Big Sis, Jordan with Abby.
Here is MY (Brent) personal favorite picture of Mom and Abby:
And finally, one that BEGS for a caption...
can you help us figure one out?
Big Sis, Jordan with Abby.
Here is MY (Brent) personal favorite picture of Mom and Abby:
And finally, one that BEGS for a caption...
can you help us figure one out?
I love your comments and questions. They help us all as a community to think more and examine what we believe.
Knowing the Will of God - Necessity
1 John 2:17 - And the world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever. (NKJV)
Let's review what we have learned so far. When trying to determine God's will:
We are going to get busy answering the "gray area" question. One thing to keep in mind: what I'm calling "gray" are those things that are COMMONLY struggled with as "gray". It may be perfectly black and white to you, and in fact, there are many things that seem black and white to me that other people have difficulty with. Even so, if it is not clear to YOU, then it is gray until God leads you to a black and white conclusion.
Some of this is liberty, some of it discretion, some of it maturity and some of it discernment. Everyone is not the same, and thank Heavens for that. So when we talk about "gray" from this point on, we are talking about those common things people struggle to know about God's Will because they cannot turn to a verse that say "you shall not..." or "it's okay...". Or maybe they've just not found the verse yet or found it and misunderstood.
There Are NO Magic Answers
There are several questions and considerations that will help you determine God's Will in the not-so-easy-to-figure-out circumstances. None of the questions considered BY THEMSELVES will give you a magic answer; but when considered as a whole, you should be able to make a Godly decision with confidence.
Let's start with some easy ones... when trying to discover God's Will about a question or circumstance, ask yourself:
We burden ourselves unnecessarily with TOO MANY things, too many choices, too many options, too many commitments, too many activities. God never meant for us to live a million miles an hour with no direction or purpose or anchor (1Thess 4.11). This is the one I struggle with the most because if I get 10 seconds that are not filled with something creative or productive, I start looking around for some new adventure.
It's Harder to Say "No" To the Holy Stuff
It's easier to answer this question when it comes to the "non-sacred". We might easily conclude that more work, more sports or more possessions aren't really necessary but it will take some deeper spiritual maturity to determine when more church, more ministry and more Christian activity is too much. God has promised to give us the answer though when we ask in faith (James 1.5).
Hebrews 12:1 Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, (NKJV)
We are running a race. The Christian life is a race to the finish line: Jesus Christ. If the choice or decision you are pondering is one that involves holding on to sin, then we have a plain answer in Hebrews 12.1: lay aside sin because it ensnares you, traps you and trips you up.
But what about when the choice is amoral (wouldn't be sinful either way)? Notice the admonition to those in the race: Let us lay aside every weight!
The idea here is to throw off anything that will slow you down; anything that will make it harder and longer to reach the finish line which is PERFECTION, becoming like Christ. A runner doesn't carry around an extra 50 fifty pounds when he is trying to run and win a race. In fact, almost embarrassingly, runners today are wearing almost nothing, and certainly carrying nothing extra. Why? So that there is no extra weight or burden to slow them down.
The ancient Olympic runners competed "butt nekkid" (that's Oklahoman for 'naked'). This extreme "laying aside of everything that will hinder us from running" is exactly the mental picture the original readers of this verse would have in mind. Remember that's a "mental picture"... don't go running around nekkid and say Brent told you it would make you a better Christian.
Ask yourself: is it really necessary?
Will it slow me down in my race to be Christ-like? Does it contribute to the goal of finishing the race and winning the race? Will my walk with God be hindered or helped if I toss aside, or better yet, never pick up the extra weight (responsibility, commitment, activity, etc.) associated with this decision?
Another way to help you answer the question "is it really necessary" is to determine "will it matter?" What I mean by that is best demonstrated with a series of questions. When considering a choice or decision ask yourself, "if I do this thing" (or say yes, or commit, or take on this responsibility):
After answering those, ask yourself the NEGATIVE versions of those questions: will it hurt tomorrow? Will I still be paying the consequences 2 months or 20 years from now? Will I lose eternal reward?
Remember, these aren't quick and easy, magic-pill questions. None of the questions we will consider in these posts about "God's will" will give you an answer by themselves. But taken together you should be able to confidently determine God's Will in the vast majority of circumstances.
First, see if the Bible has a plain answer. If you can't find a clear, direct answer in Scripture, then start the process by asking: Is it really necessary? Or just a low priority? An unneeded, extra distraction? Will it matter 10 days or 10 years or 10 lifetimes from now? Hold on to your answers, we'll look at another important question next time.
I look forward to your comments and questions...
ONE: God's plain, revealed Will in Scripture
TWO: God's Will for the "gray" areas NOT plainly and directly addressed in the Bible
We'll do the "simple" part in this post, and begin next time looking at how to determine God's will for the "gray" areas.
The "simple" part is when our questions are directly and plainly answered in Scripture. It's only "simple" however in the sense that we can know God's will; obedience however is frequently NOT so simple.
The command might be simple;
obeying the command is often difficult.
Now I want you to prepare yourself. I'm about to impart to you some incredible, ground-shaking wisdom. Here goes: when it comes to knowing God's Will about those things that are plainly and directly addressed in Scripture...
Find out what the Bible says, and do it.
Okay, that wasn't exactly original or earth shattering, but it is beautiful in its simplicity and incredible in its effectiveness. And, I have to confess, I didn't make it up either.
James 1:22 - But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. (NKJV)
While in concept "finding and doing" is simple, it is NOT simple to actually do it. You have to diligently search the Scriptures (2Tim 2.15; Acts 17.11) and when you find a plain answer, you must obey it, or you are in danger of deceiving yourself about your walk with God.
Obedience has many benefits:
For questions to which there is a plain answer in Scripture, we must not fall prey to "relativism" where we decide that in "some" situations, exceptions can be made to plain Scripture. We fallen and sinful humans are masters at making excuses and justifying sin. Once we open the door of "relative truth" then everything is up for grabs because we can always formulate a "reason" why we are the "exception" to God's Word.
Let me give a few examples where the Bible gives a black and white answer to certain questions about God's will:
These are just a few examples of God's will where the answer is "black and white". But you can't know these plain answers if you don't diligently search the Bible for them. God has promised to reward the sincere seeker of Scriptural wisdom though (James 1.5).
How can we know God's will? First, find out if God's Word has a plain and direct answer to your question or circumstance. If it does, then obey God regardless if you like it, agree with it or how you feel about it.
If there is no plain or direct answer in Scripture.... well, that's where we will pick up next time I post on this topic.
What are your questions about Knowing God's Will, or your comments about this post? Leave us a comment...
Our LOWS: (from Michelle)
Abby gets some blue gatorade from Mom into her feeding
tube with medicine that raises her acid level.
This is supposed to help with her nausea.
Abby's Throwing Up
Thank you so much for praying for Abby and for allowing us to pray for you. I love getting to know you and having the opportunity to pray for you.
The doctors best guess for the blood Abby was throwing up yesterday is a tear in her esophagus, caused by the vomiting. It breaks my heart. They can't run tests to confirm it since she is so weak from the tough chemo, but they are giving her with medication to help it. Thanks to your suggestions and prayers, Abby is throwing up less than she was before. At the worst, she was getting sick 30 times a day, now it is less than 15. Still not good, but at least better.
Before we asked for your suggestions, we were already giving her Zofran every 6 hours and Phenegran every 4 hours, around the clock. Those help, but she was still very sick. We are have been trying your suggestion, and many seem to be helping.
Of the ones we have tried, sniffing rubbing alcohol, Emetrol and cokes seem to be helping the most. The alcohol trick surprised me, but it really helps break the cycle, when she is getting sick. We are trying more of your suggestions every day trying to find a combination that works. Thank you so much for taking the time to give us your suggestions.
Abby has been admitted to the hospital 17 times, since she was diagnosed on July 11, 08. We appreciate her doctors making an effort to keep her home as much as possible.
That's it! You'll be linked in today's entries and we'll have a fun and inspiring list of "Hi/Lo Thursday" posts for everyone to read!
If there are some great entries, I will consider publishing them in Serious.Life Magazine. By including your link here, you agree to give permission for that post to be used in our publications, with proper credit to YOU of course (your screen name and blog address)! Cool?
http://www.seriouslifemagazine.com/ - FREE subscriptions...
Can't wait to read your blog posts for "Hi/Lo Thursday".
Even before Abby became sick, prayer was one of the most important things in my life. I took the Bible's admonition to pray without ceasing literally and ran with it. While I can be quiet in social settings, it is natural to me to keep a running dialog with God, as I go through my day. Life goes so much better when I am focused on serving God and on praying for OTHERS.
I love that people are praying for Abby. You are such a blessing to Abby and our family. But, because what we are going through with Abby is so hard, SO BIG, most people aren't sharing requests with us as much they used to. I really miss praying for things that are on the hearts of others.
I love to pray for both "big" and "small" things. Seeing God bless us by taking care of those little details is a beautiful reminder to me of how much He loves us and how He is watching over us.
One example of this in my life was yesterday when I was instructed by Abby's doctor to bring her in for a blood transfusion, during an ice storm. Abby needed to get to the hospital, but Brent was home with the other children and I was with Abby, 20 miles away, at a doctor's office. With the sun going down, the roads were refreezing. Oklahomans get few opportunities to drive on ice, so I was out of practice and everyone else driving was out of practice too.
Many of you prayed that God would keep us safe while we were driving and He did. Praise God. But what you didn't know was how He provided for us. One of my best friends, Toni, called to check on us, and when she heard what was going on, she offered to drive us to the hospital, stay with us during the transfusion (usually 6-8 hours) and drive us home. Toni moved to Oklahoma a couple of years ago, from Alaska. So we not we not only got to spend some time with one of our favorite people, we were driven by someone who cut her teeth driving on snow and ice.
While Abby was getting the transfusion, Toni read stories to Abby, colored with her and made her feel like a princess. Once Abby was asleep, Toni and I were able to talk. A rare treat when you have a house full of little people. An night that we could have just endured, turned into a blessing. Thank you Toni. You are the best. Don't you love how God takes care of those little details, too?
Would you let us pray for you? I would love to hear what is on your heart and to pray for each of you.
My incredibly talented husband is setting things up so that it will be easy to read everyone's requests, in list form, but so you can also link your blog to ours, so that you can leave more details for us to read and hopefully some pictures too.
Thank you again for praying for our family. I hope you will allow us to pray for you, too.
One goal we have for our blog, is that it becomes a real community of people. One of the trademarks of a community is that people know each other, help each other and pray for each other.On Wednesdays, we are going to do Pray for Me... Pray for Others to help build the sense of community for our readers.
Because we are blessed with a large community of readers, we know you most likely can't pray for every single need or person on this list, especially as it grows. But by looking over this list on Wednesdays... all of us can pray as God leads us and we can know that each needs is probably being prayed for by a lot of people. This particular feature is near to the heart of my beautiful Bride, so you can know she will be praying for you.Pray for Me... Pray for Others is pretty simple: list a short prayer request for YOU, and a link for more detail if needed. Then submit a prayer request for someone else, or some other situation that you know about. Include a link for them if available. Be specific.
For example, I might request that people pray for Abby's healing, and link to our blog. Then I could request prayer for a family that we know who's sister was very seriously injured in a car wreck, and link you over to their blog.Be specific... provide a link for more information. I'm sure that other people will be VERY blessed to have you request prayer for them, and include a link to their blog so that those praying can visit them.
Questions? This is the first week, so if you have suggestions or feedback to make this work better, don't hesitate to email me: firstname.lastname@example.orgPray for Me... Pray for Others - Instructions:
Remember... if you don't take the time to pray for others, then on what basis can you really expect God to lead others to pray for you? I created this with both "directions" in mind - pray for you, pray for me - so that we are both giving and receiving as a community which is far more spiritually productive than simply wanting everyone to pray on our behalf.
Truth is, many people do not have a community they can ask for prayer. We hope to become that community for them.
Let me know if you have suggestions or questions about Pray for Me... Pray for Others. If this is a blessing to you, please leave a comment and let us all know.
That's it! You'll be linked in today's entries and we'll have a fun and inspiring list of "Laughter Lives" posts for everyone to read!
If there are enough good entries, I will consider publishing them in Serious.Life Magazine, or even creating a new book from them. By including your link here, you agree to give permission for that post to be used in other publications, with proper credit to YOU of course (your screen name and blog address)! Cool?
http://www.seriouslifemagazine.com/ - FREE subscriptions...
Can't wait to read your blog posts for "Laughter Lives Tuesday!"
NEXT WEEK: Funny things that have happened at church or a public event.
Told ya... beautiful, amazing, wondrous. But don't let it fool you. Ice storms are dangerous and thankfully, don't happen very often. Here in Oklahoma, we are in just the right place for them... much farther north, and it's usually snow; farther south, rain.
Update on Abby
Before the ice started to stick, Abby made it to a local clinic to get her blood work done. By the time Michelle got half way to Children's hospital (about 40 miles), they had decided to close the clinic/doctor's-office where she was headed and they had to do a Louie back to Norman.
She ended up going to a minor emergency center in Norman to get Abby's blood drawn. They determined she needs a transfusion but there's no way to get her to the hospital until tomorrow at the earliest, if the ice melts.
Michelle's mother lives a couple miles from the minor emergency they ended up at, so she and the kids inched their way over there to spend the night tonight.
Abby needs to get blood soon. She is in metabolic acidosis, which means her body acid is TOO LOW. That, the chemo, and her spinal fluid pressure (probably rising again) are most likely conspiring to keep her throwing up every 10-15 minutes.
We would appreciate your prayers for Abby's health, for the ice to melt quickly tomorrow, and for safe travel in the nasty weather.
Enjoy the "ice" pictures. It is truly magnificent - the kind of wonders God designed (not "evolution") for us to both enjoy, and to stand in respectful awe of.
Tomorrow is "Laughter Lives Tuesday". Our theme this week is "Funny, Cute & Endearing Ways We Say I Love You". I hope you're going to participate... it's been REALLY fun!
As I was writing this, Abby got a bloody nose out of the blue.
Not sure what that means medically yet, probably low platelets.
But it's a good example of how to turn any scene into a fun
pic. She had the toilet paper in her nose to stop the bleeding, so
of course, Dad had to have some too. I hollered for Mom to
grab that camera, and a few minutes later - presto - pic for the blog.
While some of it is professional equipment, software and years of image editing experience, there are a LOT of great tricks/techniques and free software I could show you.
There are a set of basic of guidelines, easy techniques, cheap-to-free software and simple demonstrations that I can teach anyone, no matter what your experience, or what camera you have (from a decent pocket digital to a professional camera). You can learn to create the same quality images I have on my sites or in the magazine (http://www.seriouslifemagazine.com/).
Would you be interested in a FREE ebook or demonstration on this?
I need to gauge the interest level (I don't want to spend time on something nobody wants). If YES, you are interested, leave your email on the form below, and I'll shoot you a quick reply if I have questions, need to clarify something, or to let you know when it is ready (again, it will be a FREE item; just wanted you to know that so you don't think you are signing up to buy something).
By the way, we NEVER share your email with anyone, EVER. Period.
Abby is wearing one of her ponytails that YOU got her. A large group of readers got together and raise the money for ponytails and wigs when Abby got sick.
We already received one wig but it just didn't look natural on her. We figured out after that first one how to get the hair color, thickness and length correct. We have another full wig on order and it should be here soon.
Abby loves her ponytails and has several she wears under hats and scarves. She's very comfortable with her "bald like Daddy" head, but loves to have hair once in a while too.
Big brother Dane, 21, targets some bad guys
with his little webslinging partner, SpideyLandis.
SpideyLandis assumes his trademark pose
while fully robed in his webgear. When he takes it
off, he immediately reminds you his name is
Peter Parker, not Landis.
MeeMaw loves on Abby who was not feeling good
at all for most of her grandparents visit which
you can see in the somewhat strained smile.
You would not BELIEVE how much I had to beg
to get my bride to let me post these pics. This was
her version of trying to ignore me while I was
snapping off shots. She thinks she takes terrible
pictures and most of the time I have no
luck getting her to sign off on the release form.
Ain't she perty?
Kya Blu got to enjoy her very FIRST
piece of bubble gum. Getting her to
NOT swallow it proved fruitless.
PawPaw and Peter Parker ham it up for the camera.
Kyla Blu and her Mom, Candy, show off
Abby's "Jasmine" costume.
A normal day for us, Abby had to stop frequently
and get medicine into her feeding tube port.
She just takes it in stride and accepts it as part of life.
Abby didn't feel well (that's an understatement)
for much of the day. Here she gets some love and
comfort from Kristen's Mom, Phyllis.
Abby, showing off one of her ponytails.
Michelle and I were so blessed to have friends from
all over the Internet, including Phyllis and Candy,
get together and raise money for her hair pieces.
Kristen is a GREAT dancer... she was spinning, lip-syncing
and having a great time leading the dance party.
Abby dancing with Kristen. Sami, Landis, Kyla and
even Candy were all in the room showing off their best moves.
Matt 19:14 - Jesus said, "Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these."
You know why the Kingdom of Heaven belongs to those who are like the children? Because children can have cancer, be in agony, throw up 30 times a day, barely able to walk, need morphine just to keep from crying... and still give hugs, say 'I love you', dance with her friends, smile, be thankful and never once complain.
Then we grow up... and moan about unfairness, express discontent about what we don't have, murmur and grump over every discomfort, say 'I love you' only when we feel like it is deserved, forget to be thankful and of course, we are WAY too embarrassed to dance, showing our love for just being alive.
People often ask why we are so public about Abby's journey... do you still need to know? How many lives can a four year old influence as a living example of Jesus words:
"Let the little children come to me... for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these."
Leave a comment with your gripe, complaint or murmur. We'll send you a picture of Abby.