My heart, my love, my life

My heart, my love, my life

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

A Blessed Day

      Today was one of those days.  The kind of days where making it out of my bedroom is a major chore.  Normally I hate days like today but not today.  My back hurts and I am tired.  I am a week out from my Remicade treatment.  This is my hard time but the good news is that it is better then it was last month.  Praise the Lord!  We were able to go to 2 movies yesterday at the dollar theater with the kids and it was fun.  We finally saw Courageous and Dolphin Tales.  Great movies!  My back hurt yesterday and I took my meds and off we went.  There was none of that today but it was still a good day.  I felt sort of sad when I woke up because I knew it was going to be a rough day and it was so pretty outside and I don't like being stuck.  I got a text from a friend and she asked if she could come visit.  She brought her daughter Tigist, who is Muluken and Gifte's biological sister.  So the kids got to play and visit and Elaine and I sat on my bed and talked.  We prayed for a sweet lady in our church who lost her husband today and marveled at how neat it is that in the last few months he had started coming to church.  He was just there this last Sunday morning.  I hope when I see Miss Leona that she will tell me that she is confident that he gave his heart to Jesus.  How faithful she has been to pray for him.  Such a testimony of a prayer warrior and an amazing love for Jesus!  My mom was so sweet and brought my meals to me in bed, loved on my kids, did laundry and let me rest.  The kids ran in and out to update me on their new books for their kindles and to get a hug now and then.  My man worked on our barn.  I am so excited to see the finished result of all the hard work he and my brother and our boys have put into it.  My sister-in-law came over with my nieces and that was so nice.  All in all, while I may have been in bed all day, Jesus didn't leave me here alone.  I know there have been so many other days that I haven't been grateful for the love he has surrounded me with and I am so sorry for that.  I remember the story in the Bible of the 9 who never said thank you and the 1 who did.  I desire to be one who says thank you. Thank you Lord for knowing what I need before I could ever think to ask.  Thank you for the blessing of a sweet day for my entire family!

"How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! " 1 John 3:1

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

The Twelve Days of Christmas

       In my last post I wrote about our Christmas Eve devotion for Advent and one of the things we talked about was the history of the song "The Twelve Days of Christmas."  I said I would re-write the information because I thought it was so good and it led to some great discussion time around the table.

From 1558 until 1829, Roman Catholics in England were not allowed to practice their faith.  In fact, being Catholic was a crime!  So to preserve their teaching and doctrine, someone wrote this carol as a catechism song for young Catholics.  It has a hidden meaning known only to members of their church.  Each element in the carol has a code word for a religious reality, which the children could remember. 
*A partridge in a pear tree represented Jesus Christ.
*Two turtle doves were the Old and the New Testaments.
*Three French hens stood for faith, hope, and love.
*Four calling birds were the four gospels: Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John.
*Five golden rings recalled the Torah or Law, the first five books of the Old Testament.
*Six geese a-laying stood for the six days of creation.
*Seven swans a-swimming represented the sevenfold gifts of the Holy Spirit: prophesy, serving, teaching, exhortation, contribution, leadership, and mercy; it also represents the seven sacraments; baptism, Eucharist (Communion), reconciliation, confirmation, marriage, holy orders, and anointing of the sick.
*Eight maids a-milking were the eight beatitudes.
*Nine ladies dancing were the nine fruits of the Holy Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.
*The ten lords a-leaping were the Ten Commandments.
*Eleven pipers piping stood for the eleven faithful disciples.
*Twelve drummers drumming were symbolic of the twelve points of belief in the Apostles' Creed.
From "A Family Advent" published by Thomas Nelson

      Whether or not there is truth to the historical evidence of the song, the lyrics and what some people tied to them to remind them of the truths of the Bible are fantastic.  We talked about the Apostles' Creed some and about why there were only 11 faithful disciples.  As I read the words to the song, I asked the kids and my family to guess what each of the lyrics might be representing.  It was a sweet time around the table and a catchy way to remember some very important truths through a seemingly silly song. 

Monday, December 26, 2011

New Pictures

I love my gorgeous man!

Beautiful Children!
My beautiful girls!

Handsome boys!

The amazing men in my life :-)

Tristyn and Brityn

Bub and MJ

Gifte and KK

Merry Christmas!!!

        I love Christmas!  I have loved it since I was a little girl. The joy this season brings to my heart sings loudly within my heart.  This has been an extra special Christmas because my mom was able to fly down from Seattle to stay with us for a little over 2 weeks.  I haven't had Christmas with my mom since KK was a baby.  She has been so full of joy being here with us and getting to enjoy her 8 grandchildren.  My brother and his wife and my two nieces live right up the road so we have been able to spend lots of  time together. 
        Christmas Eve was a sweet time.  I made 2 different types of enchiladas and while we ate we read the final devotion in our advent book.  I have learned so many interesting things through the devotions we have done as we celebrated advent.  The most memorable was definitely that night.  We sang "The Twelve Days of Christmas" and then we talked about the reason that song was created.  We opened our Bible and went through what each of the twelve days represented.  It was so cool!  Then we opened our traditional gift of pajamas and watched the movie "Christmas Snow."  I highly recommend the movie because it was so so good.  The movie ended with Brityn in tears (I think we all cried) and Grammie and I had an opportunity to talk to her about heaven.  We talked about my step-grandpa (Grandpop) who passed away Friday night and how he is in heaven dancing with my Nana and praising Jesus.  While the death in the movie and the death of Grandpop is so sad, the reality is that they are so much better off.  What a day that will be when we get to look into the face of Jesus!  Brityn is slowly coming to really understand what Jesus did for us and how huge it really is.  She is so sensitive and full of so many questions.  We talked for a long time and prayed several times.  My mom (Grammie) read the Christmas story out of the book of Luke to all of us.  Precious memories!                                 
         Christmas morning began with sour cream twists and orange julius.  Yummy!  My mom was successful in her attempt to make gluten-free sour cream twists for me.  I definitely need to post a picture they were delicious.  We opened gifts and spent time laughing.  There was a lot of duct tape involved in the wrapping of some of the presents this year, which brought a lot of laughs with it.  Philip and Rachel and the girls came over and we opened more gifts and ate even more.  I think holidays are just a huge excuse to eat and believe me, we ate!  After getting everything picked up, we began preparations for our dinner.  The kids played with their toys and worked on setting up their Kindles.  We are truly blessed because our children love to read.  Grammie got each of the older four Kindles and they are so excited!  The younger girls played with their DS and sang in the new Karaoke machine.  I can't wait to get photos of them singing,  It makes me laugh just thinking about it.                   
          There were 24 for dinner tonight.  My mom is so fantastic and made the best turkey and ham.  Dinner was great and so fun!  We laughed and talked and enjoyed everyone's company.   It was a great day!  I am so grateful to have such an amazing family and group of friends.
         I think the best gifts that Jared and I received were the handmade cards that our children made for us.  I am going to post pictures of those also.  It isn't enough to re-write the words, you have to see them.  My sweet man got me a camera for Christmas so hopefully I can post lots of pictures.  That will be tomorrow though because it is much to late now.   More tomorrow.



Saturday, December 3, 2011


I have been trying to post off and on for several weeks now and I haven't been able to get into my blog.  There is something about computers and technology that is so incredibly irritating to me.  Register your IP?  What is that???? Anyway, to make a long story short, I still don't know what is wrong.  I pulled it up on Google Chrome (again I have no idea) and it works.  Maybe.  We will see if it actually posts.  I need to find a faster way to put pictures up or connect it to my phone or something.  I am very slow at all of this.  I wish it was all as easy as just typing.  I am sure that if I let my kids at the computer, they could probably figure it out so much faster.  But needless to say, I finally got the screen that allows you to post. YAY!!!
     Life has been so sweet the past few weeks.  I had my Remicade on the 18th.  While I am so grateful for the medicine, I have such a hard time before and after my infusion.  A very dear friend drove me and sat with me for the two hours I was hooked up to my IV.  That is one thing that I cherish about those times every 6 weeks, is the time with my husband, my brother or a sweet friend who is kind enough to drive me to and from the appointment.  The medicine makes me to tired and sick to my stomach to drive.  It is two hours of uninterrupted time which is precious in the world today!  I came home and went to bed and another sweet friend brought dinner and sat with me for awhile.  Dealing with my disease has taught me a lot about humility and allowing others in, it has also shown me how very prideful I can be.  The Lord is definitely working on my heart and on my mind.  "So that I may be mature and complete, lacking nothing."  I can't say that I am always happy about it, but I choose to be grateful for it.  The next day my kids played in a 3 v 3 tournament in Conway.  I was able to ride in the truck and sit in the heated seats to watch some of the games.  I love watching my kids play ball.  They are ferocious on the field and it makes me laugh to watch them.  Not laugh in a bad way, but I love their passion.  Between my four older ones, they display their tenacity differently, but it is all precious.  My amazing husband was able to coach Austin and Muluken's team while Gifte's coach was coaching she and Kailyn's team.  The boys got first place in their age group and the girls got second place in theirs.  It was awesome to see Jared get so excited.  He always picks on me because I get emotionally involved in whatever game we might be playing. Lots of encouragement and some "UHHHHHHHSSSSSSS"  You know the kind of UUUHHHH that slides out of your mouth when you are frustrated with a mistake or a bad call or any number of other things that might not go your way???  Well, I am pretty sure that my calm, laid back husband said a lot of UUUHHHHSSSS and pulled his hair a few times in the middle of the games, but he also was a tremendous encouragement to the 4 boys and 2 girls that made up the winning team.   That day it wasn't just the kids that I was proud of,  I was and am incredibly proud of my man.  He stepped way out of his comfort zone and I watched him figure out that he could do it.  He has what it takes to encourage and lead even when he was so unsure of himself or what he was doing.  He was able to stand up to some attitudes and fussing between the kids and encourage them to keep their focus.  I love him and love to see him find new things that he is good at.  He was giddy when he got home with my smelly kids that night.  Such sweet memories!  I will post some pictures as soon as I figure out how.        We went to a memorial service on Tuesday before Thanksgiving.  What an amazing legacy this man left.  He was an older man who knew and loved the Lord.  Every story told, every song they sang characterized how he loved his Savior.  I am sad for his family as they are grieving his loss but I know he is with his heavenly father.  What a legacy he left!  It made me wonder what kind of legacy I would leave?  What kind Jared would?  What kind of legacy will our children leave?  I realized that it is something that I don't think we think enough about these days because we live like we are guaranteed tomorrow.  It has given me a lot to ponder on.
        Thanksgiving was wonderful.  We had Jared's family at our house and we laughed like we haven't laughed in a long time.  Dinner was delicious and there was a lot of it.  Everyone pitched in by bringing something and Austin made beautiful pies. It was a sweet time!  I am so grateful for family and for friends.  I am thankful for so much and yet in reality I realize that I am not thankful enough.  The Community Thanksgiving Service pointed that fact out to me.  Pastor Anthony talked about the 10 lepers who were healed.  Completely healed and able to return to their homes and their lives and of those 10 only one returned to say Thank You!  Only 1!  I am ashamed to say that more often then not I live as one of those 9.  I fail to see the blessings that God has surrounded me with in the good times and in the bad.  How can I only say thank you for the good and not for the bad?  I realized listening to him preach that sometimes I will pray and pray and pray for things that aren't answered immediately, and when they are finally answered I don't even see it, remember it or acknowledge it as an answer to pray.  I long for a grateful heart in all circumstances good or bad. I desire for our hearts to be a reflection of the heart of Christ. 

Saturday, November 19, 2011


I can't believe that a month has gone by since I last posted anything. Time goes by incredibly fast. I need to pay closer attention to that. Life has been so busy over the last month. We finished our official soccer season the last weekend of October. It was a beautiful weekend for a tournament and all four of our oldest children played. My step-mom and dad (Nana and Grandpa) came in for a visit for 5 days and were able to see the kids play ball. I was well that weekend and was able to go to the tournament both days and walk the fields!!! Praise the Lord for that! My children played so well! I love to watch them play ball. My parents had a great time and enjoyed getting to spend time with their grandkids. Tristyn and Brityn had a great time out at the fields playing with each other and their friends. It was a two day family affair, we were all there and it was fantastic! I love getting to be with my family and the fact that Jared was able to be at all the games and not work made the weekend even better.

Nana and Grandpa left that Monday. It's always hard to say goodbye. I wish desperately that I had parents that lived here and my children do too. Nana sat at the table so often during that 5 days and talked to the kids about Jesus and how much he loves them. It isn't just conversation to her, it is everything she is. In the years since I have known her she has always radiated the love of Christ. My relationship grew tremendously with her after Austin was born. I was 18 and had just graduated from high school. I needed a safe place for awhile and I went to Florida. It was then that I was exposed to Jesus in a way that I had never seen and honestly I was so turned off at first. They were so weird. They never watched the news, they monitored every tv program, my little brother Christopher told on himself for everything (who does that??) and my mom constantly talked about the Lord. I was a trainwreck at that point in my life. I am pretty sure I hurt every person I came in contact with. There are so many people in my life that I wish I could personally apologize to. But through it all, 3 moves in and out of their home, my step-mom and dad loved me and introduced my gently to Jesus. They never pushed me. They just lived it out in front of me. It is who they are. Not perfect but precious. Jesus met me right where I was in the mess of my life and I learned that I was a wreck but that I didn't have to stay there. My Sunday school teacher back then shared his testimony of the years he spent partying and how he met Jesus in the bathtub at a strange persons house when he was covered in his own vomit. Gross, yes, but if Jesus could love and change him after all that, he surely could love and change me after all that I had done. It took years before I really understood the decision that I made back then at 19, but He never left me. I learned during those early years that He pursues relentlessly. I loved listening to Nana tell my children all those same things, knowing that her life story has left a tremendous legacy already. My dad is a believer as well and his story is just as beautiful, just much more quiet. I have learned that as well, none of our stories or the way we share them are the same and they aren't supposed to be. God uniquely created each one of us and has a plan for each of our lives. The world would be an incredibly boring place if we were all the same.

A week or so after Nana and Grandpa left, my best friend since junior high came to see me. Its been over two years since we've seen each other. We got to go on a shopping and dinner date which was so nice. Saturday Jared and I surprised the kids with tickets to the Razorback game! We all loaded up and went. We had a great time and it was fun getting to be there with Kala. Having her here was amazing. I am so grateful for the years that we've been friends and for the years that we spent not talking to each other. I love her dearly and I realized while she was here that I have taken that relationship for granted. We've been friends for so long and been through so much, that I think I just assumed that it would always be that way. I guess it is sortof like assuming that we are guaranteed a tomorrow. I don't want to take relationships for granted, especially the ones when it is so comfortable and familar that you don't feel the need to talk all the time. It is ok just to sit and be together with a warm cup of coffee. The time went by way too fast but it was a sweet time and I am so thankful for that.

This last week has been a rough week for me, I have not felt very well and I have been waking up in the middle of the night in terrible pain. Kala saw a few days that were rough and I had prayed and prayed that she wouldn't have to see that. If I could shut everyone off from that it seems it would be better. Even though I know that is ridiculous and a total lie, it seems so logical to me. That is the other thing that I am learning, to be humble. I have been blessed with family and friends who love me, love my man and love our children dearly. I hate to be a burden to anyone and when I am down I feel like an anchor pulling everyone down. When I sit in bible study on Wednesday nights and the sweet ladies share their hearts and their burdens during prayer time, I am so encouraged by their transparency and the fact that they let us in so we can lay them at the feet of Jesus. Why do I have such an inability to allow others to do the same for me? I am a very transparent person, until the last few years. The hard times we had bringing Muluken and Gifte home and then the struggles I have with being sick are hard for me to talk about. I have found that writing helps. Sharing the depth of my soul right now is a scary place. I know the legacy I desire to leave to my children and to others. I know how I desire to love my man and my family and friends, pulling away doesn't get you there and neither does fake.

I had my Remicade treatment today. I go every six weeks for a 2 hour infusion of medicine that works sortof like chemo to somehow shut down my immune system or something. I am much better on the meds then I was before I was able to start taking them but it is just hard. I have sweet friends who take me to my appointment and we get to talk during that time. Today I got steriod shots in my knees because they are inflammed and hurting so bad. I get to see another doctor to find out about getting shots in my back and neck. I may not be able to do that though because my insurance does not cover my disease or anything to do with my spine and neck. I am praying for answers for that. I came home and my sweet man came out to walk me in and each of my children came for lots of loves. Another friend brought dinner and sat and talked with me. Precious! I am truly a loved woman and when I put it into words I see the provision and the blessings the Lord has provided in the midst of the hard times. I just keep wishing I wasn't battling this disease, that I wasn't a burden but rather a blessing to those who the Lord has surrounded me with. I tell my children often that they need to change their perspective. Maybe it is time that I take my own advice. I hate this disease. I hate the pain that I live in and the help that I require. I hate that my husband and children live constantly on the look out for stairs, things on the ground I might trip over, things I can't or shouldn't pick up and a thousand other things. I hate being a burden to anyone. I hate that I can't sleep through the night because I wake up in pain. I hate that I can't walk normal sometimes or sleep normal in a bed. I hate that I take medicine everyday and that I have to take pain medicine sometimes to get through the day. I hate that I miss things like church and bible study, my kids games and things they like to do on days when I am bad. My kids play ball tomorrow in a 3 v 3 tournament and I probably won't be able to go. I hate that. I hate that I am using the word hate because we don't use that word in our house, it's not nice. But...... it is how I feel. Now that I have said all that I feel, it's time to CHOOSE JOY! Those two words will be my next tatoo on my foot. I need to remember that it is a choice. I need to change my perspective and CHOOSE JOY! I am alive, not dying. I am loved and cherished by the Creator of the Universe and He has blessed me with a man who loves the Lord and loves me deeply. I love my husband and enjoy being with him. I have six beautiful children who love the Lord and love each other and love me, even when I can't stand up straight and they have to help me walk, they don't care. I not only have Nana and Grandpa, I have my mom (Grammie) who I have a fantastic relationship with. I still talk to my step-dad who raised me. I have my brother, and Rae Rae and Lexi. I have Jared's family. I am a YaYa to many :-) I have precious friends, some who live here and several who live so far away. I have kids who were once part of our "college ministry" who have now become family. I have an amazing group of women in bible study and I love our church family. I have a great doctors. I have a beautiful home and great animals. I have food on my table and a warm bed to sleep in. I have so many more precious gifts God has given to me. Maybe I need to start the 1000 blessings list. These are the things I need to focus on. A lesson in gratitude really. It could always be worse and for many it is. A little girl named Stella is fighting for her life in the hospital in Little Rock. Her parents have already lost one child. I don't understand things like that, but in praying for that family, it is another reminder that where I am isn't so bad after all. A change in perspective, a place and a time to remember to CHOOSE JOY! no matter where we are in life. God is still sovereign. That is the legacy I want to leave. One full of love and joy, even in the hard times. I am not even close to that place but I am striving to get there. I am so grateful that God's grace is sufficient and that is love abounds more and more. He doesn't leave us where we are but promises to continue his work until we are mature and complete, lacking nothing. A beautiful promise from a faithful King.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

His Schedule, Not Mine

It has been the longest 2 weeks of my life. My pain level has been tremendous and the days have faded in and out. The saddest day was Sunday. Two years ago this past Sunday, October 9, was our anniversary of bringing Muluken and Gifte home from Ethiopia. It was the day we stepped off the plane onto American soil into the waiting arms of precious family and friends. I desire to re-live those moments with our children again. To show them all of the videos and pictures of that day and of everything that led up to it. Last year they would not have really understood. They were still learning English, we were still battling to be a family and build trust and relationships. This year though its different. I want to go back through those treasured nine months. Through each event and each moment where God showed himself to be so faithful. I wish that I could go to each person who prayed, provided and encouraged us in the process to say thank you again. There would never be enough ways to say thank you. I pray that the Lord richly blesses each one of those people, some of whom we never met. It took the movement of a mountain to bring them home, and God didn't do it through the faith of one or two, he did it through the faith of many. The body of Christ coming together for a common goal. Amazing! This year they will understand. Muluken found one of the tickets that we sold for our Spaghetti Dinner Fundraiser in a box the other day and he asked what it was. We have shown him pictures in the past but it seemed to be dawning on him in a new way. We described it and he asked, "May I keep this one?" Yes sir you may. Never forget how much God loves you. He never left you alone. He never leaves any of us alone, even when we feel alone. His plans and his ways are perfect.

All this being said, we never got to do all that I wanted to do. Instead, I spent the day on the couch in terrible pain. My four older children went to a soccer tournament with their daddy. Three of them played in it. I didn't get to go. I hate missing their games. I went on Saturday and it was just too much. We ended up having sweet friends for dinner that night who were so gracious and prepared a meal for us. But I had it in my mind what I wanted to do and it all went out the window. Isn't that just life? We have our carefully laid out plans and in the end, it isn't about our plans anyway? I need to choose joy no matter what. I enjoyed our company and so did Jared and the kids. It was a sweet time. I think sometimes I enjoy more in life when I am forced to sit and observe rather then jumping in and trying to take care of everything. I am definitely a "Martha" and I struggle to be a Mary. It must be one of the things I am to learn through the process of the ups and downs of this disease, to be a Mary. To be still and know that he is God.

So I am feeling significantly better, still a bit of a hobble and a lot of pain but so much better then a few days ago and my head is beginning to clear. I never understood true chronic pain. Yes, I had 5 shoulder surgeries from the time I was 13 until I was 17 and I have always had shoulder pain. This is different. The pain can be so bad that its like your brain shuts down just to deal with it. I am not even sure how to explain it but I am climbing out of the hole now! Praise Jesus! I am trying not to think about a few weeks from now but instead to focus on the here and now. It is 12am and I can't sleep because my back and hips and a few other joints hurt so bad. I can't lay flat on my back yet and that makes it hard for me to sleep. I chose to do something productive and that is write. I want to hide and push everyone away. I realized that it doesn't matter if anyone ever reads this, it helps me to put it down and get it out. Maybe someday my kids will read it and as they read about my struggle to live my faith out and to cling to Jesus no matter what, it will be encouraging to them. That is my prayer. We will have a whole day soon to go back through those nine months and to remember how faithful God was and how faithful he still is. That day will just have to be on his schedule, not mine.

"Consider it pure joy, my brothers, when you face trials of many kinds because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, lacking nothing." James 1:2-4

Friday, October 7, 2011

The story I never finished

I read back through some of my old posts and realized that I started a story and never finished it. We did finally move. It's been almost a year since we've been in our home. So many changes in such a short period of time. This home is our home. It has the land that we desired and the room to roam and play. It is only a 3 bedroom house, with the girls bedroom being large enough to accommodate the four of them and the messes that girls make. We have been blessed to be able to build some fences and fill the fenced areas with animals. 2 horses, 5 goats, 7 guineas, ducks and like 60 chickens. The horses make me the happiest. I am not super comfortable on them yet and many days I am unable to get on them or even walk out to see them but I know they are there. I forgot, we also have a cow. His name is Beef. The thought of him just makes me laugh. Supposedly we are going to eat him! I don't know about that, he is so incredibly cute. We have had some of the funniest scenes of the kids running through the pasture chasing the cow that Austin roped. Beef still had the rope attached to his neck. All 6 of the kids were chasing him around the pasture and he was dragging them on the rope. The boys finally teamed up around his neck and pulled the rope off as the cow was bucking wildly. I would have paid money to catch it on video but I was on the phone with Jared and laughing too hard to remember something as silly as a video.

I sit on my bed sometimes, like this morning, and watch my children and the children of my dear friends, running through the pasture chasing ducks and chickens. This is the best place to this side of heaven. I will post pictures soon. When I was little and I envisioned the best life possible, it would have been something and some place like this.

Choosing to SEE

I was up late last night reading the book, "Choosing to SEE" by MaryBeth Chapman. The book was funny and heart wrenching all at the same time. I saw myself in her words and in her actions. It made me realize how important it is to put my feelings down on paper. Truth be told, I have stayed away from blogging because it requires me to be completely honest and honesty has been very difficult.....

I started this post almost a year ago. I really haven't had a lot of nice things to say. My emotions have been all over the place. A huge part of my heart wants to scream at the Lord, "WHY!!!!" But when I ask the question quietly, all I receive in return is, "Why not?" I went a few weeks ago to a women's conference and the speaker talked about the instant miracles and what she called "the long way around." I have desperately desired an instant miracle to so many things. An instantaneous answer to the ups and downs with our children, to the hours my sweet man works, and an instantaneous healing for the disease that feels like it is killing me. No, I am not dying. But there is part of my soul that feels like it is. I feel like a toddler who is throwing a kicking, screaming temper tantrum. I am telling the Lord the whole way, "NO!!!!!!!"

A month before we left to bring our children home from Ethiopia I was told that I definitely had some sort of auto-immune disease. The disease was what was causing the severe swelling in my joints, pain, fatigue, hair loss, rashes, stomach problems and the constant injuries that hindered my ability to run consistently. She started me on meds and off we went to Ethiopia. I cannot believe that as I write this, we are approaching 2 years since they set foot on American soil. It has been a hard road but one that is so worth it. All of that must be saved for another post.

I read a blog recently of a family who was dealing with all of the things that happen after the airport. She was willing to be so honest and transparent. I admire that in her. I just hid. I didn't have anything nice to say, I was overwhelmed and sad and in a lot of pain. Too many adjustments in too short of a time.

My first rheumatologist passed away last September. I was devastated and then a few days later, a friend that God graciously put in my life, died of cancer. Grief weighed heavy upon my soul. I was referred to a new doctor and I finally received a definitive diagnosis. Ankylosing Spondylitis. A long, hard road to reach an explanation of the things that I have battled for years. The back and hip pain, the problems with my shoulders, the swelling in my joints, my hair falling out, the fatigue and so many other things. It was nice to have a name for it on one hand and horrible on the other.

My youngest brother has a disease in the same family. He was diagnosed when he was 2. The road has been long and hard for him. I see him and how well he is doing, all things considering, and I have hope. But days like yesterday, I feel completely hopeless. The pain is excruciating. I had my Remicade treatment on Tuesday. It was my 7th treatment. Once every 6 weeks. My life is lived in 6 week cycles. When I first started the Remicade, I believed that I had found the miracle drug. It cleared the fog in my brain and I felt amazing. Slowly, the pain increased and so did the fatigue. We just upped my meds and started a new pain medicine. I am allergic to the other. It makes me itch like I have fire ants crawling all over me. The days after my Remicade treatment are pretty hard. It is usually a hard week getting to the treatment and another hard one after with each day gradually getting better. At this point, my disease feels totally out of control. My steroids are up and I am having to take pain meds consistently, which I hate.

People say, "Where does it hurt?" Today you mean???? Right now??? Or an hour from now??? I hurt everywhere. Some days are much better than other days, but there is never a day anymore where I am pain free. I am tired and emotionally spent. I have nothing left to give. I have always been a pursuer of a friend. I can no longer be that kind of friend. I have very little left on days like today and on good days I tend to overdo to compensate for the bad days. This becomes a vicious cycle.

Oh, how I desire to live victoriously in the midst of an illness. I desire for my sweet man and my precious children to see me not as a quitter but as a fighter. Some days I don't have the energy to fight. I just want to sleep and the pain to stop. What if this is it? What if this is the best it gets? I am surrounded by optimistic people. But really, what if? I can take those thoughts captive all day long but when I wake up in the morning and I think, "today is going to be a better day" and I roll over and still hurt, what then? His grace is sufficient for me. Whether it is a good day or a bad day. Jesus isn't surprised or shocked at where I am or even how I am feeling. His heart is sad that my heart is sad. I know he cares about my man and my children even more than I ever could. He cares that they get embarrassed when I hobble around and when they don't know what to do to help. He cares about my sweet friends who just aren't sure how to help. I desire to choose to SEE the good in the midst of the storm. To not take my eyes off Jesus no matter how badly I hurt. To reflect him in everything. I have to learn to live life differently now, I can no longer do the same things the same way as I used to. I keep telling myself that doesn't make me less then, it just is. I am a wife, a mother to six, a daughter, a sister, a friend, a daughter of the king of kings and lord of lords. I am sad and broken and in agony. I am happy and joyful at the precious life God has given me and the special people he has surrounded me with. I don't know what tomorrow will bring but I am praying that I will choose to have a good attitude. To chose joy in whatever circumstances come and to enjoy those who God has surrounded me with. I choose to be honest and transparent, even if what I have to say isn't pleasant. I choose to be me, right where I am and allow God to shine through my broken and imperfect self and hopefully others will see how beautiful and perfect he is. "For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways," declares the Lord. "As the heavens are higher then the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts." Isaiah 55: 8-9. He knows what is best and sees the big picture. I see the small right here, right now picture. Oh, Lord let me have eyes to see what you see. To focus on you and all that is good, like the laughter coming from the little girls riding scooters on the front porch. Thank you for sweet times and even sweeter grace.