Saturday, May 23, 2015

Not Because We Need Another Commentary on This, But...

...because it is stirring inside of me.  Here is how I respond to the Josh Duggar situation and why it weighs so heavy on my heart.

First of all it makes me really sad.

  • I am sad because it gives opponents to Christianity more ammunition to use in their argument that all Christians are hypocrites.  Yes, Josh Duggar is one more name in a long list of Christians who have had their platform pulled out from under them because of their sin.  Unfortunately, they won't be remembered for their faith or all of the good they did, but only for their fall and that makes me sad.  
  • I am sad for his victims.  There is a lot of attention pointed towards Josh and the grace that he needs but I just can't shake the sadness that I feel for his victims long enough to worry about him.  I am sad that his sisters did not choose this road and they certainly did not choose to then have their victimization broadcast around the world.  The prior and continued suffering of his victims makes me sad. 
  • I am sad for his wife and children.  I can't help but wonder if the efforts to protect Josh from the consequences of his actions extended into what was revealed, or not revealed, to his wife.  I am sad that his sin now spills over into new victims who did not even know him at the time.  I believe this compounding victimization is an excellent representation of how our sinful choices can have generational consequences, but it still makes me sad. 

I'll be honest, I am also scared.

I am scared because I wonder who is next.  I wonder what God-fearing man will fall next because he is unable to flee from sin.  I pray it isn't my family but know that no one is immune to the temptation of sin.  The Duggars are good people who had a son who made a really bad choice and then they followed it up with what appears to have been another bad choice.  How many of us can say that we have never made a bad choice where our bodies or families are concerned?  That in NO WAY makes it excusable but it does scare me.  We are flawed people which is why we need Jesus so badly.  It is also why we need to stand vigilant against the lies and temptations of the enemy.   I don't like feeling scared, but perhaps it's a good thing. 

Finally, I am ready.

I am ready for Jesus to come back.  I am so ready that I feel it like a weight on my shoulders.  As I watch the events on the news, hear stories of children tortured, cry with friends who are struggling to save their child from what he cannot control, and prepare for my own child to undergo life-altering surgery, I pray for Jesus to just come back.  It wakes me up in the middle of the night as I feel this great deal of unrest on my soul.  Situations like Josh Duggar's just serve to fuel the agitation of my heart and make me long for a day of no more sin and no more suffering.  I am ready for God to redeem all of the adversity that surrounds me and for the world to see a victory that is found only in Him. 

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

A Little Update on Our Girl

I had Monday off from work, so I decided to take Maggie to the beach.  I think we took her once last year, but honestly I don't remember so we are going to call this her first trip.

People ask me daily about Maggie which prompted me to catch you up on how she is.  First, I want to tell you a little bit about who she is.  When Maggie was sick, Trent and I feared never seeing her spunky personality again.  I am glad to report that it is finally returning to us.  I think it is a combination of brain healing and weaning her off of her seizure meds.  Regardless, we are thankful. 

Maggie is curious and opinionated.  She is also very loud when you try and thwart her curiosity or opinion. :)

She loves dresses and asks to wear one every day.  She also loves jewelry, tiaras, and playing with my hair.

She is super smart, likes to read, and loves to sing.  If I am singing in the car, she will tell me to stop and that it is her turn.  I guess it is fair to say that she also likes being the center of attention.

So onto her health.  We are still praying that Maggie will qualify for a procedure called a biventricular repair.  This procedure would be performed in Boston and would create a four chambered heart.  It looked initially like she did not qualify but they requested additional studies to be sure.  We have heard "no" before and then seen God do incredible things in her life, so we are still walking and trusting.

If she does not qualify for the bi-vent, she will have a procedure called the Fontan.  This procedure is a bit older and does not have the long term outcomes that we would see with the bi-vent.  This would most likely occur in September.

So you can be praying with us that she would qualify for the bi-vent in Boston.  We aren't giving up yet and are choosing instead to reflect on all that we have seen God do in her life.

Thank you for caring and thank you for praying.  I will let you know what we hear.

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Our Life Without the Wii

My life is crazy.  Four kids, two jobs, and being married to the church pastor, keep me running and forgetting.  I might be guilty of taking away an electronic privilege or two and then forgetting until my child asks me days (or weeks) later about when they are going to get their ... back.   One time last year, we were packing for a trip and I told Sam to grab his Kindle.  He couldn't find it and I was furious.  I gave him a long lecture about how much things cost and that he would be buying the next one.  Trent suggested that I check our hiding spot for grounded electronics and sure enough it was there.  I had removed it from him and completely forgot about it.  Oops.  Sorry Sam.

That brings us to today. Trent and I were making breakfast when Sam came down stairs.  He went straight to the office where he started playing the piano.  He does that a lot.  Like plays the piano, in 15 minute increments, 5 times a day, a lot, unprompted.  I commented to Trent that he sure is playing the piano more than I have seen him playing the Wii in a while.  Trent responded, "that's because we took the Wii away from him in January."  Oops again. I guess we haven't missed it.  Come to think of it, when he is not playing the piano, he is playing outside like we used to do when we were kids.

I am not opposed to the concept of the Wii.  We bought it because of the movement component and I don't let my kids play it sitting down (when I am watching).  We don't own any of it's competitors and we don't play games where you chat with people outside of our home, BUT even with all of those parameters, taking it away has served us well.  Our life without the Wii is like, well, our life before the Wii, and that is a good thing.

This is my family and our friends chatting with a friend who is on the Space Station.  He took this picture from his view. This too is way cooler than the Wii. :)

Saturday, March 14, 2015

A Day at the Rodeo

A sweet friend gave our family passes to the rodeo.   It has been a bit rainy here so finding the right time to go has been a challenge.  Finally, there was a break in the clouds and we went for it.

Maggie's mouth is open in most of her pictures these days because she spends most of her time telling about something.  My little talker is all sentences now.

Yep, I thought it was a goat too.  But it's not.  It's a sheep. Who knew?

Maggie begged to ride the horses and I knew Ruthie was quietly hoping.  My girls love them some horses.  After they were done, we had to make a few phone calls so Maggie could say she "rode a brown horse" with much enthusiasm.

We met some friends there and the kids had fun riding rides together.  Their mom is one of my all time favorite people so it was a sweet treat for me too.

We had a wonderful time, ate some crazy food, and wore ourselves completely out.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

When We Pursue God... (and a little catching up)

We have had a busy 6 weeks in the Henderson household.  Trent and I have been teaching a sermon series called Conquering Mountains that comes from the book I wrote about the lessons we learned in our journey with Maggie.  Our middle son was in the local production of The Music Man and Ruthie and I somehow worked in a mother/daughter getaway to meet a few of our favorite princesses.  In addition to all of that, Maggie had another set of MRIs and we are still waiting to hear the word on what heart procedure she will qualify for.

Before I share a few pictures from our adventures, I wanted to share something that came to mind the other day.  Ruthie and I were on the bus headed to Epcot and it was in the mid 30's in Orlando.  We unfortunately packed like people from South Texas and just had t-shirts and light jackets.  While sitting on the bus, Ruthie came over and snuggled up real close to me.

At first I was super-flattered that she wanted to sit so close me and then it occurred to me that her motivations might be less about communicating affection and more about survival.  I asked her, "Are you snuggling me because you love me or because you are cold?"  She answered, "Both."  Smart girl.

It made me think on my relationship with God and my motivations for pursuing Him.  Do I pursue Him because I want to be close to Him or do I pursue Him because I want something from Him?  Like Ruthie, my honest answer is probably both.

I was thankful for the cold that morning because regardless of her motivation, it brought my daughter close to me.  I wonder if God allows the "cold" in our lives sometimes for the same reasons.


Here are a few of my favorite pictures from Disney.  When I was planning the trip, Ruthie told me that she did not want to ride anything scary.  On the second day, she decided to brave a roller coaster called Mt. Everest.  I was proud of her for stepping outside of her comfort zone and going for it.  The highlight of the trip for me was watching her in the China section of Epcot.  She loved the video on the history of China and she was amazed by the Chinese Acrobats.  I have never seen her so proud to be Chinese.


Sam played the role of Winthrop in the local production of The Music Man.  They rehearsed for months and he loved every minute of it.  He is already asking when he can audition for something else.  There is something pretty incredible about watching your kids find their passion.


You can pray for wisdom for us with Maggie.  There are 2 different surgeries that can be performed for her heart condition.  One is generally done at our local hospital and the other is done in Boston.  One comes with less risks up front and the other comes with a longer life expectancy but tremendous risk on the front end.  We are praying this choice will be clear. 

Monday, December 29, 2014

10 Keys to Effective Marital Communication in 2015

I remember one day, shortly after Trent and I got married, my Aunt Mary commented about how she and her husband had never fought.  Trent and I were in the early stages of our marriage and let’s just say we were fighting finding our way. :-)   I remember thinking that my Aunt Mary’s comment meant that she and her husband were either passive or perfect and I was neither. 

Now that I have 16+ years of marriage under my belt, I have learned that she is neither passive nor perfect.  Instead, she is a good communicator.  Trent and I have thankfully grown in our communication skills as well.   We have learned a few rules along the way that help me now be able to say that we rarely, if ever, fight.   Sure we drive each other bonkers sometimes, but we honestly don’t fight because we address conflict using the following principles.

We all need a marriage tune up at least once a year, so I encourage you to sit down with your spouse to discuss these and see how you are doing.  

10 Keys to Effective Marital Communication:

1. Affirm—Address—Affirm

Affirm - When addressing an issue with your spouse, open with a statement of affirmation.  No one likes to be cornered.  A statement of affirmation will disarm them and remind them that you are on the same team. 
Address - Address the issue using the principles below.  
Affirm - Finish the conversation by reaffirming your commitment to and appreciation of your spouse. You want to walk away from the conversation a stronger couple, not more insecure individuals. 

2.  Eliminate "You always" and "You never" from your vocabulary

Those are statements that move the conversation away from the topic and open the door to assault the character of your spouse.  Instead try saying, "When you __________, I feel _______________."

For Example:

  • Statement- You always leave your clothes on the floor.
  • Translation- You are a slob.
  • Better Statement- When you leave your clothes on the floor it communicates to me that you don't value my efforts to keep our home clean.
  • Better Translation- I have a hard working wife and I need to step it up.  Time to apologize and   carry my load. 

3. Take care of your stupidity filters

You are probably wondering what in the world I am talking about but let me explain and I think you will relate.  My stupidity filters are food and sleep.  Those are the things that when I lack them, I am capable of saying really stupid things.   I will confess that a few situations that have upset me have been known to become a lot less significant after a nap or handful of cashews.  

There are several possible stupidity filters.  Yours might not be sleep and food.  It could be something like physical touch, alcohol, or even exercise.  Some filters make us stupid when we have them and some make us stupid when we go without.  If your spouse gives you the look of "are you freaking kidding me?", it is probably time to check your filter. 

4. Repeat back to your spouse what you hear them saying and then affirm, as best you can, that their feelings are real to them

This is not agreeing with them but is saying that you are listening and you recognize that they are upset.  Validation is a great first step to disarming someone and moving toward resolution. 
So it might sound like, "What I hear you saying is that you are frustrated about ________".

5. No "Buts" in your apology

"But" invalidates your apology.  Your apology is not your place to get in another word.  Simply and authentically apologize.

6. Eliminate hyperboles

I am the child of two lawyers and married to a pastor.  Hyperboles naturally find their way into our conversations.  What we have found is though hyperboles are intended to add weight to your statement, their overuse comes across as an exaggeration and actually weakens your statement.  Was it really catastrophic or just sad?  Is your trust truly destroyed or just challenged? Are you really devastated or just disappointed?

7. Say what you mean and mean what you say

My dad told me once that he doesn't remember what he and my mom fought about but he still remembers some of the things they said to each other.   That makes me sad and I am sure some of you have the same testimony,  Your goal in dealing with conflict is marital harmony, not to wound your spouse.  My advice is to run what you are going to say through the “Am I going to have to apologize for this later?“ filter.  If the answer is yes, don’t say it and get back on topic.

On the same note, Phillipians 2:14 tells us to do all things without murmurings or disputing.  I don't think it is telling you not to talk but is encouraging you to choose your words wisely.  

8. Stay on topic

My nine-year old's teacher called me in November to check on him.  She said that she was fussing at him for having a messy desk and then he broke down in tears and started telling her that his sister was sick and almost died.  I laughed and reassured her that she had just been conned by a 3rd grader.  He wasn't upset about Maggie but was changing the subject to jockey his position from offender to victim in order to get himself out of trouble.   How many of us are like this or married to someone like that? Sam may have come by this naturally. :-) 

When that happens, let me encourage you to say "Okay, let’s write that down and table it for later but right now we are discussing ________."  Next you need to reaffirm them because the deflection is probably a result of insecurity.  Sam did not like being corrected.  His deflection turned his teacher from accuser to comforter.  I believe some people don’t even realize they have that communication flaw because it is such a built in protective mechanism.   Furthermore, many have trained their spouse to follow along. 

9. Don’t build a case

You don’t want to turn your spouse into a defendant by creating a laundry list of their offenses.  Your goal is marital harmony, but some approach conflict like it is a case to be won.  My husband has a great statement that it is better to pursue right relationship than to pursue being right.

Think about it, people who sue each other don’t usually return to a state of harmony when the judgment is rendered.

10. Fight naked

Okay I have never had to try this one personally but some friends of mine made a great point once that it hard to be mad at your spouse when you are both standing there without clothes on.  If you try this one, don’t tell me about it.  :-)

That's all folks.  Here's to a great year of marital harmony.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Christmas Pictures

The Christmas cards are out so I thought I was share some of our family pictures here so 20 years from now my kids will look at this remember that we took them.  At that point, they have my permission to also reflect on how loved they were and how much fun their mom was and then pick up the phone and call her. :)