Posted in Being a Mom, Dealing with Trials, Faith, Family, Inspiration, Uncategorized

Feeling Small

TODAY’S FORECAST: Empowered

Our son, Jake, was born seven weeks early. At 3 lbs. 11 oz. he was tiny from the start. He was in the NICU for the first few weeks of his life growing, exercising his new lungs and learning to eat from a bottle rather than a tube in his nose. When Jake was 6 months old, we realized he was not hitting developmental milestones. With Cerebral Palsy being a very real challenge to many “preemies,” we sought the advice of our pediatrician who said, “No, he’s just got some poor muscle tone, let’s try some physical therapy sessions.” We took him to his PT appointments and before we knew it, he was sitting up, rolling, crawling and eventually walking, just like other babies. Actually, I think he skipped the walking part, he went right to running, all the time! 🙂

Jacob 7 Years, 2012At 18 months we discovered that Jake had severe food allergies. At the time, he was diagnosed with gluten intolerance and allergies to eggs, lentils, fish, shellfish, peanuts and tree nuts. Adjusting to the new diet and making sure all of Jake’s nutritional needs were met was a real challenge, not to mention a hefty expense! Around this time, Jake was also diagnosed with asthma. With my CF, I was more than a little familiar with inhalers and nebulizers, so we just added them to our routine. Jake flourished and grew up “normally” on his own growth curve.

Early on when Jake went to preschool, we realized that he was a very intelligent little boy. Math came very easy, as did reading. Sitting still was not his forte. He was squirmy and talkative which unfortunately drew the wrong kind of attention from teachers and fellow students. We worked with his kindergarten teacher, his first grade teacher and now his second grade teacher on behavior. It’s gotten better each year, this year being his best year yet. He’s not bad, he just needs to remember when it’s appropriate to share information, showing a bit of restraint, if you will. He’s so charming and polite though that he worms his way into everyone’s hearts, I swear that kid could charm a wall!

Unfortunately, his stature is not as big as his heart which is causing some issues with his peers. As a second grader, when there are kindergartners that are taller than he is, it’s a little bit challenging. He comes home and says, “I’m so small, why am I so small?” Bob and I try to tell him that God makes people in all sizes and that what matters is the size of his heart. Bob even printed off a list of “famous” people who were/are small, to try to convince Jake that “good things come in small packages.” Jake’s fairly good at sports. His size makes him fast on the soccer field and good with hitting a baseball, but as we all know, kids can be cruel at times. Especially being a boy, the kids see smallness as weakness, even though that is certainly not the case.

As of late, I have prayed a lot and have others praying that Jake will turn this over to Jesus. For a seven-year old kid, he has an amazing faith already, so I think that is important for him to hold onto. We try to teach both our kids that Jesus loves them unconditionally and that when they’re “feeling small” they need only put it in His hands. Couldn’t we all stand to learn this lesson?

Dear Lord, for all of us that are feeling “small” today, we ask for Your love and strength. Help us to know that we are not “small” in Your eyes as You made us in Your perfect image. Let us put our cares before You and find our strength and empowerment in You. Help us to use that power to share Your Love and grace. We ask this in Your name, amen.

http://www.stopbullying.gov/

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Posted in Faith, Inspiration, Uncategorized

Filling the Cracks

TODAY’S FORECAST: Filled

As many of you know, our family built a new house about seven months ago. As the new house has begun to settle and we’ve been through our first real deep freeze and thaw, we’re noticing a few cracks in the basement and a few nail pops that we notified our builder about the other day. Though these types of cosmetic flaws are expected with new constructions, we wanted to just have them looked at to make sure everything was okay. So far it is, which is great news, because we love our house and it took a lot for us to get here, so saying we’re already very attached to it would be an understatement. Anyway, the builder was really responsive, and they sent one of their crew over to take a look at things today and to address some of the outstanding items on our original “punch list.” We’ll do this again at 12 months too, so it’s good to have that security in knowing if anything comes up in the meantime, they are on it! Today, there’s a little pounding, a little mudding, a little sanding going on, to fill the cracks.

I got to thinking that as new Christians, we feel all shiny and new, just like a new construction. You feel clean, whole and more perfect than you’ve ever been. Just as you walk through a new house the first time, freshly painted and carpeted, and you revel in the newness of it all; likewise, you feel much the same when you say “Yes” and become a follower of Christ. As you begin to move into the new house you may see a few dings; maybe the movers accidentally left one from trying to get a piece of furniture through a doorway or someone caught a corner with a box. As a new Christian, the newness begins to fade for you as well, and you start to see the old pieces of self shining through, the imperfections, the cracks, if you will. In both instances it can be a little disheartening.

Fast forward six months to a year. Now the house is settling and you’re seeing the caulk breaking apart a bit in the bathroom or a drywall seam pop from something that maybe didn’t get sanded down quite as well as it should have been. You see a trail of little handprints down the stairwells or something sticky on the dining room wall that definitely wasn’t there before. Carpets look a little less fresh after construction dust settles and even though everyone’s muddy shoes have been nowhere near the new carpets (at least that you know of ;-)), they still look a little different from before. Likewise, for a Christian, the euphoric love you had when you were “brand-new” has also settled a bit. You’re still a new person, God even tells us that it is so in 2 Corinthians 5:1-7 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come:[a] The old has gone, the new is here!  but unfortunately, perfection doesn’t secede redemption. It just doesn’t work like that. This can be a very critical point for people in their faith because you truly have to get what has happened to you when you said “Yes” and what the expectation should be after the “settlement period.” I didn’t, at least not for a lot of years. I kept thinking I would do more, be better, so that I would never have anymore cracks and I would stay perfect and shiny, new all the time. The problem is that I kept trying to refill the cracks on my own and they’d come back again, until I finally started to recently figure out that it wasn’t the cracks at all, it was the filler. I tried to read my bible, go to church every Sunday, tried to be nice, tried to be kind and when I didn’t, I could see the cracks start to show themselves. Not that those things aren’t definitely all worthy of our time, but I realized I was trying to fill the cracks, when Jesus is the one who should have been filling them through me. He is the perfect mixture of compound that make the cracks hold. Even though there will continue to be others, if I let Him fill them through me rather than me with my own efforts, there is an amazing surrender that takes place and I find myself back to the place where I am as excited about having a relationship with Him as I was as a new Christian. Reading my bible, going to church, being kind, they’re now not a chore but a need as a reflection of my filler. As with a new construction. it’s like the structural engineer who gives you that certificate that says, “Yep these are cosmetic settlement issues. Your foundation is solid as a rock.” Yes, yes it is. No, yes, HE is. Thank you Lord for filling my cracks.

Posted in Faith, Inspiration, Uncategorized, Womanhood

Love or Judge?

TODAY’S FORECAST: Passionate

I guess it really is no secret that I live my life out loud or that I’m a details kind of girl. 🙂 Through my blog, on Facebook and Twitter, in personal conversation, I am an expressive person who enjoys sharing information. I honestly think it’s my coping mechanism. I just need to get it all out there sometimes; it helps me to keep moving. Over the years, being communicative and demonstrative has served me well on numerous occasions. I have been credited with being passionate, personable, social, warm, extrovertedbubbly and “larger than life”. At other times it has gotten me into trouble, conjuring words like show-off, gossipdrama queen and attention-seeker. Very honestly, there are days the latter have been on target. They are not my proudest days by any stretch, but definitely part of my very “real” journey and I would be lying if I said otherwise.

I guess that despite my own shortcomings, it still continues to amaze me how people’s perceptions, including my own, can be so critical. Over and over, even in communities that are typically very supportive of their members, I’ve seen wayward perception lead people to pass judgement on others. One person shares something, someone interprets it, opinions are formed and shared, people take offense and get on the defensive, others jump on board and sometimes it’s World War 3 in the making. It’s all a part of human nature, I know; but it still surprises me how terribly ugly people can get. The fact of the matter is, we don’t totally know anyone’s journey, except our own. I can seemingly tell you every detail of my life and you still don’t know my exact story, just as I don’t know yours.

I think a similar principle of thinking applies to a person’s faith walk. I have had people very openly criticize me and even unsubscribe to the blog because they don’t like what I shared. I have had people say, “You say you are a Christian but then you do A, B and C (as appears [insert appropriate selection,] in life, on Facebook, with family, as a friend ).” They are exactly right, I’m not perfect. I never claimed to be, in fact, just the opposite. I am not always kind, I do misjudge sometimes, I am a person after all. God knows that because He created me. I became a new person when I gave my life to Him, but that doesn’t mean I am “Grade A guaranteed”. If I tried to be, then my efforts would be in vain, because I cannot get there and never will. My sharing is about the relationship I’m developing with God, rather than the acts. I will continue to share my faith, talk about God and what He’s doing in my life as part of this blog. I hope that my relationship spills over lots of “good behavior” into my life, for lack of  better terminology. I will share the highs and the lows because it’s me — it’s what I do. I will also continue to share the details of my life elsewhere and do it honestly. If my failings come to light, then I’ll have to take the heat for those. My choice, my acceptance of the consequences.

I will say in plea, please be kind to one another. We all have our downfalls, our failings, the things we don’t want people to see or know about us. When we see these things shared about anyone, whether it be in the media or in person, we can choose to be kind, and we should be. One of my dear friends and spiritual advisors, Pastor Joe Coffey says something to the effect of “You are more deeply flawed that you’d ever want to admit to anyone, but more deeply loved than you ever dared to dream.” Definitely. It’s our nature to judge, both yours and mine. Let’s not forget who the real judge is, though. And as the Beatles said, “All you need is love.” 🙂

God Bless and Easy Breathing friends.

Posted in Being a Friend, Faith, Family, Inspiration, Life with CF, Uncategorized

Spotlight Post: Heather Von St. James

TODAY’S FORECAST: Appreciation for the amazing journeys of other survivors

A couple of days ago, I received an initially cryptic email on a blog post from “Heather.” I immediately assumed it was one of the Heathers that is close to me, my sister-in-law or one of several Heathers I am friends with, but quickly found out I was wrong. This particular Heather was a new blog reader, one who has had her own journey of courage in battling mesothelioma. We got in touch, introduced ourselves through email and I started exploring her blog and FB page. She had sent me this link and asked if I would mind sharing it with my readers, so today, I am doing a spotlight post for Heather and her amazing story.

This particular message is about the fear that comes with life-threatening illness and finding ways to conquer it. Heather has done so by creating her own holiday called “Lungleavin” day in which she celebrates, her own life, being a survivor and breaking out of the fear and showing it who is boss! She credits her peace to God, which I so can relate to in my journey with Cystic Fibrosis!  I am honored today to share her story on the blog. You can read it and others from her here at the following link:  mesothelioma.com/blog/authors/heather/fear.htm.

Lungleavin day is a chance for all of us with life-threatening illnesses to say “No” to fear and “Yes” to a celebration of God’s goodness and love. I will be breaking or tearing a plate for Lungleavin day and will plan to post the picture on my FB Blog Page, for those of you who have Liked it, Heather will share with you as well.

If you want to find out more about mesothelioma or help raise funds and awareness, go to Heather’s site. I have a very dear friend battling a different kind of cancer right now and he has been so incredibly brave and strong. I know he will appreciate Heather’s story and Lungleavin Day, as I appreciate it. Please check it out.

Heather, I wish you the best in your continued journey and am so happy to be a part of your world. God bless you sister!!!

To all my readers, I love you all. God Bless and Easy Breathing and thank you for reading, for your comments, for your love and support. My days are not complete now without you.

Posted in Dealing with Trials, Faith, Family, Inspiration, Life with CF, Uncategorized

The Greater Impact

TODAY’S FORECAST: Full of praise

I wasn’t feeling good yesterday and today I feel equally cruddy with a cold. For those of you who read one of my older posts, Cold and Flu Season, it explains why a cold is just never a cold in people with Cystic Fibrosis and why I dislike “cold and flu season” so much. So I’m doing everything I know responsibly to do to take care of myself (including a lot of rest today) and letting God do the rest. 🙂

Today I had a totally different post planned for you, but obviously, it was not God’s plan, at least not for today. He wanted me to share this with you instead. As you watch it through, see if you aren’t incredibly moved. I know I was. For those of you who are questioning God, even hating Him for the tough things you have gone through in your life. Just watch. I’m not going to come after you hounding you, but God might. 🙂 Click on the link below to watch this amazing video.
www.jlyou.org/Gods_Redemption

Our God is an awesome God

He reigns from heaven above

With wisdom, power, and love

Our God is an awesome God

~Rich Mullins~

God Bless and Easy Breathing

Posted in Being a Friend, Being a Mom, Being a Wife, Faith, Family, Inspiration, Uncategorized, Womanhood

Trimming the Fat

TODAY’S FORECAST: Fatty

Last evening I was making chicken fried rice for dinner. As I was chopping up the chicken breasts to include in the meal, I was randomly going through the chicken pieces making sure to trim any excess fat or get rid of any pieces that were really fatty. I had set a couple of “bad pieces” aside on the cutting board to discard, but then ended up getting distracted with something the kids needed, came back to the cutting board and proceeded to put all of its contents into the drizzle of olive oil I had heating on the stove. As they began cooking, I remembered that two of the pieces had been “bad” and that I needed to take them out and get rid of them. I located the first quite easily and removed it, but the other had been an “iffy” piece to begin with, mostly chicken but had some fat on it that I probably just could have trimmed. Finally, I located it as I flipped the cooking pieces over and I realized, hey, that piece really was a “good” piece. It might have used a little trimming, but I decided in an instant, “Nah, it’s good,” and it remained.

That little piece of chicken got me thinking, the “iffy”one. I’m a little bit like that piece of chicken too. In my eyes, I’m mostly good, but I still have some “excess fat,” if you will. I sometimes think, if I could only trim off that “fat” I would be the perfect Mom, the perfect wife, the perfect daughter, the perfect friend, the perfect Christian. That’s all wrong though. You see, God is really the Master Chef, not me. Through the redemptive sacrifice of His Son, He was able to single me out and make the decision to let me stay, fat and all, in the master recipe. He didn’t try to trim my fat, no. He knew that my excess would not be perfect, but that I would fit into His recipe; simply because He called, and I said yes.  God knew that because of my humanness, my fat would just be there, but that was not what made me worth or not worth keeping. Just like I made the decision to keep my piece of chicken in the pan for our dinner, God made the decision to keep me as well, fat and all. [insert “Thank You Jesus!”]

I currently am reading a book called Grace Walk by Steve McVey. If you get the chance, it’s an absolutely excellent read. In it, Steve discusses how he tries to trim his own “excess fat” in order to be a better Christian, to be more worthy and how he fails… miserably. God is the Master Chef. He is the only one who knows exactly how His master recipe is to be executed. I’m seeing that until I understand this, until I come to Him just as I am, with none of my own plans on how “we” can use my “excess” to teach, to mold, to better flavor, He cannot complete His perfect meal.

Have you turned your “fat” over to God? Do you want to be part of His master recipe? Think about it, mull over it, “chew the fat.” 😉

Yet you Lord are our father. We are the clay You are the potter; we are all the work of Your hand. ~Isaiah 64:8~

Posted in Being a Mom, Dealing with Trials, Faith, Family, Inspiration, Life with CF, Uncategorized

Frustrated with God?

TODAY’S FORECAST: Peaceful

Whew! This has been a long week couple weeks for my family with that nasty flu. I’m reminded of that Cranberries song “Linger,” Do any of you remember it? “Do you have to let it linger? Do you have to, do you have to, do you have to let it linger?” 🙂 That’s how I’m feeling about the flu at this point! I had it for 6 days, then Meghan started it last Sunday and has been very sick with high fevers, a bad cough and just a general feeling of cruddiness. Today, she has had moments when the fever has finally broken and I see a little light behind those eyes. Then the headache starts in again or she consciously realizes she’s been stuck in the house for 6 days and she gets so frustrated. She just wants to feel better and wants to know when it’s going to get better. Don’t I know the feeling!

Yesterday, I had a CF clinic follow-up appointment. We (CF team and I) celebrated joyously when we learned that despite the flu that had plagued me the previous week, the antibiotics that had been treating my bacterial lung infections were working (at least to keep the infections in check for the moment) and that my lung functions were UP. That’s a big thing for a CF-er, especially an “old” CF-er like me, and typically makes for a really momentously good appointment day. Unfortunately, like many others with CF, there are other factors to be considered besides lung function.

I have CF-related arthritis that has been getting chronically worse the last few months. I present with mysterious rashes, severe and sometimes random arthritic pain that spreads to my surrounding muscles. I started flare-ups 14 years ago, the year Bob and I got married. That flare-up left me on steroids, pain meds and I couldn’t walk for a week. Luckily the flare-ups were few and far between for many years, maybe one every six months. Then just last year they started in again and became more frequent. First every couple of months, then every couple of weeks. Now, I can honestly say that not a day goes by that I don’t have severe joint pain somewhere in my body. Sometimes it consumes me and other days, other things with my health overshadow it and I just get through the pain. I’m on regular pain medications for it now, which I hate. Like our Miss Meghan with her flu, there are days I throw my hands up in frustration just wanting to feel better and wanting to know when that’s going to happen, if ever.

God hears that frustration, I know He does. I’m no expert, but I think He recognizes it for what it is, part of our humanness and seeks to comfort us through His words and encourages us to trust in His plan — that it is of goodness and not of wrath or vengeance. When I was having “The Talk” (for any of you who read that post) with my kids the other day, we were talking about why bad things happens. We went all the way back to the Garden of Eden to Adam and Eve. If you remember, Adam and Eve started out in perfectness, oneness with God. He desired that for them, longed for it, but then they made a bad choice and look where THAT got us! With free will, we continue to make bad choices and bad things happen. I know what you’re thinking, that’s great Jen, but that doesn’t explain disease and natural disasters, right? Yeah, I know, it still stumps me as well, but honestly, I wonder if it’s all part of the imbalance that was created at that moment.

The thing is, God filled His word with verses and verses and more verses about God’s plan for us, even in our times of frustration. I Googled “frustration with God” and this amazing page came up with 45 verses explicitly deal with times of frustration. Check it out for yourselves. http://www.openbible.info/topics/frustration

One of my favorites is Romans 8:18-21:

18 I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. 19 For the creation waits in eager expectation for the children of God to be revealed. 20 For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope 21 that[a] the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the freedom and glory of the children of God. 

To me, that says, I know you’re frustrated, but wait until you see the blessings of heaven. It isn’t even worth voicing all these frustrations because if you stick with Me and believe in My love for you, the life of the future will make the frustrations of this life mere has-beens. What an incredible promise! So while we get frustrated because it’s part of our humanness, we need to keep our “eyes on the prize.” That is what I’ve been trying to do and I pray that God in His infinite wisdom will continue to help me with that goal. I know you have frustrations in your life too. Big or small they need to go to God, period. Hang in there, everyone, and when you’re getting to that point, try delving into His word.  God Bless and Easy Breathing.