Saturday, January 21, 2012

Loss of a True Friend

The last few weeks have been very difficult. We lost one of our little friends, James Arkenau. He was 17 years old, in my two sons' band and also part of our family.

I've known James since he was 11. He and his family came to our church the same year that we started. He wanted to be on my praise and worship band for the jr. high kids. The band was called Stepping Stone and James was my first guitarist. He was so shy but not with me. He became one of my little buddies. James would come to our home, spend the night with my boys and my son Ryan also was one of his guitar teachers. Many times, I would go to James' school, pick him up and take him to practice with me at church on Wednesdays. He and I would talk and I felt like his big sister. Throughout the years, he became a big part of our family and I even named one of my puppies after James. We call him Sea'mus which is Irish (gaelic) for James.

My boys are in a band called 'Foreverisforever' a long with their friend Josh. James wanted to be in the band and although he was only 15 when he joined, he quickly became the lead guitarist and played beautifully. He would jump off the speakers and was a true performer. Everyone loved to see James' hair because he always had a different look.

James was an encourager. He touched thousands of lives with his message of hope through his belief in Jesus. He helped so many kids, one of them a friend of his in another state. I introduced them when they were 12 at our missions trip called JAM in Philadelphia. He kept in contact with Bethany and to this day, they remained tight friends. James touched lives in his school, church, in the outside world and on stage. At 16 years old, he got to perform at one of Washington DC's top nightclubs, the 9:30 Club along side my sons Ryan, Landon and our friend Josh. James had style and class and love for his Savior, Jesus.

Through his new life

now in Heaven, James has brought people to the Lord. By his love, encouragement and strength of character, James will never be forgotten. He left a legacy that is hard to live up to. If only we can all be like James and show love and compassion for everyone! James was true to that life.

Heaven just gained a wonderful spirit when James entered and now he's with Jesus. I'm sure he is happy and peaceful.

James Arkenau will remain in our hearts forever.....

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Judgmental Attitudes go Away!

A new year, a new outlook on life. People of every nationality, religion and background come together to focus on a new start. The beginning of a freshness that only each individual can feel in their heart. How can I start over? How can this be better this time around?

Being that I'm a Christian, means, I'm a Christ Follower. I'm in love with my Lord Jesus who died for me. It's not a religion, it's in my heart, my soul...

I love everyone. It hurts my heart if I know they don't know Jesus. Maybe it was a misunderstanding in their lives; maybe it was a judgmental glance that they received when they were young? It could of been a rejection that took place in church and can't be forgotten. I just wish that people knew that it's not Jesus who judges, it's humans. Legalism can destroy a person's soul.

Sometimes when people act 'holier than thou', they take what they think is right and correct it in their own lives,then try and force it on someone else. Someone who is a Christian may have been convicted of something and decide they don't want to do that anymore which is a wonderful change but it can only be from God. Non Christians can also want to change their lives. Everyone's decisions, their lives and the outcome of their circumstances is between them and God if they choose to want Him in their life.

My friends are from every walk of life. Some are Christians; some have fallen away from that path; some have never known that. I love them and try not to ever judge them for the life they've chosen.

For me, I just know that God sent Jesus, His son, to come to earth as a little baby, then grow up and be persecuted and killed. He was different and unique. People didn't understand Him. Just like some of us who feel like others don't understand us and our lives. He died for me and my sins. Sins are something we all have. None of us can flee from it's destruction. The only way to be forgiven is through Jesus. We can't earn it by being 'good' or working hard or anything else. It's a free gift. John 3:16

I won't judge my friends that don't know Jesus. I won't persecute them. I will only pray for them when I'm alone with God and when I'm with them, I'll let them know that I love them. Showing Christ's love is the best thing anyone can do.

If only all of us had the attitude to 'love our neighbor as ourselves' Mark 12:31, then life would be much easier. Maybe everyone would stop judging and just start loving.

My prayer for 2012 is for the ones who don't know God, to seek Him. For the ones who are lost, to look to Him. It may not happen to all of the ones out there, but it's their choice. God gave us free will. He knows the outcome of what we choose.

I just wish love went all the way around the globe and end it's course by residing in Heaven throughout eternity.

Monday, November 28, 2011

CJ's Journey Back from the Brink of Death

Recently, I almost lost my 3 pound Chihauhau, CJ. She became ill very quickly with vomiting and not eating or drinking. Being that she is only 3 lbs., her electrolytes got out of whack and her kidneys were starting to fail. It happened in the blink of an eye. I took her to the animal hospital where they were more concerned about the cost of everything and gave me a list of how much everything would cost. It left me very depressed and disappointed. I know they need their money but there has to be a better way to handle the exuberant amount of money it costs for a pet to be saved. We had to give them our mortgage money and hope for the best. They finally started treating her after we signed the paper that said we would pay. Then they told us that we had to choose a very expensive test that would determine if she had a disease that would cure her (if she even had it) or for her to be treated with IV fluids. I chose the IV fluids which after I looked up the disease online, that was the first recourse to her possibly getting better. After the doctor gave me a look like I was stupid for choosing the fluids, she then got help. If they are animal lovers like they claim to be, they should of helped her right away. But, it's not like a human hospital, although I have a friend that has to wait for an operation because she doesn't have health insurance, so that also happens in the human world.

CJ stayed overnight in the animal hospital with IV's and water bottles all around her. They didn't think she would make it, so I came in to see her and spend time with her. They did allow me to go in the back and lean into the cage to talk to her and see her. I stayed for about an hour petting her and telling CJ how much I loved her. I prayed over my little innocent dog. I believe God gives us these animals for our enjoyment but also to take care of them. God did give Adam the job of naming the animals in the Garden of Eden, so I know they're an important part of our lives. I went home that night crying and praying, hoping that she would live. The next day, I was told that she was no better and I may need to think about euthanizing her. I was devastated and depressed. My husband went to teach Sunday school to the youth at church and I visited her one last time, thinking the worse. The vet called and asked what we wanted to do because our money was running out on treatments for her. She said I needed to make a decision. I told her that I would come back and see her again and needed to think about what to do. I asked her to try one last ditch effort to save her. We had $200 left on our cap at the animal hospital. So, I said to give her a steroid and see if it would turn her around. The vet said it could help her but it could also kill her. What have we got to lose? They gave her the steroid but then called 2 hours later and said she hadn't changed at all. So, I came back to visit her and say my goodbyes. When I walked in, the vet said she had eaten some food and even sat up! I was so happy and shocked. My husband and I picked her up at 9:00 pm that night against the vet's wishes, but our money was running out. What else were we suppose to do? I nursed CJ all night with putting pedialyte in a syringe and feeding it to her. I held her and prayed over her. I asked God to save my little dog. She had done so much for me during my surgery recovery and even laid in the bed with me everyday for 2 months! She helped my friend Stacey when she had surgery lying with her and keeping her warm. Chihauhaus feel like little heating pads when they lay with you. She had done so much and now my little pet who had been three pounds was only 2 pounds. Being that she was 5 years old, she had more years left in her and more lives to touch.

By morning, CJ was still alive. She had kept putting her paws on my shoulder all night long and looking at me. She knew how much I was fighting for her. I took her into my personal vet and I told them please help her. I ran out of money for her care at the animal hospital and I would do anything from working off the money for them or just paying it off a little at a time. They cared so much and helped her right away. Money was of no concern. They looked at her bloodtest results that had been faxed in. Everything was off the charts and indicative of organ failure. My vet said unfortunately, if everything is too far gone, she would probably have to be put down. I prayed so hard in the office and asked God to make all her numbers perfect and change things around. When the vet came back in, she said, she didn't even understand it and how her numbers had turned that quickly but everything was perfect!! She said it was remarkable and I said it was a miracle! She agreed. So they continued to treat CJ with antibiotics and with fluids. My other dogs all got sick as well. They ended up back in the vets about 3 more times after CJ getting IV fluids and treatments. I'm not sure exactly what happened. I do know the only thing that I had changed was our dog food. My chihauhaus all got sick, all four of them! They're small dogs, so they're more sensitive to things. Our puppy, who is a lab/shepherd mix, never got sick and she ate the same food as the chihauhaus.

Since this has happened in our lives, I've become more sensitive to their dietary needs. I make my own dog food with chicken and rice and blend it in the blender with a little low sodium chicken broth. They also eat plain natural yogurt and small curd cottage cheese. These provide the fluids they may need in case of dehydration. They are off the pedialyte now and they all take 1/4 tablet of pepcid in the morning and evening. I put it in a syringe with a little water, dissolve it and put it into their mouths. Our vet said this will help with stomach upset. Chihauhaus are more sensitive dogs. I guess because of their size. They can't have a lot of foods that bigger dogs can have. I do have small kibble for them as well but now have just read that this brand has been recalled in certain parts of the country, then they resinded their recall. It's hard to know what to believe. I'll still be in search for the perfect diet for my dogs.

A lot of foods get recalled even the better types of dog foods. There is a site that explains the latest recalls on food and snacks for dogs as well as cats. I'm more in tune to all of this information and won't take anything for granted again. I almost lost my little dog and don't want to go through that experience ever! I know they're not humans but they are innocent little animals who need humans for their survival. I am thankful to God for saving my pet!

Picture above is my precious mom holding three of my sweet dogs! Wagner, CJ and Sea'mus.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Worship is not just about singing.....

I've been doing worship since I was a little girl singing in the  balcony with the other choir kids. I never exactly knew the meaning behind worship until I was grown but I knew I was singing about someone that I loved deeply.

Now that I'm an adult and am the worship leader for our jr. high youth group, I've learned it's not just about singing to Jesus, it's in our everyday life that we continue to worship Him. It's about the light that shines through us to show others how much we care.  God gave His son to pay our price for our sins. "For God so loved the world that He sent His only son, that whoever believes in Him will not perish but have everlasting life." John 3:16 Those words aren't to be taken lightly. They are the truth and I feel in my heart that I need to represent Jesus as a disciple and continue on the path to worship Him.

It's easy to get caught up in our own little lives and problems. We concentrate on how things could be better. It's much more than that. It's a care so deeply about our God that surpasses all other problems. The love that helps a friend when they're sad or uplifting a stranger when they're confused.

I arrived a little late to my worship practice with the youth kids at church. Some of the dads and one of the pastors were waiting outside talking to one another and as I drove up, I felt kind of bad like I was in trouble. Although I had made plans for one of the children's parents to stay with them until I could get there,everyone was waiting for me. It turned out to be a blessing though. Not only did I see that the kids needed me as they yelled my name and said they were glad I was there, but Jesus needed me. He needed me to help the kids and to do worship.

Not just about the singing, but showing the love of the Lord in every aspect of my life is what is my purpose. When one of the 6th grade boys felt like he couldn't do worship 'right', I told him that God loves that we try and that he was doing very well and to not be discouraged. "Shout to the LORD, all the earth; break out in praise and sing for joy!" Psalm 98:4 Make a joyful noise unto the Lord doesn't mean to make a perfect noise unto the Lord. In God's eyes, it is just right for Him.

Encouraging one another is important for worshiping God. Showing the kindness and love of the Lord is what worship is all about. Sometimes, we need to step back and say, "It's not about me". It's all about living a godly life and presenting ourselves as a leader representing God and showing His light of the world.

So encourage each other and build each other up, just as you are already doing.1 Thessolonians 5:11. May I always show the Love of  the Lord during worship, which is all day, everyday.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Why Do I Feel This Way?

Spring is here, flowers are blooming, the rain is coming down seeping it's way into the ground. When this happens in April, we know it will bring abundant May flowers producing beauty in the world and signs of rebirth. With the lovely surroundings right outside my window and the warm weather coming my way, then why is it I feel the way I do?

I am usually the upbeat encourager, always trying to tell others to not give up hope and to keep going on. For some reason, now I need the encouraging. Maybe I need to read my Bible more and be constantly in God's word? I pray all the time and right now I just want to cry out to Jesus because that is where my help will come from.

Life is such a gift and it's so short for us on this earth. I want to look at life with a more positive view like I feel I use to do. I know these are the things I am striving to do, but I have no energy and right now I am feeling sad. My life has changed from before my surgery. No lifting, no jumping, running.... no doing anything to mess up the surgery for the rest of my life. Alot of the things I use to love to do are gone now, forever. I have to moderate my life from what it once was to become something new.

Having my surgery the end of  February, you would think I was better by now. I am halfway through my recuperation time according to my doctor. 100 days is what I heard and I have been through almost half of that. I'm embarrassed to say that I am still not up to the point where I thought I'd be and I feel discouraged. I can drive now, but I don't have the zest I use to have to go anywhere. Not even foods like pizza get me excited. Where did the allure of the smells of my favorite foods go to? Why can't I find that place in my heart where I feel the need to help others? Why can't I do the things I did once before? It's not that I don't want to help others, or have the taste for life. I just am having a hard time finding it right now. It feels like there is a big brick wall in front of me.

Someday I will be back to my old self. Then I I really want to be back to my old self or do I want a brand new self? Someone who has no selfishness and someone who doesn't get their feelings hurt. I want to be stronger and help people more. It would be awesome if when someone doesn't return an email, text or facebook message, that I wouldn't take it personally. Maybe that's part of my ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) that I was recently diagnosed with.

Those feelings go way back to a place where I wasn't allowed in the treehouse 'club' because I was singled out because of who I was. It goes back to a place where I felt like I didn't belong or fit in. It goes to a place where I saw someone who was made fun of and my heart broke for them. I am compassionate and now I have to learn to help myself  through this little tough time in my life.

My mom told me it would come. She went through her knee surgery and she said it was hard. There is not just the painful physical part but it's the mental recovery part. I saw the difficulty and I felt her pain and cried when I knew she was sad. My mom was so right. Now it's my turn. I am feeling much better physically than I was in the beginning. I'm still not back to what I thought I'd be by now. I am feeling what she said I may feel. When you feel alone in your pain, know you can't really do alot because of  your challenges with health and knowing it will take awhile longer to be better, that's a dark place to be in. I can't ask my family and friends for help. Only my relationship with God will get me through this process.

When someone gets pruned, it's a process. Like when branches of an old tree come tumbling down to the ground, you too feel the limbs being plucked from your life. You feel the numbness of the loss but then you know there will be new growth. Sometimes that will take time and other times, it goes by quickly. My personal challenges from my difficult surgery are part of my recovery to be a better person and maybe because of what I'm going through, I can help others. I then will be able to understand their pain.

Whatever our problems are in life, we will go through this time and make it out safely on the otherside of it.

John 15:1-8 

John 15

The Vine and the Branches
 1 “I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. 2 He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes[a] so that it will be even more fruitful. 3 You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. 4 Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me."    5 “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. 6 If you do not remain in me, you are like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. 7 If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. 8 This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples."

Monday, April 4, 2011

Recuperation Doesn't Come Easy

Recuperating from my surgery, I've realized it takes a very long time to get back to 'normal'. Whatever 'normal' is in my life? I don't know if I'll be able to resume activities that I once did. I'm not sure if I'll be able to ever get back into the complete swing of things. I know it will just take time.

If anyone has ever been in a 'recuperating' mode, you know that you want to do a lot, but you just can't. Philippians 4:6 says, "Do not be anxious about anything by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God." In our lives everyday, we have things that happen that we may not be expecting. Someone in your family could have health problems that won't get better; a child in your family may be bullied and teased constantly; a family may be losing their home; someone could be questioning their faith. There are moments in our existence that define our lives. What will we do with that? Will we persevere or will we give up? Joshua 1:9 says, "Have I not commanded you, do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the Lord, your God will be with you wherever you go."

I am feeling so much better than I was a month ago. Then, I couldn't go anywhere, do anything, barely managed everyday without pain. My husband has been my full-time nurse and he has done everything for me. He's cooked, cleaned, bathed me, taken wonderful care of me. I can't even explain it all. What a wonderful caregiver God has given me. John is the most amazing person and I appreciate everything he has done. Today, he had to go back to his work and I'm on my own. I still can't do anything like lift, clean, normal everyday duties. I know the Lord is with me and will guide me and I will not be afraid. Proverbs 3:5 says, 'Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding." This is so human standards, we think, "How can I do this? Will I be able to manage?" God will work it all out in his timing and it will be managed by Him. In every circumstance of our lives, when we feel that nothing is working for us, God is..."If God is for us, who can be against us?"

The recuperating will take longer. I will not be able to do regular things or I won't be able to completely heal. I am tempted to go clean and cook but that can't happen just yet. I want to go be a youth leader again and help the kids, but I can't do that now. I want to do so much, but I am not allowed to. I have to persevere, be patient and just take my time.

All of us are in the same boat in some respects. You may not be recuperating or sick, but you may have to wait for something that you've wanted for a long time. It could be a new job, house, neighborhood. It could be a relationship, friendship or just something small. Just keep trying and keep praying and never give up hope. Hope is what we have to strengthen our hearts, souls, spirits, minds and bodies. Without hope, we have nothing. "For God so loved the world, that He gave his one and only son, that whoever believes in Him, will not perish but have everlasting life." John 3:16

Monday, March 7, 2011

Timely Deliberation

Realizing this isn't how it will always be
In this vegetative state of play that goes on in my dreams
Casting out burdens isn't easy to do
Running forth on belief is the ultimate glue....
that holds me together, knowing the depths of my soul
Are guided by a savior, He is in control

Everything about me and all of my cares
Soothing my hurts and carressing my despair
Unattainable relief, just not at this time
Pain that is unmistaken for despair in one's mind

The images have become strengthened while I sit and wait
Have a grander effect on the time of the date...
of the promise of hope that lies in the bone
Of the one who is cherished, with you, never alone...
Written by KJM 2011