Psalm 139:23

"Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way of the everlasting."

Friday, April 23, 2010

A Woman Of Strength

I have been so blessed throughout my life with incredible examples of Christian women, but the person who influenced me the most was my Grammy. My Grammy was a woman of true strength, because she did not find strength in herself, rather she found her strength in her Father. She loved deeply, compassionately and without fear! She never missed an opportunity to share the word with someone else. My Grammy was a person that always put God first in everything that she did. She went out of her way to make sure that we each felt important every day. She was not only my faith giant, but she was also my best friend. Although, I am a Bible major at Oklahoma Christian, no one will ever be able to teach me more about ministry then she did simply by how she lived her life.

On February 9, 2007 I was told that my Grammy had inoperable and incurable brain cancer. At best she had twelve months to live. At the time she was only 55 years old. My spirit was utterly crushed! All that kept running through my mind that night was I can't live without her! This can't be happening! I didn't go to the hospital that night, because I wanted to somehow pull it together before she saw me. As soon as I saw her I started bawling. I curled up in her bed & laid my head on her chest & just sobbed. I will never forget what she said that day..."kk, promise me something! Promise me win or lose you will get up & you will praise Him!" 

Throughout the next two months I watched her suffer an unbelievable painful death! Once we were told she was dying she never got out of bed again. She lost her ability to walk, and talk, she couldn't even lift her own hands. Watching her die every day was so miserable, but the promise I had made to her was always in the back of my mind...I will praise Him win or lose... regardless of circumstance. After watching her hurt for so long I honestly began to pray that the Lord would just take her home! I couldn't take watching her hurt anymore! The day I told her goodbye I told her that she didn't need to fight for me anymore! I didn't want her to leave me, but somehow, someway, I would be okay, simply because she had taught me how to get through unbearable trials! She had taught me to find my peace in the Lord and to give him my struggles. I would often sing to her, because I didn't know what to say. That day I sang the song "It is well with my soul." As I sang tears poured down my cheeks. I knew the value of what I was saying. I was surrendering my pain and heartache to the Lord so that I could praise Him in the midst of the most painful storm I had ever encountered.

Three years later the pain is the same! So much has happened in the past three years that I wish more then anything she had been a part of. I graduated high school, started dating, started college, and buried my precious little Lexi. I once again find myself in a storm that I cannot begin to see my way through, but this time I find myself in this place alone! Up until now my Grammy has carried me through my struggles by gently and passionately reminding me who I belong to and where I am going. This time, I must face the destruction on my own. She can't do this for me! But even though she can't do this for me, she taught me how to do this on my own. In her short life she taught me how to give all that I have to my Father and allow Him to carry me through this. She taught me how to live my life for Him, she taught me how to die for Him, and she taught me how to climb down in the trenches and walk through peoples' struggles with them. I will never forget the legacy she left and the advice she gave me throughout my life. I was given all the tools that I need to face anything that comes my way through her example! When I was a little girl she would sing the song "Make me a servant" to me. The older I got the more I began to pray that God would do whatever it took to change me into the woman He wanted me to be. I never knew how painful that prayer could possibly be! With growth comes pain! Sometimes almost unbearable pain, but I know that to overcome these trials I must surrender my burdens to the Lord. I have to give Him my pain & once again allow Him to heal my broken heart.

The Easter before my Grammy died she gave me a ring. A ring that I wear every day. It says with love and was originally for me to take with me when I went into the mission field in Honduras. Now, I am doing local mission in the inner city parts of Tulsa. Every time I look at my ring I remember to take her with me. I take with me her love for the Lord, her love for others, and her focus on eternity. Until I am able to meet her at the gates of Heaven I will continue to fight to leave a legacy that changed eternity. Not because of who I am, but because of who He is! Tomorrow has been three years since we said goodbye. Although it is not any easier, I have a promise that I will see her again. Faith is the substance of things hoped for & the evidence of this unseen.

"In hard times you do not get to quit ministry! It is in the midst of the hard times that you push ministry into overdrive!" - Grammy; Theresa Kennedy

"Make me a servant. Lord make me like you. For you are a servant. Make me one too. Make me a servant. Do what you must do. To make me a servant make me like you"

1 Corinthians 4:18 "For we do not focus on what is seen, but what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal!"

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Out of the Ashes

I do not really even know how to start this blog. My faith has changed so dramatically in the last eight months of my life, but specifically in the last two months. Burying Lexis was the hardest thing I have ever faced in my life. I have questioned God more then I ever have before! Some days all I can see is the pain. I have been frustrated, angry, confused, and completely heartbroken. But as I look around at the ashes, the destruction, the broken remains of our lives, I realize more then ever before that God is at work even in the midst of an unbearable tragedy.

When we were told that Lexi would need a liver transplant I was convinced that we had hit rock bottom, but when she took her last breath the bottom gave way. Now we are in an unbearable pit! Finding myself in a pit I cannot even begin to climb out of on my own I have had to learn to cling to the Lord like never before and lean not on my own understanding. Because of this I have began to view God in a whole new way. About a week ago I was bawling my eyes out about how much I miss my precious baby girl and asking the Lord to comfort me. The story of Job came to mind and I began to view that story in a whole new way...

Growing up in the church, I have often clung to what a favorite teacher of mine calls "bumper sticker theology." When life would get hard I would try to hold onto little sayings like "When God takes something from your grasp He is not punishing you, but simply opening your hands to receive something better." I no longer buy into that line... not even a little. God uses all things for the good of those who love Him, but He does not always give you something better. All my life I have read the story of Job and thought "wow! Job is so faithful & because he is faithful God gives him everything he lost plus some." But that is not entirely true. Job lost his children & God does not return them. There is no greater pain then burying a child. Therefore Job didn't receive anything better, in face he was left with a lot less. Even so, he gets up & praises the Lord for His faithfulness. Maybe the lessons we are supposed to take from Job are not that God merely desires to bless us when we go through trials, but rather....
  1.) It's okay to question God. Just be prepared to fall on your face when He answers you.

  2.) The Faith Trials we face are NOT about us at all, but rather about God & what He can accomplish     through that trial.

Does that make God any less good or any less powerful? Absolutely not! But it does make Him in absolute control. As Christians we are selling each other the wrong answers to the problems & that is why it is so easy to blame God when bad things happen. I often convince myself that if I pray hard enough I am going to change God's mind, but my prayers will never change His mind; they will change mine. God is not a genie and prayer is not my way of rubbing the magic bottle and being granted my wish. Where did I get so messed up that I really believed the God of yesterday, today, and tomorrow should change His mind based on my human mind? I do not understand His ways! Therefore I cannot make the decisions concerning the future.

I have been taught to be ok with going through the crap, because God is going to bless me for it. But that is where I screw it up. When did my relationship with Him become about me? My relationship with Him should not be about how He is going to bless me. He gives & takes away because He is God...He is in complete control. I cannot even take a breath without Him giving it to me & yet I wanta tell Him how to do it? That is insane! He allows us to face trials because it brings Him glory. He never promises to replace something He has taken away. He simply promises that I have an eternal home with Him where there is no more pain & no more loss. Until then, I will experience trials of many kinds for His glory....not so that He can reward me & replace what I lost. We were made to worship Him! His grand design is not to give me everything I want, but rather for me to glorify Him with my life until I get to be in my permanent home with my Father for an eternity.

Tonight once again I am going to choose to give Him my pain & heartache & allow Him to heal. I will choose to lean on His understanding rather then my own until I hold my precious baby girl again.

Where were you God? I know you had to be right there. I know you never left her side. Only you know everything that happened in that final moment. Only you know what you whispered to her heart. Only you know how thankful I will always be that you gave me Lexi, even if on this side of eternity it seems too short. Thank you for your faithfulness & holding  your child in the midst of an unbelievably painful storm! 

Sunday, April 11, 2010

~Heaven is the face of my little girl~

What an amazing weekend! I was able to spend the entire weekend with the kids while Donna & Bri went out of town. We had so much fun! We went to the park three times, caught fish, played a countless amount of games, prayed together, & they even got to go to Church with me today. Logan was so helpful...he always is. He even wanted to make lunch for the kids yesterday (mac 'n cheese). He gives the best hugs & always knows when I need them the most. Leland is so full of energy! His little grin makes me so happy. I love playing with him. Landon slept in bed with me both nights... He's always been my cuddle bug! I absolutely love cuddling the kids more then I ever have before. I lay with each of them until they fall asleep at night. God blessed me so much when He allowed me to become a part of the Alt family. The kids truly are amazing! They continue to amaze me with their insight & love for the Lord in the midst of tragedy.

The kids all struggle in different ways, but Lauren & Lindsey seem to struggle the most. Lauren keeps asking me about things we did when the twins were born. I'm glad she remembers so many details about the time i've spent with them, but it's hard to hear her talk about the things I used to say & do with Lexi. She misses her so much! Yesterday we were sitting in the living room & she burst into tears. I asked her what was wrong & she told me she just missed Lexi. I just held her & cried with her. All I could say was that I miss her too! There is no such thing as words of wisdom in a situation like this. Sometimes the only thing I can do is cry, pray, & scream! Our life is divided into two parts now: before Lexi got sick & after. I hate the second part! I wish it was all just a terrible nightmare! I hate reality! I want so badly to have the good times back :'(. It's not fair! 

Lindsey breaks my heart when she talks about Lex. She tells me every time I see her that Lexi is in heaven & she can't come home anymore. She cries at night when I put her to bed & tells me she misses sleeping with Lexi. When I took the kids to the park yesterday Lindsey was talking & I couldn't understand her. I asked her what she was saying. She said "Kayla, I not talking to you! I talking to Lexi." It's precious that she still talks to her twin. I've always told the twins they were my baby girls & yesterday that was all Lindsey could talk about. She kept saying "I kayla's baby girl." Last night she said, "Kayla, I your baby girl." I said, "Yes miss Lindsey & you will always be my baby!" She put her hand on my heart & she said "Lexi's in your heart Kayla. She's still your baby girl too!" It made me cry :(. The last time I ever saw Lexi she told me she would always be my baby girl & those words couldn't be any more true! As much as it makes me cry i'm so grateful that Lindsey has some insight & understanding of what's happened. She told me last night that she will sleep with Lexi again when she goes to heaven & that I will be in heaven with them. I long for that day! I can't wait to hold both of my girls again.

My relationship with the Lord is so authentic right now. Watching Lexi fight for her life rocked me to my core! My faith has never been so shaken. It is times like this that faith becomes genuine. I have to trust Him even when I don't understand and everything about life no longer makes sense. I have to remind myself every day that my ways are not His ways. I know without a doubt in my mind that He never left Lex, not even for a second. He did fight for her... just not the way I wanted Him to. Heaven means so many things to me on so many levels right now. I ask God every day to tell Lexi that i'm sending her hugs & kisses & that part of my heart is in heaven with her & the other part of it is still here with the rest of my family. Lindsey has a cut on her foot & it started bleeding last night. I had to put a band-aid on it & kiss it to make it better. Lauren told Lindsey, "Ask Jesus to make it feel better Lindsey. He will give you a scab so you don't bleed too much. He makes everything better." This seven year old little girl teaches me so much about the Lord. After I put the kids to bed I spent some time praying for each of them. I was able to thank God that no matter how deep the cut is or how much he allows us to bleed that He will give us the scab to begin healing. This will never be okay! We will never ever get past losing Lexi. It will always hurt, but He will provide scabs & help us to live life to the full through Him. Until then I will hold on to heaven like never before. Heaven truly is the face of my precious baby girl! I cannot wait until I see her face & she takes my hand & leads me to my Father....just like she did so many times while she was here.

I love you Lex! I miss you so much. I wish I could hold you now & read you a book before bed. I wish I could dress you & fix your hair with bows & tell you how beautiful you are. I'm glad your with Jesus. I'm glad you feel better. I know He kisses you every day for me. Lindsey is are in my heart & you always will be! Thank you for being the most amazing little girl ever! You are now & forever my precious baby girl :)

1 Peter 5:10 "And the God of all grace, who calls you to His eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will Himself restore you and make you strong, firm, & steadfast."