The Greatest Thing

As I was vacuuming this morning I felt like the Holy Spirit brought a powerful but simple message to my heart.  Yes, my spiritual time may or not be while I am vacuuming.  I have a super fluffy golden retriever and now we added a kitty to the mix, so the vacuum and I are currently best friends. 20180603_083443

But anyhoos, the thought that kept coming back to me is this- The absolute greatest gift we can bring to the World is to let Jesus shine out through us.

I know we’re fond of saying #blankiseverything.  You know; a day at the beach, a new song, even a favorite nail polish.  But truly Jesus is everything.  The Universe shouts his praise.  The stars proclaim his glory.  Jesus is the only one worthy of our praise, our adulation, our very lives.  So powerful and mighty but so close.

I am awed and so blown away that he wants to show up in this planet through me.  I am saved to the max but still here to become, from glory to glory, more like him.  Every day is a day to know him more, to be transformed in his presence, and then bring that presence to a hurting world.

“And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.”  2 Cor. 3:18

“Oh Jesus, how I love you.  My prayer for myself and those reading is that we would be swept up into your amazing presence.  That we would know that we are never alone.  You are the friend that sticks closer than a brother.  You are the Alpha and the Omega, Beginning and the End.  The exalted one.  Perfect.  You are love.  Please help us to yield to you our lives, our hearts, our everything….because YOU are everything.  We pray that you would shine through us so that the World would truly see you in us.  Thank you for this awesome privilege, to be your living Temple.  We love you, Jesus.  Amen” 

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A Year

The one year anniversary of my son starting topical steroid withdrawal passed pretty quietly ten days ago.  I wanted to write a triumphant blog commemorating the occasion but I didn’t have it in me.

Some of the memories and feelings are still raw.  Today I unfollowed my ITSAN support group.  The daily barrage of suffering is too much.  Our experience has gotten considerably better but the memories of the months of unmitigated suffering are still fresh and the daily reminders aren’t something I want to deal with.

Life is moving on.  Gabe is back in school and mostly functioning like a “normal” kid.  He is currently in the process of testing for the districts highly gifted program.  I could stress out about how little sleep he got last night and how it will affect his testing today, but I know it’s in God’s very capable hands.

One thing I pray is that God would give Gabe a double recompense of blessing for the horrible trials he’s had to endure.  I pray that Gabe would grow up in the presence of God and fulfill everything God created him to be and do.

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My Sweet Boy

The awesome thing about serving God is that HE can take the horrible things you have to go through and turn it around and make it work out not only for your good but for the good of everyone watching your story unfold.

“He brought me up out of the pit of destruction, out of the miry clay, And He set my feet upon a rock…Many will see and fear the LORD and put their trust in him.”  Psalm 40:2-3 

The Devil does his damndest to destroy us and thwart the plan of God for our lives.  But God uses those things and it’s those things that actually prepare us to step into our calling.  Devil be damned.

“You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.” Genesis 50:20 

Through all of this I have been boldly bringing my prayers and requests before the throne of grace.  But one verse I have been meditating on lately is this stark warning from Psalm 106- “And he gave them their request; but sent leanness into their soul.”

It’s ok to ask.  We all want breakthroughs.  I want my baby healed.  I want to be a published author.  I want certain loved ones filled with the Holy Spirit.  But I don’t want those things at the expense of my spiritual hunger for God.  Sometimes we demand to get our way, and do get it.  But the end result is a leanness in our soul.  How terrible.

“Lord, help us to always seek your face and not just your hand.  Help us to be ever aware that there is nothing that compares to the riches of knowing and being known by you.  Help us to pursue you more than we pursue anything else, even the good things and hopes you have placed in our hearts.  We love you and trust your plan, even when it includes suffering. Amen” 

 

A Monster and a Father

In the news today is the story of an enraged father lunging at the “pedophile doctor” who molested his daughters.  I couldn’t watch the video without getting tears in my eyes.  How betrayed the entire family must feel.  I can’t imagine that there are many feelings worse than knowing your children were abused by someone that you trusted.

They entrusted this man as a professional to help their daughters become top gymnasts, like so many other families.  He betrayed that trust in the worst possible way.

What stands out to me is the ripple effects of this one mans actions.  So far 140 women have come forward.  There are likely many more that were affected.

This one man used his tremendous influence and impact on so many lives for evil.

He is now facing spending the rest of his life in prison.  Maybe even worse, being completely exposed for the disgusting monster that he is.  Even beyond that, he is going to have to deal with the wrath of a righteous God.

“It would be better for them to be thrown into the sea with a millstone tied around their neck than to cause one of these little ones to stumble.”  Luke 17:2

But on the flip, though one person can have such a negative affect- what impact can a godly person have?  Someone who is determined to use the impact and reach they have for good?  You can see the massive negative impact this one man had.  Let’s determine not only to not do harm but to leave a legacy and heritage of blessing, joy and love in our wake.  Let’s use whatever reach we have to be spiritual defenders of the weak.  Let’s determine to do what God calls us to stand in the gap for them in prayer and deeds.

“Dear Heavenly Father, I pray that through the power of your Holy Spirit, that you would lead these young women and their families on a path to healing and freedom in forgiveness.  I pray that any other predators currently getting away with similar crimes would be exposed.  I even prayer for Larry Nassar, that you would bring him to a place of true broken repentance.  That he would grasp the enormity of his sin and the irreparable harm he has caused and truly grieve.  Amen.”

 

Change

If you’ve read my blog over this past year you’ll know my son, Gabriel, went through a really awful withdrawal from topical steroids.  It was so bed he was basically on bedrest for months.  Basically he had gotten addicted to very strong steroids and it made “eczema” spread all over his body and affected his entire system.  I really don’t want to post pictures but google “topical steroid withdrawal” and you’ll get this gist of how horrific and debilitating this condition is.

But now 11 months in and he is so much better.  

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My Little Goof

He’s not 100% yet but he’s come leaps and bounds from where he was.  So much so that we got a call from his school principal saying “Gabe’s looking great!  So… we really want him back in full school days.”  I told her it’d be a rough adjustment but we’d try.

Yesterday morning when I woke him up early it was so tough.  Because his adrenal glands were so messed up from the steroid usage, he has struggled horribly with insomnia.  We’ve (up till now) let him sleep in because he sleeps so poorly at night and for whatever reason slept better during morning hours.

But he has been making major strides so my husband and I agreed it might actually be helpful to try to force his body back into a more regular sleep schedule.  The first morning was rough but he actually did sleep a lot better last night and woke up much easier this morning.

It’s a huge step for him and milestone.  He still has a ways to go before he is 100% healed but we are so thankful for the progress he has made. 11825

A lot of times in life the path to healing is bumpy and hard.  There are times we need to push out of our comfort zones to reach the next level.  Change is hard but often necessary.

As Gabe’s loving parents there have been times where we comforted him and carried him (ha literally) but on this journey we’ve increasingly pushed him out of his comfort zone.  As he’s gotten better we’ve adjusted his treatment accordingly.  As he grew wings we’ve metaphorically pushed him out of the nest.  Times where we knew he was capable but it was his mind that was stuck.

How many of us are perfectly capable of making necessary changes but are still stuck in old patterns?  We were too sick at one point but we’re stronger now but still being held back purely in our minds? 

“Dear Jesus, you know our hurts, our pasts, our fears.  I pray that for all of us that you’d help us to break free from restrictive and sickly thought patterns.  Help us to embrace wholeness in every area.  Help us to find our wings and courage and fresh hope and get out of our comfort zones.  For your glory.  Amen.” 

Struggle Bus 2018

I was reading one of those cheesy diply slideshows this morning and saw this… strugglebusI literally laughed out loud.  “Riding the struggle bus into the New Year” could be the theme of the day.

Last night after putting the kids to bed my husband and I very unwisely watched a show about urban legends and serial killers.  We were spooked.  Plus there was a giant super moon (which yes, I do think adds an extra touch of crazy to the air).  Plus it has been absolutely, ridiculously cold with temps getting to 20 degrees below zero. 

I was drifting off in bed last night when I sat bolt upright in a panic, thinking I’d forgotten my dog outside in the extreme cold.  I raced down the stairs in a panic to find him lounging on the couch.

It took an hour for the adrenaline to wear off so I could fall asleep.  Then the kids kept waking up and everyone had weird dreams.  Not a great night.

It was so hard getting everyone up for the first day back at school after break.  Like, getting dragged behind the struggle bus hard.

I told my husband (a brilliant insight) that we should be more careful about what we put into our minds (especially before bed! especially on a full moon night!!).  He agreed.

It’s just basic, basic stuff.  Don’t put junk into your mind.  Also, don’t live in Minnesota unless you are a certain kind of crazy. MN cold

Tonight we’re going to skip Netflix and do a devotional before bed.

My big (ok, pretty much only) New Years resolution was to get really close to God this year.  I know it’s not going to happen by accident and I am going to be opposed by the enemy.

Anyways I hope all of you had a less eventful return back to normalcy after the Holidays.  I’m just going to close with a couple of verses, which are very applicable to my latest misadventures.

“I have the right to do anything,” you say–but not everything is beneficial. “I have the right to do anything”–but not everything is constructive…. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.” 1 Cor. 10:23 Philippians 4:8

Where I’m At

I haven’t written in awhile.  Amidst the end-of-summer craziness and back to school hubbub, I just haven’t really had anything worth writing about or the time to write it.

But, miracle of miracles; my kids are all in school.  At this moment it’s just me, my dog, and a coconut mocha.

It’s a true miracle that Gabe is in school.  Yesterday he felt good enough that we decided it was the day.  His backpack had been packed weeks earlier.  He was scared but I coached him on what to say if anyone asked what was wrong with his skin.  I said if he started crashing at school to tell his teacher and I would come pick him up immediately.  gg

I dropped him off and got tears in my eyes.  He hasn’t been able to go to school since last February.  He’s come so far and there were days we felt like we would never get here.

He had a good day and was optimistic going back again today.

I had posted about it on facebook when a facebook friend commented, “GIVE GOD THE PRAISE!!!”.

I know she meant well but I felt an unexpected pang of irritation and anger.

A couple weeks ago I had been worshipping in my car and God had revealed to me the nature of the thing I’ve been battling for months, or even longer…

My trust in his goodness towards me has been seriously wounded and it was shaky to begin with.

There’s been so many hard things, so many painful things…and then this?  Even coming out (hopefully) on the other side of the worst of it…my soul has been so traumatized by witnessing suffering that no parent should have to see.

Sobs in the night.  Wounds that won’t heal  A true sense of hopelessness.

I know God is there, has been there.  But, it’s complicated.  I’m hesitant to speak to anyone about my feelings because I just can’t handle getting chastised or beaten over the head with platitudes.

I know what’s blocking my growth is my lack of submission to God.  But how can you submit when you can’t trust?

I’m still working things out.  I still believe.  I still listen.

This is just where I’m at and I have to give myself permission to be ok with that.

Sisters and Grace

Growing up I had two sisters (also a lone brother, pity him).  My older sister is 7 years older than me so I mostly looked up to her, followed her around, and attempted to read her diary (unsuccessfully though because it was in cursive, and I was 7).

My younger sister was only a year younger though so we were incredibly close but fought like you wouldn’t believe.

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We only looked sweet and innocent!

I’m pretty sure my parents considered adoption at points!

We’re both so much alike in that we are head strong, idealistic, and passionate.  We’ve gotten into many debates.  We’ve taken different paths.  At times those paths led us in wildly different directions.  We’ve done things to hurt each other.  I was the dutiful, worried big sister and she was the care-free little sister throwing caution to the wind.

But blood is thicker than water and we’ve always come back and managed to sort through our differences. cicisash

When you love people you find common ground.  You work things out.  You forgive.

Offense can sneak in and bring down families, churches, marriages, even ones faith.

I was wrestling with it recently (um, today, it was today) and I want to share how we can recognize it and deal with it effectively.

As soon as I realized I was upset with a certain someone I tried to quiet my emotions and keep my perspective.  But when you are offended your emotions get inflamed with hurt and anger and indignation and perspective can be quick to fly out the window.  My own tendency is to get offended and then try to figure it out on my own, like “why did that person do that?  What are they really saying?  What is their problem? (it’s always their problem, amiright?!)”…

But today I felt all that rising up in me and I stopped, dropped and prayed.  I did.  I put my hair dryer down and knelt right in my bathroom to pray.  “Lord, I don’t want to be offended.  I know it is a big deal to you.  Lord, help me to let this go.  Lord, please help this person.  Please give them clarity and grace and maybe a gentle smack up the side of the head with an anointing of perspective.  Amen.”

Normally I wouldn’t surrender it like that.  I’d analyze and over-analyze and get all tied up in knots over it.  I would sleep horribly and then feel even worse.  Because offense steals our peace.  It steals our joy.  It stops up the fountain of the grace of God from flowing freely in our lives.

But I did pray, and I felt so much better.  I let it go.  I didn’t pick it back up.

Often, people hurt us out of their own places of wounding.  Our insecurity causes us to act a fool at times.  It can control us if we aren’t careful.  I know I’ve sinned from that place.  I’ve needed grace a’plenty.  Why would I not being willing to extend it?

There are very serious warning about not letting offense come in and take over.

“Pursue peace with all men…that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many.”  Hebrews 12:14-15 

Your bitter root is not staying contained.  That thing is going to wind its way around you until it chokes the life out of you and goes on to defile many.  Bitterness is something that we starve or nurture.  We need to pull it out by the root.  We need to deal with offenses as they come so that we don’t have any rotten roots growing wild producing rotten fruit stinking up our lives.

We’re all human so it’s safe to say that wherever we gather; stupid, insensitive things will be said.  People will feel left out.  People will clash.

We need to keep strengthening those forgiveness muscles.  Especially in those close relationships where you see people at their best and also at their worst.

There isn’t much sadder than the distance that results from a refusal to forgive.  People can genuinely love each other but lose years of precious time together because of the bitterness that took hold.

Also, (hello) it’s a major, major deal to God.

“But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.”  Matthew 6:15

God isn’t going to give you this beautiful and costly gift for you to hoard to yourself.  We don’t siphon grace.  We live it out.  He forgave, so we can too.