Monday, October 27, 2008

Stop Shaking & Just Click Submit!

Well, my friends who have been waiting for me to submit my article to Guidepost Magazine, I just clicked submit. I have been tossing and turning and probably fretting about my issues with rejection, but I did it today! Thank you Amanda for giving me that last shove! For your reading pleasure is the article I submitted. I wrote this awhile back on my other blog site. My friend Susan told me that I needed to have it edited and then submit it for publication. Who knows? I had it edited a year ago and just today I mustered up enough courage. We'll know in about two months if it was accepted or not. If not, after two months I can submit to another magazine. We'll see!

Just Pull Over
By Lisa Engel

Well, have you ever had to take a test more than once in order to pass, in order to really get it? ! I used to teach high school. I taught for 9 years and I was the kind of teacher that used to really care if the kids "got it". I mean, grades didn't matter that much really, as long as, in the end, they really understood what you've been trying to teach them. So, if a student took a test twice, or three times, I was happy to give him the average. Not to say everyone was allowed more time to study, so “just fail Mrs. Engel’s tests and she'll let you try again”, NO, I had to see you trying the whole time. After all, I'm not God. But God is like that you know. He will let you try and try until you "get it". Then, every once in a while, He'll test you again, just to see that you've retained it all. Yes! That is where the title of this story comes in, “Just Pull Over”.

This past fall I learned, finally, to just pull over. I was in the car with my three boys. I have one child, Kyle, with some challenges; he has an autism spectrum disorder called PDD-NOS (Pervasive Developmental Disorder-Not Otherwise Specified). He is an awesome kid! However, you never really know what might set him off. I was picking up my 3-year old from preschool and Kyle, along his twin brother Brendan, were supposed to stay buckled in the car. It was pouring outside. I just had to go to the door and the school would send my little one right to me so I didn't even have to go inside and I can still keep an eye on my other boys. Well, of course my son Kyle had to unbuckle, climb out of the car, into the storm, and follow me to the door. Oh, did I forget to mention he had no shoes on, (that becomes important in a moment)? Now, first of all, I knew that his clothes would get wet and that would be unsettling and difficult to handle, but then as he was running to me he slipped, fell and scraped his leg on the cement. I quickly grabbed him and my 3-year old and ran to the car to get them buckled in again. All the while Kyle was, screaming because he was wet and hurt. I checked his leg and there was no blood, so I buckled him in (I was soaked to the bone) then, I buckled my 3 year old in and off I drove to go home.

Meanwhile, I have my other twin, Brendan, screaming because his brother is screaming and throwing a fit, and then the other one joins in because, well, if you can't beat 'em..... So, I am less that 5 minutes away from home and I calmly tell Kyle, "It's okay, Mommy will put a Band-Aid on it when we get home, we're almost home, just hang in there, then we can get new clothes and we'll fix your scratch". Isn't that what you would say? Well, he had those sobs where you can hardly breath and the tears were really plinking out hard. I knew in my heart he was uncomfortable in every way. He struggles with sensory integration dysfunction and the wet clothes plus the scratch were too much for him. So, less than 3 minutes from home, I just PULLED OVER. I went to the backseat of my van, unbuckled my boy, held him in my arms, kissed him, prayed for his scratched leg and literally rocked him in my arms for 5 minutes. It was amazing. It was so quiet in my van. The sound of the rain was calmingly loud. As I held him, and he held me, he said to me in such a peaceful loving voice, "I SO love you Mommy". I learned a very important lesson. It's all about Pulling Over!

I've had to be reminded of that a lot. I'm getting better. Don't we all struggle sometimes just to get through the day? But what is really important at the end of the day? Is it that we get everything done, or that all of our ducks are in a row? Or are the important things found in moments when we "pull over", grab the moment, and cherish the memory of holding our crying 5 year old, or tickling one another, or having a tea and cucumber party. Really, for me it's about sitting on the carpet instead of always standing at the stove or sink. As one of my friends said, it's about silently staring at the stars with your son, that moment that you wish you could freeze and make time stand still.

I know why God keeps allowing me to take this test. Not only is it because he wants me to pass, but He knows I will cherish those moments forever. Also, He wants me to know that that is exactly what He does for me, and He cherishes those moments with me, His daughter, just as much as I do with my sons. The next time God pulls over for you, don't forget to tell him "I SO love you Abba."

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Special

I know you've met my Kyle before! Isn't he just special? OH I can't stand it---I love him so much! All my boys are special of course, but Kyle as you know has some "issues"! I've gone into much detail in previous posts and in fact this one is not really all about him, but I met someone last Sunday when I went for a walk that really made me think.

Her name was Terri! I didn't have my camera, and she was a complete stranger, but we walked by each other as I was going for my walk last Sunday after church. I was headed west, she was headed east. Usually, when people pass by, I smile and say "Hi". It was no different with Terri, but she spoke up first. "Lots of loud bikes out today huh?", she said with a smile. "Yes, Biketoberfest always brings out the loud pipes" I replied. In order to say this many words, we actually had to stop. She looked at me, eyes darting right into my soul, and she smiled as if she and I were old friends. She was most likely in her 70s and she wore a smile that was so contagious! I kid you not, when she and I looked at each other I saw a sparkle in her eye and she said these words to me as she reached out her hand: "My name is Terri and I love Jesus!". "Well, it is so nice to meet you Terri, my name is Lisa and I love Jesus too!" I couldn't help but love her instantly!

She went on to explain to me that she has brain damage. A few years back she was attacked, and though they could not find her attackers, she was left with brain damage but she loves Jesus and is very thankful that her daughter has taken her in. As she spoke, her whole face shined with joy. She told me that her daughter doesn't go to church with her and she will not let her grandchildren go either, but Terri still goes and hopes that they will someday. We talked as if we were old friends and yet it was for less than 5 minutes. I said that I would pray for her and her family, that they would come to know Christ as their Savior. She smiled at me with her understanding eyes, we shared a brief hug, then we said our goodbyes and she headed east and I headed west.
As I walked away, I said a little prayer to the Lord, something like this: "Father, thank you for allowing me to meet sweet Terri today. Lord, she loves you so much! I pray that you would heal her brain damage in the name of Jesus." As if the Lord were right there beside me, walking west with me, he whispered in my heart: "Why do I need to heal Terri? She is perfect.....she loves me with all of her heart, all of her mind and all of her soul." OH, Father, of course, there is nothing wrong with Terri! She may have brain damage, but the Holy Spirit resides in her heart and her mind is clear on the most important thing......her Jesus loves her and she loves Him!

I was reminded that I feel that same way with my son Kyle. Really, what is most important when it comes to his life. As a Mom, I don't want to see my son struggle, I pray regularly that the wires in his brain would be connected and that he would be healed. I would love to know that those obstacles in his sweet life were lifted, but really, what is most important? That he learn to read and write, that he can handle change, that he transitions well, or that he knows that his Jesus loves him and he loves his Jesus! What is most important? Thank you Lord that Kyle loves you and that you show him regularly how much you love him. His mind may not work like his brothers', he may not be able to grasp some of the same concepts that other children his age can grasp and he may not always act like a 7 year old, but there is one thing that he is sure of.....he loves his Jesus and his Jesus loves him.....and he will tell anyone at anytime....just like Terri! We all need to be a little more like these two people!

Please pray for me this week as I go before the child study team and we work out Kyle's IEP. Kyle has recently been through a battery of tests and it has been determined that although he is high functioning on the autism spectrum (PDD-NOS), he has be evaluated as Extremely Learning Disabled. Kyle is not homeschooled, he goes to a public school and I do believe that most people there that know Kyle love him. (It is hard not to)! However, I am his Mom, and really, I have laid out my fleece before the Lord. Kyle needs certain things in order to help him learn, and there are certain things that, we as his parents, feel would be detrimental to him. If the school leaves us with no choice, we may have to remove him and homeschool him. The Lord knows what is best for Kyle, hence the laying of the fleece. It is our way of knowing God's will for our son at this particular juncture. Please pray that the Lord grants me wisdom and strength at this meeting, as my husband will be unable to attend.

As parents, and/or as believers, we must trust in the Lord at all times, for all things and then we must obey. We are trusting the Lord for our Kyle, help me Father to obey! Thank you Lord for special people in our lives, like Terri and Kyle that remind us what is most important. I love you Lord!

The Lord Came Knocking!

Just ask my boys. It is true. Last night at 8:45pm (I know my boys should have been sleeping - they were tyring), we opened up our front door and this is what we saw!

I felt a little bit like Granny Han last night. For those of you that do not know Granny Han....click here...and meet her! My boys were blown away. "God came here....I don't see Him?" "Wow, God bought me bubble bath!" In my last post I said that I have been standing on the Word of God to see us through this hard time. Well, God showed up last night and did exactly what He says He will do in Philippians 4:19 "And my God shall meet all your needs according to His glorious riches in Christ Jesus." My boys have prayed these prayers right along with me and now they know, and if you ask them they will tell you, "God gave these bags of groceries to us!" Not just groceries either, Spider Man Bubble Bath, Laundry Detergent, and you can see the rest. We don't know the person who did this. All we know is that this family did not have enough this week to make ends meet, but we trusted and obeyed, and God is always faithful!

Granny (Pauline) Han, was ambassador for Christ in Taiwan and she totally depended on the Lord for her every need. He came through every single time and not only for her needs, but for some of her indulgences (chocolate and coffee) as well. Spider Man Bubble Bath and Jif Peanut Butter - come on....that is just so special - indulgences (bubble bath is not a need and we would have been happy with Winn-Dixie peanut butter, but Jif is our favorite!). Shane came to me this morning and asked if he could take a bath with the Bubble Bath that Jesus gave to us! The Lord also filled our gas tanks so we could last until my paycheck which is next Tuesday! Thank you Lord for hearing our prayers and seeing that all of our needs are met!

Husband starts a new job next week. We are very excited for him. He will be surrounded by other believers and his work environment will be an encouragement to his soul. We pray for the Lord's favor upon him and thank the Lord for yet another opportunity for Mike to gain more knowledge and to touch people's lives.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

The Journey

This is a picture of our latest hiking adventure. We so enjoyed getting lost in the swamp/marsh and getting lost in the beauty of what God has placed in our on back yard. This is a 10 minute drive from our home.

Lately, if you've read my blog, I have shared with you some of the trials in my life. Well, about a week ago, I thought I was going to lose it. I came home from a field trip, and I must have cried for 2 hours! Not just cried, but sobbed. I felt like I was experiencing post-partum issues again. NO, it wasn't that! I think it was just the Lord showing me I must trust him even more! He was encouraging me to trust him more and to develop my faith, my spiritual endurance and if affect my ministry. OK. So after I made my distress call to my friend Lorrie, who dropped everything to find me in a puddle of tears on my bedroom floor, and my husband came home from work to make sure I was not really losing it.....I rested! God was truly preparing me for something.

He was preparing me for my journey. If your reading this blog, you've chosen to join me in my journey like my blog header proposes. Yea!! I'm excited, because let me tell you, I am presently armed and carrying my compass (unlike the journey above when we got a little lost in the marshland). Let me share with you what God is showing me today!

3 John 2 says this "Dear friend, I pray that you may enjoy good health and that all may go well with you, even as your soul is getting along well." It is normally God's will that believers be healthy and that our lives be accompanied by his blessings. He wants all to go well with us, i.e., that our work, plans, purposes, ministry, families, etc., go according to God's will and direction. Thus, God's blessings through redemption in Christ are intended to meet both physical and spiritual needs. Here is the coolest part...the word here translated "all may go well" in the Greek (I know I sound like Beth Moore huh?) is "euodoo" and it means to have a good journey, to be led along a good road. According to that meaning, John's primary prayer was that as believers walk the road of salvation, they may continue in God's will and his truth and enjoy his blessing! I'm so excited.

I have been sharpening up my sword! As far as my trials are concerned....I declare today...I am not in control of these circumstances, (caring for an elderly grandfather whose mind is declining, not enough money to cover my expenses, no health insurance, no car, a child whose disabilities are at times glaring and troublesome, my own health issues), I relinquish control to Him who is able. 2 Corinthians 9:8-11 "And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that in all things, at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work. As it is written, 'He has scattered abroad his gifts to the poor; his righteousness endures forever.' Now he who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will also supply and increase your store of seed and will enlarge the harvest of your righteousness. you will be made rich in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God."

Philippians 4:19 "And my God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus."

Proverbs 4:21-22 "... listen closely to my words. Do not let them out of your sight, keep them within your heart; for they are life to those who find them and health to a man's whole body!"

This is the reason why I sit here today with index cards with His words on them, that I pledge to read out loud every day, several times a day, I will not let them out my sight...I plan to keep them within my heart!

My "compass" is telling me that I must seek God's will, obey the Holy Spirit, remain separated from the world, love God's Word, seek his help in prayer, work hard, trust him to supply all of our needs, and live by the principle of seeking first the kingdom of God and his righteousness.

My journey......its a good journey!

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Honor Thy Mother

My mother-in-law has been fighting Stage 4 ovarian cancer for over 7 years now. I have to say, in my book, she has done an amazing job at fighting (and it has been a fight), and she continues to do so. This past month has been the most difficult for her as her chemotherapy has changed and her body absolutely hated it!! This weekend my husband and his sister had their Mom admitted to the hospital. She was in terrible condition. She had been terribly dehydrated and her blood pressure was something like 60/80. She was disoriented and her body had gone into renal failure.

I have known my mother-in-law for 20 years (I've been a daughter-in-law for almost 19 years). I went to hospital to see her on Sunday after church and this is where my story begins. I tiptoed into her room, hands full of cards written and drawn with much love from my boys. The faith of my boys ministers to me greatly (but that is another blog)! I go in and for the first time I see my mother-in-law with her bald head. She is careful to always have it hidden, at least in my presence. I know my husband and his sister have seen her this way, but not me. She was beautiful. She didn't expect me (I didn't call ahead of time), but she seemed pleasantly surprised. I came over and sat beside her and we talked through the pictures and cards from my boys. She laughed as she read each one, particularly amazed at Shane's penmanship and the "Z" on Kyle's picture of Jesus. Of course I had to explain that Kyle says "Jesus" like "Zesus" so hence the "Z" on the shirt of Jesus. I placed the cards on her table and sat down again. I asked her what I could do for her while I was there and she asked me to do a few things. My heart just leaped inside my chest, because like her son, it is hard to help them when they need it. I think in runs in that family - that whole independence thing.

I sat down next to her and said that I know that she generally doesn't like visitors (she hasn't in the past), but that I just wanted her to know how much we love her and that we are praying for her and my whole church is praying for her too. Then she reached out her hand to hold mine. My heart was so moved. I got a little choked up. She has never reached out to me like this before. She held my hand tightly and said, "I'm glad you are here, you are family!" Well, that just about did it for me. It took everything to hold back my emotion. I squeezed her hand back and told her that I have always loved as if she were my own. I wanted her to know that Mike and I will always be there for her and that she must know that there is no end to our love and we want her to know that it truly is our desire to honor her. Whatever she needs, she needs just to ask.

As we sat there hand in hand, we talk of a few other things and then I knew that my sister-in-law would be coming soon so I wanted to give her a chance to rest. I stood up and told my mother-in-law that I wanted to "lay hands on you and pray for you". I don't think she knew what I meant when I said "lay hands", but she soon found out. I place one hand gently on her beautiful bald head and one on her heart and I prayed something like this: "Father in Heaven, I love you so much! I am so glad that you are all that we ever need Lord, you are the Great I Am. Lord, I bring before You my "mother" and I ask Lord that you would reach down from Heaven and touch her body. Pour out Yourself for the healing of this woman's body and spirit. Lord, I pray that she would sense Your presence. I pray that You would send your Holy Spirit to comfort her soul and her body. Set a hedge of protection around her heart and mind. Line up her body with the Word of God. Father, you created her and even knew her before she was born, you have command over ever cell in her body, heal her Lord and may she give you all the Glory. In Jesus Name.....Amen".

As I prayed over her, I felt the peace of God all over her body. I could feel her heart under my hand and it beat so calmly. Her breathing was steady.....there was peace. I reach over and kissed that beautiful bald head and thanked her for letting me visit. She thanked me for coming, I told her I love her and I left.

Thank you Lord for allowing me to honor my mother-in-law. Please continue to do a work in her heart and in her body!

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Get Well Mom

I've been a little under the weather lately. I've come down with a crazy head cold. UGH! I know this is the way the Lord tells me to SLOW down. Even without a car, we are still a wild and crazy bunch in this house. Anyway, I wanted to share with you a sure fire way to get well quickly!

This would be Kyle, always trying to make me smile!

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This would be my Shane - always trying to do everything his big brothers do!

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Thursday, October 2, 2008

Beauty or the Beast?

It is no big secret that there has definitely been some financial issues in the Engel home as of late. Husband was laid off for about 6 months, finally got a job, but job doesn't pay so good. We have no car, or money to buy a car, we really cannot afford to splurge in any way shape or form. No problem, because I'm studying faith and I'm guessing I'm a" hands-on" kind of learner.....so, like Paul, I am forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, pressing on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. See Philippians 3:13-14.

All this to say that something very strange happened last week. Let me rewind and you can peek in the window of my life on an ordinary Thursday morning. Woke up and saw Kyle off to school. Had a half-hour to do my devotions/bible study and pray. Woke up Brendan and Shane, went outside and started doing our homeschooling devotions -- Ironically enough the lesson was on God is faithful!

I was feeling kind of blah that morning. I didn't get a shower, because I wanted to get my Bible study time in, so not only did I feel blah, but I looked the part as well. Then suddenly, there was a knock on my door. Jesus in skin appears (whom I recognized as a dear friend/sister) and says to me: "My car is running, I'm here to homeschool your children today, you get in my car and go to the Riverview Spa."

The spa! Me! My mind could not handle it. My "Jesus in skin" had purchased a facial for me and I was to go and get pampered for a few hours and let every care be released. In the car, I cried all the way to the spa, saying things like this: "I so don't deserve a facial!", "I'm embarrassed to walk into that place right now when I can't even rub two pennies together.", "Why bother tyring to make this beast of a face beautiful." (ouch!)...I just cried and cried. By the time I pulled in to the parking lot, I looked into the rear view mirror and saw my red nose and swollen cheeks from crying and all I could say was..."UGH!" I got out of the car and placed a smile on my face and walked in for my appointment.

I told the lady at the desk that I was there to see (another friend of mine who does facials for a living), and this kind lady walked me back to the showers. She said I could put my bathing suit on and go into the mineral waterfall or take a shower or do both. It was then that my own personal waterfall began to flow again, I just said in my awful cry voice, "I would love to just take a shower, since I didn't get a chance to get one this morning." She showed me my locker and handed me towels and washcloths and then she said "If you would like a razor...." How did she know that shaving is a luxury. I don't have the time or proper lighting in my bathroom to shave comfortably and perfectly -- I love to shave my legs! OH, I was overwhelmed. By this time, there were five other women in that room, who all thought I was (probably pathetic) in desperate need for some pampering because they all told me to use the showers first!

As I stood in the shower, razor in hand, with every soap, shampoo, conditioner and lotion at my disposal, I let the water run on my red face and cried again. As the water hit my head and ran down my face and mingled with my tears, I could almost feel the gentle hand of my Lord and I could almost hear His voice whisper "My daughter, I long to lavish you with my love and my grace. This is my will for you, allow me to wash you with my presence and fill you with my spirit. You are my daughter and to me you are worth more than gold and far more beautiful that rubies! In me you find rest and restoration for your body and spirit." Oh, I just cried out to God, this time saying things like this: "Please forgive me my Lord! Fill me with the joy of the Lord so that I may have the strength to endure the road before me! Thank you Lord for lavishing your grace and love upon me, your daughter! Thank you Lord for placing people in my life who, by loving me in this world, demonstrates in some small part the greater love you have for me!"

By the time I actually went into the room to get my facial done, I was more than ready to receive! I told my friend, please do everything you do and don't skimp I am so ready to receive! She smiled and loved on me that day! She is amazing at giving facials - truly gifted! She let the tears flow and she made me smile and laugh. She messaged my neck, arms, hands, legs and feet! She took me on a little trip to paradise right there in that room! It was blissful!

I was a new woman when I left that spa. I came home, only after a few hours and told my children school was done and we were going to play the rest of the day. I jumped on the trampoline, colored outside in the grass, pushed my 5 year old on the swing and giggled, laughed and tickled my kids for the rest of the day. My Shane asked me where I had gone, when I told him where I had gone and how it made me feel, he looked me straight in the face as we laid in the grass together and told me this: "Mom, you didn't need to go anywhere to make you feel pretty - you're the most beautifulest Mommy in the whole wide world."

Seriously? Could life on this earth get any better than that!?