Thursday, August 27, 2015

Anything Idol

If you know anything about the ten commandments, you know that the first two commandments given to Moses in the old testament are relatively similar:  "You shall have no other gods before me," and "You shall not make for yourself an image in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below. You shall not bow down to them or worship them." (Exodus 20: 3-5a) 

These two commands seem the most cumbersome because they aren't as cut and dry as "do not steal" and "do not murder" (Although we know that Jesus sort of through a wrench in our understanding of those too). It's not quite as easy as avoiding the creation of a golden calf or wood carving; I did not realize as a young girl seeking to follow my Creator, whom I'd come to love, that these two commands would be the hardest to keep throughout my life. 

I have always struggled not to create idols out of other people. I truly believe this is my biggest and most reoccurring sin.  It began with my parents (as it does with almost all children). I worshiped, adored, or sought to please them with everything in me. We as parents even use our authority and this natural instinct to ensure obedience in our own children. It's an unfortunate cycle of misplaced discipline. After recognizing my parents humanity, I began to transfer this idolization to friends and boyfriends. Even with the revelation of wrongly worshiping my husband prior to marriage, I have found that I still have the propensity to place people on pedestals and look to them to give me all the advice necessary to live on this Earth. Whether it's a reality television family or someone who has already gone to Heaven, we as flawed humans find comfort in following those that lead lives we hope to emulate. However, if you haven't discovered it yet, you'll soon find that every single person will fall short of your expectations. No one can live up to such a standard, but I believe that is exactly why God decided to become a human being. It's easier for us to idolize something we can see, so He chose to become one of us, that way we'd have the perfect person to idolize. Even those that claim to be His followers will fall. It is not up to us to live perfectly, but it is up to us to seek to live like the only perfect one- Jesus. 

I must remind myself of this truth daily.  With a good cup of coffee and moments to digest, I see purpose in everything and everyone. I don't think this would be possible without my God. 

We had a nice visit with my dad who got to see our home and our second born for the first time!

Papa did an amazing job with his fourth grandson.

A wonderful distraction from every day life.... water balloons!


Trying to get the little man out and about before the sickness of winter occurs. This is how he felt about "Touch a Truck" day.

This is how Silas felt.


~Idol Buster 

Friday, August 21, 2015

Assume Grace


Levi and Kyra bonded the first time they met. She was unafraid of his wires or his meds, she wasn't scared to try to help with his feeding therapy even if he choked and gaged, and she didn't mind swaying his heavy casted-self until he conked out in her arms. They have both recently given me a window into my own poor judgements.
I realized on a recent trip to the grocery store that no one in that store knew that I just lost my best friend to a horrific car accident. Maybe I did leave my cart in the middle of the aisle a time or two, but my intentions were never self-centered. When trying to check on Levi as he made choking sounds in the car the other day, I realized I veered a bit in the other lane. I received a death stare from the car that later came up that lane. In another store, everyone looked at my little Levi with pathetic eyes. One man asked if his legs were wrapped so that he didn't hurt himself..... I'm not quite sure what that meant, but either way, no one really knew how NOT to stare. I felt bad when I yelled at a girl at Chic Fil A on the way home from Kyra's visitation. I came out of the stall with a whimpering infant, and the over-zealous little girl asked to see my baby. "Ok, but Don't Touch HIM!" I scolded. I think my tone and Levi's unexpected condition scared her to death.
These are just a few of the daily reasons I need extended grace. Likewise, I realized that I have no idea what anyone around me is experiencing. Maybe the little girl who is constantly on her dad's iPad just lost her mom, and it's the only way she can cope at the moment. Maybe the man who seems extremely rude just lost his wife. Maybe the woman who is distracted by her phone is trying to find out if her son made it home from Iraq. Maybe the terrible waitress is hiding the fact that she just lost a baby. Maybe...... maybe you just don't have a clue. Either way, if we are going to make assumptions, we need to assume grace upon grace upon grace. Life is too short to do otherwise, and trust me, you'll need that grace yourself one day soon.

A quick update on our little Levi :

Praises!
- Since he hasn't needed any oxygen since being home this last month, the tanks were taken from our house Tuesday along with the monitor! Less wires and beeps! Hallelujah!
- Levi's PT said he's doing a great job strengthening himself. As far as she's concerned, we can see her every other week for a while until he's bigger.
- Levi seems to be getting used to his casts and his Orthopaedic doc said after one week his feet already look a lot better.
- Levi has a new hand splint  that seems to be helping straighten his hand more.
- Levi's cognitive abilities and weight gain impress every doctor we see.
- Levi has NO sign of fluid in his lungs, so the pulmonologist said we can ween some of his meds!

Prayers!
- Levi still seems to struggle a lot with his own saliva, so it feels like we are forever away from trying anything by mouth. We love our new feeding therapist, but their are a lot of unknown variables (as per usual) that will force us to take the g-tube/eating road one day at a time. If he never eats by mouth though, I truly believe there are worse scenarios in life; however, his earnest desire to orally self-soothe is a promising sign.
- Levi may need both a heel clip, as well as a wrist clip (not the medical term) one day in the distant future. These are actual surgeries to cut muscles in order to straighten bones.
- Levi can't do certain things that other babies can do because of his casts and g-tube. Prayers that I always focus on his blessings not his hurdles.
- September starts the month of a lot of follow-up doc appointments, as well as the dreaded cold and flu season. Prayers that we wisely live out our days enjoying each moment along the way.

Taking time to paint cookies. An amazing moment.

Who knew the home depot apron would become a cooking apron.

My boy loves cookies as much as I do!

I mean that angle makes Levi look obese! Love it!

So thankful for this miracle

And these two together.... come on!  Savor those moments!

~Assuming Buster

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Kyra

It was a special honor to celebrate and speak at Kyra's funeral today. Thank you for continued prayers and support for their family. She continues to change and save lives daily...


I met Kyra freshman year of college at UGA, and our lives grew together through every major milestone we hit. We lived together, dated our husbands together, found a church together, and traveled together.  Because Kyra called a lot of places home after college, I feel unbelievably blessed that I was given many precious days alone with her before she went to her true home because she was my best friend.

Speaking of friends, Kyra never got a Facebook account (unless she just didn’t want to friend me because she knew I’d post too many personal questions). Kyra also never shopped at expensive stores. She told me she had one dress that she could wear on Sundays to their Italian church, and when she missed a recent family trip to old navy to come help me with my boys, she lamented over the fact that she was mad about it. She said, "I should be happy my mom is shopping for my girls, not upset for myself. Why do I need any more clothes?" She really never was from this world. Kyra always belonged in heaven. She just didn’t seem to care or get distracted by the stuff of this life. I have never known anyone like Kyra. Yet, I know she wasn’t perfect either. She and Reid had become food and coffee snobs since moving to Italy. Kyra told me that her sister Sydney prepared a great meal for her and Reid recently, but she couldn’t help but be disgusted by the cheese she served with it. She said it was some sort of white cheese that was actually pre-shredded and came in a reusable Ziploc bag! I told her that I wanted her to pick up dinner that night because everything in my fridge would disgust her.

I know I’m not the only one that learned something from Kyra, but I’m probably one of the few people that has had to be reminded that Kyra is not God. I think my own husband, while he adores Kyra, would get sick of hearing “well Kyra tried it, and she said it was great so we should try it.” Kyra some how had the ability to convince me that ridiculous ideas were actually really smart. She convinced me to take a natural birthing class and forgo an epidural with my first pregnancy. She convinced me that using cloth diapers on my children was a great idea. She even convinced Reid to join a cohort and buy a cow for their raw milk supply, and I was almost ready to buy a cow myself, but then she moved to Italy, and my husband convinced me otherwise.

Kyra also imparted a lot of wisdom. She knew early on that she was called to be a wife and a mother. We talked just last week about how God had been growing her heart these last couple of years to embrace her calling even more to the point that she found pure joy in the mundane, daily rituals that most of us see as routine.
She knew that creating a home of peace and love and truth would enable her husband, who she loved more than anyone, to spread the message of Christ with true joy and peace, and she strived to show her daughters the joy of living out Christ's love every day so that they would acknowledge, love, and give their lives to Him one day.

If Kyra were here right now, she’d be telling me not to worship or idolize her because she was a sinner just like the rest of us, and the only worshiping that should be taking place is to the one that made her.  

Kyra loved her Savior like no one I’ve known. Her hunger to grow as a daughter of Christ affected everyone she met, and it enabled her to move closer and closer towards Heaven.

While we selfishly ache to have our Kyra here longer, while some painful and confusing questions remain unanswered and while waves of heartache feel debilitating at times, I am privileged to have been a part of Kyra’s life, and I trust without a doubt that God is working mightily through her death. Not only did she change my life, but I can also stand here today saying that because of Kyra, my own mother finally accepted Christ after hearing what happened to her. The day before she died, Kyra said she would be praying for my mom and my whole family. She showed me a video called “Falling Plates” that I later showed my mom, and with bittersweet joy, I am rejoicing with Kyra in Heaven over another sister in Christ, who she pointed to the cross.

Joe, Karen, Chelsea, Sydney, Reid, Nolyn, Ellie, and Livia, we love you more than you know, and Kyra loves you more than you know. When only the Holy Spirit can minister to you through groans that words cannot express, remember Lamentations 3, which continues to give me hope in all my trials:

“He has made me chew on gravel.
He has rolled me in the dust.
Peace has been stripped away,
and I have forgotten what prosperity is.
I cry out, “My splendor is gone!
Everything I had hoped for from the Lord is lost!”
The thought of my suffering and homelessness
is bitter beyond words.
I will never forget this awful time,
as I grieve over my loss.
Yet I still dare to hope
when I remember this:
The faithful love of the Lord never ends!
His mercies never cease.
Great is his faithfulness;
his mercies begin afresh each morning.
I say to myself, “The Lord is my inheritance;
therefore, I will hope in him!”
The Lord is good to those who depend on him,
to those who search for him.
So it is good to wait quietly for salvation from the Lord.”

~CC

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Cast-less

She was never from this world. She always belonged in Heaven. She was my best friend. Kyra Lynn Karr went to be with her Creator and Savior two days ago, the exact day that one year ago our unborn baby went to Heaven. As an amazing sister, mother, daughter, wife, and friend, my baby couldn't be in better arms. They are united with many who are living in eternal peace, joy and love. If you didn't know Kyra, I feel sad for your loss, but I will thank God every day that I got to spend precious intimate time with her days before she left this Earth. While nothing seems to make sense in moments and everything reminds me of her because she came and lived my life with me this summer. She took care of my boys and myself like we were her flesh and blood, and I think she did that for everyone.

My heart aches for her family, but I have no doubt that they will see God's purpose in this tragedy. I have already witnessed it today. I have a new sister in Christ because of Kyra and Levi!!!!! Hallelujah! There is joy in pain when you know your maker.

As I process and compose my words and myself, I will have more to say to honor sweet Kyra, but for now, I know she'd want me to honor our sweet God. The day before she met Him, she wanted to show me a video that I feel she'd want me to post here. I hope it touches you as it did me.

Kyra just seemed to understand everything in a way that most of us take years to grasp.
I don't know how Silas could have known this, but after hearing that Kyra was in Heaven with Jesus, he said, "She is not in her red truck anymore." How he knew it was a car accident I don't know except that it was the Holy Spirit speaking through him. He then said, "And Levi will not have his shoes there," (his shoes are what he calls his new casts) to which I responded, "Yes. We will all have new perfect heavenly bodies with no casts!"  Silas then said he wanted to bring Kyra's girls a band aid, a hug, and some applesauce to make them feel better. Oh sweet Lord, thank you for that sweet view of life here on Earth.

More to come, but please pray for the Karrs and the Carps in the coming days, months, and years.

Thank you for praying for our little family too. God is good. Levi doesn't really like his casts and we are not sure what the future holds for him, but none of us is sure of our futures right!? Unless you know you will be in Heaven without your casts. A great place to be.

~Cast-less Buster

Monday, August 10, 2015

Indepedent island

If you know anything about love, you know that it is not a tangible thing, nor is it something you can fully explain. For that reason, love is something that requires a great deal of faith because there is no way to truly measure it or guarantee it's eternal existence. When you marry someone, you are taking a huge leap of faith. I am always bewildered when people say they don't believe in God, but they do think love is real. Aren't they the same thing? Regardless of your stance, I will stand by the fact that I believe one of The Enemy's greatest tactics is to divide and conquer marriages. Marriage is described in the Bible as a picture of Christ with His church. No not just a physical building where one goes to sing and clap on Sundays, but an actual embodiment of a loving body of people eager and willing to serve and die for one another in His perfect name of love. Thus, breaking apart that picture of loving unity, only furthers Satan's kingdom on Earth, not God's in Heaven.

There's not always a full-out melodrama for this disarrangement to occur. I noticed my own tendencies toward marital independence during my husband's week long work trip. As difficult as it was for both of us last week, I began to find my own stride as a temporary single mom. I had a tremendous amount of help from people for whom I am eternally grateful, but I also had a few nights and days alone with my little ones, which gave me a twinge of singular focus and singular pride. As I grew with God and grew as a mommy, I found it rather difficult to re-grow as a unit with my other half when he returned. I had things down to a perfected system, and he sort of disrupted that system with his desire to lend a hand. Imagine his audacity! Offering to help!? Why? I had the best and perfect way of conducting our household in a manner that was worthy of a gold medal, and I could prove my abilities all alone.

Whether it's self-preservation, personal egotism, or subconscious control issues, we all tend to think our way is the best way. When we recognize that Satan wants us to prefer living on an island, we then realize that it's a tactic and not a tendency. Matthew and I need each other to balance the other one out; otherwise we end up fully committed to ourselves instead of living to serve others. We miss out on the unbelievable gift that exists in humility and letting go of our independence. This picture also encourages us to depend fully on God to get us through each and every day, rather than trusting in chance (or worse, our flawed selves).

I am so very thankful for the gift of my husband, and I pray I let him (and God) know of my gratitude daily! God can certainly give us the strength to endure alone when we must, but it's never His intention that we remain an island for long.

Levi is doing great, especially with normal digestion. I full blow out caused an extremely necessary full bath!

Tummy time (or trying)

Way to make him feel better Silas.

Thanks to our NICU friend Anne- we had our first date in a long time. An afternoon movie is amazing! No one was there!

Getting fresh air after daddy came home was a must! We were searching for puddles to jump in after a storm. (literally not metaphorically!) ;)

Early morning physical therapy wore out both these kids. Holding hands to reassure each other they'll make it through.

Boo Boos are always more fun when you share them.
Levi doesn't have a boo boo, but he did get a new hand splint!
Levi continues to struggle swallowing, but we are encouraged day by day as he gets stronger in our home. We will hopefully get feet casts this week too. I think the past week was the first time in 6 months that we didn't feel like we were on a roller coaster ride. We just felt like a normal steady family enjoying each day together. Thank you Lord and thank each of you! I have been so remisce in my thank you note writing (which I have always loved doing) since Levi came home. Please forgive me, but please know that we are very thankful for everything!

~Island Buster

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Embrace


There's a spot in the farthest corner of our backyard almost to the edge of the property line that Matthew and I have been told (by multiple neighbors) has really great soil. Apparently years and years ago someone had a luscious garden growing there. It's pretty hard to believe, if you saw our yard, that any potion of it would be considered "luscious," but we've yet to find the time to test this theory. I know that it will take some good hard work, and frankly we aren't really up to it these days.

I know that most people don't really want to do the really hard work it takes to deal with the hard issues in life. Many simply cover up, bury, ignore, or refuse to acknowledge those areas of our lives that we have scarred over time and time again. If we were to actually scrap even the surface of the difficult topics, we may never stop the bleeding (or so we fear).

In reality I am continuously realizing that the purest and deepest form of joy and peace comes from digging deep into those hard times and embracing them rather than shying away trying to skip over them. That corner of supposed rich Earth in our yard looks like nothing; it's covered with weeds on top of weeds. Yet I'm sure if we began digging, we'd find rich dark soil ready to be harvested. It would require getting pretty dirty though. Lots of sweat, maybe some blood, and definitely a tear or two is always shed when we dig in our heels and deal with the cards we've been dealt. I'm not saying that we should linger in those areas forever; if there's nothing you can do to change the outcome, then move to higher ground or a different spot of land, but don't just sweep the dirt into the weeds if you can grow something better.

I can promise you that there is more gratification in the midst of trials that are approached in genuine love and desire for growth than circumstances that remain surface level.

I've been utterly humbled by how God has provided for my every need these past five days that Matthew has been gone. As I have let go and embraced motherhood in it's entirety-- embraced a season of sleepless nights, embraced the patience needed to care for little ones, embraced personal agendas being wiped away with sticky messes--I've found so much more peace in the inconvenient disturbances. As I've embraced a new life with Levi's special needs and delicate care, I've been presented with unbelievable encouragement by people I've never met, to those I've known all my life. I really believe that I am the one who is blessed for getting to experience a trial because I get to see God's hands and feet working through a myriad of people. It's beautiful soil that I hope someone will harvest in the near future.

Thank you T-pop for putting some fresh dirt in our yard! We are grateful for you!
Little man did great at his feeding therapy yesterday. We were encouraged by his ability to take the pacifier and his eagerness to learn to swallow. I think he just loved the therapist's blue hair. :) A side note: I've learned the medical condition he possesses is Dysphagia: difficulty swallowing. This could still be for several different reasons that all make sense, but we hope and pray he'll get that G-tube closed up one day in the near future.
Levi has lost a lot of his hair- another normalcy I can now appreciate.
Not sure Silas understood "make a funny face"
~Digging Buster