Thursday, February 2, 2017

"It's easier to watch, because I know how this will end."

(This post is 2 years old, found it in my drafts, just never posted it. Jesse wasn't even in college yet, and Bryce Petty was still Baylor's quarterback. Not funny, but an encouraging reminder.)

"It's easier to watch, because I know how this will end," says Ray as he settles in to watch the recorded football game of Baylor vs. OU, the day after it was played.

Ray and Jesse had gone to check out a possible college football opportunity for Jesse next year, and missed the entire game of BU vs. OU on Saturday.  Jesse and Ray got ESPN updates the whole time though, so they knew the final score as the game ended in real time.

The next day, Ray settled in to watch the game, and started from the beginning.  Even though Baylor got 3 points on the board first, OU came back with a vengence, and before we knew it, had scored twice on Baylor, without hardly taking a breath.  If you didn't know it, it looked as if this was going to be a tough game for Baylor, and the momentum was moving in the Sooners' favor.  At this point, Ray looked over and said, "It's easier to watch this, knowing how it will end."
I just sat there and stared at him.  He looked over,
"What?"
"Did you hear what you just said?"
"What?"
"It's easier to watch, because you know how it will end?!"....."Ray, that will preach!"
He smiled, because, you see, we are going through some stuff in our little family, that seems right now, to have about knocked us out.  Ok, you may feel like I am over dramatizing, but honestly, we have felt as if we have been so knocked down, so defeated, so lost, that there is no possibility of victory or recovery.  We have felt like complete failures as parents, and failures in our faith that God can even do anything about it.  The enemy has got the momentum, has scored on us multiple times, and seems to be lining back up at our goal line, ready to punch it in again!

We have looked at these defeats as the FINAL outcome, and not as battles that must be fought in this greater war that we are in.
If we knew how it would end, it would be easier to watch.  YES! But we do know how it will end!! We do!! The great enemy of old, still fights to destroy our marriages, our families, and take our children for his own victory.  It may seem as if he has won, FEEL like he has won, and that there is no hope, or even reason to keep fighting, weilding that sword in prayer, because we see this so many times as the ENTIRE war.  But it is not.  It is only a battle, the first quarter, one of many that we will fight, in this greater war that is ulitmately already won.  These battles we are going through now, are worth fighting through, because though we feel like we may have lost somewhat, and given ground to the enemy, we have not lost, we are still fighting, still in this.

By God's grace, He had me listening to another book, right when this thing seemed to rear it's ugly head, He is Faithful by Carol Cymbola.  I highly recommend if you are needing some encouragement that God is faithful through ALL that we go through, whether it is self emposed, or nothing of our own doing.  Of course, it goes along with my favorite verse, my life verse, which is found in Lamentations 3:22-23 "It is of the Lord's mercies that we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not.  They are new every morning, great is Thy faithfulness."

Every morning, isn't that awesome, we get to hit the reset button every 24 hours.  All I know is that I feel down 14-3 in the game, but I have to realize, we are only in the first quarter, and I have seen the end, so even though, it may not make it as easy as watchin' our Bears get whooped up on for the first 15 min, as it is watching my kids get whooped up on by the enemy, I can say, knowing how this thing will end, Jesus gets final victory in their lives, in my life, and this world, it makes these daily battles easier to watch, and yes, also encourages me to keep the shoulder pads on, keep running out there on that field, keep weilding that sword in prayer, because Bryce Petty is bound to get that ball and throw for a first! And then baby, watch out!! The momentum will start rolling, and we are off and running to kick the enemies rear!
Hallelujah,
JJ

(P.S. - Since I am posting this almost 2 years later, I can honestly say God did win the victory in these areas we felt were soooo difficult and impossible!! But with God ALL things are possible!)

Friday, January 27, 2017

The Poor Life of the Babies of 5 children.

(Found this post back in my drafts and never posted it. So it is a year late, but worth a little laugh!!)


You know you are the last 2 of 5 children, when you go to meet the teacher night without your parents!! This is exactly what Joshua and Anna did this year.  We had just moved to Stillwater, so no one knew us, had no idea that we actually DO care about our kids, and don't just let them roam the town on their bikes by themselves! But, this is exactly what it looked like to thier teachers.
The kids had asked if we could ride bikes with our neighbors to meet the teacher night, and I had said it all depended on when Ray and I got back to the house.  We had run a quick errand, and were going to return to the house in a few minutes.  Ruth was there at the house, but really didn' tknow what we were doing with the kids after we got back.  When we got home, we asked Ruth where the kids were, it was time to head to the school, and she said they had left with our neighbors!!

I ran back out to the car screaming to Ray, "Hurry, get to the school!! The kids went with the neighbors, and are at meet the teacher night without us!!"

We spead to the school, and ran to their classrooms as quickly as we could.  We found Anna first, who had picked up all her papers, met her teacher, and said she had told the teacher she wasn't sure if we were coming tonight!! " How embarrasing!! Not wanting to set her straight, and give an appearance of an abusive parent, since I already looked like a negligent parent to her teacher now anyway, I tried to explain that they had left with our neighbors and had been confused.  Her teacher just kept saying, "Well, Anna just wasn't sure if you were coming tonight or not!!" I was so embarrassed, I got nervous, and started talking WAY to much, trying to sound like a good parent, but sounding like an idiot instead, and really making Anna's teacher wary of us.  Oh well, so much for first impressions!!
Joshua's teacher and scenerio was almost an exact repeat.  So imbarrassed, I grabbed the kids hands, smiled as I left the building, then read them the right act outside, all while smiling, incase the teachers were watching.
Don't think we are going to win parent of the year in Stillwater this year!!

Monday, October 31, 2016

Laughing again.......and a 700 lb Spider on Rollerskates

I CANNOT believe it has been one year since I posted on this blog.  Life has been busy of course, but really?  
The good news is, we are still in Stillwater, OK.  The bad news is, we MOVED again! 
I guess it's not really bad news, but moving is hard! 
Anyway, we were going to move this summer, to a little bit bigger home, since we have 5 kids, 4 of which are still home, but the contract fell through.  So we were good with that, stay where we were, in a smaller home, with all our stuff being stored in 7 different places! Yes, that is correct, 7 different places. But still, trusting, God's timing, not ours.  Well, we started the school year and all that it brings.  We had Jesse's football schedule, Ruth's cross country schedule, Esther's volleyball schedule, and Anna's cross country schedule to work around.  Joshua asked if he could sign up for flag football, and my answer was "Heck No!!"  (His time is coming!) So, packing up the trailer and heading out every weekend to somewhere in Kansas for football, plus throwing a xc meet or VB game in there, sometimes we would be in 3 different cities, 2 different states in a matter of 24 hours!! 

Right in the middle of this, the people who owned the house we had put a contract on over the summer, came back to us and offered us a deal we couldn't refuse, so after praying and signing the paperwork, we had to close in 2 weeks.  All of a sudden, in the midst of an already crazy schedule, we were moving across town!! 

This was exciting and exhausting all at the same time, because you know, the Ray Ford Family does not pay movers!! We do it ourselves. Ha! So we spent the next few weeks, slowly but surely trickling things over to the new home.  But as we got to the end of the month, Ray said he was not paying another month in storage, so we HAD to get the storage stuff over to the new home by Friday.  Well, that was fine, except, we had a XC meet in Arkansas, and a football game in KS, along with 2 volleyball games that week, both an hour drive away!  The boxes were not the difficult part, and we were able to get that over in about 5 trips, but the RV, oh baby, that was a different story!  You see, we have a large separate garage/workshop/RV storage at our new home.  I call it the barn. Anyway, it is great, but the people before us didn't have an RV/5th wheel, so they built a loft type structure, to use as storage.  It was right in the spot were the back half of the 5th wheel needed to go in the barn, so we had to take that out.  Well, Ray wasn't about to waste that great storage, so instead of dismantling it, he wanted to MOVE it.  Now this thing probably weighed 700+ lbs.  It was attached to the side of the wall, but had 4 large beams that supported it, like legs.  Ray decided that we could just cut it away from the wall and move it over on wheels.  After we propped it up on skate boards, furniture dollies and the like, and tried to move it a few feet, we rethought! So the next day, while the kids were at school, Ray and I attempted to move this thing.  He attached casters to the 4 legs and we began to push.  It was sooooo exciting, the thing was moving, we were so proud of ourselves, we were gonna have this thing moved and secured to the other side of the barn in a matter of 30 minutes.  

Well, pride cometh before the fall.......... we ran into a little finagling around the garage door and while Ray was trying to figure out how to manuver it, the thing started to fall!! We could hear wood cracking, and I was supporting one leg, Ray ran over to support the other, and we were huffin' and puffin' like to old fat people, sweat beads pouring from our faces.  We couldn't move, yet, we had to get something under this thing or it was coming down!! About that time we look up and here comes 2 Jehovah Witnesses!! They asked if they could have a few minutes of our time!!! What?! Can you not see we are in dyer need of some assistance?! Ray said "No! We are a little busy at the moment, but you can help us if you want!" They declined, but then asked if they could leave some reading material for us?! You have got to be kidding! No! 

After they left, Ray said, "Ok, I am gonna step away and grab the ladder, and try to prop it up underneath, if it starts to fall on you, just run away!!" Oh my gosh, how do I get myself into these situations with this guy??  Well, he was able to get the ladder under the structure before it fell on top of me, and we stepped away for a moment.  He decided we would use the tractor, and lift the weight up off the legs, while we moved it, then secure it into place before we moved the tractor.  Long story short, 10 hours later, after we started this project, we had the stucture moved and secured into place.  A friend stopped by while we were in the process and gave alot of support and encouragement, but like she said, it looked like a 700 lb spider on roller skates!!

Needless to say, we were exhausted after working ALL DAY on this short quick little job, and we were supposed to get on the road that night and head to Fayetteville, AR for Ruth's XC meet the next day.  Well, I thought we were going in to clean up, when I heard the chain saw roar to life! What now?  The 5th wheel was still at the storage facility, but we had to renew the lease the next day if we didn't get it out of there by the weekend.  We were taking the 5th wheel to AR and then to KS, but when we came back home on Sunday, Ray wanted to be able to put it into the barn, soooo, we had lots of tree limbs that hung across the driveway.  Ray had to clear those so he could bring the 5th wheel in once we returned on Sunday.  So all of us went out and as Ray cut a limb, we dragged it into the front yard.  I wanted to take them all to the back behind the barn, but the sun was going down, we were supposed to get on the road, and we just didn't have time.  I was embarrassed because our neighbors all have very well kept yards, and here we come, just moving in, and trashing the place!!  Well, as we worked into the night, Ray cut, and we dragged!  Finally, after he had cut his last limb, the idea of getting on the road was out of the question!! To say we were tired was an understatement! We decided to crash, and just get up early the next morning and head out.  

The next morning, Ray headed over to get the 5th wheel, then come to pick us up and head out.  He called and said to come outside and load up, but as we walked outside, with overnight bag in hand, we see Ray unloading stuff out of the 5th wheel onto the front lawn.  We had several kayaks in the back of the 5th wheel, and to have room for the kids to sleep in the back, we had to unload them.  At this point, we are cutting it close to make it to Ruth's race, so we just start chunking kayaks and all the gear into the front yard, along with piles of tree limbs! About that time, our new neighbors cautiously walked over and asked if we need any help.  What was your first clue?! Yes we need help, but I think it goes deeper than just unloading our crud out of the trailer!!  We graciously declined, and assured them we were not the Clampets, and we would have this all cleaned up eventually!! Ray hollered for everyone to load up, and we flew out of there, dust and leaves off the tree limbs flying behind us!

Well, several hours later, we were cruising toward Fayetteville, when we realized we had missed our exit! That was fight number one on this trip! We only had to go 30 miles out of the way, because we were on a toll road, and there are no exits!!

After getting back in the right direction, and apologizes and forgiveness were given, we were cruising again.  We made it to the meet, and only had to park 2 miles from the course!! Ha!  Thank goodness they had a bus that shuttled back and forth.  We ran up to the start, saw Ruth run with 600+ other high school girls, it was crazy 22 minute race, then loaded back up to head up through Missouri, and over into central Kansas for Jesse's game.  Whew!

7 miles out from the meet, Ray asks where his phone is!! I don't know!! We have find my friends on our phones, so I can see his phone is on the side of the road, back where we pulled onto the highway from the meet.  Ray wheels the big rig around, and we head back to get it! As we are approaching were it showed it was, it begins to MOVE!! What? Someone has picked it up.  We started calling it, multiple times, but no answer! So, what do we do......... We follow it!! 2 miles down the road, it stops in a Lowe's parking lot.  Ray instructs the kids to stay in the car, while we walk around in the parking lot, my phone in hand, tracking where his phone is.  We look like a couple of creepers, and it's a miracle someone didn't call the police.  We had narrowed it down to 2 cars, so as we were looking through the windows of the cars, and getting lots of stares, a shady looking guy comes out towards Ray and asked if we were looking for an iPhone.  Not sure if he had good intentions initially, since he hadn't answered when we had called, but needless to say, we got the phone back!! Miracle!!

Well, that put us 30 minutes later on the road than we had planned, so we headed out again, 5 hours away from where Jesse was playing.  2.5 hours down the road, Ray and I could NOT keep our eyes open, we were so worn out, not only from the last 24 hours, but the last few weeks of moving and kids' athletic schedules.  We pulled the truck over, gave our phones to Joshua and Anna, and all crawled into the trailer.  We set the timer for 20 minutes, told them to play games, and not wake us up until the alarm went off, and we crawled up in the bed and CRASHED, dead to the world, as soon as our heads hit the pillow.  20 minutes later, we were off and running again!

We arrived at Jesse's game, at the end of the 2nd quarter, after dark, in an unfamiliar stadium.  Fight number 2 happened after I tried to coach Ray on where to park!! Ha! Eventually, we made it into the game, reconciled and exhausted, but thankful we had made it, finally.  

After the game, we camped in the trailer and slept in a little the next morning, before we headed back to Stillwater.  When we pulled in, it was bitter sweet.  We were so thankful to be home, yet looking at the piles of stuff in our driveway and yard, it was a little hard not to get overwhelmed.  Ray announced that no one was released until we got this trailer into the barn.  So we all worked together, cutting the limbs up into small enough pieces, so that we could drag them out of the way.  We cleared all boxes out of the way in the barn, and made sure the path was clear for Ray to back that baby in.  It was the moment of truth, and excitement as we had all worked so hard, the weekend was so exhausting, but this would be balm for the soul, and make it all worth it.  You know what I am about to say..........  The trailer AC unit was TOO TALL!! by about 6 inches!!

That was it, we were done, Ray put that baby in park, and we left it there, all week, half in half out!
Our poor neighbors.

We either had to laugh or cry, so we laughed.  We had already cried a little that weekend.  It's all good, right? This is a first world problem, it's not eternal!

Well, I am happy to say, 3 weeks later, Ray Ford, who is a risk taker, and not afraid to attempt something I would NEVER do, took a chain saw, and cut a notch above the garage door, and got that sucker in there!!   No, it's not that pretty at the moment, but even our neighbors were impressed.  I think it is what makes Ray a good surgeon, he is not afraid to cut something open, fix it, and make it work.

And I am happy to say, we have moved all piles and items out of our front yard and around to the back.  Also, things are calming down, thus, the ability to do this blog entry.  Ruth qualified and ran in the State Championship XC meet this past weekend.  Esther finished up a good season of VB a few weeks ago.  Anna had her last meet 2 weeks ago, and we only have 2 more Sterling Football games.  We finally were back in town for church on Sunday after 6 weeks of missing in action from being on the road for football games.  I think things are calming down!! Now to unpacking boxes! 

Have a wonderful week,
JJ

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Wanna "Taco" bout Jesus??



Doing what Ray does, he is like the mailman, come rain, sleet, snow, or hail, those babies will not wait!  Last night we were handing out candy with the kids, and Ray got called in.  I made him go in his costume.  He said the nurses had gotten a laugh and posted it on Facebook before he could even take it off as he went in to see his first patient!!

Another night this month (no picture), we had a bad storm blowing in.  It had just started hailing when he got paged and had and emergency he had to leave for immediately.  He was running around putting his shoes on and asking me for an umbrella since it was hailing.  I told him they were all outside in the cars, of course!! So, the next thing I know, here he comes running from the garage with Joshua's batting helmet on!!  I asked, "What in the world are you doing?"  He said, "It's hailing and I can't get knocked out running from the car to the hospital!!"

Always an adventure being married to Ray!!

A few more pics of the kids from last night.
Anna with a friend, she was a Jawa from Starwars.

Ruth, Esther, Moses and a friend. 50's girls, Nancy Drew, and a chihuahua.

Joshua the Baylor Bear.

Esther and Moses braving the cold to hand out candy.

Happy Fall Ya'll,
JJ

Friday, March 27, 2015

He's a Sorry Suck-Egg Booger!!

I hate him!! Just hate him. The liar to my soul, the threatener to my joy and peace.  The conniving, deceptive, loud, obnoxious stealer of anything good in this life.

I've been fighting him toe to toe this morning.  Even though I still have a boot on one foot (from surgery) and a tennis shoe on the other, I have my battle posture on.  No more! At least not for today! I am not gonna buy into his crud, give place in my mind for him to carefully, oh so carefully, place those toxic thoughts.  

Who am I talking about? No, certainly not Ray, or one of my kids.  Not my neighbor, or someone at church, though he does try to make an appearance there.  No, I am talking about the enemy of our soul, the prince of lies, the hater of our beloved Christ.  He is a sorry suck-egg booger, in the words of my Dad, Mike Janszen.

He is such a poser, appearing to have it all figured out, and trying to get me to come along side and start agreeing with him, that maybe, just maybe, God isn't really working in my life, or that He might be withholding His best from me, or my husband, or even worse, my children.  Maybe He doesn't really mean what He says in His Word, or that it just doesn't seem to apply to this specific circumstance.  He has been telling this lie since the beginning of time, you know?  

Eve thought maybe the devil was right, and God was wrong.  I am the same woman, born of the same nature.  For me to even give him a moment in my mind, to ponder, that maybe he is right, and God is just not all that great, makes me wanna throw up!  It ticks me off! 

For Heaven's sake! I know better!  When I am on my game, battle posture on, I can take those thoughts captive, wrestle them to the ground like a police officer tackling a criminal suspect, and kick his sorry behind right out of my mind.  Telling him where he can go in not so nice of terms.  I hate him, and God help me that I would allow him one inch of ground on the fertile soil of my mind and heart.  

This morning I was reading in 2 Chronicles chapter 32.  Hezekiah had just cleaned house, restored the temple, reinstated all the Holy Days that God had commanded Moses and His people to carry out weekly, and annually.  The people had come together, worshiped, then gone back to their own homes and cleaned house in each of their individual communities and households.  Revival had taken place, starting with the king, and spreading to the entire nation.  Awesome!!

But then, the enemy shows up, and I quote, "After these deeds of faithfulness, Sennacherib king of Assyria, came and entered Judah." (2 Chron. 32:1) King Hezekiah encourages the people that The Lord is with them, and He will fight this battle against the "arm of flesh" of the Assyrians. (31:7-8) The Assyrians, and their king begin filling God's people's ears with lies, lies, lies.  He tells them they have no chance against him and his army, that no other nation has withstood, so why would they?  He places doubt about King Hezekiah and his intentions, stating that all the king has said cannot be trusted.  The enemy finally starts "proclaiming in a loud voice, in words they could understand (Hebrew)" saying things to "frighten and trouble them" (31:18).   Oh God, is this not what happens with me!! The enemy knows just what to say, and how to say it in a way that I understand, to frighten and trouble my heart.

But praise Him, they did not cave, they prayed and cried out to the Lord.  And what did He do?? Ha!! He took the enemy out! And I quote, "So the Lord sent an angel who cut down every mighty man of valor, leader, and captain in the Assyrian camp." (2 Chron. 32:21) But He didn't stop there.  When the king, Sennacherib, went back home, he went to his temple of worship to his gods, and his own offspring turned on him and slew him dead! 

Isn't that the way it is?  The enemy spews out the lies, wants to put fear and trouble in our hearts and minds, so we will give in and go his way, reject our King, and follow him. All the while, he is already defeated, and even his own, will turn on him in a New York minute.  

He roars like a lion, seeking whom he may devour (1 Pet. 5:9), but our God, our King, our Lord, our Savior, He IS the LION of Judah.  He's not all bark and no bite, He is the One true Lion, and He wins!! His bite crushes the head of the enemy (Gen. 3:15). Satan is a poser, roaring loudly, trying to scare the livin' daylights out of us, but really, he's like one of those tiny, yippy, (fake dogs, I call em') chihuahuas!  They try with all their might to bark and intimidate those around them.  Pathetic!! Let's see him for what he really is, a defeated, madder than anything, but defeated foe.  Hallelujah, God wins!!

As I was reading this passage this morning, I began to talk with my Heavenly Father about it, and telling the devil just what he could do with his crud.  I got a little fired up, and Ray came running into the den to see what in the world I was going off about and who I was talking to in not so quiet of a voice.  After I preached a little to him about what I had just read, He agreed, smiled, then went back to what he was doing, relieved I wasn't talking to someone on the phone like that!!

I pray we can take these lies, these thoughts captive, that are rearing up their ugly head in our hearts and minds.  Take them to the Word, and let God replace them with His truth.  And in Hezekiah's exhortation, 

“Be strong and courageous; do not be afraid nor dismayed before the king of Assyria, nor before all the multitude that is with him; for there are more with us than with him. With him is an arm of flesh; but with us is the Lord our God, to help us and to fight our battles.”

Hallelujah! 

Saturday, February 21, 2015

I Wanna Be FAT!!

As a recap and conclusion from the last post, we finished football season, we ended up with a big win, Jesse playing a great last game, and winning a leadership award for both on and off the field.  He also was named an Oklahoma All-Star for football, as well as All District.  
Last game! The family is painted up and ready for the game.

Football Banquet


We were thankful for the season, even with it's ups and downs.  We are also excited for him as he enters this next season of life, working for Kanakuk this summer after getting to be a kamper one last year, and then heading off to Sterling College to play football at the next level.
Go Warriors!

As January came around, we knew that we would have to start thinking/praying about the decision to move again.  Honestly, I didn't want to.  Things were cruising along pretty well in my world, and I didn't want to have to think about the decision, let alone the move, to Stillwater.  But, with Ray working out of town, and doing what he does, we needed to see if that would be the best thing long term. We had accomplished the goal of staying here to let Jesse finish his senior year, but now needed to reevaluate the situation.

Funny story in the midst of this, during January, as we were beginning to have conversations about this, Ray got stuck 3 extra nights in Stillwater, that he wasn't on call, because he had seen ladies in the clinic that were in labor, and had to put them in the hospital so they could have their babies.  He couldn't leave them after he did that, so he was stuck down there until the baby came. (That's not the funny part!) 

Anyway, it happened to be one of those really cold weeks we have had up here, 16 degree nights.  After the second night of getting stuck, I decided I would go down and just be with him, even if he just slept, I could just sit beside him and read.  Just didn't want him to have to be alone again.  So, I threw a jacket on, some driving gloves, and headed out.  I didn't pack my heavy stuff (bad idea, you should always travel with your winter gear up here!!) but anyway, just put on my light stuff and headed down.  I called him on the way down to give him the heads up that I was coming to just hang out with him.  He said that was fine, but he was so tired, he just wanted to head back to the trailer and sleep.  I had brought a book, so I told him that would be great, I would just sit by him and read, but he won't have to be alone.  

Well, I met him at the trailer, where he was just returning from filling up the tank with more propane. He said when he had returned to the trailer, that the heat was off.  He thought surely it must have just used up all the propane since the temp was so low.  So, after hooking up the newly filled tank, he proceeded to crank the heat on again......nothing, tried again........nothing, made a few adjustments......nothing.  He then asked me to help look up troubleshooting for the rv's furnace.  We googled it, and tried every suggestion in the troubleshooting portion in the manual.......NOTHING!!

By this time, the temp had dropped to a cool 20 degrees outside the trailer, and inside the trailer it wasn't much better. He was so tired from the night before, and was just wanting to sleep, but here we were, he outside in the sub-freezing temps, and me inside, wrapped in a quilt, trying to look up anything that might help.  I finally just suggested that he go get a hotel room, and get some rest so he could be ready to go in whenever the hospital called for the delivery.  He reminded me that the trailer was not winterized, as he had un-winterized it the night before to take a shower.  That is not a problem IF your heat is working!! But with the heat refusing to come on, he said the pipes would freeze and do major damage, with the forecast being 16 degrees that night.

"Ok, what do we do then", I asked.

"We need to winterize it," says Ray.

"Ok, how?"

"We need to run to Walmart and get some antifreeze."

"I'll go."

"No, If I can't get the heat to come on, and I am going to winterize it anyway, I might as well not leave it here in the camping spot, I might as well just hook it up and take it with me to the hospital parking lot, and just pray the call room is open tonight."

So, at 10 o'clock at night, in 18 degree weather, we are hooking the trailer up, hauling it to Walmart, and then after purchasing the antifreeze, winterizing the trailer in the parking lot.  We were both freezing, but I was especially cold, since I hadn't planned on being outside, and had only grabbed my lighter gear.  

I thought the reason I was going down there was to encourage Ray by just being with him on another unexpected call night, but the real reason God had planted this idea in my head, was for me to be there to help him.  (Winterizing goes twice as fast with 2 people!) He needed his helpmeet.

After this miserable week, we felt God was showing us to put the house on the market and get closer to Ray's work.  The worst part was telling the kids before we put the sign out.  They have done really well here in Ponca, and we hate to move them again.  Their response was a trust in God's plan, even more than mine.  Ruth's comment to us after we told her was, "Mom, why are you sad, it's all good, God's got this!"  What a precious girl! The others, though overall supportive, where a little more concerned.

Well, we have had the house on the market for over a month, and only 3 looks.  Ray has also had several good weeks again, of not getting stuck, except for planned call nights.  So, we question, we waver.  I feel like waves of the sea, being driven and tossed back and forth.  

I feel so anemic in my faith.  I told God the other day, I just can't keep doing this, I can't handle this, back and forth, unsure what His perfect will is, sell or not, move or stay.  What is best for the kids, for Ray, for our family as a whole?  

I am lean in my faith, and I want to be FAT!! Fat in my spiritual walk with Him.  Knowing that if I go through difficult times, my fat will sustain me.  I always have said the way God made my physical body, was one that could have survived a famine, always plenty of reserves, but my spiritual body, my faith, the moment things seem to get a little dry, unsure, unstable, I crumble, I faint, I'm weak.  

Lord, help me feed on the fat of your word.  I need You, need it, more than anything.  Like I tell the kids, the army you feed in your mind is the one that will win.  Lord, help me feed the faith in my heart and mind, by knowing, praising, and worshiping Who You are and knowing/meditating on Your Word.

We still have the sign out in the front yard, and the house showed today, but we are praying God's will.  We are not praying for it to sell, or not to sell.  We are just dumb sheep, we don't know, and since we can't see what the future holds, we are asking God to do His will in our lives, trusting, if the house sells, God is moving us, if it doesn't, then He is keeping us here longer, and He will take care of Ray's commute part.  We need our good Shepherd to lead us where He wants us, either by the "Stillwater" or stay put in Ponca.  I have to trust in His character, He doesn't toy with us, teasing us for fun.  His Word says, "if we acknowledge Him in all our ways, He will direct our paths."  (Prov. 3:6) We are acknowledging Him, seeking Him, taking steps of action we believe He has lead us to do, and now waiting, being still.  In this waiting process, I wanna be FAT.  The last thing I want is Psalm 106:15 "He gave them their request; But sent leanness into their soul." I want His way for us, and fullness of soul.  Full of faith, and trusting that God is already knee deep in His plan for us, working behind the scenes, even now, as I type.  He is trustworthy.  I must trust, and rest. 

No diets here,
JJ 

Monday, November 3, 2014

Lord, "We Believe", help us in our "Unbelief!"

I told you this was coming, but it has taken alot to try and figure out how to put it into words.  We have had another change in our lives over the past 11 months, and No!! I am not pregnant! :) Ha!
Not another move either, since we moved to Ponca, but some changes have indeed occurred. 
I will expound below.

Very soon after we relocated our entire family, away from all that we had known and loved for the past 10 years, and moved to Northern Oklahoma, we quickly began to realize, not everything was as it appeared to us when we decided to make this monumental decision.  Without going into too many details, we discovered that the clinic that owned the practice Ray was working for seemed to be having some internal issues, which had started prior to Ray's employment, and many of the promises made to get us here seemed to go away once he arrived.  It literally began to unravel on DAY 2 of his new job. It wasn't only Ray feeling the effects of this, many other providers who worked for this group of clinics were beginning to feel frustrated with failed promises as well, which made the problem even more threatening.  

To say this was a gut punch is an understatement!  Ray was totally taken off guard, rocked to the core, and was questioning every decision he had made to get us here, and wondering if he had every really heard from the Lord in the first place.  I was questioning too, but trying to encourage him, yet inwardly confused, angry with God, and wondering what in the world?! Had we not believed God had lead us here?!  Lord help us in our unbelief

I knew we had prayed, sought counsel, and seen so many signs pointing us to move to Ponca City.  It was obvious, to us and all those around us, those that know and love us, and didn't want us to move, but could not argue with what the Lord was obviously pointing us to do, and opening the doors to do it!! 

We did still have the Christian partner, which was a bright spot, on a very otherwise grim outlook of the situation Ray was in with the employer.  The next few months, Ray continued to put one foot in front of the other, so exhausted, because the call schedule, which was supposed to be better, had been reduced to 3 docs and they were up most nights when they were on call.  Being the sole provider for our family of 7, he knew he had to keep working, but long term, he was looking for other options, and wondering what the Lord was trying to communicate to him through all of this.
  
My days were spent wrestling with God.  Honestly I was mad!! We had moved up here for a better work situation for my husband, forsaking all that we loved, and this is what happens?! The work situation changed as soon as we got here, and now we are considering another move?! I was so sad, discouraged, frustrated with God, there were days I just cried, screamed, prayed, pouted, then would busy myself with the chores of the home, because everybody kept wearing clothes and getting hungry and somebody had to wash and cook!!  I was also trying to unpack boxes, but wondered if I should just tape them back up until I knew what we were doing.  I really went through a time of feeling forsaken, like God had just picked us up, and dropped us in Northern Oklahoma and left us there to try and figure it out on our own.  Ray was reeling too, and when Jesse broke his wrist the first week of football, I was about ready to throw in the towel on the whole thing, believing God and all!!

We survived until Christmas, which was a different kind than we normally have, since Ray was working the whole time and we had no family that could come up for Christmas Eve and Day.  We had to make the best of it, and some good memories were made, but there was an unrest heading into 2014.  Ray knew things couldn't stay the way they were, and we were praying and wondering what was going to happen next. Honestly, I was scared.

Coming into the Spring, in the 6 months that Ray had worked for his employer, 3 docs had left, and another was already planning on leaving in the summer, each being frustrated with the situation they had found themselves in, with the employer.  The Christian partner was still hanging in there, but after unforeseen circumstances with the employer, he too finally decided that he was going to be leaving at the end of the year to explore more closely the option of medical missions, and would not be returning to deliver any more babies, but would only being doing GYN work.  This was the straw that broke the camels back.  If this were to happen, then all the reasons that brought us to this job would be gone.  We were grateful that he told Ray this ahead of it happening, to allow Ray to make plans, but we felt like we had just fallen off a cliff and were free falling, not knowing where we were going to land, or if we would just splat on the pavement!

I had started doing a Bible study by myself a month before this all came down...."Believing God." Little did I know that God was preparing me with scripture and stories from His Word with so many examples of others walking through trials and "Believing God."  He had been so gracious with me, loving me through my temper tantrums, pity parties, pulling away from Him, not really wanting to have anything to do with Him, then feeling Him slowly but surely wooing me back to Him through His constant love and acceptance of me, just the mess I was.  He saw me in my house way up in the middle of nowhere in Northern Oklahoma..... He saw me, in that den, crying out to Him on behalf of my husband and children, questioning Him over and over.

He saw me, and He didn't move.  He loved me right there, in my mess of a mess I was in.

As I slowly began to open back up to Him through His word, I was excited to "believe God" for my husband and children, that He had a good plan. I mean, what else am I gonna do?! Stay depressed or decide to trust Him in the midst of it all.  I was believing that God would work a miracle with this work situation, that it would get better, that it would all make sense why we moved here, that the job would work out, and we would say, "This is why God moved us here, isn't this awesome!!" And we would get to understand and enjoy this new town and new adventure God had brought us on. 

Seriously, I know we are promised trials in this world, but I thought we had gone through enough of them in Cleburne those last couple of years, and now things were going to be smooth sailing (for the most part) and we were going to reap the benefits of following Him in obedience by moving up here in the first place!!

Well, God did answer my prayer, but not in the way I had thought.  Instead of things becoming better in the Ponca job, they literally crumbled away.  After our partner told us his plans and what he felt the Lord was leading him to do, we prayed, and scrambled, made phone calls, and seemed to be leaning toward moving back to Cleburne.  We thought this would be a welcomed announcement to our children, so in the next few days, late Spring, Ray resigned from his job, we made the announcment to our children, and began to make plans to move back right after school was out.
To our surprise, Jesse was devastated.  The teen girls also were upset as they had made friends quickly up here, and God had blessed them with great school situations.

We were confused.  What do we do?  We had so much to move back to Cleburne for: family, friends, church, and a possible job similar, yet with better call, than what Ray had there before we left.
Our kids had friends too, and a great church.  We were torn though, and after a conversation Ray had with Jesse, as they discussed moving back vs. staying here, Jesse had shared that even though it sounded crazy, his best friends were still back in Texas, and a football program that had gone to the playoffs the year before he left, he still felt like he wanted to stay here and finish what he had started and invested in these guys on the football team.  He believed in these guys, these coaches, and even though they were 0-10 this past season, he believed they could win this year and wanted to see it through, win or lose.
  
Ray began looking at options to keep us here another year, but there was nothing that seemed to be turning up on the radar that wasn't going to take him away from us for long periods of time.  Jesse said he would rather have the family together, no matter what that meant, even if it meant moving, but Ray was not ready to give up just yet.  In the meantime, Ray had traveled down to Cleburne and left feeling that God might be closing the door for now on that return.  Wow, we just felt so confused and fearful as we did not have a clue what the future held for us.

In the process of job searching, Ray contacted a group of docs in Stillwater, 45 miles south of us.  2 of the guys Ray talked to were believers, and were very encouraging to Ray and wanted to stay in touch, but said there were no openings at the time for another OB/GYN in Stillwater.
  
I wanted Ray to close that door and move on, but Ray tucked it in his back pocket, still considering that the door was not totally closed in his mind.
  
Another month went by, and we were thinking we were going to have to move somewhere, since, other than Stillwater, there was not a close enough hospital he could commute to without being gone for a week at a time.  He thought he would call the guys back in Stillwater one last time just to check in with them, and they said their situation had changed, and they would like for us to come down for dinner and talk.  Amazingly, about 2 weeks later we had a verbal job offer, and a contract in hand 2 weeks after that.  Praise the Lord!!

We were very thankful, though this time around, we were not so excited with all the promises, good call schedule, etc.  Honestly we felt a little burned and were gun shy, but we were grateful for a job, something to pay the bills and put food on the table, and allow us to stay here and let Jesse finish his senior year in Ponca.

In the Believing God Bible study I had been doing, she had us reading Romans 4 over and over, about Abraham being justified by faith, not circumcision, and the part I had been clinging to was vs. 17, when God spoke things into existence that did not exist as if they already did.  As we looked for work for Ray to keep us here, it seemed there was nothing, no jobs close enough to stay here, and I was praying for God to speak into existence a job that did not exist.  I "believe" He did just that, with a job that was not there only a month earlier, and now, that is where Ray is working!!

He "leads us beside the Stillwater" has become my prayer now, He "restores our soul." (Psalm 23)  Praying this for Ray, that this will be a time of restoration and encouragement for my husband, as he went through such a difficult time after moving us here to Ponca, and began questioning all that he had done and everything falling apart around him.
  
Well, as the job was materializing, Ray came out of his quiet time one morning and said, "J, if Jesse is gonna "believe" in these guys, then so are we!! Make some shirts! I believe God wants us to Believe!"

I had never ordered shirts before, but sat down and made and ordered about 20 shirts that said,

"We Believe" "We invite you to believe too, Miracle on 7th Street" (where our football stadium is). 

We talked a few people into getting them, and gave a few out to key people we wanted to encourage to "believe" too.  I decided to make some yard signs too, and we started spreading the word.  We wanted this town to "believe" in these boys and get on board.  
We were very impressed that these guys, even though they had only won 1 game in the last 2 years, and the last year were 0-10, they all had kept coming back each week, daily to the gridiron, and never quit.  We were impressed with the character, and the desire to keep at it.
  
After we moved here, we discovered that the entire town seemed to still be mourning a loss from several years before.  Conoco had moved many, many families out of town to Houston, it was a mass exodus, that had left a huge hole in churches, businesses, schools, and our athletic programs.  With that move, we sensed a loss of hope, it seemed people in the town, though they still loved this place, felt like they had all received a sucker punch, and were still trying to gasp for air, not fully recovered.  There was apathy toward the football program, which seemed to communicate to the boys, "we appreciate all you do, but we don't believe that you can compete and definitely not win."  The home games were sparse in the stands, and people were ok with losing, they really always went back to the big "Conoco move" when talking about how the team was performing or NOT performing.
  
Well, we felt the Lord had given us a mission, and it was to "Believe" in these boys, to "believe" in our son, and to "believe" that God did have a purpose for bringing us up here to Ponca City.

After that initial kickoff of the "We Believe" campaign,  we began to see signs popping up all over town, and requests were coming in daily for shirts, the fire had been lit, and boy was it spreading!  Before I knew it, we had ordered almost 700 shirts, and had handed out over 250 signs and banners.  People were coming up with their own signs, and writing it on their marques and billboards.  The boys felt the support, and at our first game, which was away in Enid, we filled the stands with as many people as the home side had.  Though we lost that game by 1 point in the last 27 seconds of the game, the whole town knew something was different.

As much as I would like to say, we came back and won every game since, I cannot, but the support for our boys has been awesome.  As the weeks have gone by, with only one W, which was huge, the belief would stay strong, then struggle along, not wanting to give up, but finding it hard to keep believing at times.  

Well, in game 7, with only one victory, in the last 40 seconds of the game, Jesse was ejected for a call that was considered ridiculous by all who saw, coaches, even opposing coaches, radio announcer, and fans.  I didn't see it until film, but needless to say, I was in agreement,  it did seem a little crazy.  No matter what we thought, it still resulted in a 2 game suspension, which meant he misses Senior night, last home game, and only gets to come back for the last game of the year. That is just life!!

I prayed and questioned, "Oh Lord, he has worked so hard, been such a part of the spirit of believing in this team, and now is out until the last game of the season, and missed Senior night?!" 

This momma's heart was so sad for him.  We walked Senior night with him, then sat in the stands and watched our boys shut out the opposing team for victory #2 this season.  We were thrilled for them, but so sad for Jesse. "Lord, why couldn't he have been a part of this, why? Help me in my unbelief!" Psalm 84:11 says, "He withholds nothing good from those who walk uprightly" That is what God's word says.  Help me Believe this!

So Jesse has been running scout team, trying to continue to believe in something bigger than himself, knowing there will be no glory Friday night, no tackles or sacks racked up on his stats (and before this happened, he had been leading the team in tackles), no number called out over the loud speaker.  Believing this is all part of the grander picture and plan.

Praying God gets more glory, may we decrease, and He increase.

We will be believing till the end of the season, but you know we will be there with our cow bells ringing as Jesse will get to suit up one last time for that last game of his Senior year, Believing God and knowing His plans, ways, and purposes are so much greater, more powerful, and better than ours. Honestly, if I were writing the story, this isn't the way I would have had it go down.  But, God didn't consult me, He does have a better plan, and I know He is working something here, behind the scenes, that will one day blow us away.  So, we praise Him in the midst of this season and to the end, Believing.

JJ