Thursday, November 2, 2017
Saturday, September 30, 2017
As I reflect on the past 35 years of my life with my precious mother, words cannot begin to describe my respect for her or my complete gratitude...how do I use just a few short minutes here to express words to adequately honor her or describe her to you? As I look at this gathering of people, I’m reminded that there isn’t a need to explain my respect for her or why I loved my mom because each of you are here because you knew her. Andyou too have that same respect and gratitude and love for who she was and the legacy she left.
So instead I want to share with you a glimpse into her heart and how she was able to face each day of the past 3.5 years of her life. Our family heard a sermon this summer, which truly put into words the actions, and emotions that we have been living through these last few years. The sermon re-affirmed for my mom as well as each of us God’s plans for suffering. I want to share part of this message given by Levi Lusco who lost his little girl from an acute asthma attack.
As we listened to Levi’s message this summer on seeing suffering through the eyes of a lion, we realized that mom always had the eyes of a Lion. You see, Lions have extraordinary vision, they can see far away. Their eyes are created to see and God made them to have night vision. They have a white strip under each eye, which maximizes glare and even with the tiniest bit of moonlight, it will shine enough for them to see. The lion is able to take advantage of the light that’s there to see and they can see 6 times better than humans.
We often see the world as we are but in reality we cannot fully live what God wants us to live until we see what He sees as He sees it. So the question my mom had to answer early on in her illness was what lense would she look through? Would she choose to have anger that she was losing the ability to go on walks and runs with her children and grandchildren? Would she sit at home bitter when she couldn’t drive and was losing her independence? Absolutely not, she put on the correct lense and began to see life through God’s eyes. If God was allowing this cruel disease into her life then He must have a purpose for it. Did she grieve? Yes, we all grieved each stage and loss this disease caused. But, with the grief, she always modeled hope.
She used the lense of faith to see her difficulties. We’ve learned that faith is like a telescope lense, it brings close what seems far away. Faith changes the way we face grief, face loss and look at death.
My mom always taught us to prioritize time in the Word, to train for the trial that is going to comebecause its just a matter of time before our trial comes and storms reveal our foundation. When the storm hits, that is not the time to build the foundation. I remember as a young girl waking up to find my sweet mom sitting on the couch with her Bible and with her prayer journal and she would be writing her prayers for each of us.
In the sermon we heard this summer, Levi shared these 4 statements, and I want to briefly share them with you because they truly describe how my mom and our family have faced this time of pain and suffering.
First, We have learned to Look Beyond –Mom always wanted to live til she was old and gray. She dreamed of seeing my Bella get married and watching the boys grow up and play all their sports. But, my mom taught us to look beyond the present circumstances in order to hear and seeGod. She focused on the promises that He is theway the truth and the life, and that He is the resurrection and the life. She looked beyond.
Second, We have learned to live with a spirit of earnest expectation. Mimi focused on the fact God is going to come back to this planet and re-set it. There will be a New Earth. She taught us to live with earnest expectation and a longing for heaven.
Third, we all had to all constantly adjust to thenew normal – It seemed that every day, she was losing her independence or losing an ability such as walking, holding a baby, grasping, eating, swallowing or at the end breathing. But amidst hersuffering, my mom adjusted and continued to look for opportunities to spend time ministering to others. Charles Spurgeon said - God gives his most difficult assignments to his most trusted soliderand my mom was indeed a trusted soldier.
Finally, we have learned as a family that weneed to be prepared for when suffering comes –We will all face trouble so we must take heart for He has overcome the world.
We as a family learned even more the importance of sticking together! Lions are the only social cat. Lions live in prides. Nothing messes with the pride of lions. We have learned to be there for each other especially on our worst days. Every time I see a lion, I’m going to be reminded ofmy precious mother who was a tiny woman yet was as fierce as a lion.
Mom was a prayer warrior. She was praying for our Salvation and for our future husbands salvationfrom the time we were born. As soon as we had grandbabies, she began praying for their salvation and she did everything she could to instruct them and show them Jesus. Such a blessing that Mimi was able to be a part of Bella accepting Jesus and her baptism 2 years ago. She wrote in Bella’s new Bible that she wants Bella to memorize, 2 Peter 3:18 “Grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.” She said, “I pray you learn to love and praise Jesus.” On August 12,just a few weeks ago, my Jackson accepted Jesus as his Savior and within a week of his decision, Houston and Sadie both made the decisionindividually to accept Jesus as well. We told Mimi on her final days that she can trust us to be faithful parents as we take the baton she has given us and run the race set before us to carry on her legacy and train these children to love and praise Jesus.
Tuesday, August 15, 2017
In the past few months, I have been approached by various friends and family seeking advice about the health of their family and wanting to know how we approach health and nutrition in our family. They have all suggested that I share more of our journey to help other families! I've finally carved out a few minutes to share our journey with the hope that it will help encourage and educate lots of other mammas and families!! So....here it is...
As a mom of 4 little ones, one of the highest priorities in my life has been the overall well-being of my children. I desire to provide them a solid foundation and instill in them healthy habits for living a well-balanced life while guiding them to form healthy eating habits as well as modeling an active life style. As believers, we know that our bodies our not our own but belong to God and we want to care for them and use them to honor Him in every way possible. It is our desire as parents to model this to our children as they grow and develop through the years. I have also learned through the years that if we as parents are going to be able to give our children the best of ourselves that we must be nourishing and fueling our own bodies with the proper nutrition and exercise. Along this journey of parenthood, we have had our shares of ear infections, tummy bugs and lingering viruses. So, with all of that...began my journey for an alternative to just enduring what seemed to be the inevitable and constantly just treating the bugs and infections with prescriptions. I knew there had to be something that could help equip us to strengthen our bodies and fuel our bodies to function at optimal levels.
After some time, the Lord gently reminded me of a product that I had researched years prior and I began seeking out more knowledge... This product was Juice Plus. It is a whole food based nutrition, including juice powder concentrates from 30 different fruit and vegetables and grains. It is not a multi vitamin, but rather it is made from quality ingredients carefully monitored from farm to capsule to provide natural nutrients your body needs to be at it's best. It doesn't have a Supplement Label but rather a Nutrition Label because that is exactly what it is...Nutrition in the purest form! Often times, we take Vitamins loaded with supplements, but they are not in the purest form and our body is not able to adequately absorb the form of the vitamin. However, our body absolutely knows how to absorb and utilize the nutrition in whole foods which is why these capsules and gummies are so effective in our body! As I began to continue down my research journey, it made complete sense to me. I listened to podcasts of countless respected physicians, I read medical journals and I listened to the success stories of so many moms who had brought this in to their family. There are more than 20 prestigious medical and scientific journals that have been published on Juice Plus around the world. These aren't just at random institutions either, but places like Vale and Vanderbilt! I loved listening to Dr. Sears and the research he has done and how much of an advocate he is for Juice Plus. My pediatrician actually is also a strong advocate and has information in his rooms for patients.
For the most part, I had done a good job at giving my kids a variety of fruits and vegetables, but the more I read and investigated, the more I began to discover the reality that we as a society typically ingest the most common, affordable, readily available fruits and vegetables. Even those of us who consider ourselves very health conscious, do not come near to intaking 30 fruits and vegetables daily. We know that our bodies need the proper whole food nutrition in order to be fueled and have the ability to fight diseases and ward off infections, but it's nearly impossible to intake all we need each day. We need a variety of the fruits and vegetables because they all work together to give our bodies the full benefits of all the antioxidants and cellular benefits. Fruits and vegetables are most definitely the answer to strengthening our body and bringing balance and stability to all our bodily systems....respiratory, circulatory, vascular, immune, digestive and even skeletal. The list goes on and on....we can all agree that we need a wide variety and lots of fruits and vegetables each day. I knew that even when we were trying our best, we just could not possibly get 30 servings of fruits and veggies a day.
Whitney Lloyd's Juice Plus Page
My sweet, adventurous, fun-loving, wondering boy is three! How can it possibly be true?? Tuck has changed so much over the past year...he is on the go and I'm certain that his mind is always working and thinking and never ever stops. He is our little engineer...climber and able to solve any problem. He keeps us on our toes to say the least. I guess what can we expect...he's always done things in his time at his own pace. I should have known when he didn't decide to walk until 17 months...and then the next week went for an adventure without permission (opening the front door, walking outside and closing it behind him).....took a stroll across the yard to our neighbor's porch...that he would be the child to truly keep us all on our toes! He also decided that he didn't have much to say until he turned two...and then wham! Who knew that child had so many words in that big head of his! He hasn't stopped talking sense! He is one smart boy and particularly good with his hands and fingers. Go figure a 17 month old opening the front door, closing it and helping himself to a stroll!! Lord help me! He can open anything, climb anything and with curiosity like his.......theres no telling what he will end up in each day. He's always been my kitchen helper. He loves to help me wash the dishes, cook dinner or bake a yummy dessert. He tends to be always up for an adventure but yet he is our most sensitive child as well. I will never forget the time that we turned on the blender and he broke down in tears shaking! The sound was so loud it just scared him! He likes to be somewhat prepared for loud noises and unfamiliar things. He loves to do puzzles! He is the master of his wooden puzzles...even the tricky pieces! He loves to snuggle up and read a good book or 10. =) He's definitely the chid on the carousel that is looking up at all the gears and trying to figure out how it turns round and round. He's the only child that we've had to turn the bedroom locks around for.....but the funny thing is even that won't keep him in his room. For the first few weeks, we would tuck the boys in and sure enough Tuck would come walking down the stairs! Every night, he seemed to have a different gadget or toy he had hidden under his pillow to plan his escape...and he would successfully pick the lock! Go figure! So now, we've learned to check his pillow and under his bed for any creative objects that may be used as a key! Haha He has a huge heart and a fun-loving spirit. He's always up for a good time, a fast ride, a funny story and a yummy cookie. He can hold his own in this family and no one pushes him around. It is so exciting to watch him explore, grow and learn...I look forward to seeing what this next year holds for him!
His Growth Stats:
34 inches 50%
33 pounds 70%
Here are a few pictures from his Birthday party....at the Fire Station!!
On Wednesday, July 12th, the kids and I were all in the van running errands together and Jackson shared with us that earlier that day he had said some special prayers at their praying tree outside. He said he prayed for Papa's shoulder, he asked Jesus to heal Mimi and then he asked Jesus to come into his heart and save him. Jackson had been talking more and more about spiritual things the past couple months, so I just responded to him that I would love to talk more and out that and we could answer questions he may have about it all. Well, later that evening, Jackson came up and asked when we were going to sit down and talk more about Jesus saving him.
I have been praying since my children were in my womb for their salvation. I pray they will be sensitive to spiritual things and that their hearts will be turned toward Jesus at a young age. But, I also pray that the Lord will make it so completely clear to Jeremy and I that it truly is the Holy Spirit working in their hearts and not just "what everyone else is doing" or "what they think they should do." We pray the Lord will capture their hearts at a young age and then the Spirit will be persistent with pressing in on their hearts.
So, when he came to me again that same day on his own initiative, I was overwhelmed with the assurance from the Lord that I needed to carve out some time and sit with him to talk uninterrupted. I put the kids down and then Jack and I went to my room and crawled on the bed together to talk. He shared with me once again that he asked Jesus to save him by the praying tree earlier that day. He said that he knows he does bad things (sin) and that Jesus died on the cross for him and hat he wanted to go to heaven one day. So, we talked about sin and how it separates us from God/heaven. We talked more about How God sent Jesus to save us and he took our punishment on the cross when He died. I then explained that we just ask Him to save us, forget for us and then we ask him to be in charge of our loves. I explained it to him that it's kinda like we have a pretend chair in our heart and we have to choose whether Jesus is on the chair and in charge or if we are in charge of our lives. He quickly said, "oh I want Jesus in charge." Sweet boy. So after taking some more, I just told him he could pray and just talk to Jesus about his decision and thank Him for dying and tell him He wants to live for Jesus. So, right then and there...Jack prayed the sweetest prayer. "Dear Jesus, I'm so sorry I do bad things and sin. Thank you for dying for me. I want to be saved. I want you to sit on the chair in my heat. Amen."
Sweet childlike faith. It's been so neat to see the Lord work in His life this summer. With Mimi battling ALS, we openly talk about life, healing and death....and heaven is talked about very openly. We talk about how God will either choose to heal Mimi on earth or in heaven but she will be healed one day. We talk about how there is no more sickness in heaven. This summer, we also made a visit to Ieremy's dad's grave. We talked to the kids about how bodies are buried in the ground but that the soul of a person who knows Jesus is in heaven. Jackson and Bella both were very inquisitive about this and it really spurred on discussion with lots of questions.
As difficult as the passing of Gaga was nearly 6 years ago and has heartbreaking as it is to watch Mimi suffer from this cruel diseases, we see God working and changing lives including Mimi's grandchildren. She has prayed and prayed for their salvation. In fact, within 2 weeks of each other, Jackson, Sadie and Houston all accepted Jesus. God is amazing....He offers such peace, hope and faith.
I praise Him for the answered prayers....the prayers I began praying when his little body was forming and developing in the womb. I praise Him for reaching down and rescuing Jackson, Sadie and Houston all within such a short time...a direct answer to sweet Mimi's prayers and a reminder to us all that He is good...He is God...He is in the life changing and miracle working business. He loves us so much and is so kind to allow us to share in this time of rejoicing amidst the grief we are all enduring with sweet Mimi's progressing disease.
May all those who see and hear of His kindness and goodness be drawn to Him.