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….