Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Faded Roses

We recently celebrated our 32nd wedding anniversary. The morning of our anniversary I woke to find a dozen gorgeous roses and a card on my dresser. We had said we would celebrate the following week because of work, sermon prep and travel schedules on my husband's plate the week of our anniversary. So I was quite surprised to wake to the flowers and card. Also I had postponed my plans for him, except for dinner, until the next week. We celebrated that night with a delicious BBQ salmon dinner and broke out our china and goblets for the first time since moving to Colorado. We did celebrate more this week when Joel took Friday off and we took a day trip exploring the nearby mountains with a late dinner on the way home.

I woke to these on our anniversary

The roses were so beautiful with vibrant hues like a sunset. I thoroughly enjoyed visually soaking up their colors, textures and shapes. The way they contrasted with the cobalt blue and white pitcher I placed them in was breathtaking. Each day they opened more and more. But by day four they started looking beyond their prime and by day five they were drooping and withering.









I am so glad our love is not like those roses, flame bright and flamboyant, but in a few days fading, drooping, wilting - dead.

       Wilted and faded by day five

Because of Christ in us, we are able to love each other through good times and bad, in sickness and health and in the midst of any circumstances. Sure there are days where the bloom of our love temporarily wilts a bit. Days where one of us has our eyes on self and our wants, needs or expectations rather than on loving God and our neighbors as ourselves.

12 Put on then as God's chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, 13 bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive.
Colossians 3:12-13

John Piper in his book "This Momentary Marriage" has this to say about the passage in Colossians 3:12-13. "As the Lord has forgiven you, so you must also forgive your spouse, As the Lord "bears with you", so you should bear with your spouse. The Lord "bears with us" every day as we fall short of His will. Indeed the distance between what Christ expects of us and what we achieve is infinitely greater than the distance between what we expect of our spouse and what he or she achieves. Christ always forgives more and endures more than we do. Forgive as you have been forgiven. Bear with as He bears with you...Let the measure of God's grace to you in the cross of Christ be the measure of your grace to your spouse.

Piper goes on to say, "In other words, Colossians 3:12-13 says, take the vertical grace of forgiveness and justification and bend them horizontally to your spouse. Marriage is meant to be a unique matrix for this display of grace. This is what marriage is for ultimately - the display of Christ's covenant keeping grace."

Wow! It is SO convicting to think how many times I have failed to extend as much grace to my spouse as Christ has extended to me. 

So while the roses quickly fade, our marriages when based on God's grace and love will continually blossom. Fresh flowers of daily grace are available to us and our marriages from our generous and loving God. Let's pray we may all extend grace to our spouses in the manner our Lord has extended grace to each of us.

Grace and blessings,

Deb

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Finding a Fit

I am so thankful that God worked so clearly and evidently in so many, many details of our move out of Arizona. I told a couple close friends, just prior to our leaving Arizona, that even if a magic cure of all my symptoms came today, I knew to not move would still be in disobedience to God's revealed will for our lives. Having those obvious evidences of His leading are now so reassuring!

We have been in our new area for almost three months. I am struggling with homesickness for relationships and our church body in Arizona. The assurance of God's leading is something I am so grateful for as we try to find our fit in a new area and church. We haven't yet had time invested to develop and grow new close relationships.

So we wait and pray to find our fit. Waiting for relationships to form, to see how God intends to use us to serve and minister to others in this new season and place. The waiting is harder being summer and so many functions at church are suspended until fall and many people are traveling on vacations.

Today I had a "Children of Israel" morning where I was looking back and I was pining to be back in my "Egypt" of Arizona. Just as the children of Israel forgot their enslavement and trials and lamented over missing the foods they had in Egypt instead of being content from manna from heaven, I too was focusing on the people and relationships I missed and forgetting about the severe reactions and intense pain that had enslaved me in Arizona.

Numbers 11:4-6

4Now the rabble that was among them had a strong craving. And the people of Israel also wept again and said, “Oh that we had meat to eat! 5We remember the fish we ate in Egypt that cost nothing, the cucumbers, the melons, the leeks, the onions, and the garlic. 6But now our strength is dried up, and there is nothing at all but this manna to look at.”

Thankfully I was able to text a couple dear sisters in Arizona this morning and share my struggles and have them pray for and encourage me where my hope lies. I am praying as I wait to find a fit, I will keep my eyes fixed on Jesus the one who is the author and finisher of my faith and my source of joy and peace.

Blessings,

Deb



View of the mountains from our neighborhood



Bunny that lives in our back yard.



Thursday, July 17, 2014

Non Toxic Wood Renewal

Since I am sensitive to many chemicals due to having MCS, I am always on the lookout for simple, natural ways to maintain our home. We recently moved into a home with a open staircase and loft with wood rails. The staircase is the focal point of the main level and looking a bit shabby. Our home is nearly twenty years old and there is a large arched window above our front door in line with the staircase that allows sun to blaze into this two story stairway. As a result the rails were very worn looking due to sun damage and in desperate need of something to restore them.

Awhile back I had seen a Pinterest post about how a woman who had finished a table she had built using coconut oil. I remembered that a couple days ago and decided to try it on my stairway. I rubbed the coconut oil directly on the wood and then rubbed it off with paper towels (I am sure rags would also work). It was a time consuming project to oil all the rails and spindles and wipe them off. Not only did lots of dirt come off onto the towels but it left a wonderful shine and after wiping they feel polished but not oily. I was benefited by the extra bonus of well moisturized hands by the time I completed this project. 

The picture below shows both some of the rails in before and after condition. I will be doing this again as it is needed. I am hoping in the near future to sew a curtain for that arched window to prevent further sun damage and lower summer AC bills. That, my friends, will be another blog post...




Isn't the difference amazing?!!

Colorado and Improved Health

We have lived in Colorado since the end of April and this move has so been the right thing for my health. I am feeling less symptoms and more energy than I have had in at least three years. If I'm exposed to cleaning aisle in a store or perfumes, fabric softener fumes, cigarette smoke, exhaust or other chemicals, I still have reactions. In our home and in the gorgeous outdoors I am doing wonderful. No more constant  full body swelling and all over pain, no more debilitating fatigue or continuous brain fog. I am praising God for this season of better health and enjoying exploring in His glorious creation all around us in Colorado.


I have been blessed to find a doctor who is a MD that also practices holistic medicine and specializes in people with Multiple Chemical Sensitivity and auto-immune disorders. He is great at listening and following up, and has even called me at home! He has started me on supplements and meds that help me bounce back quicker from reactions due to exposures. He also is working to help restore my nervous and immune systems that are stressed from the constant reactions of the last eight months in Arizona from the acrylic polymer used for dust control. I found his name on some on-line site for people with environmental illnesses or MCS that had a link listing MCS friendly doctors while we were still living in Arizona. Since I was dealing with all my symptoms and major brain fog, I am unable to remember where that list is located online. All I know is that God orchestrated all the details of our move and finding this doctor for me and I am SO grateful!



Early May we walked around a nearby lake where we saw hundreds of prairie dogs, loon, herons, grebes, beaver and bald eagles. All of this set against the lovely backdrop of the mountains.



When we got done with our walk we ate some trail mix bars at a picnic table at the trail head and these two prairie dogs where extremely tame and begged food from us and even had a fight over it all about 3 to 4 feet from where we were sitting.





Sunday afternoon drive just west of town


This is a pond in our neighborhood where we walked  last Sunday afternoon with trails through open spaces go by multiple ponds and prairie dog villages but our hike was suddenly cut short by a fast moving thunder storm.

So how can one see all this beauty and not rejoice in our Creator? Colorado so gloriously displays our God's creativity!

Friday, February 28, 2014

Weather Challenges and Confirmations

We are traveling up to North Idaho to visit my Hubby's mother who is nearing the end of her life. We have been on the road for two days and have had to cut our trip short and hole up in a hotel in Missoula, Montana while a winter storm gets the snow and 50 mile per hour winds out of its system. This storm that hit this evening was predicted to hit late tomorrow night when we checked weather reports in Salt Lake this morning while deciding whether to take I-90 or I-84 route.

We had bare and dry pavement from Phoenix until Deer Lodge, MT and began getting into a snowstorm and some packed snow on the interstate. We pulled into Missoula knowing we needed to do something to improve our traction before proceeding on further. Since we have fairly new all weather snow and mud tires we had them siped at a tire dealership. God cared for us in this by the manager until less than 2 weeks ago was my brother's brother-in-law. My brother made a phone call and we got things at employee discount, got us in immediately and help trying to find tire chains/cables the size our car needs. So far none have been located. 

The hour our car was on the rack having all four tires siped, we spent walking in the snowstorm in the trucker end of Missoula since my chemical sensitivities make me unable to tolerate sitting in the waiting area of a tire shop. We got to giggling thinking how God is breaking us into winter weather in preperations for our Colorado move. Yesterday we were in 78 degrees and today walking for almost an hour in 23 degrees snowstorm! While visiting as we walked, we were both struck on what a remarkable difference there is in me physically in a day and a half of being away from Arizona. My swelling is lower than it has been since summer and I feel better and more clear headed and energetic than I have for months! If we had any doubts (which we weren't having as we have seen God's hand be so evident in all of this!) about the rightness of our decision to relocate this is in itself a great confirmation! Oh and being able to be outside and feeling good is wonderful!! We are even more hopeful for our Colorado relocation.

After our tires were ready, we decided to try to proceed on as planned and got back onto Interstate 90 and began heading west. We were unsure and said we would see how it was and if bad turn around at Frenchtown  a few miles west. Immediately we began noticing numerous cars that had just slid off the road into ditches in the increasingly slick road conditions and after a few miles we did turn around and returned to Missoula. We found a hotel and let our families know the changes in plans. Again we laughed thinking about the re-entry to winter living after our five and a half years in the Valley of the Sun. We are hearing the storm will last most the night and will likely be later in the day if at all before the passes will be good for travel. We are praying and would covet your prayers for a break in the weather and for the roads to be quickly cleared so we can get to North Idaho as soon as we can to have the bittersweet time to say our goodbyes to his Mom

Monday, February 24, 2014

God Ordained Interruption to Our Plans

My blog today I am sharing the letter my husband sent out to family and our church sharing about the many huge changes happening in our lives.



God has interrupted our plans in Phoenix. This is driven by Deb’s health (details below). My company approved our relocation to Denver where the company has a large branch while staying in the same job. We so appreciate the flexibility they have shown.

As you may have seen, this fall has been a very challenging time for Deb. Her chemical sensitivity, which had improved the last couple years, has returned with a vengeance and she is now worse than ever.

We started noticing more issues right after our son’s family flew home in September. It progressed to point that the last couple months that every time she would go out shopping or to a social event she would be laid up for 2-3 days or more with swelling throughout her body, all over joint and muscle pain, migraines, extreme fatigue, asthma, ringing ears and eyes that wouldn’t focus. She began joking that she needed a human sized, nontoxic, climate-controlled hamster ball to leave the house.

At first we thought we had missed something she was sensitive to, but when nothing seemed to help we went back to Deb’s doc on Jan 20. The doctor (who is both an internal medicine MD and a homeopath with specialized training on environmental illnesses) checked her blood work to rule out severe kidney disease and then figured out she is very reactive to a new chemical added to water tank trucks and street sweepers to settle dust.  

It turns out that starting July 15, 2013, the state mandated the addition of acrylic polymer to all of the tank trucks and street sweepers to keep our dust levels down to comply with EPA standards so the state can receive federal money for roads.  The military developed this acrylic polymer to spray down the desert sands in Iraq after they had helicopters crash from not being able to see in the dust. It is designed to cling to dust (and everything else) and being acrylic not likely to break down any time soon. This is what is causing Deb’s reactions.  In the middle of September, they began building a school a quarter mile from us as well as two large housing developments a few blocks away. We have not only the tank trucks spraying at the actual sites but the street sweeper goes by our home at least once a day.

After 2 ½ hours of detox treatment, her body was rid of some of the effects, the doc sent her home with maintenance meds to take three times a day. That seemed to help but only for three days. On Monday, Feb 3, after an even worse reaction the previous week, we went back to the environmental medicine clinic. They determined that she is even more sensitive than they first thought. She was given another treatment in the office and sent home with meds to take hourly and as needed when symptoms occur. They also told us she cannot go outside at all, even to sit on patio or work in her garden. In fact, they told us the best thing would be for her to move away from Arizona. We asked about just moving out of the valley (I could commute back) but we were told that this chemical is used across the entire state. Not the news we were expecting!! While still at the office, we asked questions about various places my company has decent size offices in regards to air quality, chemical pollution, etc.

Afterwards, as we were driving home, I told Deb three things.
  1. I have no doubt God moved us down here. Deb heartily agreed.
  2. I am willing to move wherever God has for us so Deb can have a healthier life and be able to go outdoors.
  3. I know this will take time and I want us to remain engaged with our friends and church up until the time we leave.

It is funny how much life can change in a day!  On Sunday, Feb 2, we bought two apple trees to plant and 24 hours later we were talking about returning them back and listing the house. We have cried, talked, prayed and sought counsel from Chris and Tara and spent hours researching online. The following afternoon, I spoke with my boss about the situation, the information from our doctor and our own research.  The outcome was that we began to work on a proposal for me to transfer to the Denver office. Denver is a hub with short flights back to Phoenix or the headquarters in Houston (Spokane and Minneapolis for connection to family, too).

We are looking at suburbs midway between Denver and Boulder, since Boulder Colorado has top rated air quality.  We have been able to confirm they avoid many of the chemicals that we are concerned about, even mosquito fogging.  The communities we are considering are not near agriculture or coal fired power plants and benefit from the mountain breezes from the west.

There are other draws for Denver besides safe environment and job. There are two Sovereign Grace churches in the area, including one in Westminster in the area we are considering. It has been good to get to know Glynn McKinzie, the pastor, in our regional meetings. Boulder has a clinic with a doctor, with very similar credentials as the one who currently cares for Deb’s environmental illness, and will only be 20-30 minute drive.

God is so good and, while it is very hard to leave, we delight in God’s sovereign direction.  We love Grace Church and the time here has been the best 4 years of our lives, yet we are hopeful that Deb will once again regain much of her health and be able to minister to people and enjoy the outdoors. 


In the midst of these major changes, Joel's  93 year old Mom has contracted pneumonia and is wanting to see her kids as she believes her time to go home to the Lord is very near. We have been so blessed with much help from our dear brothers and sisters in the Lord from our church in Arizona as we have sped up our getting the home ready so we can go up to be with his Mom. Our caring friends have painted block walls outside, helped with yard work, hauling loads to the dump, storage unit and Goodwill and today I had a crew of 4 wonderful ladies help get our home thoroughly deep cleaned. Another brother from church is helping Joel sort, clean and haul to storage in the garage tomorrow. Tonight we signed papers with the Realtor, who is close friend from our church, and are shampooing carpets. If all goes as anticipated we will leave to drive to North Idaho to spend some precious time with Mom P.
This process has been a whirlwind. I have told friends it feels like being on a carousel going warp speed while on an emotional roller coaster at the same time. We have seen God's hand orchestrate so many details and trust His sovereign plan to meet our needs in the sell of this home and the actual relocating to Colorado.


  Proverbs 16:9 
The heart of man plans his way, 
but the LORD establishes his steps.




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Thursday, January 23, 2014

Grace Gifts of this Moment

This afternoon I am basking in the sunshine and thinking of the many graces God has put into my life. Yes, life has challenges in it. Everyone has their own unique set of challenges. Today I am purposing to look past the challenges and see what I can be grateful for in this moment. And hopefully, I will keep doing this moment by moment and day by day until living in a grace focused life of joyful gratitude becomes a lifestyle. That is my prayer.

Besides God's own presence in my life, one of my greatest gifts of His grace has been my husband. My husband loves me for who I am, as I am. He is faithful, compassionate, goofy, hard working, playful, ready to serve others, laughs easily, romantic, a great listener, not easily ruffled or frustrated and passionate about God. He is supportive and understanding with me on my bad health days and ready to play or do projects together on my good days. If my bad days interfere with scheduled plans, he takes them with easy grace and a joyful attitude. He enables me to see truth and points me to God, to feel love and acceptance I never thought possible. He truly sees beauty in me even with the gravity pull of age and the graying hair.

Today I had the joy of a surprise visit of a very dear friend who moved halfway across the country last spring. We text, IM and FaceTime but an in person time to jaw and be real was truly like Proverbs 25:25 "Like cold water to a thirsty soul, so is good news from a far country." She is a friend who has connected with me on a level like no other one, As Anne of Green Gables would say, "we are kindred spirits". Today she saw me very "real" as I was in the shower when my doorbell started going "Ding, ding, ding, ding, ding"... But she is the friend you don't mind seeing no matter how you or your house looks (which was very good thing today!!) We have such similar family backgrounds that our families may be clones and we both even have grand kids with long term health issues and challenges. We have that "iron sharpens iron" relationship where we both encourage and hold one another accountable to the truth of the Gospel. God has used her in so many ways to graciously point me to Him and grow me in living in truth and confidence in God rather than fear. Another beautiful thing, is our relationship goes both ways. So thankful for the grace gift of a crazy ringing doorbell and my surprise visit!!

After my visitor left, I basked in the warm sunshine in my back yard oasis and transplanted some of my herb plants and enjoyed the flowers and sunlight sparkling on the water in our new fountain in the middle of our garden. The fountain is visible from our kitchen/family room and patio and so enjoyable to watch the broad billed hummingbirds and Anna's hummingbirds use it for a drinking fountain.This reminded me of the gracious gifts of our senses. Sight to see and enjoy the colors and play of light on the flowers, birds, the fountain and wide expanse of blue skies. Ears that hear the babbling water, the songs of birds and whir of hummingbird wings. The sense of smell to inhale the sweet aroma of the stocks, pansies, and other flowers; to breathe in the fragrance of of the basil, chives and thyme as I planted them in the earthy smelling rich garden soil.  I am so glad for taste buds to savor the fresh tomatoes I picked from our ancient vines that are still producing. Engaging and enjoying what I have in our yard-in-progress rather than pining that it isn't as lush or our landscaping as fully grown out as at our last home.

Hubby very recently completed building these four garden boxes and plumbing and setting up our fountain.

Last year's garden was only the 15 canoe (which you can see part of in this photo) and two six foot stock tanks along the side wall. All a slow work in progress to put in an eclectic potager style garden.

Too often it is easy to focus on what I need to get done, I can't do or I don't have or the mountains of challenges looming in the future, rather than look for the blessings of this moment... each moment. I long to consistently see life through the lens of gratitude for all God allows in it.

I so want to be like David in Psalms 34:1

 " I will bless the LORD at all times;
                         his praise shall continually be in my mouth."

May each of you have grace focused vision to glimpse His grace gifts of this moment!

Blessings,

Deb