Category Archives: slice of life

Happenings in my crazy world.

Comfort & the Kindness of Strangers

I begin this post with a heartfelt apology. To those who followed my blog for years and who were left wondering what happened to me after my cancer diagnosis, I sincerely apologize that I’ve not been more forthcoming on this site. While I shared some of my story on Facebook, I felt compelled to focus primarily on treatment and recovery, and to carry my brokenness–of which there was much–to the Cross. I’m sorry if the last 2+ years of blogging silence caused confusion to others as I embarked on this very personal journey.

Plenty of people openly share when they face trials, challenges, sickness, devastation and loss. I’ve even been one of them, at least prior to the cancer episode when I felt the Spirit whisper to me this time will be different. For better or for worse, I would not experience this round of suffering in the public eye as I had in the past.  If you’re familiar with this blog site, you know of my recovery from PTSD related to my home break-in, my struggles and ultimate healing from a brain injury following my car accident, the toll taken on my heart during the Waldo Canyon Fire, my challenges as a single mom. You shared in my despairing journey with my dear mother through her cancer battle. But my own medical story would be written in private as Cancer became an intense introduction to a deeper intimacy with my Creator than I’ve ever known.

When persons I expected to walk closely with me through the valley instead walked away, the pain was too crushing to write about. In retrospect, I understand how even their actions proved instrumental in turning my eyes and heart to Jesus. This was our journey. He wanted my full attention. And He got it.

Please don’t get me wrong. Journaling, blogging, speaking publicly are reasonable outlets for processing grief and suffering. I hold tremendous respect for those who invite the public into their pain. Their vulnerability speaks to their courage and often serves as a source of encouragement.  I personally benefited from such vulnerability over the past 30 months, especially when most tempted to feel sorry for myself in my cancer battle. Comfort seeped through cracks in my heart each time I read Biblical encouragement poured out from a soul-shattered friend as brain cancer ravaged her young child. More comfort blanketed me as another dear friend boldly proclaimed God’s Goodness even through agony of grieving a son killed in Afghanistan. And in the thick of my battle, letters from my warrior Paratrooper son, serving our country from a Middle Eastern sandbox, pleaded with me to fight bravely in his absence. I’m profoundly grateful for fierce testimonies from individuals defiant in the face of enemy forces seeking to crush them, both figuratively and literally.

Even as God reintroduced me to total emotional and spiritual dependency on him, He often brought random humans for immediate physical support, including a friend I met years ago on the East Coast who flew out to spend a week in prayer over me. And multiple strangers. A single woman I barely knew came bearing casserole, cards and comfort. Neighbors shoveled snow from my driveway – ridiculously steep in our Colorado foothills. An elderly couple at a supermarket followed me through a checkout line, then loaded groceries into my car. (They said I looked pale and weak and God told them to help me.) A UPS driver discovered me in my car passed out from radiaton exhaustion and made sure I got home okay. Three unknown teenagers helped me when I lost balance and fell in a parking lot. Coworkers brought food and hugs.  Former students made my home festive with Christmas decorations and music. So much “kindness of strangers”. And so Good Father. I embraced Comfort in unexpected ways that only our Heavenly Daddy could orchestrate. And orchestrate He did…through grueling months of treatment and into my recovery, He sent angels to minister to me in practical ways while family, friends, even clients and literally hundreds of people I’d never met in person bathed me in phone prayers and cards.

In January, the Lord gave me a word for 2019…COMFORT.

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God. For just as we share abundantly in the sufferings of Christ, so also our comfort abounds through Christ.  II Corinthians 1:3-5 NIV

Indeed…as we share abundantly in the suffering of Christ, so also our comfort abounds. Now in Remission and restored to health again, I’m called to COMFORT others. What could be more fitting?

 

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Through the Fire: A Personal Perspective on the Impact of Waldo Canyon Fire

 Like thousands of others who call the west side foothills of Colorado Springs, CO, “home”, I wait today to learn the condition of that home.  Displaced since our Waldo Canyon Fire evacuation in a frenzy of thick, black billowing smoke and threatening flames pouring down a nearby ridge like lava from a volcano, I remain transfixed with neighbors and friends in a shroud of uncertainty.   Thousands of evacuees wait in Red Cross shelters, some in hotel rooms, countless others in homes of kind friends or family.  Exhausted and overwhelmed, we hold our breath, we fight back tears and we wait even as fire continues to savagely lap up the world around us.

Sleepless giants posing as television crews, radio announcers, internet media and the ever-present rumor mill gush information…and mis-information…with the force of water from fire hoses.  Images of burning homes, hovering clouds of smoke, fleeing wildlife, charred forests and weeping families sear our minds.  Headlines scream of despair, inflaming our worst fears and incinerating our hopes. 

In times like this many sense a call to pray.  Perhaps months have passed since they looked heavenward not because of any ill-will toward God but simply because life keeps us busy.    We lost track of spiritual hunger as we pursue other appetites.   We lost perspective.   We lost our sense of gratitude.  Yet, in a moment of clarity we stop to look around us at precious loved ones and we thank God we are alive and safe.

If we are blessed with even greater clarity we realize more than anything, what we lost is our sense of eternity.   If I asked anyone on the streets of Colorado Springs today, “Do you believe in eternity?” most would reply in the affirmative.  Of course, we believe in eternity.  But somewhere between the Alpha & Omega we stopped living like we believe.  We traverse day by day as if life was an all-you-can-consume buffet.  We belly up to life’s goodie bar hoping for things of this world to fill us.  And when our feast goes up in flames we easily feel cheated, maybe even question the Goodness of the One who provided the banquet in the first place, blaming Him when our meal is charred.

How senseless to live like I’m in control then blame God when tragedy strikes.  I’m NOT in control.  The harder I chase after earthly pleasures and possessions, the less they satisfy.  The faster I pursue my dreams the quicker they vanish before my eyes.  The more I strive for perfect relationships, the lonelier I become.  The more I demand control, the less I realize it. 

In a hasty evacuation, as I raced through my home gathering last-minute possessions to throw in my car, The phrase echoed through my mind, “You can’t take it with you.”  Take it with me whereInto eternity.

Today as I wait on news of my home, my community, even my future I rest  convinced that God wants me to hold tightly to an eternal perspective.  Those things easily consumed by fire were never intended to give me life.  Loss I may face before sundown, pain I may experience cannot rob me of peace.  In God’s grace he uses loss and pain to shape me into someone He would delight to spend eternity with.  Not yet ready for eternity, in His mercy He continues to transform me even through the fire.   Therein lies my hope today and every day.

“We do not lose heart! Our troubles are slight and short-lived and their outcome is an eternal glory which outweighs them by far.  Meanwhile our eyes are fixed not on the things that are seen but on things unseen, for that which is seen passes away.  What is unseen is eternal. 

For we know that if this earthly frame that houses us today should be demolished, we possess a building which God has provided—a house not made by human hands, eternal and in heaven…Therefore, we never cease to be confident.”  II Corinthians 4:17-18, 5:1 & 6

My hope is not based in things of this world.  I possess Joy—not an emotional high, but real peace prevailing even in the midst of uncertainty, devastation and ruin–because I am intimately familiar with the One unseen.  With eternity in mind I realize that world news headlines, even those involving me personally are not the main story.  The Greater Story is my Sovereign God, the One I will Live with eternally.

Grubs & Goodies: Accepting Bad with Good

Standing in my kitchen shucking corn I recalled childhood memories of racing through cornfields, selecting sweet prizes of gold, carting them home for grandma to prepare.  To this Kansas farm girl, nothing shouts “CELEBRATE SUMMER” to my taste buds quite like home-grown, hand-picked, freshly roasted corn on the cob.  Just imagining roastin’ ears dripping in sweet butter running down my elbows causes my chops to slobber like a teething baby.

 My drool quickly dried up at the sight of an oversized grub worm just beneath corn silk.  Nasty looking critter.  Covered in slime, shiny white with a jelly looking head chomping away on my corn.

 Fortunately, I’ve enough experience with sweet corn to know the little bugger doesn’t eat much.  Grubs, as disgusting and unsavory as they are, don’t affect the good stuff further down-cob.  I lopped off the tip, cooked up the remainder and minutes later savored sweet flavors nature intended.

 I could have discarded the entire roastin’ ear and shucked a new one.  I might have cursed the corn along with its occupant, let it ruin my dinner or perhaps my whole evening.  Ridiculous?  Of course, it is.  This was a minor grub on an otherwise delicious ear of goodness.

 So why is it I have enough sense to accept a little bad mixed with a lot of good in nature but I can’t seem to allow for it in me?  In other words, what’s up with feeling I must ooze perfection 24/7 or I’m no good at all?

 I struggle with messages in Scripture appearing contradictory about who I am.  How do I reconcile, “I am fearfully and wonderfully made…and my soul knows it very well.” {Psalm 139:14 KJB, Cambridge Edition}, with “for he knows how we are formed and he remembers that we are dust…” {Psalm 103:14, NIV}?

 Which is it?  Am I wonderful? Or am I dust?  In simpler terms, am I good or am I bad?  The answer is, “YES!”  Good and bad exist side by side in all humans.  Denying that truth invites a split in our hearts, a lifetime of internal conflict as good and bad war against each other.

 If, like corn-cobs, at first glance I see worms in myself, I might be tempted to discount all value I have to offer.  But dig a little deeper, peel back the silk covering worms hide behind and I’ll discover a gift of goodness worms cannot destroy. 

 The truth is, in this flesh no one is either all good or all bad.  I can choose to hide “bad me”, cover it up with silky things like ministry, hard work, education, position, smooth words.  I can smother it with this world’s slime of addictions & fun fixes.  Or I can admit to battling worms of imperfections, alive and thriving. 

 I wasn’t born perfect.  I’ll never be perfect in this life.  Refusal to accept my imperfections, weaknesses and brokenness sets me on a pedestal of self-absorption & vanity above other mere mortals.  When I fall from my pedestal, I hit hard.  The house of mirrors I crafted to represent “good me” lies shattered in pieces and I’m left devastated, paralyzed at the sight, feeling there is nothing left but “bad me” exposed for all to see.

 In time, my natural remedy is to pick up bigger chunks of brokenness, piece them back together, try harder to exemplify good me.  Christians are notorious for this.  When we mess up we pray harder, memorize Scriptures, go to church every time doors are open, serve in multiple ministries.  If all else fails we throw a fat check in an offering plate.  Viola! Ideal me finds daylight again.

 But ideal me” isn’t “real me”Real me doesn’t need to strive harder for perfection.  Real me needs grace and acceptance.  I must realize because I live in an earthly body, I WILL screw up.  But my temporary failures don’t define me as a total failure any more than a minor grub ruins an entire ear of corn. 

 Because of Christ in me, I am wonderfulWith that assurance, I can learn from my mistakes, failures and imperfections.  Rather than tell myself “I’m worthless…” or venture in search of distractions and more corn silk to hide behind, I’m able to appreciate my strengths without exploiting them and I work honestly on changing things in me that aren’t strong. 

 In accepting bad me along with good me, I open up Real me. The more honest I am about my imperfections, the healthier…and braver…Real me becomes. I begin to forgive myself for not being perfect, to love myself in spite of my worminess, to taste goodness in my deeper parts, to delight in the delicious flavors of who I am instead of focusing on my grubs.