He's still workin' on me to make me what I ought to be.
It took Him just a week to make the moon and stars,
The sun and the earth and Jupiter and Mars.
How loving and patient He must be, He's still workin' on me.

There really ought to be a sign upon my heart,
"Don't judge her yet, there's an unfinished part."
But I'll be perfect just according to His plan
Fashioned by the Master's loving hands.

He's still workin' on me to make me what I ought to be.
It took Him just a week to make the moon and stars,
The sun and the earth and Jupiter and Mars.
How loving and patient He must be, He's still workin' on me.

In the mirror of His Word reflections that I see
Make me wonder why He never gave up on me.
He loves me as I am and helps me when I pray
Remember He's the Potter, I'm the clay.

He's still workin'on me to make me what I ought to be.
It took Him just a week to make the moon and stars,
The sun and the earth and Jupiter and Mars.
How loving and patient He must be, He's still workin' on me.

Friday, February 11, 2011

A Message of Hope

It's been awhile, but I'm back...with a message of hope. I'm sure at first, it won't seem like it, but hang on, it's coming!

Last night, I was minding my own business, changing diapers, bathing my boys, washing dishes, folding laundry and all of the usual stuff that a typical Thursday night entails when all of a sudden, my "normal", "comfortable"and "perfect" little life came to a screeching halt. My husband called me from work to tell me that we needed to talk. Now. Over the phone, he filled me in on the details of the last 30 minutes of his life. When he arrived at work for the night, he, along with all of his other coworkers (including his immediate supervisor) were called into a meeting with the Publisher of the newspaper for which he works, the Human Resources Director, and a few other management personnel at the paper. During the course of the meeting, all of the 32 employees in attendance were informed that as of April 15, they would no longer have a job. The entire printing and distribution departments are going to be outsourced to another newspaper in order to save the company money. I can't say that we didn't see it coming. But still. Big time shocker. I mean B.I.G. My husband has been with the same employer for 33 years. His entire working life. It's all he knows. All that he's formally trained to do. So, what now? Tears, lots of tears. Sobbing. Wailing. Fear. Worry. Questions. And then....Peace. Peace in remembering that it is not "man" that supplies our needs. It's One who is greater. Greater than any man, or job, or paycheck, or compensation package. Jehovah Jireh.... our provider. El Shaddai...the God who is more than enough! Jehovah Shalom...The Lord our peace! Jehovah Shammah...the Lord who is present! Emmanuel...God with us!

It's funny how God is. Right in the middle of the worst trial of your life, he will cause a song to rise up within you. And that's what he's done for me. I've been singing of his greatness all day long!

And the outpouring of love from family and friends has been overwhelming! Just when you think your all alone in the world, God will show you just how wrong you are! We know for sure that we are not facing this time alone!

So, what next? We're not sure yet what God has in store for our family. My husband met with company officials today to discuss severance packages and I have to be honest, we were not impressed with what was offered considering my husband has given his entire life to the company. And he will need to begin the search for another form of employment. But it's not over yet.

Today, I've caught myself countless times falling into a semi -panic state, but each time, I remember what my very wise Pastor once taught my husband and I during a difficult time in our marriage. When your present isn't what you thought it would be, and when your future is uncertain, look back. And remember. Remember all that God has brought you through, all he's done for you. And so that's what I'm doing. I'm reminding myself. And in case you don't know, I want to tell you what God has done in my life and in the lives of my family.

*10 yrs ago, I was told by my Dr. whom I respect very much that the likelihood of me becoming pregnant and carrying a child full term was not very promising. Today, I'm the proud mama of 3 boys...one who is our son through adoption and 2 whom I gave birth to.

*During the process of the adoption of our oldest son, we were blessed with a $10,000 gift to help pay for the adoption.

*6 years ago, we were blessed by a member of our church family, with a brand new custom roof on our home.

*4 years ago, we were given a Chevrolet suburban to fit our growing family.

*Last year, we were given a minivan.

*A few years ago when our marriage was going through a dry spell, we were blessed with $500 to go away for 3 days to be refreshed and renewed as a couple.

*3 Christmases ago, our family was blessed anonymously with 3 $100 American Express cards for our boys.

I could go on and on and on with the countless ways that God has chosen to shower our family with his love and provision. So, why would now be any different? We're watching and waiting for our next blessing from our Heavenly Father and we laugh in the face of adversity because as good as he's been to us, we know without a shadow of a doubt that THE BEST IS YET TO COME!!!

Friday, December 17, 2010

Happy Anniversary To Me!

Anniversaries are meant to be celebrated so I should be celebrating right now, but somehow I can’t seem to get myself into the celebratory mood. Just over a year ago, I chose to have, arguably, one of the most life altering surgeries that a person can have. Those who have followed my journey know all too well the ups and downs that this chick has faced over the last year and I think you would agree that I have every reason under the sun to celebrate. What a roller coaster ride this year has been! But why, you ask, do I not feel like celebrating? As most of you know, I don’t mince words and I’m as frank as frank can be, so I’m gonna give it to ya straight. I feel like a failure. I set a goal for myself….my doctor set a much more reasonable one… and I didn’t reach either. I know, I know. I’ve heard it from everyone. “But you look great, Andrea! “You’ve done an amazing job, girlfriend!“ And the one I hear most often “I could never do what you’ve done!”
I do appreciate all of those kind words, but as they say…you’re your own worst critic! I look at the scales and rather than seeing all of the weight that I‘ve lost, I see instead all that I still have yet to lose. Instead of seeing how many sizes I’ve gone down, I see the many more I have yet to go. And instead of seeing all of my little accomplishments over the year, I see the long road still ahead of me. I can’t help it. It’s my reality. And I’m just being honest.
So, the question remains…do I feel like the surgery was a failure? In short, no. If the goal was to become healthier, then the surgery accomplished what it was supposed to. If the goal was to lose weight, then yes, it was a success. But ultimately, I’m still overweight and I still have much more to lose.

I’ll warn you, I’m getting to the boring part now…..

In the beginning, I was told that the process of losing the weight is a 2 to 3 year time period. So, in reality I’m only 1/3 of the way into this whole journey. But, I have not lost a pound in 5 months. Blame it on insurance. In the beginning, it was great. My insurance did not require me to wait 12-18 months before I could have the surgery as some do. And when the statements arrived after the surgery, my husband and I were surprised to find that we owed nothing. But then the band fills started. It was manageable in the beginning, but then our insurance changed and it became unaffordable for me to continue receiving the fills necessary on my band to continue with the results that I had been having. I have been slowly becoming hungrier and hungrier until I am at the point now that I can almost eat as much as before. There are some foods that I still cannot eat, but the amounts are not what it was when I was still receiving fills. And it scares me. The scales have not budged. The good thing is that they have not budged in either direction. So, at least I tell myself, I haven’t gone backwards. But still it’s scary nonetheless.

And then there’s that dirty little word…exercise! Yuck! I did so well for the first 8 months. I had a goal to run a 5k. I did it. I wanted to do another. But then I got busy. Just life. You know…wife, mother, employee…that kinda stuff gets in the way of exercise sometimes. And if I’m completely honest, there are days when I have nothing else cluttering up my day and I just don’t feel like going to the gym. And I don’t. Don’t get me wrong. I still exercise. Just not as much.

So anyway……

As I look back over my blog and read some of the funny, poignant, tear jerking, silly, and in your face honest things that I have written, I’m struck with a thought…what would my life be like today if I had not had lap band surgery? The thought brings me to tears because the woman that I was a year ago is not the woman I always dreamed I’d be as a little girl. But the woman I am today almost is! While I still have so far to go on the outside, the changes that have taken place on the inside of me during this last year are significant to say the least. I’m stronger, wiser, braver, more confident, and….SKINNIER!

I’ve had so many people ask so many questions of me during the last year, and I wanted to take moment to answer some of the most popular ones. Am I glad I made the decision to have lap band surgery? Yes. Do I ever regret having the surgery? Some days, sure. If I had it to do all over again, would I? Heck yeah! And am I glad I decided to start a blog and share with the “world” (more accurately, a few loyal readers) my journey? Absolutely!

It’s been too long since I last updated my blog, I know. And I won’t bore you with the long list of excuses why I haven’t written, but I’m back now! I hope that you’ll still continue to follow along on my journey as I begin the second year. I hope to have many more successes to share with you and I’m absolutely sure I’ll have some “woe is me” days as well! Thank you to everyone who has followed along and encouraged me with each step. I appreciate you more than words can say! Bye for now!

Oh, and one more thing.......my weight loss total for the first year is 41 lbs!!!

Thursday, September 23, 2010

A Lesson Learned...

I learned a very important lesson today and I thought I'd share it in hopes of helping someone else to remember what it truly means to be married...to be a help mate, a team, undivided, unified, always looking for the best in your spouse, not the worst, and always willing to pick up the slack....

As I've been losing weight over the last 9 months, I have cleared my closet and drawers of all clothes that no longer fit me. I've gotten rid of it all...at last count, over 25 bags of clothes to the Goodwill and to friends. That's a lot of clothes. I'm not sure how many items I've replaced, but suffice it to say that it's far less than what I've gotten rid of. Way less. Way way less. Last Saturday, I think my husband was so tired of hearing me complain yet again that I had nothing to wear when he generously suggested that I go buy a new outfit. Me, not being ignorant of my husband's cunning mind, knew that when he said "Honey, why don't you run to Marshall's and buy yourself something new" , he really meant " Honey, why don't you run to Marshall's and buy yourself something new, and don't forget to bring something back for me too. You know my size!" That's how it's always been. Whenever I've been out shopping and found something cute, I knew that my husband would not get upset as long as I brought him home a new shirt or pair of pants too! He loves clothes just as much as I do. And I love him for it!

Back to my story...I didn't have much success at Marshall's, but I did find one black jacket that will serve me well during the fall and winter months. THIS IS IMPORTANT...it was $16.99. I also found a new grey casual shirt for my husband. THIS IS IMPORTANT...it was $9.99. He was happy. I was happy. But wait, that's not the end of the story.

My husband has this annoying habit (which a lot of men do) of leaving things wherever they fall. You know, socks, underwear, pants, napkins, and PRICE TAGS FROM NEW CLOTHES! So, Saturday night after we got dressed in our new clothes and were heading out the door to church, I noticed a price tag laying on the bedroom floor. It was turned to the back so that you could only see the Marshall's logo. The front side which showed the price was facing the floor. I remember as we were rushing out the door, thinking to myself..."I sure hope he picks that up when we get home!"

That was Saturday.

Sunday...the tag was still on the floor.

Monday...still there.

Tuesday...still there.

Wednesday...still there.

Thursday....still there.

I never said a word to him. I just thought to myself that I was not going to pick that tag off the floor no matter how long it stayed there. I was gonna teach my husband a lesson.

Or so I thought.

It's now Thursday, my cleaning day. My husband has the boys out with him for a few hours so I can have some peace and quiet and actually get something accomplished. I cleaned the downstairs in the first hour, then I went upstairs. The entire time I was cleaning our bedroom, I kept stepping over this price tag on the floor. "Stupid price tag," I said to myself. Finally it came time to vacuum the floor and I had to pick it up. Childishly, I thought to myself ..."I'll just pick it up long enough to vacuum, then I'm putting it right back on the floor until he picks it up." Silly me. When I did, I saw something that I'd been missing all week long. When I picked up the price tag and laid it down, I noticed the price....$16.99! It was MY price tag from MY jacket!!!!! Oh no!!!!!! How childish of me! All along, it was my trash to pick up, but I assumed the worst in my husband for almost an entire week! Wow! I've got some apologizing to do, don't' I? How flawed my thinking had been all along.

Now, I can't tell you how many times I've picked up after my husband when it actually was his trash, but I don't think it was an accident that God allowed this to happen this week. Really, how much time do I lose by picking up after my husband? A minute? Two? Is it really that important? Is it that big of a deal? Isn't that just one more way that I can show my love to him? By loving him and helping him, despite his flaws...just as he has done for me many many many times. Well, I sure have learned my lesson. How about you? Has God taught you something about marriage that you'd like to share? I'd love to hear it!

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Rachel's Cry

Isn't it funny how God works? I never cease to be amazed at how he moves in my life!
I've been feeling rather ungrateful lately. Been complaining a lot. I know it can be dangerous, but nonetheless I've been finding myself murmuring more than my fair share. The danger in it is that it can lead to a discontented heart and a discontented heart can cause you to do and say things that you'll regret later.
This morning while attempting to get my shower and get dressed while at the same time trying rather unsuccessfully to keep my 3 sons from hurting each other as they fought over toys, I was half talking to myself and half talking to God. I was trying to remember what my life was like 6 years ago when I wanted so desperately to have children but had been given a rather gloomy outlook on that prospect from my doctor. I was thinking to myself that if I could just get a faint glimpse back into what that felt like that maybe, just maybe it would help me to be more grateful for the blessings that God has given me in my 3 sons. While I was going through that 5 year time frame of miscarriages and infertility, it seemed like an eternity to me. In fact as I write this, I can't help but think to myself that it had to have been longer than 5 years, but it really wasn't. Now, looking back, I see that it wasn't really all that long in the grand scheme of things, but during that time, I felt like I was going to die of a broken heart if I had to wait one more month to try to get pregnant again.
I remember writing a lot during that time. I've always been a writer, but I find that I write more when I'm feeling tortured. Guess that's the sign of a true creative person, huh? At the time we didn't own a computer and I wasn't very good at saving things, so regretfully I don't have much in the way of mementos from that time in my life. I remember thinking this morning that it would be so neat to come across something that I wrote during that time to maybe help remind me of the longing that I felt for my home to be full of children. No such luck, I thought.
As the day went on, I was looking for my husband's misplaced camera anywhere I thought he might have left it when I saw a stray piece of paper sticking out of the bottom of the basket I was searching through. This particular basket is filled with instruction manuals for all of our various electronic gadgets as well as pamphlets that I've gathered along my journey on different attractions that I'd like to visit as a family. The stray piece of notebook paper that was obviously ripped from a notebook was out of place and caught my eye. I grabbed it and opened it and this is what it said.....

Dear Pastors Jason and Shannon (our ministers of music),

The Lord showed me something during our time of worship at choir practice last week and I wanted to share it with you. A few weeks ago when you mentioned "the cry of Rachel" (taken from Genesis 30:1), it spoke to me, but I don't think I really got it down in my spirit right away. You said that our heart's cry should be for spiritual babies and I while I completely agreed with you, something didn't click inside of me until God showed me this. As you know, it is my desire to have children. In the last year it has become a deep burning longing in me. I want it so badly. I have the "Cry of Rachel"..."Lord, give me children or let me die!" I know how Rachel felt. I know how uncomfortable it feels. I know the tears she must have cried and the pain she must have felt. I've cried those same tears and I've felt that same pain. I know the aching emptiness of barrenness. I know how she must have felt when others around her were having children and her womb remained empty. I feel just like she felt. God spoke to me so clearly. He said..."Andrea, you know how it feels to have the cry of Rachel in the physical realm. That is the exact way I want you to feel in the spiritual realm". That is the same agonizing cry He wants in all of our hearts. Lord, give me spiritual babies or let me die! He wants us to be uncomfortable and to do everything we can to have spiritual babies.

I am in awe of how God speaks to us so clearly. He can use anything to teach us a lesson.



Wow! I cried as I read that little note. It was just the reminder that I needed and right on time too. Tonight as I prayed with my boys and tucked them into their beds, I hugged them a little tighter, and kissed them a little longer. They are blessings, absolute miracles from God and I never want to forget what He's done for me. We're leaving for a family vacation in just a few short days and I'm going to savor every moment I have with them. You should do the same. Snuggle with your husband, read a story to your children, call your friends and tell them how much they mean to you. Pray for those who have done you wrong. And always be ready to share the love of Christ with a stranger in the grocery store or gas station or hospital waiting room. Ask God to give you the cry of Rachel...Lord, give me children or let me die!

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Jesus, I Want A Van!

Last August while we were enjoying our first vacation as a family of 5, our suburban broke down. We were 2 hours away from home with no credit card and no idea how we were going to enjoy the rest of our vacation, much less get home. Thanks to a sister in law with connections and a friend, we managed to still have a great time and get home safely. Unfortunately, our 1988 suburban had met it's end. The transmission was gone and it was just too much money to fix it. Sadly, we ended up selling it for parts which came out to just about the same amount of money that it cost for us to rent a vehicle for us to get around in the rest of our vacation.

After we settled back into normal life at the McCall household with only one car, the reality of what happened set in. Unfortunately, over the last 5 years as our family has grown in size, our family budget has shrunk. I've quit working to stay at home with the boys and my husband took a cut in pay when his company made some changes within the past 2 years. This made it impossible to purchase another vehicle at the time. My husband works evenings and overnight shifts and this left me stuck at home with 3 active boys 4 days each week. I was angry. I was sad. How could God let that happen?, I asked myself. In my mind, I thought that He would take care of it right away for us. I thought that any day, something would happen and we would be able to replace the vehicle with another one. Didn't happen that way. And the boys hated it too. On one of many occasions while I was attempting to find something for the boys to do while my husband was at work, I distinctly remember my 3 year old son, Ezra crying because he wanted to go somewhere. I tried to explain to him as best as I could that we couldn't because daddy had the car. Because of the overnight hours that he worked, it wasn't possible for me to drop him off and pick him up since the boys and I would still be sleeping when he was finished working. He didn't understand. The only other thing I could tell him was to tell Jesus about it. "Tell Jesus you want another car", I said. Actually, the boys wanted a van. I did too. My husband has always joked with me that most people dream of exotic cars, but not me. All I wanted was a mini van. My sister and one of my friends own one and the boys think they are really cool. They are so roomy and our little 2000 Dodge Stratus was quite cramped for all of us to fit in. Anyway, I walked away from Ezra after I said that to him, but I could hear him as clear as day. Through tears and a broken little heart, I heard him say "Jesus, I want a van!" You know, I think it was settled that day. I knew in my heart that Jesus was gonna get us a van! But it didn't happen overnight. It didn't happen for almost an entire year.
But 2 months ago, my husband got a phone call. You know, one of those phone calls that can change your life and restore your faith. Someone from our church wanted to give us their mini van. We were warned from the beginning that it might need some work, but it was ours if we wanted it.
You cannot possibly imagine the sheer joy we had in telling our boys the good news! I was more excited for them than myself! God heard the cry of a little child and He answered!
I'm so happy to tell you that after spending a little more money than we originally thought, and much donated time from family and friends, this was our first Sunday driving to church in our "new" van!
On the way to church this morning, and each time I am in the van with my boys, I turn around and look back at them, happy in their seats and I cry tears of joy and thankfulness! My heavenly father came through for us once again!
More than the van, I'm so overjoyed that my boys got to see their Heavenly Daddy at work. They got to witness divine provision. And they will always carry that with them. I remind them all of the time how blessed we are that God gave us that van! And when they ask me "Mommy, aren't you so happy that we have our van now?", I can only nod my head and say "Yes baby, I am. Isn't God good?"

Monday, July 12, 2010

I look to you-Whitney Houston official music video (with lyrics)

I Look To You

Seasons. We all go through them. Seasons change. And seasons change us. It's just a fact. I guess it's how we handle the season we're in that determines how long we stay in it and how much of our mind, heart and will is in tact when we come out of it on the other side. I'm convinced that all of the seasons that we must go through are good for us. Sure, we all love it when we're in the "Spring" and "Summer" seasons of our lives when everything is thriving, growing, the sun is shining and everything is good. But how much character would we actually have if that's all our lives consisted of? It's in the "Fall" and especially the "Winter" seasons that true character is developed and true strength is realized. When it seems like all of the life is being sucked out of you, when dead and dry things are all you can see around you., that's when it really counts. I can't explain what I'm going through right now, except to say that I feel like I'm in a "Winter" season of my life. I look around me and know in my head that I've experienced many of those "Spring" and "Summer" seasons, but for the life of me, I can barely remember what it felt like. My heart hurts. I feel like I've lost sight of what my purpose is,my marriage could certainly use a refreshing, I feel lost about how to handle the new set of challenges that are arising with raising my boys, I'm at a standstill in my weight loss, some friends have disappeared, money is almost nonexistent, family is strained, and most heartwrenching of all I feel so distant from my heavenly father. I've been a slacker. I've gotten lazy. I've been taking certain things for granted and it's showing. I feel lost. Totally in the dark. I can hardly catch my breath. I feel like I'm drowning. I feel like I've given my all and I have nothing left to give. I've been through so much and have always come out on the other side victorious, but victory is not in my sights right now. I feel like I've been sucker punched right in the gut and I'm about to go down for the count.

I would feel completely hopeless except for the faint song that I can hear from somewhere deep inside of me. I was raised in the church. I grew up singing songs like "Jesus Loves Me" and "This Little Light Of Mine" I know them forwards and backwards. One of my boys favorite songs right now is "Deep And Wide" They sing it almost every day. We've looked it up on Youtube and they want me to play it all of the time. In the quiet hours after the boys have gone to bed, my husband is at work, and I'm alone, I can hear it rising up inside of me. Deep and wide....Deep and wide......It reminds me of how deep and how wide my father's love is for me. No matter where I've been, no matter what I've done, He will not stop loving me. And I find strength in that. Then I remember a song that my husband used to sing to me as I cried myself to sleep in the months after our second son, Ezra was born and I was battling post partum depression worse than I could have ever imagined it to be. Because He lives, I can face tomorrow....Because He lives, all fear is gone....Because I know He holds my future....Life is worth the living just because He lives!

I know who to look to. It's Jesus. The one who will never stop loving me, never give up on me. He's there when I can feel Him and He's there when I can't. He's there in the good times and He's there in the bad. He's there when I feel like thanking Him and He's there when I don't. He's always there, waiting on me. Waiting on you. But why does it take the "Winter" seasons for us to remember this?

I went to the gym today. It's been a week since I've been there. I really didn't feel like being there, but I was. I was flipping through my MP3 player as I mounted the treadmill for my run, hoping to find some pulse pumping song to motivate me. Instead I found something else. A song I've never heard before. My husband is the one who adds songs for me. I confess I don't know how to do it. He must have thought I'd like it. I'm glad he did. Curiously, I let the song play as I started jogging. It didn't take long for the tears to start falling. There I was, in the middle of the gym on the treadmill, running and balling my eyes out. A few people turned and looked, but I didn't care. It was just me and God. It was like we were slowdancing. A love song between us was playing. It was the sweetest moment. I closed my eyes and only by a miracle, I didn't fall . I could picture God, my knight in shining armour coming to my rescue. As I lay in a heap on the floor with all my strength gone, there he was, picking me up, dusting me off, hugging me and telling me that everything was going to be alright. It always is when you let Him have control of your life. With my eyes still closed, I could see myself smiling. I saw myself happy and on the mountain top again. I asked myself why I chose to stay down so long. I knew all along what I had to do, but was too stubborn to do it. I'm reminded of a poem I first heard when i was a teenager in high school.....

As children bring
their broken toys
with tears for us to mend,
I brought my broken dreams
to God
because He was my friend!

But then instead
of leaving Him
in peace to work alone,
I hung around
and tried to help
with ways
that were my own.

At last I snatched them back
and cried,
"How can you be so slow?"
"My child," He said
"What could I do?
You never did let go."

Author Unknown

My advice to you, as well as to myself today is to LET GO AND LOOK TO HIM!

Would you take a minute and listen to the song that so changed me today....

It's the one above!