How about a cup of coffee?

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How about we sit down for a cup of coffee or if you prefer, a cup of tea?

How about we commiserate over the evils that have befallen our fellow moms?

How about we share the pain and the worries…what if it was our children and how can we possibly keep that from becoming a reality?

Do we see each other? Do we hear each other? Is social media robbing us of our humanity while promising incredible connection?

Are empathy, compassion and caring translated through the text on our tiny handheld devices? Is the benefit of the doubt erased with the flatness of the screen and the ease of a keyboard? Are clever quips and creative memes replacing genuine relationship?

How about we sit down for a cup of coffee or tea? Tell me your story. Tell me about your worries. Tell me about your dreams. Face to face. Heart to heart.

Galatians 6:2 Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.

 

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Stuck in the Middle…Delilah’s Lesson

Delilah

Delilah was a princess.

I wanted a dog.  I needed a dog. I longed for a dog. I got a dog.

She was an adorable 9 week old lab mix puppy. She had sleek black fur with touches of white on her muzzle and paws plus a white streak down her chest.

For a week or more, her name was simply The Puppy.  I couldn’t decide on a name.  I picked a few names that I liked and that were yell-able [definition:  a name that can be bellowed or hollered throughout the neighborhood], and I wrote them on scraps of paper.  Throwing the papers on the floor, I asked The Puppy to choose. She grabbed her selection. Still not sure, I threw the slips of paper down again. Once again, she picked the same name…Delilah.

Delilah was a high energy, fun loving, strong willed dog. I had to earn my position as Alpha. But I loved her.  We did everything together, and she went everywhere with me.

That was Pre-marriage & Pre-kids.

When Todd and I got married, we moved to Pennsylvania.  He installed an underground radio fence for Delilah; the type with the beeping collar to warn the dog when she is too close to the boundary.

I wanted her to have lots of safe room to romp outside, so we included a huge area for her and for our new puppy, Daphne.

Honestly, I expected Delilah’s will to propel her across the line…beep or no beep…shock or no shock.

I couldn’t have been more wrong.

An offensive step too close to the line, and the beep froze her to one spot. Sitting in the middle of the boundaries, she failed to enjoy the open space.

Opportunities.  Joys.  Treasures.

The yard was a dog’s dream.
But she sat…stuck…frozen…scared.
Is it safer to stay rooted in one spot?  Is it safer not to put yourself out there?  Is it safer not to be vulnerable?  Is it safer not to truly live?  Is it safer to stay down if you fall?

I mess up. I fall. I cross the boundaries.

I hear the beeping. I feel the sting. I freeze.

I feel like I am watching the opportunities, the joys, the treasures swirl around me.  While I sit in darkness. Unable to join in.

If I stay stuck, my enemy wins.

Lord, be my light in darkness.

I want to rise.

I will rise.  I will fight for joy by Your power.  You are my hope.

Micah 7:7-9
But as for me, I watch in hope for the Lord,
I wait for God my Savior;
My God will hear me.

Do not gloat over me, my enemy!
Though I have fallen, I will rise.
Though I sit in darkness,
The Lord will be my light….
He will bring me out into the light;
I will see his righteousness.

It is I; Don’t Be Afraid

I have been thinking a lot about where we were, in terms of Chloe’s health, at this point last year.

She had been originally diagnosed with c. diff in July. That hardy bacteria had gotten the upper hand again and again in Chloe’s already weakened body.

Last December, we were preparing for her first Fecal Microbiome Transplant (FMT). The road to confirm Todd as a suitable donor was rocky. The experimental nature of the treatment also added to the insecurity.

Ultimately, the FMT failed as did a subsequent one in May 2014. Chloe spent a year fighting c. diff and lost ground in her overall wellness and health.

In June 2014, as a treatment for her new diagnosis of Primary Scleroscing Cholangitis (PSC), she began a long term regimen of vancomycin, the same medication she took for c. diff.

She is now in clinical remission from c. diff, inflammatory bowel disease and PSC.

Good news. Breathing room.

However, the reality is that on Chloe’s inside, there is still trouble, evidenced by how difficult she finds it to fight any infection.

She has no reserves. She is running on empty.

Last evening, she saw a doctor who plans to help build up her reserves. The plan is to help her move into a season of true health and wellness and not simply a lack of significant symptoms.

Once again, we stand on a threshold. Changes are scary and in Chloe’s case, a lot is at stake.

It is I…He whispers. I am faithful. Remember? Remember! The same One yesterday, today and forever.

Trust me. One step at a time. Don’t be afraid.

Bubbling Springs

John 6:16-20
When evening came, his disciples went down to the lake, where they got into a boat and set off across the lake for Capernaum. By now it was dark, and Jesus had not yet joined them. A strong wind was blowing and the waters grew rough. When they had rowed about three or four miles, they saw Jesus approaching the boat, walking on the water; and they were frightened. But he said to them, “It is I; don’t be afraid.”

Riding high after participating in Jesus’ miracle. Riding high after gathering the left over bread and fish from feeding thousands with a few little fish and a couple of barley loaves.

High fiving all the way down to the lake. Jesus! Jesus! He’s our Man! He is the One!

Then evening came. The wind blew. The waters were rough.

Fear gripped the disciples. “Who can save us now?”…

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Not Unfortunate

Narniacs. We loved Narnia. We listened to Focus on the Family’s Radio Theatre productions continuously in our minivan. Bailey even took on a slightly British accent from listening so much.

While a few of the books in the Chronicles of Narnia series may have received more acclaim, my personal favorite is The Horse and His Boy.

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[Shasta] turned and raced for the gate in the green wall which, now for the first time, he remembered seeing…Beyond the pool was a little low house of stone roofed with deep and ancient thatch. . . . “Are—are—are you,” panted Shasta, “are you King Lune of Archenland?” The old man shook his head. “No,” he replied in a quiet voice, “I am the Hermit of the Southern March. And now, my son, waste no time on questions, but obey…If you run now, without a moment’s rest, you will still be in time to warn King Lune.”

Shasta’s heart fainted at these words for he felt he had no strength left. And he writhed inside at what seemed the cruelty and unfairness of the demand. He had not yet learned that if you do one good deed your reward usually is to be set to do another and harder and better one. But all he said out loud was:

“Where is the King?”

I relate to Shasta. I relate to feeling spent, but being asked to push further. To feeling alone. To feeling like I am at the end of my rope.

There was a point last winter where I was on the cell phone with Todd relating disappointing news from a call with Chloe’s doctor as he pulled into my dad’s driveway, at the house that we had just fixed up for sale, to find water pouring down through the basement and garage.

In the spring, with high hopes for healing through a procedure, instead Chloe faced additional hospitalizations, tests and ultimately, additional “unwelcome” diagnoses.

“I do think I must be the most unfortunate boy in the whole world. Everything goes right for everyone except me,” Shasta said.

After listening to Shasta’s laments, Aslan replied, “I do not call you unfortunate.”

“Don’t you think it was bad luck to meet so many lions?” Shasta asked Aslan.

“There was only one lion,” Aslan told Shasta. “I was the lion.”

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Aslan then tells Shasta that all the time he was with him, looking after him, working all those unfortunate situations for Shasta’s good.

Psalm 46:1-3
God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging.

With chronic conditions like inflammatory bowel disease and primary scleroscing cholangitis, flares can come on quickly, shaking away normal life. Even when the disease is under control, it is hard to relax or rest because I feel the need to prepare for things to change.

However, Chloe is in remission. I need to rejoice. She looks and feels well. She had a wonderful Make-a-Wish trip on the Disney Dream. She will have bloodwork done next week to look at her liver enzymes, her inflammation markers and some other measures.

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Right now. Chloe is healthy.

Even with possible changing circumstances, I am not unfortunate.

Rejoice in the Lord always. Fear not.

Psalm 46:8, 11
Come and see what the Lord has done…The Lord Almighty is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress.

Psalm 144:15
Happy are the people whose god is the Lord.

The Blessings Jar

Somewhere between recurrent c. diff and primary scleroscing cholangitis, my heart went numb. Somewhere between my discouragement and my fear, the praises faded. Somewhere between January and now, I lost my way.

In 2013, I put out a Blessings Jar. I encouraged our family to write down blessings throughout the year. Big and small. Personal and family sized. How cool to read through them all on New Year’s Eve before we rang in 2014.

The 2014 Blessings Jar sits on top of the piano. After multiple hospitalizations and additional diagnoses for Chloe. After the feeling of overwhelm. After the feeling of sadness. After the feeling of confusion. After the feeling of anger. My heart settled on closing down.

The Blessings Jar. Sitting on the piano. But I couldn’t add any.

I couldn’t see the blessings.

That’s not exactly true. I felt grateful for things, prayers, kindnesses. It was as if my mind would only recognize the blessings on the surface, but not allow my heart to warm or to open up or to trust.

Numbing my heart suppressed pain, but it also sacrificed the joy.

It isn’t New Year’s Eve yet. But I have the Blessings Jar pulled out. Placed on the kitchen counter.

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I am ready to open up. To open the little slips of paper with handwritten messages of His goodness, graciousness and faithfulness. To open my memories of the fun, the good times and all the challenges.

I am ready to open up. To open my hands to what the Lord gives and takes away. To open my eyes to see His blessings in all circumstances and to see how He adores me. To open my mind to know who He truly is and to know the goodness of His plan. To open my heart to His love, His peace and His joy.

I am ready to open up. To open my mouth to continually praise Him.

I am ready to fill the Blessings Jar.

Psalm 34:1
I will bless the Lord at all times;
His praise shall continually be in my mouth.

Hebrews 13:15
Therefore by Him let us continually offer the sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of our lips, giving thanks to His name.

1 Samuel 2:2
“There is no one holy like the Lord;
there is no one besides you;
there is no Rock like our God.”

Philippians 4:4
Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!

Philippians 4:12-13
I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength.

Philippians 4:6-7
Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Luke 1:46
“My soul magnifies the Lord,
And my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior.”

Let It Go!

‘Conceal, don’t feel, put on a show
Make one wrong move and everyone will know’

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I do not have some wild magical power that can freeze a kingdom. But like Elsa, I have fear.

I have been uniquely made. I am one of a kind created by my God. I am His masterpiece. Designed in His image. For His purpose and for His pleasure.

But fear can rob me of my freedom to express myself. Fear robs me of the opportunity to feel joy and to share my talents.

Fear drives me inward. It tells me to hide. It tells me to shut myself off. It hardens me.

Like the third servant in the parable of the talents, will I say to the Master, “I knew you to be a hard man…I was afraid, and I went and hid your talent…”?(Matthew 25:24-25).

My God. My Heavenly Father is not a hard, angry, unyielding, unforgiving task Master. The third servant in the parable didn’t know Him.

John 4:10
Jesus replied, “If you only knew the gift God has for you and who you are speaking to, you would ask me, and I would give you living water.”

Lord, I want to know You. I want to be set free from fear. I do not want to hoard my talents. I do not want to bury my unique gifts. I do not want to conceal my God given abilities.

Life is risky. Many times I get hurt. I get tumbled. I get tossed.

But many times, risking my heart is when I feel truly alive. I feel God’s purpose, His greater plan and His good pleasure.

In my weakness, I know in Him is strength. In my confusion, I know in Him is a plan. In my worry, I know in Him is joy. In my fear, I know in Him is peace.

If only I know Him, really know Him.

I ask, Lord, that You help me to open myself to all You desire.

In the end, may my heart’s deepest cry be to hear You say, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.’ (Matthew 25:23).

His Eyes

Worry darkens my joy.

In the pit of my stomach where my anxiety drops, my food churns losing the pleasure of its taste and my hunger.

I feel unsettled. My thoughts keep fast forwarding to the possibilities.

But I must walk in truth. The truth of today not the borrowed troubles of tomorrow.

The truth of concrete facts. The truth of God’s promises.

I force myself to lay down my worries, my troubles, my burdens at God’s feet. Before His strength. Before His might. Before His power.

I force myself to look at Him. To not hide…my tears…my heart…the authentic me.

Lamentations 3:22-23
It is of the Lord’s mercies that [I am] not consumed, because his compassions fail not. They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness.

I feel relief when I see the immeasurable love in His eyes. When I see that my pain hurts my Father deeply. When I see His bright tears threatening to spill, I am reminded that this world is not my home.

I can strain to look into the distance. Into the future. Through the haze of what ifs.

Past the joy of today. Past the mercies of the morning. Past Him.

Each moment, I have to choose. Worry versus trust. Anxiety versus faith. Despair versus joy.

Romans 12:12
…rejoicing in hope, patient in tribulation, continuing steadfastly in prayer.

My eyes lock on His.

The Magician’s Nephew by C.S. Lewis
Up till then [Digory] had been looking at the Lion’s great feet and the huge claws on them; now, in his despair, he looked up at its face. What he saw surprised him as much as anything in his whole life. For the tawny face was bent down near his own and (wonder of wonders) great shining tears stood in the Lion’s eyes. They were such big, bright tears compared with Digory’s own that for a moment he felt as if the Lion must really be sorrier about his Mother than he was himself.

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