Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Bye-Bye to a WONDERFUL Year!

January- I witnessed my first twin birth. We went on a ski trip. We finally got pregnant :)
February- I told JB on the 9th that we would be parents this year... I tried to wait and surprise him on Valentines Day, but couldn't hold out. Tues, the 12th, we announced the pregnancy to our parents, my sister and my grandparents.
March- I was ready for the nausea to end!
April- Our friends Lance & Vanessa had their second baby boy. He was my first pregnancy to go through as the "head" midwife (something we have to do to complete our training). This was such an honor because not only do we love this family, but I had been at their first birth in the hospital and got to take them through this pregnancy and welcome #2 at home. JB & I celebrated our 5th wedding anniversary on the 26th.
May- Had our first twin birth at the birth center, it was a CRAZY busy month with births!
June- We enjoyed a wonderful babymoon in Hawaii, I got to see my first twin homebirth and breech homebirth
July- We celebrate the 1 year anniversary of our birthing center
August- My wonderful friend, Danielle, and her mom threw me an amazing baby shower- we are so blessed to be surrounded by such incredible friends! I had a pretty bad car wreck and was so grateful for the Lord's protection over me and Harper
September- I took maternity leave, moved into our new house, celebrated my 26th birthday, prepared for Harper's arrival, and completed the last birth I needed for my midwifery training
October- I went into labor on the 19th and we experienced the best day of our lives on the 20th, welcoming Harper Joseph into the world with a wonderful homebirth. He meets JB's parents, grandmother, cousin & sister.
November- Marcy & my grandparents meet Harper for the first time. We host Thanksgiving at our house. Harper attends his first birth.
December- Harper attends his second birth (and almost third :( ), we take our first car trip as a family of 3, packing a lot more stuff w/ us, to see Marcy graduate from Tech! We celebrate our first Christmas as 3! JB turns 28. Mom & Dad celebrate 30 years of marriage!! Millie, my childhood dog, dies at 9 years old :(. We bring in 2009 as a family of 3 (me nursing Harper and missing the countdown :)
Happy 2009, Thank-you Lord for blessing us so richly in 2008!!!

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Daily Lessons...

"The world is not a playground; it is a schoolroom. Life is not a holiday, but an education." Henry Drummond (from his sermon "The Greatest Thing in the World" thx Delia!)

This quote really stopped me when I read it. It's so simple, but incredibly profound I think. I've realized that most of the time when I'm complaining about a situation I'm in or the way something doesn't turn out "perfect", or how God is constantly taking me through the same lessons over and over.....my perception and my focus is really off or shifted. I forget that God cares more about our holiness than our happiness. I lose sight of the fact that everything doesn't always work out like its supposed to just because I'm me and that's what I think should happen. I forget that everything is not about winning & losing or surpassing every goal I set for myself or the people close to me. When I get in that place and I'm frustrated or beat down, God reminds me that it's all about one thing: HIM!!!

Proverbs 3:5-6 says "Trust in the LORD with all your heart, And lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He shall direct your paths.

Notice how it doesn't say, "In most of your ways acknowledge Him..." or "In the good times acknowledge Him...", or "In your toughest times acknowledge Him.." It says "In ALL your ways..." I can't tell you how hard that is for me!! I know I'm probably the only one struggling with this, but God doesn't want me in pieces...HE WANTS IT ALL!!!
So it's all about Him. Doing everything I do to the glory of my Father and then being ok, excited even, and ultimately completely at peace with the end result....because it has nothing to do with me. I'm beginning to think that sometimes God doesn't get the most glory by me always being 1st at everything, or always outdoing the guy next to me. I'm learning that my attitude and the passion with which I love His people, in EVERY circumstance, brings Him more glory and honor, even if I'm not #1 at the end of the day.
I'm a very Type A, full steam ahead, nothing gets in my way kind of guy (high five feltsdia!!) But lately God has been teaching me to ask Him before I jump into things and wait on His direction, guidance, and peace to reveal to me how I may better serve Him and therefore glorify Him in every situation.
So life is an education. God teaches me something every day, but I must first seek Him and listen with a willing and open heart to receive His instruction and to act on it.

But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you. (Matthew 6:33)

My constant prayer lately..... "Less of me Father, and more of You"

JB

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Understanding my role....

This past year has been a lesson for me on the importance of my role and how important the man is in the structure of the marriage, the family, the business, and every other structure God has created. God has been refining me and rebuilding me (isn't He doing that to us all?!?), especially since Cindy and I got married.

Ephesians 5:25 says "Husbands, love your wives as Christ has loved the church, and gave himself up for her.

But the next verse is really awesome and we leave it out all the time, verse 26 says: "to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word."

But in order to love my wife the way God is calling and leading me to there is one thing that gets in the way and prevents this from happening.....SELFISHNESS. In order to love her as Christ loved the church, I have to be selfless. I lived by myself the entire time I was in college. I had the opportunity to move in with a couple different sets of guys, but like doing my own thing all the time so I stayed by myself through undergrad and grad school. So when I married Cindy and we got an apartment together in Dallas, needless to say it was a huge adjustment for me because I was so used to thinking only about myself all the time. The same thing happened when Cindy graduated and started working in the office with me. I had already been out practicing for about a year and a half and so I had always just done everything I wanted to do, because I was the only person in the office so when she joined me, I had to adjust to not being the only doctor in the office anymore. Even more so lately since we've had Harper. Both of us have had to adjust because now it's not just about us anymore!! Someone told me not so long ago that the reason God doesn't just show you everything you need to know or change you all at once was because if He did you couldn't handle it and now I understand that alot better. I'm glad He teaches us in steps and leads us down the path He has for us as slow or as fast as we require to understand Him and give Him total control.

Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Philippians 2:3

The problem with our entire culture is that we've been fed a lie that says the opposite of this verse. The world we live in tells us to do everything for ourselves and let others take care of their own problems. It says to look out for "numero uno" and not to worry about anyone else. But that's not what God wants from us at all. The love that God has for us and wants for us to have for others is totally dependant upon us putting others before us and putting ourselves second in every situation.
So I'm learning my role. My role as a husband, as a father, as a boss, and as a friend. And in each situation, God's teaching me to be self-less. With Cindy and Harper that means that I may not get to go do some of the things I had on my schedule that I thought I would because I need to take them somewhere or need to take care of Harper for Cindy so she can get some stuff done. As a boss I have to always think of myself second when I ask the employees to do something for me. As a friend, I'm trying to be here and be available and not always be the one to need favors or try and keep up with my friends better and not be the one who never calls. Sometimes I get convicted that I'm so busy all the time that I let down in one or all of these areas so I'm trying to work on that some to be able and balance my schedule a little more.
As a man though, I think me take our role and the importance of our support for our wives and kids lightly. And I'm learning more and more how vital the selflessness and unconditional love and support is from us as guys. It's convicting and scary, but challenging and exciting all at the same time.
I think a good gauge for how selfless you are is who you actually think about before you do something, or who you think about when you're setting up your schedule.....are you the first person you think about?? Or someone else? Something to think about I guess.

JB

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Toxicity and Purification

For the past 3 weeks I've been going through a "21 Day Purification Program" to cleanse my vital organs and repair my digestive system. Why did I do it between the hollidays??? Because I was tired of not feeling 100% and was ready to. Cleanses are never easy even though they offer enormous benefits. I've lost a little over 20 lbs, I have more energy, I can think clearer, the list goes on and on. But while I was on the cleanse God was showing me how me cleansing physically is exactly what He's been doing with me over the past few months spiritually.
There are so many parallels. With a detox program, your goal is to get rid of all the things in your body that are not good for it so that you can put good things back in to improve the health of your body. Isn't that exactly what we do when God leads us through a spiritual cleanse?? We're looking inside to see the things that are not healthy for our spiritual body and "detoxing" them, giving them to God, so that He can replace them with the things of Him.
The Bible has this to say about cleansing:
2Cr 5:17
Therefore, if anyone [is] in Christ, [he is] a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.
This is talking about detoxing the "old person" that was you and becoming a "new person" in Christ. All the "old things" have passed away and ALL things have become new.
So where do toxins come from anyway?? Physically we can become toxic from eating food that isn't good for us like fried food, fast food, processed food, artificial sweeteners, sodas, medications, etc. The environment is a big source of physical toxins as well. Things like: tap water, pollution in the air, cigarrette smoke in public, household cleaners, perfumes and makeups, and deodorants can all add to our toxic load and we don't even realize it. These things build up in our detox organs like our liver, kidneys, and lungs and begin to cause dysfunction (bad changes) in our body that can lead to decreased function in our body or eventually....disease and sickness.
Spiritually, toxicity happens the exact same way. We think thoughts or have attitudes that pollute our hearts and minds and make it impossible to hear God's voice to begin with and make it even harder to carry out his instructions. How many times do we neglect to help someone else because of self pitty, or because of bitterness over past circumstances, or because of un-forgiveness???
Phl 4:8
Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable-if anything is excellent or praiseworthy-think about such things
The bible also says that "As a man thinketh in his heart...so is he." Prov 23:7. It all starts with our minds and what we think about all day long and what we meditate on. Toxic thoughts turn into toxic attitudes, and toxic attitudes turn into toxic actions. Everything that goes into our minds either from what we read, what we watch, what we hear, or the people that we associate with has an impact on us and it can either lift us up and make us better, or it is going to make us more toxic and tear us away from the will of God.
Cleansing is not fun and it is not comfortable, physically or spiritually. But the reward on the other side of being able to function better and accomplish more in our physical body or in our spiritual walk with Jesus far outweighs the cost.
Have you cleansed lately??
JB

Sunday, December 14, 2008

On The Other Side


Being pregnant and becoming a mother has been such an incredible blessing and eye opening experience; so much so, that it is hard to express with words. I feel like I understand so much more; and, eventually, when I go back to practice I feel like this experience will make me a much better doctor and caretaker. Even though I have worked with moms through these experiences for years, it's like they say- it is TOTALLY different when you experience it first and and walk in these shoes...




One thing that has surprised me and aggravated me more than expected is the experience of nursing around other people- whether in public or in my own home. Because of this, I am so appreciative of my friends- the O'Briens- for doing the NIN Project, something I look forward to participating in with Harper. You can watch it at http://www.mothering.com/interactive/mothering-media/mothering-media-archives.html (scroll down to the "NIN Project"). I know friends and patients who have either chosen to not breastfeed their children or have stopped nursing sooner than expected because of our cultural perception and what others think is normal or not. However, I did not expect our culture and people's opinions to affect me as much as they have when it comes to nursing.




It all started at my baby showers, actually. I received several versions of what is known as a "Hooter Hider". Most people who have children or are around women who do, know what this is. And, I can not tell you how many times I have heard, "That is the neatest invention, I wish I had had one of those!" I politely smile at every person who says this to me, but honestly, I hate them! However, I do use mine religiously because it is just one of those things that I do- like many others do too- to conform to society and be respectful of people's feelings around me. Babies are not too fond of them either- notice how they kick around and try to move them out of their way when old enough to do so? It blocks their view of trying to bond with their mom and take in the world around them. And, seriously, we come up with an invention that is a major seller to hide something that is totally normal that we should be unashamed of?! Not to mention we give it this hidious, trashy name... Such is our culture! Then, I can not tell you how many times I have heard different versions of this same story any time La Leche League meetings come up associated with nursing conversations: "I went to one of those groups because I was the first in my family to nurse. It was all I could do to compose myself because you have all these 5 yr. old kids walking up and lifting their mom's shirts to nurse- ugh!" And this one is classic, at one shower this lady that I had just met walked up to me and my mom. She was wearing poor fitting clothes that revealed a decent amount of herself. I only say this because I laughed about her attire after she shared her story. When Harper was acting hungry, she starts in, "Yeah, I was at the grocery store this one day, and this lady was walking around nursing her baby under a blanket and her stomach was totally showing. I just can't believe people do that in normal places like the grocery store- yuck!" To which I responded- well if your child nurses for half an hour about every hour, you are forced to nurse on the go sometimes otherwise you would never go anywhere or get anything done.


Truthfully, I did not expect breastfeeding to be such a sacrifice or as time consuming as it has been. For instance, when Harper was trying to bring in my milk, he nursed non-stop for 13 hours straight. I am not joking or exagerating, ask JB! I thought my life was over... However, even though it is hard at times (it has gotten easier and become a more normal part of my life), I am very grateful for the experience. Like the fact that sometimes I am the only one who can comfort my son. I have the perfect food for him at the perfect temperature, ready at all times. I am decreasing my chances of illness and his and increasing both of our chances of health and wellness by choosing to nurse exclusively! His diapers don't stink. It forces this A-type personality to slow down, sit down and make my son my number one priority, letting everything else go. And best of all, nursing is often the perfect excuse to leave any situation I want out of. Ha! Thank goodness for awesome, encouraging moms and friends who make it easier because it has been hard enough! I had one patient/friend/mentor email me something that JB and I still smile and laugh about. It was the perfect word and came at the perfect time. She reminded me of Psalms 22:9- "Yet You are He who brought me forth from the womb; You made me trust when upon my mother's breasts." Telling me to remember that Harper was learning to trust the Lord everytime I nursed him; I am a part of teaching him this! Then she joked about how she told her husband one day, "I am never going to be able to wear a shirt again!" I did not even realize I had felt that way, but boy had I ever! Despite all the encouragement, I have been met by plenty of opposing opinions. Even those who are in support of nursing often do not seem very happy that you are nursing around them. Like when I walked into the nursing room at church the other night. I laughed to myself at a room full of women all very diligently using their Hooter Hiders. Seriously?! Hooter Hiders in a room full of nursing women?! First of all, we all have them- boobs or hooters I mean- and second of all we were all using them to feed our children... Meaning you honestly think I have time to stare at you when I am trying to feed my child?! Pathetic culture of ours! Then there is my poor dad, who I told after he commented several times on how uncomfortable my nursing made him, that he was just going to have to get used to it if he was going to be around us. He quickly realized I was right, since it seems this is all we do these days; and now he sits around like it's just normal- because it is! But, I still have other family members who simply walk out of the house when I nurse. Oh well, we spend too much time doing it to have to go to another room everytime we have to eat! And, then there is my precious mom, haha! When we were out shopping at Southlake, she freaked out that I might get arrested because I had to nurse in the park and had forgotten my hider in the car. I informed her that it is the law that a woman can legally nurse anywhere she is allowed to be. At my sister's graduation the other day, she kept re-arranging my hider because she was nervous that the guys behind us were trying to gawk at my breasts. And, she is constantly telling her friends that everyone in the metroplex has seen my boobs because I just "don't care who sees them". I constantly remind her that it really doesn't matter because they don't look like mine and aren't really mine anymore anyway! She is extremely supportive of me nursing Harper, but all of the things she says and does just remind me of how abnormal and uncomfortable our culture has made this NORMAL process. UGH! Also, we recently played Joseph, Mary and baby Jesus at my dad's church in the Christmas Play. I can not tell you how many times I heard the joke of Mary "having to pull a Janet Jackson on stage if Jesus got hungry."
One of my favorite reminders of what an awesome Creator we serve is breastfeeding. Did you know that when a baby latches on to its mother's breast, the baby's saliva tells the mom's body exactly what milk to make for the baby? This fact just gives me chills! God did such an incredible job when He knit our bodies together! In other words, each feeding the milk is different because the baby's needs are different. Sometimes it may need more fat and other times more protein. This is why the same mom can nurse a newborn and a toddler and both will get exactly what he/she needs- NOT the same milk but the perfect recipe for that specific child at that time from the same breast! God created the saliva to tell the mom's breast what the baby is ready for and needs. Pumping, pacifiers and/or formula can NOT come close to doing that! Why do we try to run so far from what we have been created for?!


So this is my soap box to say I have now experienced it firsthand, and it drives me crazy and makes me so sad to live in this culture that shuns normalcy and health. I should not be made to feel so bad about something that I am created to do for the benefit of my family. I mean the fact that a girl can walk in a the room scantly clad, revealing more of her body than I would ever dream of revealing, and I will get more judgemental looks/comments from discreetly nursing my child than her outfit will generate is insane. We could be such a healthier, happier nation if we would spend more time and money on teaching and encouraging moms to nurse rather than freely offering formula. This is a reminder to encourage moms who choose to nurse because they are getting plenty of encouragement to pop the top of the formula can and heat, shake, and serve... More blogs to come later on the wonderful formula recipe and why it is quite possibly one of the nastiest things you can give your child!

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Contentment


Philippians 4:11-13: "I'm not saying this because I'm in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all things who gives me strength."

Philippians 4:19: "And my God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus."


One of the many things God has been teaching me lately in my quiet times with him is this principle of being content. He's taught me and I've learned from his example how to be thankful in all things, good or bad, but it is an entirely different matter being content in those same situations, good or bad, in plenty or in want. For those of you who don't know me very well, I'm an all or nothing kind of guy. There's not really any shades of gray with me. But I'm also a "bigger and better" guy as well. My mind races all the time with new ideas and new things I want to do and accomplish so I'm always accomplishing one thing while planning another at the same time. At the men's retreat with Gateway Church that I went to 3 weeks ago or so, I don't know if I shared this, but God gave me a picture while I was praying and reading his word and journaling. He said (and I could see this as clear as day): "You're living your life like a shopping spree. You're rushing down every isle, pulling as many things off of the shelf as you can before they blow the whistle, trying to get to the finish-line with more things in your basket than the others." Then he said to me: "I don't want you to do that anymore. I want you to slow down and only pull the things off of the shelf that I tell you to. What's the point in having this basket full of stuff if it wasn't what I wanted for you?" Pretty heavy huh?!? See, he was showing me how I was constantly not content with where I was, or what I had, or what I was doing and I was having to do the next thing to satisfy me. But that's not what he wants for me. He wants me to accomplish more with less by only doing the things he asks me to and only going for the things he tells me to!


I think we get caught up in the monetary side of contentment: money. But this verse isn't only talking about money. Being content with the gifts given you means monetary and material gifts, sure, but it also is talking about spiritual gifts and talents as well. In the States we are always caught in this rat race to try to be like someone else. Young girls are taught they need to look like a model and be popular like the movie stars. Young boys are taught they have to be the star athlete. Moms think they have to be the everything to everyone (just like so and so's wife). And men are constantly trying to accumulate more for them and their family or are duped into thinking the more toys they have the more successful they look. It's all just a lie from the enemy!! God says that in any situation, be content and be happy with what God has blessed you with because he won't bless you with anymore until you've proved faithful with that. Satan knows that if he can get you focused on stuff and on the things you can have, you'll take your eyes off of Jesus. You start to trust in the things of this world and the possessions you have instead of the love and direction and provision of the living God. It sounds really silly when you write or read it like that but it's so true. I do it all the time and it is always a constant struggle with the flesh to not put any stock in your bank account or savings account or investments because none of it is yours anyway!!


I think it's a matter of perspective really. If we always remember that we are merely stewards of all that we have and that we don't own any of it, it's not as hard to keep from being attached to the things of life. I'm still working on this one alot and am learning daily, but when I get frustrated or feel my contentment drifting away, I remember: "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me!"


JB

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Thanksgiving


Psalm 28:7 "The LORD is my strength, my shield from every danger. I trust in him with all my heart. He helps me, and my heart is filled with joy. I burst out in songs of thanksgiving."


Cindy and I have alot of things to be thankful for. Yesterday morning during my quiet time I was praying and asking God his purpose for some of the difficulties we've encountered lately and have worked through and was His will is in those and one of the things He said to me was "I want to know that you'll praise me and be joyful in the hard times, as well as the good or easy times." I think it is really easy to be really thankful as long as everything is going the way we want it to or the way we've planned it out, but as soon as things start getting hard or things start to fall apart, the last thing we think to do is to be thankful or to praise Him for it. I'm just as guilty.


In Job, God allows Satan to test Job to show that his servant will continue to praise Him no matter what happens to him. After the first trial and losing all of his family, all of his servants, and most of his flocks, Job's response was: Job 1:20-21 "Then Job arose, tore his robe, and shaved his head and he fell to the ground and worshiped. And he said: Naked I came from my mother's womb and naked shall I return there. The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away. Blessed be the name of the Lord!" In all of the calamity and heartache he was going through, the very first thing Job did when the winds and the waves came was to fall on his knees and worship and bless God!! That passage totally convicted me when I was studying it because God showed me time after time that I was going through trials that as soon as it got tough, I started complaining, instead of praising!! I'm still learning and I'm still working on it, but the bible also says that "The joy of the Lord is our strength." so when I'm feeling down about a situation, it's because I haven't laid it at His feet and then left it and turned my eyes back on Him.


Today I'm going to be thankful. And when it is going really good, I'm going to be thankful, and when it's going really bad, I'm going to be thankful.


"Count your many blessings, name them one by one. Count your many blessings, see what God has done. Count you blessings! Name them one by one! Count your many blessings, see what God has done!"


A fitting old hymn for today I think. Count your blessings, see everything God has accomplished and is continuing to accomplish in your life and in your family. You'll be surprised, for every one thing to complain about, there are 2 or 3 to praise him for.


Happy Thanksgiving!


JB

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Fresh Start: New Lessons for a New Family


You know, one of the things I was scared about when we were pregnant with Harper was the daunting task of teaching him all the things he needs to know as he grows up and the huge responsibility that teaching another person is. His entire world view and his experiences depend (at first) in large part based on how we expose him to and teach him new ideas. But I've changed my mind about that. Now, the teaching part of being a parent is the part that excites me the most.

Proverbs 22:6 says: "Train up a child in the way he should go and when he is old he will not depart from it."

Our biggest charge as parents, but also our biggest opportunity is to be able to teach our kids. We have the opportunity to teach them God's love in a real and tangible way, teach them how to learn, teach them to listen (to others, but ultimately to the Holy Spirit), teach them humility, teach them honesty, and on and on and on. And the ultimate opportunity is to be able to teach them better than we were taught as kids. I mean, that is the point isn't it?? For each generation to learn from the previous one and not to repeat their mistakes or the let their ignorance remain??

I have a great family history. I was adopted as an infant and grew up in a christian home. Every time the doors of the church were open we were there as kids all growing up. I love the chances we had as kids to see God in action and to hear the word. Yeah, no matter what happened to us, we heard the word of God on a daily basis and that (since the Word of God is living and breathing) was the most important thing. But as good as it was, our parents were just doing a little bit better than their parents before them. No one is perfect, but there are things I want to teach Harper that I wish I had been taught.

The first thing I want Harper to experience and to learn, by my words and seeing it backed up by my actions is unconditional love. I want him to learn that my love is not contingent on him being an all-american at anything, or winning the state championships 3 years in a row, or making it to the regional or state competition in literary events, or making the game-winning free-throw. My love for him is based on the fact that he is my son, that is it, and that is enough. And because he is my son, my flesh and blood (remember the blood covenant feltsdia??) that binds me to him forever and nothing could get in the way of my love and pride for him.

The second thing I want him to learn from Cindy and I is unconditional love for others. I want him to understand that just because someone else is any different than he is: different color of their skin, drive a different car, go to a different church, dress in different clothes, speak a different language, have a different opinion than him, that that doesn't make him better or worse than them....just different, and that is perfectly fine!! I want him to love people because Christ loved every person he ever met, Satan included! When Jesus was asked by the Sadducees which of the commandments was the greatest he said: "The most important one is this: Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. The second is this: Love your neighbor as yourself. There is no commandment greater than these." (Mark 12:29-31) Isn't it interesting that God's two favorite commandments have to do with love for Him, and then love for others?!? Where in that verse does it say to "Love others as yourself, as long as they look like you.", or "Love others as yourself, as long as they have money.", or "Love others as yourself as long as they think like you." IT DOESN'T!!! I want Harper to show God's love to other people freely, no matter who they are!!

The last thing (for this post anyway) I'm excited to teach him is proper stewardship and respect for money. I want him to know that his identity is in Jesus, NOT in how much money is in his bank account, or how expensive his clothes are, or what car he drives. I want to teach him that money never fixes money problems, and what's the point of having money if you can't share it with people who need it??? I want him to understand that the role of money is to allow you the opportunity to spread the gospel to those who are less fortunate. All money is the Lord's and is a blessing, but is also a huge responsibility to take care of it correctly. I want him to learn how to do that early. It took me well into college doing my own studying to really understand how God felt about money and I've made plenty of mistakes along that road that I want to keep him from.

This post is kind of lengthy, I know, but God started showing me areas I was going to be able to fill in the gaps for Harper that I had to fill in myself so I wanted to share. I've got other lessons in my head He's lining up for me to teach Harper, but I'll share those later.

Everyone makes mistakes, and there are no perfect parents....but our children are too important to not give them our best.


JB

Friday, November 21, 2008

Choose to Encourage!

I was so humbled yesterday in the office and it was by (of course, of all people) one of my little kids who comes in to the office. I swear I learn more from the kids in the office about life and treating others than I ever have doing anything else. This little girl isn't even one of my official patients. Her mom is pregnant and comes to me for prenatal care and is using one of the midwives next door and her daughter just happens to come with her each time she gets adjusted. I make it a point to talk to her on every visit and have worked on getting to know the little girl even though I'm not seeing her. I love the kids more than anybody (no offense to the rest of you!) because they are so uninhibited!! They say what they think, they get well super fast because they don't realize they aren't supposed to do that ;), and they're just real. Cindy says I get along with them so well because I'm on their brain wavelength!! They just think I'm a really big version of them!
Yesterday was a rough day for me. I had to deal with alot of issues coming up in business (we'll just leave it at that) and work through some bookkeeping housecleaning things I needed to tackle and was in a thoroughly depressed mood before I got to the office yesterday afternoon to see patients (owning your own business means you have to do the things you love AND the things you hate/I love patients, but hate to deal with business). I was ready to throw in the towel and go get a teaching job at the college and see a handful of patients out of our house and just be done with it!! I just felt like I was about to crack. So I prayed my heart out before I started so that I wouldn't bleed all over patients as I began my afternoon and felt a little relief but was just down overall. A couple hours into my day, still acting happy, and feeling beat down, this little girl walked up to Mae (our secretary) at the front desk and said, "Is Mr. Doctor Jim Bob here??". Mae told her I was with a patient so she thought about that for a minute and said, "Ok, well, could you give him this for me?" and proceeded to pass Mae a note to give me. This little girl is about 8-9 years old and we have had some great (and hilarious) conversations during her mom's visits. Mae catches me as soon as I walk out of the room with one of my new patients and smiling, gives me the note from this little girl (we'll call her "Susie"). "Susie" had made me a fold out card that she had written my name is big bubble letters in the middle of the page and all around it had written words to describe me. She put all these incredibly nice things all over the page about how nice I am, funny, a good doctor, patient, and all these words covering the page. She even drew a little picture of me explaining how a spine works to her just like I did in the office for her during one of their visits. In that moment God said, "See...this is why I have you doing this. Stay focused, trust in me, and never give up." It totally turned my day around and I zipped around the office like I was high on caffeine or something (my usual self!).
My whole day (and the day for dozens of patients after that) totally changed because this little girl chose to be an encourager. And to think, encouragement is one of my gifts that I'm called to use, and this girl blessed me more than anything by using my own gift back on me! It made me think about all the times I think great things about the people around me and then let the moment pass and don't actually tell them. People need to hear those things. They need to hear that you think the world of them, or that they are a great friend, a good listener, an excellent mother, a worthy father, a loyal son, a beautiful daughter, a wise brother, and all the other things that you feel about them. Why hold that back and miss blessing them or yourself?? So for the rest of that day I encouraged everyone else I had on my schedule and determined to tell each of them something positive about themselves while they were there so that they would feel better about themselves when they left than when they came. And you know what?? When I do that, I benefit more than they do! God heaps blessings on you when you dole them out to other people. In 2 Tim 1:3, Paul is writing to Timothy and he says, "Timothy, I thank God for you--the God I serve with a clear conscience, just as my ancestors did. Night and day I constantly remember you in my prayers." He made a point to write to encourage Timothy to help him on path that God had him on that Paul had helped establish. One of the enemy's biggest tools to get us to sit on the bench and get out of the game is discouragement. The weapon that God has given us to use liberally and freely is the opposite of that: ENCOURAGEMENT!!!. So find someone who needs encouragement and throw some their way, you'll be amazed how much better you feel when you tell someone else how much you think of them.

JB

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Keeping it Simple

I don't know why as humans this is so hard for us (especially me). Everything we do we try to make so difficult and hard to accomplish that we set ourselves up for failure every time. If you really think about it, we do it with almost everything. Take our health for example. I have patients almost daily who come in looking for this grand scheme I'm going to cook up for them to re-claim their health and bring them back from the black hole they've dug themselves in and help to get them back on the right track. What they normally find is that the things I recommend are very very simple like "Drink more water!". And alot of the time they act like, "That's it?!? I spend all this time here and pay money for you to tell me I need more water?!?" And they act annoyed that what I'm suggesting is so easy. But in our quest to search out and conquer the "impossible" tasks daily when it comes to our health, we forget the basics. We forget that we need at least half our body weight in ounces of water a day (as a minimum!) just to stay properly hydrated (that increases with exercise). We don't even notice that as we're hectically rushing around, we're not breathing at all and our oxygen levels are dangerously low, causing headaches, muscle pain, and heart irregularities. We get so busy that we eat anything that is convenient for the day and forget that our bodies were created perfectly to require certain foods to sustain good health and without these foods, we will begin to get sick and have symptoms we don't normally have.
Isn't this the same thing we do with our relationship with God?? I know I do.. We act like, and are taught alot of times, that the Christian life and a life lived for God is very complex and so hard to figure out that we feel like we need a seminar degree to understand our calling. We get so busy in our normal lives that we forget the most important thing every day is to constantly be in prayer. We get frustrated because we can't hear God, but then we never actually pray and then allow time to listen! When we do pray and ask God what we need to do with a particular struggle we have, sometimes the answer seems too simple. Recently I was trying to discern if I needed to change a couple procedures in the office and if I needed to get more in depth on a couple of our protocols or not. So as I was praying about it and really seeking God over what I needed to do, He answered me and said, "Just love the people I send you." And I said the same thing I hear people say to me everyday, "That's it?!?" And He said, "Yes, that's it, and it is more than enough." So that's what I've set out to do every day, and you know....people are getting better and I'm happier. Amazing how that works when you say "Yes" to Him and allow His will to be at the forefront of your mind constantly.
So I'm trying to go back to the basics with my walk with the Lord. I'm praying, I'm reading, I'm journaling, and I'm listening for the next thing He has for me to do. Sometimes I hear specific things when the patient comes in, something specific for them. When I don't....I just love them, and let God take care of the rest.

JB

Monday, November 17, 2008

"Freedom!!!"


Finally!! I've been pleading with God, asking Him for the past few weeks/months what this constant heaviness has been on my heart and why I couldn't jump to the next step in my relationship with Him. Don't get me wrong, the past few weeks have been incredible, and He's been showing me so many things, but I just felt like I was right on the bubble and couldn't figure out how to "pop" through to the next level. I just got back from the "Alpha Excursion", a men's retreat through Gateway Church where we attend. I, along with 270 other men from the church drove out to Tanglewood Resort on Lake Texoma Friday, Saturday, and Sunday for some insanely incredible worship, annointed preaching & teaching, and some much needed quiet time with my awesome God. God had been begging me to "be still" and spend actual quiet time with Him and that's exactly what I did this weekend.

I had been really stressed out lately and just not satisfied or happy with the way things were going. Not happy with my prayer life, the office, my roles here at the house, any of it. Harper wasn't sleeping good all week so I was exhausted, my poor wife was wiped out and frustrated and I just just genuinely wore out. It's amazing how God will take you to the breaking point to get you on your knees to really have you rely completely on Him to be able to receive the word He has for you. Brady Boyd, pastor of New Life Church in Colorado Springs, CO. was there and preached 2 of the 4 sessions. The first night Brady talked about the fact that as christians we have to be alert (1 Peter 5:8) and be ready to deal with whatever comes our way. To be alert we have to know how to pray, and to continue to pray in all occasions (Ephesians 6:18). That verse in Ephesians talks about praying in the Spirit on all occasions, and until recently I really didn't know what that meant. I've been praying for God to teach me and to open my heart and mind to all He has for me, and I'm seeing new things He's designed for us to be able to experience Him in a more personal and deeper way.

In his second session, Pastor Brady talked about the Lord as our Shephard and what that means. He talked about all of us being on a path and the Lord being our shephard and guiding us down that path and that even when we venture off the path, He doesn't get angry with us, He's excited when He finds us and restores us unto Himself. He constantly looks and searches for the "one lost sheep". We dug into the 23rd Psalm and looked at the depth of what "The Lord is my Shephard" means. For alot of us, and especially me, our worst enemy is ourselves. Satan doesn't have to work very hard to knock us off course because we're so unfocused in the first place. Self-reliance is the hall-mark of our culture and our generation and it can be a good thing, but when it comes to our relationship with God it is what keeps us from total dependancy and trust in Him and His leading. We talked about how we're all on a path, and even though we think we've got it figured out and thing we know where we're going, God is who directs our steps and determines our course, no matter what we originally thought (Proverbs 16:9).

Pastor Tom Lane (Executive Pastor of Gateway Church) continued on Saturday night talking about emotions and how we should express them, and how we can express them in a healthy way. Then Sunday morning (after the most intense worship session I thing I've ever experienced), Pastor Bobby Bogard (pastor at Gateway Church) hit us hard with a message on condemnation and how as men we are the best at beating ourselves up. But God is not a God of condemnation, but of forgiveness and unconditional love (Romans 8:1-2). And it hit me!! God totally let the scales fall off of my eyes to see what He'd been seeing all along: Most of my life I've been so concerned with trying to prove myself to everyone around me with the accomplishments of my hands and the conquests I've had and have carried around so much guilt that I wasn't ever doing enough. I grew up always thinking that no matter what I did, no matter how many medals I won, or how many championships I won, or how many honors I received, that it was never good enough and that the bar was always a little higher than I could reach. Satan used the talents God gave me to imprison me into thinking that it mattered to God how much I did and it mattered to God how much I accomplished. But in that moment God reached down and cradled my face in that service and said, "Son, I'm proud of you and I love you no matter what you've ever done, or no matter what you ever do again. You could never do anything to make me not love you or to make me love you more. You are a trophy on my mantle and you are special to me." The dam built up in my heart broke and the rivers of His love rushed through me and flooded the borders of my soul. Freedom from guilt, and freedom from the bondage of accolades is one of the most fulfilling and joyful things I've ever felt. That morning I started the process of letting go of all the guilt and all the unforgiveness in my heart that I had stored up against other people and against myself for the past 20+ years. I know it will be a process, but I feel so free now that it will continue to get better.

God is a God of love, unconditional love.....open up your arms and open up your heart and receive it!
JB

Friday, November 7, 2008

"Oh, be careful little mouth what you say..."


"For the Father up above is looking down in love, oh be careful little mouth what you say..." How many of us sang this song as kids or have taught it to their children, but don't think about the meaning behind the words and practice this themselves. The power of the spoken word goes way beyond what people understand.
Let's look at just the neurology (brain chemistry) behind speech and what you say and how it effects you. The things that you say to or about other people and the speech you use with yourself trains your brain on a daily basis on how you want it to think about any and every topic you deal with. When you think about something (like a particular person) your brain is like a filing cabinet, it opens the drawer related to this person, pulls out the file with their name on it, reads it and says.."Ohhh yes, we don't like this person for this or that", it closes the file and sends a signal back down to the front of your brain and then you have a reaction or a response to seeing or hearing this person. This reaction happens with every single thought about every single thing every single second of every single day. Every second you have 3 trillion bits of information coursing through your brain, 3 TRILLION!!! The brain is processing everything you do and everything you and those around you are saying and is storing a memory to that. Here in lies the problem. The amazing and scary thing about your brain is that it is moldable. You can alter what you think about a certain topic or person, for good or for bad. And the body doesn't know the difference between you saying something to yourself and hearing someone else talk about themselves or something else around you. So grandma's old addage "You are who you hang around.." is neurologically correct. You will implant nerve synapsis based on the ways people are talking around you. So if you're around someone who says that they themselves are ugly, and dumb, and no good at anything, and talks negative about pretty much everything, your brain doesn't know the difference between them talking about them, and them talking about you...so it assumes that's how you feel about you. When I used to travel and shoot professionally, my mental coach (ex-olympic gold medalist in rifle shooting) used to tell me that for every negative thought you had, you had to tell yourself 5 postive thoughts to reverse it. Negativity is POWERFUL!! Satan likes nothing better than for God's people to do nothing. And the quickest way to do that is to have them feeling so down about themselves and about each other and to talk to each other about it and to feel more and more depressed that they don't feel like witnessing or ministering to anyone!!
In James it talks about the power of the tongue and how it is like the rudder on a ship, a "small thing that makes grand speeches. But a tiny spark can set a great forest on fire." James 3:5-6. The smallest things we say without thinking can really wreck a person's life....
With a new son I was laughing with Cindy the other day, but everyone always freaks out about someone smoking around their kids, or cussing, or something blatant, but then they'll let someone sit there and speak negative, discouraging things over them or someone else and we don't do a thing about it. The body can detox the cigarette smoke, but it takes alot of work to get over what someone says to you.
So be deliberate in what you say or what you allow others to say to you or about you. Because what you say is a "small spark that can set a great forest ablaze...".

JB

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Harper's Newborn Photo Session

We went to see Marquette at Simple Treasures Photography on Halloween morning for Harper's newborn photo shoot. Unfortunately, he was not a happy baby like he is most mornings. Of course because mommy really needed him to be happy! I'm sure my stress level was not helping his. But, Marquette is amazing, and she managed to get some incredible pics despite my little boy's attitude. Please contact her for your family's photography needs, you won't be disappointed. Love you, Marquette!! Here is what she blogged about our session:


And my newest Baby Plan member...Baby 'H'...he is gorgeous...just like his mommy!!!


Tuesday, November 4, 2008

"Godly Leadership"


As I was reading back through one of my journals tonight, I came across a comparison study I did between the leadership style of David vs the leadership style of Saul. What really interested me alot was that Saul was chosen by God to be Israel's first King. Up to this point they had not had a King at the head of their people...they had the prophets and the judges. But after complaining enough God gave them what they wanted, a king to rule them. He hand-picked Saul to be the first king, but somewhere in the middle something happened and he took his hand off of Saul and brought David to the front where he was called , "A man after God's own heart." So what happened to Saul?? And made him that much different from David?

Saul was doing great as King for awhile because he was following God's lead and Samuel's advising. But in 1 Sam 13, it talks about Saul becoming impatient and offering a burnt offering after a battle without waiting on Samuel to arrive and offer the burnt offering himself. Because he broke God's law and did not follow Samuel's instruction, God took his blessing and his hand off of Saul and put it onto David. The way Saul reacted to Samuel's rebuke is interesting too. Instead of humbly accepting the rebuke and asking for God's forgiveness and repenting, he tries to justify what he did and tries to explain himself (1 Sam 13: 11-13). That one act of disobedience took Saul out of the running for God to establish Saul's kingdom forever. Instead he was replaced. Saul again tries to justify his sin in 1 Sam 15:20-24. When Samuel confronts him, he offers us excuses instead of pleas for forgiveness.

So what made his reactions so different from David, claimed to be a "man after God's own heart"?

Take a look at just the reaction to sin: For Saul there was always justification and excuses. But reading about David and Bathsheba in 2 Sam 11, when the prophet Nathan came and confronted David about his sin, David IMMEDIATELY confessed his sin (2 Sam 12:13). He didn't try to justify his actions or make excuses or pass the blame on someone else, he was responsible for his own mess. Saul tried to make himself look better while he sinned by covering it up under the guise of doing something "good". He was offering a sacrifice, a good thing right?? Well, not when it is performed against the law of God and without his consent. How many times do we disobey God, but do it under the banner of "doing good" to justify ourselves and help us feel better about disobeying in the first place.

David continually focused on God's will, and God's plans, where as Saul focused more on his own plans and desires before God's. At one point in scripture in 1 Sam 15:11, God actually says "I am sorry I ever made Saul King, for he has not been loyal to me and has refused to obey my command."

David was a man of forgiveness, Saul was full of bitterness and resentment. Saul became so jealous of David and God's blessings on him, that he tried to intentionally hurt him, kill him even. Even though David was his son's best friend! David on the other hand, never returned Saul's jealousy or hatred. David had two chances in the scriptures to actually kill Saul and he refused (2 Sam 24, and 2 Sam 26). Both of these passages show David as full of mercy, and full of love for a man who is trying to kill him!

It's really sad to read, but Saul had the potential to be one of, if not the greatest of God's chosen kings in all of the bible, but he threw it all away for his own wants and desires. It sounds so ridiculous when you hear it said like that, you think, "I would never do that!". But how many times do we?! How many times do we give us the blessings of God because we feel like we know what is best for us so instead of praying and waiting on God to answer us, we push forward in our own strength to do what WE feel like WE need to? Both Saul and David made mistakes, both of them sinned....but only one truly repented and truly begged for God to forgive him and immediately turned back to the Lord.....David. What a beautiful picture of potential and what happens when we allow God to have all of us and even when we mess it up, going back to him and letting him help us become better and wiser in him, vs potential totally wasted on ourselves. One of the ways the enemy likes to get to me is with my schedule. God has blessed me with alot of talents, but they are all "filthy rags" without him and when my schedule gets so crazy that I don't know which way is up, it's easy for me to forget who gave me that potential or that talent and I try to do it by myself. "Pray and then plan"....that's what he's trying to teach me....and that even when I fall: "Jesus loves me this I know..." he'll always be there to catch me.


JB

Sunday, November 2, 2008

"Jesus Loves me, this I know..."

My heart is filled to overflowing and my mind is racing....."Jesus loves me this I know"....such a simple song and yet probably one of the most profound. This morning I finished my first journey through a book that for no other way to describe it yet (my mind is still reeling) has rocked my world. I just finished reading "The Shack" and if you've been on the fence about reading it and have heard people talking about it (which you probably have) then do yourself a favor and pick up a copy of it today.
I had been recommended to the book by a couple of my closest friends and mentors and also a whole slew of patients who kept coming in with it and reading it while waiting in our office to be seen. I started it this week and finished it up this morning with my breakfast.
This book is a "Paradigm Destroyer" so I wouldn't recommend reading it if you're not ready to re-think what you've been conditioned to think about God, Jesus, the Holy Spirit, and who they are and the relationship they have with each other and with us. I love in the forward the writer says, "A couple of final disclaimers: Mack would like you to know that if you happen upon this story and hate it, he says, "Sorry....but it wasn't written primarily for you." Then again, maybe it was." Because if you read this story and refuse to really read it and look into yourself at your own story to see where you need healing, then yeah, you may hate it...because it is vvveeerrryyy convicting!
I think the thing (currently at least) that I loved the most about the book is the depiction of the relationship God desires to have with us. I've always had this weird view of God as this lofty heavenly being who sat more like a supreme court judge passing out judgements that a tender loving father who wants his children to climb into his lap and take in his mercy, love, and grace. I love the relationship it paints between God, Jesus his son, and the Holy Spirit. Being a very relational person, this part of the book made me cry because that's the exact type of God the Father that I would want, but had never thought of it that way. I had always been taught that you had to come to him in reverence and awe, and total protocol & respect when he just wants us to call him "Papa" and let him hold us and rejoice with us through the good, and help us through the bad.
The book is a wonderful depiction of forgiveness and rebirth...not of the person, but of the soul. The great thing about the forgiveness it talks about is when it says that "Forgiveness is not about forgetting, it's about remembering." It talks about how God doesn't ask us to forgive others and then forget all about what they did to us, rather he teaches us to forgive them in spite of remembering the offense clearly for what it was and choosing to forgive them anyway.
But one of the most beautiful parts of the book and one of the most meaningful to me because it is just where I'm at in my walk with the Lord right now is the illustration of the Holy Spirit ("Sarayu" in the book) and how he talks to us constantly and the ongoing dialogue we can have with him if we just listen. In the book Sarayu (Holy Spirit) promises to never leave Mack and to continually talking to him...if only he'll just keep listening. I always wondered why so many times, the things I hear the Spirit saying to me are so quiet. This weekend we had a guest speaker at Gateway, Rick Bezet, and he spoke about Forgiveness (and I swear he just finished The Shack too!!) and he said that the reason God whispers all the time is because in order to hear him you have to be still, lean in, and focus on him to hear clearly. It is an act of intimacy with us why he whispers because he desires that closeness so much from us. And to think that the God that made the entire universe and hung every star in the sky wants an intimate relationship with ME.....blows my mind. I'd never thought of it that specifically before. I've grown up in church and sang the songs, and answered the Sunday school questions, and can talk "Christian" with anyone....but have missed out until recently on owning the information. On really understanding this love...this relationship that I have with him. I may have to blog on this again because I'm still processing all of this but....I don't know...."Jesus loves me this I know..." I don't think I really knew before....but now I do....and it is blowing me away!

JB

Thursday, October 30, 2008

"What are you Afraid of?"


Lately God has been guiding me back through some of the old testament in my studies showing me profiles of different men and groups in the books of the old testament and pictures of how they either followed God completely (and the successes they had because of it), or how they doubted God and did their own thing (and either the failures or delayed success because of it). Isn't is interesting how you can go back and re-read the same story you've read a thousand times growing up, but God has something new for you every time?! We've talked about it in our life group that we lead and I brought up how it confused me sometimes that Jesus would "Blind their eyes to the truth" in the scriptures to keep them from seeing (like after he was crucified and walked with the disciples and they didn't know it was him); one of the wives in our group (I'll never forget this) said, "God is only going to show you what you need at that point in time, he's only going to show you what you are ready for."

I've been studying about many of the men in the bible who continually said "Yes" to God, without question, and read as God blessed them beyond belief and stood by them through it all. But I knew that there were other great men in the bible who didn't say "Yes" right away, and I wanted to know why?? So God led me back to Numbers, Joshua, and Samuel. In Numbers, the Israelites have just made it to Canaan (The "Promised Land"), the land they've gone through so much to get to that God has promised them (and led them there PERSONALLY!!). When they get to the edge, they send out 12 scouts for the 12 tribes of Israel to give a report on the land. When the 12 get back, 10 of them are so freaked out by what they saw that they are hopeless, blubbering messes about how big the people in the land are and how powerful their cities are, and on and on they go. Only 2 of the scouts, Joshua and Caleb are positive: "Let's go at once to take the land, we can certainly conquer it!" Num 13:30. Even in Exodus 3 when God appears directly in front of Moses to tell him to go to Egypt to free the Israelites....HE ARGUES WITH GOD!!! And in 1 Samuel 10, after Samuel the prophet and judge of Israel had already anointed Saul to be Israel's first King, when he called all the people together to present him to them, HE HID IN WITH THE BAGGAGE!! God himself had to tell Samuel where he was! Now these aren't small people in the Bible, these are some of the greatest names in the book! Why would they balk at God, why would they question his purpose for them, why wouldn't they move forward into the land God had already given them?? One word: FEAR. The Israelites were so afraid of the Amelekites and the Canaanites that they wanted to elect a new leader to replace Moses to lead them back to Egypt and voluntarily re-submit themselves to slavery under the pharaoh! Moses was afraid when he saw the burning bush and heard what God wanted him to do because he was afraid they wouldn't believe him when he came to Egypt and that he wasn't a good enough speaker! Saul hid from his calling (in the bags it says!) because of his fear of failure and of letting the people down. But God is not a God of fear, but of HOPE and COURAGE and TRIUMPH. At the end of Moses's life, after not seeing the promise God had made to him because of his doubt and disobedience (remember when he "struck" the rock instead of "touching" it?), he repetitively told Joshua as he handed over the torch to him to be "Strong and Courageous; for the Lord will never fail you or abandon you." He said it several times like he was re-assuring Joshua that he would be OK as long as he kept God in the front of his life, and his people.

Reading back through these really got me thinking about me. How many times have I missed out on the "Promised Land" because of Fear?? How many times have I either blatantly told God "No" or ignored him (same thing right?) because I was either afraid of what he was going to ask me to give up (remember, obedience always involves sacrifice, but sacrifice is not always obedience), or what people might think of me, or thinking I wasn't going to get to do what I wanted to do (sounds so dumb doesn't it?!?). I've learned in the past few months that my fears are no match for my God. And every time he calls me to do something, no matter how "big" or "small" it may seem to me, when the fear wells up, I hear Moses: "Be strong and courageous!" and I say "Yes" and God has taken me into new lands I didn't even know I was standing on the borders of! My borders have multiplied 100 fold, not because I'm something special, but because I'm not. I'm not the smartest guy in the room ever, or the most talented, or the strongest, or the fastest, or any of those things...but God likes the underdogs! All of those things get in the way because they make me think I can accomplish all that I want of my own strength, when what he wants is for me to be totally dependant on him.

So what are you afraid of?? Chances are, if you're that afraid, then God has something amazing planned for you, and the enemy wants you to say "no". The enemy wants you to have to wander in the wilderness for 40 years because he knows that will keep God's will at bay in your life. So say "NO" to that spirit of fear, and say "YES" to Jesus and let him lead you into your promised land and help you slay the giants in your life. It's worth it...trust me.....


JB

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

"To Worry or Not To Worry"


I know some of you might be shocked by this since I don't show this side of me very often, but I'm just like anyone else...I worry. I worry that now that I have a son, I want him to have it even better than I did (which is going to be pretty tough to beat!). I worry that with the election here upon us, depending on which way it swings, our taxes are going to drown our businesses. I worry about going back to work and leaving my wife here at home by herself. I worry about not being busy enough in the office to keep everything going so that we can help more people. I worry about being too busy in the office and not getting to spend the time with my patients that I really want and that they deserve. I heard a quote a pastor said one time, he said, "Big worry=Little Faith". He was talking about in Matthew 6 when Jesus is teaching about worrying, he says "Oh you of little faith..." talking about those who are worrying about everything from what they would eat, to what they would wear. And I never understood what that meant, and it actually annoyed me, until recently. The clearer and more audible I hear the Holy Spirit speak to me, the more I'm seeing the things in my life for what they are: tests and opportunities for growth and glory for my God. God has continually been teaching Cindy and I (both severe Type A personalities) to COMPLETELY surrender everything we have to him and allow him to take care of it. Cindy and I are very capable people and we think that in a tough spot (especially me) that we can just cinch our belts up a little tighter and just push right through it of our own strength and abilities. But like what Pastor Robert was teaching 2 weeks ago about stewardship, we don't own a thing, God owns it all.....including our abilities. So even the times that I've felt like, "Man, I did good on that!...Did you see me? Did you see how great I did?!?" (and those of you who know me best can totally see me saying that!! Be quiet Landis!) Even in those moments, it had nothing to do with ME, it had everything to do with HIM. He gave me the talents and abilities so even when I think I'm doing a great job....it's him. Pretty humbling isn't it?? And at first pretty scary....to think about laying down everything and giving up ALL control. For me it was even scarier I think because I'm one of the biggest control freaks I know!! My motto, I think I adopted from my Dad, has always been "If you want something done right, do it yourself!" So I would sometimes rather do everything myself and have everything crash and burn around me, and me make myself sick from the long hours and sleepless nights, just to say that success or failure....it was all ME. All the while God is watching me saying, "Soon....soon you will get to the point of complete exhaustion and all you'll have is me, and you'll let me take this burden for you....and I'll blow your mind how I'll take care of it for you!" And I finally got to that point this year (earlier in the year...late spring, early summer). One of my biggest strongholds in my life and hardest things to give up is my business/finances. God has always been faithful that no matter what happens, he's kept the accounts just where they needed to be. Well, I got in a really tough spot earlier this year and was contemplating having to sell some of the equipment!! And I felt like God (I hadn't started listening well enough yet!!) asked me to tithe double that week!! I told him that I wanted to, but that there wasn't even enough money in the account to pay the staff or the bills, let alone tithe! But I told him I would consider it and maybe next time. (CAN YOU IMAGINE!!! I WAS SO DUMB!! LOL) But that entire week God bore into my heart to give double our tithe AND he wanted Cindy and I to give 4 figures to the new building at North Richland Hills. It was so strong that I brought it to Cindy and told her what I was feeling and of course (happens every time), she confirmed what I was being told because he had told her the same thing. So probably 75% willingly (lol....good thing God takes the good and the bad..) we gave what he asked of us. We gave knowing that if God didn't come through for us (as if he ever hasn't) that we couldn't pay any of our staff and the electricity might get turned off. And that next day we had so many insurance checks come in the mail that it more than paid for everything we needed and then some!! And God has done that over and over and OVER AGAIN...but I have such a hard head I think it took me watching my incredible wife birth Harper to really finally implant this in the core of my brain that HE is in control of everything. HE is in control of my finances, HE is in control of my family, HE is in control of my staff and businesses, HE is in control of the election and the future, HE IS IN CONTROL OF IT ALL. And all I have to do (and he doesn't say it will always be peaches and cream soda) is put my trust in him and get out of my own way to let God work through us to get his will done. That doesn't mean that there aren't consequences for past mistakes, that's for sure. God is a forgiving God, but he is also a just God and he knows that allowing us to walk through some of our mistakes teaches us and makes us cling to him tighter knowing the alternative. So no, our finances aren't overflowing like the Mississippi during flood season, but they are consistent. Yes, we still struggle to make some of our bills...but some of those bills were unwise and purchases without asking God's opinion, so those are the hardest to meet (go figure). But my heart is happy and my heart is free because I'm not bound to those bills, or to those bank accounts....I'm bound to HIM and in the promises he has shown me about what he's going to do through Cindy and I and through Harper, my son. He's given me visions of what Harper will do one day as I hold him that make me cry. The other day, Cindy needed to shower, so I put Harper in a sling and I put on Kari Jobe's worship CD and we danced in the living room and worshipped God and I cried the whole time, because of the things I saw while I was there. I didn't want that CD to end, believe me.

So when you feel the worry creeping in, stop the worry and start the worship. Because in the times we are at our lowest, get ready because that is where God is going to use you the most. It is still hard for me to give it all up (because I want to be helpful... ;) but I'm getting quicker to do so....because I want all of my plans to be his plans, not mine. "Pray and then Plan" is my new motto....I'll let you know how it works out!!

JB

Saturday, October 25, 2008

"The Busy Body"


Cindy and I have been so blessed since Harper's birth at the outpouring of prayer, support (food, clothes, gifts), and help we've been offered and received from friends and family. I don't put "patients" down here because we consider ALL of our patients our friends, and some of our patients are our family! As I was praying and reading the Word this morning I was just reminded of a perfect picture of the Body of Christ and what that means and what that was intended to serve: Yesterday Angie Kough brought her kids over to see Harper and Cindy (me too I guess, but I don't think I'm the main attraction!!) and to bring some clothes and a gift from the kids. The kids brought Harper a gift that I've still been thinking about since they left. Some of the mothers at James Avenue Church (now known as Convergence Church at James Ave) wanted to create some creative things for their kids to do together and also to allow them to help bless members of the church and the community...so they helped the kids begin making blankets to give as gifts. So these awesome children made Harper a blanket (super soft, with "forgiving" material ;) and Angie said that when they finished...all the kids gathered around the blanket, laid hands on the blanket and prayed over the blanket!! And they brought that blanket ("blessed blanket" we're calling it) and gave it to Harper!! I was so blown away by that simple act of kindness from the kids of parents of a church that is not even our church home, we just are blessed to have many friends that go there and that we work with in the office. When I touched the blanket, God said to me: "See, THAT is how I created the body of Christ to function....everyone blessing each other, using their gifts to glorify Me as they lift each other up." What a perfect example of how the body is soooo important to us and I think it's fitting that we're shown that by the children! The kids all drew my pictures that we have on the fridge and wanted to see him and hold him....it was very humbling. I hope that we have the chance to always bless others the way we are continually blessed.
But as incredible and awesome as that act is, Satan has a perfect tool to confuse and distract the body so that this simple, powerful act of God's love doesn't happen.....it's called BUSY-NESS. I know in my own life this is the simple arrow that the enemy keeps in his quiver that always pulls my focus off of Christ and his love and the people he's placing in my path each day to minister to. In Luke 10:38 you read the story about Martha and Mary when Jesus comes to visit. Now in the scriptures it says that Jesus "frequently visited their home" because he loved the companionship and hospitality. But at this particular visit, as Jesus is talking and teaching and probably telling great stories of their travels and just fellowshipping with the disciples....Martha is working her tail off to fix the food, clean the dishes, set the table, find the candles, clean her house, fix her make-up, fix her hair, set out the proper books for him to see, make sure the mirror had been cleaned (you know how Mary gets when she brushes her teeth!), taking out the trash, spraying Aubrey Organics Air Freshener (she new how Febreeze was bad!), and on and on and on, while Mary sat at Jesus's feet and just listened and did "nothing". Marthat gets really frustrated with Mary and even complains to Jesus (this is soo classic!) and the scripture says "interrupts them" in the Message: "Master, don't you care that my sister has abandoned the kitchen to me? Tell her to lend me a hand." (Luke 10:39-40). This shows us a couple things really, 1. Martha had probably already bothered Mary more than once about helping her and she wouldn't pay her any attention since she was so focused on Jesus the entire time which is why she eventually asked Jesus to tell her because she figured if he told Mary to help her that she woul! and 2. Martha was so focused on the "stuff" around her that she had COMPLETELY forgotten who it was that she was complaining to! She was wining to the SON OF THE LIVING GOD that her sister wouldn't help her with the kitchen!!! Then Jesus says this to her: "My dear Martha, you are worried and upset over all these details! There is only one thing worth being concerned about. Mary has discovered it, and it will not be taken away from her." (Luke 10:41-42 NLT) The great thing about this passage is that Mary and Martha were BOTH serving Jesus. Martha's act of service was in the preparation of the meal and the hospitality of the visit, which is huge and is VERY important. Mary's act of service was different, it was simply sitting at the feet of her Lord and listening to him. Both were doing things for Christ, but only one of them was doing something with him. How many times do we get caught up in the process and forget about the person??? I'm speaking to myself on this one more than anyone because if you know me, you'll know that I'm a workaholic. Not in a "I hate to be home so I'll work to death" kind of way, more in a "God has blessed me and I want to do as much as I can so I'm going to work from dawn to dusk to get it all done" as if God can't expand time to allow me to get more done in less time if I'd just give it to him instead of trying to accomplish it all in my own strength. Man, sometimes you wonder how God doesn't pull his hair out with us because we can be so dumb!! So don't forget about Jesus in the middle of all this service. And thank God for the Body of Christ to be able to rely on in times like these: good and bad, sickness and health, prosperity and poverty, succes and failure, happy or sad, encouraged or discouraged, mountain or valley. In all these times, the body is God's hands to reach out to each of us.
"...sometimes my world gets filled with so much noise that my heart gets pulled away but i find my peace in you and if i seek, i will find a treasure in you that time can't take away.." Kari Jobe "Sanctuary"

Friday, October 24, 2008

Listen and Obey


Psalm 128 Says: "How joyful are those who fear the Lord-all who follow his ways! You will enjoy the fruit of your labor. How joyful and prosperous you will be! Your wife will be like a fruitful grapevine, flourishing within your home. Your children will be like vigourous young olive trees as they sit around your table. That is the Lord's blessing for those who fear him. May the Lord continually bless you from Zion. May you see Jerusalem prosper as long as you live. May you live to enjoy your grandchildren. May Israel have peace!"

Last fall sometime, Pastor Robert (our senior pastor at Gateway Church) preached a sermon on "How to hear God". He always talks about having conversations with God (Holy Spirit) as if they're sitting next to each other and just gabbing away. That fascinated and excited me, because Pastor Robert talked about how anyone could hear the Spirit as clearly as that if they do one simple thing: Listen and Obey. I was raised in a very traditional Southern Baptist Church. I had an amazing childhood so I'm not complaining, but it's just a fact that the Baptist Church doesn't teach or talk about the Gifts of the Spirit or about actually talking to the Holy Spirit that much so I had not been exposed to this until we went to Gateway. Pastor Robert said that the Spirit is continually speaking to all of us, but only some are actually listening, and even fewer are listening and obeying what they hear. He said that the Spirit will speak to you, very quietly, and if you listen and obey...then he'll speak to you again, but get a little louder. Then if you listen and obey, he'll speak again, even louder this time...and on and on...until eventually you'll be audibly having conversation with the Holy Spirit. I so wanted this and prayed and sought the Lord over this and asked for this very thing...but heard nothing. I heard nothing for months actually and got really frustrated (some of you know this story already so DON'T RUIN IT!!). A few months ago Cindy and I were candidates in a prophetic service for small group leaders at Gateway (if you're not familiar, leaders in the church who are gifted in the prophetic pray over you and then give you any word that the Lord has for you and they prophecy over you). In the service, one of the ladies who was a leader in our group (gifted in the prophetic) said to me..."You need to listen to your wife, as if she's the Holy Spirit.".....and........I said....."Ok". But left thinking "That's nice, but I listen to my wife pretty good...so...no big deal". For months I was still frustrated in my quiet times and in not hearing the Spirit but I kept hearing that woman's voice in my head every time I would pray or read scripture, "Listen to your wife as if she's the Holy Spirit". So finally (and those of you who know me well won't be surprised by this at all lol) I made God a deal. I said, "Fine, God. I'm going to prove you wrong. I'm going to say "Yes" to Cindy on anything she tells me that is different from what I was already going to do even if it is as simple as what shirt to wear that day, and I'm going to prove to you that she's not always right!" So I did, I started saying "Yes" to my wife and following her counsel to the "T" and guess what?? I've started hearing the Spirit so clearly sometimes I think another person is in the room with me! The blessings God has poured out on us since that time have been too many to number and some of them you wouldn't believe me if I told you. Which brings me to my point: Listen and Obey. Listening is the easier part by far. We all can say, "Sure I listen to God"...but how many of us (myself included) are actually following through with what he's asking of you? Our God is a just God, and he's a loving God, but he also is a selfish God: he will NOT share glory with anyone or anything. That includes your family, your job, your money, your talents....none of it. And it's been hard lesson for me to come to the point of telling God "sorry" for not giving him back 100% all the time of what he's given me. Last week Pastor Robert talked about the fact that God gave us EVERYTHING that we have. Everything we own, every talent or ability, every friend, EVERYTHING we have is a direct result of God working in our lives. So we don't own anything, we're stewards. We are just holding all of this for him and are supposed to be improving it and sharing it with other people. Here's a perfect example of opportunities he'll throw at you if you're listening. Last summer Cindy and I went to Panera for breakfast one morning. Cindy wanted to sit out on the patio (which she never does) so we got our food/drink and went out on the patio. Now I have really bad hearing (from shooting shotguns professionally for almost 20 years, and 5 sets of tubes in my ears). When we sat down, about 3 tables over there were two women, one older, one alot younger talking. As I was eating, I could hear every word they were saying. The older one says, "But you can't kill this baby, that would be murder, God wouldn't want that, couldn't you just give it away?!?", and the younger replied, "I just couldn't go through 9 months and then give it away, I have to get rid of it" Now one thing you may not know about me is that I'm adopted, and my birth mom contemplated aborting me but one of my family members (Grandmother I think,dont' ask why) talked her out of it and talked her into putting me up for adoption instead. So Cindy says to me, "Can you hear them", and I told he I could and she said, "You have to go say something!!!" I sat there a sec and drug my feet and then felt myself lifted out of my chair and before I knew what I was doing I walked over to the girl, clearly upset and said, "I'm sorry for listening in but I couldn't help hearing what you were talking about and I wanted to come tell you....my birthmom was in exactly the same spot you're in right now over 27 years ago. She was going to abort me, but she changed her mom and put me up for adoption and now, because of her gift and sacrifice, I'm married with a baby on the way, I'm a doctor with a huge sphere of ministry and none of that would be possible if I had not been allowed to come into this world. So please reconsider and please give your baby a chance!" She broke down and bawled harder than I've seen many people cry. The older lady jumped up and hugged her and said, "SEE THE PEOPLE GOD IS BRINGING INTO YOUR PATH FOR THIS BABY, CAN YOU SEE IT!!" And then turned to me and said thank you as she cried as well. We gave her a card and told her to call us if she ever needed anything. I never heard from her, but I know she had that baby and I pray God uses that child as much as he's using me right now. I still get chills thinking about it.

So think about it, and practice your listening skills. Everyone has heard the addage "You've got 2 ears and one mouth so listen twice as much as you talk!" Well, that goes for God too! We pray to him every day but don't give him a chance to respond. Listen to him, and obey him, and then watch what he'll do in you and through you!!!

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Lessons earned, Lessons learned...

It humbles me that we serve a God who is patient enough with us to actually teach us things on a daily basis and is patient enough to lead and guide us through journeys of total discovery. Because He is God that blows me away, because He doesn't have to do that. He could just think it and we would do, and be anything He wanted us to be, but that's not His will. His will is for us to have free will and to CHOOSE Him and His lessons.
Well, I'm no less overwhelmed and overjoyed at the goodness of God after what I witnessed here with Cindy 2 nights ago (has it been that long?!? "Stop growing up so fast!!" *tear*), but He has been bringing back to mind things He taught me during her birth and things He is teaching me even now. The verse: "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me." kept coming to mind during the entire labor. That verse says so many things but I think people don't take the entire verse to heart, I know I didn't until 2 days ago. I think we get too comfortable (especially here in the states) and just read that verse as "I can do all things...." and just leave it at that because we've created a culture and a society that doesn't "need" each other. But it doesn't say that we could do all things on our own at all. It says that we can do anything we could ever imagine, or anything we couldn't ever imagine.....through CHRIST who gives us the strength to do so. When Cindy was pushing and trying to coax Harper out at the end, I felt such a piece and such an outpouring of God's grace and love because He said to me, "See, she couldn't have done this on her own...that strength you're seeing in your wife right there, that's me." So as much as I learned about how incredible my wife is, I learned how ultimately incredible my God is and how much He loves me and my family. When I held Harper after he was born and when I brought him up to Cindy's chest (that's right ladies and gentlemen, I GOT TO BIRTH MY BABY!!!), God told me that he was going to be the salve that would heal the wounds in my family, and the bridge that would cover the gap in the relationships with my parents and sister that needed healing and I'm already seeing that happen.
The bible also says that God's grace and strength is made perfect in our weakness. It was so incredible to see that when Cindy got to the point of total exhaustion and total human weakness, outloud she prayed right there in the birthing tub and said, "God, I can't do this without you, I get it now...I give you total control. Please give me the strength to have this baby." And God was faithful and he answered her simple, humble, perfect prayer of petition and submission to His glory and His will. In me He gave the ability to go over 30 hours with absolutely not one second of sleep because He knew, and I knew, and I knew that He knew that she wasn't going to be able to do this alone and that she needed every person on our team at their best with me most important of all. He gave me the physical strength to physically support her for over 18 hours actively, climbing into positions to apply pressure to her sacrum that I didn't know I could get into. But more important, He gave me the mental and spiritual strength to lead my family and take hold of the promise that God had given me months ago when He told me that He had some things to work with Cindy on during her birth but He promised she would have a perfect labor.
Those of you who know me and know what all God's been doing with me in the past 2 months know what this means, and those of you who don't know me or what I've been doing with God, you'll understand: please just say "YES!" to God, no matter what it is and no matter what it takes and no matter what He asks of you. It's worth it all. So just say "YES!"

Monday, October 20, 2008

That was the absolute most incredible 18 hours of my life!!


I've been blessed to have been involved with and witness to many truly awesome events in my short 27 years....but NOTHING tops what I saw my wife do for the past 18 hours.

Cindy started into "labor" around 3:00 in the afternoon yesterday (Sunday, 10/19/2008). She wanted her mom there first so we called her and she came over and sat with us for a little while and when we clocked her contractions at around 3.45 minutes apart, we called Susan Hulet, our midwife to go ahead and come out to check Cindy to see where she was at at this point. Susan came over to the house around 6:00pm and when she checked Cindy she said she was at about a "4" so we knew we were definitely in labor, but it would probably be a little while. In the back of my mind though, I arrogantly thought it would be super quick and that would be that. Nine hours later Susan checks Cindy and she's at about a "7 or 8" she says. By this point we thought Cindy was transitioning because she was having such intense contractions so to hear that she was about an "8" was pretty frustrating. By this time we had our entire team at the birth (and had had them there several hours!). Even though Cindy did get frustrated, she birthed a beutiful, healthy 7lb 5 oz baby boy at 7:45 AM the next morning after 11 hours in active labor, 2 of those actively pushing!! His name is Harper Joseph.

Watching my wife go through that for the past 18 hours has literally changed my life forever. To watch her go through such trial, difficulty, dissapointment, pain, exhaustion, and "push" through it all to get to the other side and be the most hospitable person the entire 18 hours I could ever imagine and still have a smile on her face at the end, has made me fall in love with her all over again. Nothing I could ever say or do could ever match or top what I saw her do today. The amount of power and strength that God infused into her was so mind boggling that I'm still having a hard time sorting everything out. She went from being super confident, to totally destroyed and ready to transport, and all the way back to determined and hanging onto the promise God had made up about her birth from the beginning and persevering through to the end. At the end I literally burst into tears because I was so overwhelmed by the magnificent person that I'm blessed to call my wife. And to think, the entire time she was in labor she was only concerned about me and everyone at her birth. Wow, that's all I can really say right now because, for one, I haven't slept a wink in over 30 hours, and I just went through the most mind-boggling experience a person will ever have the blessing to go through once, let alone multiple times. So this post is to say I love Cindy Haggerton, my wife, and the mother of my son: Harper Joseph Haggerton. She blows me away in every way. Thank you God for blessing me so....