Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Life Must Go On

Yesterday, as become our usual Monday routine now, I took the girls to get groceries.  We were out of milk and eggs and bananas, just to name a few essentials in our home, and so the trip was a must.

I would have rather gone on a walk and taken the girls to the park, but I knew we HAD to get food so we could eat the rest of the week.  And so, being the good, responsible mother that I am, we got in the car and headed to the store instead of the park.

We are just beginning our time in Aldi, about to round the first aisle, when from the other way Alicia Ewing and her 4 kids turn right next to us.  I don't know if my face showed it or not, but my heart dropped to the floor and my tongue seemed to stick to my mouth.  I didn't know what to say or do.  The last time I saw or talked with Alicia was at Levi's funeral.

What was she doing out getting groceries, anyway?!  Shouldn't she be at home crying her eyes out or something?  How can she just go on with normal life, buying milk and eggs and peanut butter like regular people?

My first thought was to give her a hug and let her know that we are still praying for her and their family, that Coralyn still prays for Levi every night, thanking God for him.

But that didn't seem right.  She was all smiles and doing what all other moms do in the grocery store -- trying to keep track of her kids and make sure she got everything on her list at the same time!

And so I thanked her for a bag of clothes she had given us awhile back and laughed how Coralyn had been wearing the Christmas dresses and shirts on a regular basis, especially one red dress with ruffles down the front (though she sometimes wears them in the back without a care in the world, not to mention with pink and purple polka-dotted tights).  At that Alicia mentioned she had even more clothes ready to give us.  Seriously, how can she be thinking of us at this point in her life?  How can she be so concerned about making sure we get a bag of clothes her girls have outgrown when she just lost her little boy to cancer?!

I didn't ask any of those questions, though.  Instead, I commented on how Sammy, her youngest daughter, had just celebrated a birthday -- 5 years old!

I tried to make our short conversation as normal as possible!

As we said our good-byes and went separate directions in the store, I couldn't help but realize how time doesn't stop, no matter what your situation or circumstance.  Life must go on, no matter how you feel or what you are dealing with at the moment.  That seems kind of cruel, in a way.  And yet really comforting at the same time.  We don't have to live in the sadness or wallow in the grief or drown in the pain.  We can CHOOSE to keep on going, to enjoy the good that is happening all around us, to cherish the precious moments we have with our family and friends still with us.  But it's a CHOICE.

Without her knowing it, Alicia Ewing taught me yet another lesson yesterday during our brief interaction at Aldi.  Life must go on, so go with it.  And while you're at it, put a smile on your face and be filled with the joy of the Lord.  That's the only explanation for the true radiance that was just beaming forth from this woman who could have very well had bags under her eyes from sleepless nights of crying.  Instead of gray circles, though, she had nothing but smiles.

That is the kind of woman I want to be.  That is the kind of woman I want my daughters to grow up to be.  And so I must teach them.  I must show them.  I must live life with them, even when it's hard.  For life must go on, and we must go with it.  And as we go, we need to take the light and love of Jesus with us.

Just like Alicia Ewing is doing.

Just like Grace Allen has been doing.

And countless other men and women who CHOOSE to keep their eyes on Jesus and run the race set before them, determined to win the prize and be the people God has called them to be.

I don't know where you are at in life.  But I hope you will keep on going.  Maybe you will find encouragement in these verses God brought to mind just now:

Do you not know?
    Have you not heard?

The Lord is the everlasting God,
    the Creator of the ends of the earth.

He will not grow tired or weary,
    and his understanding no one can fathom.

He gives strength to the weary
    and increases the power of the weak.

Even youths grow tired and weary,
    and young men stumble and fall;
but those who hope in the Lord
    will renew their strength.

They will soar on wings like eagles;
    they will run and not grow weary,
    they will walk and not be faint.

With God's help, and that's really the only way, we can keep on going.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Beyond Blessed

This morning is one of those mornings where I can't help but smile as I think about all God is doing in my life right now!  I can't help but praise and thank Him and stand in awe at the work He is doing, and in so many different ways too!

I simply have to share because I want God to get all the glory and honor due His holy and wonderful name!

I watch 3 kiddos right now, and that is great!  I have come to love Caleb, Jameson, and Emery.  The girls love having their friends come over to play every day and get really excited when they arrive each morning!

In August, I will have another little one to watch.  Thankfully, this baby will come 3 days a week, opposite the 2 days that Emery comes.

Caleb's mom is pregnant and due in September, but I won't start watching this little one until January.  So at that time, I will have 4 daycare kiddos pretty much every day, in addition to Coralyn, Kellah, and OUR new baby who should make his/her entrance into this crazy family come November!

I am so thankful for God's faithful provision in that He has not only brought me kiddos to watch, but that they all come from fantastic families who are great to work for/with on a daily basis!

Childbirth and Doula Business
I love helping people get ready for the special day when they welcome their babies to their family. Again, God has been so good to provide me with childbirth students for every series I have done and some private sessions on the side too!

So far this year, I have been able to have the amazing opportunity to be at two births, serving as a doula and seeing firsthand the joy and excitement as mom and dad meet their baby for the first time.  I have two more doula jobs scheduled for May and one for June.  I am thrilled!

I am so thankful for God's goodness in giving me the chance to use my teaching skills and combine them with my love for birth and babies.  I am also extremely appreciative of Lawrence for taking care of the girls while I am teaching and attending births!

It Works
I hesitantly joined It Works as a distributor in February, just weeks before we moved to a new house and a month before we discovered the wonderful news that we were expecting baby #3!  Needless to say the past 2 months have been crazy, but oh so good too!

My paycheck quadrupled from March to April, and will more than double again when I get paid on May 15!  But it's so much more than the extra money I am making!  It's what that additional income means: BLESSING OTHERS in ways we couldn't before I started this crazy adventure!

*Sending care packages to Europe and Africa to encourage my dear friends living and working there
*Supporting a couple as they prepare to leave for Haiti
*Supporting a walk that will in turn support pregnant women and their families
*Helping a friend meet her goal for her personal business

*Sharing this amazing opportunity with friends all over the United States and seeing their businesses take off like crazy and knowing the impact that will have on their families

I have talked on the phone and messaged various team members this morning, and love hearing their excitement and giddyness as they share with me what a difference this It Works thing is making in their lives!

*Celebrating with people who are working to get healthier and make a change in their lives

I have received picture texts and emails and facebook messages from people who have wrapped or used the defining gel or the greens, and they are just so excited about the changes taking place in their bodies (inside and out)!

I am currently three team members away from reaching the Emerald level in the company.  I know of more than 3 people who are presently thinking about joining the team -- some in Arizona, some in Louisiana, some in Kansas, some in Missouri, some in Texas.  So it's totally possible and I would love to do that by the end of April (which is just 6 days away)!

When I do reach Emerald, my commission paycheck alone will be more than enough to pay the mortgage on our house.  That means we could be paying 2x as much as we are required each month and end up paying off our house in 15 years instead of 30!

Emerald is right under Diamond, which I could very well get by the end of May and earn a $10,000 bonus!!!  And if you decide to join this crazy business, you too could earn a $10,000 bonus!!!!

$10,000.  That's a lot of zeroes!  That's a lot of people getting blessed!  For as God has blessed us, I in turn want more than anything to bless others!

This morning I keep thinking over and over again, "Those who have been given much, of them much is required."  And so I feel this sense of responsibility to use what God has given me to make a difference in others' lives, to help them also "taste and see the goodness of the Lord," be it through a care package they receive, the health benefits they get from wrapping or using another It Works product like the greens or fat fighters or defining gel or protein powder or whatever, the extra income they make as a distributor, snacks they eat when the come to my house to hang out, Christmas presents they open that they never have had otherwise, the memories of taking a family vacation with their grandkids, or however else God lays on my heart to share these blessings He has given me.

Well, one of my blessings (named Coralyn) needs my help, so I had better wrap it up (pun intended).  But, I just HAD to share with you all how God is working in my life and make sure He gets the praise and glory due His amazing name!

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

All My Children

My girls are growing up before my very eyes.  I blink and they can do 5 more new things.  I turn around and look back to find them soaring to new heights, or at least on top of some table or toy.
Usually Kellah LOVES being on top of things, but today she just wanted down!

Coralyn is now officially three and a half years old!

Some quick facts about Coralyn:
*Most days she likes to stay in her pajamas, all day long.

*If we go out she gets dressed, picking out her own clothes all by herself.  Usually, she chooses a dress (she does NOT like regular shirts these days), a skirt, and some leggings.

*I force the poor child to wear socks and shoes.  If she had her way, she would run around barefoot all the time!  Or oddly, when she's inside she will wear just one sock.  The second she gets outside, though, for whatever reason, both shoes and socks come off!

*She loves to eat.  Some of her favorites are peanut butter -- anything with peanut butter: bananas, bagels, oatmeal, muffins, carrots.  She also loves to help me bake, mainly so she can lick the bowl and have a treat when it's out of the oven! :)

*She loves to read!  She will still grab a pile of books, plop down in a chair, and read her little heart out.  She will read her Bible at night after we've put her to bed, sometimes for an hour or more!

*She loves to explore and has a vivid imagination.  She is a goof ball too and loves to play dress up!

*She is quite the fashionista, when she does decide to put on actual clothes.

*She loves to make crafts -- being it coloring, using stickers, painting, or whatever she comes up with.  She is creative and likes to make things.

*She has the memory of an elephant, never forgetting anything, including how to get someplace.  "If you turn here, Mommy, you will get to the library," or, "If we go down that way, we will be at Kinsey's house," she randomly informs me as we are driving along, sometimes in places we haven't been for months!  She is definitely her father's daughter when it comes to her sense of direction.

*She is a lover, telling me over and over again throughout the day that she loves me.  Makes my heart melt. Her love languages are definitely time and touch, as she loves giving hugs and kisses and spending time with me.  Anywhere I am, she wants to be there too, right beside me, doing whatever I am.  I love it!

*Best of all, she loves Jesus!  With her child-like faith, she blows me away.  As I tell her about Jesus dying on the cross or heaven or whatever Bible story she has asked me to read, she will usually end the conversation with a confident, "I believe in Jesus, Mommy!"  Does my heart so very good!

Kellah is 16 months old today!

And here's what's new with Kellah these days:
*She's still a little peanut, weighing in around 17 pounds and wearing those 6-9 month clothes like they will never go out of style.
Kellah playing with Emery, the baby girl I take care of 2 days a week.
Emery is only 5 months old and weighs more than Kellah, wears bigger clothes and diapers too!

*She is starting to talk a little bit more, saying actual words, but not too often.  Why would she need to do that when she has Coralyn and the daycare kiddos to do all the talking for her!

*She does like to be in the middle of the action and is involved in everything the other kids are doing.

*She loves to climb and has absolutely no fear.  She can get on top of the desk in the play room, climb the ladder to Coralyn's loft bed, and use a little stool/chair to get things off the kitchen counter all by herself.  I discovered this last one when I went to put some stray toys away and came back in the kitchen to find Kellah sitting on the floor with her supper plate that had been on the counter when I left just seconds before!

*She is starting to mimic her older sister -- wiping her hair out of her eyes, dipping carrots in applesauce, and running away when I say it's time to get dressed.

If Coralyn is going to color, then Kellah is too!

And if  Coralyn stands up on a chair to help me, then Kellah goes and gets a chair for herself!

*The girl has a sense of humor and loves to laugh.  Her giggle is one of the sweetest sounds ever!

*She is also a helper, knowing which shoes and coat belong to each of the daycare kiddos and makes sure as soon as a mom shows up that she has items in hand to give her.  She even tries to carry Emery's big ol' diaper bag to her mom!  So sweet...

*She's starting to be interested in using the potty and has gone several times, all on her own accord.  I have learned, however, NOT to leave her undiapered, even for a short time because she will poop and pee all over the carpet in the time it takes me to run upstairs and get a new diaper!

*She is becoming Little Miss Independent, wanting to feed herself, including putting the food on her spoon without any help.  She isn't afraid to try new things, especially if she sees someone else doing it.  Heaven forbid she be left out or thought she is too small to do something!
She will carry her plate to the table for lunch, and then bring it to me when she's all done!
*She gives great hugs and kisses and knows how to melt my heart with her "Mama!"

Baby #3 is about 11-12 weeks along and the size of a big plum.
*His/her heart is beating, elbows are bending, and organs are developing and starting to function.  Crazy!
*We have our first prenatal appointment this evening with our midwife and friend Amber Walla.  I am looking forward to hearing the heartbeat!  We are actually hoping to maybe hear two of them!
*We will find out the gender of this baby sometime this summer.  Boy or girl, we are just praying for a healthy baby and are looking forward to welcoming him/her/them to our family this fall!
*My heart fills with joy when Coralyn prays at a meal or bedtime, "Thank you for me, and Kellah, and the baby in Mommy's tummy."  She loves our baby and wants to make sure he/she doesn't choke when I am eating things like almonds! :)

I love all my children and am so blessed to be a mommy!  In addition to being a wife, it's the best gig in the entire world!

Monday, April 15, 2013

Trying to Make Sense of It All, and Failing Miserably

Last night, we attended the Celebration Service for Levi David Ewing.

Almost exactly a year ago, we attended the Celebration Service for Samuel Edward Allen.

Two precious little boys, both dearly loved.

Two hurting and grieving families, both hard-core, faith-filled believers who have committed to passionately and radically living for Jesus with all their hearts, souls, minds, and strength.

Again, I find myself asking the question, "WHY?!"
And once again, there really is no true answer.

Yes, I understand in my head that it simply wasn't in God's plans to heal these boys.  But WHY not?

Does God not tell us that He does only what is GOOD for His children, those who love and trust Him?
How is  it not good to make them well and give them the opportunity to live long, full lives?

Does God not also promise that He will do what is BEST for us as we surrender ourselves to Him?
How is it best for these families to say good-bye to their sons so soon after they welcomed to the world?

So many questions.
So few answers.

Last year, Coralyn was too young to really grasp what was happening.  Not this year.

And we've experienced quite a lot of death in our family recently.  My grandma Ruth, my uncle Donald, our friend Cliff Johnson.  And now Levi Ewing.

We have talked about heaven nearly every day in our house.

"Why is the funeral not up in the sky, Mommy?"

"When will we get to see Grandma Ruth and Jesus in heaven?"

"Why do bad people not go to heaven?"

"I believe in Jesus, Mommy, so I will be in heaven."

"When will Jesus come to take us to heaven?"

And the kicker:
"Why did Jesus take Levi to heaven right now?"

Um, well, my dear child, let me try to answer that one for you.  This is all I could come up with:
"Jesus wanted Levi to be all better, so He brought Levi to heaven with Him so he could get well and never be sick again."

That satisfied her little mind, always going and thinking, for the time being.  But not exactly my grown-up heart that still doesn't understand why in the world Jesus didn't choose to heal Levi this side of heaven.

At the service, Levi's dad shared a story from the Bible about how Jesus healed ONE man at a pool.  This pool was where many sick, lame, blind, deaf, ill people would come in hopes of receiving healing.  Here comes Jesus, the Master Healer, and they are all probably shouting and screaming and tapping their staffs or doing whatever they can to get His attention.  This is their chance!  This is their golden ticket to good health! Jesus walks up to this one man, asks him, "Do you want to be healed?"

Seems like the most ridiculous question ever, in my opinion, but the man did not answer with any sarcasm in his voice.  Just a loud and clear, "YES!"  And so, Jesus heals him.  The man gets up, jumps for joy, and skips away praising Jesus.  And we all rejoice with him.

But what about all those other people back at the pool?  Still blind.  Still lame.  Still deaf. Still sick and dying. What about them?  Why didn't Jesus heal them too?  Isn't not like He had used up all His healing powers for the day.  Isn't not like He didn't see or hear or notice them.  So why?  Why did He choose to not heal them too?

Levi's dad didn't have an answer either.  He just assured us that those people were all TICKED OFF.  And rightly so, don't you think?!  I don't know about you, but I personally would be MAD!  Angry.  Frustrated.  Discouraged.  Full of despair.  Jealous.  Bitter.

And yet, last night at Levi's service, I didn't see a hint of any of those feelings in the Ewing family.  Instead, I saw faith, hope, confidence, and get this...thankfulness!

I was doing pretty good throughout the service.  I kept it together when Levi's dad Nathan shared how Levi was a gift, how he was a lover, and how he connected their family together in a special way.  I did fine watching the slide show of pictures of Levi's short life.  I even did okay while we sang the hymn "It Is Well with My Soul."  But then, Levi's mom Alicia closed the service in prayer, I completely lost it.

As she not once, not twice, not three times, but over and over again used phrases like, "I'm so thankful," and "I'm grateful," and "Thank You, Jesus," and "We praise You, Jesus," I was a mess.  Tears running freely down my face, unable to contain my emotions any longer.  And Alicia wasn't just saying all the right things that a good, Christian woman should say.  These words were coming from the depth of her heart, or as our Worship Pastor Bil put it earlier that day when he challenged us to sing with everything we had at the morning service, "from your colon."  She really, truly meant every word.

Yes, she is hurting.
Yes, she misses her son, greatly.
Yes, she is in pain.

BUT, her faith in God, and her love for Jesus have not once wavered (at least not in public).  She has remained so strong, firm and steadfast in her passion to make Jesus' name known, to spread His glory, to make Him famous, to draw others to Him.  She has "kept her eyes on Jesus" and continues to "run the race set before her," no matter how rocky and steep and treacherous her path has been recently.  God has surely "set her feet on solid ground and steadied her as she walks along" (Psalm 40:2).  That's the only explanation for how Alicia has been able to face this huge loss in the way she has.

When I got to Alicia after the service, she was smiling and thanking people for coming, telling them how much that meant to their family.  Here I am, balling and trying to wipe away my tears.  I am supposed to be the one comforting her, not the other way around.  All I could do was hug her and let her know how much I admired her and her faith.  As I go to hug her 4 other kids, she tells Lawrence how amazing I am.

I don't know about that.  I feel pretty lousy and inadequate most days.  But what both Alicia and I do have in common is our Jesus.  And no matter what, He is the same.  He is always and forever present, strong and ready to help.  He is always and forever GOOD, taking care of us and lavishing His love on us (even in times when we don't like or understand what He's doing, even in times when we are hurting and experiencing the most difficult situation ever).

I still don't know why exactly God chose not to heal Levi this side of heaven, as so many of us prayed, begging Him to do.

But two things I do know:

First, God did answer Levi's parents' prayer that they prayed from the moment they found out he was growing in Alicia's womb:

“The purpose of my covenant with the Levites was to bring life and peace, 
and that is what I gave them. 
This required reverence from them, 
and they greatly revered me and stood in awe of my name. 
They passed on to the people the truth of the instructions they received from me. 
They did not lie or cheat; 
they walked with me, living good and righteous lives, 
and they turned many from lives of sin.
“The words of a priest’s lips should preserve knowledge of God, 
and people should go to him for instruction,
 for the priest is the messenger of the Lord of Heaven’s Armies."
~Malachi 2:5-7

Second, God has done just what He promised in Psalm 40:3
Many will see what he has done and be amazed.
    They will put their trust in the Lord.

So, I may be trying to make sense of everything, and failing miserably, but God is still God.  As I read in Psalm 46 this morning, "He is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble."  Instead of asking more questions and trying to figure everything out in my pea-sized brain, I need to "be still and know that He is God, that He will be honored in every nation, exalted throughout the entire world."

Ironically enough, Psalm 46 ends with this: 
The Lord of Heaven's Armies is here among us;
the God of Israel is our fortress.

May our Warrior-Ninja God be with Team Ewing (for King Jesus) today and in the many days to come!

Monday, April 8, 2013

Life Among Death

Yesterday, at our church, we celebrated with those who have committed to living all out for Jesus.  They have trusted Him as their Savior and are dedicated to passionately pursuing Him with all their hearts, souls, minds, and strength.  To "outsiders" baptism can appear quite the strange initiation into Christianity (though I will take it over circumcision any day!).  I mean really, giving the pastor permission to dunk them under the water is weird enough, but if taking this plunge most likely means people will think you are odd, make fun of you, and maybe even physically persecute you.  You see, these Jesus followers are not just getting a stamp on their "Get Out of Hell" card.  They aren't just passing Go and collecting $200.  Oh no!  This is a hard-core, radical lifestyle that will result in strange looks, loss of friends and possibly family, and guaranteed difficulties here on earth.  Why in the world, then, would anyone in their right mind willingly make this type of decision?!

Our pastor had a very nice 7 point sermon to answer your question, and I welcome you to listen to it.  Very unlike Michael, all 7 of his points even rhyme!

I have been reflecting on life quite a bit since the baptism service yesterday.  Most of my pondering has been done with tears running down my cheeks.  Yesterday afternoon, I learned that our dear friends the Ewings had said good-bye to their precious son Levi, who has been battling brain tumors and cancer for some time now.  Not an hour later, I was driving to the store to get some pizzas for our Ponca Info Night, and my mom calls, crying, to let me know that her brother Donald had passed away, also losing a battle against cancer.  Then, this morning, I get on facebook and one of the first posts I see is about another friend's dad going home to be with Jesus, again having fought cancer and lost.  Just about 30 minutes ago, I realized I had missed a call from my mom.  When I listened to the voicemail, she informed me that my Uncle Tomp is not doing well at all and expected to pass away any day now.

So much death!

How am I supposed to go on with my life in the midst of so much death?

Well, honestly, I can't.  At least not in the same way as I have lived before these dear ones have left this earth.  If I am to learn anything from all this loss, then I must take inventory of my own life, making sure that my priorities are right, that I am investing in the right things, that I am spending my time and energies on what really matters.

This morning I read in Psalm 39, and was once again made aware how God has me exactly where He wants me in His Word at the exact right time.  "Lord, remind me how brief my time on earth will be.  Remind me that my days are numbered, and that my life is fleeing away.  My life is no longer than the width of my hand.  An entire lifetime is just a moment to You; human existence is but a breath."

Then, I thought of Psalm 139, "You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body and knit me together in my mother's womb.  Thank You for making me so wonderfully complex!  Your workmanship is marvelous -- and how well I know it.  You watched me as I was being formed in utter seclusion, as I was woven together in the dark of the womb.  You saw me before I was born.  every day of my life was recorded in Your book.  Every moment was laid out before a single day passed!"

As I typed these verses, my hand immediately rubbed my belly, which is already showing that new life is growing within me.  My tiny baby is only the size of prune, but he/she has arms with elbows that can bend, tooth buds are forming under the gums, and a stomach producing digestive juices.  How crazy, and utterly divine, is that!  I haven't even met this baby yet, but I love him/her with all my heart.  I want what is best for him/her and am praying for his/her future spouse!  I can only imagine how precious this little one is to God, his/her Creator and Designer!  I have no idea what this baby will be like, but God knows every single thing about him/her, including the number of days he/she will have on this earth, and what will happen on every single one of those days.

God wasn't taken aback yesterday when Levi's body lost the battle against cancer.  He wasn't surprised when my Uncle Donald also passed away.  Nor was He shocked today when Cliff Johnson was at heaven's gate.  He knew all this would take place.  And He was ready with out-stretched arms to welcome His children home.

But what about those of us left here on earth, our empty arms aching and our hearts hurting from loss?  How do we keep on living in the midst of death?

God had me read Paul's words in Philippians this morning, as well.  "But we are citizens of heaven, where the Lord Jesus Christ (and now Levi and Cliff and so many other loved ones) lives.  And we are eagerly waiting for Him to return as our Savior."

I am still working on figuring out what "eagerly waiting for Jesus" looks like in my daily life.  But , I know today it meant reading books and playing outside with the kiddos, making muffins with Coralyn, and praying for loved ones.  Tonight, it will mean kissing Lawrence when he gets home from school, giving the girls a bath and reading them a  Bible story, tucking them in and kissing their heads one more time.  I know it will mean that I don't worry as much about having a lot of stuff here on earth, but rather using my resources to bless and encourage others.  It will mean looking for opportunities to give, to share God's love, to invite others to enjoy a personal relationship with Jesus like I do.  And if in the process it means getting weird looks, people thinking I am strange, losing all my material possessions, or even dying a martyr, then so be it!

I just got done wildly cheering for 21 people who committed to live this way yesterday morning as they were baptized.  Should I then not be right there beside them, living just as boldly and radically?

Friday, April 5, 2013

Mommy, I Love You

Lately, Coralyn has been coming up to me and telling me, "Mommy, I love you," without any prompting or for any real reason on her part.  Sometimes she will be playing and then out of nowhere just announce, "I love you, Mommy."  It melts my heart.  Every time.

No less than 25 times I have heard her affirmation of love for me today alone.

And each time she whispers, shouts, or just declares, "Mommy, I love you," I am reminded how very blessed I am.  With each "I love you," I can't help but think of Alicia Ewing sitting in the hospital, watching her son Levi suffer and knowing there's nothing left the doctors can do to help him.  I can't help but wonder how many times Alicia has bent over and kissed Levi's head and sobbed in his ear, "I love you."  I can't help but feel her pain and grief as I realize that she will never hear her son say those words back to her.  Unless God intervenes, she will never have the experience that I have had numerous times today.  That feeling in deep inside you, as you bubble up with joy and happiness, as you share those special memories with your child, treasuring them heart and locking them away forever and always.

Just moments ago, as Coralyn and I were enjoying some sunshine out on the porch while the younger kiddos napped, she throws her arms up in the air and screams, "I love you, Mommy!  I love you forever!"  I immediately thought of the book we have read together many a time:
And so, I replied, "I love you forever and always, amen," to top her declaration of love for me.   Then, I grabbed her and squeezed her tight, giving her a great big hug, as if to make sure she understood just how much I truly love her.

I thought of how God's love for us never fails, never fades, never ends.  This morning I read in Psalm 36:
Your unfailing love, O Lord, is as vast as the heavens;
    your faithfulness reaches beyond the clouds.
Your righteousness is like the mighty mountains,
    your justice like the ocean depths.

I prayed that God would make this vast, unfailing love known to the Ewing family.  That His faithfulness would be evident, despite their present situation.  

I'm not even going to pretend to understand what God is doing, how this is for their good, or how He is going to bring glory to His name through such terrible circumstances.  I'm not going to pretend I like what He's doing or that I am okay with it.  I want to scream and yell and shout.  I want to kick and punch and throw a full blown tantrum.  I want to say with gritted teeth and clinched fists, as Coralyn sometimes does with me, "I am frustrated with you!"

And even if I did all that, God would just look at me and say, "I love you."

His love will always be bigger than mine, go farther, stay longer, and reach deeper (and higher).  I may not always understand His love, like right now.  And so I just pray.  Sometimes I don't know what to pray or feel like I am just saying the same things over and over again, not making any sense at all.  Hopefully, it's times like these when the Spirit intercedes and prays for us, on our behalf, on behalf of those whom we love deeply and want to take away all their troubles, but can't.

Oh, how I pray that the Ewings will hear God whispering, "I love you.  I really do love you," over and over and over again as they sit in that hospital.  

And beyond all human reasoning, I pray with my mother's heart that God will indeed intervene and heal Levi.  I know He can.  So, I can't give up.  Not yet.  And so I pray once more, God please let Alicia hear Levi tell her, as Coralyn as done so many times today, "Mommy, I love you."  Please let her heart melt into a puddle when she hugs her son back and exclaims, "I love you too!"

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Times Like These Call for a Wrap

God has given us Ponca Camp for times like these
With living Truth
To reach the youth
Rouse and rally for Ponca Camp
For times like these

Tonight, we are having an informational meeting for parents whose kids would like to come to Ponca Bible Camp this summer.  This will be the 7th year Lawrence has invited his students to camp!  His first class of students are in 9th grade right now and will be attending High School Week for the first time.  I still remember driving 7 of them down to camp in a 12 passenger van that very first summer!  Christa Taylor, the only girl, kept reminding Lawrence how to drive, "10 and 2, Mr. Young!" as she told him to keep both hands on the steering wheel at all times.  She puked on the way home, not 10 minutes after we had left camp!  Good news is she left camp with Jesus in her life, as did the other 6 kiddos in the van with us.  

Every year, we have been blown away as God brings boys and girls from our area to camp, where many of them are introduced to Jesus for the very first time.  For those who came already having a relationship with Jesus, they leave on fire and excited to live boldly and passionately for him at home and school.  I don't think I ever make it home from Ponca without crying a few tears of happiness and joy as I hear how God has worked in the boys' and girls' heart during the week of camp.

On Sunday, we will be hosting a Ponca Informational Night for the neighborhood.  We have invited the kids in our Bible study and their parents to come, as well as any friends they think should come to camp this summer.  We are hoping for a packed house!  And praying already for God to "do His thing" in the hearts and minds of these boys and girls, drawing them closer and closer to Himself and giving them the courage they need to radically stand up for Him in every area of their lives.

As I was praying and asking God to bless this ministry that He has laid on our hearts, He gave me an idea.  While Ponca isn't all that expensive -- "only" $125 for a week of camp, which is great compared to quite a few camps out there -- not everyone can afford to come.  I never want money to stand in the way of a child hearing the gospel and having the opportunity to commit their life to Christ!  Since we volunteer two weeks of the summer to serve at camp, Lawrence and I get to provide a scholarship for 2 kids to come to camp for free!  BUT, I know way more than 2 kiddos who need to be at camp this summer and experience Ponca for themselves!  This morning, as I was on the treadmill, God showed me how we can help make it possible for many more boys and girls to come to Ponca that otherwise wouldn't.  

I'm going to need YOUR help, though!

What to know what YOU can do to send FIVE or MORE kids to camp this summer so they can hear about Jesus and either trust Him as Savior for the firs time or be encouraged and challenged to truly live for Him?

You can wrap!  
Or use any It Works health and wellness product, actually!

Say what?  How does wearing a wrap to tighten, tone, and firm my body help send a child to camp and learn about Jesus?  How does putting greens in my kids' orange juice not just get them 4-8 servings of fruits and veggies but also pay for a child to spend a week at Ponca this summer?

When I decided to join It Works and do this crazy wrap thing, I committed the business to God, promising Him that I would give back everything I made.  We are blessed right now with my daycare and childbirth businesses to the point that my It Works income is "extra."  Rather than spending that money on getting my nails done or eating out at fancy restaurants or sporting a new wardrobe or whatever else I could think of to do with the cash, I want to GIVE BACK.  I want to use this opportunity to bless others, to show them God's love and goodness, to bring honor and glory to Jesus' name. 

I have been able to send care packages to some of my friends living overseas and sharing the Good News in foreign lands, and I have loved that.  I continue to ask God to show me ways to love on others, to open my eyes to needs around me.  And this morning, as I was praying and asking God to show me what to do with the money I make in April, He clearly said PONCA!

My goal is to sponsor FIVE OR MORE kids.  That's $500!  So, how are WE going to do this?

If five people join my team, I have the opportunity to earn $500 in bonus money!  In March, I was able to get 4 $100 bonuses in this way.  So I know this is totally possible.  When each of my new team members enrolls two loyal customers by the end of the month (or in 30 days from the time they join), I earn a $100 bonus.  All my bonus money in April will go towards Ponca Scholarships, making it possible for more boys and girls to attend camp and have their lives forever changed in those 7 days!

Are YOU in?  Will YOU help me? 


Would you please think and pray to see if this is something you could be a part of? 

I am passionate about health and wellness.  I most definitely want to help people develop and maintain healthy lifestyles.  I certainly want to show people how enjoyable healthy living can be.  

More than all of that combined, however, I love my Jesus and want others to know Him the way I do.  My number one goal and priority in life is to live for Jesus, to make Him known, to bring glory to His name.  And if my It Works business provides a way for me to do that, all the better!

Again, I need YOUR help!  I can't do this alone!  We never can in the Christian life!  

If you are at all interested in this opportunity to TEAM UP AND GIVE BACK, please let me know!  If you have questions or want more information, I would be more than happy to talk with you and explain anything you want to know!

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