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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