No Worst Case

 ‘This is what the Lord, the God of your father David, says: I have heard your prayer and seen your tears; I will heal you.  – 2 Kings 20:5

Recently, I was interpreting at an oculoplastics doctor’s office, and he was explaining how tears works.

Apparently there is a gland that is above the upper outer part of your eye, that actually makes the tears. They somehow flow diagonally through your eye and come out the tear duct in your lower inner eye. They also somehow run through the inner sides of your nose too, but it was too complicated for me to remember all that.

I have this friend and like a lot of my friends, she’s a friend who, once upon a time, we were much closer than we are now. Time passes, life happens, things just get busy and directions change.

But I still cherish her greatly.

I met her through church. She taught my kids.

When I say she taught my kids, I don’t just mean at church. Often she has taken my daughter and her friend for the day. They have learned about fashion, food, friendship and fun, but mostly she has taught her about Jesus.

I got a message yesterday that she’s sick and in the hospital. That’s all I got. Thinking that she is too young to have anything really serious going on, I went to visit her with my emotions on low.

I interpret in hospitals from time to time. Nothing really serious has gone on. Somebody has bumped their head, they’re dehydrated, their side hurts and they’re getting their gallbladder removed.

The lady at the front desk walked me around the corner to the Patient Observation unit. First floor. See, they’re just watching her for something. Maybe she ate some bad fish.

Come to find out, it might be a little more serious than food poisoning.

She’s in pain, they found a mass, they’re taking a biopsy.

The girlfriend who gave me the first message, texts me afterwards; she’s seeing a specialist tomorrow, they’ve moved her room.

Things just got serious.

I still don’t know what’s going on with my friend, but it is just like her to teach my daughter about Jesus, even when she’s sick.

I thought it would be best if I talked to my daughter about what I knew about our friend. Just to prepare her for the worst case senecio, which in this case, there is no worst case.

She either gets well and we rejoice in God’s glory, or she doesn’t and she meets her Savior and we rejoice in God’s glory.

We talked about people who are sick and in the hospital and how they are very close to God. After all, it is him who gives them strength to fight and grow strong, or strength to let go and come home.

Death is so dark and it swallowed everyone and everything in its path. So you can see just how powerful God really is, because not only does he give life, he sustains life too.

He doesn’t just give us life, then let us be. No, he stands with us, watching over us, preparing us, teaching us, nurturing us. We are not alone.

And even in our darkest night he sits with us. He hold us. He whispers.

Even though I don’t exactly know what is going on with my friend, it feel very dark, very sad, very consuming, and yet the sun still shines. Light surrounds me and my daughter as we talk about things that scare us.

He gives us strength, he gives us hope, he fills us with love.

We will not be overcome with grief. We will not be swallowed up.

No, we will pray and we will love. And if we are lucky, we will feel God’s presence as he cradles our friend as she goes through this part of her journey.

So, long story, short…

I think there might be something wrong with my gland that’s in the upper outer corner of eye, that makes tears because my eyes have been dripping all morning, and I can’t seem to get them to stop.

As if it was My Last

My hands hurt.

I was a freshman in high school when I took my first typing class. I had always been fascinated with typing.

But two weeks into the semester, I broke my left wrist, roller skating. I wasn’t quite sure what the teacher was going to do with me.

Can you believe she pulled out a, Typing for Right Hand, book? I was amazed. I loved it too. Even with one hand I did my best to be finished with my assignments before the rest of my class.

My hands hurt.

One of my very first jobs I’ve ever had was a cashier in a grocery store. So I have to tell you, back in the day, I was pretty quick. Which was good because our managers pushed us to be quicker, faster, more efficient.

It’s what got me through my shift. It was even better when Corina was working because we both had to be the fastest.

Management kept track of your speed too; daily and weekly.

Besides the two of us, I don’t know if any one took their speed as serious.

I remember the first time I had signs of carpal tunnel. I wore a brace on one hand, and wasn’t able to use it. They still stuck me on the Express line and after my shift one night, one of the managers pulled me aside and told me I got a complaint.

A customer wanted to know why a cashier with one hand was put on a register that took such a high volume of customers and was expected to go quickly?

The manager told the customer to turn around and watch me. “She rings up more people and items with one hand than any of my other cashiers do with two.”

My hands hurt.

While working as a cashier, I put myself through school. I started off as a Communication major, but after one semester of classes, at ASU West, I quickly discovered how much I hated it.

All my life, in spite of my passion to learn, school was always a struggle for me. I studied like a straight A student, and despite my Honor Roll status, never once made that dream come true.

But ASL was easy. For the first time in my life, school was simple. I just had to learn a sign once, and never would I forget it. I never had homework, or had to study. I got As on all my tests.

ASL 101 was just suppose to be a break from my “real” education. But I loved it! Imagine my surprise when I found out I could make a career out of it.

It was during my maternity leave with my first son, that I discovered two months in, my hands had started to swell, stiffen and were painful. It wasn’t until I went back to interpreting, that I realized arthritis had settled in.

Oh, how my hands hurt.

I’ve been hard on them my whole life. And they’ve been so good to me, even with all the neglect and abuse I’ve put them through.

And it is now that I’m so upset with myself and so in awe of God.

I want to serve. I want to become the hands and feet of Jesus, just like those who have come before me. I want to breathe light into someone’s darkness. I want to share hope to the hopeless.

In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven. – Matthew 5:16

I look at my hands, a gift God has given me. They were given to me with a purpose. They were given me with design. And it saddens me that I’m sure their purpose was not to push myself to be better, or faster, but to aid and to help… and my hands hurt.

As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace: – 1 Peter 4:10

So I push myself everyday. Maybe to make up for all the missed opportunities to care. All the missed opportunities to love. Everyday I use them as if it is my last day on earth, as if it is my last day to serve.

Because what if it is? What if tomorrow I meet my God and he asks me what I did with the gift he gave me?

So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God. – 1 Corinthians 10:31

All of this, none of this, means anything unless they are working for the Lord.

What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and filled,” without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that? So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead. – James 2:14-17

So Lord, I lift my hands, my throbbing, aching hands and ask for one more day. Just give me one more day to use them as you have designed them. Let one more person know your grace, find your hope, see your love, through my hands.

In your Son’s holy name. Amen

What Did I Just Do?

So I kinda did something behind my husband back. He may kill me.

I had prayed that God might use me greatly for his kingdom, and to use me how he sees fit.

I’ve already been working with the homeless for a while now, but today I heard God tell me, “That’s easy.”

You know what? He’s right. Anyone could help the homeless. It’s not that much of a sacrifice. Buy an extra few cases of water a week. Cut some bags up that other people have donated, to make into mats. How is crocheting sleeping mats and beanie hats any real sacrifice? I love to crochet.

No, I feel God calling me to do something else and honestly I’m scared to death. I know whatever it is, it’s going to stretch me, push me, and nearly send me over the edge.

I LIVE FOR THAT KIND OF STUFF!

I’ve been following Jesus for too long to accept an “easy” mission like homelessness. Or I should say, how I serve the homeless, is easy. I should be dedicating my time to something that is harder and more challenging to me.

Something that requires me to GROW my faith.

And….

I believe working with children; homeless children, may be it.

Me, the one who never wanted kids. Never desired to be a mom. The one who is still raising five of her six kids.

Oh this is not going to go well, I can assure you. My husband and kids are going to freak out!

Today, I spent three and a half hours sitting next to a room, listening to an infant go through what I think were withdraws, and her nurses talking about lowering which drug, over the next couple of days.

It hurt for her to eat. It hurt for her to lay down. The only time she stopped crying was when someone held her, and even then she wasn’t happy.

It hurt my heart. It broke my soul.

After an agonizing feeding that lasted forever, the baby girl threw up. From the sound of it, it was everywhere. Her nurse remained calmed. She spoke gently to her. I was impressed.

It was during her bath, when an alarm when off outside the infants room.

“Oh no.” I heard the nurse panic for the first time. After a few minutes, she called out to me. She asked if I could help her.

Ah…

Not knowing exactly what to say, or what to do, but knowing I wasn’t going to say no, I got up and entered her room.

“Would you mind just standing here to make sure she doesn’t fall out of the tub?”

I immediately thought, oh this could be bad. If something happens to this baby it would be bad for me, it would be bad for the nurse, and it would be bad for this baby.

“Sure.”

Her nurse wasn’t gone long, but it was much longer than what I was anticipating.

I stood about a foot away from the tub. My eyes glued to her as she and the tub faced away from me; too afraid to touch her. I already knew I wasn’t suppose to be there. I could see her little pink arms and legs move as she kicked the water. The top of her head and eyes were covered by a wash cloth.

She was so little. She was so full of life. And she was so alone. God, where is her mother?

I thought to myself, this isn’t easy.

It bothered me I would be leaving soon. It bothered me I would soon escape this child’s pain, and she wouldn’t. It bothered me that I was going to do it anyway.

Recently, I was invited to participate in a 40 day devotional prayer challenge. Yesterday was day one.

Today I read, “Every act of obedience, no matter how small, makes our heavenly Father proud. Every act of faith — even a faith as small as a mustard seed — puts a smile on His face. Every sacrifice, no matter how insignificant it may seem to us, makes a difference.” – Draw the Circle: The 40 Day Prayer Challenge

So I ask God to use me. I asked him to show me where he wants me. Then I find myself in this situation today.

After the nurse returned I went back to my chair asking God if there was something I was suppose to do.

For today, I was just suppose to sit there and listen; to listen and become aware.

What am I suppose to do now? I don’t know. I told my husband about my day. He flat out told me we were NOT going to adopt this baby.

Well of course not THIS baby, but I don’t know. There was a reason I was were I was today.

He tells me, “You’re just thinking about Delilah.”

“Who?”

“Delilah, who called into the radio station earlier this week to nominate her mother who raised 10 kids and fostered five of them.”

“OH MY GOSH! HE’S WORKING IN YOUR HEART TOO!”

“No he’s not! This is your crazy idea, not mine.”

“But I completely forgot about Delilah.”

In James 1:27 it says, “Pure and genuine religion in the sight of God the Father means caring for orphans and widows in their distress and refusing to let the world corrupt you.”

After today, I feel he may be calling me in this direction. I don’t know, but whatever it is I know it’s going to grab me with both hands and take me and my whole family with it. And where it goes, grows closer to Him. I can feel it!

Why I Worship

Believe it or not, last night was the first time I have ever been to a Christian music concert. Well, actually still haven’t really attended one. I was there as a volunteer for World Vision International. That was my first time too.

It was cool to see so many people worshipping God in one place. The verse that came to me as I stood up high in the upper seating of the Talking Sticks Resort Arena, looking down was,

For the Scriptures say, “‘As surely as I live,’ says the LORD, every knee will bend to me, and every tongue will confess and give praise to God.'” – Romans 14:11.

No, the arena was not sold out, but still there were hundreds of people sitting and standing with their arms held high, not necessarily because the band was good (which of course they all were) but because the message was.

You are not alone. Press into him. You are loved. He has overcome death. You are saved.

For four hours, hands were held high. Sometimes the artist would back away from the mic so you could hear the worship of the crowd. It was surreal.

I remember, years and years ago, seeing commercials for WOW Hits. They are music CDs performed by Christian artists. Now this was before I became a fully committed follower of Jesus, but there was something about those 30 second videos that had me memorized.

For 30 seconds they would show crowds of people on their feet, lifting their hands to Jesus, and praising him. I would sit in my living room and feel compelled to raise my hands too. But never would.

Last night, I felt I to got to experience my own WOW moment. It was amazing.

I have to be honest though. That wasn’t the coolest part of the night.

No, the coolest part was being able to help 23 children become sponsored, through World Vision International.

For fifteen minutes I got to walk up and down the vertical aisle, with my hand held high, holding a picture of a little boy or little girl, and seeing Jesus work in two places, thousands and thousands of miles apart, at the same time.

THAT WAS THE MOST AMAZING PART!

Twenty-three, TWENTY-THREE little kids, and their families, are going be greatly impacted because 23 people committed to serving God’s children, and Jesus let me be apart of it.

I can’t tell you how grateful I am of that. You see, I was blind, but now I see.

There was a time my life when I couldn’t see Jesus. My life was dark. I felt no hope.

But he saved me!

Now I see him every time I open my eyes. I look for him. I hunt for him. I seek him.

And he lets me see him!

He went up to the open coffin, took hold of it, and the men who were carrying it stopped. He said, “Young man, I’m telling you to come back to life!” The dead man sat up and began to talk, and Jesus gave him back to his mother. – Luke 7:14-15

Jesus is still resurrecting people to this day. I am one of them. And I will search, and seek him to the day I die. Never ever will I allow the darkness to overshadow me again.

My prayer, is in my search, others will follow, and I will guide them to the one who saves.

But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. – Ephesians 2:4-5

I worship him, not because he demands it, but because he is worthy of it. I once was lost, but now I’m found.

Thank you, Jesus!

How it’s Suppose to Be

It’s been five months now, that Tunes has left our house. I miss him a lot.

A few weeks ago my husband cleared out his room. It was time. What he didn’t take with him are packed in bags and secure in our garage.

We played around with ideas about what to do with his room. I even briefly dreamt of a craft room for myself, but know I still have too many kids at home for that.

Ultimately, we decided to separate our next two oldest boys. They’re both in highschool now and could use the space and privacy. It was a good decision.

When the room was cleared out, my awesome husband also patched his walls and painted. This last weekend he ripped out all the old carpet that came with the house when I bought it, and laid down the same flooring he installed in the other public areas of the house. It looks very nice, very clean.

We bought some room darkening shades he’s going to install and he mentioned we still needed to buy a ceiling fan because it got so hot in there while he was working.

I agreed. Tunes often complained how hot it was in his room.

(Deep sigh.)

I told my husband I loved everything he’s doing to the room. It looks great, but it also upsets me.

He immediately tried to console and told me what he was doing in Gamer’s room, he also planned to do to the other kids’ rooms as well.

That wasn’t it.

This was Tunes’ room. For eight years my little boy slept there, changed there, was sent there. He lived there. It was his.

There were holes in the wall where he hung his TV up, only to move it and to move it again.

There was a big pink stain from some kind of an experiment he was working on that he couldn’t get cleaned up, or hidden.

The curtain rod was wobbly and bent from all the weight of the many blankets he would drape over it to block the light out and then, since his bed was up against the window, would lean on and pull down. I swore he was going to fall through that window some day.

I just feel sad. I feel I let him down. I never got around to making his room nice before he left. I wanted to do that for him. Just like so many other things I wanted to do for him but didn’t. He was in too much of a hurry to get out.

I hope he knows I would have. It wasn’t that I didn’t love him, or didn’t think he was important. I just thought I had more time.

I didn’t leave “my” house until I was 23. I was working and going to college. But by then, my mom had already left. My parents were on the path of divorce. Which was fine with me. She had lived there, but really she had been gone for years.

Maybe that’s the difference. I’m here. I’ve always been here. I’ll always be here.

I don’t know. Maybe this is the way it’s supposed be.

He’s doing really well, from what he’s told me. He’s struggling, but managing.

Everything he’s doing just seems really scary to me. I’m glad he’s not controlled by my fear. I’m proud of him for facing his own.

Today, Justice came home from his dad’s and saw what has been done to the room. He joked with me and asked,

“Hey mom, what’s Gamer doing in Tunes’ room?”

Yeah, I don’t really know. But I’m happy for him. I’m happy for them both.

Prejudice, the Absence of Love

To end prejudice, I believe it takes more than teaching our children not to hate.

We really need to teach them to love.

Love, especially those who hate you.

But I say, love your enemies! Pray for those who persecute you! – Matthew 5:44

I never taught my children to hate. I never taught them to be prejudice, but they have learned it just the same.

Due to circumstances of a divorce, three of my boys went to an inner city school where they were of the minority who were targets of prejudice. I’ve written about their experience before.

And although my daughter never went to the same school, she too, has similar experiences at another one.

My biggest regret in that whole season of our lives, is I never taught my boys to love; to love those who hate, to love those who are hard to love.

My daughter on the other hand, I taught her to pray for those who teased her and called her names.

After trying to fix the injustice for my boys by talking to their teachers and going to the principal, I learned nothing was going to change. I felt helpless and hopeless. And even though they were getting a great education, I transferred them to a lower performing school so they could feel safe.

But they never did feel safe again. They had already learned fear. They had already learned not everyone supports them. Not everyone cares for them. And in fact, there are those who are out to get them and mean them harm.

All of that has followed them into their new schools even though the threats are gone and have been gone for a long time.

So when I learned of my daughter experiencing something similar, I became heartbroken. I immediately felt helpless and hopeless all over again. I knew there was nothing I was going to be able to do to fix this, to make her feel safe.

I told her we’re going to have to take this to God. We were going to have to pray for those who hurt us, because we know those who hurt, are hurting too.

Since then my daughter has shared stories with me of her classmates; horrible stories. Stories of pain and suffering no child should hear, much less experience. Stories of neglect, and abuse. Stories of children living without a home. Stories of children living without a mom or a dad. Stories of homicide and of suicide.

Stories that I would never allow my child to watch on TV or see in a movie are being lived out in real life by my child’s classmates. These are eight, nine, and ten year olds sweet children of God.

My heart hurts.

These children are hurting. These children are lashing out. These children need to be loved on, not punished. These children need a hope for their future.

Maybe that’s why my boys didn’t receive much sympathy when I tried to address the issue. In light of what other children were experiencing, our concerns were small in comparison. And to resolve our present situation would require the situations of other children to be addressed as well. And for that, they had no answer, no solution.

But in school, there is no hope of a solution because there is no God there.

So I taught my daughter to pray.

If someone slaps you on one cheek, offer the other cheek also. If someone demands your coat, offer your shirt also. – Luke 6:29

One day I was sitting in the principals office talking about a little girl who was threatening to cause my daughter physical harm and two weeks later, as I was driving up to the school to drop her off, she was yelling this little girl’s name out the car window, implying for her to wait for her.

I was surprised. I was confused.

In the matter of two weeks of prayer from my little girl for this little girl, God revealed a story that softened my daughters heart to show love instead of hate, and from that love grew an unlikely friendship.

I’m so proud of my daughter. Her strength amazes me. It is not easy to pray for someone who hurts you, and yet she still does. Every night at prayers, I listen to a long list of names she has asked God to share his grace and mercy with.

I know there is not a lot we can do as individuals, but maybe some little girl or boy who is living a nightmare right now, can see a glimpse of Jesus’ love through the prayer and actions of my little girl. What if through a little girl, who looks different than them, showed them genuine love, like no one who looked like her, ever did before?

What if there were more little boys and girls like her? What if we all showed more love instead of the absence of hate?

Accepting Who I’m Designed to Be

Last week I posted something on my social media about a very striking, yet larger woman, I had seen. I commented on what she was wearing and how fabulous I thought she looked. I mentioned I really wanted to tell her how great she looked, but I knew that I wouldn’t.

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I received lots of positive feedback, encouraging me to do it, but I didn’t.

I didn’t because I really didn’t think God was trying to give her a message, as much as he was trying to give me one.

She was beautiful. She was graceful. She walked with confidence. She felt good about herself. I could see that. To say anything would be insulting.

I was envious of her. And even though she did not fit my box of what beauty should look like, she still was.

And the kicker was, she looked more like me than she did like any other beautiful woman on TV or in a magazine.

What I really wanted to tell her was, “Teach me how to be fabulous too!”

Of all the comments I received, I had one friend who knew that there was more to this encounter than meets the eye. She encouraged me to journal about it.

And I did.

Thank you Ms. Sandra; here it is.

Maybe the sin isn’t in the overeating, but in letting it stop you from being who you were design to be.

I haven’t owned this statement yet. I’m working on it.

I’ve written in an earlier post, I’m not lazy and I don’t typically over indulge. And yet, even when I restrict my diet and become more intentional about moving, I always and forever, gain all my weight back.

I can lose it. I can’t keep it off.

I could have surgery. But I don’t have the health problems that would warrant it.

Maybe, physically, I’m suppose to be exactly how I am. But I fail emotionally.

If Jesus accepts me how I am, why do I feel I need to be any different?

Why am I telling him, he’s wrong?

I know this isn’t going to change my attitude over night. I’m still going to struggle. Letting go of an ideology I’ve grown up with is not easy to let go of.

I wish I never read that book that defended I was overweight physically, and underweight spiritually. Maybe it’s not true.

Maybe it could be, for some. But maybe not for all.

I think Jesus is probably more disappointed in how I let my self-image prevent me from doing the things he’s called me to do.

I think he may be more disappointed I’ve let my weight occupy my thoughts as much as I do. Whether I am 200lbs or 130, thoughts and ideas of my weight consume me.

I have replaced my God.

They exchanged the truth about God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator–who is forever praised. Amen. – Romans 1:25

Oh how I praise my Self when I have lost the weight. And oh how my Self punishes me once I put it back on. How I strive, and struggle to make my Self happy.

I worship it. I have given myself over to it. It rules me. It consumes me. It lords over me.

I keep thinking if I was smaller, things would be different. People will look at me differently. And when I say people, I mean strangers. They will respect me more. They will take notice of me more often.

Many years ago, I had seen a study (how scientific, I don’t know) that tested how people reacted to people in fat suits. It was horrible. They were ignored, they were passed over. They are shown to be in a lesser class.

This worried me. Because for some reason, I care what other people (strangers) think of me. And I “knew” I had the power to change how people look at me.

I could change it, by changing me.

But I’m starting to realize something. I’m learning that perhaps I’m not suppose to be a 130lb woman. I’m not even suppose to be a 160lb woman. Because even when I am, I’m not.

Why do I continue to strive to be someone I’m not?

Lord, please forgive me for my sins. I am sorry I have bought into the lie that my size is a reflection of who you are. I am even more sorry that I’ve aided in spreading a false message that isn’t from you, to others.

You do not condemn me for being who I am. I do that to myself.

Please wash over my thoughts and cleanse them from anything that does not come from you. Rid me of the false messages that tell me I’m not worthy; that I could be better.

Forgive me for putting my Self above you.

It would be my honor to continue serving you, while still being me; the me you’ve designed me to be.

Amen.