Interesting news everyone,

Branon and the staff at The Foundry Farm mutually agreed that he needed to leave the program.

Just to clarify, he did not relapse.

Refer to my post about my last visit to Branon first if you haven’t read it. Long story short, their program did not follow through with what their website states they provide. Branon actually attended the program a few years ago when they more actively worked with the men. Right now they lack well established leadership because they are in a season of transition.

I will keep praying for them though; I know God placed Branon there for these last 2 months for a reason.

When I found out I needed to find another option, I thought, I wish I could find some sort of discipliship program. Then I found the website for True Purpose Ministries! Branon contacted them Monday and they do have openings. To show his seriousness about starting the program and changing his life, he has to call every day this week; if he follows through then on Friday they will schedule a face to face interview for Monday.

Luckily, God prepared me for something unsettling to happen. He filled me with peace so I handled the news well. This week I feel the fiery darts of the enemy daily and I’m fighting to keep that peace. I use my weapon, the sword of the Spirit which is God’s word. I stand on James 4:7, “Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.”

I know God holds this situation in His hands. If God allows Branon to start True Purpose Ministries it appears it would be a blessing. The location allows me and Isaac to visit every week, so he wouldn’t miss as much of Isaac growing up for the next year. I believe that having the opportunity to see us more frequently would be greater motivation for him as well.

Being apart from each other definitely presents challenges, but I know once we complete this task the Lord assigned us, we will emerge stronger, both individually in character and together in our marriage. It will be awesome to see how he uses this chapter of our lives in the future!

Unity Candle

Unity Candle

I really appreciate those of you who keep us in your prayers; we definitely need it this week. It means a lot to us!

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A Peace That Transcends Understanding

Have you thought about how awesome it is that not only are we children of God, but we are also heirs (and heiresses) to His kingdom?

While we are still on earth waiting for His return, He desires to transform us into His image. Jesus instructs us shine in order to bring glory to God in Matthew 5:14-16,

14-16 “Here’s another way to put it: You’re here to be light, bringing out the God-colors in the world. God is not a secret to be kept. We’re going public with this, as public as a city on a hill. If I make you light-bearers, you don’t think I’m going to hide you under a bucket, do you? I’m putting you on a light stand. Now that I’ve put you there on a hilltop, on a light stand—shine! Keep open house; be generous with your lives. By opening up to others, you’ll prompt people to open up with God, this generous Father in heaven. (MSG)

Because of this, our Abba refines us through our trials. Romans 5:3-4 invites us to welcome these opportunities, “We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation.”

So often rather than asking, “Lord, what do you want to teach me through this experience,” we turn to false comforters of this world to ease the pain. Our enemy, Satan, provides plenty of alluring temptations, whether it be physical or emotional, such as drugs/alcohol, food, exercise, self-pity, self loathing, day dreaming, etc.

What we turn to may even appear harmless but the reality is that we have to choose to put our hope either in God or in the world.

What the world offers leaves us empty and longing for more: an unquenchable thirst. I read it described so perfectly in the book, Captivating.

Unfortunately, our indulgences make us feel better… for a while. They seem to “work,” but really only increase our need to indulge again. This is the nightmare of addiction. But it goes far beyond “drugs.” We give our hearts to all sorts of other “lovers” that demand our attention, demand we indulge again. We taste something that we think is good, our longings cease to ache, for a minute, but later we find ourselves empty once more, needing to be filled again and again.

Jesus introduces a better way. He offers us living water in John 7:37-39:

37 Now on the final and most important day of the Feast, Jesus stood, and He cried in a loud voice, If any man is thirsty, let him come to Me and drink!

38 He who believes in Me [who cleaves to and trusts in and relies on Me] as the Scripture has said, From his innermost being shall flow [continuously] springs and rivers of living water.

39 But He was speaking here of the Spirit, Whom those who believed (trusted, had faith) in Him were afterward to receive. For the [Holy] Spirit had not yet been given, because Jesus was not yet glorified (raised to honor). (AMP)

I don’t know about you but I choose what Jesus offers!

Peace Like a RiverI learned that praising God in the midst of my trials affirms my trust in Jesus which brings incredible outcomes! Every time I come across a problem that produces uncertainty, I immediately speak praises to my Abba. I worship him, and this produces results beyond anything I can describe. He fills me with peace. Then He provides the solution to the problem!

I finally reached a point of trusting that my God is faithful, and He ALWAYS does the right thing.

I recommend listening to this message about Abraham. To be honest with you, I hesitated to listen to it for the first time the other day for some reason. Now, I started listening to it daily as a constant reminder that God does what He says He will do even when life doesn’t make sense!

In my Saturday night growth group, we watch Beth Moore’s Inheritance Series DVD’s. I receive so much revelation from them every week. It’s awesome. This last Saturday night’s video topped them all! It really confirmed my post about the spiritual DNA, but added an important aspect.

Let me first tell you the 3 basics of our inheritance: property, presence, and people.

The last video dealt with the property aspect. Imagine your property as a rectangle. The parameter consists of:

  1. Intimacy with God
  2. Our Past
  3. Our Experiences
  4. Our Spiritual Gifts

If we grasp this concept I’m about to tell you, I belive it would truly change our lives.

Every occurrence in your life God either perfected or permitted.

He allows suffering and pain in our life. He also allows the enemy to tempt us. We do have free will and we reap what we sow, but God uses everything for His glory-our sin and our suffering, but if we do not go back to our past and ask God to sanctify our past, Satan stands on your property! He continually mocks us and replays those occurrences. He ties us down with guilt, shame, anger, despair, etc.

However, Once we go back and claim our property, Satan loses his power over us! This frees us from strongholds and gives us the opportunity to expand our influence. We then have the responsibility to free others.

If you are wondering, How can God let this happen to me? about your life, resist the urge to turn to worldly things; instead follow Philippians 4:6-7, “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.”

Touching Story Told Through Photos

“We want to avoid suffering, death, sin, ashes. But we live in a world crushed and broken and torn, a world God Himself visited to redeem. We receive his poured-out life, and being allowed the high privilege of suffering with Him, may then pour ourselves out for others.”  Elisabeth Elliot 

In honor of breast cancer awareness month, please read this beautiful but sad story captured in photographs. We live in such a broken world, but God promises to be with us.

Psalm 34:18 “The Lord is close to the brokenhearted; he rescues those whose spirits are crushed.”

You may have wondered, isn’t this supposed to be a blog about starting a non-profit organization?

I know I haven’t really been writing much about the progress of starting up of Awakening Hearts Foundation, simply because I have not made any.

Right now, I’m focusing on stregthening my faith and trust in God. It’s not me who is starting this, it’s Him. In order for him to use me to start this, I have to trust in his faithfulness.

I’m also working on becoming more comfortable with writing. I personally am not a writer. If anything I have written so far has touched you at all, the glory goes all to God.

I really want to start connecting with people more. 

I’m trying to learn more about social media. To be honest, I’m not terribly up to date on all that. I have a facebook that I mainly use to post pictures of Isaac, post a status every so often, and keep in touch with a few people. I just made a twitter and I haven’t really figured it out yet.

I just don’t want to be consumed by wordly distractions, which I feel like can so easily happen with social media. However, I do want to use them as tools to spread the Word of God and network with people. So please, follow my links and connect with me outside this blog!

I do also want to spend more time interacting with other bloggers. A big part of this is about having a community of people that grow in their faith together on their unique journeys. Other people’s stories bring me so much inspiration.

I want you to know that I appreciate your time spent reading my posts. Thank you for walking with me on this journey. I know it will be well worth the wait when we see the fruit of the seeds that God is planting in myself and others.

Where Do You Turn When Life Gets Messy?

Do you ever feel like you are alone, even when you have meaningful relationships in your life?

I found out I was pregnant just after I realized that Branon was struggling with addiction.

I knew that he had a problem with drug abuse in the past. But he was so knowledgeable about God’s word. Not only was he knowledgeable, but he was also passionate about it. It was so appealing and it drew me to the Lord. I didn’t foresee him ever going back his previous lifestyle.

I remember the first conversation we had that made me strongly consider what I wanted to do with my life was about our spiritual DNA:

Direction- What direction has your life’s path lead you so far?
Need- What are the needs that stir you, the needs you feel compassion towards?
Ability- What special abilities has God gifted you with? What are your spiritual gifts?

We talked about some of the things that were unique to me at that time, and I remember Branon telling me, “You should really think about doing ________ (unfortunately, I can’t remember what exactly it was he said). I think God would really bless you in that.

It was honestly the first time since 7th grade that I had considered that God was maybe calling me to ministry.

A seed was planted, or maybe a seed that was previously planted was watered. Regardless, what’s important is that God grew that seed. We discovered that we shared a lot of the same desires to make a difference in the world. We also discovered that we did not share the same strengths, and that together we were more complete.

I remember thinking that together we made a whole brain! This may sound weird but let me explain. I am rather left brained. He is extremely right brained. The areas that I lack in, he excels in. And vice versa. Because of this, we work together as a team wonderfully.

Our first picture together- the beginning of our relationship

Our first picture together- the beginning of our relationship.

Branon started leading me in bible studies. At the time I was working as a shift leader at Moe’s Southwest Grill, and often I would work doubles. The highlight of my days would be when he met me for my hour break to read the Word together. He was so great at helping me understand the application.

We knew that God wanted to use us together to further his kingdom. We were living together, and we knew that in order for God to bless us as a couple we had to get married. One of my best friends Kayla, my sister really (people even think we look like sisters) told us that her Dad was an ordained preacher and he would be happy to do our premarital counseling and perform our ceremony.

He told us that he always seeks the Lord before marrying a couple. He felt at peace about marrying us, and I officially became Kirsten McCain on November 27, 2011. That was 3 months after officially dating, 4 months after meeting.

wedding

Me and Branon with my friend Kayla, and her dad who performed the wedding.

Never once have I regretted my decision, or wished I had dated him longer before I married him. He is still my other half; I am incomplete with out him.

During my pregnancy though, there were many times that I felt so alone.

Yes, Branon was there. Let me not discredit the hundreds of back rubs he gave me in addition to many other things to show me his love. Emotionally, I still often felt alone.

Today, I was reading the book, Captivating, which is written by a husband and wife, John and Stasi Eldredge. The part I was reading was a story John was telling of a time when he and Staci called together the men and women in their ministry together to pray for an upcoming women’s retreat. As they were praying he felt a strong impression to back off. This lead him to realize,

Back off, or, Leave her alone, or, You don’t really want to go there- she’ll be too much for you, is something Satan has set against every woman from the day of her birth. It’s the emotional and spiritual equivalent of leaving a little girl by the side of the road to die. And to every woman he has whispered, You are alone, or, When they see who you really are, you will be alone, or, No one will every truly come for you.

The father of all lies shot his fiery darts at me to tempt me to doubt God’s goodness. If God is really good then why hasn’t he delivered Branon from this? I’m not perfect: although I trusted God in my heart, there was a part of me that did wonder, why is this happening?

Hebrews 4:14-16,

So then, since we have a great High Priest who has entered heaven, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to what we believe. This High Priest of ours understands our weaknesses, for he faced all of the same testings we do, yet he did not sin. So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most.

I cried out to God, repetitively. I approached him with boldness, and he received me. He has been my refuge and strength through every hard step on this journey. A journey that is totally not what I anticipated when I entered in the world of marriage.

It’s a journey that God has equipped us for; it’s part of mine and Branon’s spiritual DNA.

He is humbling us as he molds us into his image. We must let go of our pride; we must expose our true selves before the Lord. When we reveal our brokenness to him, he is not surprised. He knows us better than we know ourselves. He is waiting for us to come to him with open hearts that are willing to follow him on a path of restoration.

We are never alone. David says it perfectly in Psalm 139:7, “I can never escape from your Spirit! I can never get away from your presence!”

It comes down to a simple question really.

Are we willing to trust Him when life gets messy?

The Author of Creativity

Today, Isaac’s fever broke. Last night I put him to bed around 7, because he was just so tired! He woke up around 10 pm, exactly 6 hours after he last had ibuprofen. I went ahead and gave him another dose, and he went back to sleep. Then around 1 am he woke up burning up and crying; it was obvious he did not feel good. So I went ahead and gave him a dose of Tylenol.

Lo and behold, he wakes up at 2 am wide awake, no fever, and ready to play! He kept me up from 2 am until about 4:30 am. I was not too happy about that but I was glad he was feeling better.

He slept until about 9:30 though, which is pretty unusual for him. He woke up and was acting like he felt a little better than yesterday, and his temp was down 99.8!

So to celebrate, we got creative and built a little blanket fort today. Kyle, my brother, said that I just wanted to do it for me. Maybe he was right. I just wanted to let my inner kid out, and make Isaac happy while doing so! We had fun building it (yes, Kyle helped me AND enjoyed it!) and playing in it.

I really want to nurture Isaac’s creative thinking. I’m going to be doing a lot of reading on this subject. Today I read that exposing them to a lot of different environments is one thing that’s good for that. Another thing is to let them play with basic objects that aren’t toys! They have to be more imaginative with them.

I want to be sure to give Isaac many chances to flourish, to really find his strengths and talents. I want to encourage his ideas, and if they are unfeasible I want to give him the opportunity learn why rather than shut them down.  I want Isaac to know that he is loved and cherished by his parents but more importantly by his Abba in heaven, and he does not have to fit in with the status quo to receive that love.

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I have not had the best luck with reliable childcare since my maternity leave was over. It hasn’t been anyone’s fault per say, so far it just seems that I haven’t been able to find anything that works out longer than a month or so. He has been at 4 places so far in the last 8 months, not including the time that Branon was working only weekends in order to watch him on weekdays.

Isaac’s latest babysitter has been watching him around my work schedule and only charging me $100 a week. Not very easy to find. Her son was 10 days younger than Isaac, and they played really well together. She was good, but I did know in my heart that it was probably not going to be ideal long term.

Well she just let me know that she was evicted and had to move. She didn’t tell me where, and it did not sound like she was going to be available to watch him anymore. So I naturally was kinda freaking out. Most daycare facilities have waiting lists. Plus, where am I going to find somewhere/someone who will watch him later than 6?

I still don’t exactly understand what single parents who don’t have family members to help out are supposed to do when working non traditional hours. Child care help is definitely a resource that this non-profit will make available.

I believe God had a divine appointment for me today to meet the people he sent me to. I have a really great feeling about the family who will be watching Isaac now. He does need to be picked up by 6, but I am blessed with a family that is willing to help out with that. I think it will be better for him to get to bed a little earlier anyways.

It’s just so awesome to see God handle situations arise that I’m totally panicking over! He never lets me down, and he provides for all of my needs in the most creative of ways. Our Father is so good to his children. Even when it might seem like he is far, or doesn’t care, he is always looking out for our best interest. We just have to ask the author of creativity to give us eyes to see the beauty that is always around us.

Romans 828

My poor Isaac has been fighting his first sickness this week. On the way home from visiting Branon Sunday, I noticed he had a weird cough. There’s a lot of stirred up dirt in the air there from driving up a long gravel road and I wondered if that maybe caused it.

The next morning he had a runny nose. I thought he felt slightly warm, but I dropped him off at his babysitters. She texted me around 1 and said that he had a temperature of 100 and wasn’t eating/drinking very well. To be honest, I really hadn’t done my research on fevers in babies so I figured I should call the pediatrician just to be safe; this was the first time he has been even slightly sick!

They fit him in and of course he didn’t have a temperature at all, was perfectly happy, and acting completely normal. So I felt ridiculous for taking him, but I didn’t want to wait and have to go to the ER in the middle of the night if it got worse.

Well, yesterday night he started feeling bad again when my friend’s mom was watching him for me. When he went to bed he had a temp of I believe 100.7. High enough to be officially a fever. My dad gave him a little baby ibuprofen before I got home from work, then I put him to bed.

He didn’t sleep well, and I checked his temp around 4 am and it was 102. Then I checked it when he woke up around 815 and it was 102.7. At that point I called the pediatrician and left a message for the nurse asking what I should do.

While I was waiting for them to call me back I did a bunch of reading on the internet about fevers. I was just really unsure what to do at that point. Thankfully, the nurse called me back around 11:45 (3 hours seemed like 3 days!). She said that they did want to see him and to go ahead and give him some medication. I was so concerned that if I took him to the doctor without a fever that it would be a waste of time again!

I knew my poor baby wasn’t feeling good because he was being entirely too cuddly. We watched a whole movie together on the couch, which never happens. He was happy if I carried him around like a newborn baby and he would sit in my lap contently. This was not my normal little buddy that squirms when you are holding him so he can jump out, crawl around, and get into everything!

Collage (2)

So another 3 hours later we arrive at the doctor’s office. We didn’t have to wait long at all to be seen thankfully. He weighs 19 pounds 4 ounces. His temperature was 100.3. But he was still obviously not feeling well this time. The doctor checks out his ears and sure enough, he has an ear infection. Not only in one ear, in both!

I was so surprised because he wasn’t pulling at his ears which I thought was a sign of ear infections. Also, on Monday the doctor said he ears looked completely fine. The doctor checked to make sure he didn’t have the flu (which he did not) then sent a prescription for antibiotics to Walgreens for us.

While we were waiting for the results from the flu swab, I checked his temperature and it came back 102. I asked the doctor if we could recheck so I could make sure my thermometer was accurate, and that time it came back 102.2. I asked him what his temperature should stay at, and he said to try to keep it around 100 while he is fighting off the infection; if it is 101-101.5 and he does not seemed bothered than that’s fine, but if he seems bothered then give him some medication.

This evening after he had a dose of the antibiotic and a dose of ibuprofen his temperature went down to 101. He seemed to be feeling better, he played in his tent a little and acting more like his normal self.

My little man is a trooper for sure! He was barely even fussy unless I just set him down. As long as I was holding him though he was happy. He was oh so cuddly. I miss that part of the newborn stage. It was so heartbreaking to see my baby feeling bad, but I was loving him wanting to be snuggled next to mommy. I soaked it up!

I knew that this would come eventually; I’m thankful for the health Isaac has been blessed with thus far but it was not realistic for me to think he would never get sick.

Here’s what I learned throughout this whole ordeal:

  1. It’s not a fever unless it’s over 100.4.
  2. Teething can cause a fever but generally not over 101.
  3. A fever of 102 may be a good signal that something else is going on.
  4. Your child does not have to be running a fever while at the doctor’s office for the doctor to find out whats wrong!
  5. It’s okay to alternate between doses of Infant Tylenol & Ibuprofen if needed.
  6. Ear infections are generally preceded by cold-like symptoms.
  7. Ear tugging does not necessarily signal an ear infection.
  8. Most babies have 4 ear infections before they turn 1 year old.
  9. Enjoy the snuggling while it lasts!

Luckily I took him to the doctor today before his ear infection got too bad. I am definitely going to be doing much more reading on infant health; I want to be better prepared next time something happens!

sickisaac2

If you are a parent, what were the most common reasons you have taken your babies/toddlers to the doctor?