Friday, June 22, 2012

Uphill Battles

Today as I was on my morning run, I was faced with some inclines and tiny hills. Of course to me, they seemed like mountains as I wastrying hard to run up them without stopping. I was tempted as I started my run to go another direction, one without inclines and hills, but I wanted to face the challenge.  I kept reminding myselfthat running downhill would be worth the work of running up the hill. That thought of the reward and ease of downhill stuck with me all morning.

"Know ye not that they which run in a race run all, but one receiveth the prize? So run, that ye may they do it to obtain a corruptible crown, but we an incorruptible." I Corinthians 9:24-25b

Life is much like a race with many roads, some smooth and easy, while others are rough, windy, and full of hills. Trials and hardtimes are like the hills and inclines. But the nice thing about going up a hill is eventually you will come down the hill and be on the other side (the law of gravity!). If you are a runner, going downhill is probably your favorite.  It’s a time you can catch your breath while running at a good pace. (It almost feels like cheating!) I’m thankful for the times in life that God gives us to “catch our breathe” after a hard run uphill.

There are many people I know, who are going through an uphill battle. It’s hard to understand the reason why they have to go through such struggles. And for some people, it seems just as they are about to catch a breath; they are back on the incline. It doesn't seem fair. But we must trust God who knows all things. And through that trust comes peace that passes understanding.

"Trust in the Lord with all thine heart and lean not unto thine own understanding." Proverbs 3:5

On my heart right now our two young families, Amos and Liberty Pranger and Chris and Amanda Thorne, who are watching their newborn sons fight for their lives. I can’t imagine what they go through on a daily basis. I do know, it's God's strength alone that helps them on their uphill battle.

For Amos and Liberty, this is the second time togo through this uphill battle with a child. Their oldest daughter has a very rare genetic disorder, NKH. NKH can’t be detected until the baby is born. After a traumatic labor, my nephew Gabriel was in remission. The thought of him having this rare disorder had pretty much vanished from all our minds. It was a waiting game to see how long it would be until he would fully recover.

After ten days, he was making improvements slowly but surely! I didn’t know it, but they were running tests that day to test for NKH. And the results came as a shock to all of us, especially Amos and Liberty. Our hearts sank when we found out the news, Gabriel tested positive for NKH. This family has a long road ahead of them. They are thankful this time around they know what to expect; but it doesn't make it any more enjoyable. They are trusting the Lord, like they do each day, to protect their four children. 

Amanda and Christ Thorne’s son, Logan, has a rare heart disease. Their son is now 3-4 months old, and they have been living life not knowing what each day holds for their son. Her testimony through this has been a blessing and anencouragement to me. She finds reasons each day to be thankful in spite of the storm she is in. You can read up on her blog and their journey here: 

As an expecting mom, I can’t imagine spending sleepless nights apart from my son as he lay in the hospital. These two families have shown what it really means to live by faith. I have seen their confidence and strength in God. Their hope lies in the Creator of hope and life, Jesus Christ. Thank you both for keeping the faith and being a great testimony to all of us. My heart and prayers go out to you and your little ones. I pray the day soon comeswhen you can “catch your breath” awhile and enjoy the rewards of your faith. I’m thankful the Lord blesses those who are faithful. I can only imagine the rewards He has in store for you all. What a testimony you have been to all those around you. :) 

“...weeping may endure for a moment, but joy comes in the morning.” Psalm 30:5b

 For those of you going through an uphill battle, rest assure that God is with you. Though the road seem rough and windy, don't give up- give it to God.

"This trial is not the end of the story, there's a bigger picture God alone can see. Faith will take you through this trial, for we know Who holds tomorrow, and He assures me it's for my good and for His glory." 

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Breakfast Blessings!

This morning started off like any ordinary morning. It was time to hit the road again! Within in an hour we were all packed up and checked out of the hotel. My poor stomach was growling with hunger pains, so I let my husband know baby Jacob needed some food. My husband asked a question that didn't even need answering, " Would you like a chicken biscuit from Chick-fil-A?" Is the sky blue? Does great coffee come from Starbucks? Of course! There is always room for a chicken biscuit from the greatest fast service restaurant ever! Well you get the point, so first stop Chickfila! ( My husband sure knows how to keep his pregnant wife happy!)

As we are getting our usual prompt efficient and friendly service through the drive-thru, James phone rang. It was a pastor from Michigan that we had recently been at his church. He was calling to let us know that the church voted last night to take us on for support, effective immediately!! Hooray! What a great way to start of the day. Praise the Lord! As James is still talking, we pull up to the window and I communicate in between the rude driver on the phone and the nice
lady. She hands me our receipt and hat do I notice?! It's a survey which means a free chicken sandwich!! ( I have been getting these quite frequently and I will do almost anything for a free chicken sandwich from the greatest quick service restaurant ever!). Blessing number two of the day! However to our dismay, I notice no honey in our bag for my biscuit and James' burrito is marked sausage not chicken as he ordered. This was a dilemma.

To go back or not? Nah, we were already on the road. Part of life is living with disappointment from the one restaurant that never lets you down. But alas, James remembers we have honey packets that I keep with our tea! The biscuit is saved! And as I'm adding James' salsa inside his burrito ( I'm such a nice wife) I notice it is indeed chicken just a wrong label! Blessings number 3 and 4! I knew Chickfila wouldn't let me down. :)

We certainly received more than our chicken biscuit this morning. I wasn't expecting the Lord to bless us with a supporting church. And it's " ironic" as I was telling James last night about the verses I was memorizing and how the Lord was really speaking to me about Ephesians 3:20 " Now unto him, that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all the we ask or think according to the power that worketh in us."
How I don't want to limit God's blessing in my life by my lack of faith and power from God. He truly did exceeding abundantly above what we could have thought this morning. He turned an ordinary breakfast into a spiritually fulfilling one!

Monday, June 11, 2012

VOW: Road to Recovery

Ephesians 3:17-20

"That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love, May be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God. Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us, Unto him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen" 

My sister in love, Liberty Pranger, just gave birth to her fourth child and first son Sunday afternoon. What she thought would be a normal delivery turned into a nightmare of a day. Nothing was going the way she had hoped and many of us prayed. 

Saturday evening, her water had broken (two weeks early). Early Sunday morning, they induced her to help her labor along. Her placenta ended up rupturing and they rushed her into an emergency C- section. They rushed baby Gabriel to NICU to save his life. He had taken in a lot of blood and had been without oxygen for some time. His little heart stopped beating twice, but they were able to revive him. Today, his oxygen levels are improving, but he still has a ways to go. We praise the Lord, he is alive and on the road to recovery. 

 As I am expecting myself, I just can't put myself and her shoes. What a scary heart breaking thing to go through as a parent.  I know of another young family also relying on God to take care of their little son on a daily basis. My heart truly goes out to them as the cling to God for his unfailing strength and healing power. How does one go through such a trial and not lose it? It is in Christ alone.

As Christians, we don't know how people go through such difficulties in life without God. As believers, we can cling to a hope that is found in God alone. We may not understand the reason of the trial we are facing, but we can trust a God who knows all things. It is through these times we must cling to our faith and seek out the depths of God's love. When we can trust Him, we are filled with the fulness of God. We have fulfillment, hope, and peace in Christ alone no matter our circumstance.

He never said it would be an easy road, but He promises to hold us each step of the way. I am thankful my in laws don't have to go through this trial alone, God is with them. They are holding on to God's unseen hand. And we all anticipate the day (hopefully soon!) he can go home completely healthy!  

These are the verses I am hiding in my heart this week. My family and others around us seem to be going through some difficult times. I wanted to be reminded of God's unmeasurable love. It is such a sweet reminder that God cares for us so much and He is with us through these hard times. May you be filled with the fulness of God this week! 

Monday, June 4, 2012

vow ii: Two things I am very grateful for!

Mercy & Abundant Forgiveness! 

As you know, I have been working on hiding God's Word in my heart. This is week number two of scripture memorization. This week's verses are:

 Isaiah 55:6-9
Seek ye the Lord while he may be found, call ye upon him while he is near:
Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the Lord, and he will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon.
 For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord.
For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts. "

(v6) The Bible is clear that there will come a day of judgment on all mankind. We will stand before the judgment seat of Christ and give an account of our life. On this day, it will be too late to seek the Lord and call upon his name. I believe it is vital in our lives that we seek the Lord daily, else we might lose sight of Him throughout the day. 

(v7) I am very grateful and thankful that there is no limit of the Lord's mercy and forgiveness on our lives! (Mercy- God sparing us from the judgment we deserve; Compassion or forgiveness shown toward someone whom it is within one's power to punish or harm.) How simple it is to find forgiveness and peace with Christ, yet so many hold on to their will, out of fear to let go and let God. I have found this to be true in my own life and in others lives while serving in the ministry. 
For years, I held on to my guilt of my past thinking that it wasn't "right" for me to have peace because of the mess I had made. Satan whispered lies in my ear that I believed. And because of that, God couldn't use me because I wouldn't let Him.  What peace I found the day I let it all go and laid my guilt and burdens at the feet of Christ!  

(v8,9) I like how the Lord uses simplicity in nature to help us understand what He is saying. 
"as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways..."
The Lord has brought these verses to my mind many times. When the Lord changes my path, He reminds me His ways are higher than my own. He knows all things. My finite mortal mind can not begin to understand God's ways or thoughts. That's where trust comes in. 
The Bible says in Proverbs 3:5,6 to lean not unto thine own understanding but in all thy ways, acknowledge Him (paraphrased). So I realized to simply trust and not worry. I can't figure it all out anyway, so why waste my time worrying about it when I could have the mind of peace. And besides worrying causes wrinkles, and who wants those?! 

 I pray these verses can encourage you throughout your week as well. I will be working on memorizing them and reflecting on their meanings. Have a great week! 

Friday, June 1, 2012

From Princess to Prince Charming in less than 60 seconds!

It's a BOY! 

The proof is in the the photo! 

It meant a lot to have my family there! 
   Seven weeks ago, we got to see our little Jacob for the first time and my heart just melted. He has grown so much and it was wonderful to see him healthy and having fun in there. With each heartbeat I watched on the screen, my heart just skipped a beat. I couldn't get my eyes off the screen or the smile off my face, such a sweet moment.

  As we arrived, my bladder was full and my heart anxious to see our baby "girl". I thought for sure we were having a little girl... Until the nice ultrasound technician shattered that thought into a million pieces with three words..."It's a boy!" Within the first minute, she could tell that it was a boy. We saw plenty of shots of his manliness to know without a doubt it's a prince! I kept starring at the TV watching our little guy and I couldn't stop smiling! Even after registering for blues and browns, I believe I am still in shock but very very excited!

  Seeing my little prince moving around was simply amazing. And we can relive the moments with the DVD of the ultrasound and a CD of all the images! We could see him waving his hand at us and showing off ( I think he knew he had an audience!) His back is up against my uterus so that is why I can feel him so much. He is just tucked away up in the corner just for me so I can feel and poke him! It is the greatest feeling in the world to be able to feel him moving around in there. I am loving every moment of being pregnant!

  I thank the Lord for blessing us with a little prince and a very exciting day! Now to look for cute hats and argyle clothes! May the shopping begin!

From Our Hearts,
Amber & Baby Jacob

Just for Fun!
Cute Quotes from My Niece Gracie:
"Awe man, you're not having a girl? 
Well why did you pick a boy instead?"

I was waiting on the bathroom and said I really had to go, then Gracie said:
"So you really have to go potty, huh?" Me:Yes :)
"I bet you wish you were on the potty right now, is that right?" 

- couldn't help but laugh at her- she is too cute!!