Wall of Remembrance #3

My Wall of Remembrance brings me great joy because it reminds me every day how He worked in miraculous ways in my life through earnest prayers.  This was one, in particular, that I wasn't sure if it would be answered.  I want absolutely no credit, not even a little, for this.  Salvation is all God and to Him be all the glory.  I am just so thankful that I was entrusted by Him to be able to participate in His work and that He allowed me to see the results.  It is all Him.  I can talk NO ONE into salvation.  I wish that I could, but I have learned that I can't.  

Landon and I met Micah and Gretchen through real estate in 2010.  They called Landon to look at a home, after looking at a few they ended up purchasing the one that we were living in at the time.  We became friends immediately.  Micah was an IU fan!!!  WHAT?!?!  Landon was thrilled to have met someone else in Sparta who shared his enthusiasm for Indiana Basketball.  They were both so kind, loving, and generous to our family.  We ended up getting busy with our own lives but continued to see each other often at the YMCA.  

I had a feeling that Gretchen wasn't a believer.  We hadn't had conversations about it, but when I noticed books on her bookshelves about atheism and such, I began to have that feeling confirmed.  However, there were also many books I recognized that were by Christian authors.  I discovered after talking with Micah's mother that, indeed, she wasn't a believer.  They had talked with her and had been praying for her for years.  

Fast forward to 2014.  I went to a Precept conference in April and one session really spoke to me.  The whole conference was on the book of Colossians.  There were several speakers who took a portion of a chapter and taught through the book.  There was one session that was a completely different topic. Stephanie Kreikemeier taught an hour on discipleship.  She spoke about how discipling others takes effort.  Sometimes it can be inconvenient and will require our time to develop relationships in order to make an impact in other's lives.  She said many other things during that hour that I had never been taught, or perhaps I had never heard them fully.  I prayed at that meeting that God would send me someone that I could minister to and invest in the way she was describing, not as a project or anything, but a way to help someone else draw closer to the Lord.  

Like I said earlier, I saw Gretchen often at the YMCA.  Every time I would see Gretchen, she would ask me to go run with her.  I declined countless times.  Honestly, I hadn't been running consistently and knew that there was no way that I could run with her.  SHE HAD RUN A MARATHON!  She runs ALL THE TIME.  I knew I could barely make it through a 5K...maybe, on a good day.  I was extremely intimidated and always told her no giving a lame excuse why I couldn't go.  Well, she asked me one day in either late April or early May of 2014.  I can't really remember when, but on this day, she asked me to go run with her.  She told me that she would walk whenever and as many times as I needed, so after a moment of panic with a fear of making an absolute fool of myself, I decided that I would go.  She never made me feel like a horrible runner and encouraged me along the way.  

This was the start of a love/hate relationship with Gretchen Grenz.  Everyone needs a Gretchen for a workout partner.  SHE. IS. RELENTLESS.  I am not even joking.  We began running together about four times a week, and if I ever wanted to skip just because I didn't feel like it, she wouldn't have it.  I have had 49 text messages in a row with one word per text telling me to get my butt there and all other types of messages.  It was quite torturous, but wonderful at the same time.  During this time together, we had the opportunity to develop a relationship which was beyond surface level.  I began asking her about what she believed about God and telling her what I believed and why.  I intentionally tried to bring God into a conversation in each run while trying not to cram it down her throat.  She said when she used to see me coming she thought, "Here comes the Bible girl.  She's gonna talk about God."  

Also during this time, she decided to read the Bible for herself because she said if she were going to join a club, she would want to know what it is all about before committing.  She wanted to read the whole Bible for herself before she made a decision.  I thought, "WOW!  There are lots of Christians I know who haven't even done that!"  She began reading and she would ask various questions during our runs.  I also had let her borrow my kid's "What's in the Bible" DVDs which she would listen to and have questions.  I could answer some, and others I would have to get back to her with answers.  This went on for months.  We had lots of great conversations, and she was very open and honest about her rejection and disbelief in God.  She knew what I thought about a person who didn't believe.  We joked often because I didn't want her to run on the outside because if one of us were to get run over by a car, I wanted it to be me because I knew where I was going.  

I very distinctly remember having thoughts and conversations with Landon about how I didn't know if she would ever believe.  I would feel as if she were on the verge and then back off, but I was very impressed that she was reading the Bible so quickly.  She was already in Psalms by this point.  In September, I invited her to go with us to a Beth Moore simulcast.  
She was a little bothered at having the theme of the conference on this picture because she didn't believe.  That night she was grilling me with more questions through text.  I threw up my hands and wanted to throw my phone as well because I was out of answers for her.  I told Landon, "I DON'T KNOW WHAT ELSE TO SAY TO HER!"  It requires an element of faith and that is something that I couldn't do for her.  She texted me that night that she felt like running...like Forrest Gump.  I told her that she can't run from God and He will find her there too.  Little did I know that we were just hours away!  The next morning I was getting ready for church and I got a text message.  She simply said, "Today feels different."  I was in my bedroom and I got down on my knees on the rug face down before the Lord.  I was begging God, "Let this be the day!  Let this be the day!"  This is all that I could pray over and over.

We went to church and she didn't say anything in Sunday School except when some people were talking about a possible mission trip and she wanted to go since it was a Spanish speaking country.  I remember looking at her thinking, "Why would you want to go on a mission trip if you don't believe?"  After Sunday School, but before church started, we were in the auditorium talking.  I was standing with Jamie and Gretchen told us both, "I did it," with a big grin on her face.  I didn't have words.  Jamie said, "I have prayed for you before I even knew you."  It was a beautiful moment that when I replay in my mind I get emotional.  I had to dart out of there.  I went in the back, got down on my knees again and started bawling my eyes out.  I knew Gretchen would make fun of this because she doesn't ever cry.

The salvation of any person is truly a miracle.  This is no other.  Boy, was she stubborn.  :)  It has been the most amazing transformation and she has grown so quickly!  She has such faith that leaves me speechless.  I knew that if she ever came to know the Lord that she would be an amazing witness for Him, and that has been the truth.

We have been good for each other in many ways.  She has finally turned me into a consistent runner.  We still run together and I know I don't want to have her nagging and relentless texts so I just go.  She has taught me so many things and I feel that the Lord sent me her way to be relentless with questions about the Lord.  We both had to overcome a fear and put ourselves out there in spite of ourselves.  I had to just go run even though I was intimidated and made excuses for a long time.  In reality, she truly didn't care how fast I could run.  She didn't mind that I had to walk and never made me feel bad for it.  She was such an encourager and taught me many things about running.  She, too, had to put herself out there on September 14, 2014 and take a scary leap into faith.  I'm so glad we both did!!

Sometimes in the middle of a situation, you can't see what is going on very well.  If you picture life like a film strip, we sometimes get fixated on one little frame of whatever is going on at that moment or season.   That one frame is only one part of a much greater compilation of frames that make up the filmstrip of our lives.  Looking back now, I see how God was working and orchestrated so many details that I would never be able to imagine.  When I dwell on these, I am overwhelmed and just in awe of Him.  I am so thankful to be able to be a part of seeing a life completely changed by faith in Him.  It is truly a joy to see anyone come to know the Lord, but this one is very special to me.

This is a video of her testimony.  It is just amazing!  Watch and be blessed!


Wall of Remembrance #2

I have delayed in writing this down because I knew it would be emotional for me to recall all of the events, but I wanted to share how God revealed Himself to me, my family, and dear friends in a powerful way this summer.  He truly answered many prayers.

This summer, our dear life-long friends, purchased a pontoon boat with hopes of many adventures with friends and family.  We were invited to go out with them for the day in early June.  We had plans that evening to go to Sweet Ila Mae's Barn Sale with friends so we knew we just had a few hours to soak up the sun and enjoy the day together.

We loaded up in the boat and were ready to head out, but we had trouble getting the boat started.  We were floating out near the boat dock for about an hour trying to get it started.  I'm not sure what was wrong with the boat, but the kids were having fun just hanging out with each other.  They eventually jumped in the water and floated around in the meantime.

We were anticipating an upcoming summer Bible Study and the kids had been working on learning a memory verse.  I asked the kids if they knew their verse and they were taking turns reciting Psalm 135:5-6, "For I know that the Lord is great and that our Lord is above all gods.  Whatever the Lord pleases, He does, in heaven and in earth, in the seas and in all deeps."

The boat finally started and we knew we only had a few hours to enjoy the water before we had to head back.  Aiden was anxiously awaiting a chance to try out his new knee board.  Troy thought we should try tubing first since more people could try.

 Chloe fell off. 

Then they tried out the knee board.  Aiden tried it first since he was so excited about it.  Next, Colby tried, but both of them were unsuccessful.  Landon thought he would give it a try before we were going to stop to grill out for lunch.  
While Landon was in the water knee boarding, most of us were in the back seat watching.  Lucas and Aiden were in the front of the boat sitting in a location, which we now know wasn't where they needed to be.  We were all having a good time and watching Landon in the water.  He fell off and Troy turned the boat to go back and get Landon.  When this happened, Aiden fell off the front of the boat.  He went under the boat and was hit by the motor.  One of the kids beside me said, "Aiden's gone!" We turned around and saw him floating in the water.

Moment of terror.  Shock.  Disbelief at what is actually happening.  The only thought I had was, "God, You are in control."

Immediately, Troy jumped in the water.  Julie is hysterical.  Chloe is screaming.  I am hollering at Landon to go to Aiden because I wasn't sure if he knew what had happened.  He begins swimming toward Aiden as well as Troy.

We had just finished a study of 1 Peter a few weeks before and we learned about sheep.  In Scripture, Jesus is referred to as the Good Shepherd and we are His flock.  We looked at characteristics of sheep and how humans are similar.  I know this seems random in the middle of this story, but in that moment, I could completely relate.  One characteristic of sheep is the fact that they need a shepherd to guide them around.  They will sometimes just freeze if there is danger around.  Sometimes they won't even try to run for safety and they will panic and not even cry out.  For me, in this moment, I WAS A SHEEP.  I froze in panic and shock...Julie as well.  Troy, while swimming to Aiden yelled at Julie to call 911.  He yelled at me to blow the whistle for help.

Coming from two directions, both Troy and Landon were swimming toward Aiden.  So much is going on in these moments.  Julie is on the phone, I am blowing the whistle and waving at passing boats to come help, kids are in shock and screaming and crying.  Troy gets to Aiden first and Landon shortly after.  They both yell at me to start the boat and drive it over to them.  uhhhhhh.  I've never done this.  My hands are violently shaking so much I can barely hold on to anything.  I also had another moment of complete panic at the thought that the boat may not start as it had at the beginning of the day.  I was afraid that I was going to flood the motor and not be able to get back at all.  I tried and tried several times.  Landon told Troy to go back to the boat and bring it over.  As Troy was swimming back to the boat, I continued to try to start the boat while blowing the whistle for help.  Colby then told me something to do and, thankfully, it started.  I drove over to Aiden and Landon but was afraid I would run over them.  

Somewhere in this time, Julie hands the phone to Logan to talk to the 911 dispatcher.  Troy gets in the boat and Landon is telling Julie how to help get Aiden into the boat.  Troy begins driving back to the dock where we will meet the paramedics.  Julie and Landon are in the front with Aiden, and I am in the back holding the little ones and talking to the 911 dispatcher.  Troy was asking all the kids to pray for Aiden.  On this ride back, after being asked to pray, I realized that I couldn't pray.  I have never had this type of experience.  It was later that I understood in a new and tangible way the meaning of Romans 8:26-27, "In the same way the Spirit also helps our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we should, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words, and He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He intercedes for the saints according to the will of God."  This was the first time that I had experienced this type of prayer.

Aiden was fully conscious during this time, which gave me comfort.  He was writhing in pain and Landon and Julie were both applying pressure to wounds.  Aiden was yelling at Landon to stop because he said he couldn't breathe.   Then I began to panic again.  The ride back to the dock seemed like an eternity.  As soon as we arrived were in view of the dock, Troy was asking where was the ambulance.  I then had another moment of panic that I might tell the dispatcher the wrong dock causing more time to be wasted.  Thankfully, we saw the ambulance soon after before we made it to the dock.

I jumped out to run up to the paramedics.  As soon as he came down, he looked at Aiden briefly and twirled his finger in the air signaling the other paramedic to call for a helicopter.  They had a little difficulty getting him transported out of the boat and up the ramp.  Landon asked for help of another man who just happened to be there getting out of his boat.

Aiden had suffered from severe and life-threatening injuries.  He had a skull fracture, his spinal membrane had a tear, his ear was almost completely severed, his jawbone was broken in several places, he had a puncture below his chin up to his tongue, he lost three teeth, his jugular was cut, he had a cut on his hand between his two fingers which should have cut off both fingers, a severed sternum which nicked both lungs, and lacerated liver and spleen.

While they were taking Aiden to the ambulance, I gathered all of our things from the boat and we were trying to figure out what to do next.  Landon stayed with the kids until someone could come and get them all.  Julie and I dashed off to the van to head to the hospital while Troy went with Aiden to the helicopter.  I had sent out a group text with just a few people asking for prayer.  The news circulated quickly and we began to get flooded with phone calls and texts.  It is in times such as this when you realize that many people care and are genuinely concerned.

On the way to Erlanger, Julie was hysterical as any mother would be.  She said, "I don't even know what to pray!"  I thought to myself, "ME EITHER," but I gave a stern talk to myself and said, "GET YOURSELF TOGETHER AND PRAY FOR YOUR FRIEND!  She needs you right now!"  So I told her I would pray for her (with my eyes open, of course, since I was driving).  I prayed almost the whole way down the Smithville Highway trying to quote some Scripture that I could recall.  I prayed Romans 8:28, "For we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose."  By the time we got a little past the crossroads, I can't fully explain what I felt.  I had this incredible sense of peace that flooded me from my head to my feet.  I had an absolute peace and assurance that Aiden was going to be ok.  I know that is easy to say now looking back, but I told Julie about it in that moment.  I looked at her confidently and said, "Julie, Aiden is going to be alright.  I feel an absolute peace about it."  Honestly, it couldn't have been clearer if it were audible to me.  Once again, it was Scripture that came alive to me like never before.  Philippians 4:6-7, "Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.  And the PEACE of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus."  This is exactly what happened.  I was anxious and prayed, and He flooded me with peace which surpasses all comprehension.

I really felt this peace the entire way there with one exception.  There was a moment of panic when I felt like Peter did when he took his eyes off Jesus and began to sink.  We were going through the curvy rock cut section and I looked up and saw the helicopter flying over us in the sky.  It was a surreal moment to look up and know exactly who is in that helicopter and why they are there.  I felt completely helpless.

We got to the hospital and Julie said, "I can't believe I'm here."  It's never a place a mother wants to be, dashing into a hospital after an accident with uncertainty of the outcome.  She was met at the door by policemen and she thought they were going to tell her that he didn't survive the trip.  They told her otherwise and immediately whisked her down the hallway and were filling her in on the details while I was parking.  They prepared her that Aiden was sedated and what he would look like when they were taking him to surgery.  She was only going to get to give him a kiss as he was being rolled to surgery.  They took us both to a room to explain all the details of his injuries and what they were doing in surgery.  They were first dealing with trauma issues since his lungs and jugular were the most pressing concerns.  Once those things were stable, they did a full scan to make sure they hadn't missed anything else internally.  Then he went to plastic surgery for his jaw which took several hours.

He made a miraculous recovery.  He got out of the hospital one week after the accident.  He continually amazed the doctors and nurses with his recovery.  I do not understand why things happen, and this is certainly no different.  It was incredibly difficult to watch a child you have known since birth to be allowed to suffer such massive wounds, but I know that God is in control of all things and He had a divine purpose for this accident.  His hand of protection, mercy, and grace was there through the entire situation.  Some who doubt there is a God can credit the doctors for it all but here are a few things I say otherwise:

1.  It was God's hand of protection that allowed this to happen while other adults were with them.  If this had happened with just the two of them, I'm not sure how they could have gotten him out of the water, on the boat, held down, as well as applying pressure where needed.

2.  Landon had just completed a triathlon and was in the best swimming shape of his life.  Aiden needed a strong swimmer at that moment and God ordained it all together perfectly.

3.  I have been told by several people that cell service on the lake was a miracle since it is spotty.  We never lost service while on the phone with the dispatcher.

4.  Aiden's injuries were no doubt by the grace of God.   If any of them had been just millimeters more or in a different direction, there would have been a different outcome.  I am not sure how he didn't bleed out his jugular.  It takes about five minutes to bleed out.  If the injury on the base of the brain had been just slightly in a different direction, he could have suffered brain injuries.  If his laceration on his chest had been slightly deeper, his heart would have been hit.  The teeth he lost were only baby teeth and they were upper an lower on top of each other.  This was significant during the time because when his jaws were wired shut he had a perfect hole for the straw to fit through.

5.  Not all emergency helicopters have blood plasma but Life Force does.  There are only five Life Force bases in Tennessee and one happens to be in Sparta.

6.  There was an upwind and they made it to the hospital in 18 minutes rather than 22 minutes.

Of course doctors and medical staff played a very important role in Aiden's recovery as well, but I give God all the credit.  He revealed Himself to us all in a mighty way through the entire process.  Psalm 135:5-6, "For I know that the Lord is great and that our Lord is above all gods.  Whatever the Lord pleases, He does, in heaven and in earth, in the seas and in all deeps."  He was certainly there in the seas that day and He did what He pleased.  It was as if the Lord took Aiden as close to death as He possibly could and then slingshot him back quickly and completely.  Many times while we are in church on Sunday evenings, when I hear Aiden singing praises to the Lord, I am overcome.  Undone.  We are thankful, and I give Him all praise.


Spring Sports 2015

Logan moved up a league this year.  He was on Sonic's team, which is an awesome team to be on!  They provide free food for wins!  

Many nights were miserably cold!

 Logan's fan club.  We are thankful for supportive family:)

Lane's pics...he spends lots of time in a gym or at a field.  He grabbed my phone and took lots of pictures.  They made me laugh!
 I like this one!  :)

Lucas loves soccer!  He has to go to lots of baseball games with Logan and he asked why he couldn't have more soccer games.  It is a much shorter season than baseball for sure!  I enjoy watching this little guy play!  


Spring Co-op 2015

This was my last year of being in charge of co-op.  I felt it was time for me to let go of some responsibilities.  Thankfully others have stepped up to take it over so the program will continue.  We have enjoyed the activities and interaction with other homeschool families.