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Thursday, July 28, 2011

Loving Someone May Cost You Something

Had a great time getting initiated into the gang. My cousin has a group of friends she met while pregnant with her middle child and they have remained friends some 12 yrs later, which is a very unusual thing. People are just not loyal. They don"t seem to know what it is like to attach themselves to someone and love them regardless of what they may be going through, just simply love them. It is easy to love someone when they require nothing of you, and their life is all neat and tidy, it gets a little more complicated when they're losing their home, going through a divorce or they have a child arrested,  because it may COST them something to remain friends. When you go to the grocery store you may have to  buy your kids less so you can buy your friends family a few groceries. Don"t we all have something we can share, anyway? My Granny always said that as long as she invited someone in need to her table her table always had plenty. How different things would be if we all abided by her conviction. No book she read, no talk show she heard, no tally system she kept, i.e. (well if I help this one, I can't help that one) no, she just helped whoever was in front of her that had a need. She didn't ask if they really needed it, or deserved it, I think she felt that was left in the hands of God, her reward was in giving, not judging. And I am one of the worst, it is just my nature, because I am a rule follower, and if you follow the rules, your life should follow suit. . NOT!! Life just isn't like that. I would have never admitted it but, I never missed church, helped the homeless, paid tithes, etc.. so why did things turn out the way they did? If I gave, why did I lose my home, I raised Emma from the wound in a Christian home, yet, she made her own decisions that ultimately lead to a felony count, why did these thing happen, especially, if I had played by the rules!  If life is drivin by karma, I suck at it, I must have been a goat in another life!  You  should do these things, you chose to live by the principles I spoke of in the very first post I wrote, because you know they are the right thing to do. And you also have the hope beyond your own failures and inadequacies that God ultimately holds your future, and your children's future, in His hands. As I have made entries into this blog I have often thought of statements like,"If I did this", or "I did that", I guess trying to justify why  it is not our fault we wound up here, but, almost 3 and half years later, I think the only significance of any of that is, I did what I knew to be right and the rest is out of my hands. What I have taken from this crazy ride is, the past 3 years I have been able to give very little, monetary wise, and the tally system has been W  A  Y  in Gods favor. He has meet our need through so many different sources, I could'nt began to name them all, saying that..... it was not an easy, layed out, nice and neat, schedule of when to expect the next check. There were many days and nights I looked to the heavens and cried OUT what are we going to do? From, not having electricity, to not having food, to no hot water, to needing to see a Doctor, not minor things but big things, like seeing my heart and soul, Em, arrested and being driven away. Things that alter your mind and soul, forever burned into the recesses of your mind, but, there was a time I felt abandoned and alone, and I felt as though I had failed God in someway and I was being punished, because my life was not going along in a manner that I was use to, in fact looking back, even though it was not in a conventional way, no matter how we got here, we got here. God always met us! And we may not have had a roof over our head that had our name on the deed, but none the less God provided us a shelter, and my family was in tact and safe. So I have learned to not be so hard even on myself about my lack of faith or lack of ability to believe, or at times even question, because even with all that, I rely on His abilities and His faithfulness to see us through. Kenny and I sat and made an outline, so twice a week I will be getting back to our story, and the other 3 days I will be writing about our day to day present life and the progress of our lil beach cottage.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Highest Order Of Business, Finding A Church

We visited a church today that, instantly, I felt a connection to. It had a very warm and inviting feeling. It was very much like the church I had grown up in and the church we had attended in Tallahassee. The kids also really liked childrens church. So unless something drastically changes I am pretty sure we will be staying at Highest Praise Family Worship Center. And it is just icing on the cake to also have family who attend. It felt like the old days, go to church, have lunch with family, then spend the afternoon relaxing and visiting. The kids are just so thrilled to be connected to family, I have seen a big change even in Wyatts personality just in the 2 weeks since we have been here. Kenny and Dad got in late last night with another trailer full of stuff from Tallahassee. Finally, I have MY bed. It will be so good to have my own bed. It has been almost 3 years since I have had my bed. As I see the familiar stuff I feel my heart tighten, and my stomach get that familiar sick feeling. I remember just what we have lost. And get glimpse in my mind of our old life and it saddens me. The ability to jump in my Denali and buy the kids a pair of sneakers or go visit a friend, without the fear of breaking down and having air conditioning or heat, a seat belt for everyone. Being able to tell you where all my stuff is. Right as this moment, if I had to get the kids ready for school, I couldn't tell you where half of their things are. I met my cousin at the pool with Emma's bathing suit bottom and my top! My stuff is packed and scattered everywhere. I just didn't have the luxury of packing it and putting it, neat and labeled, in a storage, because all of that cost money. All of this sooo goes against my nature. But I am determined to, and I tell myself, not to let these things get the best of me, they are not going to rule my life. They are not priority! Sherri Marie, my cousin, was telling me when someone gets evicted they just put the people's things out by the road, and people stop and just rummage through it, as if it were trash, not someones life. There are people living in one room dumps, entire families! Our economy is in a sad state of affairs. Families moving in with grandparents and siblings. There is a home next to us that is up for sale and a cleaning crew was sent in and they found that families children's baby books, first pictures, a bin full of memorabilia, that no doubt they had no choice but to leave behind. I can completely relate, I had to prioritize my things, by what was most important. Number one a bigger U-haul would have cost more money and gas and we just don't have the money for storage. So you just do what you gotta do. I hear people say, have more faith, are you finances in a mess, is your marriage in jeopardy, do you have a child in trouble? Your faith must be weak? Your trust in God must be weak, well I think it might be the opposite. I think, it takes a strong person to go through losing a home, gather their things and make a home for her family no matter where they have to live. I think it takes a ALOT of faith in God to remain in a marriage that week after week you see no progress, and it takes tremendous faith, to trust in God, it takes faith not to lose your faith, when you see a child you have raise to do right and you see a situation you know will eventually lead them to heartache. I can say today, I feel very strong, I feel confident in who I serve and in my faith. It doesn't mean I don't doubt or I don't get down, but I feel strong because of what I have been through, and God has strengthened my faith, not made it weaker just because I have had trails and hardships in my life, faith isn't all fluff and angels singing, faith is having the strength to get through today, and when you lay down, you know God will greet you in the morning and give just what you need to get through the next, and faith is not allowing the hardness of life to keep you from trying to help the
people around you who you know are helpless and alone, faith keeps you from losing your compassion!

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Same Family, New Memories

My cousin took me to lunch, her treat, and we spent 3 hours just visiting and catching up. It is so wonderful to have family and feel a connection, especially during times of desperation.We have felt so alone for so long, God it feels so good to feel apart of a family again. We have been to 3 different homes in the week since we have been here. I will start having people in my lil cottage starting next week, even if the floors are plywood and the walls are not finished. I have realized, guests need the love of my home, not the covering of the floor or the texture on the walls, all that will come in time. If I wait until all that is done, time will pass and opportunities to make memories with people I love will also pass. I just can't allow that. I think about the families sitting in their home consumed with fear, that tomorrow will be the day that they're evicted and have no where to live, and because of that fear, they lose the joy of the day they're living in. We have been there, done that. My kids are too great, ALL kids are too great to let a day pass without, grabbing it and embracing it and being thankful for having a family. God is so good, so amazing, He comes through everytime. My cousin called, one of my favorite, he is very special to me, the one who we got the red jeep from, he said he had brand new carpet and new interior doors for our lil cottage! How about that! I didn't even ask! God provided  the need before it ever arose! We haven't even replaced the plywood on the floors, so we will have to store the carpet, but, the point is, God is so detailed, that He provided for us through my cousin on a job, a bank paid for carpet (a foreclosed home) that a homeowner bought, didn't like, was going to throw away, and his thrash was my treasure! How often we underestimate God. I know I am guilty on a daily basis.  With the present state of our economy, we better learn to focus on the little things, because I am certain the bigger things are going to happen in their own good time. We have become so accustom to such high levels of entertaining, we don't know how to just sit and visit. When I was in North Carolina, I invite someone over for dinner and they said, oh you mean meet for dinner, I said no  I  w a n t   to  co o k   y o u   d i n n e r, serve you in my home, and then sit and visit. It has become almost foreign. We have to have events and schedules and, finally,we just can't share our lives. I  have so enjoyed seeing my kids meet their cousins, many of them for the first time, they just jump in, no gadgets and start chatting and playing! Why can't adults be like that? Oh, well, I am here this week by myself with the kids, Kenny and my Dad had to go to Tallahassee for some business, so I am ripping and tearing and I am sure messing something up! I will keep you posted! Oh!,I need some suggestions for naming our lil place! Today is July 27, Well, it has been 4 days since I wrote, I have been busy, busy, but in a good way, Sherri Marie has been so wonderful to take me places and answer all my million and one questions. As I said above the kids are in heaven, they are so enjoying having their cousins to play with. They wake and wanna know who they are visiting today. I sit here and think how, we got here, and how long the road has been. And how difficult and how how joyous, so many emotions from completely different ends of the spectrum, and I think I am at perfect peace with who I call God. TODAY I am at perfect peace. I had made it an absolute mission to get Wyatt into a Christian school, preferably, Oldsmar, Christian, the school I had attended, and the nights I had laid awake, gripped with fear, and that small still voice still whispering, "Angie trust Me, Angie trust Me", just a whisper, not a command or an invasion, just very soothing and calming, as I would doze off, "Angie trust Me". I would make it through another night. Until another would come. And then I would start all over! Boy am I weak, especially when it comes to my kids, I just can't help myself. I am learning, but it is soooo a process. I had been given the names of 3 different schools but just didn't feel right about any of them. So I decided to just wait. So I wait and continue to trust and pray that God holds Wyatt's future, not me, his mother, and believe everything would work out. I am relieved to say it did, and he will be attending Oldsmar Christian! The little ones will be going to the middle school by our house for one year and then next year will transfer to Oldsmar on full scholarship. God is so faithful. We are just human and so often we are tattered and torn from the fight and we just cant see the end. But somehow God always gives us enough courage to get through. The kids met 2 more of their cousins today and they said Mom, they just keep comin and comin! They are lovin it! They wake up and ask, "So who are we gonna meet today?"

Sunday, July 17, 2011

The Move

Well, we are  back in the area of my birth, some 26 yrs later, and I have never tired of the salt air, the gulf breezes or the obnoxious sea gulls! I was at Walmart just down from my house and sea gulls landed on my hood looking for food! I was just saying some pretty nasty things in my head about the heat and the traffic and the rude "older" retired person who gave me the finger, which I must say was not age appropriate, but when that little bird cocked his head at me, the beautiful blue sky as the landscape behind him, I thought WOW, I am just blocks from the ocean, my lil "cottage" (I have named it and lil is not an understatement) is  just walking distance; once again, shame on me! Ok, saying all that,  I will tell you how we wound up here, and then once we are settled I will get back to our story. Kenny still had found no work, and like I had said in previous posts, my Dad had always said, just as my Mom, his home was our home. But, the difference in my Dad,  (they have been apart for 19yrs) he has 3 places, with almost no debt, that we can move in and pay very little. He had made that offer from the beginning but, everything is a process, and I am certain, looking back, God absolutely had us planted for that time in North Carolina. So timing is everything. So Sunday, July 2, I felt a release to leave north Carolina, so we called Dad, he headed up, we pooled our money, my brother also pitched in, and here we are. So let me explain the set up of the 3 places here. They are just blocks off a main highway and blocks from the ocean. BUT.... BUT>>>> The are in desperate need of TLC. One is an RV and the other 2 are mobile homes (very old ones). They have loads of potential and just need lots of elbow grease and someone like Dad who knows plumbing and electrical and Kenny who knows construction. We have the kids beds all lined up in the living rooms now because the bedrooms have no walls. But, they love it!  So we may stay or may renovate and sell and get something else. I just don't know. But, I do know it is a wonderful feeling to not have a mortgage or worry about paying the utilities and have cable! I feel so very thankful, even though some may see it as something "less" than what they would live in, I am so grateful and appreciative, and we are just enjoying "living" without all the other stressors that keeps you from enjoying the little things. We have a beautiful yard, we have the water, and an adjoining park with a huge dock. So I had this idea, to start documenting the renovating process. So I took some before pictures and I will be up dating them daily. It has been a very hard and tiring week. We pulled in from a 12 hr drive and the truck we were driving, that was pulling one of our trailers, the rear end went out, so thank God for his protection all those miles. But now we have to face fixing that vehicle. We will be getting my Bronco fixed, thank God it is under warranty, but the main thing we are settled, the kids are happy, and our next mission is finding a church. Will be posting pictures tomorrow, so you can see how things are looking!!! I am trying to come up with a name for our new lil place, ummmmmm........

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Another Devastation Within A Month

My Denali had to be serviced so Emma had picked me up and we lived on a one way street which was only one block from the kids school. Well , it just so happened on this day we finished and were heading through town at around three o'clock. We decided, at the last minute, to drive by the house and then up Mitchell Ave. It was completely random timing, we were going to one more location and then back home in an hour or so, however, as we passed a group of kids, I see 3 boys over 1 boy, they have pinned on the ground . Well, instantly I get fired up, just because the child on the ground is out numbered and then I yell, "Stop!" I have never been able to watch when there is one person at a great disadvantage. The boys all seemed about the same age, but of the three they all looked bigger than the boy on the ground. But suddenly I had a sick feeling come over me, the kind of dreadful sadness you come to in a moment when your mind begins trying to tell you there is much more that you need to understand than you are willing to accept. At that moment I recognized the shirt, it is Wyatt! Emma slams on the brakes, jerks her Audi  in gear and yells, "GET OFF HIM!!!" Wyatt jumps up, scampers for his glasses, and says, "Oh don't worry Emma and Mom we were playing around". And takes off almost running toward the house. Well the little boy said some profanity and said, "Dude, no, we were not playing around",  and by this time Emma had him by the shirt and my head was racing with all kinds of thoughts, but the main one was, Emma is 18 and these are just kids, if she decks one, she will go to jail!. Well, then, one of the boys Mothers pulls up and Emma said, "Mam you better tell your son and his friends to leave my brother alone!" She said, "Well, I would suggest you stay out of it, its not really a big deal". Emma said, "Well I think 3 to 1 is a big deal, I tell you what, they touch him again, I'll show YOU what a big deal it is!!  Cowards!!!"  Thank goodness the woman left and didn't take Emma up on the offer, because, Emma is not the kind to back down. So as we rode to get my truck we went over a million different scenarios in our minds, thinking of every sign we may have missed. I just couldn't think of any. When I got home I spoke to Wyatt and he still said they were just playing around, but I could sense a deep humiliation and embarrassment. Wyatt is very private, very proud, even as a boy he was a grown up. But, in that conversation he opened up and started asking me about the clothes and shoes he had. Why did he have so many tennis shoes. Why did he have shirts with that moose on them. (Abercrombie & Fitch) I always got the kids clothes out the night before and I had noticed Wyatt, had started wearing the same sneakers everyday and he had started wearing solid t-shirts, ones I had  gotten him for gym class. You see this was a new school district for us we had been in a little school for 6 years, actually the same one Emma went to. When we moved to our 6th Avenue house, it was a much broader and more diverse group of children. So I just dressed the kids the same way I had before. And there again, you think as a parent, you have all the answers, if they have the nicest clothes, the latest tennis shoes, the best back-packs, no troubles will come their way. Well at this new  school, I had actually created trouble for Wyatt. Not only was he the new kid, he was the new kid that stuck out. And if you knew Wyatt, you'd know, he couldn't care less. So Emma took him to eat and he told her it had been happening for most of the year. This group of boys, out of their own sadness and lack of having things, had singled Wyatt out, and to take the attention off what they didn't have, they had been humiliating Wyatt. So Emma told Wyatt that those boys didn't have a family like he had to teach them to be good to other people and how to treat other kids, but he couldn't stop wearing what Mom had bought him either, just because those boys were the way they were. And she would be glad to kick their butts!!!!  But we saw a sadness come over Wyatt and a depression that year, that broke our heart, we FELT helpless. Wyatt had always been so quiet, so introverted.  We never knew what he was really thinking.  He thinks on things for weeks and weeks and suddenly he blurts out some extraordinary statement that is way beyond his years. He, also, so loved friendship, and held it so dear to his heart, and he was a true and loyal friend, he to this day has never spoken of those boys. He brought that sadness to North Carolina with him. What is so funny, I say funny, I guess for lack of a better word, is I had prayed that somehow God would make a way that the kids would not have to return to that school. Never did I think I would have to lose my home or leave the state of Florida to do it!. A scholarship to North Florida Christian would have worked! As people would meet Wyatt they would say, he just seem so sad, and it would just rip my heart out, I will tell you, I have not wanted to write this post because I knew it was going to be very emotional. I knew he was, Kenny knew he was, but we just could not seem to get free from it. He needed God to touch him. We didn't know what was the root of what was going on inside him, but it just seemed to be slowly bleeding the joy and happiness out of him. Bitterness had started in Wyatt and the sadness and the loneliness, all those things, no one, no pediatrician, no medication, no book, no special diet,  NO ONE, was going to be able to help him, he needed a touch from God. Well, we had been attending a local, North Carolina Church and had some unforgettable moments at this Church, and even the Pastor had made the statement that sadness seemed to surround Wyatt. I wanted to jack him! That means deck him!!  One Wednesday night, after my class had let out, I slipped in the back of the youth service and the children's church Pastor was filling in for the youth Pastor, he was a wonderful man named Mike and he and his wife, Becky, are extremely sincere and good people. He was closing the service and he asked if anyone felt all alone and needed God to touch them and Wyatt, YES WYATT, raised his hand, and Pastor Mike went to him and just started praying over Wyatt and saying things that were exactly what Wyatt had been through, and a flood of tears came down that boys face and I felt pain so deep in my heart I thought I would die. All I could do was feel immense gratitude and thankfulness and utter amazement that here, in Clyde North Carolina, my son was having a moment of great healing from a past hurt almost 3 years removed. Nothing we had tried worked, NOTHING, all it took was the willingness of that 12 year old boy to surrender his heart to God and say, "God I don't want the sadness, I don't want the bitterness, take it, take it all". And I also realized, it didn't matter if he said all the right words, he didn't have to know all the right theology, it was simply a matter of his heart reaching out to God in a moment of immense honesty and trust. Even now, as I write, I weep, God help me, for the first time in years, on the ride home, Wyatt laughed!, He laughed! It wasn't long before he was even belly laughing! He always tried to laugh, always wanted to laugh, but it was as though his internal war was just far too hopeless. What God can do if only we are willing to say, "God take it, take it all, I can't fix it myself, only you can repair the deep recesses of our heart that no ones sees, only you can fix the wounds so deep no one knows they are there, God only YOU". The truth of it? That twelve year old boy, with the spirit of a fifty year old man, reminded me of something I would desperately need over the next two years!

Monday, July 4, 2011

Back To Our Story

Well, lets get back on track to tellin our story. I had said many many things happened in 2008 that touched my very soul. I spoke of Emma's ordeal  and still have many blanks to fill in, and  I will continue later. But that same year it seemed every one of our children had some sort of threat toward them. As a parent it seems as though a cloud hangs over you when it comes to your children, what if they get sick, and its fatal, how will they deal with their first heart break, what college will they attend, who will they marry, the list goes on and on. I guess it is all about "fear".  We never run out of things to, not just worry about, but to absolutely
become immobilized by.  Part of the modern wisdom, we have all been taught, is the idea that "our" children have to have the best of everything, they have to have the best of education, health care, surroundings, jobs,
friends, clothes, cars, experiences, family, emotions, blah, blah, blah....It is only limited by our imaginations.
Beyond that, it will only grow as we grow in money, status, and social standing.  The point is, what and when
is "enough", and over what and when should we genuinely be worried?  We had done no better than most in these regards and our "worry" list was far too long and way too insignificant!  However, in 2008, the first year of the television broadcast, our worries became all too real, and all too genuine, and it incorporated "all" of us.Well I had been shopping and Kenny had the kids and I got home and he said Cole and Bella had been playing most of the afternoon outside, so I got undressed and un loaded my things, suddenly Cole came running in and was screaming, "Dad, get outside NOW, Bella got into fire ants!" Kenny ran out and found her standing in an pile of leaves with ants crawling all over her legs.  Amazingly, she had only about nine or ten bites.  Kenny brought her in and  put her in the tub, bathed her, and she had stopped the wailing and panic, and was beginning to calm down.  She got out of the tub and went into the kitchen to the little dresser where we kept her clothes. After a few minutes I came into the hall and she was sitting on the floor in the kitchen, still in her towel and underwear, and she was scratching and acting a little irrational. I yelled out to Kenny and asked him if she had acted odd when he brought them in. He said, "No", but as I watched her she became more and more odd, she was waving her arms about and speaking out of her head. Well, when I pulled her towel off her she had a rash starting on her face. I had been very sick that day and I did not feel like doing anything, but I could not help but sense she was going way beyond what should be "usual" in this kind of situation. I called for Kenny and he said they had played hard and maybe she just needed to be put to bed and we discussed just putting her to bed and seeing how she was in the morning.  But, you know as a Mom you have those inner voices, well this was one of those times, I had a very strong voice inside of me telling me I had to take her to the Doctor, and right away. I kinda felt silly even suggesting it to Kenny, because their really wasn't any obvious sign of real danger, but I just really could not get a good sense about things.  It was just turning eight o'clock and I felt a strong impulse to just snatch her up and get her to the walk-in clinic, and I felt it was a time urgent matter. So I grabbed her, loaded her in the Denali in my pajamas, and straight to the walk in clinic we went. The walk in clinic was only about 1 mile and within a block from the house she started to fall asleep and her breathing became very labored. I began to panic. I called Kenny and told him to meet me there because I would not be able to carry her with my back. When he heard she was falling asleep he said he should have just put her in bed and let her sleep it off, but he would come up in just a few minutes. I pulled up to front door, left my purse and the keys in the ignition, grabbed her, ran through the front door, and began yelling for a doctor, what I didn't know was, they closed at 8:00 and it was 8:05 and somehow, (which the nurse said in the four years she had worked there they had never done) they had not locked the doors, I ran to the back still calling for a doctor, one look and they knew she was having a reaction to some sort of allergen, by this time her eyes were swollen shut, she was covered in a raised red rash, and her breathing was shallow and very labored and she was very, very lethargic. I told him she had been bitten by several ants, and as I looked down I saw her feet and saw that she had been bitten about 10 times, so  at least we knew what was causing the problem. He gave her a shot and, I kid you not, with in 5 mins, she was up and talking! When Kenny got there had he not seen the pictures I took with my phone I don't think he would have believed the severity himself, besides, when he got there Bella Jewel was sitting up, completely alert, and doing something she was already very, very fluent at, talking her head off.  The doctor told us we would need to follow up with a specialist the next day, because obviously she was highly allergic to whatever kind of ant bit her. So off to our dear friend Dr Rand Malone. Of course, it is very rare to be allergic to fire ants, and yes she was! The good Dr. said that in over 3,000 to 4,000 kids he had seen in the previous few years there were less than 5 who were allergic to ant bites. They did the panel, and had I not driven her to the doctor, had Kenny put her to bed, he said she would had lapsed into a coma and she would have died, just that quickly, I would have went in to get my baby up and found her dead. I was soon to see my eldest on a computer screen, in handcuffs, soon to change the future of her life, what I was rolling over and over in my mind was that we were within hours of having to arrange for the burying of our youngest, and, maybe, most tender-hearted, child!  I am not a skilled writer and I don't have the words to even begin down the road of verbally describing how I felt the moment Dr Malone was telling me how close we came to losing Isabella. An innocent afternoon of playing in the yard with Coleman, he had a wheel barrow and he was dumping her in leaves, I was shopping, it was a Saturday, but we could be waking Sunday morning to go to church and finding her dead. I just sat there, thinking how quickly, in a split second our life could have changed. Losing the house, losing the Denali, being away from Kenny, all that is bad, but the death of a child is one that, without the absolute touch of the hand of God, I don't think a person ever recovers from. The timing of what had happened, and the "How" it had all happened, forced me to think of how God protected and made provision for us that day, how easily Kenny could have put her to bed, the clinic doors could have been locked, every minute counted and God was with us every minute opening every door. It seemed as though the universe had set itself against us, and somehow it had been with the permission of the one we served- God. But, even with His permission, His protection was never far from us. I think, so often,  evil does set out to destroy or wound or even kill the ones who are trying to do what is right, and there may be a time or a season in that persons life when God says ok, for this "time". "You may try or test them, but, you cannot destroy them, I have given them the power to over come (maybe just to survive), My spirit, that lives in them, is sufficient to over come whatever may come their way". I know that all may sound mystical, but its really not. It is very basic, really. I think about Emma's situation and how it tore my heart out, 3 yrs later, looking back, what a necessary journey for Emma that was. So valuable for her future. It just about killed me, but , would I go through it again for her benefit, you bet I would, I love her that much. Isabella, almost dying from a common ant bite, it caused such fear in me, God how will I keep her from getting ant bit in FLORIDA! Another one of those moments when God whispers, "Angie trust me". So all these things, that it seems were meant to destroy us, God took them and made them, not only not "harm" us, but, also, to become of great value to us. The beauty of that still makes me wept as I write it today. I feel so small and inept as I sit here now, God has seen from the beginning of time and He sees until the end, and I trust that He holds my future with the utmost love and concern, so much that He didn't just tell me what to do, (that is give me a long list of prohibitions and laws), but He became personally involved in the suffering of human-kind, He planned for a Personal sacrifice of His own, One which would cause Him the most horrid and painful affliction of heart and soul. That means it is very hollow when I tell Him about my pain as if He could not possibly understand the kind of pain we suffer! So as I reflect on our story I tell it to bring hope to those who face day to day crisis and feel they have no hope. There is hope, true hope and it lies only in One- God. Someone asked me if I was bitter at how the church (and that means a number of different churches) had treated us. And they asked in a question, but it was meant to be more like a statement and then they said, "Well you must not be in church anymore with the way they acted toward you". I said, "Absolutely we are in the church, it is our life-source, it is our childrens' source for life, we certainly have no hope without the church". Where in the world would we be without the hand of God in our life during these difficult times. Churches are just a reflection of the grace of God, they are filled with insecure and broken people.  The greatest problem the Church seems to have in our culture is some over-arching sense of being "special", of being "deserving", of having been chosen by God because there was something unique and special in "them", that is, of course, the most egregious and hideous of ideas!  It is All about God!  What God has done, He has done because it is His very Nature to Love and Rescue.  The Church is just the place where we assemble to celebrate and worship Him for His Grace toward us, but when it all goes right, when the Church abandons it's sense of entitlement, when the congregants surrender their Pride and haughtiness and simply applauds Him for His mercy toward a rigid and contrary human spirit, there comes "life" to us and strength!