Friday, September 9, 2016

Walking by Faith Not by Sight

Ever since I began this blog (back in 2009), I've always had the faith verse from Hebrews 11:1 on the header. But as of late, I feel the passage from 2 Corinthians 5:7 better reflects our current season of life.

This past year has been one of the more challenging ones we've had in light of caring for our daughter. As she has gotten heavier, I found lifting her has presented opportunities for straining my back. Thankfully, I’ve been able to receive healing through both prayer and the hands of a wonderful friend who is also a massage therapist. At the same time, I know I can no longer lift Faith as I once used to.

Faith hanging out at the eye doctor. She received a good report and still does not need glasses!

 Another huge change is that this past spring, Faith officially became a woman. While this is usually something for girls to celebrate, for us it provided a new set of challenges, including major PMS symptoms. Her sensitivity to loud noises heightens during this time and her already high tone kicks into overdrive, causing her to be very uncomfortable in her chair.

Because of her discomfort, we have spent a lot of time sitting on the couch together and the benefit for me is I have been getting a ton of reading done. A benefit for her is that my body serves as a dynamic seating system so that she’s not stuck in the same position for long periods of time. (Unfortunately, I have to turn down my husband’s suggestions that I submit myself to cloning.) On the upside regarding her cycle, she has been pretty regular so we can prepare for when she's going to be overly emotional and having physical symptoms.

Faith with me and two of her aunties  - look how big she's getting!

At one time Faith did occupational therapy but after a while it was advised Faith get physical therapy instead. Her OT made a recommendation and after being on a waiting list for months due to the fact they had to hire more pediatric physical therapists, we were finally able to get in. The PT has helped somewhat, and along with that, she also continues to see a chiropractor. We are glad to have made the switch to a wonderful lady chiropractor who can help us with some of Faith's hormonal issues.

Besides everything going on with Faith, we have had the most humid summer I can recall in all my years of living in North Dakota. We have had our wall air conditioner running almost nonstop all summer. Faith has a portable air conditioner (thanks to her uncle Todd) in her room that I don't know what we would do without.

Just as I have been feeling the intense heat in the physical realm, I have been feeling it in a spiritual sense as well. There have been days I have felt as though I had reached my limit and hit my breaking point. I have literally felt like I was walking through the fire. As I thought and prayed about it, I realized that it was my own fault. I mean, I had picked the word "RENEW" for my word of the year. How can God make things new without getting rid of the some of the old stuff first?

Many times I have had the thought I am going through the "Refiner's fire." While this was not always a good feeling, it did give me hope that I was going to come out stronger and that it would deepen my trust in God.

Staying nice and cool at Grandma's - Faith and most of her cousins, including the newest addition to our family.

It has certainly been a time of dying to self and I know that although it doesn't feel very good, it will end up being a good thing. It is also somewhat comforting to know that there are many other believers who are going through some very difficult situations. It has been wonderful to lift one another up in prayer.

Recent double rainbow
All of these challenges have caused us to keep our eyes on Jesus more than ever, and to depend on Him for our strength. And as we do, we continue to walk by faith, not by sight and know that whatever has already taken place in the physical realm will one day manifest in the physical.

As for right now I am really looking forward to the next season. I can't wait to feel the cool, refreshing breeze and see the beautiful transition of the leaves that always comes along with autumn.

This video of the song "King of My Heart" has been very encouraging to me during this difficult season. It's a reminder of God's goodness and that He will never let me down!





Thursday, April 28, 2016

I Believe in Miracles

Twelve years ago in late April, we were given the dreaded news that our daughter had spastic quadriplegia - the most debilitating form of cerebral palsy. 

I will never forget looking down at my six-month old baby, fast asleep in my arms, while her doctor talked about the possibility of her being in a wheelchair as she became older. 

At the time, it was not like me to show such public displays of emotion but on that day I couldn't hold back the tears. In the days that followed I had so many questions. 

Of all the questions though, there was one that I asked more often than others. "Can God heal my daughter?" I came to believe that He could, even though I knew it would take a miracle. 

Faith shortly after we brought her home from the NICU where she had a 73-day stay
By definition a miracle is, "an unusual or wonderful event that is believed to be caused by the power of God." When a true miracle occurs, there is usually no scientific explanation for it. I love these phenomenons as they are a way of proving not only God's existence but his awesomeness! 

While miracles can take many forms, one of the most exciting is His miraculous healing power. I have heard many testimonies of God healing someone of an incurable disease. I have seen people receive prayer and they were instantly healed. For some, healing isn't always instantaneous but rather a process. It's really however God chooses to do it! 

 Not too long ago I was preparing a message for New Life's Redefinition Cafe service entitled, "Three Things that Can Help Us to Truly Believe 'All Things are Possible with God.'" My second point was that it's not up to us to figure out how God is going to do the impossible. 

As I searched the Internet, I came across an article about a girl who had been diagnosed with an incurable gastrointestinal disorder. She had been in and out of the hospital several times and had to take all kinds of medications. Even though she normally didn't have a lot of energy, her oldest sister had convinced her to come outside and play. After falling into a hollow tree, she went to heaven and returned to earth completely healed. Last week I finally was able to see Annabel Beam's amazing story turned into the movie - Miracles From Heaven. 

Most of the scenes in the movie that caused me to cry were the ones where the mom was doing the best she could to care for her sick child. She had given up hope and even quit praying because she didn't think God heard them anyway. She alluded to the fact that another reason she didn't want to pray is because she didn't want to be disappointed if her prayers were not answered. I felt as though I could totally relate. 

There was a time in my life where I didn't think I'd be able to bear the disappointment of God not answering my prayers for my daughter. When I did pray for Faith, I wasn't praying with belief. I can't pinpoint what changed in me, but somewhere along the way I decided that I was going to believe for Faith's healing and believe wholeheartedly for it.

Faith and I at home after attending a friend's wedding
Admittedly, there are some days I wonder if I should just give up on believing for Faith's healing. But as soon as I get to that level of discouragement, God shows me something amazing. 

One particular evening not all that long ago, I was having one of those discouraging days. A friend of mine had given me the link to a video to watch and after taking a look at it, I began searching the Internet. I really didn't even know what I was looking for until I found it. 

It was a video of a lady who had been healed of cerebral palsy 25 years ago when she was 19 years old. The lady's name is Marlene Klepees and she now goes around the country giving her testimony. WOW did seeing her story fill my heart with hope!


A few people have told me they have had a vision or a dream of Faith either walking or dancing. I truly believe it's possible, and that what He did for Anabel or Marlene, He can do for Faith. Call me crazy but isn't that what faith is truly all about? (Believing first and then seeing). Even though Faith being healed would require a miracle, I truly do BELIEVE.

How about you? Have you ever received a miraculous healing in your body? Do you believe in miracles? I would love to hear about it!

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

RENEW at 42!

For the past couple of years instead of making New Year's resolutions, I have instead chosen just one word to focus on throughout the year. (I got this great idea from my friend, Fran Dwelle of JOY International.) Last year my word was strength and my corresponding scripture was "The Lord is my light and my salvation, whom shall I fear? The Lord is the strength of my life, of whom shall I be afraid?” (Psalm 27:1).

This year, without even realizing it rhymed with the age I would be turning, I chose the word, "RENEW." The corresponding scripture the Lord gave me was this one: Create in me a clean heart O God and renew a steadfast spirit within me. (Psalm 51:10)

First and foremost the one thing I wanted to renew was my relationship with the Lord. Not that I felt I had fallen away or anything but because I wanted to have a deeper, more intimate relationship with Him than ever. I have a strong desire to hear Him more clearly and to operate more in the realm of the supernatural. I also felt I need to renew my hope and my trust in Him after some discouraging things that happened toward the end of last year.

Yet another reason I felt this word was so important for me was because I wanted to "renew" my motivation to live a more healthy lifestyle. Every year I say I want to do this and I always start out well but never end well. By the time December rolled around in 2015 I was into a very bad habit of drinking too much caffeine and every time I had a cup of coffee I wanted something sweet to go with it. Not a good habit at all!

I confess I did have birthday cake today - but no coffee to go with it!
I am so grateful that I go to a church that dedicates the first part of the year to God by going on a 21-day fast! This forced me to give up some of my bad eating habits and once again, I am praying I never go back to them. I have learned that one way to stop a bad habit is to replace it with a new one.

During our fast, I began a Bible reading plan where I will end up reading the entire Bible this year. The plan I chose was a chronological one - which I have really been enjoying. I've also been reading a great devotional by Beth Moore called "Portraits of Devotion." One more book I've incorporated into my daily reading is a little book called, "God's Guide to Food, Fitness and Faith for Women." So instead of waking up wanting to drink coffee and sweets, I look forward to my daily reading!

Eventually I would like to start exercising and add that to my daily schedule each day. Like I mentioned earlier, my word last year was strength and this year I would like to RENEW my physical strength (and my energy) so I can better care for my daughter.

Thank goodness for Grandpa - he was the only one who could figure out how to blow up her inflatable guitar!
RENEW at 42 - that's my motto this year. What about you? 
Do you have a word for the year? I would love to hear about it! 

I'm so thankful for this guy who always supports me when I try to better myself!
I'm blessed to have such wonderful parents who made my day extra special!
Have a blessed 2016!

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Joh to the Rescue - A Birthday Story

One of Faith's favorite things to do is call her Auntie Johanna (Joh for short) and listen to her cat, Ruby purr over the phone. (Faith also likes to hear stories about Joh's dog, Rosie). Sometimes getting Ruby to purr is more challenging than at other times but Joh usually succeeds in getting Ruby to purr at least once during our weekly phone call.

Faith and Auntie Joh during our last visit to Ontario in October 2014
You might not be too impressed by a purring cat but this cat purrs like none other (and I've had a lot of cats growing up!) Even over the phone her purring sounds like a small engine. Sometimes Joh will get Ruby to purr several times and the next day Faith will tell everyone, "Ruby purred a million times over the phone last night!" We are convinced we need to get her a cat of her own, or at least one of those stuffed cats that looks and sounds real!

Ruby the Purring Kitty Cat
Something else Faith loves to do is make up stories. We do something similar to Mad Libs where I write the outline and let Faith fill in the blanks. Faith wanted to make a special story for Joh's birthday (which is today!) So here it is...

JOH TO THE RESCUE!

Once upon a time there was a (adjective) nice  lady in Peterborough named Johanna. (Her niece Faith calls her Auntie Joh). She loved her (adjective) quick dog, Rosie and her (adjective) silly cat Ruby. One day at (time) 6:00, Rosie the Greyhound went up to Joh and started (noise) squeaking. Rosie started going crazy but Joh couldn't figure out what was wrong. Suddenly, Rosie grabbed Ruby's (noun) garbage with her (body part) legs. Joh realized Rosie was trying to tell her something about Ruby. 

Joh called, "Ruby! Ruby!" 

She looked all around the house for her. She looked under the (piece of furniture) TV and even by the (furniture) pantry. Joh was trying hard not to get (emotion) mad. Finally, Joh took Rosie outside. The sky was (color) blue and it was (weather) cloudy

"Where could Ruby be?" She asked Rosie.  

Joh looked up and noticed one of her upstairs windows was open. She had opened it to get some fresh air inside while she was (verb) playing golf

"Ruby must have gotten out the window," she told Rosie. 

Rosie the Greyhound
Rosie barked and then (verb) kicked Joh. Together they walked all around calling for Ruby. Finally, they heard a (type of noise) big loud siren. Joh looked over and there was Ruby in the neighbor's (noun) grass

Rosie started barking again and Joh saw that Ruby was in danger. A great big (color) brown and white (animal) frog with (number) 0 legs was going to snatch Ruby in its mouth. Joh acted like (superhero) Super Woman and in a flash (verb) turned on the lights in front of the animal and scared it away. She scooped Ruby up with her (body part) head and went back home. 

Just as they reached the front door, Grandmother and Grandfather arrived to celebrate Joh's birthday. Everyone went inside and when Joh told them about Ruby, Grandmother exclaimed, "Wow! It was Joh to the rescue!' 

 It had been the most (adjective) crazy birthday ever for Joh. They all celebrated with (flavor) chocolate cake with (color) brown frosting. There was lots of (drink) apple juice too. Rosie got (number) 3 extra treats and Ruby got to have (number) 18 scoops of food. That evening, Ruby was so happy Joh had rescued her, she purred (number) 19 times into the phone when Faith called. 

They all lived happily ever after. 

THE END 

We really do hope you have a wonderful birthday, Auntie Joh. We love you! Here is Faith singing Happy Birthday - although she was being more of a goofball than anything! 


Wednesday, December 30, 2015

My 10 Favorite Photos of 2015

At the end of the year, I usually do a "Year in Review." This year, however I decided to do something a little bit different. After poring over photos for the annual Lawlar family calendar and also the one I do for Rob's parents and sister, I've realized there have been some great photos taken in the year 2015. I tried hard to narrow it down to ten of my favorites!

Me with my parents cheering on the NDSU Bison as they beat Illinois state by 2 points for their 4th consecutive National Championship! Photo taken by Deone Lawlar   

Faith, Rob and I celebrating my birthday at our downtown office. Photo taken by Andy Hill
Faith was so excited to have a party for her dad on his birthday! Photo taken by me.
Fun with family (me with my aunt Gail, mom Deone, niece Justine and sister-in-law Barbara) at the annual JOY Breakfast! Photo taken by Alicia Green
Rob and Faith are always sure to bless me on Mothers Day! Photo taken by Robert Bousfield
Faith spending quality time with her daddy on Father's Day. Photo taken by me.
Having fun with our friends, the Hill family during one of their many bonfires this past summer. Photo taken by me.
Faith celebrates her 12th birthday with Grandma and lots of balloons! Photo taken by me.
Family photo time following Thanksgiving dinner. Photo taken by Skye.
Christmas cheer with my siblings. Photo taken by Barbara Lawlar.

We certainly had our share of fun times this past year and although we've had some challenges too, through it all God has been faithful. I pray you have a blessed New Year and that 2016 brings you many answered prayers, dreams fulfilled and most importantly, that you experience the goodness of God each and every day.

Friday, November 27, 2015

Faith's Thankful List 2015

To continue with our little Thanksgiving tradition, I asked Faith to list all of the things she is especially thankful for this year. Once again, as I looked over her list, I realized it's mostly the people in her life for which she is the most grateful. Since she is such a homebody, she especially loves it when people come to our place to visit. However, the three of us did venture to Grandma and Grandpa's for Thanksgiving Dinner where she had a blast!

Here are some of the people she is most thankful for, along with a few other activities she enjoys doing.
  
"My Whole Family" - One time when I spoke at New Life's Redefinition Cafe service, her grandma, grandpa, uncle and aunt showed up. Afterwards she commented, "I can't believe the whole family came to church." So when she says her whole family, she is talking about her extended family. She especially loves having visits with Grandma and calling Grandmother, Grandfather, and Auntie Joh on the telephone.

Faith with many members of her whole family on Thanksgiving Day
Going to Church - Faith continues to be thankful for New Life's Redefinition service and it is one of the highlights of her week. She is especially grateful that Pastor Marc takes time to pray for her before he races off to the Celebration service (which is held in a different facility). She also enjoys hearing the different speakers (especially Andy Hill) and listening to the worship music, which leads me to the next activity on her thankful list.

Worship Music - Faith has become more interested in worship music this year more than any other. I believe part of it has to do with her music integration sessions but also because we have been attending an Immersed Night of Worship at church held once a month. It's led by one of her favorite worship singers of all time - Monica. We've also been listening to more worship music at home as a family, especially right before bed time. Her absolute favorite singer is Michael W. Smith!

Below is a video I happened to record when New Life's worship team did the music at the Healing Festival held in October. Faith loves watching it over and over again!


Stories with Mom - Not only is Faith thankful that her mom loves reading her stories, she is thankful she gets to make up her own stories. This is something we just started and I'm realizing it's a great way for her to learn what an adjective, noun, verb, and other parts of speech are.

Basically, I write an outline of a story and have her fill in the blanks - sort of like "Mad Libs" (which I loved doing when I was younger and which Rob has never heard of!) I was inspired to make up our own one night after reading one of her favorite Arthur books, "The Mystery Babysitter." The book contained a fill-in-the-blank story on the back and she loved it!

Here's an example of a story we made up about her dad:

My dad is very (adjective) happy. He likes to eat (flavor) chocolate cookies. He likes to drink (liquid) water, apple juice, and vinegar. One day my dad took a nap on the (piece of furniture) TV. He didn't wake up until (time) 6:30. He wanted to play his game when he woke up but his (body part) head was still asleep. My dad is (adjective) silly. I love him and he loves me.

Some other things that made this year's thankful list include:
  • Wheel of Fortune
  • Daniel Tiger 
  • Apple juice
  • Cheetos
  • Prayer at the Healing Rooms
  • Her doll, Baby Allie (whom she just started calling her baby sister)
Faith certainly has much to be thankful for and I am glad she recognizes her many blessings. I pray that you, too, take time to thank the Lord for all of your blessings. For those who are going through challenging times this holiday season, I pray you will find true peace and joy in the midst of your struggles - the kind that is only possible with Jesus.

Happy Thanksgiving!