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Monthly Archives: September 2012

One New Thing

For the past few weeks, I’ve done One New Thing. It wasn’t something I planned to do. There was not a blog somewhere challenging me to do it. I didn’t hear it in a sermon, or read it in an article. It just happened. In May I realized I needed to take my health into my hands and make big changes. I started seeing a new doctor. My eating habits changed. The doc administered new tests. Prescriptions piled up – some from the pharmacy, but most from the health food store. (Yes, my doctor wrote on her prescription pad vitamins to take! She wanted me to take it seriously.) I found out I had allergies I didn’t even realize COULD be allergies. Starting everything at once was overwhelming. So I looked at that big ole elephant name “Health” sitting there and decided to eat him one bite at a time. (No, I didn’t actually consume an elephant – I’m probably allergic to elephant meat. Besides, that’s just gross!)

Just about every week I have a realization of what ELSE I can do to get healthier. After thinking about it for a bit, on Monday I’d claim One New Thing. Here are a few of my One New Things:

  • Reduce coffee consumption from over 3 cups a day to only one (Hello Headaches).
  • Stop drinking any alcohol (Just being honest – don’t judge! It was actually the easiest one).
  • Get all food allergies out of my diet (Sadly, it’s quite a long list).
  • Take regular milk out of the family diet (the only thing I’ve imposed on others).
  • Yeast-free / sugar-free diet (If you’re taking note, that left me eating only veggies, beef, fish, and of course, the hypothetical elephant).
  • Record ALL foods I do eat to calorie check as well as make sure I’m getting enough good stuff (Thanks Fitness Pal!).
  • Exercise (BIG FAIL).

Which brings me to today’s One New Thing.

I will start my day with The Word.

It’s something I try to do, I sometimes do, I want to do…
But I forget to do.

So today, I’m starting the most important One New Thing. Before I even get out of bed, I’m going to use my little handy-dandy book light and pick up a devo book, and read. Then I’ll get up and stumble to the kitchen for my treasured one cup of coffee. As for now, I don’t trust myself to pray in bed. I’ll pray with my coffee. And of course it will start with, Thank you God, for coffee.

Now here’s my challenge to YOU:

Do just One New Thing.

What’s the Elephant YOU need to eat?

Sometimes the bridges we forget most often are the ones within us.

Please join me every week as I share with you some of my One New Things in a new section on my blog – Getting Healthy. Stop by and leave a comment telling me your One New Thing!

The Verse the Church Needs Right Now

The verse the Church NEEDS right now.

Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others. – Philippians 2: 1-4

Maybe I should change that to…

The verse I NEED right now

and it starts at home.

It’s easy when children are young. As they get older, learn to talk (back), and start to walk (away), it gets harder to keep putting them above myself. On days I don’t feel quite so good, it’s even more difficult. In reading verse four for the who-knows-how-many thousandth time, I realized the key.

Put the verse back in the Bible and read the whole passage.

In order for me to put others above myself, I need to unite with Christ,  find comfort in His love, share with the Spirit, and become complete in joy. THEN I can follow the rest of the verse.

Knowing myself, I often spend so much energy putting others first to the point of  this verse becoming a diving board into the pool of guilt if I do something for myself. But that is not what the verse says. The last part is often left off – each of you to the interests of others.

Is this a picture of your family? If you have a teen, probably not. Instead of coming down hard (talking to myself here), give them tools on how to recognize someone else’s interests and how to humbly put others first. Remember, it all starts with verse one.

What about your church? Each of you. That means all of the like-minded Christ followers. Are you looking to the interests of others? I can hear you asking, “Does that mean I need to serve in the church?” Well, since you asked – Bingo!!! Let me just add that if you do find comfort in His love, share with the Spirit, and are complete with joy, how could you NOT serve? Serving will become an outflowing of abundance.

Building Bridges means we all pick up tools to help on each other’s bridges with humbleness and respect.

A Gate in the Fence

Fences and gates have a specific purpose. They keep unwanted people out of your yard while keeping people safe inside a confined area. Or, as dictionary.com says:

Gate

  1. a movable barrier, usually on hinges, closing an opening in a fence, wall, or other enclosure.
  2. an opening permitting passage through an enclosure.
 Fence
  1. a barrier enclosing or bordering a field, yard, etc., usually made of posts and wire or wood, used to prevent entrance, to confine, or to mark a boundary.
  2. Informal a person who receives and disposes of stolen goods.

In my “mommy mind” a fence has this definition:

  1. A necessary enclosure to keep bad guys out.
  2. An even more necessary enclosure to keep my kids from running down the street in PJ’s or worse.
  3. A tool to keep the dog in the yard so I don’t have to walk him.
  4. Informal??? Call it what it is – Thief or accomplice of one.

Ok, for those of you who know me, meaning, you’ve been over to my house and really know me, you’ll know I’m just kidding. I don’t walk the dog – my husband and kids do.  Not to mention, my kids play in our front yard ALL the time in PJs. And we don’t have a fence. But if we did, that’s what my reasoning would be. One more thing… wouldn’t it be interesting to have REAL definitions in the dictionary? Most of our neighbors do have a fence, so we are semi-surrounded by that wonderful barrier. Just as wonderful as it can be, it is still a barrier. So what happens when our kids want to play with our backdoor neighbors? BEFORE, there were a few choices. They could

  • A. walk down our street, along an somewhat busy street then up the neighbor’s street
  • B. climb a ladder into the backyard of different backdoor neighbors into a yard where huge Dobermans and German shepherds lived with just as big mounds of…ahem… or
  • C. cut through an elderly lady’s yard without her knowing and showing complete lack of respect and integrity since we gave our word we wouldn’t do that.

All of the choices were not ideal, until Hurricane Ike blew through (remember?) and provided an unexpected solution. Actually, it blew down the fence. Well, not enough to destroy it, but enough to create an awkward, uneven, unstable barrier. There were lots of commands “Don’t touch the fence!” But it stayed for awhile longer. Until the day our neighbor’s repaired it. When they did, they built a gate. A gate in the fence to connect our families. It wasn’t just a let’s save the kids from having to walk through a mine field or down a busy street type of gesture. It was an invitation. An invitation that said, “We are always just a few feet away. You are welcome to join us in this journey of life.”

Now before you picture us having BBQ’s and swim parties every week, we don’t. In fact the gate is used far too infrequently. But it’s there. It has come in handy when we needed something done in our house while gone on a vacation. It has been used to share books. Our family has provided meals during sickness. Broken dryer? Go through the gate.  The gate even provided a 6 A.M. wake up call for walking buddies to gather strength – physically, mentally, and spiritually.

A few weeks ago, we opened the gate for our families to share a meal. After dinner, the conversation wasn’t “How about them cowboys?” Ok… so it was, but then AFTER that, they looked into our eyes and said, “So what’s really going on? How are you doing – REALLY?” That is friendship. Well, I have quite a few friends who wouldn’t ask such a question, so it’s more than friendship. It is Jesus in community. Going from “We are neighbors; we are here” to “We are living as neighbors, through this journey of life, in whatever way we can.” That is living life together – stepping through the gate in the fence.

Building bridges or gates in fences will do no good unless you walk across or through to connect.

My challenge to you today: Build a bridge or gate in the fence and take the first step to live life together with another family.

The Day Hurricane Ike Blew Peace My Way

Today is the anniversary of Hurricane Ike. It is also the anniversary of a life changing day for me. It is what I like to think of as my most peaceful day and the day that changed my parenting. Remember the day I (almost) died? Well, this is the continuation of that story.

Home from the hospital for only three days, we were glued to the TV. Reports of a Hurricane were on every channel. My sister came in to help take care of all of us while I was settling in at home. She stayed only 24 hours before leaving because of the storm. She did leave for us some of her famous crawfish cassaroles in the freezer! What a blessing! While many Houstonians left town, that was not an option for us. We didn’t want to be too far from the hospital and I couldn’t travel. After being in the hospital so much, I had no desire to leave home!

The workers at the clinic where I learned how to take care of my IV and drain gave me enough meds to last for weeks, since they didn’t know what the weather would hold. They also gave me a strict warning: Keep the medication COLD. If there is any way to keep your fridge working, do it. If not, you will need to let emergency workers know you NEED ice for medical reasons.

We didn’t have far to look to find an answer. Our neighbor had passed away recently and had a powerful generator. We asked the caretaker of the house if we could borrow it. They graciously allowed us to. Another neighbor offered to keep it powered and find gas daily in exchange for some of the power. That was a tremendous blessing. While most people powered a fan, lights, radio, or TV, we powered our fridge.

The day the storm was going to come through, we met our back door neighbor. He invited us over for a prayer meeting. The idea of that blew me away. At this point, I still wore only gowns, not real clothes. Looking at my coffee cup print PJ’s and knowing I couldn’t walk that far, even if it was just to the other side of the fence that separated us, I knew I couldn’t attend the meeting. I committed to pray all evening for safety and salvation. I had a feeling some would come to know the Lord during this storm. Little did I know…

I remember sitting, praying, and looking our big picture window. The news of possible doom and destruction floated all around us. Looking outside, everything was calm. There was a beautiful green cast to the air. I marvelled at it all. I did not remember a time of ever feeling such peaceful contentment. In the midst of the storm to come and the storm I recently emerged from (and in some ways was still in the midst of) the biggness of God and the value of life overwhelemed me in a cloud of peacefulness. I worshiped and prayed.

After dinner that night, my daughter came up to me and said, “Mom, you just almost died and now the storm is coming and people might die. What will happen if I die?” In my state of calmlness, I spoke peace over her. I assured her that God takes care of us and can carry us through this. If we were to be called home to Him, it would be only because it is in His plan. I then began to share with her the story of salvation. It is a familiar story in our house, and one she could have told me about. While it was familiar to her, it was not yet HER story. That night, I was able to pray with her as she asked Jesus to come into her life. Now the salvation story was hers. (If this story is not yet YOURS, please skip over to this page right now to read how it can be yours!)

I have trouble putting into words what I felt that night. I don’t think there is a word adequate enough. Peaceful? Gratitude? Thankfulness? They are not deep enough. The Lord gave me a second chance at life. Then He blessed me with the gift of leading my child to Him. From that moment on, my parenting changed forever. We are not promised tomorrow. I decided to parent everyday with that thought in mind. What do I want my children to learn? How do I want my children to think of me? I went from a hurried, yelling, frustrated mom into a (trying to be) patient, calmer mom that teaches to the heart with God’s Word above all.

Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.                  Ephesians 6:4

I think back on those weeks without power. God gave us many miracles. My parents had power within days of the hurricane. They had actually been out of the country. As soon as they arrived to the states, they came over. When their power was restored, they drove us to their house, then took our children out of town, to my nephew’s wedding. I felt sad that I couldn’t make it, but so grateful for my family and all of those who helped us during this time. (My mother-in-law spent weeks and weeks in our house taking care of the kids during the hospital stays. Out of town sisters came in to help, one left her family – and homeschooling her children – to stay for a week and help my kids adjust to school.) The day my parents returned home from the wedding with the kids, our power came back on! Only a few streets in our neighborhood had power. I believe without a doubt, our street had power because of that prayer meeting at our neighbor’s house. Some think I’m crazy, I think it was yet another miracle in the long line of miracles He did during the many storms Hurricane Ike symbolized in my life.

The bridges that are built in the midst of a storm bring life changing stories of survival and hope.

There was another blessing Hurricane Ike blew in as it blew away fences and trees. I’ll share that story next week!

Heroes

Today is a day to think about heroes.

I heard a stat on the radio that over 800 first responders have died since 9 – 11. Many are due to lung disorders and cancer. As I researched this, the numbers appear to be higher, closer to 1,000, as the number of 800 is actually from 2010.

I can’t help thinking – the tragedy of that day will never end.

I also wonder if this knowledge will keep people from responding in the future.

No, I don’t think so.

Those who rush head-long into dangerous situations are heroes. Hero’s do not let things like stats keep them from saving lives.

Am I a first responder? Do I step into a dangerous situation to lend a hand? No. I am not a hero to the world. But I am to my kids and my husband. I am their first responder. Maybe someday I will save the world. Right now, it’s just my family. But to me, they ARE the world.

A hero doesn’t just build bridges, hero’s save them.

*Remember the post about one of my hero’s? If you don’t remember, you can read about her here. There is an update that I haven’t yet posted, but if you follow me on facebook, you’ve heard about it. Instead of my words telling you about it, you can hear it in her words in the documentary Blind Judoka.*

Comfortable in Uncomfortable Skin

I want my kids to be comfortable in their skin. You know, comfortable with who they are AND comfortable BEing who they are.
Last week I shared with you my daughter’s camp experience my experience of my daughter’s camp experience. Being around other kids who share the same life struggles she does taught her a lesson I never will be able to. It’s a lesson I can’t really even put into words. The lesson of living life with someone who struggles with the same thing you do – seeing them for who they are and loving them, then turning that love on yourself and loving yourself with the same things you see in them. Whew! Even that explanation doesn’t begin to explain it. I told you I would follow that blog post with an explanation of her skin condition. So here it is –

My daughter has a condition called ichthyosis vulgaris. There are lots and lots of different disorders in the ichthyosis family. You can read about it here. FIRST (the logo above is theirs) is the only national nonprofit foundation in the United States dedicated to helping those affected by ichthyosis.
My daughter has a very, very mild form. In fact, I’ve only seen it fully show itself about five times and we were able to restore her skin that same day. We are very, very fortunate. As long as we follow the skin routine, she’s fine.

Not really.

She struggles that she has another something different (read this post to find out what that means). Her skin is not soft and smooth. It is painful. The lotion sometimes burns. The other lotion (the cheaper, easy to find lotion) doesn’t smell pleasant. Jeans are uncomfortable. I could go on and on with what she doesn’t like.

Even though her condition is manageable, she struggles with it.

She even asks God “WHY?”

(She has never done that with her birthmark.)

Ever since camp, she happily puts on her lotion without complaint. Thank you, Camp Dermadillo!!!

As her mom, I am so thankful. So thankful. So thankful!!!! That it is not a serious condition. My heart goes out to all of the friends I have met along the way who struggle with their ichthyosis conditions. She doesn’t see it that way yet – the whole gratitude thing. As long as I keep modeling it, she will get there. Right now, she thinks it’s a pretty big deal in her life. I feel that and I honor it. It is a big deal to her and it’s up to me to keep her comfortable in her uncomfortableness. Or at least do my best.

One thing that is the same for all of us, no matter what our something different or our level of disorder, we all want to know there is someone else. With the internet as wide reaching as it is today, there are groups out there for so many different issues. If YOU have a something different, find a group that gives you information and support you through your journey.

Building Bridges with others is recognizing we ALL have something different and finding how to support each other in our differences.

In another one of my parenting mistakes, I learned a powerful lesson. My daughter HATED to wear jeans. I made her anyway. She wanted to wear PJ pants to school and I just wouldn’t allow it and would force (by literally putting them on her myself) her to wear jeans. Read between the lines here and figure out that it must have been laundry day or the middle of winter when skirts weren’t appropriate and jeans were the only option besides PJ bottoms. So, the jeans went on. Then I started researching her skin disorder. Someone along the way mentioned jeans hurting. Someone else thought jeans eased their skin issues. Either way, I realized, if my daughter isn’t comfortable in jeans, don’t make her wear them. It’s that easy. I can help her level of comfort. If I’m ok with it, she’ll be ok with it. If I force her to fit a certain mold, the more uncomfortable she will be. So now, if you see her walking around town in PJ’s, you’ll know why.

Building Bridges is about being comfortable in your skin even if it’s uncomfortable and letting others be comfortable in their uncomfortable skin too.

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