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Showing posts from 2013

A Simple Christmas

I have longed for a Simple Christmas, centered in the love of God. What I am learning, through the unexpected, through circumstances beyond my control, is that God is found in the places where my plans come to an end. Where my wants are frustrated, God desires to meet my needs. His ways are truly not my ways, and so the choice comes: let go of what I would wish for, and embrace the plans and purposes he has for me.

 Often, this requires a change in what I tell myself. Tuning into truth, speaking words of choice and decision rather than settling into helplessness. I cannot choose my circumstances, but I can choose how I respond. I can replace grumbling with gratitude. I can nestle into him and let him fill the void within me, and I can seek his direction in bringing wellness into my interactions with others.

"Only the humble believe him and rejoice that God is so free and so marvelous that he does wonders where where people despair," wrote Dietrich Bonhoeffer, from the depths…

More Love

I don't like drama. I was raised to avoid it, and so often, I grit my teeth and shake my head and stay silent for far too long. Frustration festers, and I preach a bit on social media, angry at the way words trample human frailty and religious right becomes a cause to be championed, rather than a safe place for the poor and needy.

My greatest fear is not relativism. It's not the corruption of the world, or persecution of the church, or attempts to silence that which offends a vocal society. What I most fear is that God's people will unknowingly turn away souls in need of rescue. I fear that those who preach their truth in anger, rather than love, will exacerbate the cycle of opposing voices vying to silence each other. All feeling attacked, each offended, and every one of us in need of healing.

I believe there are many in the church, and outside it's walls, who have met a loving God, but not come to the place of living Grace day by day. I believe there are many who sti…

A Sound Mind

"You are making me crazy!" The words fling out in moments of intense frustration. There is a striving, a seeking to exert control over another life that leaves me exasperated and all bunched up inside. In these moments my imperfections, especially my sense of powerlessness, seem to spread like gangrene.

Again I learn the lesson that I can control only myself.

I read a letter that begins with wise counsel encouraging the recipient to own grace, mercy, and peace. One  word above all leaps off the page... Peace. Indicating cessation of struggling; leaving conflict behind and embracing harmony. Peaceis the very essence of freedom. 

When my world roars chaos, and I feel cramped, powerless, how do I get to that wide open place?

The letter continues, prayer- yes, day and night- in the moment of chaos, in the moment when my heart would faint, to nestle into a strength beyond what I alone can muster. Prayer is the surrender of my own weak strength in favor of the power of God.

Bri…

Hope in the Hard places

Those who know my story of loss wonder how we got from there to here. How I moved from weeping brokenness spilling across the floor to this place, where I can look life in the face again- even on the hard days. It has been a journey, and I am still learning. What has been key has been connecting to the One who has become my everything.

The question that slices deepest is how to live Hope in the hard places. I think back to the days of darkest oppression and I remember telling myself over and over that there was Such Hope to be found; training my mind to grip tight to that hope helped me put one foot in front of the other. But what changed me was not the power of positive thinking. The moment that changed everything was when God met me with unconditional acceptance and gave me freedom to grieve.

I don't know what your heartache looks like- though I know there is much to grieve in this life. All I know is how my story was changed when I fell into the arms of the One who still is m…

Relentless Gratitude

Hello, my name is Rebekah, and I'm in Anxiety Recovery. You see, I've been addicted to perfectionism and control, and I need to be set free. Weekly. Daily. Hourly. I know the truth that control is an illusion. I've lived the anxiety of trying to control circumstances, people, even cats (I so get the herding cats metaphor). I like to make plans, and while my special needs family offers many opportunities to learn flexibility, sometimes I still freak out when my plans are ransacked by the ups and down in life- or sidetracked by something I missed.

Like yesterday when I learned that, despite my attempt to be thorough, I had missed a detail that could possibly alter my holiday travel plans - depending on the weather...Texas weather (where it can be 82* one day and 32* the next.) Despite having ruminated often on the point of Christmas, on God's plans and purposes to draw mankind into an intimate peace with Him here on this earth, the news shattered my sense of calm.  I rod…

True Meaning In This Season

This is the time of year when focus inevitably shifts to wishes and wants. Shiny displays and seasonal songs, clever ads and pitches on how to have a perfect holiday seem to be everywhere we turn. Yet truly, things can't make us happy. Sure, we may bask in the glow of something new for a few days, weeks, or (rare) months. Yet we were made for more than this world can offer.

"Why spend money on what is not bread, and your labor for what does not satisfy. Listen. listen to me... And your soul will delight in the richest of fare." (Isaiah 55:2)

A conversation today reminded me that many of God's own people are stuck in "poverty of spirit" (and I am not referring to humility). Those who once met God may now have empty tanks, spiritually, due to lack of time spent with Him. Let me be clear: I am not referring to time spent in church, for sometimes church activities compete with time for God himself.  And I don't mean that more prayer is required (though pra…

And Today I Remembered to Take Care of Me

Self care. It's a concept I spent years learning, and teaching to other caregivers of wounded veterans- and I am still "in process". After a few months of increased stress and my fall from the well balanced wagon, I have made progress, but this week was full of medical mayhem. Nothing earth shattering, just the usual issues plus the extra work within the medical system to get needs updated and doctor visits approved and one medical organization to effectively communicate with another.

Again the reminder came to stop. To rest, to Breathe. To do more than whisper prayers from the void, but rather nestle in and be filled. So after criss-crossing the metroplex to meet many needs, today was the first in a while with No. Appointments. None. And it dawned on me that the swelling of my eye lids needs to be addressed. Ohhhhhh.

All week I'd had swelling and peeling lids. But I was pushing through, pressing in, pouring out stress through working out and addressing this issue did …

Restored

It's been that sort of month. The sort of month where I fall off the metaphorical wagon, and instead of climbing back on, I decided to sit in the dirt and wallow. The kind of month where I am too tired to get up and chase down that wagon once I realize I've been left in the dust-- and in my own inadequacies. The kind of month when my mistakes loom, and the new kitty pees on our couch that's not paid off yet, and I brought home hamburgers for dinner even though once child (and possibly a husband) is allergic to the buns (the gluten free guy ate fries), and another gets sick from them (reflux) and they sure did not help my pocketbook or my "all natural" diet... not to mention, the damage done to the goal of trying to fit into my winter clothes again.

I've felt routed from that lifestyle of balance I had worked so hard to maintain, and frankly, I am just worn out by my own emotional baggage. I got caught up in the un-important stuff, and finding focus and direct…

Looking Past the Labels

There it was, on the counter, green gunk left over from dinnertime, dried on and stuck in grooves, dribbled sticky-ness on a napkin, hardened splatters on the counter. It was icky nasty-ness. I could have walked on by. After all, it wasn't my mess. It was someone else's spill, someone else's gunk, and I was tired and I had a headache, and  it was almost time to help my youngest brown eyed boy settle in bed.

But... I couldn't just let it sit there. Not all night. If I did not at least bring a little liquid to soften the hard edges, I might forget- and the mess would be harder to clean in the morning, once the kids were in school. So I stopped, and I poured on a little water, and began to wipe and scrub- just for a moment, to get the worst of the stains out. It put me in mind of a story... the story of a man with living water, who met a woman at a well.

She was world weary, passed from one man to the next, baggage from each torn relationship left in the crevices of her s…

The 5 Love Languages

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It's good to have a reminder of what I already know. Lessons learned in previous seasons can fade; as time goes on and life gets busy, I forget to dwell on that which once impacted me deeply. So I was thrilled when The 5 Love Languages, Military Edition arrived in the mail. I am always excited when I get to be a part of inspirational author (and friend) Jocelyn Green's work- and although I did contribute a short anecdote to this particular project (in the Combat Redeployment section) reading this book was most exciting because it jogged my memory about lessons learned years back, before multiple deployments and diagnoses; before PTSD and trauma and the stress of living with the complications of war come home.

I first read The 5 Love Languages when my husband Roger, then an army chaplain, decided to lead his soldiers through this book. I remember how much the original version helped strengthen our marriage. We learned that, like many couples, we show love in very different wa…

Comfort

There are seasons when we are intimately acquainted with suffering. Times when trials immobilize and sear. Moments when we find ourselves prostrate or reeling, saturated with grief and questions.

My story involves sifting through layers of events and areas of wounding. Though our family's journey through PTSD is somewhat known, there are few who know what I clutched beneath the cloak of sadness.

I had only just begun to work through the trauma of having a son with a life threatening medical disorder when Roger returned from Iraq changed. After years of living in fear that 'today could be the day my little boy would die', God provided release from daily terror as I placed my precious son on the altar, surrendering the illusion of control, asking instead for sustenance. I assumed the arc through the recovery process would continue, and I hoped my husband and I would bond as we moved towards healing from that life altering diagnosis.

Yet what followed the joyful reunion was o…

My 'Positive'

I wasn't going to blog today. I really wasn't. Does the world wide web really need one more post reminiscing about watching the same footage over, and over... and over? And then... there was this homework assignment from my youngest; to interview a family member about 9/11. He asked me to share my memories from 9/11- including not just the negatives, "but also the positives". And despite the sadness that lingers even tonight as I remember the images from that terrible day, it warmed my heart to be able to share with my now 11 year old son that he is my positive.

 As soon as the images began to flash across the TV screen, my husband knew he would be 'called up'. He was a chaplain in the National Guard, and we both knew it was only a matter of time... What we did not know was when, where, or how long. I felt ill watching the news coverage, praying for the many families in New York and Washington D.C. even as I fought back waves of nausea. But I had been feelin…

Manna

There comes a time of waiting, after I've passed through the place of doing. Appointments are made, meetings scheduled, points of contact lined up. Everything I can do, has been done, and now, it is time to wait, not on God, but in him.

Along this way there has been clear guidance. Little provisions, that in the scheme of things, are not so little. The counselor who to thought pull records so diagnoses and treatments could be accessed exactly when needed. The diagnostician who just 'happened' to walk into the office when I was filling out paperwork. The Occupational Therapist's office who called to let me know that insurance had (finally) approved a visit, records had been reviewed and they are ready to schedule an appointment (a couple months out). The call that came today, moving the appointment a week closer because the doctor had a conflict. (I'd call it a divine intervention.) Early on God told me that there would be a time of waiting- and to not be discourage…

Ready or Not

I'm not ready for school to start. The back packs have been assembled, the school supplies bought, the organization has been done. The pantry has been scoured for sensory friendly scissors and pencil grips that are "nice and squishy". I even found the elusive composition notebooks we need every year (though folders with brads AND pockets have been hard to come by.) I have glue and spirals to excess, but not the desire to send my kids into the care of new personnel, well trained in their needs or not.

Oh, there have been days, when I am worn thin, longing for routine, for the set schedule that comes with the school year.  Days when One. More. Moment. of screaming daycare kids running amok at Lego Land has set me on edge. Moments when the lines at Hawaiian Falls or the crush in the lazy river threatens to send me back to a nice shady cabana (we had a 'Summer of Staycations'). But mostly, I've enjoyed the unrushed, go-where-we-please summer moments. Yes, there …

The Courage to Grieve Well

Grieving. It is a part of this broken life. Whether it is the death of a loved one, or the death of a dream, a goal, a cherished ambition, loss radiates deep within. Sometimes multiple losses strike at once: the loss of a job, a new diagnosis, something unexpected that barrelled down and caught you unaware. Or, it can come in the form of walking daily under the oppression of multiple medical needs, any of which are prone to spiral out of control at any moment. Care-giving drains the body, soul, and even spirit, cramming in much more than we were built to contain.

Any time there is continual stress it is important to find release. Taking time to grieve is key in finding wellness, and the One who is our healing has already provided. Look at the beautiful, biological design of the human tear ducts; a conduit of release to help us be cared for in times of trauma- and a wonderful gift when stresses surround.

When we were made, our Creator knew we would need a way to pour out the toxins tha…

Failure? Or Freedom?

Failure.  We are all confronted with it. Whether we face our own expectations or those of others, we all fall short sometimes. And there are the times when life- and even God- seems to have failed us. Times when no matter how hard we try, no matter what buttons we push or what loads we carry, all we find in our path is disappointment. 

Daily, I work to manage various life altering and even, at times, life threatening diagnoses. And sometimes, no matter how hard I strive, at the end of the day (or month, or year), I stumble through that feeling of failure.
When I am at the end of all I want, for myself and those I love, it's time for an altar walk. I go outside and pour out my concerns (usually aloud) to the One who hears- and listens.  Movement is a conduit for release. These walks keep me sane, grounded, when life is crowded with struggles and disappointments. Green rolls out before me, punctuated with pinks and yellows and blues, and I breathe in the beauty of creation.
My…

Cradled

Fear. It does not always come in the darkness of night. Sometimes it arrives in the early morning, when I wake to the weak voice of my son, who has type one diabetes, whispering in my ear, "Mom, I feel sick."  He bolts to my bathroom and I run, too, to try to comfort, hoping my presence is enough, while I wrestle with helplessness- and fear.

Once he is back in bed, miserable, aching, I can't get still. The jolt from sleeping to wild wakefulness leaves my heart racing. Flip flops pound across tile, hands sweep through the medicine cabinet for something, anything to help him. Within the hour, blood glucose has been checked, fresh insulin given, a new "set" for the insulin pump has been attached to his body.  The on call doctor has advised, and nausea medicine has been administrated. Everything medically necessary has been done. But another hour wait until the next blood glucose check leaves me gaping. If I sit with him, I will only keep him awake. So I train a wa…

Pause

There is a weariness not of body, but of heart and soul. It's been one of those weeks. When I wake, bleary eyed to one child sick in the night, and another shaking with sugars skyrocketing, and later, plummeting.

It's been a week of frantic moments. Conversations with on-call doctors, diabetes educators, (long) calls with pharmacists, and yes, I have resorted to begging. Help me!  Help my son. Help me help my son! I am at the end of myself, simply making do with what's leftover.

And it strikes me. Perhaps I am looking for help in all the wrong places. Like the country song I knew growing up... looking in too many faces. Trying (desperately) to find what I'm dreaming of. When I push through the fear and the drowsiness, it is possible the answer is found in taking pause?

 If I stop I fear I'll fall to pieces. Maybe I need to fall to pieces. Perhaps the key to being strong is found beyond my own weak strength.Maybe being strong is coming to the end of all I am and cry…

Be still

Oh, day of rest,  How beautiful, how fair! 
~Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
Today I long for green- cucumbers and spinach leaves to feed the body, and  slender blades of grass to feed my soul. Oh, to lay in a clover green meadow and breathe in the breeze, the sky, the voice quietly whispering my name. 
What is stopping me? The urge is strong, yet I work, still. I push through to gain a prize whose name I do not know. The whisper beckons me out into mid- morning. Persistently. I stop working and take off shoes and socks, stepping onto  the grassy slope behind our home. 
The ground is cool, as I knew it would be; verdant, and pliable, warming to my touch. I lean back, relaxing, supported by soft spikes. I feel the breeze and hear a gentle song lilt from the shadow of wings. Pages flap and I wonder:  Why is it so hard to be still?
I stay, cloaked in green, while my eyes adjust to the light. In the distance, cars hum, people rushing through busy lives- and still I wonder. When did I forget to …

Overcoming Anxiety

My son has test anxiety, and it can be pretty intense. With all the stress and struggle and extra homework surrounding the STAAR testing here in Texas, we've been dealing with a lot of apprehension and dread. Our weekend devotions focused on giving God all our fears, and learning to hear his voice calming our hearts. We read Jeremiah 29:11-12. Verse eleven is well known, but I really love the perspective verses twelve and thirteen bring.

11 For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Eternal, “plans for peace, not evil, to give you a future and hope—never forget that. 12 At that time, you will call out for Me, and I will hear. You will pray, and I will listen. 13 You will look for Me intently, and you will find Me when you seek me with all your heart.
I shared with the boys that when I am worried, I close my eyes and remember that he is there to help me. Then I picture placing my concerns in God's big hands, one by one. We prayed this morning before school, again asking God…

I once was Lost, but now am Found

"What is a week end?"  the (Downton Abbey) Dowager Countess quipped. Ah, the weekend!  What would I do without the much needed time to rest, renew, and have some recreation?

Let's face it, the week is full of rush and hurry, and at my house, that means anxiety. There is the scramble to get to school, the busy-ness of managing medical issues day to day, the struggle of making dinner while helping with homework, the stretch to have (more) homework completed before bed time. We are, after all, gearing up for the STAAR test, so that means more stress and more work, and therefore less rest for our kiddos.

So this weekend, I determined, would be a time to rest and unwind. To set aside Think Through Math and I station, and all the other testing preparation assignments, and just have a day of fun. Saturday morning we moved purposely slow, and then about noon I dug out the swim gear, packed up snacks and towels (and medical supplies) and loaded the car with two very excited boys.…