Thursday, September 29, 2011

Seeing what God sees...not what we see

Have you ever been in a situation where it seems hard to gain a Godly perspective on something? You know, like someone being sick and not recovering the way everyone hoped and prayed for, or even thought about? I'm not one to let that get to me too much, but being in that situation can be incredibly draining. That is where we are right now--we all know the Lord is at work, that He has the absolute, immediate ability to heal dad's body and yet, we just aren't seeing the recovery we continue to pray for. Thankfully, that doesn't mean we lose hope though. The word of God says, "'For I know the plans that I have for you,' declares the Lord, 'plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope...'" (Jeremiah 29:11)...and we rest in that knowledge, but that doesn't mean handling all of this is easy.

As I've been thinking about this the past few days, I pulled out a CD from one of my all-time favorite musicals (I know, I'm making some confessions that some of you had no idea about...I love musicals), Man of La Mancha. I was first introduced to this musical at a high school church camp at Abilene Christian University right before my junior year in high school (22 years ago!), where we we shown the movie version (not as good as the stage version) and encouraged to begin to look at things from a different perspective, namely a Godly perspective. Now for those of you who don't know the story, the Man of La Mancha, or Don Quixote, has a unique perspective on things. Rather than seeing things as they are, he sees them, well, differently. Now some of the things he sees differently are just strange--like the windmill that he goes to battle with as a mistaken enemy, or the shaving bowl carried by the traveling barber that he sees as the "golden helmet of Mambrino"...but it is the people that he sees in a different light that makes him so special. Rather than seeing the town, um, prostitute, as everyone else sees her, he sees her as Dulcinea, the virgin maiden that he has been waiting for and that he treats with the utmost respect. As a result, most people begin to think he is crazy. Some of you are now asking, "what does this musical have to do with Maria's dad? Is he fighting windmills or picking up golden shaving buckets?" Obviously, the answer to those questions is no, he isn't.

The reality is that, at times, it seems a bit crazy to hold on to the sometimes unseen reality that God is still in control though! So what does that mean for us? It means that although medical professionals don't have all the answers, we know who does. It means that while we wait for dad's body to be healed, we rest in the knowledge that God sees dad's body already healed--whether here or in heaven, he will be healed. I'm not saying all of this to imply that dad is on death's doorstep because he isn't, but there are a lot of unknowns right now that makes this very difficult--especially for those of you who know Maria and me. We don't do so well with the unknown and yet, the Lord continues to allow us to go through "uncharted" waters. I don't mean that in a "woe is me" kind of way either...I hope it means that the Lord has found us faithful in previous uncharted territories (just to fill you in, we've experienced infertility, an ectopic pregnancy, and a 3 week NICU stay with Mclaine--all uncharted territory before those experiences!), but I also know we still have a lot to learn about maintaining faith, no matter what our circumstances.

So our prayer now is for dad's body to be healed, completely...and that we would cry out, just as the father did in Mark 9 when he came to Jesus and asked if He could free his son from the spirit that has seized him. Jesus replies, "If you can? All things are possible to him who believes." You may know the rest of the story, but for those of you who don't, the father then cries out, "I do believe; help my unbelief!"...and that is our cry, too. Lord, we do believe that dad's body can be healed...even when we don't see that happening the way we want...help my unbelief!

Thank you to all who are praying for dad's recovery, for mom, and for all of us as we walk through this--please keep it up! Heaven knows we couldn't make it without the support of so many fellow believers.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Tabletop Truth placemats

For those of you who don't live in the Bryan/College Station area (and those who do, but don't know yet), our friends, Sara and Lisa, have created some amazing placemats. Their business is called Tabletop Truths and they have a wide variety of placemats that you can use to teach your children Biblical truth.

Our boys favorite one so far (we've used 3 different ones) has been the Armor of God placemats. If you want to see that one and more, just go to their blog at http://tabletoptruths.blogspot.com and you can see all of the different ones they have and can order from there. We have our boys on video telling us about the Armor of God as they learned it from the placemats, but I'll have to post that another time. Go order these placemats--they are wonderful!

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

The things kids say...

So for all of you parents and non-parents alike , I'm just going to say it--parenting is not for the faint of heart! At the same time, just when you think you might lose what little bit of your mind is left, your kids do something to make you laugh, smile, or thank the Lord that you have them. Here are some examples from our family lately:

A few weeks ago, the five of us were at a restaurant and Maria and I were using our standard "code" to communicate about food we had brought for the boys to have after they ate their dinner. This code is well developed and hasn't been cracked for at least 2 years (the same amount of time we've been using it). Instead of the standard "spelling words out" code, we had to resort to spelling things backwards because Maxwell started figuring out what we were spelling. Now the backwards spelling has served us well, but on this particular evening, we had something for the boys and proceeded to "talk" about it. Maria said to me, "do we want to give them the 'y-n-n-u-b'?" Maxwell looked at us and spelled it back to us, "what are 'y-n-n-u-b'?" All we said was, "it is ynnub" as though that were actually a word. A few minutes past before Maxwell looked at us, with excitement in his eyes and voice, and exclaimed, "Bunny fruit snacks, that's what you have for us!" If you have any suggestions for a new code for kids who can read, and spell both forward and backward, feel free to leave a comment!

Last week, Maxwell and Miller went to spend a few days with my parents. One of the things they love about going to Nana and Grandad's is that Nana always has bubble bath for them. The last time the boys went to stay with them though, Nana sent some bubble bath home with them, but it wasn't the sensitive skin version that we have to use on Miller (otherwise, he gets horrible eczema, etc.). So this time around, Miller told Nana that he wanted to take a bubble bath at her house, but that couldn't use the pink bubble bath, "because I have skin." Every time they tell this story now, Miller knows it is funny and just starts laughing.

One other endearing thing we have heard from Miller this Christmas season - we have a "Little People Nativity Set" that the kids can play with (I mentioned it in the previous post), but instead of calling it a "Nativity" set, Miller always calls it a "Wu-tivity" set. We love it!

Hopefully, you are able to laugh and smile with your kids...even when it seems almost impossible to survive the day to day grind of raising kids!

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Gloria, in excelsis Deo!

Despite my inability to live in the moment most of the time, when I look back over the Christmas season this year, I am so thankful for many things. We are obviously mindful of the blessing it is to have 3 healthy children at home. After Mclaine's arrival and stay in the NICU, we were reminded that life is fleeting, though thankfully we have the gift of eternal life through Jesus, and that we should treasure this time in our lives. Although not comparable, when I read the Christmas story from the book of Luke this morning, Luke 2:19 took on special meaning for me, "But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart." Some of the wonderful things I've been pondering this season include:
  • Family Advent and worship time - the boys really got into Advent this year and back in October we also started having family worship time each evening, so every night Miller would ask, "...are we gonna have family worship time tonight?" They also both love to sing, and it was wonderful to hear them each evening sing out on Christmas carols like, "Angels We Have Heard on High" (the boys' favorite), "Joy to the World", "Away in a Manger", and "Silent Night". I have some separate video clips of them singing and I'll try to upload those when I can (obviously after Christmas).
  • Christmas Eve service - we love our church and the Christmas Eve service has become a tradition in our home since we try to stay home for Christmas Day each year. The worship is amazing and the message each year is always spot on without being the same Christmas sermon you've heard before. Going back to the boys and their singing--I got a little teary-eyed last night when I looked at my two oldest boys and watched them worship the Lord at Christmas. If that doesn't make your Christmas, nothing will!
  • Jesus' birth - so can I confess, that I've always felt weird singing "Happy Birthday" to Jesus? I mean, I know that we celebrate His birth at Christmas, but taking something so common, like the happy birthday song, has always been awkward for me. Having said that, this year was completely different because of the way Maxwell and Miller responded to the birth of Jesus. Several times a day, I would see them playing with our Little People Nativity set. Then today, we wrapped up the baby Jesus from the set and another baby Jesus that Miller made at a playgroup this month, and as we read Luke 2, we had the boys move Mary and Joseph, the shepherds, and the Wise Men (we also read the account that tells about them) into place, but asked where baby Jesus was. We then had them open their gifts to find baby Jesus waiting to be put in the manger. They were so excited to see baby Jesus...and my thoughts on having a birthday celebration for Jesus are forever changed.
Those are just a few of the highlights of our Christmas. Our prayer is that you are able to celebrate the joy of Christmas now and the gift of eternal life through Jesus forever--Gloria, in excelsis Deo!

Merry Christmas!
Matt, Maria, Maxwell, Miller & Mclaine

Monday, November 8, 2010

A brother's love


I know I promised to keep everyone updated on our family through our blog after the whole ordeal with Mclaine in the NICU in Temple, but who knew transitioning to 3 kids at home and working full-time and teaching a graduate class could be so time consuming?! :-) Seriously though, I miss the outlet that writing became for me (and us) while we were in Temple so I'm going to try to do a better job of keeping this blog up to date. So much has happened since we came home so I'll just start with some of the more recent stuff and if I ever get to go back and write about the older stuff I will.

As a parent, one of the things that is so difficult for me is to keep my cool with the kids when they are acting up and the other day Maria was reminding me that we needed to step back and enjoy...not tolerate...but enjoy our kids. I mean, these are the lives we prayed and cried for as we waited on the Lord to grow our family! I honestly can't imagine our lives without them, but on a day-to-day basis, I find that I'm more annoyed by misbehavior and arguing and complaining and being disrespectful and all of the other things that bother me at that moment. In reality though, Maxwell, Miller and Mclaine are the answer to our prayers so while I am complaining about their misbehavior, etc. does the Lord ever look at me and think, "so what was that you were telling your kids about the Scripture that reminds us to do everything without arguing and complaining?!" Or what about stewardship? Am I being a good steward of the gift of children by losing my cool with them for things that may be important, but that don't warrant such a strong response from me? Can I get a witness here?!

So at this point, you are probably wondering what has caused such a change in my approach to blogging. Well, I discovered that part of our journey as the Upton family, is also about our journey as parents, as husband and wife, as friends, as believers in the Lord Jesus Christ and the list goes on. This is where the "update" comes in. After going through this process of realizing how much time I spent frustrated/annoyed and how little time I spent enjoying my children, Maxwell said just about the most wonderful thing you can imagine yesterday.

While driving down the road, Maxwell said, "Mommy, I'm praying for Miller and Mclaine," to which we obviously replied, "That is great Maxwell."

Maxwell: "...you know what I'm praying for them mommy?"
Maria: "What Maxwell?"
Maxwell: "I'm praying they will know Jesus and ask Him into their heart because we all need Jesus."

Now, I don't know about you, but sentimental or not, that has to bring either the biggest smile to your face or a tear to your eye (a happy tear!)...or maybe both depending on whether you are an emotional wreck at the moment. I think I mainly smiled, but I've been known to get misty every once in a while, too. Along with all of the other "things" that go on every day with our kids, I'm keeping this conversation on repeat in my mind as I attempt to do a better job of enjoying my kids.

May you enjoy whatever it is the Lord has given you--expected or unexpected--in this life.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Our God is in Control

I put together the slideshow below of Mclaine's birth and subsequent stay in the NICU and then homecoming last week. The slideshow is set to a song by Steven Curtis Chapman, "Our God is in Control", that really helped Maria and I through the fear, frustration, and faith building time while Mclaine was in the NICU and we were away from Maxwell and Miller. If you have or ever do find yourself in a crisis, our prayer is the words to this song will help you through that time, but more importantly that you turn to the Lord Jesus...He is the only way we made it through.

video

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Our New Arrival...a little delayed

On Tuesday, August 17, we welcomed Mclaine Elliott Upton into the world. He weighed 9 lbs. 7 oz. and was 22 1/2 inches long. Maria had a great delivery, but Mclaine had aspirated meconium in utero and was ultimately flown to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) at Scott & White in Temple, Texas where he spent the last 3 weeks.
If you want to read details of our 3 weeks in the NICU, go to our CaringBridge site at http://www.caringbridge.org/visit/mclaineupton, enter your email address and a password of your choice. Needless to say, this has been a trial of a magnitude we have never experienced before...but as of today (September 8) we are all home together in College Station!