Friday, June 27, 2008

"A word fitly spoken . . .

. . . is like apples of gold in pictures of silver." Proverbs 25:11

Have you ever been so utterly exhausted and discouraged you literally think you cannot put one foot in front of the other? That is how I felt today. My poor back went from bad to worse yesterday afternoon with my house still in packing shambles. I had to call my mom to come until Dan got home because I could barely move much less lift Danica. I had logged off from work feeling guilty I left things undone but knowing I had reached my limit. I had to to turn my attention to getting us moved. And then as I lifted a basket of magazines, SNAP! "You're kidding, right? Are you sure? Really?" (This is my first instinctual questioning cry to God!)

Today on Motrin and Vicodin I felt like I was constantly working but making no real headway. Every movement was painful. My OCD was making me feel like I was going to throw up because my space was so disorganized. (Or maybe it was the narcotics mixed with the adrenalin pushing me through the pain and towards my goal.) I kept telling myself I could pack one more box and then I would rest, but the rest did not come. By 5:30pm Dan and I had taken the girls to my mom's house and were on our way to get the UHAUL and then get the keys to the new house. I felt like I would jump out of my skin sitting there. My back and neck continued to spasm. I prayed as we drove. I wasn't praying for relief from physical pain as much as some kind of peace for the anxiety I had been carrying all day.

When we walked into the kitchen of the new house there was a letter addressed to me on the counter. My first piece of mail welcoming me home. (Perhaps someday I will write about my love affair with the US Postal Service, stationary, and a hand written letter stamped and addressed. There is no substitue for a real letter arriving in your mail box!) This letter was from my sister's friend. A woman I have never physically met, but I feel like I know her heart. As we settled back into the car I read her words and they were "like apples of gold in pictures of silver" to my tired soul. The timing of her letter was impeccable in God's infinite wisdom. He knew it was lying there waiting to answer the prayer I lifted to Him just moments before.

Thank you so much for the generosity of this sister and friend to share all you've given her with me. I praise you for anticipating my need and answering in such a blessed way. I pray you will bless her a hundredfold for the sacrifices she has made to take up the cross and follow you. Please grant her and her family the child they are longing for. Thank you for words fitly spoken and the shining fruit they bear.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Living with Purpose, Even Today

How is it possible to do everything to the glory of God? By doing everything as if you were doing it for Jesus and by carrying on a continual conversation with him while you do it. The Bible says, "Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men."

This is the secret of a lifestyle of worship -- doing everything as if you were doing it for Jesus. The Message paraphrase says, "Take your everyday, ordinary life -- your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around-life -- and place it before God as an offering." Work becomes worship when you dedicate it to God and perform it with an awareness of his presence. -- P.67 The Purpose Driven Life by Rick Warren

Today I woke with my head and heart spinning. My job has become too much. With political races in full swing my work load has suddenly exploded. Under ordinary circumstances I know I would somehow get it all done, but in the midst of this extra work I am moving in 2 days. I also injured my back and so doing any sitting or standing or lifting is very painful. I feel scattered in purpose. I have no choice but to work, but is my sacrifice financially to work at home and be with my children really worth it if I am merely shoving them to the side while I sit here on my laptop in their presence but not PRESENT? Should I go back to a professional position with more money and put Danica in daycare? Is this really what God wants me to be doing?

While a list is processing I check in with my blogger friend, Ann, at her post from today Living in His Heart and I get the answer I have been praying for all morning. With tears streaming down my face I am reminded God is here in the midst of my chaos. I am doing exactly what He has called me to do for this day. No one else may notice my little life amidst the piles of boxes and crying children and aching back, but He is honored by my diligent work and heart seeking to know His will.

Thank you for the purpose You give my life, even today. Please help me to keep my eyes fixed on You through the next few days as I move my family to a new home again. Give me the physical and emotional strength I need. I am so grateful that wherever I am there You are too.

Monday, June 23, 2008

"In quietness and in confidence shall be your strength."

I have loved this verse from Isaiah 30 since I was a child. I will always need my own quiet space to gain the strength I need for life. I am sitting here in the dark silent house while my family sleeps. I am tired beyond words from days on end of family activity and work and the countdown to our move. Still, something inside me craves this time more than rest.

Thank you for this special place and the gift of peace You bring me every time we meet here.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Polished by Life's Storms

For Christmas this year Dan bought me a beautiful necklace from a little shop I love in downtown Rockville, MD. It has a simple gold leaf pattern covering a silver rectangle with a quote engraved in the metal. It reads, "The most beautiful stones have been washed by the waters and polished to brilliance by life's strongest storms."

Last night after everyone else was asleep I heard Danica stirring. I went in to check on her, and I did something I never do. I scooped her up and snuggled and rocked her. Not because she needed to be comforted or held but because I needed to be close to her. As I sniffed her sweet baby head and kissed it softly while she slept on my shoulder I began to think about the seasons of life. I have learned so many amazing lessons the past year, but one of the greatest has been about this very thing. The wisdom from Ecclesiastes 3 could not be more true. I could not remember all the verses, although I had committed them to memory many years ago, and so this morning I rushed down to read the passage again which so perfectly described the ebbs and flows in our lives.

To everything there is a season, A time for every purpose under heaven: A time to be born, And a time to die; A time to plant, And a time to pluck what is planted; A time to kill, And a time to heal; A time to break down, And a time to build up; A time to weep, And a time to laugh; A time to mourn, And a time to dance; A time to cast away stones, And a time to gather stones; A time to embrace, And a time to refrain from embracing; A time to gain, And a time to lose; A time to keep, And a time to throw away; A time to tear, And a time to sew; A time to keep silence, And a time to speak; A time to love, And a time to hate; A time of war, And a time of peace.

Many times I fear we see the storms of life and the winters of our souls merely as periods to be endured. What I learned through this past year and my own fierce storm is that God wants us to be just as present and as grateful for those dark seasons. Often they bear the most fruit in the end. The most eminent researcher in the field of gratitude, Richard Emmons, reflects on decades of study and concludes: “The more I study gratitude, the more I have come to believe that an authentic, deeply held sense of gratefulness toward life may require some degree of contrast or deprivation. One truly appreciates a mild spring after a harsh winter, a gourmet meal following a fast….Some blessings are not known until they are lost.

I held my daughter and reflected on the pain and sacrifice which began almost exactly a year ago to bring her into this world (my kidney failed on June 29th, 2007). I thought of the pure joy and love she blesses our lives with today. I thought of the daily choice I make to do without material gain to spend these amazing moments with her as she becomes. Just as the storm ended so the spring of her life will pass all too quickly. I will go back to work fulltime, and we will pay off the bills, repair our credit and move on. Or perhaps there will be another storm waiting for us on the horizon to teach us even more about how much we already have and how little else we really need. But I have today, this perfect moment in time when the season is just right. A season that answers the doubt and fear and pain with a resounding "YES!"

Thank you for the polishing power of Your perfect plan for my life. I praise you for the seasons of my heart and life continually pruning and watering the simple abundance you planted there.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Be still and know that I AM

"Blessed are the single-hearted, for they shall enjoy much peace. If you refuse to be hurried and pressed, if you stay your soul on God, nothing can keep you from that clearness of spirit which is life and peace. In that stillness you will know what His will is." -

-- Amy Carmichael

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Carpe Diem

I am a morning person. I love the quiet of the house before anyone else is awake. I love to drink my first cup of coffee while I pray and prepare my heart for the possibilities of the day. Waking up is not a challenge for me no matter how tired I am because of my sleep disorder. I am so ready to escape from my bed, quit the painful tossing and turning and be productive again. I honestly don't know if I could "sleep in" if given the chance.

The past three nights I have slept and slept well. This is not to say I slept through the night, but my mind has been calm, and I have fallen asleep and woke in the morning refreshed. I know many people take this for granted, the ability to crawl in bed at night and experience restorative sleep, but for me it is such a rare blessing. So, when sweet Danica began thumping her foot and cooing at 5:30am this morning I groaned. Oh, I was just settling back in for that sweet snoozing that happens after you groggily realize the soft light before the sunrise is beginning to sneak in your room and you still have plenty of time for another dream. Normally I would jump up and run in to see her sweet smiling face looking up at me. Today I pulled the covers up and hoped she might want to snooze a little longer too. But, no such luck. She began thumping her foot harder which is her way to tell me she is REALLY ready to get up. (She is just too sweet to cry or fuss.) So, I pulled myself out of bed to feed my little "Thumper" and begin my morning rituals which bring me so much comfort.

Thank you for these few nights of real rest bringing me so much clarity and physical strength. Help me to seize every moment of this precious day, another gift from You.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Flood Perspective

This morning I watched the TODAY show as I drank my coffee and fed the baby. They had continuing coverage of the floods in Iowa. They interviewed a young mother with nine children who had lost her rental home and all her possessions in the flood. She had no where to go and no money. I cried for her. I know this story can be replicated over and over all across the world right now with floods and earthquakes and tornadoes and fires. Often all that survives these disasters is a tiny flicker of the strength of the human spirit. Who can forget the people of Hurricane Katrina?

Suddenly, more perspective wrapped in gratitude is dropped in my lap. Oh how silly and selfish I am when I fixate on the trials of my life. I am blessed beyond measure. And I ask myself the question, "How do my tears translate into living my life?" Does it go any further than a sympathy or a prayer? What am I teaching my girls about moving outside their worlds into the lives of others for greater good? As we have experienced difficulty the past year one of the truest blessings has been the outreach of others to us. Family, yes, but also people who for whatever reason were touched by our situation and chose to make sacrifices of their own to help us. Often it was not the people you might expect, but the people who themselves had very little reaching out to us. I understand this now. I truly believe when our lives become so full of things and ambition for things and our time is ruled by all the efforts to acquire those things we often feel the poorest of all. This leads to a deficit of empathy for others who in reality have so much less than we do. Worst of all it leaves no room for gratitude for all we already have been blessed with. I have been there.

So, what can I do? In the middle of working from home, caring for my family and yes, moving, is there room in my heart and life to put this perspective into action? Maybe not in Iowa, not today, but I know through Christ I can begin to "be the change I wish to see in the world." (Gandhi) I showed Delaney some children on Compassion International today, and she saw a few she was drawn to. We talked about how they don't have the food they need to eat or clothes to wear and they don't get to go to school. We discussed how giving up a movie or a Webkinz and a trip to McDonalds could actually help do that for them. I told her we could write letters and pray for them everyday. We talked about how we would have to sacrifice a little but how happy it would make our hearts and God's heart. (James 1:27) Each drop really can make a river. Whether it's a flood of hope and love to one or to many, it will change lives.

Thank you for the perspective you have given me today. I praise you for the riches you have blessed me with and ask you would help me know where to share my time and talents and resources with others to make the most difference. Help me exemplify gratitude and giving to my girls.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Fight Like a Girl!

I have noticed in so many big and small ways how my courage has grown exponentially since my pregnancy with Danica. "Do the thing you think you cannot do," a quote from Eleanor Roosevelt, coupled with, "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me," was my mantra during the months of pain and uncertainty. I have always had things in my life I really wanted to do or was asked to do that I either never began or started and did not finish because of a small voice somewhere inside me telling me it was too hard or not possible. When situations would become too stressful or confrontational I would allow my body to shut down and become ill or end the relationship or walk away from the trouble because I could not cope. This time was different. I could not quit growing Danica, this little girl I already loved, and so I was finally made to face an inner demon I had been hiding from my entire life and fight!

This is a picture of my brave and beautiful friend, Angie, and her sweet two year old daughter, Audrey. I have journeyed with her these past months as she has fought breast cancer. I am amazed at her strength and courage growing up in the midst of one of life's hardest circumstances. I know the root of her bravery is the belief in our God's loving plan for her in life or in death. Angie did not have an accept or decline box on a form asking her if she was up to the challenge. God decided she was going to do this, and she has. Day in and day out she has fought the fight choosing to LIVE. I see her now in the next stage of recovery with all the responsibilities of her home and children heaped back on her shoulders in addition to the physical fatigue and emotional wounds and spiritual growing pains. I am challenged by the grace and strength she models as she daily does the things she thinks she cannot do.

I hate making broad generalizations about gender issues, but I am amazed as I watch both the men and women I know how it's usually the women rising again and again to meet the battles of life--in their marriages, with their children, at their jobs, in their physical, emotional and spiritual health--and winning the fights over and over again. Mary Jean Irion said, "Faith is not making religious sounding noises in the daytime. It is asking your inmost self questions at night--and then getting up and going to work." This is what we do as women. There is no luxury to check out when things get too hard, and so we get up after a night of grief and despair and do what needs to be done to feed the children. (See The Invitation post from May.)

This new found courage is working itself out in my life in so many ways. I have always wanted to become a better photographer and really learn to quilt. I am signed up for classes to do both. When I began this database job I thought I could not learn it, and I wanted to quit. Now I am finding so much ease in having a job that is purely task based and without the pressures of managing people or budgets. When I heard of us having to move I curled up in the fetal position and refused. I just couldn't imagine doing it again. I am looking at our house already half way packed, and I am strangely at peace with another change. I am running on some kind of premium fuel in my daily life that can only be explained as a new energy found in the grace Christ has always offered me, but I am just now learning to use.

Thank you for teaching me to "fight like a girl!" I praise you for the strength and courage you have given me for each moment of each day. Never let me forget where this might is found, in the great Victor, my Savior, Jesus Christ!

Wednesday, June 11, 2008


Tonight was one of those summer nights I felt like I was building a memory for my daughter. We spent the night on the back porch as a family. We have a beautiful covered back porch at this home. It has a ceiling fan and we have comfy furniture with cushions. I always burn candles at night, and we bring the ipod player out to play our favorite music. The sun sets perfectly between the trees casting all kinds of shadows on the lawn and the porch. It is the reason I am most sad to leave this place.

Dan and I have always loved to listen to music outdoors and drink wine and talk. I remember our first home in Leesburg spending so much time listening to Miles Davis and talking into the night in the dark on the porch. Some of our best heart to hearts have happened in those hours. There is something about summer nights that sets your heart free and makes everything okay if only for that moment. I believe you feel the truest to yourself and the most brave when surrounded by an evening like tonight. (The vino doesn't hurt either!)

So, tonight we sang and danced and lit sparklers and let rocket balloons go. We watched Delaney glory in the experience. Dan said as he looked at our beautiful five year old dancing in the setting sun with her gold highlights shimmering and her blue eyes the brightest I have ever seen them, "This is life." He meant something deeper than just the hour and a half we spent together as a family or Delaney's own experience and memories. He meant the scar on her forehead representing the pain. He meant the inhibition she has now that we know no matter how hard we try will be replaced by self doubt and censorship. He meant the ability to live only in the moment so purely and sweetly without any other worry crowding it's splendor.

Delaney and I have a playlist of songs that make up the soundtrack of her life so far. One of them is Faith Hill's song, Fireflies.

Thank you for this perfect summer evening that let us be perfectly present with our Delaney. Thank you for the three and a half short months you have given us in this home, providing us shelter and memories. Thank you for the fireflies reminding me to never stop dreaming and believing that fairy tales do come true when grace and gratitude are writing the story.

Before you met me I was a fairy princess
I caught frogs and called them prince
And made myself a queen
And before you knew me I'd traveled 'round the world
And I slept in castles
And fell in love
Because I was taught to dream

I found mayonnaise bottles and poked holes on top
To capture Tinker Bell
And they were just fireflies to the untrained eye
But I could always tell

Cause I believe in fairy tales
And dreamer's dreams
Like bedsheet sails
And I believe in Peter Pan
And miracles, anything I can to get by
And fireflies

Now before I grew up I saw you on a cloud
And I could bless myself in your name
And pat you on your wings
And before I grew up I heard you whisper so loud
Well life is hard and so is love
Child, believe in all these things

I found mayonnaise bottles and poked holes on top
To capture Tinker Bell
And they were just fireflies to the untrained eye
But I could always tell

Cause I believe in fairy tales
And dreamer's dreams
Like bedsheet sails
And I believe in Peter Pan
And miracles, anything I can to get by . . .
And fireflies
And fireflies . . .

Before you met me I was a fairy princess
I caught frogs and called them prince
And made myself a queen
And before you knew me I'd traveled 'round the world
And I slept in castles
And fell in love
Because I was taught to dream

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Almost Everything She Was

Two years ago tonight Dan and I renewed our wedding vows. I cannot imagine having gone through the recent challenges we have without the foundation of that special night. I am sitting here reflecting on how our relationship has grown and flourished. I can honestly say I knew very little about what real love was when we first married seven and a half years ago and certainly did not understand what the commitment meant.

I began to find peace and happiness in our relationship when I finally learned to take the focus off my wants and needs and give myself over to really loving Dan and trying to meet his. When I began investing the time and energy Dan deserved a huge shift in our marriage took place. An amazing thing happened when I focused on the good in Dan and ALL he was to me instead of what he wasn't. Like everything real gratitude touches, Dan and his love became more than enough.

Dan is funny. When I get too serious, which can be often, he is always there to make me laugh and keep perspective. Dan is gentle and forgiving. Two and a half years ago I hurt Dan in the deepest place by looking outside our marriage for what I thought I needed. He forgave me, and not once has he ever reminded me of his hurt. This reminds me of God's love. He is a hugger. Our hugs are like a battery pack for my soul. Dan has no personal ambition higher than being a good husband to me and loving our girls with all his heart and life. I used to wish he wanted more professional or personal success, but now I am so thankful his priorities are exactly where they mean the most. Dan knows from losing his mother as a young boy that people are the most important thing and everything else can fall away. Dan cherishes me in small gestures everyday. He picks up small duties to lighten my load. He leaves me love notes where I will find them at the perfect time, and in so many other little ways he takes the time to nurture me. He lets me know how beautiful he thinks I am and tells me how much he appreciates exactly who I am. He understands my needs. He gladly makes sure I have time to rest and to be alone and recharge so I can be a better wife and mother. These are just a few of the many things I am grateful Dan is to me.

Dan bought me a Story People (see links on the right) sculpture for my 30th birthday. I love it! It says, "He loved her for almost everything she was, and that was enough for her to let him stay for a very long time."

Thank you for the amazing gift of my Dan. Please keep our marriage strong and bless our commitment to one another and our family.


". . .Weeping may endure for a night but joy comes in the morning."
Psalm 30:5

Thank you for the hope and joy this new day brings.

Monday, June 9, 2008

The Valley of Vision

Lord, high and holy, meek and lowly, Thou hast brought me to the valley of vision, where I live in the depths but see Thee in the heights; hemmed in by mountains of sin I behold Thy glory. Let me learn by paradox that the way down is the way up, that to be low is to be high, that the broken heart is the healed heart, that the contrite spirit is the rejoicing spirit, that the repenting soul is the victorious soul, that to have nothing is to possess all, that to bear the cross is to wear the crown, that to give is to receive, that the valley is the place of vision. Lord, in the daytime stars can be seen from deepest wells, and the deeper the wells the brighter Thy stars shine; let me find Thy light in my darkness, Thy life in my death, Thy joy in my sorrow, Thy grace in my sin, Thy riches in my poverty, Thy glory in my valley.

Thank you for the valley I am in tonight. May I see the light of Your love in the darkness I feel and never forget the ultimate purpose of my life is Your glory.

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Wisdom from Kung Fu Panda

I promised Delaney I would take her to see the new Dreamworks movie Kung Fu Panda today. By the time Dan got home from work I had been up since 5:30am, and I felt like I had been moving in fast forward all day long. All week I have been in this mode, keeping up with the baby and the house and my work and also having Delaney home from school and trying to keep her busy and find time to really BE with her. Oh, and on top of all that trying to make all the calls about homes and follow up and set appointments, etc. Exhausted doesn't even begin to describe how I was feeling by 4pm. We set out for the theater, and although I usually love going to see the new children's movies with Delaney, I just wanted to sink in the chair and REST. I certainly wasn't expecting any great wisdom to come to me during a cartoon, but as I watched I heard the line over and over, "There are no accidents."

I needed the reminder today from a silly movie that this new trial for our family is not a random act of fate. It is part of a bigger plan we just cannot see today. I have been reading stories from the Old Testament lately. So many of them are about faith. I am guilty of thinking even when I know the ending, "Ok, God, that's just going too far." When I read of God asking Abraham to sacrifice Isaac, his only son, and then providing the offering at the very last moment. When I contemplate Job losing everything. When I consider the Israelites wandering for 40 years. It all seems a little extreme, doesn't it? So, in my little world, I think taking my home away after everything we have been through is just too much. Really, what purpose could this serve? It's not an accident.

I am loved by a Heavenly Father who truly knows the hairs on my head. He has numbered my days, and in His book they are already written. He clothes the lilies of the field and feeds the birds of the air, and He promises to meet my every need. (Matthew 10:30, Psalm 139:16, Matthew 6:26,28)

Thank you for the rest I find tonight in knowing nothing takes You by surprise. Comfort my heart in the truths of Your deep love for me and Your sovereign control over every detail of my life.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

"I wonder what it would be like to live in a world where it was always June." L. M. Montgomery

Heart Cry

I have this song by Nicole Nordeman on repeat on my ipod and have been playing it over and over. This prayer is offered by my weary soul this morning.

Daily bread, give us daily bread
Bless our bodies, keep our children fed
Fill our cups, then fill them up again tonight
Wrap us up and warm us through
Tucked away beneath our sturdy roofs
Let us slumber safe from danger's view this time
Or maybe not, not today
Maybe You'll provide in other ways

And if that's the case . . .

We'll give thanks to You

With gratitude
A lesson learned to hunger after You
That a starry sky offers a better view if no roof is overhead And if we never taste that bread . . .

We'll give thanks to You
With gratitude
For lessons learned in how to trust in You
That we are blessed beyond what we could ever dream
In abundance or in need
And if You never grant us peace

But Jesus, would You please . . .

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

The Kindness of Strangers

Yesterday I took both of the girls for a quick trip to Target. It was raining just a little when we went in to the store. As we were checking out Delaney brought my attention to the torrential downpour outside. None of us had jackets on and we did not have an umbrella. So, I began giving Delaney instructions about how to hold on to me while we made a run for it, and I would try to get the baby in the car first, then her and then unload the cart. After the week we have had it seemed like getting drenched would be the tipping point for me. As we were preparing for our mad dash a man and his wife approached us and kindly offered for the wife to stay in the store while her husband would take us out with his large umbrella. I protested for a minute, but then I reconsidered. So, as we went out he held the umbrella over the baby and I and Delaney gleefully splashed through the puddles. He helped me load my things. The entire time he was getting soaking wet. After I was settled in the car I got big tears in my eyes thinking of the kindness of this man and the difference it made in my day.

This is not the first time we have experienced this kind of outreach from people we do not know. During my pregnancy there was money that would literally appear in our mailbox from someone who heard from someone about our situation. This week we have received the most amazing outpouring of help looking for a new home from strangers who were forwarded an email about our need. This positive exchange of love in the circle of life does make a difference. Reaching outside of our world into the lives of others is an amazing opportunity to "entertain angels unaware."

Thank you for the kindness of strangers. Help me to be seeking my own opportunities to minister to others in this way.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Heal the wound but leave the scar . . .

Today Danica Jean is 8 months old. She was born at 2:40pm in the afternoon on October 3rd. I always tell people her birthday is the 4th, because that is the first day I saw my sweet child, so I don't count the 3rd.

There is a mom of a child in Delaney's school who had the exact same kidney condition I did while she was pregnant. She was a little behind me in terms of gestation. She went through the same intense pain, several unsuccessful stent surgeries, and was in and out of the hospital on IV narcotics for months. My mom ran into her this past week at Target and asked her how she was doing. Although everything is fine now and the baby is healthy and growing, she told my mom she can barely talk about her experience without breaking down. She said she can't feel any real pain anymore. She still has nightmares about the drugs and hospitalization. She still has so many fresh wounds.

I am there. I am very aware that some people in my life, even while I was going through my personal hell, did not or could not admit it was real or as bad as it was. Or maybe they were just too busy with their own lives to really understand or care. These relationships have sadly ended or seem forced now. This seeming abandonment was one of the most painful parts of what I went through. After Danica was born and we were both physically alright, everyone just wanted to move on. I can count on one hand the people who have genuinely asked me how I really am doing and how my heart is after losing so much of my life and suffering like I did.

I think I am finding the biggest leftover from my experience is my own unrealistic expectations. I feel like I cannot rest until I reclaim every moment. If I hurt, physically or emotionally, I can't stop in the moment and feel it. I push it away, because I feel like if I could make it through what I did last year nothing else should really seem that bad. It is the sleepless nights that most often bring back the memories of the longest and loneliest days of my life. Remembering the sheer physical pain and the fear over and over. Reliving the feelings of abuse from some of the hospital staff and being misunderstood or judged because of the drugs I needed to survive. Contemplating the desperation at the end when I knew I would not be able to go one and pleading with Dr. Apgar to save Danica before it was too late. Resenting the crazy ethics committee meetings about my situation, thinking they knew better than I about my body and my baby. The worst memories are about this very afternoon, 8 months ago. The horror of the hours leading up to, the actual delivery and the 24 hours after play in my head over and over. That day was too horrible to even really describe.

And so I pray for the healing power of God to in time make the nightmares end, and a real peace to come over my heart in regards to the journey He brought me through. I literally breathe praise for this darling child, Danica Jean, a constant reminder of God's faithfulness and goodness. I am infinitely grateful for the changes in my heart and life. Although still so fresh and painful to touch, I see them as trophies of grace.

Thank you for these wounds reminding me of Your own sacrifice. Please heal them in your time, but leave the scars, so I will never forget Your amazing love.

. . . Heal the wound but leave the scar
A reminder of how merciful You are
I am broken, torn apart
Take the pieces of this heart
And heal the wound but leave the scar

I have not lived a life that boasts of anything
I don't take pride in what I bring
But I'll build an altar with
The rubble that You've found me in
And every stone will sing
Of what You can redeem

Heal the wound but leave the scar
A reminder of how merciful You are
I am broken, torn apart
Take the pieces of this heart
And heal the wound but leave the scar

Don't let me forget
Everything You've done for me
Don't let me forget
The beauty in the suffering

Heal the wound but leave the scar
A reminder of how merciful You are
I am broken, torn apart
Take the pieces of this heart
And heal the wound but leave the scar

-This song was originally sung by Point of Grace, but I love the version by Jaime Jamgochian!

Monday, June 2, 2008

No Subject

You know those emails where you can't think of any subject at all? That's how I feel right now. What subject could I possibly coin for today's unfolding?

I am sitting here on our back porch with the cool breeze blowing early summer sunshine my way. I have already grown to love this outdoor space with our comfy patio furniture and views of nature. I hear countless birds singing their melodies and my Delaney and her new friend next door chattering while they are playing on the swings. I thought for a moment our lives were beginning to settle. We have new daily routines that bring comfort and peace. We had just begun to dig tiny roots into the soil of life again. I thought I could finally breathe.

Last night I received an email from the people we rent this home from that they are losing their primary residence to foreclosure and need to terminate our lease to move in here. I cannot begin to express the feeling of panic I felt reading their words. It began with anger and fear and then moved into sadness and fatigue. Legally we have 60 days per our lease to move, but they are losing their home in 28 days, and so the pressure of another family being homeless makes this situation even more uncomfortable.

I don't need to dwell on the logistic nightmare of this news. We have only been here 3 months. Everything that goes into a move including packing and unpacking, changing utilities and ordering new checks, changing your address on everything and the exhausting physical and emotional work involved was just done. Delaney loves her new room. She loves her new swings and the family of chipmunks. I am settled into working from home. We live a half mile from my parent's house and Delaney's school. I could go on and on.

So, what do I believe today? Has anything really changed? Why were we brought to this house if God knew this was going to happen? Is there something I still haven't really learned about daily manna? I don't have definitive answers from my heart just now. I know in my head all the right things to say, but I don't feel them at all. I do know for sure there is always an unseen story being written behind what I can touch and feel today. It may be weeks or months or even years before I am made to understand, but I will eventually find a place to say "thank you" for even this.


"And the day came when the risk to remain tight in the bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom." Anais Nin

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Yielding to Grace

I see You coming at me with a shovel
Prepared to dig, ready to go deep
And I just want to run and hide, so I do

I see You coming at me with a needle
Filled with an overpowering substance
And I fear the healing like I fear the prick

I see You coming at me with a mask
It’s gas to make me rest and relax
But I turn my head to avoid the connect

I see You coming at me with a respirator
I see You coming at me with the jaws of life
I see that I’m stuck in this bent wrecked shape

I’m scared of smoke, the smell of gas, and flame
I’m scared of the noise of the machinery You use
I’m scared of the pain that could possibly infuse

But I see You coming at me with a smile
Prepared to connect Your kind eyes to mine
And I feel a softening round the edges within

I see You coming at me with a look of love
Filled with a perfect acceptance of me
And I think for a moment that the fear is gone

I see You coming at me with outstretched arms
I peer at Your hands, and they’re so big and strong
Then I melt in Your chest as You scoop me up

And I breathe a release as I loosen up
And I comfortably take in a fresh breathe of air
And I listen to Your heart as You stroke my face

And I bask in the safety and security of grace

I found this poem online. I could not find the author, but I know it was written by a student at Asbury theological seminary. It spoke to me in the way poetry often does in that a few poignant words are able to bridge the gap that chapters and chapters of reading often cannot. All week I have been studying the concept of grace. The foundation of grace is acknowledging our unworthiness and inability to do anything truly good on our own. At first glance this seems offensive to most, but as I dig deeper I begin to understand herein lies the beauty of grace. There is nothing I can ever do to earn this precious gift. It is given to me freely and completely. I am saved by grace, and I am called to live by grace.

This past week I felt like I was striving. I couldn't seem to get my head and heart around the truth there is nothing more I must do. I read this from Jerry Bridges book Transforming Grace, "God's grace is sufficient. It is sufficient for all your needs; it is sufficient regardless of the severity of any one need. The Israelites never exhausted God's supply of manna. It was always there to be gathered every day for forty years. And you will never exhaust the supply of God's grace. It will always be there for you to appropriate as much as you need for whatever your need is."

Grace for me to be patient and content. Grace for me to be gentle and loving. Grace for me to be strong and courageous. Grace for me to find peace and rest. There is more than I could ever ask or hope for.

Thank you for this amazing gift of grace. Please soften my heart to yield to grace today.