Saturday, October 04, 2014

You Won't Relent

Over and over in the Scripture, we are implored to remember everything God has done and said. We are to remember the times he carried us through the hardest days of our lives. Remember the times he rescued us, the times he gave us strength, the times he showed himself to us and to the world. Remember all the ways he showed us how intimately he walked with us and pursued our hearts with a relentless pursuit. We must remember. If we forget, we might lose heart. 
The past few months can be summed up in just a few simple words: a relentless pursuit of my heart by the one who came to heal the broken hearted, to set the captive heart free. Over and over he has called to me in the midst of whatever I found myself in...compromise, defeat, accusation, despair, wounded and viewing life through a warped perspective. He called me by my new name and reminded me of who I was. He called me out of the mire and led me to the life he died to give me. Jesus pursued my heart for one reason alone...He loved me. He saw me for the who he made me to be. He longed for his glory in me to be unveiled through a heart that was fully alive. 
John Eldredge said in his book "Waking the Dead,"You have been far more than forgiven. God has removed your heart of stone. You have been delivered from what held you back from what you were meant to be. You have been rescued from your the part of you that sabotages even your best intentions. Your heart has been set free." He goes on to say that after we see ourselves in this light, " we will need to live from it. To admit we have a new heart and a glory from God, to begin to let it be unveiled and embrace it as true- that means the next thing God will do is ask us to live from it. Come out of the boat. Take the throne. Be what he meant us to be. And that feels risky. But it is also exciting. It is coming fully alive." 
Today my precious friend and I went together to do something that would help us forever remember what God is doing in our hearts. We have both walked through some pretty deep, heavy stuff these past few weeks. The enemy tried hard to take us out and we came through on the other side, beautiful and stronger than ever before. It was time to make a symbolic statement of who we are and who we are becoming as the our hearts are beginning to reveal the glory God gave to each of us uniquely. 

Today, I had this permanently etched where I will be reminded every moment of the day who I am. See my heart has been guarded and closed off for a very long time. People saw glimpses of who I was created to be. Yet, the very depth of who I was had been carefully hidden away behind high walls of stone and defenses as sharp and painful as barbed wire. What can't be exposed and left vulnerable, can't be hurt. Wounds inflicted upon my heart, when left unguarded, had taken their toll. The enemy had seemingly been successful at his attempt to take out my heart. He didn't take away my salvation. He just convinced me that my heart was beyond repair and in effect took me out of the fight. 
The Bible says to guard your heart because from it comes all of life. My heart was guarded; yet the very things guarding it were bringing death. I knew Jesus. I loved Jesus. Yet, somehow my heart was still very much in danger and my Savior was on his way with his rescue. Sometimes his pursuit was quiet whispers to my heart, romancing me and healing me. Sometimes he would take me by the hand to a place that held memories of times my heart had been assaulted and deeply wounded and he would rewrite my story by giving me his perspective. Sometimes he would appear as a friend who stood guard over my heart- fighting for my heart with truth. The truth that said I had a good heart. That I was beautiful. I was strong. I was secure. I was loved completely. I was going to be ok. Sometimes he just showed me how to be brave as he took me to my deepest fears and said I am here. I am giving you victory. He wouldn't relent until my heart was fully his. He became the seal upon my heart, the seal upon my arm for his love is stronger than death. 
Little by little the barbed wire disappeared. The walls fell down. My heart was set free. Jesus became the guard of my heart, declaring it good. It became open to the world around me as now I was free to fulfill the role that only I could play. I could be known by my new name. My purpose became evident: now that you have been set free, return and show others they too can be free. Walk bedside them on their journey towards seeing who they really are and fight for them. Fight for their hearts, their dreams, and their freedom. Be the warrior you were created to be. 
" Do you know why there has been such an assault? The Enemy fears you. You are dangerous-big time. If you every really got your heart back, lived from it with courage, you would be a big problem to him. You would do a lot of damage- on the side of good. Remember how valiant and effective God has been in the history of the world? You are a stem of the victorious stalk." (John Eldredge, Wild at Heart. ) In the past week, this declaration of a heart that is free has been assaulted. The fight has been brutal. Yet, my heart has emerged. I have learned to fight even for my own heart. It is essential to life. It is essential if others are to be rescued. I have my heart back and that changes everything. 

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

When Chaos Becomes Comical (or laughing when everything falls apart)

This morning before I even opened my eyes I knew it was going to be one of those days. The kind where the pain radiating through your head immediately equates to intense nausea and vomiting. The kind of day when you realize all your plans for the day might as well just be thrown out the window because there is no way you are going to be able to get out of bed. Migraines are so debilitating for me and the one thing I dread the most. I can function with any other sickness but a migraine equals stuck in bed, unable to move but totally able to be tormented by a flood of thoughts. Thoughts about what had to be done today. Thoughts about how far behind I am in everything. Thoughts about relationships and situations that were unresolved. Thoughts that quickly turn to doubts and worries and condemnation. If that wasn't enough, the simple migraine turned to a migraine while trying to take care of one child with a sick tummy and one accident after another. In between explosive tummy episodes, just as I would drift back to sleep one child after another came to join me on my bed and tell me their stories, their needs, and their requests. Just as I finally drift back to sleep, I hear a crashing sound and Jonathan crying as he has just fallen down the last three stairs. Heart racing, I try to go to sleep again but realize I need to drive one child to school. Praying I can make it to school and back without throwing up, I drop her off and arrive back home. I have to make an appointment for Joshua to get his cast put on so I make it through one phone call before the nausea takes over. Make second phone call to orthopedic doctor and then finally lay down again.
The battle begins in my heart and my mind. The fight to remember truth: God is not against me. I am not being set up for failure. God isn't giving me an impossible task and then making it harder by piling more and more things for me to handle on top of it. I am not alone. People do care. I am loved. I am a good mom. All the things on my to do list can wait. He will be my strength. He will give me what I need to make it through the day or he will provide help someway or somehow. Gently the Lord begins to redefine my perspective and helps me focus on him in the midst of the pain. He whispers words of affirmation to my heart and shows me how he is there fighting this battle for me, all I have to do is turn to him and be still. Simply believe.
In those moments, I got to see a bigger story. A story that helped me interpret all the crazy things that keep happening with truth. In the past couple of weeks, we have had non-stop sickness, Jonathan crashing almost daily and all his crazy test results, our close friend hospitalized, a child with infected toes, another child with a broken wrist, and some pretty intense situations that we have had to walk through as a family. It would be so easy to be defeated, discouraged, and to begin to doubt God's love. Yet, realizing the part our family is playing in this greater story puts all these things in a totally different perspective.  God is preparing our home to be a place of refuge to hurting children who desperately need Jesus and a family. I would be foolish to think this would go unopposed. So with each little attack, I find myself chuckling and thinking, "Is that all you got?"
Sometimes though I find myself  thinking  God must be getting ready to do something big if there is so much opposition. I find myself looking for that next big thing. What I realized today is some of the greatest work God is doing is in healing our brokenness and giving us our hearts back. This is so much more important to God than us doing big things for him. And it makes us so much more dangerous to the enemy of our souls. A person who has a heart fully alive and free is a person clothed in strength and dignity. A person who knows who they are and who they were meant to be will be used by God to change the world and that makes the enemy tremble. A great gift of perspective was given to me today: the work being opposed is not just what is coming, but its what is already happening. Its the healing that is taking place in my heart and in my husband's heart, its the way that finding our hearts again is strengthening our marriage and our family. The powerful impact that will make on our world is a threat to the enemy. So I smile and chuckle because I know God is for me and we are right where we were meant to be.
Somedays are just plain rough. When those days begin to be a pattern and life starts crashing in around me like waves upon the shore during a raging storm, I am learning to ask what is really going on. Stepping back to see the greater picture, I am discovering I am in the midst of a great battle and those well designed attacks were aimed straight at my heart in an effort to take me out of the fight completely. If I chose to guard my heart and take up the shield of faith those flaming arrows or accusation will be extinguished. Clothed with strength and dignity I can take up my rightful place in this story and I can laugh at what is to come, because I know how the story ends.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Finding a Balance

Months go by and things are so normal, whatever that word actually means. One's heart might actually relax a bit and settle down into a routine of breathing in and out without having to think about it. Sadly, one also begins to take for granted all the little things they promised in that moment of crisis never to take for granted again. Little things like singing that bedtime song, participating wholeheartedly in that same conversation that you have had every single day for the past ten years, taking pictures of every moment so that you don't forget, simply living intentionally each day as if it was your last day.
Then all of a sudden the deja vu of reality collides with your "normal" world. School days are replaced with days of sleeping and pain medication. Long days of just having fun are replaced with doctor appointments and  tests upon tests. The peaceful chaos of every day is replaced with the tense chaos of the unknown. Breathe in. Breathe out.
Its not a feeling of despair or hopelessness that overcomes my heart most days. Sometimes its fear. Fear when I watch him not be able to open his eyes or he says for the hundredth time that day that his head hurts. Its what makes you hold your breath until the crash is over and he returns to his normal baseline. That is when you know it was just an infection and he is just fine. The only problem this time is he really isn't going back to baseline and that is why the many appointments have begun.
Sometimes its just the exhaustion of wondering what's going on inside his body and managing that along with every other part of life. Those moments are when I fight to find a balance. A balance between fear that pushes me to the point of calling the doctor but not to a point where it keeps me from trusting the Great Physician. A balance between doing what is necessary to keep his life as healthy as possible so he can have the best life possible and but not doing so much that we steal away the quality of his life. A balance between limiting his exposure to germs and yet, still giving him access to his friends and people that bring him so much joy.
For now, we do the necessary. We make appointments and find out what we are dealing with. We know we have a blood clot. We know we have to take the port out. We know there could very well be just a simple infection causing all kinds of havoc. We also know it could be yet another life altering moment. Until we know, we will choose to rest in what is for certain: Every day, every moment is held in the hands of the One who knows everything and has gone before us to make a way.

Thursday, September 04, 2014

I watch the numbers reporting your oxygen saturations drop steadily as you fall into a deeper sleep. I hold my breath as the numbers stabilize in an acceptable range. My mind and heart turn from the numbers to the boy resting in such great peace. My breath is gone again as I memorize every detail of your sweet face and the sound of your breath. Tonight is really no different than the night before. The diagnosis and prognosis is still the same: your life; every moment and every detail planned long before your birth. Test results, complications, and unknown possibilities can not change the plan your Father had for you long before you were ever known to me.

The gift I have been given to know perhaps a little more than most. A gift of a different perspective. A perspective that looks beyond the daily irritations, the exhaustion of motherhood, the challenge of caregiving, the ordinary of every day into the realization that time is short. Time is short for everyone of us; we just don't always live life as if today could be the last. The blessing of this perspective turns every day into a living miracle. The flip side is the haunting memories of the opportunities lost and the moments where love and grace didn't prevail. Yet, this moment still remains. A chance to capture every second. To fill each day with joy, adventure, life. To love lavishly, to forgive freely, to run with full abandon towards every dream, to trust without reservation and to hold onto hope with every bit of your being.

Sweet boy, how I long for a heart like yours. I sat with you and told you how your heart was broken but that we were not worried because your heart is safe with Jesus and he is going to take care of you. Your only concern was not the problem at hand. You just wanted to know if you were going home. Oh, to trust Jesus the way you do. To put my broken heart in His capable and loving hands and then go back to being who I am. No concern for the how, the what, the risks; just simply knowing that Jesus has got me. I would be able to confidently stay in the role  I was given to play in this grand story God is writing without holding back any part of me as the intensity of the plot unfolds. A peace that passes all understanding would descend upon my heart because I can trust the author of this story. I know He sees the ending of the story that He is writing and His stories always end well.

Your story collides with mine, my sweet boy. In the midst of your story, my heart is pursued by the Lover of My Soul. Again he asks me to give him my heart. Again I come face to face with a choice. A choice to trust. A choice to believe. Again I choose to take this heart that loves so deeply and breaks so easily and place it into His scarred hands. Those hands that remind me His Story makes my story possible. He has gone before. His heart has felt that same pain. His body has felt your pain. He has been there and now he offers to carry my heart and yours through the steepest places on this journey. How can I not trust one who offers such safety and security and love?

Friday, May 11, 2012

Mr. Awesome keeps us guessing

It is so much easier to write more details on here than on a Facebook status...I am thankful for each of you who care for us and Jonathan and have continued to pray him through this long journey. I don't have a lot of information to share yet but I can at least let you know what is going on. Yesterday afternoon, Jon's home health nurse came by to change the dressing on his picc line.we have been doing IV antibiotics for the past week and he has been doing fairly well. While we were doing vitals, we noticed that his feet were really swollen and a deep purple/red color. The purple coloring went up both legs to his waist. He was getting increasingly lethargic. He started slurring his speech. His head and body started leaning to the side. The last few symptoms are "normal" for him...usually an indicator that something is wrong or an infection is affecting him. We ent to the local emergency room and spent four hours there. They did blood work and a CT scan of his head. Nothing came back abnormal but he was still not totally stable. They were concerned enough that they wanted to admit him and get to the bottom of what was causing the swelling. We discharged So we could transfer to children's in Denver. It makes more sense to be where the drs know him and can see the changes taking place. He has had a couple more incidences of swelling and lethargy since we got here. The plan and thought right now is that whatever is causing the problem is causing an adrenal crisis. He is being treated with IV steroids for that. They changed his antibiotic to a more broad spectrum antibiotic. The question now is whether he has an infection causing the issues or are there changes in the brain. We will be doing the MRI sometime this evening to rule that out. The theory is that for some reason the systems are not communicating with each other effectively.. When he stands the blood is traveling to his feet but not returning out of the feet. The same thing is happening in his hands as well. I will update again as we find out new things.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Lessons from the Blizzard: Pressing on Through the Storm

A few days ago I was driving to Denver for Jonathan's sleep study appointment. When I left town, the skies were clear and it had been a somewhat warm day. The sun had set and darkness settled in its place. Flurries began as I left town. The forecast called for zero accumulation and slight snow showers. I don't drive in snow. I am quite the chicken..unless I am angry...but that is a whole different story. This appointment had just opened up that afternoon and it is nearly impossible to actually have an appointment on a day when Jon is not sick, a requirement for the tests being done. If I had any idea that the weather men would be wrong, I would have never ventured out. Little did I know that the Lord had some huge life lessons in store for me on this cold, snowy, dark night. I guess I should expect Him to respond when I ask questions like...How do you grow your faith????
In between Monument and Castle Rock, I encountered a blizzard. For those of you who drive confidently through this white fluffly stuff, probably no big deal for you. But for me, it was the scariest night I have ever encountered while driving. When my car spun out on an on ramp and headed to the edge of a steep enbankment, all I could think was either God stops this car or Jon and I are going to die. Obviously, I am here to write about it...the car stopped two feet from the edge. The sweet reminder that he who carries me in his hands is alive and active in my life.  What follows are the few lessons my adventure left me with...

Sometimes going back is scarier than going forward.
The sleep study tech called me when we were about an hour late for our appointment. She asked if I wanted to turn around and reschedule for a later day. The problem was that I had already driven through what was probably the worst of the storm. I had no idea what was ahead but I knew what was behind. I didn't want to go back through it. This reminded me of where I am in life right now. Life has been hard. Sometimes I feel stuck...I don't like where I am right now. I don't want to go backward. Been there, done that. Didn't like it one bit. But I don't know that I want to go forward either. I don't know what lies ahead. I don't know how long I have to keep going before the sky clears. Fears overwhelm. Yet, I keep going because there is no other much as I feel incapable of being a good mom, good wife, good friend, good christian...the only choice is to keep going forward and hope that the sky clears soon.

Its a good idea to know who you are following. Sometimes you just can't see anything except the one directly in front of you.
I found myself following behind a semi truck. Probably faulty thinking but I figured if I stayed behind the big guy, I might have some protection, a wider path to follow, and less of a chance of the "big guy" running me over. Following the truck probably created a bigger blizzard than there would have been if I wasn't right behind him but there was security there. Kind of like following Jesus. Sometimes he leads us through some scary situations. Yet, if we know who we are following we can trust that he will make a way in front of us. He will tell us which way we need to go. Just like the grooves on the side of the highway that alerted me that I was heading off the road, so the Lord will alert us when we are veering off the right path. We just have to listen. This situation reminded me of this verse in Isaiah 30:21. It says, "Your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying, “ This is the way, walk in it,” Whenever you turn to the right hand Or whenever you turn to the left."  He promises his protection and his blessing if we will just stay behind him and follow where he leads, even if it outwardly gets messy and a little bit scary.

Sometimes you are rescued from the storm and sometimes love tells you to keep going.
When I called my husband and told him I was driving through a blizzard and couldn't even see the road, I told him I should get off the highway and he should come get me. He told me to keep going. What??? Really??? I wanted to ask him if he heard what I said. He told me that it should clear in a few miles. I was just in that infamous Monument Hill area where visibility is swallowed up by a white mass of fluffy stuff. It doesn't always feel like love when we aren't rescued from our pain, fear, or difficult situation, does it? It kind of goes against everything we believe love is. Yet, its in those moments that love doesn't rescue because of the greater good that is going to come out of the experience. Matt Hammit, lead singer for Sanctus Real, reveals this in his song "This is Grace." Matt says, " The reason for our suffering is to help us realize that in sickness and in death we are helpless without Christ." I don't know about you but I continually struggle and need to be reminded that I am helpless without Christ. Storms have a way of reminding me how desperately I need Him. And how little I truly trust him.
This particular snow storm was like the lesson sounding out loudly across the mountainside. I sensed the Lord taking me deeper and asking me do you really believe that I love you? Do you really trust me to do what is best? Do you trust me to make you into the person I want you to be? The only response that seems right in this moment is ..."If you really think its ok, I will keep going."

Sometimes we quit too early.
Sure enough as soon as I passed through Castle Rock and entered the outskirts of Denver, the storm cleared. The ground was simply wet. I could see again. I was glad I had pressed through. I hadn't arrived yet to my destination and there were unseen dangers ahead. But I had made it this far and faced incredible fears at the same time. This lesson can obviously be applied to so many areas of life. Marriage, ministry, friendship, change. The list goes on and on. I wonder sometimes how many blessings and growth opportunites I missed out on because I quit too early.

Just because others are upside down or spinning out of control doesn't necessarily mean you will be too.
Driving down the road towards my destination, the roads became icy and snow packed again. We passed five accidents, several of which had cars upside down on the side of the road. This was not the most effective way to boost my confidence and trust that I would arrive safely. How often does this happen in life? We get distracted and discouraged as we focus on what's going on around us instead of the One we are following. This reminds me of the story of Peter walking on the water. Matthew 14:28-30 tells us how Peter got out of the boat and started walking on the water to Jesus.  It says Peter was fine until he looked at the waves and the wind around him. Then he started to sink. He cried out to the Lord who came to his rescue...

Sometimes you DO spin out of control but you will get back on the road.
In the dark, I totally missed our exit. I drove 20 miles past my exit before I realized I had gone too far. Ever have this happen in your own life? I do. Often. Probably too often. The important thing is to turn around when you realize it. If you are like me though, sometimes the turning around makes you dizzy. You realize you have made a mess of things and it feels like you might not be able to ever make it right. The world starts spinning so fast you can't even find which way is the right way. In that moment, we have only one option. To cry out to the Lord. So many times in desperation I have cried out to Him, knowing if he doesn't rescue me and turn me back around I will destroy myself. Everytime I try to be and do on my own, I end up spinning. One day I will realize that only he can make me who he wants me to be. He promises to do what he promises. 1 Thessalonians 5:24 reminds me of this truth. "He who calls you is faithful." 
Turning around proved to be even scarier than driving through the storm. My car spun towards the embankment and I had no choice but to trust. Moments later, I was turned right direction and heading towards my goal. Sometimes we get too used to life  in the wrong direction. Turning around and doing it right seems harder and scarier than staying in the path of destruction. In those moments I am kind of grateful the Lord loves me enough to allow my world to start spinning until I am ready for him to turn me around.

Lastly, the sun will come out tomorrow.
Driving home the next morning the landscape was completely different. It was amazing how less scarier the world looked in the daylight. Two lessons came from this realization. First, in the midst of desperation and hopelessness, hold on until tomorrow. Psalm 30:5 gives this promise. "Weeping may endure for a night, But joy comes in the morning." Second, come close to the light. It chases away the darkness. The only way to see things clearly is to find refuge in the light of Jesus. Psalm 57:1 says "For my soul trusts in You; And in the shadow of Your wings I will make my refuge, Until these calamities have passed by."

Absence makes the heart grow fonder...

I must say I have missed blogging. The past year has been full of depth that just can't be summed up in Facebook status updates. Sometimes a moment is all you have. Sometimes you just would rather pretend life is not really happening..thus the lack of posts. I have learned though that so many sweet reminders of God's faithfulness and love can be lost if I don't record them. I may not feel as though I have anything to offer here...but I know he has done many things worthy of my telling.

Monday, January 17, 2011

I took Jonathan to an appointment today with an Immunologist in Denver. This doctor was recommended by a family that our new pediatrician has taken care of for years. He has been instrumental in providing the children in that family a life with tremondous relief from chronic sinus infections. I was so pleased with this doctor.
We repeated allergy testing just to see if there was any chance that there were allergies that could be aggravating his situation. The good news that he no longer test positive to any of the allergies ( those must have been some good allergy shots that Dr. P made him in Knoxville!). The next step is to begin the process of testing his immune system. Dr. Voltz believes that he definietly has some thing going on with his immune system. Most of his immune type labs have not been repeated since 2005. The doctor was kind of shocked by this. I am not shocked at all...for the past several years I have just been put off and told to deal with it.
Dealing with it just doesn't work...not when your child is so sick and then becomes so psychiatrically unstable that he is begging you for a knife so he can cut his nose off. Or when the infection has lasted so long that he is not able to hold his head straight, walk steadily or speak without slurring his speech. Its so easy to say "I don't know" or "It's just how it is" when you don't have to live with him or watch him struggle twenty four hours a day!
So...we are drawing blood tomorrow for 17 different labs...ranging from basic CBC and CMP levels to vitamin levels and all the immunology levels. These labs will take about two to three weeks to get back. I am anxious to see what they say. I am hopeful that they will give us new insight on what to do to help Jonathan feel better. Thank you for praying for us so faithfully.