Disappointment or Gratitude

Lately we’ve been hit by multiple unexpected expenses that have thwarted our efforts to be “gazelle intense” and become debt free. It’s been discouraging, to say the least.

Each time our budget has been assaulted by these unwanted expenses, it has been tempting to complain, to whine, to say “this isn’t fair – we’re doing everything right, so why is this happening?” It would be justified to allow ourselves to feel badly about it and to feel defeated.

But, as I’ve been diving in and studying Scripture in preparation for writing a Bible study, I’ve been reminded (over and over) about how the Israelites lived life in the Old Testament. They focused on the past, on what they had in Egypt (conveniently forgetting that they were SLAVES and were mistreated and miserable), on what they lacked instead of all that God had provided. In short, we shouldn’t follow their example.

Their attitude would have been so different if they had only focused on all that God was doing, all that He had provided. He rescued them from slavery and did miracle after miracle. He literally rained food down for them every day. They could SEE His presence as they traveled. And yet they whined and complained because they wanted more. 

In light of this, I’ve been focusing on what God is doing and not what I wish He’d do.

When we realized how close it was going to be, I told Brennan that we had a choice to make: we could be disappointed because this unexpected expense was preventing us from putting money into savings and we’d have to have a super tight budget, OR, we could be thankful that God had given us exactly what we needed to pay this expense AND our normal bills/needs.

We chose to be grateful.

This doesn’t mean we didn’t waver; it took many reminders to shift our perspective back to gratitude. It took encouraging each other when we felt defeated. It took remembering God’s faithfulness over and over.

Though we didn’t know how we’d make it to the end of the last pay period, He provided. We had just enough to pay our bills, we had just enough food to get by (even though it wasn’t the healthiest of choices), and we survived. I cannot tell you how amazing it felt to shop on pay day and get everything we had been needing. It felt like a gift, like such a burden had been lifted from my shoulders. I was so excited about God’s provision. I didn’t take it for granted.


One of the reasons we love budgeting is because it’s a twice-monthly reminder that God always provides for our needs. I fill in the spreadsheet with our bills and needs prior to knowing our income; and EVERY time, God provides. It may not be in excess of our needs, but we are always able to eat, give, and pay our bills. And for that we are abundantly thankful.

Where is your focus today? Are you lamenting over what you do not have, or are you praising the Lord for what you do have?

Perspective is everything, and when you are filled with gratitude for all the Lord has done, that’s worship.

 

Scars

I remember the doctor asking me if I would be okay with an eight inch scar on my forearm.

I was seventeen, after all. Most teenage girls would probably stare at him incredulously for even suggesting such a thing.

I had a choice: vanity/pride and continued pain, or a huge scar and healing.

I answered without hesitation: yes. Yes, I was okay with it. Yes, do it, please.

That scar brought healing, not shame. It brought relief to pain that had plagued me for four years at that point – pain that had left me unable to play piano, write, and so much more.

I didn’t care what my arm looked like – I only cared what it felt like. I cared about regaining strength and dexterity, I cared about getting my life back to normal.

Two months later, I would emerge from surgery with a Nike sign on my right forearm, eight inches long, just like he said. And I rejoiced.

That scar brought me freedom. It brought me healing. It gave me my full life back.


All of us have scars – physical and emotional. Some make us feel ashamed, some bring laughter, all contain a story – telling how we became who we are today.

We have a choice to make: we can be thankful for these scars (thanks to my favorite band, I Am They for a great song about just that), thankful for these journeys and stories that God has used to make us more like Him and to bring healing and freedom; or we can hide them in shame, not allowing God to do what only He can do with them.

Your scars may be someone else’s healing. Someone’s freedom. Someone’s answer.

Don’t hide them in shame. Allow God to work through you. Tell your stories and watch Him in awe. And then thank Him all over again for His grace and goodness as you watch Him, yet again, bring good from something that was not.


Had I chosen vanity over healing, I can’t imagine what my life would be like now. I’m thankful that I chose the path of freedom, even though it wasn’t easy.

This applies spiritually, emotionally, physically, relationally.

Choose freedom. Choose healing. Let go of pride – it’s so much better to have the scar than to have the pain. After all, scar tissue is stronger than unscarred skin. Scars represent a fight, a fight that you WON.

Let God work in you, even if it’s not comfortable. It will all be worth it, I promise.

Krabbe Awareness Month: Day Twenty

Because Krabbe is an autosomal recessive mutation, the chances per pregnancy are 25% that the child will be affected, 50% that they will be a carrier, and 25% that they will be unaffected. That may seem like a low chance that a couple would have an affected child, but Dr. Escolar told us that she often sees repeats in families.

On diagnosis day we were told two things in the same minute: Tori had Krabbe and was dying, and that we shouldn’t have more children. We were devastated.

Thankfully, we found out about IVF as an option to have healthy children and our twins are not even carriers of Krabbe. ❤

There is HOPE for families like us to have more children, whether through IVF, adoption, or foster care. Krabbe doesn’t have to mean the end of your dream of having a family. 

We Have Time

Our boys are sixteen months old now. They walk everywhere, they love being outside, and they love experiencing new things.

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Most of the time I feel as though we have struck a great balance between being home and going out to do things, but some days I feel this pressure to do everything. If I find out we have to miss some event or function, I feel like they are missing out. I feel pressure.

This isn’t a pressure induced by social media, however. Yesterday I realized that it’s because all I’ve ever known as a parent is limited time. A deadline. A looming end point and the danger of permanent regret. 

With Tori, we had less than two years to try to give her all the experiences we could manage. Krabbe robbed us of time. Krabbe made us feel rushed. We did things she was far too young to appreciate because there was pressure. We didn’t have time to waste. We didn’t want to have any regrets for her, or for us as a family. And, thankfully, we don’t.

Yet, I have to stop and remember that, Lord willing, we have time with the twins. We don’t have to do everything right now, and we don’t have to be disappointed if we don’t take them everywhere to do it all at this age. They don’t know what they’re missing, and if they are happy, that is all that matters. We have the freedom to wait until they can better appreciate whatever it is we want them to see/experience. 

I’m praying that my heart can rest in that hopeful knowledge, that I can be better at just taking one day at a time, one moment at a time, and providing the boys with a well-balanced life. Rest is equally as important as stimulation and experiences, and I pray that we as parents will have the wisdom to do what is best.

I’m so thankful for this gift of time.

Book Review: The Jesus Who Surprises by Dee Brestin

img_8482The Jesus Who Surprises: Opening Our Eyes to His Presence in All of Life and Scripture is an excellent study – one I enjoyed from beginning to end.

The author looks at the entire Bible to show us glimpses of Jesus where we may not expect to see Him. She masterfully shows that the Bible is indeed one connected story, one of hope, redemption, and love. She also approaches important topics like suffering, and she shows how those things produce a joy like none other (something I know from experience). I thoroughly enjoyed this study and repeatedly found myself excited and encouraged by her words. That isn’t something I can often say.

Here is one of my favorite quotes:

When we realize that the Lord is in control, a peace comes to us, despite the suffering. We realize that this shaking is temporary and that we have an inheritance that can never be taken from us. (Page 123)

I especially loved – and learned from – the third part, looking at Isaiah and what is in store for us. She summed up the whole study so well in the last sentence:

My hope is that seeing this same story from Genesis to Revelation will give you great confidence in the reliability of the Scriptures and the truths they hold. For the Jesus that surprised the two on the road to Emmaus, and surprises us in our everyday lives, is not at all finished surprising us.”

Dee also challenges the reader to see Jesus at work every day – something I’ve practiced for years thanks to missional training I received. He is always at work, you just have to see it. This practice alone can significantly change one’s perspective.

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This beautiful study can be done individually or as a group. Dee provides thoughtful questions to encourage a deeper study of Scripture at the end of each chapter.

I highly recommend this book and I look forward to reading more of her studies.

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I was given a free copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for my honest review.

Five

Today is Tori’s fifth birthday.

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It’s the fourth one we’ve celebrated without her in our presence, but, for some reason, this one caught me off guard and hit me harder than anticipated.

Five is a milestone. Five is an age little kids want to be (I apparently used to tell people I was five when I wasn’t). Five means kindergarten is coming. Five.

It’s hard to not imagine what she’d look like, what she’d be like.

We should be celebrating our first born’s birthday WITH her, but instead we will celebrate without her. It’s a consequence of living in a fallen world, a harsh reality of living between two gardens (Eden and Heaven), as Lysa TerKeurst has said.

It would be so easy to take the pains of this earthly existence and dwell on them, to allow them to consume us and to derail our lives. But, as Christians, we are given wise and practical advice as to how to navigate this fallen world, and in moments like these we should turn to God’s Word for that wisdom:

Since you have been raised to new life with Christ, set your sights on the realities of heaven, where Christ sits in the place of honor at God’s right hand. Think about the things of heaven, not the things of earth. For you died to this life, and your real life is hidden with Christ in God. And when Christ, who is your life, is revealed to the whole world, you will share in all his glory.

Colossians 3:1-4

“Think about the things of heaven, not the things of earth.” 

We could dwell on the things of earth – Tori’s absence, the unfair nature of our situation, what we lost thanks to mutated genes that caused Krabbe. But, God tells us to dwell on the things of Heaven – Tori’s eternal presence there, her healed body, her ability to live an abundant life there, the fact that we will join her someday for ETERNITY.

So that’s where we purposefully turn our eyes. Sometimes it comes easily, other times it requires faith. The root of our joy is Heaven through Jesus, so we choose to focus on what’s to come rather than on what has been.


At the Hunter’s Hope Symposium last week, one of the Krabbe -and fellow twin- mamas I greatly admire said this about her son: Jenna said that when Jackson was first diagnosed, she prayed and pleaded with God to let him live a normal life, to let him achieve milestones and do things like graduate from high school. She said she felt the Lord say that those are ordinary things; Jackson’s life would be extraordinary. 

I know the same is true for Tori. This was God’s plan of redemption all along – that she would change lives and make a huge difference in this world – a difference that will be seen in the next. He has redeemed a terrible situation and made something beautiful from it.


Whatever you’re facing today, remember that we are called to something greater and that this world is not our home. This broken, painful, earth is not our final destination. It’s temporary – and we thank God for that!

Focus on the eternal, on the things that come from God – love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (Galatians 5:22-23). When you set your mind on things above, it changes your perspective and you realize that joy comes more easily, no matter the circumstances.

Always be full of joy in the Lord. I say it again—rejoice! Let everyone see that you are considerate in all you do. Remember, the Lord is coming soon.

Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.

And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise. Keep putting into practice all you learned and received from me—everything you heard from me and saw me doing. Then the God of peace will be with you.

–Philippians 4:4-9


We love you, Tori, and we celebrate you today. We always will.

Sitting in the Meantime

When we saw TobyMac in March, he said something that resonated with me. He commented about the length of time between his album releases and said that’s because he needs to live life between albums so that he has something to sing about.

When I wrote the one and only song I’ve ever written, I told God that I was okay with never writing one again because it took sending Tori to Heaven to have the inspiration and ability to write it. If that’s what it takes, I’m good now 😉


I’ve been mostly quiet on here for a while now because life hasn’t given me much content lately – which is perfectly okay! I am completely satisfied with life going smoothly, which it mostly has been (normal mother-of-twins ordeals aside).

However, as I blogged earlier this week, I’m now in a situation providing me with content…a situation I sincerely wish could be resolved but it’s out of my control at this point.

I’ve been sitting in silence, not pressing this friend to reconcile or respond, not offering further explanation as to my intent or my heart. Just waiting.


Someone recently used the phrase “sitting in the meantime” and I loved it. That’s where I am – sitting in the period of waiting for resolution. I’ve relinquished control (difficult) and am being still before the Lord, waiting for His guidance and for my friend to reach out IF they choose to do so.

And it’s challenging.

Because, in the meantime, I just want to fix things. I want to talk. I want to meet up for coffee and explain, yet again, that my words were not said out of anger but love. That there has to be a huge misunderstanding because I thought everything was good between us, but clearly there was some harbored resentment that caused this to blow up. That everyone makes mistakes and grace should be offered abundantly. But I can’t. Not until the other person reaches out.

I don’t like being in the meantime. There is no defined timeline, no rule book, nothing for me to accomplish except to wait and to pray, to work on my own heart and to ask God to use this to grow my own character.

Life will go on if this friendship ends, but not without some grief on my part. Unresolved conflict is so very hard for me to live with especially when I feel I’ve done all I can to live at peace with others (Romans 12:18).

If you find yourself – now or in the future – “sitting in the meantime” with no end in sight, run to the Lord. Read His Word. Trust Him. Remember all the great things He has done in your life and in the lives of others. He isn’t just watching from the sidelines – He is right there in the meantime with you.