Sunday, November 30, 2014

It's a Long Way to Tipperary

Okay, it's time for true confessions.

The craziness that was me the morning of Friday, 21 November 2014.

Besides, it might be good to share some coping skills for the next time you're facing surgery or some other procedure that might not be your first choice.

"I hurt." 
This two-word sentence was repeated numerous times. 
I think I was trying to tell myself the reason I was there. 
It might have also been so that when I came out of the OR I would remember why I agreed to go into it.
Or maybe it was so the people around me would be extra gentle.

"I don't want to do this."
This six-word sentence was repeated numerous times as well.
I was working hard to express my feelings out loud since I couldn't give into them and run out the door.
I might have been hoping somebody would hear and rescue me.

"I don't want to put my clothes in a plastic bag."
This sentence was only said a few times at one particular point.
I was expressing my feelings since once again I couldn't do anything about them.
I didn't like it that my 'worldly goods' were being reduced to a few items in a plastic drawstring bag.
I might have been hoping a smiling somebody would pop up with a velour clutch and help me nestle my clothes neatly inside.

"I wonder how long they'll wait if I don't crack the door."
This sentence was a last ditch effort to avoid the whole thing.
I figured that if I just sat and waited maybe nobody would notice I hadn't signaled I was dressed in the dreaded johnny coat. 
I might have been hoping they would just move on to the next patient and I'd be free to go home - through no fault of my own, of course.

"This has to be the second biggest cultural lie."  
(right after the 'Agree' click on the computer)
That's when they offered me the Consent Form and held out a PEN.
They actually expected me to write my name in ink saying I understood what was going to happen and all the possibilities that might arise AND I gave them permission to do whatever needed to be done.
How sick is that?
WHO could ever read the entire document and comprehend what the words meant while the medical world is swirling around preparing you for the dastardly deed?

Thankfully the medical team realized my humor was part of my coping mechanism. 
Before she handed me the pen, Dr. Wiley's assistant Jenna looked me serious eyeball to serious eyeball and asked if I was prepared to go ahead with the procedure. 

In my most confident voice I said, "Yes." 
And the rest, as is said, is history.

You may wonder where the title of this post came from. I'm not exactly sure why the tune popped into my head when we went into that prep room, but it did. Perhaps it's because I felt as if I were heading off to war and I wasn't sure what would happen. That's the title God gave me that day so I posted the song below.

No confident walk through Bible verses this week.
No clever points about how to handle a conflict or confusion.
Just the real me in real life.

The only thing I can say about dealing with an upcoming STRESS is 

I can confirm that God was very close to me through my time at Concord Hospital. He's also with me at home where I'm getting ready to graduate to a cane. How cool is that?

Some of you may wonder how I retained all these details. It's because my Honey was my scribe. Thanks, Honey.

And as for that above photo? It was taken a couple of years ago as a spoof for a friend's birthday. Everyone was dressing up like old ladies to make her feel better. Since I couldn't be there, I sent along a photo of myself in similar costume. Now that I've posted it on the internet myself I trust I've cancelled all threats to blackmail. Right, Aunt Becky?

Friday, November 28, 2014

Keeping Christ in Christmas - Devotional

Maintaining a biblical framework in the midst of a massive onslaught of materialism is not an easy task.

Perhaps you, like many others, could use some support in finding your way through the seeming minefield of holiday opportunities. Families are being stretched more and more in time and energy and I want to encourage you.

I've written a booklet titled Celebrate the Newborn King: 25 Advent and Nativity Readings. It's geared toward children of varying ages and abilities, and includes a Bonus for parents, grandparents, guardians and caring adults.

I developed this resource as we raised our own children. We found it helped us sustain a biblical approach to the season from the early years right into their teens. We even learned a lot along the way. Many have asked us for their own copy and it's available to you as a gift for the next two days only.

Head over to Children in Church to discover the exciting offer we're making.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Not my Table?

A friend came by today [when the sky was clear of snow] and read to me from God's Word. We were sharing afterward and she said, "I just want to make sure that I don't have any unconfessed sin in my life." 

Our relationship is long and close so I'm well aware of how deep her commitment is to confess every sin before the Father to receive His promised forgiveness.  1 John 1:9

Her comment reminded me of a meaningful conversation I had online yesterday. I was messaging with a friend when he wrote, "I don't want to be the Peter who renounces Christ when things get hard." 

Even without reading the words he typed, I know this young man's heart. It is filled with ardor [go ahead and look it up] to be faithful to The Savior. 

These intense convictions shared in the midst of godly fellowship made me wonder. Do I carry such a singular devotion in my spiritual life?

Yes, it's there. Dear LORD, please make me "mature and complete"*

The more I think about my friends' statements, the more I find myself thanking and praising God. There are a lot of reasons to do that on Thanks-giving Eve, but here are three fresh ones from me.

1. God knows His own, conforming my long-time friend into the likeness of His Son, our Savior. There will be heartache, but it's impossible for any of us to ignore Him.

2. God is faithful, nurturing and discipling my young friend toward the calling He's placed on his life. There will be ups and downs, but it's impossible for the chosen to fall away.

3. God is sovereign, arranging every aspect of my life to develop maturity. There will be lively and lonely seasons, but it's impossible for the justified to avoid growth.

"For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified."  Romans 8:30

I'm delighted as I grasp the Truth. It's not up to my lady friend to chase down every sin that might be hiding in a corner. It's not up to the young man to be hyper-vigilant about every breath he takes. It's not up to me to hold a measuring stick to every moment of my day. 

We do need to be diligent in our walk with Christ. It is not a casual way of life. But none of us need to be on a campaign to purify ourselves. That's God's job and He does it perfectly. 

I am totally thankFUL for God's Word. Whenever I need to find my way out of a confusing jumble or a simple wonder the Truth provides the stronghold and foundation I need to make sense of life. For that matter, the Truth causes peace and rest to engulf my heart and mind. 

How about you? 
Do you find yourself returning to a basic commitment that drives your spiritual life? 
If so, perhaps like my friends and me it's time to stop the striving and 
rest in God's provision to meet it. 
What would it feel like if we agreed to let the Father work to meet the exact goal and purpose of our lives?

*from James 1:4

My friend Lori Roeleveld told me I could hijack the song from her blog today, One Microscopic Zygote of Thanksgiving. Make a visit.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Lovelace Video #1

Delighted to offer you a peek at a first-ever video by my Honey and me.

Once you see it, let me know what you think in the comments.

Then rush on over to Children in Church and Subscribe.

You won't want to miss the upcoming Special Offer.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

How to be a Big Girl

"Bravery is the capacity to perform properly even when scared half to death." Omar N. Bradley (1893-1981)

I guess a guy who served in the US Army during both World Wars, from Infantryman to first-ever chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, would know something about bravery. General Bradley's time with Eisenhower in North Africa and again at Normandy should be enough to prove that to anybody.

And so this week I look to General Bradley's definition as I face major surgery. I want and need to respond to all the activities and interactions of this event in ways that will please and honor God. I just need to figure out how to do that when I'm scared more than halfway to death. 

The final decision to undergo a hip replacement was mine; my conclusion that this is God's provision for me. It's been a long time coming and that's meant increasing discomfort and limitations over nearly three years. For a long time it was easier to cope with the pain and disruption to my life than consider a larger version of the same things via an operating room and rehabilitation. 

In the midst of the heart-wrenching reality of walking forward into a painFUL procedure with unknown results, I turn toward God, my only source of security and strength. It's as if He speaks directly to me through His Son.

I wonder when Christ might have faced something similar. His words from Gethsemane come to mind, "My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death." "My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me." "Father, if it is not possible for this cup to be taken away unless I drink it, may your will be done." Matthew 26: 38, 39, 42  

Jesus the Christ even fell on his face to the ground when He prayed in the Garden. He knew He wasn't heading off to a pizza party either. Yup, I'm pretty sure Jesus knows how I feel.

And yet, in spite of all that very real human emotion He carried, my Savior chose to move forward in the plan the Father laid out for Him. The same plan that's been in place before They even set the foundations of the world. The Christ of God actually walked forward into a horrifying death on a cross in spite of the all-too-human fear His must have felt. May His Name be exalted in all the earth.

Look, I know I'm not on a par with the Son of God. He was and is perfect. I am far from it. He was and is wholly divine. I am completely fallen flesh and blood. 

On the plus side though, this same Jesus the Christ is my Older Brother, a role model of sorts for me. I want to follow His example as fully as the Father will allow and equip me. He's also my Advocate so I expect He's already whispering in my Abba's ear on my behalf.

When I go to the pre-op class on the 18th I want to put my debilitating fear in a box so I can digest the information that's given and ask whatever questions I have in order to be properly prepared. 

On the 21st I will need to put my nearly-overwhelming fear in a box when I check into the hospital and begin the actual surgical process. 

For sure, I will need to add a chain and padlock to that box when they wheel me down the hallway and through the doors of the OR. 

I'm thinking the only way I'll be able to accomplish these monumental tasks is going to be the strategy my LORD displayed. I must ignore everything my senses will try to communicate to me. Instead I will fix my mind and heart, my entire being, on the All-sufficient One who made me in His image and watches over every detail of my life with His intimate, everlasting, and omnipotent love. 

You will keep in perfect peace him whose mind is steadfast, because he trusts in you.  Isaiah 26:3

Are you facing something that means you have to be a Big Girl?
If so, let's pursue Jesus' strategy together.
You can pray for me and I will pray for you.

*unless otherwise indicated, all quotes are from NIV1984

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Dja Ever Notice?

I. Something wonderful appears in a believer's life; a surprise gift  or positive turn of events.

Common responses:
"It's God. It's all God."
"What an answer to prayer!" 
"Thank you, God. I praise Your Name."
"God is on His throne and all is right with the world."

II. Things don't go the way a believer hopes; plans fall apart or an opportunity disappears.

Common responses:
"What's going on? I don't get it."
"I prayed but it didn't do any good."
"God, where are You? Do you even care?"
"The enemy must be having his way with me."

Why do our responses change so dramatically based on circumstances?

I want to develop calm, consistent, Christ-honoring responses no matter the situation.

III. How to honor God when I can't figure out what's happening.

Backup & Breathe
Pause my emotional response and take in the new reality.

Remember & Rely
Turn my heart and mind toward the God that I know and trust Him.

Consider & Choose
Pray about the new set of options and pursue the one that will please my loving Father.

How would these steps help you when things don't go your way?

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Gut Stomped

Has it ever happened to you like this?

You have a friendship that makes you feel completely understood. The openness between you is about more than the fact that you're both in similar stages of life. 

There's something in the way you both see challenges and respond to them. You enjoy the mutual support you provide each other, sometimes giving and other times receiving. 

The time comes when you feel confident enough to share that one big event in your past that always makes you cringe. Or maybe it's the ongoing temptation that most causes you to stumble. Then again, it could simply be the reality behind the upbeat image others make of you. 

You head into that conversation with expectations you can't quite articulate, but they're all positive. You're fully convinced the strength of your relationship can bear the presentation of the topic, will actually flourish because of your deep investment.

But despite your heart's desire and careful efforts it's not to be.

The acceptance you desired doesn't materialize. The insights you craved are not voiced. The support you desperately needed is non-existent. 

You feel judged and found wanting. Your friend deserts you ... lock ... stock ... and barrel. And you feel abandoned because you have been.

What do YOU do?

My first reaction is to totally shut down. Somehow I take that massive and intimate rejection and paint all my relationships with the same color. I find myself drowning in self-pity as I question my worth. On my good days I avoid re-counting to others the unjustified damage I sustained. I get so wrapped up in the incident and the feelings it generates that my life in Christ fades into the background. 

"It should not be so," I tell myself. "LORDI want balance, and fulfillment, even joy in my life."

Thankfully, He hears me. EVERY TIME.

This weekend my Abba Father met me in this very valley through a novel. It's a compelling account of the life of Rahab, the harlot from Joshua 2 who was used and discarded over and over again. The biblical setting is historically sound. The characters and events are fictionalized. The interweaving somehow brings indescribable strength to the message the author offers. 

"That evening, after they had finished supper, Rahab disclosed some of these thoughts to Miriam. The kind of vulnerable openness required for such a conversation represented a new territory for Rahab. The openness and vulnerability in her relationship with Salmone had begun to influence her other relationships as well. Rather than holding her secrets close to her chest for fear of being rebuffed, she shared them candidly. Feeling secure in Miriam's love, she was able to be honest about her shortcomings. This vulnerability was rewarded with an experience of intimate belonging. She felt truly connected to Miriam. And the more she shared, the less lonely she felt."  Pearl in the Sand by Tessa Afshar, page 307

#1. Trust God.

#2. Pursue God.

#3. Honor God.

"We do not know what to do, but our eyes are on you."   
2 Chronicles 20:12

"Anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him."                     Hebrews 11:6

When people fail us and the world makes no sense let's choose to focus on God with confidence, commitment, and courage. Will you join me?