Open Mouth, Insert Foot

I was running late for my hair appointment today.  I had everything planned to work out just fine, but my execution was off due to two girls who decided to play with friends without checking in with me, so when it was time to leave homeschool coop today, I had to go looking for them, and I was running late.

I blew into the salon, sat down at the sprayer sink, and started chattering away with a pent up fury of a woman who has gone way too long without getting away by herself and feeling  just a bit stressy.

When I paused to catch my breath, the sweet woman who has cut my hair for the past several years began to speak.  She spoke with pent up anguish which needed release.

Her best friend had been recently diagnosed with stage 3 breast cancer and would be starting treatments soon.  She had been asked to shave her friend’s head and didn’t know how she would be able to bring herself to do it.  She was struggling with pain and fear and guilt for feeling these things.

My “problems” suddenly seemed really small.  Sure, we live with uncertainty, and a constant level of chaos, I mean madness, I mean stress; but it is not life and death.  It is not.

She attacked my hair with all the pent up pain and fear and guilt and anger at cancer that she had been carrying.  When she finished, my hair was a little bit shorter than I was planning on and a little bit more layered than I like, but I do not have cancer.  My hair is not going to fall out.  It will grow back and life will go on.  I asked her if I could pray with her and so there, in the salon, as her next customer came in, we prayed.  I was able to share my experiences with the cancer center she was working with and how much respect I had for them.  It is the same center, the same doctor who took care of Edmund.

3 Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, 4 who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God. 5 For just as the sufferings of Christ flow over into our lives, so also through Christ our comfort overflows. (2 Cor. 1:3-5)

Because we walked the cancer road with John’s father, I had some idea of how the chemotherapy would affect her friend and we talked about some practical things her daughters could shop for to make a care basket. (Boost, peppermints, fiber-con, books/dvds,etc.)

People are hurting everywhere.  Oh Father, please open my eyes and take them off of myself.  I cannot be an instrument of Your healing if all I am concerned with is my own comfort.  I cannot be an instrument of Your healing if I talk more than I listen.  Thank You for putting Your hand over my mouth and giving me a brief window into someone else’s life today.

My joy, My hope, My goal, My reward

In the midst of all this uncertainty, John and I have found great comfort and hope in God’s Word.  There is a list of verses that I keep in my Bible and add to them as more are sent to us by friends or from our very great Friend. 

Psalm 121:  1 I lift up my eyes to the hills. From where does my help come? 2 My help comes from the LORD, who made heaven and earth. 3 He will not let your foot be moved; he who keeps you will not slumber. 4 Behold, he who keeps Israel will neither slumber nor sleep. 5 The LORD is your keeper; the LORD is your shade on your right hand. 6 The sun shall not strike you by day, nor the moon by night. 7 The LORD will keep you from all evil; he will keep your life. 8 The LORD will keep your going out and your coming in from this time forth and forevermore.

Job 1:21  And he said, “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return. The LORD gave, and the LORD has taken away;  blessed be the name of the LORD.”

Job 2:10b  Shall we receive good from God, and shall we not receive evil?”In all this Job did not sin with his lips.

Job 19:25-27  25 For I know that my Redeemer lives, and at the last he will stand upon the earth. 26 And after my skin has been thus destroyed, yet in my flesh I shall see God, 27 whom I shall see for myself, and my eyes shall behold, and not another. My heart faints within me!

Job 23:10 10 But he knows the way that I take; when he has tried me, I shall come out as gold.

Is 43:1-3a  1 But now thus says the LORD, he who created you, O Jacob, he who formed you, O Israel: “Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine. 2 When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you. 3 For I am the LORD your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior…

Jer. 29:11 11 For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.

Jer 32:17,27   ‘Ah, Lord GOD! It is you who have made the heavens and the earth by your great power and by your outstretched arm! Nothing is too hard for you…”Behold, I am the LORD, the God of all flesh. Is anything too hard for me?

Jer 33:3   Call to me and I will answer you, and will tell you great and hidden things that you have not known.

Matt 6:25-34  25 “Therefore I tell you,  do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? 26 Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? 27 And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? 28 And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, 29 yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. 30 But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? 31 Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. 33 But  seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. 34 “Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble

Psalm 20:1,5-7  May the LORDanswer you in the day of trouble! May the name of the God of Jacob protect you!…5 May we shout for joy over your salvation, and in the name of our God set up our banners! May the LORD fulfill all your petitions! 6 Now I know that the LORD saves his anointed; he will answer him from his holy heaven with the saving might of his right hand. 7 Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the LORD our God.

Ecc. 7:14  In the day of prosperity be joyful, and in the day of adversity consider: God has made the one as well as the other, so that man may not find out anything that will be after him.

Psalm 50:10 For every beast of the forest is mine, the cattle on a thousand hills.

James 1:2-4, 12  2 Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, 3 for you know that  the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. 4 And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing… 12 Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life,  which God has promised to those who love him.

John 6:68-69  68 Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have  the words of eternal life, 69 and we have believed, and have come to know, that  you are  the Holy One of God.”

My first goal in writing here has always been to make a record of things I want to remember; a record my children can read someday when I am gone.  I thought for awhile this morning about making these past two posts private, but it is my hope that if there is someone who reads this who is facing their own time of uncertainty that they would find hope in the One who holds our past, present, and future in His hands.

The Velcro of my Heart

Driving home from Dixon yesterday, I had some time to think.  This past year has been filled with so many major changes and trials.  I am aware of how major life changes can affect a person and how susceptable I can be to depression so I wanted to take advantage of the opportunity to think and take assessment.   

There IS a pain in my soul…there is a weariness with life that will not go away, no matter how much I sleep…if someone were to offer me the choice between life and death I know that the only thing that would make me choose life is knowing how much pain it would cause my husband and children (and other loved ones) if I were to choose death…BUT this is NOT depression.  I KNOW depression.  I acutely remember depression and this is not it.

When I went through my time of depression, I could not function.  I could not tolerate having my children around me and being separated from them brought great anxiety.  I felt completely dead.  This is quite different.  I am filled with joy and great hope for the future so I want to be clear this is NOT depression.

The only way I can describe it is that it is a tearing away…much like the hooks of velcro tear away from the loops…the velcro of my heart is tearing away from this world in order to reattach itself to something better.  It is not entirely comfortable.  The tendrils of my heart are firmly entwined around the weeds of this world, but it is my hope that through this, God is retraining them to entwine around HIM.

Dragon Scales, New Clothes, and a New Year’s Prayer, part 2

I didn’t know that there was more to the story when I wrote yesterday, but God is so loving, so faithful, gives such good gifts to His children…

Last night, I was finally able to listen to the replay of session 2 of the Passion conference with Beth Moore as the speaker.  She spoke these words…

“Whatever (God’s) called you to do, it’s more than you CAN do.” 

She was speaking of the necessity of us to fully rely on the Holy Spirit in order to fulfill our calling in Him.

I cannot tell you what joy these words brought to my heart.  I cannot tell you how many times I have cried out to God recently “I can’t do this!  I am too small!  Did I miss you?”

And last night He whispered back to me, through a woman who would not recognize me if we passed on the street and yet in Christ, we are one…

“No, my darling, you did not miss Me.  I have you right where I want you.”

My Lord and my God, I would rather walk hard paths with You than easy ones apart from Your hand!

Dragon Scales, New Clothes, and a New Year’s Prayer

I’m watching the Passion Conference on the internet this morning.  The speaker, Louie Giglio, spoke these words, “Lord, eliminate in me the desire for anything which ultimately does not matter.”  These are not easy words.  They are not flippant words.  They are words which cut deep and shine a bright light in dark corners of my heart.  They are words, which if I am courageous enough to pray them, bring incredible hope for the coming year.  They put me in mind of the following passage from The Voyage of the Dawn Treader by C.S. Lewis:

 “The water was as clear as anything and I thought if I could get in there and bathe it would ease the pain in my leg. but the lion told me I must undress first. Mind you, I dont know if he said any words out loud or not.

I was just going to say that I couldn’t undress because I hadn’t any clothes on when I suddenly thought that dragons are snaky sort of things and snakes can cast their skins. Oh, of course, thought I, that’s what the lion means. So I started scratching myself and my scales began coming off all over the place. And then I scratched a little deeper and , instead of just scales coming off here and there, my whole skin started peeling off beautifully, like it does after an illness, or as if I was a banana. In a minute or two I just stepped out of it. I could see it lying there beside me, looking rather nasty. It was a most lovely feeling. So I started to go down into the well for my bathe.

“But just as I was going to put my feet into the water I looked down and saw that they were all hard and rough and wrinkled and scaly just as they had been before. Oh, that’s all right, said I, it only means I had another smaller suit on underneath the first one, and I’ll have to get out of it too. So I scratched and tore again and this underskin peeled off beautifully and out I stepped and left it lying beside the other one and went down to the well for my bathe.

“Well, exactly the same thing happened again. And I thought to myself, oh dear, how ever many skins have I got to take off? For I was longing to bathe my leg. So I scratched away for the third time and got off a third skin, just like the two others, and stepped out of it. But as soon as I looked at myself in the water I knew it had been no good.

“The the lion said – but I don’t know if it spoke – ‘You will have to let me undress you.’ I was afraid of his claws, I can tell you, but I was pretty nearly desperate now. So I just lay flat down on my back to let him do it.

“The very first tear he made was so deep that I thought it had gone right into my heart. And when he began pulling the skin off, it hurt worse than anything I’ve ever felt. The only thing that made me able to bear it was just the pleasure of feeling the stuff peel off. You know – if you’ve ever picked the scab of a sore place. It hurts like billy-oh but it is such fun to see it coming away.

“Well, he peeled the beastly stuff right off – just as I thought I’d done it myself the other three times, only they hadn’t hurt – and there it was lying on the grass: only ever so much thicker, and darker, and more knobbly-looking than the others had been. And there was I as smooth and soft as a peeled switch and smaller than I had been. Then he caught hold of me – I didn’t like that much for I was very tender underneath now that I’d no skin on – and threw me into the water. It smarted like anything but only for a moment. After that it became perfectly delicious and as soon as I started swimming and splashing I found that all the pain had gone from my arm…

“After a bit the lion took me out and dressed me – (with his paws?) – Well, I don’t exactly remember that bit. But he did somehow or other: in new clothes…”

New clothes…New clothes…(He) dressed me in new clothes…

 “3 Now Joshua was standing before the angel, clothed with filthy garments. 4 And the angel said to those who were standing before him, “Remove the filthy garments from him.” And to him he said, “Behold, I have taken your iniquity away from you, and I will clothe you with pure vestments.” 5 And I said, “Let them put a clean turban on his head.” So they put a clean turban on his head and clothed him with garments. And the angel of the LORD was standing by. 6 And the angel of the LORD solemnly assured Joshua, 7 “Thus says the LORD of hosts: If you will walk in my ways and keep my charge, then you shall rule my house and have charge of my courts, and I will give you the right of access among those who are standing here.”  (Zechariah 3:3-7 ESV)

1/3/11:  And this one the Lord drew my attention to this morning:

” I will greatly rejoice in the LORD; my soul shall exult in my God, for he has clothed me with the garments of salvation; he has covered me with the robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decks himself like a priest with a beautiful headdress, and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.”  (Isaiah 61:10)

 In many ways, 2010 has been a difficult year.  Like Eustace, I have had so many layers of scales that needed to be peeled away, and it leaves one feeling very raw.  I have come face to face with my utter smallness, my undeniable inadequacy, my absolute need for God in all things, but it is here that God proves Himself most faithful, most tender,  and meets me every time.

 “Lord, eliminate in me the desire for anything which ultimately does not matter.”

 And my mind is directed to another passage from the Bible:

 “in every way, whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is proclaimed, and in that I rejoice. Yes, and I will rejoice, 19 for I know that through your prayers and the help of the Spirit of Jesus Christ this will turn out for my deliverance, 20 as it is my eager expectation and hope that I will not be at all ashamed, but that with full courage now as always Christ will be honored in my body, whether by life or by death. 21 For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain. 22 If I am to live in the flesh, that means fruitful labor for me. Yet which I shall choose I cannot tell. 23 I am hard pressed between the two. My desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better. 24 But to remain in the flesh is more necessary on your account.”  (Phil. 1:18b-24)

 To live is Christ, to die is gain…My desire is to be with Christ, for that is far better…Oh yes, Lord Jesus, may 2011 be the year of Your return, for day by day that is what I increasingly long for.  If, however, You should tarry, please strengthen my arm to the task and let me be found faithful in whatever work You have for me to do and peel away the desire for anything which ultimately does not matter.