Preparation is Key

“Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.”

James 1:2-4

When I met Chaney over 10 years ago I had a couple birds. Well, several would be more accurate. He gives me a hard time saying I was one bird short of being the “Crazy Bird Lady”.  How many birds you ask? Eight. Eight of my feathered friends consisting of a parrot, cockatiel, two doves, and four parakeets. I’d tell you all of their names, but I don’t want to bore you. (I’m sure you’d rather know the name we have decided on for our baby boy…but I’ll get to that here in a few paragraphs. Just stay with me I promise this all has a purpose). I had a two bedroom apartment…one bedroom for me and one for my birds. They needed plenty of room to fly and exercise their wings. Needless to say when Chaney and I started a family, several of the birds had to go. It was really tough, but a new baby  trumps pets every time. Three were particularly close to my heart so we made it work & Chaney put up with my bird loving self. Ahem…. I’d like to add here —> I’ve also put up with Chaney’s reptile loving self. We have had several snakes & lizards over the years and to say I’m not a fan of the slithery kind is a drastic understatement.

 

One of these three was my parrot Kiwi, who flew away several years ago. That was rough, but is a separate story and a rabbit I won’t chase. The other two were my doves, Bebe and Coco. I found Bebe at a carwash 12 years ago, when she was a baby. She didn’t have any feathers and I had no idea what kind of bird she was. I went to Pet Mystique, my local pet store, and my friend Cindy guided me in the process of hand-feeding a baby bird. She had another customer who found an identical baby bird but had no desire to raise it, so I had two baby birds to take care of. Raising baby birds is no easy feat. I fed them every couple of hours, kept them warm, kept them clean…all while continuing to work and go to school. Luckily I worked for my Papa at Johnson Bros. Oil Co. and he and Barb (the real boss) let me bring the doves with me. I was able to stick to their feeding schedule during the day and at night.

 

At the age of 19 I learned a little bit about commitment and nurturing and how hard it really could be. In a way it was a crash course for motherhood. They thought I was their mom and would fly to me wherever I was in the house. They basically acted like a dog would, except not…they acted like two little doves. There is just something about doves that is very calming and peaceful to me. If you can’t relate, just think about your favorite pet of all time and pretend I’m talking about him/her. (Channel those emotions so you can experience this story and not miss out.) I bonded with these little doves and they have been with me ever since. They met my three kids. Moved to each new home with us. The girls enjoyed letting them fly around and see who they would fly to. The last 12 years of my life have included them. When we came home from my Papa’s 90th bday celebration in Austin this past weekend, I found out they were gone. I was in no way prepared to lose them anytime soon. However the way it happened made it devastating. Chaney met me on the way into the house and told me I didn’t want to go inside. The bull snake we’ve had for 9 years got out of his cage and into my doves’ cage. He killed them and ate them. I am a total mess. I could not get ahold of myself and Chaney picked me up off the ground and held me while I bawled. I didn’t have to see any of the aftermath as he cleaned everything before I came inside, but I’m still finding evidence of the attack, think of my sweet little doves and then I lose it all over again. This whole event came out of NO WHERE. I couldn’t have made the scenario up if I tried. Seriously after 9 years of having them both…..no problems…and then…. Ugh. I can’t even explain how torn up I am. Yes, I know snakes are a natural predator of doves, but I’m still baffled. I was not prepared for this. I’m heartbroken.

“For everything there is a season and a time for every matter under heaven”

Ecclesiastes 3:1

Life is so much that way. Circumstances happen that absolutely wreck me because I am not prepared. I don’t see them coming. I am blindsided. These events can be life altering situations or smaller upsets, but truly don’t most situations that catch us off guard seem huge? Accidents, loss of job, sickness, just change in general…anytime these events hit it knocks the breath out of me. I’m learning more and more as I go through life how important it is to be prepared. I can’t be prepared for everything, and I get that, but I can continually gain my courage and strength from the One who isn’t surprised by anything. It’s almost paradoxical because the more I let go and trust God, the more prepared I am for what life has in store. Yet if I try to hold on and control every detail of my life, I find myself completely unprepared and my resources inadequate to face the uncertainties that inevitably come my way.

This week one of those uncertainties has shown up in our pregnancy as we had an elevated MCA scan on Tuesday. They were all over the place, with some very low, but we did have a couple at 1.5 MoM or over. Obviously that is not what we are wanting, but we are grateful for technology to let us know if our baby boy is becoming anemic. I emailed Dr. Moise’s office in Houston and they would like to see me on Monday. Chaney, Michael & I will head down on Sunday and be there for a couple days or the week. They will perform their own MCA scans and if our boy truly has become anemic due to my antibodies attacking him he will have an IUT performed to keep him from having a chain reaction of health issues. (If all these terms are completely foreign, I did my best to explain our anti-kell journey & terms in this previous blog.) The good news is we will already be in Houston for the IUT if it is in fact needed. If it is not, we will get to come home grateful for The Fetal Center and their expertise closely monitoring our boy. We will also have an opportunity to find out what we can expect in the weeks going forward pertaining to a tentative time frame for my temporary relocation and induction date.

“His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness.”

2 Peter 1:3

 

If you’d like to pray for our boy by name, we have decided on Chaney Tyler Vines. Most likely we will call him “Tyler” as having more than one “Chaney” in the house could get somewhat confusing. This name thing was a really interesting process and I’m so relieved to finally be able to talk to this man child and pray for him by name. We have talked to the girls and explained, as best we can, why we are seeing a doctor in Houston and why Tyler is going to be born there. I don’t want them to be worried, but I do want them to be involved and aware of what is going on. We are so thankful for the prayers and support from all our family and friends. I know we will continue to need your prayers and support in very practical ways especially in these coming weeks as our family’s lives will be out of routine and spread out across the state.

 

With my pregnancy, my prayer and focus has been to trust the Lord. My tendencies to control and get stuck in the details are constant and an area I must surrender repeatedly. Sometimes I struggle through the emotions and anger before I realize that I’m attempting to run the show. I’ve had many days where I scream in frustration and finally voice, “Man, I really need your help today Lord!” Then I start crying, because trying to do it by myself is really exhausting. Part of the joy of being human is experiencing emotion. It helps us have empathy for one another through the highs and the lows. Another part of being human is struggling through emotion. I think I’m getting better at “feeling my feelings” vs. “thinking about my feelings”. If you understand what I’m talking about we may have similar personalities/mind-styles. Typically I deal with life by logically approaching situations, including my emotions. Sometimes this can be really useful, but other times “feeling feelings” can be so vital to healing. Crying isn’t something I do very often, but I’ve done it quite often these past several months. I’m taking the time to slow down and be honest with myself about how I’m feeling and then allowing time to deal with it.

 

Not knowing how everything will happen logistically is driving me a little crazy, but this is where I’m doing my best to focus on faith in action. The foundation of scripture in my life is the most valuable gift my parents and spiritual mentors have passed to me. Without scripture I don’t know how I would have made it through difficult times with grace and dignity. There are so many verses that remind me of specific seasons of life. They remind me of moments in time when God revealed more of His character to me through his Word. I couldn’t really say “This is my FAVORITE verse” because there are countless verses that are meaningful. However right now, this verse is one that sticks out above the rest. It is one of comfort because it doesn’t focus on the variables of life but the certainty of God. This assurance is what I need remember every day, in every moment. This truth is what I cling to so I can be prepared for whatever happens. This verse to me signifies the intentionality of being prepared. Preparation is all about where my FOCUS is directed. He’s got my back.

“ I know the LORD is always with me. I will not be shaken, for he is right beside me.”

Psalm 16:8

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Exercising Her Wings

Okay so I’m attempting to post what I’ve already written without getting paralyzed by frustration in formatting. I have several writings with hyperlinks to other documents that include research on word studies and various scripture references, research on butterflies, etc. At some point I hope to have all the kinks worked out, but at the request of a friend I’m going to post the majority of what I’ve already written and go back later to add supporting documents. Like I stated in my “About”, I am a nerd, so a lot of the research may be boring to anyone who reads this, but it is super exciting and thought provoking for me. For now, I will add scripture references at the end of the page.

Writing #2-

This idea and process of being transformed is one not to be taken lightly. It requires intentional effort and the awareness and submission to Christ. The Holy Spirit is our advocate making a way to escape the darkness of our enemies. We face deceit at every turn, not only by the father of lies or prince of darkness, (what we call him does not matter as much as the understanding of his total opposition and contrast to our God, The Father of Light) but also from the world (culture, society) and our flesh. Our lives are lived in a physical climate covered in the depravity of sin. Our hope however is in Christ and with His death and resurrection the snare of sin is released. The veil is lifted and we have a chance in the battle for transformation. In Him we have won and are free to bathe in the glory of His light. Our physical circumstance or location doesn’t change, but our reality does. It changes because He is faithful and will not leave us in despair. Why are there so many of us who proclaim to know the Living God yet walk around lost, trapped and seemingly unaware? We must be attentive to His word and Spirit so we are not lead astray.

There are many ways to simply “change” the appearance of something, but there is only one who completely changes, alters, transforms, and fundamentally re-creates our identity from the inside out! Christ does this and we are transferred into the kingdom of light. Nothing can change our standing as his adoptive sons and daughters. Just as a butterfly emerges from her chrysalis and will never again be confined to the ground crawling, consumed by cravings for leaves as she did as a caterpillar, so we too never again need to be trapped by the lusts of our flesh. A butterfly doesn’t need understand by what exact scientific process of metamorphosis she changed and developed wings before deciding to fly. She doesn’t act like a caterpillar. She relishes in her new identity and flutters her glorious, brilliantly colored wings in the sun; flying free above the ground she was once confined. No one tells her she is still a caterpillar and if they did she wouldn’t listen. It is in her nature to be different, and so she is. How gracious of Elohim, our Creator God to gift us with so many examples of His creative glory.

It is often so much simpler to see ideas and concepts illustrated through nature. Animals exist by survival instincts and respond to their instinctual motivations without persuasion. A bird does not act like a frog, or a turtle as a fish. This would never occur as they just do what they were created for- LIVE. As they live they bring glory to God, just as the trees blowing in the wind and the flowers blooming in the spring all shout of the magnificent splendor of our King! All of creation worships God naturally, except for us. Out of all God created he chose one to bear his image, man. Sin entered this world through us, and as a result of the fall, we are all naturally bent toward sin. Once we receive salvation, the Holy Spirit is granted as the deposit on our soul, and we must rely on His power to fly freely or we will remain trapped by our former lusts.

“When the butterfly emerges from its chrysalis, its wings are small and wet, and the butterfly cannot yet fly. The butterfly must pump fluids from its abdomen through the veins in its wings, which causes the wings to expand to their full size. Next, the wings must dry and the butterfly must exercise flight muscles before it can fly.”

Christ transforms our identity, but we must continually and constantly remain in his love being transformed to His image. We must know Him. The following fact is most likely not new to most, but the moral is one that is too good to pass up.

“Federal agents don’t learn to spot counterfeit money by studying the counterfeits. They study genuine bills until they master the look of the real thing. Then when they see the bogus money they recognize it.” This quote is from John MacArthur’s Reckless Faith, but I’ve heard it referenced many times, and it holds so much truth to focusing on Truth instead of trying to “avoid” lies.

Rather than focus on all we shouldn’t do or all the evil in the world, we focus on Christ and His Word. He is the way, the truth, and the life, no one comes to the Father except through Him. That is certainty. From the truth that is Christ, His Word, and the Holy Spirit residing in us, we have power and light to recognize darkness. This is so vital because there is another who transforms, one who masquerades as an angel of light, one who deceives and entices. There are false apostles who themselves are deceived and if we do not know truth, we can easily be led astray.

How ridiculous would it be to see a beautiful butterfly kicking it big with the caterpillars? If you can fly why remain confined? This is the sad truth and reality of many not continuing to be transformed from glory to glory. Yet, this confinement is exactly what will happen to us if we do not grow strengthening and exercising our spiritual wings in the strength of the Holy Spirit through submission to God’s will.

Relating Scriptures

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Holy Spirit is our Advocate-

1 John 2:1 (ESV)

My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.

John 14:26 (NET)

But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you everything, and will cause you to remember everything I said to you.

Father of Lies

John 8:44 (ESV)

You are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, and has nothing to do with the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks out of his own character, for he is a liar and the father of lies.

Father of Light

1 John 1:5 (ESV)

This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all.

James 1:17 (NIV84)

Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.

The Veil is lifted-

2 Corinthians 3:16-18 (ESV)

But when one turns to the Lord, the veil is removed. 17 Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. 18 And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.

God is faithful-

1 Corinthians 10:13 (NIV84)

No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.

Kingdom of light

Colossians 1:12 (NIV84)

Giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in the kingdom of light.

Rely on His Power-

Ephesians 6:10 (NIV84)

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power.

The Way, the Truth, and the Life

John 14:6 (ESV)

Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.

Masquerading, angel of light

2 Corinthians 11:13-15 (NIV84)

For such men are false apostles, deceitful workmen, masquerading as apostles of Christ. And no wonder, for Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light. It is not surprising, then, if his servants masquerade as servants of righteousness. Their end will be what their actions deserve.