"to open their eyes, so that they may turn from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faithin me." Acts 26:18

Friday, February 24, 2017

Bullet Post Update

::With 32 days left before we leave to go back to Uganda, we are beginning to ramp up preparations.  We can take 22 suitcases with us...full of clothes, school books, and a variety of things that are either difficult to find in country or very very expensive in country.  The kids are, for the most part, excited to go home.  For some of them, they are probably tempted to count minutes till we leave.  For some of them, they are still cherishing every minute left with cousins.

::I appreciate everyone's prayers for my health.  The doctors at Duke settled on a diagnosis of Primary Adrenal Insufficiency (AI) because of a form of non-classical congenital adrenal hyperplasia. (CAH)  I was likely born missing a partial enzyme that helps the adrenal glands produce the cortisol they are supposed to.  AI is a fairly rare disease and non classical CAH is a rare form of AI.  Many doctors haven't even heard of it...sometimes it's even featured on TV series that deal with rare diseases.  Often times people are surprised to hear that there is a group of people walking this planet that need daily steroids to stay alive.  AI is also a bit of difficult beast to work with, because your body doesn't produce the exact same amount of cortisol every day.  So I can't just take one pill every day and call it good.  If you are under job stress, a super busy day, have a difficult conversation, get in a car accident, or have surgery your body requires differing levels of cortisol for differing levels of stress.  Most stress is unpredictable...we know not what a day will bring...so more often than not, AI patients who loose the "fight or flight" hormone will have a few more sick days (for me that means lots of pain, fevers, stomach aches, nausea, racing heart, horrid brain fog, and lack of sleep) as we work in retrospect to gain back (cortisol) what God originally intended the body to do in tandem with life.  I carry a shot kit of steroid in case I were to ever find myself in a situation of sudden severe stress since patients with AI can easily and quickly go into shock. That is called an Adrenal Crisis and it can quickly lead to death if not stopped by a heavy dose of steroid. The positive news though is that most patients with CAH (me included) don't loose their ability to produce another hormone called aldosterone.  This offers me a level of protection (though not complete protection) from an adrenal crisis and I'm very thankful for that! (That's been the great news of the past couple weeks!)

I've known for quite a few years that this is my reality.  But it never fully set in until the doctor told me that it would likely be like this for the rest of my life.  Somehow I had always held out hope that if my life were to calm down enough (like maybe after Eric retires and the kids fly the nest? ha!) that I would someday be able to come off the steroids.  Well, that doesn't seem to be the case.  Seems like this is my "thorn" that God has given me to carry for his glory.  I do wonder sometimes at the idea that my life calling (homeschooling nine kids on the mission field?) doesn't seem to match with my diagnosis (take meds and do what you can to avoid stress. hmmm...)  I was convicted the other day though, that while I might not be able to do as much in life as I want, what I am able to do, I want to do well for the glory of God.  If I am able to do another activity with the kids or in the ministry, I want to do it for the glory of God.  If I am only able to sit on the couch for the day, well...that too should be done to the best of my ability for the glory of God.  Andree Seu says something like, "If the king asks you to conquer the hinter lands one day and shoe his horse the next, you do them both without slacking...for he is the king."  This is the cross that the King of Glory has called me to bear, so may I do it without slacking for his glory.

::We have several (about 10 plus) more churches to speak at through Michigan and Ontario, one more flight out to Oregon for our previous church's 25th anniversary, then a week of visitors, and then a week to pack.  Pray that we will find some rest, some time to pack, and a few more precious memories in it all.

A Week of Vacation to Myrtle Beach

 We just had a blessed vacation with Eric's parents at Myrtle Beach.  We were so thankful for a week of fun and rest.  Here's our photo dump from the week.

The younger members met the chic fil a cow for the first time.

We had some amazingly warm weather for February.  The sun was such a blessing to play in!

7th floor ocean view

A few of the hotels outdoor pools were heated and they would turn on the water slide at our request.  The guy that came was impressed that he had lots of customers and then was shocked to find out that they all called me mama.

Still thanking the Lord for a sweet time of rest.

A little Ugandan influence:

"Look Mama...It's a Bantwe!" (Big headed person and all the shared cultural connotations that go with that phrase)

 Yay for an amazing husband to do life with!

We took the kids bowling for the first time ever.  Lots of fun!

The kids and Eric have been training hard for a 5K.  They weren't to sure about running on the beach, but they are doing great sticking with it, even on vacation!

We also taught the kids Up and Down the River: the tradition card game of the Tuininga clan.

 Probably the most fun we had was going to a jump house.  (Talitha said it was more fun than anything else except going back to Uganda! haha!)  There were trampolines for all of us and then some.

This little guy jumped on my leg and decided to sun himself there while I continued reading my book.

These girls can talk their daddy into just about anything...including waking up before dawn to watch the sunrise.

Friday, February 3, 2017

Awake or Asleep?

In Mark 4:35-41 we read the story of Jesus calming the storm on the sea.  He had been sleeping in the stern of the boat after a full day of ministry and preaching.  His disciples came and basically said, "How on earth can you still be asleep? We are about to die!"  So, he woke up, rebuked the wind and then he rebuked his disciples.  They had little faith, but Jesus' work left them in great fear.

Fast forward a couple of years to Mark 14:32-42.  This time they are in the garden and death was once again at the door.  Jesus was in a spiritual battle and his disciples?  This time it was they that slept.  He came to them three times and begged them to stay awake..."How can you be asleep, disciples... I am about to die!  Watch and pray with me!"  Again they had little faith, but this time it would be Jesus' betrayer that would leave them in great fear.

Isn't this just like Satan, that great deceiver, to confuse us?  We sleep when we should be awake, and we are awake when we should be asleep!  He puts us on alert concerning the kingdom of this world and lulls us to sleep in all things concerning the kingdom of heaven.  We can be so hot when it comes to earthly pleasures, and chillingly cold in our pursuit of heavenly rewards.

Let us pray that the Holy Spirit would so fill us that we see this deception for what it is.  Let us watch, pray and stay awake today for the right things! And when it is time to sleep tonight, let's sleep in peace and let our worries go.  We will never add even one day to our lives by staying awake to fix things.  So often our spirit truly is willing, and our flesh really is so weak.  But God remembers that we are dust.  He knows that about us.  He sends the Holy Spirit to help us in our weakness.  Isn't he a kind Father?

What about you?   Do you find yourself fighting battles you don't need to and sleeping through ones you should be awake for?  How is your prayer life?  What do you do to watch for the devious works of Satan?

Dad and Mom's 50th Anniversary

This past week we were in Georgia, celebrating my parents 50th wedding anniversary!  What a beautiful milestone and very much worth celebrating.  Their actual anniversary isn't until this summer, but they were willing to celebrate early so that our family could be a part of it.  Their church, Covenant Presbyterian (PCA), was so wonderful to us.  They took our ideas and ran with them.  My brother and I really couldn't have pulled this off without everything that they did!  It was such a huge blessing to our family.  In addition to the church family celebrating with us, my parents square dancing club was also there.  After dinner, they graciously taught us some dances and it was great fun!  Mom even thought it was more fun than her wedding day. ;-) 

The kids all helped with serving.

Cute couple!

My dad's sister and brother were also able to join us.

The kids recited Psalm 128 for my parents.

And they sang a fun song that was written just for the occasion:

My brother Chris, the MC for the night...

Here's to many more years for these love birds!  God is good.