Sunday, December 17, 2017

Cheaper Than Therapy

I have forgotten so much...there is so much I can't remember no matter how hard I try. 

Then there are all the things that have been my flooding my memory as we have approached this week. I am not sure if Facebook is a blessing or a curse in this case. (This video is from the week before diagnosis when we thought Jonathan was bouncing back from the flu.)

Friday, the 16th, we met Mark's sister and family for dinner and Jonathan brought home his very first Paw Patrol toy. Chase and his truck were the only toys I happened to throw into my bag as we walked the door Monday to head to the doctor.

Not the greatest picture, but I only took two.
Daddy putting together The Lookout.
Sunday night was the Children's Christmas Program. Afterward, there was a fellowship and presents for the kids. Jonathan was not impressed with Santa, and he definitely was not acting like himself.
Before Mark left for work Monday morning, we agreed that if we could get an appointment Jonathan needed to go back to the doctor. We didn't know if he hadn't completely recovered from having the flu, or if he had another ear infection (which it turned out he did), but there was something going on. 

Mid-afternoon Monday, Madison and I loaded up the boys and made the trek to the pediatrician. Another nasal swab for the flu - negative. Check the ears - positive. And then the words that began it all...

"Hey, my mom wanted me to mention that when they were here at Thanksgiving, Jonathan seemed very pale to her. There happens to be a history of anemia in our family, so you may want to check it out."  ...  Now if you have seen me in person, you know "pale" is nothing new, and you can't get much fairer than our two little blue-eyed "cotton-tops" already are, so this is not something that registered to me. 

[By the way, our oncologist told us that a lot of kids are diagnosed around the holidays because parents have gotten used to the changes in their appearance over time, but when family comes into town and mentions that something doesn't look right, it triggers a trip to the doctor. So, speak in love, but don't hesitate to say something. You may save a child's life.]

When the nurse came back for the finger stick, I was too distracted with holding him still and his screams to pay much attention to what she was actually doing. When she came back the second time because they didn't think the results of the first test could possibly be right, she had my full attention. I don't remember where the wayward drop landed, I just remember comparing it in my mind to watered down tomato soup and knowing that wasn't how blood was supposed to look.

When the nurse practitioner came in to explain that there wasn't a problem with the test, Jonathan had a hemoglobin level of 4 and we needed to go to the hospital for more testing, my brain shut down. 

"So, we go home and we'll get it all set up for, like, tomorrow?"

"No, you go straight from here. We are calling now. They will be expecting you."

I might have been able to talk myself out of all the horrible things running through my brain if every single person who worked in that office hadn't come by to give me a hug and ask if we needed anything, but when the pediatrician's office sends your 23 month old off with not just one sucker, but the entire bag of suckers, you know you have just crossed some threshold you never wanted to cross.

Have you ever reached a point in your life where you knew things were going to change forever? Something was about to happen and whatever "normal" you knew was gone forever? I took this picture somewhere around 10-11pm on the awful hospital room sofa. We were waiting on the preliminary blood work to come back. There was no way Jonathan was going to sleep in the hospital crib (those things look like tiny jail cells) and Mark was stretched out on the other half. As "not normal" as those circumstances were, I just needed a picture before everything changed. 

And change it did. And change we continue to do.

If you aren't a normal reader of Jonathan's journey, but want to know more...

If you are a normal reader, thank you for joining us through our struggles. I would have posted this in Caring Bridge, but it doesn't allow the in-text pictures or video. I know most, and maybe even all, of this has been shared before but I needed to process so I could stop crying every time I looked at my news feed. Post-traumatic stress disorder is a very real thing for families dealing with cancer. I don't think I am at that point...just year anniversary/holiday emotional, so please don't worry [Mother, that is directed toward you!], but if you know families going through this, give them an extra hug, smile, or word of encouragement this holiday season.

Saturday, May 7, 2016

Mother's Day Presence

It isn't a typo, I promise. I really do know the difference between "presents" and "presence". But "presence" is my "present" this year....

..........In my home.

With the exception of a couple of professional days, my maternity leave will carry me to the end of the school year.

Then I am done.

I won't be returning to the school next year.

Education will continue to be a daily part of my life, but it will look completely different...Mostly because it will be me learning at the hands of the two most adorable little boys you have ever seen.

It was not a decision made lightly or flippantly.

I delivered newspapers in elementary school. I had a daily babysitting job in the eighth grade. I completed my first W-4 form and earned my first "official" paycheck when I was 15. I haven't been unemployed since...over 22 years of gainful employment (almost enough for retirement if they were all at the same place).  I worked my way through high school. I worked my way through college. I even, at times, worked two jobs. I moved 600 miles from everything I had ever known so I could work.

I wanted to make that clear because often the first thought about a woman who stays at home with her children is that she is lazy and doesn't want to work.

Now I work at changing diapers, feeding a baby, and cleaning up the mess from older baby feeding himself. I work at meal planning, grocery shopping, and dinner preparing. I work at laundry, and laundry, and laundry. I work at cleaning and organizing, and repeating the process as necessary. I work at reading stories and singing abc's and going for walks. I work at finding patience. I work at not dissolving in tears 20 times a day.

I know some amazing women who can do both, and do both excellently. I admire them, but I am not one of them. I lack the ability to split my focus without something falling through the cracks. Instead my life seemed constantly filled with guilt...guilt that I wasn't being the mother I should while I was at work, guilt that I wasn't being the teacher I should while I was with my family.

I don't exactly know what this new adventure will look like, but I know the journey will be an awesome one.

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Learning to be American

It was one of those rare opportunities I had to sub in an American History classroom, so it was a good day. I didn't know that it would be one of those inconsequential days that end up changing your life forever.

I was straightening the teacher's desk, putting things back in order and making sure I had covered all of the tasks that had been left for me. I almost didn't see it, a flyer for free Saturday seminars at the Ashbrook Center at Ashland University, hiding under a stack of papers. I made a copy of the information and was registered before the day was over.

I have long forgotten the topic of that first seminar, but I will forever remember the giant of a man with the curly white hair (and the Reese's Cup cheesecake). That was the first of many times that I would hear Peter Schramm describe his family's journey from Hungary, from the country of their birth to the country of their heart. A story that never grows old. (You can read Peter's story here.)

I attended every single seminar that Spring, and the following Fall, and the next Spring. I was even chosen to attend one of the week-long Summer courses. Before long the Ashbrook Center started toying with the idea of starting a Master's program. I knew I would be one of their first students. Not just because of my love of history, but because of the man who never grew tired of speaking about Lincoln and Huckleberry Finn and the Elephant's Child.

The atmosphere Peter created at the Ashbrook Center (and I believe they continue to uphold) is what makes the program so successful. One of the first summer session speeches I heard Peter deliver was on the meaning of "leisure" ...I never worked so hard at leisure as I did at the Ashbrook Center. Sitting in that beautiful room, surrounded by books, listening to classmates debate the finer points of the previous lecture while waiting on the next one to start, the faint smell of cigar smoke wafting in from an open office door. As much as I enjoyed it when Peter actually taught my courses, it was almost more fun when he'd be working in his office and the professor would make a statement he disagreed with. From out of nowhere you would hear his loud objection or have him suddenly appear from behind the bookcases. You never quite knew where the class discussion would go from there.

I had the privilege to be in classes led by Peter on several occasions. As much as I loved listening to  him talk about Lincoln, I think my all-time favorite was our week-long study of The Invisible Man. I had never spent so much time mining the depths of a novel for hidden treasure. But, the class that I will never forget actually has little to do with the content. A week with Peter Schramm and Steven Hayward discussing American Statesmen and I honestly remember very little of the class. What I did learn that week was that the man with the mane of a lion has the heart of a teddy bear.

It was the craziest, most chaotic week of my life. I had been subbing for several years, was starting to think I'd be subbing for the rest of my life. In that one week I found out about, interviewed for, and was offered a job...600 miles away...and I had to be there by Monday. I was instantly overwhelmed and thought the only way to survive was to drop the class. When Peter found out, he told me not to do it, that everything would be okay. When I explained that I knew I would never pass the exam because my mind was scattered in so many different directions, he assured me that was not the case.

My life has changed so much in the intervening years. Time, miles, and responsibilities have distanced my interactions with the Ashbrook Center. Just finishing the degree I have worked so hard for has become a greater challenge than I anticipated. I am no longer able to spend time at the Ashbrook Center and I miss its refuge from the busyness of life. Instead, I must take refuge in lessons I have learned, many of them from Peter, about thinking and reasoning and reexamining, but mostly about getting to the heart of a its true essence. That's what Peter has become, the essence of the Ashbrook Center. The essence of what it means to be an American.

Sunday, May 10, 2015

But I Didn't Know... My Journey Into Motherhood

Saturday night when I started feeling the cramps, I wondered what was going on.

     But I didn't know.

As I would wake up in the night to use the restroom and the cramps were worse, I began to think things might be closer than we thought.

     But I didn't know.

By 5am, I couldn't stand it any longer and decided to try a cup of coffee. I was pacing the floor when I heard my mom go to the restroom; I almost stopped her.

     But I didn't know.

By 5:30 some of the cramps were about to bring me to my knees, so I called my doctor. When the answering service told me which doctor was on call, I almost said I'll wait until it is someone else's turn. That response was validated when the first question out of the doctor's mouth was "Are you pregnant?" After establishing that, yes, that's why I've been visiting your practice for the last nine months, and describing what I had been feeling, she recommended heading to the hospital to get checked out.

     But I didn't know.

Mark and Madison had just gotten in from a youth hunt a few hours earlier and Mark was exhausted. My mom had been working for the last month to help us get things caught up and prepared for the baby and she was worn out. I had been worried for weeks that I would turn into one of those over-reacting pregnant ladies that is so desperate to have their baby that they are at the hospital every 12 hours. So, I asked her if she was sure because I would have to wake everyone up and I didn't want to do that for a false alarm. Her, "Well, Maryann, you are the one who called me. I guess that's a decision you'll have to make" ....probably would have gotten her slapped had she been in the same room.

     But I didn't know.

I decided to take a shower to try to relax. Things got worse. I shook Mark's shoulder to tell him I needed a chauffeur and went to ask my mom if she wanted to go with us, still thinking that this wasn't real.

     But I didn't know.

By the time we all got loaded in the car, it was about 6:30...not a bad time for trying to make an hour long drive to the hospital as quickly as possible. They tried to keep the conversation light and distracting, but I don't remember much of it...other than the fact that telling a pregnant lady, in the middle of a contraction, that you might run through the drive-thru on the way to the hospital is probably not the best idea, even if you are joking. The pains got stronger the closer we got and, thankfully, the stronger they got the faster Mark seemed to go. We were two exits from the hospital when I heard Mark say something and felt his foot come off the accelerator.

    But I didn't know.

The State Highway Patrolman that had been sitting on the side of the road followed us for a good quarter of a mile before finally pulling us over. My first reaction was "How ironic" because my father got pulled over on the way to the hospital before I was born, but then another contraction hit and I just needed him to hurry things up. I couldn't believe it when (as I'm sitting there with the contraction timer running on my phone) he calmly walks all the paperwork back to his car to process. After what felt like an eternity, he finally returned with a warning, and we finished our journey to the hospital in laughter (in between contractions, at least).

     But I didn't know.

As they got me settled into the room to be assessed, I told the nurse that my blood pressure tends to be low and frequently pain will cause it to drop (as in I pass out on the floor). She looked at me and said, "That's interesting. Right now, it is 140/100." My blood pressure has never been that high.

     But I didn't know.

They kept telling me the doctor was on her way, I assumed they were waiting on her official say-so before officially admitting me. After a couple hours of this the pains were intense enough that I told my mom that it had better be the real thing because I wasn't doing this again.

     But I didn't know.

The doctor still hadn't arrived, but once the nurse discovered that I was at 7cm, I was officially admitted. The nurse then asked what I planned to do for pain management ...the original plan was a natural childbirth because I wanted to stay as mobile as possible during the process.

     But I didn't know.

She then explained to me something that no one, in all my trips to the doctor, had ever bothered to tell me. Apparently, the opening in my pelvis is very small (despite those hips I was always told would be great for childbirth) and it would be almost impossible to have a vaginal delivery without an epidural to handle the pain. I wanted to fight the idea, to keep going with things as planned because once I have a plan to deviate from it is unthinkable. By that point, however, the pain was getting pretty intense, and I agreed to the epidural.

     But I didn't know.

It was sometime after lunch when they told me that the medicine they used to drop my blood pressure had worked too well, and now it was too low, so they had to give me something else to bring it back to normal.

     But I didn't know.

As time kept ticking on that little bundle of energy that I had inside of me was starting to get tired of the struggle. The next several hours were spent watching the monitor to track the contractions. We would track my lines on the monitor until the contraction reached its peak and then shift our attention to the baby's heartbeat. I would hold my breath as it dipped lower and lower and if the line didn't start going back up fast enough, I would start rocking back and forth to move him into a less traumatic position.

     But I didn't know.

When it got to the point where they couldn't wait any longer they knew I couldn't do this by myself. And as things moved into motion with the precision of a well-planned military maneuver I finally recognized the blessing of a doctor with the personality of a drill sergeant. It took the strength of Mark at my back and my mom and the nurse at my legs combined with whatever little scraps I could dig up of my own to bring this long-awaited baby into the world.

     But I still didn't know.

I expected to hear the doctor finally reveal the gender of our child, to have Mark cut the umbilical cord, and to have my baby placed in my arms where I could cry for joy and spend time counting fingers and toes.

     But I didn't know.

The first words from the doctor weren't "It's a boy!" (I heard that from my mother), they were "He breathed in meconium, we need to get his lungs cleaned out." And before I could touch him, or look at this tiny face, he was rushed across the room by the ankles like a bull frog just pulled from the pond. I lay there holding my breath, waiting for that first heart-wrenching cry...

    But I didn't know.

I didn't realize the little world inside my hospital room had descended into chaos. My drill sergeant of a doctor hadn't just doubled her troops, they had multiplied by six. There were nurses everywhere, following orders barked out in a tone that made it clear you were to do exactly as you were told without question or delay. My focus was on the tiny little (now screaming) body under the heat lamp, and then on the scale, and then in my mom's arms rocking in the rocking chair, wondering why I couldn't see or hold my baby.

     But I didn't know.

Mark said later that the doctor didn't stop stitching the entire hour I lay there waiting. My mom said she had never seen so much blood.

     But I didn't know.

It was days later, hearing Mark explain to someone else, when I finally knew how serious things had been. But, at the time, once they finally placed my baby boy in my arms, I thought everything was over.

     But I didn't know.

The catheter came out the next morning, but when Mark and my mom left to go home and get things organized for the next couple days I still hadn't used the bathroom. By late afternoon I was miserable and they catheterized me again. They drained 2000ml in about 10 minutes, more than twice the normal bladder capacity (which is why I now have to bite my tongue everytime a student tries to say they have to go to the bathroom so bad their bladder is going to burst). By mid-day Tuesday, when I was still unable to void, they decided to keep me an extra day. By Wednesday morning, I was in as much misery as I had been before delivery, only this time something was blocking the catheter. After unsuccessful attempts with both a regular and pediatric catheter, I had to wait for a shot of Demerol to take effect before they could try again.

     But I didn't know.

I knew it wasn't normal to be sent home from childbirth with a catheter, but I didn't know how unusual until the next day at the pediatrician's office when she took one look at me and wanted to know why I was out of the hospital. But, for the next week, that was my life...try to feed a baby, clothe a baby, change a baby, carry a baby while being anchored to wherever the collection bag happened to be hanging. Once the catheter was finally removed I was so sick of it that the bladder spasms were actually a welcome relief.

     I didn't know so much about having a baby, some because you have to experience it, other things        that no one could have expected...but I do know that every time I look at those dimples I would do      it all over again.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

The Nest

"Nesting" is one of most joked about parts of a woman's pregnancy, but really what is so funny about wanting to make sure that the world around you is ready to greet your new child? 

We got a late start on getting our nursery put together. In fact, that is what my mom spent most of her time working on during her stay. A few of the [almost] final touches were just added recently.

We didn't know the gender of the baby, so we couldn't do anything too feminine or masculine. Personally, I couldn't stand the idea of anything too pastel or cartoony. 
I had come up with a color scheme I was really excited about, but then discovered that my sister-in-law was using the same one for her little girl...we live far enough away that it would have been okay, but I didn't want to feel like a copy cat.

I started looking for ideas, and knowing that a full-size bed was going to have to share the space, I landed on stack of quilts made by my grandmother.

Inspiration x 2
My mom said she would like to make a baby quilt for the crib, so then I had to find fabric that would coordinate...I never imagined that would be such a difficult job!

I spent a couple hours digging through the bolts of fabric at the local quilt store (can you believe Orangeburg actually has a quilt store!) before finally deciding on these...
When I would tell people that our theme was primary colors with numbers and letters, I got the impression they thought I was planning to "play teacher" with the baby (as if I don't get enough of that during the work day). In reality, the theme was chosen by the fabrics. The "ABC" and "Connect the Dots chalkboard" pieces pulled the rest together better than anything else I could find and everything else came together from there.

Purchased from a seller on Etsy.

Not long after deciding on the fabrics, I found these alphabet verse cards while scrolling through Pinterest. 

I would have never dreamed how difficult something as simple as buying a Boppy pillow can be when you are trying to stay gender-neutral, so when I happened to see one in this chevron pattern I grabbed it.

I was getting frustrated when trying to figure out what to do for a changing table. The room really isn't large enough for a lot of extra furniture and I couldn't find any dressers that would work for the long term. Then, one day, I realized that the desk my grandfather had made was the perfect size for a changing pad. There is just enough room behind it for a basket of diapers and a box of wipes. The hamper fits perfectly in the opening underneath. 

This beautiful rocker was a gift from a very dear family friend. And, after spending some time in the living room, it was just moved into the nursery...something for which my back is very grateful.

Monogrammed (before monogramming was cool) with MEH and DPH...the yellow one is mine and the blue one belongs to my brother (not that he'll be getting it back anytime soon).  =)
These final touches were just added yesterday...the sweaters my grandmother knitted for me and my brother when we were little.

Of course, the best decoration is the one snoozing in the middle of the bed...

Sunday, October 12, 2014

The Oil of Joy for Mourning

Mineral oil, caster oil, cod liver oil, olive oil, coconut oil, various forms of essential oils...even though they have fallen out of fashion with the advancement of modern medicine, throughout history oil has been a step in the healing process.

The burns on Phillip's arm required something stronger than oil to heal properly, but for the hurting hearts involved the oil of joy flowed in abundance.

I have never been much for "signs and wonders" (I grew up an independent-Baptist after all), but I have always believed that when we need it, God doesn't hesitate to remind us that He is there. That reminder hit Mark full-force when he and Phillip returned from the hospital that night and stopped to see what was left of the house.

There were still a few firemen left, checking for hot spots and whatever else it is they do after a fire, and they walked with Mark through the ashes. As they got closer to Madison's room they saw a red glow in the distance. Thinking it was an ember, they all moved toward it to make sure it got snuffed out. But what they saw...

Earlier that fall we had gone to the Christian Music Festival at Carowinds and Madison had gotten a white, plastic cross necklace that lit up with all kinds of neon colors. Like most things you purchase at those types of events, it didn't last long and within a week or two the batteries had died and it didn't work any longer.

But that glowed. In the midst of the darkness and turmoil and smoke and stink and ash...the light of the cross could not be extinguished.

In fact, it was still glowing late the next afternoon when Mark and Phillip took me through the house after our trip to the Augusta Burn Center. After that, the light went away, but the cross still sits on our of the first things moved into this house...our reminder that no matter how bad things might seem, or how impossible the situation, God is always prepared to provide the oil of His joy.

In our day of modern conveniences, we don't take the time to think of something like oil as a symbol of blessing and provision. But God's provision in the story of Elijah and the widow of Zarephath became real to me during this time.

The generosity of the people around us astounded us for weeks. It was never the things or the money that they provided that meant so much, though. It was the love behind those actions.

Even then, the thought of refurnishing a home was overwhelming. Mark and the kids were graciously provided with a place to live (which we have since purchased and is now our permanent home). We moved everything from my apartment that I could live without until the wedding...we even sent my bed and I slept on my tiny, little loveseat until Mark told me I was getting cranky and I borrowed a bed from a co-worker for those last few weeks...but the house still seemed empty.

It seemed like everyday for weeks I'd have a new list...bedding, clothes, hangers, groceries, towels, toiletries, laundry supplies, kitchen never seemed to end. Each day I'd warn Mark that I was going to spend some money and it wasn't going to be cheap. He'd raise his eyebrows a little, take a breath, and ask me for my best estimate before telling me to do what I thought was best.

Later that evening I'd tell him about my purchases and go over how much I spent, but by the time I got to that point he'd have opened an envelope or two that came in the mail, or slipped to him at work, or any other of a multitude of sources. It almost never failed that the envelope would contain just about what I spent that day, often even more.

Again, it was not, and will never be about the "things" that people gave to was, and will always be about the never-ending oil of joy that was being poured out on our lives in the midst of the mourning.

He Gives Beauty for Ashes

A year ago this week my life changed. It has changed many times in the months in between, but this was the first in the series of life-altering events. 

October 10, 2013...the second Thursday of the month. According to the meteorologists the day lasted for 11 hours and 22 minutes, but at the time it felt like an eternity. 

My focus, like most days around that time, was on figuring out how I was going to get ready for my wedding that was just 6 weeks away. Madison had a volleyball game in Hampton, so after school was over, Katie and I got in my car and made the 45 minute drive south. I hadn't really missed that drive since moving to Norway, but my car was still registered there and my taxes were due, so the trip served a double purpose. After the game we met Michelle and the kids at McDonalds for supper and then the three of us made the 45 minute drive back home. 

Mark and Phillip had gone to the Norway CHA meeting. When we got close, I called to ask him if he wanted us to wait at his house or my apartment. He told us to go to my apartment and he would pick the girls up when he was done. By the time we finished that conversation, we were passing his house...I looked right at it...that image is still ingrained on my many times I have been thankful that we didn't stop.

We had only been at my apartment long enough for the bickering over what we would watch on television to stop when Mark called me back...his words were not what I was expecting. It had been a long day and I was anxious to see him, to get one of those hugs that make all the troubles of life go away, or at least momentarily fade from memory. 

"I'm leaving Norway...I'm going to the house...keep the girls...Phillip said the house is on fire."

Those words? No, those were not the words I was expecting to hear.

I think it is a fact (whether it can be proven, or not) that men have no concept of what can go on in the mind of woman. When not given sufficient detail about a situation our minds are more than happy to fill in the gaps with whatever our imagination can create. This is true at 34 and almost-14, Madison's age at the time. She had heard just enough of the conversation to be panicked and it was a battle for the next few minutes to remind her that whatever fear she was experiencing did not need to be passed on to her younger sister.

Then they started...
...from one end of town you could hear them in the distance...
   ...they got louder as they came towards our side of town...
      ...then they faded off again as they raced down Cope Road...
one after another, then a break and a few more...I didn't know Norway had that many fire trucks. 

I didn't find out until later that they don't. When people realized it was Mark's house that was burning, they came from all over the county. They didn't tell the dispatcher they were going so they wouldn't be told to stay put, they just got in the trucks and left. This was the first of many outpourings of love for Mark and his kids that I witnessed.

The anxiety level in my apartment had risen drastically, but Mark told us to stay, so we stayed.

When Mark finally called again, they were still not the words I wanted to hear...

"Phillip is hurt...went into the house to make sure the girls weren't there...has to go to the hospital...wants to see the girls before he leaves to make sure they are okay...can you bring them here?"

That five miles was the longest and shortest drive of my life. I was so anxious to get to Mark that I almost pulled out in front of an ambulance headed to the scene. At the same time I was searching to find the words to explain to a not-quite-8-year-old what was happening and what she might see.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Uproarious Nations

I don't know if it is because it is tucked in behind Psalm 1, which gets so much attention, or if it is because of all the insanity going on throughout the world today that made it seem new, but I don't ever remember paying much attention to the 2nd Psalm.

Why are the nations in an uproar and the peoples devising a vain thing?

But I read that sentence and I had to stop and ask...why are the nations in an uproar? Iraq, Israel, Syria, Egypt, Russia, Ukraine, Iran, North Korea...and just when you think one of them is about to calm down, another area moves to take its place.

But it isn't just the places with active conflict, even in the more "western" nations where we think of things being relatively calm, there is a steady stream of vanity. I am not referring to excessive self-absorption or egotism, although there is plenty of that. I mean the constant stream of worthless and meaningless actions, trying to make ourselves feel good instead of simply doing what is good.

The kings of the earth take their stand and the rulers take counsel together against the Lord and against His Anointed, saying, "Let us tear their fetters apart and cast away their cords from us!"

While I know that the specific reference to the Anointed here is Christ, the Messiah (and I am not trying to make this say something it isn't), in light of all that is happening today, my brain jumped to Israel when I read many nations of the world conspiring together against one people. Or even in other places, Christians and the Christian ideals that have governed our lives for so long. "If only we can tear away and destroy these antiquated and restrictive laws and mores, then we will truly be free, then we can live as we want." But, in reality, when you attack the Lord's anointed, are you not also attacking the Anointed?

He who sits in the heavens laughs, the Lord scoffs at them. Then He will speak to them in His anger and terrify them in His fury, saying,

Like a parent who may silently chuckle at a child futilely trying to free himself from the protective boundaries placed around him, until he reaches that point where damage may be done.

"But as for Me, I have installed My King upon Zion, My holy mountain."

My many misplaced commas aside, this is why I love can change the entire meaning of statement simply with the tense of verb that you choose.

Not, "I had installed"...I put Him there, but He's not there any longer.
Not, "I will install" some random point in the future, He'll show up.
But, "I have installed"...I put Him there, I gave Him this place to rule and He is still there, still in control.

"I will surely tell of the decree of the Lord: He said to Me, 'You are My Son, today I have begotten You. Ask of Me, and I will surely give the nations as Your inheritance, and the very ends of the earth as Your possession. You shall break them with a rod of iron, You shall shatter them like earthenware.'"

The inheritance is His to claim, in the circumstances and timing of choosing, and when He does the strivings and wars will be like children fighting their battles with twigs for weapons and their momma's good china for a shield.

Now therefore, O kings, show discernment; take warning, O judges of the earth.

Unfortunately, too many kings and judges are overwhelmed with their own sense of importance to give heed to any warning. But what about me...

Worship the Lord with reverence and rejoice with trembling.

Do I use this time to worship and rejoice...

Do homage to the Son, that He not become angry, and you perish in the way, for His wrath may soon be kindled.

Does the way I live my life pay homage to the Son, the Anointed, the King?

How blessed are all who take refuge in Him!

"I will say to the Lord, "My refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust!" 

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Before the Morning

Some of you may be familiar with this song by Josh Wilson. I've always liked it. I have a copy of it and I've listened to it frequently...but I hadn't listened to it recently.

Do you wonder why you have to,
feel the things that hurt you,
if there's a God who loves you,
where is He now?

I listened to it last night because it was requested by the 15 (all too soon will be 16) year old girl riding in my backseat. When she started singing along, I started listening to the words with fresh ears.

Maybe, there are things you can't see
and all those things are happening
to bring a better ending
some day, some how, you'll see, you'll see

Then I had to fight to keep from crying in front of the three girls sitting next to me. 

Would you dare, would you dare, to believe,
that you still have a reason to sing,
'cause the pain you've been feeling,
can't compare to the joy that's coming

Because this 15 (all too soon will be 16) year old girl found out Wednesday that her mom has cancer. 

so hold on, you got to wait for the light
press on, just fight the good fight
because the pain you've been feeling,
it's just the dark before the morning

Her mom just happens to be my best friend...the closest thing to a sister I've ever had. My world has been shaken...and I'm a lot older than 15 (or even 16), let alone 7 and 9 (all too soon will be 10) like her brothers.

My friend, you know how this all ends
and you know where you're going,
you just don't know how you get there
so just say a prayer.
and hold on, cause there's good for those who love God,
life is not a snapshot, it might take a little time,
but you'll see the bigger picture

I'm struggling to see the bigger picture (although, my focus has definitely expanded from what I thought my troubles were). 

Would you dare, would you dare, to believe,
that you still have a reason to sing,
'cause the pain you've been feeling,
can't compare to the joy that's coming

But you know who keeps reminding me of that bigger friend. The one who, of anyone, should have the right to be questioning or upset.

so hold on, you got to wait for the light
press on, just fight the good fight
because the pain you've been feeling,
it's just the dark before the morning
yeah, yeah,
before the morning,
yeah, yeah

We don't know where things stand right now.

Once you feel the way of glory,
all your pain will fade to memory
once you feel the way of glory,
all your pain will fade to memory
memory, memory, yeah

There is pain, physical and emotional, felt by many.

Would you dare, would you dare, to believe,
that you still have a reason to sing,
'cause the pain you've been feeling,
can't compare to the joy that's coming

But the one suffering the most is the one reminding us that if God is choosing to use her through this, who is she to say no.

Would you dare, would you dare, to believe,
that you still have a reason to sing,
'cause the pain you've been feeling,
can't compare to the joy that's coming

Cancer will never be a cause for celebration, but God's faithfulness and glory always will. 

com'n, you got to wait for the light
press on, just fight the good fight
because the pain you've been feeling,
it's just the hurt before the healing
the pain you've been feeling,
just the dark before the morning
before the morning, yeah, yeah
before the morning

This is the dark...morning is coming.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Happy Grandparent's Day

It was a year ago, September 9, 2011, that my principal walked through the door of my classroom. The way she said my name I just knew...knew the day I had been dreading had finally arrived. She brought a couple of my co-workers with her and together they let me know that my Grandpa's fight was finally over. 

It is fitting that Grandparent's Day marks the one year anniversary of his death because he truly was the best Grandpa a girl could ever want.