Thursday, May 14, 2015

Mother's Day

Dear Children,
  On this week following Mother's Day, I feel compelled to write you both a letter.  You, dear ones, have filled my heart with exceeding joy and love.  You have made me happier, stronger, funnier and more patient than I could imagine.  You are both/all uniquely you, and I marvel at how God has knit you together.  You are special.  You are unique.  You. Are. LOVED! 

  From the moment Dad and I met, we had you in mind.  We prayed for you (and still do, EVERY. SINGLE. DAY.), and tried for you, and waited for you, and wept for you when we thought we were losing you, and cried out for you, and rejoiced over you, or for you, when you were born.  Sweet Young ones, you have been in my heart and my dreams since I was little.  Know this, as much as I have prayers for, dreamed of and desired you, your Heavenly Father has so much more.  And not only has he dreamed of your present, but he dreams over, plans for and delights in your future.  In praying over you, I hold fast to Jeremiah 1:5:

"Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you; I appointed you a prophet to the nations."  

God has perfect plans for you, and when you get overwhelmed sometimes looking at what He has called you to, or start to feel inadequate remember this next portion of Jeremiah 1.  It's there for a reason, to remind you that Jeremiah felt the same way.  And God knew that you too would feel just as he did.  He includes this exchange so that you would know that your strength and your purpose are wholly set in him.  In Him, you won't fail in living up to all He has desired and planned for you.  Apart from Him, you'll still probably do great things (because a perfect designer has gifted and purposed you), but those great things won't be eternally great things and they'll always pale in comparison to what He wants to do with and through you.  

Jeremiah 1:6-8 "Then I said, "Ah, Lord GOD!  Behold, I do not know how to speak, for I am only a youth." 7 But the LORD said to me,
“Do not say, ‘I am only a youth’;
for to all to whom I send you, you shall go,
and whatever I command you, you shall speak.
 8 Do not be afraid of them,
for I am with you to deliver you,
declares the LORD.”

Melodie, you have to know how pleased your Dad and I are with you.  You, sweet girl, made us parents.  You broke us in, and you've taught us thankfulness and joy.  You are so very special, and I love every way that God has made you.  God has had your heart from the moment you were born.  You have a sensitivity to the Holy Spirit that I love.  The pictures you've drawn and the stories you tell of your revelations of who Jesus is, and what God's heart is.  Child!  That's the good stuff of being a parent!  That is what my prayer for you has always been.  That you would know Jesus and make him known to everyone you meet.  Melodie, you do that.  When you see someone having a hard time, you tune into them and come alongside them to help.  That is being Jesus, Honey.  Never stop.  Not when it becomes unpopular.  Not when people scoff, not when it's uncomfortable.  Never stop loving those that are hurting.  You will find your heart's delight in serving "the fringe" and the "forgotten".  Be eyes that always see, and hands that always respond.  In this, know, that Dad and I have your back.  We support you.  God will stretch us, as He grows you, but we'll do it for you.  You're worth it, He's worth it, they're worth it.  Remember your weapons, when you fight this dark world that desires to separate, burden, hurt and alienate people.  You have prayer, you have the gift of healing and compassion, and you discern well.  Put those gifts to work and grow in them.
Jesus tells his disciples in Matthew 10:16:
"Behold, I am sending you out as sheep in the midst of wolves, so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves."
 Your gifts will be like mighty arrows in your quiver.  Trust in the Lord to be the one to take aim, but you build your muscles and readiness and be trained and available to be used.  I delight when I dream of the things God has planned for you.  They're big things, and it'll be an exciting adventure.  I love you, sweet girl.

Bailey," my spit-fire redhead" you must know how I long to hold you and squeeze your guts out.  You are our worshipper.  You have been from the start.  You understand worship and Jesus'' response to the Pharisees in a way that I've only had momentary glimpses of.

Luke 19:40
He answered. "I tell you, if these were silent, the very stones would cry out."

What is it like?  To worship with pure, unadulterated, unhindered, unselfish, pure resonating worship?  You, dear one, have known your entire life.  And I'm promised that someday I'll get to learn how to really worship from you.  I ache for that day.  Dream of it often, and delight knowing that you are at the feet of the King of Kings and Lord of Lords.  All the days of your life, forever and ever.  Keep the watch.  Someday we'll join you.  Until we do, we will praise Him with you.  I love you Bailey girl.  Always and forever.

Cy Daniel.  My boy.  You are another answer to a thousand prayers and sleepless nights.  Everyone of them worth it.  You have such spunk, humor, sensitivity and passion.  You remind me of John.  A great friend of Jesus and the one who it's written of that rested his head on Jesus.

John 13:23
"...One of the disciples, the one Jesus loved dearly, was reclining against him, his head on his shoulder."

Be like John, Cy.  A friend of Jesus, willing to rest on him at all times, and also a great revealer of the Word.  Know Him, as He knows you, and just share Him with others out of that friendship.  You have escaped death on more than one occasion already in your short life, the Father has good and perfect plans for you.  That funny, sensitive and crazy personality will serve the Kingdom well.  Let Jesus be the delight of your life and you will never lose reason to bring joy and life to others.  You are a blessing, dear boy.

April Baby, you left us before we got to know you.  But we love you sweet one.  We ache to meet you.  We're thankful for our brief time here with you, because we know we'll have eternity to get to know you.  You are loved.

My children, you should also know a secret.  I wish I were more for you.  I wish I could tuck you in every night, and be there to pray with you for every nightmare.  I wish I were home every morning to help you get ready for school, and snuggle you and tell you how proud I am of you everyday before you leave.  I wish you always heard my voice saying "Be a light for Jesus". When you walked out the door.   I wish I weren't so tired after work, and that I were more organized to make sure you got signed up for all of the teams you want to play on, with the friends you wanted to be with.  I wish I were slower to frustration, and more abundant in love.  I wish I were more wise, more patient and more understanding of how to nurture who God made you to be.  Know this, in all of my shortcomings, Jesus is more than adequate.  In all of my imperfections, there is one who is perfect.  In sleepless nights, or encounters with the world, He goes with you.  In all of my desires to see good and perfect plans come to pass in your life, there is one whose plans ARE perfect and HE is
"...gracious and compassionate, 
slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love".
(Psalm 145:8)
I love you kiddos, and I'm so thankful that God chose me to be your Mom.  You draw me closer to understanding Him.  You make me want to be like Him.  You bring me exceeding joy and delight.  Know always, that when you feel like you've come up short, you're always enough.  Lean in to God and let him transform your identity to be more like his.  It's a wonderfully humbling place to be, and you guys have brought me there.  Thank you!  I love you, each of you.  Now, forever and always.  
Hugs and snuggles,

Thursday, February 19, 2015

A Response to "A Message Signed with Blood, To the Nation of the Cross"

This past weekend, ISIS released a video entitled "A Message Signed with Blood, To the Nation of the Cross."  I saw images of 21 Christian men, kneeling in orange jumpsuits in front of 21 men shrouded in darkness.  I looked into the faces of these brave men, and tried to put myself in their place. They must have known what was coming.  They must have been tortured terribly physically, emotionally and psychologically prior to being led out onto that beach.  They must have suffered so much before being on that beach, and yet, I look into the faces of those men and I try to imagine what they were thinking in those last moments on earth.  I see bravery, I see courage, and I see love.

In Matthew 10:24-25, Jesus tells us:

"A disciple is not above his teacher, nor a servant above his master.  It is enough for the disciple to be like his teacher, and the servants like his master.  If they have called the master of the house Beelzebul, how much more will they malign those of his household."

The last is said as a statement, rather than a question.  If we know that Jesus was mocked, flogged, tortured and executed in the most hideous of ways, we also should expect the same being those of his household.  This isn't said to scare us off, but rather so that when these things happen we are not surprised by them.  Two thousand years ago, what happened on the beaches of Libya on Sunday was spoken about.  But what should our response to these actions be?   If I desire to be a disciple of Jesus, then his Word ensures that "it is be like the teacher"(Matthew 10:24).  And to be like the teacher I need to look at what His response is to these things.

Matthew 14:13-21 gives us an example of what our response should be.  Having just learned from his disciples that John the Baptist had been beheaded, here is Jesus' response:

"Now when Jesus heard this, he withdrew from there in a boat to a desolate place by himself.  But when the crowds heard it, they followed him on foot from the towns.  When he went ashore he saw a great crowd, and he had compassion on them and healed their sick.  Now when it was evening, the disciples came to him and said, "This is a desolate place, and the day is now over; send the crowds away to go into the villages and buy food for themselves.  But Jesus said, "They need not go away; you give them something to eat."  They said to him, "We have only five loaves here and two fish."  And he said, "Bring them here to me."  Then he ordered the crowds to sit down on the grass, and taking the five loaves and the two fish, he looked up to heaven and said a blessing.  Then he broke the loaves and gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the crowds.  And they all ate and were satisfied.  And they took up twelve baskets full of the broken pieces left over.  And those who ate were about five thousand men, besides women and children."

The first thing that Jesus did upon learning about the beheading of John the Baptist is that he withdrew from the crowds to a desolate place by himself.  My contention would be that the Lord himself withdrew to spend some quiet time with the Father, but he was not given much time as the crowds followed him and pursued him.  They actual came out of the towns and went after Jesus because they were hungry.  Hungry to see his response.  Hungry for the Son of God to do something. Hungry to know how to respond.  Did you find yourself in that place on Sunday when you heard the news of our 21 brothers that were beheaded?  Did you go before the Father and search out "why", and "how long", and pray for their families?  Many of us did.  And the world is watching.  ISIS is watching, our neighbors are watching, our friends and co-workers are watching.  The enemy wants to know if their "message signed with the blood" of our 21 brothers will shake us, rattle us, anger us or cause us to turn from serving our Jesus.  They mean to intimidate and silence us, but what should our response be?

"...he saw a great crowd, and he had compassion on them and healed their sick." Matthew 10:14

We're called to have compassion on them, and to serve the lost.  We're called to heal the sick.  I find it so backwards, when we're in a world of entitlement and "justice", that the model our Savior gives is love and compassion.  It is love to go and engage the crowd, instead of hoarding our time alone with the Father.  It is love to put ourselves at risk by coming out and being bold in our faith.  It is Christ's compassion that does not allow him to consider himself more than the crowd, and allows him instead to go out and heal the sick.  We are called to do the same.  We are called to be compassionate and loving and to pray and believe for the sick to be healed.  

We're also called to share the gospel.  When evening fell, the disciples tried to help Jesus out and send away the crowds.  It's as if they said, "alright, enough of your ministering and love and compassion and healing, what these people really need now is some food.  Let them go eat Jesus, and we can rest too.  But check out Jesus' response, "They don't need to go away, you give them something to eat."  The disciples had no idea what to do, so Jesus took the lead and showed them.  He took the five loaves and the two fish, blessed them and broke them.  Then here's where Jesus shows compassion to his disciples.  They missed their first opportunity to turn the five loaves and two fishes into enough to feed the 5,000+, but he gives them a second chance.  "Here's what you do with it, now YOU go out and give it to them."  Sometimes we don't know how to provide for the impossible circumstances around us. We need to look to Jesus to multiply our meager circumstances.  The Bible tells us that there was such an abundance, that twelve baskets were filled with the leftovers!  

With God there is always more than enough.  And with those who come into our lives, what they are seeking out is a godly response to a world of disorder.  What makes sense in the natural is to preserve our safety, but what makes sense in the spiritual is to have compassion, to heal and to spiritually feed those around us.  The world is looking for a response to the message that ISIS sent, and here is my response: 

Thank you for the reminder to spend the beginning of each of my days worshipping the God of all Creation, and to put his son, Jesus as the example of how I should live my life.  It reminds me of who He is, and gets my eyes off of myself.  And when my eyes are off of myself and on Jesus, it helps me to look and be reminded that everyone I encounter today is in my life for a reason.  The good and the bad.  The healed up and the hurting.  The joyful and the depressed.  Those very near to the Lord, and those that would kill me because of my faith.  Those who shine brightly, and those who are shrouded in darkness.  Each one I encounter is a divine opportunity to have compassion, to pray and believe for healing and to make sure that they know they are welcomed at the Lord's table.  There is a spiritual food that satisfies our deepest hunger and pain, and it was purchased for us through the blood shed on a cross 2,000 years ago.  I have tasted that food and know that it is good, and my deepest desire is to share that food with everyone I meet.  The blood of my Savior reminds me that His death was worth it.  The blood of my 21 brothers on a beach at your hands reminds me that it is worth it.  I have spent time away worshipping my God and praying for you, and I look at you with compassion, desiring for your healing, and welcoming you to my table.  Come and eat with me.  Tell me of your burdens, let me pray for you believing in a real God who will show up and heal your every ache.  Come angry, come burdened, come hurting, come lost, come shrouded in darkness, but come.  Taste and see that the Lord is good, and that there is a life in the light that makes everything else pale in comparison.  

An encouragement to my brothers and sisters in Christ from Matthew 10:28-33

"And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul.  Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell.  Are not two sparrows sold for a penny?  And not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father.  But even the hairs of your head are all numbered.  Fear not, therefore; you are of more value than sparrows.  So everyone who acknowledges me before men, I also will acknowledge before my Father who is in heaven, but whoever denies me before men, I also will deny before my Father who is in heaven."

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Breath in. Breath out. Selah.

This morning I got home from my last night of a 3 night work week.  Usually, I'm too exhausted to do more than slide my shoes off and jump under my covers, hiding my head from daylight until it's time to get my daughter from school.  This morning, I got home with more on my mind than time or ability to process my thoughts, and sat down for a few moments to decompress.

I work as a nurse in a role that I love, but that is full of nuances and responsibilities and irritations that few but those in my role fully understand.  It sometimes makes it difficult to decompress after a stressful or bizarre night.  And while my husband tries, it's often too much explaining of the back story of "why's" than it is worth expressing the frustration or oddity.  I especially wanted to share my night with him this morning, but knew that it'd be too much explaining than what it was worth so I sat with two Oreos and a glass of milk and thought about the week.  I came down with the crud that everyone seems to have gotten this past winter season.  So bad was it, that last Friday I called my husband asking him to bring home a certain medicine from the store.  When questioned as to why I needed it, my only gasped response was, " a python...wrapping itself...around my trachea!".  I haven't been this sick in awhile, and at one point, I was breathing so quickly and hard that I had to tell myself to slow it down.  "Breath in.  Breath out.  Selah.  Breath in.  Breath out.  Selah..."  Such has been my mantra this past week.  Sometimes we forget, that the very breath in our lungs, is a gift from God.  I was reminded of that blessed gift with each pained breath last week.

On the heels of having just recovered from the crud, my three day work week began.  It was one of the busiest few days I've had in some time, and it seemed like everyday when I got up and didn't think I'd have enough energy to even drive into work, I'd be met by non-stop flow of patients and work and a need for high attention to detail.  "This is NOT the type of workday I prayed for God!" I reminded Him several times.  And he gently whispered to me, "Breath in.  Breath out.  Selah."  Amazingly, when I did not think I had the strength, or the energy or the mental quickness to deal with what came my way, it seemed to be there.  And this morning, when I should be the most exhausted, I'm overflowing with energy.

As I sat with my Oreos this morning, unwinding, I said the same thing again, "Breath in.  Breath out.  Selah (pause in the presence of God)".  What is it Lord that you wanted to speak to me about this morning?  Much to my surprise it wasn't that he wanted to remind me of the end of my shift, or the unexpected things in the middle of it, or the craziness at the beginning of yesterday.  He reminded me of a text from a friend last week that simply prodded "write" and of a moment I had with one of the physicians last night when she asked me about a key that I had on my ID badge.  I began to explain that our church began a 21 day fast a couple of weeks ago, and at the beginning of it handed out small keys to everyone with a tag attached that said, "ask, seek, knock" (Matt 7:7-11).  One of the messages had been about "open doors", and ended with the challenge of looking at what the doors in 2015 were in our lives and which ones does God want us to walk through and which ones does he want us to close off?  We were challenged to use our keys as reminders of this during the fast.  I placed mine on my work ID as a reminder to myself that I've been missing opportunities with people by anticipating what was next.  For the past 10 years I've looked anxiously for the day when I "no longer had to be a nurse, but could step into doing full time ministry and really reaching people."  All the while missing those in front of me.  God gently reminded me that the Apostle Paul, one of the greatest teachers and most prolific writers of the entire new testament, was a tentmaker.  It hit me in the heart.  God has been asking to see the person in front of me and love them.  So I ended with telling this physician that it's a humility check for myself.  I am here to love people, and meet with them where they are at in some of their most vulnerable moments, and that is my ministry.  She mentioned how that message resonated with her heart, and that she felt similarly with why she still practices medicine.  It was such a wonderful and unexpected exchange, and I would have missed all of it if I hadn't been willing to just sit, and take a moment to breath in. Breath out.  Selah (pause in the presence of God)

What is it that God is wanting to speak to you about today friends?  Grab a couple of Oreos and sit for a minute.  Turn your phone off and try doing this for a couple of minutes.  Close your eyes and focus of taking a deep breath in, a deep breath out, and then pause in God's presence.  He wants your attention.  He wants to speak to you.  Dial down and find that place with Him.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

TIthing is important

Last October my family engaged in a 40 day fast, like we have for the past 20 or so years. During that time, Ryan and I were specifically praying for direction and leading for Ryan's career. One night, while praying, the Lord deeply impressed upon us to tithe a very specific percentage of our income for the next six weeks. It was very different from what we had been tithing, and when we prayed about it, we both felt very confident that the Lord was saying, "Test me on this, and see that I will be faithful. If nothing happens, you can stop." It was only six weeks, so we decided to go for it. During that time, Ryan left a job that he'd been at for a few years, got a temp job and randomly during that same time frame, the temp position was no longer needed. We were faced with a decision. Trust God for that six week period and continue to tithe what we had felt led to tithe, or abandon the "experiment" altogther. After praying and talking we decided that Ryan's loss of employment had not come as a surprise to God, and that it wasn't a coincidence that it happened during the six week period. We were faithful. Near the end of the six weeks, God showed to be faithful.
My sister called me up saying she'd been praying about Ryan's job situation and had he considered the post office? After discussion, I thought that it may be an idea and passed it along to Ryan. Two days later, talking to my father he said, "I was praying about Ryan's job situation, and has he considered the post office?" Me, thinking he was in cohoots with my sister, said, "Oh, so you've been talking to Missy, huh?" They both vehemently denied any such plotting.
Ryan took a risk, signed up to take the postal exam and passed. He then applied for a bunch of postal jobs, most of which were for 8-12 hours a week, as that's how we were reassured you get started with the post office. A month went by and Ryan ended up getting a job with full time hours in Michigan! I also went to look for travel assignments in the area. I'd been assured that there were none for the past five years in that area, so it was a long shot. But the night I went to look, one got posted. I applied and received an offer later that week.
Every door has opened for us to make a huge transition and change and we're excited. It was by no coincidence or chance, but rather came from prayer and fasting and tithing. It wasn't the amount that mattered, but obedience to what the Lord had put on our hearts.
If you're stuck in a rut, consider praying, fasting and tithing. There is power in the simple. God wants to move in our lives. He wants to be the Lord of our hearts. He wants us to learn to trust Him, even when it doesn't make sense. Tithing makes no earthly sense, but it makes Godly sense, and I'm thankful for that.
My sister called me up saying she'd been praying about Ryan's job situation and had he considered the post office? After discussion, I thought that it may be an idea and passed it along to Ryan. Two days later, talking to my father he said, "I was praying about Ryan's job situation, and has he considered the post office?" Me, thinking he was in cohoots with my sister, said, "Oh, so you've been talking to Missy, huh?" They both vehemently denied any such plotting.Ryan took a risk, signed up to take the postal exam and passed. He then applied for a bunch of postal jobs, most of which were for 8-12 hours a week, as that's how we were reassured you get started with the post office. A month went by and Ryan ended up getting a job with full time hours in Michigan! I also went to look for travel assignments in the area. I'd been assured that there were none for the past five years in that area, so it was a long shot. But the night I went to look, one got posted. I applied and received an offer later that week.Every door has opened for us to make a huge transition and change and we're excited. It was by no coincidence or chance, but rather came from prayer and fasting and tithing. It wasn't the amount that mattered, but obedience to what the Lord had put on our hearts.If you're stuck in a rut, consider praying, fasting and tithing. There is power in the simple. God wants to move in our lives. He wants to be the Lord of our hearts. He wants us to learn to trust Him, even when it doesn't make sense. Tithing makes no earthly sense, but it makes Godly sense, and I'm thankful for that.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

The wages of sin...

The other day Melodie came home from school and I asked her what she had learned about in school.  "Sin" she responded quickly.  She pulled a worksheet out of her backpack and showed me that they had been going through Genesis in her class and were talking about Cain and Abel.  She explained how Cain had offered his fruits and the harvest of his crops, while Abel had given meat, and that the meat was the good sacrifice, and the harvest crops weren't.  I was impressed by how well she seemed to grasp the story, she reminded me of some details that I'd forgotten, and we talked about it.  

After talking about the picture, I asked her what she thought sin meant.  And that's when she flipped over her worksheet and showed me the picture that she'd drawn.  Now, she colors the back of EVERY worksheet, mostly with hearts and doodles, but I looked at the picture and was blown away.

After asking her about the picture, here was Melodie's description:

"Well, Mom, it's a picture of the crucifixion.  That HAD to happen because of sin, Mom.  The middle guy is Jesus, and he's being crucified between the two thieves.  That guy (on the left) is smiling because Jesus told him that he'd get to go to Heaven with him because he asked for forgiveness, but the other guy is frowning because he's dying.  Did you know, Mom, that the Bible says that the WHOLE world turned dark because of Jesus on the cross?  The whole thing...that's why I colored the background black, because it was SO dark."

Thank you Jesus.  Thank you for dying on a cross for me, for enduring the awful pain and anguish for me.  Thank you for suffering, for forgiving, even when you were dying, and for giving us a hope and peace, that amidst great darkness we can hope in you because of what you did on Calvary.  Thank you for conquering death and sin. Thank you, that one day, every knee will bow, every tongue will confess that Jesus is Lord.  You are a mighty King.  Thank you, thank you, thank you for taking my place Jesus.  Thank you for showing yourself to Melodie and having her "get" what you did.   Thank you for what you're doing in my family right now, it's awesome and refreshing.  You are awesome and mighty, so mighty to save.  I love you Jesus.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

The Elephant in the House

Please allow me to begin this story with a small disclaimer.  I have not suffered the most.  I am not perfected in my faith.  And in no way do I think that I have arrived.  My issue with feeling any of these things is that I love a loving God, who always gently reminds me when I think that I have suffered the most, am perfected in my faith, or that I have somehow arrived in the completeness of my faith that I have not, I am not, and no, I'm not home yet.  But praise be to God, He's not through with me yet.

I work in labor and delivery as a nurse for a busy-ish hospital in Milwaukee.  I take care of women and families going through some of their most triumphant and jubilant days, and also through some of their worst days.  I, like anyone who works in labor and delivery, have the hair bristle on the back of my neck when I get the all-too-common comment of "oh, you must have the best job in the world.  People must be so happy", because as us "insiders" know all-too-well, that while there is a great deal of joy in my department, there is also, always looming, inexpressible sadness and grief.

I come from a family who has known their "share" of perinatal grief.  My eldest sister lost her eldest child at 26 weeks, due to congenital anomalies that weren't compatible with life.  It was a "random" thing, and should not happen again.  I have a middle sister who has lost two boys to premature rupture of membranes and spontaneous delivery shortly thereafter.  Both caused by a strange bacteria in her bloodstream that "never should have been there".  And while she was told that it should never happen again, there are two boys that she has to wait and meet again when she gets to Heaven, instead of just the one.  I lost my daughter at 21 weeks, shortly after she was diagnosed with a hypo-plastic left heart.  And while it wasn't a genetic problem, Ryan and I know that we're not spared from more grief with our pregnancies or children.

Two weeks ago we found out that we were pregnant.  Truly, it was a jubilant day for us.  A day of rejoicing, and a day of disbelief.  We could not believe that after only 6 months of trying we were going to be blessed with another kiddo.  Number 3, well 4, or however you're supposed to number your kids on those trendy "pregnancy announcement" pictures.  We told our eldest daughter that we were pregnant, and gave her a teddy bear named Barnabas to hang onto until her sibling arrived.  The teddy bear was to be a reminder for her to pray for her sibling, and then when they came safely, she'd get to give the prayer bear to them and they'd get to keep it.  Melodie was excited.  She squeezed that bear tight, and for three days, Barnabas took prime location in Melodie's bed, sleeping next to her and getting squeezed at night as she slept.  I, also, had decided to be "different" during this pregnancy.  The last three had been full of stress, bleeding, bed rest, worry, but also trust that God was in control.  This time, I decided to be joyful.  I prayed that the Lord would give me the strength to remain joyful throughout the pregnancy, and to again surrender to His will.  "This pregnancy is a gift." I'd thought, "and I'm just going to enjoy it".

So color me confused and dismayed when three days after we'd found out about our youngest little one, I started bleeding at work.  Sitting at work, seeing the blood I was shocked.  "Lord, really?  Really, is this how it's going to be?  I'm so confused, because I thought that you'd wanted me to be joyful and unstressed...but how can I now?  What is going on?"  And honestly, I was ticked.  I was angry that after having surrendered myself to rejoice, finally, in pregnancy, things were going like this from the start.  A few days later, blood work showed what Ryan and I had feared.  There'd be no little sibling for Melodie and Cy coming home before Christmas.  We'd miscarried over the weekend, and somewhere between our house and work, I'd delivered our little one in a toilet, only to be flushed down with the blood and refuse.  How often do people feel like that, I wonder?  Is everyone as bothered by the not knowing when and where their baby delivers if it happens so early on?  I mean, a human life is gone, and there's no ceremony, no recognition.  Just a check mark under the "A" column of a woman's G-FPAL numbers (G-Gravida/How many pregnancies, F-full-term, P-pre-term, A-abortions/miscarriages, L-Living children).  It bothers me, and I'm so sorry Little One.  You're worth more than a toilet burial.  You're life is more significant than a blip on the radar.  You're still my precious little one, even though I never got to meet you.  I love you Baby.  And I can't wait to meet you.

I said before that I have not suffered the most.  I have not.  I see people's prenatals all the time.  I know their G's and P's.  I know that many have lost more, had harder losses than ours, and many that have none.  I'm not lost on that fact, not ignorant of it.  I've taken care of a friend who a few days shy of her due date went in for a routine visit at her OB-GYN and no heartbeat was found.  I was there as her son delivered.  I've taken care of a women who'd had to be induced at pre-viability and held her daughter as she passed away quietly in her arms, and was there again giving chest compressions to her son a year later in hopes of saving his life, only to watch him open his eyes once, as if to say goodbye to his mother.  I watched hours later as he died in her arms.  I've watched beautiful children born, so tangled in their umbilical cords that it choked off the life within them, and then watched others born, even more tangled in theirs and cry brilliantly and loudly moments after delivery.  I've been in the room when a mother hears that there is no heartbeat left in that little soul nestled within their womb, and I've been there to find a heartbeat on a baby that hasn't moved in what has seemed like an eternity for a family.  I've seen miracles, and I've seen horror, and no I don't get it, but I have certainly not suffered the most.

After receiving the news that we officially were no longer pregnant, we told Melodie what had happened.  The next day, as I was tucking her in, she was able to verbalize the elephant in our house.

Melodie: "Mom, I need to talk to you about something.  I'm upset about what happened with the baby."
Me:  "So are we kiddo"
Melodie: "And frankly, I don't think that it's very fair that it had to happen to us again."
Me:  "I know honey"
Melodie: (crossing her arms across her chest)  "And honestly, I really don't get the point of it.  What was the point?  It doesn't make any cense to me."  (then looking at me to have some brilliant response that would make sense of it)
Me: "Me either Melodie.  But you know, this is a really good time to talk to God about how you're feeling, because he really wants to hear how you feel."
Melodie: "I don't really want to talk to God about it, because I'm mad"
Me: You know kiddo, lot's of people feel like that.  But that's when it's most important to talk to God, because he already knows that you're mad.  And it's okay to be mad.  It's okay to be upset, and it's even okay to be mad at God if you are.  But talk to Him about it, because he just wants to come close, to be with you, and bring you comfort.  That's His job, and he likes doing it."
Melodie: "Well, maybe I'll talk to him about it tomorrow, but right now I'm too mad."

You know, I'm so thankful for my five year old.  I'm so thankful for her honesty, because how many of us feel exactly the same way, but can't verbalize it because we're afraid of offending God, or afraid that we'll be seen as having some "lesser faith", or we're actually afraid of what God's response, or non-response will be.  I'm so thankful for being able to have this conversation with her now, with REAL issues, instead of 20 years from now and her having to go through her young years not knowing that we have a God who is close to the broken-hearted, and anxious to spend time with us.  It took me 20+ years to come to the realization that we can "have it out" with God, and that he won't change his character.  It doesn't change his love for us, and that he will always back himself up.  Real relationship with the creator of the universe I think is deepened by trial.  I'm thankful that my five year old knows that.  I'm thankful that God desires relationship with her, and is close to the brokenhearted.  I'm thankful that God knows when we're mad, and that it doesn't bother him.  He still draws close, hears our hearts and heals us.  Thank you Lord, that you're not done with me yet.  Thank you Lord for these moments of tenderness with my kids, and thank you Lord, that you have a plan for our lives.  I don't get it.  It doesn't make sense now to me, but I know that you get it, so thank you Lord.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Two Week Resolutions

I've been challenged lately to do something different.  I've had a stirring in my heart for a little over a year now for "more".  And the more I tried to figure out what the "more" was, the fatter I became.  Not just physically, but spiritually, financially and emotionally.  Monday marked the year anniversary of my cousin's death after reaching the summit on Mt. Fuji.  He'd fallen on the way down the mountain and his body was covered from a snow storm that moved in shortly after.  And although his body went missing, he never was.  We knew where Matt was the moment his spirit left his body, and although indescribably tragic, the experience brought several thousand people to witness what real faith and a real relationship with Jesus looks like.  When gathering his things from his hotel room, they noticed that Matt's Bible was lying open.  I've asked myself countless times since then, "would they find my Bible open, if I went home to be with Jesus right now?"  And the answer, sadly, has been no.

It's time for a change, it's time to be vigilant.  It's time to take action.  My cousin was 33 years old when he passed away.  I am 30.  We're not guaranteed tomorrow.  We're not guaranteed a safe drive home from picking the kids up from school.  But we are guaranteed everlasting life with Jesus when we die, if we have a real relationship with him.  I want that relationship to be the "more".  And I want it to shine brightly, so that there is no question in anyone's mind what I'm living for, and therein lies Ryan and my's attempt at two-week resolutions in 2013.  We have become fat.  We want to become lean, and become true temples of the living God.  And we're going to do it.  We're not perfect, we never will be, but we can become increasingly transformed into the people the God made us to be, and that's what we're going to do.

Why two weeks?  Truthfully, because I fail a whole lot.  If I were to make a year's worth of a resolution and then fall off track two days later, I'd become discouraged, grab a bag of oreos and be done for the year, carrying with me the guilt of not having accomplished my goals.  A year, for me, leads to self-loathing and destruction.  Two weeks, now that's doable.  Ryan and I can do anything for two weeks, and if we don't?  Then we can just endeavor to try again the next two weeks.  After having a long, introspective conversation together, we've realized that if God called us home right now, we would NOT be the people that we've been called to be.  And that is sad, but encouraging to us.  We've got more to do.  We have time left to start trimming the fat.  God isn't done with us yet, and He's not done with you either.  We still have air in our lungs, and so do you.  But we're not guaranteed tomorrow, so let's start trimming the fat today.

Ryan and I developed our four "lys", or four areas for us to focus on this year: Spiritually, Physically, Family, Financially.  Every Sunday night at dinner, or plans are to go over how we're doing on our four "lys", or review how we've done on our two week goals, and make goals for the next two weeks.  Our first two weeks of January were spent "thinking" about what the next two weeks worth of goals were.  That's EASY!  Anyone can do that!  You can even show up to dinner and develop your goals for the next two weeks and BAM!  You've accomplished your first two weeks of goals, AND you're working toward trimming the fat.  These two weeks we've developed spiritual goals, both for ourselves and Melodie added hers in too.

Ryan's were: Read my Bible everyday.
Spend time in prayer everyday, and
fast junk food and soda one day a week.

Mine were: Read Ephesians everyday,
spend 15 minutes praying in tongues everyday,
 fast one day a week.

Melodie's were: Love God,
do church at home if we miss Sunday morning (I work nights, so sometime it's hard to get to service Sunday morning),
 no bad attitudes,
Pray for Lucy and Christian (classmates who have been sick)

Family: Talk about Ephesians
Have one family prayer meeting

RYAN: Lose 10 pounds
Work out 12 of 14 days

BECKY: Lose 5 pounds
Walk 45minutes to 1 hour a day 12 of 14 days until my wrist heals

Try 1 new recipe from Vegan Italiano

Eat Vegan 5 days a week
Cut back on junk food and desserts

Make dinner plans with our friends the Bluhms (YEAH!  Plans are made and we're looking forward to it)
Pray for:
FAMILY (A family in our family): Gabe, Ana, Ari and Madeline
RELATIVE (extended): Jerry Johnson's family
NEIGHBORS: Our neighbors to the right of us...yeah, we don't even know their last name!

Geocaching night - Time: TBD

Ryan: clean and organize the office
Becky: clean and organize the storage room

1/27/13 Sunday dinner

Ryan: Do not eat out at all these two weeks
Becky: Do not eat out while at work
Don't ask for flexes from work

Family: No hot lunch for Melo

Develop the budget with goals that are measureable for the next two weeks and year.

There is our starting point, and I'm excited.  Be encouraged friends.  God's not done with you yet, there's time to start becoming, or become increasingly transformed into who He's made you to be.  Anyone want to join us?