My previous post plopped you smack dab into the center of a story and quickly yanked you back up from it before you learned the ending. I'm here to remedy that -- Missy to the rescue!


This year we decided to have a real party for Liberty's fourth birthday. Normally, we just have a cake and family hang-out time, but Liberty has figured out what a birthday party is, and she's been begging for one ever since Mercy's birthday in July. Since I'm not a big party planner, we decided to invite a few friends to play with us at the park.

After searching the calendar for an appropriate date, we finally realized the only day that would work for us was a Sunday which happened to be Liberty's actual birthday. In order to make that arrangement work for everyone involved, we would have to take a picnic lunch to the park after morning church, so my easy, no-work party quickly expanded to feed the party-ers and their families.

On Monday, I read through the lesson plan for my four and five year old Sunday School class, and noted a few random craft supplies that I would need. I planned to shop for them and the party items on Friday.

On Tuesday and Wednesday, the supply lists in my head played themselves repeatedly until I could have recited them in my sleep. I was so worried that I would forget something.

On Thursday I thought it was Friday, so the girls and I shopped at the Dollar Store for everything we would need for the party: pretty paper plates, napkins, party hats, and a package of squirty toys to hand out as party favors. The helium balloons (two matching princess ones so that Liberty and Mercy could not argue over who was holding whose) and the chocolate cupcakes had to wait until late Saturday so they would still be in good condition for the party.

On Friday, I reviewed again the lesson plan for my four and five year old Sunday School class, and realized that I had not purchased those craft items when I shopped for the party supplies. "Oh well," I told myself. "I'll just have to pick them up when I buy the helium balloons on Saturday."

On Saturday, we all woke bright and early and finished up various family errands before heading to the zoo for Jeremy's company picnic. What a gorgeous, crisp, sunny day, it turned out to be. We thoroughly enjoyed our stroll through the zoo paths, and Liberty cracked us up by whipping out her notebook and pen at every exhibit. She told us she was taking notes about the animals. I have a few pictures that I wanted to add to this post, but I cannot find my camera, of course.

When the zoo day was over, we ate a wonderful supper at a restaurant and then toyed with the idea of returning to our small, dark, smelly apartment. I'm sure you don't need to be told what we decided. Jeremy pointed the van towards a furniture store, and we spent a few hours dreaming about how we would decorate our new home. We finally arrived back at the apartment around nine pm.

After Jeremy and I undressed, dressed, read to and tucked the children into bed, I whipped up the batter for the chocolate cupcakes. I put the first batch into the oven and stepped back to take stock of what still needed to be done. Finish baking, finish shopping, pack the party supplies into the van, prepare the craft project for my Sunday School class and review my lesson a final time.

That's when my brain hit the panic button.

Jeremy offered to finish baking and cooling the cupcakes while I went shopping. As I made a list of items to buy at Walmart since the Dollar Store had closed at eight pm, Jeremy made requests: "Will you buy a box of chocolate pudding while you're at the store, please?" "Did you know we are out of Aquafina? You should pick some water bottles up, too." "Mmm, I could really go for one of those spicy chimichangas they keep in the section near the pizzas."

I remember hearing his requests; I remember responding to his requests; I remember thinking specifically about walking back to the pizza section to pick up one of his requests, but when I arrived back at home, I had not purchased any of the items he had asked for. In fact, I did not even realize that I'd forgotten until he said, "Where's the pudding?" as he helped me unpack the grocery bags.

I looked at him blankly, "What pudding?"

"The pudding I asked for before you left."

"Oh," I stared at the bags, "Uh, I don't think I bought any."

"That's okay; I didn't really need to eat that anyway, but where's my chimichanga?"

"Your chimichanga?" I repeated. Then I remembered his requests. "Oh no! Jeremy, I didn't buy any of the things you asked for, not the pudding or the chimichanga or the water. I completely forgot about them. I'm so sorry!"

He looked at me strangely, "Why not?"

"I don't know! I didn't even think about them." I looked at my list to see if I could figure out what had gone wrong. "Oh my goodness, I didn't even write them down. Look!"

"So I don't even get a can of Pepsi?" he said sadly.

"A can of Pepsi? You never asked for a can of Pepsi."

"Yes, I did."

"Well, even if you had, I probably wouldn't have remembered."

"That's true," oddly enough, it sounded as though this logic cheered him up.

I surveyed the finished cupcakes sitting on the stove top. They had turned out perfectly. Then I stared at the items arrayed before me. Paper plates, napkins, toys, craft supplies, balloons, presents that still needed to be wrapped, my lesson book, my Bible, Chadder - our class puppet, diapers that needed to go into the diaper bag...and something inside me broke. I think it was my brain. I started walking in circles. First I walked to the bedroom to get my Sunday School bag. Then I realized I had not prepared the craft, so I stopped and walked back to the kitchen to get the poster board. As I walked into the kitchen, I passed the diapers that needed to be put into the diaper bag, so stopped and walked back to the bedroom to get the diaper bag. Halfway down the hall, I started thinking about what else should go into the diaper bag, and I realized that the chocolate cupcakes would be messy and diaper wipes would be the perfect solution to all that mess, so I turned around to find the diaper wipes.

Are you getting the picture?

This went on for several minutes, until Jeremy stopped me to ask what in the world was wrong. When I was unable to get my thoughts into a complete sentence to tell him my trouble, he decided it was time for us to go to bed, after all it was close to midnight, and we could finish everything in the morning. Of course, I refused to go to bed with so much left undone, so he went to bed without me, and I walked in circles for another hour.

That's when I decided to sit at the computer and blog because blogging usually calms me down and helps my brain get back into a straight line.

I could tell while I typed that it wasn't going to work for me that time, so after posting, I went to bed where I thought and thought and thought about all the things that I needed to finish before church the next day. I think I fell asleep around four in the morning.


The following morning, Jeremy very thoughtfully decided to let me sleep in. He got the girls ready for church and woke me up to tell me that he was taking them in, and he would be back for me shortly.

I jumped out of bed, and cried out to God for HELP; I knew if I tried to hop right in where I left off last night, I would end up running in circles again. God prompted me to take some slow time to sit at the table and make a list of what needed to be done. Surprisingly enough, after reading my list, I realized there really wasn't a lot of work to do. Just some organization. I prioritized and set to work.

Jeremy returned with breakfast from a drive-thru and made me stop to eat it while he read my list. Then he picked an item and got to work on it. We quickly formed an assembly line: when I finished something, he would pack it up and walk it to the van.

We got to church ahead of schedule, and I had everything I needed for a smooth lesson time with my kids.

Afterwards, we drove to the park, and our efficient teamwork continued. Jeremy wrangled the kids while I set the table and prepared our supplies. At one point, I looked up and saw Jeremy climbing up the monkey bars to the platform about 20 feet in the air. He slid down the slide with Mercy in his lap and climbed back up again. Later, he set all the little girls giggling by wearing two party hats, one on each ear. What a wonderful man I married!

I declared the party to be a success even though I forgot to bring any cups, and even though I packed my camera and then couldn't find it. (I still can't find it.) Liberty turned four = success. Liberty and her friends had fun = success.

Really, what more could you ask from a birthday party? (Besides pictures.)
It is one o'clock in the morning, tomorrow is Liberty's birthday and immediately after morning church we're celebrating at a park the very first birthday party I have ever planned/hosted for my own child, I have many more items to check off my to-do list before I'm ready to party, and I'm teaching Sunday School in the morning.

I'm so busy, I can't stop to sleep. I'm so tired, I can't finish my list of things to finish. I'm so excited, I can't sleep even if I were allowed to.

I'm going to head to bed. My brain can't take fit another rational thought into it, and my body won't accomplish another task no matter how small. Oh, Sleep, wherefore art thou?

Wish me luck!
It is with great excitement and even greater trepidation that I announce to you: I have written a book.

Er, I have written what I hope will be a book. It is currently being illustrated (it's a children's book), and I obviously am genetically incapable of keeping a secret.

I tried. Really, I did. I've avoided posting because with the exception of Rachel's story, the only thought on my mind was the book, and I wanted to keep it a secret until I knew what the publisher would say. But do you know how much stress I would be under if I couldn't tell anybody for THAT long?

So there you have it.
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When you say thirty-two-oh-five, you think solely of a number (although why you would say 3205, I'm not quite sure), but when I say 3205 -- which I do from time to time -- immediately hugs, laughter, friendship springs to mind. Thirty-two-oh-five was my dorm room number during the 1998 - 1999 college school year, and four of us girls laughed, cried, loved and played in that room: Brandy (who we called Caprice), Allie, Rachel and Me.

Allie and I became girlfriends to the men who are now our husbands while we lived in that room; Caprice chose to give her former boyfriend a second chance while she lived in that room (oh, what hilarious and serious pros and cons we discussed during that decision!) and Rachel cheered us all on. Caprice and Dan also got engaged towards the end of that year, and the rest of us watched and made suggestions as she cut out dresses from magazines and sewed gorgeous lacy underthings in preparation for her honeymoon. That girl could SEW! My goodness!

Together, the four of us survived Hurricane Georges, hunkered down in 3205, with our essentials at hand in case we had to flee to the hallways and stairwells: bowls of popcorn, liters of soda/pop/coke (see how I compromised there?), textbooks, Bibles, card games, flashlights, blankets and pillows, ID cards. Dan was on hold on phone line one, Rachel's parents were on hold on line two, Rodney held on line three, while Jeremy held on line four. We did not dare disconnect because every other college student on campus was also routing calls through the switchboard, and disconnection meant The End of your outside contact, Forever! The four of us rotated phone time easily. We didn't keep track or time each other. If I had something funny to tell Jeremy, I'd just ask for the phone. When Rachel thought her parents might be getting antsy, she'd ask for a turn.

That was the year the emergency hurricane boxes containing accidentally frozen solid lunches were delivered to dormitories full of starving college students, and the lines for the microwaves rivaled the length of the Great Wall of China! Jeremy and I still refer to Georges whenever we encounter food unfit for consumption. "Well, at least it's not frozen," we say with a grin, or sometimes simply, "Georges," and shrug.

I share these memories with you today because my friend and sister Rachel died peacefully in her sleep earlier this week. Although she had an inoperable brain tumor, she had been living with it for decades, and her passing took us all by surprise.

Allie and I wrote a tribute to her to be shared at her funeral because we cannot get to Canada on such short notice. Allie's words are in bold; mine are italicized.

Yesterday morning, I took some quiet time to write a little history of my friendship with Rachel. When I sent it to Missy, she added her own words, and I think you'll agree that the harmony tells a unique story. This side of heaven, we'll never know all the lives that Rachel touched, but this is the story of how she touched ours.

Rachel ~ September 19, 1978 - September 14, 2010

I met Rachel our first week as college freshmen at Pensacola Christian College, in 1996. Not quite 18, we were both far from home and needed someone to talk to. At that point, we became acquaintances, and she was simply someone I recognized as I moved among the thousands of students, someone I always associated with our shared birthday, a special connection that somehow set her apart in my mind even though we spent little meaningful time together that year.

In the summer of 1997, I met Missy, beginning a friendship that will always be inextricably linked with Rachel’s. Missy and I requested to be roommates for the school year beginning Fall of 1997 and then again in 1998. I remember getting our room assignment that second year and rushing over to see who our new roommates would be. Stacked to one side were boxes with Rachel's name, and another stack with Brandy's (who we all knew as Caprice back then). I was so excited that I already knew who Rachel was. That year was the highlight of my roommate experience.

I remember Allie's excitement the day we read Rachel's name on those boxes. Somehow, in that brief getting-acquainted time a year earlier, Rachel had made a really wonderful impression on Allie. When I asked her what Rachel was like, she said, "I don't really know her; I just feel like I do. I only met her once, and since then we've said hi, but I know you're going to like her! I've been wanting to know her better for a long time. She's going to be a great roommate!"

It turns out, Allie was more than right; both Caprice and Rachel were amazing.

What a blessing it was to have such good friends to come “home” to at the end of the day. As roommates, we did more than just talk about classes and boys (although we did that, too), but we prayed together. More than the mandatory nightly “Prayer Group,” we would wait for “lights out” every evening and take turns praying aloud. Sometimes, in twos or threes, we would go to the “Prayer Room” on our floor to open our Bibles and really talk to God.

Praying together after lights out was the highlight of my year also. It was after dark one night during an impassioned discussion from our bunkbeds when the four of us determined that we would always be "Sister Vessels," a term we made up to define our longing to be used wholly by our Lord and to love each other through anything life brought, always strengthening each other and pointing each other back to glorifying our Lord.

I don’t remember when Rachel’s academic struggles began to intensify. She never focused on her limitations. Years later, she would remind me of how difficult some things were for her, even then, but all I ever saw was her strength. All I ever knew was that we understood each other, that our faith was stronger together. “My strength is made perfect in weakness.” (from 2 Cor 12:9)

I did notice Rachel's physical struggles, but as Allie said, not because Rachel spoke about them or made them prominent. I watched Rachel prepare her hair in the mornings or sit at the desk in the evenings and attempt to focus on her homework. One day I asked her about her symptoms, and without asking for pity, she calmly described a typical day to me. She talked about her frustration in the classroom. She talked about her inability to keep up with her friends. She talked about her embarrassment when she fell in front of others, especially boys. That's the kind of easy, no-pretenses type of relationship we all shared in that college dorm room. Rachel knew that, with us, she did not have to cover up or act like she was able to do everything. We all loved each other the way we were.

What impressed me the most was the way she did not make excuses or ask for a pass on life. She proudly told me how hard she had worked to get to where she was. She ALWAYS gave glory to God and credit to her parents for her present condition and abilities. She was so thankful to have made it to college, and she was determined to finish. Rachel was a very driven person, but in chatting with her, you would never know it. She always made time to stop and talk. She always made time to hug a friend that she happened to be passing. She always asked passing friends about intimate details of their lives about which she was praying. She looked beyond herself and blessed everyone nearby.

After most of our classmates graduated in May of 2000, Rachel and I had one more semester to go, and again, we spent it as roommates. In July of 2001, she flew to California to be a bridesmaid in my wedding.

For the next few years, our contact was sporadic. She was always good about sending cards, but we both had a lot going on with our adult lives. She became involved in several different ministries over the years, but none of them seemed a good permanent fit. I suppose her light was too special to be hidden away in one place. Never was this more apparent than in 2004 when Rachel joined Live Journal. In the days before everyone was on Facebook and people everywhere could tweet from their phones, Rachel took to blogging like a bird taking flight.

Rachel shared with me one time that blogging for her was freedom from her limitations. Somehow, typing used a different part of her brain, an unhindered part, and her thoughts and fingers flowed effortlessly together in a way that rarely occurred for her in any other activity. When that effortless activity finally became fettered too, she struggled internally with that limitation, and that is the first time that I recall seeing her truly down.

Rachel was also an artist. She had an aesthetic sense that I could never comprehend. I could see a pretty picture, but she had an intuition of how to crop it, add text, and lay it out on a page. She was almost always crafting, typically painting or crochet.

Rachel was the best sounding board. She always made me want to do better while still reminding me not to be too hard on myself when I didn’t succeed.

So true! Rachel had a rare combination of compassion, drive and practicality, and as my Sister Vessel, she hugged me, pushed me, and brainstormed with me through various life situations. Oh, how I needed that and will miss her in my life!

Happy Birthday, Rachel. Your pain and limitations are gone. You always wanted to live to the fullest, and now you have life that will never end. I hope I never forget everything the Lord used you to teach me. I hope I always remember to glorify Him in all things as you did.

You made it, Rachel! You finished your race well, and your broken vessel is filled with God's brilliant glory spilling out through all the cracks and overflowing from the top, just like we dreamed.

Thank you for being my friend.
Jeremy has been complaining of chest pain, tightness and pressure for the last four months, but being a guy, he just hasn't been able to gather enough courage to visit the doctor. I'm not sure why that is. He regularly conquers stuck pickle jar lids, grumbling car engines, lagging budgets, scraped knees, and all of my amorous pursuers, but nice doctors who can help are not on his resume. (Spiders aren't either, but that's okay; I can handle spiders myself. It's the crickets that I need his manly shoe for.)

Of course, his visit in 2007 to the emergency room in our Iowa hometown for more acute chest symptoms did not inspire him to return to an ER any time soon.

Finally, last night around midnight, he became uncomfortable enough that he could not sleep, so we decided to visit the emergency room here -- you know, just to see how they've chosen to decorate it.

It was lovely. Beautiful deep blue chairs with curving rich wooden arms.

Oh, sorry.

Long story short (I'm famous for the shortness of my stories, you know. Just ask my parents whose favorite phrase for me when I was growing up was, "Get to the point, Missy!")

(How boring.)

Anyway, long story short, Jeremy was not having a heart attack. He has nothing wrong with his heart at all! Instead, he's been suffering from a viral version of pleurisy. The doctor prescribed a heavy dose of Motrin for about a week, and voila! Perfectly healthy husband!


Plus, we got a wonderful, late-night date from it. To celebrate his relatively clean bill of health, Jeremy and I shared a cardboard container of Arby's curly fries around 3:30 in the morning.

And a side of heartburn. Appropriate for the occasion, I suppose.
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Yesterday, I stood at the stove cooking our omelets, and Liberty kept coming to me and giving me little kisses. After a little while, she said, "Mommy, do you know why I'm giving you so many kisses?"

"Because you love me a LOT, right?" I responded, fairly sure that I had the correct answer.

"No, it's because you are cooking food for me."

Yeah, I should have known that; she takes after her daddy.

Later, after four days of exhausting myself to get my daughters to clean up their toys each day, I finally told them that they had one hour to get everything put exactly where it belonged before I came through with my trash can. I purposefully kept my voice very kind and conversational, trying to convey the idea that I just wanted them to know what the consequences for their actions would be, but the choice to obey or disobey was completely up to them.

Mercy either had no clue or pretended to have no clue and continued pursuing her own agenda. Liberty on the other hand seemed to have grasped the idea that something unpleasant loomed in her near future, and she tried several times to persuade her sister to clean up. However, she put more effort into getting her sister to work than she did in performing any actual work herself.

By the time their chance to clean up had run out, about 80% of the mess remained on the floor. I decided to make a few unobtrusive walk-throughs while the girls were goofing off in another part of the room in order to rescue items that I did not want thrown away, but I purposefully left some precious things on the floor. Things like Liberty's pink blanket. *Cue the dramatic music, please.*

Then from the kitchen, I made a production out of getting the garbage can outfitted with a brand new bag, and I calmly started my journey. Liberty watched the first few items rustle their way into the garbage with something like shock on her face. Mercy ignored it all, or rather, she dumped over a bucket of chalk, and then looked at me in order to communicate that my idea of bad consequences were really of no consequence to her. So I walked over and began nicely scooping chalk pieces into the garbage can.

"NOOOOOOOOOOO!" shrieked Liberty, and she ran over to frantically salvage a few that I had not yet scooped. "Mercy Jane, don't do that!" she yelled.

I moved on to the next closest pile of items and began picking them slowly up one at a time. I did not move so slowly that my actions could be detected as stalling, but I tried to give the girls time to come rescue their toys if they cared to. As I worked, I told them that they were welcome to come rescue whatever they wanted to keep. By this time, poor Liberty sobbed in heaving gulps, and I felt just terrible. But every time I was tempted to stop, I pictured the next time I would have to ask them to clean, or I told myself, "My job is not to have happy kids at all times; it is to equip them to be responsible adults," and I kept going.

When I finally worked my way to Liberty's blanket, I asked her, "Honey, do you want your blanket back?" She nodded, still sobbing and gulping. "I will put it here where you cannot reach it, and when you have done some extra chores, you can earn it back. Understand?" She nodded.

In the meantime, Mercy stood back at the chalkboard tray just waiting for me to glance over at her. When I did, she deliberately swiped the chalk pieces back onto the floor and looked at me. So, I calmly walked back over there and began placing them one piece at a time into the trash. Liberty ran with me and dropped to the floor crying as she tried to block my fingers from their work. "Mercy!" she said. To my surprise, Mercy also dropped to her knees and began picking up the pieces and returning them to the tray. I never saw her face, and she never said a word, so I'm not sure what went on inside her head, but I was glad to see her helping.

We had one last pile in front of a toy box on the far side of the room to pick up, and the two girls ran to get there before I showed up. They randomly tossed things into the toy box, but the small ball that poor Mercy aimed over and over kept missing the box. She got so frustrated that she started to cry, so I stopped and helped her put it away, then I returned to my terrible work.

Finally, the entire room was clean. Liberty continued to wail and heave, and I recognized a good bit of anger in her cry. I decided to let her cry, hoping that her anger would eventually turn towards her own disobedience if I gave her enough time to think it over. But in order to drown out the sound, I plugged the vacuum in and began vacuuming the living room and dining room. Her cries had not subsided when I finished, so I decided to vacuum the hall way and bedrooms.

(Parenthetical sidenote: It's a good thing God has freed me from my fear of having my children taken from me, because all that wailing would normally have paralyzed my heart, and I would have been panicked from worry.)

At last, she had worn herself out. I wrapped up the cord and put the machine away. Then I walked up to Mercy and hugged her. "You made a good decision to help clean, Mercy Jane," I told her warmly. She smiled at me, "I love you, Mommy," she said. "I love you, too, Mercy Jane."

Then I walked over to Liberty. "I'm sorry that some of your toys had to be thrown away, HoneyBunny," I told her compassionately and put my arm around her. She nodded. "I want to sit in your lap, Mommy."

"Okay, why don't you go pick out a book, and I'll read it to you."

"No, I just want to sit in your lap, Mommy."

"Oh, okay. I want to cuddle with you, too, my Liberty Grace."

So we sat and cuddled, until I just had to try to enforce the lesson. "That must have been pretty sad to have your toys thrown away, huh?" I asked her.

She nodded.

"Well, my HoneyBunny, what decision do you think you might make next time I ask you to clean up?"

She solemnly answered, "To get more toys at Walmart."
What a wonderful Thursday we are having!

I knew it would be: my hair looked great in the mirror this morning, so I could just tell.

The girls and I took a trip to the library for something different to do. Of course, I have a huge fine that I can't pay right now, so instead of checking any books out, we spent an hour reading together in a lovely, cozy corner.

Now we are back home, and the girls are wearing bathing suits and rain coats and splashing in the rain puddles outside while I loudly play Big Band/Swing music on my Pandora station. The only thing I can find to be sad about is my hiding camera.

But I can easily remedy that sadness by thinking of what we'll be having for lunch: veggie omelets and a fresh fruit salad!

And now that Pandora is playing some get-up-and-go music, I believe I will get up and go make lunch. Especially since my tummy is grumbling at me.

That is all. Carry on, and don't forget to dance!

**I asked Liberty what I should name my post, and this was her recommendation. (Aye Go is Diego, from Nick Jr.)
You know what? I am tired of being afraid. I'm tired of keeping my voice down, of finding terror in every little scrape or bruise my little girls acquire from a busy day of playing. I'm tired of over-thinking every word that comes out of my mouth or keyboard. I'm tired of trusting in myself to keep my family together.

I haven't told you what happened, not because I'm a private person (obviously, I'm not or I'd have a lot less words recorded on this blog), but because I've learned to fear.

Even now, I'm questioning the wisdom in telling you. Is it wise? I'm going to stop and ask God before I type any further, and if He says no, I'll delete this, and no one will ever know that I started to write a blog post tonight.

Because of Liberty's burn and our call to 911 and her ambulance ride to the burn hospital, our family was investigated for child abuse. Since then, I have had countless, innocent friends, neighbors, even strangers come to tell me, almost always in secret, that they too have been investigated in the past. In fact, the social worker assigned to our case told me that SHE had been investigated when HER children were small. I know the police and social workers care about children, and if I'm thinking rationally and detach myself from the picture, I am thankful that someone is checking on kids' safety.

But don't check on MY KIDS.

Don't threaten MY FAMILY'S togetherness.

MY kids are loved and safe (you know, except for the occasional horrific burn accident...) Sorry, that was meant to be a joke. Did it not come across as funny? I did tell you that my favorite coping mechanism is laughing, right?

Anyway, the fear that moved into my house has not just stolen my joy and killed my light-heartedness. It has choked my relationships. It has destroyed my playfulness. Part of me wants to wrap my children in bubble-wrap (popping those plastic bubbles would keep them busy for a while) and surround them with feather pillows until they are at least eighteen. But I suppose the child protection agencies would frown on that sort of thing, huh?

That is precisely what I am afraid of. I'm afraid that the government has more power over where my children grow up than I do as their parent and that they may frown on me. I'm afraid that any one single accident or tumble or ANYTHING could be the last time I ever see my children. I know that is not what the social worker intended by visiting us, and I know that she went out of her way to be kind and worry-relieving. I know that some of the investigation was just routine because the accident involved a small child. I know that my fears are irrational...well, maybe I don't know that my fears are irrational.

But there's Someone else I know.


I know that He is more powerful than any child protection agent. I know that He has the power to keep my children safe no matter where they grow up.

(Liberty and Mercy are NOT in danger of being taken from us. I just wanted to clarify that point. The investigation proved that this was just a fluke accident, but it stirred something inside me that hasn't calmed down.)

At least, it had not calmed down until tonight. Our Ladies' Bible Study class is starting a series by Beth Moore called Living Beyond Yourself, and tonight, Beth mentioned a Bible verse that God used to talk directly to my heart.

John 10:10 - "The thief [Satan] comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I [Jesus] have come that they [anyone who trusts Me] may have life, and have it to the full."

Have it to the full? I'm barely sure that I have life at this point! The thief has definitely stolen and killed and destroyed quite a bit this past month. I used to live life very fully. What changed?
My focus. I started focusing on the waves around me threatening drowning and causing fear, but God is bigger than the waves!

Living Beyond Yourself is an appropriate title for this study because left to my own control, what else would I focus on? It's natural to see the waves and try to avoid them. But when avoiding them is taken out of my control, I don't have to fear!

I can live using the Holy Spirit's power that God has given to me. I don't have to be afraid anymore! I can be joyful! I can live fully and allow my children to live fully! (Bubble wrap can still be part of the picture, but only if it's not used as clothing.)