For this season (a surrender to my stubborn self)

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Mostly, I am writing this to let you all know how much I have appreciated your support in my Mary & Martha business. I have loved every minute of this box of opportunity delivered to my front door almost four years ago. Little did I know, where God was taking me on that adventure. Little did I know the dear God-loving friends I would meet and the impact they would have on me. Little did I know how much I loved having a team of amazing women to love on and support. I just recently shared with this team of women, and now I’m sharing with all of you.

And that’s why, when God began pulling me away and out of that precious season, I dug my heels in. Looking back over this past year, I see God’s fingerprints all over the place. And when I wasn’t seeing them, He began to use his handprints! You see, there are things I didn’t give in to, when clearly I was being called to do so.

Children’s ministry has been a part of my life from the first time I taught our first baby, Natalie, to sing Jesus Loves Me. I pretty much believed this would be my calling forever. But you know that whole “season” thing? God calls me to it, but then begins pulling me away. Was that a hard decision? Oh my gracious–I spent hours in prayer over just that particular decision to step back from a leading role. God’s gifts are oh so sweet to be able to love on the kids for a Christmas service, Behold the Lamb. Honestly, if I could work with them on this every year, it would be a little piece of heaven…. 

    
 
And then–my role at the hospital changed. An opportunity presented itself. I would no longer be working nights, but have a consistent daytime schedule. What in the world? It did take me a few weeks to give in to this as well. But I did. I went to get certified in breastfeeding education and combined it wih a family trip to Colorado. For this season, it is exactly where I am supposed to be. Even though I questioned it initially.

  
Other circumstances have come our way in the past few months. Circumstances which have further affirmed the decisions I have made. Decisions Steve and I have made–and the biggest being to decide to make TIME FREEDOM our number one goal and priority. 

  
You all know I’m a sap when it comes to the quickly passing years of having these kiddos at home. Natalie commented just the other day to someone–“well, you know…I only have a year and a half left at home”. Oh gracious!! Stop it child!! 

 
And right behind Nat is this one. 

Time Freedom. It means that I can’t look to fill all of my time with Mary & Martha gatherings like I used to. It means decisions are made differently. 

As long as I am able, I will continue to help out customers and try to post sales as I know of them.  Just wanted to thank you and make sure you knew where I am at wih Mary & Martha for this season…

Blessed by you all…

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A very quick update for you all who have asked. I am doing so awesome!!! Thank you so very much for your prayers, your texts, your calls, meals, your love. I am overwhelmed.

Today marks two weeks home and two weeks of complete joy in this journey to a new normal. The message in church that first Sunday was about the lame man who Jesus healed. Remember that story? Walking and leaping and praising God! I loved that song we learned in Sunday school. It so resonated with me. I am ecstatic and feel like walking and leaping and praising God for the improvements in my eyesight that were in all honesty, hugely dramatic. In the past two weeks, I have regained vision enough to see to not let it stop me in anything. I have described it as seeing through a greyish veil–somewhat blurry and color is not very distinct…yet. BUT—it’s only been a little over two weeks since beginning steroid therapy!! I could not be happier. I have about two more weeks of steroids that are tapered in dosage. I feel so good on them, I’m nervous to not be on them–ha! The final vision restoration will not be evaluated until 6 months out. That is a LOnG time for healing and improvement! Who knows where it will end up? But for now, the leaping the continues. 😉
  
This dude checks my vision daily. Opthomology in his future? 

My biggest annoyance is very menial. Wearing glasses through steroid treatment for sure. Can I tell you how awesome God works? Last month I ordered 4 pair of glasses through Zenni Optical after hearing from friends how reasonable their glasses were. Because let’s face it–I rarely wear glasses. Like hardly ever. So I didn’t want to spend much money on glasses. Now, these are cheap. Very! But I thought they would be fun, if glasses could be fun. Who knew I would be wearing glasses for weeks and need a change up each day to keep my sanity?

  
Obviously, I am beyond thrilled where things are at. Peripherally I don’t see well out of my right eye—so watch yourself if you’re beside me on that side… 😉

Abundance.

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That’s really all I can say. Abundantly loved, cared for, and blessed…

I have gone back and forth whether to post anything, but I think for myself included, it is easier to state it all in one place and have a place to look back on all that has transpired in the last few days. 

  
We started out on an awesome vacation–besides the kids freaking out about heir homework. 😉  As you can see, the homework was out prior to take off. Ha!!

  
Getting ready to board our ship. We were pretty excited!

  
Our first night and day was perfect. Landon had the run of the ship within a few hours and realized very quickly where the free pizza was. 

   

  

  (Think my girls were mortified I was doing the wobble with them? Ha!)

 Honestly, he thought it was a little bit of heaven. Basketball goals, putt putt, swimming and the flow rider surfing machine. We didn’t see him for hours. 
On Friday evening during dinner, I began to have some visual concerns in my right eye. I believed there was something on my contact and asked the kids and Steve repeatedly to check to see if something was there. But they never found anything. I went to bed thinking it was nothing and hoping things would be cleared up in the morning.
Saturday morning we woke up early as it was excursion day. We worked out and then grabbed the kids for their own little basketball workout before heading to breakfast. At this time, my eye was feeling similar to the night before. 

  
 My favorite picture ever!! Tell us how you really feel Kourt!! 😂  
  
This will make Tuesday’s practice better…dad said.

  
Workout complete! Now let’s go eat…

  
We had a fantastic time snorkeling and eating Mexican buffet in Cozumel, Mexico. I fell asleep on the beach which was glorious, but woke up to a worsening vision in the right eye. I knew something wasn’t right at this point and was blaming some of it on he Dramamine I had taken, although, I knew this was highly unlikely to be the cause.  

 
After returning to the ship before dinner, I opted to lay down and skip dinner. The dinner time was unbelievable each evening. Sitting around the table together is always a precious gift–it truly is. Our schedule at home doesn’t allow it as much as we would like, so we soaked up these moments and they will be a highlight when looking back on this vacation.

  
Steve and the kids kept busy. Dancing and enjoying all of the activities the ship had to offer. 

Sunday morning I awoke with very little vision in my right eye. I described it as a curtain that just continually kept closing in. I could make out some shapes if I strained. I had no pain, which we would come to find out with my diagnosis, is generally common. Sunday I stayed to myself in the room. There were many things going through my head and all I wanted was to be off the ship. I came to find out that Sunday was a really great day for Steve and the kids. I am so happy about that!!

By Sunday evening, I had lost all vision and began the process of making a plan by being seen by the ship physician. He set up a referral to the Broward County Hospital ER for the next morning and made sure we were able to be among the first to disembark that morning. His thought was that I had a detached retina which would not allow me to fly home. This was our first obstacle as the kids had school and basketball practice to get home for. Not to mention we had plane tickets leaving at 4:00 that afternoon. This is where God began wrapping his arms around our entire family. Friends on the cruise were called about the possibility of Steve and I needing to drive home from Florida but were planning to send the kids on the plane. This was NOT setting well with me at all. After talking to our friends, we discovered they were on the same flight and could get the kids to the connecting flight!! How amazing God works!
After testing at the ER and two different referring ophthalmologists in Florida, it was determined I would be able to fly home but needed to be seen at KU Med as soon as possible. Can I just say, we flew into KC–not by our first choice when planning this trip. God is so in the details. And we continued to see this as the week has gone on.

My parents were picking us up anyway and gave us a car while taking the kids to meet Steve’s parents half way home. The blessings of family.

The ER was the beginning of many tests, many specialists, many diagnoses (some right and some wrong), and many tears as we wrestled with the overwhelming information and results being given throughout those first hours. By 8:00 am Monday morning a definitive diagnosis was given after 2 MRI’s that we were dealing with Optic Neuritis. Basically a loss of vision due to inflammation of the optic nerve. This is never normal–obviously!! Ha! Going blind in a matter of hours. So the puzzle now was to figure out why. Infections of all kinds can be a factor, but their biggest concern were the lesions they found on my brain linking a possible Multiple Sclerosis (MS as I will refer to it) cause. Of course, the Optic Neuritis can be caused by MS or can be the cause of MS in the future. 

These findings led to full days of testing Monday and Tuesday along with the treatment of high dose IV steroids to aid in a quicker return of vision. They can not guarantee that vision will be returned to normal or any varying degree of improvement. However, as of today (Wednesday) I am no longer seeing total darkness. I see shapes and outlines with varying degrees of lightness. This has been so huge for me! And I am thanking God for this. 

I can not say enough about the neuro team and opthomologists taking care of me. I don’t believe I have been an easy patient–nurses never are, are we? I have questioned the reason for tests. I’ve become irritable and teary and defiant. But they have been patient with the patient!! And by talking me through everything I agreed to all testing for MS. And all testing has turned out super so far!!! I have no other symptoms of MS. In fact, during my many neuro tests they have done by testing my strength I have made it a goal to kick as hard as possible. They can not find a thing wrong in that area!!! 

The treatment plan was to stay here for 5 days getting IV steroids. My neuro resident whom has become a friend of mine went to bat for me with the entire neuro team to let me give myself my own IV injections at home.  And guess what?! They agreed!!! We are leaving tomorrow after one clinic appointment. I am beyond thrilled!!!! And now…I’m going to have to call my neuro resident my best friend.

So–what it comes down to is this. My diagnosis is Optic Neuritis. Testing has revealed lesions suspect for MS for which I will be followed closely for by one of the best MS Specialists here in Kansas City at KU Med. I can not say enough about the team of people taking care of me. God knew. I will also be followed closely by a neurologist at home. This will be the new normal for me. And if anything else develops? We will go from there knowing we are in good hands. If nothing else develops? I will be ecstatic! I am choosing to believe that whatever vision is returned to me will take months–but if it’s sooner, it will be the biggest blessing ever. I have the absolute BEST people surrounding me. All of you! I can’t even begin to express how humbled I am by the love poured out through our friends and family. My Dad is right at this moment getting me KU Med center and nursing shirts in the KU Med bookstore which just happens to be next to the very nursing school I graduated from 19 years ago!! I kind of feel like life has come full circle. 

   
 More than that, you have to know how your prayers made a difference. I felt the huge arms of our loving Father holding me. I can look now and see God in the many, many details of the last few days. I am amazed more than ever by His presence made known to me when I was crying out for answers. A good friend sent me this amazing song this morning and oh how it overtook me. I know many, many people are suffering from different things that you may not have shared. I pray this song comforts you as it does me.

God-Sized Dreams

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It’s not the first time I have mentioned Holley Gerth, and for sure won’t be the last. I am starting her 40 Days of Encouragement for Your Heart. I just have found her to be the voice I need over and over and over again. The 40 day devotional is Opening the Door to your God-Sized Dream. 

Holley describes a God-sized dream as this: “- desire in your heart for more of what God has for you”.

The problem for me is–what in the world is it? I feel I have been so abundantly blessed already. I don’t even want to list it all because it would be overwhelming, by comparison to the majority of this world. And sometimes, when thinking about this world, is it wrong to have dreams? Is it wrong to have dreams when you live a life others only dream about?

As I pondered how in the world to put this God-Sized Dream on paper, it became very clear to me what that dream for me is. 

  
Freedom. Besides the already freedom we have in Jesus Christ, the freedom I desire is time. I get excited to think about what an impact can be made for the kingdom, if only time were free–time freedom.

I am so excited to see where this study will take me. What is your God-sized dream? What is that desire in your heart for more of what God has in store for you?

I needed that.

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Make sure to take the time.

 

I decided after talking with a dear friend and mentor of mine, that I was going to take 15 minutes out of my day to  be still. I have been missing that in my life. We are in a transition here with a new schedule we are all trying to figure out. And quite honestly, it has been super hard. But in the same breath it has been super good too. 

I decided I would let God lead me during this time. Direct my focus. I went to my Jesus Calling and read the devotion for today. Then I went back to one of my hardest days this week, in which I didn’t set time to read that day. And wouldn’t you know it? The devotion centered on my favorite verse. Do you even know what kind of comfort that would have given me during that moment that day? Or at the end of that day? Or what if I had read that to start my day? How would that have changed my reaction to challenges?! What a lesson I am learning…

God knows what we need before we do. 

Oh Proverbs 3:5-6. Thank you.

Let’s Get Personal PARTY!

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Mark your calendars for Tuesday, August 11th at 7:00 pm!!!!

  
Now you’ve heard about our personalization but it’s time to really see it, don’t you think?

  
This is such an exciting new addition and the first addition you can order now that it’s August! It’s August!!

  
Come check out the new, personalize something for yourself, eat some yummy food, bring some friends, and Let’s Get Personal!!!

Hard reality.

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Well Child visits for my oldest girls today. Because of other commitments, I had to meet them there. Meet them.

  

How many times did I wait in the waiting room with four little kids? Anticipating how much my newborn had grown since the last appointment, or dreading the kindergarten shots, and now today, to find out that Natalie and Kassidy are done growing. 

  
Everything you’ve ever heard is true. Sometimes those days are long. But the last 16 years have flown…

Trumps laundry.

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The minute you walk in the door from time away, this monster quickly rears its ugly head. No matter how long you ignore your bags (kiddos).

 
Reconnection.  This will go on record as being one of our busiest summers yet! No joke.
 
Is this an impressive vacay stop for a family? To see a brewery? Ha! It was actually one of our favorite activities as we got to see the famous Budweiser Clydesdales! 

  
Failed selfie at the Arch.

  
And a small amount of food to keep us going. (Yeah right)

   
 
And feeling just like this when you get home… 

 
I hope to be back in my pants in a few weeks.