Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Treading water

When I was in high school I was a certified lifeguard for several years, and I will never forget the intense training required to work for a certain pool company. While I appreciate their serious standards, the former training coach had been a California beach lifeguard, which I can only assume is a much more serious job than relaxing by an almost empty pool in Marietta, Georgia. As such, many potential applicants were denied employment in 1999 due to his rigorous application practice. I distinctly remember having to tread water in the deep end of a pool, holding a large brick over my head for at least two minutes. While it may not seem extreme on paper, I can assure you this was a very heavy brick for a fifteen year-old girl, and if you lowered the brick even slightly below your nose-line, your time started over. My legs were on fire by the time I completed the exercise, but
I now see the great analogy between this life-saving task, and my current life.
Most days feel like I am treading water while holding a brick over my head. If I stop for even a second, I'll be forced to start over, which isn't an option, so I hold my brick as high as I can all the while kicking my legs frantically. Many times though, God gives me a moment of rest. Even though I'm still treading, it feels like I've grabbed a hold of the wall. It comes in the form of simultaneous naps, a good cup of coffee, a smile or laugh from a little one, or a sweet unexpected kiss. Sometimes I simply forget I'm treading because I get into a nice groove and proudly feel like I could tread all day long. My arms are ripped and my legs become stronger, so it doesn't hurt that much. It looks crazy to on-lookers, but I become immune to the madness. Still, other times I drop the brick with sudden impatience, selfishness, or exhaustion. I begin to see the ridiculousness of my treading and forget that those bricks are my babies. (Thankfully I haven't actually dropped my baby.... yet). It is then that I see the real reason Jesus suffered. We all suffer minor injuries on a semi-regular basis, but nothing compared to what He experienced. When we are sad, suffering, or sick of treading water, we long for a better reality.
That is when I miss those, like my best friend, who have gone on to a place without any suffering or treading the most. We ache to be with loved ones because we can't imagine when we will ever see them again. Yet that day could very well be tomorrow. Seriously. We are not guaranteed tomorrow. When I recognize the reality of our fleeting time on Earth, I also see the brevity of my treading. We do not tread forever; we are not ill forever; we do not miss forever. It is the uncertainty of the finish line that makes us hurt with exhaustion. Just as it was with Levi's condition at birth (and still is in some ways today), the uncertainty is always the scariest part. But once you make your peace with the unknown because you know where your end result exists, you can rest in knowing the finish line is much closer than we think. It's a glorious finish line when you know who brought you here and the purpose of all your treading, and it certainly makes the treading water/brick-holding that much easier. When God gives you that peace and strength, others begin to wonder how you make it look so easy.

~Treading Buster

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Never say never

It is as easy to use a label maker on objects as it is people. Defined boxes, outstanding balances, or situations that have remained unchanged for decades tend to give off a stench of impossibility. Too often parents and grandparents wonder if we are "scarring" our little ones or if the window of opportunity for long term influence closes after a certain number of years. I can safely say, never say never. I've seen in my own life how people change, relationships change, and circumstances radically change. Recently a wise woman at our church said she prays that she'll never be a "stumbling block" to her grown children. She went on to explain that it may take a terrible situation, a seemingly obvious disaster, or even an immoral experience that brings her sweet offspring to know Jesus. By trying to intervene as loving family members when it seems appropriate can actually hinder the great story God is doing through their lives. Its not up to us to define parameters around each other's stories, nor should we hold people to labels or boxes we ourselves have created.

I'm thrilled to see the barriers that Levi is breaking in his little miraculous life. He has had a great week of doctors appointments, so thank you for those who prayed for him! His feet, albeit small, are getting more stable, and he only has to wear his leg braces at night now! We finally found some shoes with a sole for his size 2 feet (3-6 month old shoes). Thank you Keds!
His appetite is back now that he's been healthy for a week. Sometimes he can even clean his "canal" (the tight groove at the roof of his palate caused by breathing tubes at birth) a little on his own or at least not choke when he mashes food in it (that's when we have the standby toothbrush to clean it for him. He has swallowed pieces of turkey, salmon, and bread without gagging! Also, he's off of baby formula (except the additive to his purred food), and consumes only high-calorie Pediasure via his G-tube for weight-gain. His communicative "babbling" has increased these days too. Healthy Levi is drastically different from sickly Levi, and we are so very thankful to watch him improve so much this week!

A little hand therapy homework- the pincher!

Boy loves to eat!

Show off those old man Keds dude

The only masculine color was clean white!

Had a sweet visit from Gibby this weekend too! We love you!

Some overdue Christmas pics

Thanks Miss Katie for these sweet memories!

I was getting ready for the day when these hooligans came into my room! 

Love me some hooligans

Just another day with my three sons and my delicious three cups of coffee.
~NeverEver Buster

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Snow and Self Control

I've said many times that our ability to control anything in life is equivalent to that of us controlling the weather. Just as it can be fourteen degrees and snowing one week in Georgia, and a week later hit seventy degrees with beaming sunshine, so our life can go from one extreme to the other in a matter of minutes. God is ultimately in control of everything, and those who disagree wonder what the point of living is if we have no control. Graciously, we weren't created to be puppets or robots, so there is one thing we can control: ourselves. Now this may seem a bit oxymoronic, since I've repeatedly stated God's ability to direct our steps, change our circumstances, and guide our lives. However, in keeping within His Spirit, we are given fruit, which is exactly how you can tell whether someone really does follow Jesus or just claims to be a Jesus-follower. We are all evident by the fruit that we bear. You can claim to follow a team, but without true loyalty, you probably wouldn't score great seats. If you say you love someone, but then belittle, undermine, and gossip about them, then your fruit shows its true rotten color.
God gives us nine pieces of "Spirit fruit" that we should seek to embody every day: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, and self-control.  There is the control that we maintain- self. Since the first man and woman, we were given the opportunity to make decisions for ourselves. The challenge arrives when we must first fully surrender ourselves to God, so that we begin to make decisions that reflect the Spirit of God and not our natural selves.
My three year-old is working to comprehend this piece of fruit right now. I tried to explain it in simple terms. Self-control is when you really want to do something, but you don't do it. You may struggle with self control when it comes to bad habits, but you also may struggle with self-control when it comes to making decisions about good habits. Some people can't say no to exercise, while others battle laziness. Some people over eat, while others starve themselves. Self control is our God given ability to say yes and no to things that we really want because we ultimately desire God's will more than our own. Jesus certainly did not want to suffer and be separated from His Father, but He desired God's will more than His own. He could have chosen through himself to get off the cross and punish everyone in sight, but he chose God's will because He knew it was best. That's the kind of love and selflessness that I want to embody. Without the fruit of the Spirit, we are all doomed to hurt one another because of our lack of self-control. Thank goodness for grace, thank goodness for God.

God gave us some unexpected fun last weekend in the form of icy snow! And the underlying ice made for slippery selves losing lots of standing control!

Bundled and ready!

A simple driveway sleigh ride.

The joy was palatable.

The lack of bodily control was comical.

This fun lasted two days!

Eating fresh ice and snow was one of his favorite parts.

He just liked keeping it real.

A sledding date!

Who is watching the kids!?

Sweet Roman was just napping inside, staying warm. 

Roman kind of missed out on his first snow, but I'm pretty sure he didn't mind.
~Snowy Self-Buster

Sunday, January 8, 2017

Every year, every day

Every day offers hope- if you know the Spirit that brings new mercies, no hope, and newness of life every single morning. You don't have to wait for a new calendar year to "start fresh" or to have renewed hope if that same Spirit resides in you. While it's a nice marker of time, and I believe God ordained the essence of time by setting boundaries for the sun and moon, boundaries for work and rest, and boundaries for our good conduct, we do not have to wait for January to have hope. 
Every night their can be hope that you will enjoy a long night of sleep, but if it doesn't come, every morning brings hope of unexpected joys and smiles yet seen. Every doctor's appointment can offer hope of progress, or in some cases, hope of regression. Every person can afford hope of a new relationship ordained by God. Every hardship brings hope of new depth of soul and new closeness to your Creator. Every child shines hope of innocence and truth. Everything can feel hopeful if you know the One that is hope, faith, and love.

I am hopeful that Levi will continue to grow and change in his perfect timing. He has a busy week of appointments- orthopedic (checking his feet and walking), nutrition (checking weight and growth progress), and the usual physical, occupational, and speech therapy.  While we couldn't be more thrilled with him walking everywhere, he is sort of a little wrecking ball! His two busted lips and multiple bruises have not slowed him down. He laughs and shows pride in trying to keep up with his brother. But because his muscle-tone is still a bit weak, he loses balance a lot and doesn't always brace his falls correctly. Also, we all passed around a nasty cold over New Years, which means Levi has already lost a little weight from trying to throw up his mucus again. He's had drainage and blockage in his ears which can also affect his hearing and balance, so we'll see his pediatrician this week too. He is still making great strides every week, but when doctors only focus on charts and markers, it can feel as if they are trying to steal our new-walking joy. 

But I will rest in the Hope that God gives me each morning when I wake. Here's to a New Year of hope!

Ro Ro is smiling so much more! I forgot how quickly they change since sweet Levi has let time slow down a bit. 

NYE 2017- with head colds and rain, the garage was the perfect place for some sparkler fun!

And who knew how fun it could be to count down at 7 pm. 

Someone didn't want to stop walking laps to play with sparklers

But we convinced him it was worth the family memory!
~Hopeful Buster