It’s a strange sensation experienced by those in grief.
The feeling that the rest of the world is moving along at its normal, fast pace—speeding by, even—while your entire world has stopped in its tracks. You can’t breathe. But the birds are still flying and chirping, people are still driving to work and posting silly jokes on Facebook, and life goes on all around you.
My baby sister had her first baby one month ago. We were all giddy with excitement. The showers had been thrown, the nursery was ready, and we were eager to meet my niece, Phoenix Roanne, who was so smart, she waited until her due date to come! My sister lives in Kansas City (I’m in St. Louis), so I’d been keeping up with phone calls and texts as to the progress of the labor and when we went to bed that night, Beth was still at 5 cm and we were looking at a possible c-section. The next morning, I had an email from my mom:
“Congratulations! You’re an aunt.”
With a smile on my face, I poured a cup of coffee and sat down to call my mom and get all the wonderful details. But when she answered the phone, she immediately turned it over to my dad who said, “There’s a problem with the baby.”
And just like that, it happened. That thing people talk about-how the air got sucked out of the room. He went on to explain that her hands and feet were “webbed.” He said the doctors think there are five digits in each hand, but they are so fused, her hands almost look
like pads or mittens. And there’s something not quite right about the shape of her brow.
They’ve taken blood to do chromosomal testing.
Since Phoenix did not have any respiratory, digestive, or heart concerns, she was allowed to
leave the hospital with her parents after the normal 5-day stay after a c-section. We remained concerned that something had been missed and that she may be in danger.
After a full month of waiting on pins and needles, Phoenix was finally diagnosed with
Aperts Syndrome. It’s a genetic disease in which the seams between the skull bones fuse earlier than normal, affecting the shape of the head and face. It also causes complicated fusing/webbing of the hands and feet. Children with Aperts often go through 15-20 major surgeries by the time they are 10 years old. The hands and feet are a process themselves, but the most concerning surgeries are the craniofacial ones. There are many issues that can develop: sleep apnea, hearing and vision loss, intestinal mal-rotation, brain injury, and many others.
We appreciate your prayers for Baby Phoenix and my family as we move forward. We’ve been knocked down by a punch that came out of nowhere, but we know that God was not surprised. His Word says that she is fearfully and wonderfully made, and we rest in
His promise that He cares for us and He knows the weight of this heartache. Sometimes bad situations aren’t made “okay”in the end, at least from a human point of view. Sometimes they are just terrible things that we have to live with and make the best of.
The world keeps on spinning even when we are stuck to the ground on which we stand, but we are standing on a hope and a peace that He knows and we ARE in His hand.
Grace and peace,
Matthew 10:29-31 says: What is the price of two sparrows - one copper coin? But not a single sparrow can fall to the ground without your Father knowing it. And the very hairs on your head are numbered. So don't be afraid; you are more valuable to God than a whole flock of sparrows. ~Photo by Carl Cartee
Back in May, our dearest Jacqueline married the love of her life, Travis Foley. Words aren’t enough to express the wonderful joy we have, that God has brought Jacqueline and Travis together. As many of you may know, Jacqueline’s divorce was one of the saddest times of her life – when she found that her first husband decided that he didn’t want to be married anymore. For so long, she agonized and cried over this, blaming herself. Until one day, through her prayers, she heard “There is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” When God reminded her of this, she finally moved on and looked to Him for the next journey in her life.
There have been many times after rehearsal and concerts that I would go home to my husband and family. . .I would often think of Jacqueline, and my heart would ache because I wanted her to have a husband to go home to, too. This sweet, caring, smart, beautiful and Godly friend of mine – she deserved every bit of happiness! And that was my constant prayer for her. I also prayed that someday, soon I hoped, she would find her a Christian man who was tall, dark and handsome.
Sure enough, our prayers were answered. Jacqueline met Travis Foley at our very first Evidence concert and Jacqueline now has her happily ever after; her tall, dark and handsome Travis. Thank you, Lord, for answering our prayers – You knew all along the plans for Jacqueline’s life; plans to give her a future and a hope.
Hi everyone, Julie here. No, I have not dropped out of Evidence Sings or off the face of the earth. I have been on a short leave of absence due to vocal concerns that – hallelujah! – have finally been diagnosed. If you want the short story, I was diagnosed with acid reflux. If you want the details, read on!
Back in February I began noticing that I was becoming hoarse on a weekly basis, usually after teaching preschool music and directing our church’s 2nd and 3rd grade choir. By Thursday, I had what I affectionately called my “Thursday voice”. I thought I just needed a break to completely heal. In March, I drove down to Florida to visit my sister for a week and planned to sing at her church that Sunday morning. I was still hoarse and did not have my “singing voice” back yet. By Sunday, I could sing the song during sound check but during the hymn singing prior to my solo, I realized I was still missing a couple of the higher notes. I just had air and no sound coming out. I prayed that God would make it happen and supply the missing notes. I was singing one of my favorites which is Psalm 103:2-5. Praise the LORD, O my soul and forget not all His benefits. He redeems your life from the pit and crowns you with love and compassion. He satisfies your desires with good things so that your youth is renewed like the eagles’. My sister, Amy, accompanied me beautifully on the piano, which is a treat in itself. I sang and God gave me every note in the song. To Him be the glory. By the end of the service, my voice was back to the way it had been. God gave me just what was needed for the moment.
After 10 days of vocal rest (with that one exception), my voice wasn’t really in better shape than before. I was becoming concerned that I might need more than rest. The director at our preschool facility even suggested a switch: I would do the assistant director job while the assistant would teach music for me for 2 weeks to give me additional rest. My thoughts flew to nodules on my chords, surgery, botched surgery, never singing again, using my hands to lead the deaf since I could no longer sing…you know how it goes. However, my first diagnosis from the Ear, Nose and Throat doctor was that allergies were the cause of my hoarseness. Great news! I just needed allergy medication and then all would be well. The dr. saw my vocal chords and felt that allergies explained their appearance and that if I did not sing until it felt better that I would be fine.
After 1 week on the meds I began to sing and the hoarseness came back. The following week I had my next appointment with the ENT dr. at which I was getting an endoscopy. The dr. found a small nodule (callous) on one vocal chord. He told me not to sing, shout or whisper and make an appointment with another ENT dr. who is a “singer’s specialist”. Another three weeks. Good grief.
Finally, on May 17, I got great news from this new, wonderful dr. He did another endoscopy, this time with a video camera attached and we got to watch the video and he showed me that my chords were nodule-free (hooray!) but that they and the areas around them were swollen from acid reflux! He said I am free to sing and that as I make the changes he outlined my sound will become clear again. Whew!
(Here’s a shout out to my evidence girls for filling in the gaps that I left and doing an awesome job picking up the slack. It is not easy to re-learn entire songs or bits of songs in a different singing part. But they did for three events- one a full concert of songs to re-learn! You girls rock!)
So the good news for me is that I can sing without worry of damaging anything and go back to life as normal (mostly).
Here’s some of what I learned (remembered!):
My voice is a gift to be taken care of all the time. Not just when I singing but when I’m shouting at a ballgame, getting the attention of my students or just talking past the point of tiredness. I will not be taking this for granted any time soon.
God loves me. I already knew that one. But I really felt it during this upheaval of my life. I could feel it through my kind friends and family. Through my co-workers and boss. And mostly through keeping my ability to sing! I was prepared to praise Him without use of my voice if I had to, which is what I was practicing during my vocal rest. I became a very passionate mouther J during worship and surprisingly found a real connection to God that way.
God is big. I am small. His will is good and perfect.
You’ll be seeing me onstage again soon with my evidence girls. God gave the four of us such a desire to sing to Him and I’m so grateful that I get to be a part of it!
Often described as Jerry's "sworn enemy," his character is cunning and occasionally acts like a weasel. He speaks often in a humorously sinister tone (mainly to Jerry). Jerry refers to Newman as "pure evil" on more than one occasion. The two generally greet each other this way, Jerry in a distrustful, baleful voice, Newman in a falsely jovial one:
Newman: "Hello, Jerry."
Jerry: "Hello, Newman."**
To Jerry, Newman is all things evil. Or it is the fact that everyone has a person(s) that they just, no matter what they have done to you, rub you the wrong way. ***
How many of us have been here? The person that just, no matter what they do, rubs you the wrong way? I know I have. I’m thinking of my Newman right now. My Newman is a know-it-all, smug and generally not like-able type of person. I even want to say his name like Jerry says “Newman!” - with contempt!
Now I know it’s not right to feel this way toward people because of what the Bible says. A few verses come to mind:
Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you.Luke 6:27
Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them.Romans 12:14
If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head. Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.Romans 12:20-21
I have to admit I sort of like that verse about the burning coals! God gave us a little motivation for being kind, didn’t He!?!
Confession: I just googled “What does the Bible say about people you don’t like.” And I found this great site. http://www.freebiblestudyguides.org/bible-answers/dealing-with-difficult-people.htm
I’ll be praying for you as you encounter your Newman this week. Will you do the same for me?
~Jacqueline** http://seinfeld.wikia.com/wiki/Newman*** http://www.answerbag.com/q_view/42987
Sorry folks, this isn’t a movie review of Sarah Jessica Parker’s latest movie :) I haven’t even seen this movie yet, and I’m not sure that I want to see a movie about a career oriented mom trying to juggle her job, children, husband and many, MANY other things in her chaotic life! I have enough things to worry about in my own world rather than watch someone else’s train wreck. But the movie trailer really made me think. . .do I juggle too many things and try to do it all on my own? Am I really letting God be in control of my life and fully surrendering to Him?
As you might know, our family was recently blessed with a baby boy, Jacob. He is truly an amazing baby, so sweet and adorable. I didn’t know I could love another child like I love my sweet 5 year old Anna but it’s true – I am hopelessly in love with this little bundle of joy!
But with this little joy came late night feedings and some sleepless nights. The first few weeks were sort of a blissful, sleepless blur. But then came the chaos. One morning, I was holding and feeding the baby while packing Anna’s lunch (yes, not recommended, but it was that or hear a screaming hungry baby cry :) ), I told Anna to put on her shoes for the third time while she is whining about not wanting to go to school. As I’m running to pack her book bag with lunch, field trip money and homework, I happened to step in fresh dog puke on our carpet. . .nice. This didn’t faze our dog Lucy though, who was barking at me to feed her again while pushing her bowl across the floor. Right then the baby spits up all over my shirt while my phone starts beeping, it’s a text from work – a work emergency! While holding the baby and forcing Anna’s shoes on her feet and hoping we wouldn’t miss the bus that morning, I glanced at my desk with my 2 page to-do list I had made days ago that had just a few things checked off. At that very moment, I wanted to scream, "SERENITY NOW!!!"
After I put Anna on the bus that morning, I came back inside and glanced in the mirror. I was a mess! My hair was all over the place, bags under my eyes, and I was wearing mismatched clothes (with spit up on them of course). Not only did I feel that my physical appearance was not so hot, I felt that my heart was not so hot either. I was irritable, crabby and feeling depressed that I couldn’t handle all that I was doing. So, that morning, I decided to put everything on hold that I had to do that day. My messy house, the ever growing laundry pile, work and volunteer stuff that had deadlines – they were all on hold. I just held my sweet baby and listened to what God had to say to me that morning.
During my time with God, I was reminded that in my life, I am the passenger, He is the driver. I am immediately became relieved. When you are not in charge and fully responsible, it lessens your worries and reminds you that only He knows the plans He has for us, not us! Instead of making a “to do” list myself, I’ve decided to pray over that list before making it. What does God want me to do today? What priorities are important to Him? Once I had that reminder of Him being in control, it gave me a sense of peace and positively changed my attitude. James 4:7 says, “Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.” By completely turning things over to Him and submitting to Him, I am less vulnerable to the temptations of the devil. God also tells us in the book of Jeremiah, that He knows that plans He has for us, to prosper and give us hope and a future. I don’t have to do it all, I can just climb over to the passenger seat and say, “God, I can’t wait to see where you’ll take me today. :)”
I have discovered something new lately - that I am easily irritated. I know you are outraged by this revelation. You refuse to believe this. This is because you either have not lived with me or have not spent time with me outside the bubble of cheerful repartee. My children and husband bear the brunt of this. And to make matters worse, at the Christmas pageant I recently directed at the preschool where I work, our Director called me up to thank me and continued on to say that I had a “kind word for everyone” which only made me flashback with chagrin to about 20 minutes before when I had impatiently snapped at my husband.
I want to be known as a kind, thoughtful person - someone who thinks of others. But the killer of kindness is truly impatience, as we have all witnessed in the flurry of Christmas checkout lines. So, I am eager to rid myself of this sin. Impatient, even. :) The last week or so I have been aware of my propensity and have guarded against it but I am quickly realizing that while I can change what comes out of my mouth, only God can truly replace the thoughts in my head. So, I have to rely on God’s strength if I want a lasting change.
A great song that drives this home is “This Is the Stuff” by Francesca Battistelli. You can watch her video here
Not in my own power but by God’s strength.
I love to go out. There’s something about tossing aside my comfy T-shirt (or lately, sweatshirt) in favor of my cutest fashions, accessorizing, and freshening up my make-up so I’m all ready to go somewhere. The worst thing that can happen at that point is for a kid to get sick, the babysitter to fall through, or to get a call that changes all my plans. There I am: all dressed up with nowhere to go.
I think God has been trying to teach me a lesson lately. First, we put our house on the market. Oh, how we worked to get out home spic and span with the perfect staging, lighting, fragrances—no easy feat when you house three children and two dogs! The time came and we stood poised with snacks and comment forms.
…And the time went--with no lookers at all. It felt like we threw a party but no one came.
That same week, Evidence experienced another set-back with our CD recording project. This was a session which had been on our calendar for over a month. We had our charts ready, parts rehearsed, babysitters set up—we were all “dressed up and ready.” And then the plans got majorly changed and it was out of our control.
Three truths come to mind:
1. SEEK HIM FIRST.
Proverbs 3:6 tells us: “Seek His will in all you do, and He will show you which path to take.” Other versions say, “…He will make your path straight.” Sometimes we get a little ahead of God in our lives. We make our plans thinking because He hasn’t put up obvious roadblocks, we must be in His Will. So we put on our best dress, the perfect shade of lipstick, and skip ahead down the path we’ve chosen for ourselves because it looks straight to our eyes. I don’t believe the path God has for us is always a free and easy road without bumps or curves—however, He does say He will make it plain to us when we seek Him first.
2. GIVE OUR BEST.
Secondly, it’s not a waste to get all dressed up (I’m speaking figuratively). In fact, Colossians 3:23 says, “Whatever you do, work at it wholeheartedly as though you were doing it for the Lord and not merely for people.” God wants us to give our very best to everything He has us do. We should always be ready and prepared—this is God-honoring!
3. WAIT ON HIM.
Lastly, even when we have been diligent to seek God’s will, AND we have done our very best to get ourselves ready for the task at hand, sometimes we must also learn PATIENCE.
It’s the old adage: “Lord, teach me patience and please hurry!” Think of the Old Testament stories of Abraham, who was 100 years old before God gave him the son he longed for; of Joseph, who spent 15 years unjustly accused in prison before God raised him to 2nd in command over all of Egypt; of Job, who lost everything you could imagine before God restored to him twice as much as he had in the first place.
Whatever our calling, we must patiently endure, and continue to do the work even if we occasionally find ourselves “all dressed up with nowhere to go.”
Seek Him first, give our best, and wait on Him—He is ultimately preparing us for the biggest party of all, when we’ll be all dressed up in His righteousness. And those duds are fine. ;-)
Grace and peace,
Jacqueline here - don’t worry - I’m not talking about hard drugs, alcohol or cigarettes. Lately, I have been completely addicted to ….........…...………PINTEREST.
It’s a website that lets you organize and share great ideas. People use “pinboards” like a virtual bulletin boards to plan weddings, decorate homes, organize recipes, and my personal favorite, find kids crafts! You can also browse pinboards created by other people.
I’m telling you it’s so addicting. I want to look at it all the time and see everyone’s ideas! I added the link above, but be warned: you’ll become addicted as well! I mean, seriously, look at this cute Christmas Tree on canvas out of handprints! FUN!
Apparently, pinterest isn’t the only addicting thing in our world these days. I saw CNN run a segment on people’s addictions to their smartphones. I know I am guilty. I use my phone for everything – calling, browsing, texting, facebook, and Words with Friends (I’m a “Words” geek)! That got me thinking about an email I have received several times – you’ve probably seen it too:
What would happen if we treated our Bible like our cell phone?
What if we carried it around in our purses or our pockets?
What if we turned back to get it if we forgot it?
What if we flipped through it several times a day?
What if we used to receive messages from the text?
What if we gave it to kids as gifts?
What if we used it in case of an emergency?
Unlike our cell phones, we don’t ever have to worry about the Bible being disconnected because Jesus already paid the bill!
You may be saying to yourself, “Jacqueline, that’s not really an addiction.” Webster defines addiction as the state of being enslaved to a habit or practice. OK, maybe I’m not enslaved to pinterest or to my cell, but they certainly have received more of my time and attention lately than my Bible.
God, please forgive me for the time I’ve spent idly checking the internet or playing games on my cell phone when I could have been spending time with you. Please replace these desires and interests with a passion in my heart to know you more. Amen.
Now, who knows a good app for a daily devotion? :)
Recently I had an opportunity to sing an impromptu, karaoke-style song called, “Need You Now.” You probably know it. It was at a restaurant that was hosting some live entertainment and I got called up on stage (thanks to my husband’s cousin) to sing with the performer. After a shaky start, I found my pitch and tried to infuse the performance with feeling and life. It was hard work! While I have always loved to sing any Lady Antebellum song at the top of my lungs in the car, I realized that singing it in front of people lacked something.
These last 2 (!) years with Evidence have driven home what I knew before – singing about anything less compelling than God’s love leaves me feeling empty. Conversely, singing words about the life-changing love of Christ fills me, renews me, brings me to tears, puts a smile on my face and cleanses me. Sometimes all at once! Nothing else compares.
Lord, I am so grateful for this gift of music. Grateful that I can experience praising you anytime, no matter where I am. I want to be clean so that I can fully shine your light. I love you and want to sing a new song to you all of my days. Amen.
Our church's VBS - 400+ enrolled!
Summer has arrived! School’s OUT, the BBQ’s have begun, swimming pools are open, the cicadas are singing and it’s VBS season!
My 5 year old daughter, Anna, just completed her first week of Vacation Bible School at church this week. She came home singing songs about Jesus, quoting scripture and exclaiming how much fun she had. She even told me she has decided to go to VBS everyday instead of school! It made me think though. . .how awesome would it be, if I could spend 20 hours each week singing my heart out and diving into His word and being completely and utterly focused on Him?
Anna’s VBS experience reminded me that VBS can and should happen every week of our lives. Our days are so busy and at times, the work, running errands and extra commitments can weigh us down and can cause us to lose focus of what is most important.
This summer, I am challenging myself and my friends to some adult VBS. Here’s how in two ways. . .through:
I’m taking my favorite praise songs (I’m especially interested in finding Anna’s VBS songs so we can both jam to them!) and making a playlist for my drive time. Some of my best and heartfelt worship moments have been in my car on my morning commute to work. Although, I recommend NOT closing your eyes while drivingJ.
DAILY WORD TIME:
The internet has so many great websites for daily devotions as there are also several books out there for daily devotions as well. A website I like for online devotions is www.devotionalchristian.com
, they also have recommendations for books at http://devotionalchristian.com/top-22-devotional-books/
. Or if you don’t want to do a daily devotion that someone else created, create one on your own by diving into the Word each day. Also, I plan to spend some serious prayer time with Him at the end of each devotion.
Well, that is all I have for today. . .I have to go now and prepare for my first week of Adult VBS next week!
Remember that VBS doesn’t have to be just for our kids. . .
Philippians 3:13-14 says;13 Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.