Sunday, March 31, 2013

Exhaustive Prayer

Praying brings peace, comfort, hope and....exhaustion?

I told Andy, not too long ago, that I was exhausted from praying.  "What?  You are exhausted after praying?  What do you mean?"

And he wasn't judging me but when I called prayer, being such a beautiful gift to us, "exhausting" well, it almost seems blasphemous.

But if after praying I sometimes feel exhausted, then it is true for me.

The question is then, '"Is feeling exhausted from prayer a sin?"

I have yet to be convicted of feeling like I have let God down by being exhausted in prayer.  Quite the opposite, actually.  I feel like when I exhaust myself in prayer, I am working so hard to let go all of me and soak up all of him as I lay whatever it is I need to lay down at his feet.  To keep fighting for what He says is true even though it goes against the grain in every.possible.way.  If only I were exhausted from prayer every single day.

Obviously, lately, it's mostly about Zeke's healing and fighting against The Enemy who tells me I am crazy, silly and wrong for believing it will come to pass.  Sometimes, it's blogging out what God puts on my heart and  actually posting it even though I feel like a crazy amateur in my faith and blog, who shouldn't even open my mouth.

I pray out of desperation, I pray out of a need for more hope and faith in who He is and what He is calling me to. I pray begging for him to make me more like Him.

"Exhaustion in prayer is a sign of one fighting their flesh to inhale Jesus for all he is and believe what he says, as their heart cries out to him."

This came to me one night before bed.  It's all I could say to describe how I felt from being exhausted from prayer.  There is obviously so much more wisdom and gifts that God has for us in prayer but this is what I am pondering, currently.   

I cry out (quite literally) to him begging for His kingdom to come in Zeke, in our home, in my heart, etc.  For my heart to love as He loves, to share his beautiful story of redemption, etc.  Basically, 'God, please transform me because I need it every day until I die.  The end.'  

Believe it or not, I do have to fight the feelings of 'just accepting' Zeke's life as it is because 'maybe it's a part of God's bigger plan.'  And, you'd think since I'm not allowing myself to go there, I am unwilling to lay Zeke's life in the hands of His Maker.

Before you jump the theology gun, hear my heart as someone who is in the fire (being refined).  I lay Zeke into God's hands with every dose of meds I give him knowing the terrible side effects and the suffering they and his seizures cause him.  I lay him into the arms of Jesus every time he falls because of a seizure or I put him to bed knowing he may or may not wake up.  I release Zeke back to his Maker when yet another form of medicine stops working and he continues to suffer.  When I know how damaging these seizures are and the world's hope is small for my boy to be okay someday.

So please, when I say I believe that God is going to heal my son, do not assume that I am afraid to admit, 'God may not heal Ezekiel.'

As I continue to hash the theology out with God, apologize for where I may be mistaken and tell Him, "I'm truly trying to seek you, God.  To follow where you lead me.  Show me more of you!  If I'm wrong in hearing you, show me!"

It's prayers like that and answers like this that keep me going.  God is using this time in our lives to build my faith and as soon as I say, "Okay, Lord.  I trust and believe you in this.", he's ready to ask me to go further and deeper and of course be bolder in my faith.  Ah!  I have so much more faith-growing, doubt-smashing to go!  He is so trustworthy, why oh why do I give room to unbelief?!

Growing in my faith is a beautiful and humbling experience which brings question and doubt and fear.  And I'm very ashamed of that.  Thankfully, God didn't show me my life and say, "So, you're 2nd son is going to get very ill and I will use it for good.  Are you okay with that?"  I'd probably say something like, "uh...well, um.  Ya see, I really love this boy, I can see it on my face.  Ya see, right there.  Look how much joy he brings to me!  I don't know, God.  Um, how about I just believe in healings and I promise I'll pray over people and believe that you really do have the power to heal and you've given it to us and that okay?  I promise!  PLEASE!!!!"

But, I wouldn't believe in the power of prayer or that healings actually happen.  Sad, right?  He had to use brokeness in the man at target and 11 months later, to the date, Zeke's first seizure to stretch my faith in believing in what God can do through His people, for His people.

God gave His perfect son for us, sinners and full of blame.  But, since Christ's death and resurrection, we have freedom and are released from what we really deserve (those that choose Jesus as their Lord, of course)....I'm not God and I don't love like He does.  His love is so great!  I cant imagine giving my 1 of 4 kids over to the world, let alone MY ONLY CHILD WHO DID NOTHING WRONG! (Jesus, that is)  Gah!  Thank you, God!  You are so good!!!

Basically, what I'm saying is, I'm not Mary and I'm not God.  I couldn't give my perfect son over for the betterment of others.  And that's hard to say, but, I just don't think I would.

Many people say they pray for healing and truly want it but many do not actually expect it to happen.

Mark 11:24
Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.

I am willing to be a fool for Jesus.  I am willing to say, "God's" because he wants us to BELIEVE HIM WITHOUT A DOUBT!!!!!  

I want my words to utter what is in my heart and I want my heart to be full of truth and faith in what God says!  I'm not going to settle!  I can't!  My boy is too precious and my God is too powerful! God and Zeke are worth taking one more blind step of faith.

As I pray for healing over Zeke or anyone God lays on my heart to pray for, I must let go of my silly, 'fits-in-a-box' idea or perfect theology of God and The Trinity, let go of me and take in all of Him for all He is and all He has to offer.

My flesh is strong but I must remember, my God and the Holy Spirit that lives inside me are stronger. 

Our sermon this past weekend brought much encouragement alongside being challenged.  Honestly, this whole series is amazing!  The story of Elijah on Mount Carmel.

1 Kings 18:41-46

 41 And Elijah said to Ahab, “Go, eat and drink, for there is the sound of a heavy rain.” 42 So Ahab went off to eat and drink, but Elijah climbed to the top of Carmel, bent down to the ground and put his face between his knees.
43 “Go and look toward the sea,” he told his servant. And he went up and looked.
“There is nothing there,” he said.
Seven times Elijah said, “Go back.”
44 The seventh time the servant reported, “A cloud as small as a man’s hand is rising from the sea.”
So Elijah said, “Go and tell Ahab, ‘Hitch up your chariot and go down before the rain stops you.’”
45 Meanwhile, the sky grew black with clouds, the wind rose, a heavy rain started falling and Ahab rode off to Jezreel. 46 The power of the Lord came on Elijah and, tucking his cloak into his belt, he ran ahead of Ahab all the way to Jezreel.

Elijah didn't ask Ahab to go and look SEVEN times to see if rain was coming on a normal, typical day.  This was the the last day of a 3 year drought in the land.

Ugh!  I'd be SO annoyed with Elijah!!!  'Seriously?! Again, dude?  What's your deal?!'

But Elijah believed what God had said and so he was persistent in his prayer and belief.  I hear no doubt in these verses.

And being persistent in prayer can get exhausting, especially when everyone around you is watching, waiting to see if what you believe to be true is actually going to happen (Think: 'Who built the Ark, No-ah, -No-ah!"  follow me?  Mmm k.) Or, it's exhausting to pray and cry out for something that is going against every.grain.possible., at least in my human mind, not the mind of Christ.

And to pray often or to stay in a continual form of prayer, as life continues to go on (being a wife and momma, friend, etc) guessed it!  Exhausting!

But it's good.  It's what God wants from ongoing conversion with Him.  To let him in our everyday lives as we seek out how He will use us to further His kingdom a comin'.

It's okay to be exhausted in prayer, and I encourage it.  Prayer reveals a lot of beautiful things. Exhaustion is just our body's way of reminding us of our need for Him and how His kingdom is near but not quite here. <---put a="" am="" baby="" nbsp="" on="" p="" shirt="" that="">
And as a very side note:  To my readers.  Thank you to all who are coming to me with encouragement in my blogging, sharing it and joining this journey with me in prayer.  I have, so many times told God, "I am totally fine if you want me to stop blogging!  I'll do it!  I'll shut my mouth and be done!" and shortly after, every.single.time., one of you shoots me an email, I run into you here or there or sometimes a comment on here letting me know God is using this blog to bless you, to speak to you all while my original intentions were...well, fashion. HA!  My how life has changed.  God is good and thank you for being a part of that.


Sunday, March 17, 2013

Sermon notes mishap and miracles.

I was being all hipster and all, taking sermon  notes on my iPhone and in one accidental click, it all erased and I couldn't find an "edit, undo" button.

The sermon had me quietly sobbing in my seat for only a minute and then just uncontrollable tears that made no sound at all.  I tried so very hard to hold it in but they just burst out like a freshly broken dam.  It's okay, it was probably only slightly awkward for those around ;)

Life brings things that are not in line with what we planned.  We may not even know we have a plan, but we do, and often times it's never the worst that could happen.  Why would we live life that way?  We may fear it or anxiety sets in when we let our minds go there, but we never really plan for it, especially with our kids.

"God is constant when everything and everyone else changes".  Pastor Dean Fulks.

Simple and so true.  Friendships change when we didn't plan for them to, health changes when we always hoped we'd or they'd stay healthy, looks change as we get older no matter how hard we try stay healthy and young.

1 Kings 18:16-39.  The story of Elijah and the Prophets of Baal on Mount Carmel. Elijah followed Yahweh while they worshiped the many gods of Baal.  Gods of fertility, gods of the weather, etc.  All who could never bring what only Yahweh can or could.

Elijah boldly stated to their leader, Ahab, 18 "I have not made trouble for Israel,” Elijah replied. “But you and your father’s family have. You have abandoned the Lord’s commands and have followed the Baals. 19 Now summon the people from all over Israel to meet me on Mount Carmel. And bring the four hundred and fifty prophets of Baal and the four hundred prophets of Asherah, who eat at Jezebel’s table.”

And Elijah, quite confident in the God he served and obeying God, puts the Prophets of Baal to a test.

22 Then Elijah said to them, “I am the only one of the Lord’s prophets left, but Baal has four hundred and fifty prophets. 23 Get two bulls for us. Let Baal’s prophets choose one for themselves, and let them cut it into pieces and put it on the wood but not set fire to it. I will prepare the other bull and put it on the wood but not set fire to it. 24 Then you call on the name of your god, and I will call on the name of the Lord. The god who answers by fire—he is God.”

They cried out to their gods begging for the fire to come. 

Elijah, kinda mocking the prophets of Baal says in verses 27-29 things like , "Well, maybe your god is asleep!  Maybe he went off somewhere and you need to find him, maybe he had to relieve himself."  All of these things are similar to human nature. Needing something: sleep, to go to the bathroom, take a break, etc.

Thankfully, although God did make himself in human form through Jesus (for the good of us, not a need of His own), Yahweh has no needs so we need not worry about Him leaving for anything.  Our God is constant.

God showed up, performing a miracle as Elijah believed, praying on the mountain top asking for God to send down fire and that he did!

This leads to the part where pastor Dean talked about miracles and it's kind of a sensitive subject to me now that I am praying for one in my son.

I should start by saying,  C.S. Lewis was quoted on Twitter- "Miracles do not, in fact, break the laws of nature." and I could not figure out for the life of me what it meant.  It felt so scientific but then my pastor said, "Miracles are a reminder of how the world out to be and someday will be." and the C.S. Lewis quote all of a sudden made sense.

And I kind of lost it...I lost it because so many people use these terms, "That's just how God created that person." or "That is just God's will for their life." And I get it because, I once thought the same thing before I had a son who lost his health.  I thought that sickness and disease were just part of God's will for some people's lives.  I look at my son, seizing and regressing from what and who he once was and no way in heck would I ever say, "This is God's will for him."   The thought alone makes me ill.

God's will was the Garden of Eden when everything was without sin and God's will is heaven, what will be.  Right now, we are living with the sin that came into the world which brings sickness, chaos and much need for God's redemption and for goodness sake the return of our Savior!  Today, Jesus?!  Is it today?! ;)

God uses our brokenness and disease for good.  God has His timing and His plan which is perfect.  So, we wait for that in Zeke's healing when God graciously shows His glory through it!  Maybe you wait for that in someone you know?

But a miracle in Zeke will not bring salvation.  No, Jesus's sacrifice and accepting it for ourselves does.  

All of you reading this should know that miracles are great and God does use them and still performs them today but as Pastor Dean said it so well, "Knowing God personally is way better than seeing God miraculously."

And knowing God personally and asking Him to reveal more of himself is a fantastic way to live because He desires for things to be made new or, His kingdom to come.  In you, me, and everyone else. 

Some become new in their hearts as they turn to Jesus, some in their health as sickness is wiped away.  And I look forward to the day when we see Zeke made new!  I look forward to the day we all are!  Daily, being molded more into who we were created to be, in the image of God.  What a humbling thought.

 Pray believing!  Don't pray unsure if God hears you!  He totally does!


Friday, March 15, 2013

New Dr.'s, New Hope?

Unfortunately, today didn't go as well as I had planned.  Zeke had an overnight EEG monitoring at home two weeks ago through his new neurologist, the one we met with today.  While I was sitting in the airport waiting to board my plane to Charlotte last week, I received the results.

"So I have Ezekiel's results.  They are pretty significant.  Zeke is having a seizure last anywhere from 2-4 seconds every 15-18 seconds...."

Just let that sink in.  My boy.  My sweet, loving, curios boy is being robbed of all God has created him to be every 15-18 seconds of his life.

A few days before we received Zekey's results, I had this epiphany. Seizures are a glimps of Hell itself.  Hell, to me, isn't just a place.  It's defined as chaos, or lack of order.  I see Hell when Zeke's trying to say something and a piece of Hell takes it from him.  Or when he's laughing and stops mid-laugh to seize for a few seconds coming out of it so frustrated.

And I would be, too.  I am, actually, very, very frustrated.  I know God gave me that dream not that long ago and the good Lord knows, with as many seizures Zeke is having in a day, his body could shut down at anytime and we could loose Zeke.  It's a fact BUT....

I have faith in a God who holds us in His hands.  Nothing happens without Him knowing it.  I truly believe, with all Zeke is going through, God is really the one sustaining him.  God is the one allowing us to get glimpses of who Zekey really is...smiling and joyful.  The Zeke we once knew so well.

The neurologist wants to get his seizures to stop with more meds and then we can move forward in other options.  It wasn't what I wanted to hear but I respect him and am thankful for his insight.   He also said that blood tests showed his liver numbers are double what they should be.  This is from the meds.  They use his liver as a punching bag.  Thankfully, he doesn't show signs of jaundice.  So more meds makes me a little anxious but then I just remember yet again, God's got this.  I don't have to take it all on my shoulders.  It's too much, so I can give the anxiety to Him because He cares for me. Such a peace.

So tonight, in my exhaustion, I prayed again for new hope.  I apologized and repented that I even had to ask again but when I ask God, He seems to graciously give it to me.  He isn't up there going, "Again, Breena?!  Seriously!  Get over yourself and believe!"  No, that's what I am saying to myself.  He's understanding and with me through every ounce of faith or lack thereof throughout this journey.  Of course He wants me to believe but He isn't ready to crack the whip when I am lacking in faith.

And I'm weary.  I feel like his healing is so close but in anything that's almost finished, it's the hardest time for me to keep waiting or pushing through.  I'm annoyed that I feel it's close.  I think, "Who are you to determine this?!'

But, the hope of Zekey being all healed up, a walking miracle (even more so than he already is) is such a beautiful thing to paint a picture of.  Believing in a time where Zeke will be talking to people, sharing his faith saying how his life didn't look so good at one he almost didn't make it.

My hope shouldn't lie in a new dr., a new treatment but in God alone because none of this is going to work unless He is in it.  He has His timing, plan and way of Zeke's story giving Him glory and I need to rest in that.

God is so good.  He's so sweet to deal with a gal like me.  One that can be up and praising Him in the storm and down and doubtful begging to be lifted from a trial.

Thank you God for letting me be where I am but pushing me in my walk with You.  You are kind and gentle but firm and strong.  You get me as I keep trying to get You.

Know that God loves you right where you are but He wants more from you because His love for you is so great and He knows experiencing Him more is only going to make you stronger not just as a person, but as a child of His in HIM.  Also, leaning more into Him makes you more of who He created you to be.  How cool is that?!

Blessings.  Please continue to pray and THANK YOU for doing so!  It means more than you'll ever know!


That hoped I asked for, feeling a bit guilty.  Check out this that I watched last night...God is so, so good!

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

My trip away!

Some of you may know that I took a trip to visit my grandpa and great aunt and uncle in Florida.  It was last minute and perfect.

Last year, I was given a plane ticket by my mother-in-law as a gift for Andy and I (and baby Bexley) to go together on his business trip to Savannah, GA.  Well, Bexley ended up having a terrible double ear infection and was strongly encouraged not to go.

So, I stayed home and took care of her and my other 3 as we sent Andy off on a quick business trip to Savannah.

I took this ticket, almost exactly a year later to visit my beloved family!

 Funny story (or not so funny) my grandpa who I was blessed to see last week, was pronounced dead about a year ago.  He was ill in the hospital after sugrgery and wasn't given much time.  Then, my dad called me and told me the sad news.  I went to bed mourning the loss of my grandpa.

The next morning, I get another call from my dad who was surprisingly upbeat.  "So, you're not going to believe this but...grandpa isn't dead."

You can just imagine the shock my body went through...

I don't remember if it was then or earlier that I told my dad about this dream I had of my grandpa a few days before he went in for surgery.  I know, I dreams!  God gives me these amazing and abstract dreams that end up making complete sense!

The dream was of my grandpa, my dad, my uncle and aunt (my dad's siblings) all at an airport.  Everyone was kind of sad, not really talking.  They were riding the escalator and my grandpa fainted at the top.  They got a stretcher and started taking him away.  The whole time he was begging for them to let him stay.  "I''m not ready yet!", my grandpa said.

And then I woke up.  I didn't think much of it because I didn't even know my grandpa was going into surgery a few days later! Then!  He's pronounced dead and comes back!  ahhhh!  The drama of it all!  Fun Fact: he was known as "Lazareth" all week in the hospital. ;)

So, last week Andy sent me off to visit my grandpa (at the same time my parents were visiting) while he was in the hospital.!  I was able to talk and pray with him.  He is so sweet :)  I absolutely loved getting to spend quality time with him and my parents.

 He looked healthier than this photo shows but isn't he so sweet?!

 Dad and Mom after visiting grandpa, out to eat.

A visit to my VERY favorite, Cracker Barrel where my dad and I got a little crazy...

WEeeEee!  Love these rocking chairs! dad fell of his rocker ;) hahaha!  Oh, he was cracking me up!

After staying at a hotel in Ft. Myers Florida with my parents, I said my goodbyes to my grandpa, rented a car and drove 3.5 hours north to stay with my Aunt Sherry and Uncle George in Lady Lakes, FL.

I was driving and loving the freedom of just me, the warm, Florida sun and no schedules or responsibilities to follow through with. I felt invisible!  So much so that I looked at my map, found where 75 was going to get closest to the ocean before veering back East towards central Florida and took that exit making my way to the Gulf of Mexico.

I parked, squealed like a little girl (true story) and practically ran to the ocean!  It was quite chilly but breathtaking.  I picked up a few shells, snapped a few pictures, and let God's beautiful creation swallow me up.  It was just me an God for a few minutes and it was awesome!

I hopped back in the car and sent the pictures to Facebook and told my parents to check out my latest post.  They were shocked and I kinda loved that.  I started North again.
The freedom of having no responsibilities and just being by myself was so very therapeutic!  It felt so, so good, even for an external processor/extrovert.  I breathed in the fresh air, enjoyed the palm trees flying slowly passing by and sang as loud as my lungs would allow.  

Yes, I took this picture to capture all that I was feeling! 

I walked into my Aunt and Uncle's house hoping to see some of the same vintage/old fashioned/antique decor that I once loved so much as a little girl in their home back in Ohio.  There it was, a different home  but still cozy and welcoming, just the same.

She is a fantastic quilter and always turned my store-bought dresses into my new vision I had for them back in High School.

  A trinket she gave me!
She found and old pic of my great-grandmother (her mother) who I loved very, very much and have fond memories of from the few years I knew her.  .

My parents re-joined us before they went off on their cruise thanks to my momma's business with Thirty-One!

Ah, family :) 

I ate good food and didn't skip a meal!  Either homemade grilled cheese and soup with Tony Paco's 'Sweet Hot" pickles and a coke or a sandwich with everything on it that you would normally pay a good $7 for along side it chips, of course!  For dinner we went out or had something homemade.  For a girl who eats whatever is quickest (and usually sweet and unhealthy) or nothing at all due to no time, this was a slice of heaven. 

Isn't she a beaut?!  Her heart is just as beautiful!

We went to the pool many times, of course to read, chat and soak up the Florida rays. 

How would we get there, you ask?  How would we get anywhere?!  By one of my aunt and uncle's golf-carts, of course!

 A streetrod! 

It's the cutest!

This puppy goes almost 40MPH and I made sure to try that out ;)  They have roads and tunnels specifically for these carts.  It was like Cedar Point's old fashioned cars but SO MUCH BETTER!!!

One day we went on an air-boat tour along a swamp/lake where gators were all around.  Eeek!  When I don't have kids to worry about, a whole other side comes out!  I snapped pictures as we got only feet away from alligators and even held a baby gator at the end!

 It was loud!

Look how unafraid I am...don't let this fool you ;)

The Villages, where my Aunt and Uncle live, go all out in making things look really nice and decorate impeccably! 

This was my favorite...

The Plantation!

We ended my time with church on Sunday morning and one last time at the pool.

I loved so much spending time with them and being able to relax.  I was refreshed there but...

I told my aunt that next time I come, I want it to be with my family.  My hubby, and all 4 (healthy) kids.

Andy promised me and the kids that when Zeke gets healed, we are going to celebrate at Disney World!!

So, although it was a very good time, I knew that life without a hubby and kids, schedules, delicate meals to make, lack of sleep, etc.wouldn't be so great forever.  I wanted to go back home to the chaos because this is the life God has given me and in the midst of it, there's so much blessing and joy and beauty and well, Jesus.

Ya see, I didn't feel my need for Jesus so much while I was away.  He was clearly there, with every joyful moment and all the laughter I had with my family.  He blessed me by this time but life was so easy.  And I missed my need for Him.  So, don't you worry!  I'm back at it and needing him every minute! ;)

And I'm thankful...I'm thankful for a husband who took on the task of 4 kids, one being special needs all to let me have some time away to see loved ones. I'm thankful for friends who served our family by bringing meals to help Andy out while I was away! I'm thankful for my Aunt and Uncle taking me in and making me feel so loved!  That's agape.

 I will have a Zeke update Friday after his new neurologist appointment.  Please keep praying and thank you so much!