Thursday, December 29, 2011

You are "for me"...He is "for you!"

As I walked through the halls, I could hear the familiar, peace-bringing voice.  My heart was dancing, and my legs were taking me faster now, so that all my senses could have a worship experience that would connect so much of me with my Lord, whom I love more than I can express.  I opened the door to see a beautiful red dress, sixties style with a poofy skirt, dark brown hair, and a smile with a countenance to match a cross between an angel and a fairy.  It was Kari Jobe.

My daughter was with me.  This daughter happens to be very musically gifted.  I can't tell you how happy I was to have her there with me.  What an example for my sweet girl.  There is such trash out there that competes for the interest of our children, and I was glad that my girl could witness this awesome lady using the gifts the Lord placed inside her to give back to His people, and to Him.  She sings a song that has become my personal anthem. "You are For Me" has made me feel as if Jesus is speaking directly to me.  It reminds me that no matter who or what comes against me, He is with me in the middle of it. - and He is on my team!

Tonight, I'd like to share with you in a different way.  I'm feeling a little fictional.  The essence of our story is true.  I'm changing some names and details to protect.  You know I am on open book, but I respect those I love.  Not everyone wants EVERYTHING being told.  Of course, I can't understand why, but I'm going to do it this once. :)

Fahlan has wonderful childhood memories.  She is often teased because she seems to remember too much.  This never stops her from sharing stories with her family and friends.  Laughter and smiles always go hand in hand with these stories.  Something Fahlan did not share easily was pain and hurt.  Those stories were there, but these, she wanted to forget.  One memory in particular had followed her into adulthood, and had essentially become a phobia.  She shared this with very few people.  It only creeped out when she had to face this fear.  Facing it was not often, but because she works with children, it is inevitable.

In second grade, Fahlan was exposed to and then had Chicken Pox.  She was humiliated.  Then there was the treatement.  If you didn't put the cream on each individual one, it could scab, leaving scars.  No one wanted this, and if she had scars, they would be seen forever.   She remembered having to wash everything with  which she came in contact.  Itching all day long, and not being able to scratch was torture to her.  If the kids at school found out, she would die.  The laughter would never stop. The fact is, she didn't just have it one time, she had it two consecutive times.

This may seem to be trivial and maybe even silly.  The phobia was rooted in the way she was treated because of the illness, not because of the illness itself.  There was something else.  Fahlan's mother was less than interested in helping to treat the chicken pox.  She made Fahlan feel that it was her fault for getting them in the first place. She should have been more careful.  When Fahlan came down with them a second time, her mother accused her of getting them on purpose just so her mother would have to stay home from her raquetball match. The odds are Fahlan's mother was just having a hard time being a divorced mother trying to work, raise her child, and have a little stress-relief of her own.  Fahlan's mother probably never knew how her words would haunt her and follow her into adulthood.

Over the years, Fahlan had come close to having contact with children who had chicken pox.  The day came when one of her own students would come down with them.  She composed herself while discovering a few red dots on the child, but then quickly excused herself.  She barely made it through the door of the lounge before the tears started to flow.  They came uncontrollably.  She had not been this close to the illness since she herself was a child.  What if she had exposed her own children to this illness?  What if she got it again?  Who would care for her if her own mother had not wanted to?  The panic had to take hold of her mind and body before she could think to call on Jesus.  She knew that He had not given her a spirit of fear, but of power, love, and a sound mind.  She claimed these promises for herself, for her student, and for her children.  She dusted herself off and went back to class.

Making it through a situation that stirs up fear can help a person learn to walk in victory.  Fahlan knew that putting her faith into practice was the hardest when she was  walking through something that was testing her  faith so completely.  Still, she was learning and making progress.  This progress was critical for what she was about to face.  It was a warm November day.  Her daughter, Sierra, was playing outside while Fahlan was unloading the car.  As she walked by Sierra, Fahlan noticed that she was scratching her arm.  As Fahlan's eyes lead her body, a cold chill ran down her spine.  Sierra had at least 10 red dots in the crease of her elbow. 

"Jesus, please help us, " is all Fahlan could think.  She knew she had to remain calm, but even Sierra knew about her fear.  Fahlan had to hold it together, and not just hold it together, she had to be okay to help Sierra.  Fahlan phoned her husband, asking him to pick up what they needed, and asked him to hurry home.  If she were honest with herself, and her husband, she didn't know how long she could hold it together.  "Why?  Was it not enough that I had to have this horrible experience as a child?  Now, my daughter has to go through it, and I have to watch her - knowing what it did to me?" Fahlan just spoke her heart to her Lord.

Sierra said, "Mommy, am I going to be okay?  You said when you had this it was really bad."  Fahlan looked into her daughter's eyes and she felt a peace and an assurance as she spoke to her precious daughter.  "Baby, you are going to be fine, and I am going to be right here beside you through all that we do.  We'll put medicine on every dot, and when you feel like you need to scratch, I'll put warm rags on you."  Sierra smiled at her momma.  She knew the words were true. 

That night and the next, Fahlan sat up with Sierra till the wee morning hours.  Sierra would dose off in between applying the medicine, and Fahlan trying to ease the itching however she could.  It was 3:00 in the morning, and Fahlan began to sing quietly, "I know that you are for me, I know that you are for me, I know that you will never forsake me in my weakness, and I know that you have come down, even if to write upon my heart - to remind me, who You are."  She laughed as the tears streamed down her face.  She had come face to face with her fear.  God was not mocking her.  He was right there with her in that living room , with her sweet girl asleep on her lap.  He did not leave her in her weakness, rather He was giving her a chance to be the mom, and to do and say the right things.  As she looked down at her sleeping daughter, she praised her Jesus, "Thank you, Lord, for making me the mom Sierra needed tonight.  I don't know why no one was there  to do this for me, but I see now that you never left me.  Maybe my mom responded the way she did, so that I would respond the way I did.  You have taken something that was horrible, you have made me look at it up close and personal, and now I see that You are bigger.  I love that you are "for me".

Sierra healed nicely with very minimal scarring.  The only one that was the least bit noticeable was in Sierra's eyebrow.  She and Fahlan laughed because now mother and daughter shared the same scar.  Later, Sierra put it all in perspective and Fahlan knew that their hearts would not share the same scar.  Fahlan asked Sierra if the whole experience had been as bad as she thought it would be.  Sierra responded with words that would forever leave an imprint on Fahlan's heart, "Not at all, mom.  It was really no big deal.  I think it was easier for me because you were with me the whole time.  I didn't have to feel scared by myself like you did when you were little.  I'm glad you were here."

So, I'm sure you can think of something much more scary than chicken pox.  Do you have a phobia?  Is there something you are so afraid of that others would not even flinch about?  This is what makes us all unique.  Our experiences and environments make us how we are.  Jesus can help us to overcome any obstacle of fear.  To watch our children go through something that was devastating for us can seem like torture.  You never know when He may be giving us the second chance to do it as it should have been done all along.  Let me encourage you tonight.  No matter what your family legacy is, and no matter how much people say you are just like Aunt So and So, know first that you are a creation made by the most Holy God!  He has a plan for your life that can never be compared to or compromised by anyone in your lineage.  Child, you are His!  He is definitely "for you!"  Now, let Him see you where you are, with the needs that you have, then let Him fill You!



Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Golden Eyes I Cannot See

We were at a place where I knew we had to make a decision.  I didn't have much time to think about it, and I had to act quickly.  There was tremendous pain in making it, but if I had not made it, I could have caused harm to something so very fragile.  I prayed for an answer.  I prayed for strength.  I prayed for forgiveness for what I was ready to do.

I felt like I couldn't let myself feel.  I had to try to be as numb as I could.  I was strong until I was in the midst of the act that I dreaded.  Before you think this is something much worse, let me explain.  It was January.  I had spent a week in the hospital, my baby was in the middle of the fight for his life, we were preparing our home to be as germ free as we could, so that when Aaron came home, we could keep him well.  Our cat, Judah, had been getting worse and worse about finding places in the house to relieve himself.  We would find evidence of him in closets, in boxes w/ blankets, beside a backpack, and on my comforter.  It was not getting better, and I knew it was time to do something.  I took him to the vet, knowing that I might have to put him down - if this was something that could not be fixed.

Let me introduce you to Judah.  Randy found him as a tiny kitten.  He was huddled under a porch of one of the houses being built.  Randy brought him home in a little green birdcage.  When I first saw him, he was balled up in a corner hissing.  Randy wouldn't let me get him out, because he thought he might bite me.  (This is the guy who will pick up a rattlesnake without batting an eye!)  I humored him for a bit, then got that baby out and snuggled with him.  He was scared to death!  We were engaged at the time, and he became our kitty.  When we got married, and I moved in, we learned that we had one smart cat on our hands.  We taught him to fetch.  I could be in one room, and Randy in another.  We would wad up paper - writing notes to each other on it - and as we threw it, Judah would take the paper in the other room, to the other person!  No lie!  Then, there were times when he was not so bright.  We kept him locked in our bedroom during the day.  We lived in an apartment, and we weren't sure about the pet rule.  When we would come home, his little white paws would wave at us from underneath the door as if he was saying, "Hey, welcome home, now come let me out!"

Judah was a constant fixture in our home.  He saw my first three babies come home from the hospital.  He sent each of the big kids off to school for the first time, and was waiting on them when they got home.  When I was pregnant, he would lie on my belly and purr as the babies moved around.  He looked at me in my eyes, as if he could tell how I was feeling.  He was extremely obedient.  He wouldn't put a paw on the kitchen floor.  One day, he tried to save my life.  Randy was tickling me, and I was screaming.  Judah jumped on Randy and climbed to his neck where he proceeded to bite Randy until I stopped screaming.  He stood between Sydney and Gracen and a big dog that walked up in our driveway.  He puffed himself up as big as he could and let out a growl with a hiss, and that dog tucked tail and ran. :)

He loved us.  He protected us.  He made us smile.  We were his people, and he was our cat.  Now, in a matter of days I was making a decision about his sweet life.  The vet told me he was old, in pain, and his behavior would probably not get better.  We considered the worst.  UNTIL...a sweet lady in the vet at the same time as Randy offered to take him to her farm.  He could run and be free and live out his days living the life of a farm cat.  I was so elated that we had an alternative.  My best friend drove me to the farm as I let my kitty go.  I tried to tell him what was going on.  I tried to tell myself this was the best thing for him.  I wish I didn't have to leave him, and maybe I shouldn't have, but I did.  I wrote the lady a letter about all this sweet kitty meant to me.  I told her about his personality, and I thanked her for giving my kitty a second chance.

My focus was on my four pound baby.  I had to fight for him, and I had to give him the best environment he could have.  I had to let go of 13 years of loving that little kitten in a birdcage.  What was he thinking?  All I could do was pray that he would enjoy his new life on the farm.  The nice lady said I could bring my kids up to see him whenever we wanted.  My kids were about to experience life without Judah - which is something they had never known.

I kept in touch with the nice lady.  Judah liked the horse.  He would follow her out to feed him.  One day I called to see if we could come visit.  Now was not a good time.  I called later.  They were getting ready to move, but Judah would be fine.  I called and left messages.  I drove by the farm, and called her.  She had moved and Judah had not gone with them.  Neighbors had food put out, so he would not go hungry.  The big kids and I went on a Judah hunt.  We left our number with all the neighbors.  We called his name all over the place.  Nothing.

Today, I drove back by without the big kids.  The lady told me he liked the green trailer behind the house.  The day I had the kids with me, I couldn't find it.  I found it hidden way back in the woods.  I got flat on the ground, looking under it.  No Judah.

The other day when we were there, a man with kind eyes helped by giving us some information.  He told me he would look for Judah.  He told me where the green trailer was.  He gave me the names of the neighbors to talk to.  Today, the man with the kind eyes asked me how well I knew the lady.  "Not well at all," I replied.  He looked in my eyes, and I knew I was not going to find my kitty today.  He assured me that she took good care of her animals, but that I might never know the truth about Judah.  I don't understand.  I can't tell you how badly I want to see that little black face popping up out of some grass.  I am mourning all over again.

I prayed that these neighbors would not think I was a stalker.  As I said that out loud, I continued with, "Lord, you would do this for us.  If you knew we were lost, you would come find us - no matter who thought we were crazy."  He's been an outside cat, so he could be outside at our house now.  I also prayed that if Judah could hear me, that he would find me.  I believe he didn't hear me today.  I'm not ready to believe that he's gone.  I am still hoping that he finds his way back to us, or that one of the neighbors finds him and calls me.

Sometimes things don't work out the way we plan or hope.  Sometimes they do.  I want to see those golden eyes again!  Just as I had to choose my child over my animal, Jesus will choose His children EVERY time over those who go against them.  Unlike me, Jesus is all-powerful, and all-knowing.  When He hears your cry, He comes running to you - and He ALWAYS finds what He's looking for, no matter what truth is being withheld.

I'm praying for those of you who may be experiencing deep hurt.  Maybe no one really knows the depth of your ache.  He does.  Bring it to Him, and let Him heal your brokenness.  You might have guilt and regret over something.  The truth is, you can't change it.  Jesus can pick up your pieces right where you are and create a masterpiece.  Pain is hard to deal with presently.  Pain will also produce strength that you wouldn't gain without the hurt.  I say this to you as I am still grieving  a loss, and unanswered questions.  Press forward!  We can do this.


Friday, August 19, 2011

Shut de doe (Keep out the devil!)

What a year this has been!  I am rejoicing for so many things that the Lord has done in, and through, the lives of our family.  A year ago I was facing fear like I had never known before.  Fear is an ugly thing in the life of a Believer.  It goes against the nature of Christ, and as Christians we are told over and over in God's word that we should not fear.  Knowing this is one thing, being faced with a situation that causes you to walk it out is another.

I remember going to the Jaycee's Haunted House when I was a teenager.  I don't know why I went.  I guess I wanted to prove that I could face my fear, and to show myself I could make it through.  Well, I learned very quickly that I could hold on to Jill Phillips's shirt and I could close my eyes and still walk through this thing.  Sarah Braswell was behind me, so I felt safe on that end.  At one point a Freddy Krueger guy jumped out at us.  Sarah and I got separated from the rest of our group.  I couldn't close my eyes and see where I was going.  Then, someone jumped out of a jail cell and tried to corner Sarah.  At the same moment, one of the scaries caused me to bump into something, which knocked off my glasses.  I was done.  Yes, this was supposed to be scary, but I had had enough.  I YELLED at the scaries.  I told them to get away from Sarah, and that they better NOT touch me because they had already knocked off my glasses.  Have you ever seen scaries in a haunted house look confused?  My blood was boiling and I wasn't scared again through that stupid house.  We all made it out in one piece, and our little group was together again.

The fear that I felt at this point last year was much the same.  It crippled me for a bit.  Then amazingly some really awesome friends allowed me to just close my eyes for a while - as long as I kept walking forward.  I was so weak.  I knew Jesus would never leave me, I just had no idea where we were going.  Many of the fears that I had concerned the far-off future.  Jennifer Eidson held my heart as I first spoke the what-if.  She held me up and encouraged me when I was on the floor.  Michelle Sanchez got me through many late nights when everyone else was in bed.  Alice Worsham needed to see my eyeballs and look into my face as she assured me that our God had this.  Debbie Roberts gave me time to be weird, and loved me and let me right back in when I was done with that.  Tracy Moore was a rock sent straight from my Jesus to me.  She listened to me say things she never thought would come out of my mouth, and she didn't judge me.  She did, however, get me to the point where I needed to scream at Satan - just like in the haunted house.  He had filled my head with lies, and he touched on every insecurity he could see.  Finally, I was ready to move forward - eyes wide open- to see what the Lord was going to do in my life, and in the lives of my precious family.

I had more warriors in my journey who saw me everyday, and they made sure I walked my walk.  Sherry Turner, Tyra Jordan, Tamar Thomas, Dian Gibbs, Shannon McCray, Jenny Barrett, Nicole Hays, and Colleen Lea supported me like they were truly my sisters.  They let me cry, and then held me accountable to believe the promises I knew were true.  Shea Friday came to my rescue, and taught my class and loved them as she loved me.  My neighbors Lori Kersh, Jill Hayes, and Rachel Smith talked to me and supported me through encouragement - and promises of babysitting. :)  Jesus knows my heart, y'all.  He knows how much I love my friends.  That is exactly who He used to show me that He would take care of me and my fear, and that He had a destiny for me to fulfill.

There are a host of other friends who helped me in so many ways.  I appreciate ALL of you!  So, you know the story of Aaron's birth already, now fast-forward to May.  I came back for the last 5 weeks of school.  I realized the Lord truly has put a love in my heart for teaching.  I missed my class so much, and I was loving being back with them.  I knew my time at Hilldale was coming to a close, and my last week of school was heart-wrenching.  There was such a conflict going on inside me.  I couldn't teach 5 days anymore because there was not a 5 day class for Aaron.  All indications were saying I needed to find something else...somewhere else.  I felt like I was moving far far away from my family, and it hurt!

So, I spent the summer putting in applications, going on interviews, getting my hopes up, and having doors close right on my nose.  After walking through the fourth door, and thinking this was the one, I left all my ideas about what the Lord had for me in the lock of that door.  I made it to my car before I burst into tears.  I knew in my heart that I wasn't supposed to be at this place, but I was so confused.  I told the Lord that I had no idea what He had in mind for me, and that I was getting scared, but that I trusted Him. I was so weary, not tired, weary.   He knew our needs better than I did, and I was determined to trust Him with my eyes wide open!

Realize, friends, I had exhausted every option that I could think of that would work for Aaron and me.  There was nothing else.  I would have to brainstorm and maybe do more than one "job" that might not be as ideal.  End of my road.  Nothing.  Then I found this verse, "The Lord is good to those who wait hopefully and expectantly on him."  Lamentations 3:25  I know you feel it...       THEN, the next day I got a text.  This is what it said, "Ash, call me ASAP!" - Dian, as in Dian Gibbs, Principal of Hilldale Christian School.  Something had just come up, and she wanted to know if I'd be interested in a 2 or 3 day class.  She still wasn't sure where she might need me.  WOOOO HOOOOO!

So, the question of the summer is, why did I have to walk through all those doors only to have them close on me if I was going to go right back where I started?   Well, let me answer that by sharing what my friend Debbie felt the Lord wanted her to share with me. :)  "I know your deeds.  See I have placed before you an open door that no man can shut.  I know that you have little strength, yet you have kept my word and have not denied my name."  Revelation 3:8  Are you smiling?  If I had not gone the route I went, I would not appreciate my new job the way I do.  I had become too familiar, too complacent, and too complaining!  I have a new stride in my step.  The Lord is up to something, and I get to find out first hand what that is!

Many of you have prayed for me and my job, and I thank you!  I wanted to share this little journey because I know so many of you are going through similar circumstances.  Hang on!  Even though you may not see the answer, He's got it all worked out for you.  Let me say something that might be hard right here.  Ladies, He has to be your Lord.  He can be your Savior, and He can provide a "get out of jail free" card.  If that's all you want, He won't force anything more.  If that's not enough, if you're hungry and thirsty, and something deep inside of you is saying, "more, more", then surrender it all to Him.  He wants the BEST for you, not the best you can do.  I encourage you to seek Him, and put Him first.  I can assure you, you've done much harder things in your life than surrendering your life to the One who created it in the first place.  Oh, I used a lot of names in this blog.  I could have said "friends", but each one of these ladies gave me something over this past year.  Putting their names on the screen won't do much for them, but it will let them know, in case they have ever doubted, that I love them with every part of my heart.  Now, they know, and you know. Jesus does the same with us.  He calls us by name.  He knows us, and He will let the world know that we are His.  Let Him lead you!  But now, this is what the LORD says—
   he who created you, Jacob,
   he who formed you, Israel:
“Do not fear, for I have redeemed you;
   I have summoned you by name; you are mine.
2 When you pass through the waters,
   I will be with you;
and when you pass through the rivers,
   they will not sweep over you.
When you walk through the fire,
   you will not be burned;
   the flames will not set you ablaze.
3 For I am the LORD your God,
   the Holy One of Israel, your Savior;
I give Egypt for your ransom,
   Cush[a] and Seba in your stead.
4 Since you are precious and honored in my sight,
   and because I love you,
I will give people in exchange for you,
   nations in exchange for your life.
5 Do not be afraid, for I am with you;
   I will bring your children from the east
   and gather you from the west.
6 I will say to the north, ‘Give them up!’
   and to the south, ‘Do not hold them back.’
Bring my sons from afar
   and my daughters from the ends of the earth—
7 everyone who is called by my name,
   whom I created for my glory,
   whom I formed and made.”
Isaiah 43:1-7



Monday, August 1, 2011

Sylvia's Daughter Dances

The Lord has a way of turning our mourning into dancing, giving us beauty from ashes, and teaching us that there is nothing we can do to make Him love us less.  I have mentioned before a subject that was for another day.  I've chosen today to tell this story.
I have always loved being on the go.  Home is my landing spot, but out there is where I love to be.  I have been this way since I was a child.  I would go anywhere, especially if it was to visit with family or friends.  So, in June of 1985 when I went on a softball trip with my aunt and uncle, there was no reason to think it would be a trip I would never forget.  I was a ballpark kid.  There's probably dirt in my blood.  Tournaments were so much fun to me - hotel rooms, pools, sometimes being batgirl, and cheering on my players.  I remember at one game, watching my dad in center field.  He climbed up on the fence did a quick turn  and caught a ball that should have been a homerun.  Then I remember a player from the other team yelling at my dad that he belonged in the zoo with the rest of the monkeys.  We still laugh about that game.  My dad and Beverly were also at this tournament, and we were all ready to have a great time!
When we got back to the rooms, there was a message.  I overheard what the message was about, and I was as scared as I had ever been.  My aunt was talking to one of my uncles on the phone.  She said, "You're going to have to go down and tell Mama and Daddy, I can't tell them this on the phone.  Sylvie has had a heart attack and is in a coma."  I knew what both those terms meant, but I could not comprehend this happening to my mama.  We made the trip from Chatanooga to Birmingham in rain, the whole way.  We never spoke of the conversation I had overheard, and I convinced myself that it was raining because God was crying because He was not going to take my mama with Him.
She remained in a coma for almost 2 months.  I overheard another family member telling of a dream she had had.  I went in to see my mom, and she came out of the coma.  I tried to go in to see her.  I got past the ICU doors, and I stopped in my tracks.  My body would not walk forward.  My mama had never not responded to me.  I was so afraid, so I turned back and I never made it in to see her.
On July 27th I woke to voices downstairs.  Why are they here?!  I was spending the night with my best friend.  So, those voices meant someone was there to pick me up, and I wasn't even out of bed yet!  This was so not fair!  I went downstairs demanding to know why they were here so early, and declaring that I was not ready to leave.  We had planned a bunch of fun for the day, and I was not ready to give that up.  No one would give me an answer.  Then, everyone left the room - except my daddy.  His eyes were not looking at mine.
Then they did.  I wanted to run!  Now his eyes would not let mine look away.  He started to talk, but I didn't want to hear what he was saying.  Rewind! Rewind!  Go back, don't tell me this!  Just stop saying this, and it won't be true.  My daddy had to give his daughter the worst news a daddy could give.  He held me, and told me what had happened during the night.  My mom could not fight any longer.  She left this world - she left me. 
For a while, it was unreal to me.  My mom was always the one who delivered the bad news.  She was good at comforting me, and assuring me I would be okay.  So, she couldn't be dead, because who would give me that comfort?  My daddy was and has always been my protector.  He is good at his job.  I will never forget standing at the end of the "viewing" line, and my dad and my Aunt Jodie coming on either side of me, and walking me past the front of the line and into the room that held my mom's body.  I stopped in my tracks - much like I did in the ICU.  Only this time, they didn't let me stop.  They talked to me and we walked inch by inch until I could stand and look at my mama.  Only, it wasn't her - not the way she was.  Suddenly it became real.  I was not going to have her anymore, and there was nothing anyone could do about it. 
Daddy kissed my head through his tears about a hundred times.  He didn't have many words, but those kisses were like a balm that was trying so hard to heal my little broken heart.  Nothing would, though.  So, from then on, July 27th was a day that reminded me of the most horrible thing I have ever had to experience.  My heart still breaks for that 10 year old little girl. 
Time does not heal, but Jesus does.  I still miss my mama, but I have peace.  I will see her again, and I have a love for people that I cannot explain.  I learned early that you're not promised tomorrow, and that every person has a purpose.  Certain people come along that Jesus allows me to love the way He would love them.  I love to look deep into people.  I don't want anyone to walk around in a coma - not understanding the love and life that Jesus has for them. 
Recently, we celebrated Asa's 7th birthday.  He was induced seven years ago, on a day that my doctor said would be the day he needed to schedule me.  His due date was August 4th, but he was a big baby who needed to come early.  Some of you know this already, but Stephen Asa Morrison was born on July 27th.  :)  So, you see, the Lord turned my mourning to dancing in 2004.  No longer is that a sad day for me!  I know my mama was smiling about this decision.  Maybe she rocked him and kissed him before he was delivered to me.  This was the day my mama went to be with her Lord, and now it is the day that my Lord blessed me with life - no more death. 
Asa's name means healer - physician of the heart.  He did just that for his mama.  He brings me such joy and laughter, and he gives such love to his mama.   I am amazed at how my Jesus loves me, and when He does things like this, that He didn't have to do, I feel so favored and loved.  Yes, I still think about my mama, but it's with a smile on my face.  The little girl she had to leave behind has been blessed with four little lives to be a mama to.  I am the mom I am because of the mama I had.  She loved me like no one else.  It was fierce, and it was comfort.  I take this with me in my own motherhood journey, then I add the grace that Jesus gives me, and so far, so good. 
I don't know what your biggest hurt is.  Jesus does.  I believe He is waiting to turn your mourning into dancing, and He'll do it in a way that you just can't mourn anymore.  I'm praying for you now.  Let Him renew a spirit of gladness in you. 



Saturday, July 2, 2011

Puzzled Peace

Here I am at yet another expectant milestone in my life.  No, I'm not pregnant again!  As of today I no longer have a classroom.  It took 3 days, but my girls and I managed to have our own version of Clean Sweep.  We organized, put away, gave away, and threw away stuff that I had managed to collect over my 5 years of teaching at Hilldale Christian School.  My girls kept asking me today if I was going to cry.  I told them I thought I had gotten all of my tears out on the last week of school.  They kept watching me, keeping a close eye on their mama.

I'm a keeper.  A student draws me a picture, and I keep it.  They are like wallpaper for me.  So, I was finally going to send some to the recycling factory.  I was not thinking sentimentally, just reaching and tossing.  I was looking over my workroom, which does actually have a floor, and I was impressed at how organized it looked.  Then I closed the door to check out the corner.  There were a few drawings on the back of the door.  I pulled a few down.  Just one more to go!  I stood on my toes, touched the paper with my fingertips, and began to pull.  Something was different about this one.  It wasn't a sturdy pull, it felt as if, oh my, as if it had been...  I stopped.  I knew exactly who drew this picture, and the fact that it was not drawn for me.  I was not the intended recipient of this beautiful drawing, but it will remain a work of art that I will treasure for the rest of my life.

You see, this drawing was fearfully and wonderfully made by a little girl with big green eyes, and beautiful brown hair with flowing ringlets.  We understood each other beautifully, and we spoke cat to each other like only we could.  On this day in K-5, she chose to make a picture for one of her friends.  The kids do this all the time, and it is usually a sweet gesture, and most of the time the giver will be rewarded with a work of art as well - a most proper thank you, of course.  So, I was working with different groups while some were working on free art.  I simply went on about my business, and assumed all was fine in the free art world.

I felt a familiar little tug on my shirt.  I turned around to find this precious girl with tears streaming down her face.  She was cupping something in her hands.  I looked down and saw her drawing in way too many little pieces.  She said, "I made this for my friend, and he said he didn't want it, and he tore it up and threw it on my desk."   Pause.  Yes, this sounds so cruel, but before you start hating on this boy, you have to remember these are 5 year olds.  They don't always know how to express themselves, and many times they react before they think.  This was a GIRL making a girly drawing for a BOY.  This could mean big humiliation out on the playground.  This did not help my sweet little girl standing in front of me.  I had to think fast!

I looked down at her, and I said, "Well, I'm glad he didn't want it, because I would LOVE to have it!"  We proceeded to my desk.  We put that puzzle back together, upside-down, I might add.  We were good - working quickly and efficiently.  When all the tape was in place, we both held our breath, and turned it over.  There it was.  A masterpiece - and it was mine.  I raved about my new work of art that my sweet friend gave me.  I taped it to the front of my desk, and it remained there for the rest of the year.  That little girl was somebody because she had given the teacher something that had great value.

The moment my fingers realized what I was touching, the tears started to roll.  The precious hearts that graced my classroom, the love that they poured into mine, the way their smiles healed the hurt deep down, the friendships and the heartaches that came and went, the hope that each one of my students would walk out of my door knowing and professing Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior - all of this flooded me in one moment of looking at a work of art that was not meant for me, but is mine now.

I am thankful for what the Lord is doing in my life.  Little Aaron has us all wrapped around his little heart!  He gives us smiles, tells us "ah goo", and loves to do superman as he makes a wind noise with his little mouth.  He loves and recognizes all of us.  He knows his people, and he loves them hard. He's a big boy now,weighing over 15 pounds!  I love being his mama. :)

Jesus painted a masterpiece for me.  Sometimes, I tear it up, and throw it back at Him.  No matter.  Everytime I do it, He begins piecing it back together for me.  Sometimes, He even invites me to help Him with the tape.  Other times, I realize what a mess I've made, and I think He is going to be done with me.  Never.  It's the same routine.  "Where's the tape, Ashley?  Would you like to come see how I can work this out for your good?"  Sometimes, I hold my breath wondering how it's gonna look when He flips it over.   I am always relieved and amazed when He shows me.

So here I am today.  I've said goodbye to a place that I have been around since Sydney was 3 - that's 7 years.  I'm leaving my family and going on a journey.  Jesus just said to pack my bags.  I hear Him calling, but I don't know where He is, and I can't see where I'm going.  All I know is I can't stay because He has said, "move".  One thing I do know, though.  When I find where He is, and I walk in to see Him, he's gonna have my torn up picture taped up and hanging on the front of His desk.  I'm gonna look Him in the eyes, and my smile is gonna stretch off my face!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Our Little Eaglette

"There's a storm on the horizon, oh, let the wind blow.  There is thunder all around me, oh, let the wind blow."  These words take me back to a place that reminds me of the deep love I have for my husband.  When I let myself go back to this place, I realize there in that moment, was a type of foreshadowing that would tell of obstacles our marriage, and our lives would overcome.  Randy was standing in the center of the youth room at Centercrest.  He had been working on worship music for one of the services, and the Spirit of the Lord was just radiating light around him.  He had the lights turned down, and he walked to the center of the room, not even knowing I was watching.  The music started playing from his keyboard, and it sounded so much like a storm.  Then he began singing those opening words.  I watched as this man I love worshiped his Lord, vowing that no matter what storm in life came, he would be trusting in the Prince of Peace, so the wind could blow all around him- as hard as it could because on the solid Rock of Christ, my husband, stood.

In the meantime I had been reading about eagles and storms.  Eagles have two threatening enemies - serpents and storms.  Serpents are a direct threat to the eaglettes, so the eagle will not hesitate in killing the serpent immediately.   The eagle will use a storm to soar to a higher ground.  Even though the storm is dangerous, the eagle uses it to his advantage.  He flies into it and he simply glides on the winds, not fighting it, but using it to take him to a place he's never been before. 

Randy and I had a date over the Christmas break, and I shared this information with him.  The other part of the eagle story that I loved is that eagles choose mates for life.  They take the  "till death do us part" seriously, and early on in their relationship.  As they court each other, the female decides when she has found the one.  She flies around the male, seeking his interest.  Then she turns herself upside down and does a free fall.  If the male wants this girl for life, he swoops down to rescue her, grabs onto her talons with his, and they have their wedding ceremony.  From that moment on the rest of their lives will be shared in togetherness, good or bad, and through all the storms life will bring their way.

On December 30th, we were hit with a storm called preeclampsia.  This disease happens in pregnant women and is cured only by delivery of the baby.  Aaron was due March 4th, and now my doctors were telling me at any time I could be put into the hospital, and Aaron could be delivered any day.  The dangers at this point were only to me, and the doctors hoped they could control this condition in me for as long as possible.  My blood pressure was very high, and the danger of this is seizures or stroke.  So, I began going to the doctor every week to be monitored.  I made it about 2 more weeks before the doctor said that dreaded word... bedrest.

All of the plans I had for my job, were shot.  I spent the 2 weeks trying to plan for a substitute in January instead of March now.  Everyone was great and so very helpful - I work with the best friends a girl could have.  I had a day with my students to explain the situation, and then it was home to rest for me. 

One of the next days after Randy and I had prayed and talked about the adjustments to our plans, I just started thinking about the eagle again.  I felt the Lord telling me that He would take us higher through this storm, and that all we really had to do, my sole responsibility was to simply trust Him.  I texted Randy and just said, "Ready to ride the winds of this storm."  His reply was simple, but still makes me emotional because of  all the power it possesses.  "Let the wind blow..."

Sunday night, January 9th, that wind started blowing and bringing ice and snow with it.  My blood pressure shot up to the 180s/ 147.  (Normal is 120/80, strokes can happen around 200 on top)  Randy took me to the firestation and the number was even higher there.  The fireman asked me if we wanted an ambulance to take me to the hospital because of the ice that was now falling.  Randy drove me instead.  We only slid once on the way, and we made it to Brookwood before the snow hit.  We watched the news and saw a winter-wonderland unfolding.  Randy's parents happened to be at our house to help with our building project.  Little did they know they would be spending the whole week at our house taking care of our children. :)  We are so thankful for this!

January 10, 2011...our 13th wedding anniversary.  We spent our anniversary in a labor and delivery room watching Auburn win the National Championship on a fuzzy little tv.  We could barely see where the football was amongst the fuzz - this was definitely NOT HD.   Our treat for the night was ...popsicles!  What a way to celebrate, but we laughed hard and made the best of it.  It was on this night that I was told I could possibly spend 4 more weeks in the hospital, and we probably wouldn't make it that long - which meant a very early delivery for Aaron.

Tuesday passed slowly, and Wednesday brought even worse news.  My bp was not coming down, my protein count was over 6000 (I was put in the hospital for it being over 1000).  Then, as I would have a contraction, Aarons heartrate would drop.  I was hooked up to monitors that watched his every move.  One of my doctors came by Wednesday night and told me this was just how it was going to be.  I would pretty much be miserable until the baby was born, and we would just keep watching him, and let him stay inside as long as we could.

"Though the sorrow may last for the night, His joy comes in the morning."  So, Thursday morning, Dr. Adcock came in looked at me, and said, "You are just too sick.  I am not comfortable with what's going on with baby, and you're going to have him today."  Wow!  So, the plan was to try to get labor going, and have little Aaron around 9:00 in the evening.  As I was back in L and D trying to labor the day away, my bp spiked again, and Aaron was dipping more than before.  Dr. Adcock gave the word.  We were going to have a baby sooner than later, and it would be by c-section as soon as they could get it set.

None of my other childrens' births were c-sections.  I have never had surgery.  The anesthesiologist came in to talk to me, and said he would give me a spinal block, which would numb my body from my feet, to my chest.  Then he told me that some people feel anxious because they think they can't breathe, but not to worry, because I would be breathing.  Guess what I spent thinking about for the next 30 minutes.  "How does that feel - to think you can't breathe, but knowing that you can?"  So, we finally made it into the O.R.  I shook convulsively throughout the whole process - but only from my chest up.  I was scared!  Then I heard that the cord was wrapped around his neck.  Randy assured me he was okay, then I heard baby boy let out his first cry!

Aaron Grady Morrison came into this world at 4:01 P.M. on January 13, 2011, weighing 4 pounds, 13 ounces and measuring 17 1/2 inches long.  I was amazed that he didn't look tiny.  Yes, he was little compared to my 9 pounders, but he was still somehow...big.  He is a big eaglette.  He doesn't know he's little, and he just does what he's supposed to.  He is currently in the NICU, but everyday he has met a goal or expectation.  He's eating like a champ, never had to be on oxygen, and took his own feeding tube out.  Today,  I sat holding him and looking into his precious little eyes.  There in my arms was my baby eaglette.   Because of the decision his mommy and daddy eagle made 13 years ago, they flew through the storm together, and something was renewed.  They found themselves on higher ground, closer to their Savior.  My sweet little eaglette looked back up at me with his precious little eyes, and his fuzzy little head and he just grinned.

What joy he has brought to us over these last few days.  We know we have a long road still, but Aaron makes it seem effortless.  The doctors say he needs to eat a little bit more, and he does it.  They have taken out his I.V. and said he needs to keep his glucose levels up - no problem.  Right now he is on a billi-bed to cure a little jaundice.  He also has to be able to keep his own body temperature up, and he needs some meet on his skinny little self. :)  We covet your prayers for our sweet boy, and we thank all of you who have lifted us up over the months of this pregnancy.  I had no idea.  God did, and I am humbled at the love He has for me.  He knew what this baby would mean to me, even when I couldn't see.  His plan is ALWAYS better than ours, and I am so excited to trust Him with so much more!