- As I sat in the floor trying to spoon yogurt to a baby undecided on whether to eat, smear a glob of the purple treat that had fallen onto her hand into her eyeball, ear, and hair, or crawl away towards the door where her older sister was using my breast pump to kill bad guys by poking them in the eye, I realized the ridiculousness of the moment. I had simply wanted to feed the baby before getting her dressed to head out the door for a foray to the park. I still had to dress her sister too, who was fighting the imaginary crooks in her princess panties. Some days I feel like it might just take a small miracle to get out of the house before the sun sets. Often times I look at circumstances in our life and think it would take a miracle to change them. I pray about it all often, and sometimes wonder if I sound like my three year old, repeating the same request over and over, not stopping unless I’m asleep.
- In the car earlier, listening to the radio, I heard a caller telling a story to the deejays. She recounted her miraculous tale, and I’ll admit that my eyes misted over with emotion. Everyone loves to hear the big movements of God’s power. Even I often recount my own story of healing from a major, chronic illness. I love to share my story, and hopefully influence others, and make them aware of God’s awesome power. But I wondered today, are we too focused on big miracles, on big shows of God’s power. Are we expecting Him to do big things for us? Is that bad if we do? I think the answer to that is yes and no. I think we can abuse the power of prayer, and the fact that God is mighty to answer us. I think we can be expectant of Him to move in a big way, and in essence close our eyes to everything else. I know I’ve been prone to ask God for a sign, petitioning Him to show me in the physical realm the message He wants to convey. Often times He obliges my request, but should I expect that of Him? I don’t think so. I’ve asked Him for encouragement from someone when I’m feeling low, and He’s been faithful to give me that, but should I expect Him to direct others for my purposes? I don’t think that would be fair to ask. What if we are so focused on trying to see God work among us that we’re missing it all together?
- I did finally get the children out the door, and we managed to make it to the park prior to sunset. There was one area that required you to climb a wide-runged ladder to reach the platform for a big slide. As my daughter gets older I try to stand back and allow her independence to try things and achieve them on her own without my helicopter personality hovering over her. It’s taken some work for sure. Today when she got towards the top she became frightened. She didn’t want to proceed without my help. I came up behind her and placed my hand on the small of her back. I didn’t hold onto her, lift her, or really physically help in any way, but my presence made her feel able to get to the top. That got me to thinking that maybe God is doing miracles all the time in our lives, but we don’t see it. We’re looking for the big, flashing strobe light, and He’s illuminating us from the candle’s flame. We’re wanting Him to pick us up and levitate us to the top of the platform, when He has His hand on the small of our back and is guiding us there. Maybe God is at work all the time in the small things, but we can’t see it because we’re too busy looking around for a burning bush. Maybe He knows we have to climb that ladder on our own to be who He wants/needs us to be when we get to the top. Maybe the real miracles are occurring in my heart with the changes He’s making to me. He’s not suspending time to help me get to an appointment right when I need to be there, but He’s teaching me patience for my children, and appreciation for their clean bill of health when we leave said appointment. He’s speaking to me in His perfect voice of peace, and refining me to be the vessel He desires. He’s performing tiny miracles in my life daily, keeping us safe, drawing us closer to each other, and more importantly closer to Him. He’s not dropping a bag of cash on my front step, but He’s blessing my finances so I can make ends meet and appreciate His provision in times of struggle. He’s always at work, it’s just a matter of if we want to see it, or if we are missing out on the glory, blinded by the desire to see something in the distance that was right before our eyes all along. Everyday is a miracle, every moment a miraculous stepping stone towards the destiny He has for those who love Him. We just have to see it, receive it, and praise Him for it.
That is all 🙂
- The kids were blowing paper wads across the table with red straws. Three or more conversations were being had. Babies goo’d and gaa’d, while little girls giggled, competing against the raucous laughter from adults enjoying each other’s company. When getting together with my in-laws we resemble a company Christmas party, so large is our collective brood. With a cumulative seven children under ten, and nine when everyone is in town, we take up a fairly large table once you add in everyone over age who is in attendance. It makes for a chaotic, yet joyous, and sometimes complicated gathering for mealtimes out in public. Since joining the family I was recruited into their traditional style of saying grace over the meal. Before I even birthed my first, it had become the responsibility of the little ones to say thanks for the food. Once I contributed to the crowd, my own little prayer reciters joined in the group blessing. It’s always a blessing to hear tiny voices in unison giving thanks to God, and also amusing as the volume increases as confidence builds. By the end of the prayer they are practically screaming, and when the finale of “Amen” is announced, it is as loud as if spoken through a megaphone. In restaurants this public prayer display always causes heads to turn our way. It doesn’t hamper those kids one bit.
- Today we went to the store together and my ten year old step-daughter was eager to spend allowance. She had been hoarding it away in a faux leather purse with rainbow hearts, complete with her diary’s padlock on the zipper to keep her treasure of $9 safe from little sister’s prying fingers. I was curious as to what could grab her affections so completely that she would relinquish her fortune. She described a sort of bracelet kit to us, and I initially thought of the braided/knotted friendship bracelets I made as a kid. A year ago I had attempted to teach her how to make them, trying in vain to pass along to the next generation an awesome piece of 80’s culture. Her attention had waned quickly, so I wondered what sparked the renewed interest. As she described the kit I became aware it was a bit different, same overall concept, but unique in its own right. We searched the entire store for this bracelet making thing, but to no avail. When we had about given up hope, that was when we happened upon it by mistake. She had spoken of a friend having it, and as we stood at the display another mother and girl came up behind us stating, “There they are!” I became aware at that moment that these colorful rubber band pieces you could assemble on a plastic loom must be the latest fad in the young people circuit.
- As I looked at the joyful cousins at the dinner table, I thought about those bracelets. In life some things are cool and some things are not. It’s not just when you’re young, but as you’re older too. As an adult you are more equipped to deal with peer pressure and such, but you’re still affected by what others think to some degree. I’ve always been different in my own way, and I suppose I should be used to that. I think even if you embrace being unique there’s still that teenager inside you, that small sliver of personality that desires to fit in, to please others, to be in the majority, and follow the status quo. Whether we admit it or not, out loud or simply to ourselves, we all want to follow the crowd, just a little bit anyway. It makes you feel like you belong, and everyone wants to belong to something. I’ve seen lately that some of my ideals, things that are important to me, may not be the most “popular” thing. I’ve seen people’s strange looks when I talk of homeschooling my children, as if I’m wearing a chicken for a hat. I see the response by some people when they read my blogs or take the time to listen to my passions, and realize I’m one of those “Jesus freaks.” It seems it’s okay to say, “I’m praying for y’all,” or talk about how you love going to church, but when you start using words like “personal relationship” and speak passionately of your dependence on The Lord for all matters in your life, you might be taking it too far. If you don’t want to gossip or take drunken pictures with your friends on a Friday night, then you’re no fun, and you’re really taking the religion thing a little too seriously. Following Jesus fully, putting Him before all else, it’s not really that popular it seems. And I guess that’s alright with me. I don’t follow The Lord cause it’s the latest trend. I do it because it’s the way to live abundantly, and to have everlasting life. I guess sometimes you have to be like those kids, and not worry if people think you’re praying too loud, or making too big of a deal over Christianity. I want to say “Amen” so that everyone hears, and has no doubt where my convictions lie. It’s not cool to everyone, but it is who I am. I don’t mind being an outcast if I’m considered “in” in God’s eyes.
33 But whosoever shall deny Me before men, him will I also deny before My Father who is in Heaven.
That is all 🙂
- This morning when my alarm went off I was pulled from a very vivid dream. In my dream I was in bootcamp again, but it was not exactly as I remember. My dreams often possess the qualities of strangeness that so often punctuate most sleep stories. I am surprised I didn’t see a purple unicorn running about. While it was odd and unrealistic, it was surprisingly believable and had a feeling of actuality to it that made me feel weird when I woke up, as if I should be taking something from it. In my return to bootcamp there were some major differences from my first time around. It was kind of like a series of Survivor. We weren’t being ruled over by authority dictating our every move, but were rather given free reign to go as we pleased. At one point we were tasked to collect items we would need in a survival situation. They had given us funds, but no particular list of what we should get. We just needed to buy what we felt was appropriate. In my uncontrollable dream state I thought it was prudent to purchase things like Tic-Tacs (the mint) and an inflatable beach ball. I remember being so frustrated with myself. I was thinking, You’ve been here before. You’ve done this. You should know better than anyone here what you need in this situation. What are you doing?! I awoke rather frustrated at myself, wondering why I didn’t buy even a single item of food, or any way to protect myself.
- My twenties were a tumultuous time in my life. I suppose it could have been worse. I wasn’t strung out on heroin or supporting that habit by prostitution or anything. (If a former or current heroin-addicted prostitute is reading this, I apologize for stereotyping your life as an example). It could definitely have been worse, but looking back on it, I know it could have been so much better. I almost feel like I wasted time, but then I remember that surely I learned something valuable from it all. I think I did anyway. But back to the point, I wasn’t living my life to its fullest potential by any means at that time. It’s a shame because I knew better. Like so many out there, I was aware of the satisfying life I could have, but felt compelled to do things on my own. Have you ever had a job where you’re not getting promoted or things just don’t seem absolutely fabulous at the time so you decide to leave? You decide to go to another job. You’re sure it will be better, but 6 months, a year later maybe, you wake up and say, “What was I thinking? I had the perfect job!” I guess I was kind of like that. I had experienced the joy of living my life for God, but I got discouraged at how it was going. I didn’t think things were moving fast enough or in the direction I thought they should. In my arrogance I assumed I could do it better, and once you step off path it seems really hard to get back on track. It’s not really, I suppose. It just seems that way. In a self-gratifying manner that is so common with the human race, especially a westernized culture, we want immediate results. We don’t want to wait. We don’t want to be still. We want our order of Christianity from the Burger King drive-thru (my way, right away).
- When I was a missionary I learned of something called “unreached people groups.” These are people who have never had the opportunity to hear of Jesus. This is naturally a sought after group for missionary types. I was never drawn there personally. I was more interested in the people who knew, the people who knew of God’s grace, but chose to turn away. That was where I felt led. Little did I know at the time that I would later become that person. When I thought about my dream this morning, I thought about sin. Turning from God’s will for my life, and doing things my own way was like my dream. I knew what I needed to be the best prepared for life. I had been trained, and I had lived it, but for some reason I decided to go against all that and try it a different way. Living life for the world, against God’s will doesn’t adequately prepare you for what’s ahead. It’s like buying breath mints and beach balls for a survival scenario. Just like in my dream, I knew I was being ridiculous. I knew what I was doing wouldn’t work. It’s like I was going against my character, against what I knew was the answer.
1 John 3:9
No one who is born of God will continue to sin, because God’s seed remains in him; he cannot go on sinning, because he has been born of God.
I never forget the parable of the Prodigal Son, how the Father welcomes his son home, how he was dead, but came back to life, how he was lost, but then he was found. I love that, and am grateful God welcomed me back and forgave me, even as I tried to squander my inheritance.
Always remember, it’s never too late to come home. Always be in prayer and be mindful that you haven’t started doing things your own way, purchasing useless items that serve no purpose in God’s will for your life.
That is all 🙂
Non medical people: hang with me just a second.
1. I became aware that his temperature had risen to 99 degrees. It wasn’t a high fever mind you, but it was mildly concerning none the less. Coupled with the sound I heard when I placed my stethoscope on his chest, the rattling gurgle sound, and the numbers on the monitor telling me his breathing wasn’t optimal, I was a little concerned, but not too much. I knew what he needed to do. A common complication after surgery is pneumonia. People lay in the bed, sleeping, in pain, under the effects of lingering anesthesia and pain medication. They don’t take deep breaths and they don’t cough. To put it simple and plain, junk settles in the bottom of their lungs and gets infected. My patient didn’t have pneumonia, but he was at risk of developing it. He needed to get up and get busy deep breathing and coughing. It’s quite amazing really. When they do these things you can hear the lungs clear, see numbers improve, and the temperature return to normal.
2. I’ve come to realize that doubt is a lot like pneumonia. Doubt sets in when we are vulnerable. It often comes on the cusp of something good coming our way. There are a lot of ways doubt comes to you. I’ve noticed that often times when I’m really praising God for His goodness that I’ll be bombarded by doubt in my faith. I don’t think for a minute that it’s a coincidence that when I’m in the midst of being thankful that I’m attacked at that moment with doubt in my beliefs. I used to feel guilty about that, but not anymore. I think guilt over your imperfection can just be a catalyst for doubt to multiple. Example: “I am such a bad Christian to have doubt. I don’t know how God could use someone like me!” Your guilt over doubt has you doubting yourself. Confused yet?
3. Doubt is a festering infection that can build over time if not dealt with properly. It’s not just doubt for your lack of faith. It can be doubt in yourself. I am a master at self-doubt. I have a Mary Poppins mentality as I’ve said before, wishing to be practically perfect in every way. Since no one is perfect other than Mary Poppins and Jesus (and Mary Poppins is fictional), I set myself up for disappointment. I doubt my abilities as a mom. I doubt my abilities as a wife, a nurse, a sister, a friend, or a writer. I doubt my ability to hear God and to share my faith to others. This doubt, the feelings of inadequacy and self-defeat simply settle in my spirit, accumulating into something nasty. They keep me from obtaining God’s best for me because I don’t believe I can. And I suppose I can’t, but God can. So what can we do to prevent a full blown case of doubt pneumonia? We got to deep breathe and cough. We have to inhale God’s truth and exhale the lies from the enemy, coughing out every single bit of junk, every infecting thought of doubt. We won’t get it all out with one coughing spell either. We’ll have to work on it, breathing deep and increasing our capacity for truth. Breathe in the word of God, His truth in scripture. Exhale and expel anything that doesn’t go along with those truths. Like my patient you want to catch it before a serious infection sets in. When you do you can breathe easier and work on healing, work to be stronger and fulfill all that God has for you, unhampered by infectious doubt.
That is all 🙂
- I can recall a couple of instances in my life where I found myself in a vacuum, a place that if it were a motel sign, it would read vacant. It was an empty place, void of any sense of peace or even clarity for that matter. It wasn’t without emotion though. I recall the rawness of such a miserable feeling of low-down despair. When you have fallen you have to eventually hit the ground, and when you do it will be at the very bottom, the lowest of all low places. In this dark, dank place you will look up for some beacon of light, some hope of redemption from the pit of muck in which you are mired, but it is often difficult to see past your own tears, so completely the thick veil of them blinds you. In these moments of rock bottom, for me, this is where I found God. Notice I didn’t say He found me. He always knew where I was, but it’s easier to open the eyes of the blind when they have no where to turn to but up.
- I was reminded of this today as I washed my three year old daughter. Bath time is always fun for the girls, but the older one hates, no, abhors having her hair washed. I’ve always used tear-free soaps and shampoos, but it makes no difference. She can’t stand the water to get in her eyes. If one drop falls there she screams as if it is battery acid. If she would simply lean her head back and be still it wouldn’t be a problem. But since she hates it so, she flops around and fights the whole process. This inexplicably leads to water getting in her eye. It’s usually a huge ordeal with a lot of tears from her and tested nerves for me. Our battle of wills continues as I get her dressed. For some reason the amount of time required to put on pants is a torturous amount of time to be still in her opinion. She hops around like a cat on a hot tin roof, and it ends up taking longer to get dressed that it would if she would just do it my way. Parenthood is choked full of moments like that, instances where the parent knows what’s best, yet the child must see for themselves, pushing past limits, ignoring what is best, what is logical, and doing things their own way. Eventually (I think I was personally like 30 or something), the kid realizes the parents had it right all along.
- My battles with my children almost always make me think of my experiences with The Lord. I don’t know why I am so hard-headed, but I am. I once had a man give a prophecy over me when I lived overseas. At one point he said, “You escaped the jaws of the enemy, but you keep looking back over your shoulder saying, Hey, look at those big teeth. Doesn’t that look awesome?! At the time I thought, No way I’ll do that! But I did. I decided that God’s will for my life, His way of doing things just wasn’t going to work for me. I didn’t want to hear His voice of conviction. I didn’t want to give up control of my life. I wanted to do things my way. He had rescued me once from the dark place at the bottom of despair and emptiness, but I guess I figured there was no way I would fall that far again. I reckoned I could dance around the edge of the pit, maybe even jump across it a few times for the sheer thrill, but manage to keep myself on the top of the world. It always looks like you’re going up when you try your own way, to climb to new heights without the tether of God’s protection, but eventually you realize you’re actually being dragged down. Down to the bottom. It’s a most dreadful place, cold, dark, without His presence. For some reason, though, as we sit on the cold earth, feeling it sink into our very marrow, achingly chilled to the bone, it’s in these moments of anguish we reach out a hand. It’s a weak, shaky hand, but a hand none-the-less, begging for a Savior. It’s in these simple moments of broken surrender, where our very souls cry for help, that He saves us. I can’t imagine why we ever tried to do it on our own. I don’t know why we must come to a place of complete failure before we turn our face to the King. I don’t know why we wait until the last resort to call upon the first answer for salvation, for saving grace, for joy, for that completeness in our spirit. I don’t know why, but I’m grateful beyond all measure that He saves us, that despite our fighting against His omnipotence that He loves us still, and longs for us to return to Him, to return to His perfect will.
That is all 🙂
- And so I asked him,
Do you think your story has already been written?
Do you think that what you’ve done in the past dictates your future? Do you think yesterday predicts tomorrow?
Do you think what happened in your family predestines what will happen to you?
Do you think how your family treats you or how they see you indicates who you are?
I’ve got news for you. It doesn’t. You write your own story. What happened yesterday doesn’t mean a hill of beans for tomorrow. What others say, do, or react to you… it doesn’t matter.
What matters is what you do from this point forward.
As I spoke to him I thought of a boy I once knew. I suppose you could say he was a man, in his early twenties, but as I get older and he does not, he is remembered younger and younger in my mind’s eye. We were never very close. He was older than me, not by a lot, but enough so that our interests differed, limiting much in depth interaction with each other. But I remember when I was young watching from afar, the way a little child will do, enamored by his maturity. As I grew older I kept watching. I matured in my own right and became aware that his behavior wasn’t simply exciting, but rather risky and ill advised. He was consistently in trouble with authority of any kind. He had trouble committing to anything, holding down a job, or maintaining any adult responsibility. When questioned about his numerous problems his reaction was always the same. His father had been an alcoholic who shot himself. His parents had divorced. He never felt loved. He was convinced that his upbringing had determined his course in life. Despite attempted intervention by loved ones he continued on his downward spiral. He continued until his untimely death at too young of an age.
I see him too often, not just in my memories but in so many young men who come into my care. Something about the stress of life, the struggles along the way, they weigh heavy on a heart, especially one in need of loving acceptance. I see so many who fall victim to their surroundings, their upbringing, and the opinion of others, thinking their station in life has been set, and that there’s no changing it. They fail, and then they end up believing they are unable to succeed. They acquire a defeatist attitude where they are convinced, “I can’t do any better. This is what I am.” They believe every negative word, and even imagine negativity in honest words from a well-meaning friend or family member. I see many after attempting to take their own life. The repeated feelings of worthlessness, emptiness, and defeat become too much to bear. They break.
As I spoke to a recent patient in just such a position I tried to explain that his life wasn’t a pointless cause with no hope for renewal. It could be made new. For example, being a child of an alcoholic may genetically predispose you to an increased risk for alcohol addiction, but it doesn’t make you an alcoholic. Other than the author and perfecter of our life, The Lord, no one or no thing determines the course our life is destined to take. Change is in your hands. You write your own story. As I left my patient he cried, and as I hugged him goodbye I encouraged him, “You don’t have to remember my name or even my face, but remember my words. You are good enough. I believe in you. You can change your story.”
That is all 🙂
- As I looked down at the collection of discarded suckers, not a single lollipop touched from the handful she had been given as peace offerings, I knew she must really feel bad. It was as if I could still feel the heat of her forehead on my lips, lingering there from the kiss that had graced her feverish skin as I left. I was leaving for work, unable to put off any longer the training that I knew was required. A much trusted sitter had been obtained, but it still hurt my mommy heart to leave her. Medicine given, a cup of water beside her, and a light blanket laid across her, I knew she would be okay, but still. Still it made my heart ache to see her falling asleep, almost drug into slumber by fatigue from fighting illness. My logical nurse mind told me she was fine. It reminded me of all the chronically ill children out there, and encouraged me to count my blessings. And I did, but still. Still it hurt my heart to see her hurting. I saw her pale face, her red-rimmed eyes, and how they seemed so heavy as I had pulled her from her car seat. “I’m sleepy Momma” she had said, an uncommon phrase for a young lady who fights naps like a true princess warrior.
- In the doctor’s office she had cried. Rarely sick, she was frightened of what might happen. We had talked it over at home, and practiced with my stethoscope, taking turns listening to each other breathe. We had discussed what to expect, and her dad had assured her she wouldn’t get a shot. She had seen her baby sister cry at multiple immunization appointments, and he promised her the shots were for babies only. I carried her on my hip as we entered the clinic. She clung to me desperately, and kept repeating, “I love you Momma.” I knew she wanted my protection from fear, pain, and the unknown. I was transported back in time to my eight year old self, sitting in the doctor’s office once again, having my blood drawn again in a vain attempt to stabilize the dosage of medicine to keep the seizures away. I asked my mommy to draw my blood instead of the lab tech I didn’t know. I was sure my mommy could do it magically without inflicting pain. I remember my surprise when it hurt just as bad, or maybe even worse. Back in the clinic today, holding my three year old, my little sunshine, singing to her, and rocking her back and forth as we waited, I just wished I could make it not hurt, somehow take it away, and put it on myself. When she ended up needing a shot, and I had to hold her as she cried in fear, I felt my heart tearing. To love someone so much, to wish only good for them, is a gift, but it is hard as well, so hard when they fall, or when they hurt, or especially when they’re scared. To allow the pain because it is for a greater good, this is especially difficult.
- I had a close friend tell me recently, “I’m hurting.” Upon further conversation, I realized it wasn’t physical pain of which he spoke. He was experiencing difficulty, uncertainty in life, emptiness, the bottom of the barrel, a place of desolate futility. I didn’t have the words to say, the magical advice to make it all better. I could attempt to offer pieces of knowledge I’ve gained in my own journey through the desert, but in the end my words were just that. Words. When encountering a person who is experiencing fear, pain, loss, and especially emptiness, I am reminded of parenting. I’m reminded of how much I love my little girls, the extent to which I would give of myself for their benefit. Then I’m reminded of the Father Heart of God. This is the belief and acceptance that God is our Heavenly Father, from whom we were created, and for whom we live. I am reminded of His perfect love for us, His children. I am reminded of how much He has done for us, giving His own Son’s life for our benefit, so we might have freedom from sin and death. In this way He did something I couldn’t do today. He took the pain away. He put it on Himself, and the sting of death was removed from His children. Today I allowed the pain of the blood work and the shot for my daughter because I knew it was temporary, and in the end would benefit her. She did not understand that at all, but I did what was best for her. Our own Abba Father works all things together for our good, even the bad, painful things. We can’t always see that.
1 John 3:1
See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!
The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship.[a] And by him we cry, “Abba,[b] Father.”
Love brings healing. It brings wholeness. His perfect love brings peace. One day we will get better, we will be without pain or fear. We will be healed. He has promised it. Cry out Abba Father.
That is all 🙂
- Today signified an end to our week at the beach. As we drove back towards home, we once again passed through the tunnel in Mobile. The children were all sleeping, and as we passed silently through the millions of tiny tiles, I was reminded of a book I read as a teenager. I retold the story to my spouse as we drove. It had stuck in my mind over the years, more so than other parts of the book, because I found the thought of it personally terrifying. In the story a worldwide epidemic broke out, killing the majority of population earth. As survivors, immune to the outbreak, began to emerge, the main character is found fleeing Manhattan. His only way to exit the island is through the Lincoln Tunnel. The tunnel is completely blocked by abandoned cars that had tried to flee the city, and also bodies, as dying people tried in vane to escape the sickness. The tunnel is roughly 8,000 feet long. To escape the island, in an attempt to find other survivors and rebuild a semblance of existence, he must make the journey through the tunnel, blind. It’s interior was pitch black and he had brought no flashlight in his haste. He made the entire trip through the tunnel, climbing over vehicles, bodies, and no telling what else, in total darkness, feeling his way along, but with no truly clear idea of what direction he was going in, or even if he was heading successfully towards the exit. The way the tunnel curves down before coming back up does not immediately allow a “light at the end of the tunnel” to be visible. The thought of traveling in absolute darkness, with no light to guide you, is beyond frightening to me.
- My husband and I usually keep each other awake on a long car ride by talking and telling stories to each other. In addition to the tunnel story from my book, he told me about a movie he watched at the theater this past week. I initially asked him about it just to get him talking, as I could see his eyes growing heavy, but once he got going, I was drawn into the plot-line. It was a movie about astronauts in space. A series of unfortunate events led to us finding the heroine in dire straights. She was disconnected from her space station and was sent hurdling through space. With no gravity, and nothing to tether her in place, she was on an out of control trajectory through a vast space. She was spinning and hurdling, and would continue this course unless something could grab hold of her and anchor her to safety and stability. With nothing in sight but endless black, she was in a panic. And I imagine I would be too.
- Both situations to me signified what life must be when you live outside of God’s presence. Even if you don’t acknowledge Him as the one true God, He still reigns. But I imagine a life completely without God would be just like hurdling through a vast, endless space, out of control, with nothing to keep you grounded. Hell must be like that, with no sound, spinning on and on pointlessly.
As we drove along on our journey home, the baby awoke from a long nap. Her car seat faces the back of the van’s seat, so when she woke, she could see no one. The car seat canopy was up and effectively blocked her view of her sister beside her. Both of the other girls were silently asleep, and even my husband and I had fallen silent at the time. When she awoke, feeling alone, she cried out in fear. I reached my hand back to her, over the side of her seat and placed it one her arm. She stopped crying immediately and began to laugh. All she needed was a presence, to know she wasn’t alone after all.
I often think of those who don’t know Jesus, or are unaccepting of God as their creator, and I imagine it must be so lonely, so empty feeling to not have anyone who is in control and keeps you tethered safely. I imagine it must be like making your way blindly, in complete darkness, just feeling around to find your way. Once you accept Jesus as your Savior and give God control, He fills you with a light to lead your way, and makes all your paths straight. There is no more spinning pointlessly or struggling to find your way on your own. You are never alone anymore. When you cry out in fear, His hand is there. He comforts you. Always and forever, keeping you from spinning out of control.
That is all 🙂
- The tide was really high today. A storm was in the forecast, and the dangerously powerful waves proceeded its arrival in a magnificent foreshadowing of force. I had the opportunity to take a walk by myself this morning, along the shore, allowing the high tide to wash upon my feet as I strolled across the wet sand. I absently scanned for seashells, but mostly was just enjoying the quiet, silent other than the sound of the crashing waves and occasional gull’s cry. I enjoyed this rare quiet time. It’s far and few in between with little ones afoot. As I walked I listened, not only to the surf, but to God’s voice around me, within me. I didn’t do much in way of prayerful petition, but rather I simply listened to what He might want to impress in this moment of absolute, glorious silence. I was frankly surprised when I felt like my Lord said to me, “I’m proud of you.” I wasn’t sure what special thing I had done of recent, and quickly pushed away the comment, but again I felt the Holy Spirit impress those words to me, “I’m proud of you.” I was not aware at the time how I might need those words throughout my day.
- Later, after returning from my seaside stroll, I kissed my husband goodbye as he left the condo with the other men for a guy’s day out (we ladies had already had our day). The women set about stuffing goody bags with candy, baking, and other tasks to fulfill plans for seasonal fun, simply because that’s what we women do. After some time of playing inside the children became restless. It was apparent that some time outside might do them well. My three year old had stopped running fever, and although she definitely wasn’t back up to par, I made the decision that some fresh air might do her good. As I was feeling able, I encouraged all the children (nine in all) to accompany me to the beach. In retrospect… I was a little too confident in my abilities, and less cognizant of my limitations. After arriving on the very windy beach, where children would be unable to swim, my baby let me know in her trademark style that she required a nap. She began to fuss, root around, and attempt to jump into the sand. My children feed off each other, so when my three year old saw her sister’s distress, she realized she too required my full attention. She requested water to drink which I had forgotten to bring. This revelation caused a complete meltdown of her already fragile state. Many tears and snot poured into the sand below, while the baby began to scream in earnest. I looked around at the other children, and noticed one was not present. Had she come down with us?! No one seemed to know, or seemed half as concerned as myself. I felt myself teetering on the edge of insanity as my children cried and my hair whipped into my mouth, while I bent to retrieve my cell phone from the sand below. An angry baby foot had kicked it there when I attempted to text the other moms for a head count amidst the absent girl issue. Sadly there’s no time-out for a momma, no matter how the Calgon commercial may beg for one. As I carried my screaming children back towards the condo, my sister-in-law came outside, as if beckoned to spell me by some physic, mommy connection. As I trudged up the steps, and the three year old refused to wash off her feet with indignant tears, I felt as if I might burst. I felt like the end of my rope was there. I was reminded of the high tide, and how if you stepped into the surf too deep, you would be pulled under. Life is like that a lot. It feels like if you take one more step, your feet will be lifted out from underneath you, and you’ll get carried away, never to return.
- In my moment of frustration, feeling like I wanted to scream at my children, and realizing with a wince that I had, I felt like a terrible mom. And I’m wanting to have more!? I thought. I felt like a “can’t hack it, failure,” as if I couldn’t handle even simple parenting on a mundane, routine issue. I felt terrible. Then I remembered God’s words. “I’m proud of you.” I thought back to my morning walk. I had been enthralled by His mighty power displayed in the awesome ocean waves. As I walked, though, my eyes had been drawn to the tiniest seashell sitting on the sand. It was beautiful in its delicate intricacies. I knew this tiny shell, as much as the huge waves, this minuscule shell, it was also His doing. I serve a God of details, who sees every single thing as precious and deserving of His mastery. Often times we can feel as if we don’t quite cut it. We can feel different, small, insignificant in the grand scheme of things, or in our actions, or even our inactions. I am reminded that no matter what I can do or can’t do, how I perform, or how I think I perform, God sees me, and He is proud. He forms my life in great detail, taking pleasure in me, and He is proud. No matter what I can do, or even what I can’t, He sees me, and He is proud. When I think I have failed, whether I have, or even if I haven’t, He sees me, and He is proud.
That is all 🙂
- As I stroke her fine blond hair, feeling her hot cheek as it rests upon my leg, I am overcome with the love I hold for her, and concern over her fever despite reason telling me it’s nothing major. I make slow circles on her bare back with my fingernails, feeling her rhythmic breathing rise and fall against my arm, and I am also reminded of a father’s love. In the van, returning from dinner, my spouse had whispered to me, “I just can’t be happy when she’s sick like this.” Our three year old succeeded long ago in wrapping a lasso around my husband’s heart. When she was just a tiny baby, they spent most of the day together. At that stage of her life he worked part time and I worked full time. Those two were thick as thieves, inseparable, two peas in a pod. Even now, she eagerly anticipates her daddy coming home from work, and when he does they stay up late together building forts, playing ball, and many other imagination games. The week prior to going on vacation, they set up a beige blanket in the living room floor and pretended they were going to the beach each night, playing volleyball and having picnics on the sand. After the baby was born, my three year old and her father became bosom buddies, and I often overhear her say to him, “You’re my best friend!”
- Late last night, my husband nudged me awake. As usual, our daughter had fallen asleep comforted in my arms, but had set-up her nightly residence burrowed into his side. It was with this close-quarters sleeping arrangement that he woke and noticed her skin radiating heat. He whispered to me across the bed, “I think she has a fever.” We got up together, moving and speaking silently since our vacation accommodations meant the baby held residence in our room as well. We worked together checking our sweet girl for a fever, making her comfortable, and giving some medicine for her symptoms and discomfort. After our finely tuned parental concert, he would offer to take our sweet, sick girl for the night, not wanting to contaminate the baby or me. I fell asleep in a king bed, all alone, thinking of my sick girl and her good daddy. I fell asleep eventually, but knew he would stay awake until her fever broke and he was certain she would be okay for the night. He is always protective, and selfless in his love for his little princess, the keeper of his heart.
- The night before I had watched those two walking hand in hand down the beach directly in front of me.
She and I had decided to take a walk down the beach together. We had a shovel and a bucket, and a mission to collect some fine shells. We made our way down the beach, stopping frequently, enjoying the scenery, and finding seaside treasures. At one point, I looked behind us and saw my sweet groom coming along to join us. He carried our baby daughter. Upon seeing me, the baby leaned towards me, calling for me with a gentle whine. On the other hand, our three year old eagerly asked her knight in shining armor to pick her up. “I’m tired of walking Daddy. I can’t walk anymore. Can you hold me?” He obliged quickly, managing to tote her and her treasure and excavation tools. As I watched him carrying her down the sandy beach I was reminded of our Heavenly Father. I enjoy seeing the character of Father God in my husband, watching God’s love manifest in how my spouse cares for our little girl. When we become weary and can go no further, our God carries us, often taking our baggage along. When we are low, or sick, He holds us, and cares for us in our time of need. He delights in us, seeing us as His little princess or prince, of whom he is very fond, and so in love. It’s easy sometimes to forget that God loves us this way. It’s difficult sometimes to imagine that someone so mighty can love someone so small, but He does, and so very much. We hold a special place in our Father’s heart, just as my little girl does with her earthly father here. We are all Daddy’s girls (or boys) whether we realize it or not.
That is all 🙂