Family

Family

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Praise & Perspective

1 John 5:14-15 "And this is the confidence that we have toward Him, that if we ask anything according to His will He hears us. And if we know that He hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests that we have asked of Him."

Today we had an early morning MRI at Northwestern. After the MRI, we had about an hour before the appointment with the oncologist. Wayne and I decided to take a walk along Lake Michigan. It was a beautiful day! It was wonderful to be alone and talk. We talked about God, life, the girls, and changes in our lives. If you have kids, you know how precious this time is as a couple to just catch up and share openly without having to worry about little "ears" hearing your conversation. 




After our brief walk, we headed back to Northwestern for Wayne's oncology appointment. During the appointment, the doctor told us that Wayne's MRI looked the same as last month. He said there is a spot that was there last time that appears to be from radiation, but that everything is stable. He assured Wayne that they are watching everything closely. Praise the Lord for another clear scan!! Two months ago they told us the scan was champagne worthy, so I'm assuming today is good of news too!!

Sometimes though when you receive good news, you later receive bad news that puts life in perspective. Wayne received a call from a client from work. She asked him to be pray for a little boy named Jonah who goes to her church. Jonah is four years old, the same age as our little Micaela. Jonah's parents lives got turned upside down about a week ago. They are now part of the nightmare club called "it's a brain tumor". Jonah has been diagnosed with some form of aggressive pediatric brain cancer that is in his lower brain, brain stem, and spine. They did emergency surgery at Lurie Children's Hospital right after they discovered the tumors. Currently, this little boy is in a coma. I am asking all of you to go before God's throne with me and lift not only Jonah up to Him, but also his family. I can't imagine seeing your little child go through brain surgery and then see their little body laying in a huge hospital bed with all the tubes and machines running. Four years old...too young to be going through this. Four years old...he probably hasn't learned how to ride a bike, read, etc. 

Perspective...this is a great reminder that life is short and that there is no guarantee for any of us. I doubt Jonah's family thought sitting in camp a week ago that they were about to enter this nightmare. When Wayne left for work on February 11th, none of us expected the wild and crazy journey that we were about to start. Life is short...every moment we live should be for God's glory. We were created for a purpose. Let's live our lives fulfilling that purpose!!

Ephesians 2:10 "For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them."

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Scanxiety

Philippians 4:4-7 "Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus."

Tomorrow morning at 5:00am, we will be heading downtown to Northwestern for Wayne's bimonthly MRI. On the GBM Facebook page I follow, many people have said the days leading up to their MRI cause them scanxiety. I can honestly understand where they are coming from when they make this statement. The unknown future can be daunting. But, as Corrie ten Boom once said, "Never be afraid to trust an unknown future to a known God." Thankfully, we can rest in knowing that our future is ultimately in God's hands. His peace truly passes all understand as Philippians 4:7 states.  

We would appreciate prayers as we head into tomorrow morning. Pray that God's peace carries us through tomorrow and that we leave our future in God's hands where it belongs.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Catching Up on Life

Psalm 25:4-5 "Make me to know Your ways, O Lord;
    teach me Your paths.
Lead me in Your truth and teach me,
    for You are the God of my salvation;
    for You I wait all the day long.


Wayne's prayer book came in the mail a few days ago. It turned out amazing. Thank you to everyone who participated in sending pictures!! The book meant a lot to Wayne.


Here's a peak inside the book. YOU made this project possible...thank you!!

Wednesday: 7/22/15

On Wednesday, we met up with some friends at the park and had a picnic lunch. It was such a blessing to spend time in fellowship! My friend Maria also helped explain some of the homeschool books I received in the mail. We are doing something a little different this year (I'll post about that another day), and I was slightly overwhelmed by the material. Maria helped explain things to me and I walked away encouraged and excited about this school year.


Micaela, Olivia, & Joella



Sophia & Miranda


Giana & Naomi (twins born in two different families)


Grace, Abigail, and Nicole


The girls coloring at Carmax as we did paperwork for our "new" van.


Waiting patiently to get our new car. Wayne has been looking for a few months on Carmax for a used Sienna (8 passenger). The other night he spotted a new listing of a van in Washington state (note: we only look for used cars from the West coast where they don't use salt on the road). He was able to get us a 2007 Sienna with only 16,500 miles on it!


Here is our "new" van. It looks and drives amazing. 

Thursday: 7/23/2015

Thursday we met up with some friends at the park. My friend Rachel, who recently moved to Colorado, was in town visiting. It was fun catching up with everyone.


Rachel, Rebecca, Denita, and Jaclyn


Naomi and Eve


The kids all playing together


Naomi and Eve


Watch out...Joella is driving


Paulie and Micaela swinging together


Apparently my children did not inherit my fear of heights

Friday: 7/24/2015

I recently won tickets on K-Love for a concert downtown called "Outcry". Grace and I had fun spending time together. The worship music was amazing-especially Kari Jobe and the Passion band. 


Grace enjoying herself


We had decent tickets...I'm glad we weren't any closer to the speakers. It was loud enough where we were and I didn't bring ear plugs for Grace.


A selfie as we ate dinner


Beautiful day downtown



Beautiful sunset and the skyline during the show


The skyline walking back to our car

I'm thankful for the evening alone with Grace and for the chance to spend time worshiping God. I love it when I can worship God and get my eyes fixed back where they belong. God knew what I needed when He allowed me to win those tickets to the concert. The best part of the night was when Grace, who loves singing and writing songs, leaned over and said, "Mama, I realized tonight that I'm not too young to get serious with the Lord and worship Him with all my heart!" Yes, sweet girl...that is the best thing you can do with your life!

Psalm 98:4 "Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth; break forth into joyous song and sing praises!

Psalm 95:1-7 "Oh come, let us sing to the Lord;
    let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation!
Let us come into His presence with thanksgiving;
    let us make a joyful noise to Him with songs of praise!
For the Lord is a great God,
    and a great King above all gods.
In His hand are the depths of the earth;
    the heights of the mountains are His also.
The sea is His, for He made it,
    and His hands formed the dry land.
Oh come, let us worship and bow down;
    let us kneel before the Lord, our Maker!
For He is our God,
    and we are the people of His pasture,
    and the sheep of His hand."
































Monday, July 27, 2015

Is God Enough?

Philippians 3:7-14 "But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For His sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith— that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and may share His sufferings, becoming like Him in His death, that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead. Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me His own. Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus."

Is God enough? That is a question that I have been wrestling with for months. I want to honestly say that God is enough and yet, if I'm truly honest, my life doesn't reflect that He is enough. I'm always adding on to Him. I'm sure we can all put something in this blank. I want God plus_____. For me, my big addition is family, especially Wayne. The add-ons in our lives are things outside of God that we find pleasure, safety, and peace. I've been doing a Bible Study on the book of Hosea. One of the questions asked last week that struck a chord with me was this: "Is my sense of security and identity in God alone, or do I find my identity and sense of security in things from God-like my talents, success, kids, appearance, and blessings? How secure would I feel if I lost those things? Who would I be if I didn't have those things to identify me?"

I told my Bible Study class that this is something that I've been struggling with for a few months. If I'm completely honest, if Wayne were to die, I would feel lost because I have put too much "stock" in him. Too many times I have placed Him first before God. A few months ago I asked God to remove anything in my life that took my focus off of Him. Not long after that prayer, we discovered Wayne had brain cancer. I don't want anyone to misunderstand me when I say this and think that I believe God gave Wayne cancer. It don't believe God gave Wayne cancer, but I think that He has allowed Wayne's cancer to answer my prayer. When you are faced with the reality of possibly losing someone dear to you, you start to look at your life differently. I told God that I didn't want any "idols" in my life. God is always faithful to answer our prayers and He has been revealing things in my life that were idols. I don't have any idols as described in the Old Testament...I don't have any wooden or metal statues laying around my house. The idols I struggle with are less "obvious" then a huge golden calf in my living room. I struggle with idols of placing my family before God, putting pleasure before God (watching tv or reading fiction instead of reading God's Word or prayer), putting more emphasis on my outer appearance then my inward beauty (spending more time exercising/dieting then time in God's Word), etc. Wayne's cancer has forced me to take a hard look at my life and see areas that I needed to surrender to God...including Wayne. God has been so patient with me as I work through letting go of things that I've placed in His place. It is such a struggle to let go, but God is such a patient and loving God! I am still trying to find the correct balance of relying on God, but also having a healthy trust and confidence in my spouse. It seems like each time I think I have finally found that right balance, God allows something else in my life that throws me off balance. In those moments, all I can do is cling to God and who He is. In those hard moments God shows me more of who He is and how much I can trust Him and rely on Him. I am a continual work in progress and I'm thankful for a merciful God!!

The lesson of surrender, fully giving oneself to God is a daily and moment by moment process. The beauty of refining is that God is slowly transforming us. Transformation isn't always an easy process, but I know the end result will be amazing. When ever I think of transformation, I think of caterpillars transforming into a butterfly. This is probably due to the fact that my kids are obsessed with butterflies/moths right now, especially Naomi. It is fascinating to watch a caterpillar cocoon itself. After a few days, you start to see the cocoon rock and shake as the butterfly tries to work itself out of the cocoon. If you tried to help the butterfly out of its cocoon before it is ready, you will kill the butterfly. The life of the butterfly comes from struggling through the transformation process as it breaks out of the cocoon. In the same way, God allows things in our lives to transform us. Sometimes those things may cause pain or may stretch us in uncomfortable ways, but God sees the bigger picture of what He is transforming us into...images of His Son. 

So back to my question at the beginning...Is God Enough? The answer is that not only is He enough, He has to be enough. My job is to daily surrender everything to God and fully trust Him and His perfect plan for my life. Through the power of the Holy Spirit working in my life, I have committed to making Him my sole source of security, peace, and comfort. God is enough!!


www.thebutterflysite.com

The song that has been on my heart all day is "At the Cross". 


There's a place where mercy reigns and never dies,
There's a place where streams of grace flow deep and wide.
Where all the love I've ever found,
Comes like a flood,
Comes flowing down.

[Chorus:]
At the cross
At the cross
I surrender my life.
I'm in awe of You
I'm in awe of You
Where Your love ran red
and my sin washed white.
I owe all to You
I owe all to You Jesus.

There's a place where sin and shame are powerless.
Where my heart has peace with God and forgiveness.
Where all the love I've ever found.
Comes like a flood,
Comes flowing down.

[Chorus]

Here my hope is found
Here on holy ground
Here I bow down
Here arms open wide
Here You save my life
Here I bow down

Here I bow down


Please be praying for us. Thursday is Wayne's next MRI at Northwestern. We meet with his oncologist after his MRI to discuss the results and his next chemo treatment. God is enough...God is enough!


Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Life is Precious

Psalm 139:13-16 "For You formed my inward parts; You knitted me together in my mother's womb. I praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well. My frame was not hidden from You, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in Your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them."

Jeremiah 1:4, "The word of the Lord came to me, saying, 'Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations.'" 

Galatians 1:15, "But when God, who set me apart from birth and called me by His grace. . . ."

Deuteronomy 30:15-20, "See, I set before you today life and prosperity, death and destruction. For I command you today to love the Lord your God, to walk in His ways, and to keep His commands, decrees and laws; then you will live and increase , and the Lord your God will bless you in the land your are entering to possess. . . .This day I call heaven and earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live and that you may love the Lord your God, listen to His voice and hold fast to Him. For the Lord is your life..."

Life is precious. When you or a loved one faces a terminal illness, you realize just how precious life is here on earth. When we see death it breaks our heart. Recently, five precious lives were taken in Chattanooga by a terrorist. We all mourn with the families who lost loved ones in this tragic event. Lives that are just beginning are taken from earth. A young girl in Michigan, just five years old, is on her death bed from inoperable brain cancer. I look at my little girls and I can't imagine the heart ache those parents are facing. Another example is Emily Beazley, a local girl who passed away at the age of 12 from a four year battle with cancer. She was Abigail's age. Again, I can't imagine what her parents are experiencing. Death is horrible and so we celebrate life.


Hearing news like the ones above make me enjoy every hug from my girls. Seeing them laugh and play with friends brings joy to my heart. 

Life is precious...we also celebrate long life. We recently visited a sweet friend in Wheaton who was a missionary in Japan for 45 years. Marion Hovey is one of the most amazing women I've ever met. She is 93 years old! She broke her wrist last week so we wanted to go visit her and see how she is doing. Sophia helped me make Chichidango (a form of mochi-a dessert from Japan) for Ms. Hovey. It was wonderful, as always, to see Marion and catch up. 93 years...wow! There is a life worth celebrating!! Life is precious..we celebrate the elderly.


Marion Hovey


Marion Hovey and the girls


Tea party/lunch with Ms. Hovey

Life is precious...Wayne is celebrating five months since his diagnosis of brain cancer. Every day is special because life is precious. Below is a picture of Wayne and his good friend Troy. We celebrate life because it is a gift and is precious. All of us should celebrate every day that God gives us breath here on earth. We should live our lives to the fullest for God since none of us are guaranteed tomorrow.


Life is precious...or is life a choice? We celebrate life in all the above examples - young lives, mourning young lives being taken from cancer, longevity of life in the elderly, adults with cancer, and lives in general. But what about this life?



We redefine this life to be a choice. I have a friend who works in a neonatal unit where they fight for young babies born early. Down the hall in the same hospital, the same gestation baby (or fetus they are called) is aborted. The only difference between the baby being fought for in one unit and the "fetus" being aborted in the other unit is being wanted. One child is desired and wanted by the parents, the other is considered a burden and is unwanted. Is this how we want to define life? Unless you live under a rock, I am sure you have seen the recent video clips of Planned Parenthood executives talking about abortions. I don't want to start an argument, I just want to get us to think beyond "left" vs "right" arguments. If the "fetus" is life enough to provide life to others, then it is a life and we should fight for these precious little ones. Watching the clips made me sick to my stomach...and anyone who values life should be sick. We can't say we support life and in another breath say taking a life because it is an inconvenience or is unwanted. Yes, I know some of you may argue...but what about all the women who are raped or their lives are in danger? I'd ask you to show me what percentage of abortions are due to those two extreme examples? We have bought into society's lies that these precious little lives are just clumps of tissue and a "fetus". May God forgive us for the many lives that have been taken in our country and around the world if we don't stand up and defend these defenseless children. 1.3 million precious lives are aborted in the United States each year. That is around 3,500 a day or 2.5 babies every minute losing their life. Wayne used to say this, "What do you call a botched abortion? A baby."

If we are going to be proponents of life, we need to fight for ALL lives. My mom has always been a great writer, especially of poems. I remember watching her write poems about a sermon we heard in church and being amazed at how poetry just flowed out of her. Ask me to write a poem and you'll get something lame like "Roses are Red". My mom wrote a beautiful poem today about this very issue of life and gave me permission to share it here.


We call her just a fetus
Hidden in the womb,
Our country takes that safety
And turns it to a tomb.
We lie to pregnant women,
And say it is a “choice”
But who will speak for babies
And give their cry a voice?
We say a law decided
And gives us moral ground,
To take that little baby,
And sell her parts around . . .
To labs and other sources
To test, to use ¬– destroy,
They kill the little baby
In order to employ . . . what
Others call a “harvest”
When really it’s just death,
By womb-site execution
Before she takes a breath.
The Nazis were inhuman
In what they did to others,
And now we give ascent to
What is done to babes and mothers.
Oh cry out wicked nation,
Cry out and repent,
Before your time is over
Your blessings are all spent.
Please SEE these little babies,
They’re crushed and torn apart,
Cry out for the children,
And see them with your heart.
And stop this “choice” for women
That’s really genocide,
Of tiny little babies
Who have nowhere to hide.
Oh cry out, cry out people,
For this abomination,
And pray for what’s been done.
By us and by our Nation.
Jannetje Anita Thomas 7/22/15


“Deliver those who are being taken away to death, and those who are staggering to slaughter. Oh hold them back. If you say, “See, we did not know this”, Does He not consider it who weights the hearts? And does He not render to man according to his work? Proverbs 24:11-12

Here are pictures of my beautiful daughters that once were life within my womb. Precious gifts from God that bring my heart joy. May we celebrate and protect life, all life!!


Picking fresh blueberries on our way to Deep River Waterpark









Deep River Waterpark - 7/21/15