Monthly Archives: January 2014

Gettin’ myself together!

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In an effort to ease minds of worried friends and family, I write my blog today.  It’s with a pretty heavy heart.  Thank you all for your concerns and prayers.  I am unsure how to articulate what I’m going through right now.  I am unsure how to process what I am going through.  I will get through this, I always do.  But, I am a slow thinkin’ kinda girl.  I didn’t know what I had hoped for going to the neurologist, but I just had this feeling that I would come away from it with some clarity and encouragement.  That is not what happened, at least in my present perception of things.

Basically, I wanted some official clarity on what we are calling “this.”  In the past, I’ve been treated for MS.  The interesting and annoying part of my case is that I am having spinal symptoms but my lesions are on my brain.  Yesterday the neurologist told me a few interesting things:

1.  She was totally surprised that my case would be rejected by the Mayo Clinic.  Her reaction surprised me.  Dude, at least another medical professional that I know of finds their rejection perplexing.  I feel that if God is in control of this, and that is where he wants me to go, then why reject me?  Twice.  The Mayo Clinic is the place you go when you don’t have anywhere else to go… and they won’t take me.  This has me concerned about my mental health – am I crazy and nobody is telling me?  Do I need a psychiatrist?  Why would God make me human to feel this pain and suffering and desperation and not provide a source of comfort and healing?  What is so wrong with me that he wouldn’t want to help me?

2.  It’s not not MS.  Yes, that is a double negative.  Ha.  Makes sense if you don’t think about it.  She told us several times that she just can’t rule out MS.  But, she is hesitant to say yes this is what it is, because things are just not making sense with my symptoms and MRI’s.  The MRI is just another source of confusion.  I sent a letter and emails to the radiology group who processed the report, but we never did get any answers.  Frustrated.  Evidently in the scan that I got a four years ago, the lesions on my brain were more visible than the scan from last October because the MRI machine from 2013 is older than the one from 2009.  Does it get more chaotic than this?

3.  I was diagnosed with “Spinal Damage.”  She is considering that a car accident I was involved in, in the 3rd grade, perhaps bruised or messed up my spinal cord and this is the consequence of that.  She said my neck is 54 years old.

4.  We’re treating the spasticity with Baclofen – which is used for both MS and spinal disorders.  I did have noticeable results with it several years ago at a higher dose.  It’s going to take a month or so to build up to that dosage.  In addition to drugs, she also wants me to go to physical therapy for work on my neck, shoulders, swallowing, and tremor.  I only have to go for a few weeks, but I’m feeling sort of like this is way past a few weeks of physical therapy.  I don’t want to be negative, but I am trying to be realistic.  She suggested a massage a week.  We can’t afford a massage a year.  It’s just not practical financially.

4.  She wants to be vigilant with my MRI’s and scan when we find an opportune time – like when something new comes up, but…  yah…  this is it.

I need some time to figure this out.  I don’t know where God is in this.  I am so full of grief.  I don’t think anybody really knows how bad I feel.  I push through it a lot, but I’m sort of done pushing.  Everyone has an answer, a solution, a drug, a supplement, a diet, a whatever…

I feel like I am the worst Christian that ever walked the face of the earth.  Part of the reason I pulled myself off of facebook for a break is just to find my bearings.  Where does this leave me and God?

I thought I felt Him and maybe connected with him as a father last week.  Fatherly love diverted.

He made me with this human mind full of so many physical hopes, dreams, goals, aspirations, and ideas…  change my heart, then, Lord.  Let me be okay with not being an active, healthy person.  Let me be okay with not having a reason for this pain.  Let me be okay with wasting my energy against a battle that I don’t know how to fight.  As much as my mind says to trust Him and believe that He is here, my heart is just hurting.  I thought that I was going to be vindicated during this life.  It’s a tough pill to swallow.

The neurologist wants to rescan in two years if nothing comes up before then.  At this point, the fairest comparison I feel like I can make to help one understand what this feels like to me is this:  you know when you get the flu and you have that achiness all over your body that just nags at you?  You get up when you kinda start feeling better only to realize you are really not feeling better and you are tired easy, a little out of it.  That is essentially the minimum of what I deal with on a daily basis.  It’s not life threatening or severe.  It’s just chronic.  Those flu-like pains used to be mostly in my legs and then I’d get the muscular tightness because of the spasticity on top of it.  Now that things have progressed into more pain in my upper body, I feel pretty trapped.  My arms get tired easily at work.  There are days when I get tired holding my head up.  I don’t know where the boundary is on when to fight through it and when to honor the pain, I don’t know when to rest and when to get up anyways.  I don’t know how to fight this.

Last week I prayed so desperately to the Lord about so many things.  But, especially this doctor’s appointment.  I prayed that I would be joyful no matter what. Fail.  It’s hard to be joyful.  I’m finding joy in my Tripp, especially, right now…  and my girls and Toby always bring me a smile.  I feel like my witness, though, is not what He would want me to show the world.  I feel like Christians are supposed to just have faith, believe and trust in him, and go to church and smile and know everything is okay.  I am not that Christian and he is not the God I thought he was.

I am willing.

I just need time.

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Adonai II

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Enunciated the way I enunciate, that title would sound like “add -oh- nye  eye eye.”  Goofy.

Maybe I should change it to “Adonai Jr.” or “Adonai Part Two.”  Too late.  Already two lines into my blog intro.  It’s staying.

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The other day I wrote briefly on the meaning of Adonai.  I’ve been challenging myself to answer some deep questions about God as my Master and me as His slave.  It’s been a pretty eye opening process.  I’ve got three lists going so far, but I can sense this relief within me that I want to reflect on. Relief.  In being owned.  

When the lovely Tharesa presented her lesson on “El Shaddai,”  I wasn’t sure I understood the whole concept.  My brain was totally distracted by all of the translations and languages and tons of words I had never heard before.  I felt overwhelmed.  We were in a small group and able to work through the meaning of El Shaddai as “God Almighty and All-Sufficient.”  It’s still difficult to wrap my mind around this side of His character.

I started studying Adonai in this same way.  A little lost.  As I’ve studied and chewed on this concept, I realize how attracted my soul is to Adonai!  I can be a great servant!  I know how to work hard and I’m willing to do what it is He wants me to do.  The part that fascinates me the most, is the realization of a loving Master supplying – by obligation – everything the slave needs to do what the Master needs done.  My heart keeps repeating a phrase I often fall back on – “Do what you can, with what you have, from where you are.”  His grace is tangible and sufficient in our everyday lives.

“He meets you where you are” has never been more relevant to me. I feel like I am meeting Him for the first time again.  Accepting Him as Master.  I can’t figure out the love and trust thing, yet, but I can take a huge step by starting where I am.  There is so much love and trust to be found in a righteous Master.  I love these experiences where we get to see breakthroughs in our spiritual development!

Out of the brains of Dana, and prayerfully prompted by the powah of the Holy Spirit, my lists and random thoughts on Adonai.

Oh wait…  one of the key scriptures in the New Testament is Luke 6:46.  Jesus says why do you call me your Master and not do what I say?  He says the guy who does what he says is like the one who builds there house on the rock.  When the storm hits, the house is fine.  The one who doesn’t do what God says is like the doof who builds a hut on the sand and when the wind strikes, his house and everything he has is destroyed.  Where is your foundation?  Is it in Christ?  The deeper we can sink our heels into Him now, the easier it will be for us to process a trial.  The crazy part about this foundation is that it is two fold – this foundation is not just for protection from storms, suffering and pain, but to enhance and strengthen your everyday relationship with the Lord. Serving Him everyday with what you have, where you are, the best you can.  

I know you’re on pins and needles.  Here it goes:

Sheet 1

  • How am I building my foundation?
  • How is he my master?
  • How am I his slave?

Tithe, Identity, Blogs, Teen ministry involvement, ladies Bible study, church attendance, devotional time, daily Bible study, prayer, disciplined with my tax payments, accepting consequences, business – gifts, quality of work, honesty, teaching my children His ways.

Sheet 2

What kind of slave do I want to be?

Excited, hard working, devoted, trusting, accepting, joyful, honest, willing, brought into the family, loved.

What kind of slave have I been?

Offended easily, unforgiving, unforgetting, untrusting, questioning, worried, afraid, anxious, tired, disappointed, angry, mad, bitter.

God as master PROVIDES PROTECTION, PROVISION, and EVERYTHING his slave needs to do the job he has for them.

Cat scratch on the back of Sheet 1 

I think I’ve finally learned to appreciate his ownership.  Recognizing what I cannot change and what is in my control.  Not quite sure how to articulate what I think about His craftsmanship, though.

Sheet 3

How do I respond to my Master?  

  • I’m ungrateful.  I haven’t been thankful enough for the gift of my mother, sister, husband and kids.  Toby is my super hero and provides protection, safety, and comfort through the grace of God.  I need to honor this more.  
  • I’m disappointed.  I dislike the product He made in me.  I lose lope and faith that he will actually provide.  
  • I sin.  Gossip, Low self-worth, control, not trusting, not giving forgiveness, harbor bitterness and resentment, to name a few.
  • I’m disobedient.  I don’t do all the Bible says is right.  I choose myself and my wants over God’s.
  • Am I afraid?  Of what?  Pain, punishment, embarrassment, rejection, failure, shame, falling.
  • I question Him.
  • I don’t accept blessings and victory’s as His.
  • I find it liberating that I am working for “free.”  Accept the whole Jesus on a cross thing.  I am such a jerkface.  I don’t like feeling like I owe him.  Why?
  • I work hard for Him.  I want Him to say “Well done my good and faithful servant.”  I make messes, but I try.  I love that Shawna reminded me that He knows my heart.
  • The will of God – be joyful always, pray continually, and give thanks in all circumstances.  This is God’s WILL for you in Christ Jesus.  Is that really it?

 

T-7

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Who has two beautiful gerbera daisies and gets to see a neurologist next week?

This girl!

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I am relieved and excited!  When I think about it too much I get anxious.  Here’s the thing.

I cannot put all my stock in this neurologist.  I did that with the Mayo Clinic and it was really defeating.  I have to set my mind on Jesus and thank him for the progress that will be made at the doctor next week, whatever that is.  I pray that no matter what I will be joyful, continue praying and have a thankful heart.  I cannot come up with the number of different outcomes that next Tuesday might bring.  Definitely MS and still on a progressive slope?  A different, treatable form of MS?  Not MS at all???  Do I still have to have another spinal tap?  Are there really lesions on the left side of my brain now?  Is that what has caused the dysphagia?  How severely can this problem progress in MS?  What can I expect the tremor to do over the next five years?  Can we do anything for the pain?  Am I crazy?  I almost wish she would tell me I really am actually just crazy and this is a hallucination.

My grandma was 36 when she lost the use of her legs because of her severe and progressive MS.  Her name was Franka.  I didn’t know her as a granddaughter ought to know a grandmother.  I knew her as handicapped, drooling, in a wheelchair, confused.  She was on her horse and my Papa Roy told her to get off and get the gate closed.  He saw the cattle getting out and came over to where she was and she couldn’t move her legs to get off of her horse.

This last month I had my 34th birthday.  That morning I chatted with a friend who happens to have the same birthday as me.  His mom had MS and she died when he was 15.  It’s hard not to be scared of my disease progressing to the state of being paralyzed.  On my 23rd birthday I went to a neurologist because the tremor, muscle fatigue, and pain had all started the November before.  That was the day that he told me that we were first doing a scan for MS.  My scan came out with lesions on it, smaller than would be expected, and the week after that neurologist told me that I was a mental patient.  He said there was nothing wrong with me and that Toby needed to get me to a psychiatrist IMMEDIATELY.  There was screaming and chaos and people gawking.  Straight out of a movie.  Crazy.

Two weeks later, I wake up one day and I fell multiple times trying to stand up out of bed.  I didn’t understand what was going on and I realized I couldn’t bear any weight on my right leg.  It’s not that it was painful or there was something damaged, I just couldn’t walk on it.  I finally figured out how much of a stride I could take and though it wasn’t much, I was not going to waste it.  I called Toby and told him what was going on.  Then, I hobbled down our apartment steps and went walking.  I walked and walked around the busy Boise city blocks surrounding our apartment.  Toby came home from lunch and tracked me down.  From the way I was walking he knew I needed assistance.  We went and bought a cane.  I had to use it for several weeks and then tapered down to months until I finally was strong again.

Sometimes I wonder if I was actually spared.  I really think that if I had laid there in my bed, crying, and grieving I’d still be in bed.  Progressive MS typically starts in older patients and it usually does involve walking difficulties as the onset of the disease.  I wonder, if my choice to get up and walk was honored by God before I even knew Him.

There are so many outcomes of my doctor’s appointment.  So many possibilities.  I’m afraid to hope for comfort.  It may be in God’s will that I am meant to suffer.  We may not be able to slow down or stop this disease from happening.  I am prayerful that whatever the doctor tells me, if she tells me I’m crazy, tells me she can’t do anything, can or cannot give me medication…  whatever it is…  let my hope and my faith and my strength be in my Master and Healer, Christ Jesus.  Please pray for me.

Toby had a crush on Kathy Ireland!

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In my ladies Bible study we are reviewing the names of God in the Old Testament.  I really wanted Jehovah Rapha – the character of God that we call on for healing.  I got Adonai.  The Lord.  I wanted healing, but instead I got owned.  Literally.

Adonai implies a master and slave relationship.  In Abraham’s time, slavery was common and acceptable.  It was a tangible experience Abraham had that enabled him to be the first in the Bible to address God as Master.  He understood that he was God’s, just as Eliezer was his.  When the slave becomes a “bond servant” as Eliezer with Abraham, the slave gives complete ownership of their lives to their Master.  They work diligently and faithfully.  Their master has the obligation to provide everything they need to do the work He has for them, whether that is direction, supplies, or support.  He also provides shelter, protection, provision of any needs, and invites His servants into His spiritual blessing.  In this perception of master and slave, God’s complete ownership meets his servant’s complete submission and it is a very good place to be for all involved.

As you can see from my messy description of “Adonai,” I literally wanted the God of healing and I got God my Master.  Yeah, I see what  you did there, God.  Well played.  I heard a blip from Kathy Ireland on KTSY last week and I really felt it applied to this kind of relationship.  I think the application of Adonai is expressed beautifully in her testimony.

My get up and go might be busted.

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Feeling a bit stuck today.  Not just today but lots of days, but especially today.  Stuck in a sort of good place.

 

I’m puny right now.  Been on the couch quite a bit.  I’m not very good at this “listening to my body” crap and normally I do what I want or have to do regardless of my body.  These days, I feel like I don’t have the gumption to get up and go.  Sucks.  However!  I was stir crazy enough by yesterday evening that I was excited to go to Bible study last night!  That’s a good sign I’ve learned to recognize in myself.  When I *want* to get up and go and have the motivation to do it.  A real good thing.

 

I’ve left my last two shifts at work early.  I sent out a message to get another florist hired to replace me ASAP.  It’s not what I want to do, but it’s what has to be done.  I know who I want to hire.  I’d appreciate prayer that the flower shop continues to thrive, that I am able to give it over to God in every way, and that my team continues to make it happen while I’m absent.  Thankful that my mom is there to oversee a lot of the day to day operations.  Thankful for my Barbara and her loyalty to me over the years.  I love you, B.  Thankful for Shannon, Alexa, Greg, Kelsie, Toby, and D’Ann.  They all make the shop what it is. 

 

Blessed.

 

In an effort to understand God’s love for me, I’ve decided to start documenting stuff about God and His love.  I’ve been wrestling with some ideas.  A lot of us look at “love” as one blanket term.  I’ve learned that with God, love is revealed in different forms.  They even have names that I don’t know how to pronounce.  As a parent, you can identify some of them without knowing that there are scientific psychological scholars who were paid tremendously for making up a word we can’t pronounce, but know is there.

 

See, if you put yer kids in time out, you love them in the way of discipline.  You want them to be better human beings so you choose to punish them to correct behavior.  Welcome to my relationship with God!  Seriously.  I have a lot of discipline left to learn before I am an acceptable human.  I’ve gotten a lot better, but I still need so much refinement in this area.  Doing what needs to be done even if you don’t want to do it.  I suck at discipline.  And, I respond to it in anger toward God, a lot, which He doesn’t really honor so much.  I look at it as rejection and being disliked.  Regardless of how *my* brain interprets things, I think we can all agree that discipline is a difficult form of love. 

 

In contrast, some of the more obvious forms of love – affection, time, and gifts – are the way that most of us have learned to receive love.  When God plays the ole switcheroo and suddenly love is not in the form of provision or protection, but in the form of discipline…  um, it’s a stinky baby.  Ha.  Not that I haven’t been provided for or protected, because I have.  But, the physical withdraw from God and His replacing that physical love with spiritual love, has been very difficult for me to understand.

 

This is how I think God would be talking to me right now. 

 

“Dana, we need to talk.  (*sigh*)  You’re going to sit in time out and think about things because I need you to realize that my love for you hasn’t changed.  I still love you the exact same way I love all of my kids.  But, I want more for you!  It’s ready and it’s yours!  But, you’re going to have to go through some tough crap to get there.  I promise that it’s going to be worth it.  But, I guarantee that at some point you’re going to want out because, girl, the tough stuff hasn’t even started.  Here’s the thing – whether you choose to acknowledge me or not, I’m there.  You can choose joy, because I am there providing you with joy when you have none.  You can choose peace, because I am always there offering my peace when yours is rocked.  You can let go of those negative, scary, anxious thoughts and think about me and my stuff.  My stuff is way more powerful than anything you can contrive.  My stuff, added onto your uniquely made self, is a pretty rad combination.  You are where you are for a reason.  Look at those babies, look at your adorable husband, Toby.  I’ve given these gifts to you.  Look at your beautiful mother and sister.  They may not make it to me, without you.  You need to be here.  You need to get over yourself.  You have a purpose.  You better buck up, pull up your big girl panties, and get’rdone.”

 

Yesterday Toby held the kids and they were all crying over me.  It really sucked.  We all know my health is getting worse and they are so scared.  My throat issue is pretty intense.  It’s actually kind of funny because it feels like the sensation of being choked.  Not painful, just awkward pressure.  I have to gulp extra sometimes.  Food doesn’t seem to bother me as far as choking on it, but I get tired eating meat or cheese type of textures.  Yesterday, it was as though every 30 seconds to two minutes, I get these waves of choking in some parts of my throat or esophagus.  If this is an MS thing, it basically falls on the mercy of our Lord.  I don’t think that there is much in the way of treatment and it’s associated with more severe forms of the disease.  The 28th can’t come soon enough!  My friend, Elise, has some of the same swallowing issues and she is warned against eating alone and stuff.  I’m not ready for those types of restrictions!  Like I would really obey that. 

Anyways, the funny part about it is that my husband is a purple belt (?) in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu.  A big part of this sport is submissions and choke holds.  It is the goal.  It is what Toby works so hard to learn how to execute and what I am seeking so hard on how to avoid.  Irony.  God is grinning right now.

 

Until we know what is next, the girls have been asked to step it up a notch in our home and that is difficult for me.  I know I rely on my Q a lot already.  She doesn’t complain.  Toby doesn’t complain.  Sometimes he gets frustrated, but seeing how statistically men tend to bail ship when the wifey gets sick, it’s pretty profound that he’s still here.  I am not a big ball of sunshine, so the only reason I know I have him is because God loves me. 

 

God loves me enough to give me three amazing, healthy children.

I know God loves me because he blessed me with the best mother on planet earth.

I know God loves me because he gave me D’Ann, aka “thebestbigsisterever”

God loves me enough to bring me the most loving, supportive church family a girl could ask for.

I have a flower shop and more importantly, my Barbara.

I have a house, car(s), and more than I physically need. 

I am blessed enough to have to deal with 1st world problems.

A door opened to get me into my neurologist much sooner than expected.

I know that God loves me because he has taught me to be more obedient with my money which has helped with a lot of stress in my life. 

Today is my real day off.  Which is really a day at home with my babies.  Homeschool.  Housework.  I’m so thankful the Lord has given me a rest.   I could get used to this “love” thing.

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Jacob, Moses, and Dana

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The title just made me giggle.  I thought of that quartered TV screen on “Sesame Street” and the song says, “One of these things is not like the other, one of these things…”  Dana, Moses, and Jacob.  Roffle.  (That is the phonetic way of enunciating R.O.F.L. in Dana and Toby speak.)

I have been thinking about Moses.  How he was chosen to lead the people of Israel.  He got to have that special relationship with God that nobody else got.  Teacher’s pet.  Definitely mom’s favorite child.  I’m not sure if my thoughts are correct as I type, and though I am aching to grab my Bible or biblegateway.com it, I’m going to wing it.  (Mostly to show the holes in my Biblical knowledge.  GO TO SUNDAY SCHOOL!) So…  Moses was the baby who was put in the basket and saved by the Egyptian princess, right?  My brain cannot connect how he got from adopted Egyptian baby to leader of God’s people.    Killed a dude, hid for awhile…  oh, Dana.  “Let my people go!”  Plague, plague, plague…  Yeah, I dunno.

My curiosity about Moses doesn’t even begin to ascend to the heights of my interest and wonder of Jacob.  As a new Christian, this character totally rocked my world when I learned about him a few years ago.  Jacob’s name in Hebrew meant “the heel” or “deceiver.”   He literally came out of his mother’s womb holding onto the heel of his twin brother, Esau.  Jacob was a crafty sibling.  His older brother fell for everything.  Jacob used it to his advantage.  Deceiver or strategist???

This is so interesting to me because the Lord wants us to stand up to people who lie and who are false.  Yet, the very essence of who Jacob was, was a deceiver.  I’m not sure what this tells me about God’s character.  The only thing I do know for sure out of this, is that God can and will use anyone.

At one point in Jacob’s story, he and his family are travelling.  They probably went to Disneyland or something.  He sends his multiple wives and junior wives ahead of him with all of his other people.  That night, the Bible says that a man wrestled with Jacob.  A man.  All night long they wrestle and this mystery man finally realizes at daybreak, that Jacob was not going to give in.  Jacob is demanding to be blessed.  Spiritually blessed.  That’s why he hasn’t stopped wrestling all night.  He knows that this man can bless him, yet listen to what happens.

The man wrestling Jacob, realizing that he cannot win, plays cutthroat and severely hurts Jacob’s hip.  That’s the only way the man could slow Jacob down – they continued to wrestle.  The man says, “Dude!  It’s daybreak.  Let me go.”  Jacob would not.  He very clearly tells the man, he will not let go until he is blessed.  WTHeck?  The man’s response is to ask Jacob his name.

Then, the man says, your name is no longer Jacob.  From now on, we’re gonna call you, “Israel” because you have struggled with God and with men and have overcome.  I’ve heard that name changes in the Bible are big deals and to pay attention.  Here’s what happens next:  The man tells Jacob he’s got this great new name and you know what Jake says?  He’s like, “Yo…  so, uh, what’s your name?”

The man is like, “Why are you asking my name?”  Then it says he blesses Jacob.  Jacob then named the place “Peniel.”  Peniel means the face of God.  Jacob saw God face to face and he was not only spared, he was blessed.

I think that Jacob knew the man was of God and that’s why he chose to fight him all night.  Otherwise, why fight?  Unless he just liked to wrestle, I guess.  But, seriously, he knows that he can get a spiritual blessing out of this man and he uses all of his might to get it.  And, then, even knowing that this man was of God, he still asked him his name.  His response to name the place Peniel, demonstrates that he knew the man he saw was God.  But, he still had to ask.  This is super profound to me, but I don’t know why.  I also think it is pretty crazy that God, as man, realized he could not overcome Jacob wrestling. What?

The story of Jacob, as much as it perplexes me, completely relieves me that I might be good enough for God to use, too.  Maybe it’s not that Jacob was a liar, but that he had the ability to honor what was truly important and knew that manipulation would get him a valuable spiritual blessing.  Maybe God had to wait for Jacob because he was the only one with the fighting spirit God needed to father all nations.

Jacob walked away from the wrestling meet with a limp.  It says that some people wouldn’t eat meaty parts of the hip joint after that because that’s where Jacob was injured.  I’ve often thought about his limp and the exchange of the physical for the spiritual.  I have tried to view my tremor in that way.  Using it to physically remind me and everyone around me, that we have to rely on God.

 

I’ve made a little video demonstrating my tremor in my right hand and arm.  It’s not as bad as some that I have seen, especially on youtube.com, but it’s significant enough for me at age 34.  One could say that it’s like Jacob’s limp.  And my response?  If this is the tradeoff, Lord, fill me to overflowing with your spiritual blessings all the days of my life.  I’ll have whatever Jacob got topped off with God’s glory Moses style.  Amen.

 

TEITLAEII. Psalm 24

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I am interested to see the ripple effect that continues in me, the other leaders and in the kids.  The retreat is like a big rock getting plunked right in the middle of a quiet pond.  We’ve only just dropped the rock.  The first wave of reaction is in the works and I’m thankful.

 

As many of you know, I went on a youth retreat for our church over the weekend as an adult leader-person.  It’s funny that I felt like much more of a student throughout the whole process.  Over the last few days, I continue to absorb new truths every couple of hours – just small pieces of the puzzles that I’m working on.  Moments of clarity.  Selah.

The ripple effect that I intended to see in myself, the other leaders, and kids…  oh mis estrellas!  It is bigger.  Way bigger.

When we returned from the retreat, we entered into the church service where the kids on the retreat led in almost every aspect.  We did not tell them they were doing this until the night before.  Rad!  I love surprising other people with challenging things!  Each of the kids, at one point, had to take the mic and tell the congregation how the Lord worked in them over the weekend.  It was heartbreaking to me to hear their voices shake and see their tears fall.  And all at once it was amazing and beautiful to hear them articulate the transformation within themselves to love and serve God in a bigger way.  I thought I just loved their messages because I was apart of the whole gig.  

Yesterday I heard that our men’s Bible study group that meets on Monday nights, this big, gruff group of guys…  they wanted to talk and pray about the youth service.  It moved them.  One of our older kids made a life changing decision following the retreat.  Life changing.  I’m convinced that God is working in his life and leading him to something bigger than any of us every thought.  Lives will be changed.  I’m in awe.

This morning as I entered into prayer I thought about the Psalm that we learned and meditated on over the weekend.  Psalm 24.  It begins, “The earth is the Lord’s and everything in it.  The world and all who live in it.”   There is much, much more, but I’m stuck here.  I do not know, with certainty, what it means to be His.  What does that ownership entitle Him?  I know that my sense of belonging should be entirely founded upon Him.  I can’t let go of a few things.  I don’t know how to transfer the title over to Him, I guess.

Later in the Psalm it discusses that He is the King of Glory.  I wondered about “glory.”  I am going to pursue understanding of His glory.  What exactly is it?  Can you touch it?  Can you smell it?  In our ladies Bible study the speaker in the video series discussed Moses longing to see the Lord’s glory.  Here is where I think it is especially interesting.  To “see” the Lord’s glory, the Lord had to put Moses in a cleft in the mountainside and He covered his hand over Moses.  Anyone who is not washed with the blood of Christ cannot stand in God’s presence.  He had to protect Moses from himself.  I’m not sure if Moses saw anything.  I do not know if you “see” the Glory that is the Lord strong and mighty, or…  is it an experience?

I wondered, if it was those moments we have as humans when we get relief from problems, a victory, a peace that surpasses all understanding.  Is it when we are excited for tomorrow, hopeful for today, and okay with yesterday all at once?  All good things that we know to be loving and kind and wonderful mushed together to give us such a spiritual voltage that our very physical hearts cannot tolerate it.  Is that His glory?  Then, maybe, we ought to take a moment to cherish those moments.  

I think, for me, one of the most powerful testimonies shared on Sunday, and one of the most personal to me that revealed God’s glory, was that of the youngest girl, Madison.  Madison is an outcast.  Our church accepts her, but a lot of society doesn’t.  Even at the middle school youth group, she was looked down on.  Her family has chosen to live a simple, pioneer lifestyle.  I mean, they make cheese, people.  Who makes cheese?  They make yarn!  The stuff you buy at the store – a human can make that.  Blows.  My.  Mind.

Here Madison is up at the podium, and with her squeaky voice cracking and she confesses that she had never prayed for strength.  And she sobbed.  She couldn’t really finish what she was going to say, but she didn’t have to.  The innocence.  The purity.  God’s Glory.

It angers me that the community responds to this girl with disdain.  It angers me that I have seen the same pattern of disgust and rejection in the high school youth group with Madison’s older brother.  Awhile ago, for whatever reason, the kids decided that they were going to interlock arms during worship.  I think it offers a sense of community.  I don’t love it, but whatever, I’m not 16.  Anyway…  all 50 kids were interlocked and then, there’s David.  Madison’s older brother.  All.  By.  Himself.  My heart ached for him.

I have found, in my experience, that it is these kinds of people, the David’s and the Madison’s, the one’s who get kicked out and left behind, the ones society says are not good enough…  it is them that have something richer and deeper and more reliant on God than anyone will ever know.  Whether you see it or not, I am the very essence of David and Madison.  Against the grain.  Different.  Rejected.  If you see anything good, or beautiful, or inspiring in me, it is God.  It is the same God that loves and shines through these kids.  It is my prayer that they will become a constant reminder to me that I belong to Him.  David and Madison didn’t choose to be pioneering children, but they are.  I didn’t choose to be sick, but I am.  It is in these “weak” positions that we are carrying the cross we’ve been asked to burden.  Do I question it?  Or, do I simply just step up to the mic and confess that I am weak and that I need strength to carry my cross?

Madison’s childlike faith collided with her spiritual maturity and she changed lives.  The one who was rejected is the one the Lord may have sent to save you.  Respond in love and I believe you may experience the glory of God.  Friends, consider who you reject today.  Who do you count out because you’ve judged them to be unworthy of a smile, a hug, or thoughtful sentiment?  It is those that we, as Christians, ought to cling to and build up, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.  

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