Thursday, October 31, 2013

576 days

It all started here.
49,766,400 seconds
829,440 minutes
13,824 hours
576 days
82 weeks

That's how long it took God to answer our prayer for Grace.

It took at least 5 appts. of just trying to SIT in the chair. Some days we would get one leg on there. Some days we were able to get one or two x rays. But God spoke to my heart on the very first day of this journey..."don't take the easy way out".

I wanted to for a moment but then I thought that's how I have always tried to do things, protect myself from harm and pain, avoid situations, put things off...not face anything. So I decided that I would go along the narrow path that God wanted me on in order to bring fruit to my life that I desperately need. I need self control. I need peace. I need peace in the midst of the storm.

So here were our options. Either we keep trying or we go to the hospital and have her sedated and do it that way. And I just knew that it would benefit Grace in the long run to take her by the hand and say I will walk through this with you baby...I'm not going anywhere. When you need to stop, Ill stop. And when your ready...ill be there.

So I made sure that her cavities were not getting larger every time and I made sure to keep them real clean and do whatever I could to help her while I was praying and waiting on the Lord... and it worked because God sustained her and they didn't get any bigger or cause any damage. Grace is just like her mama, she clenches and grinds in her sleep causing deep grooves where the cavities form. The grow rapidly in those cracks and if you have been following along in my journey here you know that I suffer with the same stuff. Abscesses, cavities and just issues. I realize that there is nothing I can do but pray since we only do this at night which leads me to believe the only one who can deliver us from this unrest is Jesus himself. There is just simply nothing I can do, which is the greatest gift to me. I love that I can not pursue peace...I must pursue Jesus, who is the giver of peace....

I also had to explain to Grace that sometimes these things happen and they aren't our fault. We both take really good care of our teeth, she brushes after she eats every time and we use all the right stuff. We floss, we rinse we do our part and still...and I caught her one day getting angry at herself and I just had to tell her that its not her fault. And then I felt God speaking that to me since almost 7 thousand dollars later I still blame myself and live in shame and pain thinking my stuff is my fault to. I even once felt like my issues were punishment for sin and God just threw that right out the window one day while I was speaking life over my own daughter. I just desperately needed to receive it for myself and it was wrapped up as a beautiful gift for someone else ;)

So I just waited all those months and days...until I thought she was ready and this week after we came home from our trip I felt the holy spirit say its time. And while I know that there are some benefits to speaking to grace about being brave I knew that it was more important to me and to her in the long run to focus on Jesus more. Not on her own ability. I said things to her the past year like I know your scared Grace and that's okay. Sometimes its scary to do things we haven't done before or we aren't sure of but there is one thing I know for sure....when you call upon Jesus he will answer you. He will come sit with you and protect you from any bad feelings you have...HE will make you brave.

So we started to read in her devotional bibles about stories where people in the bible had to be brave and she really related to David and Goliath and Daniel and the Lions. And I just knew that she knew she couldn't do this by herself. it was an opportunity to show her that we really cant do anything apart from God.

So last night she woke up at 330 and threw up. And I thought, oh great. We pumped up the dentist so much and I put so much focus on it and now we cant even go? Well it turned out that it was just nerves because she never did it again. I slept with her and prayed all sickness out of her body and she didn't throw up again. And when she woke up she said she had a nightmare...and then I realized that it was going to work today. I got a wave of assurance and hope like I had never felt before and I felt like God was telling me that Satan works like that. He will try to thwart Gods plans but it doesn't work. I realized that when you are closest to your breakthroughs in life, Satan does whatever he can to stop you, discourage you and ruin it. But I stayed hopeful.

We all gathered around Grace and I said a simple prayer for her to be brave and call on Jesus when she was scared and we thanked God that we have dentists and health care to help us when we are sick. And in that moment I really felt grateful that my real healer is Jesus because everything in this world is a mess. We cant really count on anything here. I sang her her favorite worship songs in the car and held her hand almost the whole way. We got there and she walked right back, got in the chair and did it.

She did it.

I was in tears, and they all understood because they have all been with us from the beginning. All the screaming and foaming of the mouth and running and anger and panic and fear and unrest. Okay she didn't really foam at the mouth but seriously we came close. I cant describe really the torture she put us through but each time I made a choice not to let it defeat me. I walked out of there every time realizing that the only thing that would work was prayer.

And I desperately want my kids to understand that.

I want their first reaction to problems to be prayer and worship. I want them to learn how to be peaceful when storms hit. I want them to not have promise in themselves or lean so heavily on their own abilities because they will fail themselves constantly. I want them to not just see mommy and daddy taking them to church on Sundays...I want the gospel to be real and alive to their open hearts.

I want Jesus to be real. Because he is.

So I guess this is how the gospel has just ruined every single parenting thought or idea I have ever had. And now I can see how taking the hard long road is so much more worth it. Its so worth it. If I would have taken her to the hospital 576 days ago, the problem would have been gone, but the real issue would not have gone away. And because of this in our lives, I have learned really what it means when James says to count it all joy. I have never really been afraid of trial since I recommitted my life back to Jesus because I really see how God works all things for my good. I feel like this seemingly small situation has grown much faith in our family. It has grown a greater trust and faith in God that he loves us and he will take care of us.

So here is the wisdom I have gained in these 576 days...
God is on time. He works on his time and we can be confident that when we don't see progress, he is still working on our behalf.

The narrow path, the lonely narrow path, is designed for our good. He wont let us be on the path any longer than we need to, but not a moment too short either.

Each thing thrown in our lives that causes us to be uncomfortable or in pain is always for our good. God makes it that way. Its not designed for that purpose all the time but God wont waste a moment of it.

There is a power in prayer that I can not describe. It really works.

We cant, and I never want to do anything separate from God.

He loves us.

He loves you.
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Wednesday, October 16, 2013

"Enjoy the Chili"

**** Hey! What I have for you here is a guest post by my husband. He asked me if he could tell the story of his spontaneous  baptism and the events  lead up to it at church this Sunday. Of course I said yes... Here he is, his name is Scott.

"Enjoy the chili"

First, I just want to say that I am thankful that my wife will allow me to make a guest appearance on her lovely blog. Truly, its an honor. I know that she reaches so many people with her words of love, experience, and wisdom. Hopefully, I can do the same...probably with a little less wisdom though...she is the smart one.

So where do I begin.... I have always believed in God. I just never really followed God. I always thought that I had all the time in the world to establish a relationship with Him. I didn't have a relationship with Him until I was 33. About a year ago, I committed myself to the Lord. I was in church and asked Jesus to forgive me for my sins. I want to be Saved. I didn't really know Jesus when I was a child.  I didn't really ever go to church. I learned about Him in the children's bible that my parents bought for me. But what really stayed with me was this "Footprints" picture that hung in our bathroom. I am sure everyone has seen it. It was a picture of two sets of footprints in the sand and at one point in the path, one of the sets stops. The story was that a man was talking to God about his life, which is represented by the footprints. One belonging to the man and the other to God. As they are looking at the part with only one set of prints the man says, "God, this was the hardest part of my life, why would you leave me during it?" And God says," I didn't leave you my son, that is when I carried you." Very beautiful don't you think....I think so.

Well, that little poem or story (whichever it is) has stayed with me my entire life. It came back to me while I was on patrol in Marjah, Afghanistan. One of the major things that we had to worry about was pressure plate IED's. You stepped on this plate that was buried just under the surface of the ground and things went BOOM! Your very next step could have been your very last. We patrolled in a straight line. We had to. You had to make sure that you stepped in the footprints of the man in front of you cause at least you knew that the ground was safe there. This is where I learned to pray. And pray I did. I kept thinking of that thing my mom had in the bathroom. I kept asking Jesus to guide my foot steps. Jesus please make footprints for me to step in. Jesus please carry me. Jesus. Jesus. Jesus. Please let me make it home. Please let these Marines make it home. And we did. Jesus answered my prayers. I actually stepped on two IED's while I was on that deployment. The first one, the battery of the IED was dead. It didn't go off. The second one, I actually sat on the pressure plate. However, it was buried too deep and I obviously didn't weigh enough to set it off. What are the chances? So I came home and forgot about Jesus. I prayed out of necessity when I felt that I needed Him.

Then we moved here to good ol' San Antonio. Where everyone has trucks and guns and boots. I have a truck now so I consider myself a Texan....minus the boots or gun. Anyways, Melissa found us a church home and we started attending. But I never really got into it in the beginning. I used to be a horrible person. I mean horrible. I was a liar, a thief, adulterer, and a blasphemer. And probably more than that. Just horrible. I didn't think that Jesus had a place for me. How could He? Unless He went on break through my 20's there is no chance I am crossing that gate. But sure enough, I started to meet Him. Slowly, our relationship has grown. I am fascinated by Him. Inspired by Him. So I started to notice that people in church; even my own wife, would talk about how God spoke to them. How He told them to do certain things or how they felt His spirit. I started to get a little upset. God never spoke to me, I never feel these feelings...or at least I didn't think so. I am a pretty literal guy so if it isn't obvious and right in front of me chances are I am going to miss it. I even had conversations with Melissa about how God doesn't speak to me. What am I doing wrong? Am I not worthy to hear His voice? This went on for a while....until about 3 weeks ago.

I am at work. I am testing Air Force students on the skills portion of their National Registry so they can become certified EMT's. I am evaluating a trauma scenario when all of a sudden a voice....a feeling....a thought....It says" Enjoy the Chili". Enjoy the chili. I started to laugh because I was just as confused as you probably are right now. I hadn't talked to my wife about what was for dinner, I hadn't seen her buy any chili ingredients. Why was I feeling this? I just dismissed it as quick as it came and kept on evaluating. I didn't really think about it until I got home and opened the front door. I smelled a familiar smell. I walked to the kitchen and there was my bride stirring a beautiful big pot of chili. I told her that I knew she was making it. I had a weird feeling during skills, a voice said "Enjoy the Chili". Melissa laughed and said, God is talking to you. What a weird first conversation huh? Enjoy the Chili...He is a funny God.

So now, a week later. I am in church. I look at the announcement pamphlet. Our pastor is doing water baptisms on October 13th. I feel convicted. I have never been baptized and I know I need and want to. However, I am a little shy doing it in front of the entire congregation. I once asked Melissa if we could visit our friend in Corpis Christie and let him do it in the gulf. Something about being a new Christian and being surrounded by people who know much more than me about Jesus and the bible frightens me. But as I looked at that pamphlet I somehow knew I would be baptized that day. I just knew it. How did I combat that feeling? I didn't sign up. On Saturday, the day before the baptisms, I was at a softball tournament at Lackland Air Force Base. We won by the way....During the championship game, I was jogging out to left field when I got another feeling. All of a sudden, I couldn't wait to go to church the next morning. Here I am in the championship game and I just couldn't wait to go home, go to bed, wake up and go to church. Strange.....

So Sunday comes. The service starts out with two people being baptized. Again, conviction, I should be up there. Our pastor finishes the series on the Holy Spirit. The when have an extended worship time. He talked to us about going up to the alter and praying for the Holy Spirit to fill us. He talked about praying for God to breathe that breath of life in to us. Breathe that fire, that spark, in to us. I didn't go up to the alter. I stayed at my seat and prayed.....and prayed.....and prayed some more. Then that feeling came to me. Go get Baptized. Do it. I kept saying that I couldn't. I said," God, I cant. Number one, I don't have a towel. I didn't bring a change of clothes. I just cant do it. I promise. I swear to Go.....I mean you....that I will do it the next time it is offered." I was crying. And snotting. "God, I am wearing my good jeans. And you know I only have two pairs of good jeans left. Don't make me ruin these." Next time. And while I was praying, a vision came to me. In my head I saw Afghanistan. I was on patrol, walking, looking at the ground. Trying to step in the footprints left for me. Except now, those prints didn't look like boot prints.....they were sandal prints. And as I looked up I saw Jesus. He said, "You followed me here....why wont you follow me now".....What do you say to that?....I just cried.....Here is the Savior, telling me that I prayed for Him when I needed but now when He is asking me to do something, I refuse. I fight. I make excuses. Then the service was over. I walked out feeling ashamed because I didn't listen. Melissa and I walked down the hallway to get Lucy and I just surrendered. I stopped. Melissa looked at me. I told her I had to go back to see if Pastor Ryan would baptize me. She smiled and said Ok.

I found him in the sanctuary. I walked up to him with tears in my eyes and asked him. Of course, he didn't refuse. He went in the back and got back into his cold wet clothes from earlier. I went in and took my fleece off and emptied my pockets. He made an announcement that we had one more baptism. While he was changing he asked me if there was anything I wanted to say to the congregation. I said least my mouth did, my brain was like NO!!!! So we went into the warm water of the pool. He had the children gather around. Everyone came up on stage to see. He said some words, I said some words...what I said...I have no clue. He prayed for me and my family. I turned and plugged my nose and down I went. From that smile on my face you would have thought that I was being lifted out of the River Jordan by John the Baptist himself. As the water ran off of me I felt like a new man. A new me. A clean me. A me that is just a little closer to Jesus. It was amazing.

So I went from someone who never heard from God to someone who has his dinner surprises ruined by God to someone who ruins his good jeans for God and I couldn't be happier about that. There is a good feeling to know that you are being obedient to God. When God speaks, you answer. I fought Him every step of the way but He never leaves my side. I have been a horrible person and yet He still loves me. He saved me and forgave me....more times than I can count.

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Sunday, October 13, 2013

my husband got baptized


My husband got baptized today at church. Lets back up...

We didn't plan on it. It wasn't a baptism service. We were however given time to worship up front and receive the baptism of the holy spirit.Three people got baptized at the beginning of service in the water. we did not go up front. I did not go up front. I usually do but something was literally keeping in my seat next to my husband.

I think its important to share my side of this story which is so completely different from my husbands. I think its important to see how God moves on our behalf, in his time, in his place. So I have been praying for my husband for about 3 years specifically for God to breathe new life into him. That has been my specific prayer. I really have not prayed for anything else except for him to encounter Jesus and for him to capture his heart. Sometimes when my husband is sleeping I put my hands on him and thank God that he is breathing life, new life...and thank him that he is moving even when I don't see it.

 And today when I was praying I felt God speak to my heart. He was telling me that this wasn't the day for me, that I was to stay put and stand for my husband. If he didn't want to go up, I wasn't going to go up.

So I stayed and prayed for my husband for about 15 minutes before I started to feel the spirit move in him... Then Jesus showed up in my face, my eyes were closed and I could hear babies crying around me and people moving and I was so distracted. Jesus said "shhh...quiet. listen to me...this is for your husband. Today is for him, not for you." If you want your husband to lead you are going to need to listen to me first, and obey."

So the service was over and Pastor Ryan dismissed us, but people stayed and we stayed. We stayed for about 10 more minutes and then we left. We walked out to get our babies and my husband stopped me with a look in his eyes...that look. He said he was going to go back to see if Pastor Ryan would baptize him. Holy spirit. Holy, Holy spirit...

So I grabbed his hand and we walked back into church. The rest? I don't really remember too much because I was in shock and awe of Jesus. I could speak really and I was shaking...not even 3 years ago my husband stood in our kitchen and told me that I talked about God too much.

Holy Holy spirit.

I remember he got in the water and grabbed the mike, said a few words, thanked Jesus for all he had done and was doing in his life and these are the photos I took. Im sure I will have a lot more to say but for now, thank you Jesus.

Thank you JESUS.
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