Sunday, November 22, 2009

Be faithful

As Danica woke me at 6 am this morning with her usual "MAMA" call my heart felt discouraged. I am tired and a little bit depressed. The days all seem the same and my hours are full of he mudane. After I got her settled I opened my email and "Grace Gems" had this encouraging word:

Nothing more

(J. R. Miller, "Life's Byways and Waysides")

"Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your Master's happiness!" Matthew 25:21

No higher praise can be given to any life--than to say it has been faithful. No one could ask for a nobler epitaph than the simple words, "He was faithful." This will be the commendation given in the great account, to those who have made the most of their talents: "You have been faithful with a few things!" Faithfulness should therefore be the aim in all our living.

It is not great things that God expects or requires of us--unless He has given us great gifts and opportunities. All that He requires of us, is faithfulness. He gives us certain talents, puts us in certain relations, assigns to us certain duties--and then asks us to be faithful--nothing more. The man with the plain gifts and the small opportunities, is not expected to do the great things which are required of the man with the brilliant talents and the large opportunities. We should get this truth fixed deeply in our mind--that God asks of nothing more--than simple faithfulness.

Faithfulness is not the same in any two people. In the man who has five talents, there must be a great deal more outcome to measure up to the standard of faithfulness, than in the man who has but two talents.

Faithfulness is simply being true to God--and making the most of one's life. Of those who have received little--only little is required; where much has been received--much is required. Never does God expect anything impossible or unreasonable from anyone. If we are simply faithful--we shall please God.

Jesus said of Mary, after her act of love, when men murmured at her, "She has done what she could!" Mark 14:7. What had she done? Very little, we would say. She loved Jesus truly and deeply. Then she brought a flask of precious ointment and broke the flask, pouring the sacred nard upon her Lord's tired feet--those feet which soon were to be nailed to the cross.

What good did it do? We know it wonderfully comforted the Savior's sorrowful heart. Amid almost universal hatred, and maddening enmity--here was one who sincerely loved Him. While other hands were weaving a crown of thorns for His brow, and others still were forging cruel nails to drive through His feet--Mary's hands were pouring ointment on His head, and bathing His feet with the nard. Who will say that Mary's act did no good? It seemed a little thing--but we cannot fathom how her sweet, pure, loyal love--blessed our suffering Savior in His bitter anguish.

Thank you God for calling me to be faithful. Give me the grace to be faithful in dishes and laundry, Reading books and giving medicine and changing diapers. Help me to know you are glorified by these simple repetitive tasks done in the right spirit and always seeking to glorify your name.

Monday, November 16, 2009

How the miracle began

March 23rd, 2007 is the day I found out I was pregnant. It was a Wednesday, and I stopped and bought a pregnancy test on my way to work. I had a private bathroom off my office and as soon as I peed on the little stick it was as positive as could be. We had been trying to have a baby. Delaney was four and a half, and I felt my career was stable and our family was very ready for an addition. Two days later I began running a fever and had horrible flu symptoms. I was a very busy lady and this illness took me completely down. I was hosting a birthday party for a friend at a wine bar in DC and was also supposed to attend an important open house that Saturday. The next week I was to leave for a week long work trip to Phoenix. By Sunday I began to bleed and after calling my OB knew I needed to stay completely in bed until the next morning when he could see me in his office. Dan took me and they did an ultrasound to find a very large subchorionic bleed threatening the sac. They told me my chances of miscarrying were about 80%. I went home and crawled in bed and cried my eyes out. I canceled my Arizona trip and stayed in bed but by Wednesday was barely spotting so I tried to go into work. As I walked up the stairs to my office I began to gush blood, and so Dan took me directly to my OB's office. The ultrasound showed what I had feared. The sac was gone. I had miscarried. He wanted me to go over to the hospital and have a DNC. I refused. I was too distraught. I told him I needed to go home and rest. He reluctantly gave me a prescription for methergen to try to get me to pass any other tissue left and sent me home. That afternoon I did pass a very large clot of something. I felt like it was the baby. So I took the next few days off work, grieving and trying to pull myself together. I told Dan I didn't want to try to have children anymore. We had our Laney. I couldn't do this. I would focus on my career and be thankful for what we had. Monday morning I went to my OB's office on my way in to work for a quick ultrasound to make sure I had nothing left inside that would cause an infection. I climbed upon the table, and she stuck the wand inside me. As loud as could be we heard it--the thumping of a tiny heart. I screamed "WHAT IS THAT?" and she got tears in her eyes and said softly, "You still have a baby inside you. It's a miracle." From that moment on I became one of the most remarkable pregnancy stories in their office. I still had a very large bleed and they reminded me my chances of losing the baby were still great but there had been no more baby just 5 days ago and here it was. (They explained I possibly had twins and lost one and the bleeding was so great they just missed the other baby.)

This is the beginning of Danica's amazing story. As I sit here in the hospital watching her sleep after almost eight hours of thrashing and screaming last night I have been crying and praying and remembering she is here by God's design. I don't completely know what I believe about miracles. I grew up thinking they were something we wouldn't really experience in this day and age because God doesn't choose to work that way anymore. I know now they are more common than we acknowledge. Just because we don't always have the eyes to see or the heart to give the glory doesn't mean they aren't here. The verse I claimed during my pregnancy was from Job 42:5 "I have heard of You by the hearing of the ear; But now my eye sees You."

The miracle continues in a coming post . . .

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

When I can't pray

I know I should be blogging, writing in my own personal journal and praying during a week like this, but I can't. I am tired and weak and numb. I read this yesterday and it was exactly what God wanted to say to my grain of mustard seed faith.

I tried to pray this morning. I needed to pray. But the words just weren't there. I couldn't think. Was it because of the injury? The medications? I don't know. I don't know. I felt like someone in a little canoe out on a lake in a heavy fog. I would paddle first one way and then another, but I could never seem to go in a straight line or get any closer to shore. Everything seemed muffled and strange, and I couldn't see any landmarks to guide me.

And then I just got tired of paddling. Tired of even trying. So instead of reaching for words that wouldn't come, I just started thinking about Jesus: Walking the earth doing miracles. Touching the man at Bethesda. Holding the little children in His lap. Hanging on the cross. And now, lifted up so high. Beautiful, like the morning star just before sunrise.

That's when it hit me. Jesus was with me in that canoe, out in the fog. My landmark wasn't out there somewhere, He was in the boat. And I didn't need to talk just then. I could rest, feeling Him close, knowing He was there.

-Joni Eareckson Tada, A Lifetime of Wisdom

I know He's here. I don't need to patch words together. He is interceding. I can rest.

Monday, November 2, 2009


"As I reconsider my own assumptions about relating to God, I now see them as misguided and simplistic. From childhood I inherited an image of God as a stern teacher passing out grades. I had the same goal as everyone else: to get a perfect score and earn the teacher's approval. Cut up in class and you'll be sent to the back of the room to stand in the corner or to a vacant room down the hall.

Almost everything about that analogy, I have learned, contradicts the Bible and distorts the relationship. In the first place, God's approval depends not on my "good conduct" but on God's grace. I could never earn grades high enough to pass a teacher's perfect standards - and, thankfully, I do not have to.

In addition, a relationship with God does not switch on or off depending on my behavior. God does not send me to a vacant room down the hall when I disobey. Quite the opposite. The times when I feel most estranged from God can bring on a sense of desperation, which presents a new starting point for grace. Sulking in a cave in flight from God, Elijah heard a gentle whisper that brought comfort, not a scolding. Jonah tried his best to run from God and failed. And it was at Peter's lowest point that Jesus lovingly restored him.

I tend to project onto God my understanding of how human relationships work, including the assumption that betrayal permanently destroys relationship. God, however, seems undeterred by betrayal (or perhaps has grown used to it): "Upon this rock," Jesus said to unstable Peter, "I will build my church." As Luther remarked, we are always at the same time sinners, righteous, and penitent. The halting, stuttered expressions of love we offer may not measure up to what God wants, but like any parent God accepts what the children offer."

AMAZING GRACE!!! Living in this truth today!

-Philip Yancey, Grace Notes

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Chinks in my armor

It always starts with being tired. This is my weakness. I have fibromyalgia and when you take away all the complicated reasons they say you have this condition it brings you to sleep deprivation and the inability of your body to restore itself. This creates a vicious cycle of pain and then less sleep and then other things go wrong and your immune systen is compromised, and it spirals out of control. I have not been feeling well since my strep/scarlet fever diagnosis last week, and took a day off my antibiotic because it was making me so sick to my stomach. I guess in hindsight that wasn't a good idea. By Friday night I was wiped and my throat was sore again, and I was so tired and discouraged. Around 2 am Danica woke up screaming like she often does these nights because of her pain and after that sleep was a lost cause for me.

Saturday morning came. It was wet and cold, and I had to get up and ready to take Delaney to her horse back riding lesson. I was in the worst humor you can imagine. Every little thing Dan did upset me. I mean why in the world was he vacuuming and washing dishes when I needed him to be watching Danica so I could get ready? (I know most of you are thinking I'm crazy now because who would complain about their husband getting up early to clean house, right?) I called him to come in the living room so I could tell him something about Danica's schedule while we were gone. I didn't want to yell because my throat hurt so badly. He didn't want to come, and I got mad. I stomped in and gave him a piece of my mind. He gave me a piece of his. I told him I can't take it anymore. And then he said under his breath the word we said we would never say again. The "D" word. A word we came all too close to several years ago. There it was. An fiery arrow piercing through the chink in my armor. I started to bleed. Hot tears spilled over, and I left with Delaney.

As I drove the almost hour to the stable I began to pray. Something amazing happens to your stubborn and proud heart when you get before your Savior. I didn't begin praying about how sorry I was, but that's where I ended up. I have to die to self. I have to realize I don't deserve any of this. I don't deserve these beautiful girls I am so blessed to serve. I don't deserve a marriage to a man who forgives me again and again and cares for me and loves me when I am so unlovable. Even on my hardest days when I feel the worst I am bought with a price. He must increase. I must decrease. I don't need a spa day or more "me" time or even a retreat from this battle I am waging. I need fresh grace to heal these wounds and the shield of faith to protect me next time the fiery darts come flying.

I know the next few months will be hard. I am preparing for tough decisions about Danica's chiari--more financial stress, less sleep, more fear, and pain--all things that could break me mentally, emotionally, physically and especially spiritually. How am I going to head into this battle before me? How will I stand? He answers me:

"Put on the whole armor of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. Wherefore take unto you the whole armor of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Stand therefore, having your loins gird about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness; And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace; Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God." Ephesians 6:11-17

Thank you for Your promise I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. Humble my heart. Protect my soul. Protect my family and my marriage. Help me stand.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

The junk drawer

Friday night Dan tucked Delaney in and she started a conversation with him about a discussion between her classmates at the lunch table about "the middle finger". We have always encouraged her to come to us with anything that she sees or hears that she doesn't understand or makes her feel uncomfortable. She attends a Christian school so the second graders knew this was a bad gesture but didn't know what it meant really and someone had suggested there was a bad word that went along with it. Delaney wanted to know the word. Dan came in our room to ask me what I thought the best decision was and together we both decided that she should just know it was a very yucky word and a bad hand gesture and although someday she would probably hear the word we didn't want it in her head right now.

So yesterday Delaney spent the day at my parents house because her cousin Avery was visiting, and I guess this was still weighing on her heart so she brought it up to my mom. My mom decided to tell her the word--the "F" word. Without getting into her reasoning, etc. let me just tell you I was livid. I wasn't just a little mad but the kind of mad where you think you are going to explode. After I had it out with her about why this wasn't her choice to make and what in the world was she thinking, I began to stew inside. When I got home I had to tell Dan and this got me all riled up again. As I tried to fall asleep it kept coming back to my mind.

This morning I felt pretty far from God and was home from church with strep throat. My heart was just stewing in this lack of forgiveness. I sat down in a puddle of God's sunshine and a moment of household peace and read a devotional from "The Sacred Ordinary" by Leigh McLeroy titled "Inside the Junk Drawer." She begins the devotional by describing the junk drawer in her kitchen (which sounds a lot like mine) and how it finally was so crammed with stuff it got stuck. She then goes on to write:

My heart has a junk drawer too. And I wish it would get stuck more often. I visit it when I’m searching for reasons why God shouldn’t love me. When I’m feeling lonely or useless or discouraged. And in it I find odd pieces of my own history that shouldn’t matter anymore but still do—some far older than a few candy pieces gone bad. This heart-drawer holds secret sins, confessed—forgiven!—but not yet removed from my memory’s outtake reel. Words I wish I’d never spoken. Words I wish I had. Failures. Lapses in ordinary kindness. Moments of misplaced shame. Old hurts I still pick the scabs from. Scars I like too much. This junk has been forgiven, or redeemed, or transformed—but still I hold on. It’s trash. All of it. So the next time this drawer hesitates to open, I mean to let it stay shut. If God has
forgotten its contents, then by his mercy I can too.

Formerly, when you did not know God, you were slaves to those
who by nature are not gods. But now that you know God—or
rather are known by God—how is it that you are turning back
to those weak and miserable principles? Do you wish to be
enslaved by them all over again?
Galatians 4:8–9 NIV

If your heart’s junk drawer is crammed full too, wouldn’t this be
a fine day to begin to empty it out completely? Where would you
choose to start?

Today I am starting with a piece of junk I threw in there just yesterday. Real love--God's love--does not harbor any wrongdoing. It is forgiving. Can I sit at the foot of the cross where every one of my sins is forgiven and hold this little hurt in my heart? I'm taking inventory of the rest of my stuff too. Making a list and really cleaning this junk drawer.

Thank you God that I do not have to be enslaved by bitterness and hurt when I feel I have been wronged. Teach me more about Your amazing sacrifice of forgiveness and grace so I can live free to love like You do.

Sunday, September 20, 2009


Tuesday our little Danica had an MRI that revealed a chiari malformation in her brain. What this means in simple terms is she has a gap where most people's skulls are closed and so some of her brain is sticking out into her spinal column. Some people have this condition without symptoms, but in Danica's case she is presenting many of the most severe symptoms very early on. In many ways I think I felt initial relief knowing there is a real answer or cause to the torticollis and other issues she has been experiencing. But as I have researched and talked to several doctors over the last few days I am realizing the road ahead for us is not an easy one and includes some form of neurological surgery to try to give her relief and the best chance for normal development. I'm back to holding loosely.

On the front of Danica's baby book is a quote from Roy Lessin.
Just think,
you’re here not by chance,
but by God’s choosing.
His hand formed you
and made you the person you are.
He compares you to no one else—
you are one of a kind.
You lack nothing that
His grace can’t give you.
He has allowed you to be here
at this time in history
to fulfill His special purpose
for this generation.

Beginning March 23, 2007, the day I found out I was pregnant with this little girl, God has been making a way for Danica and preserving her life in miraculous ways. Friday Dan emailed me the verses from Psalm 139 I clung to while fighting for her those long months laying in the hospital. "For you have formed my inward parts; You have covered me in my mother's womb. I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Marvelous are Your works, And that my soul knows very well. My frame was not hidden from You, When I was made in secret, And skillfully wrought in the lowest parts of the earth. Your eyes saw my substance, being yet unformed. And in Your book they all were written, The days fashioned for me, When as yet there were none of them."

Do I believe God makes no mistakes? Do I believe He lovingly formed this child's skull and brain how we find it today to fulfill His purpose in her life and in ours? Do I believe we lack nothing God's grace can't give us including strength for today and the days ahead? My verse for this week has been Mark 9:24 "I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief."

I'm afraid. I'm so very tired. I know that trusting God with my child is perhaps the hardest thing He will ask me to do. As He grows my faith and asks me to rest in His promises. I will fall. I will have moments of anger and confusion. I will want to quit and walk away.

Oswald Chambers wrote, "Living a life of faith means never knowing where you are being led. But it does mean loving and knowing the One who is leading. It is literally a life of faith, not of understanding and reason — a life of knowing him who calls us to go." Knowing a God who is unchanging and will do everything He says He will do is the only way I will navigate through the next weeks and months. I believe.