Tuesday, March 26, 2013

my cup runneth over!

So I have found myself reflecting lately on just how many amazing opportunities we have had since we moved to Pennsylvania! We have had the chance to do some things that we probably would have never done had we not followed the Lords leading us up here!

We have made friends in a short amount of time that would normally take a lifetime. We have experienced things that you only experience in the north - like a 'real' winter. We have seen sights of beauty that only the Lord can create and that you only see when your eyes are open to the Lord's creation. We have ministered to people in ways that I never thought of as ministry and we have been given the opportunity to serve people in places and ways that we would have never known existed, had we stayed in Alabama. Oh, how I could go on and on....

But, this is not about me, us, our family, or even our journey to Pennsylvania! This is about the Lord! Sometimes, we, as Christians, get so caught up in what all WE do. We can find ourselves caught up in 'adding jewels to our crowns' and by 'doing good deeds' or even 'serving in places that the Lord has called us' but we can easily miss the mark by doing all those things that aren't bad in themselves.

If, in following the Lord's leading and doing what He has called us to do, we miss the fact that none of this is about us in the first place, though, we have missed it! I have found myself hearing people praise our faith journey to Pennsylvania, praised how great Tony is doing and what all is happening at the church 'now that we are here', and doted over how great Chip is or the sanctuary backdrops are, etc. I have also found myself having to step back and check my heart and mind each time I hear these things.

A simple 'thank you' in response to any and all of the sweet things that I have heard, has started to strike a sense of pride or haughtiness in my heart and I am finding myself finding the simple response of 'thank you' to not be appropriate. I have never felt this way before, though. I was always raised to graciously say 'thank you' to a compliment you receive and to be appreciative of others' appreciation of you. Somehow, though, in this season of my life, and certain parts of my heart, this seems to be an incorrect answer to something that seems so insignificant of me, but SOOO significant of the Lord. The spotlight is the Lord's, not ours!!!

I am so overwhelmed at how much the Lord has blessed me through these opportunities, that I can't seem to simply say "thank you" but instead, I find myself responding by saying something along the lines of "thanks - but gosh, how the Lord has been able to work through me to do this! It's not me at all". I can't help but find myself boasting in the Lord to all of my friends back in Alabama and here at how the Lord has just blessed our socks off since we have been here! I want to shout from the mountain tops how amazing of a transformation in our family and my personal life He has done since we have moved here! This, in turn, makes me want to share how obedience in the Lord does put you in a place that you can minister to those that He has called you to minister to, but how much more the Lord blesses you in your obedience!

We are blessed beyond measure that I can't help but find myself understanding, now, what David meant in the 23rd Psalm by saying "My cup runneth over"! What walk or journey has the Lord called you to in your life (seemingly big OR small) that you are considering the significance of? Maybe the Lord is calling you to a place where, yes, you will be able to minister to others and make a huge difference in the life of someone else. Maybe He is asking you to take a step of faith and go on a journey yourself to somewhere that is unknown to you or uncertain to your friends. And don't forget that something or somewhere that is unknown to you can still be in your backyard! It can be a youth ministry volunteer when you don't even have a teenager, a children's ministry volunteer when you have seemingly 'outgrown' children's ministry, music or praise team ministry when you have never even considered singing outside of the shower, or even an out of country mission trip, where you are petrified of being outside the security we find in the USA. The place that the Lord is calling you likely won't "make sense" to you or others, won't always include an easy or comfortable "first step" and won't always be what you want to do. But please don't let that stop you from, not only blessing others and being obedient to the Lord, but from receiving the outpouring of love and blessing that the Lord has for you in the middle of your obedience!!!

Oh how our cup is running over and praise be to God for His blessings and love in our obedience!

Thursday, March 21, 2013

a beautiful woman

Well this past week I made a whirlwind trip to Alabama to bury, not only a friend and mentor, but definitely my 'other mom.' Cathy Wilson and I met in 1999 at Blue Lake Camp on my Chrysalis walk. She and her beautiful husband, Ken, gave a talk on marriage, and I knew then and know today that the Lord crossed our paths on purpose! 'Mom' and I continually were in contact over instant messaging (yes, I am old enough to know what that is and to have used it!), telephone calls, and then once I went to college in Mobile, AL, she became my 'I don't feel good' go-to and my 'can I just come lay on your couch and get a hug from a mom' person!

She was my hero in so many ways and was one who never shied away from her faith, her struggles, her testimony, or her one and true savior - Jesus Christ! She showed me what it was like to love with a love that reflects Jesus, to walk with a confidence in your one and true savior, and to live life and share Christ to all those around you! 'Mom' blessed you with her presence and it was said at the funeral that if you had been in the room with Cathy, that you surely had experienced the presence of the Lord, and no truer fact could there be!

Cathy Wilson taught me and so many others so much about Christ and she showed me, by her life, an example of the life I strive to live. So many tears have been shed over this loss - selfish ones! Loss and grief is such an earthly emotion. She rejoiced last Sunday on the day that she met Jesus and was able to walk in His garden! She has been given a new body that is free of cancer; a body that she can dance totally Undignified with as David did before the Lord! She is even going to be rejoicing on this Easter Sunday as she celebrates the resurrection of the Risen Lord, with the Risen Lord himself!

On this side of heaven, though, is a gap... a missing piece. A conversation that I want to have with her is left unsaid; a hug that I would like to have from her will go undone; a joy in her eyes that could light up an room or make any circumstance seem bearable has been taken away..... for now.

HOWEVER, the life in this is that once again, we will meet again! She will be waiting for all of those she loved and all of us who loved her at the gates of Heaven whether on the day the Lord returns or the day that we meet him through an earthly death.

Cathy Wilson - 'mom' to many, has been renewed in Christ! Fly With Christ, 'Mom'! I love you!

~Becca :)

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

DBS - here we come!

Well, as those of you who have followed our blog, you know that my dad has been in the process of making a really difficult decision. He has had to decide whether or not to have a procedure, called Deep Brain Stiumulation (DBS), or not. Well the decision has been made to move forward with the DBS. "What does this mean, and what exactly is DBS?", you ask. 

Well, I'm so glad you did :) Let me share with you some information about what this procedure is and does and give you a little background information about Dystonia to help understand this procedure, as well.

Dystonia is the third most common movement disorder after essential tremor and Parkinson’s disease. What Dystonia does is it creates and sends chaotic signals into the nervous system (in the brain) and causes the skeletal muscles to contract or spasm involuntarily, causing twisting, repetitive movements as well as abnormal postures. We refer to it within our family as one big, ongoing muscle cramp and it happens to be in my dad's lower body (from about the waist and down). Although Dystonia is generally not life-threatening, it is a chronic disorder that causes varying degrees of disability and pain from mild to severe. Dystonia affects others in all kinds of places, though. From the eyelids (causing constant blinking/eye twitches) to the neck (forcefully pulling your head to one side, down, or back) to the hands (writer's cramp) and even vocal chords (creating strained speech and a sense of your voice being "choked out"), Dystonia can affect anything, everything, anyone and everyone. 
I couldn't resist and got caught! Picture by Jeremy Ramsey.

Treatment may include oral medications, therapeutic botulinum neurotoxin (Botox) injections, and deep brain stimulation, which dad has chosen. Doctors will implant two electrodes deep into his brain. Wires from the electrodes will be snaked under the skin to a pacemaker-like battery packs in his chest. The hardware is activated and settings adjusted by remote control. Impulses from the electrodes suppress the abnormal brain signals that cause the involuntary muscle spasms and postures. And hopefully, a little easier of a life and a little more independence of my dad's will be gained back. The initial process of implanting the electrodes and battery packs and then turning on the electrodes is approximately a 6-8 week process. Once it is turned on, the adjustment period can last from weeks to months to gain the most benefit. All of this is an amazing show of modern medicine and how the Lord has blessed people and physicians with the wisdom and understanding of this process and this solution!

Do you see the extra hand in there?
Chip is with us in this, too!
Picture by Jeremy Ramsey
Please begin NOW praying for the surgeons, nurses, my dad, my mom, my brother, myself and all of our extended family as we begin this journey! We understand and know that the benefits of DBS are neither guaranteed nor immediate but our prayer is that the Lord holds in His hands the wisdom and ability to do anything in His power! I know some incredible people that this has changed their life and we only begin hoping and praying that this, too, will change the life of my dad! Continual updates will be given as we know them and what we know now is that the process for this all begins in May. We have a lot of things to do and experience between now and then and so on this topic, we stop, pray, make people aware and spread the word about this disorder! Please help us spread awareness of this by subscribing to this blog and sharing it with all those you know! The more that is known about this disorder, the quicker and more accurate a diagnosis can be given to those who suffer. There are many physicians that even don't know about or are unaware of a significant portion of this disorder and so share it with everyone! Also, for more information on Dystonia visit www.dystonia-foundation.org or contact me! I have lots of informational pamphlets that I can share and pass out to those who would like to know more!

God bless, keep us in your prayers, and educate yourself and others on this topic!