Thursday, December 17, 2009

Dream Come True

I've heard it said that every mother wishes she could shield her child from all pain, wishes she could provide the "perfect" home to grow up in. Wishes her child would never know anything negative at all.

May of 2006, I was dreaming of such a life for my child. I didn't want her to suffer, didn't want her to hurt. Didn't want her to know grief or pain or hunger. I longed for her to be raised, and to grow, in perfection. My dreams were so... common, really.

But then, that dream came true.

My child has not known pain. She has not lost loved ones. She has not cried out in darkness. She has never been ill, and has never been alone. Her life is absolutely perfect. She is absolutely perfect.

And for that, I rejoice.

But for me? For me... it almost makes me cry. You see, I have never held my child while she cries. I've never heard her giggle. Never seen disappointment in her eyes or listened to squeals of joy. I've never stayed up through the night while she fights illness, and I've never woken up with her beside me. Derek and I don't know what it is like to have a child in our home. We've never seen our own flesh and blood combined. No maple syrup kisses, no silly jokes, no presents under a tree.

It's a dream come true... but today, just today, I almost wish it wasn't.

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Monday, November 16, 2009

Tonight's Walk - Courtesy of a Bird Named Ollie.

I know, I know. "Walk" has been in the title of a high percentage of my posts lately. But really, isn't that what we all do? I'm not talking about the physical process of putting one foot in front of the other. I'm talking about living. About breathing. About seeking Him and wanting to know Him.

The focus tonight is thanksgiving. Not necessarily exuberant, can't-keep-it-inside thanksgiving. Tonight, it's more of a peaceful, moved-nearly-to-tears, amazed kind of thanksgiving. The sort that results in whispered, heartfelt hallelujahs.

God doesn't always answer our prayers the way we think He will. And when He gives us what we need - really need - it doesn't always look how we expect it to.

Several weeks ago, something came to mind as I was praying one evening. That thing? The knowledge that there was a woman, and her husband, and three kids, whom I had never actually met. And this family was (and still is) within four hours of us. After having been half way around the world. And early next year, there will once again be an entire ocean between us and them. But for now... for now, they are within reach. They are glorifying God here. Serving Him and seeking His face. And soon, they will be "back on the missions field" glorifying God, serving Him and seeking His face.

It rose up in me, with far more certainty and even a sense of urgency, that we needed to meet them. I can't really explain it, and I don't know if they had any of that urgency.

The time we spent with them seemed, in many ways, very ordinary. We hugged (something I thought wouldn't happen outside of heaven). We talked. Laughed. Shared a meal. It was a little awkward, for about fifteen minutes. And then? It was comfortable.

And it was like salve for my heart.

As I have mentioned so many times over the past year, there are some battles being waged. In me, personally. In our marriage (we are not battling each other - we are battling side by side). Physical, mental, emotional. Spiritual.

One thing I have struggled with a lot more than I let on, is the loss of every pregnancy we have had. No child of ours has lived more than twelve weeks after conception (or fourteen weeks of pregnancy). There aren't any tiny shoes in our home. No baby monitor. No barriers on the stairs. We don't have to be home for nap time, and we don't own a car seat.

Our little girl, Anna, would be turning three next month if she were still here on earth. Sometimes I feel guilty for missing her. I feel like my arms have no right to ache, like my heart has no reason to be heavy. So many have lost so much more than I. And yet... maybe it is okay.

This family that we met on Saturday... they know. We haven't shared every detail, but they have the general picture. They know that we have five children. That they are all in heaven. Most people we know are aware of this. It's obvious that they haven't forgotten. The carefully redirected conversations, the guilty looks, the whispered apologies make it painfully clear.

This weekend, it was the words of a small girl that touched my heart. Derek and I were talking with her parents, and she was happily being near the way that children of that age often times do. There was a break in conversation. She put her elbows on my knees and looked up at me. And she asked a question. A simple, innocent question that I have never before been asked.

"What are your kids' names?"

I looked at her, a little confused. I thought maybe she didn't know. I gently explained that we didn't have any kids yet. Her answer touched something deep inside, and I know that my words here can't explain it.

"No. I don't mean kids here. I mean your five kids in heaven. What are their names?"

I had to blink back tears - the first time I have even come close to crying in I don't know how long. I wonder if anyone else heard my voice crack when I answered.

"We only know one little girl's name. Her name is Anna. Annaliah."

"What about the other four?"

As she looked up at me, I was torn between wanting to cry, and wanting to shout for joy. I wasn't sure how to explain it so that a preschooler could understand.

"Well... we don't know their names yet. We'll have to wait until we get to heaven to find out."

I wondered if this would confuse her. Or if she would have more questions. I didn't know if it would be okay for me to answer them if she asked - it's the sort of thing that may be best explained by parents. But no explanation was needed.

In the way that it seems only children can, she accepted that answer and moved on. There was no struggle to believe, no analyzing, no surprise. To her, there was nothing strange about it.

And she's right, you know. There isn't anything difficult to grasp about the fact that our children are in heaven. It is sad that we don't know them, but there is nothing sad about where they are. It isn't shocking, it isn't scary.

And her calm acceptance washed over me like cool water on a hot day.

Thank you, Lord, for Emma. Thank you for her child-like faith. Help me Lord, to never lose sight of Who you are, and what you have done for me. And thank you that good-bye here on earth doesn't have to mean good-bye forever.

When I parked our truck in front of the house they are staying in right now, I had a moment of doubt. Okay, truthfully, I had several moments of doubt. What if we were in for an evening of awkward silences, broken by stilted conversations and sideways glances? What if I had misinterpreted the written words we'd exchanged, and the family I had grown to love existed only in my mind?

Those doubts persisted for about ten seconds after the door opened. I'll be honest here - I am not big on hugs. They don't come naturally for me, and I never hug people I've just met. In fact, there are people I care about very much, people I would do anything for, whom I have never once hugged.

So to put it mildly, I was shocked by my compulsion to hug this woman. I didn't know what to do with myself. Should I hug her? And if I did, how would I initiate it? Should I ask first? Should I squeeze, or just lightly drape my arms across her shoulders? What if it totally creeped her out? What if my armpits or breath smelled? What if I accidentally stepped on her feet? Seriously. I hugged my Pastor probably fifty times before I finally managed one time not to step on his toes, so it is not just an irrational fear. I seem to have a talent for toe-smashing. As for the armpits and breath, we made a pit-stop half way to their house. My dad and my Kelly took us out for pizza, and then we did a little go-cart racing. Making those fears not entirely irrational, either.

Fortunately, she didn't wait for me to make up my mind. If she had, I would probably still be standing there staring at her. Instead, she put words to my thoughts, and actions to my... well, thoughts. (That last statement didn't come together as eloquently as I had hoped).

"I feel like I should hug you."

And, at least for me, that is when it quit feeling awkward. Sure, we spent a while trying to "get the feel of things." But it wasn't an uncomfortable adjustment.

I don't remember the last person I met who was so warm, so open. I doubt I had the same impact on her. But rather than focus on that, I am going to thank God for the blessing.

I thank you, Lord, for Spring. Thank you for her openness. Thank you for using her to show Your love. Thank you for allowing our paths to cross.

Do you ever struggle with who you are? I don't mean forgetting your name, or not knowing who you are. I mean knowing who you are, and accepting that. Maybe you don't. But I sure do. I seem to have a real talent for convincing myself that I should be... different than I am. I often ask myself if I am responding to things the way I should. Am I smiling at the right time? Have I been silent to long, or do they think I talk too much? What about my hands - should I hold them still or is this one of those times when I can fidget?

More importantly... is who I am okay? Does it even matter?

Something happened on Saturday. As we talked, relaxed, ate... he watched. And listened. Every word seemed to register. Unfair as it is, I was watching his face for judgment. We arrived a little after three. We pulled away from their home almost eight hours later. And in all that time, I never did figure out what his judgment was.

The only thing I saw was interest. He and his wife wanted to get to know us. Not so they could judge, not so they could criticize, and not even so they could help us change. I kept thinking to myself, "these people just really love... people." And something occurred to me.

I need to love people that same way. God doesn't love us for what we do, and His opinion of us isn't based on the music we listen to or the color of our shoes. He loves us. And He has commanded us to love one another.

Father, thank you for loving us. For sending your Son. It is a sacrifice I can't fathom. Thank you for loving us that much, flawed and broken as we are. And thank you for Tim. Thank you for using him. Help me to show that kind of interest in the people I meet. Help me to remember that you love people, not the things that people do.

When I was little, my Gramma used to love making things for me. Breakfast (which she often brought upstairs and gave to me in bed). Snacks after school. Hot fudge sundaes, extra dumplings in the soup, green eggs and ham. Quilts for my bed, clothes for my dolls. Forts made of blankets. There wasn't much Gramma couldn't make.

I don't like to admit this, but I really was an ungrateful child. I don't remember thanking her for what she did. I do remember criticizing her. She would beam as she gave me whatever it was that she had made.

The day she died, right before she and my grandpa left, she offered to make me a snack. It was just the way that Gramma was. She made things for the people she loved. When I turned her down that day, she looked disappointed. The image of her face is burned in my memory. What I didn't understand is this: doing things, making things, for the people you love is a joy.

On Saturday, we were presented with lumpy, slightly odd-looking "treats." An eleven year old boy smiled at us as we were told that he made them. I took one, not really sure what to expect. And it was absolutely delicious.

Really, it was. I am not usually a fan of rice crispy treats. Or, I suppose I should say cheerio-life-unknown cereal treats. But these? These were really good. About half way through mine, I happened to look up at the boy who made them. He was watching us.

The look on his face was so easy to read. He had a treat in his own hand, but he wasn't eating it. He wasn't even paying attention to it. He was looking around the room, smiling as we all ate his creation.

After supper, he wore that same expression as we ate the brownies he had prepared. While we were loading dishes into the dishwasher, his mom shared a little bit more about the "desert extravaganza" that had been prepared for us. Yes, I am sure he probably had fun baking, but that wasn't his goal. His goal was to do something special.

Thank You for Nat. God, I don't know what You have in store for me, let alone this eleven year old boy. But I know this: the joy he derives from being a blessing has served as a reminder for me. A reminder that You are for me, and not against me. You want to bless me. It isn't a chore for You - it is something you want to do. I may not understand, but I am grateful.

I'm almost done with this post. I have one more person, one more blessing, to share with you.

This person stands less than three feet high. She has a round belly and an amazingly cute dimpled chin. Here eyes sparkle when she smiles, and her giggle is extremely cute. Her mom let us know that she was a shy little girl, and wouldn't be likely to let us pick her up or hold her.

And that was okay. I've been around enough toddlers to know that it isn't personal when pull away from new people. It's normal. Natural. Healthy. I heard, I understood, and I moved on.

Then her brother decided to show us what happens when you put Ivory soap in the microwave. If you haven't done this, I'd highly recommend it. But that's a different post, for a different day.

As her big brother and sister climbed on stools and counters to watch the results of the "experiment," this gift from God craned her neck, trying to get even a glimpse of what was happening. I remembered what her mom had said, but didn't want her to miss out. She looked up at me as I spoke.

"Can I pick you up, so you can see?"

She nodded. I picked her up, and she settled into my arms as we watched the soap. (Yes, I am deliberately neglecting to tell you what happens. And yes, I am doing so because I actually do want you to microwave a bar of Ivory soap.) Once the soap was removed from the microwave, I set her down so that she could play with the results. I watched the three kids enjoying themselves, and quietly thanked God for each one of them.

Then her brother decided to repeat the experiment.

I didn't even have a chance to ask permission to pick her up. Two tiny, soapy hands grabbed mine and tugged. As I picked her up, she smiled at me. And my heart melted. Figuratively, of course.

I breathed in the smell of her as I thanked God for the blessing that she is. And as tiny fingers absently played with my sweater, I closed my eyes. I opened them again when I felt her head against my chest. She was staring up at me, eyes wide and shining. She took a deep breath and relaxed against my chest.

We stayed that way for maybe five seconds. The moment seemed to pass almost before it started, and yet it seemed so long. I couldn't tell you what about this was so special. I only know that it was.

Lord, thank you for Katie. Thank you for giving her life. Thank you for giving her to Tim and Spring. She is a blessing from you, and they know it. I pray that you'd keep her safe as she grows. And thank You for that moment.

Okay. I am done, for tonight. I will leave you with one final bit of information.

You may have noticed that I said this post was "courtesy of a bird named Ollie." You see, three and a half years ago, I received an email. It started with these words: "Hi. I really need to talk to someone! I think I'm falling in love with this little bird and want to help him."

It ended with this paragraph: "Well, you may answer any or all or none of my questions. But any help you'd give would be much appreciated. I was so relieved to see an email, so I could talk to a real person. Oh, we are Americans living in Poland. Thanks in advance for your help."

You are welcome, Spring. But I should be the one thanking you.

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Monday, November 9, 2009

Walk With Me Again?

Tonight, I'm going to ask you to take another walk with me. A figurative walk, that is. I'm not actually going to move from the comfort of my couch.

Actually, it is comfort that I am going to talk about tonight. There are so many things that God can use to bring us comfort. I will warn you right now... the following paragraphs may contain more than you want to know about me. You may have this image in your head of who I am, of how I am. But tonight, as I pray... I want you to witness what God has done for me. Not so that you can say, "Wow, God... thank you for what you did for Jenn. That was really great..."

I want you to see what He has done, and say, "God... me too." I want you to come before Him, broken. I want you to lay whatever is shattered down, and turn your face toward the only One who can put you back together. My heart's cry is that my transparency here would give you a glimpse of Him. A glimpse of what He wants to do for you. And I want you to let Him comfort you.

The first stop on this walk of ours is in a dark room, when I was about six and a half. It was late - my dad was asleep in the next room. His snores were the only sound I could hear. There was no moonlight, just the shadows from the trees between the street lamp and my window. I had pulled the blankets up to just under my nose.

There was something there, in the corner of my room. Something dark. I couldn't actually see it the same way that a person sees another person standing there. It is hard to explain, hard to describe.

Have you ever seen the shadow of someone behind you? You can't see the person, and they aren't actually there for you to see. But at the same time, the evidence is there. That is sort of what this was like.

But the terror that gripped my heart as I stared? I cannot put it into words. I have never, ever, felt anything so intensely. Even the memory of that feeling is enough to make me break into a sweat. I have been terrified plenty of other times. I've been sure I was going to die. Sure that someone I loved was going to die. I've known that great harm would come to someone I cared for. I've even spent some time believing I couldn't possibly go anywhere other than hell when I died. The terror of those things? Pale, weak, can't even be compared to what was in my room that night.

The next day, I prayed. On my knees, I prayed for Jesus to come into my heart. I prayed for Him to be with me in my room. I prayed that He would help me. That night, I couldn't sleep. I was waiting for my dad to go to bed. Waiting for the darkness. For the silence. For the terror. Instead, there was peace. Sweet, amazing peace. I lay in my bed, thankful for the peace. The sting of last night's terror was still fresh, but His presence was stronger.

I asked my dad about it, several days later. Told him what I'd seen. Told him what I'd felt. Asked if he thought I was crazy. He said no. Demons were (and are) very real, and the presence of one would bring with it terror unlike anything else I'd known. But the peace that was there the next night? The peace that only He could have granted? The terror can't stand up to that.

Have you known terror? True terror? Maybe, just maybe, you are walking in it right now. Maybe tonight, you are afraid to let yourself think that there could ever be help or hope for you. Maybe you've never known anything else - maybe each day has been a fight for survival. Maybe you know, beyond any doubt, that something horrible is about to happen. If that's you, will you trust Him? Will you let Him fill you with His peace?

Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid. (John 14:27)

The next place we are going moves us forward in time. I was fourteen. It was early morning, and the sun was filling our tent with warmth. Mist was rising from the river, and everything looked like it was glowing. My best friend was asleep beside me. And I knew.

Beyond any doubt, as certain as I knew that I was breathing, I knew that my mom had left. I knew that when we got home, dad would be letting me know. I knew her things would mostly be gone. Knew that there would be little reminders - a hint of perfume in the bathroom, the odd article of clothing. Probably some makeup in the drawer.

I could feel the crushing weight - sorrow, grief, abandonment, anger. I knew that dad would not be okay with it. And then, like a blanket, His presence was on me. I asked why He would tell me now - why I couldn't just find out when I got home. But as He reminded me that morning... sometimes, it is better to know.

And that morning, He reminded me. He is with me, always. Even to the ends of the earth. His calm confidence filled my heart as I lay there. My friend opened her eyes, staring at me. She didn't speak - I knew she wouldn't.

"My mom left. I don't know how I know... but I do. She's gone."

And without words, she was there. Sadness on her face. Determination. Looking at her in the silence, I knew that there was something tangible in my life that would not be changing. As I contemplated her steadfast, unyielding loyalty, a gentle voice whispered in my heart.

"I am more loyal than even her."

Have you ever been abandoned? Have you ever had a part of your heart torn away? Have you fallen to your knees in desperation and despair, crying out to God for answers? Have you ever wondered how you could survive without someone? If you have, I pray that the following words would minister to you as they have to me.

I am with you always, to the very end of the days. (Matthew 28:20)

Can a mother forget the baby at her breast and have no compassion on the child she has borne? Though she may forget, I will not forget you! See? I have engraved you on the palms of my hands... (Isaiah 49:15-16a)

You see... people can forget. People can move on. They can be hard, cruel, deceptive. But God? He cannot forget. He will not leave you. He cares for you. He wants to be with you, wants you to seek Him. Always and only says what is true.

When your world is rocked by abandonment or betrayal, He is still there. He still cares. He is still faithful. Nothing can change that. Will you open yourself up to trust Him? Will you allow Him to show you His unchanging, never-ending, perfect faithfulness?

Now, we are going to continue walking forward. By the time I was 16, I was deeply entrenched in self-destruction. Most people would have said I was doing well. My grades were okay, I didn't smoke, drink, or use any illegal drugs. I had a group of friends, was active in other activities.

But at night, when the world slept, I changed. Deliberately harming myself, using whatever method was convenient that night. Nobody knew the extent of what I was doing. Nobody. My dad and my grandparents had gotten me hooked up with a counselor, and even he was fooled by my insistence that everything was fine.

The day came when I had put my body through too much. I passed out at school. An ambulance was called when I began turning blue. As I came to in the emergency room, I stared at the faces around me. My thoughts were racing, not making sense. One thing kept coming up though. I believed with everything in me that I was done. I "knew" that I couldn't survive much longer. Knew I couldn't amount to anything. I lay flat on my back, watching the crazy pattern on the EKG machine. I wondered when my heart would finally stop beating - I was that convinced that I couldn't live.

A doctor came in, closing the door behind himself. Soft-spoken, gentle. He explained the heart rhythm. Explained that they were going to give me something in my IV to slow it down. Asked about the injuries that covered my body.

He prayed over me.

That evening, when I was preparing to leave, he came into the room and asked my grandparents to leave. He stood at the foot of the bed, and reminded me of what the Word of God says.

"For I know the thoughts and plans I have for you," says the Lord, "thoughts and plans for welfare and peace and not for evil, to give you hope in your final outcome." (Jeremiah 29:11)

This is why we work and struggle: We hope in the living God who is the Savior of all people, especially of those who believe. (1 Timothy 4:10)

May our Lord Jesus Christ Himself and God our Father encourage you and strengthen you in every good thing you do and say. God loved us, and through His grace He gave us a good hope and encouragement that continues forever. (2 Thessalonians 2:16-17)

These two things cannot change: God cannot lie when he makes a promise, and he cannot lie when he makes an oath. These things encourage us who came to God for safety. They give us strength to hold on to the hope we have been given. (Hebrews 6:18)

I asked him what he meant. Surely, he could see the marks on my body. Surely he knew where the path I was on would take me. How could he talk to me about hope, about God wanting to do good things in my life?

His answer? He simply saw what God saw. A beautiful creation. He saw a future. Saw hope. Saw possibility and potential.

Have you been where I was that night? The words spoken didn't change anything right then. But over the next weeks, they echoed in my head. I thought about them. In tears, I asked God why I couldn't see any of those things in myself.

Do you know what I found? I found that He is not asking me to have hope in my ability. He hasn't said that I myself will be responsible for this "good future." He never expected me to make any of it happen. He said it. He meant it. He will bring it to pass. My job? To trust Him. To let Him shape me. To let Him take the pieces and put them in order.

Can you do that? Can you dare to hope again? If all you see is destruction, if all you can picture is pain, sorrow, despair... can you let yourself believe Him? Will you give Him a chance to fill you with hope? Your future isn't dependent on you or your abilities. It is dependent on Him. And He can never fail.

We're going to skip some years now. I was 22 years old. My husband and I were expecting a baby. We had prayed for a girl. My stomach grew quickly. By 10 weeks, nearly everyone knew. My pants no longer fit. I threw up many times each day, but it was so worth it. There was joy. My dad, Derek's parents, my grandparents. Everyone who found out. All were so joyful. So excited. We talked about names. Listened to PraiseBaby CD's we'd been given for her. I would try to hide my smile. I wanted to cherish the secret, but couldn't seem to stop telling others.

I had my first midwife appointment. She used the Doppler to look for a heartbeat. We kept getting little blips of it, and then it would disappear. She assured me that at 10 weeks, it was early to be finding it. Explained that there was nothing to be concerned about. Offered a follow up two weeks later.

At that appointment, we once again found the heartbeat for only a moment or two. I told the midwife how I had felt tiny little flutters, and was pretty sure it was the baby. She agreed. Said it was early, but definitely not unheard of. Two weeks later I spent the night in the bathroom, unable to sleep through the pain. I called the nurse several times, and was assured that if there was no bleeding, there was nothing to be concerned about.

The next day, I called my doctor. Told him that I was worried. Said that I hadn't felt any movement during the last few days. He assured me everything was fine - 14 weeks was too early to reliably feel movement anyway. Offered to have me come in and get checked out. My husband drove with me. We were together when the only sound the Doppler made was the slow swooshing of my own pulse. Together when the ultrasound tech turned the screen away and told us the other doctor would talk with us about the results. Together when she said that there was no reason to believe I'd ever had a viable pregnancy.

We drove in silence. I was afraid to say anything. I wanted to have faith. Wanted to believe that somehow, that still, silent image on the screen was my imagination. But truthfully, I was broken. We stopped at a gas station so I could use the restroom. I finished up, and fell to my knees right there. I promised God that whatever the outcome, I would continue to serve Him. Made a resolution in my heart to draw closer to Him. As I prayed, the heartache grew.

But at the same time, the peace grew. The calm assurance that only comes from Him. The peace that surpasses all understanding.

For He Himself is our peace. (Ephesians 2:14)

Do not fret or have any anxiety about anything, but in every circumstance and in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, continue to make your wants known to God. And God's peace shall be yours, that tranquil state of a soul assured of its salvation through Christ, and so fearing nothing from God and being content with its earthly lot of whatever sort that is, that peace which transcends all understanding shall garrison and mount guard over your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:6 & 7)

Are you desperate? Is the news not good? Are your thoughts racing? Is there no way out of the situation that you are in? If so, I have good news: you are not alone. He sees you. Knows what you're going through. Has known since the beginning of time. He may not want it, may not desire it, and may not be responsible for it. But He knows. And He has provided for you, exactly what you need. When everything else seems to be moving a million miles an hour, His word does not change. It will be there. Steady. Perfect. Immutable.

There is more, though.

It was several weeks later. My husband and I were on our way home from Denver. I had not yet started the physical process of "miscarriage." I was staring out the window, holding my still bulging stomach. I couldn't get one thought out of my mind: I am walking around with my dead child. I apologize if that's more 'graphic' than you'd like, but it was true, and it was what I kept thinking. Every time I looked down, or touched my stomach... I remembered. Remembered that the child who had been alive was now dead.

I prayed. Quietly - I didn't want to disturb Derek. So as I stared at the passing scenery, I whispered.

"God... this is so hard. Parents should never endure the death of their child. I know we haven't really gotten to "know" this child, and I know many will say it isn't really even a child. But it is. And it hurts. And now this child, my child, is dead."

I didn't hear anything from Him. No booming voice, no gentle whisper. My mind wandered for a few moments, as I continued to sit in silence. Then, slowly, it settled on the words of the song.

"You alone of Father, and You alone are good. You alone are Savior, and You alone are God."

As the words repeated, I realized that they were true. So true. He alone is God. He alone is good. I let that knowledge - that never changing, never bending truth, that He alone is God - seep into my consciousness. I was focusing so much on those words, and on Him, and His unchanging nature, that the next words completely caught my attention.

The voices of many children blended together. Exuberant. Joyful. Confident. The sound suddenly seemed... almost unreal. I saw that same face I had seen in a dream, this time surrounded by other faces. What were they singing?

"I'm alive! I'm alive! I'm alive!"

Such simple words. But the truth of those words stopped me in my tracks. I wasn't instantly "over it." I didn't suddenly stop missing her. The sadness didn't lift. But hope flooded in. Why? Because I finally got it. My child would never take a breath on earth. But she was, and is, very much alive. More alive than I have ever been.

Tears flowed freely as I whispered the next phrase. You alone, are Father. You alone are Good.

And this is the testimony: that God has given us eternal life. This life is in His son, Christ Jesus. He who has the Son has life; He who does not have the Son does not have eternal life. (1 John 5:11 & 12)

For now, I am done. I pray that by sharing myself with you in this way, I have given you a glimpse of my God. I don't believe for even a millisecond that He causes bad things to happen (See John 10:10 if you want proof). But I do believe that when bad things happen, He is there. He can comfort. He can turn the situation into something that works for our good.

He wants to help you. Almighty God Himself, creator of the universe, wants to help you. Will you let Him? Can you open your heart to Him tonight? Will you pray with me?

"Lord, I need you. You know my situation. You know every last detail of the hurt inside. You know how desperate I am. But Lord, I know you love me. I know that you are Holy. I know that you came, so I could have life more abundantly. So right now, this day, this very hour, I am asking You to help. I am trusting you enough to lower my guard. I am trusting you with the broken pieces, with the heartache, with the trials."

Cast all your cares upon Him, for He cares for you. (1 Peter 5:7)

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Monday, November 2, 2009

Come Walk With Me.

It's time for my nightly "God time."

God time is a new policy in our house. My husband declared it three weeks ago, after we met with our Pastor. Each night, we set aside one hour. During that hour, we separate - he has chosen the basement, and I stay upstairs. We don't answer the phone, don't read emails, don't play with the cats. We spend that hour with God. It is good. Very, very good.

Tonight, I am having more than a little trouble focusing. Thoughts are racing, and distractions are competing for attention. I'll start a thought, and before it's finished, it's gone. I could "fight it out" alone and probably benefit. But instead, I am going to ask you something.

Will you walk with me? Tonight, I'm giving you an open invitation into my time with God. As I pray, as I read, I will write. I will share my heart here, in the hope that doing so may give you a glimpse of God's heart for you.

Lord, I love you. You are holy. You are awesome, mighty... omnipotent. You are awesome. Indescribable, uncontainable. Amazing. Wonderful. Perfect in every way. I am humbled by Your majesty, thankful for your grace. For all that You are, for all You have done, I give you praise. I come before you with thanksgiving, Lord.

Tonight, my heart hurts. Tonight, I find myself dreaming of what might have, could have... should have been. What should have been is a little girl. A little girl named Annaliah. She would have been three next month. If she had been born here on earth. If we had gotten more than 14 short weeks.

I remember being on my knees, begging God for comfort. Asking Him to help me through. Aching for something to hold onto. Something to remember. Some part of her. And I remember the dream I had that night. I believe with all my heart that it was from Him, of Him. In the dream, I saw her face. Her beautiful, sweet face. Her brown eyes. Perfect cheeks. Her daddy's mouth and her great grandma's nose. Downy soft hair. I held her in my arms. I felt her warmth, her weight. Felt her breathing. Saw her flex her tiny fingers. The image faded. It was replaced with light. Amazing, all consuming light. And in the middle of this light... was Him. The King. He held the hand of a little girl. Brown hair, dancing eyes. She was looking up at him with an expression of awe, of love, and of total trust. He smiled, and bent down a little to speak to her. He pointed at me. She broke into a grin, and ran toward me. I awoke, filled with comfort. With peace.

I have never shared that second part. I have cherished it in my heart, relished it as my own. But tonight, I'm sharing it with you. Not for judgement. Not so that you can ask God for the same thing. But so that together, we can thank God for loving us. For knowing us. For comfort that He and He alone can give.

Thank you, for comfort. For peace. Comfort. Unchanging, unyielding, and unending love.

Proverbs 2:1-15
My child, if you accept my words and store up my commands within you, turning your ear to wisdom and applying your heart to understanding, and if you call out for insight and cry aloud for understanding, and if you look for it as for silver and search for it as for hidden treasure, then you will understand the fear of the Lord and find the knowledge of God. For the Lord gives wisdom, and from His mouth come knowledge and understanding. He holds victory in store for the upright, He is a shield to those whose walk is blameless, for He guards the course of the just and protects the way of His faithful ones.

Then you will understand what is right and just and fair - every good path. For wisdom will enter your heart and knowledge will be pleasant to your soul. Discretion will protect you, and understanding will guard you. Wisdom will save you from the ways of wicket men, from men whose words are perverse, who leave the straight paths to walk in dark ways, who delight in doing wrong and rejoice in the perverseness of evil, whose paths are crooked and who are devious in their ways.

One thing that I have done many times, and will continue to do... one thing that helps, that makes a tangible, immediate difference... is to confess the Word of God. I'll take a passage, or a verse, or a chapter, and speak it. Out loud. Usually, when I do that, I personalize it. For example... instead of saying "My son, do not forget my teaching, but keep my commands in your heart, for they will prolong your life many years and bring you prosperity," I say "I do not forget His teaching, and I keep His commands in my heart. They will prolong my life many years and bring me prosperity."

Make sense? Good. This is the final exercise I do each night. Read them with me. Out loud.

Psalm 91.
I dwell in the shelter of the Most High; I rest in the shadow of the Almighty. The Lord is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.

Surely He will save me from the fowler's snare and from the deadly pestilence. He covers me with His feathers, and under His wings I find refuge; His faithfulness is my shield and rampart. I do not fear the terror of night, nor the arrow that flies by day, nor the pestilence that stalks in the darkness, nor the plague that destroys at midday. A thousand my fall at my side, ten thousand at my right hand, but it will not come near me. I will only observe with my eyes and see the punishment of the wicked.

Because I make the Most High my dwelling - the Lord, who is my refuge - no harm will befall me, and no disaster will come near my home. He commands His angels concerning me, to guard me in all my ways; they lift me up in their hands, so that I will not so much as strike my foot against a stone. I will tread upon the lion and the cobra, and trample the great lion and the serpent.

The Lord says that because I love him, He will rescue me. He will protect me, for I acknowledge His name. I will call upon Him, and He will answer me; He will be with me in trouble, and He will deliver me and honor me. With long life will He satisfy me, and show me His salvation.

Ephesians 6:10-17
I am strong in the Lord and in His mighty power. I put on the full armor of God so that I can take my stand against the devil's schemes. My struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, the authorities, the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore I put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, I can stand my ground. And after I have done everything, I will still be standing.

I stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around my waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with my feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all of this, I take up the shield of faith, with which I can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. I take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God.

I hope that in walking with me for just a short while, you have been blessed. And now may the Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make His face to shine upon you and be gracious to you; the Lord turn His face toward you and give you peace.

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Friday, October 30, 2009


Today, I am thankful for so much.

For my husband. He loves me so well. He's not perfect - nobody is. And sometimes, I find myself irrationally angry with him. Sometimes, rationally angry. Sometimes I'm mean. Selfish. Unpleasant. And he loves me all the same. Being married to him, submitting to him, loving him... comes easy. And I am thankful.

For family. Not just "blood" family. But real family. Some of my family actually is related to me. Some of it isn't. A lot of it, actually. At least not in any earthly sense of the word.

For my church. This life is not an easy one to live. Nobody can go through life completely free of trial and pain. None of us are always right (well, I am, but nobody else is). None of us are always prepared for what happens. We all battle pride, dishonesty, selfishness. My husband and I have had our share of trials. Some, we've come out of triumphant. Some, not so much. And this is what I am getting at with this post.

We need other people. Sometimes, we need them to say "Yes, you are right." Sometimes, we need them to say, "No, you are most certainly mistaken." (By the way, I do know that I'm not really always right.) Sometimes, we need someone to look us in the eyes and say "Grow up." Yes, support is good. Necessary. Craved. But as I've been hearing so much lately, "God might just give you what you need, in a package you don't want."

Several weeks ago, I sat next to my husband in my Pastor's office. I was not sure what would happen. There is a battle I've been fighting for as long as I can remember. A battle that I'd given up on yet again. In my weariness, and isolation (self-imposed, mind you), I decided that for a while, maybe I could just get in line with my enemies. Maybe I could rest briefly, blending in with them and no longer trying to fight with anybody. There is a problem with that, though... if you put on the clothing the enemy wears, carry the weapons they use, say the things they say... you are in grave danger of becoming one of them.

Having done those things, having chosen to stop fighting just for a while... I slipped. I fell, hard. When my husband said it was time to go to our Pastor, time to let him help us, I was afraid. Ashamed. Uncertain. I knew he was right, but fear of what that help might entail made disobedience and unsubmission sound so very appealing.

I left the meeting not feeling any better at all. In fact, I felt worse. And as the day went on, tension mounted. I was wrestling with the question my Pastor asked me shortly before we left. "Jenn, when is it going to be enough? When are you going to be done? Where is the line?" When he asked, I felt like I should be saying, "Right now, sir. I am done. The line is drawn, and I'm not going to cross it." But that would have been only true on an emotional level. Deep down... I wasn't done.

To be very transparent... I still am having to fight, to remind myself every day, or every hour... sometimes every moment... that I am done.

But now... unlike every other time I've tried to be finished, I am being held accountable. Just today, we sat for the third time across the desk from someone who loves us. She (not my Pastor, but someone who works in the office) asked me questions I didn't really want to answer. There was plenty of pride-swallowing and a certain desire to stop talking.

But I was held accountable. And I've been shown that I am not walking through any of this alone or unnoticed. I am coming through, some of the dust is starting to settle.

And today... I'd like to ask you if there is something I can pray with and for you about? If so... please let me know. You can use the link over on the right side of this blog, or leave a comment. Comments are hidden until I approve them, and I certainly do not have to publish anything you want kept private. I would be honored to be given the privilege of praying, of caring... of reminding you that God, the Creator of all that is, loves you. Cares for you. Wants to help you. And He notices.

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Thursday, October 29, 2009

I haven't forgotten.

I know I posted weeks ago. Many weeks. And said that I was working on a series.

I came here tonight to say, I haven't forgotten.

That series in in the making.

To prepare, you might consider reading and re-reading 1 Corinthians 13:4-8. I think you'll be blessed when the series does go up. And I know that you will be blessed reading those verses.

Tonight, I am posting something that has very little to do with that series.

First, a little bit of background. There is a date coming up, a date that has been scaring me. For years. And no, it's not the 31st. Or the 30th. The date itself isn't so important. It's the implications of this date. I have spent a life time dreading it. And that dread, that fear, has had a lot of years to sink its roots down deep. The struggles of the past 18 months or so have amplified that fear until it seemed to have a life all its own. And I let it.

There is someone who has helped me, who has walked beside me over the last 10 months. Someone older, and wiser. This individual seems to constantly be reminding me to "tell myself the truth."

Tonight, there are many things that are techinically true.

My face, hands, and feet have been turning bluish-gray or white off and on all day today. I spent several hours last night laying in bed listening to my pulse pounding in my ear. I just took my pulse, and it is thankfully finally back down where it belongs. Not regular, and little blips of really fast ones. But comfortably slow at 55.

But the truth is, my God is God. Faithful. Dependable. Can never change. His Word stands forever. He is bigger than this. He knows what is wrong, and has already provided the solution.

Another thing that is true is this: in August of 2002, my Pastor at the time sat at a public park with me as I told him what I thought God had said to me. He confirmed it. He gave me an assignment. Said to do it every day. For the rest of my life.

I started strong, and after a few years... well, I let it go.

I have been feeling really convicted about that though. And have been doing it again.

Ephesians 6:10-18, spoken aloud and in the first person. There is a particular section that really got me tonight.

"My struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore, I put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, I will be able to stand my ground, and after I have done everything, I will stand."

What is supposed to happen on a given day does not matter in light of this verse. Because I can stand in spite of it.

And that, tonight, is something worth meditating on.

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Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Throwing Aside Weights.

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider Him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.

In your struggle against sin, you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood. And you have forgotten the word of encouragement that addresses you as children of God:
"My child, do not make light of the Lord's discipline,
and do not lose heart when He rebukes you,
because the Lord disciplines those He loves,
and He punishes everyone He accepts as a child."

This all comes from Hebrews 12.

I have been absent from posting lately. I promise, I am still plugging away at my series of posts.

But for now... for now, I just wanted to share that little bit of God's Word with you. I'll try to get back here and post again this week... and hopefully, the series will be finished by next week.

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Sunday, September 27, 2009

Psalm 65

Verses 6-8:
You faithfully answer our prayers with awesome deeds,
O God our Savior.
You are the hope of everyone on earth,
even those who sail on distant seas.
You formed the mountains by Your power
and armed Yourself with mighty strength.
You quieted the raging oceans
with their pounding waves
and silenced the shouting of the nations.
Those who live at the ends of the earth
stand in awe of your wonders.
From where the sun rises to where it sets,
You inspire shouts of joy.

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Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Tomatoes, Gray Feet, and Foxes

I have seen all of the above tonight.

A week or two ago, my Grampa's sister Ag and her husband, Paul stopped by our house. Paul is a carpenter and craftsman. He's retired, and health limitations restrict his ability to do what he loves, but he is still what he is. That will never change. They stopped to see the progress on our house. They were in the area because they were searching for some Amish people to by tomatoes from.

Which brings me to finishing work tonight. We have this really sweet, older security guard at work named Charlie. He has a garden. He grew lots of tomatoes and peppers this year. He canned a lot of them. And then was done canning. But there were tomatoes and peppers and such left. SO... he brought them to work to send home with people.

We saw them, and asked how many we could have. We took the whole bag to Ag and Paul's house for them. We got to spend a couple hours with two sweet, sweet people. And eat several very delicious oatmeal chocolate chip cookies. They live in the same neighborhood as my friend Amanda. She had commented earlier that she was pretty sure she saw a fox by her house, but it didn't make sense to her. Well, when we left Ag and Paul's, there was indeed a fox. Sitting in the middle of the road. Just... sitting. It ran away when the headlights hit it. I suspect, therefore, that Amanda really did see that fox she thought she saw.

And lastly? My feet are gray. They have been off and on all day. With my hands. Which is my fault, because I forgot to take both last night's dose and this morning's dose of medication. No fear - it's all in me now and I should be warm and pink again soon enough.

And now, I take my over-tired self to bed.

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Sunday, September 20, 2009

Seven days, four babies.

A week ago, I learned that a sweet, sweet woman I go to church with was having he second miscarriage. She struggled. Vented a little. Asked for a little advice. I prayed. Did my best to share her burden.

On Thursday, a baby girl named Annette entered her eternity after fighting the same genetic cancer that took her sister Madeline. Her last moments were peaceful, pain free. I have been praying for her. Prayed this last week especially for her parents, and her big brother - he's so young to have to comprehend why his "dinosaur nest" wasn't enough to make his sister better.

That night, another sweet woman who has walked this infertility journey along side me for the last three years, felt her 26 week old daughter, Rachel Marie, kick unusually hard. The next afternoon, an ultrasound confirmed "K.'s" worst fear. She delivered her baby peacefully, silently, and in heart-wrenching sorrow yesterday.

Yesterday, a little girl - a baby, really - turned ten. It was a victory, a mile stone. She has been fighting brain cancer since 2004. I've been following her story, praying for her and her parents, for nearly three years now. This morning, she left this earth and entered her eternal destination. Her mom, her dad, and her little brother were with her. Her last breaths were peaceful. Pain free. Without fear.

And so, it would seem tonight that my heart is somehow heavy.

Please, please pray for these mommies and daddies. We are not supposed to bury our children. Parents are not supposed to hold their child's hand as he or she breathes that last, quiet breath. Caskets aren't supposed to be tiny. Tenth birthdays shouldn't be the final milestone in any one's life.

Tonight, that's all.

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Saturday, September 19, 2009

Prayers, Please.

Tonight, I am asking for your prayers. Not for myself, but for a "friend." Her name is Katinah. I know her through a forum - a relatively small, tight-knit group of us ladies who were brought together over three years ago in a quest for comraderie as we battled infertility.

24 weeks ago, Katinah's long-awaited little girl was conceived. Less than 26 hours ago, Katinah's little girl stepped into eternity. She is very much broken right now. I can only imagine the questions - why, how, and what next?

I don't have any further details at this point. But I am asking you to pray. Pray that she would know the comfort that only He brings. That she would know peace, even if nobody can determine the answers to her questions. That she would know she is so very loved. That she would see that she is not walking this road with nobody beside her.

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Friday, September 18, 2009

I Guess This Is Good-Bye.

We've known eachother only a few short weeks. But in that time, we've become well aquainted. I've gotten used to your presence - so much so that when you "speak" to me, I don't even notice.

But today is good bye.

No more holding out a handful of your leads, while silently repeating to myself "Smoke over fire, righty-whitey."

No more sticky patches, threatening to remove my skin when I want to remove them. No more white to compare the gray or blueness of my skin to. I was really quite happy with my previous perception, and could have done without your wake-up call.
As for your metal clip... no longer will it warm itself in the flesh of my back. There will be no more mornings spending several minutes discovering what part of me this clip has attacked while I slept. It will be strange, for sure, but I am fairly certain that I will find a way to adjust and sleep without you.

And your voice? It may well be generated by the smallest of speakers, but it has a certain quality that really grates. You should get your last statements made, because Friday is your last day with me. I shall be returning you to your black, plastic prison and shipping you off to your maker. I suspect you'll be forced into silence for quite some time.

And finally, I come to your button. This button looks so innocent. When we first met, I questioned the ability of this button to do anything of use. I wondered that something so small and innocuous could be counted on to record anything of value. Imagine my suprise when this little button triggered urgent calls from my doctor, unscheduled visits with the cardiologist, and a significant increase in medication. Not to mention the tests, and maybe future procedures.

And so I bid you farewell. Have a safe trip, Mr. E.M. I hope we never meet again.

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Friday, September 11, 2009

Sleepless Nights.

Tonight, I am not asleep. But I could be. Nothing is stopping me.

Here's the thing, though. I have something on my heart. Something that is pertinent to today's date.

There are many who will not sleep tonight.

Children huddled in the corner of a dark room, listening to the sounds of war.

Mothers with aching arms, longing for one last chance to hold that precious son or daughter.

Wives without husbands, husbands without wives.

There are those who wait nervously by the phone, hoping that that call will come in. Praying that today is not the day when the news never arrives.

There are some walking quietly through abandoned streets, desperately hoping that if a movement triggers a shot, it will not be a child that dies.

This was true yesterday, and will be true again tomorrow.

Tonight, though, the ones that are heavy on my heart, that have my attention, are those who are remembering. Yes, for me, this day marks the anniversary of a horrible, tragic event. It inspires a certian feeling of vulnerability and a vague sense of loss. But for many, it is the day they said goodbye. I would be willing to bet that there are people all over this country, my homeland, with nothing to hold tonight except a photograph.

And for them, tonight, I am silent. I will not pretend that I understand - I do not and can not. I will not offer up words of encouragement or condolence - words are not adequate, nor would my attempts be helpful. And I will pray. Will you?

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Tuesday, September 8, 2009

In The Eye of the Storm.

Storms - really big ones - have an eye. A place of calm. The wind is still raging all around. The rain is still pouring down and the lightning still flashing. But there, in the eye, is peace. A place where you can breathe, where it is safe for the moment. A chance to relax, let your heart slow down just a little. It doesn't last long, and the other half of the storm is still coming.

Have you ever been there? In that place where just for now, it's okay - even though you know what is about to rush in? Today has sort of been one of those days for me. Everything is okay, for now. I know that tomorrow, things start rolling forward again. There will be things that demand my attention, choices I have to make and sacrifices to be given.

But for now, I am in the eye of the storm. I have time to ponder what is about to come. Time to prepare. A chance to rest and allow the ultimate Healer to do His work in me.

As I do that, there is a question that keeps coming up inside.

"How does this life, this world, fit with the fact that God is love?"

Today, I am quoting a brief passage from a book I am reading. It shared the same title as this post, and is written with far more eloquence than I am capable of. *

The passage is set in Eden, in that garden where we were first created.

Unbound by today, God and the angel walked into the realm of tomorrow.
"There, see the fruit of the seed of choice, both the sweet and the bitter."
The angel gasped at what he saw. Spontaneous love. Voluntary devotion. Chosen tenderness. Never had he seen anything like these. He felt the love of the Adams. He heard the joy of Eve and her daughters. He saw the food and the burdens shared. He absorbed the kindness and marveled at the warmth.

In the book, the angel and God continue to converse. The angel is horrified and repulsed by the rotten hearts, broken promises, and general depravity of man as time passes. God shows him the birth of Jesus. Shows him that horrible cross.

But as he stepped back in time, he heard the cry that he would someday scream: "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?" He wrenched at tomorrow's agony.
The angel spoke again. "It would be less painful ..."
The creator interrupted softly. "But it wouldn't be love."

Have you ever asked yourself why God gave us the choice? Ever wondered how He could allow us the ability to be so cruel, so depraved, so evil? I have.

I still wonder. I still don't really get it. I still find myself wishing that the choice could be removed. I long to be without sin, without malice, without guilt. But that just cannot be. Not here, not on this planet. The choice must exist. It must be made.

With that choice, we have the ability to truly love. When we want to lash out in anger, but choose instead to kneel in prayer, when we speak gently instead of tearing down with harsh words, we are choosing. We are loving. Really loving.

I love the way this chapter ends, and I am going to leave you with a final quote. Because try as I may, I cannot say it better.

But more incredible than the moving of the flesh was the stirring of the spirit. Those who could see the unseen gasped.

But it was the wind who said it first. Perhaps what the star saw that moment is what has made it blink ever since. Maybe it was left to an angel to whisper it:

"It looks like... it appears so much like... it is him!"

The angel wasn't speaking of the face, the features, or the body. He was looking inside - at the soul.

"It's eternal!" gasped another.

Within the man, God had placed a divine seed. A seed of his self. The God of might had created earth's mightiest. The Creator had created, not a creature, but another creator. And the One who had chosen to love had created one who could love in return.

Now it's our choice.

*In the Eye of the Storm, by Max Lucado. Copyright 1991. Published by Thomas Nelson.

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Monday, September 7, 2009

The Voice of God.

*From Psalm 29

The voice of the Lord is over the waters;
the God of glory thunders,
the Lord thunders over the mighty waters.
The voice of the Lord is powerful;
the voice of the Lord is majestic.
The voice of the Lord breaks the cedars...
He makes Lebanon skip like a calf,
Sirion like a young wild ox.
The voice of the Lord strikes with flashes of lightning.
The voice of the Lord shakes the desert;
the Lord shakes the desert of Kadesh.
The voice of the Lord twists the oaks
and strips the forests bare.
And in His temple all cry, "Glory!"
The Lord sits enthroned over the flood;
the Lord is enthroned as King forever.
The Lord gives strength to His people;
the Lord blesses His people with peace.

Life has a way of piling up around us. It can be suffocating, overwhelming, terrifying. The cares of this world can grow out of proportion, eclipsing hope and reason. The voices of confusion can drown out every other sound.

During these times, the still, small voice that God often uses can be easy to miss. We try to listen, we try to still our minds and hearts, to quietly wait for Him. And if you are anything like me, it only works some of the time. It is in these times that we so desperately need what this passage speaks of. A voice that thunders, flashes, shakes the very ground on which we stand. We, I, need something louder than the storm, something to awaken sleeping faith and revive dying hope.

I get pictures in my mind when I read passages like this. I have stood on the rocky shoreline, watching a storm split the sky and stir the waters. I have heard His voice, speaking to my heart, while wind and rain carry away the hurt and pain. I've thrown my arms open, inviting Him to shake me to the core and change everything I am.

Can you see it? Do you know His voice?

Have you laid in your bed, watching the minutes drag by while the doctor's words echo in your mind? Have you felt the peace that comes with His words, washing over you as the first hint of dawn lights the eastern sky? Have you stood in a cemetery, staring at the dark hole into which your loved one is about to be lowered? Have you desperately clung to the hope of glory as your heart broke in pieces? Have you heard Him whisper?

"I have been there."

"I will never leave you."

"I am."

Today, tomorrow, next week, I am seeking His voice. I know it is in Him and through Him that I draw breath, and it is only by His grace that I wake each morning. And I know that if I cannot hear His voice, I cannot go on. So as I wait on Him, as I trust Him, as I listen for His voice, will you do the same?

I don't know what is in your life - it may be the bitter pain of loss, the horror of an abusive past, the snare of offense. Maybe your bank account can't add up to what you owe. Or perhaps you are wondering where you will lie your head tonight - or if your life will end before the day is over. Whatever your situation, whatever your hurt... He is with you. He loves you. He will never leave you.

And I pray that in the midst of it all, while the storm rages around you, you would remember His promises. That His peace would still your beating heart and calm your fears. That His whisper would comfort you, that His Spirit would guide you.

That you would hear His voice.

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Sunday, September 6, 2009

Something Is Missing.

I wrote this last year, for Roy.  This year, my heart goes out for him and his family, but I am finding myself lacking words... unable to express what I want to say.  So I am reposting what I wrote last year.

Do you ever wake up, and just know that something isn't right? That something is missing?

I do.

This morning, I can think of quite a few people who woke up and felt like something was missing. An entire family. Today marks the day.

The day that Carmen began going through life as a widow.

The day that Austin, Angelina, and Garrett began to learn what it was to be without an earthly father.

The day when Eric, Karl, Roger, Judith, and Marilyn became part of a group of five - not six.

The day when Toni, Iris, Amber, Craig, and Ivin stood with their spouses, grieving for them and aching with the absence of their brother in law.

The day when so many children had to learn how to go through life without their uncle.

The day when Jim and Rachel learned what it is to have a part of them step into eternity too soon.

The day when my husband and I received a phone call that ended our vacation and triggered a grueling, fast-paced trip halfway across the country to go and be with our family.

But it was also a day of rejoicing.

The day that Roy threw off all weights. No more sorrow. No more grief. No more pain. No anger. No bitterness.

The day that he became completely and utterly whole. The day he was perfected.

The day when, for the very first time, his sweet daughter Natalie ran to him and leaped into his arms. And when for the very first time, he held his little girl without the unspeakable heartache that a father endures as his child fights for life, and then steps into eternity to receive healing in heaven.

You see, three years ago today, Roy stepped into eternity. He left behind so many who loved him. An accident - a tragic, unexpected accident.

It was absolutely heart-wrenching for so many... his wife, his children, his brothers and sisters, his nieces and nephews... and so many more. Some people have a "family" that is composed of only those related by blood or by law. Roy had a family like that - a very large one. But that was only a part of his family. Roy was one of those people with a heart that couldn't seem to find enough outlets into which to pour love. A quick smile, a light-hearted optimism, and generosity made him so much more than a "friend" or an "acquaintance" to many.

When asked why we were in such a hurry to get home, my husband and I had only one answer - our brother died.

Today, I can honestly say that this post is not about me. It's not about my husband. It's about part of our family. We may not be related by any law, and there may not be any common blood between us, but they are family.

And today, they are hurting. There is something about an anniversary like this that can make everything seem so fresh, so raw. When a life is ended prematurely and abruptly, the day gets burned indelibly into your mind.

Today, they are on my mind. I suspect that every where they go, they catch glimpses of his face in the crowd. His laugh probably echoes in their minds, their dreams. I look at members of his family, and sometimes do a double take. I wonder if they do, too?

So today, I am choosing to share their burden, just a little. I am choosing to miss Roy. I am choosing to let his laugh, his voice echo in my mind, and to see his face. I am choosing to remember his eyes, his hands, his walk. I am letting memories of him playing with his children and of the look in his eyes as he looked at his wife play through my head. I am feeling just a hint of the ache as they remember far more than I could know or write about.

And lastly, I am rejoicing that there will be a day when I see him yet again. A day when I too will step into my eternal home. When at last, I will be as whole, as complete, and as free as he is. And I am saying "Happy heaven day, Roy" - for indeed, this is a painful day for those of us left here, but for him, two years ago today was the best day of his life.

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Friday, September 4, 2009

SVT? Not SVT? IST? Who knows...

So. Last week, after a flurry of phone calls from my regular doctor, and a subsequent trip to the cardiologist, I was informed that I had SVT. That I would need to either be on a lot of meds for the rest of my life, or have an ablation to treat it. I was told I would be seeing the electrophysiologist from across the state, and he would schedule an electrophysiology study and ablation.

I saw him yesterday.

He said it is not SVT at all. But merely an "inappropriate" sinus tachycardia. Which is not all that serious. Can't be treated by ablation, as that would entail destroying the entire SA node. Can be managed with medication if I want to, otherwise it can be ignored.

Both physicians are 100% sure in their diagnosis. The first has a bit more credibility in my eyes, simply because he actually showed me the test strips that he felt demonstrated SVT. Having looked at them, and looked at sample strips of other patients with SVT, I agree - they look exactly the same. The symptoms I've been fighting for years off and on, and nearly constantly since some time last summer, definitely line up. Right on down to the dusky grayish-purplish-blue hue that my hands and feet and lips take on when whatever is happening, is happening. My feet are actually that color right now. So it really could be SVT. Maybe.

The second doctor, who's opinion I would prefer to believe, says that it's not SVT at all. He thinks I've just got a slightly rogue SA node, which sends out signals way too frequently, causing my heart to beat absurdly fast. But normally. And if he is right, then there is absolutely nothing I need to do. So, if I want him to be right, and if I would prefer to not have an ablation, or EP study, or any of that, then why don't I grab onto his diagnosis?

He provided that diagnosis while staring at the 12-lead EKG he'd just done. While my heart was beating 60 beats per minute. With plenty of medication coursing through my body. He then fanned through the stack of event monitor strips, and commented under his breath, "that one's really fast... hmm..." Which leads me to believe that perhaps he hadn't had a chance to review any of the previous test results. And maybe his diagnosis was based on his own hurried history taking.

Or, maybe he's right. And maybe an EP and ablation would just cause a bunch of useless pain. Maybe it really is just IST. And maybe that really could explain and account for the purple-gray-blue color, heart rate over 200. Maybe.

Or maybe they are both wrong.

To be truthful, I covet your prayers right now. The increase in meds has gotten things under control. I can't take this much for too long (some of the side effects are more than a little unpleasant), but for now, it's okay. It buys time to figure out where we go from here. Do we seek a third opinion? Do we pick one of the doctors to believe? How do we choose? Why have things snowballed since last spring? Why has that snowball effect gotten even more dramatic since May of this year?

I couldn't say. But one thing I can say: My God, He is God. The faithful God, Who shows mercy and keeps his covenant to 1000 generations. It is in Him that my trust and my hope are found. And it is He Who is ultimately in charge. And it is He Who is more than able.

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Friday, August 28, 2009

SVT. And This Post Has Nothing To Do With Stellan.

So, once upon a time, I was 14. It had been a rough week, involving some pretty intense emotional issues and surgery on my knee. It was a Saturday, and it felt like my heart was literally about to explode.

Went to the hospital. Received fluids and a medication through an IV. Heart rate slowed down. Doctor's concluded it was an anxiety attack.

Happened a few more times. A couple of them, I passed out in the middle.

As I got older, it started happening more frequently. Instead of once or twice a year, it was every couple of months or so.

And then every month.

And then a couple times each month. And then nearly every week. And then often times twice a week.

And now, every day. Sometimes several times.

I brought it up a few months ago with my "temporary" family doctor (my "regular" family doc is still not seeing patients for most things, following his head injury). He kind of dismissed it - I've been struggling in the stress department, and I think we both figured that was it. I didn't go into detail about how long or consistently it's been going on - I just wasn't concerned.

A couple weeks ago I saw him for something that has NOTHING to do with my heart, and he noted that it was going just a little fast - about 120. Nothing too bad, just faster than "normal." I mentioned that it often times went a lot faster than that. He asked how fast. I truthfully told him that 160 wasn't uncommon. He didn't really like that answer. Said he wanted me to wear an event monitor for 30 days and see if we could get some ECG strips of the "abnormal rhythm."

Picked up the event monitor on Wednesday the 19th. First five days or so were great. Day six, I had an "almost event" where I thought it was about to take off, so I pushed record. And it (my pulse) promptly went back down to about 90.

Wednesday of the next week (the 26th), I felt miserable all day. I came home to sleep while my husband went to church. I noticed my heart felt awfully strange - heavy, and very much pounding and feeling kind of "fluttery." Recorded the event, then checked my pulse - 170. So pretty fast. I did what I figured out years ago, by accident. Gave myself a firm massage just under my jawbone. Today I found out that that's actually something that doctors will do with patients to try and slow their pulse down. And of course took the obligatory Metoprolol.

Thursday, I called in the monitor recording from the night before. Guy at the testing center was pretty concerned, said he'd send it to my doctor right away. I figured nothing would come of it. Ten minutes later, we were on our way to a funeral, and the phone rang. My doctor, calling to say he got the test results. Needed me to check my pulse right then. Lots of questions about how I was feeling. Suggested that I should really come in so he could evaluate. Decided not to do so, provided I was willing to come in the next day (Friday the 28th) if the fast heart rate came back at all. That was easy to agree to.

Well, it came back. Got a phone call from my doctor about 20 minutes after I sent the recording off. More questions. Had me take another Metoprolol, said I needed to see cardiology right then - that it was medically necessary.

I ended up leaving work 5.5 hours early to go to the cardiology clinic. Met with the cardiologist. He asked a lot of questions. Informed me he could tell I wasn't a smoker or a drinker. Asked if I wanted to be cured of the problem with my heart. I said yes to that, of course.

He did an exam, talked to me a bit about cholesterol (mine is ridiculously high, and it's not because of a weight issue). His nurse came in. He asked her to schedule an echo for a patient who would need an ablation to treat her SVT. I honestly believed he was talking about some other patient. Especially when he said he wanted a doctor from across the state to come see "her" and do the ablation. I've brought up the rapid pulse so many times before, and every time it's been dismissed as anxiety. There was no way he could be referring to me, and I knew it.

She nodded, and left the room. He then proceeded to show me my ECG strips from the monitoring I've done. I was honestly expecting to see just a plain old sinus rhythm (normal, healthy, and good) that was chugging along more quickly than normal. I was prepared to maybe see a couple blips of atrial fibrillation, since it seems to run in our family. This first picture is a pretty good depiction of what numerous ECG's I've had in the past showed. A nice, normal sinus rhythm of about 60 beats per minute.

And that is what I expected to see.

But, it was not to be. The heart rate on those strips was foreign. I've had lots of ECG's done in my life - each time I had an episode that I told a doctor about, they would do the ECG. Of course, it was always way too late to catch the abnormal rhythm, and they would tell me it must just be anxiety or something. But those strips from the event monitor? They looked like this:

I'm no professional, but I do know that an ECG is supposed to show a P,Q,R,S, and T wave. I also know that my normal resting pulse is between 55 and 65. The test strips proved that my initial statement that my heart sometimes goes up to 160 beats per minute was not quite accurate. During most of the monitors, my pulse was like the picture above - about 180 beats per minute. During some of them, though, it was "well over 200."

I'd like to pretend that I have this great, unshakable, unwavering faith. And I'd like to tell you all that I stayed calm, there was no fear, and I resolved to move forward. But, truth is, I was afraid. As the doctor explained that I was that patient he was talking to his nurse about, that it was me who would be seeing the doctor from across the state next week, and it was my heart that was going to have an ablation, I started to freak out just a bit.

I was a little hard on my husband. I told him what was going on via text message - the reception in the clinic is horrid, and I wasn't sure I could speak coherently. I left the office, and went downstairs for blood work. As soon as I was done in the lab, I found a quiet corner near the skywalk, where the reception was somewhat better. I called one of the sweetest, most level-headed people I know. She got details out of me. Reminded me of Who is really in charge of my life. Prayed with me.

I left, and spoke a bit to my husband on the phone as I drove to our church. One of the office staff was there. She prayed, anointed me with oil. Gave me an amazing hug. Instilled and spoke peace. Reminded me that the "SVT" is just a name. And that Jesus is a name above all names.

I would be lying if I told you I am no longer surprised, or that I'm not nervous at all. I am nervous. I don't like what I was told. I want to pretend it isn't so. But even now, with more medication in my system than there has been for a long time, I can feel that something isn't right. With the medicine, it will beat fast for only a minute or two, and then it slows down again to about 60.

And when it's going slow, and I'm blissfully unaware of its presence, it is easy for me to say that my heart is healed. It's easy to believe. It doesn't really require much faith at all. But when it starts to feel strange, and it's hard to count fast enough to calculate a pulse? It's not so easy to believe then. But I am trying. With everything in me.

If you would, can you pray for me this coming week? I've had surgery a lot of times - eight, if you don't include minor things that require only light sedation. I've never been afraid before hand. But this time is different. This is my heart. People don't tend to do well when their heart is damaged. I know that an electrophysiology study (EP Study) is a very low-risk procedure, and I know that ablations usually go very well. And more importantly, I know that my God, He is God. A faithful God, Who keeps His covenant to a thousand generations. Even so, it's taking everything I have to stay focused and grounded, and not give in to the fear that's trying to creep in.

And maybe, if you are taking the time to pray for me, you could pray for a few others as well? My husband - I can only imagine that this had to be as much of a shock to him as it was me. And the doctor who will be doing the EP Study and ablation - first name is Zalmen. I'm not going to give his last name, since I'd like to retain at least some anonymity. If you would pray, I would really appreciate it. I have an echocardiogram on Wednesday morning (I've had lots of these over the years due to a goofy valve), and see the doctor from across the state on Thursday morning.

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48 hours.

The last 48 hours have been... full.

First, I want to say a HUGE thank you to my beloved, amazing, best-in-the-world husband. Four years (and one day) ago, he married me. I find myself often asking how it is that I got so blessed, and how it is that he can be so amazing. All the credit goes to my God.

In less happy news, we spent part of our anniversary yesterday at a funeral. Derek's "uncle" Jerry has gone to heaven. Better for him. Worse for us. I didn't know him. I am so thankful that I will eventually have a chance, though.

Finally, there is a medical situation in my life right now that came as a bit of a shock, to say the least. I'm not ready, yet, to share details. It's nothing terrible - in fact, it's curable even. But a shock none the less. By the end of the week I should have more information. I may wait until then to share, or I may share tomorrow or Sunday. We'll just have to way and see I guess. Either way, if you would, can you pray for the doctors? That they'd have wisdom and insight? Tonight, to be totally blunt, I am fighting fear. But for now, I'm going to just leave it at that.

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Saturday, August 22, 2009

An Explaination.

So, my last post promised that I would begin posting more regularly. 13 days ago. Yikes. I feel compelled to make excuses offer up an explaination. So here you go - a list of reasons I have been on a posting hiatus:

  1. Life was getting the best of me.
    Or, to put it more accurately, I was finding myself overwhelmed and struggling to muddle through each day. By the time I came home each night, I was drained.

  2. Refering back to number one, I had nothing left to pour out. I wanted to - wanted to pursue my assignment from the Psalms, wanted to share some of the things that have been rising up within. But there was just an... absence. Of motivation, of strength, of words.
  3. Embarrasment. Having stepped away from my assignment, and broken my commitment, I was embarrassed to post. Which is silly - this is my blog, and whatever I post or do not post is up to me. And I want it to be "real" - an example of what it's really like to walk this Christian walk. Part of that "reality" is to let you (my readers) see me fail, and then pick myself up and keep going.

  4. Time. I haven't had much of it to spare.

  5. My husband's cat Bayleigh. Pictured over there --> on the right sidebar. Last week Friday (so 8 days ago), she came into the bathroom at about 11:00 PM as I was getting out of the tub, and made it abundantly clear that she was not at all okay. Called her vet, left a message with the answering service. Then called every other vet in the area hoping to find someone who would/could see her.

    Took her in at 7:30 the next morning, found out she had a bad bladder infection. They gave her some good drugs, lots of fluids, and informed us that she also had a pyometra (infected uterus) and needed surgery first thing Monday morning. We took her home in between, and babied her.

    Surgery Monday went fine, she came home Tuesday, and has been quickly (and sleepily) recovering ever since.

  6. A nasty, nasty computer virus. Yep, somehow, somewhere, I picked one up. In spite of running Norton Antivirus non-stop. Well, non-stop until my subscription expired 12 days ago. Two days before the virus showed up. Entirely coincendental, I'm sure. Or not.

    Seriously. It was a real pain to get rid of. First step was to renew my Norton subscription. Which I did. Twice. Whoops. The refund from the second purchase will go through in 5-10 days, or so I was told when I spoke with one of their representatives. I'd like it faster, but I can't complain. It's not like it's their fault I was so impatient that I placed the order twice, convinced the first one didn't go through.

    Back to the virus. I was alerted to its presence about a week ago, when a large red circle with an "X" in the middle showed up in my system tray. It kept randomly generating a pop-up informing me that my computer was infected and I should click the link to download removal software. Yep - I got the infamous "Windows 2009 Security Update" virus. Fortunately, I knew better than to click the pop up. I also know enough to disconnect the network cable.

    After updating Norton, I realized that his obnoxious little virus prevents Norton from being able to open. Not being very programming-savy, I opened my task list and watched it as I tried opening Norton over and over. I finally noticed that each time, a task would pop up for about 3 seconds, and then disappear, and Norton would quit loading. So I finally got the bright idea to kill that task as soon as it popped up. And viola! Norton loaded.

    I figured my problem was resolved. Ran the full scan, which took most of the night (I slept while it worked). The program disappeared from my system tray, the task was gone from the task list. All was well.

    Or not. When I restarted my computer, the program promptly reappeared and began incessantly reminding me to download a "removal program." I pulled the network cable again. Looked at my task list - found the tasks that were new (yes, I am enough of a geek to be very familiar with which tasks should be on that list and which ones don't belong). Using my phone (because the computer was not connected), I browsed Microsoft's process library for the tasks in question (braviax.exe).

    I was bitterly disappointed less than thrilled with the description on the entry retrieved: "This is a process." Ya think? Very helpful, eh?

    I found a techie forum, filled with big words I don't understand, and instructions that were written in some foreign language. Or maybe it really was English, and I'm just not cut out to run with the techies. Either way, the instructions were almost useless. Except the part that listed the two search terms to use when removing the braviax virus from your registry. Which is not something I'd recommend doing if you're not used to checking and editing your registry, since you can totally mess up your computer doing it.

    After finding and removing all instances of "braviax" and "cru629" from my registry, I restarted my computer, expecting that dreaded red circle to reappear. It didn't. I re-ran my full system scan - Norton found nothing. I opened internet explorer. Still no sign of it. So I restarted it again. Nope, nada.

    I've been waiting for it to reappear for several hours now, and it seems that it's gone for good.

    I like winning.

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Sunday, August 9, 2009

The Post in Which You Are Spared.

So this post is to let you know that you are being spared. Spared from long, drawn out explainations of why this past week has been... hard. To say there has been a lot of up and down would be accurate - the same way that saying the ocean has a lot of water in it is accurate.

It's been full to the brim with secret struggles and uncertainty. Lots of room for questions, lots of time for reflection, and a shortage of answers.

But this post is one in which you are spared.

I am going to simply say, "I appologize for the lack of posts lately. There is a reason - several reasons, in fact. I am okay. I have not forgotten about this blog. I have not forgotten about the Psalms. I have just been... occupied."

And I'm going to tell you that I am sparing you from descriptions and/or pictures that illustrate the reason for the difficulty I've been having with sleep for the past week. I'll leave it at this: somehow, some way, something stumbled upon or through while out on the river has... impacted me. More specifically, impacted my knee and my foot. First suspicion was poison ivy. Now leaning more towards wild parsnip. Or some other plant or chemical or something. I'll leave it at that, and gimp away on my crutches.

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Thursday, August 6, 2009

Psalm 28.

Psalm 28

(verses 1 and 2)
To you I call, O LORD my Rock;
do not turn a deaf ear to me.
For if you remain silent,
I will be like those who have gone down to the pit.

Hear my cry for mercy
as I call to you for help,
as I lift up my hands
toward your Most Holy Place.

This week, I have fallen short, in so many ways. Some obvious ways - such as reneging on my comitment to not only read a Psalm and study it, looking for emotion therein, but also to post about it daily. Other obvious ways - I am still plugging away at uploading and completing the galleries for the wedding I recently shot. I'm struggling to meet my upgrade goal at work - not that my job demands it, but I set the goal and I really want to meet it.

There are other less visible ways - not being as faithful to pray as I had been, choosing physical comfort over the opportunity to go to church, being short tempered with my husband.

And then there are those areas that are too deep, too significant, and truthfully, too personal to share here. And it is in those ways that I am struggling the most.

So, dear readers... if you would, please pray for me? I know I seem to ask that a lot, and I almost didn't ask now because of it. But I don't want this to be one-sided.

If there is something, anything, that I can be in prayer with and/or for you about, please don't hesitate to contact me. You can leave a comment - they are all "private" unless I choose to publish them, and I promise that any prayer request will NOT be published unless you request it. You can also send me an e-mail, using the link on the right hand side of this blog. I would count it an honor and privelage to pray with you.

That said, I am going to go make supper for my darling, sweet husband. Who happens to have washed our dishes. Nearly all of them. Without being asked. Have I mentioned lately that I adore him? His brownie points account is overflowing right about now...

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Monday, July 27, 2009

Emotion. Psalms.

This post is going to be a short one... because the thing that's weighing most heavily on me tonight, the thing that I truly need to write out, may or may not be something that I share here. But, for those who may be following along in the Psalms with me...

Jump ahead to Psalm 18. I'm going to pick it up in the middle, share a few verses, and wrap it up. Meanwhile, if you would, take a minute to head over to Jennifer's blog. Her sweet son, Stellan, is struggling. Fighting for his very life. Please, take a little time out of your day to pray for him, for his parents (Jennifer and Israel), and for his doctors as they prepare for a very risky procedure.

Verses 1-3
I love You, O Lord, my strength.
The Lord is my Rock, my Fortress and my Deliverer;
My God is my Rock in Whom I take refuge.
He is my shield and the horn of my salvation - my stronghold.
I call to the Lord, Who is worthy of praise,
and I am saved from my enemies.

My life has not been what I would call easy. Blessed, for sure. Good, mostly. Amazing, thrilling, exhilarating? At times. But not easy. And yet, through everything... He has been there. In the darkness, in the sadness, in the hurt, He comforted. In the joy, the peace, the beauty, He showed Himself. He truly is my rock and my Deliverer. It is He who has delivered me, and it is He in whom I take refuge.

Verses 4-6
The cords of death entangled me;
the torrents of destruction overwhelmed me.
The cords of the grave coiled around me;
the snares of death confronted me.
In my distress I called to the Lord;
I cried to my God for help.
From His temple He heard my voice;
my cry came before Him, into His ears.

I'm not going to expound on verses four and five. They speak for themselves, and there isn't anything that I would like to say, other than "I get that."

It's verse six I want to talk about. In my distress I called to the Lord; I cried to my God for help. That is the only thing I could do. There wasn't strength for anything else. No earthly way forward. Men (or women) could not help. The battle was not physical, not a flesh-and-blood thing. It was (and is, and will be for the rest of my earthly life) spiritual.

It's hard, truthfully, to cry out to God when it feels like I'm failing. When that insistent little voice whispers "You did this and you never do that. Surely, God can't accept you anymore. You've gone too far, done it one too many times now." When that happens, shame rushes in and confidence is harder to grasp than the wind. It is at that time that I truly feel unworthy. And it at that time that doubt raises its ugly head, blocking my view. And it is hard, so hard, to cry out to God. And yet, it is then that I most desperately need to do just that. And it is then, when I am totally and utterly dependent on His grace, on His mercy, on the sacrifice He made and the sinless life He lived, that He has shown Himself faithful.

He has heard my cry. Not just heard... but really heard. It's not like when a bird outside serenades. When that happens, we hear the song, but we don't really hear it. Am I making sense? God hears us. Not just perceives that we are making noise, but really hears what we say.

Verses 7-18
The earth trembled and quaked,
and the foundations of the mountains shook;
they trembled because He was angry.
Smoke rose from His nostrils;
consuming fire came from His mouth,
burning coals blasted out of it.
He parted the heavens and came down;
dark clouds were under His feet.
He mounted the cherubim and flew;
He soared on the wings of the wind.
He made darkness His covering, His canopy around Him -
the dark rain clouds of the sky.
Out of the brightness of His presence clouds advanced,
with hailstones and bolts of lightning.
The Lord thundered from heaven;
the voice of the Most High resounded.
He shot His arrows and scattered the enemies,
great bolts of lightning and routed them.
The valleys of the sea were exposed
and the foundations of the earth laid bare
at Your rebuke, O Lord,
at the blast of breath from Your nostrils.
He reached down from on high and took hold of me;
He drew me out of deep waters.
He rescued me from my powerful enemy,
from my foes, who were too strong for me.
They confronted me in the day of my disaster,
but the Lord was my support.

This is one of my favorite passages, because of the picture it paints. I don't know about you, but my mind works in pictures. I see the wind, the dark and swirling clouds, the lightning and parting waters. I have stood, arms thrown open wide, as a storm rushed in. I've felt every hair stand at attention in wonder.

And yet... this passage, pales in comparison to the work He has done inside of each person who allows it. It pales in comparison to what He has done in me. For me. I'm not going to draw any more parallels, not going to expound on that thought any further.

I'm ending here, with this statement. This passage, these words recorded for all eternity, bring to mind a few emotions. Awe. Wonder. A sense of being loved. But more than any of that, they bring gratitude. I am so unspeakably grateful for what He has done and Who He is. And for tonight, that is where I am going to close.

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