Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Who to love?

1 John 4:20
If someone says, "I love God," but hates a Christian brother or sister, that person is a liar; for if we do not love people we can see, how can we love God, whom we cannot see?

There are SO many verses on love.  I just can't seem to get this one out of my mind.  I wonder who is putting it there? ;)

This verse bluntly says two things.  1. you.are.a.liar. if...you say you love God but you can think of even one person in your life you struggle loving. 

How do you know if you aren't loving someone?  Here's some help.  

1 Corinthians 13:4-10
 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, 10 but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears.

Simple?  No, but at least it's right.stinkin'. there.

The other very blunt thing that 1 John 4:20 points out is that when we do not love everyone, we cannot love God fully.

Oh.  huh.  Well that sucks because I really want to love God and I want to tell people that I do.

Well, there is hope.  God understands our brokenness, hence sending his only son to die for us.  We don't have to carry the weight of our sin, guilt, shame but we do need to strive to change.  We do need to recognize where we fall short and try and make it right. 

I think, for me at least, the first thing I need to do in changing to be more like Christ is to be willing to hear God call me out.  Whether through the bible, conversations with others or as I post a bible tweet thinking of someone else who needs it.  Ouch.  Y'all ever done that?  Yeah, me either...............*shame*

Proverbs 12:1
 Whoever loves discipline loves knowledge, but he who hates correction is stupid.

We are a wicked people who need our savior every.single.day.  We need to be quick to hear God, then apply it.  Be ware of what comes next, though!  Satan isn't for us and he doesn't want us to grow.  The enemy is at work.  

Ephesians 6:12
12 For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.

Do you struggle with loving someone or a group of people the way God calls you to?  Do you struggle loving anyone  the way Christ loves them, loves you?

I sure do.  So, what do we do about this?  Do we throw our hands up and say, "I can't love them...it's too darn hard!"  or maybe, "They seriously need to see the ways they need to change before I can even begin to love them."

No.  God doesn't give exuses as to who we can exclude after he tells us to love.  He tells us to love and for those of us who have given their life over to Jesus, that we have the Holy Spirit to lean in on when it's hard.  And it will be sometimes.

From there, ask God specifically what you are to do with the person or persons you aren't loving well.  Not only ask Him to help you love them better but ask what action, verb, get-off-your-seat thing you could do to show them love.

It may even be a confession to them.  Those are quite powerful (when your "reasons why" are not included)

We must be willing to see our own sin first and how we need to change before we go and point out the sins of others.  Pride truly comes before a fall.

I could go on and on about loving because God's word says SO much but this is, in a nutshell, what Gods been saying to me and my struggle with loving.  I like to share with others so you too can be encouraged that you're not alone in this life and we all mess up.  With a community of people gathered around where we can be free to fail and be given grace as we try again .  Slowly becoming more like our sweet savior.


Tuesday, February 19, 2013

A Dream of Hope~Zeke

I wrote a blog post soon after Zeke had his first seizure.  It was a detailed post on a God-given dream I had that, although abstract, was preparation for me as a few days later it unfolded into real life.  I deleted it because I went back and read it after Zeke's 3rd, 4th and so on seizure and I couldn't bare the thought of how life was "normal" only one blog post before.  The reality of how our life was unfolding was too hard to look upon through a blog post.  It was hard enough living it.

This dream was of me in a war zone, chaos all around, buildings falling. I look at the building where my kids were as it was smashed to the ground, thinking mostly of Zeke (and feeling quite guilty of that when I woke up). I remember praying, "These babies are in your hands, Jesus.  I give them all over to you."  I said this not knowing if I was going to ever see them again.  When I woke up from that dream, I said in my head, "Okay, something's coming."  Not two days later did Zeke have his first seizure and it all began.

Today, after many months of faith-growing, tearful, hopeful, thought-we'd-loose-him kind of days, I was given another dream.  I can't wait to share this with you!

I have been randomly asking God to give me hope through His words, a dream or through people.  I didn't care how, but there were days I just needed something somewhat (ha!) tangible.  I needed my little faith renewed.

He always blessed me as he knew I truly wanted to believe and trust in Him.  Last week I do remember asking God for a dream but didn't give it a second thought.  I told him I knew my faith wasn't enough and that he just needed to fill in where I couldn't.

A little over a week later, God blessed me with a beautiful, hopeful dream.  I was with another woman (I'm pretty sure it was my mom because she has been my earthly rock lately) and there was a wall full of gel.  Yes, gel.  It had a body-sized slit going horizontally along it, ready for me and my mom to climb in.  Why climb in a wall of gel, you ask?  Because God was right there, above us, looking at us with the most gentle of smiles (didn't actually see his smile but I felt the warmth of it) as I felt him say, "Trust me.  Have faith in ME."

So we went into the gel knowing that you can't breath in gel, you can't get around well in gel and we had not been told  how much time it was going to take but there was this willingness to jump right in because God was there and I trusted him.

Next, very similar in that there was a wall with a body-sized slit but this time it was full of water.  I thought, "Okay, I have no idea how deep and wide this water is, but let's go!" and we did.  Why?  Because I could sense God was watching out for us and no matter what, it was all going to be okay.

Guess who was waiting for us at the end?  Ezekiel Todd was standing there with a huge grin on his face as God (being all glowy with no real form) was standing behind him with his non-formed hand on Zeke's shoulder and it felt like He was saying, "You see?  I Am Healer.  Here is your son."  And I didn't feel fearful or sad or a sense of loss.  I felt just felt like God and I were the best of friends and he was giving me a wonderful gift. 

Zeke was fully restored.  He didn't have to say anything.  I could see that he was "all there".
We had finally made it through!  God's kingdom came into my son and He was getting all.of.the.glory. and it was so beautiful.

I shared this with Andy, of course, the next day but then on our date, we really hashed through it.  Andy opened my eyes to the fact that the gel was not life-giving.  It only takes away life (in the sense of you swimming in it...we don't need gel to live.  It gives us, um, bad hair?)  "But water, you see, gives life.  Sure, it can take life but that's not it's purpose."

Andy believes, as do I, that we had already gone through the gel and now we are in the water.  The gel was the period of time where we were afraid of the next day not knowing how Zeke would be.  Constantly wondering how to save him, change this, do that...it was miserable.  We were drowning and suffocating in gel.    

Being in water, although it has it's "dangers", it gives life.  And that's how I feel now.  We are not out of this trial completely but our faith is new, our hope doesn't lie in Zeke's ketones (ketogenic diet) or how many seizures he had that day.  Thank God!  That was taking life from us!  No.  We rest in God and His wisdom he pours on us day to day giving us new hope in Zeke's healing.  We rest in God's Word that tells no lie and trumps fears every.single.time.

And, at the end, we'll get our boy all healed up.  He'll be released of the turmoil he faces every minute, with every seizure.  We'll get to talk with him, get to know him better and as I am sure much of Ember will agree, we'll hear his genius ideas and what he's been thinking about all this time. ;)

I'm so thankful for a husband who is willing to let encourage me to blog this all out, as I believe God is calling me to share our story so I can be bold in giving Him all the glory!  I know I sound crazy most times, but let's just say, in the most respectable way possible, God is pretty crazy too ;)

I know God a lot more than I used to and I have a gazillion miles to go in knowing Him better.  But you see?  Instead of just calling God my heavenly father, I really feel God as my heavenly father, more than I ever have before!  I really believe that He is always there, quick to listen and full of wisdom to fill me up on.  The best of cheerleader as I go through this life and try to bring glory to His name.  But also, like a grandpa with a kind smile, eyes that burst with wisdom and a soft touch as I jump on His lap for another story.

This is the God I serve.  This is the God I give even my very, very loved children over to because His love for them is greater.

Yesterday, we had little sleep (less than 5 hours) which is only about 1.5 hours less than normal but I felt so crushed, depressed, defeated and so I texted my mom and said, "If there was ever a day I wish you could come and help me..."

Waiting for Grammy!

And she came!  She changed plans and hopped in the car to help me for two days.  I am so blessed to have a mother like that!  She helped with my day, she played with the kids when I just didn't have the energy.  She urged Andy and I to go out on a date because she knows it's a rare case when we get out.  I said to her, "I was just told that 85% of marriages end in divorce when they have a child with special needs and honestly, I believe it."  She understood, with no judgement.

It has been really hard but thankfully, we have a faith that is grounded in a God bigger than statistics who has been with us the whole way.

My momma also stayed so I could take Zeke to the dr. without having to find someone to come over.  What a blessing.

Today, we went to a new dr. that I am pretty sure is a believer and even though she didn't take medicaid (I have no shame in admitting that...Andy lost his job.) she still sat down with us and gave us new hope in Ezekiel's healing.  He heart went out to him and she actually already knew of his story and told another dr. friend who just finished writing her second book.

There are cases with people who have stories just like Zeke's who have this blood-cleaning-out-thing that they do every couple of weeks (and it's not cheap!) and combine it with diet change and they have turned into a completely "typical" child.  We believe we have finally found the right dr. for our Zeke who is going to lead us to a new neuro and dietician who believe in alternative medicine for taking care of the real problem but use meds until the real problem is found out.

God is in this.  He always has been.  And I will keep praying with a believing heart, that my sweet Ezekiel Todd will be healed in Jesus' name!

 Tears of hope!


Friday, February 15, 2013

The most special of Valentine's Days!

Valentine's 2013 marks my very favorite Valentine's Day ever.  Talk about Valentine's Day being redeemed ;)  Andy decided we'd make this years' Valentine's Day about family.  He didn't have to go to work today and so he choose to have us all spend time together doing things we all love. I loved this idea.

Andy let me sleep in until 8:15 and it would have been longer if I didn't have a mandatory meeting to attend.  That is love, ya'll.  In this family, that's like the epitome of love.  We do NOT get good sleep around here.

Next, Andy wanted me to pick where to eat for lunch, suggesting the mall so we could walk around as a family together or La Chatelaine.  La Chat it was! (since Cy was still in school and loves the mall.)  We enjoyed our time, the kids were blissful and I felt so blessed.  So much peace and joy.

After naps, we went to pick up the rest of our #happyholts clan, Cy and shortly headed to the mall to walk around and get dinner.  We shared a Sbarro Pizza after walking into the kids' favorite stores.  I kinda love that they know they won't get anything as it takes a load off, ya know?  I am also so thankful they do not wine and cry about it, either.  Not perfect but pretty darn good if you ask me!

Our time was full of so much laughter and fun.  It was freeing taking the whole family out and not feeling stress or anxiety.  Just a really good time.  I kept seeing people look at us and smile.  It's refreshing to be looked at with smiles and not the expected look of horror due to so many kids and a boy who may seem, "a little off".

 My Valentines :D

 She was walking around basically pretending to be my personal shopper.  It rocked :)

When people look at our lives and are horrified by all we are going through or they think "I am so glad that's not me!", people may not think we know what they are thinking, but it truly is all over their faces.  But ya know what's really great.  It's also sensed when people are not thinking those things and are just willing to serve and come along side us, not in horror but with true agape' love.  That's what we have felt so much of at our church, LifePoint Columbus.  I'm so, so thankful for that.  We don't expect people to understand what we are going through, that's just silly.  I just don't want to be looked at as if we are freaks...we are really blessed.  To God be the glory!

Anywho, we finished our night with a prayer meeting.  Originally, I was going to take Zeke by myself and Andy was going to put the other kids to bed.  When Cy and Eisley found this out, they wanted to go and with me and Zeke even after I told them what we were going to do.  What a blessing!  It's been very challenging getting the older two, specifically Cy to be willing to understand even a little, what Zeke is going through (and rightfully so!).  It's been hard to watch them constantly frustrated with Zeke and not show grace.  But tonight, redemption happened.  We went as a family to pray for Zekey and so much more happened!

God's word was preached and people came along side our family and the chaos it's bound to bring in the midst of a meeting of this kind with 4 kiddos. It was beautiful, encouraging and brought much hope.

Prayer is huge.  Prayer isn't meant to be a last resort.  Actually, before posting what we go through in this life on FB or Twitter feed, Instagram, etc., we really should be taking our hearts to the one who isn't going to hear you once and forget shortly after.  He isn't going to glance at his "feed" and give a short thought to your situation and keep scrolling.

No. God, our heavenly father desires us to desire Him.  He's the only one who can bring comfort in an uncomfortable situation.  He's the only one who can heal the "unhealable".  Yahweh is the only one who will never stop listening and will always be willing to give you His gift of life through His son, Jesus Christ.

Accepting all that God has done for us isn't easy.  Not when the enemy is at work, trying to keep us from truth.  Let us choose to believe today.  To choose to tell Him your thoughts/feelings/doubts/fears first

Jesus, God, The Holy Spirit.  They are all at work, in unity.  It's the most beautiful dance one could be a part of and 'a part of', is what they desire for you.  Won't you join in this dance?


Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Little Valentine Skirt and Birthday Blurb

The other day, I used a coupon to grab some "not so Valentines-y" fabric to make Eisley and possibly a matching skirt for Bexley.

Well, last night Andy was reading and although I was tired and ready for bed at 7:30, I decided to give it a go and make Eisley a skirt.

I had no pattern, no measurements, no skirt to look at.  So, I measured out the best I could and created this little skirt for her to wear to her Valentine's Day party.

 I love the outfit she put together...I always do ;)

 Look at that cute little booty ;) 

I'm so glad I took the plunge.  It took less than 2 hours to make.  I have been telling her I would make her skirts for far too long and I just haven't sat to my machine and taken time.

There needs to be a few alterations, but I won't get to them so we'll just make sure to measure her next time.

And, let it be known that on February 4th, Eisley Bree turned 5.  I cannot even believe it.  I look at pics of her as a baby and I cannot believe the beautiful little girl she has grown into.

She randomly tells me that she wants to be a momma when she grows up, but also a teacher.  I tell her she can do both!  The last time she replied, "But, I think I want to be a mom first."  I really, truly just want her to follow Gods lead as she gets older.  I kinda love that her heart is so much like mine as a little girl...I look at her and see so much of me and through her, I have so many great childhood memories to ponder.

Life with Eisley is full of silly laughter, fashion and hair tantrums (almost daily), random dancing,  grace-filled forgiveness, willingness to serve and help out, playing so well with her little siblings, choosing to go second when we get down to it, and a sweet example of a very obvious way God has blessed Andy and I.

Looking back this year...

 Age 4

 Age 4

Age 4

 4th birthday

  Age 4

 Showing me how she cut her hair.  :Sigh: Age 4

4 months with her biggest fan :)

Age 1.  My how time changes things :)

Age 2. 

Age 3

And now, the big 05!

Pretty and sweet as ever!

She is such a joy to have in our life.  I just cannot imagine life without her.  Here's to a million more dates to La Chatelaine! 

I love you, Eisley Bree.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Gospel-sharin' Valentine's! DIY!

Last year, the cranky me wrote a blog post about redeeming Valentine's Day (it does need redeemed) ;)  This year, I thought of a way I could bring that DIY into my kids' classrooms and share the gospel!

A puzzle for your child's classmates to enjoy!  And whether they are learning how to love by their parents or not, you can help them with this fun Valentine(even memorize it!) all while sharing some Jesus in their home! 

It's like a free card to "Preach it, sista!" without being "preachy".  I will let you know how many phone calls and eye rolls I get...I'll take your prayers, please.

Here's how!

!. Get in a crafty mood.  You must be in a crafty mood to get this, well, crafty.  It's not hard, it's just...crafty.

2. Supplies : Scissors, glue stick, glitter glue, piece of foam (or thick paper for tracing), 2 color choices of poster-board.  As you can see, I chose white and red.  Computer and printer.

3. Take a scrap piece of paper and fold in half.  Draw your best heart, girl!  Actually, your best "half" heart.  Then cut.  Fat hearts=Cute hearts (This applies to crafting only.  Usually, fat hearts = near death)

 4. Trace your pretty, fat heart onto foam then cut.it.out.  I bought foam shapes at the Target $1 bin.  Score.

5. Now, trace your FOAM, fat, pretty heart onto choice a of your poster-board.  Mine being red.

6. Take the opposite color poster-board (choice b) and cut it into a square that is bigger than your cute, fat, pretty heart.

7. Grab you FOAM heart again and place it center of choice b poster-board (mine being white) and trace the heart with your glitter glue.  Found this at the $1 bin at JoAnn's.  Scrore.

 8. Peel the FOAM heart back slowly while holding onto choice b poster-board.  Ta-dah!

9.At this point you can go to your computer, look up 1 Cor. 13 4-7 and without getting struck dead, change the longer phrases to smaller ones again, without skimping on Truth.  Example, "Love does not rejoice in evil but rejoices with the truth." was changed to, "Rejoices in truth, not injustice".

If the verse says "not", be sure to keep that but if it is an "always", you can skimp to save room.

In the same font but much larger, type "What is Love?"

Print both out and start cutting.

10. Place your "what love is" cut-outs on your heart to be sure they fit AND just to get them organized.  There's only one rule.  Don't let the words touch each other and there will be no way you cannot turn it into a puzzle!

11. Glue your "What is Love?" on your glitter heart and voila!

Time consuming?  Eh, a bit.  But if you have older kids, they can help cutting and tracing!  This may take 2 evenings or 2 sets of nap-times.  Be sure to consider dry time on the glitter-glue.

Enjoy!  Happy Valentine's Day!

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Being a fool For God...

I want to always be willing to be a fool to the world because they see the things I do and hear the things I say.  I knew that the past few days, with Zeke miraculously being seizure-free was an opportunity for me to become a "fool for God."  I was willing, just as I was the day I prayed over the man at Target who was having a seizure.

Here is the story.  Friday of last week was the 3rd day Zeke was having days full of seizures.  I even called the neorologist's office to ask what to do.  They didn't seem too concerned since he is diagnosed with retractable seizures and when I asked what they would do if I took him into the hospital, she said they would just give him meds to stop the seizures and be sent home afterwards.  I asked her "And when they start up again, then what?"  She didn't really have an answer.  She just kept saying, "Well, if this is normal for him, then...but if it's not then..."

I didn't feel good about the situation, obviously.  I was holding my son, seizing and didn't feel taking him to the hospital was going to do much good.  I held him all day long (somehow with 4 kids, I make it work) and Andy and I felt like we were going to loose him.

That night, I went out with a friend and she asked how Zeke was and I said, "I just don't know how much longer we will have with him.  God has to intervene or he's just not going to survive."  And honestly, a life of seizure after seizure with meds and their side effects, doesn't seem like much of a life to live.  On those days, I beg God to take him if He is not going to heal him on earth because I know he will be whole in heaven.  No tears, no pain, no seizures...Zeke, all wrapped up in God's image.

This blog post was supposed to be written two nights ago so I could tell you all about God's miracle in Zeke.  Because, miraculously, with a slight med change, on a very, very low dose and a 1-2% chance of success, Zeke started becoming seizure free.  And then again for another day...I was convinced it was a miracle!  God was answering our prayer of healing in Zeke and His kingdom was making it's way into Zeke's body, making him whole.

And because I answer to God and not you, or FB friends, blog viewers or Twitter followers, I was willing to be, A fool for God.

Why?  Because, well, basically God is calling me to that.  And ya know what?!  It's sometimes annoyingly difficult.  It's hard to go against the grain and constantly push out the fears, anxieties, and "ya right!'s".  It's hard not to try and figure out what we did or didn't do that day which caused him to be siezure`free and basically make myself insane...

But at the same time, when I do push all of those out of my mind and away from my heart, I feel at peace, I feel hope, I feel wrapped up in the Holy Spirit.  The lies, they try to kill the truth.  The lies try to suffocate what God's doing, even when I am often wondering myself.

The Withered Fig Tree
20In the morning, as they went along, they saw the fig tree withered from the roots. 21Peter remembered and said to Jesus, “Rabbi, look! The fig tree you cursed has withered!”
22“Havef faith in God,” Jesus answered. 23“I tell you the truth, if anyone says to this mountain, ‘Go, throw yourself into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart but believes that what he says will happen, it will be done for him. 24Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours. 25And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive him, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins.g

Zeke is having seizures again.  So, is it not a miracle?  I can't say it wasn't...too many things were going against all odds for it to be anything but God.  God showed mercy those two days...I got to enjoy my son seizure free for TWO DAYS!!!  God's kingdom is coming in Ezekiel.  If we let him and seek him and allow Him to change us, God's kingdom is coming in ALL of us...because we are ALL in need of redemption.

God tells me and you to pray with a believing heart.  He doesn't tell me to worry about what people will say, or to doubt His goodness or ability to heal or deliver us from something.  He isn't telling me to cover my ground, making sure there isn't any way that this wasn't a miracle such as waiting a little longer to be sure the seizure-free days continued on.  No.  He's calling me to be a fool for Him.  To trust him with all of me, to believe in him with every breath, not to worry, not to fear...but to believe and just keep on following him.  Oh, and "just love."

This Sunday, Pastor Dean preached a good message and I was able to really apply it to our life and situation with Zeke.  If you love Jesus, you are promised trials.  It's part of the curse, but it's also God helping us to remember our need for Him.  Read James 1

James 1:12
12 Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him.

So, when trials come, how we respond in them is key.  How we endure them has an impact on us and those around us.  Jesus endured the cross and with that power,  through the Holy Spirit, we can endure the trials in this life. 

I leave you with this.  If you have been given a set of followers whether that be through FB, Twitter, your blog, classrooms, church congregation, workplace, life in general...did I leave anyone out?  I beleive God wants us to remember that our main purpose on this earth is not to be the best writter, the funniest friend, the most creative, the most successful Etsy shop owner, the most Pinterest-doer (I think I got all the areas I have struggled with...well, probably not.) but we are here to glorify Him, to share the good news and make disciples.  I think we all need to give ourselves and our lives a good look (and I am seriously the first to jump in line!) and ask how we can be doing this better. 

Colossians 4
 Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful. And pray for us, too, that God may open a door for our message, so that we may proclaim the mystery of Christ, for which I am in chains. Pray that I may proclaim it clearly, as I should. Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity. Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.

We need to look up.  Look up at the God who is worthy of ALL our praise and start sharing that to those all around us.

Are you willing to be a fool for God?

P.S. If you are still praying for Zeke, thank you and please don't stop!  Please feel free to share any prayer requests you may have...I have readers who are prayer warriors and hopefully they will pray for you too!