Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Safe In The Arms of God.

I've been missing our little girl. It's a strange concept... how does a person miss someone they've never met? How can my arms ache for her, having never held her? How does our house seem to be unnaturally silent, when her feet have never pattered across our floor? And yet... it's true. She really was here, inside of me. For fourteen wonderful weeks. I really had the joy of feeling tiny, almost imperceptable movements that were not of my own body. I've thought often of that... those movements. I've known a few pregnant women who said they felt their babies at about 11 or 12 weeks, so I know it's not impossible. I also know it's unusual for a first-time mother to do so. I am thankful for that gift. The thrill of that tiny life.

Right now, the first two songs that play on my blog are for her. The first, Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep, is obvioius. It makes sense that that song would make me think of my little girl who isn't here right now. The second? It is a song from a father to his daughter. The name of the song is also the name of the little girl for whom it was written. Anna. And that's her name... Anna. Annaliah, actually. But we would have called her just "Anna."

This was posted on a blog I frequent. It is a woman who lost her twin baby boys when they were born at barely 23 weeks. She is understandably struggling this holiday season, missing her beautiful Blake and Ethan. I have sensed a strength in her though, as I read, and that is why I keep going back. I know that right now, she doesn't feel strong. And she isn't sure she even wants to keep going. I think she will, though. I think she'll still be a beautiful, God-loving woman this time next year. Her friend sent this to her:

Heaven is a place of perfect knowledge, perfect maturity, and perfect love. What good news this is! A person whom you conceived is perfect, whole, and forever praising God. A person whom you conceived is before the throne of God. A person whom God created using the genetic material from you and your child's other parent is standing before the Lord in the fullness of his or her life. If you have accepted Jesus as your Savior, you will be united with that child one day, and together will praise the Lord though all eternity.

~ Safe in the Arms of God

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Just a Brief Update

Please don't stop praying for baby Stellan. He is definitely unwell. He has been diagnosed with RSV (respiratory syncytial virus). He is in the hospital, and doctors have told MckMama to expect that he'll be there for the next 8-10 days. That's a long time for such a little guy, and a long time for his momma too. She not only has Stellan to care for, but also her three children (slightly) older (young) children.

Last I read, Stellan is still holding his own without a ventilator (breathing machine). Doctors could decide at any minute, though, to put a tube in his throat and use a machine to assist his breathing.

The doctors have said there is no connection between what he is battling now and the heart block/heart failure and hydrops he had in utero. Having worked in a daycare, I can tell you that RSV certainly does have significant negative impact on many kids. Usually, the ones who have it the worst are the ones born prematurely or who have another illness which weakens their immune system - but not always. I've seen the healthiest, strongest baby in a class get sicker from it that the 12 pound seven month old who was born prematurely.

So, in conclusion: Stellan is a baby. He is a living, breathing miracle. And right now, he is fighting a dangerous infection. I believe it is God's will that he recover fully. I know things don't always happen according to God's will, but I believe that this time, they will. Will you stand with me in prayer on this? More importantly, will you stand (or kneel) before the God of Eternity on behalf of one tiny boy named Stellan? Pray that he be healed according to the perfect will of God. And pray for his family - this is a difficult and trying time for them, for sure.

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Monday, December 29, 2008


There is a song that I like. A lot. Last night, as I drove home from a nearby city, the words rolled around in my head. The stars were extraordinary. When I looked out the window, they seemed to be so close. So close I could touch them. And big. So big. My heart nearly broke for the beauty of it. And that brings me to one line in particular...

"Sometimes the night was beautiful. Sometimes the stars seem so far away. Sometimes they seem to stoop so close... you could touch them but your heart would break."

Our God has created such a magnificent, amazing, beautiful world for us to dwell safely in.

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Sunday, December 28, 2008

Faithful God.

Glory to God!

With much happiness and excitement, I report to you that, as expected, Stellan (and Mck Mama and the rest of the MckClan) is on his way home. Doctors have found no relationship between his current illness and the trouble he had with his heart while in the womb. He'll be rechecked Monday, just to be safe, but it seems as though the beautiful boy will be just fine.

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This world is full of strangers. People I have never met. Will NEVER meet. People who I pass with little more than a smile of acknowledgement.

Then there are those I know intimately. My husband. My parents. My church family.

And there are those to whom I am connected through this thing called "Internet." One of these people, little Stellan, is heavy on my heart tonight. Stellan's mom and dad were told months ago that he would surely die within days. Not weeks or months, but days. My God is not a God who likes for unborn babies to die. He is a God who heals. And little Stellan was born strong and healthy.

Tonight, Stellan and his mom are at the hospital. She took him there when he turned gray and she was unable to count his heart rate. Once there, they learned his tiny, beautiful heart was beating more than 200 beats per minute (for some perspective... when I relax, my heart rate is usually about 50 beats per minute. Stellan's is beating four beats to every one of mine). He was laboring to breath, with oxygen sats down in the 80s. That is definitely not a good sign. Some scary things have been tossed around, including the possibility of RSV.

All of that to say this: God is a God of the miraculous. He healed Stellan months ago. I don't believe for a SECOND that Stellan is no longer healed. I believe that circumstances may be frightening and confusing right now, but in the end, God is still God. He is still in the healing business. His Word is still true, and it says that we WERE healed by Jesus' stripes (see 1 Peter 2:24). So, while I'd urge you to pray for this baby and his mommy tonight, do not do it in fear. Do so with faith. Because no matter what the circumstances, and no matter what we see, God has not changed.

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Friday, December 26, 2008


I like the little strip of images pictured here. This is my family. Not all of it. But some of it. All the images are from June 7th of 2008. The day my daddy married my Kelly. :)

From left to right: My new little sister, Jessi; my new little brother, Tyler; my new little brother, Lucas; my new Kelly, er... Kelly; my same dad, Peder; my beloved husband, Derek; and me, Jenna.

The thing is... I am blessed. I'm not alone in this world. Sometimes, the devil would have me believe that I am. That I'm without people who love me. This image reminds me that this just isn't so.

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Thursday, December 25, 2008

Christmas Day.

The true gift of Christmas is heaven. Because God sent His Son so many years ago, we have heaven. We've been redeemed. The price for our sins has been paid. And that is the greatest gift of all.

Today, as I am thankful for this gift, I am more than a little sad. Had things worked the way God designed, had the consequences of living in a sin-ravaged world not afflicted us, our daughter would be celebrating her second Christmas this year. I think a lot about her, especially during this season. I envision tiny toes. Shining eyes. Sticky fingers. I can hear little giggles, feel sloppy, wet kisses.

I saw this book recently. If our daughter was here with us, I would buy her this book. I would sit on the bed with my arm around her, and I would read it to her. I would tell her that Jesus gave us forever. In Heaven. With him.

God Gave Us Heaven
A children's book written by Lisa Tawn Bergren

"Papa, what's heav'n?"
"Why, heaven is God's home... the most amazing place we'll ever get to see."

"More amazing than Glacier Bay?" Little Cub asked. "Glacier Bay is the best place ever."

"Yes, Little Cub. Even better than Glacier Bay. God has great plans for you, Little Cub."

"For me?"

"For you. Both here, and later, when we get to heaven. God loves us and never wants to be far from us. He's made a way for us to be with him forever, in heaven."

"When do we get to see heaven, Papa?"

"When our life here is over."

"When we die?"

"Yes, Little Cub, when we die."

"Will I be old like Grandma when I go to heaven?"

"I hope so, Little Cub. I hope you get to live a long and full life before you see heaven. But some of us get to see it sooner than others."

"They do? How come?"

"They get sick or something bad happens. But the good news is that no matter what bad things happen here, nothing bad happens in heaven!"

"Nothing bad at all?"

"No more tears, no more sadness, no more pain. Only good. Only smiles!"

Little Cub thought on that for a while. "Will we eat in heaven?"

"Will be eat? Will we eat! We'll have more food than we need! It'll be the best of all polar bear feasts!"

"Every day?"

"Every single day."

"What else will we do in heaven?"

"Worship God and explore the best place we've ever seen."

"Will we get bored of that?"

"I doubt it. Heaven will be a million times better than even this!"

"Can we take our stuff to heaven?"

"No, we won't need our stuff there, Little Cub." He paused and lifted her backpack from her shoulders. "Feel how heavy that is? Doesn't it feel good to have it off of you?"

Little Cub nodded.

"Sometimes we think we need stuff, but it's just more weight for us to carry. Our best stuff doesn't weigh anything at all- stuff like love, family, friends, and faith. That's where our real blessings are."

"What will God look like, Papa?"

"Hmm... you know what Mama looks like? How she looks like love to us? God will be like that..."

"Cept a hundred times better!"


"Will we be angels?"

"No. Only angels are angels. God made us polar bears for a reason."

"Shoot. I want to fly."

Papa laughed. "Me too. But you never know what we'll get to do in heaven. I bet we'll think it's even better than flying."

"Will I get to see you in heaven?"

"I think so, Little Cub. I think we'll see all our loved ones there. It will be like the best family reunion ever."

"How do we get there, Papa? To heaven, I mean."

"Hmm... Let's say this side of the canyon is life here, on earth. And that side over there- where we find the path home- is heaven. God knew that our bad choices might keep us from him forever. Might even wash us away! He didn't want that. He loves us too much. So he sent his very own Son, Jesus, to be our bridge. All we have to do is walk across it to head toward our forever home."

Little Cub thought on that. "I like Jesus," she said.

"So do I, Little Cub. So do I."

"Will I have a room in heaven?"

"Oh yes, there will be many rooms in heaven."

"Will it be as cozy as mine?"

"The coziest ever, Little Cub."

"Will I sleep in heaven?" she said with a yawn.It had been a very big day. Papa yawned too and they giggled together.

"Heaven will be full of all the things we love most," Papa said. "And right now, sleep sounds heavenly to me."

Little Cub went to sleep and dreamed of seeing God and his angels, of singing and smiling all day long. Of her best friends and her whole family being with her forever. Of playing, of laughing, of everything good. And she was glad, so glad, that God had given them all heaven.

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Christmas Without You.

I think that many people have had this poem shared with them. People who have had to continue living life without their loved one. It is a sweet poem, with a good, uplifting sentiment. Read through it.

I see the countless Christmas trees,
Around the world below.
With tiny lights, like heaven's stars,
Reflecting on the snow.

The sight is so spectacular,
Please wipe away that tear.
For I'm spending Christmas,
With Jesus Christ this year.

I hear the many Christmas songs,
That people hold so dear.
But the sounds of music can't compare,
With the Christmas choir up here.

For I have no words to tell you,
The joy their voices bring.
For it is beyond description,
To hear the angels sing.

I can't tell you of the splendor,
Or the peace here in this place.
Can you just imagine Christmas,
With our Savior, face to face?

I'll ask Him to light your spirit,
As I tell Him of your love.
So then pray one for another,
As you lift your eyes above.

Please let your hearts be joyful,
And let your spirit sing.
For I'm Spending Christmas in Heaven,
And I'm walking with the King.

~© Wanda Bencke ~

This poem rubs me the wrong way. It irritates me. It raises my hackles. It makes me hope that I don't receive a card with these words printed on it. There's nothing actually wrong with it. Except... I don't want to be joyful. I want to be bitter. I want to mourn. To weep. To scream into a pillow soaked with tears. And my spirit? It doesn't feel like singing. It feels... alone. Sad. Subdued.

But I have a choice to make. I can't bring her back. My grandmother, the most beautiful woman I've ever known, is not here on earth. Not physically, not in my heart, not in spirit. She is simply not here. She is there. She is in heaven. She really is spending Christmas in Heaven. She really is walking with the King. She really is rejoicing. Worshipping. Dancing. Serving. Oh how that woman loved to serve. I am not with her. She is not with me.

On this day, we celebrate the birth of our Lord. It's not a "Biblical" holiday. Any meaning it has is there because we assign it, not because God put it there. And that's okay. It is good to remember. Good to thank Him. Good to celebrate.

This day is also, traditionally, about family. My family will gather tomorrow. We'll do the things we've always done. But it won't be the same. Because she won't be there. Every heart in the room will be just a little heavy because of it. Every eye will shed a few tears. Hands will tremble as memories flood thoughts. I'll look around, and it will feel like we're... broken. Incomplete.

And I have a choice to make. Will I let the sorrow win? Will I choose bitterness? No. I'll be sad. I miss my Gramma more than I have words to say. And I am sad. I might cry. But I choose life. I choose to go and be with the ones I love, even though I'd rather stay in bed all day. I choose to rejoice in the knowledge that this good-bye is not eternal. I choose to thank God for sending His Son.

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Sunday, December 21, 2008

Not Me Monday

"So MckMama..." is a phrase frequently uttered in our home, by myself and my husband. MckMama is one of those rare people who lets herself be seen by others. She lets us see her as she follows Christ - flaws and all.
Each week, MckMama hosts a blogfest called "Not Me Monday." Not Me Monday is, in a nutshell, a no-cost-involved self-therapy program designed for people like me. It gives those who participate full license to disclose all of those details that we usually keep carefully hidden. It also allows us (the participants) to read about all of the things that other people definitely did NOT do this past week.
So here are my "Not Me Monday's." Be sure to head on over to MckMama's Blog to check out more, that are probably more entertaining than mine could ever be.
  1. I am not once again going to attempt to be in the top five over at MckMama's blog. Because I seriously don't care about such trivial things as being in the top five. Nope. Not I.

  2. Upon arriving at the hospital for my surgery on Friday, I did not learn that a childhood friend was having surgery that same day. For a brain tumor. I did not fail to say anything kind to his dad because I was too busy trying to process this bit of news.

  3. I do not currently look to be somewhere between five and seven months pregnant. Because the post-surgical swelling is not that extreme. But if this were true, I certainly wouldn't dream up cruel tricks to play on friends and family that involved making them actually ask if I'm pregnant. Because I'm not more than a little frustrated with all of the "are you still trying" questions.

  4. In my haste to leave the hospital as quickly as possible on Friday, I did not get my finger stuck in a wheel chair between two parts of the frame. I did not sit on that same finger. And finally, that finger does not now sport a purplish knuckle and a big ol' scab. Because seriously, who gets hurt trying to sit in a wheelchair?

  5. On Tuesday of this week, I did not take the first steps to conquer a fear I've harbored for many, many years. But if I had done that, I can guarantee it would be a great feeling.

  6. I am not about to waste a bunch of time until I can get my name in to Mr. Linky. And I am not planning on posting a few pictures. Because I did NOT just realize that my camera has a USB port. Because I would never have a camera for two years and not notice that. Expecially since I use it to generate income. Nope. Not I.
    **edit**: I did not stay up until the appearnace of Mr. Linky and then neglect to actually push Submit. I'm not that absent minded.
What did you not do this week?

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Saturday, December 20, 2008

Trying a Random Newness

So... Because I like to see my cluster map get all full, and I like having to delete entries from my visitor log, and I rarely experience either one of those, I am going to be part of a Web Ring. Now, this may turn out to be a bad idea, and I may become an UNmember in short order. But for now, here we go. We'll see if it does anything.

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Friday, December 19, 2008

Surgical Report.

I am still a bit dopey, and I was dopey when the doctor came in to talk. But here's the gist:
She got pretty much everything out. No additioal surgeons were called in. It was all done through a scope, for which I am thankful.

The biggest issue in there was the adhesions. Everything was all messed up. There were quite a few growths of endometriosis, but none of them were particularly large. She did remove part of one ovary - it was pretty much nothing but cysts. Which is too bad. I'm just thankful that unlike some surgeons, she chose to carefully remove the cysts without removing the ovary. It is more time consuming, but it's time well spent.

I am particularly sore around one of the incisions, and have a temp of 100. Not necesarily a big deal, but I'll be watching it very closely. I think it's somewhat normal to have a bit of a fever after having had general anesthesia.

When they ran my blood panel this moring, we had the good news that we probably wouldn't need to adress clotting (or lack there of). Afterwards, it was still good. Which is a big factor in getting to go hom. :)

In short, my God has faithfully delivered me yet again. And for that, I am thankful.

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Surgery Today.

As I write this, I am sitting in the living room of our friends' home. I am watching Mork and Mindy reruns and enjoying the companionship of others. As you read this, I am at the hospital. I might be in the waiting room, or in pre-op. I might be lying on an operating table with a breathing tube in my throat and instruments in my belly, or I might be in recovery. It's possible I've been assigned to a hospital room for a day or two, or I might even be at home in my own bed. It all depends.

You see, I am having surgery. After daily pain, increasing fatigue, complications involving several other organs, I have chosen to go down this road. Again. It will most likely be laparoscopic (tiny incisions, tiny camera and instruments, "Band-Aid surgery"). It is possible that it will be converted into a laparotomy (big incision, "regular surgery") mid procedure.

So, while I, ahem, sleep... I'll leave you with something to think about.

Healing. I've been told by many that I need to have faith, and just believe God for my healing. I do have faith. And I know that God has already provided my healing for me. I also know that God has enabled medical science to progress to a point where it is able to help me. To make my point, let me tell you a story.

There was a man sitting on his porch. He noticed his neighbors rushing frantically in and out of their homes, loading their cars and trucks, even trailers, with boxes and bags. He wondered what was going on.

"Hey, what are you doing?" he called to the one he knew as a "nice old man."

Pointing to the dark clouds overhead, the man replied, "There's a storm coming, and the levee hasn't been repaired yet. They say to expect a flood, and we've been ordered to evacuate."

"Oh... okay. Well, I have faith in God. He will preserve me."

That night, the levee broke. The man found himself perched on the roof of his house, watching the water rise. When it covered the porch roof, a teenager in a canoe paddled toward his house.

"Get in sir, and I'll take us to safety." The boy waved with encouragement and smiled.

The man looked up at the clouds rolling overhead. He shielded his eyes, and could see the rim of red on the western horizon. The sun was setting, and he knew the darkness would bring coldness. He sighed, squared his shoulders, and replied.

"No, thank you. You take care of yourself, son. I'm trusting God to deliver me."

The boy shrugged and paddled on.

Shortly after darkness fell, the man could hear the sound of water lapping against the roof. He was sitting on the peak, and could occasionally see flickers of light reflecting off the waves. He shivered, but prayed with boldness.

"Lord, I have faith. I believe you will rescue me. I have faith, Lord."

Before even a minute had passed, he heard the sound of a boat motor. Blinking in the beam of a flashlight, the man saw a large boat. There were several life-vested people huddled inside, and two uniformed men trying to offer comfort.

One of them shouted, "Sir, jump into the water! We'll pull you out. We have blankets and it's only a couple of minutes to safety!"

"Well, thank you. But, you see, I am trusting God. God is going to rescue me. He will surely save me."

Shaking their heads, the men pulled away and faded into the night.

Darkness surrounded him again. The man shivered, pulling the hem of his coat down and tucking his hands into his pockets. The water rose quickly. Within an hour, he found himself stretching to keep his chin above water.

"Lord, save me!"

His prayer this time was not dignified. It was desperate, hurried. Within seconds, a helicopter appeared overhead. Over the thumping of the rotors, he heard a man shouting.

"Sir, we're lowering a rope. Grab hold, and we'll pull you up."

"No, I can't. I'm trusting God. I have faith. I believe."

After several minutes of fruitless pleading, the helicopter faded into the night. The water continued to rise, and the man was overcome by cold and fatigue.

In heaven, he asked the Lord...

"Lord, I don't understand. You said if we asked, if we had faith, you would help us. I prayed. I believed. And you didn't rescue me."

The Lord was sad as he replied, "Son... I heard your prayers. I did rescue you. I sent you two boats and a helicopter. What more did you want?"

Obviously, this isn't scriptural or plausible. Fortunately, the point I'm trying to make is obvious. When God delivers us, He is not obligated to the use of thunder and lightning and angels. His answer may be more subtle. For me, this deliverance is coming in the form of a skilled surgeon. What have you been asking God to deliver you from? Keep your eyes open, and be prepared for the fact that your answer may not come in the packaging you expect.

Meanwhile, you can look forward to some regular old unscheduled posts just as soon as I feel up to it.

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Thursday, December 18, 2008

Why Am I Having Surgery?

A few people have asked lately why, exactly, I am having surgery. Here's my attempt at describing it. It's a bit detailed, and a bit drawn out, but I think if you read it all, you'll have a pretty decent understanding.

The short answer is that I have endometriosis.

Endometriosis is a very strange, very misunderstood disease. It only affects women. What it means is that tissue that has a lot of the same properties as endometrial tissue (which normally lines a woman's uterus) is growing rampant in other places - primarily in my lower abdomen. On months when I actually ovulate, my body produces a lot of estrogen before releasing the egg. This estrogen tells the lining in my uterus to grow and thicken. It also tells all of the abnormal tissue growing outside of my uterus to grow and thicken.

If, about two weeks after my ovary releases an egg, there is no pregnancy, the hormone levels drop very sharply. This tells my uterus to shed its lining, resulting in the bleeding most women experience each month. Unfortunately, it also tells all of the abnormal tissue to shed. This abnormal tissue has no outlet, so it just bleeds into my abdomen. This, believe it or not, hurts!

The blood also contains substances (prostoglandins) which cause an inflammatory response, which also hurts. And causes me to have a fever of about 102 for about ten days out of each cycle. That makes me achy and tired.

My body, sensing that there is bleeding where there shouldn't be, works overtime to repair it. This makes a lot of scar tissue. Anywhere that there are two spots semi-close together, the scar tissue ends up connecting the two spots. This isn't so bad if it's just a couple little spots, but when it's a spot on one organ connecting to a spot on another organ, things get messed up.

Last time we did a scan and exam, we determined the following: my bladder seems to be stuck to my abdominal wall and to my uterus and left ovary. My uterus seems to be stuck to the lower right hand side of my abdominal wall. A little bit of my colon seems to be stuck to the side of the uterus. My small intestine is adhered in quite a few locations, and a loop is adhered firmly to and around my right ovary. These are just the places where imagine makes it easy to see that something is clearly amiss. It's almost a guarantee that there are a lot more adhesions (scar tissue) that we can't see with scans.

As far as places where there is the abnormal tissue (endometriosis) growing... we are aware that the ovaries have a lot of it. There is some in my bladder (yes, IN), and some on the outside of it. There's a bunch on my uterus, a bunch on my abdominal wall. There's some growing low in my pelvis over a nerve, which means that it always feels like I just hit a funny bone - inside my belly. Which is just weird. There is some in my colon, and a lot on the outside of it. There is some on my liver, and some on my diaphragm. My left kidney has a bit, as do both ureters. My small intestine has a lot.

Tomorrow, the surgeon will use a laser to vaporize as much of the endometriosis as she can. This part of the procedure could take anywhere from two to six hours. She will then dissect or remove the adhesions, which could also take anywhere from one to four hours. Once she has removed everything she can, she will spend between one and two hours covering every visible organ with a substance called Intercede. This will hopefully keep post-surgical scarring to a minimum.

She plans to do it all laparoscopicly, but I have been advised to be prepared for a potential larger incision if needed. She has promised that she will not completely remove either of my ovaries. We're also planning for me to come home tomorrow evening. Of course, there are some variables that might prevent this.

One, if they have to open things up further, I'd spend at least one night. Two, if I am unable to tolerate the post-op pain, they'll keep me in for IV pain relief. Three, if the procedure goes until seven or eight PM, they'll probably keep me over since they usually like to wait at least four hours post op before sending people home. Four, if there are any complications, I'd stay. And five, if my white count or blood pressure tanks out and/or I require a transfusion, I'll stay. In the past, it's gone both ways. So we're just going to monitor it all closely and deal with whatever we need to.

It is pretty much impossible for the surgeon to successfully remove every bit of endometriosis. Anything left inside has the potential to grow and spread and land me in this same situation in another year or so. To prevent that, I'll be going on some heavy-duty suppression therapy for a few months. This will inhibit estrogen production and literally starve out the remaining endometriosis. We can't do that instead of surgery, because there is so much endometriosis that it would probably literally take several years to work, and it wouldn't do anything at all about the scar tissue.

Now, here is where my faith comes into play. Medically, this is not a cure. According to the doctor, the condition will be back to where it is today within a few years. But I have something that medicine can't provide - a Savior. A Savior who died for my sins. A Savior who was beaten and bruised and whipped, who allowed His body to be broken so that mine doesn't have to be. I am believing that this will be the last time I need this procedure. That my healing has already been provided, and that this is the end of my endometriosis battle.

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Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Baby Girl.

I want to be real. Transparent. So that, perhaps, my pain and the sorrow I feel can somehow be used to help someone else.

Today is a special day. A meaningful day. A real day. Today is the 17th of December. It's a date that was burned into my mind, into my heart, almost 2.5 years ago. It is the day our precious child was predicted to make her grand entrance. She's not here.

She was not born after hours of contractions. I didn't push, working with my body to deliver her into this world. She did not cry. We did not see her, hold her, or touch her. There was no flurry of activity. No hushed whispers. No smiles. No tears. She left quietly. Quickly. Almost unnoticed. She was born directly into heaven. Her eyes never beheld this world. Her lungs never filled with air. Her heart never beat against my chest.

It is hard for me, today. It is hard to comprehend that I am walking daily without her. She is not here. To most of this world, she never existed. There are no pictures of her. We don't have hand prints or a lock of hair. I wonder how it is that I can so sharply, so acutely, feel her absence.

I so often wish I could have held her. Seen her. Known her. And yet... I am grateful. My little baby girl will never know the pain of abandonment. She will never be alone. She will never sin. She will never be sick or injured. She will never know sorrow or grief. For those reasons, I am thankful. As her mother, what more could I ask? What could be better than this?

It is not for her that I mourn. It is not for her that I grieve. It is for me. For the truth is, my arms are empty tonight. I don't have a soft body to cradle. There are no silken strands to caress, no tiny fingers to amaze me. There is just the memory. The memory of hope, of anticipation. The memory of tiny, almost indiscernible flutters deep inside. The memory of the joy her brief visit with us brought. It is for her father. His heart broke along with mine. It is for her grandparents. Her great grandparents. The couple we would have chosen to fill a very special role in her life as her "godparents." It is, in short, for those of us who are left here.

So today, my sweet Annaliah Claire, I remember. I am sad when I think that you'd have been two years old now. But I rejoice that you will never know age. You are not bound by the constrictions of time or distance. And the love your Savior has for you is stronger, more pure, more selfless, than even the love of your mother. And I remember you.

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Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Speaks to me.

This was posted on a blog I frequent... Bring The Rain. Angie (the author) is a woman who truly loves her God, and she has a real heart of compassion. I'd encourage you to check it out. The song is the first one on the playlist on the left. I'm not so much into the melody or music itself, but the words...

Whatever You're Doing
Sanctus Real

It's time for healing time to move on
It's time to fix what's been broken too long
Time to make right what has been wrong
It's time to find my way to where I belong
There's a wave that's crashing over me
And all I can do is surrender

Whatever You're doing inside of me
It feels like chaos but somehow there's peace
It's hard to surrender to what I can't see
but I'm giving in to something Heavenly

Time for a milestone
Time to begin again
Reevaluate who I really am
Am I doing everything to follow Your will
Or just climbing aimlessly over these hills
So show me what it is You want from me
I give everything I surrender...

Whatever You're doing inside of me
It feels like chaos but somehow there's peace
It's hard to surrender to what I can't see
but I'm giving in to something Heavenly

Time to face up
Clean this old house
Time to breathe in and let everything out
That I've wanted to say for so many years
Time to release all my held back tears

Whatever You're doing inside of me
It feels like chaos but I believe
You're up to something bigger than me
Larger than life something Heavenly

Whatever You're doing inside of me
It feels like chaos but now I can see
This is something bigger than me
Larger than life something Heavenly
Something Heavenly

It's time to fix up
Clean this old house
Time to breathe in and let everything out

I've recently been given the opportunity to make some significant changes. In my life. In the life of my husband. In my future. I had no idea that I'd ever have this opportunity, and I am thankful for it. My Pastor is the one who started the process of change. It shows me once again how vital it is to have a good Pastor. And how important it is to actually do what that Pastor says, when you ask for help.

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Sunday, December 14, 2008

Not Me Monday

"So MckMama..." is a phrase frequently uttered in our home, by myself and my husband. MckMama is one of those rare people who lets herself be seen by others. She lets us see her as she follows Christ - flaws and all.
Each week, MckMama hosts a blogfest called "Not Me Monday." Not Me Monday is, in a nutshell, a no-cost-involved self-therapy program designed for people like me. It gives those who participate full license to disclose all of those details that we usually keep carefully hidden. It also allows us (the participants) to read about all of the things that other people definitely did NOT do this past week.
So here are my "Not Me Monday's." Be sure to head on over to MckMama's Blog to check out more, that are probably more entertaining than mine could ever be.
  1. We do not have way too many bats in our house. There are not two separate incidents which prove this to be true. If we did and there were, though, I would describe them as follows:
    I was almost asleep, in our dark, quiet bedroom. I feel a soft "thump" on my knee, through the blankets. I turn on the lamp, and look down to see a very startled bat who apparently didn't expect there to suddenly be light. When the bat started to squeak in defense, I didn't grumpily say, "Not so loud, okay?" And then turn the light back off. And then, almost twenty minutes later, realize what I had just done. And realize that the bat was now hanging out on the computer monitor, ready to sleep till the next night.
    Incident number two is related to incident number one. I did not come downstairs just one night ago to find all four cats laying lazily in a heap in the living room. They were not all lazily watching a bat fly in circles. They are not so used to bats that they now neglect to pursue them.

  2. I am not praying for a surplus of slave labor volunteers to help us drywall next weekend, even though I will be laying in bed too drugged up to function because I'm having surgery. Because I am not getting a little disturbed by the fact that I am actually getting used to bats living in my house with me.

    *Just so you know, I am aware that bats pose a health hazard and are generally disturbing to most people. However, this is a temporary situation which will soon be remedied and I am trying to make the best of it. Because when all is said and done, my husband and I are actually quite blessed.

  3. I am not going to complain about winter this year. Because I am not going to set myself up to be all depressed about the fact that where I live, winter seems to last twice as long as summer. Wait... that actually IS true... whoops!

  4. At the beginning of this week, I did not realize with a sinking feeling that I had used my own "logic" and "reasoning ability" to directly disobey my Pastor. After I asked him to tell me what I should do. But if I had done that, I would have gone to him after church to tell him I had finally realized that I'd asked him for help and then disregarded the help he gave, and apologized.

  5. I was not ecstatic to when I found out what our energy bill is, even though our house isn't done, and it's not fully insulated yet, and we don't have the drywall all up, and the heating system is having to work way more than it should because our duct work isn't complete. Because it isn't already only 25% of what our average bill was in our apartment.

  6. I did not just go to a Christmas party with my husband and his coworkers, and spend the majority of the time trying to acquire as many puppy-kisses as possible. Because I do not actually feel more comfortable with strange dogs than with semi-familiar people. Nope, not me.

  7. I so totally did not install a hit-counter in the background of this blog. And since then, I DEFINITELY have not been checking every day trying to figure out if there is anyone who regularly reads this. But even if I had, I wouldn't reveal my findings here. ;)

  8. My "little" uncle is not coming to be with me when I have surgery. And he's not coming back next week to take care of me while my husband works. And I'm not excited about that. Because I don't like him. Nope, not me.

  9. I do not have posts scheduled for the next week, in an effort to encourage *all* of my readers to keep coming back. I'm not that... um... weird? Obsessive? Hmm....

  10. I am not off to stalk MckMama's blog in an attempt to be in the top five for this week's "Not Me Monday" festival.
**Just a note** The uncle I mentioned? His name is Michael. He is a young man that I am proud to know. Proud to be related to. And I love him very much, and I thank God for the opportunity to know him.

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Friday, December 12, 2008

Just Music.

It's just music, right? A cheerful song. A happy song. One that is fun to play on the piano. It's one of those where your fingers just seem to know where to go before you even see the notes on the page. It stirs a little melody in your heart, and then the music follows that melody. It's almost like it plays itself.

I first played it fifteen years ago. It's been at least ten since the last time I played it. I don't know that I liked it so much then. But today, when I popped in at a blog I like to read, it was there. The first couple measures are rather non-descript - just the left hand doing little arpeggios. But when the melody started, I froze. Tears formed. The world stopped ever so briefly in its orbit. My heart skipped. Reality faded. I could see my hands. Hands with square-tipped fingers and knobby knuckles. Dancing over the keys of a piano. Those hands shifted a little, and suddenly, they were no longer mine. They were hers. Older. Smaller. Wrinkled. Playing the same notes. A smile on her face as her eyes focused not on the music, but on a distant memory. And then I could see her. At that same piano. So many years ago. Playing those same notes. Young. Vibrant. Alive.

You see, at least for today, this tune is bitter sweet. It seems that as the holidays get closer, I miss her more. And more. Like the world is spinning out of control. I want to scream "STOP!" and make people remember. And then, through a haze of memory tears, God speaks. He assures me that she is well. That she is safe. And that He will never forget her. And, as the cheery, happy notes keep marching on, I cry. Knowing that no matter what I fear, I will never forget her. I may not remember her laugh, I might not be able to hear her voice outside of dreams, but I won't forget.

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Thursday, December 11, 2008

Not So Unique, After All.

Have you ever been in church and been completely convinced that the Pastor has been secretly reading your mind? I have. Lots of times. So far, there hasn't been a single instance where he was reading my mind. Come to think of it, out of all of those times, I can only think of ONE where he actually WAS talking specifically to me.

Lately, there has been a specific something that I've been struggling with. And not a little. Enough to go to my Pastor and ask him for help. And he has been helping.

Stay with me here - there's something I should explain. At our church, for several months now, we' ve been doing a series on "Practical Christian Living." For this series, our Pastor has been using scripture to answer questions we (the members of the church) might have about daily life. Questions ranging from child-rearing to marriage to being single to owning pets. And more. Anything we ask, he answers. Even if his answer is "the Bible doesn't specifically address it." If he has no idea, he admits it and then works to find the answer.

Tonight, Pastor stood up and started reading a letter. I will tell you right now, I absolutely did not write the letter. And the letter was not written on my behalf. But you can bet my cheeks were all sorts of red when he gave just some vague background information, that just happens to match my life. And then he read the letter. It was the questions I have asked. The fears I've expressed. Only... I never asked those questions or expressed those fears to him. It couldn't have been more me if it had been me. Well, actually, I suppose it could have been, but... you get the idea.

His answer was a blessing. It was just as applicable to me personally as if he and my husband and I were sitting in a room alone for a private counseling session. So tonight, it was brought home to me once again how important it is for us to be in a good church, with a good Pastor.

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Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Words of Comfort

There is a song that has spoken so much comfort to me today. To my husband as well. It's not just the melody. It's not just the pretty music. It's the words. The words that describe who my God is. IS. And was. And is. And HE IS FOR ME. So... here they are.

I Am
Mark Schultz
I Am the Maker of the Heavens
I Am the Bright and Morning Star
I Am the Breath of all Creation
Who always was
And is to come
I Am the One who walked on water
I Am the One who calmed the seas
I Am the miracles and wonders
So come and see
And follow me
You will know
I Am the Fount of Living Water
The Risen Son of Man
The Healer of the broken
And when you cry
I Am your Savior and Redeemer
Who bore the sins of man
The author and perfecter
Beginning and the End
I Am
I Am the Spirit deep inside you
I Am the Word upon your heart
I Am the One who even knew you
Before your birth
Before you were
Before the Earth (I Am)
The universe (I Am)
In every heart (I Am)
Oh, where you are (I Am)
The Lord of Love (I Am)
The King of Kings (I Am)
The Holy Lamb (I Am)
Above all things
Yes, I am almighty God your Father
The risen Son of Man
The Healer of the broken
And when you cry
I Am your Savior and Redeemer
Who bore the sins of man
The Author and Perfecter
Beginning and the End
I Am

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Tuesday, December 9, 2008

If You Had To...

Sum up your existance in just ONE word, what would it be?

The last three years have been difficult. More difficult than I would have believed, if someone had tried to warn me. Today marks one week exactly until the day we expected our daughter to be born. Well, date, anyway. The actual day was two years ago. This wil lbe the second Christmas without my Gramma. The second birthday. Second new year's. We just got done with the second Thanksgiving. Next month will be two years since she died, so abruptly. There are issues my husband and I are helping eachother through. Our home is moving slowly, impeded by my inability to function half the time due to pain. But...

I've been redeemed. I am saved. My name is written in the Lamb's book of Life. And nobody and no THING can take that from me. So. I would sum up my existance as....


What about you? Leave a comment, let me know.

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Sunday, December 7, 2008


I participate in our church's choir. Tonight, our church will gather for our annual Christmas Concert. There will be a lot of cute children who, with their innocence and charm, will convey a message meant to soften hearts and draw us closer to Him, our King. There will be our choir, who through music will endeavor to show people a little bit more of our Lord, to draw them just a little closer.

I think this is a good time to write about focus.

Turn with me to Proverbs 4, and let's look at verses 25 and 26.

Let your eyes look right on [with fixed purpose], and let your gaze be straight before you. Consider well the path of your feet, and let all your ways be established and ordered aright.

Try as I might, I can't see anything in this verse that says "look at yourself." I can see nothing that says "watch yourself." I can't find anything at all to indicate that I should be focusing on me.

I need to let my eyes look right on with fixed purpose. What purpose? My ultimate goal. Heaven. My Savior. Hearing those coveted words... "Well done, my good and faithful servant." That is my purpose. My desire. My intention. My focus.

So tonight, when the lights are low and I stand between two women with a microphone in my hand, my focus will be on Him. Where is yours?

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Saturday, December 6, 2008

Rescue Me.

I am rescue-hungry. I like to be rescued. Not the in-trouble-and-can't-get-out part. The someone sweeping in to save me part. That is the part I like. I looked the word up in a dictionary. Actually, I went to http://www.dictionary.com/ and looked it up. The first definition? "To free or deliver from confinement, violence, danger, or evil." That is what I am hungry for. Someone to come in and free me from the evil in my life. Someone to break the confinement of my sorrow. Someone to deliver me from the danger of my sin and the violence of my anger. I am rescue-hungry.

Like many kids, I used to dream of being rescued. I imagined my rescuer - handsome, strong, noble, gentle. I imagined he'd make all that was wrong, right. I pictured him carrying me far from anything that would harm me. I imagined that my life would be permanently changed by this rescue.

Now, I'm no longer a child. I am "grown up." I've conceived and said good bye to children of my own. I've married. I've lived. I've loved. I've laughed. I've experienced joy unspeakable and sorrow so intense I thought I would die. And I still long to be rescued.

But you know what? I have already been rescued. By one who came unobtrusively. Quietly. Meekly. Gently. Into this world. In the dark of night, in a little town called Bethlehem. More than 2,000 years ago. This rescue shook the world, changed history. But more importantly, He rescued me. He delivered me from the confinement of time when He gave me eternity. He delivered me from the violence of Hell, when He died for my sins and rose again. He freed me from the danger of an eternity alone, without Him. He shattered the grip that evil had over me. I've been rescued. And I am in love with my rescuer. I revere Him. Honor Him. Worship Him. Serve Him. And I thank Him.

Romans 1:16-17
It's news I'm most proud to proclaim, this extraordinary Message of God's powerful plan to rescue everyone who trusts Him, starting with the Jews and then right on to everyone else! God's way of putting people right shows up in the acts of faith, confirming what Scripture has said all along: "The person in right standing before God by trusting Him really lives."

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I have expectations. Of how things will go, how they will be. Of who will be there for certain events. Of those events. Of when and how and where they'll happen. Of the simple fact that they will happen.

There is no guarantee that any of my expectations will be met. None. Except for one. I expect that when I die, I will go to heaven. I expect to spend an eternity being thankful that my Savior paid the price for my sins, that He ransomed me. This is one expectation that will not be dashed.

Meanwhile, I am here on earth. My expectations are often dashed, unmet. I, like any of you, have heartache. Disappointment. Opportunities to be disappointed, offended, bitter. And, like any of you, I have the strength and ability to choose to be thankful. To choose life. Hopefulness. Peace. Joy. And I am chosing those. And expecting that, even when everything seems wrong, I will have them.

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Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Special Request.

I'd like to request something. From any of you who may read this. Could you pray? This has been a difficult season for myself and my husband. We've had a lot of stress, and a lot of it has been beyond our control.
We are blesed, in that our marriage has been gaining strength. We have stayed close. And that will continue. I can't imagine trying to deal with "marital trouble" in the midst of everything else.
The everything else will pass. I know this. It's a season, not a permanent situation. Right now, though, it's exhausting. It wears on a person. And it's hard. So if you could pray for the two of us, I'd appreciate it.

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Monday, December 1, 2008

Not Me Monday

"So MckMama..." is a phrase frequently uttered in our home. Mostly by me. Or... maybe it's only uttered by me? Hmmm... regardless. MckMama is currentlywitnessing the miraculous birth, life, and healing of one youngster affectionately known as MckMuffin. Or, in the real world, Stellan. Stellan is living proof that miracles do indeed happen. The fact that his heart is still beating today, is a miracle. The fact that his mom, dad, sister, and brothers have not had to say "good-bye" to him is a miracle.
Stellan's mom, "MckMama," hosts a blog carnival. It is called "Not Me Monday." Not Me Monday is a great way to be real, honest, and open with strangers from all over the world. I invite you to read mine, and read MckMama's. On her blog, you'll find links to all sorts of Not Me Monday participants. I think you'll enjoy it. I know I sure have.
  1. On Friday the 21st, my husband and I actually did go to a friend's house to be lazy and relax and enjoy some good comp'ny. But, while we were there, I did not laugh so hard at the commentator on an Air Force One special that I cried. Hard. Not me. Because when a serious announcer says that the purpose of Air Force One is to allow the president to "Do his duty anywhere in the world, in safety," I certainly do not immediately find my mind on things related more to toilettes than running our nation. Not me. Nuh-uh.
  2. Looking at number one again - I certainly do not still chuckle every time I envision Air Force One. And that vision is not accompanied by the memory of what that non-existant announcer did not say. Nope.
  3. Because I nearly forgot last week's Not Me Monday post, I certainly did not start this at 1:45 AM on Monday the 24th. That would just be obsessive.
  4. I have not completely re-wired my brains biological clock so that my sleep cycle is about seven hours later than normal. Because that would mean I've made a habit of doing things at the "wrong" time. And it would mean I will have to actually do something about it if I want to be like "normal" people.
  5. I am not still up at 1:11 AM, not even trying to sleep. Because I know better than that. If I want to kick this insomnia thing, I need to go to sleep. And I don't ever do things I know I maybe shouldn't do. Nope. Not me.
  6. I am not reasonably confident that I just managed to kill the Mac. Again. Because I made fun of my husband for doing that very thing just this afternoon.
  7. I have not just verified that I really killed the Mac. Nope.
  8. I did not pout when Mr. Linky wasn't working on MckMama's blog. I did not deliberately post this at 12:00 AM just to be in the top 5. And I did not consider (briefly) taking it back down just because it wasn't as high as I wanted it.
  9. I am not about to go take a long, hot bath exclusively for the purpose of warming my freezing feet. It is 2:00 AM and I do NOT stay up till all hours unable to sleep. Although, I suppose I COULD use my sweet husband's back to warm my feet. I'm not sure he'd like that, though.
  10. I did not just consume 1/3 of a box of thin mints while soaking in that bath I didn't take.

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Friday, November 28, 2008

Just a Little Something...

Just a little something that has been rolling around inside me for a while now. Something that is in my thoughts daily. Hourly. Sometimes more.

My eternity is sealed. There is nothing that can happen that can steal my salvation. Nothing that can take it away. I can choose to give it up, but the events, circumstances, and trials of this life can't take it. However. The way I respond, the way I live, the way I handle these things can and probably will impact others. Impact them to the point of changing where they choose to spend eternity.

I need to carefully consider and weigh my responses to life. Because really, it's not about me.

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Thursday, November 27, 2008

Thank You.

Today, I was thinking about what I'm most thankful for. The thing that came up the most, and the strongest, on this day, was initially my church. I honestly believe that a person can be saved, love God, serve Him, and go to heaven without ever setting foot in a church. I also believe that doing so would be very, very difficult. And I do not know if I could do it. But thankfully, I DO have my church. My wonderful, fabulous church. It's not perfect, nor is it the "best" one in the world. Well, in my eyes it is, but realistically I know it probably isn't. Anyway... I'm so thankful. And then I got to thinking a little more.

There is a family. This family has a mom named Mary. A dad named Harlyn. A girl who is my age, named Amanda. A girl a few years younger, named Abigail Rose. This family brought me to my church. The first time. And lots of times after that. I was glad when they said to me, "Let us go into the house of the Lord." I thank God they did.

Then I got to thinking about how they ended up there. And realized something. This awesome, amazing, miraculous thing that was my arrival in this church, was born out of tragedy. A terrible, sad, horrible event. An event that has changed the life and perspective of so many. It could have derailed them. It could have been the end of faith for many . But it wasn't. They made it. They survived. They laugh. They smile. They love. They live. Without him. Without that special boy. I know only a fraction of what they must live with, regarding that event. And only a fraction. But I also know that I am grateful, and eternally so, for them. Grateful that they did not become bitter. Grateful that in the midst of sorrow and heart-wrenching pain, and what must have been (and probably still is) a million questions that have no answers, they reached out. They didn't let it stop them from ministering. From helping. From impacting. Me. My life. And so, I am thankful. For them. For Billy, who touched my life so deeply without ever meeting me. And thankful to God, that He gave them the strength for this journey.

I may come back tomorrow (or today, later) and rewrite this, to make it more coherent, more... fitting. More expressive and articulate. Or I may just leave it as it is.

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Monday, November 24, 2008

Not Me Monday. (I'm NOT Batty)

"So MckMama..." is a phrase frequently uttered in our home. Mostly by me. Or... maybe it's only uttered by me? Hmmm... regardless. MckMama is currently witnessing the miraculous birth, life, and healing of one youngster affectionately known as MckMuffin. Or, in the real world, Stellan. Stellan is living proof that miracles do indeed happen. The fact that his heart is still beating today, is a miracle. The fact that his mom, dad, sister, and brothers have not had to say "good-bye" to him is a miracle.
Stellan's mom, "MckMama," hosts a blog carnival. It is called "Not Me Monday." Not Me Monday is a great way to be real, honest, and open with strangers from all over the world. I invite you to read mine, and read MckMama's. On her blog, you'll find links to all sorts of Not Me Monday participants. I think you'll enjoy it. I know I sure have.
  1. I am not sitting here at 1:30 AM riding yet another adrenaline high. Because I did not just get hot and cold flashes as I watched our cats find yet another bat in our house. That's ridiculous.
  2. If our cats did just find another bat, I surely would have dealt with it myself instead of forcing my sleeping husband to get up and capture it.
  3. I am not having a hard time sleeping because of that adrenaline high, and I am not considering using food as a natural sedative. Because eating this late is bad for my metabolism.
  4. I do not have to force myself to get up in the morning to call and schedule yet another operation for endometriosis. If that were true, I wouldn't be trying to hide the guilt I secretly feel about it.
  5. I did not just spend more than 24 hours in a drug-induced haze because of the pain relievers I need to take to be comfortable.
  6. I am definitely not sitting here pretending I cannot hear a bat flying around in the house, searching for bugs. That would be absurd - if I could hear that, surely I'd do something about it. Right?
  7. I am not trying to figure out a way to trap all of the bats in our house without paying any money to do so.
  8. We do not have a bat trapped in our half-completed ventilation system. If we did, we wouldn't have used cardboard and duct tape to do the trapping.
  9. I do not jump every time I hear a sound that sounds like a bat. Because these bats are certainly not driving me... well... batty.

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***Amendment: After a mere 15 minutes of additional sleep, we have once again deposited a flying fur ball outside. Which begs the questions:
1) How many ARE there in here?
2) How did I get so blessed as to have a husband who can quickly and fearlessly capture and release these things less than a minute after being woken up?

So. It's 1:00 AM. In the last five days, I've had way too many surges of adrenaline. So has my husband. You see, we don't have drywall in the majority of our house right now. This means that as the bats are seeking winter refuge, they are coming in here. Not just our attic - although that IS where they are entering. If we had the upstairs finished, they'd stay in the attic and we'd be none the wiser. That's not true though. So... I feel like we're on a tape that just keeps repeating.

Today we dealt with another bat. Again. This one got stuck between a bucket holding tools and the nailer for the drywall that will eventually be going up. He (or she) was TICKED. REALLY, really ticked. To the point where, as we were trying to figure out how to capture it, it sort of shut down and gave up. We scared the poor, furry, brown thing that badly. My husband the bat capture master deftly deposited it into a Cool Whip container while I provided... um... moral support. There was no actual contact between bat and human, and the kids ... er... kitties... never figured out EXACTLY where it was, so they're safe too. We released the bat outside. And I marveled once again at the notion that an animal that is less than three inches from nose to tail can have wings that spread almost a foot. Just cool. And they really are cute, at least in my book. If only they didn't have the potential to carry rabies.

SO. Having had a middle-of-the-night adventure involving much too much adrenaline, again, I am awake. And planning to go downstairs, get some cereal, and take a nice hot bath.

By the way, I'll be scheduling surgery in the morning.

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Thursday, November 20, 2008

Dog In The Basement.

Tonight, I said to someone at church (with no intention of being clever or funny - it was just my tired brain expressing itself), "There's a dog in my basement. Well, more a puppy than a dog."

Blank stare from them, followed by "Why is there a dog in your basement?"

"Because there was a bat in the bedroom at 5:00 this morning."

Of course. Why ever else would there be a dog in my basement (at 9:30 tonight)? They should have thought of that, right?

On another topic. Today is one of those days that's gotten me thinking. About kids. About family. About what children will be part of the family that Derek and I have. What will those kids look like? Will they be blond like me? Darker like him? Will they have a big Greek nose and funny Norwegian toes? Blue eyes that twinkle with mischief, or brown ones wide with wonder? Will they be boys? Girls? Both? I used to think those things. Ask those questions. But...

There are children in my heart. Special ones. One is our little girl, Anna. When we lost her, we didn't have testing done and we don't actually "know" that she is a girl. But, there are some things that are stored inside a parent's heart, and the knowledge that she was a girl is one of those. We chose her name carefully. Annaliah. It means depending on grace. Because if we are to have hope, to not be bowled over by the fact that she's not here with us, we need grace. We are utterly dependent on it.

Another is a special little boy. His name is Nicholas. He's got parents who don't want to teach him about God. But he knows. He knows who Jesus is. That he died on the cross. That he rose from the grave. That He loves little Nicholas so much. That if Nicholas asks Him, He will come in and be the Lord of his life.

Another is a special one. One my husband and I prayed about. Were prepared for. Ready to adopt. Ready to bring in and graft into our life together. This child isn't with us, either. This child is with the woman who gave him or her life. We see this child from time to time, and it tugs at my heart each time.

The rest? I don't know. Yet. But they are there. Sparkling brown eyes. Almond shaped ones. Shiny black hair. Skin the color of chocolate.

I think about them during this time of year. The time of year when family is the topic of conversation. The focus of so much. And my heart, it aches. It longs. It hurts. Cries. I feel somehow incomplete. And yet... my heart praises. I am so thankful. I am so blessed. So very, richly, specially blessed.

Now. You might still be hung up on the dog and the bat. Let me explain.

Last night was one of those sleepless nights. I was still awake at 5:00 this morning. I heard a bat. Flying. Emitting it's clicking call to find dinner (there is no dinner. It's too cold for bugs right now). I heard my cats in a herd behind the bat, pursuing it around the upstairs. I heard them all come in the bedroom. Watched the bat hit the ceiling and fall, as it attempted to evade leaping flying feline fury (say that fast, sixteen times). In a frantic rush to remove the cats from the bat, and subsequently contain the bat, I started grabbing and tossing them out the bedroom door. I miss-judged my grip on our biggest and bestest, Furbis. He bit me. Hard. I earned it. But still... it hurt. Still does. By 9:00 AM, it was getting redder. And hurting. By noon, it was starting to appear somewhat infected. Off to the doctor with me.

While out, I found a puppy. A six month old (approximately) puppy. A hound. She was so sweet. And good. And potty trained. And knew sit, stay, lay down. Of course, I brought her home. NOT to keep! To find her human. I had a first and last name, and the dog's name. No phone number - the one on the hand-written tag was no longer in service. I started calling area vet clinics, asking if they treated the dog or had any ideas. Finally, one said that they didn't, and they didn't have any information on the owner, but they did know the owner's dad. They gave me his number. After a lot of phone tag and an 11:00 trip to doggie's home, little Vivienne has been returned to her home. She was quite happy being with us, but seemed even happier to be at her house.

So. There you go. The reason there was a dog in my basement is that there was a bat in my bedroom. Of course.

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Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Ka-pum Ka-pum Ka-pum...

That's what my heart's doing right now. Probably Derek's too. The hearts inside our four furry kids' chests are also beating with more... enthusiasm... than they normally would.

What's that? You want to know why?

I'll tell you. Tonight (or last night) was a night of insomnia. I am not sure I ever actually DID fall asleep... at least not that deep, relaxing, restorative sleep. But that's a whole other post for a whole other day. Or maybe for no day. Whatever. Either way... I was finally starting to dose, when I heart the pitter-patter of little feet. Not human ones. Soft, feline ones. Then the unmistakable staccato of a bat. Not a hunting, flying, happy bat. An angry, cornered, scared bat. I sat up, bleary eyed, and looked. All four cats were wildly bouncing around one small, brown, furry object. With wings.

I woke my husband. This was a two person job. I threw a shirt over said bat, to subdue and calm it (most wild animals feel much better about life in general if you put a heavy-ish object over them which also completely obstructs their view). I started tossing cats out the door. My beloved Furbis, the 15 pound epitome of catness, bit my arm. Hard. It hurts. I'll probably call about getting some antibiotics for it just to be safe - I've got to punctures that are very deep, a couple more not quite so deep, and one that just barely broke the skin. Experience says that cat bites don't generally fare well, though.

So yeah. I'm STILL awake. It's been one of those nights. And now, once things start opening up, I need to make some calls. One regarding antibiotics. One regarding procedure for the bat - do we get it tested? By whom? (Right now, it's in an ice cream bucket with a lid. On our patio. I'm not feeling charitable towards it). If my cat, who IS vaccinated against rabies, happened to have bitten said bat before I removed said cat from the room, and then bit me, can that transmit it to me (after all, I have not gotten a rabies vaccine for myself, since I tend not to lick wild animals)? One of those questions I wish I had the ability to ask my doctor. Who, by the way, still needs your prayers. (Go back a little ways, to the entry where I talk about Jim).

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Monday, November 17, 2008

Not Me Monday...

"So MckMama..." is a phrase frequently uttered in our home. Mostly by me. Or... maybe it's only uttered by me? Hmmm... regardless. MckMama is currentlywitnessing the miraculous birth, life, and healing of one youngster affectionately known as MckMuffin. Or, in the real world, Stellan. Stellan is living proof that miracles do indeed happen. The fact that his heart is still beating today, is a miracle. The fact that his mom, dad, sister, and brothers have not had to say "good-bye" to him is a miracle.
Stellan's mom, "MckMama," hosts a blog carnival. It is called "Not Me Monday." Not Me Monday is a great way to be real, honest, and open with strangers from all over the world. I invite you to read mine, and read MckMama's. On her blog, you'll find links to all sorts of Not Me Monday participants. I think you'll enjoy it. I know I sure have.
  1. I did not pass out at church last Wednesday. But if I had done that, I'm sure I'd remember more than random little snippets.
  2. I am not sitting here having once again forgotten that today was Monday and having no "Not Me Monday" post prepared.
  3. I do not currently live in one room of my house - the one room with electricity, communication, and walls.
  4. I am not currently uncertain whether anybody else is in my house or not. Because I'm not so zonked that I can't tell if I heard my father in law come in or not. Not me.
  5. I did not nearly wet my pants when I realized an opposum had apparently found its way into our house. I also did not choose to hide in my bedroom from the "big scary creature" currently shuffling around amongst our box forest downstairs. And if that had happened, I certainly would NOT have snuck back down to prop the door open, hoping the creature would find its own way out. It's too cold for that.
  6. I am not sitting here in my pajamas at 3:20 in the afternoon, simply because I haven't felt like finding any "real" clothes to wear. Not me.

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Sunday, November 16, 2008

Tenacity. And Tears.

So. I suggested to my husband that maybe he should brush his teeth BEFORE he got to the point of being almost asleep. He said, "Yeah." But snuggled a little deeper under the covers. I knew that I could utilize... persistance... to get him to do it. So. I utilized it.
I said, "You know I won't give up."
"I'm aware, yes." I could hear a smile in his voice.
"Okay. Because I am persistant."
Tenacious. I have perseverence. I am not easily deterred."
He chuckled silently (I could see his shoulders shaking). "You're not deterred?"
"Nope, I'm not easily deterred."
"Well, then... are you de pee?"
We laughed until we cried. This is one of those times where living with my very best friend is so very much fun.

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Saturday, November 15, 2008

Family. Patience. Conflict. Prayer.

Family. I love mine. All of it. I have a big one too. Well, not big if compared to the average Menonite or Jewish family. But big compared to a lot of the people I know. There's Derek and I. In my world, this is the nucleus of my family. As it should be. He is the husband. I'm the wife. We're the mommy and the daddy, even though other people can't see our children. We're the man and the woman.

Next generation:
We have my daddy. He is married to "my Kelly." My dad is strong. He's brave. He's wise. He's intelligent. He's a Godly man. He raised me. Fathered me. Played a huge role in me surviving events that might otherwise have been my undoing as a child. "My" Kelly is strong, too. She's a good woman. A Godly one. A woman who understands what commitment is. With Kelly come my two (step) brothers and my (step) sister. They are all different from me and from eachother. All people that the world is better because of. All people I love.

We have my mom. She's a loving, passionate woman. A woman I love very much. A woman who has made mistakes and still found courage to keep on keeping on.

We have Derek's daddy. He is married to Derek's mommy. Derek's dad is a good man. He's intelligent. He's loving. He's generous. He's a man of comittment. He raised my husband. And since my husband is an absolutely amazing man, I am so thankful for that. We have Derek's mommy. She loves God. She loves us. She is... passionate. Dramatic. Intense. Greek. Definately Greek. I love her. I am thankful she's my mother-in-law. We have Derek's sister, Cari. And her husband, Joel. I love them, too.

On top of that, we have grandparents. We have uncles. Aunts. Cousins. Friends. More distant relatives. A church that is as much our family as those related by blood.

We've also been given a gift. A gift of sacrifice, giving, love, labor, patience, and much selflessness. A gift where our two daddies are instrumental. A gift that will result in Derek and I owning our own home. First home. And it will be, if not very large, very comfortable. And nice. It's been a long haul to do this project. Not fun. Not easy. But rewarding.

Here's the problem. Our two daddies. Both of them have very valid, and in our eyes, correct, view points. One wants to push hard, get things done, get us out of construction mode and into home-owning safe-living mode. He's smart. He can do things "right" as well as the other dad. He is impatient, wanting things done now. He wants to protect our interests. He wants to help us have the house we want. He thinks the other dad is wrong, of inferior intelligence, and is very frustrated with him.
The other one wants to meticulously complete every step. He wants to get us out of construction mode and into home-owning, safe-living mode. He's smart. He can do things well. He is almost too patient - working so slowly that progress sometimes seems to be non-existent, but also doing everything he can to make sure all is done the "right way." He wants to protect our interests. He wants to help us have the house we want. He thinks the other dad is wrong, of inferior intelligence, and is very frustrated with him.

So. We have two dads. Who used to get along. They liked each other. They enjoyed each other's company. They looked forward to contact. Their relationship was not all that strong or deep, but was easy. It was easy for us. We didn't have any warring in-laws. Now, that's not true. They don't like each other. They look down on one another. They argue. Fight. Dread being in the same place at the same time. We dread it too. We don't want to choose one. Pick sides. We don't want to get in the middle. We don't know what to say or what to do. We just know we love them both, want to know both, want to relate to both. And we're afraid of what this project will do to that. So if you would, please pray? Pray for wisdom. Pray for safety. Preservation. Pray that we would do the right thing.

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Friday, November 14, 2008

Wide Awake Dreaming.

I have a dream. Not when I am asleep. When I am awake. It is just a fleeting glimpse, seen deep within my heart.

This dream paints a vivid picture. In it, my husband is laying in bed, on his back. One hand holds mine, as I lay beside him. The other rests on the back of a tiny baby girl. She's wearing a white, fleecy sleeper. Her face is on his shoulder, turned towards him. She is peaceful as she sleeps, safe in her daddy's arms. I can see her breathe, can almost feel her tiny body and smell her sweet skin.

I want this dream to come true. I want him to experience the joy of fatherhood. I long for that more than I long for myself to experience motherhood.

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Thursday, November 13, 2008

Silence Subdued.

I am a pretender. When I'm at my weakest, I try my hardest to appear strong. When I am afraid, I act brave. When I'm broken, I put on an air of wholeness. When something shakes me, I harden my face and appear unmoved.

I write this about me, but it could be anyone. Even you.

I do not know why I pretend. It is not as if the world will fall apart if I choose to reveal my flaws. It is not as if I can actually do anything outside of the One who created all. I have been blessed, encouraged, and helped by others who choose to stop pretending. I have comforted others when they allowed their brokenness and sorrow to show.

And still, I pretend. In silence, I live a secret life. A life where I am not as steady as the world might think. I don't give voice to secret concerns, fears, shame. I hide it. I pretend. Silence wins.

But. And this but is important. I sometimes stop pretending. Sometimes, I subdue the silence. I use the voice God gave me and I say "Help." I say "How?" I say "Jesus..." And help comes. Instruction comes. Comfort comes. But not until the silence is subdued.

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Wednesday, November 12, 2008


My husband and I moved last weekend. We moved into the house I grew up in. Sort of. You see, every interior wall, every little piece of Sheetrock, every door, light, switch, and outlet was removed. Nothing will be the same. And yet, it's still like coming home. In the process, some artifacts have been shuffled from box to drawer to shelf to floor to box to... well, you get the idea.

One of these artifacts is a collection of pictures from when I was a child.

Now, I am going to go of on what might appear to be a wild rabbit trail. Stay with me, and I promise it will eventually fall together.

My hands. They do not look like my mom's hands. She's got long, tapered fingers. With nails that, no matter what she says, will always be capable of more "prettiness" than mine. They are not my dad's hands. His fingers are square on the end - I've always thought he could have used them to be a surgeon. His hands as a whole are strong, sturdy. Broad. Even.

Mine? The bones in my palm are weird - the outside one is significantly stunted. No problem, no reason. Just is. So's my pinky. Neither of my parents have that, but I have an uncle, my dad's little brother, who shares my stubby little pinky fingers. My thumbs are... well, reminiscent of a skinny big toe. In their shape, not their smell, silly. Big, knobby knuckles. Not the normal ones, either. The middle ones. They've always reminded me of when a pine tree is damaged, and grows a huge knot around the damage as years go by. And they're crooked. None of them straighten or flex quite the same way. My index fingers cross under the middle if I hold my hand straight out. I'm not complaining - my hands, while not suitable for modeling fine jewelry, have served me well. They are strong, they respond to my brain's commands. I use them to touch the world around me. They convey love, compassion, strength, safety, correction, healing. They are used to create. And they are mine.

The night after we moved into the construction zone that is currently home, I came across that collection of pictures I mentioned earlier. They were on top of a box in our guest room (or what will be a guest room when it's done). The top picture showed me, wearing nothing but a diaper, petting my new puppy. I was a year old. Next picture? Me, holding my tiny black puppy in my hands. Same crooked fingers, same knobby knuckles. I was 8. I put it aside and looked down at the next picture. My heart stopped. The rest of the room went out of focus.

It was her. I was in the picture too, wrapped in the safety of her arms, reading a book. Her face beaming love at the child in her lap. But the part of the picture that was the most in focus was her hand. Her hand, holding a book. That hand looked so familiar... shortened outside bone in her palm. Knobby knuckles. Index finger curved in. Thumb resembling a skinny big toe. Oh how I loved those hands. They loved. The held. The comforted. They chastened. They represented safety and the promise of her continued presence. They were gentle as they caressed me to sleep. Strong when I was falling.

Tears were in my eyes as I realized that even if I forget the sound of her voice, the way she walked, or the curve of her smile, I will always remember her hands. You see, those hands... they are mine. A tangible, permanent reminder that she was here on this earth. And I will carry this precious reminder with me all the days of my life. The day will come when I step into eternity, either in the rapture or through the door called death. On that day, I will see my Gramma again. And until then, I have these hands. Mine. Hers. Ours.

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Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Time with God.

Do you take time for Him?

I am not proud of it, but I'll be the first to admit that there are times when I don't. I don't know how this can be. How can I go even an hour without thanking Him? Without acknowledging what He did for me, what He's doing now. Who He is? I don't know... but it happens.

But when I do find the time... have the time... make the time... it is more precious than life itself. I cherish those moments. Those special times when He speaks straight to my heart. Peace, as wide and flowing and unstoppable as a river. Joy unspeakable and uncontainable. Comfort as my heart seems to shatter in a million peaces. Warmth as cold alone tries to overwhelm. Correction as I begin to stray. Rebuke, stern, frightening, loving, when I disobey. Direction when I'm confused.

What does He say to you? Do you take time to listen? Turn off the TV, the phone, the computer? Sit in the silence and just wait? I'm not saying He won't speak if you don't do those things. I'm saying it is far easier for us, humans, to hear Him when all is still.

I've been spending more time than I'm accustomed to alone in my car. What an opportunity. In my cocoon of metal and glass, the world seems distant. It's just me. And Him. I take those moments to thank Him for all that He is and all that He does. I praise Him. I talk to Him. And I listen.

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Explaination. Request.

So. I've been "missing" for almost two whole weeks now. Where've I been, you might ask. I have been moving. And residing. In a house that I'm not entirely sure is legal to live in. Yet. We're working on it, remodelling it, and we're there now, even though it's not remotely done. It's not so fun, but... it's temporary.

God's been blessing us in many ways, and I know that when all is said and done this will definately be well worth it.

Now, I am going to ask you to pray with me. I have a friend. His name is Jim. He was riding a mountain bike with a friend of his on Thursday October 30th. He was a bit ahead of his friend, and apparently hit a pothole. He was thrown from his bicycle and hurt. Badly. His helmet was crushed. This man is one of the most intelligent, quick-witted, sharp thinking individuals I know. He is a doctor. He is a Martial Artist. And right now, he is laying in a bed in a hospital room. Barely able to speak. Only recognizing people he knows very well. Not remembering a lot of things that have happened in the last few years. I saw him Sunday. I'll be back again either today and/or tomorrow. Pray for him. God is bigger than this, and can work a miracle. And I believe this man will recover. Fully.

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**I was sorting through old posts, and realized that this particular one never got published. It has been sitting here, unposted, since July. But I am posting it now.**

Something that I think about often is forgiveness. I'm not saying that I'm this person who's had an exceptionally difficult life, or that it's some great accomplishment of mine to forgive. I'm just saying that in my life, I've had my fair share of it. Both given to me and given by me.

Matthew 6:14-15 sums it up for me. I've put it in a few different translations below. Because each one says the same thing, in a slightly different way. Perhaps one will speak to you?

In the Amplified Bible, it says:

For if you forgive people their trespasses [their reckless and willful sins, leaving them, letting them go, and giving up resentment], your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their trespasses [their reckless and willful sins, leaving them, letting them go, and giving up resentment], neither will your Father forgive you your trespasses.

In the Message Bible, it says:

In prayer there is a connection between what God does and what you do. You can't get forgiveness from God, for instance, without also forgiving others. If you refuse to do your part, you cut yourself off from God's part.

Finally, I like the simplicity of the New International Version:

For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.

This, to me, is plain. It is simple. It is concise. Forgive, if you want to be forgiven. If you don't want to be forgiven, then don't forgive. There have been people in my life that I struggled for years to forgive. Events, actions, decisions that tore me up inside. Forgiving these people wasn't for them. They lived their lives completely obvlivious to my unforgiveness. My anger, my hurt did nothing to make things right. It did nothing to change them. All it did was alienate me further from my God. Hurt, betrayal, anger - those feelings stayed with me as long as I gave them home. They threatened to destroy my life. They seeped into every area, every facet of my existance. In forgiveness, there is freedom. By forgiving, I'm not absolving them of responsibility. That can be done ONLY by God. And they are, ultimately, ONLY responsible TO God. But by forgiving, I am absolving myself of responsibility. I no longer need to do anything about it. I quit my job as burden-carrier. Sometimes, I find myself picking it back up. That's when I need God's grace to lay it back down again.

Let's switch angles just a little here... and look at it from the perspective of the sinner. I've sinned. I don't like that I've sinned. But I have. In the last hour? Probably. In the last day? For sure. I am not always honest. I sometimes am lazy. I don't read my Bible or pray as consistently as I should. I battle pride and selfishness. Get the picture? These are just the "inward" sins. The ones that others don't usually see. I'm saved. I have the Spirit of God inside. I, more than so many I know, should be able to resist temptation. I should be able to lead a spotless life, right? And yet, I don't. The next passage, taken from The Message Bible (Chapter 5, verses 20 and 21), says it quite well.

All that passing laws against sin did was produce more lawbreakers. But sin didn't, and doesn't, have a chance in competition with the aggressive forgiveness we call grace. When it's sin versus grace, grace wins hands down. All sin can do is threaten us with death, and that's the end of it. Grace, because God is putting everything together again through the Messiah, invites us into life -- a life that goes on and on and on, world without end.

The part that's hard though, is what exactly forgiveness means. Does it mean forget it? Does it mean pretend it never happened and openly trust the person again? Does it mean you can't let it influence future choices or actions?

Well... I see it like this. There are some things which simply cannot be forgotten. At least not by our own natural strength or ability. And as far as pretending it didn't happen and openly trusting? Let me ask this: Imagine you know someone who spent twenty years drinking themselves drunk every single day, nearly dying from the toxic effect on their liver. They got sober ten years ago. Would you leave them in a room alone with an open bottle of vodka next to a glass? No. Not unless you wanted them to fall. Same with forgiving, I think. If someone does the same rotten thing to you over and over, don't put yourself in position for it to happen again. Forgiveness should not be confused with foolishness.

That said, what IS forgiving? It is letting it go and giving up resentment. Don't hang onto the bitterness or hatred - they don't do anything to or about the one who hurt you, and they certainly don't help you. Unforgiveness hurts only the person who is refusing to forgive. It has no real impact on the unforgiven.

When you forgive, you are releasing that person from any obligation to "make it up to you." It's not based on anything they have or have not done since, nor is based on their words or promised future actions. It is an act of trust. It is saying, "Lord, you forgave me. Of everything I have done wrong. Ever. And everything I will do during whatever time I have left. I didn't deserve it. This person that has done wrong may not deserve my forgiveness either. But, I will not harbor resentment. I am choosing to not expect them to "pay me back" for what they did. I am choosing to trust you to set things right. I am trusting that you are big enough, and love me enough, to carry me through this hurt. To cool the flames of anger. To dry my tears. Still my trembling, fearful heart. And I am trusting you, that You will keep Your promise to forgive me for all that I have done. This person is not perfect. He or she is flawed. But so am I. So just as I have been granted mercy, I am granting it."

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