Saturday, June 7, 2014

Thursday, October 27, 2011

And the winner is.....

Since Halloween is right around the corner, I wanted to report one of my oldest blog post....

Before I actually had children, I developed a long list of things that I would and would not do as a parent. Several items on my list were as follows:

-My child will eat healthy, i.e., no McDonald’s junk food,
-My child will never have a pacifier,
-I will never allow my child to throw a huge temper tantrum in public, and
-I will sew all my child’s Halloween costumes

Now that I actually have children, McDonalds has turned into our second home; I feared that my child would start preschool with a pacifier; and we hold the record for the biggest tantrum in the history of the Riverchase Galleria. Therefore, I decided that I needed to sew a Halloween costume in order to avoid breaking all of my early parenting rules.

I also had an ulterior-motive for sewing a costume: the church fall festival costume contest. Have I mentioned that I am a very competitive person? Overly competitive people and costume contests usually do not mix well. But, if you are going to lose hours of sleep working on a costume, you might as well win, right?

I set my sights on making a monkey costume for my then three year old child. This costume was ultimately much harder and more time consuming than I could ever imagine. A veteran seamstress could have sewed all of the dresses in a large wedding party in the same amount of time that I needed to make this costume. However, I thought the time and effort would be worth it. If I won, I would taste the victory of feeling like the “Crafty Mom.” In the future, when I forgot to send lunch money or missed one of my child’s dentist appointments, I could think back to the Great Monkey Costume of 2000 and not feel like such a terrible mother.

As the contest started, my heart was beating hard. Even though Joshua refused to do the monkey head scratch or screech out “Eh, Eh, Ah, Ah, Oh!” like we practiced, he did a wonderful job. I also pulled out a secret weapon: bananas. My monkey had real bananas to carry in the contest. I bet that no other contestant would be carrying his own food source.

However, I have to admit that I was worried. When I arrived at the carnival, several people thought he was a cat instead of a monkey. This made my confidence waiver a little bit. Hello- does a cat carry bananas?!?! Several costumes in the contest appeared to be much better than mine, but my monkey had the biggest blue eyes and cutest red hair that you have ever seen. Who could resist a blue-eyed, red-headed monkey?

It came time to announce the winner. I was about to join a long list of esteemed Halloween crafters.

I held my breath as the judge said, “And the winner is……..


Everyone?!?! Surely, I did not hear that correctly.

Then the judge said the words that I will never forget, “All the costumes were so good, you are all winners.”

PU-LEASE! All winners? You have got to be kidding me.

I even had scripture to back up my disappointment.

1 Corinthians 9:24 (NAS) says, “Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but only one receives the prize?”

“Only one receives the prize” was the portion of scripture that I quoted to the judge in order to convict him of his decision.

However, looking back on that section of Scripture years later, I realize that I was not looking at the real meaing of the passage. Reading 1 Corinthians 9:24 and 25 together reveals a different meaning than I orignally thought. The passage reads as follows:

“Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but only one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may win. Everyone who competes in the games exercises self-control in all things. They then do it to receive a perishable wreath but we an imperishable.”

I now realize that this verse is talking about an imperishable prize, certainly not winning the costume contest. I used the verse out of context when I quoted it to justify my disappointment in not being crowned “Crafty Mom of the Fall Festival.”

What kind of imperishable prize could you ever receive at a fall festival? As I think back to past fall festivals, I realize that I did receive a wonderful gift from a fall festival that is so much better than any contest prize. Several years ago, I ran into a childhood friend and his family at our church’s fall festival. I had not seen him in years. We talked a while, and I was very excited that he seemed interested in visiting our church. A week later, our church was sending out Faith Teams (a church visitation program) to visit the people who attended our fall festival and indicated that they did not have a church home. When I received my assignment of homes to visit, I discovered that I was assigned to visit my childhood friend. I was nervous as I traveled to his house. He knew the “old” Kelly. He knew me way before I was a Christian. What would he think of my visit?

Thankfully, the visit was wonderful. I asked him about his thoughts on how a person can go to Heaven. He indicated that he had been saved a few years earlier. What wonderful news! What a wonderful blessing to hear!

Two years ago, my friend died unexpectedly. As I sat at his funeral, I could not believe that I was at his funeral. The world had lost one amazing son, dad, brother and friend. I was heartbroken for his parents and children. At the same time, I was so thankful that I had the opportunity to talk to him about his relationship with the Lord. I know for sure that I will see him again one day in heaven.

I am so thankful for the imperishable blessings that the Lord brings into our lives. Why do we strive so hard for things on this earth that will not last? For example, the prize for the costume contest was a bag of candy. If I had won, that bag would have lasted five minutes at the most. I have to remind myself continually that we can not take things to heaven with us; we can only take other people. On this October 31st, please remember that candy and costumes will not last; however, people and our relationship with the Lord can be eternal. I pray that you will use this Halloween and the days ahead to show His love in real and imperishable ways.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

If you were given a chance to know what happens in your future, would you take it?

This morning, I was reading a website that asked the following question:

“If you were given a chance to know what happens in your future, would you take it?”

How would you answer this question? On the website I was reading, most people answered that they would NOT want to see what happens in their future. You can view approximately 100 people’s answers to this question at this link: There are some interesting and strange answers.

I know myself well enough to know that I could not walk away from the opportunity. A lot of people responded to the question by saying they would not want to know because they like the surprise of life and to see your future would be a story ending “spoiler” or like knowing what a present is before you unwrap it. I am just the opposite. I don’t like surprises. I have been known to unwrap gifts (and rewrap them) just to find out what my present is before Christmas. After Steve started double taping and secretly marking the packages, I had to resort to tricking my children into telling me what I am getting. I guess one of my mottos could be, “Why wait when you could find out now”.

I could not turn down the chance to know what happens in the future. To have the opportunity to see how my son’s health is going to be in the future is something I really want to know. I want to know that he is going to be ok and that Ulcerative Colitis did not derail his promising future. I would like to know if the treatments that we have chosen helped (or hurt) him. Some days not knowing his prognosis really gets to me. Some days, the “unknowns” to this disease drive me crazy. I WANT TO KNOW THAT HE IS GOING TO BE OK.

When I sat down to write this post and really started thinking about this question, I realized this questions didn’t even apply to me. I realized that I already know what happens in my future. I already know what the long term future holds. God has so graciously allowed us to see glimpses of what our future holds in the Bible. I am very thankful for the time this morning to think about this question. It was exactly what I needed to be reminded of today. Lately, I have been spending countless hours researching and studying Stephen’s disease and it has left me nothing but frustrated and confused over the 1,000s of different opinions on what causes Ulcerative Colitis and treatment options. I need to focus on what I know and leave the rest in God’s hand. I know that I know that I know His word is true and He has an amazing future in store for those that love Him. Whatever my son’s medical outcome is, I know the long term future. I know that he loves Jesus and has trusted Him as his Savior and the beautiful verses and promises below belongs to him, me and you if you are a follower of Jesus:

Luke 13:29
People will come from east and west and north and south, and will take their places at the feast in the kingdom of God. Indeed there are those who are last who will be first, and first who will be last."

John 14:2-3
In my Father's house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.

Isaiah 25:8
He will swallow up death forever. The Sovereign LORD will wipe away the tears from all faces; he will remove the disgrace of his people from all the earth.

Revelation 21
A New Heaven and a New Earth
1 Then I saw “a new heaven and a new earth,”[a] for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. 2 I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. 3 And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. 4 ‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’[b] or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”
5 He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!” Then he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.”
6 He said to me: “It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. To the thirsty I will give water without cost from the spring of the water of life. 7 Those who are victorious will inherit all this, and I will be their God and they will be my children. 8 But the cowardly, the unbelieving, the vile, the murderers, the sexually immoral, those who practice magic arts, the idolaters and all liars—they will be consigned to the fiery lake of burning sulfur. This is the second death.”
The New Jerusalem, the Bride of the Lamb
9 One of the seven angels who had the seven bowls full of the seven last plagues came and said to me, “Come, I will show you the bride, the wife of the Lamb.” 10 And he carried me away in the Spirit to a mountain great and high, and showed me the Holy City, Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God. 11 It shone with the glory of God, and its brilliance was like that of a very precious jewel, like a jasper, clear as crystal. 12 It had a great, high wall with twelve gates, and with twelve angels at the gates. On the gates were written the names of the twelve tribes of Israel. 13 There were three gates on the east, three on the north, three on the south and three on the west. 14 The wall of the city had twelve foundations, and on them were the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb.
15 The angel who talked with me had a measuring rod of gold to measure the city, its gates and its walls. 16 The city was laid out like a square, as long as it was wide. He measured the city with the rod and found it to be 12,000 stadia[c] in length, and as wide and high as it is long. 17 The angel measured the wall using human measurement, and it was 144 cubits[d] thick.[e] 18 The wall was made of jasper, and the city of pure gold, as pure as glass. 19 The foundations of the city walls were decorated with every kind of precious stone. The first foundation was jasper, the second sapphire, the third agate, the fourth emerald, 20 the fifth onyx, the sixth ruby, the seventh chrysolite, the eighth beryl, the ninth topaz, the tenth turquoise, the eleventh jacinth, and the twelfth amethyst.[f] 21 The twelve gates were twelve pearls, each gate made of a single pearl. The great street of the city was of gold, as pure as transparent glass.
22 I did not see a temple in the city, because the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are its temple. 23 The city does not need the sun or the moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and the Lamb is its lamp. 24 The nations will walk by its light, and the kings of the earth will bring their splendor into it. 25 On no day will its gates ever be shut, for there will be no night there. 26 The glory and honor of the nations will be brought into it. 27 Nothing impure will ever enter it, nor will anyone who does what is shameful or deceitful, but only those whose names are written in the Lamb’s book of life.

Thankful that He holds the future.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

2010 Gave Me an Attitude Adjustment

What did 2010 teach you? I received a big lesson in how quickly life can change and the importance of appreciating small things. The biggest changes occurred in just a 24 hour period. At the end of September, I quit my job to open my own business. If you would have told me on 1/1/10 that I would be opening my own CPA firm before the end of the year, I would have thought you were crazy. I started 2010 with NO intention of going out on my own BUT the Lord slammed shut some doors and flew open a bunch of windows and Alliance Accounting was born. Walking away from a stable job and a set salary in a down economy to open my own business was a scary endeavor but God really left no doubt that was the direction I was supposed to go. Becoming self -employed pushed the limits of my comfort zone but then the largest change came the day after I turned in my notice. The next day Stephen got really sick.

Out of nowhere, Stephen started having GI bleeding, terrible pain and lost 16 pounds (at 5 foot 10 he lost down to 104 pounds). He was admitted to the hospital and diagnosed with Ulcerative Colitis. I had never even heard of UC. Now I know a lot more than I ever wanted to know. Ulcerative Colitis is an autoimmune disease where the immune system attacks the colon much like when a transplant recipient’s body rejects a donated organ. It currently does not have a cure. Treatment can put it into remission and consists of steroids and other medication that suppressed the immune system. Treatment options all seem to have drawbacks. The medications wipes out your immune system and one side effect can be Lymphoma and other cancers because the immune system is suppressed. Please pray for us to have wisdom on the treatment options.

Stephen started his freshman year of high school in 2010. I started the school year with hopes of him keeping his grades high to one day get a scholarship (He wants to go to Vanderbilt) and ended the semester just thankful that he could go to school after being out for weeks. I am thankful that he has felt really good the last few weeks. Instead of being concerned with clean bedrooms and iPod music selection, today I am thankful that he feels good. Today is a good day because my child feels good. I have even found myself thankful for the teenage attitude. At least he feels good enough to have an attitude. What a difference a year makes….

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Just Breathe!

Stephen was born 15 years ago on June 15th-

I did not expect it to be so painful. I had not braced myself for how hard it would be. I had been warned by others who had gone through it but I had not really prepared myself for it. I sat there with my fists clinched and tears streaming down my face. I tried not to scream. I was afraid. I had never felt more out of control. I just wanted him to be healthy and safe. I had to keep reminding myself to take deep breaths......

No, I am not talking about childbirth.

This was actually much harder for me…….

I am talking about the first ride with Stephen after he got his driver’s permit.

Friday, October 9, 2009

My Floor is Crunchy...

Since my children were born, I have experienced a lot of "Mommy Guilt". The reasons for the guilt has changed as they have gotten older, but the guilt trip has remained. For all the rest of you the have "Mommy Guilt", I read this great article today on another blog and had to share it with you to help us throw off our shackles. Enjoy....

Mommy Guilt

If your floor is crunchy and you yell sometimes - you're not alone.

Pssst. I'm going to share my secret with you.

A secret of dark shame.

The floor of my home is crunchy.

As a mother of three children ages 4, 2 and 3 months, I assure you: my floor is actually crunchy. Five years ago, had you suggested to me I would be shuffling through Cheerios and Goldfish and peeling my elbows off the grape-jelly and apple-juice epoxy on my dining room table, I would have scoffed. I was a much better mother, as they say, before I had children.

It's the secret that dare not say its name: Mommy Guilt. As a licensed professional counselor specializing in wives and mommies, I've heard hundreds of women confess this to me, eyes cast to the floor: I'm a terrible mother, and it's so easy for everyone else.

These women are working both in and out of the home, but we all share the same terrifying feeling that we will be found out. We yell! We (gasp!) microwave bottles! We feed our children Cocoa Puffs, and they've refused to eat a vegetable since we spooned them into them at age six months! We've used a combination of a towel, duct tape and a maxipad swaddled on our toddler because we forgot to buy diapers! The horror! The horror!

I'm here to tell you: I'm not alone, and neither are you. The mother you see every morning at school drop-off whose children are in matching, crisply ironed Ralph Lauren shirts, the mother who is in heels and makeup at 6:30 a.m., the mother who somehow shows up to every freakin' PTA meeting with a smile on her face and a homemade brownie platter in her hand – all these women share the Dark Secret.

We're wearing maternity underwear, and our youngest is 6.

All kidding aside, it has been amazing to hear my clients struggling with depression and despair over the gap between what they think other mothers pull off effortlessly and what happens in their own homes.

If she didn't have money to buy athletic supplies for her son, said one client through her tears, she would be depriving her child of enrichment, exercise and all the opportunities she thinks every other child has. Another is convinced she is the only mother who raises her voice to her children.

Yet another is certain she's a horrible parent because she dreads dealing with her mercurial toddler. And they have no idea that mother after mother who sits on my office couch claims that all other women are great parents, while they are not. They would not dare to share with these other mommies what they see as their shortcomings.

Stop the mommy guilt.

Not everyone will agree with your parenting. Revisit your values and priorities. Allow for imperfections.

If you're worried about your quality of parenting, I've discovered, chances are you're doing fine.

Most important, research shows that women who report the most happiness have a solid network of other females. When you're losing it, hearing another mom admit to the same feelings is so powerful. When my friend with two small children told me her cleanliness goal really only entailed raking a path clear enough the toys that EMT workers could make it to her if she ended up running amok and breaking a limb, I felt so much better. "Lousy" mothers – unite!

Choose your battles. Apologize when you make mistakes. And should you find that stress is overwhelming, get support through your network or friends...or access a professional counselor like me who can help you take care of you so you can take better care of them.

Throw off your shackles, Mom. Know that whether they admit it or not, every mom is imperfect just like you and me. Say it loud: My floor is crunchy, my elbows are sticky and I'm proud!

Eliska Counce lives in McKinney and is the mother of three. She is the clinical director of counseling services for The Samaritan Inn and the founder and director of Transforming Tomorrows Counseling Center in McKinney.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

It is hard to put the Ecuador mission trip into words.

O.K., I have to confess that I have been procrastinating. I have been putting off blogging about my mission trip to Ecuador. I have sat down about 49 times and tried to blog about this trip, but I just couldn’t do it. Anything that I started to write about the trip did not do it justice. There really are no words to express the things that I have seen on this trip.

My dilemma has been how to use words to describe the amazing godly people that I have met. How can I express in words the love for the Lord and sacrifice that I saw this week? How can I describe to you how I met people who really had nothing but at the same time had everything? How can I express the sadness that I felt for the people of Ventanas when I saw the poverty in their city but then realized that the sadness should also be for our own city at our spiritual poverty due to our material possessions?

I have finally realized that some things can never be confined to words and I might as well quit procrastinating. In my next few blog entries, I will try my best to tell you all about this truly life changing trip.

The second day of our trip was an amazing day. Each team left the hotel to go their separate ways to attend a church service with their appointed mother church. The pastor had told us that we would be attending a river baptism. I had never been to a river baptism before and was really excited. We were very surprised when we arrived at the river for the baptism and saw Samantha and Zack standing on the river bank. It turned out that the pastor that Tabitha and I were working with was helping with the baptism of the church that Samantha and Zack were working with. It was one of those “funny running into you here” moments.

It was a beautiful morning and the view of the river was breathtaking. As all the people who were to be baptized lined up on the bank, each person was to have a witness stand with them. One young lady did not have a family member or friend to stand with her. She asked Samantha if she would be her witness. I really do not think it was a coincidence that Tabitha (Samantha’s mother) was able to witness this special moment for her daughter. Sam was so excited. Can’t you just see it all over her face?

I never want to say something was a “God thing” when it really wasn’t but at the same time I don’t want to dismiss something as being nothing when it really was a “God thing.” Because of this, I will just tell you what happened next and you can be the judge of whether or not it was a “God thing.” I know what I believe, but you can make your own opinion…

During the entire baptism there was such electricity in the air. It is one of those things that I just can’t put into words. I kept thinking that I really was not worthy to be witnessing such an event. Each person was asked to give a testimony of their changed life as the baptism began. I couldn’t understand much of what they were saying, but you really didn’t have too—it was written all over their faces. My team’s pastor and Sam/Zack’s pastor went out into the water first to pray. Then, one by one, each person walked out into the water to be baptized.

As the last person was baptized, the pastor walked up to the edge of the water to speak to the crowd. Right as the last baptism ended and he walked to the edge, a solid white kite starting flying directly behind the pastor. It made a figure eight pattern directly behind the pastor for several minutes as he spoke. Then as soon as he stopped talking, it gently landed in the water. I looked around trying to figure out how someone was able to get the kite to fly directly behind the pastor over the water. I looked and there was no one on the shore with us flying a kite. I assumed that flying a white kite after a baptism was something tradionally done in Ecuador to signify the white dove that descended when Jesus was baptized. I just couldn’t figure out how they were able to center the kite behind the pastor so perfectly without there being someone on the shore flying it and I was amazed at how they were able to perfectly time the flying of the kite. As soon as the baptism ended I asked the pastor if they usually flew a white kite at the end of a baptism. He said no. He had never seen a kite at a baptism until today. He said everyone had been trying to figure out who was flying the kite but saw no one.

Here is a picture that I made of the kite as it was landing into the water.

As we got into the car to leave, I was thinking how exciting this day had been. I looked at my watch and it was just 10:00 am. The day was still just starting and the Lord had a lot more exciting things in store for us that day. To be continued…

Blessings to you,