Thursday, January 29, 2009

My Friend Nichole Needs Your Prayers!

Nichole was seen by the doctor today and found out in addition to (or possibly related to?) her other infection, her kidney is filled with fluid and needs to be drained. Tomorrow she will go in for this surgery, which will include being put under. Please pray for this procedure as it is no small thing to undergo. Hopefully this will alleviate some of her problems, including the fever. She is still not feeling well, but it does seem that her kids are doing fine, according to a friend that was with Nichole this afternoon.
-Nichole was prescribed a small dose of antibiotics, so please pray that they will treat the one infection without disrupting the other.
-Please pray that she will be able to keep food and water in her system, along with the antibiotics (which she couldn't keep down tonight).
-She also was struggling with her fever tonight and was shivering quite a bit. Pray for her strength!
-Nichole is uneasy about being put under and especially wants us to be in prayer for her in that way.
Let's support Nichole in prayer daily- even hourly considering the trial that she is enduring! I will try to keep the blog posted and updated regularly through these days that are particularly eventful. If you are able to help Nichole, please email Sue Leber who is still faithfully coordinating the efforts. She is also dealing with her mother's health issues (and surgery, I believe), so be patient with her response. Her email is Ask to be added to her list and you will receive her update emails and requests for help.
Lastly, Brenda was telling me that this evening Nichole, while struggling through her fever and suffering, was repeating the promises of God out loud to Brenda- reminding herself of the truth that she knows. Please pray that as she reminds herself, her heart would be comforted by these truths, and that she would deeply know the love and care that the Lord is extending to her, even through these most difficult of circumstances.
If you have a blog, I would encourage you to ask your readers to pray for Nichole in these coming days, and even include a link to her blog so others can easily find it and we can multiply our prayers for her and her family!


The tears have been flowing and my heart is weighted down. I spoke with Nichole this morning and when I asked how she is doing, she answered with "not good". She so seldom says words like these. Even when she is in the pit (humanly speaking) health-wise, she is always repeating "the Lord is good". Those words did come today, yet there was definitely sadness this morning. She has a fever that is going up right now, due to another infection (we believe). She took her temperature while we were on the phone, and it was 102. Because of other complications, Nichole shouldn't be taking antibiotics, yet in order to treat this infection, she isn't sure if the doctors will be able to give her any. She is feeling pretty terrible as well, and hasn't been able to get out of bed because of how she feels.
As if this weren't enough to deal with, Levi was throwing up last night, three of the kids have pink eye, and Josie seems to be coming down with something (she was sleeping at 9:30 this morning). Are you having a bad day? In light of this, I bet your problems just diminished to nearly nothing. Anyway, she is off to the hospital yet again, telling herself of the Lord's goodness, and reminding herself that He is in control.
She asked for prayer, and which one of us wouldn't want to stop right now, take five minutes, and go to the Lord on her behalf? Whether you know Nichole of not, please go before the Lord! She has asked that we pray for her- that the infection would be treatable (somehow!), and that she would NOT have to stay in the hospital. Please also pray that Nichole's trust in the Lord wouldn't waver.
To be honest, while I was speaking with her this morning, my mind kept asking, "Why, Lord?? Why and how is this a good thing?" I couldn't stop from crying while wondering how the Lord could be glorified through this seemingly awful circumstance. Nichole is sick, unable to be a mom, and at this point probably unable to have contact with her kids because her weakened body would likely pick up their infections and be magnified in her poor, unhealthy body. She is faced with a battery of upcoming chemo treatments which break down her body even more (fevers, inability to eat and hold down food, etc.)
I'm reading "The Cup and the Glory" (a book on suffering) and will post helpful tidbits on suffering shortly.
Please consider how you can partner with Nichole and the Greene family in prayer, and commit to praying for them every day. Nichole is scheduled for a preliminary kidney surgery next Thursday (outpatient surgery) in preparation for another serious surgery. In light of her health situation today, I would imagine things may have to be put on hold again... please pray. Pray for Nichole, pray for Norm, and pray for the kids.
Though earthly hope seems to diminish, pray that we would all learn with the Greene family that our hope should not be fixed on this world, but on the next...that our hope is not to be on earthly good, but fixed on the Savior of our souls who has purchased us with His precious blood, and we all (who know Him) will be with Him in glory forever...are you prepared?

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Flying High

Saturdays are always fun for the crew. Last Saturday, before Reilly's game, the girls were having a blast playing at the park. Kinley loves to fly off of the swings and impress her daddy. She was having lots of fun and got some pretty good air! Daddy was giving her some good pushes to launch her...mommy was a little nervous but taking the pics nonetheless.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Recent Happenings...

Reilly continues in his basketball career. They posted their first loss in a long time during this game. Now, Reilly is a big kid for his age, but would you look at the size of the kids he's playing against? Wow.

This is a pic taken last Saturday night of the "cousins". My neice and nephew, and then their cousins (we told them all that they're cousins). Saturday was an alumni baseball game, and my sister-in-law's sister and I went to TMC together and were on the same wing (random). My sister-in-law's (Julie is her name, to make things more complicated) sister's husband played baseball while I was at the college, so we all had a big fun reunion with for the day and they joined us for dinner that evening, including one resident grandma. Got all that?

This was "Miss Gebhards" ready to go to school on career day. She was dressed as a teacher. She's wearing a sweater with a matching necklace ("Mom, Mrs. Fitzpatrick always wears a matching necklace with her sweater"), an apple name tag, khaki pants, and of course, sunglasses on her head ("Mom, Mrs. Fitzpatrick always wears sunglasses on her head".) Any guesses who Mrs. Fitzpatrick is? (Okay, I'll tell you- she's the greatest Kindergarten teacher ever!!!)

Here is Boo-boos with her swollen black eye (and some food around her mouth). She bumped a table and got a nasty black eye. The pic doesn't do it justice. She looks really unhappy, huh?

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Sunday Encouragement

This morning in the Foundry I had the opportunity to meet a girl that I had never met before. The interaction was powerful (at least for me) and I was SO blessed when reflecting on our conversation. The conversation went something like this.
"Hi, I'm Julie. I don't think we've met. "
"Hi. I'm Michelle." (not her real name)
"So how long have you been coming to the Foundry?"
"This is my third week."
"Great! Have you been able to go to any of the Bible Studies on Friday nights?"
"Yes, I've gone to Epoch two times now." (This is a 'no fluff' girl, and I appreciate that so much.)
"How has that been?"
"Oh, it's been nice. The people are REALLY nice. Like, so nice that it's kind of creepy." I could tell she had a dry sense of humor, and I laughed out loud. I totally know what she means, and I'm so thankful that I could relate.
"I know what you mean! When I first went to my Christian College (TMC!) I met all of these REALLY nice people and I was suspicious of them for a long time. I was waiting for something to happen when they would blow their cover or something. But that didn't happen, nor do I think that will happen here. I'm sure that over time you will find that these people really do care for you."
"I've just never known anyone to be that nice unless they want something from me."
"I know what you mean, but I've been around here and know that this body of believers has a genuine care and concern for one another."

The conversation branched into a couple of other areas, but this was the part that was SO exciting for me! Remembering back to when I was a new believer and people were so nice to me when they had no reason to be (surrounded by believers in my college dorm), and how I was suspicious of them for a long time, yet so drawn to
I've now lived with these people (God-fearing, loving people) around me for so long, that I sort of forgot what it was like to be around those other kinds of people!
This stimulated my thinking into one other related area that I want to share about. I've struggled on occasion with an aspect of relational evangelism, and something profound clicked in my head today. Tell me if you can relate.
So, we're supposed to care for non-believers, showing them the love of Christ, while expecting nothing in return (making people suspicious). When it comes to answering the question that potentially exists in their minds- "why does this person care about me?" I've struggled with the answer. I think I know- we care for them because it reflects Christ, and may open an opportunity for the gospel, and it just pleases the Lord. But how would we answer that question were they to ask us? (Not that they would, but hypothetically) Would we say that it's because we really like them (which may not be altogether true of, say, an unbelieving mean boss)? I think they may not appreciate that since they may see through it. What if we were to say that it's because our God wants us to care for them? Would that offend them since that may make it seem like we're doing it out of obligation to our God, and they're just a tool for us to use to please our God? Maybe I'm overthinking it.
Anyway, this morning something struck me during Pastor John's message. We care for people in general, believers and non-believers. We show love and concern to people, deserving or undeserving. This honors the Lord. If they're confused or suspicious, and have nothing to attribute our kindness to (this is what hit me this morning), I think they're thoughts would be directed to something supernatural. Most people haven't experienced this kind of unconditional, loving concern for them, and would have to eventually (when they realize it's not for selfish gain) turn their thoughts to God, and at this point, who would they go to for answers? It is likely that they would go to the person or people who have shown this love to them! How exciting is that?
Church this morning was AWESOME. Kurt's preaching was great (yes, I am biased, but I can also be critical) and really compelling. And no one has to say anything about pastor John's preaching. But I will anyway-it was also awesome and moving. I am so blessed.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Thoughts on Suffering and Bounty (a Puritan moment)

Today has been a great day. I made it to the gym. This is a feat in itself, and one which I must try harder to do more often. Not because I need to look better (good heavens- I'm pregnant and looking large!), but because the energy I receive from that 40 minutes reaps all sorts of blessed benefits! My gym time usually consists of a 30 minute low-impact elliptical (sp??) work out, WHILE reading...and reading important stuff. I'm a mother of five, soon to be six, and keeping my priorities in line is of utmost importance. If they're even slightly out of whack, the family feels it or sees it (no dinner on the table, no clean underwear, no floor to walk on, etc.). So when I make it to the gym, I don't spend hours doing all sorts of weight things or sitting in the sauna (though it does sound appealing sometimes!)- I just don't think that would be a profitable way to spend time, nor would it honor the Lord. I have to accomplish two things at once.
This morning, though, as usual when I make it to the gym, my spirits were greatly encouraged through what I was reading. It's a book I had begun reading a while ago, and just recently picked it up again to re-read the beginning, and this time, to finish it. (Don't pretend like you can't relate) Anyway, I was so compelled this morning, and so incredibly blessed. Ironically, it's a book about suffering. So why in the world did I pick this one up at this time of incredible blessing in my life? Well, I bought it to send to my cousin (who is suffering with cancer- see my blog list) but thought I'd read it before sending it. And as we all have often heard, we will all suffer at some point, so it's best to prepare yourself. (That's a proactive type of preparing as I've been taught, not the same as "being prepared", as if it's some sort of thing you just "brace yourself" for.)
Anyway, Greg Harris may just become one of my favorite authors. Having read just two chapters this morning, I am so moved. He went through some tremendous physical suffering- we're talking so much pain from rheumatoid arthritis that EVERY day for months the pain would wake him up in the early hours of the morning, when he would go downstairs to the recliner where he would pass in and out of consciousness for several hours, with pain as he described being like bones breaking every 15 seconds or so. Not only was he physically suffering, but following those months he went through great suffering emotionally and spiritually, and honestly describes how he felt in his walk with the Lord. No fluff.
"Repeatedly my prayer would be, 'I do not understand. I do not understand.' One of my greatest heartaches was as a father I have a deep and joyous relationship with my children. I also know Scripture teaches that God is our loving, heavenly Father as well. Yet here was one of His children repeatedly calling out to Him in despair-but God would not answer. I told God, 'Lord, I know you are a better Father than I am. Everything I do as a father, You are my role model; love, support, security, discipline, protection, encouragement- I learned them all from You. But I do not see a parallel for what You are doing now. I cannot think of any situation where I would hold my children at arm's length and not want to be with them when they sought me. I will not curse you, and I will not deny You are my Lord and my God, but I do not like what You are doing. I would not treat my children the way You are treating me. I do not understand. I do not understand."
This is where his life-changing journey about understanding suffering began. I am so excited to see where it took him, and look forward to learning about how I will deal with suffering when (not "if") it comes my way. At this point, I am enjoying God's greatest blessings being so kindly bestowed on me and my family. He is blessing bountifully right now, and I am reminded to be grateful and thankful in these times of plenty. Yet, I know times of suffering will come, and will be allowed by this same gracious and compassionate God to endure trials.
Resolved, to prepare myself and know My God so well that when suffering comes, I will endure with grace and will seek to trust Him with all my heart!
Resolved, as well, to not rest during these times of blessing and assume that His blessing is anything other than His benevolence on this wretched sinner.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

It's a BOY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Wow, we can hardly believe it... maybe you noticed that the layout on the blog changed from what it was to BLUE(ish) this afternoon. Maybe not.
We had the appointment at 12:15, and have been celebrating all day. I have to admit, I thought it would be impossible for it to be a boy, but with God, all things are possible! It honestly feels like a miracle to us.
Here's a little peak into the ultrasound room. So the technician did all of the measurements (which happened to be the LONGEST ultrasound I've ever had, no joke), then it was time to call Kurt and the little girls in. As I had been laying there on the table, the Lord gave me some good time to pray, repent of my unbelief, and plead one last time for a boy, this time (for the first time!) I actually believed that He could do it. Up until then, I had really not thought it possible. I reminded God of all of the people who had been praying (not that He needed my reminder), and how blessed all of them would be to receive a "yes" answer-especially my husband. So in walk Kurt and the girls. The technician moves the little get-up around a bit on my tummy trying to find a good angle, then says, "There it is!" I've seen my fair share of ultrasounds, and thought I knew what I was seeing, but in total shock, I couldn't be sure until she said it. I wanted so much to hear her say it. Kurt was staring at the screen, having NO IDEA what he was looking at. We waited a moment, then she told us, "it's a boy!" Immediately, tears were streaming down my face uncontrollably (and kept coming for quite a while). In that moment, my heart was overflowing with thankfulness to the Lord for His great kindness to us. Boy or girl, we would have rested in His sovereignty. However, this was good news! Kurt was just laughing, and the more he laughed, the more I cried. What a moment! We were both just thrilled beyond words, and just plain happy!!
We celebrated together, grabbed some lunch together, and kept looking at each other repeating those sweet words, "We're having a boy!!!" Now we needed to scheme how we were going to tell the kids, especially Reilly. We decided to make a sign that says, "Reilly and Dax's Room", and wrapped it up and gave it to him and Shea to open. It was so sweet to see the kids come running in the front door after school screaming, "WHAT IS IT???!!! WHAT IS IT??!?!??" So Kurt "tortured" them a little with some reminders about God's sovereignty (it was "torture" in Reilly's words, because he made them think it was a girl), and that God makes no mistakes, and that everything He does is for our good, etc. etc. Then we let them open the gift. When Reilly saw what the sign said, he was speechless, and simply climbed over the table, jumping into Kurt's arms, weeping! Kurt was cradling him (it's all on video), and they both were just crying! It was too precious, and I was weeping once again, as I videotaped it all.
Kinley gets home 30 minutes later, so for her we simply wrote "it's a boy" on a piece of paper, then coached her as she sounded out each of the words. She responded how she does with most everything- with a huge smile and that sparkle in her eyes. She didn't stop smiling for a long time! The kids have been so excited all day, as have Kurt and I.

The happiest boys in the universe

Kinley, practicing her reading. A little hard to see, but the paper says, "It is a boy!!"

There wasn't a doubt in the technician's mind. This pic is a shot of the baby's tush (far left) looking straight up. The arrows indicate what's "not there" when looking at an ultrasound of a girl. (This is how I explained it to the girls) I hope Dax (in the future) finds it humorous that the first picture the world saw of him was of his "hind parts".

Dax, flexing his muscles for the camera. This is his little arm (which is probably not any thicker than a pencil, but doesn't it look good??) and the top of his head. I think he has nice shoulders. He'll look good in muscle shirts.

We Found Out!!!!!

Today we had our ultrasound appointment, and YES, we did find out the gender of the baby. But Kurt had this really good idea to post a "teaser", and we'll post the news tonight. We are so grateful to the Lord for His sovereignty in our lives, and we trust Him in all things! Stay tuned!

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Ansel Greene's B-day Party

Last night Reilly, Camdyn and I went to the Greene's home to celebrate Ansel's 7th Birthday. It was lots of fun! I wrote more about it on Nichole's blog (see my friends' list) if you want to hear about the evening. I brought Reilly, but took no pics of him. Oops.

Ansel and Noah Greene

Camdyn and Josie, having a great time

The Greene Family

Me and Nichole

Tuesday, January 6, 2009


Tonight was quite an evening for the Gebhards'...First of all, my dinner was a total flop! It was pretty funny. Swedish girls should not try making Chinese food without some training. How do you mess up fried rice? Who knows. It was awful.
In the middle of dinner, I admitted to the kids that I thought dinner was awful. Poor kids. After several gaggings, and the kids trying to coach each other through one more bite, we let them off the hook. They ate cereal instead. So did I.
Well, at the end of dinner, Shea made a little announcement. It was matter-of-fact, but with a tinge of valley girl sass.
"Oh. Mom. By the way. Good news. I have bangs." Just like that. What in the world??? What do you mean by an announcement to me that you have bangs?? I didn't give her a hair cut, nor did I take her to the salon, so what was this? She was fiddling with her hair, pulling out some broken strands in the front. She knows what bangs are, but neither Kurt nor I can figure out why she thinks she has them. This led to the sad discussion that she has bad hair. To a seven year old who lives in a fairy tail land and often thinks she is a princess, this is a sad realization. Anyway, it's fun to tease her and she knows that we love her, whether she has good hair or broken and fine hair... She'll probably be asking for some expensive hair products before we know it...

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Lessons from Nichole

It's been a fun weekend so far, and I'm excited to be back at church tomorrow! I'm writing tonight with a thankful heart to the Lord for His kindness and blesssing on our family, because of some serious contemplation that has bombarded me today. I spoke with Nichole Greene for a long time today (see her blog for the details) and all at once my heart was excited and yet deeply grieved. Excited because Nichole is so faithful to the Lord and is making her life count for Him, honoring Him in all of her trials and circumstances. Grieved because I want to do better as part of the Body of Christ to serve her and her family, and to encourage her. I had excused myself in some ways and today realized that I am the one missing out on this great opportunity to function in the Body, and to be blessed by the rich encouragement that comes through the Body working together- especially upholding the weak. It strikes me as ironic right now and the more I think about it, the more I realize that God's Kingdom is full of paradoxes... track with me. We die to ourselves, and live abundantly. We give- because it is surely better to give than to receive. I should be able to think of more, but I think those two make the point. If we sacrifice and serve others, we receive a far greater blessing than we could ever give. We are told in Scripture to give, and expect nothing in return. When we operate within these God-given "paradoxes", we will find His promises to be true. Wow. What an amazing God we serve!! Even when we are "sacrificing" for Him and serving others, He returns so much joy and fills our hearts with so much "marrow and fatness", and we see the richness and benefit of serving the Great King. I am privileged to be a servant in His Palace. I long to serve with more passion and to "spend and be spent" (borrowing Paul's words) for the Lord. I don't want to "be spent" from overshopping, from overeating, overexercising (that's not a real personal threat, but might relate to some of you), or from wasting time on pointless things- which can deplete me of energy because it saddens me. I want to focus my energy on serving for the sake of the gospel, for building up the Kingdom of God by serving within His Body. I am resolved today to make it my aim to use more energy this year in serving others!
Oh, and to elaborate on my thankfulness to the Lord for my precious family... considering Nichole's situation and the fact that she has been apart from her family and really not able to function in the home with her kids has made me thankful for each day that I have in full health. Lest I take any of the Lord's blessings for granted, today I am deeply grateful to the Lord for the time that He has given me with each of my precious kids and for the health that He has given to us thus far- enabling us to enjoy simple pleasures in life like hide and go seek, park days, reading books together, snuggling, wrestling, making dinner together, etc. The Lord is good.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Home, Sweet Home

It's been so nice to be home! We had a great Christmas with the fam in northern Cali. We played games, went to lots of parties, watched some TV, went to the park, ate a little (haha), did a little shopping, and just relaxed. Here were the kid's favorite Christmas presents:
Reilly- Mario Kart (wii)
Shea- American Girl Bed (Grandpa made it) and movies
McKinley- Baby Alive
Camdyn- Molly (an American Girl with Glasses)
Macy- Cabbage Patch Kid
It's been great to be home and to have a few days with Kurt here to get the house in a little better order. Pics from Christmas to come, and hopefully the video of Cam opening her American Girl. Too precious for words.
Kurt and the kids are off to the park for a picnic lunch and some fun, while I do more cleaning and New Year's Resolution making.
An additional note for those interested- I have an ultrasound January 13, at which point we hope to find out the gender of the baby. Stay tuned...Hope you all had a Merry Christmas!