July 31, 2012

Never Once...

This is one of the times of year that I always look back at the blessings GOD has given my family, and I feel a sense of peace that HIS hand has been on us the whole time. Why? Because 9 years ago my husband and oldest son were in a jet-ski accident that rocked our world and changed everything for us. This past week in worship we sang a Matt Redman song, Never Once, and it just spoke to me not only about how GOD was with us through that accident, but how HE has been with us (me) through everything! My mind was just filled with instances and circumstances that I knew GOD carried me through. As I sang this song in worship to my KING, I thanked HIM for never once leaving me on my own. My story is not yours. Some of these may seem  trivial to you, but they are vital to who I am today and what GOD has done for me. These are just snippets of the things that were going through my mind as I sang in worship:

Standing on this mountaintop
2012: I have been blessed with 16 years of marriage to my best friend, and I have  4 beautiful children!!
Looking just how far we’ve come
2012:Nineteen years ago we met and began our journey
Knowing that for every step
YOU were with us
1996: I was blessed to marry my high school sweetheart and best friend. GOD carried us through a 2 1/2 year dating period where we were separated but learned about each other through our letters and phone calls.
1998: We found out we were pregnant with our first baby! We bought our first house! I graduated from college!!
1999: We found out we were pregnant with our second baby!
1999: We found out we were pregnant with our third baby!
2001: We found out we were pregnant with our fourth baby!!
2008: We found out we were pregnant with our fifth baby!!! We bought our second house!

Kneeling on this battle ground
1993: My family moved to Carthage, TX during the middle of my senior year.
Seeing just how much You’ve done
1993:I met Ben the first day of school
Knowing every victory
Was Your power in us

Scars and struggles on the way
1984: We moved out of the  house I had grown up in. My parents told us they were getting a divorce. Nothing in my life would ever be the same.
1999: At the 8 week sonogram with our second baby we were told there wasn't a heartbeat where there should be one.
2000: I was put in the hospital with polyhydramnios when I was 26 weeks pregnant with our second child (third pregnancy). The doctors told us he may not live.
2003: Ben and Cole were in a terrible jet-ski accident. I had to fly in the helicopter with Cole while Ben was life-flighted in a separate helicopter.
But with joy our hearts can say
Yes, our hearts can say
Never once did we ever walk alone
2003: Sitting in the hospital with my 4 year old son the night of his accident he asked to pray with me. He prayed to GOD, "Thank YOU for protecting  me and my dad on the jet-ski today". He then told me that he knew he and his daddy were alive because JESUS was riding on the jet ski with them! Tears of joy flooded my face as I held my little boy and thanked JESUS for a child with such a pure heart.

Never once did You leave us on our own

2003: When Ben woke up from his coma he was able to correctly describe the ICU room he had been in (but had not been awake in). He said he saw JESUS sitting on the counter across from him.....what he described seeing was more like fire....no distinguishable face, but he knew he had not been alone.

You are faithful, God, You are faithful

Kneeling on this battle ground
2000: Ben had to learn what it was like to be a single dad for 6 weeks while I was in the hospital in another state. I was only able to see my family on Friday-Sun.
Seeing just how much You’ve done
2000: The time I spent in the hospital brought me closer to GOD and renewed my faith in HIS goodness.

Knowing every victory

Was Your power in us
2000: Our second son was born 7 weeks early weighing in at a healthy 6 lbs 7 oz! The doctors were amazed!!! The doctors did numerous tests to find something--anything--wrong with him and they never could!

2003: The doctors initially thought Cole had a broken jaw and injury to his brain after the jet-ski accident. He simply had a cut on his right check that only required a butterfly bandage. (That and a bad headache!)

2003: Ben sustained a closed head injury from the accident. The doctors didn't know the outcome, but worst case scenario would be that he wouldn't be able to speak, take care of himself, or work again. Within 4 months Ben was back to "normal"! :)

Scars and struggles on the way
2008: We had 30 days to move out of the rent house we had been living in. We had nowhere to go.

2009: I found out I had anti-bodies in my blood that would fight against my baby I was carrying.
2009-2010: I lost my job, we lost income, and we eventually lost our house.

But with joy our hearts can say
2008: Our pastor and his wife graciously allowed us to move into their basement while we looked for a house.

Never once did we ever walk alone
Carried by Your constant grace
2009: The antibodies I was carrying caused our baby to be born jaundiced, and he needed a blood transfusion and blood exchange. After 1 week in NICU he was able to come home!!!

Held within Your perfect peace
2000: Sitting beside my son in the  NICU after he was born 7 weeks early, I knew that GOD gave him to us for a reason and would carry us through.
2003: Sitting beside my husband in the ICU I knew GOD was in control and had HIS hand on the situation.
2009: Sitting beside my son in the NICU I felt a peace about his health.

Never once, no, we never walk alone
2010: GOD had a place for us to move  

Every step we are breathing in Your grace
We have always been blessed with work. GOD has always provided for our financial needs to be met.
Our family has always been blessed with health.
GOD has given us so many opportunities to worship HIM and share HIM with  others...in and out of the church building.

Evermore we’ll be breathing out Your praise
GOD has been so amazing to show HIMSELF to us in so many situations.
I have the opportunity to share GOD with my children as I raise them in this ungodly world.
I have been given the opportunity to show GOD to my students every day that I have them in my classroom.

You are faithful, God, You are faithful

You are faithful, God, You are faithful

I pray that I am faithful in speaking out to others about my GOD and HIS love for them. I want to be able to use the stories I have, the lessons I have learned, and the fire GOD has put us in to show others that, like Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, you can go through the fire, but you don't have to come out smelling like smoke. 
Daniel 3:26-27 "Nebuchadnezzar then approached the opening of the blazing furnace and shouted, “Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, servants of the Most High God, come out! Come here!”
So Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego came out of the fire, and the satraps, prefects, governors and royal advisers crowded around them. They saw that the fire had not harmed their bodies, nor was a hair of their heads singed; their robes were not scorched, and there was no smell of fire on them.

I pray that I am never silent, but am ever diligent in being salt and light in this world.

July 6, 2012

El Roi

The kids and I have started a daily devotional using the book Praying the Names of GOD by Ann Spangler. It is a 26 week study teaching us about the character of GOD as HE reveals HIMSELF through HIS names. This week we studied El Roi...."the GOD who sees me". Hagar gave this name to the LORD who spoke to her "Then she called the name of the LORD who spoke to her, 'YOU are a GOD who sees'; for she said, 'Have I even remained alive here after seeing HIM?'"(Genesis 16:13) Studying this name has really caused me to reflect on the things that are happening in the Christian world and being deemed as acceptable...."healthy" even. I have read many blogs and reviews, posts and comments on the movie "Magic Mike" and the book "50 Shades of Grey". I have read MANY things that hint on the fact that if you say it is wrong or sinful then you are just a "self-righteous mommy who[is]judging others when we are really called to love". That statement has bothered me since the first time I read it. Why? Because it hit too close to home. It is how I have felt so many times when I wanted to justify what I was doing. It is the mindset that the Christian community is beginning to embrace, and it scares me. What if you got a cut on your leg, and the cut got infected? Your leg would get all red, and swollen, and sensitive to the touch. If your friend walks up, pokes the swollen spot and says “Hey, does this hurt? You should get that looked at.” You’d likely recoil and say “OUCH! Don’t touch that, it hurts!” Is the problem the poke, or the infection itself? Is your friend being self-righteous and judging you for your infection? Or were they trying to help you by calling your attention to an unhealthy situation? Many Christians today are not telling their friends to get the infection looked at because they know they have had an infection themselves. Would you do the same with your children? Would you allow them to get sick even if you knew what they could do to avoid it? Would you ignore the things they are doing for fear that they would get mad at you? We are a family.....we should help each other. I get infections, too. And, if for some reason, I don’t realize I have been deceived, I hope that someone would feel called to love me enough to point it out to me. I am not judging anyone on their infection, just pointing out the problem. If we as Christians continue to shrink back and not point out the infection or the unhealthy situations our sisters (and non-sisters) in CHRIST are putting themselves in then we are sinning by not obeying GOD when HE tells us to speak the truth. Yes, Paul tells us in Colossians 3:12-14 "...clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. Make allowance for each other's faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember the LORD forgave you, so you must forgive others. Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds us all together in perfect harmony." However, you can't take that verse alone and use it as justification for sin. Paul also said (Colossians 3: 2-3), "Think about the things of heaven, not the things of earth. For you died to this life and your real life is hidden with CHRIST in GOD." Was Paul being self-righteous and judging the people of Colossae when he said (Colossians 3:5, 6), "So put to death the sinful, earthly things lurking within you. Have nothing to do with sexual immorality, impurity, lust and evil desires. Because of these sins, the anger of GOD is coming."? No, he was admonishing them, praying for them, and wanting the best for them! The phrase "lurking within you" gets me every time. Studying the name EL ROI has really brought to my attention that GOD doesn't just see me....the physical me. HE sees my heart, my thoughts, my desires...the things lurking within me. I Samuel 16: 7  tells us "for GOD sees not as man sees, for man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart." I don't know about you, but this is enough to make me want to keep my heart clean, and I can't do that if I am watching a movie about strippers or reading a novel about sex. I know because, ashamedly enough, I used to read "romance novels", and nothing good came of it. It wasn't until after I was married that I stopped reading them. I felt like I was cheating on my husband....and I was, even if it was with a fictional character. I know how captivating those kind of books can be, and I won't let myself even pick one up because I know how easy it is to be "addicted" to that kind of "romance".  I found ways to justify reading them....anyone can come up with a reason to justify sin, but here's the thing: you don't have to come up with a justification for something that isn't sin. I don't have to justify reading the bible. I don't have to justify watching Pollyanna or some other "old fashioned" movie. If we spent as much time reading the bible, praying, and learning about GOD as we do coming up with justifications for why we sin, then we would be much happier, fulfilled people. I know I fall short in many areas every day, and when I do I pray for GOD to create in me a clean heart. I don't want to be sitting in a theater watching a movie or laying on my couch reading a book that I know is not healthy for me or my relationship with my husband. Psalm 33:13-15 "The LORD looks from heaven; HE sees all the sons of men; From HIS dwelling place HE looks out on all the inhabitants of the earth, HE who fashions the hearts of them all, HE who understands all their works." 
The bottom line is this, would we as women and wives be okay with a bunch of men standing around church talking about the latest edition of Playboy? Would we be okay with them talking about the strip club they went to the night before? Would we watch the kids for them while they went out and lusted over other women? I know the answer for me is a profound NO! Then why are we okay with women doing the same thing? Why do we laugh about it and talk about how great it is? It is NOT OK!  I know that I am not going to make many friends, and I may offend some friends that I do have, but I am okay with that. If my touching your infection and telling you to get it looked at saves your leg then it is worth the pain it caused you when I touched it. I would expect nothing less from my friends.


Proverbs 15:3 tells us "The eyes of the LORD are everywhere, keeping watch on the wicked and the good." There is no place I can hide from GOD! One of my favorite verses is found in 2 Chronicles 16:9 "For the eyes of the LORD range throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to HIM." I want to be fully committed to HIM. I want HIM to see my heart and strengthen it.

I want to see GOD.....not Magic Mike. I want to keep my eyes on HIM....not the pages of some novel. I want to shine like the sun and have no reason for shame. Psalm 34:5 "Keep your eyes on the LORD! You will shine like the sun and never blush with shame." Oh, I want this to be me!

May 31, 2012

GOD Answers Prayer

This post has been rattling around in my head for a while, but I am still not quite sure exactly what it is I want to write. I will just type, and we will see what comes out!  My husband has often complained that GOD doesn't speak to us the way HE spoke to Moses, Abraham, Noah, Adam and Eve....pretty much anyone in the Old Testament. They heard HIS voice. HE showed HIMSELF to them in ways that we don't get today.....burning bush, cloud by day, fire by night, etc. And even though we don't hear HIS voice audibly, I still have times when I just KNOW what GOD is saying to me. We have the HOLY SPIRIT who speaks to us in our hearts and leads us in the direction GOD wants us to go. The catch with that is I often question whether or not it is the HOLY SPIRIT or just me believing something I want to believe.  Of course, Satan wants us to doubt what GOD tells us (we have proof of that in Genesis) and that is where we face the dilemma today. Did GOD tell me to go there, or did I just go because I wanted to?  Anyway, the times that I have known that GOD was telling me something I have had an "impression" or just a really strong belief that something will happen a certain way. It is very hard to explain because I know many people will doubt it, but for me it is very real. I want this post to be about the times GOD has blessed me and answered my prayers regarding my job situations.
In 1997 I did some student teaching at Kilgore Intermediate School. I LOVED it there. We lived in Longview at the time and didn't have any plans to live anywhere else, but I told Ben that when I started teaching I wanted to teach at Kilgore Intermediate. It was/is a very nice campus comprised of 4th and 5th grade students. The teachers there were amazing, and  the atmosphere was very welcoming. I knew it would be difficult to get on there because no one would ever leave! 2 months after I finished my student teaching there I found out I was pregnant with our first child, and I started my last semester of college. I knew that I would not be teaching in the fall because when Ben and I first got married we decided that one of us would stay home with our children until they started school. I wanted to be the one to stay home, so I graduated in May of 1998 6 months pregnant. We also bought our first house in May of 1998, and it was in Kilgore.  In August of 1998 I gave birth to our first child. In February of 2000 I had our second child, and in September of 2002 I had our 3rd child. I still had not taught in the classroom, but I was always thinking that when I did I wanted to teach at Kilgore Intermediate. That desire had not gone away or changed.  In the summer of 2003 I started applying for teaching jobs for the fall. I couldn't understand why no one was calling or interviewing me. I didn't apply to work at Kilgore Intermediate, though, and I am not sure why I didn't. I had one interview at a middle school in Tyler and one interview at a private school. What I didn't know then that GOD did know was that in August of 2003 my husband and oldest son were going to be in an accident, and Ben would lose his job.  GOD didn't allow me to get a teaching job because HE knew we would move to Dallas for 4 months while Ben was in rehab. When we moved back home I began substitute teaching for Kilgore. The only school that ever called me to substitute was the Intermediate school. I knew then that I would teach there for sure. I knew that is where GOD wanted me. There was an opening that year, and the principal "interviewed" me by asking me 2 questions! It was the dream interview! I was hired to teach 4th grade but was moved to 5th by the end of the first week of school. I never had any doubt that is where GOD wanted me even though it was 2004 (7 years after I first believed I would teach there) before HE opened that door. Fast forward 6 years. We moved to Huntsville, TX from CO and enrolled our kids in school. Annalisa's school was Scott Johnson. We never planned to stay in Huntsville, but the first time I walked into Scott Johnson I thought, "If I ever teach in Huntsville, this is where it will be." I just had that impression that I get-- that belief that this is where I belong. It was just like with Kilgore Intermediate. Benjamin was only 1 at the time, so I knew I wouldn't be teaching for a few years. Over the next year I would randomly check to see if there were any openings at Scott Johnson, and I never saw one. This past Spring (2012) I began to apply to teach this fall. I applied at A LOT of school districts all over East Texas because we really wanted to move. No one called. No interviews. I was devastated. The small voice in the back of my head said, "check Huntsville." I checked for an opening at Scott Johnson--none. So I applied at more districts. Still no calls. Still the voice--"check Huntsville". I did and there showed 1 opening at Scott Johnson. So, I thought, "Ok, I will apply." But you couldn't specify which campus you wanted to apply for, and there were other elementary campuses with openings. I didn't want any campus other than Scott Johnson! 1 week after I applied I got a call for an interview! My first interview!! I knew in my heart that I would get the job, but my brain kept saying, "maybe not".  I went for the interview and thought it went very well. I felt good about it and waited for a call or an email telling me "No thanks". I waited every day (from Monday to Friday) wondering why I hadn't had a call back. That voice kept telling me, "They haven't checked your references yet. They will call."  I had decided that if I didn't hear anything back by Friday afternoon then I would apply somewhere else, but I really believed I would hear something. I went to the school on Friday morning for field day and the principal pulled me aside to tell me that the reason she hadn't called was because she hadn't checked my references yet! It wasn't me making things up in my mind....it was the HOLY SPIRIT talking to me. Telling me things would be ok! I love it when I have confirmation of the SPIRIT speaking to my heart! The principal asked me to come see her before I left for the day. When I went to visit with her she said, "I don't know how you feel about this, but I really think this is a GOD thing." I told her that I agreed 100%! She said that she literally had 100's of applications and the fact that she saw mine was amazing! She said that after they talked with me they knew I was supposed to be there!!! I believe GOD moved my application to the top and HE prepared their hearts for me before I went in there. 1 phone call. 1 interview. 1 job. GOD works amazing wonders!! HE answered our prayers for a job for me. HE answered our prayers about where our kids would go to school in the fall.....and my prayer for consistency for them. Cole will be starting High School and I didn't want to move him any more than necessary. HE spoke to my heart about that school the first time I ever walked in, and HE prepared me to want to be there. I know HE has some special kids prepared to be in my classroom this fall, and I pray that HE uses me in their lives the way HE wants to. I am very excited about going back into the classroom, and I am excited when I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that I am in the place GOD wants me to be!

April 17, 2012

I Am Who I Am In GOD.....and I AM OK With That!

The other day while I was on Facebook I came across a link for this blog post: http://powerofmoms.com/2012/04/your-children-want-you/ which is a VERY good post and definitely something I needed to read. The irony of it is that just reading it made me do some of the things she talks about that we as moms shouldn't do! I immediately began to think about the fact that I am NOT that mom/woman who blogs about things daily, weekly, or even monthly for that fact. I do learn important spiritual lessons regularly, but I do not write them down for other women/moms to learn from. I always have good intentions to write them down, but it doesn't happen. I spend a lot of time during my day praying silently for my children and cleaning up messes. I am a very organized person and it is very difficult for me to find this when I walk into my boys' room:
  Instead of this: 
I have come to understand that not everyone in my house thinks neatness and organization are as important as I do. The fact that I even allow them to keep their things after I find them where they don't belong is a blessing for them in my mind! Even if I spent the money on all of those bins, the boys (Jacob) wouldn't use them! I hear the voice in my head asking, "What have I done wrong? Where did I fail in teaching them these basic skills? Why can't I impart to them the importance of neatness?"  In actuality I have done nothing wrong. I HAVE taught them these things. It is their choice to implement what I have taught them. So then I ask, "Why won't they make good choices? Is that my fault too?" Oh, it is a never ending cycle for moms! We beat ourselves up over every little thing. 
I used to watch 19 Kids and Counting randomly. I had to stop because I was constantly comparing myself to the ever-calm Michelle. I wondered why I couldn't stay as calm as she did--and I only have 4 kids!!

I kept telling myself I wasn't spiritual enough. I wasn't praying enough. I must not love my kids as much as she loves hers if mine irritate me so quickly. I was quick to tell myself I was a failure as a parent for not being more like her. Then I realized......GOD didn't make me like her for a reason. HE wanted me to be Caci--not Michelle. I have other strengths that she may wish she had. My personality is not like hers....that is for sure! And that is OK!  My desire is the same....to raise GODLY children in this ungodly world. To teach my kids morals and spiritual truths. To walk with GOD every day. To teach others about GOD and HIS love for them.  I just do it in a different manner. I Corinthians 12:14 tells us "For the body is not one member, but many." And verses 17-18 tell us "If the whole body were an eye, where would the hearing be? If the whole were hearing, where would the sense of smell be? But now GOD has placed the members, each one of them, in the body, just as HE desired." We are all different, and we are all used in different ways--not just in the church (building), but in our homes as well. After all, WE are still the church when we go home. We are not the same for a reason! What we, as Christians, need to understand and believe is that GOD has placed us just as HE desired. That makes us perfectly placed!
I do NOT separate whites 

 and colored laundry. If it comes to the washing machine, it gets washed! I have never heard my kids complain that I didn't wash their clothes correctly! They are just happy they get washed! 
I recently overheard a mom say, "When my youngest son graduates high school I will have fixed breakfast every morning for 32 years." I immediately started beating myself up. Why? I DON'T FIX BREAKFAST! Well, that's not true. I fix breakfast on Saturdays. And SOME weekday mornings. I am just NOT that mom! Do my kids lack nutrition because I don't cook bacon, eggs, waffles, pancakes or such every morning? Nope. They do just fine on cereal, a bagel or toast. They don't even complain. So why was I beating myself up over it? I always think that I could or should be better than I am.
While it is ok to strive to be better in what we do or who we are, it is also ok to accept that there are some things about ourselves that just aren't going to change. When I get to heaven, GOD isn't going to ask me why I didn't cook breakfast for my kids every day of their childhood! Seriously, HE isn't! In the broad scheme of things, the battles that we choose to fight within ourselves aren't the ones that really matter. What matters is what we do to advance the kingdom of GOD. 
I know that I fail GOD every day. I know that GOD never fails me!!!! I need to take the time to focus more on how I can be closer to HIM than how I can be more like some woman on Pinterest or TV that I don't even know!! I need to want to know GOD more! I need to teach my kids about GOD more. I want them to know that HE is ever faithful, never failing, full of love, compassion and grace. I want HIS love for them to reflect off of me so that when they look at me they see HIM. Those are the things I strive for on a daily basis while the clothes pile up on the floors in the rooms and the laundry baskets remain empty. 

January 23, 2012

A Eugene Bag

I have seen the movie Tangled no less than 300 times in the last 4 months. Seriously. Benjamin would wake up and the first sweet words out of his mouth were, "Good morning, Mommy. I love you!"  Wait, no....I dreamt that! They were, "I want to watch Tangled". Every. Day. For 4 months. Now I know you are saying, "But, Caci that doesn't equal 300 times."  And you are right...it doesn't. You have to add the 3 more times that he said those same words EVERY day for the past 4 months, and the fact that I am a concerned lazy mom who just wants her kids to be happy....so I let him watch it. 3-4 times-- every day. I can quote it without even looking at the screen. Most of the reason I let him watch it so many times is because I was busy sewing, and it was a good babysitter. I know that is horrible of me, but hey at least I could afford to buy groceries while he sang "Mother Knows Best" to the cashiers. One bad thing that has come from him watching Tangled is that he took a couple of my pans and threw them around pretending to fight the bad guys like Eugene does. This left dents in my pans. Not good, but they still cook the same.
Last night as he was running through the house calling Rapunzel he said he needed a "Eugene bag". I, of course, immediately knew what he wanted....because I have seen the movie so many times.  So today I sewed a Eugene bag for my little man. 
Here he is with his bag

Can you see how proud he is of it?

Do you want me to open it???

It even has a crown inside!!!

Let's take the crown out.....

And try to wear it.....backwards....

I even lined it with Toy Story fabric!

 I had fun sewing the bag and it was great to see how happy he was to have it. I love it that he still thinks I am the greatest and the fact that I can make him smile with something as simple as a cut up pair of jeans turned into a bag!