Monday, May 19, 2008

So much to say, so little to post.

Well, it has been a month since I last posted. So much has happened since my last blog but it almost seems too much to put into a blog post. I'd say the theme for this past month has been about learning and discerning in relationships.
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

Jenny McCarthy and Megatron Ron oh my!

This has been a crazy week for me. This weekend I took my entire theatre company and home vocal studio to compete in Lansing at Access Broadway. My students did an amazing job. The time I spend with my students and their families was so special to me. God never ceases to amaze me. He taught me so many great lessons about who I am and who he is. I am a great teacher! I am a great woman of God, but only because God is so good, so creative, so loving and so full of mercy. I'm so thankful for the three days I had with the Sweetapple Performing Arts kids. I am beyond blessed by the families that God has brought into SPA Co. Thanks to Ron and the Access Broadway crew. We had a great time.
Yesterday, my mom and I attended an Autism workshop with Jenny McCarthy. I am so thankful to Miss Linda at Sunny Day Preschool for giving me the ability to help Ryan and get him the tools he needs to succeed. Today at therapy Ryan sat for 2o minutes and did an art project. This is a miracle. Six months ago Ryan would not have been able to sit for 2 minutes for anything. I am 100% convinced that the biomedical treatments he is getting is the key to his growth and changes in him. I am so thankful for people like Jenny McCarthy that are the voice for so many families dealing with the challenges of Autism. It is a voice that needs to be heard. Thanks Jenny! You rock! For more info please check out this website. Jenny is planning a walk on the Capitol in June. Please spread the word about it. I think that it could really make a change in many lives and, and how we immunize our children in the future. I'm going to try like heck to get my family there to represent the face of Autism.

Friday, April 4, 2008

Count the days!

The beautiful life of Laura (Lori) told in pictures.
I thank God for letting me know this awesome woman!

Monday, March 31, 2008

Sweetapple Road Trip!

We are HOME! Steve, Ryan, Ruby and I just got home from the very 1st ever family road trip and vacation. We had an amazing time. During our 6 day trip we visited the Life Way headquarters in Nashville, TN (no, I didn't see Beth Moore darn it!) the Birmingham, Alabama zoo and science center, the Georgia Aquarium and the Creation Museum in Kentucky. We also got to spend some great quality time with Papa Sweetapple and Janny as well as Diablo and Miles the dog. It was such a joyful time for our family. I was a tad worried about my children being in the car for over 26 hours both ways but they did good on the way there and the way back... well, made it back without anyone throwing anything or anybody out the car window. If you get a chance to visit the creation museum of the Georgia aquarium I HIGHLY recommend them. They are both a beautiful representation of God's beauty in this world. My kids LOVED the aquarium. It is the largest in the world and it is almost like the Disney World of fish. I also had the best meal of my life and Jim and Nick BBQ in Alabama. I had a meal of fried green tomatoes AND hickory smoked BBQ turkey. It was AMAZING! If you have never had fried green tomatoes you are missing out! Here are some of my favorite pictures! I took only a few hundred.


Thursday, March 20, 2008


Laura lost her battle with cancer today. (3-31-08)
I will NEVER forget Laura or her amazing faith and courage.
I know she is singing and dancing with her Lord today!
She will leave a legacy of faith, hope and love in the many lives she touched!

I made a relay for life team in honor of Laura. Donate to this amazing cause! PLEASE!

Here is an amazing story that her husband Jason wrote about her and their love in this trial.
This is the full story he gave the Oakland Press before they edited it: ( I like it even better)
My wife’s name is Lori and we’ve been married for over eight years now. This is our story.
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.

~jason fidler

Monday, March 17, 2008

HAPPY as a lark!

Have you ever been so happy you can't contain it? You feel so blessed, so full, so amazed. That is how I feel tonight. I am so proud. So full of an amazing joy. I know that the struggles I have faced the past few months are far behind me. I have a new song in my heart. I have a strong voice deep within and I want to share my song with the world.
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.
Psalm 40:1-3

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Hope for the Hopeless

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

When I don't work my mind goes crazy!

Well, I found out last night after a snow day that I couldn't work today or tomorrow because my room that I teach in is going to be used for Choral festival. erf. This is three whole days of not teaching during the day. This makes me go crazy. I am at my very best when I am teaching. Today, in the middle of this tiny vacation my mind is wandering so please excuse everything I post from here on.
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

Catch my Joy!

Beth Moore says some things are taught but sisters some things are caught. She also says that contagious Joy is the most important thing you can ever have. I agree. Deuteronomy16:15 reads "The Lord your God will bless you in all your produce and in all the works of your hands, so that you will be altogether joyful". Another translation says "complete joy". My husband and I used to have a small church called "Joy Community" based on this principle. Living in "Joy" because of the gifts of our Lord and savior Jesus. From the joy we find in that most beautiful gift that we would then give to others and help them to find their joy in our example. I think the message gets most caught up in joy being a feeling. Something that can come and go. Living in joy as God talks about here is more of a verb. Living each day, doing each chore, talking to eachother in a way that shows the love of Christ to others because we can't not share it or live differently. We are changed, we have to let others know. We have caught something that causes us to live in a state of complete joy. I pray today that we can remember the gifts of love and sacrifice that are free for us all and that we live today complete in the joy that it brings. Catch the joy!

Thursday, February 21, 2008

He gives and takes away...

On some days it seems like God is trying to show me who is in charge just incase I forgot. Knowing myself I might have forgot. Ok, I did forget. But, lets face it. It is pretty easy to forget. You get in the groove of doing things "MY WAY" as Frank Sinatra would say and then BAM! God steps in and corrects your thinking. Ryan is making HUGE strides in his therapy. I would even use the word miracle, and I don't use the word miracle lightly. I know his new doctors have been directly sent by God to us. God is giving, giving, giving with Ryan's treatments.
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

The easy part...

about being a Christian is saying; "Yes! I am a Christian". Well, at least if you live in the U.S. it is the easy part. It might not be so easy if you try that in North Korea or China! But, the hard part seems to be the living it day to day. How many days have I rolled out of bed into a foul mood instead of rolling out and onto my knees thanking God for another day. How often have I gone to the grocery store and been frustrated with the speed of the check out lady instead of looking for someone that might need my understanding or even a smile? We live in a society that sets us up to be self centered and uncaring. Your way-right away or you have a right to be grumpy. We look out for someone to do something for us instead of looking for a way to help others. Even those of us were blessed to be raised in a Christian home that taught these virtues struggle with it. It is part of our daily struggle as Christians. We have to fight against the way of the world. So often people say they are "worried" about me. I take on to much. I give too much. But do I really? I really don't think I am. How much is too much to give? Doesn't Jesus teach the spiritual principle that what we do for others our father will multiply back to us? It is just the practice of doing these things without looking for the spiritual tax return that is the challenge. Today I challenge you to look for those in need. In fact I'll go even farther I challenge us (me included) to pray to God to show us these people and to use us to help them. Lord, even if they simply need a smile let me know they need it. I want people to know I'm a Christian by my love. Not because I have to tell them I am. I want them to get that feeling from me at a few miles away. I want my home to shine Jesus in our little neighborhood. Gosh, I know that is will be hard. But I'm going to pray for it. God help me!

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Nourishing Hope

Three blogs today, gosh I'm on a roll! Actually, it's all because I'm on winter break and I have more then 10 seconds to do anything other then teach or change a diaper. :)

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:

Jesus is calling people home.

So much death. I feel like I have seen more people die the last six months then my entire life.

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)

Note to self: Learn the lessons well.

I don't know how many people know that when I was 17 a producer for Sony/BMG and their Christian label heard me sing at church. I don't remember his name now. I don't remember all of the details but that I wouldn't be able to go to college and that it was scary. In fact I don't think I have thought about it much at all since then. This week with all the stuff going on with one of my students it has been on my mind. I didn't sign with them or pursue any of the ideas they had for my future because to be honest I didn't think I could do it. I had AWFUL body image problems and let's face it the only big girl doing the Christian music thing was Sandi Patty and I KNEW I wasn't as good as her. Have you heard the notes that woman can hit? For real, it is SICK! So, basically out of pure self doubt I walked away. Then this week when my student needed a pep talk and was about to walk away I became the person I needed 11 years ago. I got behind the pulpit and started preaching to her. Now mind you my student is BEAUTIFUL. She has WAY more talent then I did at her age and I think she has a better grasp of who she is as an artist. I myself was clueless. Ok fast forward back to this week and my dear and loving husband takes me to a Casting Crowns concert along with Leeland and John Waller (who also blew me away.) One of my very favorite Christian bands is Casting Crowns. They were AWESOME. One of the women in the group, Megan Garrett reminded me so much of myself. It was almost eerie. She is a big girl. In fact we were wearing the same jeans. We could have traded clothes. Her voice is so similar to mine. It is a beautiful, powerful Mezzo voice. I was so proud of her. She rocked. We made eye contact a few times while we were both singing. (Did I tell you my awesome husband got me amazing tickets?) All I could think of was the choices I had made and how they got me to that moment. Sitting on the other side of the stage with my husband. I realized at that concert that the only thing that holds us back from God's plans is our fear. I was so full of fear at 17. I was a big ball of mess. Hot mess as Ruby would say. But what is fear? Fear my friends is thoughts not of God. Thought of the enemy used to hold us back. How else can he control us? I had some major moments. God was very strongly speaking to me about my life from here forward. I've decided from here on out I am living my life even larger for Christ. I won't let anything or anyone keep me from who God wants me to be.
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

Lesson of the Day.

Don't fight God, you won't win. ever. He always will get you where he wanted to get you.
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

My Lent Offering

So, mostly because it is impossible for me to go with the flow, this year, I have decided to give up nothing for Lent and instead give something of myself to God. I'm doing two awesome bible studies right now. One is a Beth Moore study on the Psalms called Stepping Up (I highly recommend it) and the other is a Moms Study on Prayer. In both of these studies I've been convicted to pray in a different way. So, as a trial during Lent I am going to try praying with my face on the ground. Yes, that's right face to the ground. Beth Moore explains that there is something different to this type of prayer. I'm ready to give it a try. I'll be sure to update my progress. It will be hard for me as I'm a on the go car and shower type of prayer but I'm willing to step out of my little box for this one. I suggest either giving something to God along with me or just simply changing up your prayer life. Step up or step out. Let us prepare for the great sacrafice of our Lord Jesus on the cross. His blood never fails me.

Friday, February 8, 2008

Dreams, Prayers and Wishes on a star....

Why does it surprise me every time God answers a prayer? Why do I often sit down to pray like I'm about to sit down to a roulette wheel in Vegas? I tell everyone I know I believe in God. I believe he answers prayer.... but do I really? Why do I get this weird sensation of Wow, it actually worked when he gives me what I ask for. In my mind it's like Ryan asking me for a toy at Meijer. Mom PLEASE!!!!!!! But really isn't God our father more giving then us? Shouldn't he know the needs of his children and be thankful that we come to him? I think God is always waiting. He knows as we walk down the path of life we are going to need him. In fact, I once heard it said that God does not like pain and suffering but he will use it to bring us to him. So how does all of this fit in with my life today? Well about three years ago I started working with a beautiful and talented young lady named Lauren. For about the first six weeks she started working with me I honestly thought she hated me. I remember listening to her sing a song "On My Own" from Les Miserables thinking wow, she has a sweet little voice. She lacked confidence and would hardly look me in the eye. At first I took it as her dislike for me and a slight attitude problem. Well, I started praying for her. In my head during our lessons I started praying for her. I asked God to give me some way to make her feel like she was worth something, that she had talent. It took me almost two years to do it but this summer in New York City I saw that little pretty young lady audition for the biggest broadway talent agency in the world. I kept praying. We didn't hear much of anything after the call back. We were bummed but I just knew that God has a special plan for her. She has something that only God can give.
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

The truth about marriage... my marriage

Marriage is hard. I think it is harder then anything else you can do on earth. Even harder then child birth. Even child birth without drugs. The commands God gives about marriage are a challenge to say the very least. The husband should love his wife and as loves the church!?!?! Make her clean? The wife should both love AND respect her husband. We often just are simply going along doing the thing day to day. Sleeping next to eachother, doing the daily chores, eating a meal. If we are lucky we might get a kiss on the way out the door. Tonight God reminded me what a blessing the man he gave me as a husband is. I believe that God created Steve with me in mind and created me just for him. I know that God teaches me in all things, all relationships. The greatest person he can use is my husband. So often he frustrates the heck out of me. So often I forget that he is more then just the other half of the chores and the other one to pick up the kids from school. Steve is my gift from God. He is someone that can show me how much love God really has for me. Now, its not perfect as we are living here on earth, but it is home. It is safe. It is solid and dependable. It is love. We can have amazing debate and converstation on just about any topic. We laugh together we cry together. How can I so easily forget all these wonderful things that are all packaged in this one great brown man? Tonight we went to a movie. A romantic movie. We got popcorn and he held my hand and all was well with the world. I need to remind him more how wonderful he is. How thankful I am for him. I will be praying tonight that I remember more then I forget. That I listen more then I scold, nag, or yell. That I will be the woman for him that God so carefully designed. Marriage is the hardest thing because it yeilds the most reward. I look at my children and the joy that comes in being Mrs. Sweetapple as an honor and a blessing. Steve told me on our wedding day; Honey it won't be easy, but it will NEVER be boring. Boy he wasn't kidding.
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

What won't you give?

What is the one thing that you find difficult to give to God? A relationship, a situation, finances your health? I think everyone has something that they just don't want to give up to the Lord. For me it is my body. I just don't want to give my body to his work and glory. It so easy for me to give other things to him. I'm always willing to give of my heart, mind and soul but God also calls us to give our body. In the bible he even refers to it as his temple. My temple is not looking so hot. If fact I'd think it a stretch to even refer to it as more then a shack. I don't take care of things until it is way past the point of repair. I've even kept an infected gallbladder for about three years now. Well something changed in me when Mom Sweetapple died. I was the one that first saw her death certificate. I cried with I read the cause of death as 1. heart failure and deterioration 2. obesity 3. smoking. She was so young but she has basically given up on her body. In all other ways Mom Sweetapple was so full of life. She had a sharp mind, a beautiful soul and a loving heart, but her body just wasn't a priority. I decided then that I don't want to leave this world with work still left to do. On Thanksgiving day 2007 I ran/jogged/walked and cried my way to the finish line of my 1st 5k with my friend Rachel. I'm going to be honest when I say that I wanted to give up at least 5 times. I was talking to Jesus like a crazy women asking him to either kill me or get me to the finish. It was HARD! I've been working out and trying to get my body stronger. I want to keep running. I want to do two more 5k runs this year. I want my body to be full of health. I want to be able to view it as God's temple. Created by his hands for his work on this earth. I want our family to do physical things. I want to be able to run and catch my children. I know that God is working in me to be the person he wants me to be and part of that plan is my physical heath. I know he will get me to the finish. He works diligently and never gives up. Neither will I.
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

Learning more then I teach.... being more then I am.

This past week as been full of so many lessons for me. Last Saturday I had about 40 students perform at district solo and ensemble, almost 30 of those 40 got 1st division. It is the best my students have ever done at Solo and Ensemble. Of all those 1st place divisions the two students that taught me the most is my learning challenged student Sarah (name has been changed) and my emotionally scarred student Jason (name also changed). Sarah has been learning the same two songs with me for three years. She has worked so hard. She has awful anxiety about singing and three years ago I'm not sure I ever dreamed she would ever be able to sing at solo and ensemble. Last Saturday she did. She got a 1st! When I told her she and her parents all burst into tears a joy. Her dreams and three years of work paid off. She was beaming with pride and accomplishment.
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

A lesson in the yuck.

I am sick. I realized today that I always get sick the week after my Grammy's birthday. Every year. So what is God always trying to show me the middle of January every year? Maybe to slow down? It never fails that it's also in the middle of my most busy time. Solo and Ensemble, lessons, church, more lessons, my theatre company. I run all day long every day from one thing to the next. I guess this is Gods only way to stop me and get me to refuel and reflect. I know that God as my father might need to throw me a road block like sickness to get me to stop and be thankful. Today I have been thinking of my dear students who are such a blessing to me. I know they must be freaking out that I wasn't in school today. I'm sure they are worried I won't be there to help them this weekend. I know even if I had to be wheeled in I'd be there. I was thinking of my friends Amy, Francie and Charity today. I'm so thankful for them. I've learned so many great lessons from them. From Amy I learn obedience and faith, from Francie I learn strength and joy and Charity I've learned about endurance and perseverance. For so long I prayed to God for friends to help me grow and these are the beautiful ladies he choose. I praise him and thank him. I also thought about my husband. His faith has finally been restored! Praise the Lord! Once again I can lean on him. I'm so grateful for God working in him and our marriage. I would never have thought that my illness would show me so much or be such a great teacher. I thank God today for the road bocks and diversions. There are always blessings down his road.

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

A good day!

Today I woke up and decided because of the snow I'd go to the gym after work. Who wants to drive in that at 6am. YUCK! Working out would have to wait today.
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:
Philippians 4:13
I can do everything through him who gives me strength.