Thursday, January 28, 2016

Introspect-ing, Part 3

  I learned to trust God during those dreadful times when Hunter was a baby. It was one of the most difficult times in my life, to be sure, but I also learned things about God that I wouldn't have otherwise known. Some of the things I learned are: 
1. We are utterly dependant on God's word, but His word can never be a "work" by which I draw near to Him- He loves me no more when I'm faithful to read His word, than He does when I absolutely can't make time for it.  His word is a gift, but not an accomplishment I can make. 
2. I learned that God is near when our prayers don't look like they are being answered, and we can't understand why. He is near when we can't hear Him, and we can't make things change.  He is near when we can't feel Him at all, and it seems that all the world has turned to black. 
3. God can help us do what is physically insurmountable.  He can help us to go farther than is reasonable, by His Spirit that is in us. 
4. This lesson warrants an entire blog post of its own.  I learned that I have to believe I have received. I have to accept that when I pray, God has done it, and to change what I'm saying to line up with the new result. 
5. God is still faithful, even when the plan is all derailed. 

Introspect-ing, Part Two.

  Hunter arrived 8.75 years after his next oldest sibling, Isaac. I was 34, and Matt, our oldest, turned 15, one month after Hunter was born.  We were overjoyed!  Jed was a proud papa again, and all the world seemed to have come into harmony and a great fruition of many prayers was taking place in our lives. 
  But when we brought Hunter home from the hospital, he was more alert than I'd ever seen any newborn. Hunter looked surprised. And Hunter didn't sleep. You have to remember, Jed and I were used to having our evenings alone, but now we spent each evening patiently trying to put Hunter to sleep.  And the only way this happened, was if I nursed Hunter for a full two hours. Then he would drop off to sleep around 10 pm, only to awaken a couple of hours later, very alert. 
  Now, this wasn't a truly unusual scenario. After all, Jed and I were experienced parents, and we knew what newborn sleep patterns are like. So we encouraged each other that things would improve, and we patiently waited it out.   But at around two months of age, Hunter's sleeping patterns worsened. He started getting rashes on his cheeks, and experiencing congestion. When Hunter slept, he was very restless, and extremely wakeful. That was around the time I got such a bad case of mastitis that I thought I might die.  I'm a pretty tough cookie, but I was very, very sick. And I knew instinctively, that it was very serious. So, even though I was on antibiotics, I did feel for a time that my life was in jeapardy. And although I recovered, the antibiotics seemed to affect Hunter, even though every doctor assured me that antibiotics would be harmless to the baby. 
  To save you and I time, I won't tell you today everything that we went through with Hunter from that point onward. I will tell you, naturally, but it's going to take a number of posts to get it done. But I have to tell you, that Hunter didn't sleep. Couldn't sleep!  And when he slept, he woke straight up.  And after four months of this, Jed and I were near our breaking point. Jed was sleeping more than I, but the strain was so great, I wasn't sure our marriage would survive this. We were trying to homeschool four children during the day, run our farm, and stay awake all night with a baby who could not stop crying.  And it was too much. I got down on my knees, bawling, crying out to God, and begged Him- please, save my marriage. I don't think that Jed can take this. I'm not sure I can either.  And He answered, and somehow gave me the strength to wake up and care for Hunter one more night, and then one more night, and then one more night after that.  
  Remember I said it was a season of confusion?  I knew that we had endeavoured to yield ourselves to God's plan, but what was that plan now?  We had said that we would keep homeschooling even with a new baby, but we could barely take care of the new baby.  Our lives as we had known them were falling apart. Gone were the simple days of reading and snuggling on the couch with my kids- now I was on my feet all day rocking Hunter, and also most of the night. Gone were our devotion times as a family- we could hardly eat a meal together because one person (usually me) had to hold Hunter and rock him the entire time. We felt lost. Where was the peace, security, and tranquility we had treasured?  And how could we get it back?  
Remember we talked about dreams?  Well, this was a season of laying down every single dream I had, in order to care for and serve Hunter, night and day. 


  I was 19 when I got pregnant with Matt.  I had dreams of going on mission trips; going to university; having a career. But instead, Jed and I got married, and I stayed home to care for Matthew.
  It was tough. Life brings us changes, challenges, and adjustments, and at 19, I didn't handle any of these well. I fell into a deep depression. And I didn't emerge for two whole years.  When I did, it was like God had turned a light on in my brain. As though I'd been living in black darkness, and now I could see a rainbow of colours!  It was as if I'd been trapped in a deep, dark pit, and now I could see sunshine, and hear birds sing!  And when I was in my right mind again, I knew I couldn't, I *wouldn't* ever go back to living a life of depression. 
  And that required a decision. At the age of 22 I decided: no matter what situation life found me in, I would enjoy the life I had.  So as a young mother, who was now a stay at home mom, I had to decide that I loved raising Matthew, and that being at home with him was exactly what I loved.  And that decision became something of a life long mantra for me.  If I have to do something, I may as well love it.  And I made that decision over and over, over the course of years.  Because there was a sacrifice.  A sacrifice of ease, of pleasure.  I had to give up on the idea of ever going on that mission trip, or having an education, or having a career.  And I did.  I laid those dreams to rest.
  And as more babies arrived, in short sequence, I learned to rely more greatly on my relationship with the God who had saved me from depression.  And new dreams began to form in my heart.  Dreams of serving God in the ministry; dreams of preaching and teaching God's word; dreams of travelling and touching lives with the gospel; dreams of healing.  And as years went by, and the youngest child got closer to schooling age, these dreams seemed to near the possibility of becoming reality.  I would have time now- time to pursue dreams of my own.
  And at the same time, there was an undercurrent of change in my life.  It started when I realized that Matt was struggling in school.  And it progressed as Jed's sister told me of their decision to homeschool.  And it multiplied as I realized that God was placing on my heart a vision to homeschool my children.  All four.  And so we did.  We made a leap, and registered Matt as a homeschool student, and one by one, all four of our children followed suit.
  Those were lovely years in my life.  Simple years.  Yes, we were very busy with so many young children, but we didn't have the funds to go anywhere, and so we spent a lot of time on the sofa, just reading.  All five of us.  Those days were so precious.  Busy, messy, and precious.  They were days of hiking, and exploring.  Days of wonderment, and discovery, and ordinariness that was just priceless.
  But I was growing on the inside still.  I guess I've always been a dreamer, and I couldn't keep the inside of me from learning and changing, and adapting to the vision I saw in God's word.
  And then one night, I saw clearly the dream that God had for my life, and not the one I had for my own.  I was sitting at the computer, browsing through Above Rubies articles, and I felt a still, small voice inside of me whisper "Your children are truly precious treasures.  You have taken them for granted!  You have lived as though they weren't important to Me, and that this calling of motherhood was not enough."
  I saw in that moment, that I had thought only about my own life, and my own dreams.  And that my children were really God's children, only given to me on a stewardship.  And I had treated this lightly.  So I repented.  I asked God to forgive me.  When Jed had broached the subject of a vasectomy, I had suggested that maybe he should pray, but I hadn't really held out for what I knew was right.  I had conceded, and it had made my life easy.  So I told the Lord that, if He wanted me to have more children, I was willing.
  This was a painful time for me.  Because I knew that God had spoken to me, but Jed did not know the same thing.  God's dream had become my dream, but Jed had a dream that headed the opposite direction.  It took years of my praying through the bible before Jed realized that our wedding vows had already addressed this issue.  We had promised to make each other's life full and complete, and to seek to live each day as a gift from God.  And Jed saw that a vasectomy had short circuited this.  It neither yielded our lives to God's will, nor did it make our lives full or complete.  We had taken what could have been God's choice, and made it our own choice.  And so, Jed agreed to a reversal.
  This next season, was a confusing one.  I knew I had yielded myself to God's will, but I didn't conceive.  Two whole years went by, before I conceived.  But when I did, I was grateful.  Grateful that however long and difficult the journey, we had arrived.  Together.  But, I was mistaken in some ways.  We had not arrived-  we had really only begun an entirely new stage of life, that my imagination had never conceived of.  Whatever I had expected, this next train of events was something entirely different.

Sunday, December 6, 2015

Fermentation and Gut Health.

Well, I learned something interesting during one of my kitchen experiments this week.  I've been fermenting. Everything, really.  And I found a big jar of "apple cider" in the fridge- a leftover from Joshua's party. Now, this isn't real Apple cider. It's the cheap, powdered stuff that you dump out of an envelope.  Joshua had made a crockpot full, and I put the rest in the fridge, being freakishly frugal as I am.  
So, as I was refreshing my water kefir, and kombucha, I had a thought. Maybe I could use the leftover water kefir to ferment the apple cider?  So I put a couple cups of good, bubbly water kefir in with the cider and let it sit. 
And sit. 
And after a few days, I could see that the culture was dead.  The chemical ingredients and petroleum dyes had killed all the good bacteria!  And when I saw that, I was startled. It was a vivid, clear example of how what we put into our mouths will affect what lives or dies within our digestive system. 
Why does this matter?  It matters, because so much of our immune system, and even hormonal/ nervous system is bound up in our gut.  The health of the gut micro flora is crucial!  And here I was, seeing a conventional food kill off micro flora. 
With Hunter's salicylate sensitivity, gut and probiotic health has been so important to us. He, of course, never gets to drink "apple cider", real or powdered. But watching the apple cider kill the tibicos bacteria was an eye opener for me, and made me really wonder what happened on Friday when I drank three glasses of iced tea, in hope of alleviating a headache. 
I still don't know how to deal with the headaches, but I'm back to eating sauerkraut, instead of drinking iced tea! 

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Revisiting Raw?

I don't have time to make myself raw foods. Not now, when I'm busy making food that Hunter can eat, and investing what I can into his health, and my family. But I can't get around testimonies like this:
I have to leave pain behind. I know that the Lord Jesus is my Healer. He will heal me, I know. But today and so many days before this, I've been praying for help. And I keep thinking about diet. 
So maybe I need to revisit raw.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Step 4. Or something like it.

My dear sister and I were talking about the 12 steps. I've never been an alcoholic, but I can honestly say I've been addicted to the lusts of my flesh. Hi, I'm Hope- a broken woman of compromise, who fails daily. 
I've been struggling lately. As if I've been in a pit, and now it is time to climb out. And so my dear sister reminded me:  I had turned my life around previously through faith. I had followed the 12 steps, although I didn't know what they were back then. 
And thus I was reviewing the steps last night, and got stuck at step 4. A fearless moral inventory of myself. Yikes. 
I've been bitter of late. I never meant to be, but in all that's happened to me since Hunter's birth, I slowly lost faith; lost hope; lost friends; became bitter; became jaded. And I'm so sorry. I never meant to be.  So in that fourth step, I find myself all tangled up. I keep forgiving and forgiving and discussing all this with the Lord, and many times that's as far as I get. In my fearless moral inventory I have looked at how others have hurt me, more than I've looked at my embittered, hardened, sinful heart. 
I always have heard from God easily, but now in this season, I find I do more straining. And maybe that's ok. When I first began to hear His voice, I strained. I listened. I longed to hear His voice!  I was yielded- I had to hear Him. And now- in my struggling, I feel like my hearing is dull, as well as my heart being numb. So I am straining. I do a lot of thinking, and listening, and wondering: If He is real, and I know He is- then I have to hear His voice. And I have to take a fearless moral inventory and clear out everything that has separated me from Him. 
He is God Almighty. I must stop compromising with Him. 

Friday, July 10, 2015

A time for it all

I drove the 'side by side' out past the garden this evening. Kai was buckled in in the middle seat. And as I felt the humid heat brushing past my skin, I thought of all I had to do in the next few days. 
Paperwork; decluttering; animal chores; and the garden stared back at me- full of weeds and produce that was already passing its prime and needing to be preserved. That, as well as taking care of the two littles; keeping track of the teens; and then the insurmountable laundry; housework; and care that it takes to care for a family of eight. Wow. 
And as I drove past the garden, into my heart popped the words: There is a time for everything.  The words from Ecclesiastes. 
At one time, I would have known that scripture word for word. Today, when I hear from God, it is often in whispers of what I once knew. For years, I read my bible *every* morning. I never, ever missed. Often I read, and journaled for at least an hour. Sometimes more. And those words were embedded in my heart. They were a part of me!  But now, between the adrenal fatigue affecting my mind and brain, and the sheer non stop busyness of caring for Hunter and Kai and the teens, well I am not reading that quantity now. 
I read my bible ten minutes when I wake up, and five before sleep, but it isn't nourishing the deep needs that my heart has right now. I am malnourished in every area of life, and I am merely snacking on God's word. 
But when those words dropped into my heart, I thought: yes. There really is a time for the gardening, and a time to let the weeds go. There is a time to do the paperwork for our business, because my Heavenly Father knows it's needful, and He will help me. There is a time for what He has called me to do, and a way to begin putting aside what I am not called to do. 
It is a hard place to be: believing things I can't see; things that don't always look true. But I am a believer. I can't let it go. I know God's word is true, so as I face an insurmountable week, I choose to believe that there is time enough, and a specific time for everything.