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

Books I Am Reading

  • Humility by CJ Mahaney
  • Praying Life by Paul Miller