Friday, July 19, 2013

My Not So Invisible Wounds

I have lupus and today was a bad day. I am incredibly fortunate in that I don't have as many bad days as many people living with lupus have... but today was one of them. Today, swollen lymph nodes in my neck and chest are causing me extreme tightness, pain, and excessive crabbiness. OK... maybe the crabbiness is MY fault, but it was definitely lupus induced. Pain does that to me, sometimes. As I sat in my chair this evening, rubbing my neck, I felt the swelling and the inflammation and reflected on the general I've-been-hit-with-a-baseball-bat feeling that consumed my entire body. I felt like such a mess. I got up slowly and headed to my bedroom to change. I took a look in the mirror and thought how strange it is that there is absolutely ZERO signs of what is causing me so much pain. You can't see lupus. You can't see internal inflammation. Even where my doctor rubbed vigorously on my chest to help drain a clogged lymph node until the pain became so intense I stopped breathing, there's no bruise. Nothing. Nobody can see my pain. People walking by me have no idea what I've been through today, no inclination of the pain I'm going to be in while I try to sleep tonight, no clue what tomorrow will hold for me and my messed up body. The thought crossed my mind that maybe people with invisible wounds need to wear a hat that says, "I HAVE _______. I HURT. PLEASE BE NICE TO ME." You know, on a whole, we live in a society that helps people they know are hurting. We hold the door for someone in a wheel chair. We offer to carry a lunch tray for someone with a cast on their arm. We're mindful of physical disabilities and injuries... well, at least the ones that we see.

You know where I'm going with this.

We all have injuries that go unnoticed. We have rebellious teenagers. We have deployed husbands. We have broken relationships. We have disappointing friendships. We have financial problems, family problems, health problems, self-esteem problems, eating problems, schedule problems, work problems, and addiction problems. We have things that nobody else knows about. Ugly things. Painful things. Sometimes we all want to scream, "I HURT. PLEASE BE NICE TO ME!!!"

Friend, I want to remind you, that God sees you. He sees your pain. He sees your problem. Whether your neck is swollen, your heart is broken, your wallet is empty, or your life is lonely... God is there. Your wounds are not invisible. Your tears are not unnoticed. God knows the weight of the load you are carrying and He cares.

Maybe someone other than me needed that reminder tonight. Maybe someone else needed a word of encouragement.

Your wounds are not invisible. Jesus sees them. Jesus cares about them. You. Are. LOVED.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Confessions From a Coke Addict

I have a list a mile long of things I want- thinner thighs, pearly white (healthy) teeth, a new wardrobe, money in the bank, a deeper relationship with God, a better relationship with my step-daughter, my bachelor's degree, to write a book, etc... I WANT a lot of things. But what do I do about it?

I have this very bad habit of eating a cheeseburger and drinking a Coke while I thumb through exercise programs and diet plans on Pinterest. The things I WANT are not evident by my actions. If I REALLY WANT thinner thighs and healthy, pearly white teeth, I should stop drinking the Coke. That would also add more money to the bank, too! There are many things in my life that I WANT but not at the expense of the things that I WANT MORE. It seems logical to give up Coke and Cheeseburgers for thinner thighs and a nicer smile. But the truth is, I love my Coke, and at this point in my life I haven't been willing to give it up... yet. Not for good, anyway.

I know you health-nuts are screaming at me to just put down the Coke but there's an even bigger lesson here. What are we putting before God?

The very first Commandment is to have no other gods before the One True God. That means NOTHING and nobody comes before Him. As Christians, we like to think we have this Commandment down... but do we? No, we don't worship Buddha and we don't have any little chubby idols in our houses... but are we putting other things before God?

I mentioned earlier that I want a better relationship with God. Well, what am I doing about it? I want more quiet time with Him... but do I want it more than I want that extra hour of sleep in the morning? I want to read His Word more... but do I want it more than I want to watch TV at night? Am I putting things before God?

I think if we're honest with ourselves, we ALL put things before God once in a while - probably without even thinking about it. I want to challenge you today to take a good look at your WANT list and your WANT MORE list. Which side of your list is God on?? If you're like me, you might need to re-evaluate some things in your life and make sure your actions are reflecting your desires and that your desires are in keeping God first.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Let Them Be Little

This week I had the privilege of taking each of my three daughters out on separate mommy/daughter lunch dates. The older two I took shopping. The youngest enjoyed a day in the sprinkler with me. Today I took my oldest, my 13 year old, out for lunch, shopping, and then ice cream. As we sat at the Olive Garden enjoying our salads and toasted ravioli together, we both fell in love with two sweet little toddlers at a table near ours. The dad looked tired. The mom looked frazzled. The little ones looked happy and oblivious. I commented to my daughter that I don't miss those days at all, as I watched the mom scramble under the table in search of a missing crayon...again. But as soon as those words came out of my mouth, I knew they weren't true. And so did my daughter. She immediately called me on it and asked me if I didn't miss the days of being able to hold her and rock her and snuggle in bed with her. Of course I do. I miss those days terribly. I miss her chubby cheeks and the sweet smell of a baby after a bath. I miss the softness of her skin and the tenderness of her coo. I miss always knowing where she is and having the ability to make every decision that concerns her. I miss her being all mine.

As the little boy across from us started stretching fried mozzarella from his mouth to his plate and his little sister began making music with her fork, their frazzled mother turned to face us as she heard our escaped giggles. "Please tell me it gets easier," she said to me with a look of fatigue on her face that every mother knows. "It does," I assured her. "And it goes by fast, so try to enjoy it."

After our lunch, Miracle and I enjoyed some shopping with a gift card her grandma sent her and then she suggested we hit up our favorite soft custard stand. I posted a picture of us on facebook and captioned it with "These special days out with my daughters are making me broke and fat - but they're worth it." And that is the truth. They are worth it. I know my girls won't be babies forever. They won't be five year olds forever. They won't be teenagers forever. God only gives us a short season to be able to have our children under our wings. I want to be intentional in cherishing every moment of it.

If you're a sleepless mom of a newborn, a frazzled mom of a toddler, a busy mom of a young child, a puzzled mom of a tween, or a worried mom of a teenager, HOLD ON. God will give you the grace that you need to get through each day...and precious memories to last a life time.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Hats off to our Heroes!

We always talk about how, as wives and mothers, we wear so many hats. We are chefs and referees, accountants and taxi drivers, doctors and fort builders. But have you thought about the many hats your husband wears? And have you thanked him for his willingness and ability to wear them?

A few nights ago I woke up very startled at what sounded to me like something tapping on our front door. I won't lie- it SCARED me. I don't know if my husband heard the sound himself or if he just heard me begging him to check it out, but he jumped out of bed and ran straight to the front door. That's what our men do. Our men are warriors. They run straight to the danger. I thanked him for saving me from the alarming noise which turned out to be an overturned trashcan that the raccoons were playing with. But last night I thought about it again and I took a moment to thank him for being our protector and shared with him how much it means to me to be married to someone who always puts our safety above his own.

What hats does your husband wear? Some common hats are that of provider, protector, chauffer, coach, teacher, counselor, friend, lover, accountant, mechanic, grounds keeper, fitness instructor, etc.. Have you thanked him for being any of these things lately? Maybe your husband plays a unique role in your family. Is your husband the chef or the primary child care provider? Thank him! What special abilities and talents has God given him that he uses for the good of your family? As I type this I'm reminded that my husband is my public defender- when I'm on the phone with some company's representative that starts to try and bully me, my husband is right there to remind them who they are speaking with and how he expects them to speak to me. I need to thank him for that!

I challenge you today to think of the hats your husband wears today and thank God for giving him those talents and abilities. Then go thank your husband for his willingness to do those things for your family. Get creative in how you thank him! A little love and encouragement goes a long way!

Tuesday, June 11, 2013


I hate getting splashed. I mean, I really hate getting splashed. I don't like running through the sprinkler or getting sprayed with the hose. I prefer a bath over a shower any day. I don't even like getting splashed when I'm in the pool. It doesn't matter how wet I already am, I just do not like getting splashed.

The problem is, in life, we get splashed a lot. I have a beautiful drawing that a dear friend drew for me of an image God gave me several years ago. When everything in my life was falling apart, I would curl up in a ball in my bed and cry, begging God to hold me as I cried myself to sleep. God gave me this beautiful image of me as a small child, curled up in His great big hands, with the waves crashing all around underneath us, the lightening striking across the sky, as I slept peacefully and blissfully unaware.

That's a beautiful image and it has carried me through many dark nights of resting in His presence, however it would probably be more accurate if the little girl was sleeping in a wet soppy puddle in God's hands. Oh, how I long to be blissfully unaware of the pain, devastation, and sin that surrounds me! How I would love to snuggle with my Pappa God, unscathed by the storms. But you and I both know that when the storms come, we get splashed, even in the safety of our Creator's hands.

God has offered us many promises in His Word. He has promised never to flood the Earth again (Gen 9:11), He promised to always be with us (Joshua 1:9), He promised to deliver us from bondage if we commit ourselves to Him (1 Samuel 7:3)... but He never promised it would be easy. When He promised to carry us over the storms of life, He never promised that we wouldn't get wet.

I don't know about you, but there have been many occasions that I have found myself floundering about in God's hands, dripping wet, gasping for air, thinking that I might drown in the rain.... forgetting it is HE who creates the rain that holds me. I get so frustrated with the fact that I'm being splashed that I loose sight of the fact that I'm being held safely over a roaring ocean. I get so preoccupied with trying to find an umbrella, that I miss what God is doing for me. I get so mad that there is water in my eyes, preventing me to see what lies ahead, that I forget God is the One carrying me.

Friend, are you getting splashed?? I know I am. Right now I am a soppy, drippy, wet mess. But I am SAVED. I cannot be devoured by the rising waters! I cannot be lost at sea! My Pappa God will NOT turn loose of me. He will hold me safely and securely in His hands.... wet as I am, He will not drop me! Do you know that friend? Do you believe it? Can you wipe the wet hair from your eyes for just a minute to peek out over God's hands and take sight of the roaring storm? Can you see what you are being delivered from? Together, let's be mindful to stop fussing when we get splashed and be grateful that we've been saved!

1 Timothy 1:12 "That is why I am suffering as I am. Yet this is no cause for shame, because I know whom I have believed, and am convinced that he is able to guard what I have entrusted to him until that day."

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Lessons Learned in the MRI Machine

Last Friday I found myself flat on my back in what I can only describe as one of my most hated places on Earth - the MRI machine. As someone who has been claustraphobic her entire life, let me just say that a closed MRI (for 2 hours!)  is about as torturous as I've had the displeasure of experiencing. Nevertheless, that's where I was Friday morning. But I had time to prepare myself mentally for the task at hand and I had developed a game plan that included praying, praying, praying, and some more praying. I figured nothing could be better for taking my mind off of my situation than keeping it focused on Jesus and lifting up those that I love to Him. Well... it was a good plan, but God had a better one.

Bundled up, tucked in, and blindfolded I made my way into the MRI tomb... I mean, machine. I breathed deeply, I started praying, and within 15 seconds I knew this was never going to work. The machine was so loud I couldn't seem to focus my thoughts. I literally couldn't hear myself think. No matter how hard I tried to pray for the long list of people I had mentally prepared to pray for, I kept thinking about the tightness of the enclosure I was in. I kept thinking about my itching nose or my suddenly sore shoulder or my desire to yawn really, really big. Frustrated, I mentally reprimanded myself and begged Jesus to help me focus on Him. Every time I lost my focus I felt more and more helpless. I knew I had at least 2 hours in this machine. My circumstances were NOT going to change. And I was not strong enough to overcome them. Even praying to Jesus could not keep my mind off of the situation I was in.

As I focused on my breathing I began to notice the patterns in the noises of the MRI machine and realized there was a rhythm to them. Instead of fighting so hard to ignore the machine that I hated so much, I started paying more attention to it. As much as I hated being encapsulated in the world's most annoying piece of brilliant machinery, I suddenly found the rythms somewhat soothing. The next thing I knew I was singing "Great Is Thy Faithfulness" and "The Wonderful Cross" to the rythm of the MRI machine (in my head, of course!) Take THAT Satan! Before I knew it, the kind lady eating her delicious smelling lunch in the little booth across the room from me was telling me that the tests were halfway done. As I praised in rythm with the massive machine, my body relaxed. I won't lie... I still had moments of slight panic in which I quickly asked God to grab ahold of me. But as long as I continued singing in my head, I was at peace. I even managed to simultaneously pray for my friends and family while keeping the praise songs flowing. By the time the end of my two hour tests had arrived, I was so relaxed I needed help sitting up. I walked out of that room feeling light-headed from the relaxation that had occured in my most stress filled situation. I was completely at rest in Jesus.

It was a great teaching moment for me... When God says to stay focused on Him, He doesn't mean that we should pretend the things around us don't exist. He means we need to see Him IN those things. Once I met with God in the noises, I was able to relax and it wasn't nearly as bad.

What noises are frightening you today? Is it the criticism of your husband? Is it the financial threats that the economy is screaming? No matter what noise the enemy is trying to use to block you from hearing Jesus, you need not worry. You can't always tune into Jesus in your own strength. But if you seek Him where you are, He will reveal Himself to you. He will meet you where you are. The scariest sounds in your world can become the hushed lullabies of our Savior. So cut yourself some slack. Stop trying to shut out the world. Invite Jesus to meet you right where you are. He never disappoints.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

My friend, Jaime

I want you to meet my friend, Jaime. I mean, I seriously want you to meet her. Your life will be blessed by her in ways that I cannot explain. And not just when you're around her. She'll move away and for the next several years you'll only continue to realize how amazing she is and kick yourself for not getting to know her better while you were in the same state. Trust me. I speak these things from experience. Jaime is probably blushing now, so I should move on.

Let me tell you what I love about my friend Jaime. Are you ready for this??? She believes God. I mean, she doesn't just beleive in God. She BELIEVES God. She takes Him at His Word. She obeys Him in complete and full anticipation of His blessings. I know, I know... many of us think, "Well, I kinda do that, too." No you don't. I mean, you try like I do... but we fall seriously short. I honestly never thought that anyone could follow so hard after Christ, believing Him, trusting Him, relying on Him the way my friend Jaime does. We tend to love God and follow Him but when we find ourselves in the middle of a tantrum because things didn't go our way, we pat each other on the back and say, "It's ok. You're only human." I used to think that way ok. But I don't anymore. Not since God introduced me to Jaime. So let me introduce her to you...

Jaime is the mother of 3 beautiful little boys... Micah (9), Noah (6), Isaac (11months) and the wife (for 12 yrs) of Jason. Jason recently left for his 3rd deployment. I have much to tell you about that, but first I want to tell you what drew my heart to Jaime in the first place. Jaime loves God's Word. I mean, she LOOOOOOOOVES it! She says it is "essential to every area of my life." She goes much farther than reading Scriptures... she memorizes and meditates on them. And I don't mean she has memorized John 3:16 and Romans 3:23. Jaime has memorized chunks of Scripture that bring her encouragement, instruction and comfort. She's even memorized the entire book of James!!

I asked Jaime why she has chosen to devote so much time to memorize Scripture. Her response? "I can't teach God's Word to my children if I don't know it. I need to know how to respond to them with Bible verses...what God's Word says about things they are struggling with...whether it is conflict & how to resolve it, complaining, lying, being unkind, anger, etc...we are all sinners and we all struggle...God's Word is the ultimate counseling/teaching guide..."All Scripture is profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness"...

Jaime sets time aside each morning and each evening for prayer and meditation on the Word. She picks out Scriptures to teach her boys and works on memorizing them with her children or she looks for verses that help her deal with the circumstances of her life.

She says, "God's Word is the instruction manual I use for my life, marriage, parenting, memorizing God's Word helps me to live my life, obey the Lord, teach my children, encourage my husband, know my role as a wife, help in our struggle with sin, comfort me, etc...If I am struggling I can remember what God's Word says about it...and if I know what God's Word says it helps me to be more discerning...etc..."

When I was going through an incredibly difficult trial in my own life, I was so blessed to know Jaime. I had been the leader of a Bible study for Military Wives at our church that she had been a part of. She came along beside me in prayer and encouragement. She sent me books and a Bible and Scriptures to read and memorize. I learned alot about Jaime during my trial. As the "leader" of such a group I was humbled at how much she taught me about loving God, about truly digging into Him and His Word, about living for Him and with Him and thru Him.

Jaime says, "Reading, memorizing, meditating...all go hand in is a way of life. The more we study God's Word...the more we love Him and the more we love Him...the more we desire to study His Word and the more we study it...the more we are able to memorize it."

This woman does more than talk the talk. She walks the walk. Don't believe me? You should be lucky enough to be her facebook friend and read the status updates that she posts. They encourage my soul every time. For example... a short time ago, she posted on facebook that her husband had just learned that he may have to deploy rather quickly. In a matter of days, he was on orders to leave. If you're like me, this kind of event can leave you horribly sad and shaken if not angry, panicky, worried, anxious and completely devestated. With three small boys to care for, Jaime faced the deployment with such grace, from the very beginning.

Her first status read: Just found out on Wednesday that Jason will be deploying back to Afghanistan for about 10 months...leaving as early as (XXX DATE)..."The LORD is my strength and my shield; in Him my heart trusts, and I am helped; my heart exults, and with my song I give thanks to Him."
Psalm 28:7

I'll  be honest... thanking God is not the first thing I would think to do, even tho God tells us to give thanks in all things.

The following days, she continued to post Scriptures of praise, thankfulness and faith in God. She publicly thanked God for the tools He's given her to face deployment. She was honest about her feelings, sharing that it was hard to watch her husband pack for Afghanistan. She didn't sugar coat what she is going through. She lives in Alaska. She has to learn how to use a snow blower. She has to keep her family warm and fed for a very long winter. But she's optimistic. And hopeful.... because she knows in Whom she trusts.

I don't know about you... but just by looking at Jaime, I'm encouraged to be more like her. I see the benefits of digging into the Word. I see the way it can truly transform our lives if we let It. If knowing and meditating on God's Word can give you the kind of grace this woman has, I WANT IT.

How about you?

Thank you, Jaime for your beautiful, living testimony. You are a blessing beyond the ability I have to express it.