Feeling the Sunshine Love

SOARD LogoAs you guys know we spent a little time hanging out at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta recently (as our luck would have it we were there for Brandi’s birthday which was way more expensive than flying her to New York and staying at the Ritz, but that’s a story for another day).

On Friday (Brandi’s birthday) we had a couple of visitors- Valerie Alino and one of her friends, affectionately nicknamed “The Latino Rockstars”, stopped by to spread some love and cheer. We know Val and her friends through Sunshine On A Ranney Day (SOARD)- the world’s greatest charity who built a room for Karson on to our house. It was the greatest thing- they love all of the families they have done makeovers for- and consider them all family! Because of their love for the families they wanted to reach out to us while we were in the Hospital and love on us. They brought us some snacks and balloons, but most of all they brought us love. They reminded us that they don’t view their makeover families as “causes” to help, but family to love on.

We are blessed to know Pete and Holly, the founders of SOARD, and their amazing team of volunteers, but more importantly we are blessed to be part of the SOARD family!

photo credit: Hamed Saber via photopin cc

From a Mama’s Heart

medium_586305185There are so many things that have been running around in our heads over the past several days, some of which I plan on writing about in the coming days, but Brandi wanted to share something from her heart about Karson. Read on…

So, blogging isn’t really my strong suit which is why I generally leave it to Kristopher. However, I really wanted to share some things with you all.

I want to start by thanking all of you for your prayers, messages, groceries, meals, and help with the boys. I’m not sure how families go through a crisis like we experienced without family and friends to help support them. I’m grateful for each of you and the love that you have poured out on our family.

Another thing that I want to share with you is what I think you should expect to see from me in the near future. We are learning a new normal for Karson and our family and that is going to take time. I have been dealing with bouts of anxiety that at times are almost debilitating. Thankfully, I am surrounded by many who are continually speaking truth into my life. However, there are times that even discussing Karson and what happened with him causes me anxiety to the point that breathing is difficult. So, if you have questions and want specifics I ask that you go to Kristopher. I don’t mind you asking how he’s feeling but please don’t ask me for details about his seizures and hospital stay. I hope that this is something that in the future is better controlled but for now this is what I think is best. Please don’t ask the other boys about any of this either as they are each dealing in their own way and discussing it with someone other than Kristopher or I is not in their best interest.

Also, it is highly unlikely that I will be letting Karson leave my sight, aside from him being with Kristopher, for the very near future. Please don’t be offended but instead remember that this is a new normal for us and it is going to take me some time to adjust. Right now I need to be near him or I need to know that his daddy is right with him. This is as much for my peace of mind as it is to assure that Karson is comfortable while he is adjusting to his new medicine and way of life. This is very scary for all of us and I know that each of you understand that.

Lots of you have asked what you can do. My answer is to continue to cover us in prayer. This is not something we will be dealing with for a few days or even a few weeks. This is our new life. Pray for Kar, that he will continue to respond to the meds and that his body will continue to gain energy as he recoups from his hospital stay. Pray that Kristopher and I know what is the best for him and the other boys. And lastly, pray for the other 3 boys as they adjust to the new ways of life for us.

Finally, I want to share how God has worked in me through this. I was absolutely petrified when Karson had his seizure at home Thursday. However, God gave me the ability to handle the situation the best way I knew how and to keep it together until I could get the help we needed. Since that day the anxiety has been hanging like a dark cloud over me. Like I shared, at times it was debilitating to the point that me focusing on breathing was all I could handle. I shared this with a few of you and I know I have been covered in prayer specifically for peace and many of you have spoken truth to me. However, I was still battling extreme moments of anxiety up until yesterday afternoon. Kristopher took Kar to run some errands and Kristopher’s mom was watching the other boys so I could try and rest. I was laying down and the “what ifs” along with the anxiety attempted to take over. I asked God why He wouldn’t allow the peace in my life that I along with many of my friends were asking for. I reminded Him that I have been praying and searching scripture with no real results. Laying there He pushed back on me and told me that while I had done those things I had yet to CHOOSE peace. My first thought was to argue but after thinking for a minute I decided that maybe He was right. I asked for peace, I read scripture about peace but I didn’t choose peace. Choosing peace means relinquishing control. Control that I didn’t really have anyway. So, I decided to choose peace. I finished the day a little less anxious than the days before and I slept better last night than the nights before. Will I be anxious again? It’s very likely but I know now that peace is my choice. God provides it, I have to choose to rest in it.

Thank you for your prayers and thank you for the love you’ve shown my family. I am grateful to have you in our life as we walk this new road.

Brandi

photo credit: kudaker via photopin cc

An Update on my Kar

Hey Guys,

Many of you are aware that Karson is in the hospital following a seizure Thursday afternoon. You have been praying for him, and reaching out to us offering your prayers and support. We are so grateful for that love, and especially your prayers. We wanted to let you guys know what’s going on- and it was simply easiest and most efficient to do it here rather than try and text, message, call, each one of you.

Yesterday was a good day for Karson. After being on IV fluids overnight he was definitely more himself. We were able to get him to eat some applesauce, and then around dinner time he ate a good bit and actually drank some chocolate milk. He had an EEG yesterday afternoon to try and check what might be going on to cause his seizures. He was not himself during that- because he was super cooperative! (If you know Karson you know that he is not known for his cooperation). Here is a picture of him during the test- we were laughing at his personality showing as he was chewing on the straw…some of the time he was laughing and clapping too.IMG_6613 IMG_6614 IMG_6615

All things were pointing towards us being able to be discharged sometime today mid day (Saturday). However, we had a pretty rough night. Karson had two different seizures last night which was pretty scary for Bran and I. The hospital staff as always were amazing (have we mentioned how much we love Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta?) We have already met with one of the neurologists this morning and the charge nurse is Karson’s nurse for the day. They want him to be seizure free for 24 hours, not have any adverse reactions to the meds, and be “himself” before they’ll talk about us leaving. We are so grateful for their desire to pursue the cause of these seizures and to take the best care of Kar.

Brandi and I are good- worried, concerned, but good. The boys are being taken care of so they’re good as well. What we need most is your prayers. Please pray for wisdom and discernment for the doctors and other team members caring for Karson. Please pray for the meds to work to control his seizures. Please pray for the cause of his seizures to be found. Please pray for clarity of mind and wisdom for Brandi and I.

We love you and are grateful for you.

Here is the verses I have been dwelling on and constantly praying:

Don’t worry about anything, but in everything, through prayer and petition with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses every thought, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.
-Philippines 4:6-7

Simple Service. Everyday Missionaries

IMG_8228Yesterday since the majority of our students were out of school for MLK day we decided to do some sort of service activity. We didn’t do anything really complicated- it was rather simple actually. We took them to our house and made a lot of homemade sugar cookies, bagged them up, and took them around to my neighborhood.

I think that we tend to have the mindset that “serving” means going downtown Atlanta feeding the homeless, or doing something for widows or orphans, but that is not the case. To be clear- it is important, necessary even, to care for the widows, poor, and orphaned but that is not the only groups that we should serve and love on. Serving can become like a mission trip if we are not careful- something we schedule and leave our homes to do, and then return to our comfort zones.

Serving should be something we do right in our backyard. At Crossroads we say that we want to develop fully devoted followers of Jesus, not living for themselves, but as everyday missionaries. That can look like many things- but it doesn’t have to be super complicated. It can be something really simple- like taking sugar cookies to your neighbors. I want my kids, and my students to realize that they should be considering themselves missionaries every day, in every place they find themselves.

So what about you- how can you be a missionary today?

A Prayer About the Easy Life

Jesus,

I confess that I desire the easy life, and yet that this is not my life. While I do not pray to have an easy life, that is the desires that I have within me. I often wonder why life seems so difficult, why living according to your plan is so hard if that is what I should be doing. In my mind I would admit that I have believed that to follow you means that things should go well. I want that life, I want a life free from obstacles, free from conflict, free from troubles, free from diseases, free from problems, free from heartaches.

However, as I study your word I see that you have never promised your followers an easy life. In fact, the opposite is true- you have promised that there will be many troubles. You have promised me that the world will indeed hate me, and that there will be persecutions because you were persecuted (John 15:18:21). You made it plain in scripture that the life of a disciple would not be an easy one- but you provide hope and peace because you have overcome the world, you have overcome the persecution and death (John 16:33).

Help me Father not to cause conflict in my life and call it “persecution.” Guide my steps, my words- direct my path along your ways. Help me to see where I am failing in my flesh and causing grief to come upon myself. May my words and actions be pleasing to you, and bring you glory. Forgive me for where I have failed you.

Father help me to look outside of myself and realize that I do in fact have the easy life. You have blessed me tremendously- with a wonderful family, in a wonderful country, with a wonderful church, with a wonderful pastor. Forgive me for looking at the negative things, and not realizing how abundantly blessed I am in this life. I have not been attacked for my faith, I do not have to fear for safety of myself or my family because I am a Christian- something that many both in the early church, and today around the world do fear.

You are King.

May I live for your name.

Amen.

The Making of a Picture

Each Christmas it is our tradition to buy our boys matching pajamas, or at least similar pajamas…this year we got them vintagey Avengers pajamas. We wound up with a really cute picture that Brandi posted via her social media:

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What you can’t tell is some of the hilariousness (and even frustration) that led to this picture. Here’s some of the pictures we didn’t post: Continue reading “The Making of a Picture”

Expecting Frustrations

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Image Credit

I heard a quote the other day that struck something inside of me. A man said that frustrations are caused by unmet expectations. The more that I thought about this the more that I could identify that frustrations in my life are often due to expectations not being met.

I am a person of high expectations. I have high standards, both of myself and of others- especially for leaders. My parents have instilled in me a huge sense of character and integrity, and I expect the same for others. As I have learned more about myself I realize that I am an intuitive leader. I just intuitively know what to do at times, and how to lead— not that I am a fantastic leader, or even a mediocre leader, but that I just do it by intuition. The problem is that this is not the case for everyone, which is perfectly okay.

As I have learned these things about myself, and learned to be a better leader, I have learned some things about frustrations and expectations.

When it comes to this I have identified three questions I have to ask:

1) Did I clearly communicate my expectations?

Since I am an intuitive leader, I expect others to be as well. I just expect leaders to act a certain way, and have not always clearly communicated what I expected. This has caused me some frustration, and relational conflict in the past, and ultimately it was my own doing. If I do not clearly communicate my expectations it is not the most fair thing to hold someone to those expectations.

2) Are the expectations realistic?

It is good for us to evaluate our expectations to see if they are actually realistic. I can expect someone to act like Jesus, and to give 100 hours of week into ministry— but that’s just not realistic. There have been many times that I have laid out some expectations only to realize later that they simply aren’t realistic. I am so grateful for my wife because she is often the person who is able to point out these unrealistic expectations.

3) Have I communicated my frustrations?

As crazy as it may seem, there have been times that I have become frustrated over and over with people for not meeting the expectations I have for them, even though I actually have never told them I was frustrated! It’s rather silly to think about getting upset with someone again and again about something they don’t even know is happening! If I do not communicate my frustrations the person will often not even know they are failing, and they cannot fix the issue. To communicate this means I have to be willing to confront an issue, which is another huge area I have been learning about, and something that I think we all need to do a better job on (more on that in a later post).

I have high expectations, and that will not change. Biblically speaking the expectations for leaders is very high, but the expectations for all Christians is not lower. I think it is perfectly fine to have these expectations, but if I want to eliminate frustration at unmet expectations I must be willing to do some communication.

What are sources of frustration in your life? Could you tie it to unmet expectations? How do you process these frustrations?

A Letter to My Hometown

Image Credit: Foster Folly News
Image Credit: Foster Folly News

I grew up in a small town in the north part of Florida. It was (and still is) a beautiful town full of beautiful people. Recently a news article from one of the local online newspapers (Foster Folly News) caught my attention, but it was the comments that were so bothersome for me. The short part of the story is that there is evidently a nativity scene on the front lawn of the city hall that has attracted the attention of someone (allegedly a reporter from another local newspaper) who has requested it to be removed for constitutional reasons. It seems to have created quite the stir on social media and many people are commenting on articles demanding a boycott, or demanding this reporter’s job, or other actions. It is to this opportunity, to this point that I wanted to weigh in and offer my thoughts. Continue reading “A Letter to My Hometown”

A Suitable Time to Covet

If you have known me for any length of time you know that my hearing is lousy…at best. If you have known me for a really long time you know that I have a long history of issues with my ears- eight sets of tubes (I’m after a world record), chronic ear infections, non-functioning eustachian tubes, the list could go on for some time, and get super boring.

I’m hopeful that tomorrow marks a turnaround for all of my issues. Continue reading “A Suitable Time to Covet”