Thursday, November 06, 2008

A friend sent this blog to me today - it was well written by a black Christian regarding Obama.

I was really pressed this morning when having my quiet time to PRAY for the salvation and heart change of Obama and his cabinet and even more pressed spread the gospel to those around me. For our nation is so sinful.

This part of the blog really spoke to my heart today:

My Duty to Christ and the King The question for me at this time is this: Can I continue to live Soli Deo Gloria under a President whose moral judgment already is questionable before he takes the oath of office? Yes I can, for I can be obedient to Scripture, praying for the one in authority (I Tim. 2:1-8), honoring the one in authority (1 Pet. 2:13-18), submitting to the one in authority (Rom. 13:1-7; Tit. 3:1), and seeking righteousness for the entire citizenry (Prov. 14:34). These I will seek to do by grace. I will "honor the good appointment of God."Moreover, I can follow the admonition and example of Calvin, who, in the quote above, preached that believers should impute to themselves the ills of government and recognize the common grace given to mankind through human governing authorities. For example, in our day, it is not the governmental regulation that slaughters the innocent; it is the people who chose to end the lives of their children, and the willing executioners who kill for the sake of the monetary gain afforded by the abortion industry. The government only allows this sin to receive legal permission and protection. Nevertheless, that same government provides many laws that allow me to worship in freedom, preach the Gospel freely, vote in an election, and write blog posts like this one without fear of censorship or death. I readily can recognize the retention of "some kind of just government" under President Obama's rule.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Hi everyone,
I haven't posted in a while as things are so crazy for us these days. Back to school means back to a crazy schedule.

I wanted to share this devotion that my friend Amy pointed out to me. I got it this morning - but said "I don't have time to read this today". As USUAL, I should have read it this morning. Amy and I both struggle, as many women do, with being the best mom we can be. It is so hard to work full-time and be there for my kids. My girls, especially my older one, really wants me to be a stay at home mom. Not that it would solve all of our problems, but I would not have to travel so much and she thinks that it would make me less stressed. Probably. But we choose to put them in private school and need my income to pay for it as well as health insurance. Maybe one day.....

Anyway - here is the devotion. It is good.

Good Mom, Bad Mom, Good Mom
Lysa TerKeurst

"My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever." Psalm 73:26 (NIV)

Good Mom? Bad Mom? Good Mom? Bad Mom? Do you ever feel as though you are the ping-pong ball in a heated match bouncing constantly between feeling like a good mom to a bad mom?

One minute I have a great discussion where my child finally gets it... GOOD MOM!

The next I get an e-mail from a teacher that lists the three parents who have yet to turn in that permission slip and I am on the list for all the world to see... BAD MOM!

I calmly handle the stresses of the morning routine... GOOD MOM!

But then during the afternoon homework session, my child's irresponsibility over a last minute project just about sends me over the edge. I find my neck muscles tensing and my voice rising... BAD MOM!

I make sure they pack something healthy for lunch... GOOD MOM!

The schedule falls apart in the late afternoon and I wind up feeding them sugar cereal for dinner... BAD MOM!

Sometimes I feel like that ping-pong ball mom bouncing from feeling good to bad. Yesterday morning I sat down at the kitchen table after getting everyone where they needed to be and cried. Sometimes having kids is the greatest thing that has ever happened in my life. Other days I feel like the task of parenting little people is driving me to the brink of craziness.

Just the other day I was processing some recent family things with my friend, Renee, over the phone. Suddenly a strange theme seemed to arise. I just started laughing. I told Renee that so many of my days seemed to tell the same kind of story... I was on the verge of a breakdown and then I spent time with Jesus and He made things better. Renee quipped back to me, "Well, isn't that where most of us live every day?" Not that we are on the edge of a breakdown, but we live in a place of utter dependence on God. I know as a mom, I live in constant need of His love, encouragement, wisdom, perspective, strength, patience, and grace. Anything I do right as a mom is because of my constant dialogs with God.

Anything I do wrong as a mom is because of trying to do things in my own strength and slap wearing myself out. That's where grace steps in. And I need lots of grace. God's grace steps in and says, “Lysa, you are doing better than you think. Stop bouncing from feeling good to bad to good to bad. In the good times, rejoice and thank me. In the not so good times, call out to me quickly." And suddenly it occurred to me; with God I'm never a bad mom. I might be having a bad moment... or two... or seventeen. But a few bad moments do not define me as a bad mom. God's grace is there to cover me. Teach me. And even in the middle of a bad moment, interrupt me, redirect me, and change me. Forgiveness is there. Love is there. A second chance is there.

You are a good mom my friend even if, like me, you’ve had a few bad moments... you is the exact mom God knew your children needed. Let's live in that truth today.

Dear Lord, being a mom is a great privilege but one that can be so challenging at times. Teach me how to lean on You with every action and every reaction. And when I mess up, please help me to not define myself by my mommy failures. Help me to only be defined by Your love that assures me and Your grace that covers me. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Raising Girls!

We have such a battle at our house to find appropriate chothes for the girls - even Sarah. Once you leave the 6x sizes and move up to the 'tween' sizes - it all goes down hill!

Fortunately, the girls are very conscious of their modesty - they definitely keep me in check! The trouble is just finding the right clothes.

Here is a great post from the Girl Talk blog - written by the Mahaney girls. I LOVE their blog - it is so encouraging and quite often hilarious!

September 10, 2008
Fashion Advice from John Calvin

With the changing of the seasons come the new fall fashions. As we stand in front of the dressing room mirror or our closet at home, John Calvin, the great reformer, has two questions for us. In short, he wonders, what do our clothes say about our relationship to God?

“Where is our gratefulness toward God for our clothing if in the sumptuousness of our apparel we both admire ourselves and despise others, if with its elegance and glitter we prepare ourselves for shameless conduct?” and “Where is our recognition of God if our minds be fixed upon the splendor of our apparel? For many so enslave all their senses to delights that the mind lies overwhelmed.” (HT: Justin Taylor)

If other words, what brazen ungratefulness is expressed if we proudly admire ourselves for the clothing God has provided, if we dress to attract the attention and admiration of others instead of drawing their attention to God, and worst of all, if we dress to “allure men sexually?” What kind of “thank you” is this to God for His good gift of attractive, comfortable, and warm clothing?
And how can our minds be fixed upon the goodness and the glory of God if they are consumed with thoughts of what we wear? If we are preoccupied with the latest fashions, which (like the grass) will be here today and gone tomorrow, how can we worship and love the eternal Savior with all our minds?

Sobering questions as we consider fall fashions. I am convicted.

Good stuff - huh? Especially to share with our girls.....

Monday, August 25, 2008

The storytellers! The girls were famous storytellers that were a hoot! We had such fun laughing at them!

Tropical Storm Fay really packed a punch!

Our property really took a beating when Fay came to town this past weekend. Our creek looked like a river rapid! We saw large crawfish (the girls called them mini lobsters)!

We have so many limbs that have fallen, as well as our road is almost washed out. I hope that Gustavo stays away!


The Birthday Girls!

Not only are Hannah and Emily BEST friends - but they have the same birthday. We have decided that God had a plan for these two!

The girls are with their new teacher at the cookie party at school.

We then went on to the family party at Grammy's house that night! It was quite a sugar filled day....Hannah had a great birthday.

First Day of School!
Going back to school this year was much different than in years past. The girls were really ready to get back to school! They were excited about seeing their friends and meeting their new teachers. They both really like their new teachers.

They love CCS - Sarah is excited that she gets to start chapel this year. It is Hannah's last year of chapel with Mrs. Hughes. They both came home singing and signing new songs the second day!

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

I love this picture. For this I am so thankful.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Yippee! Laurie got a great report at Shands today. Like my friend Michelle said, we expected no less. God has done remarkable things in Laurie.

Her creatinine levels were down to 1.2 - the best yet and a "normal" level! The normal level ranges between .6 to 1.2......Hallalujiah. Mom got very tired today - she actually had Laurie drive them home from Shands and she slept. I am so glad that she is listening to her body and resting when she needs to. She is going back to work on Wednesday - I hope she is ready.

I have been very distressed today - I received news of another marriage that was destroyed by adultery. Last week I received an e-mail from a dear friend that she and her kids have moved into an apartment in Virginia due to her husband having an affair and wanting a divorce. She has been a stay at home mom for years and is really struggling. Now I hear of another one today.

I was reading tonight a John MacArthur article on sin. Satan is on the prowl to steal, kill and destroy. I am praying for restoration of both marriages. There are six children involved in these two marriages.

Sin, and What to Do About It
John MacArthur

On January 16, 2003, the space shuttle Columbia lifted off for what was supposed to be a routine flight. Shortly after lift-off a piece of insulating foam from the shuttle's external fuel tanks broke off and struck Columbia's left wing. This action was caught on video, but it was presumed that no serious damage had occurred. However, serious damage had occurred. The foam from the fuel tanks punctured the wing's thermal protection system.
The seriousness of the damage became evident when Columbia reentered the earth's atmosphere on February 1. The damaged wing was no longer protected from the extreme heat caused during reentry. The shuttle disintegrated in midair killing all seven astronauts. NASA's failure to correctly assess the damage prevented it from taking action that could have avoided the devastating results.
Mankind faces a similar but even more tragic situation. Shortly after creation, Adam sinned. With Adam as the head, the whole human race fell under God's condemnation. Sin now rules every unregenerate heart, and if it had its way, it would destroy and damn every soul.
What Does God Think About Your Sin? If you refuse to see your sin as God does, you cannot escape His eternal judgment. If you want to deny your guilt or hide your own sinfulness, you'll never discover the cure for sin. And if you try to justify your sin, you'll forfeit the justification of God. Until you understand how offensive your sin is before God, you can never know Him.
Sin is abominable to God-He hates it (cf. Deuteronomy 12:31). Sin is contrary to His nature (Isaiah 6:3; 1 John 1:5). It stains the soul and degrades humanity's nobility. Scripture calls sin "filthiness" (Proverbs 30:12; Ezekiel 24:13; James 1:21) and likens it to a putrefying corpse-sinners are the tombs that contain stench and foulness (Matthew 23:27). The ultimate penalty-death-is the consequence of sin (Ezekiel 18:4, 20; Romans 6:3). The human race is in bad shape.
God wants you to understand how bad sin is and how terrifying its consequences are. You dare not take sin lightly or dismiss your own guilt frivolously. Quite the contrary-you should hate sin.
But sin tempts the best of saints, and even the godliest among us commit sin. David was a man who followed after God with all his heart (1 Kings 14:8); and yet he entered into temptation and committed unimaginable sin-adultery, deception, betrayal, and murder. And until God confronted David through the prophet Nathan, David denied his sin. That's the natural tendency of every fallen sinner.
What Do You Think About Your Sin? If a man of David's caliber can fall so terribly, where does that leave you and me? If you're honest, you'll admit that you sometimes love your sin, delight in it, and seek opportunities to act it out. You know instinctively you are guilty before a holy God, yet you inevitably attempt to camouflage or disavow your sinfulness. In a word, you deny it, just like David did.
Like the rest of fallen humanity, your denial of sin falls into three general categories: you seek to cover it up, you try to justify yourself, and, most often, you are oblivious to your sin.
First, you try to cover up. That's what King David tried to do when he sinned against Uriah. He had committed adultery with Uriah's wife, Bathsheba. When she became pregnant, David first plotted to make it seem as if Uriah was the father of the baby (2 Samuel 11:5-13). When that didn't work, he schemed to have Uriah killed (vv. 14-17). That only compounded his sin.
For all the months of Bathsheba's pregnancy, David continued to cover his sin (2 Samuel 11:27). Later, when David repented, he confessed, "When I kept silent about my sin, my body wasted away through my groaning all day long. For day and night Your hand was heavy upon me; my vitality was drained away as with the fever heat of summer" (Psalm 32:3-4).
Second, you attempt to justify yourself. Adam blamed Eve, whom he described as "the woman whom You gave to be with me" (Genesis 3:12, emphasis added). In blaming Eve, Adam was blaming God too. God, he reasoned, was responsible for the woman who victimized him.
You also try to excuse your wrongdoing by saying it's someone else's fault. Or you argue that you have a valid reason for sin. You convince yourself that it's OK to return evil for evil (cf. Proverbs 24:29; 1
Thessalonians 5:15; 1 Peter 3:9). You can call sin a sickness, a mental condition, or a hormone imbalance; you can excuse yourself as a victim; you can even deny what you've done is really wrong. Your sinful heart is endlessly creative in finding ways to justify its own evil.
Third, you can be oblivious to your own sin. Whether in ignorance or presumption, you sin, and you sin often. That's why David prayed, "Who can discern his errors? Acquit me of hidden faults. Also keep back Your servant from presumptuous sins" (Psalm 19:12-13). It's those "hidden faults" that God sees in plain daylight, and they are just as offensive to Him as the "presumptuous sins." Because sin is so pervasive, you naturally tend to be insensitive to your own sin, just as a skunk is impervious to its own odor.
What Are You Going to Do About Your Sin? Sin is a horrible malignancy for which there is no human cure. It is an incurable leprosy of the soul (Isaiah 1:4-6), and all humanity is sick with it from top to bottom, inside and out.
As a sinner, you cannot improve your own condition. Jeremiah 13:23 says, "Can the Ethiopian change his skin or the leopard his spots? Then you also can do good who are accustomed to doing evil." Your tears and sorrow can't atone for your sin. Your "good" deeds can't make amends for your wrong against God. Your prayers and personal devotion can't soften your guilt or cover it in any way.
And don't buy into the erroneous concept of purgatory-the fires of hell over a million lifetimes could never purify the soul from its own corruption or atone for its own sin. If you are looking for a do-it-yourself solution to the problem of sin, you only shackle yourself all the more securely to your guilt.
But there has to be a solution to our problem; there must be a way God can satisfy His perfect righteousness and still display His rich mercy toward sinners. I'm delighted to tell you that there is a solution to the human sin problem-it's called the Gospel. The cross of Christ provided the way to God by enabling the only acceptable Sacrifice to atone for human sin once for all.
Our Lord, the sinless One, was the Lamb of God offered as a perfect sacrifice for sin (John 1:29)-it was the very purpose for which He came. "You know that He appeared in order to take away sins; and in Him there is no sin" (1 John 3:5). Isaiah prophesied, "Surely our griefs He Himself bore, and our sorrows He carried...He was pierced through for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; the chastening for our well-being fell upon Him" (Isaiah 53:4-5, emphasis added).
Jesus Christ "offered Himself without blemish to God" to cleanse our consciences (Hebrews 9:14). He paid the penalty to the fullest on our behalf. All the sins of everyone who believes are imputed to Christ, and He died for them. Jesus then rose from the dead to declare His victory over sin and death-"[He] was delivered up because or our transgressions, and was raised because of our justification" (Romans 4:25).
Furthermore, God reckons all believers righteous in Christ-He accounts Christ's righteousness to the believer. That's the truth taught in 2 Corinthians 5:21: "[God] made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him."
God redeems those who believe and makes them new creatures (2 Corinthians 5:17). If you are a believer, you know what I'm talking about. God gave you an entirely new nature, including a love for righteousness and hatred for sin.
If you're unsure of your salvation, reading this should bring you to the point of despair. What can you possibly do to change your hopeless condition? Nothing. You are utterly dependent on God's mercy. But if the cry of your heart is something akin to that of the Philippian jailer who said, "What must I do to be saved?" (Acts 16:30), take heart-the Spirit of God is already working in you! Here is Jesus' clear and concise command to the troubled sinner: "Repent and believe in the gospel" (Mark 1:15).
To repent is to "turn away from all your transgressions" (Ezekiel 18:30). It means confessing and forsaking your iniquities (Proverbs 28:13), and completely hating your sin (2 Corinthians 7:11). If repentance stresses turning away from sin and self, believing emphasizes what to turn toward-"Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you shall be saved" (Acts 16:31).
You can't lay hold of Christ while still clinging to your sin. Unless you pry your heart from the passing pleasures of sin, you'll never see God. God's salvation from the flames of an eternal hell involves a glorious liberation from the control of sin.
That's good news! You can be set free from sin's dominion of your life. Take hold of Christ, and take this gospel offer seriously. It may be your last opportunity!
Adapted from The Vanishing Conscience © 1995 by John MacArthur. All rights reserved.

Love to all,

Sunday, August 17, 2008

We have had an incredibly busy week -- and I have not had time to post before now. I have been very touched by the requests for updates and postings. It has been amazing to see how many people have forwarded this blog onto other friends -- asking them to pray for my family. What a blessing.

This week has been good for mom and Laurie. They really got settled back into a routine and how to manage the daily routine of maintenance after a kidney transplant. Laurie has been learning to manage her medications, take them on time (she has to make sure to take them at 8am and 8pm - she cannot go more than 20 past those times). She is learning to check her blood sugar levels frequently, give herself the insulin as needed and deal with the side effects of all of the meds. She monitors her blood pressure daily and ensures that the meds do not cause things to get too far off. She gets dehydrated easily and has to make sure that she drinks enough. All these things are not unbearable, she just has to build a routine.

They go back to Shands tomorrow morning for another check-up. Please pray for continued good kindey function (her Creatinine levels to remain down) and

safe travels for them to and from Gainesville.

Life really is a roller coaster for them these days. We had a great sermon today from our Pastor's dad, Mike Braun, Sr. He is a pastor with over 40 years of preaching and is so wise in God's word.

The main thing that I felt pressed on from the sermon was "hope for the future". How do we continue to have hope for the future? How does Laurie remain encouraged day after day in this roller coaster ride with her kidney function and remain encouraged by the great things that God has done already.

The answer is Read God's Word. I was reading some of Pastor John Piper's past sermons tonight on Hope. Here is a really great one that I thought that I would share with you.

Blessings to you all and I will post again tomorrow after their appointment at Shands.

May 4, 1986

Romans 15:4
For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that by the endurance and by the encouragement of the scriptures we might have hope.
Last week we focused on the text from 1 Peter which said,
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ who, according to his great mercy, has caused us to be born anew to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. And from that text we learned that the aim of God in regenerating sinners is to give them a living hope—by his great mercy we have been born anew unto a living hope.

What Happens When a Person Is Born Again
In other words, what happens when a person is born again is something like this. You are sitting here as a lost sinner. You feel a general uneasiness, but nothing that a little afternoon TV and a good dinner won't fix. It's a little bit awkward to be around people who seem to take religion so seriously and who actually show emotion for God in their singing and praying.

But then it is kind of interesting, too, and you wonder sometimes if you might ever really become religious—really serious about God, so that it changed your life and actually showed.

Then, as you sit here, you hear the message of God's Word that all men are sinners—that we not only do things contrary to God's will, but we love to do them. We are enslaved to disobedience; our very nature is anti-God. And for some reason this time as you listen, it rings true. You don't need any arguments, your conscience bears witness: this is the truth—I am a sinner, and my heart is hard against God.

Then you hear the message that the wages of sin is death—that those who disobey God and reject his Son shall not see eternal life, but the wrath of God abides on them. And for the first time in your life this is not only a possible thought, but an almost certain reality. It hits you with force, and it doesn't seem at all unreasonable.

It seems very just and right, and your sense of guilt begins to rise, and this time all the escape hatches are closed. You are being stalked by the hound of heaven and he cuts you off at every turn. He means to save you today.

Then in your growing sense of guilt and hopelessness you hear the message that Jesus Christ came into the world to save sinners; that he died to cover and cancel the worst of sins; that he actually justifies the ungodly, and purifies the unclean; that he actually forgives cheaters and prostitutes and liars and middle class agnostics.

You hear that. And for the first time in your life Jesus Christ makes sense. Pieces begin to fall into place. And then you hear the message that God is rich unto all who call upon him; that everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord will be saved; that salvation from the guilt and power of sin is a free gift of grace; that every one who thirsts—no matter how long you have resisted, no matter how long you have been drunk with the godless pleasures of the world—everyone is invited to drink freely from the wells of living water and be saved.
And suddenly, probably at first unperceived, a miracle of grace happens. The Spirit of God, by the instrument of his Word, begets and quickens a new spiritual life in your heart. No thunder, no lightning, maybe even no waves of emotion, but just this: the letting go of all resistance and the humble bowing before Jesus Christ in your heart, and the meeting of your eyes and his eyes, and the drinking in of mercy.

And as you drink, there rises in your heart the hope—the confident expectation—that you are included; that the invitation is yours, the promises are yours, the forgiveness is yours, the acceptance is yours despite all your sin. You are saved. You are no longer a mere sinner; you are a saved sinner. You are no longer a child of the flesh. You are a child of God. You have been born again.
And the result is a new hope in God. "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to his great mercy has begotten us anew to a living hope!"

The Need to Be On Guard and Armed
Now just at this point we must be on our guard. A great mistake can be made here. Satan, realizing that he may have just lost one of his victims, will assault you with all his deviousness. And one of his most common devices is to sow this thought in your mind:

"That was a wonderful experience. I will never forget it. How good it is to be free from the need to struggle with guilt and fear! Now I can go about my business in peace."

Sounds good, doesn't it? But there is a lie in it. You are NOT free from struggle with guilt and fear! Your future will not be all peace and sweetness. This beautiful experience of new hope is already being threatened.

The point of my message this morning is that when you are born again, you are born for battle—a battle to maintain the full assurance of hope to the end (Hebrews 6:11), a battle that can only be fought and won with the Word of God.
Let me say it again: when we were born anew by the Spirit of God, we were born for battle—the battle of perseverance (Mark 13:13), the battle to hold fast to our confession of hope (Hebrews 10:23), the battle not to shift from the hope of the gospel (Colossians 1:23). And the only way anyone can win this battle and maintain the full assurance of hope firm to the end is by fighting hopelessness with the Word of God.

Henry Martyn's Fight
We simply must learn this lesson. Let me illustrate before we turn to Romans 15:4. Henry Martyn was a young missionary to India and Arabia and Persia in the early 1800's. He had left his fiancé Lydia Grenfell behind in England in 1806 and would never see her again—he died at 31.

On the boat he fought back self-pity and discouragement with the promises of God's Word. He arrived in Calcutta in May and two months later had a devastating experience. One of the veteran missionaries preached a sermon directed against Henry Martyn and his doctrines. He called his teaching inconsistent, extravagant, and absurd. He accused him of seeking only to "gratify self-sufficiency, pride and uncharitableness."

How could this lonely young man endure such a crushing experience, and not only endure but during the next six years have the perseverance to translate the New Testament into Hindustani, Persian, and Arabic?

We can hear the answer in his own journal:
In the multitude of my troubled thoughts I still saw that there is a strong consolation in the hope set before us. Let men do their worst, let me be torn to pieces, and my dear Lydia torn from me; or let me labour for fifty years amidst scorn, and never seeing one soul converted; still it shall not be worse for my soul in eternity, nor worse for it in time. Though the heathen rage and the English people imagine a vain thing, the Lord Jesus, who controls all events, is my friend, my master, my God, my all.

Henry Martyn fought the battle against discouragement and hopelessness with the truths of God's Word: "Jesus is my friend, my master, my God, my all!" And that is the way we must fight every day, and never stop until the war is over and the Commander puts the wreath of victory on our heads.

Three Truths from Romans 15:4
To instruct us and encourage us in this battle, let's look at Romans 15:4.
For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that by the steadfastness and by the encouragement of the scriptures we might have hope.

Let's focus on three truths from this verse.
All the Scriptures are for our instruction.
All the Scriptures are intended by God to give steadfastness and encouragement.
All the Scriptures have this goal: to sustain our hope.

1. All the Scriptures are for our instruction.
I focus on this first because we are prone to short-circuit this step. All of us who have been born again are hungry to be encouraged by the Scriptures. Therefore we are often impatient with the need to be instructed by them. We would often rather have the fruit without laboring in the vineyard.
So the first lesson in this verse is that the Scriptures are for instruction. Literally: for teaching. We must be willing to learn what the Scriptures teach if we expect to be encouraged by the truth of Scripture rather than by an accidental sound of words or reflections of our own ideas and desires.
I don't want to turn you all into academic scholars. And I don't want to put the Bible out of reach for anyone. But it is no accident that wherever Christianity has gone, the first institution to follow the church is the medical clinic and the second is the school. Why? Because the better you can read the Bible, the more accurately you will grasp its teaching and the resources of hope you have at your disposal. And so we should give ourselves to understand this teaching.
Benjamin Warfield, the great Princeton teacher, was told one time by an unsympathetic saint of his day (in 1911): "Ten minutes on your knees will give you a truer knowledge of God than ten hours over your books." Warfield's response was beautiful. He said, "What! [More] than ten hours over your books, on your knees?"
Another Princeton saint, Philip Lindsay, used to make the same point by saying to his New Testament classes, "One of the best preparations for death is a thorough knowledge of the Greek grammar."
Now the point is not that everyone should spend ten hours a day in books or that everyone should master the Greek NT. But some should! And the rest of us should be glad they do! But all of us should do our best not just to fly over the Scriptures on the way to work or the way to bed, but to understand them. We need a systematic diet of instruction, not just a few crumbs a day, if we are going to fight successfully to maintain the full assurance of hope to the end.
"Whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction." That's the first point of Romans 15:4. But the second point in the verse stresses that the instruction is not finally for the head but for the heart.

2. All the Scriptures are intended by God to give steadfastness and encouragement.
Whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that by the steadfastness and by the encouragement of the scriptures . . .
When the instructions of the Scriptures are properly understood, they produce steadfastness and encouragement. Steadfastness means endurance. It's what you have to have to keep on going in a path of obedience when you feel miserable and when you meet all kinds of opposition.
Where does endurance come from? It comes from the Scriptures. This is exceedingly practical! Noël and I wrote a personal note to one of the couples on the marriage enrichment retreat this weekend. For my part I shared a passage of Scripture that I think gives great power to endure through the tough times in marriage, even if they last for years. It was 2 Corinthians 4:16-18.
We do not lose heart . . . For this slight momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison . . . We look to the things that are unseen . . . because the things that are unseen are eternal.
Again and again the Scriptures will give you God's perspective on things, and that biblical perspective will make a hard situation endurable. The Scriptures are given to us for our encouragement and our endurance in hard times. O how foolish we are if we neglect them. But on the other hand
Blessed is the manwho walks not in the counsel of the wicked,nor stands in the way of sinners,nor sits in the seat of scoffers;but his delight is in the law of the Lord,and on his law he meditates day and night.He is like a treeplanted by streams of water,that yields its fruit in its season,and its leaf does not wither.
It ENDURES! Endurance comes from meditating on the Word of God.
If you want to have staying power, if you want to endure to the end in the path of costly obedience, then turn off the radio and meditate on the Scriptures.

3. All the Scriptures have this goal: to sustain our hope.
The final point of Romans 15:4 is that all the Scriptures have this goal: to sustain our hope.
For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that by the endurance and by the encouragement of the scriptures we might have hope.
There are stories of endurance in the Scriptures. There are words of encouragement. But the way these stories and these words actually make a difference in our lives is by sustaining our hope.
It's hope that keeps us going in tough situations. Christian endurance is not just teeth-gritting will power against all odds. We are driven and sustained by hope.
Will Steger and his crew would not have endured 56 days of freezing pain and danger and weariness if they did not believe in the North Pole. So it is with Christians. Christ commands us to cross an ice field of tribulation on the way to the crown. The strength to endure comes from the hope before us. And the hope before us comes from the Scriptures.
We are familiar with the slogan, "No pain, no gain." That is true. But the reverse is true too. If you can't be sure there is going to be gain, you won't endure the pain of obedience to Christ. That is where the Word of God becomes absolutely essential; because your own feelings and all the wisdom of the world is going to tell you again and again, it isn't worth it—
being a pastor isn't worth it;
being a wife and mother isn't worth it;
being honest at work isn't worth it;
spending evenings at the mission isn't worth it;
working in the nursery isn't worth it;
teaching this class of boys isn't worth it;
staying sober isn't worth it.
That's what your feelings will often say, and that is what the world will often say. But it is NOT what the Scriptures say.
The Scriptures say,
The LORD commanded us to do all these statutes, to fear the Lord our God, for our good always. (Deuteronomy 6:24)
And now, Israel, what does the LORD require of you, but to fear the LORD your God, to walk in all his ways, to love him, to serve the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul, and to keep the commandments and statutes of the LORD, which I command you this day for your good? (Deuteronomy 10:12-13)
I will make with them an everlasting covenant and I will not turn away from doing them good . . . I will rejoice in doing them good with all my heart and with all my soul. (Jeremiah 32:39-41)
No one has ever left house or brother or sisters or mother or father or children or lands, for my sake and for the gospel, who will not receive a hundredfold now in this time . . . with persecutions, and in the age to come eternal life. (Mark 10:29-30)
Obedience is always worth it.
The "world" endures to reach the North Pole and the Guinness Book of World Records; the Christian endures to reach the age to come, eternal life, the presence of Christ, and infinite joy forever and ever. But neither endures without hope.

No Hope, No Cope
So let's take the motto, "No pain, no gain," and turn it around and make our own little slogan: "No hope, no cope."
If it is true that the battle to cope with the daily temptations to disobey and throw in the towel on your responsibilities—if that battle to cope can only be fought with the weapon of hope, then never forget the truth of Romans 15:4—that the battle to keep on hoping can only be fought with the weapon of the Scriptures.
For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that by the endurance and by the encouragement of the scriptures we might have hope.

Monday, August 11, 2008

A great trip to Shands....

Laurie and mom left at 5am this morning for Shands. Mom drove them there - which was a big step for her. She just started driving again a few days ago, but she insisted that she could do it, and she did great. She is very tired but mission accomplished.

Laurie's creatinine was down to 1.67! That is GREAT - the nurses at Shands even called her at home after she got back to tell her how great that she was doing. Laurie really needed that reassurance. I reminded her tonight of how many prayers have been lifted up for her and how amazing our God is - and faithful to complete the good work that he has begun. She has been very nervous the past few days - that her levels will have gone up again and she will have to stay at Shands for more meds. ACTUALLY, they removed the central line from her and half of her staples! She will go back again next Monday to monitor the progress and then again on Sept. 8. If all is well until then, after that meeting they will turn her over to Dr. Doll, her nephrologist here in Tallahassee. Hallelujiah. Laurie is on so many meds, but is handling them all well. I am very proud of her.

My friend, Kathy, made homemade vegetable soup for mom and Laurie - so that was there for them to eat when they got home from Gainesville. Kathy's husband, Tom had surgery today - I should have been giving her soup!

Thanks again for all the prayers and words of support. Mom and Laurie have enjoyed reading the blog to see all that has transpired. As Jan stated at the beginning of this journey, it is cool to see all of God's loving work on this process.

Love, H

Sunday, August 10, 2008

This is the day (really weekend) that the Lord hath made....

I could not have asked for a more perfect birthday weekend. I met Doug and the girls up at Lake Eufaula (my absolute FAVORITE place) on Friday after work. They left Thursday afternoon to go up and play on Friday. I arrived to a big sign posted to the front of Doug's truck wishing me a happy birthday that the girls made for me. They had dinner cooked and ready. They had gone to Rubo's grocery in Ft. Gaines (this grocery store has the owners game that he has killed stuffed and hanging from the walls - deer, hogs, turkeys, and more! It is quite an adventure when you visit there) and even cooked me a hot fudge cake in the camper oven (the girls made me a "birthday cake" above in clay). We had a perfect evening just relaxing by the lake. The weather was so beautiful - we had a cool front come in and it was 60 at night and 80's during the day.

We spent the rest of the weekend swimming, boating and just spending a great time together. We had a sandcastle building contest - Doug and Hannah vs. me and Sarah. Sarah and I did a fancy castle and Hannah and Doug did a very functional castle. Interesting.... It is so much fun to watch the girls go into imagination world. They created fishing poles (even though we had real ones)
and were "catching" fish in their jammies! As you can tell from the pictures, our dog Sallie never leaves their side. At the lake, we boat out to an island and swim and play - we got to watch the sunset coming in on Saturday night.
Now on to the real reason that I am sending the link...

Mom and Laurie are going back to Shands tomorrow morning - they have had a good weekend getting back to normal. Laurie is doing a great job taking care of herself. She realized that they never took her blood sugar levels at Shands on Thursday. She went to her nephrologist, Dr. Doll on Friday and asked them to take it. It was very high - they gave her insulin and sent her home with a glucosemeter. Her blood sugar spiked again on Saturday and she called the Dr. on call for Dr. Doll and he called her in some insulin to give to herself. A man at Shands, when she was there, was actually blinded by his blood sugar getting too high so she is very cautious of that. It is a good thing it appears. The high dosage of steroids that she takes causes the blood sugar to get very high.
Please pray for her visit to Shands tomorrow - that her creatinine level is down. If not, they will do a biopsy and see why it is not dropping again.

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Today was an awesome day!

Mom got a clean bill of health from Shands -- she is still very tired but is doing great. She doesn't have to go back - just see her doctor here for check ups.

Laurie's creatinine was about the same as it was Monday - which was good. She was a bit dehydrated- so she needs to drink more water, and hopefully that will help it will come down. She goes back on Monday for another check and they will do another biopsy to check what drug to use to bring it down more.

All in all it was a good visit - and Laurie got to come home.

The girls at the office had a tea party luncheon for my birthday today. It was so beautiful. The had lace tablecloths, candles, vintage decor and fabulous finger foods. They had the candles lit and Nora Jones playing. It was so relaxing and fun! I have the greatest friends that I work with. The have supported me through the whole process of Dad's death and mom and Laurie's surgery. I am so fortunate to have such great co-workers.

Doug and the girls left for the lake this afternoon, so I will head up tomorrow to be with them for the weekend for some nice rest and fun with the family.

Please pray for the trip to Shands on Monday- that Laurie's creatinine levels will drop more by that appt.

Thank you all for your prayers -- I will post again on Monday.

PS - As I sit here tonight, I am watching CNN and the Chapman's family interview after their daughter's death. My pastor posted this on his blog today - it really explains my intensity on my sister's relationship with the Lord.

The Reality of True Loss. . .
. . . And a prayer for true life.

I have often said that one of my great anxieties in this life is over the idea of losing one of my children. Stories like the recent news of the death of Steven Curtis Chapman's little girl fill me not only with heartache, but also a sense of dread that such a loss might befall our family.In my preparation for this Sunday's message on the person and work of the Holy Spirit I came across this sermon by John Piper. In his discussion of the role of the Spirit in the new birth, Piper shared this story:

When I came home from church last Wednesday night Noël told me she had been shaken because Karsten and Benjamin, our two older sons, had almost run out in front of a car on 11th Avenue on the way home. As I lay there in bed trying to go to sleep I shivered at the scene in my mind of my sons being killed by a speeding car. But then my mind shifted to the long view, to eternity, and the last thing I prayed as I went off to sleep was, "O God, I would rather lose all my sons now than that one of them fail to be born again. If, God forbid, it were a choice between life with me now and life with you forever, then take them. But don't let one be lost! Don't let one of them fail to be born again!"

There is no more important event in anyone's life than being born again.I was challenged by this prayer. I can honestly say that my greatest earthly treasure and my greatest human and temporal joy is found in my family. I would gladly be a pauper in a mud hut without a cent to my name as long as I have these five by my side. I would gladly give up my calling as a pastor for their sake. There is no earthly thing I desire above them- their presence, their love, their voices, and their very persons. Note well that I have said earthly, human, and temporal.

The real question is: Do I desire their spiritual and eternal blessedness above the temporal blessing of having them at my side today? Do I desire their spiritual life above their physical life? Could I pray with Pastor Piper, "O God, I would rather lose all my children now than that one of them fail to be born again. If, God forbid, it were a choice between life with me now and life with you forever, then take them."

Join with me in begging God not for the mere safety of our children, or their comfort, or their earthly security (financial or otherwise)- but for their LIFE. That they might have LIFE and have it abundantly. That they might now spiritual life, eternal life, life from the very Spirit of God by the work of Jesus Christ.Living God and Heavenly Father, I intercede now for Tess, Bo, Emma, and Chloe. I pray that you would grant to them gift of eternal life. I ask that they would know you through your Son, Jesus Christ. I plead with you to rush into their hearts with rebirth, the baptism of the Holy Spirit. I ask for you to give they would taste true life that is beyond this life, infinite joy above and beyond temporal joys, heavenly treasures above and beyond any earthly riches, and that any human breath would be a vapor in light of their eternal life in you. I ask it in the name of Jesus Christ, who redeemed my life from the pit and brought me into your family as a son and heir. Amen.


Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Back to Shands tomorrow...

Mom and Laurie will leave with Aunt Rita at 5 am tomorrow morning to head back to Shands. They have to be at the medical plaza at 8am. Laurie will have blood tests done to check her Creatinine levels among other things. She will wait 2 hours and then they will give her the results. Depending on what those show, they will determine her next course of treatment. If her Creatinine is down more, then she will have her drugs adjusted. If not, then she will need to stay and receive more aggressive treatment. They cannot give her the thermoglobulin again, but there are other drugs that they can try. She is scared tonight - but knows that everyone is praying for her.

Please do pray for her and mom for tomorrow.

Mom will see Dr. Kayler to have her staples removed and check on how her one kidney is functioning.


Tuesday, August 05, 2008

I decided to stop counting the days since we went to Shands. We are into life management phase for Laurie and taking life one day at a time, so -- so am I in my blog.

Mom and Laurie did good today. Mom was exhausted and stayed in bed almost all day. For anyone that knows Mom, you know that she must not be feeling well. She never sits down. Laurie was zipping all over the place, which I think was her running on adrenaline -- glad to be home. But when we got there tonight, she was wiped out. She has to take it easy. We are continuing to pray that when she returns to Shands on Thursday - her Creatinine will be down and she will not have to stay. Aunt Rita will take them over on Thursday.

It was back to work for me today -- I was really tired but had alot to do at the office. The girls and I went to the mall tonight to get some back to school things - school starts back on August 18 - only two more weeks. We are going to the lake for my birthday this weekend, so I knew we needed to get our shopping done. We have our monthly committee meeting for one of our clients in Atlanta next week, so I will be gone for two days.

The girls' school has their mandatory parent night on Thursday, the 14th. That is when we get to meet the girls teachers. I will be in Atlanta, so Doug will be representing our family. The girls are ready to meet their new teachers and see their friends. Sarah is starting 1st grade - which is so exciting for her. She gets to have chapel every morning with Mrs. Hughes!! Chapel is Hannah's FAVORITE class at school and Sarah has heard all about it this year. Hannah will be in 4th grade. sigh....Our babies are growing up so fast.....

Thanks again to everyone for their prayers for mom and Laurie. God has been so faithful.

Monday, August 04, 2008

Day 15 - home again, home again, jiggity jig

After 15 long days, we were able to bring Laurie home today. Thank you Lord!

The doctors decided at 10:00 am that since her Creatinine has down a bit more (2.1) and she cannot have anymore of the themoglobulin (the anti-rejection drug that she has been on for the past 7 days that - which BTW costs $36,000 a day) she can go home and rest for 2 days and then come back for more tests to make sure that her kidney is coming out of "acute" rejection. As with any hospital that is over crowded and under staffed, it took until 3pm to get her released with the proper meds. We were so tired but ready to get home. Mom has been a real trooper the past few days, she is really tired but so relieved that Laurie gets to go home.

We had a stressful time waiting on her release -- her neighbor in the room next to her "coded" and passed away in a matter of minutes. He was only 23 years old....It really put things in perspective on how we never know when our time is and how we need to make sure we are ready when it is.

Please keep praying for their recovery and for the kidney to keep recovering.
Mom needs time to rest the next couple of days before she has to go to Shands again with Laurie.

Thank you all for your kind words to Laurie in the hospital. She is very overwhelmed with everyone's kindness. Aunt Sally - it seems that the Lord has really used your words you sent to her to pierce her heart. She has been praying your prayer you sent her the past three nights and it seems to have ministered to her. Please pray that she continue to see the Lord's hand in this process...


Sunday, August 03, 2008

What is wrong with this picture? Mom and Hannah are resting in Laurie's bed. It has been a long day for Grammy.....
Day 14 - and we are still singing praises to the Lord...

Laurie's Creatinine level is down .5 - she is now at 2.2 (I got my facts wrong on Thursday - she was 2.7 on Thursday and has gone down to 2.2....) If the decline continues for several days, they will take her out of "acute" rejection.
Mom, Hannah and I are at Shands, in Laurie's hospital room. I have not seen her in 7 days until this weekend and she really looks good. Her color is back in her face - without makeup. She is still scared and on TONS of meds but much more positive. Dr. Meier-Kreisch (the head of the transplant team --and the Dr. who she LOVES) has talked with her today and if her levels drop in the morning again, she can go home until Thursday!

Stay tuned...

She read this poem --weeping--that she got from a cancer magazine here:

One More Year...
You were right; I was wrong.
I prophesied death. But you said:
"I need time, at least one year
to rake the thatch,
to plant the seeds
if this year's garden,
to write letters
to my daughter's unborn son,
to clean the attic,
and blow the dust off
ancient heirlooms,
assigning each to those I love.
It's not easy
to weave a legacy.
It takes patience and thought,
talented fingers, an experienced eye.
For now,
I refuse to die.

She is listening to us as we tell her that God will continue to take care of her - in one way or another.

Love, H

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Day 12 - still waiting...

Mom got home today around noon. She is so tired and sad. She is trying to remain positive, but she is sad. She is afraid of the rejection for Laurie.

We will take her back to Gainesville this weekend. For now she just needs to rest. Please pray for peaceful rest for her. She needs to recover.

Please continue to pray for Laurie and her spirits. If she could get more down, she did today. She has to gain a positive attitude to fight this fight. Pray for the kidney to stop rejecting. They are trying new drugs tonight....


Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Day 11 - what a long road....

Well, the day started out with the Dr. telling Laurie that she might get to go home today. What? They didn't even have the biopsy results yet - and weren't getting them until 5pm. I wish that they had never said that.

The "white coats" as the nurses call them came in and talked with Mom, Laurie and Aunt Rita shortly before 5pm. Laurie's new kidney is rejecting. Her body just does not want it in there. So she has to stay for another week for them to adjust her drugs and try to save the kidney.

Needless to say, we were all very disappointed. Especially Laurie. She is REALLY discouraged now. She didn't have much hope before, and she has none now.

Mom and Aunt Rita are coming home tomorrow and we will go back this weekend. The Jehovah's Witneses are in town for a big gig and have all the hotels booked up.

Please pray for Laurie - for her body to start accepting that kidney and for her to be able to see that this is not over - that she gains some hope.


Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Day 10 - (I seemed to have my days mixed up)

Well, as I write, my mom and sister are sleeping. Mom has had a good day – less pain and she was able to spend 2 hours at the hospital with Laurie. Aunt Rita even brought her pizza from Carabba’s on the way home from the hospital tonight! Aunt Rita is taking great care of them.

Poor Laurie has had so many tests today. She is exhausted. She had the Mag3 scan, and the results showed that all flow to and from the kidney were good. She then had another ultrasound and then the dreaded biopsy. She had to lay still from 4 hours after the biopsy – that is tough for anyone, much less Laurie. She was in better spirits tonight, she called me and we talked for a few minutes. She has not wanted to talk to anyone the last few days, so it was great to talk to her.

She received her Care Mail today and was reading it when I talked to Aunt Rita this afternoon. If you haven’t sent her one yet, we would love it if you could. She can get e-mailed through Shands Care Mail System. They will deliver the e-mails to her in her room. It is a really cool thing. You can send one to her at Laura Stevens, Shands Gainesville on floor 95.

We hope to have answers in the morning as to what the biopsy showed and their next course of action. Please pray that the biopsy reveals the answers that they need and that Laurie continues to be a little more positive.

This is not about me
I have gotten such kind e-mails back from my friends, family and their friends about the blog. As God would have it, it seems to be ministering to others as they minister to us.

But, I need to set the record straight. These are NOT my words. I am a sinner just like everyone else in this dark world that we live in. the grace of God I am saved. Although I do not have a Daddy anymore here on this earth, I have my heavenly father who created me and loves me NO MATTER WHAT I DO! Wow - that is why I picked the name for my blog "for the glory of God". This is why he created us, for his glory. It is what keeps me going - gives me peace that passes all understanding, and JOY!

So please read these words, and understand that the sentiment from me is not my doing. On my own, I would be mad at Laurie and think "Well, she did this to herself so she will just have to deal with the consequences". Laurie had Anorexia from age 12 to around 30, so the kidney failure is a by product of that illness. She has done remarkably well in the past few years but our relationship has not been a very close one. I hope so much that that will change after this.

But God doesn't tell me to turn my back from her…
Galatians 5:13-26
For you were called to freedom brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.
For the whole law is fulfilled in one word: "You shall love your neighbor as yourself". But if you bite and devour one another, watch out that you are not consumed by one another.
But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do.
But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy,[fn4] drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.
If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another.

God’s word is awesome. That is my prayer for Laurie. To realize who created her, loves her and wants her to walk with him.

On that note, here is an e-mail that I got from my friend, Ann:

"The entries in your blog over the last week have ministered to me – thank you for sharing not just the details, but how God is working."

"Today’s entry reinforced something we shared several months ago during your dad’s illness:

  • The purpose of prayer is that we get ahold of God, not of the answer.
  • The purpose of prayer is not to get what we want, but to become what God wants.

Here is something from my devotional today that I don’t remember reading before – that "The clouds are the dust of His feet" ( Nahum 1:3 ) I forward your emails to Mike, and we are continuing to pray."

July 29, 2008
Do You See Jesus in Your Clouds?
Behold, He is coming with clouds . . . —Revelation 1:7
In the Bible clouds are always associated with God. Clouds are the sorrows, sufferings, or providential circumstances, within or without our personal lives, which actually seem to contradict the sovereignty of God. Yet it is through these very clouds that the Spirit of God is teaching us how to walk by faith. If there were never any clouds in our lives, we would have no faith. "The clouds are the dust of His feet" ( Nahum 1:3 ). They are a sign that God is there. What a revelation it is to know that sorrow, bereavement, and suffering are actually the clouds that come along with God! God cannot come near us without clouds— He does not come in clear-shining brightness.
It is not true to say that God wants to teach us something in our trials. Through every cloud He brings our way, He wants us to unlearn something. His purpose in using the cloud is to simplify our beliefs until our relationship with Him is exactly like that of a child— a relationship simply between God and our own souls, and where other people are but shadows. Until other people become shadows to us, clouds and darkness will be ours every once in a while. Is our relationship with God becoming more simple than it has ever been?
There is a connection between the strange providential circumstances allowed by God and what we know of Him, and we have to learn to interpret the mysteries of life in the light of our knowledge of God. Until we can come face to face with the deepest, darkest fact of life without damaging our view of God’s character, we do not yet know Him.
". . . they were fearful as they entered the cloud" (Luke 9:34). Is there anyone except Jesus in your cloud? If so, it will only get darker until you get to the place where there is "no one anymore, but only Jesus . . ." (Mark 9:8 ; also see Mark 2-7 ).

Love, H

Monday, July 28, 2008

Day 8 - more testing but no answers....

Well, today Laurie had another ultrasound and is in the process of her 6 hour IV dose of super anti rejection drugs as I write. Her creatinine levels have not dropped today. This is a marker of decreased kidney function. She had to fast all day today to get ready for the biopsy and at 3:00 the Transplant team called it off. They want to do a MAG3 scan tomorrow instead. The scan is a diagnostic imaging procedure that allows a nuclear medicine physician or radiologist to visualize the kidneys and learn more about how they are functioning. They hope to find out whether the kidney is leaking or has other issues.

Mom is continuing to rest at the hotel - she really sleeps most of the day while Aunt Rita goes to the hospital to be with Laurie. Mom went to the hospital for about 15 minutes, but needed to go back and rest.

Aunt Rita found a laundry that washed and folded all of their laundry for $14. Doug and I are thinking that is a great option for our perpetual laundry mountain.....

Thanks for your continued prayers for mom and Laurie....hopefully tomorrow we will know more.....I am still in Tallahassee but it is hard to be here when they are there. Pray that they can help Laurie and they can come home soon.....

Here is my devotion that I got from Proverbs 31 ministries today. I e-mailed to Laurie today at Shands via their patient e-mail delivery system. It is really good.

Say the word “test” and most people cringe. That’s because tests bring undue stress and pressure that we’d rather live without. Nonetheless, tests have many purposes. They analyze our intelligence or skill; determine what we have learned, and reveal who we are. Then there are spiritual tests. They often try our faith and commitment to God.

Remember the story of Abraham and his beloved son, Isaac, found in Genesis chapter 22? Pause to read it if you haven’t. Through Isaac God was going to build a nation! Can you imagine the pride Abraham must have had for his son? Nothing makes me prouder than to see one of my children succeed, and Abraham knew God had great plans for his son. What on earth could go wrong—especially with a promised child?

You and I both know a lot can go wrong. We’ve probably stood in Abraham’s sandals once or twice in our life times too. And like Abraham, we’ve clung to the promises of God. Yet, sickness lingers, financial troubles invade, friends betray us, and eventually death calls. How do we respond?

Abraham responded with great love, trust, and commitment when God asked for his only son to be sacrificed. Don’t think it was easy for him. Just because you and I know the outcome of the story doesn’t mean Abraham did. He had to trust God every step of the way. Abraham’s mind must have been plagued with thoughts such as, “This doesn’t make sense, Lord.” “You promised, Lord.” “Help me, Lord.”

Determined to obey God no matter the cost, Abraham prepared to take his son’s life. In that dramatic moment, and just in the nick of time, God called from heaven and released both the child and Abraham from the test.

It was only a test. God never wanted the death of Isaac. He wanted the surrendered heart of Abraham. Just as God planned, the test revealed Abraham’s undying love and commitment to God. I believe that Abraham’s faith was expanded too that day in the sufficiency and care of his loving Father.

Unfortunately, this is an area God will always test you and me. More than anything God wants our whole and committed hearts. As painful as some tests are, God is using them to grow us into all He has designed us to be. When our trials don’t make sense, we can trust God. He has promised to set limits on our trials—to walk with us in the midst of them, and to bring forth good.

The question for you and me today is this. When God doesn’t behave like we think He should, when it seems like He has turned the other way and broken every promise, will we still love and trust Him?

When the pregnancy test is negative, will you still love Him? When your loved one dies, will you still love Him? When the job interview falls flat, will you still love Him? When no treatment can be found, will you still love Him?

Dear Lord, I’m guilty of chasing your blessings more than chasing after You. You are all I need. I recommit my heart to you and I will trust you in my present situation. May your will—not mine—be done, In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Coincidence that I got his today? Nope.


Sunday, July 27, 2008

Day 7 - the journey continues...

It is hard to believe that a week ago we just arrived in Gainesville. So much has happened since then.

Mom is still resting comfortably in the hotel in Gainesville. She got dressed today and had my Aunt Rita drive her to the hospital to see Laurie. She could only stay a little while before she needed to go back and rest. She really should not have ventured that far today....but she is a hard head. I am sure that I would have done the same thing if it were one of my girls.....

As of right now, we are waiting for an x-ray to come back of Laurie's lungs. They did a procedure on her this afternoon that ran a tube into her neck to run down to her kidney. In doing the procedure, there is a change of lung collapse, so they had to x-ray the lung before they can start administering a highly potent anti-rejection drug through the tube. If the lung is ok, they will give her this drug for 6 hours a day for 3-5 days. She will also have a kidney biopsy tomorrow to see if anything is wrong with the kidney.

She is still very anxious and more irritable due to the very high amounts of steriods that they give transplant patients to suppress their immune systems.

I was so happy to be home and get to go to church with my family today. Pastor Erik's sermon from John 1 was so good. I was overwhelmed by the people that came up to me at church today that said that they have been praying for us. Many people that I don't have on my e-mail list for this blog. I thank you so much for all of you - family and friends.

This is an excerpt from my Pastor's blog that I was reading tonight. It is really good and I thought that I would share it:

In considering the promises of God that are ours through Christ and to be enjoyed in the world to come we make much of God and from such a perspective we minimize ourselves. As he increases, we decrease- and our problems and struggles are put into proper perspective.

Do you struggle with ongoing and ever present sin? Consider the promises of God - you have become the righteousness of God in Christ (2 Cor. 5:21); you have been given the sanctifying work of the Spirit (1 Pet 1:2); greater is He that is in you than he that is in the world (1 John 4:4). Fight sin with the promises of God and their reality in your heart!This can, indeed MUST be done in every arena of our life. In every circumstance, in every problem, in every conflict, we must sink our roots deep down in the promises of God. Let his Word, His promise, and the fulfillment of them (whether present or future) be fuel for joy, for relief, for endurance in our lives.Yesterday, as I obsessed over a complex of issues that I faced for that day- the Lord said to me, "Son! LOOK AT MY WORD!" As I looked at Peter's letter I decided to drink deep the fountain of God's promises that poured out, and not go away thirsty hoping the world, the flesh, or the devil might offer me a cup.All those problems are not solved. I have not found complete resolution in each conflict. I did not go through the day with a pristine attitude and total victory over all my sin. But, throughout the day God's promises energized me to take hope in the goodness and greatness of God. His promises were fuel for my weak heart when it tended toward despair or depression. It propelled me to holiness when my flesh enticed me to go down its path.God has given precious and magnificent promises! As I dwell on his goodness and greatness my problems didn't go away- they were just put in their proper place.Peter tells us in God's Word:"we have received faith by the rigteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ""grace and peace are multiplied to us in the knowledge of God and Jesus our Lord""his divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness through the true knowledge of Him""we have been called by His glory and excellence""he has granted us His preciaous and magnificent promises""by these promises we become partakers of the divine nature""by them we have escaped the corruption that is in the world by lust"And, further down in 1:10-11 we find this great promise: Therefore, brethren, be all the more diligent to make certain about His calling and choosing you; for as long as you practice these things, you will never stumble; for in this way the entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ will be abundantly supplied to you.So, life is hard and then you die. By the promises of God we can look this reality in the face and say, "God is good and great and his promises are precious and magnificent!" I hope that these truths from God's Word might be fuel for joy and obedience in your life today by God's grace.

Thanks Erik - great wisdom for us all.

Love, H

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Day 7 - Keeping the faith....

Tonight, I am home. I am actually at my mom's house right now. One of her scottish terriers, Mack, got a staph infection while we have been gone. Due to Laurie's suppression of her immune system, she cannot be exposed to any illness. In fact, a staph infection after surgery killed our grandfather. So we are a bit over anxious...

So, my dear cousin Rachel and I have stripped mom's house from top to bottom cleaning and washing everything that she has. She has alot of linens!

Our neighbor and good friends have been keeping the dogs and got him on antibiotics for the infection. I am thankful that she saw it and got him treated before they come home. Joyce and Tom have been taking good care of the dogs.

Come home you ask? Well, mom was released this afternoon and is resting comfortably in a hotel in Gainesville. My Aunt Rita (her sister) is with her, taking care of her and Laurie. I came home and got to see my wonderful family and clean. Mom's pain is much better tonight and she sounds a bit like her old self. It will be a long road but Aunt Rita is helping her rest and take it slow.

Laurie's doctors have formulated a plan for the new kidney. I don't think that I mentioned it, but they attached the new kidney to the 2 old kidneys that she had. So the old one that is working is still secreting the toxins in her system so we don't know what is happening with the new one. They can see it working on ultrasound, but the old one is trying to take over. So they are giving her big doses of drugs to kill off the old kidney and allow the new one to function hopefully properly. If her levels do not come down tonight, they will do a biopsy to see what is going on. They are hopeful that they can help. She is much more mobile today - in fact I heard that she visited the Shands gift shop this afternoon.

I know that God is listening and although it is not in my timing, that his is perfect. I am resting in the many scriptures that you all sent me today. I have spent the last hour reading and weeping over them.

My prayer for you and your family today is Psalm 29:11
God gives strength to his people.He blesses his people with peace.

Ps. 121:3 "My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth. He will not let your foot be moved, he who keeps you will not slumber."God has been up all night with you all working and caring for you Holly because you trust in Him . 2 Chronicles 16:9 " The eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to show his might in behalf of those whose heart is whole toward him."He is seeking out ways to do you good. Please continue to trust in Him and be patient, I know it will pay off eventually.Isaiah 64:4 "From of old no one has heard or perceived by the ear,no eye has seen a God beside thee, who works for those who wait for him."Jeremiah 32:40-41 "I will not turn away from doing good to them: and I will put the fear of me in their hearts, that they may not turn from me. I will rejoice in doing them good...with all my heart and all my soul"2 Timothy 4:17 "The Lord stood by me and gave me strength to proclaim the message fully."His ways are above our ways Holly and we can not always understand fully what He is doing or why, but let that be a comfort to you, that God knows these things and loves you and wants to help you.

From a friend about a loved one...
I remember the following New Years Eve, we were with the whole family and saying what we were thankful for from God for the year. And I remember Amy crying and saying she was thankful for the Cancer. Not because she suffered, but because she learned that "God is the kindest person she knows." I remembered being "wowed" over her reflection on her suffering. I just pray that you are able to look back and be changed when you can see God's unmistakable hand print on all of this.

I pray that you would feel God's presence close to you--
I pray for your mom, for relief from the intense pain, that she would call out to God in this struggle.
I pray for Laurie--that this very discouraging news would lead her to seek MORE, to desire to know peace despite circumstances, to be freed from her bondage.
I will pray that whatever unfolds in the next few days, Laurie's eyes would open up and see God's fingerprints everywhere.
I pray for God to place his loving hands on that kidney and tell it to WORK!
Psalm 118
Give Thanks to the Lord, for he is good; His love endures forever... In my anguish I cried to the Lord, and he answered by setting me free. The Lord is with me; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me? The Lord is with me; he is my helper. I will look in triumph on my enemies. It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in man. It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in princes..... I was pushed back and about to fall, but the Lord helped me. The Lord is my strength and my song; he has become my salvation... I will not die but live, and will proclaim what the Lord has done.... This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it. O Lord, save us; O Lord grant us success. Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord..... You are my God and I will give you thanks; you are my God, and I will exalt you. Give thanks to the Lord for he is good; his love endures forever.

A couple days ago I felt overcome by a burden I’ve been carrying. I was so focused on my situation...what I needed to do...what I was going to do...what was the Lord going to do to help me? Then, it slammed me. Lord, I’m yours. What would you like me to do for you? (Not that the Lord needs me, but that I need to serve him...not the other way around J).

Anyway, I wanted to share that with you as I felt “slammed” by my thoughts.

Thank you all for your encouraging words. I love you all.


Friday, July 25, 2008

Day 6 - "Everyone says Day 3 of a transplant is the worst...."

Well, today was a rough day. Everyone on the transplant floor said that Day 3 is the worst.

Mom really felt bad today. Her pain was really bad and she couldn't move around very much. Laurie was better - until she got a report from the Dr.'s tonight that her new kidney was not functioning. They are going to try and increase her anti-rejection drugs to see if they can help.

I know that God is faithful -- and am resting in that. I have given in today to disappointment. How quick we went from elated to disappointed, but I have been reading God's word tonight....

"Praise be to the Lord, to God our Savior, who daily bears our burdens"
Psalm 68:19

"Cast all your care upon him, for he cares for you"
1 Peter 5:7

These passages reminded me to release my grip on my burdens and give them to the Lord. I have heard that several times the past few days by friends, but have just realized that I have been unwilling to let them go. I have been carrying a big bag of burdens for mom and Laurie the past few days until the load is more than I can carry. It has gotten too heavy and my joy has been replaced with fear, exhaustion and anger at God today for not helping them.

God's arms have been outstretched as he has told me in his Word, "Cast them to Me! I care for you!" God wants me to give them to him and trade them in for his mercies.

"Because of the Lord's great love we are not consumed, for his mercies never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness."
Lamentations 3:22

Please pray....


PS - Thanks Tori for your words of encouragement - it really helped me to read them again tonight!

Books I Am Reading

  • Humility by CJ Mahaney
  • Praying Life by Paul Miller