Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Groups of Three

I know every one's heard the cliche that bad things happen in groups of 3. As a nurse in a hospital I happen to have a hint of superstition that this is actually true (even though I'm not really superstitious...except when I'm at work). In the hospital, the demise of one patient's condition is almost always an indicator that at least 2 more bad things are going to happen before the day is over. I do not know why that is... Probably the same reason that it's really true that the night shift of a full moon is almost always filled with weird stuff.

Hospital business aside...The rule of 3's seemed to be true at my house this week. Saturday morning (the day before Easter), Eric had made a run to the hardware store and when he returned to his car, he noticed that his license plate was gone. Had it fallen off? or Had someone stolen it? Either way, he needed a plate and if someone had stolen it...well, that's not good! That was the first bad thing that happened, and though it doesn't seem so bad, things like that on a weekend are always hard cause places like the BMV and Sheriff's office close early--that's right, to get a new plate he had to first file a police report. He wound up just coming home and dealing with it on Monday--when the BMV was still closed, he got half the job done Monday and the other half on Tues.

Saturday during the day, Andrew had started to run a fever. I did my best to play the mind over matter game because grandma and grandpa Melby were on their way to our house from WV. I did not want anyone to be sick while they were here, but a fever is a fever. I medicated him and he really seemed okay. After church on Sunday his fever crept up again and then that night before I went to bed I checked on him and found his fever was 104.5. At least I felt like I knew what to do. I wrapped ice packs in towels and put them under his arm pits and on his groin and after giving him ibuprofin I sat at his bedside until I was comfortable with his temperature. That night he woke up in a wet bed from when the fever broke. And later he woke up with diarrhea...all in between the times that was getting up to check him anyway. It felt like I had an infant again. After a visit to the doctor on Monday and no diagnosis (strep was negative) he had a fever that lasted for the next 3 days (a total of 5 miserable days).

In the meantime, Alissa started running a fever. I knew she had a temp around 103. I gave her some Tylenol and kept an eye on her. Around 4pm or so she had gone up to her room to take a nap. By the time she woke that day around 6pm, her temp was 105. I mean to tell you that I felt like I was at work...only I didn't have resources. No lab, no MD on call, no blood cultures to draw, no IV's to keep her hydrated. Here's what went through my mind when I found this temp, "prepare for a febrile seizure, should we go to the e.r.?, give a "hospital dose" of tylenol, cool her down"...
Luckily, no seizure, no e.r. visit...but the rest I handled as it came. I fully expect Alissa to follow the same course as Andrew which I admit is somewhat daunting since his lasted for so long. But at least I know what to expect. Plus Alissa is so different from Andrew. She's more of a fighter, which is both good and bad.
By the way...that's #3 on the bad list.

Perhaps you are wondering where Anna fits into all this and if I'm worried she'll get it next. In fact, I think she started it (which I guess would bring my list to 4 instead of 3). A week ago, she was miserable with a sinus infection and a fever, though not as high as the other two. I thought her issue was isolated because her anatomy doesn't allow her sinuses to drain...btw, she's scheduled to have her tonsils and adenoids out in a week or so. It just never ends...

The good news is that while I write this, things seem to be on the up. I just pray that this is the end. I need a break before surgery day.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Does God Love Bad guys?

I love profound questions. And isn't it true that kids seem to be the ones who always ask the most profound questions? I'm convinced too that kids seem to be prompted to ask questions that stretch our own explaining ability.

Yesterday, Andrew (5) asked us straight out of the blue (at least it seemed that way to us, though I'm sure there was much more to it in his little brain), "Does God love the bad guys?"
I looked at Eric with a look as if saying, "which direction do we take this?"
It's been clear to us that Andrew is seeking out more than the flippant answer that is easiest. In fact we try to form our answers to his spiritual questions as if to lead him closer and closer to the most important decision we know he'll ever make. The decision to receive Christ as his personal Lord and Savior. We long for that day on his behalf.

So our answer went something like this, "Absolutely, God loves even the bad guys. In fact God made the them the same as he made you and me, it's just that some people make bad choices and do bad things. But God really hopes that someday they will change their minds about how they are acting and start following Him. That's why the Bible tells us that we should try to help even the bad guys to know Jesus." Here we've addressed both the concept of Free Will and The Great Commission.

Acting like it all made sense, Andrew then said, "but only the Army guys can fight against the bad guys right?" Then of course we had a better idea of exactly where his little brain had been just before his initial question. But never the less we felt blessed to have had the opportunity to share a little deeper with our little budding evangelist! Hey, you never know!!!

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Romans 7:15

"I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do."

This is the verse that fits my spirit today. I've really done a pretty good job of developing this disciplined life of eating and exercise. I've coined it my lifestyle change because that is what I intend for it to be. And I can tell that my body is adjusting happily to the change. It's my mind that is resisting the change. And I'm having one of those days that I'm finding it much easier to give in to my mind's desire than my actual physical desire.

I was down and out this morning after eating a terribly unhealthy meal last night...fried fish, mashed potatoes and a big fat milkshake from Culver's!!! YUM! For me, all it takes is a hitch in the road like that mixed with a defeatest attitude and I'm done. And I felt like throwing in the towel this morning.
My beloved husband tried his best to solve my problem and I resisted him like anything. I didn't feel that i wanted fixed...not yet! Then i got the faithful text message from my dad. And I knew this was going to be okay. This time I needed to hear his voice.
So after a pep talk on the phone and the challenge to get on the elliptical before anymore of the day passed, I felt at least a little better. Enough to drag myself onto the machine for a workout.

I hate hitches in the road, but I know they will come. I spent the morning making excuses. When my workout was complete, I got out the Word and intentionally found this verse. Then i read the study notes:
"this is more than the cry of one desperate man- it describes the experience of any Christian struggling against sin or trying to please God by keeping rules and laws without the Spirit's help..."

So true. I had also listened to more of Beth Moore's "Get Out of That Pit" while I was exercising and again the words spoke right to my heart. The Spirit has shown up to get me through this day and the many to come.

That's All Access Baby!

Toby Mac

Kadar (the drummer) and Emily (the road manager)

Hawk Nelson

Stephanie Smith

Stephanie, Kadar (drums), Nathan (bass)

Steph's Merch table

Last Friday night we went to WinterJam!!! Most of you know that the draw to WinterJam is Toby Mac. Anyone who was ever a fan of DC Talk knows Toby. But I have to say our pride that night went to Stephanie Smith!!! We were blessed and excited to have the best seats in the house...ALL ACCESS! If you've never had All Access passes, check it out...
hangin' with the bands back stage, watching the show from the floor...practically touching the stage, moving out of the way for stage crews, eating the bands catered food...and the list goes on! It was so fun!
Here are some pics from that night.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Steph and The Band

Let me set up this crazy circumstance for you; far back should I go...? I guess it's important for you to understand that nearly a year ago to the date (Easter weekend) my dad had the beginning of his conversion experience when he attended church (probably the first time he had gone completely by his own will) with a friend he had met at work. This friend, Karen, has become a rather significant person in my dad's life...dare I say, his girlfriend! While Karen is a truly fantastic person with incredible qualities, I'm sure she wouldn't mind me putting the spotlight on her daughter Stephanie for the sake of this post.

Stephanie is a recording artist with Gotee Records who is touring with Toby Mac's WinterJam. A total thrill for her I'm sure, but I'm sure that the life on the road is all but glorious. In fact I know that she and her band spend many nights sleeping in their van. Monday evening I got a call from my dad with a last minute request. Steph and her band are traveling from Nashville (where they live) to Grand Rapids, MI where they would continue the tour on Thursday. Incidentally, they would be coming to play in Fort Wayne on Friday. The trip from Nashville to Grand Rapids is quite a hike and the band needed a place to crash to split the trip. That was the request by the way.

I love to serve and I have always wanted to use this house for hospitality. There was a stir in my heart that I needed to allow this happen, but my initial reaction was timid. I had never met Stephanie before, which didn't really matter to me except this did seem like an extraordiany circumstance given the above stated history. Not to mention that I was scheduled to work both Tuesday and Wednesday (3a-3p). Ignoring the stir in my heart, I hesitated enough when I spoke with my dad that the inital response was a sorted "no". I was worried more about how I would have my house ready and food for my guests etc...all things important to me. But not the most important thing.

A while later I got a text from my dad that said, "Steph really wants to stay there." Immediately, I said, "okay, we'll make it work!"

Later, I read on Steph's blog a post she'd written about Obedience. I thought, "Wow, this is so fitting." I had felt the stir immediately and at first I responded incorrectly. But God would not let this opportunity slip away and I'm so glad He didn't. What's more is that on my way to work in the middle of the night, I had prayed that God would open cause my afternoon to open up by allowing the final 4 hours of my day to be covered by a co-worker. I kid you not when I tell you that the very first person I asked that morning if she'd be willing to cover my last 4 hours the following day said, "yes"! I knew right away, God was at work.

The band rolled in about 11:15pm last night and I have to say that as soon as they arrived, all the timidity and hesitation I had felt just melted away. I had prayed that God would prepare our home for them and I believe He did.

With some healthy snacks to satiate after a long drive, we gathered in our cozy, little family room with our new "friends" and caught up on American Idol from this week. What a hoot to watch this kind of show with "music people"!

I can't leave this post without sharing my "moment" with Steph as I was showing the band the sleeping arrangment. We shared a quick embrace and made a connection. We agreed that our meeting under these circumstances was more significant than if we had met by our parent's accord. After all we are both adults and capable of a friendship aside from our parent's relationship...and so it is. A new friendship!

Monday, March 2, 2009

Two things that consume my thoughts these days; the church plant and making the right choices for a better lifestyle.

The church plant; Triple Pointe Church...that's the name that's been selected. Our prayer is that for all the reasons we think it's a great name, other will also think so and will be drawn in. Our friends have made their move back to Fort Wayne. They just arrived last weekend and we got to spend part of the day with them today. I remember the days of having boxes gallore and feeling displaced even though I was at my home. And all the unexpected glitches. For example a washer and/or dryer that fail to wash and/or dry mountains of clothes and sheets. I just finished washing and drying sheets for my dear friend!!!

I'm not at all shocked that God is moving! The closer we get to actually digging our heels in and doing this thing, the more opportunities God is laying directly in my path...and the paths of others I know. One example; Andrew's swimming teacher. I've had the opportunity to talk with her on various occasions while Andrew plays in the water either before or after his lessons. She has openly shared some difficult circumstances within her family and I have been able to empathize with my own experience. I look forward to the day that I will see her and her family walk through the doors of our church.

My lifestyle change; interestingly, the church plant is one of the scariest and exciting prospects I've ever had in my life and it's sure to be difficult at times, but this healthy lifestyle thing is by the far the hardest thing I've ever done. Albeit, absolutely necessary! Without sharing details, I'll tell you that I am easily at my top weight of my lifetime. I have always felt that I could conquer it when I was ready, but finally reached a point a couple weeks ago where I felt completely incapable and weak!
I solicited the help of a coach and a friend. My dad! My dad has coached me before in the more traditional sense and now I was asking him to coach me one on one, even from miles away. So now, each and every day, sometimes several times a day, my dad text messages me to hold me accountable and see how I'm doing. That one little extra thing makes this attempt dramatically different than all my attempts from the past. It has really helped. And I have had success for over two weeks. And by success I am not saying that I am starving myself or doing some other wacky, temporary diet plan. Every day I am driven to make the best choices with my eating and exercise.

It feels good to wake up in the morning and know that I've done everything the day before that I could to maximize not just my weight loss, but also the general health of my body. And so I want to do it again and again and again. NOT EASY! Just necessary. There are days, in fact today is one of them, when I want to binge on crappy food that satisfies but for a moment. Sometimes it is moment by moment literally. No one can understand this completely unless they've dealt with addiction. For me, empty, but tasty food will stare at me until I eat it. That's how it feels anyway. I'm sure like a bottle of alcohol does for an alcoholic. So I fill my kitchen and fridge with foods full of nutrients that actually taste good. And I feel better about myself.

Two other things different about this final time around:
1. I have banned the use of a scale except for every 6 weeks (if that). The scale is not a friend of mine and never has been. I think it's deceiving to step on a scale every week (or every day). The proof is in how I feel!
2. Prayer. Like everything else in my life, I cannot do this alone. I have tried many, many times and I cannot do it. Not only have I enlisted my dad's support, I have committed to laying down my weakness at the throne of God Almighty each and every day. I must!

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Reaching Out

Eric and I have frequent conversations about the church that we are investing in...the church plant that is. Like everyone else invested in this ministry, we have ideas about how it's going to look or how it's going to go, but we know from experience that what the Word says is true,

"Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen."

For the Kingdom and for our friends we want to be the best that we can be. Sometimes when we talk we realize how frail and timid we are. We have lived in our Fort Wayne home for 1 1/2 years and we barely have met our neighbors. I am inspired by our friends who seem to be mission focused all the time. It is a desire that we have to be transformed in this way. After all the Word also says that we "have not been given a spirit of timidity and fear" and yet most often we live as though we have.

We have prayed many prayers for this church and for God to use us in it, but I think it's time to include a prayer and concerted effort to be be the kind of "neighbor" that God calls us to be.

A story:
For Anna's 4th birthday we went to O'Charley's for dinner (they serve kids free everyday). After we were there for a few minutes, our neighbors came in and were seated in the booth next to us. These neighbors we have only met a couple times...once when our youngest wandered across two yards into theirs and we found her sitting on his John Deere riding mower and then I think the only other time was at Halloween for the sake of getting candy. Nice people always. They wave when we enter the culd-a-sac and I must say they are quite devoted to the upkeep of their yard and driveway. Randy and Cheryl appear to be in their 50's and my observation would indicate that they watch their granddaughter daily, probably while her parents are at work. Their granddaughter appears to be 2 or so.
After Anna's birthday dinner, I took the opportunity to stop at their nearby table and ask forgiveness for not knowing their names. They reintroduced themselves along with their daughter and son-in-law and granddaughter who joined them. We were cordial and brief (I hated interupting their meal). But then thought immediately about the divine nature of that meeting;
In considering outreach, I have often dimissed our immediate neighbors because they fall outside of the targeted age range and family stage. But this meeting allowed me to think outside the box. Of course...these neighbors have children who fall directly into the target group. I was happy to have made this connection.

If you are interested in reading about the bold vision and inspiration for the church plant, I encourage you to check out the blog that Patrick updates regularly: