My daughter asked about the first miracle of Jesus…How do you tell her it was wine?

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My husband has taken to telling stories at the dinner table that encourage my daughter for school. This past week marked the end of the first month of Polish school that she has started and nearly completed.

Woot-woot. Victory.

She seems to have fared fairly well. We’re even doing okay keeping up with the homework. And she is even eating school lunches—which are vastly different than American school lunches (like couscous and meat sauce for day 1 or ham and other random meats soup for day 4). This is a big victory, too, as she has had to readjust her palette upon returning to Poland.

For example. They put fresh parsley on everything. Potatoes, Meats, Soup. Everything. Which is great—when you’re an adult. But when you are 8, it is like, “What is this green thing that they are putting on every piece of food I am eating?!” We’ve had to start telling the restaurants “Without parsley, please,'” as she readjusts to the Polish cuisine. But I also told her, “Ada girl, you better start eating it because soon school will start and you won’t have a choice.”

At home, parsley was a battle, but at school it seems to have been a non-subject. She just eats what they serve and likes it ūüėČ

Life with kids, eh?!

It is cute, however, because she was playing “restaurant” at home the other day and made the menu. 3 of the items were Polish specialties: Zurek, Barszcz, and Pierogi. So we are making progress in the food arena…Especially if she includes barszcz on a menu (it’s beet soup).¬† Now when she makes a menu that includes mushrooms, you know we will have won!

School.  Oh, it is so difficult.  Everyone asks if we kept up with Polish while away.  The answer is a Big Fat No!

We originally intended to keep up with Polish, but, you have to understand, our daughter had never lived in the United States.  And so every experience was like Disneyland.  And every day was a big ball of bubbling joy.

She did things like swim team and dive team.  She did things like soccer teams for girls and softball.

She joined chorus for two years and the running club for one.  She even went to circus camp.  CIRCUS CAMP!

It was awesome.

School in America.  You can say whatever you want about school in America, but we loved school in America.

It taught character traits and exploration.  It taught teamwork and discovery.  It taught respect of authorities and looking out for others.

School in America was AWESOME!  So awesome, in fact, that my daughter continues to wear her school PRIDE shirts even while in Poland.

Our intentions were to continue her Polish while in the States—but, you know what, living in the States is an invaluable experience that I wanted her to soak up and enjoy.¬† I wanted her to live every minute and smile as much as possible.

I wanted her to play freely, read much, and learn about everything.

Now she is back in Poland.¬† And she sits.¬† And she does workbooks.¬† It’s okay.¬† Her teacher is precious and her friends are grand.¬† But we are so happy that while our daughter lived in America that she got to experience America.

Funny insert story. ¬†The other day at PE the PE teacher said to the kids, “Okay, boys, follow me! ¬†Girls go over there.” ¬†The boys went and played football (soccer) and the girls were put in a small ball pit. ¬†My daughter was not amused and did not find it fun, as it was a lot of girls crowded into a small pit of balls. ¬†She said, “Mom, she didn’t even ask if any of the girls wanted to play football!” ¬†Oh my precious daughter—hang in there! ¬†And we told her, “Next time tell the teacher that you want to play football, too.” ¬†But that is hard for an 8-year-old to do. ¬†I understand.

Anyhow…Back to the blog posting.

All of the above brings us back to present day Poland.  She is in the 3rd class.  And she works really hard each and every day.  She receives two hours a week of Polish as a Second Language, and we send her for study hall twice a week.

It’s different and the language will largely be a barrier all year.¬† But she is trying hard and that’s exactly what we’ve asked of her—to try hard!

But that brings me to the first miracle of Jesus.

We were talking about firsts in the Bible.¬† And then we asked her what story she wanted to hear about in regards to the Bible.¬† She said, “What about the first miracle of Jesus?¬† What was that?!”

Rich and I glanced across the dinner table at each other and paused.

Well, hmmmm…How do we tell her it was wine?¬† Because, honestly, living in Europe, she would find that a bit fun.¬† And funny.¬† And the significance on the miracle might be lost on the fact that while it was not healing a leper, it was still a miracle of God takes on the elements and the disciples believed proportions!

And so we sat for a moment.  And we thought.

And this is what we said…

You know, Adelyne.  The first miracle of Jesus was turning water into wine at a wedding.

Giggle.  Yep.  We knew that would happen.

“Why?” followed. ¬†Fair enough.

Well, you see, Adelyne.  Jesus and his mother and some disciples were at a wedding (See John 2:1-11).  And the wedding was a very special event, as all weddings are.  And Jesus was not yet known to many to be the Son of God.

Big eyes.  Listening.  Because, at 8, every story she has ever heard is about how Jesus is the Son of God.  I think sometimes we forget that there was Jesus, son of Joseph and Mary, before he revealed himself to the world as Jesus Son of God.

And they ran out of wine. ¬†And so his mommy came and told him that there wasn’t any more wine (maybe in hopes that he would help somehow).

Look of confusion.

But, Adelyne. ¬†This is where it gets really special. ¬†Did you know that Jesus didn’t just run out and buy some more wine? ¬†Or he didn’t just make any ol’ plain wine. ¬†He made the BEST! ¬†Out of water he made the BEST wine.

Eyes widen.

Let me tell you, honey…That is exactly how Jesus takes care of each and every one of us each and every day. ¬†He doesn’t run out and look for other people to solve our problems.

He doesn’t just do a so-so job.

He doesn’t even wait until the very end to give us our gifts.

Jesus takes control of all of the elements and gives us the best!

He cares for us the best.  He loves us the best.  And he saves us the best.  Because that is who he is.

So Daddy and I want you to know that when you encounter something in your life, you go straight to Jesus because he has your best intentions in mind.

Nodding head.

What do you think about that Adelyne?

“Can I have some wine?”

Giggle, giggle. ¬†Sigh…

And then we prayed, together, as a family, ¬†“Dear Lord, thank you for this example. ¬†How you took control of the elements. ¬†How you blessed this family. ¬† How you turned water into wine. ¬†And not just any, old wine. ¬†The best wine! ¬†Because you care best of all about us. ¬†Please help each and every one of us to remember who you are—almighty Son of God—as we enter each new day and to believe in you. ¬†Amen!”

And my daughter said, “Amen.”

You know. ¬†I thought that it would be much harder to tell that story to a child. ¬†But, in the end, it wasn’t. Because each story told in the Bible has great significance. ¬†And there is no reason that any of us should falter in sharing any or all of them. ¬†The difficult stories of the Old Testament. ¬†Tell them. ¬†The miraculous stories of the New Testament. ¬†Tell them.

Because, and this is a big B, because in each story of the Bible, God is revealed.  God is glorified.  And we should never shame in sharing what it is He has shared through His word.

Why?

Because everything he does he does because he loves us best of all.

Amen.

There is no comparison…

When my son stopped breathing and had to be rescued, and yet, once again, was left without any help…I sat next to him.¬† I had already spent all evening, from 9pm until 5am, shaking him every 10 seconds so that he would be reminded to breathe.¬† And, yes, I was in the hospital.

But then it happened.  He stopped.  Completely.  He had no more breath left in him.

And I had to run into the halls screaming, while his alarms were going off, because no one was coming.¬† I had to run into the halls and yell, “My son!¬† My son!¬† He is not breathing.”

Finally two nurses came and got him breathing again.  They did not call a doctor.  They never did.  They got him breathing and then left me alone, again, with my son.

And I saw his light begin to disappear.¬† He had already been fighting for three days.¬† And for three days, very minimal was done to keep him alive.¬† When we told the doctor the night before he wasn’t breathing, she looked at him, shook him, and said, “Oh, it’s sleep apnea.¬† It’s common in infants.”

And she left again.¬† For the entire night.¬† From 9pm until the moment I ran into the hall screaming, not a single medical professional came to check on my premature, listless, graying baby, who also hadn’t eaten in 3 days.

No one.

And so I knew.  I knew as I sat next to him that he had very little time left here on earth.  I called my husband to see if we could Air Vac him out of Poland, but they said that the medical doctors would have to declare that they were unable to care for him.  If you have ever met a Pole, there is no way one will declare that they are unable to do anything.  At all.  They are a country of great pride.  In many, many, many areas, they should be.  But not in the care of my son.

Then we debated going to the US Embassy in Warsaw and demanding help.¬† But that would take 3 hours one way.¬† And he didn’t have 3 hours left.

We were tired, dejected, and left without anyone fighting on our side.

I sat.  I sat next to my son and I watched as he began to slip away.  And I could only cry.  And cry.  And cry.

My mom and dad had gotten to meet him.  But the rest of our families had not.  And I knew now that they would not.

My heart was broken.  My sister called this baby, Maxwell, her baby-and she had never met him.  But she prayed for him from the moment of our announcement, she ran a Triathlon for him, she wept for him.  She was his biggest champion.  She loved him.  And yet she never had the chance to meet him.

And I knew that day.  I just knew she never would.

So not only did my heart break for my son that was lying next to me with mere moments left to fight for his life.  But my heart broke for the fact that my family would not get to meet our son.  Our beautiful and miraculous baby that we had to fight to even bring into the world.

And I did the only thing I had left in me to do.  I sat there touching my baby and weeping.

Then she entered.¬† A miracle.¬† An angel.¬† The new doctor on shift.¬† The nurses, they tried to explain away my baby, but she wouldn’t let them.¬† She didn’t even listen to them.¬† She took one look at Maxwell dying and said, “There is nothing I can do!”

An ambulance was called, and my son was escorted down 4 flights of stairs, into the waiting ambulance and brought to the nearest ICU.¬† I was kicked out and he was intubated.¬† He was put on 100% ventilation.¬† His body was put into a full coma.¬† And he was put on antibiotics to now fight the pneumonia that was also ravaging his body as well as congestive heart failure medicine, because the hole in his heart had doubled in size—the lack of oxygen caused his heart to work overtime, resulting in a heart that was also now at risk of failing.

He was given a blood transfusion.  And we were given the news.

It was bad.  There was no news if he would make it.  It was now a waiting game.  A waiting game for life.  A waiting game for death.

And my sister.  She again took charge.  An ocean away, and yet she was able to somehow help lead me through this time in my life.  We were only allowed to see our son from 11am-7pm.  Otherwise, we had to wait.  Every evening, we were allowed to call at 10pm and ask if there was a status change.  And every morning at 8am we were allowed to call and ask if he made it through the LONG hours of the night.  If he was still alive.

And my sister, God bless her soul, she would wait for our evening and morning calls, her phone bill, I am sure, ran into the 4 digits of expense, and we would give her the status update.¬† He was alive.¬† He was getting a blood transfusion.¬† His ventilator quit on him and they had to bag him for about 6-10 minutes.¬† He squeezed his daddy’s finger today, and so forth.

Every morning and every night she called so that she could share with the rest of the world if our baby was alive.  If there was progress.  If he was going to make it.  And, as she shared, the rest of the world prayed.

After all, she considered our baby her baby.

My sister…There is no comparison.

She is the woman I wish I was.  The woman that I would like to be.

Compassion never fails her.  Money never stops her.  And love never leaves her.  Even if an ocean separates her.

Today is her birthday, and I couldn’t wish a more deserving person 100 years, Sto Lat!¬† I couldn’t wish a more giving person a life of health, happiness, and love.¬† And I couldn’t ask God for a greater friend and supporter.

And so I’ll leave you with this…our son did fight with all that was within him. And he did conquer every demon that wanted to keep him from us here on earth.¬† And he did survive.

And because of it, he finally got to meet my sister.¬† His auntie.¬† And my best friend…

Happy birthday, Darby.

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Stillness is Strength

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I learned one thing nearly 2 years ago when my life was Go-Go-Go! I learned the art of “Still”.

In today’s world, we may feel the pressure of Go! Do! Conquer! Complete! But there will come times in your life, in my life, where we are asked to do one thing: Be still and know that He is God.

When you or I, our spouses, or our children are sick, we tend to “placate” the illness with medicine that gives temporary relief.¬† Within 20 minutes we are feeling pretty good again. Our kids, they’re running circles around the home. Our spouse is back to work. But that relief wears away and misery is back to keep us company. And we know, in our heart of hearts, that rest will truly be the only thing to help us regain real strength, not simply¬†give us the facade of “strong”.

As much as we might want to fight the urge to be still, it is what is sometimes asked. It is what is sometimes needed.

And sometimes we are overlooking one of the most important things of all…in our stillness He is strong. God.

Trying to go, do, and conquer can take away from the work The Lord God himself wants to do for you. Psalm 46:10 (NIV) says, “Be still and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.”

In our stillness, God is glorified.

And where God is glorified, there is always great strength.

So, my friends, if you are at that crossroad in your life between stillness and strength, you should choose stillness.  Let Him show strength!