How Lyme Disease Changed Me {lessons for this mom’s heart}

I haven’t written much about my awful, dark, difficultonce hopeless days…weeks…months…years of dealing with Lyme disease. It was such a hard season for me–and a time in my life that I had what is known in the Lyme world as “brain fog”–so forming logical thoughts, much less writing a blog about it was impossible for me.

But tonight–I received yet another email…from a mom that reached out to me because of this disease. She is now in the midst of the hard. And months ago I was able to encourage her. She checked back in tonight to let me know how things are going with her treatment–and I just thought, “You know–I need to encourage here too. Because you just never know what person in the THICK of Lyme–disease–or even any hardship for that matter might stumble across this post…and be encouraged.”

I don’t know what hard–bad–terrible–not–fun things happen to us. Some crazy folks will tell you that it’s because there is sin in your life. I had a few of those pray over me during my not fun time–and while they were praying I wanted to gently or not so gently grab their hands off of me and say, “The Lord loves me. I love Him. And it’s not because I’ve done anything wrong that a stupid tick bit me. Some times really bad things happen to His children. And it doesn’t make sense. We just have to cling to Him through it. And honestly–if it doesn’t all work out like we want it to–He is still good. I wasn’t made for this world. Heaven is my home. And this world–well, Jesus said there would be many trials. BUT He has overcome the world. So I’m gonna trust Him no matter how hard it gets.”

If you are there. In the hard right now. I want to encourage you.

To cling to Him. Even if you aren’t that close to the Lord right now.

You must know that He loves you.

His Word says–you are fearfully and wonderfully made.

And He has a plan–even…for THIS.

My story is a success one. But I know in terms of healing in this world–they all don’t end like mine. BUT when they do–I believe we are to encourage one another.

While you are in the thick of it–hold tight and remember THIS for when He brings you through:

2 Corinthians 1:3-5, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. For as we share abundantly in Christ’s sufferings, so through Christ we share abundantly in comfort too.”

We are to comfort and encourage others with the same comfort we received when we were in the thick of it. So this is my story of how Lyme disease changed me.

It was the summer of 2011. I had just stepped off the plane from Ethiopia with our 4th child. My husband–Richard–and I had been so blessed with 2 children early in our marriage. Then we were followed by what seemed like forever of not being able to conceive. This gave me an appreciate for the miracle of life that I hadn’t known or truly embraced–as well as a heart for adoption. We also helped start a school in Zambia, Africa during that longing for more children. The Lord was using our longing to bless more than just our family–and we were seeing how perfect His plan are even in the loss and disappointment of the unfilled longings of our own hearts. In March of 2008 while Rich was in Africa–I sat filling out adoption paperwork–and also feeling queazy took a pregnancy test to discover we were expecting! Our 3rd was born in November and shortly after–we picked up the adoption paperwork again–and in June 2010 landed on American soil with our sweet boy who at the time we weren’t sure if he would ever walk based on his diagnosis.

I was ELATED to be home with our 4th child whom we felt we had prayed over for years–and I was sitting out on my driveway watching all my little loves ride bikes on a hot July day (2011) when I felt something on my left shoulder sting. I looked to see a tick embedded in my skin–and not knowing anything about ticks or how to properly remove them–I squealed, yanked him out and rubbed the rash that was already beginning to appear on my shoulder. I truly didn’t think anything about it–nor did I think the 3 day “flu” that followed that bite was anything but the flu. So–I went untreated. For the first time that weekend, I experienced vertigo–followed by lots of vomiting and feeling like I had lead limbs unable to move. I just laid there for days–thinking it was an awful bout of the flu–and slowly each day I felt a bit better.

Days and weeks went by–and I was overtaken with fatigue. I had just started homeschooling our children after having one of our children tested for dyslexia. I kept telling myself that the fatigue was homeschooling PLUS an extra child–and with time I would adjust. Richard, my sweet husband, saw a huge difference in my energy (he says I make coffee nervous!)–and I needed daily naps now to just make it to 8pm. I would get so tired even after a night’s sleep (although restless sleep–insomnia is another symptom of Lyme)–and I would fall asleep at 10am while reading to the children. Only a couple weeks into homeschooling, we hired Karissa to come. Karissa had her elementary degree–so she would teach the children while I played with the younger kids and napped in the afternoons–OR I’d teach in the mornings while she played–whatever I could do…until I adjusted to homeschooling and 4 kids.

Months went by–and nothing got better for me. So finally–I went in for blood work. This can be challenging and frustrating for someone with Lyme’s because the testing out there–well, it’s not the greatest. The blood work came back from my primary doctor and she called me to ask me to come in. She explained I had some markers for Lupus or Sjogren’s Syndrome–and she was sending me to a rheumatologist. The rheumatologist guessed (because y’all–I’ve learned that’s what doctor’s do–they mostly guess and that’s why it’s called practicing medicine). I got a prescription for blurred vision (doc guessed it was dry eyes from Sjogren’s causing that) as well as some anti-inflammatory meds. But as I was leaving…I just didn’t have a peace…

I have to add to this part of the story…be sensitive to that when you do NOT feel a peace–and keep searching. So I didn’t rush to get the prescriptions filled. Instead–I made an appointment with infectious disease.

As the weeks past–I saw I felt like every doctor on the planet. I went to an infectious disease doctor as well as another opthamologist (my vision in my right eye was getting worse–and I knew it wasn’t dry eyes). I also schedule an appointment with a GI doctor and internal medicine. I had Western Blots and Elisa testing because that is what the CDC says you do–which I know know…um–that’s not always so accurate. Every doc had a different thing for me–and I just knew there was NO way I had that many problems. There had to be one thing causing all of the havoc in my body. I didn’t have quite enough bands for the Western Blot–really meaning I had probably had the disease by that point for almost a year. FINALLY–I went to another doc who suggested the CD-57 test and my score was terribly low suggesting that I had possibly had Lyme for quite some time at that point. Later I learned about IGeneX testing and before it was over–oh my…I was having my hair pulled out for testing even.

I started on antibiotics–just because from all the research and doc suggestions–that is just what you do. But over and over I felt like there was something else I needed to be doing. Then I thought back to the holistic doc that I had taken my son to after coming home from Ethiopia. The top pediatric pulmonologist in Atlanta diagnosed our son from Ethiopia with severe asthma. We were given loads of enhalers–all color coded for different times of the day. And once again–I had left…thinking–there’s something else I need to be doing. I took him to this holistic doc–to have him tell me that it wasn’t asthma at all. I assured him I saw the x-rays myself–but he assured me to STOP the inhalers and instead treat him for giardia–a parasite common in third world countries and orphanages. I also assured him he had ALREADY tested negative for giardia–which I later learned isn’t always the most accurate test either. I felt a PEACE. Took my son off the inhalers. And in 2 weeks–my boy was a DIFFERENT boy. No more thrashing at night. No more night sweats. No more wheezing. To THINK–I was giving my son and giardia lots of steroids…just what parasites need…right?!

This doc had been a God-send for our son–so I thought–why not try him now. He was the doc that said my problem was spirochetes (Lyme)–but with no co-infections (co-infections often accompany Lyme disease–and can wreck just as much if not MORE havoc in a body). He suggested the CD57 test to see where the infection was–and being as low as it was I began to think back to when I could have been bitten by a tick. Was it followed by sickness. And I sat there. Thinking. OH. MY. GOSH. That. WAS. IT.

I wish I could tell you it was an easy fix.

But–when the body starts healing…some times–it is even harder.

In the first few weeks of treatment–I felt like NOTHING was changing. Was I a fool to go to a homeopathic doc to treat Lyme? For real? At one point–I really thought I was dying. I would watch my little ones playing–and wish and pray that I could just be old enough to be an amazing grandmother to their children. I would long to be able to homeschool and play without needing any help. I would meet friends out and I knew by their faces I looked different…having lost weight and having red puffy eyes…and constantly pulling out supplements every couple of hours or meds or whatever. Oh my. Those were the HARD days. Days I now often forget. But some times…need to remember.

Adrenal supplements, immune builders, blood cleansers, digestive enzymes, powered vitamin C, colloidal silver…the list goes on and on and…it felt like on. We did anything and everything our doctor suggested. Richard even bought me a infrared sauna (thankful to have that gem now;). Gluten-free. Whole foods. A different way to treat Lyme–that is for sure…but after months and months and months…in the spring (after starting treatment holistically in the Fall)–I turned a corner. Not a “I’m healed corner”…but rather–I don’t need a nap and I’m not crashing every night at 8pm corner. My kids were starting to get their mom back…and about that time—we felt the Lord was calling us to host an orphan in our home from the Ukraine. It felt completely crazy to even consider–but I felt like the Lord was asking us to trust Him.

The whole time–I also just felt in my heart the words in His Word…”you are fearfully and wonderfully made”…and I really believe in some diseases–the body really can heal itself with the support, rest and nutrition it really needs.

In May we decided to host–and in June–a week before a sweet 15 year old girl from Ukraine arrived–the holistic doc said spirochetes were undetectable in my body. Because my western blots were not fully clear–by the CDC standards–it wasn’t Lyme–but I know now that this isn’t even the best way to detect Lyme. BUT because our main doc (like MANY doctors in the South that know very little about Lyme disease) only recognized the CDC way of testing–she cleared us to host because according to her I didn’t have it. That doesn’t by any means make it wise that we signed up to host–BUT we felt the Lord WAS calling us to host–and by uneducated folks…I guess you could say He made a way.

All in all–it was a 2 year battle for this momma. A little over a year of having it and trying to figure out what the heck was going on. And about 9 months of treating it through a God send doctor. We hosted–and the Lord wrote another MIRACLE story through it.

I also found out we were pregnant that summer. But at 11 weeks–we lost the baby. Something that is actually pretty common after Lyme disease. I had to wrestle so much with hating that disease–and feeling like it took so much time from my life…and possibly even a new gift…but instead of bottling it up–I chose to look forward.

Years before I would listen to people who were sick–and sadly…I wouldn’t listen. I didn’t know how. I didn’t understand. Some times–because they looked well…I wanted to just tell them to pick themselves up by their bootstraps and move on. Stop complaining. Yadda. Yadda. Yadda. But the Lord taught me some lessons that I needed to learn. That honestly…were worth it.

I needed to know and understand what it felt like to be helpless–and even hopeless.

I needed to know what it looked like to really appreciate EACH DAY–because you might not have tomorrow.

I needed to let my kids dance in the rain–and not worry about my house being clean…because I needed every memory to be sweet…not full of fussing–but rather memories.

I learned to let my kids help–and that it didn’t have to be perfect…but their helping was character building–even if the folded towels didn’t really look folded at all.

I needed to know in my bones–that just because someone didn’t look sick…that it really truly might be impossible for them to pick themselves up…because their illness could be paralyzing…and there are many diseases that are crippling although it doesn’t appear so at first.

I needed to see that there were people in my life that would be there–and it might just be 3 instead of 300 or even 30…but those 3–I know now. And I’d do anything in the world for them…as they did for me during my hardest days.

I needed to know–that no matter how hopeless things seem–there is still hope. Not because there are good doctors. But because there is a Great Physician…in Heaven…who I can trust. And that if He had chosen not to heal me–I could trust Him with my greatest treasures on this Earth–my husband and my children.

It’s been years since I heard the words “undetectable”…and like a crazy lady–I go back for testing every 6 months just to make sure. After losing our baby in 2012, we grew again through adoption–and today–I’m homeschooling 5 without help…and instead of watching my kids dance in the rain…I’m dancing with them. Through the help of the Lord and precious friends–I started an adoption/foster ministry that pours into moms by giving them retreats–a weekend to rest and remind them of the hope the Lord gives us–no matter our situation. And I say we are done growing by numbers–but not in Him…as we still have so much to learn and so much I know He can do through us as we continue to trust Him.

Three years ago I couldn’t have typed this blog because of my “fog brain”–but I hope today–these words have encouraged you that we serve a Healer–and even when there isn’t healing–He gives strength and there is purpose in every single hardship. Cling to Him through the hard–and constantly look for what He is calling you to do even when you can’t lift your head–because in those days–it may be simply to rest and trust and wait. Know that He is faithful–and maybe you just happened to stumble on this blog that I’m not sure anyone reads–just to be encouraged and lifted up today. If you are going through hard–know that I would love nothing more to pray for you and to trust Him for miracles with you!

May you know and experience and see His goodness through the hard days!! And may His mercies and goodness rain down on you all of your days!!

In His Love,

Andrea

February 25, 2014 - 1:37 am

Erika - Hi Andrea! I had to open up my laptop and comment because you always say “I don’t know if anyone even reads my blog” – and I want you to know that I read every single post!!! :-) I have read your blog for years – probably since you started it – although I have no idea how I found it. Now I read it on my phone – and it’s just about impossible to comment there.

You have been SUCH an encouragement to me as you’ve shared your heart. I can’t tell you what an impact you’ve had through this blog. Not just me – but I tell people about your blog – like one sweet friend of mine adopted their son from China in June 2013- and I told her to read your blog because she didn’t know anyone else adopting internationally. I have told many friends about your perspective and the challenges you face – and this post about Lyme Disease is one I’m sure to pass on to anyone I meet who is struggling with it or knows someone who is!

Also- you are a big encouragement to me in the realm of homeschooling and keeping family a priority.

We may never meet in person – but I want you to know that the ripple effect of your blog has reached me – and I know that my faith and my family are stronger as a result of reading your blog all these years.

Can’t wait to see what the future holds for you and your crew as you move to the farm and start a whole new chapter!

Love,
Erika

February 26, 2014 - 9:09 am

Ashley - Beautifully written. Thank you for this piece of vulnerability. I especially loved what you “needed to know” it spoke volumes to me today.

February 26, 2014 - 1:35 pm

sarah hurst - what a blessing you are to so many! i remember reading your blog during those months, years of not feeling well and not knowing what was wrong. you continued to trust and believe that the Lord had a plan through it all and i’m so thankful that you’re now on the other side! thank you for your encouraging words!

February 26, 2014 - 1:43 pm

Nancy Brownlee - Dear Andrea, A friend connected me to your blog this week and i read your Feb. 2014 post for the first time. For the most part, your story could be my story. Two biological and one adopted children, I have struggled with lyme for going on ten years and I too am much better but the journey has been so long and so hard. The story got even harder last year when my 14 year old daughter manifested major lyme symptoms and missed 20 weeks of school. She still has her PICC line and is receiving antibiotics that way. We did the herbal treatments for two years but just could not stave it off. I have forwarded your blog to a number of friends who contracted lyme the same time we did…a family mission trip we took to TN. I want to thank you fro the encouragement….i often thought of “going public” with our disease but never felt lead by the Lord to do so. Your last blog provides such hope for healing for those in the valley. My daughter Mary and i have been so blessed by our time together and we certainly have had no choice but to lean totally on the Lord. We have slowly moved Him into the position of healer instead of medicines and doctors and yet consider them blessings/gifts from HIm. I am very encouraged and pray often for lyme to become more “exposed” to the world so that perhaps better tests and treatments become available. I see that happening mostly through social media. So thank you once again! Your post was a blessing. Nancy

February 26, 2014 - 7:58 pm

jenny marrs - oh, andrea! my husband battled lymes, as well, but not for nearly as long as you. thankfully, he was diagnosed rather quickly (it took a few months)…it is so unbelievable how little doctors in the south know about this disease!! so, so scary!! we had just had our twins … they were in the nicu for a month and we stayed in a room down the hall. dave just thought he had a terrible flu and the doctors gave him steroid shots to help, which actually hid the symptoms for a little while. eventually, he went to a number of doctors and kept being told that his extreme fatigue (and all the other symptoms) were caused by becoming a new dad of twins. REALLY?!? It was so unbelievable and scary and frustrating. i am so thankful that you were both finally diagnosed properly and received treatment and healing!!

also, i had to comment because this post spoke such encouragement and truth into my heart tonight.. dealing with a totally different situation in this season but really feeling thankful that i read this because it was so encouraging!! thank you:)!!

February 27, 2014 - 9:58 am

Melissa - I also wanted to say that I have followed your blog for several years…I can’t believe it’s been so long since your battle with Lyme’s Disease because I remember that time so easily! Your faith in the Lord and positive outlook has been so encouraging. I started reading your blog because I was interested in adoption and although our lives haven’t yet taken that road, I’ve learned a lot from you about loving on others and taking joy in your children; blessings from God. I’m glad that you are better now and still using your blog to lift up and encourage others.

February 28, 2014 - 1:26 pm

Julie - Wow! That is an awesome story– thank you for sharing and encouraging. I would love to know the doctors name if you are able to give it out!

March 1, 2014 - 3:51 pm

Grace - I stumbled across your blog and…Thank you. You’ve touched my heart…to keep trusting no matter what! I know what you’re talking about…ah, it’s so elusive. Constantly struggling with some yet unknown “whatever” it is, isn’t easy, but how great to know our great Physician. It will be worth it all when we see Jesus!!!

Kids Perspectives on Interracial Marriage…

Some days, I think one of the best gifts I’m giving my interracial family–is an interracial family.

I’m thankful how they see one another–as siblings, friends and brothers and sisters in Christ.

I’m sure some–even some reading this blog don’t dig it. And that’s okay. You can close out my blog with the little “x” in the top corner and mosey on to a site you do like:) I’m cool with that.

My kids are growing up seeing race differently. It’s just natural when your siblings are different races and you fall in love with each other on different levels. You still see color because apples are still red and oranges are orange, but you know that really we are all made by God with similar DNA and hearts but with different pigments and hair. (Yes–it’s harder for my kids and the comments they get–but they are better and stronger because of it.) I’ve heard that kids who grow up with siblings of different races are more likely to also marry interracially. Which for us–oh my…we just want our children to find spouse’s that love the Lord, love them and who are willing to stick together through thick and thin. There are seasons of thick and then we have to go through in our little family–and they are growing up seeing the world differently.

Studies show your cultural background in fact does effect how you perceive interracial marriage.

And I was reminded this today.

A precious tween shocked me when out of the blue he came up to me and said, “I could never marry _____ because he’s Asian. I could never marry ____ because he’s black.”

My mommy heart CRUSHED for a moment and took a breath.

REALLY?

I forget the world sees each other differently–and some how our kids often do too.

YET–I’m thankful.

Thankful that later when I sat my kids down and asked them questions that led to could you see yourself marrying someone of this race or that cultural background–that they looked at me like that was the most ridiculous question they have ever heard.

Having an interracial family–has it’s hard times when people say things that take you back and it’s no doubt the hardest on our children of a different race who don’t have parents that look like them–and it doesn’t master if it’s a kid or an adult who says the hard them to them or to us…because there are little sprinkles of truth from their hearts in every statement that flows from their mouth. Matthew 15:18 says “But what comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart, and this defiles a person.” (Does it really hurt your feelings LESS if a kid calls you fat? Just saying. It still makes you want to bop the kid over the head with a newspaper and say, “Didn’t your momma teach you how to use the brain the good Lord gave you?”)

But.

Today I was also thankful to hear my oldest child’s response to probing questions about interracial marriage. My almost 10 year old’s exact words, “Mom–are you kidding? Why would that even matter?”

But for many awesome kids–because they are STILL awesome kids–it does matter. They are raised by awesome parents. In awesome homes. With what they might think is lots of diversity around them…because they sit next to a child who is Asian and they kick a soccer ball with a kid who’s black. I’m not really sure if I’d call that being raised around diversity–but for some it’s their definition. There is a difference between being exposed to diversity and diversity being a part of your life. And my kids–it’s a part of their life. Family is a gift. And the hearts of our kids hearts are being shaped to see hearts more than anything else as they fall deeply in love, as they are bonded, as they would do anything in the world for their siblings–who may or may not look anything like them on the outside–but day by day their hearts seem to sing the same song.

I sat there today and listened to all the reasons why the different races are unattractive from the mouth of tween that looked like me–and it made me realize that if you do not have a beautiful interracial family–you might have to work a little harder as a parent to teach your children how to really SEE. Because this isn’t a race issue–or what you are attracted to issue–but it’s a HEART issue. We need to teach our children through life experience to understand…to know…to really SEE hearts.

And not every child or adult will get it.

And bless their hearts when they don’t. But they are the one’s choosing to not really live–missing out on many sweet relationship as instead they walk through life with people that look exactly like them.

But as a momma–I just wish they knew not to say their racist opinions about interracial friendships, relationships or future marriages to a momma of an interracial family—especially in front of her kids…who are listening…who hear…who might be hurt…whose hearts I will have to mend and rebuild later.

We should be able to marry—to befriend—to love and see deeply all races, shapes and sizes. And when our children say they can’t…instead of creating more diverse situations for them maybe we need to focus on their heart–because sitting next to another Japanese or Chinese or black or Hispanic child probably won’t change a thing. We have to teach them how to see hearts…for their sake…for their future spouse choices…for their future marriages—and it starts while they are young.

I’m so thankful I married my friend. He pursued me for months–and I thought of him as a friend…and through our friendship I saw his heart. And his heart was what won me. His heart is what grew our family…that looks so beautiful and perfect to me. How thankful I am my momma taught me to see the heart above all else. And to marry someone with a beautiful heart. The handsome part is just extra that is after effect of his being the hands and feed of Jesus daily to me.

And as for prepping your kids who are still growing and learning and discovering…

If you are not an interracial family–it might be enlightening for you to sit down and ask your kids questions to see what they might say. After all, it would be better for them to say it to you so you can also see your child’s heart giving you the opportunity to talk about race together rather than say it to a proud mom of an interracial family. It’s okay for our children to have opinions–even if there is truth to it for him/her/you–some things are better kept to ourselves especially if they are surface issues instead of the heart.

LOVE this Cheerios commercial…

February 20, 2014 - 8:08 am

Meg - Excellently written.

February 21, 2014 - 6:55 am

Abby - I absolutely love this post!!!

February 26, 2014 - 3:25 pm

Crystal Als - My family is interracial (I’m white,husbands black)and we have the most adorable little caramel babies. I often laugh at the snide comments and looks we both get when we are out but I know that my children will grow up loving and accepting ALL kids not just the kids that match their skin tones.

March 19, 2014 - 3:17 pm

Kelly - Andrea, I love this.

Surrounding Yourself with Peacemakers…

“Tis better to have 3 friends who are peacemakers that 300 who are not.” -ME:)

My husband always reminds me, “Surround yourself with people of peace.” He is definitely one of the most peaceful I know! Through a discipleship study he is walking through–he has been encouraging me to look for peacemakers and walk with them…encourage them…run together…rub off on each other.

So–who is a peace maker that the Lord has so perfectly placed in your life to be your dear friend?

As you look around–you will begin to see patterns…some always are surrounded by peace–because they are peacemakers. THIS IS A CHOICE. A way of life. Simple. They are people of peace, thanksgiving, encouragement and love. Surround yourself with these. They are servants. They are looking for ways to serve. To create peace around them–but to also take things from you when they can to create more peace for you.

Peacemakers must also be very careful to surround themselves with other peacemakers. Because they have servant hearts–the non-peacemakers will also be drawn to them. And if they are not careful–they will find themselves worked to the ground trying to help those constantly creating chaos…because they love making peace–it’s their heart’s cry–and if they are not careful…they will become weary and tired and overworked. If you are a peacemaker–surround yourself with other peacemakers.

“Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful.”
Colossians 3:15

Peacemakers are thankful.

Peacemakers are servants.

Peacemakers are happy to work behind the scene…and rarely ask for more…because they see your hands working–and they are thankful. They want to serve with you. Love with you. Rest with you.

We are called to love all, but we must also remember “Whoever walks with the wise becomes wise, but the companion of fools will suffer harm.” Proverbs 13:20.

When you hear someone grumble or complain–love them…but be careful of walking too much with complainers. Two steps is enough. Love on them. But be cautious. Because complainers and those who try too hard to meet every complainers request will also suck the living out of you. You will find yourself tired. Packing up your calling. And some times even running. Instead–seek out peacemakers and surround yourself with them so you may run this race marked out for you well.

Philippians 2:12-18 “Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure. Do all things without grumbling or disputing, that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, holding fast to the word of life, so that in the day of Christ I may be proud that I did not run in vain or labor in vain. Even if I am to be poured out as a drink offering upon the sacrificial offering of your faith, I am glad and rejoice with you all. Likewise you also should be glad and rejoice with me.”

LOVE this.

Work out your OWN salvation with fear and trembling.

It is not our job to work out things for others. Love them. But focus on your heart. Your salvation. Holding your tongue. Loving. Knowing when to walk away. When to pour out. When to retreat.

For it is God who works in YOU…for His good pleasure.

Do all things without grumbling…

And when you hear grumbles…take them to Jesus. It isn’t yours to carry. And run to those peacemaker friends…and be encouraged about the grumbles.

Shine your light among this crooked and twisted generation…holding fast to the word of life…so you do not labor for yourself–but rather for Christ.

It is not man you are serving. But Christ.

Man will complain. Man will tell you how to do all things better. Man will tell you what you are doing wrong. Man will judge. Man will critique. Man will shake his head at your parenting without understanding the heart behind the action. Man will never fully approve.

BUT–it is Christ we serve.

And–I–serve an audience of ONE.

So when they complain–because they will. Drop to your knees. Be thankful. Raise your hands to Jesus. Ask the Lord if He was pleased? Ask Him if there is anything HE wants you to change. And pray with your peacemaking sisters and brothers who served with you…because those are the ones who will stick around always serving because it is not you, not because of your friendship, not because of anything else other than they also serve an audience of ONE they are serving…and serve well–whole heartedly–with JOY, LAUGHTER, THANKFULNESS…with FUN, EXCITEMENT and LOVE together.

Even when you are poured out like a drink offering…REJOICE.

And grab the hands of the peacemaker friends the Lord has placed on your right and left–and walk toward the cross together.

What about the complainers?

This is NOT your job.

They are NOT your cause.

They belong to Jesus.

Pray for them.

Love them.

Give them something to drink. A place to rest. Serve them wholeheartedly when the Lord asks you to. But do not let them be who refreshes you. Let your refreshment come from the Lord and running with the peacemakers He has blessed you to run with.

Look intentionally for peacemakers–and rub off on one another.

“But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere. Peacemakers who sow in peace reap a harvest of righteousness.” James 3:17-18

Take a moment to reflect on 3 friends the Lord has brought into your life who are peacemakers. Thank them for being a peacemaker in your life. And if there are no peacemakers there–ask the Lord to show you why? Are you a peacemaker? Ask the Lord to bring peacemakers into your life and to make you into a peacemaker that is contagious to other peacemakers so you may run and serve well together.

February 14, 2014 - 10:44 am

Virginia - Love this Andrea.. So often I want to fix things or try to solve the problem for someone.. to remember that I can’t & it’s not my job is so freeing. The example of our Lord loving everyone but having his close circle of friends & an even closer inner circle gives me the freedom to not try to be best friends with everyone.. I just can’t do it & do it all well, so I choose to choose wisely :) thanks for the reminder! {hugs} to you

House for Sale {Roswell, GA}

So…here we go. The sign goes up in our yard tonight!! So many sweet memories made in this house. Just finished up taking pictures for our realtor!!! This home. We brought home Frank, Isaac and Zeke in. So many sweet memories. But the farm is calling us. Here’s the link to pictures…of a very RARE clean home:) Hoping it sells quickly–and we can officially start our farm hunt…which means lots of entertaining you all with pictures of this mom completely clueless about what she’s doing on the farm;).

Blessings!!! (How in the WORLD am I going to keep my house clean with 5 littles for showings!?)

Andrea

February 2, 2014 - 1:54 pm

Jodi - beautiful home. I hope you sell quickly and can’t wait to read about your farm life adventure. Keeping a house clean with 5 littles is hard. One trick I did was when I knew I had a showing I would throw in Chocolate chip cookies and back them and we all worked to clean before the timer went off and then fed them cookies in the car. Good luck

February 2, 2014 - 3:03 pm

Erika - Beautiful home. Praying you sell quickly for the price you want and it all goes smoothly.

God bless

February 3, 2014 - 9:22 am

Amber - My tip is empty laundry baskets. If you get a call for someone to come and see the house without a lot of notice, run around and throw everything out of place in the laundry baskets and put them in the car. voila. I even had to put dirty dishes from the sink in a basket one time. Also, clorox wipes are your friend. A quick once over of the kitchen counters and toilets can go along way. :) I hope it sells quickly. It can be really crazy selling a house with littles but the Lord will see you through. One day at a time.

February 3, 2014 - 4:21 pm

Joli - Congratulations…so exciting Andrea! I join you in praying that your house sells in His perfect timing…and that He leads you to the exact spot He has waiting for your family! We just recently moved “out” like we’ve dreamed about for years. Our pasture is getting fenced in as I type! WOOHOO! Not much longer until we bring those chickens, and dairy goats? or dairy cow? home! We are living our dream – with our 5, going on 6 kiddos – and I’m so thankful and in awe of how He has blessed us!

February 5, 2014 - 6:30 pm

Allison - What a beautiful home! Every image looks like it is from a magazine! How could you ever want to leave it?! :) I am sure you’ll have no problems selling! it’s gorgeous!

February 6, 2014 - 6:58 am

Lisa - After clicking on the link, I got this message from the site, “Sorry, the gallery download limit has been hit.”(?) God’s best to you as you seek to live the country life!

February 14, 2014 - 8:44 pm

kelleyn - Wishing you a quick sale! Some friends of our who live in Alpharetta sound their house pretty quickly. I know it is so hard eith little ones. Didn’t realize you were so close.

That won’t work for me. {Learning new lingo for the sake of family}

One phrase I think I have learned to say too well: “Hmmm. Let me think. Gosh. Okay. I think I can make that work.”

Can you volunteer here?

Hmmmm. Let me think. Gosh. Okay. I think I can make that work.

THIS is my only opening–would you like it?

(There are varieties of how the phrase go you know.)

Your only opening? Thank you for saving it for me. Yes! We’ll take it. I think I can make it work. Yay.”

There are fewer kids in the earlier ballet class–would you mind moving up to an earlier time so my classes are more balanced?

(Deep breath. That means less nap time for the littles…) Sure. We’d love to. (I think I can make that work.)

If we don’t find enough teachers for this Sunday school class–we are going to have to shut down Sunday school. (Have you ever seen a church shut down Sunday school by the way?)

Oh no. That’s awful! Of course we can fill this need! I think we can make that work! No problem. Happy to.

I can’t do or go and I need it unless someone helps me…

Hmmmm…Let me talk to Richard. Gosh. Okay. I thank we can make it work.

And before you know it.

You feel stretched thin.

A bit like a doormat as the world runs back and forth and back and forth…

Driving in on 2 wheels.

The backdoor neighbor’s dogs barking much too close.

The hustle and bustle taking the place of…LIFE.

And I’m learning.

Learning some times too late. But better late than never.

To step back and say–”That won’t work for me.”

“I wish I could–I want to–but it won’t work for us.”

I’m learning to ask myself with every yes what the cost is. And to measure the cost…what will be lost against what COULD be gained.

I’m learning someone asks to volunteer–because THEY have learned to say no…they have learned to delegate.

I’m learning someone has learned to tell you that THIS is their ONLY opening…because they have learned boundaries–and if their boundaries are firm–then mine can be too. And if the opening doesn’t work for US–then I need to learn to say, “That won’t work for me” and find something that will.

I’m learning someone says there are fewer kids in an earlier class and they want us to move up–because they have learned BALANCE–and if it gets us out of balance…then to stay put. There’s a reason you picked the first time in the first place. (Too late to change now–but I will do this next time:)

I’ve learned that someone saying they will shut down if you don’t step up is using guilt and pressure to move and guilt isn’t from the Lord. And we should never mix service with His bride with making others feel guilty rather than loved. There is a root issue there–and we should be moved to serve out of understanding, love and a calling.

I’m learning that when someone else tells you if you or someone else doesn’t help them they can’t do it–that just maybe they are looking to you to be their savior–and you know…maybe being honest and truthful–and saying you can’t will allow them to rely on and trust a real Savior to meet their needs.

I’m learning. Learning slowly. (Does anyone really read this? I kind of hope not. It’s easier to write when you think not any way;)

Learning to simply say, “That won’t work for me”—and to smile…and move on. And that not making everything work IS OKAY.

Even good.

And freeing.

For a people pleaser–this is hard…but so good to finally, finally, finally learn to do.

I’m also learning–that you can only feel like a fish out of water for so long in the busy when you are called to something else—or vise versa.

On a personal level—I’m learning…that I’m afraid–you can take the girl out of the country–but you can’t take the country out of the girl.

BUT how I’ve tried city life.

I married a city boy–and for 10 years we have lived in the suburb of Atlanta…country to my husband who grew up beside Chastain Park listening to Michael Jackson perform from his bedroom window in the heart of the city.

But this girl. Oh I’ve tried. And tried hard. We’ve jumped right in on 2 wheels. And we’ve also done our best to slow down in the city by homeschooling and just being together.

Then I look out my window…and see my neighbors house. I step outside and instead of quite…I’m sent back inside from the barking of someone else’s dog…and it just time. Thankfully Ivy thinks so too;)

I want to look at my back window and see His creation–instead of seeing my neighbor’s bricks and his creepy telescope in the backyard facing my house (surely he’s looking at the stars and the wind made it tilt the wrong way, right;)

More of this…

And maybe some times this…

And glimpses of this…

Richard and I have been dreaming about a quieter life since we first got married. We’ve had lots of time to dream sitting in traffic and all this running around;)

But I don’t really share those dreams so much with those right in the mix with us–because I also hear, “That’s harder than you think. That sounds like a LOT of work.”

Well for us–being in the city with a busier lifestyle is A LOT of work too. Scheduling play dates weeks in advance because no one just drops in in city culture. Every where you go takes at least 30 minutes in traffic–and 30 more to get back. Although there are million activities to choose from and tiers of which is best…and how you get in and move up…some times I’m not sure if it’s really best–for US.

No matter where we are–there will be work. But I want my work–whatever that is–to make our hearts sing.

I know nothing about cows, sheep or goats. I’m scared to death of horses…and dogs…and probably if I’m honest–even chickens. I know nothing about raising any of these…so shake your head and say, “Bless your heart–you have no idea” all you want:). BUT…we are going to try.

In just a couple of weeks the sign goes up in our front yard.

We have NO idea where we’ll find this farm of ours. But we are going for it. We’ve dreamed and talked and dreamed some more. Because the city and the busy and the van on two wheels–well, that won’t work for me any more either. Our kids are all in–and excited. And I might even have to change my blog name…Me + Farmer Rico + Cinco…I don’t know. But I do know a-change is a-comin’…and while we might find ourselves back in the city of it doesn’t work for us…we know we have to and want to try.

So here’s to our next adventure! And hoping our house sells in His perfect timing!

Can’t wait for you guys to be entertained with our learning to be gentlemen farmers;)! Excited. Hopeful.

Blessings!

Andrea

January 22, 2014 - 3:00 pm

Megan - Ahhh I can’t wait to follow your journey as you take this step! I am in my heart a country girl and just keep dreaming of the day when we can make it happen!

January 23, 2014 - 9:40 am

Amy - I love it!! We too are in the process of finding our little piece of dirt. Even though we are not in the suburbs of Atlanta, we do want a place big enough for the animals. Yes, it’s hard work, but that is the kind of work we were designed for :)
amy (in south ga)

January 23, 2014 - 9:25 pm

Kim - Hi! I’ve been a lurker for at least a year. I find your blog wonderfully inspiring. After reading this post, I just had to comment to put a plug in for where we are living–Greenville, SC. We are also from ATL, and I always thought we would go back to the big city, but not anymore! Greenville is the perfect mix of country and city. Traffic is essentially non-existent and the homeschooling community is robust and very active. In fact, I know way more people who homeschool than do public, and we are doing public school :) I could go on and on, but I wanted to throw it out there because a lot of people don’t realize the virtues of this area.

January 24, 2014 - 8:57 am

SleepyMom - You know it’s okay to live in the “country” and not actually do any farming. Just saying.
My parents also hated city life and staring at the neighbors house 10 ft away so they moved us out of the city to 13 acres surrounded by another 50+ that no one had ever built on. BUT they chose a wooded steep hilly area so no real farming possible. We could have dogs and cats able to run around free and enjoy life. We saw tons of wildlife all the time and we always were in the shade because of all the trees and we certainly never had road noise, neighbor noise, etc. My Dad has chickens now because you don’t need a huge flat pasture for them, and my mom has a huge garden that she built done by the road because that’s the only flat space. The garden has to be long and narrow to fit between the steep hill and the road. I’ve got to tell you country life with minimal farming is kind of awesome and tranquil. There’s enough to do that my kids love visiting and helping pick ripe stuff from the garden and feed the chickens, but it’s not so time intensive as to prevent my parents from traveling to visit grandkids, working, hobbies etc.

I hope your farm adventure in the country works out perfectly for your family.

January 24, 2014 - 2:38 pm

Natalie - Oh how I agree with you! This post sounds like the cries of my heart too! How much slower life could be… if we didn’t live so close to 285. Praying for you and your family! I am so excited for you all! And I can’t wait to follow your “farm story”! :-)

February 6, 2014 - 10:16 am

Ashley - You just need to move north! Cherokee county! Some farm land but close enough to the city. We live here and couldnt imagine living anywhere else!:) new follower btw and a hopeful adoptive momma in the making:)

O r p h a n   C a r e
A d o p t i o n   C a r e