Sunday, December 21, 2014

"I Go and Prepare a Place for You" ~ From Heartbreak to the Echo of Jesus

As we stumbled and shoved (and itched) our artificial Christmas tree together, the children giggled.  They thought we looked a little like monkeys doing a "dance of our people".

We pulled out ornament after ornament.  Each child has an ornament for each year.  Even Jonathan has an ornament.

I didn't even see it coming.  My heart caught instantly in my throat.

Losing your son, even one you only held in a vision given by God, is not something you just "get over".  His name is rarely brought up outside of our immediate family.

Yet, Jonathan's life mattered.  He was not just a little boy in a laying room, his grave just a hole in the ground his body was tossed into.

He was our son.  Even more important, he was a child of God.

Rachel came to me the other day (out of the blue) and said, "I miss Jonathan."  Our little five year old's heart was so intertwined with her brother (that she never met on earth) that it was physically aching.

With each heart beat I heard, "I go and prepare a place for you." (thump) "I go and prepare a place for you." (thump) "I go and prepare a place for you."

I miss my son...painfully.  It feels like part of me is missing...a bleeding muscle torn out of my heart....

"I go and prepare a place for you" (thump) "I go and prepare a place for you" (thump) "I go and prepare a place for you."

....and then I sat at Church today and heard it again....

"I go and prepare a place for you."

...and I looked down the row.

(Right) Jael scooting her bottom, trying to find the perfect snuggle while maintaining a comfortable position with her prosthesis.  Rachel, beautiful in her Christmas dress legs strewn across her grandmas lap.  Next to grandma was Anna, her wavy hair flowing everywhere.  Sarah, listening intently as the preacher shared tantalizing morsels of God's Word.  Max, tall and lanky for a twelve year old, sat taking his spot at the end.

(Left) Warmth covered my side as Bekah slid as close as she possibly could to me.  Gabriel looked up with his huge brown eyes that caused my mommy heart to just melt.  My beloved, my groom, sat next to Gabe. Then my breath caught in my throat.  Next to him...

"I go and prepare a place for you" (thump)....

....sat Benjamin.  Less than two years ago our Benjamin sat in a metal shed, day in a day out.  He had scars from bite marks on his face.  We sat with doctors when we came back asking what no parent wants to ask a doctor. "Does he look like he was sexually abused?  Is his liver function normal after years of being drugged?  Has the infection from his rotten teeth gone into his jaw?"

I looked at Benjamin, sitting there making his noises, teasing his daddy....and remembered all of it.

"I go and prepare a place for you." (thump)

With each heart beat, something became clearer and clearer.

"Your will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven."

Matthew 6:10b

You see, in this world we live a temporary life.  It is designated and separated by a span of only years.  We have a limited time to live.  We have a limited time to listen.

As Jonathan lay in a crib, soaked in his own urine, day after day my Savior was with him.  I can picture Jesus whispering in his ear, "I go and prepare a place for you son. I go and prepare a place for you."

Day after day, I picture him hearing Jesus' voice.

In that moment, for Jonathan it meant Heaven.  Jesus was preparing a place for him.

I don't think Jonathan is the only one hearing Him though.

In beds on this cold dark winters the the United States...

Jesus' voice echos.

"I go and prepare a place for you."

In families around the world, a hole grows, slowly expanding in someone's heart.

"I go and prepare a place for you."

Into a papa's mind a swirl, a thought begins to form.

"I go and prepare a place for you."

A mother turns to her husband and is scared to say a word, should he feel differently.

"I go and prepare a place for you."

A family starts feeling like someone is missing.

"I go and prepare a place for you."

Jesus, forever and always, is ever present in our lives.  He didn't stop living when He left this earth.  He continues to this day "preparing places" for his children, the (for now) orphans of this world (and it's not just in Heaven).

Someday we will reside with Him in the beauty of His presence, but now he works on our hearts.  

"I go and prepare a place for you."

Do you hear it?  Do you feel a hole being created in your heart?  Do you feel the heat in your arms as your heart is wrapped around another child?  Do you feel the ever expanding dimensions of your family?

"I go and prepare a place for you."

I can imagine Him whispering.

I'm hoping and praying you're listening if it's your child that hears the voice of Jesus tonight.

I hear it.  Do you?


As tears stream, I pray you do. Jonathan did in another way.  In the way it's truly meant in the scriptures.

Jesus prepares our hearts in a similar way.  He creates beauty and awaits us both in Heaven and just a glimmer of an echo here on earth.  He waits for us to listen.

It's a journey that's hard...oh so hard.  It's also a journey that's blessed...oh so blessed.

As I looked down that pew at Church, I realized what I would be missing if my heart hadn't broken, if I hadn't had the opportunity to pray Jonathan into Heaven.

I have two sons from the Ukraine in Heaven and one making the craziest face at his daddy.

Oh hear Him whispering's beautiful.

*Until that day I see Jesus face to face (I can hardly catch my breath thinking about that day), I am so thankful for the opportunity to listen to Him.  It's a privilege and honor...never a burden.

“Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me.  My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you?  And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. You know the way to the place where I am going.” 
John 14:1-4

“Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name,
10 your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven."

Matthew 6:9b-10

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Pictures "Catch Up" (The Second Half)

I am ACTUALLY following through with my update in pictures.  Don't be shocked.  THIS is easy.  Writing updates, not so much.

If you haven't seen Part I, I've placed the link below.


My mom took me out for a birthday lunch.  My oldest two had
to work, but I enjoyed the goofy time we always have
as a family.
Gabe and Mommy


Daddy and Ben

Max and Bekah

My Mom and Rachel

Anna and Jael

Goofy Again (Bekah, Me, and Gabe)

Anna injured her foot...again.  Monkey in the Middle is 
apparently a rough game (laughing).  She was playing
it with two girl friends.  There was no babysitter
available for her appointment, so....

 ...cuteness reigned.

Side note: It was only a pulled muscle that would take SIX WEEKS to heal (after two weeks
had already passed).

We love Operation Christmas Child and for some reason (has to 
be God) we always have the money just in time
to participate.  SOOO THANKFUL!

As we prepared for Thanksgiving, the children cooked too.  Jael
wasn't so sure about Gabe's choices.

Wildly, we were so caught up in Thanksgiving, we have almost NO pictures. This is 
the best of the worst.  It's not a great picture of even one of us, but
tolerable of all of us (laughing).  It is proof we actually were together.

 Bekah is taking piano this year and was practicing while
we were at Grandma's for Thanksgiving.

THE game may have been on.  

This beautiful girl KNOWS how to pose.  It SKEERS ME!!!!

This girl and her faces.  NO JOKE, someday I hope she'll let
me post her crazier ones.  Her face is like Playdoh (seriously).  Think
Jim Carey...


Ben looked so cute on timeout. 

The girls had just had their hair untwisted.

Can you handle the truth? You sure?!
I titled this one "Voting Day Dork" in my picture file.  
Yup, I did.

This is what happens when the cat (Sienna) climbs into a clean pile of laundry and you 
don't notice.  You dump more clean laundry on said cat.
I guess it's better than turning on the shower and not knowing a cat 
was in there.  Ya, last week...Brrreow got clean.

 Just Pure Sweetness


Yes, I have actually made it to pictures for THIS month.  It blows me away. 
Thankful I gave up on the intense essay I had started.  There just isn't time and
there would have been "crickets" as my blog family waited...and waited.

Finally, our third in line to the crown turned fourteen. Anna, our blessing of
a daughter, finally became an OFFICIAL teen.  Why fourteen and not 
thirteen? Who knows, it's just always felt that
way with all our children.

This is the most normal ANNA looked. She takes after
her sister when it comes to pictures and making faces.
 Yup, there's another face.  That girl!

This is the night we gathered to decorate the tree.  Again, it's always an interesting
picture of at least one child (laughing). Sarah and Anna were there,
but were not "presentable" for pictures (think PJs).

Below is the view from my shoulder.

When everyone bowed their head, M.K. wanted to join in.  There
is always a cat around.


(Anna) This picture leaves no doubt that she is my daughter.

Our Annual Christmas Art Project 

Jael and Levi (I really can't stop taking pictures of either of them!) 

This picture is for my friend Melanie who (cracked me up) made fun of me wearing sunglasses
in the house (laughing).  I told her I had huge bags under my eyes. When kids want pictures, they get them though.  These are my tired Mommy eyes.  I LOVE

He wouldn't stop moving, but I still thought this was SO

We went to see Penguins of Madagascar.   Many thanks to their big brother Tom!
We take up the whole row.  Those down at the end in the dark? Ya, they're ours.

 Tom and the Little and Middles
Gabe was NOT happy about having to go home.

Below are a couple of goofy picture from the local
nine hour (yes, you read that right) final installment of
"The Hobbit".  Tom, Sarah, Anna, Lexi (family), Scott (friend), and Christopher (friend) went 
to a showing of all three movies.  (Thank you Tom!)

Jael was resting on the trampoline.  Sienna pinned her.

Look how cute these Christmas kids are!

Sarah (our oldest) brought me this little reindeer that I had mentioned I thought
was cute.  This is me after a day of Christmas shopping.  Now THAT is reality.
I call it my obese reindeer.  Look at it's cute little short legs (laughing).
After the depth of this post, with profound thoughts on obese reindeer,
I thought I'd leave you  with some cute quotes from the kids.

Rachel on the way to the bathroom singing...."LET IT GO! LET IT GOOOOOO!"

The kids are a little too familiar with the angel Gabriel.  They keep calling him Gabe.

 (In learning to guess the proper price of things in Bekah's curriculum...) The price of a t-shirt 
had the possibility of $.50, $5.00, or $500.00.  Which is more likely?  She said $.50.
Our yard sale habits really messed her up.  I still gave her an A.

Thunder rocked the house and Gabe and Rachel grabbed each other and Gabe said, "It's ok 
Rachel, I've got you."

"Mommy, I have goof-bumps." Gabe

Max's new word.  Soon to be added to the "Kat Dictionary".
As in "I had a confusement."
I completely understood him.

Mommy Heart Swelling Quote of the Day
"I am an echo of you." (Sarah)

Heard yelled throughout the house during finals week...
"DON'T GROW UP! IT'S A TRAP!"  (Sarah)

Friday, December 19, 2014

Allergic to Breathing? Ten Years of Change

I sat in a tight airline seat, my knees killing me.  I mean excruciatingly painful and MANY more hours to fly to Ethiopia.  If I didn't straighten my knees, this always happened.  I'd been experiencing joint pain for years and taking Ibuprofen every night to sleep.

This was one of the many symptoms my husband and I experienced over the course of YEARS due to unknown allergies and sensitives.

I know this blog post may not be the norm for many of you to read, but the last ten years had so much misery (yes, I said misery) go away when we stumbled across the allergies/toxicity.  I meant it when I say stumbled upon.

EVERY.TIME....flat on my face right into it.

This post is going to cover a lot of ground, so be patient with me.  It won't just cover one thing, but THREE. Three instances of allergies (and toxicity) that left us with all of the following symptoms (and I'm pretty sure I forgot some).  I know many people struggle with these without allergies, but I wanted to throw out there the possibilities.
Extreme joint pain
Nightly vomiting of acid (acid reflux)
Pain so severe in the chest and stomach that I almost took my husband to the ER several times.
Extreme fatigue
Brain fogginess
Extreme stomach upset
Constant diarrhea and cramping
Seven years of migraines
High blood pressure
Acne (pretty intense at times)
Skin Eczema

....and many of these we just thought were normal.

About ten years ago I started hearing rumors.  I would sit with my Diet Coke and read articles and links that friends would forward to me and all their family members.  Truthfully, I completely got tired of hearing how everything is bad for you. (I am convinced someone will say breathing is next.)  I pretty much blew it off.

Finally, I had enough.

That is when I had a face first plant into the world of Aspartame toxicity (or poisoning).

(Shoot! Really?)

Ya, apparently it's not that good for you.  I really didn't believe it until I started hearing things about military men and women suffering.  That finally got my attention.  You don't mess with people fighting for our freedom.

Fine, I'd give up my Diet Coke (sulk, sniff, sulk)...just for a little bit though, since obviously everyone was overreacting.

My knee pain reduced by 70% within two weeks of no aspartame.  No more ibuprofen after only two weeks.  Another friend was diagnosed with arthritis and it also went away by about 75%.  Awww man...

Ok, this is good.  Thank goodness I wouldn't have to give up anything else.

Cue a stomach virus about nine years later by a boy named Benjamin.  Now you will see the stumble right into the muck number two...gluten/wheat.  Most of you know about this one, but I can't NOT touch on it.

Ben has Celiacs.  For those of you like me that had no clue, this is an allergy to gluten (derived from wheat). Gluten is a binder used in MANY foods (NO JOKE)  We even found some turkeys containing gluten (while looking for a turkey on Thanksgiving).

We were told that many  people are gluten sensitive.  There are several theories of why this is increasing in the United States.  (When in Ukraine which uses almost no processed foods many have no problem at all.).

Theory One: Many believe it's not really the wheat, but the excessive nature that it is used in EVERYTHING in the United States.  It is overwhelming many bodies and our bodies were not meant to process it.
Theory Two: Genetically Modified Foods-These are banned in many countries and the fear is that the modification (to make it more durable, etc.) is causing it to be harder to break down (or some such).
Theory Three: A combination of theory one and two.

How did I stumble across several in our family being gluten sensitive? (Actually we think my husband probably had Celiacs, but you can't get a test for it after you are already off gluten.)

I decided everyone needed to go off gluten so that I could learn to cook it successfully.  It wasn't purposeful, but it was a gift from God.

Anna using the Rice Cooker (which we use A LOT).

Migraines disappeared withing two weeks
Brain fogginess disappeared
Diarrhea disappeared
Extreme stomach and chest pain disappeared
The worst of the fatigue disappeared
Eczema went away by 50%
A nasty green snotty nose and severe morning allergies went away for our son
Acid Reflux went completely away
Joint pain was reduced just a little bit more


Now I had to give up my Diet Coke AND wheat/gluten.  (Banging Head Repeatedly on Table)
Actually, after I got over the head banging, I found out it was fairly simple to do.  We could still eat a lot.

Then, the final straw happened.

Seriously?  This happened about a little over a week ago.  You see, one of my children has struggled off and on with acne.  We've saved and gone to doctors and bought expensive medicine, to no avail.  We finally tried a home remedy of Braggs Apple Cider Vinegar and water as a cleanser.  THAT was awesome.  About 50% cleared up within a couple weeks.  AWESOME! Yet, the rest was still there.

Until we removed sugary snacks (not fruit and such, but candy, ice cream, etc.).

I, the "on board" mother that I am decided I wouldn't eat sugar unless it was a Christmas party (and it was gluten free of course) in sympathy.  I was looking forward to my Hershey's Kiss cookies on Christmas Eve.  I really was.

BUT NO...that would be too easy.

My blood pressure, which I've struggled with for years and have medication for, went down immediately (not cured, but went down).  After just 24 hours I felt calmer.  Not only that, but the remaining pain in my joints is about 90% gone with sugar removed.  Sigh...

Really?  My Hershey's Kisses were gone?  Yup
 (Ok, mostly gone, because occasionally I am willing to have a little hike in blood

So, let's recap...
Extreme joint pain -90% Gone
Nightly vomiting of acid (acid reflux)-Gone
Pain so severe in the chest and stomach that I almost took my husband to the ER several times.-Gone
Extreme fatigue-Gone (only normal  fatigue occasionally now from a lack of sleep or some such)
Brain fogginess-Gone
Extreme stomach upset-Gone
Constant diarrhea and cramping-Gone
Seven years of migraines-GONE
High blood pressure-Lowered (and working on gone!)
Acne (pretty intense at times)-Almost solely during hormone fluctuations or extreme stress 
Allergies-Limited and runny snotty morning nose gone
Skin Eczema-Reduce by 50% guys might see where I'm going with this.  We all have so many more allergies/sensitivities to things than I even think we realize at times.  I think we accept much of what we feel just as "aging".

I wanted to give you a heads up.

If you decided to do an elimination diet (try going off of it for awhile) let me know.  I'd love to cheer you on.
Though I joke and complain, our lives have changed for the better.  They really have.  I don't miss Aspartame.  There are so many new and healthier alternatives now.  I don't miss gluten.  Once I went off of it for a bit (two months is recommended to truly see what the results might be) I stopped craving it 99% of the time.

Now, I try always to be honest....I miss sugar.  I do, but it's not that bad unless I'm stressed (which means it's completely mental).  (No surprise there...)

So friends, this is my throwing it out there.  I'd LOVE to hear about allergies/toxicity/sensitivities changed your life.  If I get enough responses here (and on Facebook) then I may do a post number two with all your stories.

Have a blessed, aspartame free, gluten free, sugar free night! (Shoot, I'm just eating air now, aren't I?  Glad I'm not allergic to breathing.)

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