Tuesday, May 22, 2012

We need a new car

Which means...surprise! We are having another baby! The Facebook world already knows this, but it should be recorded here too. 
Big surprise. Big. God is good. We'll trust He has great plans for us and Baby Brown #3. We know He does :) Due December 23! Merry Christmas!

Grace and Truth

I haven't blogged about something "spiritual" or "Jesus-y" in a long time. This post is Jesus-y. No apologies.  :)

I've been thinking a lot about the subject of "grace and truth" lately. Ok, I've also been thinking about sit-n-stand strollers (which...oops...haven't posted here yet that we are having one more baby. hehe :) Poor third baby. Doesn't he/she get their own blogpost? Yes. He/She will.), captain crunch, tacos and if we will buy a minivan :( or a terrain or acadia (SUV with the ability to seat three children) :) However, I've been like an 18th party  (which means I'm not really involved at all) to a conversation that made me start to think (again) about this important subject....that seems to revisit itself over and over again in my life.

Our own Pastor, Mark Vroegop at College Park Church gave a stellar sermon on "Balancing Grace and Truth" last summer. You can listen to it here. I know you probably won't, but you really should. Really.  (have I mentioned how much I love our church? Not in a "my-church-is-the-best-church-out-there-and-does-everything-right-and-is-perfect" kind of way....but because I think that God is being glorified here. Its tangible. His gospel is being furthered, lives are being changed and people are being won to Jesus because sinful people that have been redeemed are being vulnerable and doing life together as a community. I like to call it "one-anothering", or "walking alongside of" :) I think College Park has come a long way in making a "big church" feel small. I have goosebumps every time I sit through a service. And the messages are usually so convicting that I'm brought to tears over my own sin and God's grace and intervention in my life. Anyways. Rabbit trail.

I'm really posting this blog so I can link to it on Facebook and get the input of my highly valued friends across the miles. Perhaps some of my Grace College friends, who are married to Pastor's and who do full time ministry and might have a good angle on the subject. :)

So, how do we balance grace and truth in this crazy world? We are called to love. We are called to speak the truth. How do we do this well and win others to Jesus?

In my former life of conservative baptist church-going, I'm compelled to conclude that the leadership I was surrounded by majored on truth. I saw little love or grace when it came to speaking truth. I saw people shunned, ignored and talked about instead of being sought after for restoration. I saw petty rules become the letter of the law. I saw hardness and legalism. I saw very little of Jesus.

And now, as I watch myself and my peers do church and Christian life....I get a bit worried that our "Christian" culture and society is moving too far in the other direction. Can we love too much? Can we ignore truth to the point that it is dangerous? Well, obviously, yes I believe we can. I completely get wanting to put behind the conservative legalism of the past. I get being open, loving and accepting. But, certainly not everything has become a grey area. Not everything is debatable. Does sitting in silence day after day indicate that we are happy to show love, but unwilling to stand up for what the Bible says is so important? Does silence always mean approval? How do we know when the time is right to approach a situation? (I should go back and listen to the sermon probably! I'm guessing M.V. tells me)

I admit that I struggle with this. I don't want to deal with confrontation. I was an RA at Grace College for two years and dealt with more than my share of confrontation :) I'm happy to say that 95 % of those confrontations ended in lasting friendships and a change and eventual turning towards Christ (not necessarily as a result of me or Grace College...just in general :)) I'm just kind of over all that. I want to peacefully watch the world go by and let people deal with the consequences of their own actions. But...is that biblical?

Well, the moment has passed. My kids are crawling all over me and I have a bad feeling I need to go change an enormously stinky diaper. Such is my life these days :) I guess I'll conclude with....I need to pray for wisdom on this subject and trust the Holy Spirit to lead my encounters. And trust that my failings won't hinder God's glory. Would love to hear your input on this subject.  :)

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Rheumatoid Arthritis and Me :)

I wanted to write a quick (I think it will be quick) post to update so many of you who have worried for me, prayed for me, and honestly acted on my behalf while I've been so sick with my RA.
I'm writing today because I realized that I've been able to get out of bed every day this week without tears.  This makes me tearful in and of itself.
A quick background: I was diagnosed with JRA (Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis) as a small child. My dad thought I had broken my arm around the age of two, and after a series of tests, Drs. determined that I had JRA. I was moderately-severely sick as a child. I wore splints, did physical therapy. I believe the Drs. told my parents that I would live my life in a wheel chair. This never happened. I began a regimented treatment of baby aspirin and gold injections....avoiding other series medications such as methotrexate. I thrived under this treatment and while I was never an athletic kid, I did ok for myself. I danced (ballet), took piano, swam, and overall lived normally. My parents went over and beyond to make sure I received excellent treatment....traveling to Cincinnati and paying out of pocket when my Pediatric Rheumatologist moved from Riley to Cincinnati and out of our insurance coverage. It looked like by puberty I had all but outgrown this thing. Gold injections were discontinued and I remained on naproxen for a few years more, but eventually that became a thing that I took PRN (as needed :)) I married, I bore children....all without much event or notice of what I thought had become a distant memory. I do remember having a flare here and there, but in general it was nothing that couldn't be overcome with a few days of aleeve and ...honestly time.
This past year, November 2011...I started having more consistent pain. I would wake up every other day with a new pain. Still it would subside within a few days, but something new would surface in the next few days. I made an appointment to see my current rheumatologist (which I had just established recently for "just in case" :)). He started me on an anti-inflammatory called meloxicam which honestly, I didn't think helped at all. He suggested a round of prednisone (a steroid that makes me bat CRAZY and I had stated at one point that I would rather die than take :)), I declined and decided to "push through". Well, there was no pushing through to be had. After struggling for days at a time with little to no relief from pain in between....I started to become afraid. Afraid that this was it for me....the disease has come back and I was in trouble. We had just bought a two story house. I had two young kids (one a little crazy :)) to care for...and I was struggling doing that. My lowest moment came when I literally had to crawl from my bed to the bathroom one morning....this was to be followed by an incident where I literally could not dress my child for school. Owen needed help getting his socks on...and I could. not. do. it. Needless to say there were lots of tears. I went back to my rheumatologist and pathetically admitted that I was "not doing well". We decided together that I needed to get serious and think about long term drugs like plaquenil, methotrexate and a round of prednisone. With a lot of sadness (seriously), I agreed. My walking had become bad, I was honestly suffering going up and down the stairs, and changing Wesley's diaper often involved tears because my hands were so stiff and swollen. Something had to change. And time, aleeve and "pushing through" wasn't working.
At one point, during a low moment, Josh looked at me and asked me how we were going to get through this. He had already taken a day off of work to help me and I was worried that was going to need more help. He can't exactly quit his job! I thought for a long time and said...."I don't know. I think the answer is that we are going to have to believe that God is going to intervene...and I'm going to have to ask for help!" I'd like to tell you that God has, and I have! I've never been a big one for being helpless and having people do things for me that I can do myself...but I had to consider the situation. There were things I couldn't do for myself. People were starting to notice this and offering me help....I needed to take it. Probably my two biggest saviors have come in the form of my own mother and my mother in law, who have come over ever Monday, Wednesday and Friday to get Owen ready for school and help me through my morning when I'm in the most pain. I could not have gotten through this without them. Then, there are my dear, dear small group friends and other close friends who have grocery shopped for me, folded my laundry, brought meals for my family and just come to be with me on bad days when having extra hands was helpful. The help has been irreplaceable and I will never forget how kind you all have been to me.
I sit here today, typing this out feeling better than I have in weeks. I'm cautiously optimistic about the fact that I am turning the corner. I will forever be grateful that this disease that I battle is not fatal...I do not have cancer, this will not kill me. But, I've developed a new appreciation for the fact that living in pain in incredibly terrible, debilitating and miserable. I'm grateful for each new day that God gives me that isn't filled with tears and an inability to move well.
So this turned out not to be very short, but I wanted to give you who have asked a comprehensive look at what's been going on .... and a small chance to thank those who have helped me. Specifically, my Momma, my dear mother-in-law, Anita, Candice, Jodi, Anna, Amy, Jen....you guys have been the front runners in getting me through. I can't forget my husband who has rubbed sore joints after long days of school and soccer, changed more diapers than he ever thought possible, and bravely watched me suffer without knowing much of what to do. Thank you all for loving me more than I ever knew was possible...with your help I'm getting better every day.

The end :)

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Easter 2012

I know I never really blogged Christmas pictures, but these seemed so fun and bright and cheery :) We had a nice Easter. Love my sweet little family!