Monday, December 27, 2010

One Day at a Time

Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the LORD’s purpose that prevails.  Proverbs 19:21

I'm a planner.  I often plan my day, weeks, & the next month for things that need done or appointments to keep.  I think I'm flexible, but I've come to realize that I do prefer a planned day - even if the plan for the day is to do nothing.  The problem lately with my plans is that God has had other plans.

Friday, December 10th, Todd, Mattye & myself were on our way to Todd's company Christmas dinner.  Mom telephoned to say they were admitting her to the hospital due to extreme pain.  The thought to make a quick trip to Indiana over the weekend was surpressed by the blizzard like conditions predicted by the local weather & coming in the next day.  The blizzard blew in with a fury on Saturday. We received a tearful phone call on Sunday saying that I should probably try to get to Indiana.   Late Sunday afternoon, we were replacing tires on my car and preparing it for travel.  Laundry was completed & things were ready for me to leave Monday morning after taking Mattye to school.

I arrived in Lafayette, Indiana, Monday, December 13th, to find my mom no longer in pain, but so loaded on pain medications that I don't believe she recognized me.  The plan was to discharge her the next day to come home with Hospice Care.  Tuesday morning began with delivery of a hospital bed, my running errands for her husband, Rick, and eventually mom arriving home via ambulance shortly after lunch.  Then began a flurry of home nurse visits, nurse aid visits to bathe and provide personal care, social worker visits, and many gracious friends stopping by to bring food and love on mom and Rick.

Medications have been adjusted and mom now has a better awareness but is often easily confused.  It's hard to know if it is the cancer that is causing this, the continual medication, or a combination of both.  We have adjusted to the routine of a visiting nurse 3 times a week and an aid visiting the same days, but different times.  Monday, Wednesday, & Friday are big days for mom.  We rest when we can, turn off phones for quiet, & watch a lot of HGTV and Food Network!

Our plans for Christmas were changed, but we were still all together.  We cancelled Jessi's flight to Iowa & she came to stay with me at mom's as soon as she was done at Ball State for the semester on December 17th.  Todd rearranged his vacation time & took off the week of Christmas, one week earlier than planned.  Mattye's school was more than generous & allowed her to skip the finals before the Christmas break.  She will return and take them after the new year.  Todd and Mattye arrived on December 18th.  A bonus about being in Indiana allowed us to spend time with Jerod on Christmas.

For now, we enjoy the good days & endure the not so good days.  Mom was diagnosed with Stage 4 Breast Cancer in November 1991.  She has had traditional chemotheraphy, radiation, and has been a part of clinical trials.  She has no idea how many women's lives she will change from her fight.  A friend of mom's told me that my mom has been her hero as she has battled cancer too.  Other friends say what an inspiration she is to them.  To say she is a fighter is an understatement since she was given a prognosis of 2 years when diagnosed.  She has fought for 9 years.  We often never know how many people we change through our actions, words, and how we live.

As this week begins, Todd has returned to work in Iowa.  Jessi will be leaving today to head back to Muncie. Mattye & I are planning to return to Iowa at the end of the week.  I'm torn between staying to help & returning to maintain some sense of normal for our home.  I've struggled with this decision, but have peace in knowing that my visit has been a good one with mom & family.  I'll begin planing my next visit as soon as this one ends.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Count it all Joy

James 1:2-4  Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds,  because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.

I don't know about you, but I'm glad to have this past week behind me.  Since we've moved we've had car problems with both cars.  I picked up my car last week and paid once again for a repair.  We've spent $700 on vehicle repairs in less than a month.  Ouch!  We've driven through car dealerships looking at other cars, but that's a double ouch!  It's been a bad week financially.

Jerod has spent his first week here.  He has been working part-time and applying for full time jobs.  He's been very blessed to have had an interview already and another one set up for first thing Monday morning with prominent companies in decent paying jobs.  However, he doesn't want to be in Iowa.  It's been a hard week. 

I wasn't thinking I would apply for jobs until after the first of the year.  While looking for openings for Jerod, I was finding some jobs that was interesting to me.  So I have applied for about 7 to see what would happen.  In one day, I got 5 "dings".  3 jobs had been filled internally, 1 job I didn't qualify, and 1 place chose not to interview me - and that's what they told me.  That was all in one day.  It's been a hard week.

Todd traveled this past week for the first time since we arrived in Iowa.  Not having him accessible to talk was difficult.  I missed my sounding board and our laughter.  I did sleep really well though! :-)  With the rejection and tension, I needed him more this week than any other since we arrived.  It's been a hard week.

We attended some open houses this weekend. We toured a home that we thought we could live in.  Then I slept on it - tossing & turning all night.  Today I announced upon waking - "I'm done with that house."  We would have been compromising some features we were wanting in a new home and, more importantly, spending more money than we initially said we would spend.  Thank God for the trials of previous homeownership to allow us to have some clarity when deciding on a new home.

Church this morning was a reminder to pray for God's will to be done.  I think this week has been some selfish praying or no praying at times.  Small group this evening was confirmation that many of us had a bad week.  We were able to discuss freely that as believers, nothing can separate us from the love of God. We let situations and things get in our way of our love for a bad week.  Thank God for our new church & small group family.

Tonight I close prayfully - Lord, thank you for your wisdom.  May your will be done in our lives, in our friends new and old, and in our family.  May we all have a week of focusing on you and not our situations.  Count it all joy!

Monday, November 29, 2010

What's love got to do with it?

Love & Thanksgiving?  Maybe you're thinking love is for Valentine's day, not Thanksgiving!  Well, I've been constantly bombarded with messages of love from many different areas for many weeks now.  A friend's transformation of seeing herself as God sees her.....loved just as He created her.  Love your enemies....really?  This is a tough one!  Loving God means keeping his commandments....I have failed this one!  The Bible even says in 1 John 5:3 that it isn't difficult.  Well, some days are certainly easier than others, that is for sure!

We have been attending Cornerstone Church at Ames.  We have decided this will be our church home.  The recent message series has been from 1 John.  From the previous weeks, the following is just a few things I've written down & would like to share.
  • World = the systems of ideas, values and culture.  Satan is the God here.
  • Do not love the world.  You can't have the love of God in you at the same time.
  • What do you find your identity in?  Anything less than God is of the world (satan).
  • Let your worth & identity be only in God
  • God's wisdom brings order to your chaos.
  • God's wisdom will produce noticable transformation.
  • As we are transformed by Christ we become less like the world:
    • your complaining part is replaced by thankfulness
    • worry & anxiety is replaced by confidence
    • face challenges & transistions with confidence
    • take ownership in our actions - right or wrong - be humble
Do you feel like your world is out of control?  Are you overwhelmed with holiday shopping?  Do you find this time of year stressful because of broken relationships with family?  If you have a relationship with Jesus, let your life be an outward reflection of HIS love within you.

If you don't have a relationship with Jesus but you're tired of feeling like life is constantly hard, never fair, you can't get ahead, people are just plain stupid.....Jesus wants to help you find joy!
Romans 5:6 When we were utterly helpless, Christ came at just the right time and died for us sinners.   He should have given us wrath, but He gave His life for you, for me, for the world! 
Romans 3:23 For all have sinned; all fall short of God's glorious standard.  Romans 6:23  The wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord.
Romans 10:9-10  For if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.  For it by believing in your heart that you are made right with God, and it is by confession with your mouth that you are saved.
Romans 10:13  Anyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved!

Don't be afraid - God left our sins on the cross!  Feel true love.  Have a relationship with Jesus.  Be truly thankful, let your sins be forgiven.  Live in the outpouring love of Jesus this season.  Hillsong (click) - At the Cross

Monday, November 8, 2010

He loves us!

I don't have time to maintain these regrets when I think about the way He loves us. - David Crowder Band Oh How He Loves Us

I sit at the computer desiring to update, but conflicted at what to write.  God is telling me to share my heart, but I guess the human part of me wants to guard it.  So I guess I'll start with this.....we made a trip to Indiana this weekend to surprise my mom.  I'm filled with a wide range of emotions that have come out of this visit.

I've always thought that it would be easier to deal with the loss of a loved one if you have time to prepare.  It definitely gives you time to choose to make the wrongs right, say things that need to be said, and time to share together.  However, I'm stuggling with an attitude of fight to the end or enjoy the rest of life with a high quality of life.  I tend to lean toward a higher quality of life with whatever life is left.

When my mom was diagnosed with Stage 4 Metastatic Breast Cancer, I was still dealing with emotions & after effects of my own cancer treatment.  At that time, it was somewhat easy to rally the troops and have an attitude for mom of let's fight this thing.  However, as time went on, I felt better with each passing year and mom continued to find new growths, changes in current tumors, and faced ever changing treatments because the current one would lose it's effectiveness.  I began to deal with survivor's guilt.  In the past years, I've pulled away rather than get closer.

Prior to our move a month ago, mom's cancer had once again changed and treatment options were changed along with it.  At this point, I knew things were progressing and changing in ways that would be hard to control very soon.  It was difficut when mom hugged me saying "I'm gonna fight this thing, I'm not giving up" when all I'm really thinking is just stop treatment.  Enjoy what's left.  That's what I thought.  What I said was "It's gonna be o.k., mom.  We have a big God, He's the one in control.  You've got to believe in that."

So this weekend surprise visit was for me as much as for my mom.  As if to say, we may be miles away, but I'm here for you now.  While I regret the time wasted and the distance in our relationship I created, love bridges a large gap.  God's love can provide the peace and comfort needed by many.  I chose to live what's left without regret and enjoy the love of a mother who put up with a lot from her daughter, but always loved me unconditionally.  Just like Jesus.

Prayer Requests:
  • Pam & Rick Stoops - Wisdom & discernment for decisions they will be making this week
  • Doctors & nurses - Knowledge for treatment & care of mom
  • Peace & understanding for family members & friends
  • Jessi Howe - Wisdom & clarity in decisions
  • Jerod Howe - Job opportunity
  • Great Grandma Bowman - Send someone to share the gospel & God's love to her
  • Mattye & Cande - Continued healing
  • The Coulter Home to sell in Frankfort
How can we pray for you?

Monday, November 1, 2010

Prayer Requests

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.  Phil 4:6-7

I have been feeling that I should not only use our blog to update our friends and family on our life in Iowa, but also should use it to present our prayer requests.  Particularly now, we are going through some things that, without prayer and a relationship with Christ, would be very difficult to bear.  So I ask you friends and family to pray for us as listed below.  If you have a specific prayer, I'd like to pray for you also.

  • Sickness be gone!
  • Mattye transition in school
  • Todd transition at work
  • Discernment in picking a church home
  • The sale of our home in Frankfort
  • Jessi & Jerod have discernment, wisdom, and guidence for upcoming decisions
  • My mom, Pam, enjoys peace & comfort that can only come from Jesus.  Let her be a shining light through these upcoming days.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

I Get Down, He Lifts Me Up!

Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!  Philippians 4:4 

All has been going relatively well.  We have been in Iowa for 3 weeks.  Todd has been at work for 2 weeks.  Our apartment is as unpacked as it's going to get for now.  I've managed to get a decent haircut, survived a week of the computer in the shop, visited the eye doctor & got new glasses, 2 trips to the dentist just for me, we've been to the actual doctor for a total of 3 times, and the pharmacy twice.  We've been able to find everything we need and don't need around town. 

If there's been a time since we've moved that I've had reason to cry out and ask God "what is going on?"  I feel this last week would be it.  Mattye has missed the entire week of school, plus 2 days from the previous week.  She has battled brochitis, throwing up, and now an ear infection.  At this point, I feel she's missed more school than she's been there.  I've been sicker than I can remember in a long time with a really high fever (103.7), literally in bed for 3 days, and now a cough.  I know Todd was pulled in different directions with us and work, but like always, he took great care of us sick girls.  Probably our biggest blow came when we heard my mom's cancer has worsened.  The prognosis is not what we had hoped to hear.

Missing my son and daughter is getting harder.  Jessi is facing decisions that would be so much easier to sit face to face and discuss, but we continue to do it over the phone, email, and texts.  I was looking forward to Jerod's arrival in Iowa in a week, but now I believe he's staying in Indiana for a bit longer to spend some more time with his grandma.  However, his resignation from his full time job is effective Nov. 5th, he's going to need something to fund his longer stay.

We do enjoy this quaint little town of Story City.  School officials actually meet with church leaders and coordinate schedules so activities don't conflict.  We have enjoyed driving around the country just looking around.  It kinda reminds me of Sunday drives we used to take with my grandparents.  Nowhere to go, no hurry to get there.  We've managed bike rides, walks, game nights, and family togetherness.  Knowing only a few people helps that!  :-)

We have been blessed to have found two churches that we are interested in and we enjoy both for different reasons.  So our prayer now is that God makes it clear where we are to put root and where we are to serve.  We could really use some great church friends.

Through it all, we could chose to be bitter or rejoice.  We are choosing to rejoice -- always!  Moving here was a big decision.  When moving day came, we knew our lives were changed.....for the better.  God has been in control of the entire process and we praise Him.  God's peace and comfort led us here.  I know He's in control, even when we feel we aren't.  God will lead us through our upcoming days.  Through it all we will rejoice....ALWAYS!  REJOICE!  I leave you with this song..... Turn it up, click & have fun! :-)

Saturday, October 16, 2010

We're Home!

You will be blessed as you come in and blessed when you go out.  Deut. 68:6

We are now home in Story City, Iowa!  It has been a whirlwind week of packers, movers, saying goodbyes, and driving to our new home.  Saturday night we stayed in a hotel due to no furniture, shower curtains, or beds to sleep on.  We were tired from the driving and Sunday morning came early!  However, it was a new day and a new attitude was born!

I had gone to bed thinking about where to put things in the apartment.  I have to admit that I had a let down upon our arrival.  However, knowing that I had measured rooms at home, all the furniture we brought with us would fit.  I kept telling myself things are going to be alright.  We checked out of our hotel Sunday, found a Walmart to get some milk & cereal, dropped it off at the apartment and headed to church.

I've always felt our moving was a God thing.  I don't know what His plan is for us while we are here, but I know He will make it all work out.  I can't even begin to tell you the questions I've had in my mind throughout the last couple weeks.  Many things I've wondered about, prayed about, and called out to God because I knew He had to be the one to be in control.  The first song we sang at church was You Hold Me Now by Hillsong. (Click here to play)   This song was like an answer to prayer for me, a reassurance from God that HE IS IN CONTROL and HE is holding me & my family in this journey.  

We met some people after service.  One couple has a daughter Mattye's age.  They took Mattye's phone number so the girls could chat about going to youth group later.  The rest of the afternoon, we drove around taking in our new hometown and it's surroundings.  Mattye got her phone call & she went  to youth that evening!  We were so proud of her for going knowing no one!  She did met several kids her age and came home so excited for the youth group & girls she met.  We stayed at a hotel Sunday evening and, again, Monday morning came early!!!

Our furniture arrived at 8:15 am Monday, October 11th, and, as suspected, our new home filled up fast....with boxes!  Again, God was in control as we had rented a storage unit & the movers helped us get our storage items where they needed to go & stacked neatly!  Most of my day was spent in the kitchen unpacking boxes and putting things away.  Mattye was the first to achieve success in getting a room totally put together!  She was so happy to have her own bed.  I was so happy to have gotten our bed, and most importantly, Todd's CPAP.  He had left it out at home when the movers came and they packed it away!  We were looking forward to a snore free night of rest!

Tuesday we enrolled Mattye in Roland-Story High School, got our tv and computer hooked up, and worked on emptying more boxes.  We continued on the journey of trying to find our bedding, undergarmets,  lampshades, pillows....just some of the essentials!  The rest of the week consisted of much of the same....unpack, break down boxes, put more stuff in storage.

Here's another song I want to share.  Click here to listen.  We closed our service Sunday with this song, Amazed.  I cried then, I'm crying now.  As the week has progressed, I have been nothing but amazed by God's work, the people we have met, and the experiences we've shared so far....the blessings we've received as we've come in and gone out.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Joshua 1:9  Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go."

The process has long begun of telling people we are moving.  The time has just gone too fast!  So many people have touched our lives that we can't possibly see or talk to everyone before our departure day.  We have told our church family goodbye.  I know I didn't anticipate crying so much!  I'm sure the rest of my family didn't either!

Nothing has made me realize how many people have been woven into our lives as this move.  Spending time with friends at our home this past weekend, in the cold and sometimes rainy weather, like life, we weathered it together!  Sometimes we crowded around the fire for warmth, other times we were crowded into the sunroom for dryness & warmth!  Sharing stories of the past, talking about the future, and looking forward to keeping in touch with everyone.

At church, as our family was recognized for what God has called us to do - serve - I realized just how many people we have served beside.  It's not that The Coulter's have done it all.  We've only been a small part of a larger picture that took many people to fulfill God's plan.  How awesome it was to hug people who, through prayer, God has healed them.  Hugging people who have prayed for me and my family through illnesses & surgeries.  Hugging people who you know would drop anything and everything to help you do whatever you needed.  Hugging people whose lives have been drastically changed because they made a decision to live for Christ!

Through all the goodbyes and see you later, God has provided encouragement and confirmation that this large transition will be a small part of His big picture.  I praise Him for that!

Thursday, September 30, 2010

The Beginning of a new Journey

Jeremiah 29:11 -For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.

If you were to ask two people who have lived in Indiana all 40+ years of their lives, have 3 children, a mortgage, lots of stuff, family nearby, and who are well rooted in the community....."would you be willing to move to Iowa?"  Most of the people I know would have said no!  That's why I feel the need to stop for a moment and explain.  In 17 years of marriage, I've always told my husband I'd move anywhere to be with him, just please don't move me to the middle of nowhere Iowa!  One probably should be careful of what you ask for!  God's got better plans!

In the last year, I had a new job that I greatly enjoyed, our oldest daughter was at college, our son was working full time while living at home, and our youngest daughter was a freshmen in high school.  My husband was working harder and traveling more than he ever has in his career.  We were all going through the motions of life and we were making do with what life dealt us.  Then along came summer 2010.....

My husband was asked if he would consider a newly created position that still needed a job description written.  It would require you to move, how do you feel about that?  How would your family feel about that?  Discussions about the job were informal and details were sketchy until the newly created job description came via email fresh from the legal department.....discussions escalated and an offer was made.

Throughout the entire process we had the attitude if God closes the door, we're not pushing it open.  I must tell you that through it all, there has not been one moment of "what are we doing?"  Not even one distraught feeling of leaving.  It has truly been a peaceful and joyous decision.

 Matthew 6:34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

Days are closing in on us and there are not enough hours to sort, trash, and set things aside.  We've gotten rid of so much stuff and we still have plenty!  It makes you realize how blessed you are.  There isn't enough time to spend with those we care about.  The details of changing addresses, preparing for a new temporary home, and selling a home at the same time are,at times, overwhelming.  My husband and I prayed together that we would be surrounded by encouragement in the last few weeks of transition.  It's been the prayers of friends, the cards, the visitors, and the love of God that has gotten us to this point, so we're not worried that He'll take us all the way to our new home surrounded by the same encouragement.

In one week, the movers will be here, packing our belongings.  We will continue life's journey and begin the move to Story City, Iowa.