Monthly Archives: February 2012

Lessons in Love

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“And behold there cometh one of the rulers of the synagogue, Jairus by name; and when he saw Him, he fell at His feet, And besought Him greatly, saying, My little daughter lieth at the point of death: I pray Thee, come and lay Thy hands on her, that she may be healed;…”  Mark 5:22-23

Jairus stands in good company today.  I have met several like him.  Fathers and mothers who would go to the ends of the earth to obtain healing for their little ones.  One family in particular I met on this dark night.  We have forged a friendship over pain.  I wish I had a picture of our girls together.  It is unlike anything I have ever seen.  The very moment they met, they each reached out their hands to one another, and held hands.  I cannot explain it, but somehow they understood one another’s pain.  The mere thought that my 18 month old daughter could understand pain at all, causes a myriad of emotions to well within my heart.  And yet, she does understand, and so does her friend.  They each had permanent marker above their eyes marking the surgical spot.  When they spotted one another they each pointed to that mark above each other’s eyes and began babbling in language unintelligible to me, but they understood one another.

This little girl, this friend of my daughter’s has cancer.  She has been diagnosed with retinoblastoma.  She is fighting for much more than her vision, she is fighting to survive.  Her parents have one income, and they live in Chicago.  They make the trek to Philadelphia monthly for treatments.  This is not covered by insurance.  This is a Jairus, willing to do anything, whatever it takes to beg for his daughter’s healing.  They wear a look of constant weariness, and the depths of their eyes hold fear.

And yet, on our happy day, they were there.  We did not realize we would be there together, it was such a wonderful surprise.  I confessed my fears to them before Lydia’s exam.  They understood.  Not many words are needed between us, when explaining these things.  We each know.  Their baby only 2 mos. younger than Lydia was having her treatments.  The girls were in the recovery room together.  It seemed right to have them there.  They celebrated big with us and our good news.  In the midst of my happiness, my heart hurt for them.  When the girls saw each other, they were both feeling a bit under the weather, and grumpy.  Before we knew it, we saw two little bandaged iv wrapped hands, reaching out, and touching.  They were trying to hold hands again.  Their fingers and bandages intertwining.  I was overcome with emotions.  My daughter knows of pain, but it blesses my heart that she knows how to love so well.  She is my daughter, and she is my teacher.  She teaches me, everyday how beautiful the world is.

We are making progress with the Bartimeaus Project, and hope to have more to report soon, but for now, here is a glimpse of the ones we hope to minister too.  Please continue to pray for us, and pray for our friends.  Pray that God would heal their little girl.  We have living proof that He can.

The Healing Touch

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“I am the Lord that healeth thee.”  Ex. 15:26

Apprehension has become my garment, and I wear it well.  As emergency, after emergency preceded surgery after surgery, the apprehensive cloak cemented itself around me, surrounding my heart, guarding it against any rays of hope that might penetrate.  After Lydia’s last shunt was removed, I traded apprehension for despair.  My optimism dying with her shunts.  As the day of her exam under anesethia approached, the all too familiar knot at the pit of my stomach formed days in advance.  I tried to prepare myself emotionally.  I always try.  I never fully succeed.

With my emotional crutches in place, I set off on the 3 hour drive to her dr.  Everything was running much later than expected.  She was hungry and thirsty.  It is the worst part for me.  She looks at me with tears and pleading.  I know she is hungry.  I know she is thirsty.  I say no.  And I hate myself for it.  Every single time.  She tries to smile and so do I.  We put on our brave faces, and hope the dr. comes soon.

When at last he comes, and takes her away, fear becomes my constant battle.  I try to battle them with His Words, but the fear is real.  It always takes longer than I expect, and I always find myself running through every awful scenario that could be causing the delay.  I generally end up in a bargaining game with the Almighty.  Grass huts and Africa have been mentioned multiple times, to be honest.

And then, the Dr. comes out.  I have come to know this man.  I do not know him on a personal level, but I have memorized his mannerisms.  I know how he starts his speeches if it will be good news, or if I should bite my lower lip and hold on.  He comes over and I listen in disbelief, as he assures me all symptoms of this disease are GONE.  He does not and cannot assure me that they will never return, but right now, at this moment, they have vanished.  She looks so good in fact, he doesn’t need to see her for 3 months!  THREE MONTHS?!  Three whole months of reclaiming her babyhood.  Three whole months of soaking her and my boys in.  Three whole months of normalcy.  I can not believe it.

I look up to see our sweet nurse taking off her glasses and sniffing.  Our anesthesiologist squeezes my shoulder and offers congratulations, our sweet friends were there as well with their little girl, and they cheered with me.  These people have become dear to me.  It is only fitting that they should have been there at this moment to share our good news.  However, I am confident that no one in that room was as happy as I.  An indescribable weight has been lifted.  The shadows that plagued my every moment are gone.  I feel… relief.

I am the Lord that healeth thee.  – Ex. 15:26

Oh, He has healed.  Lydia’s eyes are testimony, but perhaps the real healing took place in this mommy’s heart.  I doubted.  I listened to and wore the garments of fear, instead of choosing His Words.  I refused hope in preference to my despair.  And yet He says, “I am the Lord that healeth thee.”  In spite of my unbelief, in spite of my failures, in spite of my humanity, He choose to heal.  One touch from His hands and we are all made new.

I believe, Lord, help Thou mine unbelief.

The Cross

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“…But be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.”  John 16:33

 

When you step out and make a decision to live your life in the shadow of the cross, radical changes take place.  You see, the cross is a symbol of so much – salvation, redemption, love, and VICTORY.  When you live your life in the shadow of the cross, you view everything differently.  Your desires change.  Suddenly things that once occupied a prominent place in your life, are replaced with HIM.  He is all consuming.  He is beautiful.  He is victorious.

When you live in the shadow of the cross, old things pass away, and all things become new.  You delight in ministering.  You delight in meeting the needs of others over your own.  You delight in HIM, because He, He delights in you.  He goes before you, He changes, He replaces, He fills, He redeems.

For so much of my life, I missed these truths.  I thought my salvation was more about me.  I had to be good, so I could maintain my good standing with God.  I had to serve, because that is what He required.  I missed the point.  It had nothing to do with me.  It never did.  It has everything to do with Him.  He has already overcome the world.  He has overcome all of my sins.  Through no actions of my own, but because of His Son, I am righteous.  His death covered my life.

When you live in the shadow of the cross, you do not listen to what is most reasonable, what makes the most sense, you listen to HIS voice.  The voice of He Who did not count the cost.  Not ever.  He asks you to step out with Him and not count the cost, but you are not alone.  He is there with you.  Your hand held by His.  His scars covering you.

Jim Elliot, a man who lived his life in the shadow of the cross, penned these words, “Wherever you are, be all there!  Live to the hilt every situation you believe to be the will of God.”  I want to start living each day to the hilt.  If He’s leading, I’m following.  I lay aside my crippling fears, my doubts, my failures, my insecurities, and I step into the shadow.  The shadow of the cross, the shadow of victory.

As I was pondering these deep thoughts, my son noticed the shadow his beloved rocking horse was casting upon the wall.  “Look, Mommy, it’s the shadow of the cross.”  Amen.  May it be so over every part of our life.

Knowing

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Spending 3 and a 1/2 hours in a waiting room welcomes small conversations.  I spotted her right away.  She had beautiful dark skin and masses of black hair forming in small curls at the base of her skull.  She also had a surgical patch over her eye.  My heart went out to her, and to her mother.  We struck up a conversation.  Our girls were alike in more ways than one.  Born only days apart and both with congenital glaucoma, and both with more surgeries under their belt than seems fair.  I usually love these conversations.  It is in these moments I feel like I connect with someone who understands.

She started to speak, and I breathed in her fear.  “I hate making her fast for hours before her surgery.  It goes against everything in me to deny her food.”  “I know.”  I managed to rasp out.  “I worry constantly about how much she can endure going under anesethia.  I wonder if it will affect her somehow.”  she continued.

“I know.”

“I want to be her protector.”  She confessed with tears welling in her eyes.  “I wish I could protect her from this.  The pain, the surgery, the screams, I wish I could take it.”

“I know.”  I wanted to squeeze her hand.  I wanted to encourage her.  I wanted to tell her about my Savior.  But I found myself drowning in a sea of my own grief.  Every word she spoke created great fissures in my emotional facade, reaching the most painful places of my heart.  I wanted to tell her that I never, ever cry when I send her back for surgery, nor do I ever allow myself to break in the waiting room, but I have cried a thousand tears in my heart.  I wanted to tell her I don’t know if I can make it through one more emergency, one more surgery again.  I wanted to tell her that I can’t remember what it feels like to even laugh anymore without the shadows of worry and fear lurking.   I wanted to tell her that if I live to be one hundred I’m not sure the pain will ever go away.  But to my shame, all I could manage was, “I know.”

The memories the conversation stirred up overshadowed all of my optimism over her good exam.  I wanted to escape the grip of sadness the conversation had created.  And then He reminded me.  It is one of my favorite verses.  I have loved it for so long, but only now begun to understand it.

“That I may KNOW HIM and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being made conformable to His death.”  Phil. 3:10

I have begged the Lord to let me know Him, all of Him, with all of me.  And He has brought me into the fellowship.  We cannot truly know Him without knowing suffering.  All of the pain, all of the agony, every last part of it, is answering that long spoken desire, I have been given a gift wrapped as an unlikely package.  It is not glorious, it is not beautiful, and it is not desired, but it brings me to my knees, and that, THAT is a beautiful place to be.  It is on this sacred ground that the work in my stubborn, hard heart begins.  The ugliness and all that I deemed undesirable suddenly is enraptured in HIS beauty, and becomes a place to be coveted, a place I have come to long for.  With this King Who has become Father, beauty comes from ashes, even from such a one as I.  This is His fertile ground, He specializes in suffering.  He specializes in me.

And friends, knowing Him, is the pathway to joy.  He turns mourning to dancing.  He takes away the ugly and replaces it with beauty.  Knowing Him is not only worth it all, it is my all.