Saturday, December 20, 2008

Christmas 08 Letter

This year has flown by with one turning from a tiny baby to a little toddler, a growing girl starting preschool, a husband working hard to provide for his family, two girls growing up fast, a little one who loves her “little mama” role and a wife and mother who is thankful for all of life’s blessings, big and small.

As the snow falls this December night, the most snow we’ve seen in a long time around here, we feel like we have a chance to stop, rest, spend time with each other and reflect on what we’ve learned in these past few months. Here are the most important lessons that come to mind:

1. Our children are growing up fast. Ahzryia ventured on to middle school this year and it has been truly amazing to see her transforming into a responsible young woman. She enjoys singing on the worship team at church and figuring out who she is created to be and what special purpose she is created for. Shariah also has grown incredibly this past year, developing a definite interest in the Spirit through a summer kids’ camp and also growing in her gifts as an athlete. When we watched the Olympics I asked “Do you think you could do that someday?” (win the gold). She shrugged and said “Yeah, I could.” As our children grow so quickly we keep in mind that we don’t have forever to influence their lives as we can now. We choose to look at them through our Father’s eyes and encourage them in their stepping upward.

2. No life is without value. As a mother of five, I feel society's subtle message that says what a person’s life is worth depends on how much they contribute to social security. Yet, I have learned some of the most amazing lessons from listening to the gentle breathing of my sleeping baby. With Brayden being our fifth child and first boy, Bill and I are both more ready to learn to slow down and spend time laughing, cuddling, singing and enjoying the gift that he is. Ruby as well, has taught us to pay attention, spend time and notice the wonderment behind the quiet. Ruby has embraced her role as my little helper. She is so attentive to Brayden’s needs, gives him sweet kisses and tickles, runs to intervene when she feels he may be in danger of falling, feeds him snacks and makes him laugh. Watching her we see that she has a true servant’s heart and she’s a joy and blessing to ours.

3. God is present in our lives today. Emma has had a busy year, starting preschool, turning five, growing in her role as a big sister. She’s got spunk and it’s been a joy to persuade her in the way she should go, treasuring her imagination and ability to lead. She said at dinner one night that she wanted to ask Jesus into her heart. Ahzryia and Shariah led her to do that and prayed over her while I tried my best to keep the tears at bay.

4. Nothing is more important than family. This lesson was learned after going down the “what if” trail one too many times. What if the economy failed? What if we lost our home like so many? What if the world as we know it changed over night? We would have each other. We would have the courage to face anything. Bill and I are so blessed to have five healthy children and a wonderful relationship with each other.

5. God is our Father. He longs for us to allow Him to fill that role as we learn to depend on him for our daily bread as well as jobs to come in for work, gifts for Christmas, health for our family, joy in our relationships and wholeness and abundance for our lives. He’s given us the simple commandment to love one another. As He has loved us, so we must love one another.

May you be filled with hope, encouragement and love this Christmas and New Year.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Unveiling the 08 Wheeler Christmas card...

These pictures were taken by my good friend Kelli. Check out more of her photos at or . Let me tell you, getting five kids to all look good and smiling at the same second takes talent;)

Merry Christmas!

Love, Jewel

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Monday, December 15, 2008

Enough Seat Belts for Everyone

The first vehicle I can remember is a light blue oxidized truck. I’m not sure of the make or model but I am pretty sure the truck is at least twenty years older than I am.

We’re driving on a bumpy dirt road up by our home in the mountains. I gaze out the window at the field of purple clovers as my dad yells, “Jewel, hold the door.” I am four years old and have the responsibility to hold the door closed. My dad would eventually keep the door shut with a rope or a bungee cord but in the meantime it’s all on me.

I am kind of scared. Not scared enough to cry but at four, and living without television, my imagination has developed the ability to form remarkably vivid pictures. I think of a fierce wind swooping up from the valley below; a wind that I can not possibly match in strength. The door is pulled completely from the hinges and I am sucked from the blue truck into a tornado of dandelion dust. The ending to my imagination’s story makes me smile for I land in the soft field of purple clover but not before giving my dad a great scare.

Every hippy family needs a Volkswagen bus right? Ours again is light blue. We don’t have cool curtains or even an eight track but we must have a broken gas gage because we seem to run out most frequently. My mom’s favorite prayer is “Jesus, help us get to the gas station.” We make it and celebrate our answered prayer.

It’s raining, seriously raining and I’m sitting between my two year old brother and my baby sister. We’re with my mom and I can feel her panic as the engine sputters to a fateful stop along a dark and winding highway. Our prayers change to a different tune in an age long before cell phones, not that we would get reception out in the boonies where we live. Suddenly we see the headlights of a car approaching. A man braves the torrents of rain and asks “How can I help?”

We go to the man’s house, kept warm by a glowing wood fire. The man’s wife serves us hot chocolate and they give me a doll and my brother a toy truck. I think this is a great adventure.

When I am five my parents are able to finance their first vehicle. They purchase a brand new cream colored Toyota pickup truck. This is before crew cabs are the norm and all five of us ride around in this new truck together. My parents are proud and I can feel their happiness. My brother and I sit next to each other, me scooted up close to the dash and him back next to my mom who is holding my baby sister.

On longer drives of course my sister is fastened into a car seat and my brother gets to ride on the floor. But the truck is brand new and my parents love it and us kids love it too, even if we are a little squished.

Our gold station wagon has enough seats for all of us, until my baby brother is born that is. We’re moving to the city (going to "see Attle") and the back end is filled with blankets and pillows from our house. My brother and I make a fort and enjoy a cozy ride, making signs and pictures to hold up for drivers. Another adventure for us.

My baby brother is two and my parents sell the station wagon. The couple who buy it try their best to scratch off the Jesus bumper sticker and my parents laugh and roll their eyes when we see it drive by.

My dad and mom decide to buy another Volkswagen, but this time a Vanagon in two shades of blue. The van can fit us all along with all of our friends, as long as we double buckle. Over time part of the floor rusts out, but my dad puts a board down to cover the hole. We love to move the board and throw small objects through the floor, hearing the smack as they hit the pavement underneath and then we watch and whoop and holler to see them scatter across the road behind us.

The hole starts to grow in size and soon it is probably big enough for my little sister to fall through. This van also must have a broken gas gage and we have to stop and add water repeatedly when we take trips longer than half an hour on a summer’s day. My mom fears the engine will blow up and the reality sets real fear in each of us children, who now have television and have seen things “blow up”. That is not a fate we wish to suffer.

I’m old enough now to know that this is not a normal life to live. The van breaks down, not all the way and my mom is able to drive home as long as she stays under seven miles per hour.

I duck down low in the front seat, feeling every other driver on the road staring at me and laughing in their nice cars with automatic windows and no holes in their floors.

Either my parents start to become more financially savvy or they begin to realize that their eleven year old daughter would rather walk two miles to school than be dropped off and yelled to “be careful not to let the door fall off”.

They buy a string of minivans but we continue to have trouble with touchy doors. But we have automatic windows, a/c and tinted windows. Us kids miss making signs for people behind us but we appreciate our own seat belts and seats of real upholstery, rather than braided rug seats or sticky vinyl.

Celebrating an empty nest or rather four kids with drivers licenses my mom and dad buy the second brand new car of their marriage. For my mom’s fifty third birthday she picks out a gold Toyota Camry. After so many years of holy floors, touchy radiators and doors falling off she deserves something new and dependable.

And while I sit waiting for my husband to bring me some gas to fill my dark blue suburban I feel like all is right in the world and I’m thankful that all my kids have their own seat belts.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Women's Conference in February

I am really excited to hear Lisa Bevere, author of "Nurture" and "Fight Like A Girl" among others. She'll be speaking at Christian Family Center's yearly women's conference on February 6-7th at the Rock Church in Monroe. Tickets are $40 if you register before January 15th and $50 after that or if you register at the conference. That includes breakfast and lunch on Saturday. Click here for more info or to register.

So, who wants to go with me???

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

So long baby...

Brayden turned one on Monday, December 8th. He's been taking steps for awhile but hasn't taken off walking. Until Monday that is. I was in the kitchen washing dishes and he walked in from the dining room and just walked right through to the stairs without stopping or falling. I was like "Huh, what?" It was so cute to see him waddling around everywhere with his hands up in the air but at the same time I kept feeling sad about the end of his baby days. I can't really believe this is it. The last time we're going to have a little baby. The last time I'm going to breast feed (he's not done with that yet).

It's funny how we have named each of our children and later figured out the meaning of their names. Ahzryia and Shariah's names for instance mean, "Johovah has grasped" -Ahzryia and "Jahovah has delivered" - Shariah. Emma means "To Bond a family together". Ruby means "gemstone" but maybe I should be looking into that one further. Brayden has a couple of meanings. The English meaning is "wide valley". Hmm...yes we didn't pick his name based on that. There is a Hebrew word close to his name though, the word "Brayed". It means "To scream because of hunger". Yep that fits him and if you've been around him at mealtime you'd agree.

That's my prayer for him, that he'd hunger and thirst after righteousness. "Blessed are those who hunger and thirst after righteousness for they will be filled." Matthew 5:6 (NIV)

You can still have vision for the future and at the same time be completely satisfied on the inside of you.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

The After Holiday Turkey

Having been away from home for Thanksgiving I cooked my turkey the next week and so then was the task of finding what to do with this enormous bird. Plus turkeys are on sale after the holidays and I'm all about saving money. So, here are the three meals that we had after the initial turkey-mashed potatoes-green beans meal.

Turkey Spinach Salad

(I did not measure anything in this...just made enough for our family:)
Baby Spinach leaves
Chopped turkey breast
broccoli slaw
chopped craisens
chopped pecans
poppy seed papaya dressing

Mix it all together in a big bowl. Good with french bread. Sorry the picture is not so great.

(If you feel it's missing something you could add some feta or goat cheese)

2. Turkey Fajita Soup

1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 chopped onion
2 minced garlic cloves
1 teaspoons chili powder
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon oregano
4 cups of turkey stock or water with chicken bouillon
1 can condensed tomato soup
2 cans diced tomatoes w/green chilis
4 cups cooked turkey (I used up the dark meat)
1 tablespoon dried parsley
1 can black beans, rinsed, drained
2 cups frozen corn
1/2 cup sour cream
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro

6 cups corn tortilla chips
3/4 cup chopped green onion
1 cup shredded Cheddar-Monterey Jack cheese blend
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1/2 cup sour cream
Add to Recipe Box
My folders:

Heat olive oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add onions and cook until onions begin to soften, about 4 minutes. Add garlic, chili powder, cumin and oregano and cook, stirring, for 1 minute.
Stir in stock (water w/bouillon), tomato soup, diced tomatoes, shredded turkey, and parsley. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat, and simmer 5 minutes. Add black beans, corn, sour cream and cilantro. Simmer for 20 to 30 minutes.
Serve soup with crushed tortilla chips, chopped green onion, shredded cheese and additional cilantro and sour cream.

3. Turkey Pesto Melts

french bread
pesto sauce
parmesian cheese
turkey salad (chopped turkey breast w/mayo mixed together)
diced plum tomotoes

Preheat oven to 350. Butter french bread. Top each slice with 1 tsp of pesto sauce. Sprinkle with parmesian. Then carefully scoop on turkey salad and sprinkle tomatoes on top. Cook for about 10 minutes. Everyone loved these.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

"Remember My Love"

God has been quietly speaking those words to me over the last few days...well months. Wanting me to remember the times He's been faithful and know that He is the same yesterday, today and forever!

I listened to Focus on the Family today and Dr. Dobson read his December letter and told how God has carried them through all the difficult financial seasons they've experienced. It brought tears to my eyes.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Children in Africa

I love the show "24" and last nights movie "Redemption" brought the familiar adrenalin rush that keeps me at home every Monday night during the season. (I also appreciated that they seem to be toning down the torture scenes this year).

Something else rose up in me last night as I watched it though. Severe grief for the children of Africa. I was unable to speak as I watched the mother begging for the embassy to save her and her baby. I was shocked at the scenes of boys being turned into soldiers. All I could manage to pray was "Oh God those are your children!"

For I, the Lord, love justice
I hate robbery and iniquity. Isaiah 61:8

"I walk the dirt roads of Uganda
I see the scars that war has left behind
Hope like the sun is fading
They're waiting for a cure no one can find

And I hear children's voices singing
Of a God who heals and rescues and restores
And I'm reminded
That every child in Africa is Yours

And its all Yours, God, Yours, God
Everything is Yours
From the stars in the sky
To the depths of the ocean floor
And its all Yours, God, Yours, God
Everything is Yours
You're the Maker and Keeper, Father and Ruler of everything
It's all Yours"

-Excerpt from Steven Curtis Chapman's song "Yours"

So what can we do? Let's pray for the children of Africa, the millions of them, and act when God tells us to act. One way we can act is by visited The Dunga Orphanage Project website.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008


I am so amazed at how God shows his love in ways we can know and understand.

I opened my cupboard and took out a can of tuna fish to feed my cat. I was out of cat food. I was out of bread. I was out of pretty much everything that we use from day to day. Thank goodness that we'd grabbed some extra napkins from Little Caesars on our last visit or we'd be out of toilet paper too.

How did we end up here? And yet I feel that God's hand is securely on us. His severely loving hand.

Not being able to buy groceries has hit me harder than anything else. It's not a far away creditor or a utility company in which to negotiate with. It's our home, our family, our livelihood and our life. Suddenly it has felt like the floor has slipped out from under me and I've searched around frantically at times in order to secure myself.

I feel like I've failed. I've failed to care for my family. I've failed to sustain them in their needs. I cry out to the Lord, but feel the familiarity of my words hitting the ceiling and falling back. Frustration and despair have overtaken me.

I walked into church the next morning and someone handed me a plane envelope. I turned away from the crowd to open what was not expected. A beautiful card and a $50 gift card to a grocery store. No one signed the card. I made my way into the church kitchen to get ahold of myself. To be honest two thoughts hit me. I worried that I must have been complaining about our situation and felt bad and undeserving. Also, how far would $50 go with our family of seven? On the other hand the thought of someone caring that much for our family filled my heart with gratitude.

During worship we sang Psalm 40.

I waited patiently for the LORD;
he turned to me and heard my cry.
He lifted me out of the slimy pit,
out of the mud and mire;
he set my feet on a rock
and gave me a firm place to stand.

He put a new song in my mouth,
a hymn of praise to our God.
Many will see and fear
and put their trust in the LORD.

Waited in Hebrew means to bind up or twist together. The root word is only used when talking about waiting on the Lord. I love that.

Then I remembered. When I was a struggling single mom there was a day when my cupboards were completely bare. I needed milk. I needed bread. Something to feed myself and my young daughter. I made a list of the groceries that I really needed and wondered how I would make it another week before payday. Then I went into work and my boss said, "Don't I owe you a little bonus?" Then she handed me a $50. I was surprised and grateful. After work I went to the grocery store and found every item on my list. Lastly I threw in a pint of Ben and Jerry's, just because I love it. The bill, including the last minute ice cream, came to $49.72. I let Shariah get a gum ball and I thanked God for his obvious provision.

In church the tears poured down my cheeks as I realized God's love for me. He cares not only about our family needing to eat, but also for my feelings of failure. He cares about my need for a love that is tangible. Suddenly I felt the force of His severe love envelope my being as a raised my hands in worship.

He humbled you, causing you to hunger and then feeding you with manna, which neither you nor your fathers had known, to teach you that man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of the LORD. Deuteronomy 8:3

Psalm 42 - my version

I sit here in silence. I am suddenly aware of my breath rolling in and out like waves on a calm beach. I wait to hear something but instead the stillness washes over me as I sink deeper and deeper into myself.

Deep calls to deep
in the roar of your waterfalls;
all your waves and breakers
have swept over me. Psalm 42:7

Then I hear something. A sound from within rising up. I don't recognize the feeling but the closest thing that I can relate is needing to vomit, but without any trace of nausea.

Uneasiness. Fear. Panic. Pain.

These things I remember
as I pour out my soul:
how I used to go with the multitude,
leading the procession to the house of God,
with shouts of joy and thanksgiving
among the festive throng. Psalm 42:4

My mind seeks to understand consequently pushing the sound back to where it came from. No! I cry. Whatever that was, it needed to be heard. I search for the sound in vain.

Lord, You hear my prayers. You hear them when I can articulate my needs and my thanks. You hear when I cry to You. You hear when my soul cries to You and I know not what it wants, except for You. When I don't know what I pray, You know.

Satisfy my soul's thirst, Lord. I will remember You, in Whom my hope lies. My Savior, my God.

By day the LORD directs his love,
at night his song is with me—
a prayer to the God of my life. Psalm 42:8

Monday, November 3, 2008

A kitchen sink conversation

Arise, shine for your light has come.

Lord, I am so far from ready to shine or arise. I must be hearing you wrong, afterall I am very tired and my emotions are running high.

I created you a women with emotions, offer them to me as a sweet perfume. Sit at my feet and listen.

I feel so empty, distracted and unworthy. My failures are strewn out before me and they call my name.

I will call you by a new name. My delight is in you.

I'm too critical.

You are redeemed of the Lord.

I hold onto bitterness and resentment.

The nations will see your righteousness and all the kings your glory.

But I have not love, not even for myself.

Drink of my cup, proclaim my death, which is my love for you.

But I am not strong. I am weak, weak in faith, weak in love, weak in joy and so very tired of the fight. Giving up looks easier and the fact that I entertain that thought shows how very very weak I am.

My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.

Lord, I pray that you arise, and shine your light on this place. Take my emptiness, my guilt and my shame and fill me with your love. Help me believe. Raise me up to live for you.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

My prayer today

Let the glory of your name fill this temple
I come before your throne
With nothing to offer you my King
Except a contrite spirit and a broken heart
Fill me with your love
Fill me with your grace
Accept my words as an offering of praise
Where can I go where you can not be found?
You’ve shown your faithfulness in the lowest depths
You’ve raised me up high above my sorrows
You’ve set my feet upon you my Rock
And yet I long to be with you
In the glory of your throne room
Overcome with hunger I boldly come
Thirsty for your water I drink of your words
I cry out to you and wait in the silence
And you speak to me
And all I hear is love
I praise you from my core, my inmost being
For you are my ever-present help
Holy and majestic, you are everything to me
Let the glory of your name fill this temple
And let your praises continually be on my lips

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Jonah's Prayer - A Relevant Message

There is a call today for the children of God to return to His Word. I was reading the book of Jonah the other day (probably for the first time since Sunday School) and I found the message to be relevant and meaningful to us today.

From inside the fish Jonah prayed to the LORD his God. He said:

"In my distress I called to the LORD,
and he answered me.
From the depths of the grave I called for help,
and you listened to my cry.
You hurled me into the deep,
into the very heart of the seas,
and the currents swirled about me;
all your waves and breakers
swept over me.

I said, 'I have been banished
from your sight;
yet I will look again
toward your holy temple.'

The engulfing waters threatened me,
the deep surrounded me;
seaweed was wrapped around my head.

To the roots of the mountains I sank down;
the earth beneath barred me in forever.
But you brought my life up from the pit,
O LORD my God.

"When my life was ebbing away,
I remembered you, LORD,
and my prayer rose to you,
to your holy temple.

"Those who cling to worthless idols
forfeit the grace that could be theirs.

But I, with a song of thanksgiving,
will sacrifice to you.
What I have vowed I will make good.
Salvation comes from the LORD."

And the LORD commanded the fish, and it vomited Jonah onto dry land.
Jonah 2 (NIV)

Pray for the Persecuted Church

I've been reading a little of what I can find about what is going on in the state of Orissa, India. Of course most of the news from there is coming from Hindu sources and is subsequently biased.

In this time of financial crisis, election preparation and overall stress I've been praying and asking God for some perspective. This is a great article from J. Lee Grady. If you don't subscribe to his blog I would recommend it. He has good stuff to say!

Friday, September 19, 2008

Firstborns and Birth Order

Today's Focus on the Family was really good. Kevin Leman talks about his book "The Firstborn Advantage". Since I am a firstborn and I am raising a firstborn what he said made so much sense and challenged me in my parenting. Go to and click on today's broadcast, which was part 2 of the talk so listen to yesterday's also if you can.

Easy granola

I don't know about you but I've been feeling the money crunch (ha ha) at the grocery store lately and I've been wanting to make more things from scratch. I love oat meal and so do the kids and its especially delicious now that the weather is getting chilly, but I also would like somewhat of a variety in what I feed my family. So, I looked for granola recipes and ended up making my own simple recipe from what I had. So here is it...

Preheat the oven to 300. Spray 2 9x13 pans with nonstick spray.

Mix together in a big bowl:
5 cups of rolled oats
3/4 cup chopped pecans (or whichever nuts you like)
3/4 cup of brown sugar
2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp powdered ginger
1 tsp salt

Pour dry ingredients into the 2 pans. On each pan pour 1/8 - 1/4 cup honey, 4 Tbsp syrup and 1 Tbsp canola oil. Mix well and spread evenly throughout pans. Bake for 30 - 40 minutes stirring every 10 minutes to ensure even cooking. Let cool for 10 minutes and then put in gallon size zip lock bags or Tupperware containers and store in fridge. (After it was cooled off I also added in chopped dried cherries, but you could add raisens or dried cranberries. I also thought about adding chopped dark chocolate...mmmm).

It smells delicious while baking and my girls loved the warm healthy snack. This morning we made yogurt parfaits, layering vanilla yogurt, jam and granola and they loved those too.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Dunga Orphanage Project

Click here to learn more about The Dunga Orphanage Project in Kenya and consider sponsoring one of its beautiful children.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

This is for a bible study that I'm leading on Monday nights at my church. I think the women in the bible have remarkable stories. We're studying the women in the Gospels and we're starting with the women of Matthew's annotated geneology.

Tamar and Rahab, Righteous Women

Looking for the similarities in the stories of Tamar and Rahab, the most surprising I found is that they are referred to as “righteous women”. Tamar and Rahab would probably not be high on my list or there at all if I were asked name some righteous women in the bible. I don’t think I’m alone there either. Matthew Henry’s commentary says about Tamar, “And let that state of humbleness to which Jesus submitted, when he came to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself, in appointing such characters as those here recorded, to be his ancestors, endear the Redeemer to our hearts.” He is right to point out that although Christ lived a sinless life, his ancestors definitely did not, but in his commentary he misses something and that is the redemption of Tamar. In Genesis 38:26 Judah declares that Tamar “is more righteous than I…” After reading a story filled with deception, Judah’s declaration baffled my mind. Tamar took things into her own hands. Tamar tricked and seduced her Father In Law. Then not only did Judah declare that she was more righteous than him, generations remembered their blessed family and used their story in wedding ceremonies (read about the marriage between Boaz and Ruth).

Likewise, Matthew Henry had an interesting commentary on Rahab. He, like many preachers believed Rahab to be, not a prostitute, but an innkeeper. He is firm about her having no known sin in her life at the time in which her story takes place. I have to disagree though; the word used for Rahab is definitely the word for harlot, not innkeeper. So, where is Rahab’s redemption? What about her encourages the spies to keep their promise and spare not only her life, but the lives of her family as well? What about Rahab allows her to be grafted into the blood tight Israelite family? What about her legacy has her remembered in the book of Hebrews in the “hall of faith”?

In Tamar’s story she had watched two husbands die and I think that in our reading we don’t really consider what that must have been like for her. Not only did they die but they were considered wicked. What could they have done to incur the wrath of God? What of that did Tamar see and how did they die? There are some pretty horrific ways to die when you displease the Lord in Old Testament times. You could be swallowed whole by the earth, rained on by fire and brimstone or possibly be turned into a pillar of salt. Whatever happened had Judah afraid of Tamar and Tamar, knowing herself better, afraid of the Lord. “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge” says Proverbs 1:7.

Likewise, Rahab exclaimed that she fears the Lord because they have heard of the terrible things that the Israelites have done with the help of their God.

Neither Tamar or Rahab stops at the point of fear. They each take action. Tamar takes it into her own hands to conceive an heir for her husband and tries on her own to put the bloodline of Judah back on track. Rahab lies to the king and protects the spies and then she pleads for her life and the lives of her family.

To fear the Lord means to be afraid, have reverence for or stand in awe of. Do we fear the Lord? I know there are definite points where I stand in awe, usually after I've witnessed something that's bigger than myself, unexpectedly good or unexpectedly terrible, but what about on a day to day basis?

Lord, let me always remember your marvelous works. Let me stand in awe of you today and forever.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

With a Love

This morning I went to a Proverbs 31 meeting. My friend Becky and I walked in to find gifts at every place setting. Since I love gifts, (that's my love language by the way;) I was highly curious and quickly tore open the brown paper wrapping to find a book that I thought I'd lost. "With A Love" by Heather Ware, is the true story about Milly Ware, her husband Ted and her five children as they travel to Cuba as missionaries during the revolution which brought Castro to power. I read the book a long time ago and lent it to someone, forgot who, and haven't seen it again. Also, when I read the book I really wanted to someday meet the amazing woman in the story and I was ecstatic to find out that she was this morning's featured speaker.

At 89 years old she is one of the most inspirational women I have seen in my life and I left feeling so encouraged and refreshed.

Her website, where you can order the book, is

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

I really enjoy most of Focus on the Family's broadcasts but on Monday night I was flipping through the set radio stations in my car and clicked it away from Focus because the broadcast was already half over, but I heard a still small voice say "Turn it back and listen to that". I had to be obedient and I heard the most amazing testamony. Click on and find the broadcast from September 1, 2008 called "Rescued by the Hand of God". David and Barbara Anderson have an amazing story about how they were rescued from a plane crash.

The part that really spoke to me was when Barbara talked about her own experience. She talked about how she had to let go of her lifesaving floatation device in order to be rescued. She didn't talk about the spiritual symbolism in that but I thought 'what "lifesaving devices" keep me from reaching up to God?'. Then she talked about how after several rescue attempts she slipped from the helicopter and found herself in the water once again. She completely gave up and accepted her death but while she floated on her back the word "Jesus" was on her lips. At that moment the rescue worker came to right above her and yelled out "I am here!"

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Seeking Balance (part 2)

Cleaning up the Mess

My first instinct as a mom experiencing the chaos of summer was to put everyone to work, including myself. We (well I) decided that the key to peace was to clean up the mess around us. A couple of things have really not helped the situation. First of all the vent tube behind our dryer somehow wore out and ripped making a doorway for mice to enter our house. They set up camp in the back of the laundry room under a bunch of stuff that I have been meaning to get rid of and traveled into the kitchen each night to feast on whatever they could find, chewing their way through a couple of boxed food items in my lazy susan. Another thing that hasn’t helped is the fact that one by one my appliances seem to be killing over including our washer, garbage disposal and dishwasher.

I am not grumbling about that though. Actually I found that doing the dishes by hand is a great time to think while looking out the window at my blooming roses. I keep starting with that which somehow motivates me to get to the laundry and then to everything else. My kids have been working hard too getting things organized and getting rid of as much as possible.

De-cluttering our lives has been freeing on so many levels and has definitely brought a sense of peace to our home and our family. How many other areas of life need to be de-cluttered? What about emotional clutter (baggage)? Could junk food fall into this category? Is there such thing as spiritual clutter? I’ll leave those questions for another day.


The decluttering is still happening. Actually at the moment I'm only taking a needed break from organizing the office.

When I set out to go through the house, get things ready for a garage sale and deep clean I had a feeling I was in for some hard work. I really didn't anticipate exactly how hard it would actually be. I am feeling a little overwhelmed by how much stuff we have vs. how much we need and how to know the difference.

As hard as this is though, I know I am doing the right thing. A lot of our blessings have become burdensome and I am looking forward to dumping the weight of them down.

While I've been working on this I have thought some about the other areas of clutter that can burden us, weigh us down and keep us from being productive. Spiritual clutter happened to be the biggest mystery and the one I've been thinking about the most.

I'm sure there are more than few answers to what could fall into the catagory of spiritual clutter, but the ones that I've been thinking about are self-righteousness, having a critical spirit and being judgemental. At first glance most people, inluding myself, are likely to think "surely not me". I have to ask myself though, how many times do I notice someone doing something wrong and judge or critisize rather than pray? Also, how often do I see myself as spiritually superior because I'm in church every Sunday or have a lot of scriptures memorized? What about all the times that I hear a word from the Lord and think, "Yes, that is exactly what ___________ needs to hear." What about the times that I've looked at that list from above and thought, "Yep, that sounds like ___________."

Titus 3:5 (NIV) says "[H]e saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of [H]is mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit.."


Create in me a pure heart, O God,
and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Psalm 51:10 (NIV)

Friday, August 1, 2008

"Nurture" by Lisa Bevere

"Nurture" is the first book I've read by Lisa Bevere and I absolutely love it. Her writing is lovely to read and I believe she has, in her book, answers to some of the main problems facing women today in regards to their relationships with each other.

Lately I've heard over and over that women are looking for best friends, that they are longing for that Anne of Green Gables/Dianna Berry relationship. Not only that women are looking for mentors/mothers and they are hoping to mentor women/daughters.

This book responds to that longing and has really inspired me to continue seeking those relationships because God is doing something significant in the church today; gathering us together in order to grow us in our gifts, help us in our weaknesses and "strengthen [our] hearts so that [we] will be blameless and holy in the presence of our God and Father when our Lord Jesus comes with all his holy ones." 1 Thes. 3:13

Also, Lisa Bevere will be speaking next February at Christian Family Center on Camano Island, Wa. I'll post more information when it becomes available.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Seeking a balanced life

If you’ve ever been sick and had it affect your inner ear or equilibrium you would understand how important balance is to our lives. A good friend and mentor of mine was once suddenly struck with a strong case of vertigo with which she found herself on the floor in a spinning room, unable to move and overcome with extreme dizziness and nausea. Vertigo is a balance disorder caused by something going wrong with the nerves or fluid levels in the inner ear and my friend was completely incapacitated.

I’ve found to be true that balance is not only needed for standing upright and walking in a straight line, it is so essential to every aspect of our lives and if something is amiss we can find ourselves mentally, emotionally, physically or spiritually incapacitated. When we find ourselves stumbling through life, experiencing random episodes of dizziness and nausea, how can we find balance and in turn establish our footing to live a more productive and peaceful life?

This question has been at the forefront of my mind as I’ve fallen halfway through the summer months feeling like every day is just as hectic and overwhelming as the day before. Not only have I experienced dizziness and nausea, but depression, anxiety, impatience and most of all that feeling that all mothers have from time to time, the desire for escape. Escape to that wonderful distant tropical island where I can sit on the beach sipping something fruity with my life as far away as possible.

Sometimes it is possible to get away from it all whether it is with a vacation or a women’s retreat, but at the moment with bills piled up to our necks and a baby at my breast, leaving life behind is not possible. Instead I feel the need and the opportunity for the Lord to work in me and in my life giving me tools I need to face what’s before me. The first tool that I’m counting on is balance.

Starting out right

When I was younger I loved to dance. I took lessons in ballet, jazz and modern. Just recently I started teaching my daughters some dance and it’s been fun to have different steps and techniques coming back to me. I remember learning to twirl. The key to twirling was finding a focal point on the wall in front of you. You’d keep your eyes on that point while your body turned and at the last possible moment you’d whip your head around and find the focal point again. This would keep you from getting dizzy while your body would spin round and round. The technique is something that has to be learned and is crucial when keeping your balance throughout the dance.

As another example, Peter was able to walk on water as long as his gaze stayed on Jesus Christ. The moment he looked away and at the waves crashing around him he started to sink. Likewise, the moment a dancer loses that point of focus and takes in the room spinning by, she’s likely to fall.

Similarly we need to learn to focus on Jesus through reading the bible, prayer and listening to what He has to say throughout our day. Listening to God is definitely something learned as we get to know Him better. I was just reading John 10:27 which says, “My sheep know my voice; I know them and they follow me.”

Something that I love to do is turn on praise music (first turning off the TV) and allow the positive messages and scriptures in the songs to penetrate our busy and hectic household.

New blog

I started a new blog at which is for all our family news and pictures.

Someday when I'm not changing diapers I would love to be a life coach and this blog is dedicated to my dream of helping women with encouragement and prayer, so I'll try to keep this blog updated with inspirational articles, writing information for our writing group and helpful resources.

Much love,

Monday, July 21, 2008

News of odd importance...

Click here for an interesting article. Would you try this?

Monday, June 2, 2008

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

A sweet end to memorial day weekend

We had a lovely time at Kayak Point beach yesterday evening. The weather was perfect and the water was calm and peaceful. I'm guessing everyone had had their fill of the beach over the Memorial Day weekend so on Tuesday night it was almost deserted. A couple sat down a ways from us and the man was playing beautiful classical and latin guitar music which is my absolute favorite. I carried Brayden over and asked him to play a song for us. If you have never listened to classical guitar music I recommend you see a live's amazing! His name is Gil Piger and he's a composer who studied guitar in Spain and Mexico City as well as the US. Here's a website where you can listen to a sample of his music.

P.S. My husband thinks I'm strange:)

Sunday, May 11, 2008

My mom taught me to pray

My mom gave me something that I will always be grateful for. In fact, as a mother and a wife, I don’t think there is anything that she could have passed down to me that would be more important. She taught me the importance of prayer.

We had an interesting life when I grew up. We lived without electricity for awhile and the doors of our cars sometimes had to be held on by the passengers riding in them. I think those things may have been a reason that prayer was a very central part of our lives. Whether we were praying for silly things like that our car would make it to the next gas station without running out or more serious things like illness in the family, my mom taught us to pray.

When I was a teenager I probably caused her to take her prayer life up a notch. I was determined to live life the way I wanted and it came to the point where the only thing my mom could possibly do was pray. My mom was so faithful. She’d wake up in the middle of the night and pray. She prayed without ceasing. And I felt it. Not only did she intuitively know what I was up to most of the time I felt like I could not get away with anything. I’d be on my way to somewhere I shouldn’t have been heading and my car would break down…for no reason. So I’d have to call my parents and they’d come and pick me up. Francis Thompson wrote a poem called “The Hound of Heaven” and that would be the best way to describe how God was after me throughout my teenage years. I had plans for my life but God had something different planned.

Then just a few years ago when Emma was born some of you may remember that she was bleeding internally and had to be rushed down to Children’s Hospital. That was a scary and an amazing time for us. Her second night there they sent us home knowing that she was still bleeding from one of her organs and we felt so incredibly helpless. I think it was the first time that we really prayed together with faith that God knew what He was doing and He cared for our baby. And she was healed that night. We went back to the hospital the next day and her bleeding had stopped. Not only that but they did numerous tests on her and her organs were perfect, no tears, rips or scarring. We had plans for how her birth was going to go but God had something different planned; something better.

As mothers when our children are born we know that they are God’s children first and He loves them so much more than we are capable of. Unlike us who look at people through a cloud of fear, God sees them through perfect love, seeing who He created them to be. When we pray we are invited to see our children through His eyes and through that come to a deeper relationship with him as our Father.

Romans 8:26-27 says “In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints in accordance with God's will.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Good Article

This is a good article from Focus on the Family about tolerance and about what a Christian's approach should be.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Here's an article that was sent to me and gives some great answers to the questions that I had in the previous post. This is written by Tiffany Ann Lewis with Dancing with the Flame of the Lord ministries.

"And the Lord Remembered"
Are you feeling like your promise is always just around the corner and never in your hand? You have received words upon words, promises upon promises from the Lord and you know that fulfillment is just around the corner, yet it seems like your corner never comes. I guess at a subconscious level I was feeling this way, so the Lord woke me up one morning with these encouraging words, "And the Lord remembered."
The first time we see this phrase in the Bible is in Genesis 8:1 as Noah and the crew were enclosed in the ark for the duration of the flood. As the waters prevailed on the earth, the ark was tossed to and fro in the storm. Day after day they waited for the land to be dry again. Talk about something that seems to be just around the corner.
"Then God remembered..." Genesis 8:1
This does not imply that God forgot; rather, it announces that the fulfillment of His promise is finally at hand. In Hebrew, the word for remembered is Zakar (Strong's Concordance # 2142). It is a verb, an action word, meaning to recall something, to remember, to call it to mind. God remembered the previous commitment He had given to Noah. It was now time for Him to activate the promise He made. God was about to act on His word.
Notice the Scripture reference, 8:1. Eight is the number of new beginnings; Noah and the crew were on the threshold of a new beginning. The rains have ceased and the storm is over. The ark has come to rest and the waters are beginning to subside and it looks as though the corner is finally here and their promise is at hand. But wait, there is still more waiting. At the end of forty more days, Noah opened the window and sent out a raven and a dove (Genesis 8:6-8). The raven just kept flying back and forth on its own, but the dove returned to the ark because there was no other resting place for her feet. This signaled to Noah that it was not yet time to leave the safety of the ark.
Beloved, often when it feels as though we are "stuck in our ark" God is really keeping us enclosed to protect us from something. Wisely, Noah waited seven more days before sending the dove out for the second time (verse 10). This time she came back with a freshly picked olive leaf in her mouth, signaling the corner was really just around the corner, but Noah waited yet another seven days before sending the dove out for the third time (verse 12). The dove didn't return this time, yet still Noah waited until he heard the Lord speak and give the command to leave the ark (verse 15). The dove and the raven have symbolic importance here. If we follow the raven's example, we will fly around and around, never finding rest for our weary soul. However, the dove, which is symbolic of the Holy Spirit, will guide us and lead us into all truth as we wait on Him. (See John 16:13.)
God Helps Us Wait
The problem that arises during the waiting process is that our minds begin to wander, and we can drift through the doorway of doubt. Even if you are a seasoned Christian, it does not mean that you are immune to the devil's schemes. We may not even realize it, but in these moments of vulnerability the devil gets in there and says, "Has God indeed said _____???" (Genesis 3:1b) Fill in the blank yourself. What has God said to you? We can become disappointed as we wait on and on and it looks as though God is not going to come through. We may even begin to wonder if we heard Him correctly in the first place.
Disappointments are painful and they can trigger negative emotions like doubt, worry and fear. Doubt--"Nothing good ever happens to me." Worry--"What if my corner never comes?" Fear--"Did God forget me?" These feelings only become magnified as we witness others coming into their promises while we wait on. In our conscious mind we know God is faithful, but some place deep in our subconscious a wave of doubt might be stirring. These thoughts act like an undertow pulling us out into the sea of uncertainty as we wonder if we'll ever come upon dry land again.
The Bible does not tell us that Noah experienced any of these feelings, but the reality is that most of us do. Maybe today you are feeling a bit discouraged in the waiting. I know I was, and that is why the Lord spoke to me in a dream and a vision. God encourages us along the way--just look at Noah. He had a lot of waiting to go through--we all do--but each step of the way God sent him encouragement. The rains did come to an end, the waters did subside, and the dove did return with an olive branch. God helps us wait! I needed to be encouraged desperately; I was buying the lies that the devil was telling me. I was growing weary and doubting if the corner would ever come when, suddenly, the Lord took me firmly by the shoulders and said, "Tiffany Ann, be still!! ...and know that I am God."
Quoting myself from February's Monthly Manna 2008, "It takes tremendous faith to 'be still, and know that I am God'" (Psalm 46:10). It takes a faith we don't possess to be still in the midst of the storm and remain convinced that He has not forgotten us or the promise He made. These storms come in many different forms such as financial hardships, sickness, regret, failure and even death. "O death, where is thy sting?" (1 Corinthians 15:55). O yes, there is life after death, hallelujah, but meanwhile there is a life to live, and the burning sting of disappointment can throw us way off course.
It's okay to feel hurt and disappointed; we just can't let those feelings cause us to fly around and around like the raven, or else we'll be exhausted both physically and spiritually. If Jesus had not held me still that day, I would have remained discouraged, doubtful, and worse--I would have remained, spiritually, right where I was and not move forward into my destiny.
God Cannot Escape His Faithfulness--He Gave His Word
I believe the Lord is trying to bring us to the place where we can wait without worry, a type of faith place where we won't wrestle with our thoughts and emotions all the time. A place of peace where we can fly as the dove did above the floodwaters that are in our lives and find rest as we wait in Him, our Ark. This waiting is what will bring us to the threshold of our Genesis 8:1, "Then God remembered..." It's our new beginning where we will see the fulfilled promises of God manifested.
Beloved, the promises of God are received in one place, the Promised Land, and it's our heart-convinced faith that will bring us there. It is shocking when we realize in Hebrews 3:19 that many did not enter into the Promised Land because of their unbelief. Can you see why Jesus addresses this issue with His disciples over and over again? The disciples were the believers, yet Jesus is addressing their beliefs, or rather their lack of them. Can you see why He told Peter He was going to pray for his faith? Can you see why He invited Thomas to touch His hands and side? Can you see why He would give me a dream and vision?
He is encouraging us, building up our faith. Beloved, God wants us to trust Him and take Him at His word so we can enter in. The devil's taunting words of, "Has God said?" should never have power over us as believers! God cannot escape His faithfulness; He is moved by His very character to fulfill all His promises. He gave His Word!
"God is not a man, that He should lie." Numbers 23:19
Maybe you are waiting on the promise of a restored relationship, health, happiness, peace, joy, love, or financial prosperity. These aren't Christian fairy tales; these are part of the abundant life that Jesus said He came to give. God is faithful. Maybe God told you to write a book, sing a song, start a church, feed the hungry or visit the lonely, yet every step you take forward the devil pushes you back two with that same old phrase, "Has God indeed said?" We can't let it distract us one more time from who we are and who God called us to be. We must not give up. It's in the waiting that we will see God's promises fulfilled. We are on the threshold; the corner really is just around the corner.
Beloved, never forget, God always remembers and He will complete His destiny in your life. Amen! "But those who wait on the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint." Isaiah 40:31

Monday, April 14, 2008

Waiting While Hope Remains

While waiting for what I know God has for me, how do I remain hopeful rather than let the fear of seeing what's impossible get to me?

On waiting...
I have never really enjoyed pregnancy. Some women do and I admire them for it because to me, it's just the long period of feeling sick, uncomfortable, and not having clothes fit right. The blessing is the baby and although I do enjoy being close and knowing that a small human is growing in my womb, I really get impatient for the end result. Or the beginning if you want to look at it that way.

Two weeks ago we had our annual church women's retreat. At the beginning of the retreat we played a get to know you game where we posted pieces of paper on our backs and everyone went around writing their first impressions of everyone else. After we were done I glanced at my paper but didn't really read all of the comments until I was home after the weekend. One person wrote "Patient, Patient, Patient!"


"Me, patient? Seriously?" Sometimes I feel like I'm perceived as being patient but I'll be honest I think it's closer to "worn out". I like to keep a smile on my face after a long day of changing diapers, nursing, and picking up after Hurricane Ruby, but if you look closer into my eyes you might find that I'm a little dazed and confused. At least that's how I feel. So, I think it's entirely by mistake that I've been labeled as "patient".

So many times I've gone out of my way to manipulate the situation to make things come sooner than they would have if left to themselves. The nearest example I can think of is when I was nine months pregnant with Brayden. Actually I was 37 weeks exactly and I felt that was enough time baking on his part. I went on long walks, I ate spicy food and I hit every pot hole and didn't bother to slow down for speed bumps. I bugged my husband night and day to help me get things started in ways only he could;)

So, what about those times when we really have no choice but to wait? Well, I guess being pregnant was one of them. Brayden waited a whole week to arrive despite my efforts at natural induction.

Right now I feel like I'm "pregnant" with what God is wanting to do with me and my family and I'm questioning what I'm supposed to do in the meantime. Of course I know that I have a huge sometimes overwhelming job in front of me taking care of my children, my husband and my home and some might say that I should only focus on what is in front of me, but something in my heart detests complacency and I long to find the balance between that and expectation.

And here's another question, or actually I'm going back to my first question. While I'm waiting how do I remain full of hope rather than worry? How do I keep my mind from solving each of the unknowns in our life so that I do not miss what God is doing?

The bible is full of waiting and the best example I can think of is the four hundred or so years between Redemption's Promise of the old testament and the Fulfillment of Hope that came with the birth of Christ.

And so many completely missed it! People who had sunk into a state of complacency with how things were so that they didn't need a savior and others who expected a messiah to come in a very different way; as an army here on earth. Both groups missed so much because Jesus offered so much more, everlasting life and an eternal kingdom rather than a temporary earthly one.

So, what made people believe? What made the disciples follow Christ? How can I keep my eyes on God and what He is doing savoring every blessing along the way?

I am look for some of these answers.

Stay tuned...:)

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Emma's Birth Story

Morning sickness was long gone, but my back ached and I was so tired of pregnancy. We were expecting our baby to come around the end of December, but by the middle of November I had a strong feeling she would come early.

My pregnancy, Emma’s birth and her life so far have taught us a new level of faith and hope, and revealed to us the love of our friends and God’s blessing and healing power in our lives.

Not long before the events I'm talking about Bill and I married blending our family with two sweet daughters. This was our first baby together and early on in my pregnancy I knew that she was different from my first. I could sense something fragile about her and I could not shake the feeling that she would come early and that there would be something significant about her birth. I dreamed about it and the feeling turned into more of a premonition, and on a Monday morning late in November, after two days of being seriously sick with the flu I felt the contractions start.

The sickness was the worst I had ever experienced. I could not keep anything down, even a drink of water. I was violently throwing up anything I would try to eat and then nothing at all. I could not sleep, I could not find even a moment of comfort and when I coughed I felt my whole belly quiver and burn. We went into the hospital and they stopped the contractions by giving me fluids. The contractions were gone but I was still sick and two days later I was back more. Again the contractions stopped but I still did not feel relief.

On Thursday I woke up and I felt different. The contractions were lower in my abdomen and instead of the sharp tightening of Braxton Hicks, they were deep and dull. I remembered my dreams and waited for Bill to get home from work.

We checked in to the Birth Center, of which we'd already become pretty familiar, and once again I was hooked up to the IV for more fluids. They checked me and I was dilated between 5 and 6 cm. The nurse left the room after telling me that they’d be discussing ways to stop labor and fear rose up in my gut because I knew my baby needed to be born. Minutes later she came back and told me it was too late, I was too dilated.
Bill and I looked at each other, both realizing what was really happening and instantly our fears were replaced with anticipation to what was coming next. We had no idea about the challenges we would face later and in the days ahead. As I lay there in the hospital bed relief came to me for the first time in days.

Unlike my first baby for which I filled out a birth plan with “whatever” as the most common request, I decided I was going to take charge this time, not allowing continuous monitoring or pain medication. When my doctor came in at 4:30 p.m. she thought I looked a little too comfortable and almost went home for dinner. At 4:50 she thought she should check my cervix before taking off and despite my smiles and conversation I was almost 9 cm. dilated. “Never mind,” she laughed, “Let’s break your water, this baby is coming.” She ruptured my membranes and the contractions came instantly, hard, fast and about twenty seconds apart.

Earlier in the afternoon a massage therapist had come to offer a massage which I so gratefully accepted because of my continuous back pain. She showed Bill a couple of techniques using application of pressure to relieve pain. I sat on an exercie ball while he applied pressure to my lower back as I took relaxing deep breaths. Soon I felt the need to, well, either push or pee. I got up to go to the bathroom just to be safe but I soon realized that I was wrong and with the contractions coming so fast I found myself stuck on the toilet. Bill quickly came to my rescue and helped me into the bed.

Emma Joy came at 5:25 p.m. after four pushes. The doctor laid her on my chest and I stared in amazement at this little baby who I already felt I knew. Her head was full of thick black hair and her skin was purplish brown. Bill cut the umbilical cord and I had my only moment with her before the nurse took her to clean and weigh. Even though she was a month early she weighed 7 pounds 4 ounces and was 19 inches long.

After the pediatrician came the voices on the other side of the room grew hushed and serious. I wanted to hold my baby but they explained that her abdomen was distended and they quickly needed to figure out why.
We were confused and exhausted and only wanted to have our baby in our arms. I wanted to breastfeed and Bill wanted to know that she was safe, but neither of us would get what we wanted that night or in the days immediately following.

While Bill drove home to get some things that we had not thought to pack, the doctors came to me with the news they were going to transport Emma to Children’s Hospital in Seattle, about an hours drive on a cold and icy night in November. The thought of my baby in an ambulance on the icy freeway filled my heart with worry. I called Bill and told him that she was leaving without me. All that was happening was so surreal and I didn’t recognize the anxiety growing in my husband’s voice.

After Bill had returned and in the final moments before she left we circled around our baby in the hospital nursery. My parents came and were shocked to see their new granddaughter with tubes in her mouth and nose and monitors on her chest, hands and feet. Her belly was very swollen and she looked so fragile and small. I didn’t know how I could touch her without disturbing any of the monitors and suddenly this life I knew so well within me seemed foreign and so far from me.

We all prayed for her safety and healing and then she was gone, and Bill was gone and I was alone in my room. I could not sleep and so I called my friend Heather from church. She promised to pray and also pass along the prayer request to the church body. After talking and crying to Heather, I hung up feeling comforted and soon sleep found me and I rested better than I had in weeks. Many people were praying for our family that night.

Meanwhile at Children’s Hospital Bill waited with family members until 3:00 a.m. for the doctors to talk to him and make a decision about whether or not to take action that night. They decided to wait and monitor her closely. Bill was exhausted and tried to get some rest to no avail.
On Friday morning I met him at the hospital and was so relieved to see Emma safe and looking comfortable in the NICU. Bill had been with her, holding her tiny fingers and singing to her throughout the morning.
When I saw her I felt like I was meeting my daughter for the first time. I felt unsure but soon my maternal heart started to open again.

The tube was in her nose and the monitors were on her chest with readings of her heart rate, blood pressure and oxygen on a screen nearby. There was a tube going down her throat pulling fluid from her stomach. An IV was bandaged to her tiny hand and a heated lamp hovered over her little plastic cradle. They had put a hat on her head and swaddled her in a thermal blanket. Every once in awhile she would stir and sometimes cry out but most of the time she slept as if she hadn’t left the comfort of my womb.

Later that day they did a tap, sticking a long needle into her abdomen from which they hoped to extract whatever was causing the swelling. Dr. Kyle, Emma’s doctor in the NICU came to us shortly before it was our time to leave. They had pulled blood from her abdomen. Fresh blood indicating that she was bleeding from one of her internal organs. They were going to continue watching her throughout the night and decide the next morning whether they would need to operate. If her condition worsened during the night they would have to do something then. Then they sent us home with a pager in case the worse came to be.

I decided to stay at my friend Megan’s house near the hospital so that I wouldn’t be too far from my baby. Bill planned to drive home and get some much needed rest, which still would prove unattainable.

In Megan’s driveway Bill and I sat and pondered the possibility that our baby girl might not make it through the night. We closed our eyes, held hands and prayed together for the first time in our marriage, besides mealtimes and church. Bill, with such determined faith, prayed for God to heal our little Emma and thanked God for his faithfulness in our lives. Traces of doubt tried to creep in but I would not let them stay. If my husband had such faith in God’s healing power I felt that was reason enough for my own faith to be strong. Again I felt peace and slept well until the morning.

God was faithful. When we walked into the NICU the next morning Dr. Kyle told us that overnight the bleeding had stopped. The nurses were giving her nourishment through an IV and there was no need to operate. Later that day they performed an ultrasound and were confused. All of her organs were perfect, no rips, no tears, no scarring. The doctors couldn’t understand what had happened but we knew and our faith grew stronger.

She was lethargic because they had given her a little too much morphine for her tiny body but we had seen God’s healing power and we knew He would continue to heal her.

Over the next few days we spent every minute possible with Emma. Finally on the day before Thanksgiving they let me nurse her. She latched on right away and I stayed with her overnight to feed and weigh her every three hours.

After that day I went down during the day and had to go home at night. Nothing can describe how difficult it was to leave her there, but I prayed for God to keep her asleep until I could be with her and when I was not with her I pictured Jesus holding her in His arms.

Finally after she had been in the hospital for ten days her jaundice was under control and she was finally gaining weight and we were able to being her home.

Words cannot describe how wonderful it was; to be home, to be a family and to live with all that had been given to us; our healthy baby, a new faith, and a new love for each other.

Emma is four years old and between her humorous personality, sweet laugh and continuous health you would never guess what she went through those first few days after birth. We discovered the name Emma means “ancestrious” or “to bond a family together”. God’s plan was more than we could have expected and we are so thankful.

Something I know to be true is that when we face difficult circumstances

in our lives, God always provides us with the strength, the faith, the peace and the love to make it though.

And we know that God works all things out for the good for those who love Him and are called according to His purposes. Romans 8:28

We can also trust in God’s plan knowing that He looks at us like a father looking in amazement at his newborn baby, amazed at how he could have created something so beautiful and so perfect and knowing that we have a purpose and His glory will shine brilliantly throughout our days.

Monday, February 11, 2008

The Best Place to Be

How is it that sometimes we feel as if we’re in the worst possible place, emotionally, financially, mentally or physically, but at the same time something inside tells us that we’re at the best possible place? Does it make any sense?
I’m not talking about a drug addict hitting rock bottom although that is an extreme example of how it is possible to carry on in life until suddenly things come crashing down to wake us up. No, I’m talking about how we can live our lives doing what is right and feeling pretty good about it; with a little bit of pride developing along the way that tells us that we really have a handle on things. Then something happens; we receive a letter in the mail or a phone call. Something that we had planned doesn’t work out and the realization hits that we do not have as much under our control as we thought. We feel like we failed and memories of other failures quickly resurface. Upon losing our sense of control fear sets in, fear of what can happen, fear of what we do not know. We realize we’re once again down in the valley fighting the notion to give up even though we sense that something better does lie ahead. But to get there we will have to travel through someplace we have never been before.
On Sunday the pastor said (not in these words exactly) that when the giants look the biggest we are that much closer to the Promised Land. Isn’t that what made the Israelites turn away only to die in the desert? Instead of giving up like they did I want to learn from them and trust God to fight these giants so to speak. On her show recently Joyce Meyer said “Do what is possible and then have faith that God will do the impossible.”
On the other hand, what about these feelings of fear? After all, when we start to face the inevitable what is kept under our polite guise seems to turn into somewhat of a monster. If that stops us and we turn away from what God is trying to teach us we will probably end up in this place again, but the day when we do come into the abundant life God has for us will be no closer until we take these steps, learn and grow.
The Lord says “Come to me, all who are weary and burdened and I will give you rest.” So let us enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name. He is our Father and his house is filled with good things.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Creative Writers' Group

Thursday was the first meeting of our writer's group and it went well. I thought the best part was being able to share ideas.

Jenny told us about where you can enter weekly contests and have an opportunity to be published in their quarterly books. To be published isn't the only benefit of this website, because you will also be able to practice topic writing and meeting deadlines.

Every good writer knows that reading is a must, especially literature, particularly classic literature. Nicole told us about Project Gutenberg, a website that publishes books older than 100 years which you can download and read on your computer. Find out more at

I gave information on the upcoming Northwest Christian Writers Conference, taking place May 2 – 3rd at Northwest Baptist Church. I attended the conference last year and it was definitely worth the time and money. Tickets are $139 before March 15th and $159 after. Go to for more information.

Next month you have the option to bring a piece of writing to share with the group. If you’d like some peer critique bring several copies and make sure the piece is double spaced. This is a good opportunity if you have an article that you’re thinking about submitting to a magazine or newsletter, or if you’ve been working on a book. If you need an idea you can choose one of the following topics:
Topic One: Something you had to overcome
Topic Two: The funniest part about being a mom

The objective is to receive constructive criticism to help make your writing better, but even so I know it can be scary to put your writing out there like that. I think that if you take the risk you'll learn it was well worth it. I will say that it is optional though and if you don't have a piece of writing to share don't let that stop you from coming.

I really want this group to be one that we encourage each other to use our gifts of writing. See you March 6th at 7:00 p.m. And again if you know of anyone else who might be interested pass along the info.

Friday, February 1, 2008

Creative Writers Wanted

Are you a woman with a passion for writing? I am starting a creative writer's group with the purpose of encouraging each other to grow as writers. We'll meet one evening a month to share our writing, have an opportunity for peer critique, and openly share our struggles and successes. Here's the details:
Creative Writer's Group
Where: Jewel's House
When: Thursday, February 7th
Time: 7:00 - 8:00 p.m.

Email me at if you want more information.


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