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

Coke or Pepsi?

No, this post isn’t about voting for your favorite soft drink, but rather a thought that was inspired by a book our daughter, Meghan, has, Coke or Pepsi Unlimited. It’s a fun book, meant to be shared with family and friends, that covers a wide range of topics from favorite scents to what superhero powers one might like to have. One of Meghan’s favorite sections covers “Would you rather…” scenarios. There are questions such as, Would you rather have 3 eyes or 4 arms? “Would you rather have a lifetime of bad hair days or “I hate all my clothes days?” Would you rather always have a stain on your shirt or always have something stuck in your front teeth? You get the idea. While we all enjoy humoring Meghan with our answers for these seemingly silly questions, I’ve learned that sometimes in life we encounter “Would you rather…” questions that aren’t quite so amusing.

Recently I encountered such a scenario when I was hospitalized for my Cystic Fibrosis (CF). At the start of my stay, the doctors discovered through testing that I was resistant to all but two IV antibiotics, Tobramycin and Colistin, to help fight the infection in my lungs. Both are very effective at treating the bacteria that were the source of my infection. The downside to using them is their toxicity levels. Tobramycin has long been known to be toxic to the kidneys. It can also cause hearing loss, something I’m already beginning to experience due to the many courses of this antibiotic I’ve taken over the years. In terms of toxicity, Colistin can severely impact the nervous system. It is also even more toxic to the kidneys than Tobramycin, which is why it is usually one of the last IV drugs of choice for CF patients. In fact, I had been put on Colistin once before, and though it was administered with a 24-hour saline drip for dilution, my kidneys stopped tolerating it after just three days. Unfortunate as it was, in this most recent case we were out of options. The doctors decided that the benefits outweighed the risks and decided to put me on both IV drugs to combat my infection.

I was extremely anxious about how my kidneys would tolerate the two drugs together and openly discussed this with my doctor. It was a very frank “Would you rather…” dialogue. I asked if my kidneys started showing signs of distress what our first course of action would be. He said, “Take you off the Tobramycin and just administer the Colistin and fluids.” If that still isn’t enough? “Cut down the dose of Colistin.” If that still is no good? I remember his response so clearly, “Well, Jen, in that case I would rather see you on dialysis than to lose your lungs.” I had to let that sink in a minute. Would I rather go on dialysis for kidney failure or be able to continue to breathe? Wow, talk about a punch. I remember silently complaining, “Geez, God, no one should have to make decisions like this. Mine just keep getting harder and harder. How unfair.”

Then it occurred to me that Jesus had encountered the ultimate difficult “Would you rather…” decision that fateful night in the Garden of Gethsemane. Would you rather die on a cross and shoulder all the sins of the world to save all of humanity or let this cup pass over You, fall out of favor with Your Heavenly Father and lose all the souls of humanity to Satan’s evil? Unbelievable, isn’t it? No wonder Jesus was sweating blood! That decision made my decision about kidneys vs. lungs sound like child’s play comparatively. I was immediately a little bit embarrassed for my earlier gripe.

So what do we do in these situations when we encounter what seems like an impossible “Would you rather…” decision? One of my favorite bible verses is found in Proverbs 3:5-6, Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make straight your paths. When we encounter difficult decisions in our own lives, we have to look to Jesus not only because the bible tells us to, but also because He’s been there and truly understands our need for answers. I wonder if He sometimes allows us to encounter these monumental questions in life, to remind us just how important it is to trust in Him and to consult Him in our decision-making.

Lucky for me, just like the answers to the questions in Meghan’s Coke or Pepsi Unlimited book, my situation became a non-issue. Through the power of many people’s prayers, I was able to tolerate both medicines and went home 17 days later in much better health. I realized though that for all of us, there may be times in life when it will not be that simple and a difficult decision will have to be made. What we all need to remember is that Jesus is there and not only does His Word give us guidance, but it also demonstrates that He can empathize completely with us having been there Himself. Psalm 119:105 sums it up perfectly. Thy word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path. When in doubt, the answer is clear. God. He won’t ever steer us wrong.

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Posted in Being a Mom, Faith, Family, Uncategorized

In Prayer There is Rest

About a week and a half ago our eight year old, Jake, started having nightmares. I remember the first time I heard his little feet scurrying across the wooden floor in our kitchen and then feeling him leap onto our bed in the wee hours of the morning. He shook Bob awake and I heard him whisper rather loudly, “Dad, I’m scared!” I vaguely remember Bob getting back into bed a bit later and me asking if Jake had settled down when I heard the now familiar thud of feet on the kitchen floor. I heard Jake scurrying back into our bedroom, now to my side of the bed, saying, “Mom, I’m still really scared and I can’t go back to sleep.” It happened multiple times that night and continued on for the next several nights much to mine and Bob’s dismay. After several continuous nights of very little sleep, both Bob and I realized our patience was quickly wearing thin. By the fourth night, we were at our wits end, both hoping that this would be the night we would all gain a good night’s sleep. After conducting closet and under-the-bed checks, putting the dog in Jake’s room, giving him a few special stuffed animals to cuddle with and talking at length about what was bothering him, I finally came up with a new solution that we probably should have started with in the first place, prayer.

That night when we were tucking Jake into bed, I told him that I thought we should tell Jesus how scared he was and ask that He take the fear out of Jake’s heart and mind so that he could get a good night’s rest. We said the prayer together, and whether it was a direct result of that prayer or the dose of Benadryl that we happened to give that evening for a flare-up of his itchy eczema, I give the good Lord two big thumbs up for hearing us.

Jake slept that night and has been sleeping soundly every night since. Each night at bedtime it’s been the same routine, adding a prayer thanking God for the rest He provided the night before and asking for him to watch over Jake through the night. Last night as we were tucking both kids into bed, Jake and I had prayed “the prayer” and then he said so innocently, “Mom, we’ve been saying that prayer every night now, do you think God is getting tired of hearing it?”

It was nice for once, to know a definite answer to his question. I smiled and said, “No honey, He never tires of our prayers. He may not always give us an answer right away or even the answer we want, but He never tires of hearing from us. Jesus is our friend and we can always confide in Him.”

Later that evening, after the kids had been asleep for a few hours, I thought some more about Jake’s question. I recalled how tired I had been when Bob and I were facing our late-night interruptions, yet it occurred to me that as often as we come before God with our own requests and interruptions, He never tires of us; our words never fall on deaf ears. I remembered something from Psalms talking about how God listens to and answers prayer so I looked it up. In Psalm 116, it says 1 I love the LORD because he hears and answers my prayers. 2 Because he bends down and listens, I will pray as long as I have breath! 3 Death had its hands around my throat; the terrors of the grave overtook me. I saw only trouble and sorrow. 4 Then I called on the name of the LORD: “Please, LORD, save me!” 5 How kind the LORD is! How good he is! So merciful, this God of ours! 6 The LORD protects those of childlike faith; I was facing death, and then he saved me. 7 Now I can rest again, for the LORD has been so good to me.

After reading those words, they only reemphasized what I had thought of earlier that evening that we should have put Jake’s nightmares to prayer from the very beginning. These verses are excellent reminders that God hears and answers our prayers, especially when we come to Him in child-like belief. In prayer there is rest; of that I have no doubt.

 

  

 

Posted in Being a Mom, Faith, Family, Inspiration, Uncategorized

Daisy Mae

TODAY’S FORECAST: Cuddly

Some of you have inquired about my absence on the blog and were worried that something had happened with my health that had not allowed me to write. Thank you so much for your concern and I’m so sorry for worrying you; I should have posted something much sooner than today. I am here and actually feeling quite good for as much as Ohio weather has been on a roller coaster the last few weeks. We’ve been fluctuating anywhere from the 40 degree (Fahrenheit) range to the 80 degree range in a single day! Let me tell you, I’m still convinced I could make BIG BUCKS in the meteorology field. These old bones and joints can feel those cold fronts coming a mile away. The “human barometer” is alive and well! 😉

As it always does, change has graced our lives in a number of ways over the past two weeks. First and foremost is the fact that we got a new puppy. Faithful readers meet, Daisy. Daisy, meet faithful readers. 🙂DSC07011

Daisy is a Morkie (a mix between a Yorkie Terrier and a Maltese). She is 2.5 pounds of pure puppy! She chews on everything with her sharp puppy teeth and loves to play tug of war with her rope. She goes wild when you say the word, “Treat” and sleeps in a pink bed with the word, “Princess” on it, which pretty much says it all. 🙂 She’s 11 weeks old and is working on being house-broken.  (She best be giving it an A+ effort too, because I’m getting really tired of following her around with the carpet cleaner!) She’s a total wuss in the rain but it could be because she is just a wee bit spoiled. She wags her little stump of a tail when the kids get home from school and we couldn’t love her much more, despite her ornery and stubborn nature.

After two weeks with Daisy I’m convinced that having a puppy is like having a baby all over again but worse at times. There are no diapers to contain the pee and poop when it doesn’t land outside where it should. Between running to grab her to avoid an inside accident and running to get her outside to the backyard just in time, I’m getting plenty of exercise. While the exercise is good, this Mama is one tired lady at the end of the day. Blogging? Well blogging has had to wait during this baby stage. Mom needs to sleep when the baby sleeps to keep up with her. So yeah, at the moment, creativity will have to wait a little while. It’s funny, by the time Bob gets home from work, instead of hearing about what the kids did I’m usually whining and saying, “Do you know what YOUR dog did today?” He says it reminds him of when the kids were toddlers and getting into all kinds of things and I used to say, “I need five minutes of peace, just five minutes.”

The puppy teething might be even worse. It means utter destruction if you leave a her unsupervised for even just a second. The corner of my new entertainment center took a mild beating when I left her so I could take my own “potty break” the other day. Anything she can get her little mouth around is fair game, including toes, fingers, shoe strings, sandal straps, corners of furniture, strings under the furniture, electrical cords, etc. Bob jokes some days that we’re going to give the people we purchased Daisy from fifty cents on the dollar just to have them take her back. Depending on her degree of stubbornness, it may go from fifty cents, to a quarter, to FREE, to we’ll pay a quarter on the dollar to give her back!!! LOL.

I have to admit that when Jake carries her around and proclaims proudly, “This is my puppy,” or when I overhear Meghan say, “Daisy do you want sissy to take you outside?” my heart melts just a little.  The kids are great with her and surprisingly helpful too. We did make a family pact together that we would all help take care of her; and though there’s been a few expected sighs during this second week, they still get up to feed her or take her out when we ask. Daisy has definitely brought our family closer together and blesses us with her light and energy. Maybe that was God’s intended purpose for her to be in our family. I know he has a purpose for everything, even sharp puppy teeth!!! 🙂

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I promise I will write as time allows. I’ll have more news about the changes God is bringing to our life as well as puppy updates, I’m sure. God bless and easy breathing!!! Love and peace until we meet again. 🙂

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

Keeping Up with the Joneses

TODAY’S FORECAST: Grateful

So today, we cover the final piece of the ten commandments in 100% Chance of CHANGE’s first ever series, GPS of Faith:

You shall not covet your neighbors’ goods.

In lieu of a post today, I want you to check out a website instead, if you would. It is called Who are the Joneses?

DIRECTIONS:

1. Click on the website link or copy and paste it into your web browser. http://whoarethejoneses.org/

2. Do what it says, go ahead and enter your salary (or your total household income), and hit ENTER,  I DARE YOU! 🙂 Read what it says.

2. Click on Nevermind the Joneses

3. Read and follow the prompts.

4. Comment on the blog FB page or on this post what your experience was.

Whatever your walk in life is, I guarantee this will make you think.  Happy Friday and many blessings this weekend to you and yours.

God Bless and Easy Breathing!

 

 

 

 

 

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

Little White Lies

TODAY’S FORECAST: Honest

Well, it’s been a few days since my last post, so I’ll pick up on where I left off on the GPS of Faith series in reviewing the 10 commandments. Considering I combined multiple commandments on a few of the posts, I just realized that this leaves us at the second-to-last post, so we’re down to the home stretch and then this series will be finished. Congratulations on sticking it out with me, we’ve almost made it! 🙂

Today’s focus commandment is this:

You shall not bear false witness.

I don’t know how anyone could argue that “bearing false witness,” otherwise known as lying, has become almost as natural as breathing in our society. We lie about all sorts of things from falsifying our looks for the sake of youth to telling our kids that they are the very best, brightest and strongest, even if they’re not. I recently read an article published online by Huffpost Healthy Living from September, 2012 http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/09/09/why-we-lie-time-factor-truth_n_1862384.html. The article quoted a Notre Dame Psychology Professor, Anita E. Kelly, Ph.D., as saying “Recent evidence indicates that Americans average about 11 lies per week.” How sad that is. That’s quite a lot of false witnessing right there! I don’t think there’s much then to be argued that this commandment is still applicable today. In the article Dr. Kelly went on to say that, “We found that the participants could purposefully and dramatically reduce their everyday lies, and that in turn was associated with significantly improved health.” So let me get this straight. Lying is not only wrong in God’s eyes, but can also negatively impact our health? Then why the heck do we do it?

Studies have shown that most of us are not spending those 11 lies a week telling the “really big whoppers,” but the “little white lies” that easily slip into our social banter. We all know that lying is wrong; however, if we are honest with ourselves, we would probably realize that we tell a few too many “little white lies” than we’d openly care to admit. For most of us, telling a lie seems like a simple way of sparing people’s feelings, avoiding conflict, saving ourselves from embarrassment, protecting our kids or inflating our own self-esteem. Have you ever heard yourself saying something like:

“You’ve put on weight? Seriously, where?”

“Of course I would tell you if I was upset with you, we’re friends, aren’t we?”

“That’s funny, I never got that paperwork.”

“Sorry I’m late, traffic was backed up because of an accident.”

“There are no losers, honey, only winners.”

“I shot a 67 on the course last weekend!”

“We can afford the Lexus. We’ll pay this credit card off as soon as you get your next bonus.”

It’s so easy to convince ourselves that lies like these are not only okay, but also a way of survival in this crazy world we live in. So let’s turn the tables for a moment. What if God was the one telling us the “little white lies?” Imagine if He had said:

“That fig leaf ensemble looks fabulous on you, Eve!”

“Cain, your offering wasn’t all that bad, you’re still a winner in My eyes.”

“Why Moses, of course you can part the Red Sea all by yourself. You can do anything you put your mind to.”

“You should have seen it; I sent those Israelites steak and eggs, right down from the heavens!”

“Don’t be ridiculous, Jonah, they’re really not that bad in Nineveh, just a little misguided that’s all.”

“Well Martha, I know Lazarus has been dead for four days, but with you in charge, of course the tomb won’t stink.”

“Mary, you’re highly qualified. This being the “Mother of Jesus” thing will be a snap!”

“It’s okay, Judas, I’m sure you needed the money.”

Sounds ridiculous right? Well, it’s just as ridiculous as the lies we tell each other. Remember folks, the devil is the “father of lies,” the “king of ridiculousness.” He is the one that secretly convinces each of us that we’re not good enough or that if we tell the complete truth, God will not be there to fulfill whatever void we believe is being created. As I’ve mentioned in a couple of posts, he is also the master of subtlety. He doesn’t attempt to take our hearts with the “tall” tales he plants his seed with little untruths. That is why we have to come together and pray that we can guard our hearts against them. Remember, whether we classify them as “big whoppers” or “little white lies” we’re still breaking God’s commandments.

Challenge for the week: Honestly look at the times you “stretch the truth” and see why you do it. Ask God for guidance and forgiveness in this area.

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

“It’s A Slow Fade”

TODAY’S FORECAST: Committed

I’m going to combine two commandments into today’s post because I think they strongly relate to one another. I also want to give you a SPOILER ALERT and let you know that this post will include some plot description and scenes from the movie, “Fireproof,” so if you haven’t watched the movie, you may not want to watch the included videos or read the commentary I’ve included in the last few paragraphs regarding the film. I definitely don’t want to ruin it for you, it’s an incredible movie; one I would highly recommend watching, especially for those of you who are married or engaged. With all that being said, the commandments I want to take a look at today are:

You shall not commit adultery. ~AND~ You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife.

I don’t think that I have to tell anyone that infidelity has been sneaking its way into our culture for centuries. It’s been used as a theme in literature such as in Nathaniel Hawthorne’s historical romance, The Scarlett Letter and Gustave Flaubert’s, Madame Bovary. In television we’ve seen it in various popular prime time sitcoms over the years such as Dallas, Roseanne, Friends, ER and Grey’s Anatomy. We’ve seen national leaders give into adulterous behaviour such as in the instances of John F. Kennedy, Bill Clinton, Prince Charles, John Edwards and many more. Celebrities are practically born into a lifestyle of infidelity; hence the string of broken Hollywood relationships that plague tabloid headlines.

In all these instances, however, there were physical acts of cheating; that is, two partners choosing to have sexual encounters outside of their previously committed relationships. In our culture’s exposé of adultery in literature, media, through authority figures and Hollywood, we’ve softened as a society to the idea that “emotional infidelity” or carrying on in an affair where physical intimacy is excluded but where emotional intimacy or pleasure is not,  it is somehow okay. Trust me when I say believe it’s not and that God doesn’t think so either. An “emotional affair” can be just as slippery of a slope as a physical one, it’s just somewhat more of a “slow fade.”

A perfect modern-day example of this is the movie, Fireproof. Fireproof was released in 2008 and quickly became an international success. Starring Kirk Cameron and Erin Bethea, the film primarily focuses on a couple, Caleb (Cameron) and Catherine (Bethea) Holt, who have come to a difficult season in their marriage which leads to Catherine filing for divorce. Caleb is a firefighter who puts his job and other pleasures in his life above loving his wife and committing to their marriage. Catherine is a woman scorned who begins an “emotional affair” with a doctor at the hospital where she works. For all of Caleb’s inattention, Dr. Keller (Perry Revell) has enough compliments and kind gestures to make Catherine feel fulfilled outside of her marriage. Out of loving concern, Caleb’s Dad (Harris Malcolm) gives his son a book called The Love Dare that changes everything. Caleb soon learns that the mantra he carries in his work as a firefighter of “Never leave your partner behind” also applies to his marriage to Catherine. Through a series of eye-opening events, Catherine comes to realize it as well and together with God, they are able to save their marriage.

One of the theme songs of the movie is a song by the Christian musical group called Casting Crowns, titled “Slow Fade.” Listen to the music and see some scenes from the movie by clicking the play arrow on the video clip below. I would encourage you to listen to this once for the words to the song and then again to see some of the scenes as it’s hard to do both at the same time and fully appreciate the meaning.

I guess what really hits me about this movie is that never at any time was there any physical contact between Caleb and another woman and yet he found it perfectly alright to spend time looking at internet porn. “What’s the harm? It’s only impacting me?” That’s just it, his marriage was crumbling before his eyes and he didn’t even know it. It was a “slow fade.” Catherine was the same. While there was no sexual contact between her and Dr. Keller during their harmless lunches and flirtations, her world with her husband was unraveling and she didn’t even care. Again, a “slow fade.” Is it any surprise that for those of us who remain faithful to our marriages and partners and refuse to physically cheat on them, that the crafty liar, satan, wouldn’t find another way to get to us slowly instead of through such an obvious manner? It’s something to think about.

Lord, we ask that in this age of infidelity You put a holy “hedge” around our marriages and relationships to protect them from evil. Do not let us break either of your commandments regarding sexuality, not through sexual or emotional affairs, addictions to pornography or anything else that defeats the purpose of living our lives in harmony with and for You. Don’t allow the devil to destroy the sanctity of marriage through a “slow fade” of temptation. Help us to love and respect one another as You do us. We ask this in your name. Amen.

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

“Killing Me Softly with His Song?” I Think Not.

TODAY’S FORECAST: Penitent

So first off, I want to thank those of you who are new to the blog. I’ve seen a couple of new followers coming through and I want to thank you all for checking out the blog. I hope that you can find something here that’s inspirational, encouraging and most of all that will remind you how much God loves you.

Secondly, many of you seasoned readers who are also members of the blog’s Facebook page know that I have not fallen off the face of the earth, but rather, took a few special vacation days with my family over Spring Break. We took the kids to a water park so I posted a couple of pictures below so you can see what fun we were having while I was politely ignoring all of you. Forgive me!

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Thirdly, onto today’s post. The commandment that I reviewed in my last post was Honor Your Father and Mother. While many of you expressed that you really enjoyed that particular post, aka Sparrow Parenting, I confess that I evidently blocked it from seeping into my brain waves because I had an interaction with my own parents on Easter Sunday that sadly was a lot less than “honoring.”More on that in a bit. Today’s commandment is this:

You shall not kill.

When I was reviewing this commandment I didn’t have to think all that hard of the applicability it holds in our world today. There are reports of killings everywhere from incidents as recent as the student shooting tragedies at Chardon High and Sandy Hook Elementary, as well as the loss of 12 lives and the injury of so many others at the Aurora movie theatre shooting by James Holmes. Folks, if you haven’t noticed, we are living in a very volatile society where violence is quickly becoming the norm instead of the exception. Yet somehow, I don’t think my blog is probably being viewed by too many serial killers or mass murderers, (at least I hope not!), which has left me with the remaining unanswered question of how does this commandment apply to me in current times? The thought just crossed my mind about killing someone’s spirit. Does that apply? For me personally, it most certainly does.

Back to Easter Sunday and the interaction with my parents. I disagreed with mine on a particular subject and who does not disagree with their family members from time to time? It doesn’t mean I love them any less or that I don’t respect what they have to say. On that particular day; however, my temper and impatience got the best of me and instead of sharing my feelings as a respectful child, I threw a major tantrum screaming and yelling, leaving our family open-mouthed and upset. I scared my kids with my anger, upset my parents with my words and left the rest of my family silent and reserved. Ouch. Just how many commandments did I break with that tirade? Certainly I did not honor my parents in the way I should have and put my anger above God, there’s two for sure. I did worse than those though, I killed the spirit of everyone in the room. I left our family feeling as somber as if we were commemorating Good Friday rather than celebrating the Risen Lord on Easter Sunday. No matter what we were in disagreement about, I should’ve handled my point much better than I did with calmness and reasonableness. Yeah, definitely a need to reset the GPS on that one.

So my point is, killing someone’s spirit can sometimes be as dangerous as pulling the trigger. Words and emotions can strike just as painful a blow, and instead of “killing me softly with His (God’s) song” we barrel over someone’s heart. So think about this. Whose spirit have you killed recently? Was it your kids’ because you nag and yell at them so much? Was it a colleague that you gossiped about at the work water cooler? Was it the parent that you were less than patient with? Was it the department store clerk you were rude and cranky to? Was it yourself with words of self-deprecation and self-loathing? Let’s pray that we can all be fillers, not killers in accordance with this commandment.