The Planting

IMG_9788

 

It was St. Patrick’s Day when the kids planted their seeds in the garden.

The boys were in the garden digging and digging and picking up worms and mounding up the soil, getting it ready for the planting. It is amazing to me how much effort is taken to actually get to the point where the soil is ready to be filled in with seed.

We now have three strips of garden beds in our backyard, where last year we only had two. Last summer, Jason covered over the grass of the soon-to-be row with newspaper and dried leaves and grass to prep the ground to be a new garden bed. The newspaper looked odd and out of place beside the other two garden beds which were vibrant with growth. It looked ugly and the newspaper would blow off around our yard, but my husband, the gardener, would gather the newspaper and spray them down with water and keep adding to the desolate garden bed. The idea was that in the decomposing of the paper and the leaves and grass, the ground underneath would be made soft and we might  even not have to rent a tiller to break up the ground.

That is exactly what happened. Now in March, after six months of continuing to prep the ground, the boys started digging in the garden bed and discovered rich, dark earth underneath the newspaper. They showed Jason the earth they had discovered under there and he decided that the tiller was not needed.

IMG_9762So they dug it all up and covered the watering hose and mounded it up and were then ready to plant the seeds. Finally.

I went looking for Addie because each of the kids had a plot of the new strip with seeds they had each chosen to go in the ground. It was time to plant and I wondered why my daughter was not out there in all of the action.

I found her in her room copying Bible verses.

IMG_9763

IMG_9765

“What are you doing sweetie?” I had asked her.

“Oh, I’m copying verses to go hand out around our neighborhood.” She had about twenty pages from a little notebook filled with verses.

My heart filled with great joy. That very morning I had gone out walking, praying that God would give our family boldness in sharing the good news of Jesus with those who do not know him.

“I’ll go with you!” I volunteered. I would definitely support this effort to take the Word of God around to our neighbors.

I looked at my little missionary and said, “But first, there is a strip of ground that is all ready for you to plant some seeds.”

IMG_9774

IMG_9778

 

After the planting and after lunch, Jason laid his hands on Addie and I and commissioned us as we went out with seed of our own to sow around the neighborhood.

IMG_9775

 

Maybe, just maybe some of that seed will have fallen on fertile ground.

When Jesus Prays for You

Jesus-Picture-Praying-On-The-Mountain

It is lent and I wake up dry as old bone.

My alarm went off at 5:30, but I shut it off and rolled over. It’s now 7:30 and the kids are awake and my youngest comes into the room, desperately hungry. So I get up slowly and try to gear up for a day of serving my family and teaching my children, but I realize as I look at myself in the mirror that I have nothing to give anyone today.

The one thing I want is the thing I forfeited when I decided to sleep in this morning. I want time alone with Jesus. I need time alone with him today. Because my heart doesn’t seem to be working right. I’m needy and I have been for a while. And now, with the recent news I received of my loved one (the kind I can’t share details about) I’m in angst and my sadness and anger dodge and twist within me.

I’m faithless today. And along with that, I’m joyless.

But it is an absolutely gorgeous day today. Spring seems to have broken through. The birds are rejoicing outside and the blinds spill golden light into my bedroom.

I walk out into the living room and my boys have opened up the blinds already and Jeremiah smiles proud and shows me the table he has set for breakfast all by himself. Thaddaeus hops up and down expectantly as I survey everything. They are full of springtime.

So I make them breakfast and they eat and then Addie comes down and she eats. Then I make breakfast for Jason and I as my husband comes in to help me and I can’t stay inside, so we eat outside. And the warmth of the sun and the cool, fresh breeze and the garden beds prepped and ready for seed and the smell and the sounds of new life, all of this begins to awaken something deep within me.

We gather the kids outside for morning devotions as Jason pours us each a glass of home-brewed ginger ale. I pass the Bible over to him and ask him to read, for I need to hear it this morning.

I close my eyes and Jason reads John chapter 17. It is Jesus’ prayer for himself and his disciples and for those who would believe in him in the generations to come. It is his prayer for me. These are Jesus’ last words to his friends before he is betrayed into the hands of evil men and condemned to die on a cross for the sins of the world. For my sins. These were the last words recorded by John, Jesus’ beloved friend. And as Jason begins to read and the kids sip ginger ale, I am overcome with the intimacy of this recorded prayer for all who would believe in Jesus.

Jesus was praying over me. With hands outstretched and eyes looking to the heavens, he prayed all those years ago thinking about me. He prayed protection and unity and holiness and mission and nearness and love. But what really got me was verse 13. “I say these things while I am still in the world, so that they may have the full measure of my joy within them.”

A tear slips down my cheek as I inhale the meaning of these words. Jesus wants me to have joy. Even now. Even though all is not as it should be. Even though those I love are hurting greatly. Hadn’t he just said it in John 16? “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”

Jason finishes the chapter and we all sit in silence in the golden morning. Addie says that devotions should as well be over because when Jesus prays for you, that’s about as good as it gets.

“Thank you, babe,” I whisper to my husband. “I so needed that.”

The kids skip away to play, taking advantage of the fact that I am in no hurry to start the homeschool day just yet. I sit in the sun and let myself come alive at the reality that Jesus offers me full joy today. And all I have to do is receive it. He doesn’t force himself on me, but lets me choose if I will allow myself to be loved today or not.

Today I choose to receive.

My Journey with Celiac Disease

IMG_4562

I can still remember the urgency in which my midwife, Hillary, pleaded with me.

“There is something wrong. With all of the supplements and pills you are on, there is some reason your body is not absorbing the iron that it needs. You must see a doctor and get to the bottom of this!”

That was five years ago today. The very day after my youngest, Thaddaeus Joseph, was born.

I had been somewhat anemic for a while. I remember being turned down in college to give blood because my hemoglobin was too low. At that point I didn’t really mind being relieved of the blood-letting. But throughout college and even into my married life I remember having episodes of having to sit down on the shower floor because it felt like I was about to pass out. Having babies was when the anemia kicked in full gear. I was put on an iron supplement in the middle of my pregnancy with Addie, but because I was delivering at the hospital, my doctor was not so much concerned about low iron. Jeremiah’s birth was a different story because we decided to go the home birth route. However, HIllary had me on so many supplements, including blackstrap molasses and chlorophyll and floradix and liver, that my iron levels improved slightly and I was able to safely deliver Jeremiah at home. When Thaddaeus came around, I immediately started with the iron supplements and kicked it into high gear at the very end because my levels continued to drop. Hillary delivered a shot of pitocin right after Thadd was born in order to help my uterus to contract and to prevent hemorrhaging. And the Lord enabled me to deliver a healthy baby boy at home. But I knew that there was something wrong with me.

My midwife gave me the name of a family doctor who practiced naturopathy up in McKinney, TX. Dr. Chartrand. I made a visit to see him and thus began about a three month journey of trying different supplements with my iron levels continuing to drop. I remember Dr. Chartrand looking at me one day and saying, “Your iron level is about that of an eighty-year-old woman. It is amazing to me that you are still standing up.”

And so I began my own research, which led me to some forgotten website that listed off different symptoms of an autoimmune disease called Celiac Disease. The common symptoms were digestive, but “unexplained iron deficiency” was on the list. So as soon as I met again with Dr. Chartrand, I asked him to do a Celiac screen and that very day he tested me.

I remember being down in Houston visiting my in-laws when I received the call from Dr. Chartrand telling me that the results had come in from the test and yes, I had tested positive for Celiac Disease. So, he told me, allI I had to do now was completely avoid gluten. FOR THE REST OF MY LIFE!

The weight of that sentence hung about me like an iron skillet. I had no idea what gluten really was, and what in the world did or didn’t have it in it. But my very first reaction to the news I received that day completely took me off-guard. I responded with thanksgiving. I remember being outside of my sister-in-law, Jen’s house in the early Spring of Texas, the birds busy about me, the live oak trees growing in their new leaves, and I remember breathing in life and audibly praising God that a diagnosis had been found. It would change my life forever, but it was like God had clearly written the next step in my journey. Go gluten free. And I had to walk in obedience to this very difficult discipline.

I cannot say enough about the incredible support my family and friends were to me as we all scrambled to learn all we could about what kinds of food I could and couldn’t eat and O how wondrously so many went out of their way to prepare food for me and make sure things were not cross-contaminated. Jason, most of all, proved to be my biggest support and endless source of research and inspiration as we changed our lives to accommodate to this new diet. He is an indescribable gift to me.

Six months into the diet, my iron levels were higher than normal. “You are cured,” my doctor told me as there was no reason for me to see him again. And so I have been walking gluten free for almost five years now. It has been challenging, but time has carved the rut of daily routine into an almost easy gluten free road.

But now, as is the case in many things, the road is changing again and the path is not as clear cut. Jason and I have just recently been researching the paleo diet and the benefits specifically for those with autoimmune diseases. I resisted this change initially. There’s nothing wrong with me! But all I have to do is look at pictures of me five years ago and compare them to recent photos. I may not be as pale as I used to be, but I am skinnier. Obviously skinnier. And not the kind of skinny people are jealous of. The kind of skinny that people make comments like, “I would hug you, but I would probably break you,” or “When it rains, you don’t get wet, do you?”

So, after painfully coming to terms with my own low body weight and the probability that my gut is not absorbing all the nutrients that it needs because of other dietary factors, I have decided to adopt the paleo diet. SIGH. I so didn’t want to go here! But the more reading I do, the more convinced I am that it is the diet for me. So, I believe that this is another of God’s markers pointing me down another similar and yet difficult road. Not according to my plans. My plans this year were about writing and fostering, not cooking!

But again, I am reminded that it is not my plans, but His that are worth submitting to. Proverbs 16:9 “We can make our plans, but the LORD determines our steps.” This is the story of my life. And it has proven to be even better than any plan I have ever made for myself, every single time.

So here goes: one foot in front of the other, cutting down a path one step at a time.