Consistency or the lack thereof

Consistency

Oh the word is a huge portion of my failings. Inconsistent in my training and disciplining of our children. Inconsistent in my time in God’s Word. Inconsistent in eating right and drinking my daily water intake. Inconsistent at even giving our children and myself the medicine, supplements, and vitamins I know we need.

This inconsistency comes with a terrible lack of self-control. I don’t think before I speak most of the time nor do I think before grabbing that drink or food that I was determined to stay away from.

What is my problem?

Some might say it’s because of my “stressful” life, and because my husband and I are caring for five kiddos nine-years-old and younger. I might tell myself it’s because I feel like I need an “out” or a break or a treat, and I just give in to all the things I planned to change in my lifestyle. Maybe it’s because I am a self-identified “emotional eater.”

And then I think of the term my best friend introduced me to many years ago: self care. Taking care of yourself. Not just surviving on left over french fries and yesterday’s grace. But, doing the things you love, taking care of yourself and your health, getting a break or a momma “time out.” Oh, I love time outs!

For sure, yes and completely, we give of ourselves, and we serve, and we deny ourselves daily for the sake of our families for the glory of the Lord. We pour, and we pour, and we pour, and we pour some more. But our hobbies and our lives do not end the day we birth a precious human being. Some days I feel like I have lost myself, like I don’t know what I like anymore. For several years after Brandon’s transplant he was just surviving and not pursuing hunting or working out. But now, he’s determined on all fronts to live out his passions and to do it well.

So what do you love? Sewing, gardening, scrapbooking. Do you want to learn a new trade or hobby? Our children would do well to see us pursuing something while loving and taking care of them as well.

HOW DO WE DO IT ALL? How do we be a wife, momma, friend, daughter, co-worker, lover of our hobby? That’s one question I have yet to figure out. You see, I am still in the excuse-making category. And then Brandon comes home with this truth bomb from his favorite podcast and drops it like it’s real hot:

“Excuses are lies.”

Are

 

“But, I went to bed late last night, so I can’t get up before the children and get my heart ready for the day.” LIE! “I chose to go to bed late last night and not prepare for the next day.”

“I am in a hurry and will just grab this food or that drink because there are no other choices.” LIE! When we prepare before hand for the crazy schedule ahead, we can do what we need to do to make meals better for us.

“The kids have too much going on for me to have time for this or that.” LIE! They can even come alongside us as we pursue whatever it is that God has given us a passion for.

So, what am I going to do about all of this? Well, I am going to pray and ask God for some real deal self-control in all of these areas. And ask Him for wisdom about what I am to be pursing and how I am to be spending my time.

Some days I feel like a real chicken with my head cut off, not knowing up from down. But God’s grace is much greater than my deficiencies. He hears our prayers, and He answers them in His timing. Get specific in your prayer life. Write down your desires, requests, wants, needs, pleas. Lately, I have been so very overwhelmed at God’s specific answers to prayer. Granted, I prayed for months about many of these “answered” prayers, but wow. I truly believe the Lord gives us desires and prompts us to pray and then does His almighty, amazing thing by answering in His glorious way. Maybe it’s not quite the answer we were hoping for, but God takes care of it perfectly.

Hebrews 4:14-16 “Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.”

The priest would go to God on behalf of the people before Jesus. But now, our Savior, goes to the Father on our behalf. And there, on our knees, in His presence, we “receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.”

This struggle of inconsistency and lack of self-control, it seems pretty petty in the grand scheme of things. But we sure can still bring it before God and ask Him for help to have success here for His glory. Let’s do this!

 

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The brain of ADHD

You know we can go all our lives without putting a name with something we struggled with. Chronic belly ache and fatigue – maybe we had IBS but just lived with it. Sorrowful thoughts that rebounded from time to time – maybe we struggled with mild depression. The words on a page just never made sense, and we couldn’t comprehend much of what we read. In fact, we hated reading but managed still the same – quite possibly we lived with and conquered dyslexia, in our creative, surviving way.

I have a loved one that in her middle age has self-diagnosed herself with Attention and Hyperactivity Disorder. One day she told me her thoughts in a 10 minute span – you would not have believed it. In a picture, it was a small bouncy ball bouncing seamlessly and effortlessly all over the room without stopping on one surface for more than 0.5 seconds. This is what she has lived with and conquered every day of her existence. Yes, days and years passed, and we can look back and see how ADHD made a huge, sometimes negative impact on her life. Then she mastered something amazing in her early 40s – she graduated college with a degree in the medical field. All with these fleeting and abrupt and impulsive thought trains that never made a stop for very long at one destination.

This is your brain with ADHD

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This is your brain on a stimulant with ADHD

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Hyperactivity with ADHD is one thing. Inattention with ADHD is another. Trying to accomplish a task with untreated ADHD is, well, it’s more than a challenge. Treatments range from medication to therapy. Willpower and grit, though valuable to all human beings, oftentimes do not play a key role in overcoming ADHD, especially in those who are young adolescents or teenagers. In fact, you can’t just pull your boot straps up and get your mind to focus with moderate to severe ADHD. It just isn’t going to happen.

Our only daughter could not complete a psycho-educational evaluation last year without the help of a stimulant medication. The meeting stopped short about an hour into it with a gentle but swift declaration that her attention issues were causing extreme roadblocks in her ability to gather information, comprehend information and in turn tell the doctor what she knew.

Those with ADHD have brains that are wired and constructed completely different than those without attention issues. Science proves it; medical professionals show it on brain scans. The part of the brain, the frontal lobe, is what matures more slow in those with ADHD. This section of the brain is responsible for impulse control, attention, concentration, and planning.

Agreed, ADHD is often OVER-diagnosed, but a lot of times, because of the stigma and misinformation and lack of research, families will not even consider that ADHD might be the culprit for their child’s bad behavior at school, impulsive actions at home, and extreme sibling quarreling. Yes, this all stems back to a need for discipline and understanding the heart of children (and humans in general), but it could also be a LOUD CRY for help from the child. He may not know what in the world is going on in his brain because IT. WON’T. STOP. Thoughts go here, there, and yonder on a whim, with the change of the wind, and it can be truly frustrating and confusing to a child.

I want to encourage you today, as a parent or an adult with someone in your life (OR YOURSELF) with potential ADHD, to take a look at this form.  This is the Vanderbilt form looking into potential attention issues.

This will give you real and true insight into what may be going on in your brain or your child’s brain. And there is HELP out there. My child who couldn’t physically complete an assignment as a 7 year old girl told me “Mommy, I can do my math” just an hour after taking her first dose of medication. I am not a prescription drug pusher; I hate to even take tylenol for a headache. I didn’t even take narcotics after having babies (c-sections at that). So, I do not come from that background. I come from the stance that there is help and if you need it please go get it. Don’t delay.

Those with ADHD are stinking smart and creative and capable of living life to the fullest. Maybe your child needs help. Maybe you need help. Don’t turn a blind eye and harp and stress and not consider this. Consider this! Take a look at the form and know there is help for the weary and worn out child or adult with attention issues.

And watch this Tedx https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=JiwZQNYlGQI episode. It brought me to tears at the real struggle those in my family face and have faced. But the end is so sweet. ADHD is not the end of anyone’s story. It’s the beginning of understanding. It’s the beginning of a beautiful story full of adventures yet to be told.

O, Great God

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“O great God of highest heaven
Occupy my lowly heart
Own it all and reign supreme
Conquer every rebel power
Let no vice or sin remain
That resists Your holy war
You have loved and purchased me
Make me Yours forevermore
I was blinded by my sin
Had no ears to hear Your voice
Did not know Your love within
Had no taste for heaven’s joys
Then Your Spirit gave me life
Opened up Your Word to me
Through the gospel of Your Son
Gave me endless hope and peace
Help me now to live a life
That’s dependent on Your grace
Keep my heart and guard my soul
From the evils that I face
You are worthy to be praised
With my every thought and deed
O great God of highest heaven
Glorify Your Name through me

Music and words by Bob Kauflin
© 2006 Sovereign Grace Praise (BMI)

This song is a pure and true picture of redemption and salvation and love from our Great God. There is a plea: “O great God of highest heaven, occupy my lowly heart. Own it all and reign supreme, conquer every rebel power. Let no vice or sin remain that resists Your holy war. You have loved and purchased me; make me Yours forevermore.” Come down and live in my heart. Own all of me and be on the throne of my life and get rid of the rebelliousness in me. Let no sin or sinful tendency stay in my heart, anything that goes against You and Your purposes. Make me your child forever and ever.

There is humble realization of a person’s heart apart from Jesus and what the Holy Spirit does in a human heart: “I was blinded by my sin, had no ears to hear Your voice. Did not know Your love within; had no taste for heaven’s joys. Then Your Spirit gave me life, opened up Your Word to me. Through the gospel of Your Son, gave me endless hope and peace.” Without Jesus, we are walking in our flesh, in our humanness and cannot even read or comprehend a word in the Bible. We cannot understand His love for us and we surely cannot fathom the joy of life eternal. But, God. Then God gives us the Holy Spirit, and we finally come alive, and His word comes alive. Through Jesus’s death, burial, and resurrection we have hope and peace that does not fade or go away.

And then there is a plea for help to live in this world as a follower of Jesus: “Help me now to live a life that’s dependent on Your grace. Keep my heart and guard my soul from the evils that I face. You are worthy to be praised with my every thought and deed. O great God of highest heaven glorify Your Name through me.” We cannot live a breath or walk a step without God’s grace and mercy and help. In obedience and with His aid, He protects and keeps us though we face evil and temptation. He is so worthy to be praised with everything we think and do and say. And the believer says with all His heart, “O great God of highest heaven, glorify Your name through me.”

This song is just unreal and I love it. It mirrors Christ’s saving of a human soul. Oh may we pray to and depend on and hope in this Jesus who loves us and never leaves us or forsakes us.

Be the Match

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Be the Match. It’s simple. It’s easy. But there is a cost, a sacrifice. And there is a possibility of a future blessing one cannot prepare for or imagine or fathom.

From cancer to bone marrow disorders, a bone marrow transplant or stem cell transplant is sometimes a key to full recovery, remission, or just more time between another transplant. It provides hope in the midst of excruciatingly dim odds and statistics. It can give physical life where there was none.

Chemotherapy and radiation alone are not enough to cure some cancers and bone marrow disorders. Sometimes these patients who suffer from these need a brand-new start, and it’s a fresh slate that hinges on a willing, sacrificial person. It takes two people to begin and potentially finish a successful bone marrow transplant; two people – one very sick and one very healthy.

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Unlike the very sick patient, a donor willingly signs up for the bone marrow donor registry knowing he will only be giving something of himself, not knowing of its return. It’s a commitment, but a very easy “yes” when he knows the potential reward for him and his match. What’s so incredible is that this registry is worldwide. How do I know? I know firsthand, because Brandon’s donor is from Germany!

 

I remember the night we awaited Brandon’s transplant. We were on the tip-top floor of Vanderbilt Hospital, in Nashville, TN, in the smallest hospital room God ever made. It was the last wing to be renovated because of how delicate its patients were. These men and women on this hall had no immune systems to fight even the weakest virus, even something as minor as ringworm (our oldest contracted a huge ringworm on the top of his scalp several days into Brandon’s 30-day hospital stay and had to wear a ball cap as an 11-month-old to prevent Brandon from coming in contact with it. Keeping that ball cap on was a TRIP!).

There we sat, Brandon in all his bald glory (due to days of chemotherapy to get rid of his very bad bone marrow) and me in all my 10 weeks pregnant glory, watching the minutes tick by when I heard the sound we had waited to hear for months. The helicopter hum. We knew it was for us. And there we pictured Brandon’s donor sitting somewhere in Europe (we couldn’t know for a year exactly where the donor lived, but we were informed it was Europe), in a hospital, recovering from a bone marrow harvest, wondering when his donor recipient would in fact receive the life-giving marrow.

Brandon received the new marrow cells by IV over the course of a couple of hours, and after his blood pressure sky-rocketed, a stint of severe nausea and vomitting, and two glorious shots of morphine, his long days of recovery began. His years of being a daddy started all over again at Day Zero. His days of impacting this world for Jesus marched right on along, all because a precious man in east Germany signed up to potentially help another human being have a chance at physical life. God used Be the Match to give my husband more days on this earth, more babies to raise, and more opportunities to tell this story of physical redemption, prayers offered and prayers answered, and God’s work of saving souls for all of eternity.

And just a couple of months ago, Brandon was able to actually connect with his donor and tell him “thank you” and show him the tangible way his decision to sign up for the bone marrow registry has impacted our lives for the best.

It’s so easy, y’all. Even easier initially than giving blood (go give blood too!!!). Be the Match changed our lives, and I know many, many other families like ours would be so ever grateful for your sacrificial giving as a donor. Sign up today.

Hurting at Christmas

“Who is the one who overcomes the world, but he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?” 1 John 5:5

What do you do when it seems the whole world ’round you is hustling and bustling and rejoicing and joyful and you… you aren’t. I’m not saying this is me, but we must consider that there may be those around us, with us, passing us, joining us this Christmas who are hurting, who are downcast, who even may be WITH hope in Jesus but are trudging through a sea of muck and mire this Christmas season.

And what about those family members coming to gather at your table who do not know and love Jesus? Whose hope is in the world and not the Creator of the world… how must we respond to them in love and compassion and gentleness and understanding?

Whew, it is e.a.s.y to be so very inward focused during this season, inward focused toward our own family nucleus in an unhealthy way. Yes, we are celebrating together the gift of Christmas and teaching our children and instilling in them traditions and heart-shaping truths that are paramount for right views of this life and the one to come. But, oh, what about those right in our midst, extended family, framily, acquaintances who hurt and are down and cannot be lifted by a joyful round of “Jingle Bells” or “O, Holy Night”?

We need to be on our knees praying them through this season. Make that list of those who you know love Jesus but are struggling this Christmas. Add to that list those who don’t hope in Jesus and don’t know the eternal joy He brings when He takes out their heart of stone and puts in them a heart of flesh. Let’s band together to pray for them earnestly and often. Pray the scriptures. Even pray this over them with their names inserted.

“‘Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.'” Matthew 11:28-30

This world and the sinful humans in it (ME INCLUDED) muddle and mess up all the feels and all the good sometimes. But, God. Look what it says here in 1 John 5:4-5 “For whatever is born of God overcomes the world; and this is the victory that has overcome the world – our faith. Who is the one who overcomes the world, but he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?”

The evil, the carelessness, the pride that tears at our hearts and breaks us is not the end of our joy. Look what overcomes this world and the evil and the carelessness and the pride we encounter which tries to destroy hearts – faith in JESUS. “This is the victory” 1 John says. Oh, this is the victory.

Maybe we don’t feel like celebrating with all the congregation of our family and friends this season, but know there are those praying for you and the God who has indeed OVERCOME the world.

“‘These things I have spoken to you, so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world.'” John 16:33

Take courage. He is for you. He has overcome the world for your good and for God’s own glory. In Him there is hope for your weary, tired, beat up souls. Hope has come. Hope is alive. His name is Jesus.

O Holy Night

“Fall on your knees”

O holy night
The stars are brightly shining
It is the night of our dear Savior’s birth
Long lay the world in sin and error pining
Till he appeared and the soul felt it’s worth

The thrill of hope, the weary world rejoices
For yonder brinks a new and glorious morn
Fall on your knees

O hear the angel voices
O night divine
O night when Christ was born
O night divine
O night, O night divine

O Holy Night
The stars are brightly shining
It is the night of our dear Savior’s birth
Long lay the world in sin and error-pining
Till he appeared and the soul felt it’s worth

The thrill of hope, the weary world rejoices
For yonder brinks a new and glorious morn
Fall on your knees

O hear the angel voices
O night divine
O night when Christ was born
O night divine
O night, O night divine

Words. Truth. Worship. Repeat.

It’s overwhelming to me when scripture that I have been meditating on recurs in songs or in sermons or from the lips of a fellow believer. Those words from the Bible become more clear and applicable. A sweet friend has a poignant quotation that just applies to so many areas of our lives, “Words matter.” And boy do they.

Christmas is such a sweet time. Our family’s focus is on the miraculous birth of the Savior, a remembering back to the night that began all of this celebrating. And this celebrating turns into worship for me again and again especially when the truth of God’s word is put into song form, lifting up our Jesus and his birth.

“Fall on your knees.” I am not a crier, really, I am not. But as I type out those words tears do well up in my eyes to think on at Whose feet we are to fall and why. This Jesus wasn’t just a man. He wasn’t just a wise prophet. He wasn’t even just a good, wise prophet. He was God incarnate, God with us, holy God and perfect man all in one.

“…but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” Romans 5:8. While we were still sinners, Jesus died for us. He knows us. “But Jesus on his part did not entrust himself to them, because he knew all people and needed no one to bear witness about man, for he himself knew what was in man” John 2:24-25. And He still came to suffer at the hands of angry men and to have the full cup of God’s wrath poured out on Himself for our sakes and for God’s glory.

Here is the Biblical truth echoed in this sweet hymn: “Long lay the world, in sin and error pining, TILL He appeared and the soul felt its worth.” The word pining means to suffer grief or regret over. Us sinners were suffering grief over our sin and shame, but God! He sent Jesus. Jesus appeared to us and our soul could see why it was created finally.

We have worth, we have purpose. And this purpose is probably not what we all think it is. We aren’t created for ourselves or even really for other people. We aren’t created to have things or to just exist and survive or to live extravagantly and to spendall of our God-given income on the world’s goods.


“For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works.” Titus 2:11-14

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“The thrill of hope, the weary world rejoices
For yonder brinks a new and glorious morn
Fall on your knees”

May we rejoice. May we see the Hope who has come. He has appeared and came as a baby on that blessed night in Bethlehem. This is Christmas. The Hope realized. Emmanuel. God with us.

 

10 years and counting

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Brandon and me a few days after engagement!

I, Maggie take thee Brandon, to be my husband. To have and to hold, in health, for richer, and I promise my love to you forevermore.”

Had these been the vows Brandon and I promised to one another, in the presence of God and each other, our marriage would have absolved, oh, on day 60 of our marriage. You see, Brandon began feeling intense pain in his side and incredible fatigue within the first 30 days of our marriage. He was so tired he couldn’t hold his eyes open past 7 p.m. each night. I didn’t mind much because I was pregnant with our honeymoon baby and gladly laid up in the bed after dinner, and we played Uno until our eyes shut around 7:30 p.m. Did you know you can play the longest game of Uno known to man by playing with only one other player? Yes, it’s true!

But, no, thankfully, the traditional vows begin like this:

“I, Maggie take thee Brandon, to be my husband. To have and to hold, in sickness and in health, for richer or for poorer, and I promise my love to you forevermore.”

Most marriages do not play out like our perfect little picture we had as little girls or as engaged 20-somethings or even 40- or 50-somethings. There’s a little thing called “God’s plan” that is higher and bigger and better than anything we could ever, ever imagine. What’s most important to the Lord is our relationship with Him, and He will allow and even use trials, affliction, hardship, and loss to draw us to emptiness so we will see that we can do nothing apart from Him.

“And without faith it is impossible to please Him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that He exists and that He rewards those who seek Him.” Hebrews 11:6

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Brandon and CB at Vanderbilt, August 2009

In the middle of the 18 month long sickness, transplant, and recovery, we didn’t realize our faith was growing, but, by God’s grace, we were drawing near to God and seeking Him and experiencing many, many others do the same on our behalf. I would never trade what God taught Brandon and I and our family and friends about who He is, what He does, and how He cares for His people and how He can change a heart to know and trust Him in the midst of deep affliction.

Tomorrow marks 10 years since I walked down that aisle to that blond headed, freckle faced buff guy. Today, those strong arms embrace not only me but five incredible, unique gifts of God. We pretty much planned none of the events that happened or the places we have lived or the paths we have walked over the past decade. But God did! And for that I am so crazy thankful.

“Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord
And whose trust is the Lord.
“For he will be like a tree planted by the water,
That extends its roots by a stream
And will not fear when the heat comes;
But its leaves will be green,
And it will not be anxious in a year of drought
Nor cease to yield fruit. Jeremiah 17:7-8

Do not fear when the heat comes, because it is coming. You will not have planned for the drought, but if you continue feasting on God’s word daily, reading daily His promises, and continually reminding yourself of what God has done and who He is, your leaves will remain green and you will not cease to bear fruit. Put your dreams and ideals and picture-perfection at the feet of Jesus and ask Him, “What do You want for our marriage, for our family? May it be as You say and teach me to trust You and Your plans as they are for my good and Your glory.”