Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Preparing for Winter: When You Think It Might Be Cancer

Why the woolen mitten, scarf and sweater? Could it be that time of year?

Actually, no. That's not it at all. 

Just look at me. Dressed in layers because for some reason, not in my control, my whole body shook. From the chattering of teeth down to the core of my being.

Part of the reason is that the room was as cold as an ice locker. The other reason is this particular MRI was double the  intensity of a conventional one. The power of this three Tesla magnet could pick up a pick-up truck. And, I was going to be right underneath the thing.

The first encounter with this behemoth, I buckled under the pressure and had to reschedule. After a few sleepless nights, I faced the giant again. This time with a pocketful of God's promises in my heart, a latin prayer and a banner of the love of God over me.

Dona nobis pacem.

Grant us peace.

This is what I sang over and over as I lay face down, postrate before my King in the belly of the MRI.

The biggest enemy in my thinking is the fear of the process more than having cancer. The tests, the surgery, the treatments and possibly facing a disease that can cause death sets my knees knocking, and not just figuratively. 

I don't even know if I have cancer yet. 

Still, at times, my mind turns out of control over the possibilities. Of course ending at who will take care of the ones in my care.

I want to be here with them their whole life through. They need me. My love, my encouragement, my guidance.

But, I have to remember. They have each other.

And, I need to rest in the fact they have their daddy here to love on them, and their Daddy in heaven who takes care of all their needs.

Dona nobis pacem.

The peace of God. That surpasses all understanding. This is what I need. For I don't know what the future holds, but He does, and He's holding onto me. And, that, my friends, is enough.

Dona Nobis Pacem

Friday, October 14, 2016

To My Pro-Choice Friends: Give Life a Chance

My friends,

Please listen. Don't turn away. Try to understand.

A person is a person no matter how small.

You may ask, what do you mean?

It's common knowledge that the name of what is growing inside of a pregnant woman is called fetus, not baby. And so, not a person.

I beg you to look again.

At conception, two separate DNA combine to form the living blueprints of a new individual, right?

We may not see a face in the unformed body, but given time, all the genetic characteristics of this person will spring to life.

She may have the blue eyes of her mother, or the dark hair of her father. She may enjoy music like her father or have an appreciation for art like her mother. She may have a rebellious streak like them both.

But, for now. She needs to grow, to be born.

The problem is, she was not planned, her parents are no longer together and there's this option called abortion.

Her mother enters the dimly lit abortion clinic. Other young women glance at her from their chairs. Reflexively holding their stomachs. Waiting for the results of their pregnancy tests and agonizing over the chance to no longer be pregnant.

As she joins the other women, a thought slips quietly into her mind. What if it's a girl?

She pictures an infant in a white frilly dress. Held in her arms, balanced on the hip.

Pushing against the gravity of her decision, she gets out of her chair and leaves the office. With the child still in her womb.

That woman was my mother.

Given time to grow, to be born, here I am today.

Not everyone is given that chance.

My faith that a person is a person before they are born was put to the test when I was seven months pregnant and carrying a child deemed "incompatible with life."

He sure looked alive as he kicked about on the ultrasound screen.

But, the doctors who diagnosed his condition were well aware one gene did not carry its message to form kidneys. Therefore, my son was lacking these organs essential to life.

At that time, there was no treatment, no cure.

For the rest of my pregnancy, I would be his life support.

And, when he was born, he would die.

One doctor shared the option of terminating the pregnancy.

Reflexively, I clutched my protruding stomach.

This is a baby. My baby.

I couldn't do such a thing.

No matter how much it hurt to carry him, I couldn't turn away from the fact of his existence.

It would be a denial of the truth of his life, however short.

I allowed myself to bond with my baby, to love him right until the end.

Isn't a mother's arms the best place for a baby who is going to die?

He was a person.

He mattered.

He had worth.

All people do.

Even a person who only lives eight hours on this dusty planet.

His little life, changed mine forever. When he died, a piece of my heart went with him.

October is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month. It's a time to think about women in their hidden grief.

Included in this time, please remember the over 4,000 babies that die from abortion each and every day in America.

Because a person is a person before they are born.

If you or someone you know are pregnant and in difficult circumstances, please find a pregnancy resource center in your area. You will be loved, encouraged, and cared for without judgement. And, if you have already experienced an abortion, you will find tools to heal.

Thank you for listening and considering.

Your friend no matter what you decide,


Sunday, December 6, 2015

To My Boy in Heaven

He would have been twelve years old yesterday. But, this was not God's plan for him. Our little boy, Luke Joseph only lived for a day.

This is the letter his daddy wrote to him...
Dear Luke,

What can I say? You are my one and only little boy. I held you in my arms for such a very short time. Eight hours, that was all the time that God allowed us to have with you. But, let me assure you that they were some of the best hours of my life. It was pure joy for me to hold you and kiss your sweet little head, and place my finger in your tiny little hand.

It was simply pure joy to know you little one. When your little hand seemed to squeeze my finger and one of your little eyes opened to peek at me. To see you breathing much longer than the doctors said you would.

I’m sorry that I did not get to know you better in my life. I’m sorry that we didn’t get to do all the things that daddies and little boys get to do. I wanted so much to take you to the park and push you in the swing, teach you how to ride a bike, take you fishing, and play catch.

But, that was not in God’s plan. God’s plan was for you to stay with your mommy and me for just a short time, and then to go to heaven to be with Him.

God loves you very much and has a special purpose for you there. I think you are very happy there, too. There is no sickness, no pain, or cruelty up there like there is down here.

Heaven is a place filled with love, for God is love and you can trust Him to take care of you.

As for me, I’m happy that you’re with Him, but sad that you’re leaving without me. Your mommy and I miss you very much and will think about you every day. But, don’t worry, one day we’ll come to heaven to live with God, too, and we’ll be with each other again.

Remember that I love you very much and you will stay in my heart forever.



Wishing Luke a happy twelth birthday in heaven. We are thankful for eternal life in Christ Jesus and long for the day when we can hold our sweet boy in our arms again.

 "And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, 'Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God.
He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”
And he who was seated on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.” Also he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.”
Revelation 21:3-5

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

The Pumpkin Patch Prayer

Having the kids help me run the pumpkin patch at my church seemed like a great idea. Hard work builds character, right?

It was our job to turn all the pumpkins so they wouldn't spoil, try to sell as many as possible and one more thing...

A new shipment of 300 pumpkins would be coming in and because the teens were at camp, there might not be a lot of help.

"Search me O God and know my heart. Test me and know my anxious thoughts...(Psalm 139: 23,24)"

You better believe I was breathing this prayer to the Lord as I strolled around the pumpkin patch turning each one.

With my husband and children, we would have exactly six people to unload pumpkins, some as big or bigger than my four-year-old.

We needed help.

One college student showed up, but the delivery truck arrived late, and he had to leave for class.

Another young man, from another church hopped into the truck to help. And, he was a customer!

The delivery truck driver lent us a hand. He had other deliveries to make, and he saw we needed the help.

A few more people showed up. 

There weren't many of us working, but we formed a small line, passing the pumpkins one-by-one until they reached my husband who laid each of them on the ground.

Our hearts are like pumpkins in the Father's hands. When we go through difficulties and uncertain times, it's an opportunity to trust in Him more.

He washes us clean with the Word, pulls the stringy sin of self-reliance out of our hearts and sets us right-side up with the Light of His glorious grace shining bright within. 

My husband laid down the last pumpkin. By the grace of God, few hands made an overwhelming task get done.

Now we would have enough to sell at the fall festival on the weekend. And, it's true, hard work does build character, but the kids are not the only ones needing to grow.

"Create in me a clean heart O God, renew a steadfast spirit within me. (Psalm 51:10)"

Thursday, October 1, 2015

When the Cold Winds Blow: Healing from Pregnancy and Infant Loss

When the autumn winds blow fresh and cool, the maple leaves ambling to the ground, a slow but pervasive sadness creeps up. It doesn’t take long for me to know why.

And in the midst of this ache, a little light trickles in.

An idea. A glimmering grace to hold onto. A comfort to ease the pain.

Gathering leaves, big and small, symmetrical or somewhat askew, I hold them to my heart.

With broken crayons, sheets of blank paper and children needing something to do, I demonstrate. Taking a single leaf, I cover it with paper and rub it over and over again with a red crayon.

As if by magic, the leaf appears. First the stem, the veins and the outline of the leaf’s three points.

My kids are in awe and my heart is at rest. 

To turn death into a learning experience, a thing to grow from, gives me renewed focus and grace...

To look to the One who comforts me and love on the ones I have here.

I have this little blue scrapbook. A book of remembrance. Of a time of waiting for a sweet little baby. A son. His prognosis was grave. I was his life support. When he was born, he would die. Back then, bilateral renal agenesis (BRA) had no treatment and still has no cure. I received the news the beginning of autumn.

December came and he was wrapped up warm and comfortable in my womb while I waited for his birth day. The day I’d have to say goodbye.

Another month before his due date, I spent half that windswept day on a playground with my two-year-old Bright Girl. Pushing her in the swing. Watching her joy as she raced around, her sneakers crunching on the fallen leaves. Not knowing it would be the day before my son’s birth day.

Giving birth to a child born without the capacity to live was incomprehensible. How can you prepare for it?

All I could do was breathe and pray.  

When trying to savor each moment, time slows down. It would be one of the longest days of my life. And, I held my little boy, my Luke, for as long as I could before he passed from here to heaven.

I left the hospital, with empty womb and empty arms.

Trying to find some sort of normalcy, when my strength returned, I took my toddler to the playground. As I pushed her in the swing, a shadow seemed to block the sun. It wasn’t a shadow others could see, but it was felt. And only by me.

I don’t remember how long the shadow lasted, but it came and went like the ebb and flow of the tides.

And it's been like that each and every autumn, when the cold winds begin to blow. For twelve years now. The shadow of grief comes. Sometimes for a day, sometimes a bit longer.

At this point, I don't know if I can call grief a friend, but I now see a pattern for when it settles in.

And, I don't mind it anymore.

Loving and losing someone hurts. The pain means they mattered. And, the latent grief that comes is a reminder to us to think of the ones we miss in heaven. The ones we're waiting to see again.

And when the shadow of grief seems to linger, just remember...

You will bloom again.

Like the sunflowers who turn to face the sun, may we turn to face our Savior and wait for His healing, comfort and grace.

A wise king once said,

“To every thing there is a season…a time to be born and a time to die...a time to weep and a time to laugh…” (Ecclesiastes 3:3-8)

And Jesus said, 

“Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted (Matthew 5:4).”

Death has not won the victory, Christ has. His love is eternal. Death couldn't stop Him. He lives on
 and by grace, our loved ones who are gone, live on.

Faith gives us hope.

Hope helps us bloom. To be open to joy.

Love is the source of that hopethe love of Christ, our gentle Savior who leads us on the path He has laid out for us. 

For some of us, it is the path of grieving in hope. The hope that brings whispers of a joy to come. On falling leaves and in fingers making impressions for little hearts to learn.

Sunday, September 6, 2015

A Walk in the Garden

"The Bible is boring." I overheard someone once say.

What could a person possibly say in response to that?

At the same time, I could understand where she was coming from. There was a point in my young life where I tried reading the Bible, starting in Genesis and couldn't get past the first few chapters. Albeit, it was a King James Version of the Bible written in a tongue that I just didn't get. Definitely not my heart language.

I wouldn't say at that point the Bible was boring. But, to me it was indecipherable. Impossibly hard to understand. And, didn't seem relevant to my life.

Fast forward a few years and a few more comprehensible versions of the Bible later. I was a mama by then and involved in my church. Invited by some ladies to a women's Bible study. 

One of the leaders of my group, hugged her Bible. Literally held it to her heart like it was her most prized possession. "My favorite time of the day is when I first wake up in the morning and spend time with the Lord."

I wanted that kind of love for the Word of God. And, I knew I didn't have it.

It was a struggle just to keep up with the homework for the Bible study.

But, a time came when I purposed to get up in the morning to pray and read my Bible. To spend time with the Lord. 

I was starting a new part-time job and knew the rest of the day, I'd be too busy. Mornings were my only window of free time.

That fateful morning I woke up. But, didn't want to get up. So, I lay there. Making up excuses in my mind as to why I needed a little more rest.

Then it came.

A still, small voice deep within me.

Definitely not my own (I was busy thinking of excuses).

"Seek My face." The Voice said.

So I did.

Opening my Bible, I landed in Psalms chapter 27 and when I came to verse 8, the words nearly leapt off the page and into my heart.

"When You said, 'Seek My face,' my heart said to You, 'Your face LORD, I will seek."

That did it for me. I could finally see the purpose in reading the Wordso that I could meet with the Living Word. 

And, by the grace of God, I've been seeking the face of the Lord morning by morning ever since. And, let me tell you, the seeking is far from boring. It's i
nspiring. Miraculous. Life changing. 

Some would say taking a stroll in a garden is boring. But, the sights, the sounds, the scents enlarge the soul.

And, the fruit of reading the Word of God, basking in His glorious presence, sheds His light on the rest of our day, where He speaks to us of His majesty, grace and peace. 

It is attempting to touch the unseen. Where Christ is, seated in the heavenlies. And makes us aware of His presence. 

He speaks to us in whispers of love, reminds us who we are and why we are here.

We need to hear these things.

Solitary time spent with the Lord is not some dull duty, it's an honor, a delight and our right as a children of God. We get to talk with our Maker.

How awesome is that?

Jesus answered and said to him, “If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him.
John 14:23 NKJV

Sunday, August 16, 2015

The One Place to Lay My Head

Throughout my life, I've felt this restlessness. Like there was no where for me to be still and lay the full weight of my being upon to experience full acceptance, comfort and relief.

Jesus felt the same way when He walked upon the earth. He was far from heaven where He dwelt in perfect unity with the Father. 

If you look at the four gospels (Matthew 26:36, Mark 1:35, Luke 9:18, and John 17:1), you'll see that Jesus spent a plentitude of time in prayer. Like He was getting some face-to-face time with His heavenly Father to remind Him who He was, why He was here and where He was going.

Who He Was:

Jesus knew He was the Son of God. As the Son, He has always existed in perfect unity with the Father and the Holy Spirit. 

He has no beginning and no end (Revelation 1:8). From the breath of His mouth the universe was made (Psalm 33:6). 

Even though He knew this about Himself, He didn't strut around demanding that all people bow at His feet and pay Him homage. No, He was completely humble. That is what makes Him so approachable. He fully accepts those who come to Him. 

He says to each one of us:

"Come to Me all you who labor and are heavy laden 
and I will give you rest..."
Matthew 11:28-30

Why He was here:

Jesus once commented to His disciples that He had "no place to lay His head (Luke 9:58)."

This of course was figurative. Meaning that He could never settle here. Not that He was restless, but He chose to come to this world for a reason. This crazy, messy, beautifully-broken place that was not His home. 

The King of the universe, who dwelt in inapproachable light in heaven came to this often dark world to complete a mission.

That mission was for us.

To save us.

It may not seem apparent at times, but we are drowning in sin. We only get to live one life and then the judgement (Hebrews 9:27). 

Do we really think we deserve to go to heaven, to be with God forever? To the place where His glory dwells? Where there is no sin?

Unless we are living in denial, none of us can claim to be without sin. And that means none of us deserves heaven.

There is only one way for us to have eternal life.

And that is in the person of Jesus Christ (1 John 5:12).

He lived a perfect, sinless life, enduring poverty and suffering. Many became His followers, but by the ruling religious leaders, He was rejected and ultimately this lead to His death on the cross.

He died. God. Died. For us. Can you let that sink in. It is a profound life-changing truth.

But, death could not hold Him...

Where He was going:

Three days later, the stone was rolled away. And in the full glory of resurrection, He appeared to His disciples and to over 500 people (1 Cor. 15:6) before returning to heaven. His home. Where He is waiting for us.

For now, in prayer, He is the place where we can truly rest our head. 

He is for us and not against us (Rom. 8: 31-32) and accepts us with all our flaws. He comforts us in our afflictions and gives us relief from trying to live in this crazy world on our own. 

Because He lives, by faith, His Holy Spirit lives in us and gives us power, the same power that raised Jesus from the dead (Rom. 8:11) to overcome sin and become more and more like Him. 

And wherever He is, that is where I belong.

"But He was pierced for our sins, crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on Him, and by His wounds we are healed."

Isaiah 53:5