that were released at the end of the memorial service. My friend, who had a little brother pass away when she was little, always remembered blue carnations from his funeral. She talked about how that visual memory was still so vivid in her mind. We both talked about children and death and how that would be "the hardest thing" as a parent, but how it might help in the grieving process to make the service "personalized" in some way. I really liked the balloon idea and told her so.

At that time, we had three living children, ages 7, 5, and 3, and we were expecting the fourth child - due December 12, 2001. The same doctor had delivered the first three children, but he had "retired" from delivering at that time, so I had to change to a new one. The new doctor was nice, but not as personal. He had a more military-style demeanor that I wasn't really used to, but he seemed very thorough. At one appointment, the nurse took some blood and later mentioned that it was some kind of test for abnormalities. I had never done any of those kinds of tests before. I never wanted to because I knew I wouldn't do anything if something happened to be wrong with one of our babies. Healthy or unhealthy, disabled or not - it wouldn't matter to us. But, the test was done and I didn't realize what was being done until afterwards. I thought, "Oh, well. It won't matter. It's just a test."

We went out of town on a business trip vacation for a week, but when we arrived back home, I had a message from the doctor. They needed me to call for an appointment. I did and was told that the alpha fetal protein level was higher than normal and I needed to go in for more testing. I was transferred to a doctor who specialized in problem pregnancies and was to see her the next day.

The morning before that appointment, I sat down to pray and read the Bible. I randomly opened it to a passage. I'm not sure which book (it could have been one of four) in the Old Testament I turned to, but I know that the first thing I saw was the name, "Caleb". We weren't sure if we were having a boy or a girl, but we knew if it was a boy, the middle name would for sure be "Trent". We had been thinking of Caleb for the first name.

Joe and I went to the appointment and Dr. "L" did some tests. During that appointment, because of the longer ultrasound needed to check for problems, we went ahead found out that we were having a little boy. We were excited! Our family would be one girl, then three boys. (Our daughter cried. She was wanting a sister!) Everything seemed fine to Dr. "L", but she told us that with the AFP level being abnormal, the chances of the baby being born with some sort of defect was almost certain. We were concerned, of course, but knew everything would be okay, even if our baby had a disability. We were prayerful that everything would be okay. The next appointment was scheduled for a month later, on August 2.

On the Sunday evening of July 28, our young adult group from church had a devotional. At the end of the devotional, a special prayer was said for us, for our baby, and for his health. That was such a special time being with Christian friends and knowing they were praying about our precious little one and for God to strengthen us for what we were going to be facing in the next few months.

All summer long I had been craving BLT sandwiches. It was a strange craving to me! Different from the watermelon (#1), milk shakes/ice cream (#2), and Chinese food (#3) that were cravings the first three times! At 20 1/2 weeks, I had gained a lot more weight with this pregnancy that I had with any of the other three. I also didn't feel quite as good, but thought that was more because of the extra weight and the fact that I was older.

The week of that appointment the kids and I went to Edmond, OK, to stay with my husband's brother and our sister-in-law and their kids. I noticed that week that I hadn't felt the baby move as much and even commented about it to a friend who stopped by to visit while we were there. On the day of August 2nd, the kids and I loaded up the van. We were headed home, but stopping in Lawton for my checkup. The kids were hungry, so we stopped at Sonic for lunch. Since I had been craving BLT's for a while, I ordered one, but noticed something strange - I wasn't craving them. I just ordered it because I had been eating them lately.

We drove about an hour to the doctor's appoint. My husband met me there and my mom also came and took the kids shopping during the appointment. The nurse began to do the normal things before the doctor came in. As she tried to check the babies heartbeat, she couldn't detect it. She tried again. Still nothing. She left. They moved me to another room to do an ultrasound. Dr. "L" checked for a heartbeat and movement. Nothing. She told me she there was no heartbeat. I said, "I'm not surprised."

Just to be certain, Dr. "L" ordered an amniocentesis. It proved what she thought and what we also believed. Our little baby had died. At 20 1/2 weeks, our precious little boy was gone. And then I realized something that had been a fear of mine...something that I never thought I could ever do: I was going to have to delivery a baby that wasn't alive.

Dr. "L" wanted me to take a day or two and go home. She said I could come back when I was ready and be admitted to the hospital for the delivery. I didn't want to wait. I wanted to go to the hospital right then. As strange as it seems, it was like I had been preparing for that day - or rather GOD had been preparing me for that day - for a long time.

We called my mom and she brought the kids to us. We talked to them and told them what was going on. She took them home with her and she and my dad took care of them during that time. Our preacher and his wife came to the hospital and stayed with us the entire time. They helped us so much and it was comforting to have someone there with us during the hours we were waiting for the delivery to begin. We all cried together and at times we were even able to laugh together. When little Caleb Trent was delivered, it was very, very different than from all the other births, of course. He was stillborn on August 3, 2002. He was so tiny - only 10 ounces. He was tiny, but very perfect. In fact, he looked like our youngest son, Jacob.

The only thing that the doctor noticed was that the umbilical cord was small. In fact, at the end by his tummy, it was only about the diameter of a toothpick. She explained that there are amniotic bands, which are kind of like rubber bands. Occasionally those bands wrap around fingers, hands, arms (see this post for more about amniotic band problems concerning our nephew). Sometimes the bands sever a digit. It appeared that the amniotic band wrapped around the umbilical cord, restricting the food supply and eventually cutting it off completely.

After the delivery, the four of us had a prayer together over our son. Our friends left. I know they must have been exhausted. The hospital staff made this extremely difficult time very special for us in many ways. They gave us lots of time to hold Caleb. They filled a little sea shell with plaster Paris and made a cast with Caleb's hand prints and footprints. An organization provides a little gown for stillborn babies and he was dressed in the gown. The nurses took pictures for us and gave us the disk. I hadn't seen those pictures since that time until a few weeks ago. I was looking in a drawer for something and came across two pictures. My daughter was sitting there and I said, "Those pictures are of Caleb." She said, "I don't want to see them, Mom." Maybe someday she will, but maybe not. It's okay if she never does.

The next few hours were extremely difficult. It was hard to let him go when the man from the funeral home came. I was suppose to carry my baby out of the hospital, not someone else. The nurses couldn't understand how we were so strong while waiting for the delivery. They were expecting us to be unable to cope, I suppose. Then after delivery, they were so careful when I was moved to the post-partum room. They didn't want us to hear the bells ring when a baby was born. They didn't want us to hear babies crying. But, we wanted to and we told them so! We wanted to know that babies were being born alive and healthy! It didn't cause us pain. It gave us hope!

The first place we went after we left the hospital was Walmart. I don't remember why, but I did want to buy a little tiny baby doll. I wanted it to show our children about how small Caleb was. I thought it would help them understand just how tiny and fragile he was. Purchasing that doll was extremely hard. Being in Walmart itself was hard.

The next difficult thing was going to the funeral home. The man who helped us with the planning also went to church with us, so it was difficult for him, too. I remember saying to him, "I can't believe I am sitting here doing what I'm doing." After that, I busied myself with planning the service. I've mentioned in a previous post how I've thought about my own funeral. This service, as short as it was, was very planned. It helped me to plan it - that's just my personality. I felt like I was doing something for my child as his mother. It was something I needed to do for me.

Caleb Trent's memorial service was held on Monday, August 6. We had a grave-side service followed by a family meal, which provided by our church family. The cemetery plot we chose had a mimosa tree across from it, which provided shade on that morning. Our children were given helium-filled balloons, which were released at the end of the service.

During that time, God proved to me (even more) that His promises are true. He showed me that I could get through something that I feared before, something that I thought I could never be able to go through. But, I was only able to go through what I did because of the strength He gave me.

God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in times of trouble. Psalm 46:1

In March of 2002, we found out we were expecting again. The baby was due in December, just as Caleb had been. It was a perfect pregnancy without complications. Tyler James (a.k.a. Biscuit) was born on December 5th, 2002, healthy and perfect.

We all look forward to seeing Caleb Trent again some day in Heaven, but for now we know he is healthy and happy and whole. God's plan for Caleb was different than what I had planned. But, God is in control and I'm not. And, unlike before, I don't ever think about what I "could never handle" or what would be the "hardest thing to go through". God is able to give me the strength that I could never have on my own and for that, I'm extremely grateful.
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