Even if

Ugh, it’s been quite the week. Besides the decisions that weigh heavy on me as a mom, and the energy expended as a school nurse, I’ve been fighting a virus all week.  And now the heavy production of mucous has caused me to develop an infected lymph node in my neck.

I finally gave up trying to cure myself with ibuprofen and hot liquids and went to the urgent care this evening. I regret it now. 

I remember when I was pregnant with Connor and working in Labor and Delivery my preceptor, a nurse midwife from England, told me, “When you feel like you just can’t stand it anymore, you know it’s almost over.” But I (and many other pregnant women) still came in late at night thinking maybe these contractions meant it was time. We were wrong. Our late night tired-of-being-pregnant-and-contracting-with-no-results visit to the hospital only meant we were getting closer to delivery day. All I could do as a nurse was reassure.

The same thing happens with me when I get sick. I always do my best to wait it out and do all the at home care needed to get over a virus, but inevitably I end up with a seemingly endless sinus infection and can’t stand it anymore and head to the urgent care with hopes of getting some antibiotics. And unlike labor triage, I usually walk out with the “baby” (antibiotics) I came in hoping for.  But I always wonder maybe if I had waited a little longer the symptoms would have gone away on their own.

Well tonight I couldn’t stand it.  After a day out in the desert with the boys, on the way home I had such piercing pain in my left ear and a really tender lymph node underneath it.  I decided to go to the urgent care.  It was packed with sad, hacking coughs and sniffles.  After an hour and fifteen minutes and fifty bucks I saw the practitioner, was diagnosed with a lymph node and sinus infection and left with my script.  I stopped at the pharmacy to pick up my called in order and paused in the parking lot to thank my Lord for providing me with the means to so easily get seen by a doctor and medicine to help an infection.  

I confessed as I prayed that I feel almost scared that everything comes so easy for me- food, clothing, medicine, medical care, transportation, work, housing, etc.  I fear that I’ll forget from Whom all these blessings come.  I fear that I’ll be dependent upon the gifts and not the Giver.  I stopped to give that sacrifice of thanks because its the only way to not forget.  When I filled the script it was almost as though I got a direct answer of, “You’re welcome.  I’m glad you want to be dependent upon me and not just the gifts I give.  I won’t let you forget.”   The cashier told me my antibiotic was $67.  “Sixty seven dollars!?  For an antibiotic?”  I gasped back.  Then I heard my prayer in my own head, “I don’t want to forget You.  I don’t want to be dependent upon the gifts and not the Giver.” 

I elected to not fill the script until tomorrow after I try to get the doc to order a less expensive antibiotic.  I put off the complaint I so easily wanted to pitch about the cost of my cure and turned instead a smiling face upward and thanked the One who is good… even if the healing doesn’t come.


My trade and joy

I like markers in time. Birthdays. Anniversaries. Holidays. New year celebrations. And, the older I get, the more I feel each night as I lay down to die daily to my failures and successes and wake each morning to new mercies I am celebrating the beginning of a new, important marker in time.

I don’t make new year’s resolutions, but I do take the holiday from the daily grind to stop and think through what has happened in the past year and to prayerfully look ahead to the days of mercy before me.   In fact I keep a little journal which only write in sometime after Christmas or before the new year.

This year I need to look up.  I needed to look up last year too.  So it begins today and again tomorrow and the day after that, that I’m taking Ann’s challenge to exchange being worn for garment of praise.

It’s the way I’ve felt most of the year.  Worn.  In fact, if my 2012 was a song, it was this song:

I stepped away at the end of that last paragraph to put to bed a boy in trouble and it turned out to be a by far the most thankful, joy-filled moment of 2013 so far!

As I was searching, praying for what to do with this one as I put him to bed- how to make this a “in the nurture and admonition of the Lord,” moment?- I looked up at the bookshelf, at the two nearly-blank journals I had purchased last year to keep for my two boys.  One for each of them.  The thought occurred to me that I should have them join me in my quest for joy this year.   I grabbed them, our most-loved Jesus Storybook Bible marked at the page we left off, a couple of pencils, the brother to the erring boy and headed to his brother’s room.

We sat there on the bed and I explained a little and they eagerly agreed to join me in the challenge to come up with 1,000 thanks in the next year… just 3 a day.  The boy with puffy, tear-worn eyes asked, “Can I write more?”  Isn’t that the way it goes with grace?  When we’re in deep in our own mess we see the goodness of His grace and we can think of many reasons to give thanks.

So I gave them their pencils, some cues if they needed them:  Give thanks for a person, place and thing.

We sat quietly writing our thanks to the Giver of all good things.  And then they asked to read them.  The smiling, freckle-faced boy read his with glee.  Thanking God for his new jacket.  His Aunt who just flew back home today.  And for his family.

Then his freshly disciplined and still hurting from the pain of it brother who had been rapidly writing away said, “I want to read mine.”

With sincere child-like faith he said, “Thank you Lord that I didn’t have to die on the cross because you did…”  He went on, giving thanks for the Lord’s salvation,  the Lord’s moving on his dad’s heart to desire to be closer to family… all in precious, genuine 9 year old words.

My smile was about to burst off my tear-wet face.  There is no greater joy than to hear your children give thanks for the work of Christ!

All week I’ve been hurting, not knowing how to connect with this dear son of mine, feeling like I was loosing the parenting battle.  But tonight, as he read vulnerably his list, closed it and closed his eyes, he sang with me what he wrote at the top of his first thanksgiving journal page: 10,000 Reasons.

So, this year, this day, and tomorrow if it comes, I prayerfully set out to:

1.  plant the thanksgiving-seed of joy in my children and the other precious little ones I’ll get to teach this year
2.  trade in my mourning for the oil of joy, and
3.  press forward in my pilgrimage of a Long Obedience in the Same Direction

To give them beauty for ashes, The oil of joy for mourning, The garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; That they may be called trees of righteousness, The planting of the LORD, that He may be glorified. – Isaiah 61:3

May this be my song in 2013:


Poor in spirit

I am poor in what really counts.  I long for it.  I hunger for it.  I thirst for it.   I fear life is just too easy for a 30 something mom in a two-income house in 2012 U.S.A. to really grow rich in faith and Christ-likeness.

I want to embrace the goodness of my God with thanksgiving. I feel like I too easily accept the good gifts of my God and have to fight to make a point to give thanks lest I forget that I live in a house I did not build, wear clothes I did not sew and eat food I did not grow or harvest. But I want to know HIM, not just His provision. I want to live a life of gratitude for HIM, not just what He gives. What does that look like for the can-walk-into-any-Walmart-at-any-moment-and-choose-from-50-different-kinds-of-cereal American me?

Maybe it looks like this:

Command those who are rich in this present age not to be haughty, nor to trust in uncertain riches but in the living God, who gives us richly all things to enjoy. [Let them] do good, that they be rich in good works, ready to give, willing to share, storing up for themselves a good foundation for the time to come, that they may lay hold on eternal life. -1 Timothy 6:17-19

And this:

Believers who are poor have something to boast about, for God has honored them.  And those who are rich should boast that God has humbled them. They will fade away like a little flower in the field.- James 1:9-10

Riches are relative.  I’m not rich to some people, to others I am.  Compared to the people who labored to build the house I rent, and toiled to sew the clothes I wear, and worked to plant, raise and harvest the food I eat, I am rich.

But I long to be rich in love.  I want to be wealthy in a gentle and quiet spirit.  I want to have much courage and even more humility.  I want to be overflowing in joy.  I want there to be a wealth of fruit from the Spirit of Christ being plucked off me.   Those kinds of riches won’t buy me Cinnamon Rice Chex at the Neighborhood Walmart.   But I’d much rather be too broke to buy my favorite cereal than too pocket-book cushioned to gain wisdom from above.  Wisdom that is pure, peaceable, willing to yeild, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere. (James 3:17)

I want to be rich like Maximilian Kolbe.  He layed down his life to save another because he was rich in Christ. He could give away his life because he was rich in Life.  From the sounds of this story, Maxamilian Kolbe was one who made himself poor but had great riches.

There is one who makes himself rich, yet [has] nothing; [And] one who makes himself poor, yet [has] great riches. -Proverbs 13: 7

The Lord has humbled me.  I am rich in this material world compared to many, and all my riches and easy life will fade away like a pretty little flower in field.  So let me make myself poor by comparison and be a giver, a sharer, storing up eternal things, riches that never fade.  Let me lay down my life to save another.  Maybe not like Maximilian, but a daily dying.  A living sacrifice.

Let me start with setting my mind on things above, where my Life is.  In Christ.

Oh Son of God, I would not breathe if You held on to Your breath.  I would not live if you held dear Your life.  I would be rich but have nothing if You were not THE One who made Himself poor though You had great riches.  I would not love if You had not layed down Your life for me.  I would not know anything of the riches of humility or gentleness or long-suffering or forgiveness or purity or peace or willingness to yield or mercy or grace or a thousand other eternal jewels worth more than all the world’s wealth combined if You didn’t stoop down to lift me up.  So I easily utter the words, “Thank you.”  But in my heart deep calls to deep.  You know I can’t even express… I’m still poor in spirit Lord! Thank You!  Thank You! Thank You for:

62.  the taste of Your goodness
63.  You bore so much shame to love me
64.  Your promise to finish the work You started in me
65.  the love spilling drip by drip out of me from Your faithfullness
66.  the courage to bend
67.  the willingness to yeild
68.  the hope that is mine because of You
69.  the service I get to give
70.  the stewardship I’ve been entrusted
71.  the mercy the keeps me from being consumed
72.  the faithfulness that keeps me persevering
73.  the promise of the Kingdom in my poverty of spirit
74.  the filling of my hunger and thirst for real rightness with You!

Let me keep sacrificing (Dare I say that? Sacrifice? The giving up of what? Reputation? Finicky people’s approving looks? YES!  Let me lay down those vain desires!) the fruit of my lips giving thanks for 75 and beyond when I wake.


"Thanksland" and a test in hupotosso-ing

It’s been three days of prepping for our road trip tomorrow plus the daily things a mom of two boys home on summer vacation do.

I know it sounds kind of goofy, but the Parent For A Day game was a such a success so I went with it and we played “Thanksland” on Monday.

 I am weary of the constant complaining in my house and am aware of my own lack in giving thanks. Ann has really inspired me to pay attention and receive everything as a gift of God’s grace for my good and His glory. So I told the boys Monday that we were going to play “Thanksland” from breakfast till lunch. In “Thanksland” everyone speaks Thanksese. Whatever your choice of words, it had to contain a verbal giving of thanks. So it began, “Mom, thanks for the cereal, but can I have eggs?” And when the complaining wanted to start coming (about the same time as the chores started), warnings were handed out like citations. Three citations equaled an unpleasant chore.

It was funny hearing us give thanks out loud in literally every sentence, but I noticed two things:

 1. There was no complaining.

2. There was a lot more smiling and laughing.

I need to give thanks out loud more often! What would it be like if literally every sentence I spoke contained some form of saying “thank you” or “thank You Lord” or “I’m thankful for…”? I’d probably get some raised eyebrows but there’d be less frown lines around my brows.

Today I attended a “total conditioning” class at the gym. It was 75 minutes of non-stop movement. I’m completely spent. Crossfit leaves me feeling the same way but in only 30 minutes.

I feel really bad for my husband. He had filling fall out a few weeks ago and a week ago his dentist put a temporary crown on it. Yesterday he went in to have the permanent crown put on but somehow, in the yanking off of the temporary one, some of the build up fell off and after painful attempts at re-building, they told him he’d have to live with another temporary for a couple more weeks while they send off the new mold of the broken, but rebuilt stub under his crown.

He said the appointment was sheer torture. He’s not one to complain of pain, but tonight, while eating, his tooth pain brought him to his knees. He said the 2nd temporary crown is now loose. And we’re leaving in the morning for a road trip.  Not good!

I despise dental pain! I really hope his tooth isn’t killing him the whole trip. You know the saying if momma aint happy… Well in my house its daddy who keeps the thermostat for that. I’d be a grump too if I had a stabbing pain in my tooth my entire vacation! On the up side, maybe he’ll get to eat some good clam chowder.

I’m looking forward to being with my sisters, brothers, parents, grandparents, and nephews, but I am really going to miss my Pathway family.

Connor’s All Star experience was an experience. When parents act like tantrum-throwing toddlers regarding their 9 year old’s baseball I realize who so many kids are so disrespectful to each other and adults. His team lost both of their tournament games pretty badly. The coach is a very patient, nice guy, unlike some of the dad’s of the kids on his team. He choked back tears after last night’s loss, saying people told him if he coached All Stars he’d loose friends. I couldn’t bear the silence and spoke up amongst the disgruntled, but respectful parents gathered round to listen. We all felt the same way- we felt he’d made wrong choices for the games, but we respected him as the coach, kept our opinions to ourselves, and cheered our kids on. The adult toddler had yanked his son out in cursing rage on Monday night and wasn’t there to hear this well-meaning man explain. I offered, “We appreciate your patience Coach! Good work!” My husband clapped in support and the kids he coached came running to give him a good hug.

You can disagree and still show respect for the person doing the leading. That’s what it means to hupotosso. It’s easy to tear down a person in a position of leadership or authority. It doesn’t require any strength to cuss and yell and make a scene. Strength under control is displayed when you voluntarily carry a burden of living with the decisions of a person in authority.  Lord give me the grace to do just that!


Counting Gifts

55. an uninterrupted hour this morning to look in the mirror get washed clean

56. cool shelter from the summer heat (it’s 90 by 8am… going to be 106 today)

57. the collection on the shelf reminding me to trust in His grace and the folly of trusting in idols

58. looking forward to whatever lies ahead

and three gifts on June 25th in someone older than me:

59.  mom’s life pointing me to mercy

60.  my pastor’s words to the congregation as best as I recal, “I’m not a touchy, feely guy… But this pastor loves you!”

61.  my dad’s work-worn hands that will squeeze me with a yearning-for-his-Father-father’s hug in a couple weeks