Sunday, January 30, 2011

Technology and Prophecy

So much little time.

Do you ever feel like this? I consider myself highly ignorant when it comes to technology - I actually use my cell phone to make phone calls and that's about it. Yeah, I can surf the net from my phone, but it is usually not worth the frustration of typing, erasing and retyping everything I want to google, since the letters are so small. (I know, I can turn the phone sideways and get bigger letters - still doesn't help.)

Then there's Facebook - a great way to keep up with friends. It's also a great way to make people think that you are a person you really aren't.

Email, texting, twitter - so much's hard to keep up with the innovations.

Trust me, I think all this is good, but sometimes it just gets too overwhelming for me to stay up to date. As soon as I learn a game, a new one is all the rage. And am I the only person who texts with proper grammar? Perhaps I should just embrace becoming a grandma and give up.

Well, believe it or not, I am writing this, not to discourage the use of technology, but to encourage it. I chatted with a woman today who told me she doesn't watch any news at all. She's happy being ignorant about what is going on in the world. Now, I realize that I am relatively ignorant when it comes to being hip and up to date with my technology, and I understand that technology can be deceptive, but I want to encourage you not to dig your head in the sand when it comes to current events. In this case, technology can help us watch the signs of the times.

The unrest in Egypt is a great example of this. Fifty years ago we couldn't have the up to date information that we have today - I guess even ten years ago it wasn't as lightning fast as it is today. Technology can keep us informed about world events unlike any other time in history and I don't believe this is a coincidence or just random advancement of technology.

I believe God has given us the gift of instant information and while it can keep us up to date with our friends, as well as make available with our fingertips horrifically destructive information, the internet also gives us news that has prophetic implications. For example, are you aware of the dead bird epidemic all over the world? And the dead cows? What about the latest seismic activity or the food price inflation in the middle east? Have you heard any rumors of war lately? What exactly is going on in Egypt?

As frustrating as technology is to keep up with, don't give up on it. Use it to be watchful - in Matthew 25 we are told to be alert and ready for the return of Jesus. If we dig our head in the sand and ignore the signs that Christ Himself told us to look for (and these signs are international in nature), then will we be found with our lamp empty?

Even now the Lord is moving. The day of His return is getting closer. What is He doing in Egypt and what are the prophetic implications? We should be able to answer these questions...

Friday, January 28, 2011

Together again!

Yesterday the girls got to have a visit with each other! Mary said that as soon as they were next to each other, they settled into a deep sleep - they were very comfortable together. When the nurse took Norah away for a changing and feeding, Ashley became fidgety and frowny-faced - I could tell that she was unhappy.

Here you can see Mommy and babies! Norah is a bit more yellow and Ashley's coloring is very pink. Also, Norah seems to have a rounder or more square face, while Ashley's face is very oval. Other than that, they are very similar. I think there is a lot of change that happens to newborns, so the jury is out on the identical question still...

Then, after Norah's feeding, Grandma Lori got to give Ashley a bottle. Norah is the better feeder out of the two, when it comes to bottles right now. She gets most of hers down, where Ashley can't stay awake long enough to get even half down. The doctor told Mary that this week the girls' sucking reflex will greatly improve - this will be fun to watch! When they can take 8 bottles a day for two days in a row, they get to go home. If they do 8 one day and then 7 the next, the counting starts over again - 8, two days in a row. We are a ways off of that right now, but the next week should bring great improvement. The doctor also said that the girls were doing great and were right on schedule for their development.

Thank you, Lord!

And today, Calvin got to hold the girls together - how precious! I can hardly stand it! Mary sent me this picture and I am fighting the urge to jump in the car and go see it in will have to wait until tomorrow...I love the little pacifier in Ashely's mouth, and the hats crack me up! Yesterday, I went in to say good-bye to Norah and the hat was over her cute!

That's all, for now...

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

One Week Old!

Today the girls are a week old, so of course, I had to go and see them. This is Norah - she was wide-eyed and raring to go when I got to the hospital. That and she had a full diaper that Grandma got to change. Oh, what joy! I seem to bring out the best in my granddaughters, because they seem to fill things up whenever I am holding them.

Anyway, I changed Norah and then she was ready for a feeding. They are still doing about 2 feedings a day with a bottle, so Mary and I arm wrestled for the right to feed Norah and...Mary won.

This was the first time Mary fed Norah - I think she's fed Ashley before, so in truth, there was no arm wrestling. This was Mary's privilege since she did all the work to get the girls here!

While Norah was being fed, I slipped over to Ashley's room to give her a squeeze and this is what I found. I think her nickname might be "Crashley" because she was crashed! (Sound asleep, for those of you who don't know what I am talking about.) She is our good sleeper...

Later I was able to give Ashley her bottle, to which she slept through most of it. I wasn't overly successful keeping her awake, but it was fun anyway. When feeding the girls, we are instructed to put them on their sides and not fill the nipple of the bottle with liquid, so that they don't get too much at once. They still have to suck to get the milk, but they can't have it too fast. After 20 minutes, whatever is not taken through the bottle is put through the tube in their nose. The nurse told me that after 20 minutes, they will start to burn more calories trying to eat than they are taking in the milk and that isn't very helpful.

Later, Grandpa got his hands on Ashley - I'm taking these pictures with my i-Phone and they make our heads look so big and our bodies look so small...not a bad thing, I guess! Does he look like a grandfather? He looks so young! Calvin went into Starbucks the other day with a soccer jacket on, and the barista asked him if he played soccer. He said yes and then she asked which high school he plays for...he explained that he was 24 and the father of twins and she was a bit shocked...both Cal and Dave look so young...

Lori showed up as we were leaving (Mary's mom) and she had Ashley as we left. She is such a beautiful grandmother! She has a gentle way about her, she's very calm, she loves Jesus with all her heart, she's got a year of experience (being a grandma) under her belt, so she is a wealth of knowledge - oh, and she's a nurse! So we are very blessed to have such a wonderful grandmother for our babies! See how proud she is of her little girl...

Right before we left, I ran back into Norah's room to snap one final precious! I think tomorrow they are going to let the girls be in the same room for a while - let Mary hold both together! They haven't been together for a week...I am sure this will make them happy!

Okay...that's all for today...

Where is your faith?

This question was asked in the boat, after the disciples had awakened Jesus in fear for their lives. He rebuked the storm and then proceeded to rebuke the disciples. (Luke8:25)

"Where is your faith?"

This question has been following me around for a few days and it's really a great question. Jesus used it in crisis counseling with His disciples, and I find it interesting that He chose to ask it after the storm settled, rather than while the storm ensued. The implication is that their faith should have been evidenced by their actions in the crisis, but what they showed was actually a lack of faith.

Remember - Jesus had made the decision to go to the other side of the lake. He was leading them. The storm ensued, and rather than trust the One who was their leader, they panicked and feared that they were going to die.

"Where is your faith?"

Trials and tribulations, suffering, pain, even persecution - these are all givens in life. If we are walking closely to our leader, following His will, then when the crisis hits, this is a time for our faith to grow, to be evidenced that our eyes are on the Master and we trust Him in all things.

But in order for our faith to be strong in the midst of a storm, we have to have confidence that we are on the right path, that we are following the will of God, that we are where Jesus wants us to be. These things will give us the strength to walk by faith, knowing that God's way is better than any other way out there.

I think this is the key to our faith in the times of crisis. The disciples were exactly where Jesus wanted them - in a boat, in the middle of a storm. When crisis hits in our lives, do we know that we are exactly where Jesus wants us to be? How can we know that?

Well, my friends, God leads through His Word. Just as the disciples were following the very words of Jesus by getting in that boat, we can follow the Word of God, as He leads us through life. His Word teaches us how to have a strong, stable marriage, what to do with our money, how to use our giftedness and talents, how to raise our children, how to care for others, how to forgive, how to invest, how to love, who to love...and the list goes on and on. The first step to being in the will of God is to be in the Word of God.

"Where is your faith?"

I think we need to ask each other this question more often, as well. It is a very telling question and a good reminder that no matter what happens in life, faith is needed and should be clearly seen as a testimony in the One who is leading us.

I think I may take down my "Don't be a glory thief" card on my computer and replace it with "Where is your faith?"

(Isn't that a cool picture?)

Monday, January 24, 2011

Two More Pictures

Good evening, friends! I just got home from the hospital and wanted to post my latest pictures. I think that some of my family and some of Calvin and Mary's friends from Florida check the blog for updates, so please bear with me. These girls have become my latest obsession...ummm...I mean hobby!

This first picture is little Norah. You'll notice the IV is out of the top of her head. It makes a world of difference! It is a lot easier to get her out of the incubator and hold without the IV. The purpose of the IV was to supplement her fluid intake, but by this morning, she and Ashley had both increased their feeding amounts to a level where they could take the IVs out. However, they were more "spitty" today - please pray that they don't need the IV again, but that their stomachs would adjust to the food and be able to manage it. They weren't spitting full meals and I know babies "spit," but it would be nice to continue on in this stage of life without IVs.

Norah is all about her hands. She has long skinny fingers that have to wrap around everything! When we bundle her up in her blanket, inevitably she puts her hands to her face. Her fingers stretch and poke - she often puts the back of her hand to her forehead, palm face up, as if to say, (insert Zsa Zsa Gabor voice here) "Darling, is it warm in here?" When she grabs my finger, she squeezes so tightly that her little knuckles turn white! She is so strong!

This second picture is Uncle Squish and Ashley. When Ashley is asleep, she is a limp rag doll - arms flopping down at her sides, eyes rolling to the back of her head. She is easy to swaddle and loves to be snuggled. Christopher was all elbows and hands until I scooted her up into the crook of his elbow, and then he felt a little better about the whole thing. It was so precious to see my twins and Chris hold Ashley today - there is a sense of awe and wonder that comes from holding your sibling's child!

Mary and Cal are doing well - they are sleeping at home, and this is wonderful for Mary. She sleeps about 5 hours and then pumps and then sleeps another 2 or 3. If the girls stay in the hospital for a few more weeks, Mary will be well rested by the time they get home. She is moving around well and smiles and giggles easily - Mary is very happy and can't wait to have the girls home. She doesn't complain, though, because she knows that the girls need what they are getting at the moment.

Calvin is sweet and gentle with the girls - talks to them in a quiet, sing-song voice. Occasionally the girls let out a little squeak - like a tiny baby mouse. Once they develop stronger lungs, I have assured Calvin that he'll miss the squeaky days! Can't wait...

Thank you all for your prayers - they are really doing so well! We are so blessed and I can't help but thank the Lord when I sit with them and study their precious faces...

Have a good night!

Husbands and Friends

"...and the wives must see to it that they respect their husbands." Eph. 5:33

Women love to talk.

There's no denying it.

Yesterday at church Dave finished up his Resolutions series with a charge to husbands and wives. He challenged us to change our perspective on marriage and see that marriage is not all about us and our happiness. It's all about Jesus. Marriage is a visible picture of Jesus and His love for the church, therefore our marriages should reflect His commitment to us, as well as ours to Him.

Dave went on to give specific instructions to wives and then to husbands, but my mind stayed on the wives part, particularly the "fan" instruction. You see, wives need to be their husband's biggest fan. Let me put it this way, gals, do you want someone else to cheer your husband on through life? Because if you don't do it, someone else will.

It seems so easy to be critical of those we're closest to. I think we appreciate the good in our family, but we only verbalize what needs to be improved. We think we're helping them be a better person, more responsible, more interesting, more well-rounded. But what happens is we become negative communicators and when only negativity is shared, the person receiving the criticism tends to find the mute button.

Gals, do you feel like your husband doesn't even listen to you anymore? Maybe he has you on mute.

But let's go one step further. One of the questions Dave asked was, Wives, how do you speak about your husband to your friends? This is a great question, maybe one you should ask your friends and see what they say.

We do love to talk, don't we? How do we speak of our husbands? I am not saying that we should lie and make up something nice. What I am saying is that if we are not complimentary of our husbands, if we aren't his biggest fan because we see great things in him, if we do not respect him, then we need to take a step back and look harder.

If God's word says that we are to take steps to respect our husband - we are to "see to it" that we respect him, this implies effort. Study your husband. Seek out his strengths. Appreciate the good he does and speak of that, rather than making fun of him and putting him down constantly.

Why do we speak negatively of our spouses? Do we think it will gain us some sympathy? Do we think it will make us look more like suffering saints?

I know why we do it - because we're sinners and so are they.

Big deal.

Make the choice to be obedient to God's instructions and see what happens. Be your husband's biggest fan, to him personally and to your friends. Put effort into studying him and knowing him and put a hold on the negativity.

Finally, don't do it so that you can be happy. Do it because as wives, we are to reflect the church's relationship to Jesus Christ. What sort of church would we be if we spoke harshly of Jesus on a regular basis?

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Guess who got to hold the twins???

Okay, yes! The answer is me! But first, I love this picture. This is my son, the father of the twins. If you look closely you can see the little feet in his hands...yes, he is changing a diaper! The incubator makes this quite a challenge, but he's up to it - notice the intensity on his face! I am just loving this...

This is Ashley - I had a good hour with her. We chatted about a lot of things - I told her all about the beautiful room that her parents had painted and decorated for her, all about her pet dog, Riley, whose life is never going back to normal, and all about her aunts and uncles. I like this picture because I think I look like my mom in it.

Look at her beautiful precious!

This is Norah - again, I think we got a good hour together. She has a kung fu grip that I have trouble describing. I tried to pry her little fingers off her pacifier and I could hardly do it...she likes to grab the leads and wires. She has the IV in her head, I think because her little hands are so bruised from struggling to find a vein - she is a lot like her mother with that.

This is Norah as well. Can you see the bruises on her hands from the IVs? As sad as the bruises are, they help me tell the girls apart in pictures! (Kind of pathetic, don't you think?) Still, such a beautiful face...look at those little lips!

Keep praying for the girls - they still have a few hurdles to overcome but they improve each day. I think they may get the top off their space ships tomorrow. We'll see how they handle regular air. The nurses told Mary to bring warm clothes for them tomorrow, so we'll have fun playing dress up...

So much fun - what a blessing! I hope you enjoyed the pictures...

Friday, January 21, 2011

Every Good Thing...

"Every good thing given and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shifting shadow." James 1:17

"But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of you Father who is in heaven; for He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous." Matthew 5:44,45

This is Ashley, taking her pacifier for the first time - looks peaceful, doesn't she?

As I stood, staring at my granddaughters through the glass of what Dave calls their personal space ships, I kept thanking the Lord in my heart for these precious little girls.

"Thank you, Lord. We are so blessed."

Later, the nurse told me that every year the staff prays over each room in the neonatal unit. She said although they have state of the art equipment, they cannot save these little lives without the help of God. Then she said she has seen miracles happen nearly every day.

This got me thinking - sometimes when we talk about God's blessing, I think that our unbelieving audience inwardly roll their eyes and think, "Well, I have the same good fortune, but it's not from God." If it's not from God, who is it from?

For example, I am sure that many of the babies who have come through this unit were not from Christian families, and since the road to life is narrow and few find it, many of these children may never know God personally. So why did they survive their early arrival? Who is blessing them? If God blesses His children with good things, who blesses the enemies of God with good things?

Well, the answer is in God's Word. From the verses above we can be sure that every (100% word!) good thing given is from God - that includes saving the life of a preemie who will never know God's grace eternally. We also see that we are called to love our enemies because God is our example, and He shows love to all by shining His sun on them and sending rain on them. (I love the fact that it is HIS sun!)

I can hear you now: "Kristen, the sun shines on everyone. God couldn't make the sun shine or rain fall only on believers!" Really? Why don't you ask the Israelites whether or not they had daylight while the Egyptians were in complete darkness?

My point is this - God blesses the unbeliever. He blesses them with healing, wisdom, success, good health, and loving families. I think sometimes we get this "us" and "them" mentality - that God is only good to us and not to them. When we do this, we struggle to understand why good things happen to bad people, right?

Bottom line, II Peter 3:9 tells us that God wishes that none would perish - sending rebellious man to hell was not His intent in creating man and though His holiness demands justice, He graciously shows love to His enemies by blessing them while they are on the earth.

Yes, I am blessed, and because God has opened my eyes and saved me, I know the truth behind my blessing. God is the source of every good thing, and whether or not my audience can understand this fact, I will continually give credit where credit is due.

Equal time - below is Norah with her darling!

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Baby Ashley's first bottle

Okay, so being a grandma is a new experience for patient! I want to introduce you to Ashley Hope. She and her sister, Norah Grace, were both taken off oxygen today - only one day old and they're already so independent! (Her cheeks are red from the tape.) Norah didn't try the bottle yet (she had a different nurse), but both girls are sucking on pacifiers and impressing the nurses! Oh, and though Ashley has lost an ounce, Norah has gained three!

Okay...enough bragging...enjoy the video!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Welcome to our World

(Ashley Hope and mommy)

"How blessed is everyone who fears the Lord, who walks in His ways. When you shall eat of the fruit of your hands, you will be happy and it will be well with you. Your wife shall be like a fruitful vine within your house, your children like olive plants around your table. Behold, for thus shall the man be blessed who fears the Lord. The Lord bless you from Zion, and may you see the prosperity of Jerusalem all the days of your life. Indeed, may you see your children's children. Peace be upon you." Psalm 128

Today was a good day for the Wisen family (Moellers, too!). Today, Dave and I were blessed to be able to see our children's children. That is truly a good day.

Norah Grace (4 lbs 4 oz) and Ashley Hope (4 lbs 11 oz) arrived at 4:54 p.m. and 5:00 p.m. respectively, a few weeks earlier than hoped but a bit larger in size than expected. They are breathing on their own, their oxygen level has been reduced to normal and they pinked up beautifully. Norah has a bit of a temper - she fussed and squirmed when I visited her. She sneezed, blew bubbles and cried a bit, and I think she is not used to having so much space all to herself!

Ashley, on the other hand, was peaceful and sleeping - the past few days wore her out. Both girls have beautiful heads and long fingers, Norah definitely has the Moeller toe (ask Mary about that) and the jury is still out on Ashley because her feet weren't as visible. The girls look a lot alike - I think they look like Calvin when he was a newborn - they have his nose and his mouth, his soft, pink skin. All in all, their numbers are good and strong, they have all their fingers and toes, including fingernails, they are in a great care facility and they have precious parents who have prayed for them and prepared for this day for a long time.

(Norah Grace)

I love this picture because you can see her face so clearly. As of now, there are tubes for oxygen (though no extra oxygen is needed at the moment) and eventually they will both most likely get feeding tubes for a week or so. But this picture shows Norah's precious features - Ashley, though a bit bigger, seems to have a smaller head - but having studied the pictures for a while, I am struggling to tell them apart...uh, oh!

(Norah Grace)

This is how I left both girls tonight. Both had their own nurse and were being watched with the greatest of care. It was still hard to leave. I touched Norah's hand and her little fingers wrapped around mine with great strength - she's a fighter. She'll be fine. Ashley was sleeping so soundly, I didn't want to bother her, so I just stared in awe. Precious gifts. I actually am a bit speechless.

Thank you, Father, for allowing David and I to see our children's children. Please, Father, draw these girls into a relationship with You at a young age - may they walk with You and have no memories of life without You. Bless their parents with wisdom and patience, thank You for extended family who knows You and will love these girls with Your love, and thank You for a church family who loves these girls nearly as much as their family does. Give us grandparents the opportunity to be Your arms and to speak Your words to these precious lambs, keep them safe and may they grow in Your grace until they see You face to face.

Welcome, Norah and Ashley, to our world...

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

A Philosophical Morning

I know it probably wasn't an apple that Eve plucked from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, but the apple has become the symbol of temptation. It represents the fall of humanity.

As I sat at my computer this morning, mourning the cancellation of Bible study due to bad weather (which doesn't really look that bad to me, but school cancellations rule the day), my mind drifted into my limited view of the garden of Eden. Is it possible for me to even imagine what the garden of Eden looked like?

I closed my eyes and started wandering through the trees, admiring their ripened fruits. I glanced over at a beautiful bush, filled with plump, red strawberries. I wondered if Eve knew she could eat the clusters of broccoli bursting through the center of the wide, protective leaves. (Without Ranch, was it really that good anyway?)

It's a sad attempt at imagining perfection. I do much better imagining Joseph's brothers beating him and throwing him in a pit or Rachel sitting on her dad's idols and feigning illness.

You see, I understand sin.

I can hardly imagine perfection.

So, here's my thought today: If Eve started with a perfect brain and then she sinned, though I believe sin completely corrupted every aspect of her (body, soul and spirit), she was still closer to perfection than I am. It's like this - if there is a room full of children with filthy, dirty hands and a towel is handed to one child, that towel gets dirtier as it is passed along to each child, so that by the time it gets to the last child, it is completely covered in dirt. The first child had a clean towel, the second child had a relatively clean towel and so on, until the towel was nearly all covered.

If Eve was exposed to sin (her choice) and then passed her nature on to her children, and so on and so on, doesn't it make sense that sin increased and corrupted the mind more and more as time passed?

Take television for another example. Where have the "Father Knows Best" shows gone? Do you really think that "The Office" would have been acceptable television in the 1950's? I can remember when "Three's Company" first aired - two women and a man living together. It was pushing the limits and they weren't even "sleeping" together. Now? Cohabitation is expected and accepted.

And the flip also works - would "Gilligan's Island" even have an audience today? "The Brady Bunch" would not necessarily be cutting edge material.

So, what's happened? I think sin is increasing. It's like a cancer that spreads from generation to generation.

Why did my mind go there? Because I so desperately want to imagine Eden. I want to walk with God and hear His voice, but my sin-encrusted mind can hardly even attempt to imagine it.

The solution? Walk by faith. The sight-walking is coming in eternity, but for now, I have no choice but to walk by faith - to put my trust in the Word of God, to battle my flesh, to savor the blessings, to rely on the Holy Spirit, to talk with my Father, to imitate the Son and set my sites on eternity. It's do-able and it lessens the effects of sin.

One last thought, why is the Apple logo an apple with a bite taken out of it?

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Nicely Written...

Click here and read a blog written by my daughter, explains a lot...

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Time to Go Back...

Happy New Year!

It's been a crazy week and it's not going to slow down for me. I just wanted to get in a quick note before leaving on Thursday for Liberia. Yes, Liberia! It's time to go back...

Dave, my daughter Katherine and I are going on Thursday with a team from International Aid back to Liberia. If you remember, I went for my first time last April with my three youngest children and some of their friends. That was primarily to minister in the churches, but this time is in the relief capacity. We will be taking six fifty pound bags of vitamins with us and visiting schools and clinics to see what kind of aid programs can be started over there. We will have with us a few International Aid employes as well as suppliers who will help us assess the need and what we are able to do to help.

It will be an interesting trip, to say the least. Whenever Dave goes, the local newspaper sends out a reporter to find out why he is there, and their main question is, "What can you do to help us?" This particular trip has the potential to open some avenues of relief that will be of great help to this community, and partnered with the churches, will allow the spiritual needs to be addressed through physical provisions.

We also will be handing out rice one day - I've packed hundreds and hundreds of quart ziplock baggies to put the rice in. The baggies are as desirable as the rice in some cases!

We will be in Paynesville (near Monrovia) and then back out to Buchanan, like last trip. Buchanan is a bit rougher and life is harder there. Then from there we will drive until we can't drive anymore, park and walk a few hours to get to Dorzan (not sure that's spelled right). Dorzan is pretty remote - we didn't go there last time, but Dave thinks this is an important place for the members of our trip to see. We will be able to encourage the believers in this village while we are there, as well.

Dave will be preaching, too - he never knows how many times, so he brings several messages with him, just in case!

All in all, it is a quick trip (one week) with a lot to do. If you think of it, please pray for our team - for safety, that we would be a blessing to those we come in contact with, and that the Lord would open doors for relief to be supplied through International Aid.

Have a great week and you'll hear from me in a few weeks!