Monday, May 19, 2008
I lost a friend, gained a few and finally figured out what is really important in my life. All that I want to accomplish day to day is God's work. Everything else can fall away. I want to let God use me in everything that I do each day. I want the light of God to greet others as I walk the path he has laid out for me from dawn till dusk. I don't know what that might look like in your life. In mine, it means loving my children, loving my husband, loving my students, friends and family. That's all. If I focus on those things everything else will be ok. If I want to be joyful I have to be willing to seek out the joy. Today I am praying that God continue to use me and teach me. This month, he has. I praise him and thank him for his mercy and grace. Some big things are coming up this month for me............
May 28th is my Stoney Musical Theatre Recital (saying goodbye to my Seniors is always so hard)
May 31st is the Oxford Relay for Life - GO TEAM LAURA!
June 2nd is the Legally Blonde Premier on MTV - GO LAUREN!
June 14th is my first ever SPA Company Recitals!
End of June is NATIONALS in Florida with my students and family!
I hope whatever the highlights of your month look like that you make God the focus and reason. For his glory.
In his never ending love,
Thursday, April 17, 2008
Friday, April 4, 2008
Monday, March 31, 2008
Thursday, March 20, 2008
I will NEVER forget Laura or her amazing faith and courage.
I know she is singing and dancing with her Lord today!
I made a relay for life team in honor of Laura. Donate to this amazing cause! PLEASE!
Go TEAM LAURA!
Here is an amazing story that her husband Jason wrote about her and their love in this trial. http://www.theoaklandpress.com/stories/032008/loc_20080320355.shtml
I proposed to Lori some warm Wednesday evening, not sure of the date. She’s good at remembering things like that, as are most women. Our church at the time called her to help teach a high-school class that night. Lori didn’t have a curriculum and she was concerned about that, but they told her that it was ok and they’d make due, they just needed the help. She arrived at the church and all the kids were in the auditorium waiting for the class to begin. The topic was something around “what it was like to be a knight during the crusades” and they showed a Christian music video that had a knight in it. At that point she was wishing I was there, as I’ve always been fascinated by the medieval times. After the video, the youth pastor said that they have a special surprise for everyone and they exited the building to the front lawn. Someone dressed up as a knight, in armor, was trotting around the front lawn on a horse. The horse made a couple circles and then a handler came up and held the reigns. Lori really thought this was awesome that the church went to such lengths to get the kids interested. The knight dismounted and walked through the crowd. The kids parted like the red sea. Lori started to look nervous as he made his way to her. Needless to say, the armor was clanking a little extra that day, not just by the walk but by the bundle of nerves that was inside. He grabbed her hand and crouched down on one knee. She was shaking now too. I opened my visor and she lost it. I could barely get the words out “Will you marry me?”. From that point on, I’ve done my best to show her that I love her. I can’t tell you it’s been perfect…we’ve had our moments. But we are best friends and all is forgiven in time. Since then, we’ve been blessed with two beautiful children, a house in the suburbs and all we’ve ever needed. Again, I can’t tell you it’s been perfect. But the outcome has always been the same. We’ve stuck together and God has seen us through it.
Two years ago I, like many have been, found myself laid-off. On my birthday no less – balloons tied to my chair and empty box on my desk. A month after my son was born. I spent eight hours a day and seven days a week looking for a job. I had to find something quick because I had a three year old daughter and a newborn. There was nothing for one whole month. I was desperate, but faithful to my education and that narrowed my search even farther. I asked Lori if she remembered the name of a place in Pontiac that I had interviewed at several years back. She couldn’t recall and I couldn’t find it in the yellow pages. That very next day I received a creative magazine in the mail that had a section in it where companies could have a little P.R. by telling who’ve they recently hired and for what position. That company that I was looking for had changed their name, but stayed in Pontiac. So, I gave it a shot. I cold-called my resume and emailed it to the owner. Not two minutes later, I received a phone call from the owner and he was inquiring about my portfolio. I gave him the web-address and he called back about fifteen minutes later. He wanted to set up an interview either that day or the next. I asked him “how about today?” to which he quickly responded “how about 2:30pm?”. It was the best interview I’ve ever been on. I was sure that I got the job. The owner called me about ten minutes to nine that night with an offer. While at my new job, I’ve been privileged to meet some wonderful caring people. You’re probably asking yourself if this is going somewhere and I promise that this is important. My art director invited us to his church because he knew we were looking for a church that was a bit closer to home, one that we can get involved in helping others and raising our children in a loving church home. It took a few tries at a couple others to actually visit his church, but once we did we knew it was right. We were getting right with our head and our hearts. Our strengthened faith and church helped us through some trying times.
Shortly after the birth of my son, Lori noticed a lump in her left breast. She figured it was just hardened ducts that commonly occur after breast feeding. That was, until she noticed a lump under her arm. We made a quick decision to get it tested. I confided in my creative director, that Lori found a lump and needs to get tested. He told me to have a talk with the co-owner of the company that I was working for, as he knew of someone that could help. The next day, Friday, I mentioned the suspicious lump that my wife found to the co-owner. He said that he’d call his buddy to see if he could arrange something. On Monday, we received a call from someone at Karmanos saying that we had an appointment. We met with the doctor and after a few visits and tests, the suspicions were confirmed. Lori had cancer. It was under her arm affecting her lymph nodes too. Because of the type of cancer, she was considered to be in stage III. It took a minute of shock and disbelief before I grabbed Lori’s hand. Tears welled in her eyes and she instantly thought of our kids. I told her that we’ll fight and God will see us through. Her faced hardened and she looked like she could take on the world. She was empowered and we were going to let everyone know that we were going to make it.
The doctor chose the best course of action for Lori. Chemo first, followed by surgery and then radiation. The chemo was administered every week in lower doses for months. It was nice to have a great church, family and friends to help watch the kids every Friday as she would make her one hour trek to get her treatments. The results were astounding. The doctor was amazed with the response that the drugs had on the tumors that Lori had. They shrunk considerably…enough that the mastectomy was now a lumpectomy. The surgery on her breast and lymph nodes went well. They discovered that Lori had two types of cancer and that they found three active cells during the surgery, but they got them by a wide margin. They were going to blast the areas with radiation and that would take care of anything that remained. Lori drove everyday to Flint to get her radiation. After six weeks, we were very excited to finally be done with it all…or so we thought.
Lori developed a dry cough. It seems to me like it was days after her last radiation treatment. I encouraged her to go the doctor. Her family physician felt like it was bronchitis and put her on steroids and an antibiotic to clear it up. She took the entire dosage for the time frame given and her cough wasn’t responding. By this time, the cough had turned into shortness of breath. I was at work when she called to tell me that the clinic she was at was taking her by ambulance to Karmanos. My employer told me to go and not worry about work. When I got there, Lori was pale and hooked up to some tubes supplying her oxygen. She was in the E.R. first and then transferred to I.C.U. 6. The scans showed that she had lesions in her lungs and that was causing a build up of fluid around them. The doctors first thought that it was something that typically happens after radiation – some kind of irritation. They drained one liter of fluid around one lung and it would take a couple days to get it analyzed. The removal of fluid helped Lori breath a bit better, but she was still pretty weak. The results came back from the fluid and a catscan. She had breast cancer around her lungs. I asked the doctors to check Lori’s brain for cancer too. I asked them to do this because I had researched “lung lesions after radiation” on google and found a similar story to Lori’s. The M.R.I. results did show that Lori has cancer somewhere in her frontal lobe. Over the course of two weeks, Lori has been moved from I.C.U. 6 to an intermediate I.C.U. 8 and then to Karmanos medium care. I was at home visiting with our two young children, now a five year-old and a two year-old when I received a phone call from the doctor. She wanted to tell me first what we’re dealing with. Lori is stage IV metastatic. Which means there is nothing they can do other than treat the symptoms. They can’t stop it. I was given a time frame of six to nine months if her body responds to the chemo – couple of weeks if not. I was hyperventilating. Luckily, my brother and his wife were at the house and stayed to watch a movie with myself and my two children. My kids were napping when I was in hysterics. My world was collapsing. How was I supposed to be a single father? How am I supposed to explain this to our children? Those and a million other scenarios played out in my head. During my shock, I asked my brother to find me a suit of armor.
I have spent weeks in the hospital with Lori. I watch her sleep. I watch her breaths. I watch her chest rise and fall. I pray without ceasing. I sleep on uncomfortable little, unfolding chairs and couches. I love her and I miss those days when I get up in the morning to go to work and kiss my family goodbye. I miss the long hours at work. I miss Lori complaining about it. Lori is being prayed for by thousands of people now across the globe. One night I prayed and prayed and prayed. I prayed myself to sleep. I awoke to every little noise in that hospital and continued my prayer. The following night, I feel like God spoke to my heart. It felt like sand was in my eyes when I tried to shut them. I opened up Lori’s bible and found a couple of notes that she had stuffed away in it years prior. One note was from one of her employers that wanted to share her faith and thankfulness to everyone in the office. It said that “Sometimes things happen that we don’t like or quite don’t understand but we have to know that everything has a purpose. God is the healer and he heals everything. We just have to be patient and wait on Him.” I was feeling better. I wanted to know a bit more about heaven and I opened the index in the back of her bible. The third reference in under heaven read something like “knowing God is more important than learning about heaven”. I quickly shut the index and randomly opened to James 1. It talks about perseverance during trials and tribulations. A man will gain wisdom if he asks and believes but does not doubt. I was comforted. I asked for God to heal Lori and eliminated doubt from the equation. I fell asleep. The next day, the doctor came in to talk to Lori. The prognosis is that the cancer is not responding to the chemo. They can’t use any more of the original chemo that was used during the early stages of the breast cancer because of damage to her heart. Lori is allergic to one chemo drug and her platelets are down. If her platelets are too low, they can’t try the next class of chemo and will make arrangements for Lori to go home. They are going to check on Monday. Lori is so strong. She asked the hard question “how long?” and I watched her beautiful blue eyes swell. I hugged her head as she is completely bedridden and gets winded even lifting her arms. I watched her face come from a liquid to a solid as I told her miracles happen everyday and we have to wait on God.
All the while that I’ve been there at the hospital, I have had to help her use the commode, clean up her vomit, wash every nook and cranny of her – basically everything that would cause the loss of dignity of a person. But I don’t care. I wanted her to know that I don’t care. I want the world to know that I don’t care. I want the world to know that I love her and I’d do it all over again and again. This past Saturday, my brother came through with the armor. I invited family, friends and all of the nurses in Karmanos floor 8 to watch. They got her into a wheel chair and paraded her down the hallway. I came out of the guest courtesy room and marched down the hallway. I clanked and was nervous the whole way down. I brought her a single red rose and her wedding ring. She hasn’t been able to wear it for weeks. I dropped to one knee and asked her “will you marry me?”. For once floor 8 was silent. She was breathing heavy and had to pace her breath just to get a “yes” out. Everyone clapped and cheered. I paraded her down the hallway – one lap around the floor, all the while I held her hand. My son carried the rose out in front of himself like a baton and my daughter held my other hand as it made her feel like a princess. It was a beautiful day. Monday is here now. I decided to let Lori’s mom stay with her alone overnight and I am home with our children. I am going to watch them sleep. I am going to watch their breaths. I am going to watch their chest rise and fall. I am going to pray without ceasing and wait on God.
Monday, March 17, 2008
Today was a day of confirmation. Today was a day when God says; You go on with your self girl! A day where even in my daily struggles I found joy. Even in bathroom mess and dirty laundry I am smiling. I am happy to be alive. I am happy to do what I love.
I am happy to have an amazing husband and two beautiful children. Our God is SO good, he is SO good to me. I could go on and on and on. As we go into Good Friday and Easter I want to sit still and know that Jesus died for the life I am living today and the life God has waiting for us with him in heaven. What we do from now till then is up to us. I plan to ROCK it till he calls me home!
I waited patiently for the Lord; he turned to me and heard my cry. He lifted, me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; he set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand. He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God. Many will see and fear and put their trust in the Lord.
Sunday, March 9, 2008
Right now this situation seems hopeless. Young, beautiful mom, aggressive cancer it seems like nothing can be done other than a miracle. It isn't fair. Why would God allow this strong Christian woman to suffer like this? I can't even begin to understand. My brain and heart are numb right now. I am one to pray for God's will but in this case his will might seem cruel and devastating to all that love this woman. How could God take her from a loving husband and young children? I won't allow myself to lose faith or give up hope. I believe Christ came to be hope for the hopeless and a savior to rescue for those in need. I won't for a second think that God can't work a miracle here. In this disease, this pain, this hopelessness only now in these desperate moments can God work and show us the greatness of his mercy, grace and healing. Last night I prayed with friends about this dire situation. After the prayer I was filled with hope.I was almost joyful. I felt like we had brought this to God in a way we as a group of friends hadn't ever before. We prayed with our whole and open hearts. We cried out to the Lord to comfort our dear sister. Dear Lord, I pray that you use all of us to witness your greatness. I pray that you will open my eyes and my ears so I can find a way to minister to this family and to my friends at this time. I refuse to give up hope. I won't sway in my faith. I will cling to the promise of Jesus Christ. I will cling to his love and the hope that it brings. That only he brings. If ever there was a woman that was worthy of a miracle it is Laura. Can one be worthy of a miracle? I don't know but I do know she isn't just an example of faith, she is a pillar of faith. May God lift her up and heal her with a mighty miracle that rocks both believers and unbelievers alike. I await with bold expectation that God will hear my cry. Only our God is an awesome God, only he is the giver of hope. Only our mighty and everlasting God can hear the cries of his daughters and comfort them giving us his peace. I will lean on this hope even when it seems so very hopeless, for with Christ we always have hope. I life my eyes up to the hills where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord the maker of heaven and earth!
Reading: Psalm 121
Thursday, March 6, 2008
I realized today I have a reusable bag problem. I love them. I often forget them in the car and then buy more. If I do remember them but the store I am in has new ones or cooler ones then the ones I have brought in. I buy more. At this point I have well over 100. This may become a serious problem.
Tyler Perry is awesome. If you haven't seen one of his movies you should be jailed for it. Rent one. Really, if you do anything I say do this. They are awesome. The DVDs of his plays are my very favorite. There is no one else doing anything like what he is doing. I think he rocks.
I think that organic and natural foods and supplements should be cheaper. Or we should get a tax break or something. Doing the CFGF and Feingold is killing us. Why can't the good stuff be cheap? Or at least reasonable?
I love the new Beth Moore study I'm doing. If you are a woman and you haven't done a Beth Moore study you are missing out! Really, get into one.
I can't stop thinking about Lauren! I know in my heart this must be the hardest thing she has ever done. I am so proud of her. I wish so badly I could be with her to give her a pep talk. Go Lauren Go! Don't forget you have a huge cheer leading team that is praying you up and sending you good thoughts. I can't wait to hear all the stories and what you learned. I hope you got some good use out of those cute pink jazz shoes.
Ok, last thought. (I warned you that my brain isn't focused) I wish I was better at math, science and nutrition so I could better help my kids. I feel like I need a masters degree to figure out all the supplements and what is the best for them nutritionally. It is so darn hard! I do feel like I have grown so much as a mother in this process. Focus on the important. Pray. Pray more.
Oh and one more thing. I have to get my butt back into the gym. If you are reading this and you see me ask me when I am going. I really need to get moving. Like yesterday! If I don't spend time on me everyone will suffer.
What have you done for you today?
Tuesday, February 26, 2008
Thursday, February 21, 2008
One of my dearest students is having the worst week of her life losing her best friend, her grandfather. My heart is breaking for her. This loss will change her. Another student is having one of most exciting weeks of her life. She is about to start a journey that I just know is going to bring blessing upon blessing for her. This is the start of great things for her. One of my very best friends is suffering from a tragic loss yesterday. She is in pain and I want to help her. I'm trying to figure out how.
As I was running out the door this morning thinking about all of these things good and bad I actually put my hand on the door knob stopped and then turned around walked back into the house and got down on my knees and prayed. I prayed so hard for these three young women and my son. I PRAYED! I thought my mind could just take over for these situations but God reminded me that if I don't give these situations to him he can't take over. I have to give to get. I have to talk to be able to listen. I have to reach out to him. So, today I did. I have a peace and a comfort that I am so thankful for. I have a song in my heart that is of praise for a God that is in control even when we think we have it all covered and all figured out as well as when we have no clue and are blind and lost.
Today take time to talk to God about who and what is on your heart.
I promise that you won't be disappointed that you did.
You may be running a bit late for work and not have time to grab a coffee, but God will work that out for you too.
Tuesday, February 19, 2008
Sunday, February 17, 2008
I believe every mom should read this book. It is the most important book I have ever read. I wish I had it five years ago. I am thankful to have it now. It was recommended by Ryan's new doctor and it has BEEN HUGE for us. HUGE! A year ago if someone had posted this or told me about it I would not of thought I needed to read it. Today, because of my life the past 6 months I really feel the urge to educate about toxins, chemicals and pollutants that I feel are changing our children at a rapid rate. 1 in 94 boys! HELLO! This book explains all the different factors and changes we can make to better our lives and the lives of our children. I cannot express to you how important this information is for every parent. You REALLY, REALLY need this book if you know a child with Autism, ADHD, Tourette's, Asperger's etc. Trust me: you know one!
You can only get it here: http://www.nourishinghope.com/
I feel at my core that Jesus is bringing some very special people home to him. It makes me feel so thankful for all the family and friends that I have with me. Love them! Love them like Jesus! Never take a second for granted. Don't let the sunset on your anger. Life is too short. Hug someone today. Never take a day that God gives you and decide that you are not important enough to make a difference in someone's life. You can. You will.
In Memory of Mom Sweetapple who would have been 59 years old today. We miss you every day Mom! Grandma Creech, Grandparents of Emma, Katie, Kate, Devin, Gina, Morgan. Francie's husband father to Kuba and Joslyn, and so many other people special and deeply loved. I pray they are dancing with Jesus.
On a happy note: Here is the newest picture of my family. I hope we will leave a legacy of love and lives lived for Christ. (Yes, that is snow and no we don't have coats on)
Even more then that I won't let the people I love be less then who they are in Christ. I will encourage those in my daily life to live to the fullest in joy!
Prayer: Beautiful Savior,
Can you hear the cries of your daughter for all off your beautiful children in my life.
Lord may you use all of my past; good and bad, right or wrong to help others.
Father, I lay my life to you. Use me. I want your Spirit to shine through me and wash over others in a way that brings comfort, love and peace that only comes with life in you.
Lord I am so thankful for my life. I am so blessed you call me yours.
In Jesus name.
Sunday, February 10, 2008
It will be better for you to let him move you, use you, teach you and guide you. God always wants what is best for you. God always knows more then you. God always is there to help you.
The WORST times of my whole life have been trying to do it better then God or thinking I didn't need God when I really, really did. In fact,you always need God. God has time for you. You are special to God.
Gosh, I sound really serious about this don't I? I guess it is because it is so hard for me to see people not let God into a situation that so badly needs him.
Let God in! (going off not to listen to my own advice) This is my lesson today. Maybe it is yours as well?
Prayer: God please search my heart. Please tell me where I need to seek you. Dear God where am I not meeting you, seeking you? Is there so part of me that wants the control, the power? God please help me to let only you guide my feet and my path. I will search Your Word for wisdom. I will fix my eyes on you. In my weakness you are strong. In my strength you are glorified. Thank you JESUS! Amen.
Saturday, February 9, 2008
Friday, February 8, 2008
She got another audition call in Chicago a few weeks back. I had a great feeling about it. I prayed every day. God, let this be her big break. It killed me this week when she started to doubt herself. She told me that she didn't think she was going to get a call. Wednesday I had a dream that she was going to get one. It was one of those dreams where I can see, feel and touch everything like it is real. Today at 4:57 pm she called me to tell me that MTV had called her to say that out of the 8,000 girls that auditioned at cities all around the USA she had made the top 20 and that they wanted her to come to New York to be on a show to find Broadways new up and coming young star! To be honest these are the kind of moments in my life that make all the little stuff seem so little. These are the days when I thank God that I'm a teacher. It made me think of our first lessons. It also made me think about my student a few weeks back at solo and ensemble that had worked for three years on only two songs because of a learning disability and got a 1st place. Her joy was my joy. How great is God working in all of my students? All the doubts all the fears all the prayers and nights up wondering if I'm doing what God really wants me to be doing all come to these great moments. I'm so proud. I'm so thankful. I'm so blessed. Yes, I believe in God and Yes, I know he answers prayer. What are you not talking to God about? What seems to little or unimportant to ask. Who do you work with, live with or love that needs your intercession with God? Pray. Pray hard and don't stop.
Friday, February 1, 2008
Homework: Go on a date once a week. Even if only for a few hours. DO IT!
May each marriage be a blessing not only to those in it but to all those that it touches.
Monday, January 28, 2008
Prayer: Heavenly merciful father I ask for your help in transforming my body into a visual testimony for all that know me. That others will be motivated to know you because they can see how you have changed me. I want to come closer to you on this journey. I want to be made new in you. May the Holy Spirit be my strength when I am weak. Lord hear my prayer. Amen!
Saturday, January 26, 2008
Then Jason. He was left with his brothers in a crack house abandoned by his mother. Now raised by his grandparents. He just wants love. He also sings with all of his heart. He managed to pull the worst solo and ensemble judge in the history of the MSVMA. When he was finished the woman proceeded to rip him apart making him cry. This is a big, strong wrestler type boy. He is tough. He does not cry easily although I know he often has reason to do so. This judge told him that he shouldn't sing. She actually told him to look into playing an instrument instead of singing. She broke his heart. His dreams were crushed.
I guess you could say the mama in me came out. I went up to the judge and told her how very proud I was of him. She just rolled her eyes at me.
I went to Jason and we talked as he cried. I stood up for him. I know he now trusts me even more. I told him to sing on and he is.
These two situations made me realize how important my role as a teacher is. I am the holder of many dreams. It also made me think of God's love. Some days we get a 1st place other days 3rd seems even too lofty a goal. I pray that the Lord guides my words, my actions and my teaching.
I know that they hold so much weight on the hearts of the children I teach. I am thankful for the opportunities it brings to help them grow. One day I am going to write a book about my students. The hundreds of kids I think about every day. Each one with a different story. Each one with a song to sing. I pray they are still singing today.
This week I am taking my own kids Ryan and Ruby to a new doctor to help us on the Aspergers journey. I am praying this weekend that he gives me information and guidance so I can help my children. I know God has special plans for them. They are filled with such joy. Tonight Ruby informed me that I can no longer call her Ruby Olivia She has officially changed her name to Ick Sweetapple! Lord help me!
Thursday, January 17, 2008
Prayer: God my heart, body, mind and soul are yours. I give myself only to you and your work.
May I contiune each day to know you more. Dear Father my I be a blessing to others in your name. For you are so holy and worthy of all the notes of praise I can raise.
Tuesday, January 15, 2008
I must have pushed the snooze button a dozen times. I ate breakfast went off to work. Things started looking challenging as soon as I hit the road. Traffic was awful. In fact, I thought about turning around and heading right to Starbucks to recover. I got to work late. My first three students all cried during their lessons with me. erf. I again start to think maybe God never wanted me to get up this morning. Maybe I should have stayed in my bed with Steve and the kids all cuddled up and warm. My fourth lesson wasn't much better. This student challenges every comment or correction I make. ugg. (Starbucks is now calling my name.) Did you know they came out with the Skinny Latte because of me? I got in my car to go back to teaching location #1 and I started to listen to a new gospel cd Steve got me this weekend. Man, did it totally get me back on track. WOW Gospel hits RULES! I started to pray. loud. in my car. I asked Jesus to use me to reach my students. Help me to encourage and build them up. I went back into the school and my student Jessica blew me away with her singing. THANK YOU JESUS! Her voice is so mature. A voice that last year when I started working with her had a laundry list of problems. I became so thankful. I know the Lord WAS using me to touch this girl and give her confidence in herself. The rest of my afternoon got even better. Lunch with a former student. More great lessons. Then as I was leaving to go home I got a call from a friend in need. Ryan, Ruby and I got in the car and drove our friend across town because he needed a ride. I was thinking on the way back home.... time to RELAX what a long day.... then, God said: hit the gym! I did 3 miles on the tread and 2 miles on the bike. Came home, dinner and now I'm just about to put Ryan to bed. It's PJ day for him at school tomorrow. If only it were for me as well. Oh how fun it is to be 4 years old. I'm so thankful for the lesson the Lord taught me today. Lean on him. We are never enough. Life is always going to be hard. Press on. Tired, weak, weary. When everyone else seems to have jumped out of the boat and swam to Starbucks for break, stick to it. For the Lord is always with us and he knows it, It is us who forget.
Josie's verse of the day:
I can do everything through him who gives me strength.