Sunday, May 31, 2009

I'm Just Being Honest...

I'm scared today.

Up to this point, I haven't dealt with a lot of fear regarding these health issues, but today, I am scared.

My right hand and foot have been numb for days, into weeks.

My left hand is now numb, or at least a few fingers on it are.

My left foot is starting to tingle..the precursor to going numb, I'm learning.

My right hand keeps seizing...twice today.

My right foot keeps acting like it's about to.

I have this shooting pain that keeps coming up the back of my head...starts at the base of my skull and shoots upward.

The headache now seems to be my constant companion.

I'm sick at my stomach.

I'm not thinking clearly at times...not quickly much at all.

I'm walking funny.

My right foot is dragging some.

And I had a bad hair day. That alone is scary enough!

Yet, I know that the Almighty has led me to very possibly Phoenix's best neurologist. 

Above his desk he has a scroll. On the scroll are written words in Hebrew. I asked him what it said, and he answered, "It's a prayer asking for Divine guidance in diagnosis and treatment."

OK, you know I LOVE THIS MAN already!

Then Shane saw some Bibles on his shelf, too.

Oops! I love him MORE now!

Seriously though, he's thorough. He's making sure that he researches every possible thing this could be. 

I have a level 3 MRI scheduled next Saturday at Barrow. It will take a mere 4 hours.

They will image my spine from several points, and my brain. "within" and "without"....which I think has something to do with dyes, but who knows?

Then, I'll have a lumbar puncture. (This is Spinal Tap)....remember them from the '80s?!

So, why am I scared?

I'm not afraid of the MRI, they've been good enough to give me happy pills to survive 4 hours in the tube. 

(Shelly and Pam, I promise not to call you again when I'm that happy, and I take no responsibility for anything that I said in our last calls.)  :)

I'm a little afraid of the lumbar puncture, and no, Spinal Tap will not be playing for the event.

I'm definitely afraid of the post-puncture days....I'm going to need help for 5 days straight, so I can lay flat on my back and make sure the area seals back up correctly.

That'll be fun...taxing my sweet friends yet once again!

SO...what am I afraid of?

What had me in tears tonight?

I am wondering if it's a tumor, and that prospect scares me. 

It seems as this point that MS or Epilepsy is something that can be treated.

A brain tumor...big questions about that one.

I'm not afraid to die, either. You see, Jesus came to earth and took on the person of man, so that He would qualify as my Kinsman Redeemer...He has already redeemed me from the curse of death. Death is swallowed up in victory, though Christ Jesus.


No death for those who are in Christ...only glory to look forward to. Amen!

Can I get an AMEN?!

Somebody shoot me an AMEN!

No, I'm not afraid to die.

I'm just afraid to leave.

Through all we've been dealing with in this, each glimpse of the sweet face of one of my children has become all the more precious to me.

Each game of UNO becomes a sweet bonding time with them.

Every kiss granted to me, is like honey on my lips....sweet, sweet, sweet.

And I've seen my children grow in mercy through it all...I think they're finally seeing that this is a serious thing we're dealing with as a family, and they are finding ways to help. From cleaning the floors before our company came, to letting me hold onto their arms, or their shoulders when we're walking near one another, so that I don't lose my balance.

I'm seeing through fresh eyes what precious, tender kids we have been blessed with.

I don't want this to be a brain tumor. I know I've joked about it, but tonight, I'm serious as a judge, I'm scared....and I don't want it to be a tumor.

I don't want to die when my children are little.

I don't want to, I don't want to, I don't want to!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

And tonight, I'm scared.

My babies need their momma. My sweetheart needs his honey.

I know, God is sovereign. I do know that. Even this He has plans for good to come through. 
I know that. 

And I know that my babies only need their momma if God so deems that they do.

And I know that my sweetheart only needs his honey if God so deems that he does.

But my flesh cries out, 
"Please Lord, I want to be here for my family. I love you beyond words, Father, and my heart cries out to be with You forever. But Father, You have crafted me in human form, and my flesh wants to stay the course here on earth and nurture the precious family that you have given me. Please Lord, above all...tear down my fleshly wants the minute that they begin to exalt themselves against you...for I want to live by the spirit and not by the flesh...therefore, Father....Your will be done in me, Your will be done in me, now and forevermore."

"I love you, Lord. I am Yours, and I know that You are mine."

Friday, May 29, 2009

SERIOUS Prayer Request!

Today is one of those days when I'm going to use this blog forum for purely selfish reasons.

Please indulge me. :)

For the past 5.5 years that we have lived in our home, we have longed for next-door neighbors that we would have something in common with.

The first group of people that lived there were, do I say it?

Shall I say it?

Let's just say, it was complicated.

The second group of people that lived there had a pit bull who liked to crawl on top of their spa that sits right next to our shared privacy wall, and bark his head off at us. We were so scared of that stupid dog (sorry pit lovers) that we wouldn't even go into the back yard if he was out!

All I could see were his bone crushing jaws clamped around one of my kids' faces!

When we talked with animal control, the best they had for me was, "Until the dog causes bodily harm, there's nothing we can do about it."


It was one of those moments when I realized that in the state of Arizona, animals often have more rights than people do.

They don't handle things that way in Texas, but I won't go into that here.

Ugh, I hated that dog!

The third group of people were always very nice to us, but had 3 teenage sons (also very nice to us) who always had tons of teens in the garage that were quite proficient at dropping a certain known word LOUDLY and as OFTEN as they could find a way to fit it into a sentence.

It was so bad that we couldn't go out front when they were out there, lest our children develop their budding vocabulary skills in ways that we did not desire.

Well, I'm told by one of their teens, that the house is going up for auction today.
As of this morning, group number three has officially moved out. precious friends and prayer warriors, would you please PRAY LIKE CRAZY that a nice family moves in there?

If you're into praying specifially, here are my requests:

1. That they'll have kids, a girl 6 and a boy 8. :)
2. That they will know and love and be passionate about the Lord.
3. That they will be homeschoolers.
4. That they won't have a loud dog.
5. That they'll like us. :)

My friend Chris and I were talking yesterday and she said, "Go anoint the house with oil!"

I told her, "I'm going to climb up on the roof and pour a VAT of oil over it!"


Thanks for praying!

Sweeter Than Chocolate - An Interview with Pam Gillaspie

What an honor, and a pure joy it is to introduce you to my new friend, Pam Gillaspie.

Pam is the author of "Sweeter Than Chocolate" - Sweet Words and Real Solutions from God's Book.

She was gracious enough to grant me an interview with her about "Sweeter Than Chocolate," and I'm excited to share with you what I learned about this exciting new study, published by Precept Ministries International!
Plus, this is the first interview I've ever written for my's a big day here! :)

As you read, keep in mind that God is tendering my heart more and more to be an encouragement to Precept leaders, so much of what I ask Pam in this interview is from the perspective of how "Sweeter Than Chocolate" can be used by Precept leaders, to grow new students and new leaders.

Jes: Pam, tell me how it came about that you wrote this study...what was your motivation?

Pam: I realized that I was plateauing in teaching somene else's material, having led for 10 years and having studied inductively for 20. I wanted to be digging the truth of God's Word out for myself even more. My mentor, Jan Silvious , encouraged me to follow God's leading for me. She helped me to see that God might have different plans for me than I had for myself.

Jes: How is "Sweeter Than Chocolate" different from other inductive studies, namely a Precept Upon Precept (PUP) study? I know from reviewing the first chapter, that the similarities are many, but how is Chocolate different?

Pam: Chocolate is designed to flex. Using Chocolate is a great way for teachers to meet with different levels of students in the same class. New believers and old believers can rub up against one another.

Jes: That's pretty exciting, really. As leaders, we often find ourselves with people who fall into one of two categories...those who are brand new to studying for themselves and are intimidated by it, and those who have been studying inductively for years. Having older believers in a class can either encourage the younger ones, or can scare them off. How does Chocolate bridge that gap?
Pam: Because the study is designed to flex, it allows each student to determine how deep they want to go. They have three is to do just the main section of the week's study; two is to choose the "One Step Further" boxes and do exactly that...go one step further; and three is to work through the "Digging Deeper" part of the study, incorporating word studies and cross references, which seasoned PUP students are accustomed to, but new students may want to wait to do until they are more comfortable with inductive study.

Chocolate is really a wonderful way to put these different groups of people together, and let them be the body of Christ, as we are called to be...encouraging one another in love as we grow up into Christ.

Jes: And as you said, it's designed for flexibility. As a leader, I love that! I can just see the women I lead being so excited that they have a choice as to how deep they will go...not only from student to student, but also from week to week.

Pam: Yes. We all know that kids get sick, dogs run away, in a word, life happens. Chocolate is a JOY based study - Jesus wouldn't have you doing homework, when your kids are in the other room throwing up!

Jes: You know, Pam, you were such an encouragement to me the day that I called you, crying my head off, because I didn't have my homework finished, and I was the LEADER!

I felt so much guilt, as though I was letting my class down. Yet, you helped me to see it from a different point of view.
I'll never forget you telling me, "This will be an opportunity for your ladies to learn grace."

I was so tempted to cancel class that night, yet because of your words of encouragement, I pressed on. We had a wonderful study that night, and I could hear the sigh of relief from some of the women when I said, "I didn't finish. So, we're going to add one more week onto our study, and we'll complete it next week instead."

We had a great laugh, and a precious time in the the Word..both that night, and the following week! And you know, the church didn't come crumbling down because I'd only made it through day 3.!

Thank you for helping me see that life really does "happen" to all of us.

Pam: It does. It so does, and the Lord knows that. And "Sweeter Than Chocolate" allows for weeks exactly like the one you had.

Jes: Now Pam, you've actually led this study with a group of women from your home church in Illinois, correct?

Pam: Yes, I have. And what I found is that newer students are quick to say, "I can do that!"...there's a sense of success in learning that they really can study for themselves. They see that they can get in and grow with the study as they go along. At the same time, advanced students have the freedom to push themselves further, all the while being an example to the newer students.

Jes: I suppose I should have asked you this question to begin with. Why the name "Sweeter Than Chocolate?"

Pam: The Psalmist of Psalm 119 wrote that God's Words were sweeter than honey to his lips. (Psalm 119:103) As I dug into Psalm 119, I realized that honey doesn't necessarily translate in our minds, especially not in America. So I asked myself, what the sweetest thing that we think of is? Of course, it's chocolate!
Jes: Imagine how life would be different for us if we really did think of God's Word as being sweeter than chocolate! What if we had Word cravings, as we do chocolate cravings?! Now, that would be a neat thing to start asking God to give us...Word cravings!

Pam: Yes! So often, we think about God's Word as veggies and not as sweet. How do we get across to people that God's Word really IS sweet? If the Psalmist were writing today, I think he'd use the metaphor chocolate.
Jes: So, let's get the word out to people that God's Word is as "SWEETER THAN CHOCOLATE!"

Pam: That's the thing that kept coming back to me as I wrote this study...just how sweet God's Word really is!

You know what's interesting too, is that chocolate is appealing even to people who might not be knocking down the door for Bible study. They might come for the chocolate, and stay for the sweet Word of God that they find.

We need to be telling people that God's Word isn't bitter. It really IS sweet!

I couldn't agree with you more, Pam!

With that, my blog reading friends, I'm going to wrap. Please visit again in the next few days, as I'll be digging deeper with Pam, and she'll answer the question,

"Why Psalm 119 for our summer study? Why spend 6 weeks in one Psalm?"
I think her answer will greatly inspire you to choose, "Sweeter Than Chocolate" for your group's next Bible study. Check back in the next few days to read part two of our interview.
Until then, I'll be praying that God puts a huge Word craving into your heart!
Much love,


Wednesday, May 27, 2009

The Question I Was Too Afraid To Ask...

I've wondered about this for a really long time, and have really wanted to post the question to the Precept Leader Board, yet I was too afraid to.

I was afraid I'd look like a slacker, and I think I was desperately afraid of the answers that others would share, thinking that I'd once again feel like I am lacking as a Precept leader, when compared to so many others.

But, some brave soul stepped up recently and asked the question I've been itching to ask, and when I saw it posted to the Precept Leader Yahoo Forum, I knew the Lord wasn't going to let me off the hook.

I knew I was being called to share what was pressing on my heart, so I did. I pray that it somehow encourages you to step out in faith in Christ Jesus, and lead others in inductive Bible study.

This was the question:

How many hours a week do you spend preparing for leading your Precept class, excluding the time dedicated to actually working through the lesson yourself?
(I'm paraphrasing, but this was the gist of it.)

I am not at liberty to share anyone's answer but my here goes, this is what I posted...

I wanted to respond to the question about leader preparation time.

I hope my heart comes through in what I feel led to share, as it's not always easy to express one's heart through email/forum groups.

I am led to share in the hope that it will encourage some of you out there who are not now leading because you don't think you have 10+ hours a week to prepare...or, those of you who may be in the same life situation that I am.

We are a homeschooling family of 2 kids, 8 and 6. While I do not work outside the home, I do have a full time job as a teacher inside my home.

We've also had 18mo-2years of unresolved health issues here, which is time consuming too, besides the fact that my brain doesn't work like it used to (seriously!).

I've battled, often, with deep feelings of inadequacy as a leader, and have made the mistake of telling my class one too many times just how bad of a job I am doing, compared to the great and seasoned Precept leaders I've sat under. (Yes, I've had the best!) :)

Countless times, I've thought about many of you here, whom I respect so much, and in weighing myself next to you, I find I lack deeply.

I don't have the hours that I desire to have, to study commentaries, and I don't have them on hand even if I wanted to.

I don't have LOGOS or a laptop computer.
I am blessed to have Zodhiates and Vines, and I have Wuest but cannot remember how to use it.

We don't do charts in my class, even though I feel my students could benefit from them. I am trying to follow the new model that Precept has laid down for us, and use minimal visual aides...which is good because the charts intimidate me.

As much as I can right now, I rise early or stay up late to study...but it never, ever seems enough.

I have seen my classes start out with 25 people, and dwindle to 8...more often than not.

I often wonder when the Lord will send the real Precept leader to lead this class, so that I may sit under him or her and soak it up like a sponge. Yet, in 5 years, He hasn't yet chosen to do that.
I've been blessed to see others answer the call to lead, and oh what a blessing that is, yet they haven't taken over "my" class...they've multiplied, and are now leading their own separate classes, and many of them feel as inadequate as I do.

However, through it all the Lord has shown me some rich and humbling things through this journey as a leader....

1. It's His desire for people to learn to study His Word for themselves, and all He asks me is if I'll be obedient. He doesn't ask me to be spectacular, as much as I'd love to be.
(Oh, how I'd love to be!)

2. He knows my heart...that I never feel I have spent adequate time in study, yet He never fails to do the work in the hearts of those students who are willing to sit at His feet and dig in. And He has always been faithful to teach and grow me in the process. :)

3. I'm not to tell my students anymore how bad I am at this. Even in doing that, I am taking the focus off of Him and putting it on me.

4. There are not a lot of leaders that I've met, who are my age. I hope and pray for more and more leaders in my age group, and younger. In order for that to happen, I have to model for them that they really can do this...and make it work with where they are in their lives. It cannot seem an impossible task, or they may not be willing to answer the call.

5. At the onset, I started leading because I kept being asked by other people if I could show them how to study the way that I do...if I can keep that as my focus, just teaching them what I've been taught...just passing this awesome gift to them...then I believe I'll have been obedient to my Master.

I was talking with one of the ladies from our Kings & Prophets study a few months ago, a woman in leadership over me within my church, and telling her how sorry I was that I had done such a poor job...what with health issues and a weak background in the OT.

She looked me square in the eyes and said, "Precept has changed my life!"

Wow! Thank You, Lord! Thank You, thank You!

Today as I laid having an EEG, with wires and gunk all over my head, I listened to the familiar accent coming from the sweet lady who was doing the testing on me.

Finally, I couldn't stand it anymore..I had to ask...

"Are you from Romania?"

"Yes. Romania." she answered.

Oooh...(My heart's desire is to one day go to Precept's training center there, and see first hand what God has done through the faithful work of a few obedient servants.)

"I have friends from Romania." (I've met Mia and Costel once, but as far as I'm concerned, we're lifelong friends!) :)

"From Romania?" she asked.

"Yes, they have a Bible training center there."

To which she opened up and told me that she is a Christian.

"Oh, do you know Mia and Costel Oglice?" (Why I feel compelled to ask this every single time I meet someone from Romania is because Mia and Costel are my Brother George Muellers.)

"Yes. Yes. They trained my husband in inductive study, when Romania was still a communist country. They trained him underground. He is now a youth pastor at a Romanian church here in Phoenix."

I kid you not when I tell you that this is about the 3rd person I've met in Phoenix who is from there and was trained in Romania by Mia and Costel!

Each time the Lord orchestrates another meeting with a fellow believer like this, He reminds me again of all that He can accomplish through faithful and obedient servants.

(For blog readers who aren't familiar with them, Mia and Costel and their team have been used of the Lord to train thousands upon thousands of people in how to study the Bible for themselves. There is an Bible training center in Romania where much of their work takes place. You can see it by clicking here.)

I know it's been long, but I pray that some of you who have been holding back because you don't have hours and hours to prepare, will be encouraged just to put some people in your hip pocket and take them along with you as you dig into God's Word.

Give them what you've been given, and trust the Lord to do the work in their hearts that He wants to do.

If they outgrow you as a teacher, great...get them trained to lead! :)

Monday, May 25, 2009

The Veteran in the Parking Lot

It was a few weeks ago, early evening. The air was crisp, the temperatures mild, and it was a perfect night for a stroll through the blooming desert.

My family and I had just left Baskin Robbins with our favorite of 31 flavors piled atop sugar cones.

We decided to eat our ice cream while we walked around the outdoor shopping center, and as we walked and laughed, the kids climbed every rock and wall they could find!
Our hearts were merry and light.

Then I saw something that brought it all to a halt.

There was an older man, in his 70s or 80s, who had stopped dead in his tracks. He had just come out of the grocery store, and his cart was piled high with food. Yet, there he stood....frozen in the middle of the parking lot.

I knew something was desperately wrong. His body language told me so.Then I saw him stoop over....

I pointed him out to Shane, and said, "We need to see if he needs help! Honey, something is wrong..he's walking away from his basket full of groceries. He's leaving them right there in the middle of the parking lot! We need to go see what he needs!"
It all happened so quickly. All four of us fell into step and headed right for the man.

A million thoughts were running through my head.

Was he having a heart attack? A stroke?

Did he lose his wallet?

Was the basket too hard to push?

What in the world was wrong?

Then I saw it.

I realized what had happened to him.

My heart raced.

My eyes filled with tears.

And I knew in a moment that my family would be there for him.

We'd help this dear man in any way that he'd let us.

You see, the reason he had stooped down....

The reason he had stopped dead in his tracks....

The reason he was leaving all of his groceries in the middle of the parking lot...

was because he had found an American flag lying on the filthy ground, and in that moment, taking care of her became vastly more important to him than anything else he needed to do.

I wish you could have seen how lovingly this gentleman handled her, how gingerly he lifted her from the oil-stained ground into his caring hands.

Oh, how he looked at Old Glory and treated her with such love, such tenderness.

Looking into his eyes as he held the dirty, tire-marked flag, I could imagine the thoughts running through his head...

It was as though, as he surveyed each dirty stripe, each oil-stained star, he was remembering another friend, another comrade in arms, whom he had lost in battle.

"Sir, is there anything we can do to help you?" I asked.

He paused a moment, as though trying to read whether or not we would treat his flag with the same respect he had for her, and then without really looking at us, he proceeded,
"I've got to take this flag inside. Someone just threw it out!"

"We can do that for you, sir. If you'll let us have it, we'll take care of it."

"It's not supposed to be treated like this," he said, as he tried in vain to clean the flag with his handkerchief.

"Yes, sir. We agree."

Then he lifted his head, taking his eyes off of the flag for the first time, and looked us in the eyes and asked, "Will you clean it up?"

"Yes, sir. You have our word on it. We'll wash it, and then we'll hang it properly."

"Good...that would be good," he said, still in deep thought about his flag, and likely trying to determine how anyone could have thrown her into a parking lot, to be trampled.
"Sir, may I ask you, did you serve?"

"Yes ma'am, I did. Special Forces."

"Was it in Korea?"

"Yes, Korea."

I have a dear friend whose father served in Korea. He calls it the forgotten war.
The next time you meet a gentleman in his 70s - 80s, whom you know served, ask him if it was in Korea. You won't believe the appreciation that will shine from his eyes, a thank you for your recognition.

At that point, I looked to Caedmon and Brennan and said, "Children, what do we tell our veterans?"

"Thank you, sir. Thank you for fighting for our freedom," Caedmon said.

"Thank you, sir. Thank you for serving, thank you for our freedom," Brennan added.

He stood, quiet. He looked Shane over real well, and then he gave me a good visual evaluation, still trying to determine if we were genuine, it seemed.

From what I could see from where I stood, I'm positive that his dusty gray eyes were watering behind his glasses.

Then he said, in a kind but firm voice, "You all have done a good job. A really good job."

"Thank you, sir. We want our children to know that their freedom comes with a price."

"Yes, a high price...a very high price," he confirmed, still shaking his head over the plight of his flag.

We spoke for a few more minutes, and Shane and I thanked him too. Then we parted ways.
He returned to his groceries, and we left with the treasure that he had entrusted to us.

The flag sat on top of the washing machine for a few days, and each day my children would remind me, "Mommy, we have to wash it. We have to take care of it. We promised the veteran!"
So we did. We ceremoniously washed the old flag. We sprayed her with lots of stain remover, and we washed her on the delicate cycle with our best laundry soap.

Even after lots of work to her, many of the tire marks and stains remain.

The reminders of someone's carelessness just won't come out.

Regardless, she now hangs proudly over Shane's work bench.

We see her every day, and she's been a source of many rich conversations about our friend the Korean War Veteran, and about our freedom.
I wonder if the kindly gentleman has any idea what a rich lesson he gave to our kiddos that day?

Oh goodness, he gave it to all four of us, really! And now, he's giving it to you...

I wonder if he has any idea how thankful we are for the sacrifice he paid? For the continual sacrifices paid by our service men and women, and their families?

"Thank you" just doesn't seem enough.

Will you thank a veteran today? Would you please step outside of your comfort zone and tell a veteran, or a serviceman or woman how much you value their sacrifice?

Yes, you'll feel awkward. But do it anyway!

Think about how much they've had to step outside of their comfort zones.

That should help.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

A Mother's Heart Cry for Her Children, and God's Answer

This blog has turned out to be such a source for making precious friends across the miles, that I am ever astounded by how dearly I have come to love so many people whom I've never laid eyes on.

If you're reading this, and have wanted to "meet", I invite you to send me an email at the address listed in the sidebar. I'd love to know you, and know how I can be praying for you.

Shelly, a Precept leader in South Carolina whom I mentioned in this post, is one of the precious friends I'm referring to. She's become like a sister to me, and we talk weekly. I love to hear her pray, for when she does, the Word of God pours off of her lips as one who truly knows the Lord, because she has disciplined herself to study His Word, and therefore knows His heart.

Shelly is a woman who is deeply in love with the Lord. Her desire is to be the best mom she can be, yet she has a redheaded 4 year old little boy, Ben, who likes to really test her!

She also has Sam who is 6...not a redhead. :)

She called me shortly after having written the 1st prayer journal entry, which you'll see below, and was at her wit's end with Ben. Haven't we all been there!

It was during that conversation that I challenged her to the call of leading her boys through studying the Bible inductively. I shared my heart with her, which is that we as parents cannot expect our kids to learn all they need to know about the Lord, just by putting them in Sunday School and Wednesday night classes at church.

What if we were to disciple our children at home, and then trust that what they get at church would be the icing on the cake? The cake that we had been faithful to bake at home!

I fully believe that we will stand before the Throne one day and will answer to God for what we did (and did not do) with His command to us to teach the Word to our children!

That very night, Shelly answered the call, even though neither of her boys are fluent readers. She started teaching them by using one of the Discover 4 Yourself books by Precept Ministries, "Wrong Way Jonah!"

The common misconception that I hear is this...people think they can't use the D4Y books because their kids aren't readers.

Please hear me on this...each of the D4Y books is written as a story within a story. There are a few leading characters, Max and Molly, and with each of the studies, they are learning a new career... they become archaeologists, comic book writers, advice columnists, superheroes, etc, and all the while they (and your kids) are learning to observe, interpret, and apply God's Word!

So, even if the children in your life are not reading yet, you can still use these books!

You'd just need to read the story aloud, and then verbally walk them through how to use the 5Ws and an H to reason through the Scriptures listed. It's all laid out for you in the book, so it's very easy for the teacher.

You will be QUICKLY BLOWN AWAY by how much very young kids can learn about the Word of God, if you'll just take the time to go though a Discover 4 Yourself book with them. And, they'll LOVE it!

OK, back to Shelly....

She was gracious enough to share the entries from her prayer journal, chronicling her journey with her son Ben's behavior, and how being willing to seek counsel, apply some new ideas, and spend daily time teaching he and Sam how to reason through the Word of God, has helped her whole family.

Her hope is that you will be encouraged, edified, and exhorted to begin leading your own children, or those in your church, through inductive Bible study, too!

Here's what she wrote in her prayer journal...

Saturday, May 9, 2009 (the before entry)

Dear Almighty and Most Holy Lord,

My heart is so heavy today! My load and burden seems too difficult to carry.

Immediately I am reminded by the Holy Spirit that “sheep” are not burden bearing animals.

That’s what you call and refer to Your people as…one of Your sheep and You Jesus are the Great Shepherd.

I have come to lay my burden on You.

I am so glad that I can pour out my heart like water before You and You welcome it.

How wonderful! How grateful I am!

So, here goes…

I need Your help with Ben! His screaming is driving me crazy. I beg of You to make him stop!

Teach me how to teach him to control his temper and anger. Teach me how to control mine as well. You have helped me with this already but I’m not all the way there yet.

I greatly desire peace and serenity for my home. A place where order and contentment exist.

A place where mommy doesn’t have an attitude, where mommy doesn’t resent her children’s misdeeds.

I beg for You to fix me to be the mother/nurturer/trainer of these kids.

I want to go to bed each night without regret that I said or did the wrong thing!

Here's the "after" entry....

A dear friend of mine, Jesica, spoke words of wisdom to my heart today.

She challenged me to be in the Word daily with Sam and Ben. I said “really?” “daily?”

I know I should and I have the “want” to but I hesitate – anticipating their response. I feared their lack of attention and lack of excitement.

So, Heavenly Father I bring this to You. I want to want to teach them more than I want to teach adult ladies.

Give to Sam and Ben a deep desire and enthusiasm for Your Word. May they initiate our time of Bible study.

Give me the ability to teach them at 4 and 6 years of age.

I realize that I don’t take teaching them seriously enough. I am more concerned and excited and consumed with teaching others rather than my own children.

Why is that, Lord?

I ask for you to forgive me and change my heart. I am pleading with You Father to truly change my heart and attitude regarding them and turn my heart back to my first ministry.


We started Bible study last night and it was GREAT!

I read the first chapter of Jonah out loud and asked the 5 W’s and an H.

I used a small dry erase board and drew pictures of the events. I had them draw in their notebooks pictures as well.

They participated and even Sam said the best prayer that “we wouldn’t be like Jonah who when told to go to Nineveh went to Tarshish instead and disobeyed God.” (Sam is 6!)

I showed a map that showed Tarshish was in the opposite direction of Nineveh.

I asked them “Can you really run from the presence of the Lord?” and they said “NO! He sees you all the time and everywhere!”

We also discussed how Jonah’s disobedience was and is SIN and his sin affected other people (the sailors).

We discussed how we are often like Jonah and Sam gave me an example.

Ben tried but had some trouble (he’s four).

Our time together far exceeded my expectation and was so fulfilling!

Oh, my heart is so full of thankfulness to my dearest Father. He answered the cry of this mama’s heart beautifully!

Don't you just want to meet this Momma, who so transparently poured her heart out before the Lord? Doesn't her story make you want to start studying with your own children or grandchildren? What about the children in your church?

Oh that we would all cry out to God for the hearts of our children, as Shelly did!

Here she is...with Sam and Ben, in front of the library on the grounds of Billy Graham's ministry.

I love you, Shelly! Thanks for sharing your story with us, and keep up the great work!

Monday, May 18, 2009

The Sweet Prayer of a Friend...

I can never adequately express my appreciation for all of the prayers that have been sent up on our behalf over the past few weeks.

Truly, we thank each one of you who have lifted us up before the Lord.

I want to share one of those prayers with you now. This was sent to me by my friend Melissa, (though not the Melissa I wrote about last week).

This Melissa and I met last year in a Precept class that we were both taking. She then joined us at the Precept retreat, and that's where I really got to see her heart.

She came to me at the end of the retreat, big tears filling her beautiful brown eyes, and said something along these lines... "It's time for me to get up and going. I've wanted to go to seminary for so long, and have been studying inductively for the past 10 years or so. Through this retreat God showed me that He wants me to start leading others right now. People need to know how to study the Bible for themselves, and I've been given this's time to share it with other people!"

Melissa then joined us last year for a study of "Rising to the Call of Leadership," which we used as a leadership development class. Everyone fell in love with her! She has the sweetest disposition, and such a heart for the Word and for people.

I wanted to share the prayer that she emailed to me (by permission), because it is so full of Scripture. I've bolded the parts that are directly from the Word of God. (Hope you don't mind me taking that liberty, Melissa.)

As I read it, I was reminded of how the Word of God really does implant on our hearts, and spills out our mouths (or fingers in this case) when we spend time in dedicated study on a regular basis.

Melissa, you bless my life, and I am so proud of you that I could pop! It's incredibly exciting to watch how God is using your life for His glory!

What an amazing blessing it is to call you friend, and to get to sit in your "amen" corner!

I love you, sister!


After I sent you the e-mail, I read your blog.

I'm so sorry to hear about your possible diagnosis. I am praying for you and your family!!

Hang in there, hang in there, hangeth thou in there, dear friend.

Our hope does not disappoint because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit given to us, allthough, sometimes I feel like my heart is too small to hold both pain and His love. Yet, as the Grinch's heart grew, so does mine.

It grows by faith. It is by faith that a woman of God has a heart that bears burdens, yet hopes and prays and prays and prays for herself and for others.

You bet my hope does not disappoint. It is that hope that allows me to finish strong or smile when the the external screams the contrary.

Praise be our Savior through whom I have received the reconciliation!!

I truly glory in Him.

God bless you Jesica in all you bear as you daily walk!

I am praying on the alert with all perserverance and petition for you dear Sister!

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Thoughts on My Ministry

I wrote this post several weeks ago.

I trust that God's timing for it's publishing is perfect, for had I posted it when I first wrote it, Shelly's story would not have been available. She is ecstatic about my sharing it.

May you be blessed, encouraged, and compelled to walk in the good works God lays before you...(your family being #1)

My ministry.

Even those words look odd to me.

It's not "my" ministry, it's the ministry of the Lord through me. The same can be said of you.

It's the Lord's ministry through those who obey Him.

I've been thinking a lot about ministry lately...about what God desires to do with and through my life. About what an awesome, humbling thing it is that the Almighty would even choose to use any of us in His grand plan for mankind.

Last year, the Lord tugged on my heart...whisphered to my heart, to put together a Precept retreat. In every single step of the way, He went before us. He paved the way for that retreat to happen, and He did some awesome things in the hearts of many of us who were there.

Since the time of the retreat, I've had countless conversations with people who took the challenge from the Lord, and stepped forward to lead others in inductive study. Many of these stories came from people who had never led ANY Bible studies, much less a study that teaches people to reason through God's Word for themselves.

Immediately after the retreat, I was hit with sickness like I've never dealt with before.

For months upon months, I found myself sidelined.


Worn out.

But you know, the Lord was in control of all of it, and through it He has taught me some invaluable lessons.

I am so passionate about people being rooted in God's Word, that I don't always see the ministry right in front of my eyes.

I forget that it's important to have healthy meals for my family, down time with my sweetheart, game time with my children.

Yesterday as I was getting ready to go to church, to lead the youth (whom I love!) in our Wednesday night class, Brennan came into my bathroom crying. She told me that her tummy was really hurting, and that she didn't feel like going to church.

She LOVES Wednesday nights, so I knew this wasn't about her trying to get out of something she didn't want to do. (Um, that was MY trick when it came to school!)

I was a bit paniced. It was 5:40pm, and we had to leave for church in 20 minutes, and I had to discern in just moments, what I was to do.

In my flesh, I wanted to make her "buck up" and tell her that she'd be fine, and that Mommy had a class to teach.

But, in my spirit, I was unsure. So I prayed, and then I called a precious woman of God from within our body, and she graciously stepped forward and taught class that night.

And I stayed home with my first ministry, and cuddled and watched a movie.

And you know, the sweet woman who took my class that night, and has raised 4 children who know and love the Lord, said to me, "Sometimes, all they need is you."

Oh, how she ministered to me through her kindness, and her heart of service!

I've been praying and asking the Lord to tender my heart toward home. I've removed different outside ministry roles from my plate so that my attentions could be focused more here.

It's not the most comfortable thing in the world for me. I like moving and shaking...I like pressing onward and upward.

I am passionate about people learning to study God's Word for themselves.

My heart aches for those who are believers in Jesus Christ, yet do not know what to do with their Bibles, or who don't realize that God's Word really will be a lamp unto their feet, and a light unto their path, TODAY if only they'll discipline themselves to spend time in it.

As a result of this passion for people to know God's Word, I struggle with how much I am to do. If it were only me, or if our kids were grown and Shane and I were free to teach people how to study any time we liked, I think I'd want to have a class going every day!

Shane told me the other day that it isn't Jesus who loads us to the point of breaking. It isn't the Lord who gives us so much on our plates that we get sick from it.

We do that.

His burden is light.

I think of the time that I left my own children in order to go for a week of training for ministry.

I left my children, and my husband. My husband still had to work full time, and my children were being shuffled in order for my "ministry" training.

If I had it to do over again, that would not happen. If I had it to do all over again, I'd make a different choice. I'd choose to wait upon the Lord, and to wait for training to come to my town, instead of leaving my family behind for a week.

I thank God that He knows my heart, and forgives my poor choices. That was definitely a poor one.

It grieves me that we as women have such internal battles as to what ministry is. Is it the feminist agenda at work that tells us that ministering to our families is not sufficient?

I was talking recenlty with my friend Shelly, another Precept leader, and she too has small children. She was sharing with me that they were having some huge struggles with their 4 year old.

I asked her how much time she was spending in the Word with him, and there was only silence coming from her end. Then she asked, "Really? I mean, really?! I guess I think he's too little to understand, or to get it. I mean, I teach women! Not kids!"

To which I said to her, "Oh no, sweet friend. If you have kids, you teach kids. It's that simple. If your children grow up to reject the Word, and you haven't done your job to teach it to them, you will never forgive yourself. And, it won't matter if every woman in your town is living for the LORD, if you haven't done your job with your kids."

What a joy it was to get a call from her just 2 days later, telling me that she had sat her children down and started on "Wrong Way Jonah!", and that they had LOVED it! She said they were so into it, and she was thrilled beyond words!


Oh, to raise world changers for God's glory!

I remember several years ago when we first moved to town, that I would spend hours each week taking my kids to the park. With each trip to the park, I met new people. Most were moms who were new in town, and were looking for friends, and for places to connect.

The friendships that were formed, and the opportunities to share Christ with those moms, were unmatched.

Isn't that what ministry is, at it's core?

Living as the light of Jesus Christ in a world of darkness?

Loving others as Christ loved us, and being available to share His love with them?

As we move into the summer, I realize that much of "my" ministry is going to happen right here in my my neighborhood.

There are going to be children in my home, or swimming in our backyard...children who may not know how precious they are to Jesus Christ.

Will I answer THAT call?

Will I minister reconciliation over cookies and milk, and a good water gun fight?

Or, will I be grumpy and stressed with these kids, because I have to prepare to lead Bible study?
Will I show my children, through sacrificial love, that their friends and their interests are important to me, or will I crowd out their needs for those needs that I deem "important?"

A new friend of mine said these words to me a few weeks ago, and they have powerfully impacted my life...

"I have to learn to say "no" to the good, so I can say "yes" to the great."

I don't want to sacrifice my family on the altar of "doing ministry."

I just don't.

And I've finally decided that I won't.

Again, I'm reminded, as I listen to the words of my precious and amazing husband...

"It's not Jesus that loads us to the point of breaking. We do that to ourselves."

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Update from Dr.'s Visit Today...

What a crazy time we live in, isn't it?

I find I'm communicating more through Facebook, email and here on the blog, than I am by phone these days.

I had an appt. with a neurologist today, and these are the basic findings...

1. She does not think that what I'm dealing with is MS. My dear friend who was just diagnosed with MS, is not so sure.

2. I have to have more testing done. EEG, another MRI in a month or so, and some other tests that I don't remember the name of. ...they are designed to test the memory, so I find it pretty funny that I can't recall the name. :)

3. I asked her for a best and worse case scenario.

Best: this could be as "simple" as the remaining issues from having had Epstein-Barr. Evidently, even a virus can cause a lesion to form on the brain.
Worst: a brain tumor.

Say it with me, in your best Arnorld voice, "It's NOT a TUMOR!"

So, we wait, and we pray, and we see what next week and next month hold.

Thank you for praying. So many of you have written or called to say that you are, and I want you to know, I cherish each prayer, and am humbled by your graciousness.

A precious friend of mine called to pray with me today, and in our conversation, she reminded me that even the waiting is part of God's plan, and she encouraged me not to dismiss the waiting time.

I loved that!

So right on!

Thanks, Melissa. 

You're a sweetie!

Saturday, May 09, 2009

Mothers Day...Mother's Day...Mothers' Day...?

I never do know...does that need an apostrophe? Mother's Day...Mothers Day....Mothers' Day ?

However it is to be, Happy Mothers Day.

Caedmon is sick today. We've had rounds of this lately, and he got his turn as it kicked in last night on our way home from our first Diamondback's game.

Poor little guy. He's just pitiful when he's sick!


He was whining ( I mean talking ) to me a few minutes ago about the fact that we aren't going to go to church tomorrow, and he's quite sad that we won't be there.

He said, "MOMMY! We can't miss on Mother's Day!"

I said, "Caedmon. My Mother's Day will still be wonderful. I have everything I could ever ask for, for Mother's Day."

"But Mommy...we didn't get you anything yet! What do you want?"

"I just want you and Brennan to put bows on your heads. You are my presents."

And oh, how they are!

We're holding steady here today. Thank you so much for all of the prayers.

They are priceless!