Tuesday, July 30, 2013

On days like this, I need to know...

Two appointments. The same day. The same time. In two different cities. With results neither wanted to hear.

The one said your valve doesn't open and close as it should. And it leaks too.

"well what does that mean?"

It means you have to wait and see. Wait to see your doctor. Your mitral valve is prolapsing. It isn't working quite the way it should and its leaking too.

All that from something that happened fifty years ago.

Strept throat that quickly became scarlet fever that wasn't treated quick enough and became rheumatic fever.

"Someday your daughter may have heart valve problems."

They were right. That someday has come again. Mitral valve prolapse first reared its head in my 30's and from then to my early 50's I had to take enormous amounts of antibiotics anytime I went to see the dentist. Which may still be the reason why I don't like going to the dentist to this day. 
And then all of a sudden they said it was gone.
It was still gone this time last year.
But now it has returned. 
I was a coronary care nurse for awhile, so I know what this could mean. If the leaks gets worse, I will have what we called a "valve job"; my mitral valve would need to be replaced. Usually by a pigs valve-which would probably mean I would want more bacon!! That doesn't scare me. I was a young nurse who took care of patients like this, and I know there are plenty of well qualified nurses that would take care of me.

The other appointment 700 miles north was a bit more heart breaking.

"You may likely never conceive."

" Someone should have told you LONG before this that you need to be seeing a fertility specialist."

Not what either one of them wanted to hear. Their hearts want a baby of their own.
And now another surgery is needed.
Endometriosis is a very painful disease that seems only to get worse over time. Katie has suffered with it for nine years now and has had too many surgeries for me to remember the number.

Now after three years of marriage and having most of their friends have had babies, or are expecting one, they are thinking it might be the time.
But sometimes time isn't on our side. 
With endometriosis, the more surgeries you have, the less likelihood of getting pregnant. 

It isn't the end of the world if you can't have a baby of your own. Its just the end of your dream.
That's the hard part. So many little girls play with their dollies as they grow up and they begin the dream of one day being a mom, whether they realize it or not. Then to get the news that you might not be able to conceive, well it is a hard pill to swallow.

All those girls that get pregnant that didn't mean to. All those sweet babies born to young teens. And then those who desperately want a baby, are not able to have one.
It just doesn't seem fair or right.
And it hurts-it really hurts. And you have to adjust your dreams, and your thinking and begin to hope that maybe you could adopt. And then you realize how expensive that is-and well the list goes on and on.

Where is God in all this? Doesn't He know your heart's desire? Doesn't he know how long you have dreamed? Does He  care?

He does know and yes, He does care.
And He is right there with you (us) through all of this.
He sees our tears. He knows our pain. And He weeps with us. because He is Our Father who loves us without any reservations or without any conditions and our pain is His pain.
Even when we scream at him, He keeps loving us.

I don't get it. I don't have His answers.
I don't understand His ways. And sometimes-maybe a bit too often- I think I might know better than Him. How completely ridiculous of me.
I want God to change the game plan. I want Him to allow my daughter to have that baby she desires. His Word says that He longs to give us the desires of our hearts, so I question Him and wonder if He really really knows how this will affect her.
Again, my stupidity shows.
Of course He knows.

His ways are not always our ways. 
His thoughts are not like ours. ( see Isaiah 55).

But what I do know is that God is faithful.
He promises that He will not leave us or forsake us. (Hebrews 13:5),
He promises He will provide what we need (Phil 4:19).
He tells us over and over again:
"Do not be afraid. Do not be discouraged" (Joshua-in many verses).

So through the dark times, through the hard trials, over my lifetime I have found God to be utterly faithful to me. Faithful in keeping His promises. Faithful in providing exactly what I need at exactly the perfect time.
So right now, at this moment, in this time, I purpose to trust God completely. For Katie and for me. And if I need to, I will trust Him enough for the both of us.
Because I know in the deepest places hidden in me, that God loves me so completely. And He loves Katie more than I could ever grasp.
On days like today, I need to know that God is there. That He won't abandon me-even when I can't comprehend His presence. And I need to remember His faithfulness-through all the years.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013


It has been one of those weeks.
You know the kind where things appear OK but inside you feel uneasy and not quite settled.
I can't put my finger on it. I just know that I feel a little "off".
A bit down one minute and then melancholy the next.
Wondering if God is really there when it seems like He is absent.
And not knowing why is just aggravating.

For that reason alone- not knowing why, I decided to begin reading the book of Job this week .
If anyone has a reason to wonder if God is there and really cares about him, it is Job. In one day, his life was changed forever. All ten of his children died,  he lost his livestock-which were numerous and the means of his great wealth, and he had nothing left.
Then to make matters worse, his body became covered with painful sores from the top of his head to the bottom of his feet, and his sweet devoted wife tells him "to curse God".  Not much support there.
Along comes three of his friends who sit with him for one week not saying a word and then begin to chastise him for not trusting God. One after the other begins to accuse him of some sin in his life, wondering if he cheated people or harbored ill thoughts.
Maybe you know those type of friends. The ones who come to you when you have been going thru a long trial of suffering and ask you " Is there some sin you are hiding in your heart?".  Not at all comforting and you begin to wonder what you might have done.

To go backwards a bit, Job's troubles began when satan came to God's throne and said he had been roaming throughout the earth. God then asked him:

"Have you considered my servant Job?"

Although I have read this story numerous times, this time I was struck by the fact that God is the One who initiated satan to tempt Job to forsake the LORD.
I guess He does that with us. He considers us and Job to be faithful. That we will stick to the fact that God can handle whatever comes our way. That , in the end, we will trust Him completely; that we believe He is faithful. That God will sustain, strengthen and give us exactly what we need during those times when life has us guessing if we can make it through this trial.

Oh, but it isn't easy. And it isn't pretty.
I know. 
I have had enough heart wrenching times in my life where it seemed that EVERYTHING was falling apart, that I couldn't go on:

The unexpected, early death of my mom.
My sons running away from home because I had hurt them.
A child who was so distraught and depressed that they wanted to end their life.
My husband losing his job.
The death of my dad.

I could go on but I'm sure you get the picture that we all will go through really really hard times in our lives at some point. I hate to be the bearer of some not so great news but none of us goes through life unscathed. We will all face heart breaking, and what seem to be unsurmountable obstacles that have the capability of side-swiping our faith, causing us to doubt if God is even there. It is just what happens.

In the 19th chapter of Job, in the middle of hearing his friends reasonings of why all these horrible things have occured, Job says:

" I know that my Redeemer lives"

 So I began thinking of how it is that I know my Redeemer lives and came up with the following:
  • Because I know in the core of my being that YOU love me deeply and without conditions.
  • Because You forgive me-over and over again of my same sins.
  • Because You have upheld me and given me strength and courage to go on in the darkest moments.
  • Because You have allowed me to keep living when someone I love was taken too early from my life.
  • Because You have never given up on me- when I have felt like giving up.
  • Because You have sustained me and sustained those I love and deeply care about- in the hardest times of our lives.
  • Because Your Grace has kept me.
  • Because You use me-that in itself is a miracle
I also know that my Redeemer lives:
  •  Even when I don't understand Your ways and Your plans.
  • Even when it seems some of my prayers go unanswered.
  • Even when life gets so HARD that I wonder how I will keep going on, of how someone I love can keep gong on
  • Even when a situation, problem or trial seems helpless and unending.
  • Even when it appears to me that You are absent and don't care, because deep down I know you really do.
My life's heartaches and troubles have not been as difficult as Job's, but there have been times when I questioned God. 
It was so comforting to read those words today "that I know my Redeemer lives".
I know He does.
Do you?


Monday, July 8, 2013

OH THOSE INTERNS....teaching me a thing or two.

What an incredible privilege Scud and I have working with the summer Interns at Woodleaf. This year we have fourteen college age-or recently graduated (YEAH FOR THEM!) friends from around our country that are giving 13-14 weeks of their summer to serve at Woodleaf.

They are an amazing, hard-working, fun-loving group of kids that have quickly bonded and become "family". They love and care for each other, they serve each other, pray for each other and tease and joke with each other day in and day out all summer long.

We have now passed the half way point of their stay-something they do not want me to talk about. Last night at our meeting, I asked them to give me three words that would describe how they were feeling right now. Listening to their answers was encouraging and so hopeful to hear.
Of course a number of them said they were tired. They have worked very hard for over seven weeks; doing things they never imagined they would, being asked to do just one more thing in a day when they already are physically exhausted. So surprised to hear the word "tired"- not at all.

The word that did surprise me over and over again , was "content".
I was blown away by that answer. How do 20-23 year olds really know about contentedness? Isn't this the generation who is always looking for more exciting things to do? Yet, over and over again, I heard that word. (what?? ususally I got straight to Webster's. call me lazy) defines the word "content" as being satisfied with what one is or has, not wanting more or anything else.

These youngsters are giving me a run for my money. (where the heck did that expression come from anyways?). Needless to say, this has caused me conflicting emotions this morning. Here are these 14 folks working their tails off for the entire summer at basically minimum wage or less, and they are content and totally satisfied being here. And they are kicking me in the butt.
One of my jobs is to challenge this group spiritually in the summer. And yet, this group is now challenging me. Just as the apostle Paul does in his letter to the Philippians, in the 4th chapter, where he says : "I have learned the secret to being content in whatever the circumstance."

Just recently, I have had lost the contentedness that I have had for years living at Woodleaf. I have been thinking of how much longer are we here?
What does God have in store for us next? When can I get back to the "real world"? 
It took me over nine months to learn to be content living in the middle of nowhere, and that feeling has not moved for over six years.
Yet now, why now, is that feeling that I want more than this, rearing its ugly head.
Is this a ploy of satan to get me off track? Undoubtebly , yes.
Could it be that the continuous turn over in camping staff is hard to adjust to?
Could it be that out of my three small groups, now only one is really in college? And what does that mean? Am I feeling too old to start all over with new freshman come August? And how do I stay on Young Life College staff when I am more excited about keeping the older girls than starting with brand new ones?
Could it be that I know my time is limited to work as a nurse, and I just want to be a nurse again?
Could it be that I want to be more available to watch those sweet little boys that call me Grammy?

I really don't have any answers.
What I do know is that even in the midst of this, I want to be obedient to God.
I want His way and will. Not mine.
I desire to be like my Intern Friends and be content-exactly where the LORD has planted me for this season and not to run ahead and try to figure out what is next.
But to WAIT. And learn to look to the LORD for what He has in store for me during this period of restlessness.
One thing I know for sure is that GOD has something to say to me during this process and I do not want to miss out.

THANK YOU my sweet Interns for teaching me a thing or two.
You are never "too old" to learn something.
And we more "mature" people (aka "getting old") have so much to gain from being friends with people who are much younger than us. They remind me of the preciousness of life. They make my mind recall what it means to be steadfast and persevere. They remind me often of the blessings God bestows on us as we seek to obey and serve Him.
They make me so grateful for the privilege I have to be with them.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

JESUS ...and the Gays

Heart stirrings.
Those things that touch, grab at your emotions.
The things that pull at your heart and make you want to figure it out.

My heart has been stirring for years now on the topic that is causing a huge buzz across our nation : how to deal with homosexuality.

My beliefs have changed drastically over the years.
I was a nurse on a telemetry floor in the 80's when the disease AIDS first roared its ugly head. In those days, doctors could not mark on the patient's chart that this was their diagnosis, but we in the medical field were told indirectly. I vividly remember having my first AIDS patient. His IV had come out and I needed to start a new one. Mind you, this was in the days where no nurses ever wore gloves-unless you were doing a sterile procedure.
I was a bit nervous and called home to ask my husband to pray for me-that I would get the new IV with one stick. And I did.

In those days we didn't know that much about AIDS but it was considered purely a homesexual disease. This was in the days of the gay bath houses in San Francisco where frequent one night stands were participated in by hundreds of gay men.

I remember being so grateful to C Everett Coop, MD, the surgeon general of the United States at the time, who courageously informed every household in the US of how AIDS was transmitted. Up until that time, people were so fearful that it was an airborne disease.

It was during the 80's that I, being a young eveangelical follower of Jesus considered homosexuality a gross sin. A sin that was repulsive to me- most likely due to the fact that I could never imagine being attracted to another woman as I was to men, and particularly to my husband.
In the late 80's and early 90's, the gay community came up with the theory that they were born gay. At the time, I found that almost ridiculous to believe and thought that they were just making "excuses" for their lifestyle. Today, I think that could very well be a possibility.

All along though, I was bothered by how the far right portrayed any homosexual as perverse and almost abhorrent to God I  could never reckon that with the God I knew, who says that He loves all of us the same.
I was repeatedly embarrassed by Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell and the comments they made in the media. And because I had a career that caused me to care for patients of many backgrounds, religions and sexual preference, I knew I had to treat everyone with respect.

I often struggled with how to have my Christianity line up with how I believe Christ would be. How Christ would want me to be. I still struggle with this.
Having been involved in Young Life for what is now my 5th decade, I have always told my student friends and my adult friends that I truly believe if Jesus were alive today, He would be hanging out with the gay population, with the drug addicts, with those suffering from mental illness and the homeless. Those of us who think we have it all together, would probably respond to Jesus much like the Pharisees of His day; professing to know God and His ways, and yet acting just the opposite.

I have a few very good friends whose children are gay. 
Has that changed my perception of them?
I love these friends the same as I always have. I love them for who they are, for who Christ made them to be.
Throughout my lifetime, I have had a number of friends who are gay who are very dear to me and who I love without question. Do I treat them any different than i do my other "straight" friends? NOT IN THE SLIGHTEST.

I  have tried to reconcile my faith with these issues.
I know it says in the Bible-which I believe 100% is the Word of God and that it is all true- that homosexuality is a sin. It also says that lying, cheating, being judgmental, getting drunk, having illicit sex (which is defined as any sex outside the bounds of marriage), gossiping, coveting, murder, rape, anger, bitterness and malice are all sins .
Which one of us has never sinned?
None of us except Jesus Christ.

In light of the Supreme Court's ruling last week stating it is unconstitutional for states to say that Gays could not marry, we are going to hear an outcry from what will be called "Christians".
And my response to that will be we need to be like Jesus.
Jesus treated everyone with respect, love and compassion. It didn't matter what one had done. He let them know that He loved them, cared for them and wanted the best for them. That is how the church in America needs to respond to the Gay community.

I don't have "the answers". 
All I do know is that God is a God of love and that He loves Gay people every bit as much as He loves you and me. Knowing Jesus, wanting to obey Him, wanting to look like Him doesn't make Him love me more than He loves the gay man or woman, the addict on skid row, the teen mom, the gang member, the murderer, the tyrant and all the other people.
The difference is that I know what He did for me.
                                                     I know that He suffered and died for my sins.
                                   I know that He defeated death and sin once and for                                         all.
But that doesn't mean Jesus loves me any more- or you any more.
What it does mean is that we are to be looking more like Jesus than people that don't know Him. Often times we look the exact opposite by our outspoken criticism and rejection of those who are 'different" than us.
In Luke chapter 3 (from the New Living Translation of the Bible) we read:  

"Prove by the way you live that you have repented of your sins and turned to God"

Prove by the way you live.
WE as the followers of Christ are not acting like we belong to Him very much when it comes to our response and attitudes towards the Gay community. I am not a theologian. I never have pretended to be.
But what I believe with all my heart is that we need to be tender hearted and forgiving-just as Jesus has been to us. Each one of us needs to ask Our Lord how to respond-not take it from someone else's beliefs.

We need to look like Jesus to a very hurting world.

Prove by the way you live that you have repented of your sins and turned to God.  

This past week I read an article and saw a video that I recommend:

And I also would heartily recommend a book that I read this past year called:
The Cross in the Closet by Timothy Kurek. This book will challenge you and make you think about how you treat the Gays you encounter in your own life.

May we learn to love like Jesus does: unconditionally- to all people regardless of how different they appear to us.