Our Visit to Children’s Mercy

Thank you for praying for Katie, and for us as we seek answers for her.

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Our trip to Kansas City was productive and fun. Papa and Gramma Byrd came with us and took the younger kids to Crown Center and other adventuring while Jonathan, Katie, and I went to Children’s Mercy for her appointment.

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We were astounded by Children’s Mercy. The entire atmosphere was different than that at any specialist’s office we have been to. It was a lovely, encouraging difference.

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The Hematology/Oncology (HemOc) clinic is its own little world at Children’s, including having its own air filters! Dr. Hetherington (aka Dr. Max) spent about two hours sitting down with us and seeking to understand Katie’s story. It was extraordinary. We learned a great deal from her, just in talking over different possibilities. She seemed to be forming a multi-tiered list of culprits to investigate.
Katie broke her vials-drawn record on Friday at 13 vials. Some of those labs have come back, and others haven’t yet. We also went for an abdominal ultrasound, which confirmed that her spleen is enlarged (something that fits with various parts of her puzzle).

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After we left Children’s, we explored Union Station, drove around KC a bit, then enjoyed the Plaza light before heading home. It was neat to build some fun memories together in the midst of our concern about Kate.MVIMG_20171222_154800 MVIMG_20171222_154703 MVIMG_20171222_153902 IMG_20171222_154423 IMG_20171222_150342 IMG_20171222_150315 IMG_20171222_150020 1222171722a 1222171720b 1222171719a 1222171719 20171222_171425
As of today, Dr. Max’s plan is to present Katie’s case to the HemConference next month. She is wanting to get input and ideas from other hematologists. Labs that have come in so far from Friday have still not given any easy answers. So, more patience is in order, but we are encouraged to be working with Dr. Max, and trusting in our Sovereign God’s wisdom and goodness.
Please continue to pray with and for us. Thank you!

J&L

Bread and Fish

The LORD God of Heaven’s Armies has been reminding me lately of His good-gifting.

There are times when I find myself saying repeatedly, “It’s bread and fish. It’s bread and fish. No stones and serpents here. Bread and fish. Bread and fish.” (see Mt. 7.7-11)

I love verses 10 and 16 of Psalm 81 (in today’s One Year Bible reading)!
{Note – this is a literal reference for the people of Israel, but the rescue from Egypt is often used as a picture of redemption from our sin, so it draws us all in}

vs.10 – For it was I, the LORD your God, who rescued you from the land of Egypt.
Open your mouth wide, and I will fill it ***with good things.***
vs. 16 – But I would feed you with the finest of wheat.
I would satisfy you with wild honey from the rock.

Verse 10 reminds me of the little rhyme from my childhood, “Open your mouth and close your eyes, and you will get a big surprise!”
You never knew if it would be a good surprise or a bad surprise… whether or not you would open your mouth depended on how trustworthy your friend was, didn’t it?

God promises to give us good things. Bread, fish, finest wheat, honey… not stones and serpents. That doesn’t mean they always taste like bread, fish, and honey to us! But will we make the choice to open our mouths wide and let Him fill them, trusting that He knows what the good things are? Will we open our hearts, hands, and nod our heads an emphatic “yes!” to all that He has for us? Will we choose to believe that our God is good and does good things, even when they taste like stones and serpents?

Thoughts on Peace and Thankfulness

The other night as I was wrestling with something very painful and present, I was asking the Lord to help me be at peace. It seemed an impossible destination.

And then His still small Voice reminded me that the thanksgiving comes before the peace in these verses –
“..do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”  Philippians 4:6-7

Ah, yes. Argghh! And the wrestling began.

Because I did not WANT to be thankful. This pain that makes me feel like my heart is going to fly apart and explode my body as it does? It does not seem to me a “good thing.” It does not taste like bread and fish – it tastes like stones and serpents. Sharp spikey stones and sour poisonous serpents.
And yet, He assures me that He withholds no good thing from His children.

He is wise.
He is good.
He is sovereign.

And He tells me that I should be “giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.” (Ephesians 5:20)

My giving thanks is not dependent on whether or not I like the gift. It is not dependent on my ability to see how in one thousand worlds it could possibly be a good gift. It is not dependent on my figuring out what benefit God is going to bring to me through the pain.

It is all about WHO He is.

Psalm 145 is just one example of this in Scripture –

A Song of Praise. Of David.
1 I will extol you, my God and King, and bless your name forever and ever.
2 Every day I will bless you and praise your name forever and ever.
3 Great is the LORD, and greatly to be praised, and his greatness is unsearchable.
4 One generation shall commend your works to another, and shall declare your mighty acts.
5 On the glorious splendor of your majesty, and on your wondrous works, I will meditate.
6 They shall speak of the might of your awesome deeds, and I will declare your greatness.
7 They shall pour forth the fame of your abundant goodness and shall sing aloud of your righteousness.
8 The LORD is gracious and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.
9 The LORD is good to all, and his mercy is over all that he has made.
10 All your works shall give thanks to you, O LORD, and all your saints shall bless you!
11 They shall speak of the glory of your kingdom and tell of your power,
12 to make known to the children of man your mighty deeds, and the glorious splendor of your kingdom.
13 Your kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and your dominion endures throughout all generations. [The LORD is faithful in all his words and kind in all his works.]
14 The LORD upholds all who are falling and raises up all who are bowed down.
15 The eyes of all look to you, and you give them their food in due season.
16 You open your hand; you satisfy the desire of every living thing.
17 The LORD is righteous in all his ways and kind in all his works.
18 The LORD is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth.
19 He fulfills the desire of those who fear him; he also hears their cry and saves them.
20 The LORD preserves all who love him, but all the wicked he will destroy.
21 My mouth will speak the praise of the LORD, and let all flesh bless his holy name forever and ever.

And so, this great big mighty God, this God Who can handle my anger, hurt, and frustration like no one else – He let me pour it all out to Him. And He helped me to that place of surrender.

Thank You, even though I hate this thing.
Thank You that You give good gifts.
That You that You do have a plan.
But more than that?
Thank You that You are Who You are.
Thank You that You are faithful, that You never change, that Your mercies are new every morning, that Your grace covers and redeems.
Thank You that because of Who You are, I can say Thank You for this pain.
Thank You.
I surrender.

And with the thanks?
Came the peace that goes beyond my understanding.
And I slept.

2016 Highlights

It’s a bit surreal to be back to this once-familiar screen. It has been over three-and-a-half years since my last post. Two days after that post came one of those experiences you read about in books, where the world stops for a moment, when it feels as if your heart must have surely stopped beating, and when you know that your world with never be the same. So began the darkest valley of my life, which was not bloggable. And through that valley, my Savior and Redeemer proved Faithful and True, and took me deeper than my feet would have ever nightmared to walk. He let me see His wisdom, sovereignty, and goodness in such rich and sweet ways. And perhaps, some day, I’ll be able to tell you about His redemption in our story. But for now…

Lately, I’ve been feeling the pull (the conviction, actually) to get back to writing, and to get back to my blog. I’ve been pondering some of the ways the Lord has shown me His goodness this year, and it seems like a fun place to re-start the ol’ blog.

So here are some highlights…

Into God’s Word with the One Year Bible
Many years of my life I have begun a Bible reading plan with a new year. I am a rule follower, and a smidge OCD, and generally by March, I would have diagnosed myself as a failure and given up.
A couple years ago, I met my friend Jill and began to hear her talk (A LOT 😉 ) about her beloved One Year Bible for Women. I found out that it’s the entire text of the Bible, just divided for readings of approx. 15 minutes for each day of the year. What got me, though, was realizing that my friend would just read the passages for each date, regardless of whether or not she had missed a day. Granted, I think she rarely misses a day, but it was the idea of not having to “catch up” that intrigued me and made me think this might actually work for me!
So, several days into 2016, my One Year Bible arrived, and I began a new adventure. I think that I have absorbed more of God’s Word this year than I ever have before in a year. I’ve missed plenty of days, but never felt discouraged. And the Lord has been faithful to show more and more of Himself to me as I’ve been in His Word.

Priorities/Rest/Stillness
The Lord has been teaching me much in this area. I don’t think I’ve ever been a “yes man,” yet I’ve had a strong tendency to overfill my plate. I think I’ve come a long way this year in learning to let go of things that are not on my priority list, to make wiser choices, and to not feel guilty when something does not make the cut.
Much of this work in me is just listening to His still small voice. My husband has been a terrific physical voice in this process, and my Mama has been my cheerleader. Crystal Paine’s book Say Goodbye to Survival Mode has been a great practical help, with exercises to help me think through priorities, Best Things, etc.

Growth in my Relationships with my Family
I like where my man and I have grown to in our relationship. Settled, content, growing and working together, etc.
I’m also thankful for the growth I’ve seen in my relationships with my darlings.

Time with my Mother-in-Love
This month marked two years since Mom Smith was diagnosed with advanced cancer. I treasure the tenderness and sweetness that has developed in our relationship as we have walked this journey together. Time is so very precious.

Health Improvement
This…

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to this…
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makes a tremendous difference. It’s not just the 40 pounds lost; there is much more to it than that. I made the commitment to myself and my family that I would do something to become healthier. My wonderful chiropractor has gone above and beyond in helping me to find something that would truly work for me, and my family has put up with both the weirdness of my eating, and with my need to cook “blind” because I couldn’t taste test their food. Definitely a highlight!

Our good God is only good, and He only gives good. He is worthy of all praise!
All is grace.

Happy International Day of the Midwife!

FacebookIDoM_squareMy life has been immeasurably enriched and blessed by an amazing number of wonderful midwives.  I want to take a bit of time to express my thankfulness for them on this special day.

The midwives who helped birth our babies…
Michelle Ruebke, our first midwife, laid a firm foundation of belief in the God-designed process of birth throughout the pregnancies and births of our first four Blessings. Cynthia Bernard helped make our hospital vaginal frank breech possible (and we couldn’t forget Barb Hueffmeier’s fantastic help with that one!).  Kathy Brace and her team assisted in the births of Blessings #6&7 (for which we traveled from MO to KS). And dear Mary Walsh came to bat for the birth of Blessing #8 – at last, a home birth in Missouri, with a team that included several precious friends.

The families who support the midwives…
Our time in Missouri included years of involvement with Friends of Missouri Midwives, a consumer advocacy group that was on the front lines with the Missouri Midwives Association in efforts to legalize independent midwifery in Missouri.  My experience with this diverse-yet-united group of folks was a time of growth and enrichment. These friends, their families, and their stories strengthened my appreciation for the beauty of the birth process and the value of midwives.

The midwives who are helping to birth the midwife…
Along the way in my own birth journey, I realized that I wanted to bless other women by serving them as my midwives had served me.  That dream was conceived around 2001, and so many midwives have invested in it, many without knowing it.  The midwives of the MMA opened my eyes to the sisterhood of midwives, the value of unity and consensus, and so much more.  Midwives I’ve never met have also inspired and encouraged me.
After we moved back to Kansas a couple years ago, I began apprenticing with two wonderful midwife friends, Bethany and Heidi.  I am learning so much from and with them.  I am also learning from and being encouraged by other midwives here in Kansas, and value their investment in me.  In the last few months, I have been blessed to begin studying under Debbie, one of my hero midwives, and a dear friend.

So, to all of these amazing folks – my thanks, love, and admiration.  Happy Midwives Day!

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Sovereignty, Goodness, and my way

I was out playing taxi driver yesterday, fretting and stewing about some upcoming timing issues, wondering how things would turn out, turning the situations over and over in my mind, trying to find some way to *make* things work out the way I want them.
Suddenly, the words on the radio broke through my worrying…
After all, You are constant  
After all, You are only good  
After all, You are sovereign  
Not for a moment will You forsake me
Oh.
Yes.
I’d lost sight of that.
I wrestle repeatedly with these two truths and how they fit together –
~ God is sovereign and good
~ God doesn’t always give me what I want
I love how this song reminds me of His sovereignty and His goodness in a way that checks my desire for my own way.
Thank You, patient Father. Help me to remember that You are sovereign, that You are good, that those constants never change, regardless of circumstance.  Help me to trust You as much as I long to love You…

Thoughts on Service, Redemption, and Healing

There is a area of my life in which I am recurringly stabbed with a sense of being unappreciated and lacking value.  When I start to think that I’m “over it,” something invariably happens to rip off a scab that should be long healed.

This doesn’t involve anyone in my family or even events/people that I am currently close to, yet it brings me to my knees over and over.  I know that there are still things that my Father longs to teach me through this, and oh, how I long to learn them!  I am obviously missing a piece of the puzzle.

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Some blessings of balm to me today…

*** “A disciple is not above his teacher, nor a servant above his master. It is enough for the disciple to be like his teacher, and the servant like his master.” ~Matthew 10:24-25
Oh, may I be like my Master, willing to serve, to lay down my life, and to entrust myself to Him who judges righteously, instead of looking to people for my “reward.”

*** “I slept and I dreamed that life is all joy. I woke and I saw that life is all service. I served and I saw that service is joy.”  ~Kahlil Gibran

*** And this song, Nothing is Wasted, by Jason Gray.  You can listen to it for free at the link, and the lyrics touch me in various areas.  But right now, in this current trial, the first verse and chorus were such a blessing as I listened to them this afternoon.

The hurt that broke your heart
And left you trembling in the dark
Feeling lost and alone
Will tell you hope’s a lie
But what if every tear you cry
Will seed the ground where joy will grow

Nothing is wasted
Nothing is wasted
In the hands of our redeemer
Nothing is wasted

~Jason Gray/Jason Ingram/Doug McKelvey

I am content and thankful this evening, though still a bit heartsore and emotionally weary.  I’m thankful that my loving Father will continue to patiently and tenderly teach this little child to love and serve like He does.

A Word for 2013

I was deeply challenged yesterday by what Willie shared during the teaching meeting.  The main text was Colossians 3.1-17, with an emphasis on verse 16 –

Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God.

What hit me was that to live out the Biblical injunction to encourage other believers, I *must* be letting the word of Christ dwell in me.

Willie told a story of when he worked in construction with another believer, who would daily share with him what the Lord was teaching him from the Word, and would ask what he was learning.  Willie began to not only read the Word regularly, but to meditate and think on it, in part so that he would have something to share when his friend would ask.  Gradually, he realized that this really thinking on the Word (letting it dwell in him richly) was changing his life.

So it’s a win-win, is it not?  If we are letting the Word dwell in us, we are being changed and blessed.  And if we are faithful in lifting up others with what we are learning, then they are being blessed as well.

Why is it easier for me to feel motivated to “dwell” for someone else’s benefit, even though I know that my own need is so deep?  Only the Lord knows, and He also knew that I needed this challenge and encouragement.

A few ways in which I would like to be changed by this challenge…

To regularly let the Word dwell in me richly

I began this morning by starting to re-read Matthew, and read/meditated on the first chapter.  What stood out to me was Immanuel, God with us (oh, look, another “dwelling” concept!), and that all these things happened so that what was written might be fulfilled.  Our Father has gone to such lengths to demonstrate His redemptive plan throughout history.  The Blessings and I read the second chapter of I John in our morning reading.  So much about abiding in this chapter!  Abiding in Him, letting His Word abide (dwell) in me.  This will change me (I will obey His commandments, His love will be perfected in me), will give me confidence before Him, and so much more.  I have been seeking through the day to continue to let His Word dwell in me and permeate my thoughts.

To actively seek to be an encouragement to others

I have been feeling convicted about how much time I piddle away on Facebook in particular.  In the midst of Willie’s message yesterday, the thought came to me that I should try limiting my FB time to 15 minutes per day, for at least a week, and see what effect it has on my days/life.  I also want to be more deliberate in using FB, and my blog, to be a blessing and encouragement.

To sing and share songs, hymns, and spiritual songs on a regular basis
Here is one that has been on my mind today!

To daily write down at least three gifts (thankfulness in my heart)

The habit of gratitude is a life-changer, and I have sadly let it slip.  Ann Voskamp has lovely printables for a each month of the year, to take the joy-dare with a jumping-off-point for counting gifts.  Find them here!

So, a month in, I feel that the Lord has given me a word for 2013.
Dwell.
Let His Word dwell in me richly.
Dwell in Him.
Dwell.

A New Tool… Or Is It a Toy?

A big family Christmas gift to us from Papa and Mama Byrd was a pressure cooker/canner.  I have yearned for a pressure canner for several years, and while I might be more excited about it than anyone else in our family, the benefits will definitely come to the whole clan.
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So far on the “cooker” side of things, I’ve cooked a chicken & potatoes meal (that certainly showed my learning curve!), some oh-mercy-delicious soups, and some dried beans for using in a casserole.  It seems like that list should be longer, but it’s all I can remember at present.  There are things for which I am really going to like pressure cooking.

Ah, but the dream for years has been to be able to pressure can, because with a pressure canner, you can can foods that will not preserve properly in a water-bath canner.  When I saw turkeys on sale for .50 a pound in early January, I was thrilled to buy a couple.  And after I got them home, I remembered… I can can these!!  There was much rejoicing.
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A good bit of canned turkey broth/stock/meat has passed through our canner since then, and the process has reinforced my need for a means to better track my canning efforts.  You see in the above picture (lower right lid) the remnants of my old “method” of tracking the details of my canning… trying to cram all the info onto the top of the lid.  Not so tidy or effective. So I purchased a notebook just for my Canning Stuff.  Isn’t she purdy?
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The second section has my initial inventory.  This includes the unopened jars of stuff I’ve canned that are still around.  I’d like to add pages with a brief numbers account of each canning session/season/year.
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The first section is for canning notes.  Things like what I actually put into the peach butter I made last summer:
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And detailed information about purchased food for canning, what went into each batch, how I canned it, etc:
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The above picture doesn’t include all the info I actually want to include on these pages.  I will be redoing it in more of a chart form, I think.  Date, size of jar, method with times/psi, ingredients, etc. I am a do-things-on-the-computer person.  But it just does not work well for keeping track of my canning, esp. not for what goes in to each batch.  And canning is such a wonderfully down-home skill, I find it fitting to be hand-writing my notes about it.

Do you can?  How do you keep track of your efforts?