You see, I want to tell you about His great faithfulness to our family...but I hope you have already seen that in most of my posts for this year.
I want to tell you that there is no way I could have survived this last year without Him...but I hope that you have seen that too!
I want you to know that in the deepest, darkest, most awful place of my heart and in Rachel's pain this year...that I found Him to be all-sufficient...but I hope that you have seen that in my posts already too.
I want you to know....I need you to know....that I am so grateful for how He has intervened and gone before us...He could have chosen a different path, a different outcome, but in all of His marvelous mercy and grace....He chose to heal our daughter completely...and as I sob through that last sentence, my voice shouts praise and thanksgiving to the One who did what only He could have done! And I will never stop thanking Him....for His unmerited favor, for His mercy, for His grace, and for this amazing journey of faith. It certainly wasn't deserved; it was all Him!
I want you to know that your love and support for our family has been so gratefully appreciated. There were many days that I felt like I was holding on by a small string...and you were there. God has heard my many prayers of thanksgiving for all of you....I hope that you have heard them too.
I also want you to know that even during our dark, uncertain days, even during the impending days of brain surgery, there were days filled with joy and laughter....I hope that you have seen that too.
Tomorrow will mark the one year anniversary to our trip to the ER with Rachel and the journey that seemed to begin on that very day. I'll never forget the agony of hearing the diagnosis last January 4th, and trying to figure out all that Arnold Chiari would mean for our family. I remember so vividly pleading with the Lord in the night, "What am I going to do?" And He lovingly replied, "What is I Am going to do?"
Oh, the Great I Am, how I love Him. My love for the Lord is almost inexpressible; it is hard to put into words all that He means to me. What a year 2009 has been. It has definitely been a year to be held in the palm of His mighty hands....and even though it was one of the most difficult years our family has ever known, we are so thankful for this marvelous journey with the Lord.
Last year, I posted this video from Sermonspice.com , and it meant so much to me then, but oh how much more it means to me now, so I thought I would post it again.
None of us knows what 2010 will hold but we can be certain that we know Who holds 2010 in His mighty hands, and if we are in His hands, we are in the best place ever.
If you are still reading this, I want to bless one of you with a book that has become so dear to my heart. I have talked about this devotion book most of this year. The book is Streams in the Desert by L.B. Cowman. I have written all over mine, but I picked up a brand new copy last week. If you would like an opportunity to win a new copy of Streams in the Desert, please leave me a comment telling me what God has done for you this last year. We will draw the winning name on Monday, January 4th, the anniversary of the Rachel's confirmed diagnosis.
Thanks for being such a blessing to me this past year! May the Faithful One continue to bless you and keep you and to cause His face to shine upon you and be gracious to you.
Anyway, with the wetter, colder weather coming back to town, the girls and I have been concerned about the birds....the fat, excuse me I should say plump or fluffy doves (I much prefer that term myself after everything that I ate over the last week....and it makes me think of my precious Aunt Faye who had a magnet in the shape of a sheep on her refrigerator that read, "Ewes not fat, Ewes just fluffy"). They were the smart ones who went into hiding during dove season. I think it is funny that they like to hang around our home after dove season is over....the one where 2 mighty hunters reside (no-not me...Mr. Incredible and Hannah).
I had a little left over cornbread from making PW's stuffing, which is delicious by the way. So, I sprinkled a little on the driveway on Christmas Eve morning, and then accidentally drove over it as we left for Christmas Eve dinner at Mom and Dad's....yes I know they live next door, but it was like 15 degrees outside and we had a lot to carry, so we did what any smart one would do and drove next door, it was a fine little house on the prairie moment. Ha!
When we got back home, those plump little dove had licked off every little morsel that was mashed into our driveway. On Sunday morning, the girls resolved to feed the birds a little better than their momma, so they carefully made cute little piles of crumbled cornbread all along the front sidewalk...far away from my suburban. And...no birds came. Apparently, they like the taste of rubber with their cornbread.
A few minutes later, they arrived in sweet little family groups to eat Sunday cornbread together. We had fun watching them eat until their fluffy little bodies became even more fluffier and then we headed for church. This is what we saw when we drove up to our house after church:
But, this girl is a little exhausted...how about you? I don't even know where to begin with our Christmas 2009 recap, so I'll just dive in with some pictures:
A few family shots before the Christmas celebrations began.
Early Wednesday morning my Uncle from Oklahoma surprised us a day early...I think he was the one that was surprised though...I still had a house full of pre-teen girls and all of my baking and cooking to do. My kitchen was a mess and I was a vision in my pink bath robe!
I had 14 pans ready to fill with Pioneer Woman cinnamon rolls. While the rolls were rising I made my Granny's Brown Sugar Pound cake....look how beautifully it turned out (just keeping it real). Thankfully, it tasted delicious....I hope my cinnamon rolls turn out better!
On Christmas morning the girls woke up early to find their gifts:
...tired of taking pictures:
We feasted-lobster and steaks-yum!
My mother-in-law is a caterer. Have you ever had asparagus wrapped in prosciutto? It is delicious!
It was a wonderful Christmas week....and this Momma treasured it all in her heart!
May you and your family have the absolute best, Christ-filled, Christmas ever!
Oh, King of kings, and Lord of lords, Happy birthday! Thank you for your incredible gift of salvation and the joy we share in being called your children! There is none like you.
O come, let us adore Him!
I have learned while stranded in the waiting room. I'll be
gracious and share the top 3:
1. Baptists don't wear makeup- it's not allowed. At least that's
what the lady next to me said. I didn't have the heart to tell her
that I have been a Baptist all my life and I enjoy makeup. Wait til I tell
Mom-she is a baptist preachers wife! ;-)
2. You are never too old to need soap for your mouth
3. What other people think of you is none of your business. I
rather like that one.
I think I have aged 10 years in this waiting room
yay they just called my name. Woo hoo!!! Thanks for
keeping me company.
Am I? Spiritually, I am ready to celebrate Jesus but physically...that's another story
I normally do all of my Christmas shopping in July and then
wrap my gifts the first week of December. This year I have turned a new leaf; I don't
have one present wrapped and I bought my last gift yesterday with all of the happy, peppy
people yesterday (I'm using the term happy very loosely).
The girls and I had one more gift to buy for my Dad and Mr. Incredible. We found exactly what
we were looking for but it was high above us on the very top shelf at Academy. We were in the
manly man's section....just us...three girls in a sea of ammo and men with no help to be found.
What's a girl to do? I told Rachel to take a cheerleader stand-we would put our legs together and
have Hannah do a pyramid stance on our legs (my iPhone just typed kegs-glad I caught that before
posting-yikes I need to turn off auto correct). Anyway, you should have seen the looks my girls gave me.
Clearly I had lost my mind, if you ask my girls. They are no fun! So I did what any normal, level headed
person would do and found then nearest clerk. He was more than happy to help us and seemed thrilled to
see 3 girls in the ammo section of the store.
It was mother-daughter bonding time at it's finest.
This morning I should be wrapping presents but instead I find myself waiting to see the dermatologist for my
annual appointment surrounded by more happy, peppy people. If I have to hear another dirty joke from the mouth
if thus 80 something year old woman who feels she needs to entertain the waiting room, I am going to plug in my
ear buds and turn up the praise music. Oh, gracious here I go! Y'all have a blessed day!!!! (it's amazing what praising
So, the three of us made the drive together. I plugged in my ipod and the three of us sang praises to the Lord at the top of our lungs during most of the drive. We checked into the hotel around 10:00 only to find that the Lord had blessed us with the same room that we had stayed in only 3 weeks ago. It was bitter sweet to stay in the same hotel room, the very room where Mr. Incredible and I had a very sleepless night while our precious daughter slept so soundly the night before her surgery (we would later learn of so many that God would awaken during the night to pray for Rachel on that night too-isn't that incredible-what a mighty God we serve).
Our minds were already flooded with memories of the surgery as we made our trip to Ft. Worth but how cool to be physically reminded too. The three of us looked at each other in amazement that we were given the exact same room but it made us miss our other family members that had made the journey of faith with us too. The conversation was so sweet as we all recalled memories of how we felt in that very room the day and the night before Rachel's surgery.
Mr. Incredible and I slept much more soundly last Thursday night. I woke up early Friday morning to get ready for Rachel's appointment. As I put on my makeup and fixed my hair and looked into the same mirror that I had looked in only hours before Rachel's surgery, I was overwhelmed with gratitude once again. I remember saying, "You are an awesome God! What a journey this has been. You did what only You could do. How can we ever thank You enough?!"
Mr. Incredible told me later that he was just as emotional that morning as he got ready for the day. I'm certainly not doing this moment justice with my words. I can only explain it this way: the Lord ordained every step of this journey of faith...even blessing us to stay in the same hotel room....and we marveled at His amazing attention to every single detail.
We were so happy to see Dr. Roberts. I think he was just as glad to see Rachel. He seemed so pleased to see how well she was moving her neck and overjoyed when she told him that she, "has not had one headache since her surgery!" Glory to God!
He chuckled and said, "This may be the shortest visit ever!" We talked some more, he watched her carefully, and then joyfully announced that she was free to be Rachel again and that he would see us in June! June???? I think we asked in astonishment, "June?" and he smiled and said, yes! She is doing so well that we don't need to do a follow up MRI scan until then. And then the tears that I had been holding back began to flow.
I saw a few tears in his eyes too. I think he was just as overjoyed as we are! And he was so humble about it all. Oh, yes, the glory for it all belongs to God! But, I am so grateful that he chose to use Dr. Roberts.
We hardly said a word until we got into the elevator to leave his office and then Rachel began to sob! Our precious, courageous, daughter, had hoped and dreamed that this day would come and here it was. She was free to be Rachel again...free to dream big dreams for her life again....free to be all the God created her to be~it was a moment like no other....a moment where the King of kings and Lord of lords seemed to fill every corner of that elevator and showed His great glory and favor towards her...and we marveled in the moment!
A few minutes later we arrived on our floor and the texting and phone calls began. We couldn't wait to share the good news. The three of us decided to walk over to the hospital and see all of the glorious Christmas decorations and have a celebratory cup of Starbucks coffee (Mr. Incredible doesn't drink coffee-so he just asked for an Eggnog Latte, minus the coffee-you should have seen the looks). The Lord timed our visit just perfectly because David, Dr. Robert's surgical assistant, the one who actually closed the surgery, was in Starbucks and we were able to thank him and tell him the great news.
We had lunch with our good friend Scott and then he and Mr. Incredible headed to Cabellas while Rachel and I did some shopping. It's funny, we were in one of my favorite places to shop, we even went to Sam Moon, but we hardly bought anything. Our Christmas had already come and there were no gifts to be bought that could even compare.
Are you still with me? I have to giggle at the length of my posts. Maybe I should stick to writing them on my i-phone. Ha! On the way home, we stopped and ate at a fabulous place in Abilene. I have some funny pictures to share-maybe tomorrow.
It's the week of Christmas! The week of Christmas! I better get moving.
P.S. I made a new blog button. Thank you for your prayers for Rachel and for so graciously joining us on this journey of faith. Yes, God still performs miracles today. Rachel is living proof. Please help yourself to the new button.
He could not have been more pleased with how well she is doing. She is released to be Rachel again!!!
We don't have to go back to Cooks for 6 months and we are overjoyed.
I have much more to post but I simply could not wait to
share the awesome news with you! I'll try to post more
when we are back home and I can type on my laptop.
For now, we are off to have lunch with some friends
while we are in Ft Worth and then a little shopping!
Oh this is the day the Lord has made and we will rejoice
and be glad in it !!!!!!!
I do want to share with you some of my favorite decorations, because I so love getting ready for this blessed time of year but to be honest, all of my decorations pale in comparison to the decorating that God did last night. Did you see the Meteor Shower? Oh, it was glorious!!!!
Here is just a small glimpse of what we saw:
No, sadly, I did not take this picture but I wish that I had. I tried, really I did. I had my big lens on my camera and everything, but I just couldn't get a good picture. Rachel and I and Mr. Incredible were huddled together on the front porch gazing at the sky...and we saw one falling star after the other. It was AWESOME!!! But, it was cold too.
Rachel couldn't look up at the sky too long, so we improvised. We grabbed blankets and pillows and made a little star watching palette right there in our front yard. She and I cuddled together under the blankets as God absolutely blessed us with pure delight.
So many thoughts came to mind:
"When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is man that you are mindful of him, the son of man that you care for him?" Psalm 8:3-4
"He determines the number of the stars and calls them each by name." Psalm 147:4
I wondered what the stars looked like for the Wise men who were so eager to see Jesus and bring Him gifts~it must have been incredible.
I was so awe-struck and overcome by the glorious display that I couldn't even sing...and I love to sing. But, in my mind I kept singing Phillip Craig and Dean's song, "You are God alone."
Rachel and I oohed and ahhed out loud over every star that we saw fall. It was such a blast...she and I and the Lord. I'll never forget it. After we lost count over all of the falling stars that we were so overjoyed to see, we reluctantly went inside. Mr. Incredible had gone inside hours ago (Hannah saw one falling star and went to bed) and we were afraid that we would fall asleep outside and wake up to the freezing water from the automatic sprinkler system. That, and the sound of the coyotes in the distance was starting to make us a little scared.
Interestingly, we couldn't see one single falling star from inside of our windows. I left my drapes open all night because I wanted to be able to see the beautiful display as I drifted off to sleep. After thanking the Lord for the magnificent evening, my thoughts wandered toward, "What if I had missed this!" The heavens were declaring His glory and we could have easily have missed this. I wanted to upload my 2009 Christmas decoration pictures...that is what I had planned to do. Oh, what a blessing I would have missed if I had just stayed inside.
It was a great reminder not to miss Him this Christmas. Oh, the Heavens are declaring His glory and I don't want to be too busy to miss it...to miss Him! We are celebrating His birthday after all: God's most awesome gift~Son of God and Son of Man. It is almost too incredible to comprehend! And once again, my heart cries out, "Come, Lord Jesus, come! We wait for you!"
Ya'll are such a blast. Thanks for understanding my hair crisis and thanks for all of the sweet comments. Yes, Mr. Incredible is still incredible...I had mercy on his soul :-) and he came up with a much sweeter response to my new color. So, do you want to see my new color? The flavor of the day~ ha! Okay, here goes:
Just kidding. That was me embracing my inner Tina Turner for Rock star day. Okay, for reals, here is my new color:
It is more my natural color, I think~I'm not really sure! Please, excuse the huge shadow across my forehead. I took this picture early this morning with my i-phone. It is not, I repeat, NOT a massive wrinkle! Although I think I may have added a few wrinkles to my face in this whole hair-process (get it? hair process! Haaaaa). Mr. Incredible said, "Now that's what I'm talking about!" I think he is pleased. I'm pleased too, I think. I need to fix it myself before I will really know. Ugh! It is tough being a woman!
Note to self: December is stressful enough without changing your hair color in the process.
Okay, enough of the vanity and all manner of hair. Today is a half day at school---yippee!!! And then I am going home to check on my girl, take an Advil the size of Texas and maybe take a nap! My head hurts but I really should not be surprised~two different hair colors in two days can give you a ginormous headache and can make a girl sleepy!
Ya'll have a great weekend!!!! The Nester is having a Christmas tour of homes on Monday. I think I'll join the party. How about you?
Have you heard of the clinging cross? Mrs. C blessed me with one and it brought so much comfort. I meant to take a picture of mine but you can see one here.
Of course, these are the blessings that we can see with our eyes but we realize there are more that we can only see with our Spiritual eyes. Countless individuals, families, and churches have prayed for Rachel....that is amazing to us! I wish that I could give each one of you a Texas sized hug and tell you face to face how grateful we are. Meeting with you at the feet of the Great Physician has been one of the most tremendous blessings to us in this journey of faith.
Here is Hannah bringing a special delivery from Mr. Incredible's aunt and our community dentist (and neighbor) and his staff. It was filled with delicious goodies, a pink monkey, and happy balloons. (And no, Hannah is not drinking coffee, she was bringing me my favorite~pumpkin spice latte)
It was from Florida...hmmmmmm ...who could it be from?
Thursday morning was Thanksgiving. Oh, it was a Thanksgiving like no other. I got ready early, before Rachel and her daddy, had my quiet time with the Lord, and then Rachel woke up feeling really well and wanting to take a shower! We carefully washed her beautiful blond hair and then I blow dried it on the lowest setting possible. It felt so good to her to get to take a shower and wash her hair.
She told me that she was ready to go home...and I once again marveled at her inward beauty and grace. She and the Lord have had quite a thing going on and it has been incredible to watch! She reasoned that she was on oral medications, eating normal foods, walking, feeling well, and she just knew that she would recover better at home. That was all this momma's heart needed to hear. I quickly put my apprehension aside, and started packing.
Dr. Roberts came in as I was packing. After our visit the night before and my visible apprehension to not go home too quickly, I think that he was resolved that we were staying another night. Rachel explained her reasonings behind wanting to go home...and he agreed completely with her. He was so glad to see how well she was doing, told us to come see him in a month, and signed the release forms. WOW! So, less than 48 hours after brain surgery, we were released to go home! Oh, God, You amaze me!!!!! And I was once again reminded of the verse that says, "immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine."
I think that you can guess what Rachel chose to wear home from the hospital. Would you like to see?
Oh, yes, she wore her special Cook Children's Hospital jersey home! It is and continues to be yet another visible sign of Rachel's journey of faith, of the precious yet mighty Child of God's that she is, of the victory that God has given, of the amazing doctor and hospital staff that performed the surgery and took great care of her, and of the incredible team of people who surrounded us with prayers and words of encouragement (yes, that is you too!), and how dearly loved Rachel is...and she wears it proudly!
Rachel slept well for most of the 4 1/2 hour trip home. The more she slept, the faster her daddy drove. We were ready to get her home and out of the car. We pulled up to the driveway to see this sign:
A Thanksgiving to treasure! No, we didn't have turkey, or dressing, or green bean casserole, pumpkin pie, or pecan pie for dinner....we had Chinese food (thanks Nonnie and Poppie) instead because Rachel thought that would be way more fun...and it was the most wonderful, amazing, incredible, blessed, Thanksgiving ever!
Rachel continues to do well. She slept with me for the first several nights home from the hospital...and that made me sleep way better too. Her recovery continues to amaze all of us. I am fully convinced that there is absolutely nothing too difficult for God! He has shown Himself so faithful to us and we have rejoiced over and over again at the work of His hands.
If you don't know Him as your Savior and Lord, this would be the perfect day and the perfect season as we celebrate His birth. I would love to talk to you about how to ask Jesus to be your savior. You may email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Oh, yes! He is mighty to save....He is our Strong Tower....our Deliverer....the One who still performs miracles today...and the One who loves you more than you can possibly imagine! Just look at Rachel~she is living proof of His great love for His children. To Him be all the praise and all the glory for the great things that He has done and continues to do!
Rachel and Mr. Incredible were still sleeping soundly while I got ready for the day. When I was finished getting dressed, I grabbed my favorite devotional book, "Streams in the Desert." I couldn't wait to spend time with the Lord. I had so much that I wanted to tell him, so much that I wanted to thank Him for, and so much He wanted to share with me.
The devotion for November 25th was about Jehoash, the king of Israel, who was told to "take the arrows....strike the ground. He struck the ground three times and stopped. The man of God (Elisha) was angry with him and said, "You should have struck the ground five or six times" (2 Kings 13:18-19). The devotion continued, "To him (Jehoash) it seemed to be an extraordinary act of his faith, but the Lord and the prophet Elisha were deeply disappointed, because he had stopped halfway. Yes, he did receive something; in fact, he received a great deal--exactly what he had believed God for, in the final analysis. Yet Jehoash did not receive everything that Elisha mean for him to have or that the Lord wanted to bestow on him. He missed much of the meaning of the promise, and the fullness of the blessing. He did receive more than any human could have offered, but he did not receive God's best." Wow! The devotion continued by encouraging us to claim the fullness of His promises and the possibilities that believing prayer offers. And then it gave one of my favorite verses....one that is so timely to Rachel's story:
"To Him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us, to Him be glory." (Ephesians 3:20-21). The last words for that day said, "In no other place does the apostle Paul use these seemingly redundant words: "immeasurably more than all." Each word is packed with God's infinite love and power "to do" for His praying believers. Yet there is the following limitation: "according to His power that is at work within us." He will only do as much for us as we will allow Him to do in us. The same power that saved us, washed us with His blood, filled us with the power of His Holy Spirit, and protected us through numerous temptations will work for us to meet every emergency, every crisis, every circumstance, and every adversary." Hallelujah! Praise, You, Father!
I felt like I had already asked the Lord for the moon and back again for our daughter, but once again I bowed my head and asked for even more. I remember telling the Lord that we were to expect a very painful day for Rachel but even that pain had to bow at His feet. He was over it all. I asked Him to continue to do for Rachel what only He could do. To minimize the pain, to heal her completely, for no infections, no fever, no complications..... I didn't want the Lord to be displeased with me because I didn't believe for more....I wanted Rachel to receive the full blessing, everything God intended for her to have. He had just moved a tremendous mountain for her...and there was so much more to be done. Oh, I believed that nothing was too difficult for Him...and I once again reminded Him that one of our prayers from the beginning of Rachel's journey would be that He would be setting the stage to show His absolute glory in all of this....and it was as if I saw His magnificent robe unfold and fill every corner of that hospital room...and we saw and continue to see His glory!
It wasn't long before Hannah, Granny, Grandpa, Nonnie, Poppie, and Aunt Sissie arrived. They were all amazed at how well Rachel was doing. She seemed to enjoy sitting up better and she told us that she was hungry. Jennifer, the nurse, told us that there were no dietary restrictions, so Aunt Sissie and Hannah went downstairs and bought Rachel some pumpkin bread and a Venti Pumpkin Spice Latte for me from Starbucks. Rachel ate every bite of that pumpkin bread and did not get sick one time!
The nurse switched Rachel over to oral pain medications and then an hour later they disconnected her IV. I helped Rachel get into her favorite pajamas and then she sat on the bench that was in her room....and we all rejoiced at how well she was doing. We even went for a walk around the hospital floor...she was doing so well...God was answering prayer after prayer after prayer...and it was amazing to see.
We had all noticed the cool jerseys that the nurses were wearing around the hospital. We were told that the jerseys were to celebrate the fact that "Cook Children's Hospital was one of the Top 100 Places to Work in Dallas-Fort Worth in 2009. Cook Children’s earned its place amongst the best as number 23 overall. To make this distinction even more special, Cook Children’s is the only health care employer listed in the top 40, the top ranked Fort Worth-based company, and the highest ranked not-for-profit on the list." They had special jerseys made to celebrate their incredible ranking.
My dad saw the jerseys and set out to get one for Rachel. He was on a mission to get one for his granddaughter. He spoke to many nurses, the chaplain, and then the DON on the surgical floor, Orlando. My dad told Orlando Rachel's story and asked if he could find a jersey for her. Orlando responded by saying that Rachel could have his.
It wasn't long before my dad came in Rachel's hospital room with a special delivery:
He was all smiles...and we were too! Later on I heard some nurses talking about another nurse's jersey...the didn't have theirs yet and they wanted to know where to get one. I just smiled and giggled to myself. Rachel Ann, you are dearly loved!
There were other special deliveries that day too:
It wasn't long before Rachel was hungry for lunch. Mashed potatoes and macaroni and cheese with roasted chicken from Boston Market sounded so good to her, so Grandpa to the rescue! She ate so well, rested a little bit, and then went for another walk.
Dr. Roberts was so pleased to see her sitting on the bench when he came to visit. This was where he told her the story about her surgery and it was so good to hear the story once more.