Archive for December, 2009

Beautiful Graces


Good morning, my darling sisters.

Melissa and I are cooking up a post together with highlights from our holidays (our Amanda is in Missouri with Curtis and his family) but I thought I’d jump on here and jot a quick hello since it’s been a while. I am slowly getting back my energy and feeling more like myself. (You’ve prayed six pounds back on me! Thank you! Come to a screeching halt at six more. Grin.) True to the post-op norm, however, I suddenly hit a brick wall each day and I’m done. Can hardly lift a finger. It’s all I can do to be mildly hilarious with my family at that point but I have humbly managed. (I so hope you newbies understand our weird humor around here.) I’ve gotten out a little while each day but by the time I got back home, I only had the energy to moderate your comments and nothing left to write a fresh post. My inner man was shouting a loud hello. My outer man needed a heating pad and a nap. I lapsed to the latter, as I knew you’d want me to.

Alas, I’ve gotten to you today before doing anything else so I’ll hit a brick wall on something else instead.

It’s Keith’s and my 31st wedding anniversary. That’s why I’m writing today. I’m not looking for congratulations. Y’all have gone out of your way to send us so many greetings recently. I don’t want to wear you out. I just want to share it with you. I have so many feelings. More feelings than energy so I’ll limit myself to expressing only a few.

Keith and I have rarely been together on our actual anniversary. I had the audacity to set our wedding date at the peak of deer season. I’m so sorry if many of you are offended by hunters. I am not a hunter – can hardly stomp on a roach – but I surely did marry one and there’s not a whole lot I can do about it now but love the hunter. And I do. He didn’t mean to marry a woman who does what I do either and he finds it just about as baffling. Anyway, that wild man and I have been married for 31 years today. We celebrated two nights ago before he left town but, actually, this is our big day. God seems to ordain that I end up alone with Him on my wedding anniversary every year instead of alone with Keith. I am quite certain it is because He’s responsible for our longevity. Not Keith and me.

That we have a single hair left on our heads from the roller coaster we’ve ridden is a testimony to the staying power of God, especially if you consider how many of my hairs have been weakened at the roots by bleach. We closed out 2008 with one of the hardest years of our marriage. In fact, I’m embarrassed to tell you that we were hundreds of miles apart on our 30th anniversary and hardly spoke. On purpose. That was a first for us. It was also frightening and I hope and pray we never do that again. We prefer to talk things out passionately – even fight them out – rather than freeze each other out. Last year was a huge and terrifying departure from our norm and dangerous. I don’t want any repeats.

After the worst start to a new year of marriage in our three-decade history (last December 30th), we then proceeded to have our best year yet. Only Jesus. God used a host of things to bring us to such a happy season. I spent much of the year writing the insecurity book and, in the process, receiving a deep and much needed work of the Spirit. I don’t know if another woman on the planet will be jarred the least by it but it was a life changing journey for me. Keith also came to a new place in his life with God. That’s for him to share. Not me. I’ll own my own stuff and let him tell his story to his own discretion. Keep in mind that this happy year of marriage was amid a hard physical health year. Odd how that can happen. No year in a normal life is without hardship.

All that to say, a few minutes ago I was sitting on my bed having my quiet time and my I-phone dinged with an incoming text, jotted quickly from a certain deer stand six hours from Houston.

You are my lifelong sweets I adore you I love marital bliss

(It was written just like that. No punctuations or periods.)

And you, Ivan Keith Moore, are MINE. Right this minute, I love you more than I’ve ever loved you. I appreciate you more than I’ve ever appreciated you. Most of the time I have no idea what to do with you but this I know. I can’t imagine being anything but bored stiff with anybody else. We’ve been a lot of things but boring is not among them. I had no idea what I was doing 31 years ago today. I was scared out of my mind in that rented off-white wedding dress when I walked down that aisle with my father and wondered how on earth two such troubled people would make it. It was already very clear that we were both loons. I do, however, know what I’m doing today. I choose you. You ARE my lifelong sweets. I adore you, too. And right this very minute, propped up all by myself on a mess of pillows, hours from my compulsive outdoorsman-husband, with a phone sitting just to my left elbow sporting a text that speaks louder than three dozen roses, I love marital bliss, too.

Happy Anniversary.

Thank You, Lord.

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Merry, Merry Christmas, Siestas!

Greetings this glorious, cold December 25th in the Name of our Savior, Jesus Christ!

Celebrate with Amanda, Melissa, and me and all your Siestas around the world this revolutionary truth:

The Word became flesh and made His dwelling among us. We have seen His glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth. From this fullness of His grace we have ALL received…

…ONE BLESSING AFTER ANOTHER. John 1:14,16 NIV

When you get a moment over the next day or two, share one very SPECIFIC way God blessed you this wonderful day. It would be so fun for us to name our cities so we can be reminded once again how we stretch over this globe.

Oh, Sisters. We love you so much.
Beth

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On the Eve of Christmas Eve

Christmas vacation started yesterday after our annual LPM Christmas party. Our whole staff gathered around the big table in the board room and we celebrated with Mexican food and a Secret Santa gift exchange. We have a dollar limit on what each person can spend and every single one of us was accused of going over it. There were many excuses, such as “I had a coupon!” or “It was on sale!” Only the Lord knows the truth.

We were all given beautiful scarves and “I love my job” mouse pads from Beth. My sister arranged her scarf in a perfect display of elegance while the rest of us begged her to give a demonstration. Most Texans sorely lack the skill set needed for elegant scarf wearing. Melissa has a clear advantage because she spent so many years in Chicago and Wheaton, IL.

Today was my favorite day in a long time. Curtis blessed me to spend it at my parents’ house while he kept the kids. I picked up some Chickfila – which would surely be Jesus’ favorite food if He lived on the earth in 2009 – and Melissa and I had lunch together while Mom took a nap. Dad made some baked potato soup for her and of course we had to sample some of that, too.

When Mom started to wake up, Melissa and I climbed in bed with her and we laid there forever laughing and looking at all the recent pictures on Melissa’s laptop. She just got a new lens for her camera, which is what she used to take those pretty pictures of “Baking with Bibby.”

Mom, who is clearly the nurturer and caretaker of our whole clan, is having an interesting time being the one who is served. Frankly, she hates it. Today, in her most dramatic voice, she said, “I am sucking the life out of this whole family! Just call me Hoover!” She was dead serious, but I just fell out laughing because that has got to be the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever heard. We have had to do very, very little for her, especially when you think about all the energy it has taken her to care for this handful of a family for 31 years!

Later Melissa and I ran some errands together. We were nearly run over two times in the parking lot because apparently my sister hasn’t mastered the skill of looking both ways before she crosses the street. I naively trusted her to guide me across. Pray for her! We made a quick stop in a video game store for a family member who shall not be named and Melissa came extremely close to buying an old Nintendo set. I’m talking about the one from 1989 that we used to play Mario Brothers and Duck Hunt on. Get this, it was fifty dollars! That is craziness! Curt’s grandparents still have one at their house and we always play when we visit. I actually have a date with Dr. Mario in a few days. How many of us still remember the secret code to Contra?

Next we went to Best Buy, where we spotted a Bump-It of all things! Never fear, it left the store with us thanks to Melissa. I think she was trying to fill the hole in her heart from leaving that Nintendo in the video game store. Each Bump-It box contains three sizes and my sister immediately put the biggest one in her hair when we got home. Dad, who is never shy with his fashion commentary, said “Lissy, do you have an Ostrich egg coming out of your head?” Unfortunately, Melissa would not allow herself to be photographed in that moment.

Soon everyone wanted some hot tea. I don’t know how to make the simplest cup of coffee, but I’m the official Moore Family Tea Fixer. Everyone has jumped on the tea bandwagon since Mom’s surgery – it seems to be easier on her system. While I was making our tea, our friendly neighborhood UPS man delivered a key lime bundt cake from We Take the Cake. Is that not perfect timing? It came in the most adorable box ever. We pulled it out and everyone agreed it should have a small potted plant in the middle of it, a la My Big Fat Greek Wedding. We opened the card to find that Curtis’ family had sent the cake. How sweet of them and how sweet of the Lord to let me be there when it came! Melissa was in charge of icing the thing and let’s just say that a huge glob of it fell to one side and ruined any chance of a picture appearing on the blog. (Glob and blog are spelled similarly!) The cake was the perfect thing to have with our afternoon tea. It was a tasty ending to one of my favorite days ever.

Thanks for sticking through this very random post. To make it even more random, I’m going to add our family’s Christmas pictures. These were taken the day before Thanksgiving. Mom and Dad didn’t get a chance to send out cards this year, so I know they won’t mind me sharing them.

Siestas, I pray that you will have many moments of laughter and joy with your loved ones in the days to come. May the love of Christ fill your hearts and homes as you celebrate the wonder of His birth. Merry Christmas to you!

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Wishing I could be the Pioneer Woman for Christmas

Dreaming…

Idea!

Tongue out in anticipation.

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OK, So Here’s the Story!

Hey, You Darling Things! I’ve thought about you a billion times!

I have finally had enough of a break to tackle pulling my thoughts together and telling you a little of the story that led up to surgery. Because, you know your Siesta Mama. There is ALWAYS a story. I don’t do a danged thing without drama.

I was all ready to write you this post several days ago and we got some hard news about the diagnosis of a young, tremendously loved pastor in the DFW area that sent a whole lot of us for a loop. I never could pull it together that day. I would have traded my outcome for his in a heartbeat but that’s not the way it works. I also well know that God has every intention of showing Himself mighty and all glorious in this family’s life and in the lives of all who love them and have committed to sit like watchmen of the wall in their behalf.

There is no way I can emphasize strongly enough that the outcome of the story I am about to share with you has nothing to do with God’s extravagant love for me, the right kind of praying, or the fact that “He’s not finished with me yet.” He loves us all extravagantly, whatever the outcome of medical tests. He does not play favorites. He hears each desperate cry and esteems the groanings of our souls. He doesn’t let our lives be touched or even ravaged by disease because we didn’t get our words exactly right or because we yelped, “Help my unbelief!” He’s not a mean, distant God playing Monopoly with human lives. And He’s not finished with a single one of us or we wouldn’t be drawing terrestrial air into our lungs and coursing our eyes over words on a computer screen. The fact is, He has a sovereign plan that is for good and not evil and He is writing a story of on-going redemption with each of our lives. Our lives are woven together through seasons. It’s one person’s season to experience this. And another person’s season to experience that. Neither is loved more. Neither is more dispensible.

Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 (KJV)
1 To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven:
2 A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted;
3 A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up;
4 A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
5 A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
6 A time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away;
7 A time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
8 A time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace.

Ecclesiastes 3:11 sums up the segment in a few simple, powerful words:
11 He hath made every thing beautiful in his time.

His time. His time. His time. HIS TIME.

It was not my season or His time for me to walk the road of cancer treatment. But, make no mistake. God went WAY out of His way to increase my awakenness to that road from a very personal vantage point. Cancer is so widespread that it has not been a stranger to any of us. Many of us are well acquainted with it through the journey of very close loved ones. I never missed one of my mom’s rounds of chemo-therapy and, like each of my brothers and sisters, was right by her side when that journey ended and gave way to eternity. Like you, I’ve also stood alongside good friends in treatment, many of whom God raised back to their feet with a fresh anointing. Countless times I’ve received letters from those I’ve never seen face-to-face who chose to walk faithfully with God through His Word amid an ordeal they could neither understand…nor perhaps survive. In all my years in women’s ministry, these have been the pieces of correspondence I’ve most highly esteemed: women who have studied and sought God faithfully, as much as that day’s condition would allow, all the way Home. OR, unimaginably, to their child’s final Home. Even long before my recent ordeal, I respected no one more than these.

Here is how I happened to brush coattails with a few of them:

Three years ago, amid blood tests for other much less threatening maladies, I had a result come back that raised my regular doctor’s eyebrows. Since that test is notorious for false-positives, he told me not to be alarmed but, nonetheless, to let a specialist check it out. I did and was told, after testing, that I had no coinciding malignancy that they could find and to just have my regular doctor keep an eye on it.

He did. The count remained elevated and then began creeping up. I’d been having my annual women’s exam with his physician’s assistant, a gentle spirited, smart woman I find less unnerving. In August, the doctor overseeing the exams said, “Beth, I still don’t like what those test results are doing. I just want you to be in the hands of a really good OB-GYN.” He sent me to a well-respected woman doctor that I was crazy about. She is my most recent hero. She is a fellow lover of Scripture and seeker of Christ. She determined to approach my situation entirely from scratch, repeating every single test, to see what turned up. Suddenly, in October the blood test indicator they’d been watching more than doubled in number and she called my cell. She was completely calm but I had well-remembered what the specialist had told me three years earlier, “Now, when it starts doubling, we start getting worried.”

Over the next week, I had biopsies, MRI’s, ultrasounds, etc. The end result was abnormalities in the ovaries with relatively small growths on each. One side hosted a simple cyst and they were unalarmed by it. The other side was more suspect. In my new GYN’s wise determination, she sent me straightaway to a highly esteemed gynecological oncologist in Houston’s world famous medical center. She contacted the doctor herself and was kind enough to make my appointment for me, saying, “Beth, this is who I would go to if I were in exactly your same situation.”

Before Keith and I knew it, we were walking through the glass doors of M.D. Anderson’s department of gynecological oncology. (The name of the facility might mean little to you but it speaks scary volumes to anyone familiar with our great medical center.) To say it was sobering for this couple of 31 years is an understatement. You know I’m drawn like a magnet to women, though. In no time at all, I got distracted by the others. I stared at every woman in that waiting room, wondering about her story and wishing I could say something to minister to her. I texted my staff to pray for them. Of course, right about then, I was in their same exact shoes and I don’t doubt some of them were having similar thoughts toward Keith and me.

Finally, my name was called and I got my vitals taken and they needed to make sure I wasn’t pregnant. Lord have mercy. Talk about a scary diagnosis! For just a few seconds it wildly amused me then I got taken to the examining room and left all alone with my thoughts for a while. There I was, on the examining table under a paper sheet and my Scripture spiral. I was shocked by the sight of my new doctor. She was, or at least she looked, slightly under 40, had long brown hair, sparkling blue eyes, and darling. Keith quipped later, “Your surgeon is ten.” We both laughed. “Our surgeon is one of the best in the entire medical center,” I said. “Even if she’s ten.”

While on that examining table, I said, “I feel like all of this is going to be perfectly fine. I think God’s just forcing me to have a much needed ______________________(I still can’t say the word in mixed company. It starts with an “H” and rhymes a tad with tonsillectomy). I’m not looking for trouble here. I’ve got enough drama in my life without this. I’m sure this will be fine. Don’t you think?”

She very graciously replied, “I’ll tell you what I think. I think I’d like for you to get dressed and meet me in my office and let’s talk.”

WHOA.

That was really the first moment I thought something really might be up. I did as she said and sat right at that table in her office with the plastic model of women’s organs on it and a box of Kleenex.

WOW.

And I thought of all of you. Of so many women who have taken those exact steps. Who have also waited at a doctor’s table with a box of Kleenex on it.

A nurse stuck her head in and asked if I wanted her to call in my husband. I am so embarrassed to tell you that I didn’t. From the look of the plastic model on the table, clearly we were about to talk about unmentionables and I am really modest…and, yes, in front of my husband. What if they ended up asking me if I was having anything that felt like gas pain? I’d be forced to say, “NO! NEVER! NEVER IN MY ENTIRE LIFE! NOT ONCE.”

About 20 minutes later, she and her resident sat down at the table where I’d just been sitting quietly before the Lord and reading every single thing in eyeshot in her office. (I have a terrible habit of doing that. If it’s out in plain sight, it’s game. I can’t even help myself. I’m a rabid reader. And let’s not talk about nosey.) She went through four possible outcomes for me, drawing diagrams with a blue ink pen as she went.

At one point, she put her elbow on the table, leaned across at me, and said, “Mrs. Moore, I think we’re going to come away from this with a good outcome but I will also tell you that you need to be here and you are in the right place.” She told me I’d have to have a complete you-know-what then explained, “While you are under anesthesia, I will literally send each piece of tissue off to pathology and wait on results then proceed accordingly.”

And that’s what we did. On December 7th Keith and Amanda checked me into the world renown M.D. Anderson Cancer Hospital for surgery with an oncology team toward a “Possible Staging for Ovarian Cancer.” While I was on the table, they ran into a few complications and had to call another surgeon in on it to check another part of the body (and if you think I’m going to name it, you are out of your ever-loving mind.) Over the course of the next several hours, one by one, the pathology reports came back benign. There is no possible way I can express my gratitude to God for His purposed will for this time, although He would have been (LISTEN TO THIS CAREFULLY!) just as faithful and just as loving and good if I would have turned out with Stage 4. That could as easily happen the next go-round as it happened to some of you dear Siestas the last go-round. I’m not saying that to make you feel better. It is what I believe to the core of my soul.

I’m 52 years old and called to a life of women’s ministry. God has gone to many lengths to allow and appoint me to experiences common to women. I endured the same kind of troubled childhoods as many of you. I’ve been abused, oppressed, and scared to death. I attended three different high schools and battled the same kinds of adolescent ups and downs as most of you. I’ve been a help and a hypocrite. Smart and almost too stupid to live. I got news just weeks away from marriage that I would not be able to conceive children without medical intervention. I had to tell my Catholic husband-to-be that I might not be able to have children. Then, I experienced what it was like to have a big surprise pregnancy one month into marriage. Then crawl aboard the roller coaster of a lifetime.

I know what it’s like to have severe marital problems and to sink into defeat and despair. I know what it’s like to be told after a terrible ordeal years ago that I was suffering from depression and to be under a doctor’s care for it for a year. (No, I will not get into matters of medication versus no-medication here on the blog. After serious prayer, those conversations should be had with the experts and the course each should take is based on her own unique conditions.) I know what it’s like to have a troubled child and to be on speed dial with the school. I know what it’s like to let a child go. To feel like a total failure. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. God has called me, and so many others in women’s ministry, to experience a broad spectrum of women’s issues so I can grow more equipped to do His will toward those I serve. And it is my privilege.

I had the honor of being in M.D. Anderson Cancer Hospital from Monday to Thursday of that wild week and to meet some of the most honorable people I’ve ever encountered. Those nurses up on that floor feel

called

to be there in every sense of the word. I couldn’t tell how many of them were Christians since they hold their cards pretty tight and take care of all their patients as if each is the most important one, regardless of belief system. I can tell you, however, that whether or not they believed in Christ, they were His hands. Many of us can’t imagine facing people day in and day out suffering from various stages of cancer yet these nurses testified to being “drawn” to it. They were there because they wanted to be there. As far as I know, I was the only one on our entire wing of the floor with a completely benign report. When my veins collapsed, someone was summoned from the “IV team” of the hospital and the first thing she did when she came in my room was look among the bags hanging from the rod for what kind of chemo I was on. “I’m not on one,” I said.

I began to realize at that time just how unusual my situation was, in that particular hospital or, at the very least, on that floor. I knew – and I know – that God caused me to visit that hospital for specific reasons. It may take me months to discover all of them. This I know: I am not the same. We have been scared, sobered, and shaken out of slumber. I have prayed and cried and interceded for the others multiple times and lifted every doctor’s name and every nurse’s name before the Lord over and over. You will grin to know that, right before I left, I took my spiral index cards from our Scripture memory team and prayed my verses silently outside each room on my wing.

When I went back for my first check up yesterday (still can’t drive, have to ask someone to do something for me constantly!), I went down to the chapel to see if I could speak to the chaplain. I didn’t find her but I did kneel at that altar and pray for the others. And for that hospital. To see it, not as a place for cancer but, as a place of healing. And only God can truly heal. Needless to say, it is a secular institution and everyone is treated with dignity and the best of medical care but God went out of His way to show me that Christ was right there, walking up and down those halls. Several really wild things happened to me as reminders. One was at pre-op on Friday when my blood was taken in a tiny little cubicle with a dentist-type chair in it and a thin shower curtain pulled around it. Right before me on the wall was a simple piece of printer paper taped to the wall with the most powerful prayer for healing in Jesus’ Name I’ve about ever seen in my entire life. I was so astonished, I didn’t know what to do. I tried to talk to the technician about it but she remained silent. Maybe she wasn’t the one who posted it. Or maybe she was, but protocol insisted upon nothing more than that. I have no idea but it was huge to me. Gratitude and hope filled my heart. I knew Christ was there and I knew He loved every person in that facility whether they regarded Him or not.

(That was the morning of Deeper Still in OKC. By the way, you guys had NO IDEA what you were really praying healing over me for on Saturday afternoon. It was for much more than my herniated disk! I was stunned at the way God orchestrated that and I assure you that the moment wasn’t wasted on me).

I could go on and on with this – and have for too long already – but I’ll wrap up with one last thing. After such a great report, Amanda and Keith could not wait to come in and see their healthy patient. They waited for hours after surgery to finally come in and see me and, by the time they got there, I’d been out for five hours. Instead of finding Miss Perky, I was as sick as a dog. I cannot remember ever feeling as badly as I did the first forty-eight hours after surgery. I just had a bad reaction to the general, I suppose. I was so nauseated, I could not lift my head but my system was too empty for any kind of relief. Amanda said it looked like I’d been resuscitated from the dead about five minutes earlier. Anyway, by the time I really began to wake up and have clear thoughts, still sick as a dog, a nurse walked into my hospital room and over to the dry erase marker board across from my bed. She grabbed one of the markers and said, “These are your nurses for today.” And, to Amanda’s and my complete astonishment, this is what she wrote on the board:

Nurse: Grace

Nurse’s assistant: Mercy

At that moment, I knew I wasn’t just there to meet with an oncologist. I was there to meet with God.

Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need. Hebrews 4:16

He’s too much, isn’t He?

Could you use a little comic relief? See all those numbers below the nurses’ names? Those are calculations of my “output.” This is a tad uncomfortable for someone so modest to capitalize on but, in my family, we’re willing to throw ourselves and each other under the bus any old day if it gets a laugh. Leave it to my man to get totally into the numbers. NO, I did NOT let him ever empty the measuring bowl in the tiny bathroom but, much to my embarrassment, had to report it each time so it could be recorded. Keith loved it. You can obvious see that I really had to go the first time and he was so proud of me. What you can’t see on the marker board is his running commentary from then on. He wrote stuff like, “Two measly ounces,” and “Way to go!” and…well, I better stop there. I’ve told you before that he’s the colorful type. Amid throwing up, Amanda, Keith and I had some really funny moments when I nearly laughed my stitches out. Maybe another post. Or MAYBE you’ve just about had it with this one!

OK, I’m finishing up! I’ll shut up after this summation. In the aftermath of our ordeal, people have asked me over and over again how I felt it would come out and I told them what I’ll tell you: I just did not know. One day I’d think my daily Bible reading indicated that I would be spared from a malignancy. The next day I’d think I only had two weeks to live. I quit trying to read Scripture like a crystal ball and, instead, just entrusted myself to God for His perfect will and felt peace either way. I have said to Him over and over in matters concerning my loved ones, “Deliver us from everything but Your glory, Lord.” That’s what I asked this time, too. “Deliver us from evil, Lord, and from temptation but do not deliver us from Your prized glory.”

I have walked with God long enough to know that it may have been as much His will for me to enter into a road of common suffering as to come out of that surgery without cancer. He would choose whatever brought Him the most glory and me and those around me the most good. My family went through so much during the several months leading up to surgery. No matter how you slice it, it was scary. You don’t get handed over to an oncologist and take it lightly even if the doctor tells you that she really does think it will turn out okay. These are sobering matters.

We are the better for this. Easy for us to say, you might be thinking. I won’t be going to chemo next week. But I promise you this: I would if I’d had to and, Lord help me, with my Bible in tow. I won’t just lapse into business as usual. I will not let this experience be wasted on me. And, if, on some future date, my news is very different, so many of you will have been my inspiration.

I love you dearly and thank you for caring.

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Amanda’s Top Ten for the Week

1) We’ve been working with Jackson on staying in his seat while he eats instead of getting up and down incessantly. This has involved teaching him to say “May I be excused from the table?” when he’s finished eating. Somehow this question got twisted in his sweet little mind and it came out as, “May I be burped?” After several days of this and many laughs, we finally realized that he’s confusing this with saying “excuse me” after he burps.

2) Annabeth pulled up for the first time on Monday.

She also climbed a few stairs last night. (This wasn’t the moment, but now you can picture it.)

3) I finished my Christmas shopping with no in-mall meltdowns from the children…or myself.

Speaking of meltdowns, I tried taking a Big Pink Bear picture with Annabeth this week and she had a big one. She almost threw herself off the chair twice.

So we moved into the crib for a side-by-side picture.

4) Jackson was in his first school performance. He was so cute on stage! He seemed a little overwhelmed by the audience and distracted by the large screens, but eventually he sang the songs and and did the motions. This picture is terrible, but he’s on the right side in the gray sweater with red stripes. I’m happy to tell you there was no nasal passage exploration.

Annabeth clapped through every song.

5) I bought Annabeth’s “Baby’s First Christmas Ornament” and we added several new Jackson-made ornaments to our tree.

6) Jackson and I baked and decorated gingerbread men.

I gave one to Annabeth, who is very lucky to be the second born child.

I obviously share my mother’s talent for decorating with icing.

Remember her HBA (Happy Birthday Amanda) cake?

7) Last night we went to my mom’s house to eat with her and help decorate the tree. While Curtis and I were searching the attic for the stockings, I found a trunk of old stuffed animals. One of them was My Pet Monster. Anyone remember those? I brought it down for Jackson and he thought it was the coolest thing ever.

8) Jackson watched Mary Poppins for the first time. I noticed that Mary didn’t look very old anymore. Upon researching it, I discovered that I am now one year older than Julie Andrews was in the movie.

9) Annabeth finally got a second tooth.

10) Jackson got to help Bibby decorate her Christmas tree. This was his first time to get to help, so it was very special.

He handled the ornaments very gently and told a story with each one. For instance, these were “last year’s birthday grapes.” Hmmmmmm….

That’s all for now! Have a great weekend, Siestas!

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Siesta Scripture Memory Team: Verse 24!

Good morning, Siestas! It’s Amanda checking in to do your very last Scripture memory post – number 24!

Our very dear friend Mary Ann Bridgwater called me a few days before the surgery to ask about my mom’s favorite Bible verse. She said she wanted to have the verse put into a frame so that we could set it at her bedside in the hospital. Mom’s favorite verse is Psalm 27:4.

Look at what she had made. Isn’t that gorgeous?

It brought me a lot of comfort during some of our intense moments.

If you’re checking in this morning without a specific verse on your heart to memorize, I invite you to do this one with me.

One thing I ask of the LORD,
this is what I seek:
that I may dwell in the house of the LORD
all the days of my life,
to gaze upon the beauty of the LORD
and to seek him in his temple.
Psalm 27:4

Congratulations on completing 24 memory verses in one year. Way to go, Siestas! You made it to the end.

By the way, Jackson is in his very first musical program tonight. It’s highly possible that I could have some good stories for you tomorrow. Enjoy your Tuesday!

ADDED NOTE FROM BETH: Siestas, I AM SO STINKING PROUD OF YOU I DON’T KNOW WHAT TO DO! This has been one of the most exhilarating, soul-building projects we’ve ever done on this blog. COME TO HOUSTON TO CELEBRATE in January! The week after the event we are going to work on a special download of the gathering just for those of you who completed your requirements but were unable to attend. We are so proud of all of you. May God blow your mind with the power of His Word. Feel His pleasure, Sweet Things. He highly esteems what you’ve just accomplished. Amanda, my Darling, thank you for coming through for me on this final post of 24. I had just about enough energy to write this brief hello. I am joining you on this verse. It’s the perfect way to wrap up what we’ve been doing for a year.

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The Simple Things

My dearest Siestas, how are you? I have missed you! Before you go and get too overprotective, yes, I am resting and, no, I am not overdoing it. I don’t have any choice. Except to come home from the hospital, I have not been out of a gown in 6 days nor even so much as walked to the mailbox. Our family has been through quite a journey over the last couple of months, intensifying greatly toward the time of surgery and its results. I have so much to tell you – and so many funny things to tell you – when I am a little stronger. For now, please know that I have been so grateful for your prayers and have felt them! I am doing as well as I possibly could be, thank You, my gracious Abba. Sore. Still dealing with significant nausea, which you might pray about since I need to get back to my normal weight. But don’t go praying twenty five extra pounds on me. I know the power of Siesta prayer! My prognosis is great and I am told I will feel like a new person in several months.

More than anything, for me, this season is about getting in some solitary confinement with my faithful, determined God. I have longed to be out of the whirlwind to hear Him in the softest silence again and will relish every single second of this quietness. When I was too nauseated to write or read after surgery, I just whispered to Him from my bed and let the tears of tenderness wash the pillowcase. I am now able to read again, which is not only my work. It is also my hobby. I have a brand new novel and a brand new Bible study by an author I deeply esteem and I am slowly breaking into both. I will have much of this week to myself with Him and I will savor every second of it. As God alone could have it, my man had a tremendously important work project away from home this coming week and I insisted on him fulfilling it. He’d worked too hard if I didn’t absolutely have to have him here. I was recovering well and in great hands with both my dear (and blood) sisters for the weekend and now I am now back in the hands of my beloved firstborn.

Amanda has been Melissa’s and my hero through this whole ordeal. I don’t have to tell you that we three girls are thick as thieves. We carefully weighed out what Melissa should do regarding my surgery and recovery and, despite her sobs and uncertainties, I was adamant she stay in Atlanta unless we got some kind of bad news. At that point, she – and my sweet Colin – would have boarded a plane immediately. She is in the final week of her Fall semester for her seminary degree and it would have thrown a grenade smack in the middle of months of hard work. She’d paid too high a price for it to go up in smoke and those are my sentiments rather than hers.

Amanda has been incredible. I have no words for her. Her strength and tenacity have left us slack jawed. Amanda’s always been able to hold her own in a strong-willed family but she’s done more than hold her own these last 7 days. She’s hardly left my side and, because I had a bad reaction to the general anesthesia (never have before!), she had her hands full. Try not to think too much about that. How she has balanced all this with her young family is a testimony of God’s grace and the love Curtis Wayne Jones has for his mother-in-law. I am so grateful to them all.

But those are really not the reasons I’m writing you today. We are a very open family and share our feelings freely with one another so I don’t need a blog to tell Keith, Amanda, Curtis, Melissa and Colin how much I love and appreciate them. I do that face to face. I’m writing to you because of a very simple thing God has done for me for Christmas. When Keith pulled out of the driveway with a heavy heart several days ago, he summoned our two fine college-age nephews, Ben and Joe Meadows, to drive to Houston from College Station and go pick out their Aunt Beth the best Christmas tree possible and set it up in my den. The boys love Keith so much, despite the interminably hard time he gives them, that they simply call him by the endearment, “Uncle.” Well, let me be more honest here. “Skunkle” is what they really call him. They and my father-in-law (my dad, in every sense of the word) set out for the most terrific tree an old home with low ceilings can sport.

The plan was to also get down the Christmas decorations from the attic and hang them for me but I was still too weak at that time to even tell them what kind of containers to look for. “Are you sure, Aunt Beth? We can do it! He’ll have our heads if we don’t!”

“I’m sure. You let your Aunt Beth handle your Uncle Keith.”

After they left, I walked in the kitchen to fix myself some hot peppermint tea and saw a gift wrapped in Christmas tissue sitting on the end of the counter. I remembered, then, that Amanda mentioned having brought something home from church for me the previous Sunday. It was “To Beth, Merry Christmas! Love, Sherry.” That’s one of my best buddies, Sherry Webster. She and her husband Greg are two of our closest friends. They also have young adult children and grandchildren and share our love for God and rough Texas terrain. (Yes, we have normal best friends and relationships. Couldn’t live without them.) I took off the tissue and it was one of the most beautiful Christmas ornaments I’d ever seen. A crimson and pearl Cross hanging from a ribbon. I walked straight to the tree and hung the single ornament.

No lights on it.

No tinsel.

No angel perched at the top.

Just one crimson Cross right in the middle of the tree.

God has me home for the holidays for healing. For restoration. For a fresh return to the simple things. I’ve spent the entire year balancing the beauty and complexities of women’s insecurities and the Book of Revelation. How’s that for some whiplash? And I have loved every second of it. God is not miffed at me for working hard. He is the One who called me to the harvest field just as He called you. He just wants me to rediscover Sabbath rest amid the work and He’s chosen to begin with a crash course. I am gradually taking the ribbon off the gift of simplicity that God is giving me for Christmas this year. I plan to unwrap it slowly and deliberately. 2010 will start soon enough and I’ll pack a suitcase and be on another plane. But not the same. If I am, I will have missed something huge. Something vital. Something life-changing between Jesus and me. And I do not plan to miss it for this world. It’s why He has me here.

We are not getting lots of presents this year at the Moores. You have no idea how rare that is. Keith Moore believes in a big Christmas and that even a pair of earrings is wrapped separately from the matching necklace and socks are never to be in the same box as shirts. He believes in lots of gifts to open on Christmas morning even if many of them are under five bucks. Not this year. I never had time to shop before I was laid flat on my back. And that’s okay.

Because this is a year to return to the simplest truths like John 3:16. Take it slowly now and in the version from which you first learned it.

For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him will not perish but have everlasting life.

A Christmas Tree means nothing if not for the Cross. The Joneses were supposed to decorate my tree for me today…but I’m not quite ready. I think I’ll keep it just like this for a while. We’ll eat a little something instead.

I pray simple things over you this season, my dear Siestas. Couldn’t we all use a moment’s Sabbath?

I will look forward to being in touch with you every couple of days that I’m up to it. I won’t go back to work at LPM until 2010 nor will I work here at home but this sweet communication we have here in Siestaville, on days like this, is not really work for me. Words are the way I process things. On the days that it’s too much, I promise I won’t get on line. If I’m on here, it will strictly be because I want to be. Thank you for caring. I care so much for you, too.

I love you, Sweet Things.

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Recovering from Surgery

Sometimes when the blog is quiet we start getting comments and emails asking if everything is okay. Usually we’ve just been quiet because life is happening and we haven’t had a chance to write. This week has been a little different.

Let me say right up front that my mom is totally fine. We are praising God for that.

About six weeks ago it became apparent that Mom was headed for surgery. (I’m going to keep the details minimal at this time for her privacy.) Those six weeks were quite a journey for our family. Mom is a very strong woman and she lives life at a pace that makes my head spin. Seeing her physically weakened for the last six weeks by this health issue as well as by the back problems she’s been having (the two are unrelated) has rocked me. It has definitely been an emotionally and spiritually challenging time.

Mom was admitted to the hospital for surgery early Monday morning. I was there with my dad, another couple who are my parents’ closest friends, and two of my LPM sisters. Melissa, Colin and Curtis were in constant contact with us. Her surgery began at 8:30. We all sat in a waiting room and waited for news from the doctors on how she was doing. After several hours we finally got word that the surgery had gone well. There had been one complication that would require more time in the hospital than they’d originally thought, but otherwise she did beautifully.

Our friends went back to work and dad and I waited hours and hours and hours to finally be able to see Mom. When they finally let us into her room, Mom was in rough shape. She was having a reaction to either the anesthesia or the pain medicine and she was terribly nauseated. I’ve never seen anyone in my immediate family that sick in my life. Dad and I were shocked.

It was a very long first night in the hospital. We had hoped mom would wake up in better shape, but whatever was making her sick took a long time to leave her system. We had another long day battling nausea. By the next night, and especially by Wednesday morning, Mom was doing better.

She was very eager to eat something. Bless her heart, she hadn’t eaten anything since Sunday at lunch and it was now Wednesday! She was allowed to try a liquid diet at first, then late in the afternoon she got to eat a baked potato. You would have thought she was eating the finest cuisine in all of Houston by the way her face lit up while she ate that little baked potato. It had nothing on it but salt and a tiny bit of butter.

That night we had some setbacks when the veins holding her IV’s began collapsing. A specialist had to come in and help her out. We’d had a relatively great day and were hoping that she could go home on Thursday morning, so this setback was very discouraging. Some other weird issues happened simultaneously and we started wondering if a spiritual battle was taking place in our room. I started praying outloud, mom called on our LPM Village to pray, and we turned on worship music in our room. At that point I had no shame. If I made everyone think we were weirder than they originally thought, I did not care one bit! The Lord did bring us peace. Everything that had gone wrong was brought back under control.

The next morning Mom woke up with nausea again, but thankfully it was not so bad that it hindered her release from the hospital. The doctor came in at 5:30 a.m. and gave us the great news that she was going home! God bless doctors and their families for the crazy hours they have to work. We were in the car and heading home by 11:00 a.m. Praise His name!

After three nights in the hospital with mom, I was barely fit to drive the car, but we made it home. I’m sure I had an angel holding my eyelids open. My Aunt Sandra arrived soon after to stay at my parents’ house and help Mom recover. At that point I went home to my babies and to my amazing husband who had been holding down the fort.

Annabeth was so sweet when I got her up from her nap that afternoon. She smiled so big and held onto me tightly when I walked her downstairs. It hadn’t been very long since I’d seen her, but she already seemed bigger and her hair looked longer. Jackson played it cool with me until this morning. I woke up to his sweet little self giggling and climbing into my bed. He pulled the covers over him and snuggled up to me. I said, “Jacks, are you glad your mommy is here this morning?” He said, “Yeah.” And that was that. He’s such a little man.

I’m really attached to my mom right now and couldn’t bear to stay away long. Annabeth and I took a few groceries over to her house this morning. It made her happy to see the baby for a few minutes, and vice versa. Mom’s very tired and still having some pain and slight nausea, but she’s on the mend. She’s forbidden to turn on her computer for the next week and she’s keeping her ringer off. Our LPM sisters are taking care of meals, which is a great blessing. There was a huge bowl of banana pudding in her fridge and I immediately recognized it as Kimberly Meyer’s. Kimberly’s banana pudding is famous around these parts. Let’s just say it’s a ministry in itself.

For those of you who attended the Deeper Still event in Oklahoma City, I want you to know how much it meant to my mom that you all prayed for her health. During the question and answer segment someone asked what Kay, Priscilla and Beth wanted for Christmas. My mom said she’d been dealing with back pain and would love to wake up on Christmas morning and realize the pain is gone. Kay and Priscilla suggested they stop right then and pray for her. None of you knew that my mom would fly home from that event and immediately have surgery, but Mom was greatly encouraged to have your prayers for her healing. She trusted that God knew what else she needed them for.

I “randomly” heard from a number of my friends over the last six weeks who had no idea what was going on. (We’d kept this very quiet.) They simply said they were thinking about our family and praying for us. I love how our Father works. It’s such a reminder that when we can’t get someone off our minds, we should pray for them!

I’m sure Bethie will want to write or talk about this in the future, but she asked me to go ahead and let you all know what was going on. The thought of writing in complete sentences is currently overwhelming to her.

Finally, if any of the amazing nurses and doctors who ministered to us happen to be reading this right now, I’d like to say thank you. Thank you, thank you, thank you. We were blown away by your compassion, kindness and excellence. God bless each one of you.

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Deeper Still – Oklahoma City

DeeperStill Oklahoma City from Rich Kalonick on Vimeo.

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