"Choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the LORD.” Joshua 24:15

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Seriously? Frogtown?

Well, hello again. Let me begin by saying that I am slightly intimidated. You? Intimidated? 'No way', you say. 'Yes way,' I counter.  OK, large dogs, large families, rude customer service reps, and little kids, do NOT intimidate me.  But...... Blogspot now shows each blogger's stats regarding their blog.  I like math.  No, I love math, but somehow, this intimidates me. According to blogspot, the top 10 countries that have people following this blog (in decending order) are: The United States, Russia, Australia, Argentina, Egypt, United Kingdom, Japan, Nigeria, Singapore and Thailand. I mean, who knew? I can honestly say that I don't personally know anyone in, uhhhhhh, the bottom 9 countries, however, I am beyond thrilled that have decided to join me on this journey of Life, Loves, Wisdoms and Learnings.  I was content just knowing that my family was occasionally glancing at it--like when I have avoided the telephone or checking my email. But goodness, knowing that what I write is going to be read around the world, now that can be intimidating. I've always wanted to get my books published, and I guess this is God's way of accommodating me.  Ya know, God honors the prayers of His people.  I just wonder if blogspot actually translates the english language to each country's native language. Hmmmm. I guess I will need some far-away followers to leave me some comments and let me know.

OK.  Moving right along. My Story. Have you read it?  Are you reading it? Are you like me, and you have 5 or so books that you are currently reading?  Given your mood, you choose one of those each evening before you hit the hay?  Do you know anyone reading it? It's mind-boggling awesome. Sure, I've read the Bible many times over, as have my children--but hello? This is in chronological order. And, as if that isn't enough, Max Lucado actually adds transitional words in parenthesis. Have I ever mentioned how much I love Max Lucado's writings? OMG. 3:16, the Numbers of Hope, Cure for the Common Life, and God's Story, Your Story are just a few of my favs.  Anyway, I'm getting distracted.  Good ole Max wouldn't want to add or subtract anything from the Word of God, but it's really nice. And to think my church is actually studying My Story for an entire year. Love it, love it, love it. 

Throughout the process of reading and studying My Story, I have been spending a lot of time actually pondering my own life story. I've been reflecting on how God has orchestrated each and every lower story of my life in order to complete some of the upper stories in my life.  I remember my life in 1986--I was travelling non-stop around the world, working as an Auditor for Burroughs Corporation's World HQ in Downtown, Detroit. Single and carefree.  OK. About as carefree as I could be, and loving every minute of it. When.....I was offered a job transfer to Chicago. What? I did NOT want to go to Chicago. I had spent many days and nights in the Windy city and much preferred the Motor City. So, I turned it down and decided to just commute weekly.  I would fly there in the am and return in the pm. So much for a gasoline shortage.  Remember, this was the 80's people, so please don't judge me. ha ha

Then...another job transfer was offered. This time to Toledo.  What?  Not again. I had been sent to Toledo to fix their office, just as I had been sent to the Chicago office to do the same. Once I had fixed it (for lack of a better word), they wanted me to manage it. What?????? Not again.  I still preferred the Motor City over the Glass City--good ole Motown over Frogtown--Tigers over uhhhh.....Mudhens.  After all, what's a Mudhen anyway.  I didn't even want to be remotely associated with a Mudhen.  But...I also knew that if I didn't take the transfer, the next offer could be overseas, and even more than I loved the Motor City, I loved the good old U.S.A. even more.

Having said all that, having prayed and cried over the decision, I decided to stay in Detroit. I mean, I loved it there; it was all I knew, and I didn't want to cross that border--again.  I had been commuting daily for about a year, living in the Ramada and Holiday Inns on Reyolds Road during the week, and returning home to my apartment in Livonia, on the weekends. So, I entered the meeting with determination and trepidation.  My boss, his boss, and his boss where there to get my final answer, but not before they built up Toledo to look like Paris. Right.  I knew that I wasn't going there and that I would be staying in Detroit. I mean, I had made up my mind. And then, the next thing I knew, I was in my office, door shut, crying on the telephone to my mom, saying, "I don't know what happened. One minute I was saying that I wasn't going to accept the job transfer, and the next minute I was shaking hands with everyone and being congratulated on my new move." I couldn't believe it.

I was totally devastated. I didn't even know how it had happened. I would now have to leave my family, my long time boyfriend, my life, and actually find a place to live in blah....dare I even say it.....Toledo, Ohio.  Well, guess what? God knew. He knew exactly what had happened because He had orchestrated the entire thing. He knew that I didn't want to move to Toledo, that I didn't even like the people I would be managing there, that I would be entering the meeting with a firm decision and yet would leave the meeting with a virtual suitcase in hand. He wanted me to move from Detroit in order to for me to continue His plan for the Upper Stories in my life.  He knew that if I didn't move to Toledo, I would never have met and married a local guy and had three wonderful children.  He knew that I would have eventually been laid off from the WHQ, that my then boss would leave shortly after my exit and thus my job would have become miserable.  He knew that I never would have met a wonderful homeschool family, thus, instilling in me the desire to homeschool my children through 8th grade. He also knew that I would eventually become divorced and end up working at the University.  None of that would have or could have happened had I stayed in Detroit.

I would love the say that the transition to Toledo from Detroit was without frustrations and heartaches, but I would be lying. Those years were tough, to say the very least. They were fraught with unexpected joys and sorrows, highs and lows, confidences and insecurities. But through it all, I knew that I was in God's plan. In hindsight, I see that the God of the Universe had planned it all for me, before Creation. God had written my story centuries ago, long before Adam and Eve, long before the beginning of time and space. Wow! That, in and of itself, is unfathomable, but it is true. My concept of time is quite different from God's, so when I begin to wonder just why He is taking so long to fulfil my desires on this earth, I have to remember 1986. Again, just testing my patience. Sometimes, I past the test; most of the time, I fail it.   I have to remember that He is still writing my story. That He is holding me in the palm of His hand, He has my total, ultimate story in His control, and He is always, always, always on my side. Yup, He actually has my back. Just when I am beginning to let the troubles and cares of this world get the best of me, He reminds me that, yes, He still has my back. And I can rest.


My hope for you, dear reader, is that you know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that God has an ultimate Upper Story planned for you, too; that He really does know the plans He has for you and that He is preparing you for the place within His Upper Story--that He created just for you!  Be blessed this week.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Finally.....a Family Update

Wow. It's been over 9 weeks since I have written, and for that, I apologize. I've definitely had some major laptop issues, but Bethany is gone this evening, and I have confiscated hers.  Thank God! It feels great to type letters and have them actually print onto the screen in the order that I type them.  Who knew?  I feel I owe everyone who has been praying for our famly an update, so here goes.

Well, 2012 has been a plethora of miracles, contradictions, surprises and growth for me and my family. As most of you know, we began the year in the hospital, with Bethany in critical care. Throughout the month of January, she shifted from bad to worse, and then back to bad again. Praise God, after a surgery, a LOT of pain, intubation and extubation, a short discharge, a re-admittance, a few pic lines and a lof of heavy duty medications, Bethany was discharged in mid-late January.  The prayers of the Saints on her behalf were not only answered, but shouted, "MIRACLE."  Since her discharge, Bethany has struggled with an insurmountable amount of constant pain, however, through it all, she maintains a cheerful attitude and continues to 'work through it.'  In mid-March, she returned to working part time at Haas Bakery; she can only work 2--4 hour shifts because her pain is too intense, thus she only works a minimal amount. sigh.

Bethany has been on numerous medications since her discharge, however, none seem to be working. She is currently on Neurontin, a nerve suppressant, however, that doesn't really seem to be working much either. We are hoping that when she visits her surgeon this Friday, he will write her a script for a Pain Management Clinic.  Other than a Divine work from our Creator, Bethany's options are slim. Please continue to pray for her pain relief. 

Bethany hit the ground running and hasn't stopped since. Immediately after having her pic line removed, she and Joy drove to Daytona Beach for Spring Break. Even though the weather did not cooperate, and she was in a lot of pain, she and Joy managed to have a lot of fun.Immediately following, she began coaching not one, but two, girls soccer teams. I definitely think she has found her calling.  Because she is currently on Medical leave from her classes at the University of Toledo, she is taking full advantage of her time off. She misses her classes tremendously but knows that, come fall, she will be so busy with academics that she won't even have time to breathe. Thus, Bethany is also playing on the UT Intramural Co-ed Soccer team.  Her position?  Goalie, of course. She just returned from Soccer tournaments in Hudson, Ohio, last night, where her U12 Girls team took 2nd place in the finals. Her U11 Girls team did very well, however, they did not place.  Thank God, the Spring soccer season is ending, because between coaching soccer, working and dating Nate, Jonathan, Joy and I rarely see her.

Oh yeah, my girl has had her taste of college life and has loved it. She is planning on moving into an apartment with a girlfriend before classes begin next Fall.  I am slightly apprehensive about it, considering Bethany will still be working at the Bakery, taking at least 18 credit hours, will need to get a 3.5 Fall G.P.A., and will have to adjust to her new, grueliing, Engineering and Business class schedule.  I am tired just thinking about it.
Joy moved in with her dad last January, and the arrangement seems to be working out. Although Jonathan, Bethany and I miss her daily companionship terribly, we see and hang out with her a lot.  I am thrilled that the last day of classes at UT is this Friday because that means we will actually see more of Joy. That kid is B-U-S-Y. She is taking 18 credit hours, maintaining all A's, still working as a Campus Tour Guide, still working at Haas Bakery, still walking that doggie in West Toledo, studying and writing papers like there's no tomorrow, AND helping Jonathan with a U6 Boys soccer team that he coaches and helps me by attending dog training classes with me and Koda.  Whew! Did I mention that she is taking 18 credit hours, studing like crazy AND putting in a lot of hours as a tour guide? Well, she is.

A week or so ago, Joy called me to say that she was running in the Glass City Marathon the following morning. News to me. She wanted me to know but would have preferred either we didn't come watch at all or just show up at the end. Again, humble Joy, never tooting her own horn, just wanted to run.  Well, she did, without walking even once, and had the huge blisters to prove it. Great job, Joy Marie.

Below is a cute video of Joy that was posted on the UT website last week.

Joy is still dating, Rob--who now has an apartment by campus (Praise God!) and spending time with Carl.  Just last Saturday, Joy gave her two precious rats, Mr. Incredible and Picasso, to a fellow student at UT. They will be missed, but we know that Joy can visit them any time she wants, and I won't have to clean their cage weekly, for a kid that doesn't even live here. ha.  I have to admit it, though, those  two little guys kinda grew on us.  When it came to being sweet and sociable, Mr. Incredible and Picasso were both.

Ah.....Jonathan.  God ole Jonathan. Whatever would I do without him?  Upon returning from his mission trip to Jamaica, in January, he, too, hit the ground running. He loves, loves, loves working out, especially with Rob. He works out daily in the Stritch gym--well, if you can even call it a gym anymore, given the fact they keep removing the workout equipment. This infuriates Jonathan, because he is only 1 of less than a handful that work out. Ahh....the life of a high school Sophomore. He still  occasionally works out at UT, with Rob, on weekends and really enjoys that.  Given his major protein diet and work out schedule, Jonathan is barely recognizable (in a good way)!  He's definitely muscled up. 

Jonathan applied to coach a soccer team, with the Oregon Rec, and he is now the youngest coach on record. At 16 years old, he is the Head Coach of the U6 Boys soccer team. He really enjoys it, especially considering there are actually some seasoned soccer players on that kindergarten team. Yaay! Joy is his main Assistant Coach, and Bethany fills in when she's not coaching her two teams.  He just volunteered last weekend for "Serving Saturday" at MSC, and he said, quote, "I would rather work outside than work with little kids. I kind of get my fill of little kids with soccer."  ha ha.  Mind you, it was snowing last Saturday. He ended up painting indoors.

Between school, coaching and playing soccer, and working out, Jonathan is busy. He did, however, find the time to volunteer for the Cardinal Strich Spring Play, "The Wizard of Oz."  That kept him extremely busy. He is also driving. I won't even comment on that one, other than to say that I am happy for him.

And as for me, life goes on. There have been some major hurdles of late, some grieving and healing of wounds, but God has been faithful and very good to me. I loved, loved, loved, getting our lives back to normalcy once Bethany had been discharged.  Christmas had been wonderful, however, we left for the hospital the next day, and then life sort of stopped. The end of January was tumultous, at best, and we have settled back into our lives quite comfortably. Koda, miracle upon miracles, is practically a new dog; Joy and I have been taking him to dog training classes (6 in all), and he actually passed his 'Canine Good Citizenship' test last week, and I am planning on him passing his 'Certified Therapy Dog International' test tomorrow night.  I know that seeing Koda today, vs 6 weeks ago, would convert even the most staunch atheist to Christ. Miracles really never do cease.

Been praying of late for some miracles, and some are happening and some are delayed. I learned a lot about the power of delayed prayers through Bob Sorge. He spoke at my old church in 2006/2007, and gave his testimony on the power of delayed prayers. Powerful stuff. Still frustrating and sad, but powerful. God's answers are sometimes, 'no,' and thus, no means no, and that's all no means. sigh.  I've become much stronger as an individual these past few months, out of necessity.

Going to court for property tax re-assessment - check
Rotator cuff fixed - check
Working out - check
Golf lessons - check
Koda trained - check
New LifeGroup - check
Begin mentoring someone - check
Begin the yearlong study of, "The Story" - check

It's all good, just not necessarily how I would have planned it.  But then again, God is shaping me and molding me for the "Upper Story" in the story of my life. All of these "little/minor stories" in my life, have a purpose--to fulfill his "Upper Story" for me. Sometimes, I wish I knew the completed 'Upper Story' of my life, because I think I would be able to handle the 'lower stories' a little better. I guess the Lord feels that the less I know, the better. Uggh. When they say, "Curiousity killed the cat," I so know what 'they' are referring to. Just when I think, after years and years of struggle, things are finally going well, then Bam, and not so much. The song below has been a great comfort, and I hope you enjoy it.

I've been watching the world events lately and researching their Biblical implications. Wow! The Bible, written thousands of years ago, by various writers, is still as relevant today as it ever was. Virtually everything that is currently happening in the U.S., and in the entire world, has been prophesied.  Good, bad or indifferent, things are changing, and it's interesting to see it all play out.

Well, I hope this has caught everyone up on my family's lives. Many, many people have contacted me over the past couple months, asking when I was going to write updates on my family, and again, please accept my apologies for the delay.  I noticed that almost 11,000 people have read this blog in the past 3 months, and over 6,000 in April alone. Yikes! I need to get writing and posting some pictures.

Again, thank you so very much for all of your past and current prayers for Bethany's health.  Her body has suffered much and has some major long-term ramifications from all of the surgeries. Please continue to pray for her, Joy, Jonathan, and me. Your prayers are always appreciate and coveted.

Blessings and peace to all.  Shari