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Window of Hopelessness

Last night I watched an old episode of House in which Dr. Cuddy had to negotiate a deal with an insurance company. She asked for a 12% increase in the amount the company paid.

Throughout the episode, several things went horribly wrong. An employee was caught stealing meds. She was late for the insurance meeting. Her baby was sick and she couldn’t reach the sitter. The day was a disaster. And on top of that, the insurance company refused her offer. Several times.

Dr. Cuddy made several bold moves, with the intention of trying to get the insurance company to agree to her offer. They flat out refused. She interrupted an insurance rep’s lunch to offer an ultimatum which earned her an increase.

But it wasn’t enough.

She told them her hospital wasn’t going to accept their insurance anymore, effective at 3:00 pm.

And the whole hospital was in chaos over it.

For the next two hours, Dr. Cuddy put out fires related to the stealing employee and the insurance company and she was so discouraged by 4:45 that she told people she was going to turn in her letter of resignation.

She turned around….

And ran into the insurance company rep who handed her an envelope and said “congratulations. You got your 12%.”

Sometimes our miracles come when we are at the end of our rope and well past the deadline. Sometimes we have to get to the end of all of our options and then wait a little while longer before that one last detail falls into place.

Don’t give up. Yet. Because sometimes, it takes just a little bit longer than we have. Sometimes, when it feels like it’s a lost cause, that is when Jesus can step forward and move the last piece into place.

There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens:
a time to be born and a time to die,
a time to plant and a time to uproot,
a time to kill and a time to heal,
a time to tear down and a time to build,
a time to weep and a time to laugh,
a time to mourn and a time to dance,
a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,
a time to search and a time to give up,
a time to keep and a time to throw away,
a time to tear and a time to mend,
a time to be silent and a time to speak,
a time to love and a time to hate,
a time for war and a time for peace.
Ecclesiastes 3:1-8


It’s the waiting.

The waiting is what hurts our hearts.

We try.

We do our part.

We give it everything we have.

And then we wait.

We wait while discouragement settles in and becomes a faithful companion. We wait while every last option floats away and we are left clinging to hope for something that could have been.

And after hope is gone, we wait those two hours that sometimes stretches into two decades and we struggle with discouragement and fear and wondering what our next option will be — and if there will be any next option.

And if hospital dramas are any indication, at that last possible second…. just as we’re about to slam the door on our dreams, something changes. Our vision becomes clear. And we finally find victory.

Don’t get discouraged during the two hour window after all hope is gone. That is where Jesus is. That is where grace lingers and where hope dwells just around the corner.

I was given a thorn in my flesh,
a messenger of Satan, to torment me.

Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me.
But he said to me,
“My grace is sufficient for you,
for my power is made perfect in weakness.”
Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses,
so that Christ’s power may rest on me.
II Corinthians 12:7-9

Give glory and honor to Jesus, even in the two-hour window of hopelessness. Because His grace is enough. His power is unending. And your victory is near.

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Posted by on September 4, 2018 in Current Events, Profundities

 

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30 Things, 4 Years Later: Day 19

30 Things to Accomplish in my 30s: Day 19

#19 Avoid making decisions based solely on fear.

I think this one made the list simply because today, I needed to be reminded that decisions that are made because we feel afraid or insecure tend to be not-so-good decisions.

Because today, I could make all kinds of decisions because of bad things that could happen. I’ve had a bunch of unknowns pop up lately. And it would be so nice to do the safe thing.

Faith or fear? Faith or fear? What’s it going to be?

I might have done too well on this goal. I bought a house for crying out loud! I bought a house against the recommendations of everyone who offered an opinion.

I went back to school. I went back to school terrified that I’d flunk out — or even worse, I’d get through all the classes and then not be able to pass the NCLEX for licensure.

I started orthodontia, knowing that I might have to have surgery, which would have been a nightmare on many levels. (It turned out that I didn’t have to have surgery!)

When you’re a grownup, you have to make lots of decisions that involve choosing between the safe option and the unknown. I used to always choose the safe option. I’ve learned that being safe all the time is almost always boring and more often than not, it’s not the healthiest choice or the choice that will bring the most peace and joy.

For those who struggle with choosing the courageous option, the risky option, the option that requires the most faith — for all of us, including myself, I want to close with this:

He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.
I will say of the Lord, He is my refuge and my fortress, my God in whom I trust.
Surely He will save you from the fowler’s snare and from the deadly pestilence.
He will cover you with His feathers and under His wings you will find refuge.
His faithfulness will be your shield and rampart.
You will not fear the terror of night
nor the arrow that flies by day,
nor the pestilence that stalks in the darkness,
nor the plague that destroys at midday.
A thousand may fall at your side,
ten thousand at your right hand
but it will not come near you.
You will only observe with your eyes and see the punishment of the wicked.
If you make the Most High your dwelling
even the Lord, who is my refuge
Then no harm will befall you.
No disaster will come near your tent.
For He will command His angels concerning you,
to guard you in all your ways,
they will lift you up in their hands so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.
You will tread upon the lion and the cobra;
you will trample the great lion and the serpent.
Because he loves me says the Lord,
I will rescue him; I will protect him for he acknowledges my name.
He will call upon me and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble.
I will deliver him and honor him. with long life will I satisfy him and show him my salvation.
Psalm 91

 
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Posted by on April 28, 2016 in 30 Things

 

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30 Things, 4 Years Later: Day 10

30 Things to Accomplish in my 30s:
#10. Adopt a child.

Have you ever noticed that fear is often a self-fulfilling prophecy?

Someone might choose not to adopt a child because they’re afraid they might not be an adequate parent.

Well, I’ll tell ya.

If you don’t become a parent for fear of being an inadequate parent, you’re proving yourself to be an inadequate parent.

There are hundreds of thousands of kids who need families. The state of South Dakota currently has 6 kiddos looking and longing for their forever families. Minnesota has 163. The kids range in age from 1 year to 18 years old.

These kids need a mom and dad. Or they need a mom or a dad. They need someone. They need to have a place of belonging and a place of safety, comfort and fun.

These kids need for us to stop playing the What If game.

They need us to be courageous.

They need us to believe in ourselves so we can believe in them.

Last year I completed training and home study and was approved for adoption through foster care in South Dakota.

I haven’t gotten any further than that, but I’m in the process of becoming a hero for a child (or children) who needs a forever family.

Will you consider becoming a hero too?

If you are interested in adoption through foster care, please contact your local Department of Social Services, Department of Children and Family Services or other similar agency for information.

 
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Posted by on April 20, 2016 in 30 Things

 

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Grace Came Down

“Joseph!”

The whisper in the darkness startled him as he closed the door to the shop. He whirled around, catching a glimpse of the young woman peeking around the corner. He began to walk away, shaking the wood chips from his clothing.

“Joseph! I need to tell you something!”

Almost out of sight now, Joseph heard her pleading voice. “Joseph. Please. Stop.” He turned and strode back to the door. Opening it, he motioned for her to follow.

In the dimness, he could see the outline of her face. Mary. His precious Mary.

“Mary.”

They stood in awkward silence for a moment before Mary began to speak.

“I couldn’t tell you in front of them.”

“Them.” Oh, them. “They” always made it so difficult. “Them” and their rules.

“What is it my love?”

“I had a dream. A vision. A visitation. I really don’t know what it was. Just…. something. Something happened and I’m scared.”

Joseph reached out and touched her arm. “They” wouldn’t approve. They would be horrified if they knew he was alone in the darkness with his betrothed.

Mary continued, “Joseph…. it was a heavenly being. A spirit. An angel. Something. He was enormous and glimmering gold and sparkling diamonds. He was ferocious but he was peace personified. I don’t know what it means. I’m scared.”

Joseph pulled her into his arms. Drat “them” and their rules. “I’ll take care of you my darling.”

Her whispers floated in the stillness. “He told me I had found favor with God.”

“Bless you, sweet Mary. It’s about time someone else noticed!”

“But Joseph…. He told me that I would conceive. That I would have a son. I tried to tell him this was impossible, but he said it would be the work of the Holy Spirit. I’m scared. I don’t know what to do.”

Joseph slumped into a chair. What does this mean? Them and their rules. It could happen right here, right now, with them being alone in the darkness. It was convenient and completely possible. But if it did happen, she would be worse than the laughingstock of the town. She’d be ridiculed. She might even be stoned to death. This must not happen.

“Darling Mary. It had to be just a dream. In a few short months we will be married and everything will be as it should be. Don’t be afraid Mary.”

He stood, reaching for the door. Looking out, he whispered, “I need to get home. Mother is probably wondering where I am.” Them and their rules. Again.

Joseph watched Mary’s shadow disappear in the darkness and then set out on his own walk down the dusty path to his mother’s table and the bread and fish waiting for his dinner.

The laughing chatter of his brothers and sisters did nothing to break his contemplative mood. He washed. He ate. He immediately excused himself and lay down on his cot. What if it did happen? Would he? Could he? Could he continue to love her? What was a young carpenter to do?

* * * * *

Several weeks later, just as the sun was beginning to set, Joseph again stepped out of his shop and heard his name frantically whispered. Fear gripped his heart. He stepped back into the small building and a moment later, a dark figure slipped in behind him. He closed the door silently, turned toward her and held her close. “Tell me it isn’t so….”

“Joseph, my love…. I am with child. I’m afraid. Please don’t leave me!” A silent tear slipped out of her eye and glistened in the glow of the sunset. “Don’t let them hurt me!”

Them. Their rules. Why must they be so difficult?

So it had happened. It wasn’t his doing. Sure, they had touched, shyly in the darkness that night several weeks ago. But it wasn’t him. It wasn’t him. How could this be? He sank to the floor, sighing.

“Mary. Join me?” He held his hand up to her.

She sat next to him, tears flowing. He had heard that this happened. Women were emotional when they were with child. It must be so. He put his arm around her and she shivered in the darkness as she leaned against him.

“What am I going to do? How is this supposed to work? Why me?”

“Shhh, my love.”

They sat in silence for a moment.

* * * * *
He was a good man, her Joseph. She knew she was truly a favored one among women. Her friends were betrothed to harsh men. Men who wouldn’t take the time to listen. Men who would rather report rule breakers than be rule breakers. But her Joseph. Her Joseph was different. He wasn’t wealthy. His social class was near the bottom. He was a nobody among the religious people. But he was gentle. He was kind. He didn’t hit and holler like the other men. And best of all, he cared and she could feel it.

“Joseph, darling…. Please love me anyway….”

* * * * *
She walked one way. He walked the other. It was as it was supposed to be that night. She to her mother’s table and the simple meal set and he to his mother’s table where a similar meal was set. They both picked at their food in silence while their families chattered around them. They excused themselves murmuring of long days and early mornings and lay in their cots on opposite ends of town, thinking of the future. Asking impossible questions. Wondering. Hoping.

A baby.

A baby truly, truly changes everything.

Could they marry early and no one would know the difference?

No. Impossible. It just wasn’t done. They would know the reason.

“God!” Joseph whispered. “What am I supposed to do? You know it wasn’t me! I can’t disgrace her. I can’t let ‘them’ have their way with her. They are so cruel. What am I supposed to do?”

He fell into a fitful sleep while Mary, on the other end of town, lay in the darkness caressing her stomach. “I love you already, Sweet Baby…. But what do we do?”

Her thoughts wandered to Joseph. What would he do? He knew she wasn’t like that. He knew she would never do this of her own free will. But Them. They would have plenty to say. She was certain that when they found out, everything about her would change.

* * * * *
Three o’clock in the morning. It seemed things happened at 3:00 in the morning. Joseph woke with a start from a fitful dream. He’d married her anyway. And what was it? The Voice. It had said something about Mary. About the Baby. What was it?

Joseph rolled over but sleep would not come. What had the message been? He got up to get a drink of water, stopping to watch a bright star in the night sky.

“Do not be afraid!”

Wait…. what? Wasn’t that what Mary had said the angel had said to her that night? Do not be afraid.

Do not be afraid.

Joseph took a deep breath.

The light of the star mesmerized him as he recalled the message of the angel in the dream. “Joseph. Son of David! Do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife! The baby within her is truly conceived of the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a son and you are to name Him Jesus because He will save his people from their sins!”

This baby would truly change everything. He would change everything for everyone, not just for him and his betrothed. This Baby — He was the long-awaited Messiah.

“Them” and the rules. They didn’t matter anymore. Grace had come. Grace had overtaken Joseph and he knew exactly what was to be done.

 
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Posted by on December 27, 2015 in Uncategorized

 

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Broken Glass

In prayer this morning, the Lord reminded me of John 8:36, which talks about freedom. If the Son (Jesus) sets you free, you are free indeed.

Indeed. If you’re on Jesus’ team, you’re free of whatever obstacle, problem, past experience, other people’s opinions, fear — whatever stands in your way. Those things have already been absolutely shattered.

We see all those things as closed doors. But they aren’t. They are more like panes of glass that cross our paths. And because of grace, Jesus flung a giant stone labeled TRUTH at every pane of glass in our way and the past experiences, the problems, the lies we believe, our fear — all of it lies in a pile of shattered glass at our feet.

Sometimes we see something that we really want and we might lean over that pile of shattered glass and touch the dreams we treasure in our hearts.

I have always wanted to be a mommy. I’ve leaned over my pile of shattered fears and I’d pick up my friends’ babies and snuggle them and sing to them and play with them and I’d be the best second mommy to those babies I could possibly be.

I leaned over because I didn’t believe that Jesus had shattered my fears.

I’ve always wanted to be a nurse and I’m particularly interested in midwifery. I’ve leaned over my pile of shattered “I can’ts” and I’ve touched it.

But I haven’t pursued it fully because I didn’t believe that Jesus had shattered my “I can’ts.”

I’ve wanted lots of things and I’ve leaned over many piles of shattered glass to briefly touch things that I so desperately wanted but didn’t believe could ever be mine.

I wasn’t believing that Jesus had already broken the things that made it feel impossible.

In the past several months, after beginning to realize that I’m already free, I took some giant leaps, hoping and praying that I’d clear the pile of glass and avoid the cuts that seem inevitable if we land in the wrong spot. I bought a house so I’d have a safe place for sweet babies to sleep and play. I became a foster parent. I can do this. I can do all things through Him who strengthens me. (Phil. 4:14) I can be a mommy and the lack of husband is only a pile of shattered glass on the road in front of me.

Those leaps are difficult. I know they are. But I want to leave you with this piece of encouragement:

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. (Ephesians 6:10-18)

He’s given us tools to help us step over the piles of broken glass in our way. The belt of truth. The breastplate of righteousness. The gospel of peace. The shield of faith. The helmet of salvation. The sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God.

He’s broken the things that stand in our way and He’s given us the tools to move forward with courage.

My prayer for you is that you will stand firm in what He’s done and who you are because of it. My prayer for you is that the mountains you see in front of you would be transformed in your mind to what they truly are — pitiful piles of broken glass. My prayer for you is that you would know the grace and peace of Jesus as you walk your path.

 
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Posted by on November 30, 2015 in Uncategorized

 

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The Water Slide

I realize I’m a big baby.

But.

Large bodies of water terrify me.

Part of it has to do with my (extensive) past experience with ear, sinus and throat infections, the idea of bacteria growing in bodies of water and the fact that ear, nose and throat infections can lead to bacterial meningitis which can kill people.

But it probably has more to do with the fact that until I took adult swim lessons 4 years ago, the only thing I knew about large bodies of water was that if I was in them, the water was in charge and I was at its mercy.

(I might have control issues….)

But seriously…. Water is a scary thing if you don’t know how to handle it.

I didn’t get too terribly far with my swimming skills, considering it took me the entire first lesson to get in up to my waist. But what I did accomplish was…. amazing — at least for me it was! I learned to tread water — which my instructor made me do in the 12 foot section until I could do it for an entire minute without nearly drowning. I also learned the back float, which I was actually pretty good at once I figured out that trying to save yourself is counterproductive.

That was about all I learned.

But before taking lessons, knee deep was my limit.

Now, as long as my feet are on the ground, and my head is above the water, I’m OK.

Water slides are a different story.

I realize the water is only 3 feet deep.

But….

You just don’t know how you’re going to land.

Water up your nose…. ear infections…. sinus infections…. bacterial meningitis!

(I might be a hypochondriac…..)

I could drown!

Do I really remember how to tread water?

Oh, wait…. it’s only 3 feet deep….

These were the thoughts coursing through my brain as I climbed the stairs and headed for my (inevitable) demise. My favorite 10-year old had coaxed me up to the top of the slide at the local water park, and I stood there, shaking, as the (very) young attendant explained to me that it was safe and I wasn’t going to die.

Are you sure?!?!

It wasn’t so bad….

…. until I got past the first curve and then I started going faster…. and faster…. and faster….

Then I hit the water.

I was thoroughly dunked. I was as dunked as a candidate at a Baptist baptismal service.

Which wouldn’t have been so bad if I hadn’t been screaming my head off when it happened.

I’m sure you can imagine how well that went.

I pulled myself out of the pool and realized that I was shaking.

And then, said 10-year old suggested we should go on the tube slide — the one that you sit in a floatie and exit into the Lazy River.

I thought this would surely have a better outcome than my first attempt. I would have a something to hang on to, after all!

So we made our way up the stairs again, this time with big green tubes in tow, and I watched as my little pal loaded up and the slide attendant gave him a small shove.

And then it was my turn.

Again, it wasn’t so bad — until I rounded the first curve.

Basically, it was same song, second verse, a little bit louder and a little bit worse.

Around about the third curve, I was going so fast that I almost fell off the tube when it headed precariously up the side of the slide as it rounded the bend.

The screaming wasn’t reserved for the landing this time!

It was then that I realized that this thing was completely out of my control and I was at the mercy of physics and gravity whatever else determines how fast and how hard and where and on what you land after careening through that ungodly long tuby slide thingy.

I was certain I was going to die. I think I even saw my life flash before my eyes.

The terror got worse when I rounded the 87th bend (ok, fine. It was probably only the 4th or 5th) and began to see the light at the end of the tunnel.

The water was coming!

And who knew if I was going alight, safe and sound, on my lovely green perch, or if I’d get dunked again?

And then….

Plop.

I came to rest in the pool, right next to my little pal.

And I laughed. And I laughed. And I laughed.

I wanted to do it again.

I wanted to do it 50 more times.

Because it was.

So!

Fun!!!

My little pal just looked at me like I was a raving lunatic.

(I probably was!)

And his brother met me at the river exit with a sigh and a, “Now can we go??”

Oh, ok. Fine.

But seriously….

Why did I wait so long for such an amazing experience???

 
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Posted by on August 19, 2014 in Current Events

 

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On Being Three

One of the things that I really loved about my childhood was story time.

My parents read to my brothers and me every single day of our lives until we left home. I developed a deep love for stories, reading and writing at a pretty young age. I was eager to learn to read because I wanted read by myself and not have to wait until Mom or Dad had time to sit down with us.

We read all kinds of books, from Winnie The Pooh to Dan Frontier to Billy and Blaze. We read Beatrix Potter, Virginia Lee Burton and Eric Carle. As we grew older, we read chapter books, like Anne of Green Gables, the Little Britches series, and Little House on the Prairie. We also read the books (fiction, historical novels and biographies) published by Bob Jones University Press. We never, ever read Curious George, Dr. Seuss or Clifford. Ok, so it wasn’t never. It was just really rare. Curious George was “Naughty George” and Dr. Seuss encouraged kids to eat rotten (green) eggs. And Clifford was just too unreal. Who really has a dog bigger than a house?

When I was 3, my two favorite books were a Little Golden Book called “The New Baby” and a…. yellow book (but NOT a Little Golden Book) called “go and hush the baby” by Betsy Byars. Yes, the title is capitalized like that. And yes, at the age of 3, I absolutely adored babies.

For my 3rd birthday, my parents gave me my very own copy of “go and hush the baby.” Today, it’s literally tattered, and I pretty much still have it memorized. (My friend doesn’t allow me to read it to her daughter because the mom in the story, according to my friend, deserves the Bad Mom of the Year award. But that’s neither here nor there. I still loved the book when I was a wee little lassie.)

I have no idea what went on in my life when I was 3. The only pictures I have of that time of my life were from my birthday (with that awesome new book!), a picture of me blow drying my hair (this is the only time in my entire life that my hair has been blow dried), and a picture of me with my Christmas presents.

For Christmas that year, my aunt gave me a red sweater with my name stitched on it. How many 3-year-olds have a personalized sweater? I felt pretty special! My great-grandma gave me a mini trunk/chest thing to keep “my stuff” in. (If I remember right, she hired someone to build it.) And, my grandma gave me a life-sized baby doll. Oh, how I loved that baby! I remember later in the day, after opening all those super gifts, after everybody else had dispersed to watch PeeWee Herman or take a nap (I had given up naps after that bad experience where I went to take a nap and woke up down a grandparent), my mom picked me up and sat me on her lap and asked me what I was going to name my baby. We had quite a discussion about this. I couldn’t for the life of me remember the name of a character in one of my favorite books, but I told my mom I wanted to give her the same name as the girl in that story about shoes. (I have no idea what book that was!!!) I remember loving a story about a girl named Emma. But the first story character that was one of my favorites that my mom suggested was Rebekah — and Rebekah became my new baby’s name.

I still have that dolly. She still naps on the bed in my mom’s spare room.

 
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Posted by on August 27, 2012 in My Story

 

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