Life Saver

I am sitting on the couch with my 4 year old’s head in my lap. He has finally fallen asleep. For the past hour he had talked my ears off. He commented on everything from the t.v. show that was currently on, to a craft his class should do for Christmas. I finally got him to calm down and lay down, promising an ear rub and t.v. watching. He wrapped up in my plush blanket, rested his head on my knees and got still. It didn’t take long for his breathing to become slow and steady. Soon his little hands gave the all clear when his fingers unfolded. He was asleep.

Thoughts went through my head of everything I SHOULD be doing. Folding laundry, cleaning the kitchen, exercising . . . I didn’t want to move right yet, just in case he wasn’t really settled. So, I sat. His warmth soaked through my p.j. pants and his breathing almost put me to sleep. He is so beautiful. He’s a handful – a temper that at times embarrasses me, a stubborn streak that would frustrate a mule, and o.c.d. to boot. He can scream louder than any child I have ever met, and once he sets his mind to something forget trying to get him to do differently. But, right now, he is my sleeping baby.

When I found out I was pregnant with him, I was devastated. We were not wanting anymore children. We were preparing for making that a permanent thing when I found out I pregnant. I cried. For DAYS. Not that I didn’t think I was gonna enjoy him. It was just that we had a 6 year old and a 3 year old. We were finally starting to get ahead, things were starting to pan out and kinda slow down. I remember sitting in the car, yelling at God. What was he thinking?!? I couldn’t POSSIBLY do this again. I was angry with God, with his “plan”. I told him since this was all HIS idea, that there were some things HE was gonna have to take care of. #1. It had to be a boy. Anna was more girl than I could handle, and having two girls was out of the question. #2. We had just given away ALL the baby stuff we had kept. So there was gonna have to be some MAJOR provision. #3. I couldn’t gain a lot of weight. I had just recently started dieting and feeling good about myself. Gaining weight would only make my life more difficult. #4. The due date was Christmas day. I literally said “I know you may think it’s cute that my kid be born on your kid’s birthday, but I have a family to think about.”

Every single stipulation was met. Judah was it’s name. We were blessed beyond belief with baby items. I weighed 189 my first doctors visit. I weighed 192 the day he was delivered. His birthday is December 18th. God knew the whole time that I was gonna have a “prove it”  attitude, and he already had all these things in motion. I loved him so very much. What a cutie he was! He was little compared to my other two (8lbs even). I stepped right into my role, just like riding a bike. I even went Christmas shopping with him 5 days after he was born!

I wondered what God had in store for this tiny surprise. I knew he had a BIG purpose, or else he wouldn’t be here. I would sit and watch him sleep and ponder what great things he was gonna do. Maybe a major evangelist. A famous worship leader. Inventor of a medication that cured an “incurable” disease. Yes, he was gonna do something AMAZING.

My grandmother (as well as the rest of the family) was enamored with him. She, however, had recently retired and spent LOTS of time with him. The older he got, the more he visited. She doted on him. Her son (my Uncle Jeff) passed away in 2008. Judah was not even two at the time. She had been out making arrangements for the funeral and had come back to the house. When she walked in the door, Judah was being held by his daddy. He immediately reached for her. She took him in her arms. For the first time ever, I watched my 1 and a half year old son wrap his little arms around her neck and squeeze. He held on for dear life and nuzzled his head into her neck. They stood for what seemed forever – a weakened great grandmother and her tiny person full of love and comfort. He didn’t know. He had no clue. But God did. I’m not saying that she wouldn’t have been comforted any less by the rest of us had Judah not been there; but I know – with out a doubt – his life gave her purpose. From that moment on, they were practically inseparable. He stayed over so much the next summer, he told everyone he lived at her house, not ours! They are a hoot to watch and listen to. I see her eyes twinkle with excitement about the possibilities of the trouble they are gonna get into. They are both stubborn. They are both outspoken. They both HATE to be woken up. They both love coffee. They love to be outside. She laughs at his “grown up” sayings. He laughs at her laughing. He takes care of her. She takes care of him.

Yes, he IS beautiful. His smile makes my worries, stress, sadness and concerns melt away. His statements can floor me. He is VERY smart. I couldn’t imagine life without him. I also know that one of his many life purposes was to be here for my grandmother. I know he’ll go on to do many other great things, I believe that about all my kids, but his greatest purpose has already been met. He is a life saver.

Psalms 139:13 – 16

Oh yes, you shaped me first inside, then out;
you formed me in my mother’s womb.
I thank you, High God—you’re breathtaking!
Body and soul, I am marvelously made!
I worship in adoration—what a creation!
You know me inside and out,
you know every bone in my body;
You know exactly how I was made, bit by bit,
how I was sculpted from nothing into something.
Like an open book, you watched me grow from conception to birth;
all the stages of my life were spread out before you,
The days of my life all prepared
before I’d even lived one day . . .

Never Put the Bracelet On!

Reading a past post on my facebook from 2008, I was reminded of my uncle. My Uncle Jeff was the 5th child in a 6 child family. My grandparents were not well off, they worked hard for what they had. My grandpappa was a carpenter/handyman and my grandmother was a waitress and secretary. The kids were pretty close in age, and they were a force to be reckoned with. They fought with each other frequently, but heaven help you if you messed with one of them!

Jeff was different, even as a little boy. He was visibly smaller in stature and was picked on far more than the other kids. He was scrappy though, and he had a very sweet heart. He was 11 when I was born. There are pictures of us swinging on a tree swing together, me being only 3 or 4. To be honest, I don’t have a lot of “childhood” memories of him. I remember him and my other uncles putting up a basketball goal and me trying to help. He was telling me to move or I was gonna get hurt when I got popped in the face with the pole.  Most of the time he was with his friends. A lot of my memories of him in the “early” years are from photographs.  He was a very handsome young man. He kinda looked like Kevin Bacon when he played in “Footloose”.

Then, he changed. He became gaunt. He became loud. He became disrespectful. I was young, so I don’t think I really realized what was happening.

But, as I got older, I became more aware of what was going on. My uncle was a junkie. Alcohol and drugs ruled his life. We used to eat dinner at my grandparents every Sunday evening. My grandfather (who was also an alcoholic) was normally already riled up by the time we got there. (The three youngest boys still lived at home, so you can imagine the fights!) I knew it was alcohol – my parents were honest about the problem. Uncle Jeff normally came down the hill, swaying and staggering, later in the night. He would come and sit down, talking and laughing loudly. “Do you remember my belt buckle I lost in the lake at the old house?” he would begin our conversation by asking. “No, Uncle Jeff, I don’t.” At this point I knew he was doused. “Well, I had it on and went swimming and it came off and I bet it’s still in that lake! Hehehehehe! One day I’m gonna drain that lake and go find it!” Yep. He was gone. And he was loud. And he smelled. This usually led to an argument between the siblings, the older ones scolding him, the younger ones yelling at his comments or actions.

When I was in my 20’s he got very sick. His liver was all but gone. We put him on the prayer list. We prayed over him. He was anointed with oil. He was healed! We just KNEW this was gonna be the turning point. His life was gonna change. No more substance abuse, no more jail, no more beatings from other druggies. Nope. He was gonna straighten up. We were all gonna be there for him. This was it.

Fail. Major fail. For some reason, he just couldn’t do it. I watched him deteriorate. It was so very sad. He lived with my grandmother, so my kids got to see him often. My kids loved him, he was unique, he was different. He loved art (Zeb’s favorite). He told Anna she was a princess and gave her random presents. Judah was just a baby during this time, but my uncle found a way to shower him with gifts also. You see, these items were so special because he didn’t have a job. The gifts he gave were ones he bartered for. My kids didn’t have a clue, but  they hung onto every gift.

He was pitiful looking. He couldn’t stand straight. He was stooped. His skin was green and leathery. His hair was long (he thought he looked like an outlaw so he kept it that way!).The more time that passed, the sicker he became. He was taking medication for all sorts of health issues. He was moody due to this, and his feet swelled to the point of his skin breaking open. He would groan with pain often, and each medication had a purpose and a side effect.

In 2008, things were getting pretty bad for him. The medication that kept his liver functioning was making him miserable. His feet were swollen, his skin cracked and bleeding. We had a family get together in the fall, someone’s birthday I believe, and he came – which was abnormal. He stayed for the whole time, making sure he spoke and conversed with everyone. He was happy. He was peaceful. Before he left he told each and every person that he loved them.

Not too long after that, on a Sunday morning, my mom found me in the hallway. Prayer was needed and urgent. Grandmother was at home trying to get him to the hospital, he was very sick. Mom had to go to her house and demand him to go. Finally, he went. I arrived that afternoon to my mom standing outside the e.r. entrance. It wasn’t good. For two days he was in i.c.u. There he was, this tiny little man, hooked up to machines that were keeping him “comfortable”. My grandmother was a mess, she didn’t want to let go. Not now, not yet. Apparently, he had quite taking his liver medicine days before. On Saturday, he made his neighborhood rounds, talking with the old folks he was close to and joking around with his pals. Saturday night, the coughing began. Sunday morning, my grandmother awoke to find her son laying in the bathtub, covered in his own blood, which he had been vomiting up. He was ready.He was done with the pain, done with being uncomfortable. Now, we were left to watch him die. Which is what we were doing. We were trying to comfort my grandmother, keep up with what the doctors were telling us, and keep up our own sanity. He would mumble and moan, writhing in the bed. It was excruciating. His entire body was shutting down and turning on him. Any medication that was given only helped specific internal body parts, meanwhile, others would fail. My grandmother decided, after much pleading and explaining, to stop all meds – except the pain medications. His blood pressure was dropping, and if they gave him medicine to help it, it would only prolong the inevitable. We gathered around his bed, a family united, as the Holy Spirit came and ushered him into heaven. How could THIS man be ushered into heaven you may ask. At the family get together, he specifically sought after my mom and told her of his encounter with Jesus recently. Yes, I saw the trees sway outside when he coughed up blood for the last time. I knew he was being swept away. We buried my uncle 3 weeks before his 30th birthday.

I spoke to my youth group about this experience. I read out of “The Voyage of the Dawn Treader” (The Chronicles of Narnia). How well did the cousin Eustice represent my uncle. His addiction led him into becoming a dragon. His heart turned soft once he was transformed into the “terrible” dragon. The only way he could be fully restored into a boy again was by Aslan removing the ugly dragon skin.

I believe with all my heart, that God restored my Uncle Jeff into a “boy” again. He removed all of the dragon skin. The years of abuse were wiped away. He could stand tall (though I believe he probably fell to his knees in worship!). He was made whole.

“The water was as clear as anything and I thought if I could get in there and bathe it would ease the pain in my leg. but the lion told me I must undress first. Mind you, I dont know if he said any words out loud or not.

I was just going to say that I couldn’t undress because I hadn’t any clothes on when I suddenly thought that dragons are snaky sort of things and snakes can cast their skins. Oh, of course, thought I, that’s what the lion means. So I started scratching myself and my scales began coming off all over the place. And then I scratched a little deeper and , instead of just scales coming off here and there, my whole skin started peeling off beautifully, like it does after an illness, or as if I was a banana. In a minute or two I just stepped out of it. I could see it lying there beside me, looking rather nasty. It was a most lovely feeling. So I started to go down into the well for my bathe.

But just as I was going to put my feet into the water I looked down and saw that they were all hard and rough and wrinkled and scaly just as they had been before. Oh, that’s all right, said I, it only means I had another smaller suit on underneath the first one, and I’ll have to get out of it too. So I scratched and tore again and this underskin peeled off beautifully and out I stepped and left it lying beside the other one and went down to the well for my bathe.

Well, exactly the same thing happened again. And I thought to myself, oh dear, how ever many skins have I got to take off? For I was longing to bathe my leg. So I scratched away for the third time and got off a third skin, just like the two others, and stepped out of it. But as soon as I looked at myself in the water I knew it had been no good.

Thne the lion said – but I don’t know if it spoke – ‘You will have to let me undress you.’ I was afraid of his claws, I can tell you, but I was pretty nearly desperate now. So I just lay flat down on my back to let him do it.

The very first tear he made was so deep that I thought it had gone right into my heart. And when he began pulling the skin off, it hurt worse than anything I’ve ever felt. The only thing that made me able to bear it was just the pleasure of feeling the stuff peel off. You know – if you’ve ever picked the scab of a sore place. It hurts like billy-oh but it is such fun to see it coming away.

Well, he peeled the beastly stuff right off – just as I thought I’d done it myself the other three times, only they hadn’t hurt – and there it was lying on the grass: only ever so much thicker, and darker, and more knobbly-looking than the others had been. And there was I as smooth and soft as a peeled switch and smaller than I had been. Then he caught hold of me – I didn’t like that much for I was very tender underneath now that I’d no skin on – and threw me into the water. It smarted like anything but only for a moment. After that it became perfectly delicious and as soon as I started swimming and splashing I found that all the pain had gone from my arm. And then I saw why. I’d turned into a boy again. You’d think me simply phoney if I told you how I felt about my own arms. I know they’ve no muscle and are pretty mouldy compared with Caspian’s, but I was so glad to see them.

After a bit the lion took me out and dressed me – (with his paws?) – Well, I don’t exactly remember that bit. But he did somehow or other: in new clothes – the same I’ve got on now, as a matter of fact. and then suddenly I was back here. Which is what makes me think it must have been a dream.”

Often we have addictions, not as devastating as drugs or alcohol, but addictions none the less, that place scales on us. It could be working, t.v., internet, just being selfish – anything that may take up our time that could be spent with not only our family, but God too. Our skin may become heavy, our attitudes rough and our hearts hard. Until we come to recognize our addictions, and seek out healing, we can never be truly whole. Just as Eustace struggled with taking off the skin and it returning, it’s not easy to let go of somethings. We may try hard on our own, but it keeps coming back. But, when we seek out healing from our Heavenly Father, and we let him do the removing (which will most of the time feel like it goes “straight to the heart”) we can bathe and be healed, cleansed and restored. So, in tribute to my Uncle Jeff, I leave you with what I think he would probably want you to know. Don’t give into peer pressure, love your family, seek out God daily, and never put the bracelet on!

Chicken Wire Fences

On the way down to my aunt and uncle’s house, we pass by a house that has a gorgeous iron gate. We saw it years ago and marveled at how cool it was. As we were admiring it, Craig recognized that it had a wire fence attached to it. Not just any wire, but chicken wire. For those of you who may be unfamiliar with exactly what “chicken wire” is, I took the liberty of finding the definition – chicken wire – a galvanized wire network with a hexagonal mesh; used to build fences – an open fabric of string or rope or wire woven together at regular intervals. Now, here is this gorgeous house with an amazing iron gate, but the fencing is less than pretty. It is ugly. Ordinary.

We kinda laughed, and went on our way. Then, Craig made a statement that still resonates with me. He said, “Isn’t that how a lot of Christians live? We have beautiful houses (ourselves) and we have massive iron gates put up to keep out the big stuff. But all around our perimeter is nothing but chicken wire.”

How true. So often we make sure we keep ourselves separated from things like explicit music, pictures and movies. We know that drugs, alcohol abuse and adult literature are detrimental to our mental and physical health and our spiritual health. Most Christians steer WAY clear of ANY of those things. Let’s be honest, we know what can ruin our relationship with Christ and others. Our “iron gate” is put up.

Meanwhile, we have neglected our perimeters. Our chicken wire is all that is up. We think that our iron gate is enough, it is enough to protect us. But, before we know it, the “small things” start sneaking in. Negativity, bad attitudes, pride, resentment . . . Not to mention gossip, complacency and bitterness. These things attack our mind, our body, our spirit. We start making excuses for our actions. Our composure is lost, as well as our witness. We struggle just to have something positive to say. Our view on life is clouded. We have no purpose, no vision.

Passer byes see this massive iron gate. A beautiful facade. Which is a testament in itself. They may admire our stability, our tenacity.  But, those who are participants in our lives get the clear view of our “property”. They see the chicken wire. They see the little things that sneak in and take residence.  These people could be family, friends, coworkers and church family. All these people see our “property”. They are privy to our lives. Yet, we live believing we are protected behind just our iron gate.

Wikipedia says that chicken wire is often used to fence in poultry. (Hence the name!) It is made of thin wire, with hexagonal openings – chickens are obviously not escapees! It also says that the thinness is inappropriate for protection from predators. Protection from predators. Predator –  An organism that lives by preying on other organisms, one that victimizes, plunders, or destroys, especially for one’s own gain. The bible states that Satan comes to steal, kill and destroy (John 10). To protect –  keep from being damaged, attacked, stolen, or injured; guard. John 10 also states that Jesus is not only the gate that protects, but the good shepherd also!

John 10:1-16

1 “Very truly I tell you Pharisees, anyone who does not enter the sheep pen by the gate, but climbs in by some other way, is a thief and a robber. 2 The one who enters by the gate is the shepherd of the sheep. 3 The gatekeeper opens the gate for him, and the sheep listen to his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. 4 When he has brought out all his own, he goes on ahead of them, and his sheep follow him because they know his voice. 5 But they will never follow a stranger; in fact, they will run away from him because they do not recognize a stranger’s voice.” 6 Jesus used this figure of speech, but the Pharisees did not understand what he was telling them.7 Therefore Jesus said again, “Very truly I tell you, I am the gate for the sheep. 8 All who have come before me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep have not listened to them. 9 I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved.[a] They will come in and go out, and find pasture. 10 The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.11 “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. 12 The hired hand is not the shepherd and does not own the sheep. So when he sees the wolf coming, he abandons the sheep and runs away. Then the wolf attacks the flock and scatters it. 13 The man runs away because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep.14 “I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me— 15 just as the Father knows me and I know the Father—and I lay down my life for the sheep.

So, the moral of the story? Make sure your iron gate has a matching fence. Protect yourself from the predator. Having an iron gate for those who randomly pass through your life is grand, but having a well guarded life to leave as a legacy for those who are intertwined in your life is even better!
Much love
~Jenni D.~

Emus, Kangaroos and useless facts on a Friday

  1. Banging your head against a wall uses 150 calories an hour…
  2. Hawaii has the largest consumption of Spam in the United States.
  3. Mel Blanc (the voice of Bugs Bunny) was allergic to carrots.
  4. In most advertisements, including newspapers, the time displayed on a watch is 10:10.
  5. The longest word in the English language, according to the Oxford English Dictionary, is pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanoconiosis. The only other word with the same amount of letters is pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanoconioses, its plural. The longest place-name still in use is Taumatawhakatangihangakoauauotamateaturipukakapikimaungahoronukupokaiwhenuakitanatahu, a New Zealand hill.
  6. There are more chickens than people in the world.
  7. No word in the English language rhymes with month, orange, silver or purple.
  8. If you yelled for 8 years, 7 months and 6 days, you would have produced enough sound energy to heat one cup of coffee…
  9. Cockroaches do not like cucumbers.
  10. Emus and kangaroos cannot walk backwards, and are on the Australian coat of arms for that reason.

Dance With Me Again

Stoic faces

Same ‘ol, same ‘ol.

They come in mad, sad,

frustrated and confused.

They are searching for more

but living with less.

They have guarded hearts with

fenced in feelings.

They’ve come to a place

where freedom reigns

and peace is heavy in the air

Where joy is freely delivered

and chains are forever gone –

yet they stand –

not moving, standing in

their own swamp.

“Come to me!”

the spirit screams.

“How I long for you

to dance!

Put your burdens upon me

let me be your peace.

I Am

is here

with all you need.

Step into the river

let the refreshing begin.

You are my children

and I

long for


Original ~ Jennifer Dayton 1/31/11