Saturday, June 26, 2010

Courage to Live.

There is one emotion that I truly despise.  One emotion that in my eyes truly robs people.  One emotion that stifles growth and in so many ways, inhibits really living at all.  It can cripple, immobilize, and destroy.  It breaks apart relationships, ends dreams, and can even stop hearts from beating.


We are not made for fear.  The Bible tells us 365 times to "fear not."  Once for every day of the year. 

But what about those moments that make our pulse raise, our temperature rise, every muscle tensed and ready?  Is that sin?  Is it wrong to feel fear?  It's a question I've asked myself so many times... and I admit I do not have an exact answer.

I think it might be.  Before you get upset... follow me for just a minute.  1 John 4:18 tells us that "there is no fear in love, but perfect love casteth out fear; because fear hath torment.  He that feareth is not made perfect in love."  If fear is a sign of imperfection... than it cannot be of God, and cannot be "right." 

Unfortunately... we are all flawed (Romans 3:23 - all have sinned and fall short of the Glory of God).  We live in an imperfect, sin-infested world.  This side of heaven, we must fight to do what is right, and we often lose the fight (if we fight at all). 

That said... there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus (Romans 8:1).  I would not dare, for even a second, to condemn someone because they are afraid.  In fact, there are things in this world that are pure evil.  Things that do wrack us with fear.  Mostly, death and the process of dying.  Indirectly, at times - being afraid of a financial situation,or where we will live, the start or end of a relationship.  Ultimately, it doesn't really matter why we are afraid. 

What matters is the presence of courage.  Courage is what sends us running toward the gunshot, so to speak.  It is what inspires greatness.  It is what gets us out of bed each morning and it is what enables us to learn new things.

It is not the absence of fear.

Courage is a choice we make.  It is choosing to act a certain way regardless of fear.  For some people, courage is smiling along with their cancer-ridden child.  It is in taking a deep breath as a coffin is lowered into darkness.  It might show up when a person stands before a review panel or when he or she kneels before the altar of God.

There are as many opportunities to choose courage as there are moments in life.  It looks different every time, but we can recognize it anyway.  Sometimes it is as much a surprise to the courageous one as it is to anyone looking on.

But always, courage lets us live.  Yes, actions buoyed by courage do sometimes lead to death.  Running into a burning building to save another; serving in the armed forces; waiting until the last minute to give birth in hope that a tiny child's lungs will develop just a little more. 

But it is courage that allows us to truly live.  Without it, we would not stand on top of mountains.  We would not stand with our arms outstretched to soak in the fury of a storm.  We would not laugh, we would not cry, we would not love.  We would never take a chance on our dreams, and we would miss every victory.

With it?  With courage... we can do those things and so much more.  We can truly live.  We can do more than exist.

There is one reason to have courage... one thing that lets us hold our heads high and stand unmoving in the face of anything.  The Lord, our God, is with us where ever we go.  (Joshua 1:9).  The fact that He is with us, that He never leaves or forsakes us... that is what gives us courage to live.

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Thursday, June 24, 2010

The Number 21.

There is someone I know.  Today, she turned 21.  Tonight, we sang "Happy Birthday" to her in church.  I was struck by that as we did...


The number has dictated so much in her life. 

Before she was even born... I don't know if the doctors knew how important the number would be for her.  But if they had, chances are really good they would have suggested that her mom choose to "terminate."  That's what they so often do when they know the number 21 will mean so much.  It is a sad reality that I have grown to truly hate.

I wonder if it was obvious to "outsiders" when she was born.  I know it wasn't hidden from the eyes of any observer who had seen this before - this important number 21.  But did others know, even then, what it would mean for her?  Did they know there was something different, something special about her?  Or were they looking with love and love alone?

As this precious child of God has grown in stature and knowledge, she has been an example to so many.  The number 21 plays into everything she does, everything she is.  It wouldn't have been at all unusual for that one number to have been so important, so all-consuming, that she went to be with Jesus well before her 21st birthday.  And yet... in spite of this number, she smiles.  All the time.  Just had surgery?  Sick?  Broken-hearted?  Doesn't matter - she smiles anyway.

We could learn from her.  Is there a number 21 in your life?  If there is... you have known what I was talking about all along.  If not... what is there?  What is in everything you do?  What colors your thoughts, your actions, your dreams?  What tries to hold you back, and what are you doing about it?

For those who are wondering how one number can be so important... or wondering why that number:  Have you heard the phrase "Down's Syndrome?"  The number 21 plays into this sweet girl's every cell.  All three copies of chromosome 21. Yes, three.

I'm probably just being a sap because I love my church and this girl... but the number 21 is a big deal to her today.  In so many ways.  And it's my blog and I will share what I want.

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Sunday, June 20, 2010

My Baby's Daddy.

Today is Father's Day.  The day set aside to honor every father in this country.  The day for maple syrup kisses and bear hugs, backwards letters and stick figures.  The day when I wish everyone could see my baby's daddy as that - a daddy.

But they don't see.  They don't know that his heart is hurting today.  He doesn't have a visible mark, doesn't get to hang pictures in his workspace, and has never had the joy of a tiny voice saying "I love you, daddy."  And yet, in spite of that... he is a daddy.  He has missed most of the "good parts" pertaining to fatherhood, but has known goodbye.  He's known "not enough time" and has thought to himself "no fair."  He is my baby's daddy.

I don't know exactly what is in his heart today... I only know what is in mine.  And I know what he has said... that he wishes he could have known her.  That she should be greeting him when he walks in the door after work.  That he cries when he knows I can't see.  That it hurts.

And I know that, regardless of what the "world" sees and knows... regardless of what tomorrow holds... he is, and will always be, my baby's daddy.

Happy Father's day, Derek.

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Saturday, June 19, 2010

My Husband Wrote A Song

A couple days a go, my husband went downstairs.  When he came back up, he informed me that he had come up with new and better lyrics to a popular song.  He sang it for me, and it made me laugh.  So for lack of something better to post just now, I'll share it with you.

The Itsy Bitsy Spider was hanging on the wall,
where he shouldn't be; he had a deadly fall.
The Itsy Bitsy Spider got crushed with pulped up wood
and the Itsy Bitsy Spider went down the drain for good.

Perhaps not the greatest song ever written, but I got a kick out of it, and hope you do too.

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Thursday, June 10, 2010

I'm Alive.

It wasn't all that long ago that I wondered how long that would be true. The alive part, that is. I remember the surgeon coming, telling me that the VRE infection I had developed in January was still rampant. It grew both in my wound and blood cultures. For those of you unfamiliar with the abreviation, the VR portion stands for vancomyacin resistant. That means that they literally don't have anything left to treat it with. They were pumping me full of three kinds of antibiotics, plus the antihistamines and steroids required when giving me levaquin (I am allergic). Those would take care of some of the bacteria - the other kinds. But the VRE? The doctor said it was up to my own body.

God was merciful. I initially caught the infection along with four other kinds of bacteria. Most likely from someone who didn't wash his or her hands adequately before applying gloves and doing a dressing change while I was hospitalized. They told me then that there was nothing they could do about the infection. We all thought it had abated, until nearly three months later when my shin literally started rotting off.

God was merciful. In spite of the fact that the original wound was self inflicted, and in spite of the fact that I was falling apart in so very many ways, He saved my leg. And He saved my life.

I was thinking about this tonight in church, and Psalm 143 came to mind. I've got it below for you to read. It just seems... fitting.

O Lord, hear my prayer, listen to my cry for mercy;
in your faithfulness and righteousness come to my relief.
Do not bring your servant (me) into judgment,
for no one living is righteous before You.
The enemey pursues me, he crushes me to the ground;
he makes me dwell in darkness like those long dead.
So my spirit grows faint within me;
my heart within me is dismayed.
I remember the days of long ago;
I meditate on all your works and consider what your hands have done.
I spread out my hands to you;
my soul thirsts for you like a parched land.
Selah. (Which means meditate on this.)
Answer me quickly, O Lord;
my spirit fails.
Do not hide your face from me or I will be like those who go down to the pit.
Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love,
for I have put my trust in you.
Show me the way I should go,
for to you I lift up my soul.
Rescue me from my enemies, O Lord, for I hid myself in You.
Teach me to do your will, for you are my God;

may your Spirit lead me on level ground.
For your name's sake, O Lord, preserve my life;
in your righteousness, bring me out of trouble.
In your unfailing love, silence my enemies;
destroy all my foes, for I am your servant.

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