Thursday, November 18, 2010

God is using this man, to teach me more about Him

Because I am female (or maybe it’s just because I am Sab Mad) I have these very fluctuating (not to be confused with fluctuating) mood swings. Last week I was all about surgery.

This week I am not.

I look at Joseph and he’s so healthy and strong. He goes to work in the ER, plays with the kids, lifts weights, runs, cuts down trees, changes breaks on the car, lives a very active physical life – his outer shell looks so healthy.

But inside he is dying.

But I can’t see the inside. And the outside appearance gives me a strong desire to live in an illusion.

Our neurologist said that Joseph is the kind of patient that is hard to do surgery on. Not because the surgery is necessarily hard, but because he is so functioning. He said that it’s not easy for him to do surgery on someone who is healthy and asymptomatic because there is a chance that they surgery will leave him considerably less functioning. The surgery may give him symptoms. It may give him a longer life span, but at what cost? His job? His quality of life? His life?

Yeah, while I’m no doctor, I can see why this is the kind of patient that is hard to do surgery on.

I went to a yoga training this past weekend and randomly (I say randomly, but there was nothing random about this encounter. It was ordained.) met this lady. We started talking and through the conversation I learned that she has two small children and her husband has cancer. Brain cancer. Grade 4. Here’s the crazy thing, he has so much in common with Joseph. He was in the air force, went to the Air Force Academy, smart and healthy. One day he took his daughter to a party at Pump It Up, fell and ended up with a concussion. They took him to the hospital to check him out and found a grade 4 brain tumor in his head. He had to have brain surgery immediately and has had both radiation and chemo.

The doctors had given him a year to live. He’s lived 2 so far. He isn’t the same person he was 2 years ago, he has seizures, had to quit working, has bad side effects from radiation and is dying slowly, but got to go to his youngest child’s 2nd birthday party.

They count their blessings.
And believe and trust the same God I know.

I read the following excerpt in my quiet time today:
  • Nothing touches me that has not passed through the hands of my heavenly Father. Nothing. Whatever occurs, God has sovereignly surveyed and approved. We may not know why, but we do know our pain is no accident to Him who guides our lives.
  • Everything I endure is designed to prepare me for serving others more effectively. Everything. Since my Heavenly Father is committed to shaping me into the image of His Son, He knows the ultimate value of this painful experience. It is being used to empty our hands of our own resources, our own sufficiency, and turn us back to Him---the faithful Provider. And God knows what will get through to us.
Things may not be logical or fair, but when God is directing the events of our lives, they are right. (Day by Day with Chuck Swindoll)

I love that. “He knows the ultimate value of this painful experience.” Personally.

People always ask me how Joseph is doing and how he is handling all this. Gosh, that man inspires me. Joseph is doing great. He has his moments where he is sad, really sad, but he isn’t hopeless or angry.

I carry those emotions.

Here is J’s bottom line. He has always, from the time that I have met him, had the understanding that he was put here on this earth to glorify God. Bottom line, that’s his purpose. Every decision he makes and everything he does goes back to “how does this glorify God?” Since I have known him, that’s the way he operates.

So, he doesn’t want to be here on this earth a second longer than God is done using him. Because if he isn’t glorifying God, then he has no purpose. And he would rather be in heaven glorifying God, than on earth with no purpose.

He inspires me.  God is using him to teach me.

Better is one day in your courts,
Better is one day in your house,
Than thousands elsewhere…

Please, Lord, keep this man around for a while. I have so much to learn from him. And please let my babies grow up to be just like their papa. Just like him.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

People always ask me...

...what it's like to have twins.

Well, it's the most amazing, exhausting, overwhelming, humbling, messy, funny, wonderful, fascinating, exhilarating, frustrating, incredible blessing.

In one breath I can be both completely exasperated and hysterically laughing at the same time.

And I am so thankful that God chose to bless me with these little Diva's.

So thankful!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

I wish I was a quick learner

I had a meltdown the other day. You know, it was the kind that you have and are thankful that you are in the privacy of your own home because you are crying the u-g-l-y cry. Oh, except that I wasn’t in the privacy of my home, I was in the grocery store.


So I’m crying, overwhelmed with the circumstances of my life, mad at myself for the lack of patience I have with my kids, mad at God for said circumstances of my life and mad at Joseph for having such a strong faith and relationship with God – all while in the condiment aisle of the grocery store.

I was a mess.

Then I get a phone call. From an amazing friend that I’ve known for years, but hadn’t spoken to in a while because we have crazy busy lives and schedules. She tells me that she thinks of me often and always is intending to call, but life gets in the way. I totally get that. Then she tells me that she felt like God was telling her to stop allowing life to get in the way and call immediately.

It was a divine appointment.

She asks for an update and is overwhelmed by my latest news. She listens to me sob like a baby and then quietly asks me if I have been spending time in God’s Word. Of course, I haven’t been. I’m mad at God today. I don’t want to read His Word. She then, so sweetly, reminds me that it’s okay to not want to talk to Him, He can handle it. Then, ever so gently she tells me that God wants to hear my heart.

“Journal to Him,” she says. “Pour your heart out to Him, the good, the bad and the ugly. He can handle it.” Then she prayed with me and made me promise that I would get out my journal when I got home.

So I did. I walked in the door, threw the groceries on the counter and said to Joseph (with total irritation I might add), “I have to go journal to God.” Then I walked in my room and looked for my most recent journal.

Which of course I couldn’t find. So I opened my nightstand and found an old journal that had empty pages and wrote. And let me tell you, I hope that journal burns up before I die and my kids see my authentic pain poured out in words. It was ugly. Very ugly.

After I was done throwing up my feeling to God about my life, I just laid my head on my journal, exhausted. Then I looked at this old journal and wondered when the last time I wrote in it was. It was December 5th, 2005. Luke was 4 months old and Caleb was 2 ½. Joseph had just started medical school and we had just moved to DC. The whole 3 page journal entry was me pouring out my heart to God and asking him to change my heart and teach me to love Him more than I love my Joseph. Teach me to trust Him, more than my Joseph. Teach me to turn to Him for comfort and rely on Him for strength, instead of always turning to Joseph first.


Here we are almost 6 years later, me having still not learned the lesson. Joseph is still my idol. I turn to him, need him, adore him, count on him, lean on him and expect him to be my everything. Joseph comes first in my life, not God.

I can look back and see the many ways that he has tried to teach me. But as usual, I learn the hard way.

I believe our God is a jealous God. Hear me say this, I do NOT believe that he is vengeful or hateful, but lovingly jealous. He wants us to want Him FIRST. And he will work, for our benefit and because he loves us so much, to give us opportunity to remove the idols in our lives, so that we chose Him first. He has gently tried to nudge me and is kicking it up a notch. And I know that there are way more notches that He could kick it up if He wanted.

For my benefit, because He loves me.

What I love, LOVE, about God is how He works. So He is trying to get my attention and gently teach me something – that is no.kidding.hard. But in that, the way that He is going about this is not punishing Joseph. Joseph is in the best place that he has ever been in with his relationship with Jesus. God is everything to Joseph – his rock, his comfort and his shield. He simply amazes me with his love for God and his desire to be in the presence of the One that created him. It is beautiful and inspiring to see. It actually makes me jealous.

Because I want a relationship like that with God. I want to know God like that. I want God to be my everything.

You have my attention God. You have my attention.

Monday, November 08, 2010

I'm not sure that we learned anything new...

J had an appointment with the neurosurgeon today. I hadn’t been to any of his appointments and really wanted to go to this one. I had been nervous about this all weekend. Very anxious.

J was working in the ER when I got to the hospital, so I sat in the ER waiting room until he was done so that we could go the appointment together. I rarely go to the doctors and was fascinated by the ER waiting room. There were some interesting people there. Gosh, mercy, I love to people watch. But that is probably a whole ‘nother story for a different day.

Anyway, we went up to the fifth floor together, filled out some paperwork and then waited in a room for the neurosurgeon to talk to us. When he walked in, I was initially surprised to see how young he looked. Seriously, he looked like he was 20.

Then he opened his mouth and started talking. He definitely didn’t talk like any 20 year I have ever met before.

It’s interested being in a room with two doctors. It was similar to the time that I was in Mexico. I don’t speak Spanish, I could understand every 10th word or so. Similar situation here, I could maybe pick out ever 7th word or so of the medical conversation J was having with Doogie Howser. It was definitely a different language.

I allowed them to talk over my head for most of the conversation. (Like how I say I “allowed” him, as though there was another choice!) Occasionally I would nod my head in agreement only so that I felt like I was a part of the conversation. No one else noticed.

Towards the end of the conversation I said, “Um, so is it my turn to talk?” Both J and Doogie looked at me like they just noticed I was in the room. Then I said, “So am I going to have him around for a long time?”

Because, really, bottom line that’s all I really want to know. Am I going to have my husband to go on vacations, attend kids sports games, make parenting decisions, laugh at funny things the kids say/do, help me with adolescence, help move kids to college, walk girls down the aisle…grow old with. I don’t want to hear statistics, studies or look at MRI’s. I want someone to tell me that the man I married and share 4 little people with will be there to hold my hand through all life’s adventures.

But no one can tell me that.
No one can promise me that.
Because only God knows when he will take Joseph.
God will do it in His time, His way, for His glorification.
The way that He will do it with all of us.

The news we got today is that J will need surgery to prolong his life. Won’t cure him, but will most likely give him a longer  lifespan. We really like the surgeon that we spoke with (huge answer to prayer) and will probably get a second opinion as a formality. We learned some other technical stuff, but the bottom line is that J needs surgery if he wants to live.

Now we just need to figure out when to make that happen.

Sunday, November 07, 2010

Pumpkin Patch 2010

Here are some pictures from our annual trip to the pumpkin patch.  We drove out to our favorite one, about an hour away, and had a great family day.  It's funny, we've lived here now for 4 years!  Longer than we have ever lived anywhere.  The first time that we went to this pumpkin patch, I was pregnant with the Super Twins. Time is most certainly flying by!

Ella Grace

Can you spot the four little rascals amidst all the pumpkins?

Ella and Luke - 2 peas in a pod!  Really, these two couldn't be more alike.

Caleb and Lily Kate - and these two couldn't be more alike!

The Mad kids.  Does Luke crack you up or what?!

The Mad family.
Lily Kate on her horse. 

And sweet Ella on hers.  Ella was funny - that girl was smiling from ear to ear the whole time she was riding her horse.

Saturday, November 06, 2010

Halloween at the Mad House

A wee bit late posting these pictures, but better late than never right?

On Halloween night we had our second annual, 'Halloween at the Mads' with some of our favorite friends.  But before I get into that, I have to recount our Trunk or Treat adventure that we had a couple of nights before THE big night. 

Our local YMCA had a trunk or treat that we went to last year and we decided to go again.  Let me rephrase that, I decided that we should go again.  JMad was working, so I knew it was going to be a feat to take the Darlings on my own, but felt up for the challange. 

Last year was disasterous because the girls were scared of their own Halloween costumes (which is very sad because I hand made them myself!), so I need not even tell you how they felt about other people in costume.  While they are a year older, I did decide to buy the costumes earlier and hung them in the laundry room so that they could get use to them.  This year they were super excited about putting on their costumes.  Off to a good start.

Daddy helps us eat dinner, get everyone dressed and loaded in the car and then he heads to work.  The kids and I head to the Y, where the drama begins before we are even out of the car.

Lily Kate spies a man dressed in a shark costume.  She seemed a little worried, but also seemed to think that it was a little funny.  Ella, on the other hand, was having none of it.  I finally coax her out of the van, with a lot of prodding, only to find that the boys had dashed out of the van and run off with their friends out of sight.  The drama begins...

The next 2 hours were spent with lots of tears, hiding on the van floor eating candy (and no that wasn't me), running wild, a big fall off the playground, scary costumes that made both girls freak out and way too much candyWay too much.

Yeah, I was definintely not up for that challenge!  Next year they will be older and it should be easier, right?...

Fast forward to Halloween night and a Daddy that has the day off from work.  It went much better and we all had a lot of fun!  For the second year in a row we had our friends over for pizza, play, dress-up, then trick'or'treating and even more candy.  Fun times and lots of memories made!

The following 3 pictures have crazy smudges on them due to some very dirty little 3 year old fingers.  It only took me 20 minutes to figure out that that was the problem.  The pictures were so cute, I had to inlude them.

The clan.  Did I mention our favorite friends have 6 kids.  Can you say, "CHAOS!"

I had to include a picture of the A-D-O-R-A-B-L-E Halloween bags handmade for us by my extremely talented friend Kellie.  We loved them Kel!  They were awesome!!  Love and miss you friend!!!

Thursday, November 04, 2010

Today is your birthday, na-na-na-na-na-na! We're gonna have a good time....

Today is Joseph’s birthday. To say that it has more significance than any other we’ve had together is an understatement. I don’t know how many more birthdays we will have together – 3, 5, 10, 20 or God-willing 50. What I do know is that I am so thankful for the one that we are celebrating today and the 9 that we have gotten to celebrate in the past.

In honor of you, Love, here is a list of my favorite things about JKM:
1. I love how opposite we are in almost every way.
2. I love that we come from issues from complete different ends, but always meet in the same place.
3. I love that you can fix almost anything.
4. I laugh that you use words like “clash” and “doesn’t go together” when trying on clothes. Seriously, Love, I really do think you are color blind.
5. I love that you are stubborn and never give up on anything.  Especially me!
6. I love that Caleb is convinced that you know everything and I know nothing. It makes me happy to know he thinks so highly of you!
7. I love that you “get me”.
8. I love that you love efficiency…
9. …So much in fact that you are known for stuffing the washing machine so full, I can hardly get the clothes out…
10. …but I appreciate how you always try to help me out around the house.
11. I love how much you love Jesus…
12. and that you inspire me to want to know him more.
13. I love that you always know the answers to all the questions that Caleb and I have.
14. I love how you always give everyone the benefit of the doubt.
15. I love that when I have nothing planned for dinner, you never seem upset. Or surprised for that matter…
16. It makes me laugh that after 9 years of marriage and many times of me asking you to put the dishes on the left side of the sink, you still put them on the right side. And then say, “Isn’t that the side you told me to put them on?”
17. I love hearing you read and explain God’s Word to the boys.
18. I love that you always put the laundry away for me…
19. and feed the dog.
20. I love that you always stop for a toothpick when we leave a restaurant and that the boys do it now too.
21. I laugh that you are so laid back with me about most things, but can’t stand it that I wake up full of energy. You are so not a person that wakes up with gusto…
22. and I laugh that you get a taste of your own medicine with your girlies who are just like you in the wake-up department!
23. I love that when I wake up scared in the night, you always pray with me.
24. Oh, and I love that you will also check the whole house even though you know nothing is there and you think I’m being ridiculous.
25. I love how excited you get when you learn something new in God’s Word.
26. It brings me such joy to listen to you interact with the girls. It’s so sweet and gentle…
27. …And indulging. It makes me laugh to think of how they have you whipped!  I fear for their husbands!
28. I love that you are the coolest mix of completely content and extremely ambitious. It’s not just the coolest mix, it’s also the perfect mix.
29. I love that you are the most selfless person I know….
30. and most giving.
31. I laugh that you are so brilliant, yet have a tendency to forget people’s names and rarely know directions to anywhere we go…
32. BUT I am so thankful that you always remember my name and know your way home.

I love you JKM. I love you with everything I have in me. Today is so special to me because you are here. Thank you for helping me find the good things, in the hard things. And for always gently inspiring and encouraging me to be better. When I met you, I was a fragile, newly mended mess. You changed my life. God has used you to give me confidence, security, love and purpose. Thank you for choosing me. And for allowing God to use you in my life.

This journey has been something. And I have a feeling there is way more in store. But there isn’t anyone I would rather be walking it with than you! Happy Birthday Lovey!! I hope this is the best one yet!!