Oh, it’s been so long!  Not sure this will ever be seen, but want to make an effort to record things.  I wish I had never stopped.  Wish I hadn’t lost my voice, but life happens.  This may never be important to anyone but my kids, but I pray they see some of my heart through my words.  I love them more than I can say.  They are my greatest joy and blessing in this life along with their Daddy.  I hope they will always know how valuable they are to us.

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Emily’s new dance, especially in her long night gown.

Elijah killing the bug with his fork, then looking up at Aaron and saying, “Mens are not supposed to be scared!”

Lydia telling me she secretly wants to wear mini skirts because they are “inappropriate”.

The way Elijah acts around red heads.

Emily’s little nod of the head and “uh-huh” that reminds me so much of Grandma Megaw.

Lydia thinking she has a crush on every boy in the 3rd grade.

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The sickness that kept on going …

Maybe I would feel better if I just set down everything that’s been going on in our household. I’m having an emotional day after a rough couple of months.  It started out in the beginning of February when Elijah and Emily both came down with ear infections.  I took them to the doctor (two days apart) in the snow and came home with antibiotics for both.  On day 9 of Elijah’s antibiotic he suddenly started swelling in his mouth and nose and was covered in hives.  My dad and I took him to Vanderbilt ER because Aaron was in Utah for his job.  They called it “serum sickness” which basically meant severe allergic reaction to the Omnicef he was on.  He was prescribed a steroid and an antihistamine.  Two days later he started having horrible diarrhea every 10 minutes or so and started screaming in pain with his stomach.  We ended up back at Vanderbilt ER for over 7 hours where he continued to have diarrhea and vomiting.  He had to have an IV bag of fluids and X-rays of his stomach.  Thankfully nothing was wrong there, but the next day we found out he had an infection in his gut called C Diff.  Basically the Omnicef stripped his stomach of all the good bacteria and the C Diff was able to grow uncontrollably until it went toxic and infected his colon.  He had to go on another antibiotic to kill this bacteria.  A few days into this treatment he was doing much better, but started having blood and pieces of his intestinal lining in his stool.  To say it was scary is a gross understatement!  However, he recovered from the C Diff after being on the new antibiotic for 10 days.

Two days later he woke me up in the morning because he was “itchy” with hives all over his torso.  I couldn’t believe it!  He spent that entire day having whelps rise up on his body, then go down only to surface somewhere else on his body.  We went back to the doctor the next day and she recommended Zyrtek for a month thinking it was still the serum sickness.  We got those hives under control when he and Emily came down with a cold which led to another ear infection in both.  This had been my biggest fear since finding out he was allergic to Omnicef and Penicillin (we found this out when he was 3 and had an allergic reaction to it).  What could he take to fight this ear infection?  Well, we gave his body a good try at getting over it on its own, but after 3 days of high fever and extreme pain, we put him on another antibiotic – Zithromax.  Thankfully he did not have any reaction to this and the ear infection cleared up.  In the mean time, Lydia also came down with this head cold/ear infection and had to be put on Zithromax as well.

We were doing so much better when Emily suddenly started having terrible stomach pain and diarrhea and eventually blood in her stool also.  She had two tests for C Diff and both came back negative.  I think she was having a reaction to the antibiotic she was on for her second ear infection, but it was a pretty weird virus that all three kids had at the time.  It was like a head cold, but all three also had vomitting and an ear infection during the course of being sick.  As of today, all three are doing so much better.  And the only medication being given right now is Zyrtek for Elijah’s hives.  However, I have missed a couple of doses this week and he hasn’t broken out yet.  Parenting is not for the faint of heart!

But what has me down today is that on Saturday my lower back went out in a really bad way.  I could only compare the pain to being in labor.  I literally screamed in pain every time I took a step or moved in the slightest way.  Aaron had to rush me to see his dad for an adjustment.  I’m so thankful Rick was able to help me.  Five adjustments later, I am feeling so much better, but am very scared to move too much.  I just want to get up and clean this house and fold laundry!  I know it’s silly, but I am feeling kind of sorry for myself today.  I know there could much worse situations.  My kids could have chronic health problems instead of a 2 month ordeal.  I could have permanent damage to my spine and never be able to move normally.  Thankfully this is short-lived, but feels like an eternity when you’re going through it.  Well, if I want a record of my kids’ lives, this episode certainly needed to be included.  I’m sure this will come in handy in the future when I need to lay on the mom guilt, LOL!

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New Blog

I haven’t blogged in ages and Windows Live moved my blog over to WordPress.  I’ve no idea what I am doing over here, but thought I would at least make an attempt to use this site.  After I moved the blog over here and went through and read a lot of my old posts, I realized how much I loved having a record of my kids activities to go back to.  The daily and weekly changes seem so small, but when I look back and read about one of them getting their first tooth or starting preschool, I am amazed at how fast the time goes.  I really want to do a better job at documenting their little lives.  My kids are my world right now.  I laugh when I think of all the business courses I took and how my biggest financial responsibility right now is to balance the check book.  Actually, that’s probably nothing to laugh at!  Well, I’ll end this now to test out how to publish to WordPress.

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Notes from the STORY Conference

I wanted to share some of my notes from the conference Aaron and I went to this week.  First of all, we didn’t know if we were even going to go until a couple hours before the plane flight.  Elijah started the stomach flu in our house last Thursday, the girls got it over the weekend, then I felt pretty weird all day Tuesday, the day we left, but tried hard to stay in denial.  We ended up getting on our flight at 5:30, flying to Chicago and finding our hotel.  Neither of us was very hungry, but went to dinner anyways, still in denial.  Halfway through dinner Aaron got an "uh oh" look in his face and we hurried back to our room.  We were there maybe half an hour or so and he started throwing up.  He threw up until 4:30 in the morning.  I was so nauseated and just held still as good as I could so I wouldn’t throw up.  We thought we would be spending the conference day in our hotel room being sick.  But at 7:15 we woke up and decided to give it a go.  I’m sure the people at the conference would just love to know that, but we didn’t shake hands or anything.  We just stayed huddled in the back of the theater listening.  The theater was just gorgeous!  This is a link to pictures of the interior.  http://www.paramountarts.com/aboutphotos.php


The premise of the conference is that stories and storytelling engage people in a way that a list of facts will never have the power to do.  And that as "stewards of the gospel" our job is to tell the greatest story – mans fall, God’s love and plan of redemption through Jesus – in the most engaging and creative ways possible.  Donald Miller described it as the difference between noise and music.  Noise – traffic, crying kids, clanking objects – can be heard, but doesn’t stick in your head the way a musical tune can.  So when someone tries to communicate the gospel as a list of precepts that someone should give mental assent to, you end up with a sterile contract and not a heart covenant.


Ed Young was the first speaker, and probably my least favorite.  His talk was kind of gimmicky with a lot of rhyming that just came off cheesy to me.  But he did talk about the Bible being a rescue story, and Jesus is the lifesaver that should be thrown to those around us that are drowning.  We have to keep our connection to the Father through the rope and use this to pull them into the boat, or the church.  He said the church should be a rescue society, but has turned into a yacht club.  One thing that he said that did resonate with me is that no one drowns in shallow water.  It’s the deep things of life that pull us down and we must be willing to go there with others to be effective.


The next speaker was Dave Gibbons and he was fantastic.  He talked about the "Theology of Pain and Discomfort" and how it is much more effective to preach from a platform of pain and not strength or size.  He said our ministries should be less concerned with rising numbers (attendance & tithing) and more concerned with DECLINING numbers – less homeless, less hungry, less orphans in our city.  He gave a personal testimony of his father being unfaithful to his mother and the deep, deep pain that caused him as a teenager.  He said he went years without speaking to his dad, but as a college student he chose to forgive his dad and actually went to him and repented for his own anger and bitterness.  As he gave his testimony, the story was powerful, much more powerful than if he said he never had those dark times.  He talked on Isaiah 6, the call for someone to go and tell and the response "Lord send me" and how that’s usually used for missions, but the next scriptures talk about how Israel isn’t going to listen and isn’t’ going to be saved.  Kind of depressing, but he said the Lord sometimes has to cut us down to just a stump to allow us to grow again.  He said that the revelation of your brokenness, and the confession of our sin and repentance unleashes the Holy Spirit.


Chris Seay was next and he was awesome!  He was so funny too.  My favorite part was when he said if you are the kind of believer that studies the Bible just to have ammunition for debate and to argue with people that "no one likes you.  Your mother hopes you won’t even come home for Christmas."  LOL  It was so funny.  He told stories too about his family and had an Aunt that they all called "Aunt Sister" and he had no idea why.  He talked a lot about propositions not being able to save you, but a good story will invite a person in and produce inquiry in their heart.  He also talked about Jesus’ statement to take on His yoke to find rest.  He said that this doesn’t mean a life of ease, but when you find the yoke that fits, you become alive and energized.  So many people are exhausted mentally, physically and spiritually because they have an unnatural yoke that they bow to every day.  We were made for His yoke.  One other note I have written down, not sure how it fits, but he said about creation, "God smiled and the light broke."


John Ortberg spoke for a little while after lunch and was saying that we try to take the Bible and use it to make our dreams come true, but we should instead be endeavoring to make our lives part of God’s dream for humanity.  He gave the definition of Shalom – where things are the way they are supposed to be – and that is God’s dream for the world.  We also heard him speak during the lunch break and he talked about spiritual development after initial salvation.  He said that most people agree that grace is the only way to span the chasm between man and God, but somehow we think that human effort can span the chasm between who we are today and who God wants us to be fully matured in Christ.  I thought that was very interesting.  He said if grace is what connected you back to God, why wouldn’t grace be what causes you to grow in Him? 


Nancy Peach spoke next.  She talked about telling the truth of the Gospel as a Tragedy, Comedy and Fairy Tale.  She said we have to paint the stark reality of God’s absence before we can experience the joy of His presence.  Grace isn’t that wonderful if you don’t address the pain of fallen humanity.  She also said that the mark of a good fairy tale is "the turn" that it makes just when things look most hopeless.  She said that making stories seem more fabulous only drives the point deeper in our understanding, and that stories should awaken our faith in God, not man.  She also said something I just loved, that when a story moves you to tears, that is the deepest intuition of the truth. 


Stacey Spencer was next and he walked out singing "This is my story, this is my song. Praising my Savior all the day long." He had a lot of soul and how the room shouting and praising at the end of his talk.  He was funny too and said how Jesus was such a master storyteller that he would draw you into a story without realizing you were the "bad guy" of it until the end.  The Pharisees would be hanging on His words and they want to stone Him because He was wasting them with His story.  Movies were called high budget parables, I just loved that!  He also said that we have to invite people into the story and end with redemption.  He said whatever your particular circumstances are, your story is ALWAYS to ultimately praise the Savior, all the day long.


That was the last speaker I took notes on.  I was getting pretty tired and not feeling well.  Donald Miller was last, and of course I totally enjoyed it.  He is coming to Nashville on November 20th.  He said that the principles for a great story are totally applicable to real life.  A great story is basically a character that wants something and overcomes conflict to get it.  He said that the reason we live meaningless lives usually lies in not wanting something valuable enough.  When we waste our lives pursuing material things, we just end up frustrated because they never deliver.  And if we aim too low and never pursue anything that requires much conflict, we end up bored.  He also gave a funny take on the apostles and said can you imagine Paul giving a testimonial on an infomercial for Jesus?  He could say that he once had a highly respected position, material wealth, etc. and became a follower of Jesus and was blind for a few days, lost everything, repeatedly thrown in prison, beaten, etc.  And all this can be yours too …     He debunked the idea that we have a Jesus-shaped hole in our hearts that we try to fill with worldly pursuits, but if we just fill it with Jesus, we’ll finally be satisfied.  He said we won’t be satisfied until we’re in His presence, and to not be discouraged if your longings continue in your walk with Christ.  We aren’t supposed to be content until the end of the redemption story, when we are united again with the Lover of our souls.


Wanted to add a PS.  When we got back to the hotel that night we turned on the live streaming of church.  It was such a sweet service of people testifying to God’s love in their lives.  When Bro. Steve started singing "This is my story, this is my song …" Aaron and I just stopped and stared at each other and laughed.  That was the first song we heard when we entered the conference, it was sung throughout the day, and it ended the evening via internet.  That is so cool to me!  I also wanted to add something that meant so much to me the Sunday before last.  Bro. Steve said that faith is nothing more than trusting that God is able, and powerful to keep the promises He has made.  I thought that was just beautiful because I’ve always thought faith was about me and how much I lacked it.  But honestly, it is so comforting to know that my ultimate salvation is not in my hands, but the one that proved His trustworthiness when He sent His Son to die for me.  The moment I knew I was supposed to marry Aaron was when he demonstrated to me that I could trust him because he chose what was right over what was comfortable to him.  He showed me how unselfish he was, even at 19 years old, and I knew he was trustworthy.  And the Lord has proven how unselfish He is by creating and carrying out this amazing rescue story.

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I’m trying to get back in the habit of blogging without it having to be such a production.  Facebook status updates are usually sufficient to get across what I’m feeling on a particular day, and I’m not so sure that’s a good thing.  When a few lines spat out on a status is preferable to the writing out a blog, I may have commitment issues.    Anyway, this has been rolling around in my head for a while. 
Aaron bought me "The Prayer of Jabez for Women" a few years ago.  I remember having heard about it, kind of like a fad.  It seemed this prayer was being used to invoke God’s blessing on people’s business, wombs, and whatever else they needed a good-luck charm for.  And so it kind of turned me off.  But I’m glad I took the time to actually read the book because I did feel enlightened on one of God’s principles regarding prayer.  I like the text best in the NKJV –
"Now Jabez was more honorable than his brothers, and his mother called his name Jabez, saying, “Because I bore him in pain.” And Jabez called on the God of Israel saying, “Oh, that You would bless me indeed, and enlarge my territory, that Your hand would be with me, and that You would keep me from evil, that I may not cause pain!” So God granted him what he requested."  I Chronicles 4:9-10
Prayer is something I continue to struggle with because I don’t entirely understand my influence on God’s actions.  I see Him as sovereign, and pretty much capable of doing His will whether or not I request Him to.  Isn’t it just common sense that God is going to do His will?  Who else’s will is He going to carry out?  But I can see that prayer is my invitation to the Lord to work in my life.  That’s one thing about Him, He will not force Himself where He isn’t wanted.  So the fact that God grants the request of Jabez is very interesting to me.  My question is why?  Why did God feel moved to enlarge his territory, bless him and keep him from evil?  I think the key is the next line, "that I may not cause pain!"  The name "Jabez" literally means "He Will Cause Pain."  What an identity.  That’s like your mom naming you Hurt or Wound or something like that.  Jabez knew this and he cried out for the Lord to not allow him to cause pain to those around him.  He wasn’t asking for God’s blessing to gratify himself, or even to be able to give more generously.  I think Jabez was being proactive by asking for God’s blessing so that he wouldn’t be a burden to anyone. 
I think these thoughts have been at the front of my mind because of the call on my life as a disciple of Christ to be a blessing to the world around me.  I think of Jesus saying in John 3:17 "For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved."  When I’ve been around people who are separated from God, it is usually pretty obvious they don’t need my condemnation to feel the weight of their sin.  The fruit of constantly living for your self and your gratification is so painfully empty.  So no, my goal and aim in life is not to raise up a standard of holiness to judge the world.   I KNOW God is quite capable of that without my help.  If anything, I would endeavor to be a light in darkness, or a lifting of someones’ burden; and I would be very content if another person’s journey was a little lighter for having known me.  I’m not saying this is my testimony so far, but it is my aim.
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He told me everything I ever did …

I feel the need to explain my attachment to Donald Miller in a way that doesn’t make my husband nervous.   
I’ve been thinking a lot about the woman at the well and the rich young ruler.  These stories are intriguing to me because they aren’t just parables used to illustrate a principle of truth, but they were real people with real problems whose encounters with Jesus demonstrated the reality of truth.  To me, they are the same story with different endings, a total choose-your-own adventure.  With the woman at the well, Jesus basically calls her a slut (five husbands and living with the sixth man), and a few verses later she’s full of joy and running to her people to tell them the Messiah has arrived.  How did she get from point A to point B?  It’s almost funny if you think about it because most people would be insulted, humiliated and wanting to forget the whole incident as fast as they could.  But this woman let the truth burn right through her situation and refine it and produce something so valuable in her at the moment AND give her hope for her future.  Jesus put His finger right on the one thing she was using to cope in her life – warped versions of intimacy – to expose to her just how broken and needy she was, then gave her something better in Himself.  At one point she says, "He told me everything I ever did!"  Really, I thought He was just pointing out you’ve slept with a lot of guys?  But He isn’t condemning her, He’s offering a mirror to show her that she’s been using sexual relationships to give herself an identity, make herself feel valuable and that her life means something.  Jesus tells her she doesn’t have to live like that anymore, that He will quench the thirst of her soul that longs for meaning and self-worth.  I’ve noticed that people today are very talented at pointing out other people’s faults.  It’s very satisfying to judge other people and diagnose everything wrong with them, tell them where they are lacking.  But it seems Jesus never did that without purpose.  Any light He shed on others was to expose a lie they’d been telling themselves and more importantly, offer a more satisfying way.
On the other hand, the rich young ruler seemed to have everything, especially a clean record.  But he was longing too, just like the woman, or he wouldn’t have approached Jesus in the first place.  So Jesus did what He does so well.  He put His finger right on the thing the young man was using to cope in this life – his money – and asked him to surrender it.  I think it was too much to ask because, come on, the section in the scriptures even has the title "The Rich Young Ruler" so I’m thinking that’s how the guy was known, it was his identity.  If he didn’t have his money, he didn’t have anything.  The guy walks away full of sorrow because he isn’t willing to let go of his wealthy identity.  He sees the choice Jesus offers and chooses the security of his money, his reputation and a standard of worth that is easily recognized.  He chose his own renown instead of being associated with Jesus and His reputation.  But the man walked away with his head hung low because he must know deep in his bones that he is spiritually going to keep on eating ashes instead of bread.  Sure he had all the money to feed his body, but not enough to satisfy the longing of his soul.
Back to Donald Miller.  His book "Searching For God Knows What" was my moment at the well, though not for the same reasons.  It revealed so much about my heart and how desperately I longed for an identity, that I can mark that particular book as providing tremendous light on my heart.  It showed me that everything I do to achieve other people’s approval is just a desperate attempt to have value in this life.  The mentality that I have to justify myself and be right on any number of subjects – child rearing, education, clothing, music, politics, etc. – is not what gives me worth or makes my life meaningful.  It showed how fruitless the pursuit of winning man’s favor is because it always leaves you empty.  But like Jesus, it didn’t just point out what was wrong with me.  The book portrayed God and Jesus as the masterminds of a genius plan to fill my all longings.  And it showed primarily that the fulfillment of my longings are in relationships.  And not just earthly relationships with my husband, children, friends and family; I believe He created those beautiful things for us as a reflection of all the fulfillment in relationship with Himself.  My primary identity is defined in terms of relationship to the Lord – Daughter, Sister, Betrothed, and praise God, nothing anyone can say about me has any power over that identity!  Only my choice to continue in relationship with Jesus, or to turn back to some impostor to try and cope in this life.   
Here’s a few quotes from the book that sum up what exploded in my head and spirit:
"I was very concerned with getting other people to say I was good or valuable or important because the thing that was supposed to make me feel this way was gone.  … I realized Christian spirituality fit my soul like a key.  It was quite beautiful, to be honest with you. … The God of the Bible seemed to be brokenhearted over the separation in our relationship and downright obsessed with mending the tear.  …. What if what we really want in life is relational?"
I know it may seem strange that I point to a book I read in my early thirties as something I say transformed my perspective more than anything.  I’m probably just being dramatic.    Of course I’ve heard these ideas presented since I was a child.  One of my earliest memories is being 4 years old and my mom telling me I was a Princess (identity) because I was a Child of the King (relationship).  So when I say this was a giant "Aha!" moment I do not mean to shed negative light on anything prior to this.  I think the book just crystallized so many of the ideas and images I had floating around in my mind.  It showed me how much fear I had operated in, mostly that God would be angry with me and not let me "in".  Maybe I was just ripe for detox from that mentality and that’s why it had such an impact.
I just love God’s truth because it makes me feel so loved and settled and at home.  Not at home in my sin, but a confidence that I am loved and valuable because He says I am.  It’s something I can rest in, instead of constantly feeling threatened that I’ll be found unworthy by a jury of my peers.  And it comes down to what I’m spiritually eating and drinking, and how I hungry I am for Him ~ Proverbs 27:7 "He who is full loathes honey, but to the hungry even what is bitter tastes sweet."  I don’t want to be so full of false bread that I have no appetite for the Word of God, or so full of myself that I no longer thirst for His Spirit.  Maybe the difference between the woman at the well and the rich young ruler was that in this life, she was much needier of a Savior than he was.
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