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Trust

Anna Dietzen Head ShotGuest Post: by Anna Dietzen, author of the blog “The Unexpected Journey”

Anna Dietzen is your typical twenty-something wife and mama, trying to navigate her way through cheerios and diapers, all while trying to make the most of everyday. A graduate of Biola University with a degree in Communication Studies, Anna worked the corporate America scene for 5 years before deciding to stay home with her two boys, Parker & Lane. She has taken her love of writing and experience of raising two boys with special needs and documented their journey on her blog The Unexpected Journey. While each day has it’s own challenges and this unexpected path is tough, Anna finds the life lessons in these experiences and tries to give others a glimpse into the reality and beauty of having children with special needs.

Trust……..

It’s such an interesting word. Trust requires vulnerability, abandonment to self, action, reliance, confidence, faith and so many other things.

It really requires us to believe that the other person, or thing has our best interest at heart.

One of my dearest friends and I were talking about this the other day. We were talking about what it really means to trust God. I know that I should trust God and I do believe He has my best interest at heart, but do I really trust Him?

With EVERYTHING?

This question has really stuck with me over the past few weeks and I’ve wrestled with what this looks like in my life.

Up until a few years ago, everything in my life had gone pretty well. I’d had my times of struggle, but nothing really too detrimental or life changing. I went to college, met my husband, got married, and started a family. Everything went according to what I had imagined my life to be. It was easy to trust God and believe that he had my best interests at heart, because all of the desires of my heart had come true.

That is, until the first diagnosis.899

At 7 months, our first born son Parker was diagnosed with a rare genetic condition called Joubert Syndrome. Joubert Syndrome is characterized by the underdevelopment of the cerebellum and brain stem and generally causes decreased muscle tone, difficulties with coordination, abnormal eye movements, abnormal breathing pattern and cognitive impairment.

Trying to work through what it means to have your child face all of these unexpected difficulties is almost unimaginable. To trust that God was really looking out for us, and looking out for Parker was really hard to believe at first. But then Parker would look at us and smile and it was as if God was speaking directly to us saying “I love you…it’s going to be okay”.

839And that has proven to be true. We face our challenges everyday, and this special needs journey has not been easy, but the love and desperation we have felt for God through this all has helped our hearts heal and recover.

And then we received the second diagnosis.

We got pregnant again in January of 2012 and we were scared. Excited but scared. Every pregnancy has a 25% chance of having Joubert Syndrome and we knew that this baby could also be affected. But we went in fully trusting God with this baby and trusting that He would give us a healthy baby. We had numerous ultrasounds and tests and everything showed that this baby was healthy and his brain was fully formed. We were cautiously optimistic as we knew there was still a small chance they could be wrong, but were hopeful that the doctors were right.

After Lane was born, he seemed to be developing on time until about 5 or 6 months. At that time we noticed he was falling a bit behind and didn’t seem as far along as most kids his age. At 10 months, Lane went in for his MRI and we got the diagnosis that he too had Joubert Syndrome.IMG_4506

I really struggled with this diagnosis. Not because he had Joubert Syndrome, but why God would allow the uncertainty for so long. We trusted Him, and it felt like he completely took that away. We did all the necessary prenatal testing and talked to doctors after he was born and everyone assured us he was fine. But then to find out 10 months later that was all wrong.

Was it worth trusting God when it felt like he didn’t hear us? When it felt like he didn’t care?

It was during a run one day that I realized my mentality about trust was all wrong. I only trusted when things would go my way. I only trusted when it wasn’t risky, wouldn’t be messy, and wouldn’t require me to give up too much control. And I realized that what I was doing wasn’t really trusting at all.

I’ve learned that trust is a process, it’s a relationship, and it’s built over time. It’s built through my quiet times, through my prayers, my relationships with other, and it’s built through truly letting go of control.

IMG_2796I’ve learned that trusting God doesn’t mean that I am going to get what I want, but rather what He wants and what He wants to do through me.

Through parenting two beautiful and precious boys with special needs, I have had to trust and rely on God more than ever in my life. I could have never imagined that when I “trusted” Jesus with my life and pregnancy that it would mean special needs, but it has been the greatest gift I could have ever imagined.

And by sharing those fears, those unmet expectations, and growing in my maturity and faith in God, I have come to see that trusting means giving God 100% control and forming my heart to look more like His.

Had things gone the way I wanted, or expected, I would never be the person I am today or have the relationship with God that I do now.

And really, that is all that matters anyways.

Plus I get the bonus of being the mother to Parker and Lane who have touched more lives than I could have ever Dietzen012imagined and I am humbled to watch God work through their lives every single day.

Trusting God is more than a word, it’s a way of life and requires my complete surrender…

Every. Single. Day.

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Part 2: Living Kidney donors, 2 ladies each rocking 1 kidney to save a life of another. (The Real Housewives of God’s Kingdom,Episode #5)

Today I want to introduce you to Teresa.  This amazing women choose to give her kidney to a total stranger.  She is a wife and a mother of two (8 and 11 years old).  Teresa is also a high school principal and a former teacher which means, beside making a huge impact on the life of the person she gave her kidney for she is making a huge impact on the lives of the high school kids that attend her school.

It was at University High School (Spokane) in 2012/13 that Teresa heard Doni share her story. Teresa was at University High school because she had been hired as a one-year replacement, for a health teacher (prior to becoming a principal).  Little did she know God would have a very powerful calling on her life that she would learn about when Doni came to speak for the organization called “Donate for Life.”  Doni was encouraging the students to sign up to become an organ donor upon their death. Teresa shared with me that Doni spoke briefly and humbly about giving one of her two kidneys to a stranger and how she wanted to be alive to see the difference she could make. Because God is God, Teresa went from thinking that the idea of giving a kidney, although admirable, was something she could not do herself, to actually doing it.   “I could never do that”  would become a thing of the past just a couple of months later.   During the second semester Teresa had the same group, but a different speaker come to speak to her health class.  This time this living kidney donor named Keith jokingly said, “I kinda feel like God gave us two kidneys, one so we could give away”.  This is a perfect example of God wanting us to do something and getting his point across. Teresa went from “Not me to YES GOD”

photo[1]“Although he was joking I knew that message was for me.  It was a God moment, forever stuck in my mind. God was nudging me that He wanted me to do this.  Within minutes of him making this comment, I called Spokane Kidney transplant and asked about becoming an “alturistic donor” (giving to a stranger).  I never hesitated, never felt scared, fully believed this was something God not only wanted me to do but I felt excited to do it.  They sent me the paperwork that day and my journey began” said, Teresa. (Photo: Teresa and her beautiful family just before surgery)

Teresa wanted to make a difference in someone’s life, in this capacity, while she was living.  She is a person who gets life by giving life and the opportunity she was given to be a living donor was one she fully embraced.

She had a lot of support from friends and some criticism from one particular family member but the criticism she received never was a showstopper for her.  Knowledge is power and Theresa found out in doing research that people live just fine on one kidney.  If she could live just fine with one kidney, then why wouldn’t she be willing to give her other kidney so someone could live?

Teresa used a different program to give her kidney than Doni because Spokane did not have program in place when Doni was a donor.  Teresa went through Sacred Heart Kidney Transplant Center with the help Joanne McCleary.

As with Doni, my mind was blown once again with Teresa’s take on this whole thing.  I told her I could not wrap my mind around it and I did not think I had it in me.  She responded to me with a question. She asked me if I had to bungee jump in order to save someone’s life would I be able to?  I have told my husband more than once no way, not a chance would I ever bungee-jump but when she said that I could save I life I said “Yes” without hesitating…She said, “Well, I couldn’t.”  I sat there for a moment trying to let what she said sink in.  After a moment of silence she said to me God made each of us different, each of us has a specific purpose, a specific calling, we are not all called to do the same thing.  You could do that and I couldn’t.  I gave a kidney and you are not called to do that.  Wow!  Let me say it again, WOW!  That simple question made it seem so much easier to understand.

After helping me to understand, Teresa told me about her interview with Nadine Woodward when she used the same analogy. I did not want to get it wrong I asked her to write it down for me.

“I remember in the initial interview with Nadine Woodward her asking me what it felt like to be a hero.  I laughed and told her that I don’t think I’m a hero because we all do things that we believe we are called to do.  AND…when we do what we are called to do….. we are in our wheelhouse.  It isn’t laborious.  It is purposeful and meaningful.  What one person is called to do isn’t necessary what another is called to do.  For example, if I was asked to bungee jump to save someone’s life I don’t think I could do it. Yet, for someone else, they probably could and would.  I couldn’t and wouldn’t.  But for me…I would much rather go through major surgery to save a life.  AND..I did”. 

This “Real Housewife of God’s Kingdom” may not see herself as a hero but I sure do.  I think both her and Doni are heroes.  Her favorite scripture is Ephesians 2:10 (AMP) and I have to say it one of my favorite parts of this series.  I love to see how God’s word speaks to each lady.

Ephesians 2:10 For we are God’s own handiwork (His workmanship), recreated in Christ Jesus, (born anew) that we may do those good works which God predestined (planned beforehand) for us (taking paths which He prepared ahead of time), that we should walk in them (living the good life which He prearranged and made ready for us to live.)

Talk about living out your favorite scripture! “That we may do those good works that God predestined for us, that we should walk in them” Nailed it!!

Teresa says she doesn’t have any regrets about doing this and she shared her thoughts with me in such a beautiful way I thought it would be best said in her words not mine.

“I would do it again if I had another kidney to give. This whole process has been extremely amazing and rewarding for me.  I feel like God gave me a beautiful gift.  I would never thought that by giving a kidney, I would be the one to be blessed but it is true.  I have a richer life through this “good work” that God prepared before the foundation of the world for me to do.  I do believe that I’m the lucky one.  So I thank God for the opportunity I was given to “get life – by giving life”. 

As I said before, Teresa is now a High School principal and I have to say I think those kids are lucky to photohave such a wonderful woman over seeing their school.  God is really using her for His Kingdom and that is why I wanted her to be a part of this series.  This woman of God has not only made an impact in the school, in the life of her children, her husband and her church; she made a huge impact in the life of a man named Albert when she gave her kidney to save his life on May 24, 2013.  Take a moment to really read what the card says that Albert gave to Teresa.  “From the person who you gave back their life”  Talk about being the “Hands, Feet and for this post the Kidney of Christ”

Recently Teresa was able to speak to a women’s auxiliary group and said It was sooo rewarding to see how a simple act of surgery could impact so many lives! Simple? I think choosing rather to eat the chocolate or not eat the chocolate is SIMPLE.  Choosing to give up a kidney would not be simple for me.  Again, I am humbled by her story.

Albert and Teresa stay in touch just like Doni and Teri do.  They will share a very special connection that most of us will never understand.  There lives are forever intwined by two of the most selfless acts of photo[2]kindness I have ever witnessed.  This photo shows how God uses all of us in his incredible plan.  Doni on the end in the pink was inspired after reading an article to give her kidney, she then speaks at a school where Teresa (in the green) hears her and something starts to happen in her heart.  God would then use Keith (with the glasses)  to speak the words, “I kinda feel like God gave us two kidneys so we can give one away” to move Teresa’s heart to say, “Yes”.  Albert (on the end) is now living a happy and blessed life with the help of Teresa’s kidney. Jeremiah 29:1, “For I know the plans I have for you,” Declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope for the future.”  seems like the perfect verse to wrap up this latest episode of the real housewives out God’s kingdom.

I hope you have been inspired to see how God wants to use you and please, if you have not signed up to be a donor on your driver’s license please do so.  You could be saving the life of someone else.  To see more of Teresa’s story you can watch her interview with Nadine Woodward at Kxly.com

Until next time on the Real Housewives of God’s Kingdom when we meet two women in ministry, blessings and may  you be filled to overflowing with the love of God.

-The Midlife Domestic Goddess.

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Confessions of a Pastor’s wife

Guest post by Lori Bradeen of City Life Church

When I was young, I remember how odd it felt to run into a teacher away from the school environment.  Somehow I thought they only belonged at school.  The image of them having a normal life like the rest of the world never occurred to me.  They were teachers, and that was the only way my brain wanted to see them.  A teacher friend of mine recently told me that she caught some of her kindergartener students giggling over the fact that they saw her, their teacher, eating lunch.  They thought it was funny that teachers actually eat.  So, I see the phenomenon is still alive and well today.DSC_0144 - Version 2

I experience this same phenomenon when while in a casual conversation, people find out I am a pastor’s wife. There is an invisible shift in the atmosphere of any given conversation once people learn I am “in ministry.”  A work acquaintance of mine used to send me funny emails, until that is, the day he discovered I was a pastor’s wife. Perhaps he is worried that I will take offense at something he sends.  I miss the unhindered candor that once existed when he still thought I was normal, like him.

Some of the myths people believe about me as a pastor’s wife include: my house is always clean, my attitude is always divine, my kids are perfect, and my marriage is always bliss.

So, in keeping with Kim’s current series, The Real Housewives of God’s Kingdom, I thought I would spend this guest blog post sharing with you, my reality.

I will admit that as a Christian I have always wanted to live my life in a way that would honor Jesus.  But, that conviction happened the day I made him Lord of my life, not the day I became a pastor’s wife. I think most Christians feel the same conviction whether or not they are in full time ministry.

Let’s start with my house.  I have invisible Zones.  Zone 1 is what you see when you walk though the front door (like if you happen to stop by unannounced).  Zone 2 is the rest of the house.  Zone 3 is garage.  Zone 4 is yard and garden.  There was a time, 5+ years ago, when I was a stay at home mom that all 4 zones could be found show ready much of the time. Actually, that’s not quite true, maybe 50% of the time.  However, now, working full time, that just isn’t my reality.  A clean house for me today means Zone 1 is clean.  The rest of it ebbs somewhere between decent and disastrous.  Myth one, busted.

My attitude.  Some people think if you are a pastor’s wife you ought to always have a positive faith filled attitude.  I admit, I do feel a sense of responsibility to speak faith, courage and hope in people’s lives.  I do want to see them have faith to believe God is bigger than their circumstances. But sometimes, I find myself in the middle of my own pity party or even just a stinky attitude.  Today while in the checkout line, the checker called for a second checker.  I was relieved because I was in a hurry.  The second checker came up, ignored me and took someone who wasn’t even in line yet. The nerve.  I was irritated.  Myth 2, busted.  (I could render many more bad attitude examples but this guest post has a word limit). When I start fretting over my first world problems, which I do, I have a remedy that works every time.  It’s cheaper than a therapy-shopping trip, and healthier than over indulging in chocolate.  I will share this secret with you:  My remedy has been to keep the “Book of Martyrs” next to my bathtub, (my favorite place.)  I just read a few accounts of how real people have been persecuted and even executed for their Christian faith over the years and miraculously my perspective and attitude are humbly adjusted.  I will admit, sometimes I keep chocolate there too.

My kids.  I will never forget the time when we were on a leadership retreat with our pastor friends and our young boys (all pastor’s kids) were playing together.  Four little rough playing boys under 10, quickly turned competitive and became full on fighting complete with “I’ll kick your ass!” coming from one of our little angels.  I remember the college age babysitter saying to us with disgust, “I thought your kids were supposed to be Christians!”  Myth 3, definitely busted.  Our kids are all young adults today and, it’s fun to remind them of that story because now they are all close friends who follow Jesus.  Perfection has never been the goal.  I don’t expect my kids to make it through life without recognizing their own need for the grace of God.  In fact, that is why I feel so blessed, because the fruit of their lives demonstrate to me that they too have been touched by the amazing grace of God.  But it is a journey and every child of a Christian parent must meet Jesus for him/herself, otherwise all they have is empty religion.

My marriage.  I suppose that it is fair to expect a pastor and his wife to have a solid marriage.  Of all the above assumptions, this, I suppose is the most reasonable.  And yet, I am not sure even Christians agree on what a good marriage actually looks like.  Over the years I have had women share their disappointment as they compared their marriage to what they imagined mine to be like.  While exposing my marriages faults has never felt wise, in such moments, neither does allowing people to believe that real Christian marriage is somehow a life long scene from a chick flick romance.

Solid does not mean absence of conflict. Solid does not mean we enjoy the same movies or that we gush over each other on Facebook.  Solid means we base our marriage on something that is SOLID.

And so the Solid in our marriage comes from our commitment to walking out our faith in Christ together. That is a good thing because in my marriage, conflict is pretty normal. We are two very different people, passionate about what we believe God has called us to build.  The meshing of ideas and wisdom is work and sometime the sparks fly.  The good thing about conflict is that it demonstrates that we are both engaged.  I worry when couples check out, and stop communicating, not when they have conflict in communication.  I admit there is an art to conflict that leads to greater unity rather than dissention.  After 25 years, we’ve learned a few things along the way.   So I guess I’ll throw in one of my tips on marital conflict: Own your ugly.  You read it right. We are learning to “own our ugly.” It’s another way of saying,  “stop pretending to be more righteous than you really are. “  It’s actually very freeing to just be yourself, ugly and all, own it and deal with it honestly in the midst of conflict.  Sometimes what would normally turn into a fight can become a source of humor if we are willing to own our ugly, laugh at it and let our spouse laugh along too.

Learning to capitalize on the beauty of little opportunities can be the difference between a solid marriage and one where the grass looks greener elsewhere.   For instance, my husband and I rarely enjoy the same kind of movie so when I sit though his war movie or he sits though my educational documentary, it is an intentional act of love.  Such things ought not to be overlooked.  It is these intentional moments of kindness that keep our marriage mojo alive.

I share these snippets of my life with you not because I think my life is overly interesting, quite the contrary.  I want you to know that YOUR LIFE is noteworthy.  Your relationships, your struggles, your victories and even your failures all have redeeming value that can bring hope to someone.  Lessons of love, forgiveness, courage, strength, and compassion are only as far away as your willingness to look from another perspective.  Look at your life through the lens of God’s amazing grace. I promise, the view is beautiful.

If you’d care to hear more about our journey, my husband recently shared his own testimony and you can watch it at this link under “Van’s Testimony”  It is a great story of a normal man with normal struggles who gets ahold of an extraordinary God that changes him and calls him to a life of ministry.

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