Saturday, May 02, 2015

Making A Way

  During the past couple of years, my favorite Bible story has been God parting the Red Sea.  Here's why.  The Israelites were out of options.  Their situation was impossible.  There was nothing they could do.
  I don't know why people have such short memories.  It seems like it would be easy for the Israelites to remember God's faithfulness.  They had seen the plagues.  They had seen their sons spared and passed over.  They had been delivered from the Egyptians.  They were following a pillar of smoke during the day and a pillar of fire at night.
  It is easy for us to forget God's faithfulness to us in times of desperation.  Satan puts thoughts into our head that are lies and that are toxic.  We begin to believe that God isn't sovereign in all things.  We must take captive of our thoughts and rid ourselves of the lies.  We need to trust God to do miracles in our lives.  We may miss the miracle of our troubles being pushed to the sides so that we may enter freedom.
  My impossible situation was having a third child without having my autoimmune disease come back.  The percentage of reoccurrence I was given at the time was 96%.  It would also come on more quickly in the pregnancy.  I had blood work done by a doctor who considers himself a top expert of the disease.  He guaranteed I would get it back if I got pregnant anytime soon.  I was pregnant with Nadia a few months later and, praise God, I was free from my disease.  God had made a way for me.  I had to lean on His faithfulness when a way was created (low dose naltrexone) and trust that He is sovereign.  I believe that there is power in sharing your testimony and this is mine.
  What is your impossible situation?  Where are you out of options?  Is your hope beginning to slip away?  Please remember how God has been faithful to you in the past and hold on tight to that memory.  Remember that He is sovereign in ALL things.  Prepare yourself to take action when God makes a way.
  I love the song "Make a Way" by Desperation Band.  In it, they sing about God making a way for us to be saved by offering Jesus as the sacrifice.  But in every trial, our hope should be in Jesus.  My favorite lines are: Where there is no way You make a way.  Where no one can reach us, You find us.
God seeks us out, even when we have closed out the world around us.  My prayer is that in our most desperate times, we will step into the gracious way of freedom that is provided by God.  Allow the miraculous to happen.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Nadia is TWO!

My sweet girl turned TWO on Saturday.  She has had my heart since before she even existed.  She is fierce.  She knows what she wants.  She loves hard.  She smiles big.  She catches every detail of the activities of her sisters.  She is my precious baby.

We named her Nadia Faith.  Nadia means hope.  I wrote a little about what hope means to me in my last post. This girl really does define hope for me.  It was my hope to have another child.  It was my hope that she would be healthy.  It was my hope that she would show happiness.  It was my hope that she would walk soon.  She has done ALL of these things!  Yes, she has walked!


Isn't that just wonderful to see?!?!  We found out at the last therapy session what may be going on with her.  So your movement and anxiety pathways are right next to each other in your brain.  Sometimes, the signals going down the pathway overlap to the other.  The therapist believes that some movements cause great anxiety for Nadia.  I agree!  I was telling Michael about it and we think Julia deals with this a bit too.  We just need to keep her moving to get her used to it.  She suggested ballet or gymnastics as she gets older, even though she probably won't like it!  

I am just so thankful for this girl!  She is God's gift to us and I know He has grand plans for her future.  She has taught me so much already and I'm humbled to be her mother.  She gives me great hope!

Monday, April 13, 2015

Jesus and Boats

The Anchored Cross, a symbol of hope.

It's the way of this world.  It happens to everyone.  No matter your age.  No matter your race.  No matter your gender.  No matter your location.  Storms will come.  When you are on the waves of the open seas, storms are all the more frightening.

I was reading the story of Jesus walking on the water to Audrey one night.  I saw something in the story I have never noticed before.  So the disciples are on the boat and they are fighting against a strong wind.  Jesus had sent them away while he climbed up a mountain for some quiet time. They had been in the boat most of the night, trying to get to the other side of the lake, but this wind is making it very difficult.  It must have seemed like all of the sudden, out of nowhere, Jesus is just strolling along the lake.  The disciples are terrified and cry out.  Jesus hears them and tells them to have courage.  You know the rest of the story.

To me, it seems like we are sometimes told by God to go do something really, really difficult.  And it may even seem like He isn't going to come with us on this mission.  So we go against the wind and we fight all night long.  We are tired and just want to give up.  But then, we look up.  We see a miracle happening before our eyes!  Jesus is with us, doing things we never thought possible!  Sometimes, our journey is hard so that we can see miracles unfold before us.  Sometimes, we feel alone, but God can show up in an instant.  Sometimes, we cry out in fear and God hears us and tells us to not be afraid.

And then, there is the story of Jesus calming the storm.  Again, Jesus leads us to a place of turmoil.  The disciples are afraid, and rightly so.  They have to WAKE JESUS UP!  He stands, "Quiet!  Be Still!"  And that was it.  This time, they know Jesus is right there.  This time, they go to him.  This time, they are wondering why he isn't acting.

This is my story most of the time.  I know God is there.  I go to Him in prayer.  I look around, wondering where the answers to my prayers could be.  Then God steps up, blows my mind, and asks if I have faith.  Um...sorry, Creator of the Universe.  I know it's all in your hands.  My bad.

And now, I see this little gem in Hebrews.  God is telling us that His word is solid.  He can not lie.  There is no one more powerful than He, so His oath is as good as it gets.  We can trust Him and the hope He has given us.
  Hebrew 6:19 "We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure."
It is a part of nature for our soul to get nervous, to question, to fear.  The winds and waves may be knocking us down.  We are beaten and bruised.  We may be desperately waiting for our miracle.

God reminds us that He has given us great hope.

He encourages us to keep the faith.  He knows that there will be storms in our lives that rock our boat.  He may have sent us out on that boat into that scary storm.  He created the wind and the waves that beat us down and He knows of their power.
God reminds us that He has given us great hope.

This hope is firm.  It isn't going anywhere.  It is secure.  It will not be broken.  The storm will pass and the boat will hold steady.

God reminds us that He has given us great hope.  Hallelujah!

Tuesday, April 07, 2015

Julia and Nadia's Birthday Party

 The past few years, we have celebrated Julia's (and now Nadia's) birthday on the Saturday before Easter Sunday.  It is great because there are a bunch of cousins in town for Leadership Training for Christ.  Sometimes, all of the cousins can make it.  Other times, the timing of their competitions doesn't make it possible.  The younger ones are able to come party instead of hanging out at the hotel all day.  It works out pretty well.
  This year, we celebrated Julia turning five and Nadia turning two.  My parents, aunt, Michael's parents and all but one of his nieces were able to come.

5 Years Later

  Saturday marked five years since I got Pemphigoid Gestationis.  You may remember that this is a pregnancy-related autoimmune disease I got just a few days after delivering Julia.  It is hormone-driven and your body attacks your skin, creating extremely itchy blisters and plaques all over your body.  It is insanely hard on you physically and emotionally.
  One thing that I remember about this time were the looks I received when I went out in public and I didn't cover up my arms and legs.  I longed for clear skin and swore I'd never be ungrateful for normal-looking skin ever again.  How quickly I forget!
  Body image is such a hard thing for us girls.  I have this gorgeous friend who is amazing.  After meeting her, my dad asked if she was as beautiful on the inside as she is on the outside.  My answer was, "Oh, yes!  If you can believe it!"  We were at dinner one day and we started discussing what we didn't like about ourselves.  I was floored!  She has insecurities just like me!  I truly believe Satan attacks women in this way.  We are beautiful creations of God.  It is time to stop believing the lies Satan spews at us. We are only going to grow older and gain more problem areas.  We must make a decision.  Will we be critical of each new wrinkle or added pound?  Or will we see ourselves as our Creator does?
  God loves us like crazy and wants us to love ourselves.  He also wants us to love others as ourselves.  That's hard to do when you are being critical of yourself.  May each of us cast our eyes off of ourselves, look on the One who loves us the most, and be on the lookout for ways to uplift the people around us.  Our insecurities may came off as silly, or even selfish, when we open our eyes to the world of abuse, trafficking, persecution, disease, or hunger.
  Today, my prayer is that I will embrace each new day and love myself fully, so that I can minister more effectively for the Kingdom.

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Julia is FIVE!

  Julia turns five today!  She is my fun-loving, little stinker!  She is so caring and compassionate.  When I asked her what she wants to be when she grows up, she answered, "A helper!"  She also wants to design toys, which is right up her alley!  

  We have a tradition of going to the Cheesecake Factory to celebrate birthdays.  Since Michael's busiest day of the year will ALWAYS be on her birthday, we celebrated last night.  Julia wanted the strawberry shortcake (not very short!), but the candle was placed on the S'mores cheesecake, which she happily blew out.  Yeah...this food...not usually what I eat!

   This time last year, we were very concerned about Julia.  She got really sick.  We at first thought she had some type of stomach virus, but we don't think it was that now.  She was taking nausea medication and she still vomited for an entire week.  She ended up going to the hospital and was given a battery of tests.  We still don't know what was wrong, but we were very relieved when the worst was ruled out.  Michael has a hard time talking about this time in her life because he witnessed her being put through all of the tests.  She just wasn't our spunky Julia anymore and that was hard to see.

This was early on in her illness last year.  I just can't bring myself to post the picture of her on the day she went to the hospital.

This is Julia today!  We saw the doctor for her 5 year check-up.

   Last Sunday, we were able to attend a Daughter/Mother Tea held at our church.  It was really cute and we enjoyed hanging out, just the two of us.  I'm so glad that my fun-loving girl is doing great and I thank God for her!  
Julia being shy, but still having fun, at the tea.

Monday, March 16, 2015

Miss Nadia and Her New Braces

  This last week, we got ankle braces for Nadia.  She'll be turning 2 soon and isn't walking independently yet.  She has come a long way from where she was though!

  Delayed development isn't new territory for me.  Julia didn't walk until she was 21 months old.  Some of you may remember her walking on her knees for awhile.  One time, when Julia was wearing a dress that skimmed the floor while on her knees, I overheard some women talking about her being a midget!  That was funny to hear!  
  For some reason, I handled Julia's delayed development better than Nadia's.  I've often wondered, how come?  Is it because I knew in my heart that Julia was capable, but was being stubborn?  Is it because she never required physical therapy?  Is it because Julia was a happy kid?  I've determined that Julia dealt with having low muscle tone too.  Julia isn't double-jointed in her legs like Nadia, but she is in her fingers.  We've since learned that both Michael and I are double-jointed and have passed it down in different ways to our daughters.

  Nadia has to work harder because of the low muscle tone in combination with her knees being double-jointed.  I've read that she has to be twice as strong as your typical kid before she can manage her knees.  So why has her development bothered me?  I believe it is because we live in a new place.  We are still meeting new people all of the time.  We made a change in church recently and are meeting even more new people.  With Julia, everyone knew her and us from the beginning and the delays just became known.  With Nadia, I have to introduce her delays to people over and over again.  I believe that having to explain your child to someone is what wears on a parent.  I don't mind questions or curiosity, I just don't like having to EXPLAIN to someone I may never see again.  

  This idea has been such a lightbulb moment for me.  I have friends and family that probably have to "explain" their child every day and it is a more serious explanation.  Nadia will walk one day and we will quickly forget these days.  For others, this will be a life-long ordeal that require much more than therapy every now and then and a pair of braces.  The invisible differences can be just as hard as the visible differences.  If you know someone that deals with this, say a pray for them.  Parenting is hard, y'all!  

  Let me show you Nadia's ankle braces.  Why the ankles?  She rolls her ankles some and braces will fix that.  The braces will align everything from ankles to knees to hips.  Once she is able to focus on only what her knees are doing, walking should come quickly.  We'll have to wean her off of the braces, but I don't anticipate that being too difficult.  So there you have it!

Aren't they cute?

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Visiting Reunion Tower

  Michael and I surprised the girls with a trip to the Reunion Tower!  On the way to see family in Dallas on Saturday, Audrey told me how badly she wanted to eat at the restaurant that turns as you look out onto the city.  I knew Michael was going to take a day off this week to do something fun with us, so I researched to see if this would be fun for our family.  It turns out that the GeoDeck was having the Dallas Zoo come out with a few animals on exhibit on Tuesday and Thursday.  They also had face-painters and balloon artists there.  If the deck didn't impress them, surely those things would be fun!  Cloud 9 Cafe would also be open.  We decided to do lunch before going to the tower and just do dessert at the Tower.  I'm glad we did!  It was quite crowded.

Michael and Nadia waiting to get on the elevator

  The zoo animals were going to be on display at 1:00.  We got there ten minutes early and I thought we would be good to go.  There were so many people that we didn't get to the GeoDeck until 1:25.  We also had to leave behind Nadia's umbrella stroller.  That meant I had to carry Nadia, my camera and bag (which I never used since I was holding Nadia and it was so crowded), and my heavy diaper bag.  When we got off the elevator, we were overwhelmed by the craziness inside the GeoDeck, but we dealt with it.  The zoo had just a few more animals left to show and Michael and I held Audrey, Julia, and Nadia so that they could see.  We got to see a chinchilla, snake, alligator, and armadillo.

  It was pretty warm inside the GeoDeck with all of the people inside, but you could walk around outside and see the city.  The cool weather felt great!  You could look through the viewers, but they weren't very clear.

  We decided to go get dessert upstairs at Cloud 9 Cafe.  This place was already crowded and there was a birthday party also occurring there.  Michael stood in line while I walked around in circles, trying to find an empty table.  We didn't get a table until 30 minutes later, after Michael had stood in a long line to order.  We finally sat down and got to enjoy the rotating restaurant.  The girls loved sitting by the windows and then run back to the table as the table moved away from them.

Nadia is ready for some food already!

Then our dessert came!
Can you tell that they are Reunion Towers?

  The desserts were really good, but very difficult to eat with plastic forks.  The cafe really made the trip.  The girls loved it and will remember this day for a long time.  It was much more crowded than I was anticipating, but you just deal with long waits and crowds.  I really wished I could have had our stroller with us.  Nadia loves that thing and it was going to carry all of my stuff for me.  I didn't really enjoy having to carry 50 pounds for hours, but maybe I needed the workout.  We also had to deal with a broken machine that opens the gate in the parking lot.  If you go, use the one on the right side so that you won't have to ask everyone behind you to back up.  :)

  We decided to that our trip was at first overwhelming, but worth it for the fun our girls had.  We ended our day by trying out a new restaurant in Southlake called Bolo.  Oh my!  This place is really so very good!  It's like and Italian Chipotle.  They are also mindful about how they get their ingredients like Chipotle is.  You could just taste the freshness!  Michael even noted that their tea was really good.  What is a bolo?  It's Italian food in a wrap and looks like a burrito.

  Do you see the cup behind the bolo?  That's an artichoke dip that is served with the softest chips ever!  SO GOOD!  You can customize your bolo, pasta, or bowl how you like it.  If you take a picture of your food and put it on Instagram, you can get a free tiramisu for dessert!  Michael and I are so happy to have found this place and will be back often!