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True Love & His Glory

Nine years ago, the Lord allowed me to be stricken with a debilitating tumor.

Six years ago, the Lord allowed me to begin to heal… still, I was not able to write again after that very much, not even in my own journals. My emotional pain arose from concern for my family, and grief over the long-term loss and struggle.

Three years ago, we underwent a most painful period of time where my family had a new set of trials, transitions and changes all at once, including tremendous loss and grief. My tears were a hot, tight band around my voice and throat. This served as a constant concrete diving tower from which to plunge into my need for God’s help and comfort.

If the Lord had not been on our side—” Psalm 124

Two years ago, the Lord allowed my kids and I to be in a car accident which caused multiple latent injuries for myself. Again, the cycle of grief and sorrow was upon me. I began to wonder if my life was going to always be like this: living in pain, living with God-sanctioned insanity; hurting too much to process things beyond the moment or the hour.

SO THANKFUL we weren’t T-boned. Could have been so much worse. As it was, Mama Bear had five herniated discs and more than a year in physical therapy. Oh, Lord, help!

As my body and my heart began the healing process afresh (afresh? anew? it didn’t feel fresh or new)… I spent a lot of time grieving over the loss to my family of a functioning mother. I grieved the loss of opportunity to grow our family or participate in ministry. To cook for others. To clean the house. To work in the garden. To be sane.

I grieved many things. I learned how to grieve deep and wide.

And I’ll tell you (if you don’t know already): The Garden Of Grief is a funny thing. It is the sort of place that needs constant tending, otherwise it can easily be overrun with roots of bitterness.

Many different morsels of help came to me along the way, from my loving Father-God. Maybe a song, maybe a verse, maybe a dream. Other times it would be a feeble step of faith and trust through all the insanity of my mind…. that there would somehow come so much good out of this. Other times I would get a word of comfort or guidance… for example:

Two days ago, I listened to the most beautiful story of a man, Andrew Klavan (international best-selling author), who learned to cope with incredible pain. He said, in a moment of truth, God showed him HOW TO KEEP GOING even though he was in so much pain.

“How do I live?” he asked… Ya prob’ly know by now, I CRIED.

But… It’s not like the pain stops coming. Am I right? Can I get an amen?

One day ago, our community lost a dear friend to cancer. She was a lovely powerful prayer warrior, a special sister in Christ, and a woman who dearly loved children even though she had none from her own body. She was a foster mother and mentor and placed children in homes throughout our city.

Though my father and mother forsake me, the Lord will receive me | PSALM 27:10 <–click on this Bible verse to visit her foundation, Homes With Hope.

Makes me feel silly to share the following, as well… But yesterday we also lost the sweetest chicken in our flock. She was the kind of chicken who loved to be one; was proud to be one.

Little bird, little bird, fly through my window….

In the last few days, I have cried openly and more often than in the several years previous. I suppose it is finally, thankfully, a sort of “safe” time to let the fountain flow and clear itself out (what else are you going to do in Covid-19 quarantine)? Anyone else? Everything makes me cry these days:

A friend recently quoted John 3:16 in Russian (she and her family have been learning it during quarantine) and I wept tears of joy.

Click on the video above to listen!

I read sections of a novel to our kids every night, and anything that spotlights the growing pains or beautiful life moments of the characters will instantly choke me up!

In reading the daily passages on Bible Gateway, I drip, drip, drip from my eyes AND my nose. It is good.

Yesterday, even as I felt the fresh sadness of loss in little waves, it struck me that despite all the tears, I am still overjoyed that our departed friend (and our chicken) are both in a much, much better place, with brand new bodies and hearts full of joy.

Heaven is a wonderful place… (image copyright info/source)

In the end, I blew my nose (again) and wiped my weyes (again) and said to Scott, “I would never, ever, EVER, ask God to give them back to us… yanno, in fact, why did Jesus raise Lazurus from the dead, if he was happier in heaven?”

Scott said, “It is because it would bring glory to God.” So that is the main thing. Not what we will but what He wills.

Our model for this kind of prayer about pain.

So…. Ok, Lord, I surrender. Again. Because we know You are truly good, we can submit to You as truly God. We love you, Lord. Help us who remain to “play in pain.” Don’t bench us Lord. Let us keep doing the next thing that brings you Glory.

Sending prayers of comfort, and virtual hugs, and lots of love to any of my friends who find themselves at this place today.

“Bah Humbug” Allowed Here

At least three of my friends have mentioned/posted about feeling joyless, sad, or grieving at Christmastime today. I just wanted to share the following thoughts.

If your Christmas is a hurtful time, I would like to say, you are NOT expected to be happy — at least around me! Go on with your bad Bah Humbug. Seriously. What if you lost someone important at this time of year? What if you are estranged from people you love? What if your dreams have been dashed to the ground and run over in the mud? What if your spirit feels broken? What if you don’t have a penny to give anyone else, or the energy to brighten up your home? Or worst of all — what if you feel God has abandoned you or cannot salvage your heart?

The truth is, that is what Christmas is all about. No, I am not kidding.  Read on.

The truth is, the very first Christmas was all about humble circumstances: primarily of the world itself, but also that of a new-born king meant to be glorified.

Think of the song “O Come, O Come Emmanuel.”  It speaks hauntingly of the captive people Israel, in need of redemption, in need of hope. “Rejoice, rejoice, O Israel” — because they were hurting!  They needed to be rescued.  They had been robbed of all peace and joy.

Here came their king; his own world capsized… born into a dingy stable instead of a palace.  How backwards!  That was an odd representation of any real hope…. yet, what a clarified picture of God, mingling with those of us in lowly circumstances.

If you feel alone, if you feel scared, if you feel naked and abused, or if you feel stricken and needy…. you are in good company. Christ himself, a naked and needy babe, shares your sorrow. Yet, “this little Babe so few days old, has come to rifle Satan’s fold.”

Satan is the celebrator of our pain and the enemy of your very life breath. God himself weeps with you and works to comfort you in your suffering, to be with you.  He is the truest friend we have in the midst of weeping.

God himself cherishes you.

God himself is your very help in time of need. He understands it well. Do not let false cheer, hurried well-wishes, or stale hope become the acceptable standard for Christmas. If you need Christ, he has come, and that is our source of joy, meant to be heralded most especially by hurting hearts.

If you are hurting, I send you these words with a hug and a sisterly kiss. God bless you with comfort for your pain this Christmas.

Thanks for reading, Friends.

Waiting For A Hurting Heart to Heal

I have thought about writing several times in the past few months.

But my heart said, No.

I’m not ready.

It’s been too long, my “Editor” side said.  Get busy.

No.  I’m not ready.

There’s been a lot going on!!!  What great source material.  You might forget it all.  Wouldn’t want that! That’s my author-side calling.

No, my heart said.  I’m just not ready.

SIGH, my fingers wiggled, anxious to type again.

No, my heart said.  It’s not time.

Much like the Song of Solomon croons, “Wait, do not awaken love until it so desires,” my heart cried out for more waiting. My heart did not desire to go there: to think, to recover, to feel… Recovery is arduous.  It needs a foundation of good rest and healing.

So I did not pick up my journal.  I laid down my pen.  I put them away where they could get dusty.

I did not open the writing programs on my computer.

I had to wait, because if I poured out my heart before God met me there, it would seem almost false… as though I am putting a tiny bandaid on a perforation the inner self.

“For the Lord God, the Holy One of Israel, says: Only in returning to me and waiting for me will you be saved; in quietness and confidence is your strength…”  Isaiah 30:15 (TLB)

I did not desire to indulge those wretched emotions, but in humanity and trust I instead shared my broken weeping with Christ alone.  My own rugged and arduous garden of wretched sweat and prayer.

And there, have I been met by none other than our very Lord.  Meeting my faithlessness with a comforting embrace.  Receiving my tears in a precious vial.  Mingling them with His, in that very holy fountain of His own sorrow.  Sharing each stab of pain.  Meeting and teaching me as only He can.  Giving me new hope, new dreams, new understandings of things.  And what is this?  Joy?  Wow…

Thank you, Lord, for stripping our relationship down to the bare roots of Your unconditional love.  What a gift it has truly been!

In my personal experience… there are a couple parts of hurting.  One is waiting to hear from God.  Will He speak?  Does He care?  I have failed!  It’s my fault! Or, It’s not my fault!  This is terrible and God allowed this.  Will He change these circumstances?

The second part of hurting is the vulnerability we experience when we step away from that tiny space of intense communion with God before we are healed up (which sometimes must happen due to the demands of life –jobs, children, you name it).  Oh, how painful!  Perhaps we just want to curl up and be loved… Perhaps we have nothing to give.  Or, perhaps the outside world is untrustworthy.

When our wounds are openly bleeding, they need a safe, tranquil, supportive, and clean place to heal… it is better to avoid whatever slime or sewage the world can thoughtlessly throw at you without even realizing it.  It’s good to take a break.  God is so good, to be a safe place.  A thin space… where our sorrow can be soothed by His utter compassion and fathomless hope.  Only those most trusted friends are allowed to visit us there, and then, I find quick visits are best.  Sometimes, even they might fail, and it is God alone who sits quietly by our side.

So now — I find a slow dawn melting my frosty landscape.  On this dark morning, I find a quiet glow.  My heart is ready.  I might need a warm blanket and some fuzzy socks, but I am ready.  It’s not excruciating to think of relating to anyone else what treasures I see in my life after all the mess.  My ponderings can be released, from being between God and me, in that most sacred inner place…  to being shared openly.

For those who want to read, maybe these thoughts will be a warm balm to your heart, if you are also hurting.  I believe, and trust, and celebrate, that God has encouragement for you, too.

Anyway…. May God himself be your comfort, if you are hurting… you have my prayers right now for God’s rich comfort and tangible embrace.

Thanks for reading, Friends.

1-23-14 Update

Just FYI, for those who are praying, my recent blood test results showed a real improvement.  I am praising the Lord.  Some things still need to improve, but I am thrilled and motivated to keep going.
 
Please pray for the doctor who is skeptical, that she will work with me and lend her expertise in the process.  
 
Please pray for protection of my mind and heart in the process.

“Nutrition will not cure you.”

“Nutrition will not cure you.”

My endocrinologist interrupted me twice to say this.  It has been three months since I started my new diet and lifestyle, and I usually feel like a million bucks compared to the zombie I was before (I need bloodwork to confirm things).  I waited, then restated: “What I am trying to say is that I feel better.”  He chided me and then said, “We’ll DO the bloodwork, and then you can come in and we’ll chat some more about this.”  I got off the phone as quickly as possible.

In frustration, I then asked my OBGYN group for a referral for a brand new endocrinologist, hoping to get a little more of a listening ear from the new doctor.  I requested the bloodwork I need along with a second opinion on my case.  This doctor was as bad as the first.  She scoffed before I was done with my inital sentence: “I was supposed to have surgery but was told I could try nutrition to see if it would help.”

What is the deal?  I cannot ask questions, cannot look at options, cannot try the least invasive method first?  I must roll over and let you cut out my entire adrenal gland?

I am beginning to realize just how skewed even the most well-meaning doctors can be.  I MUST manage them managing me.  We’re not in Little House on the Prairie here, with the doctor that cares so much they’ll explain, or their efforts are totally vested in your best options.  I trusted these doctors, and they used me to pay their bills with their preferences over my body and the rest of my life.  I will forgive them — but I will not hesitate to challenge them ever again.  Poor doctors.  I know, they truly think they are right.  I pity them.

“Resentment is like drinking poison and then hoping it will kill your enemies.” — Nelson Mandela

A Zombie Story

I have been working for a while on this other blog… I have been sick a lot this year, and we finally found out I have a tumor.  Yikes.  But it turns out I will be able to avoid surgery.  Hooray!

For anyone who is interested, please follow the link below to my quirky, fun-loving, authentic blog on the subject.  Thank you for reading friends.

HelloTumor.wordpress.com

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Pioneer Life: Part One

Once upon a time, I knew a brave woman who lived a pioneer lifestyle in many ways (God rest her soul).  She told me I would have hated it.  Maybe she was right.  I disliked her for saying it, anyhow.  Part of me wrestled with the fact that she may be right:  about the life being hard, or me not having what it took.  I wasn’t sure which she meant, and I was too afraid to ask.  Maybe both!

I have come to believe that we are all potential pioneers, if we have the guts to wake up and look at life with a new set of eyes… then, to stay awake! and press in to that pioneer mindset.

For the past year and three months my family has been embarking on an incredible set of adventures.  I will tell more later about how and why, and what spearheaded each part of it.  Some of the story is powerful and moving to myself — a “Thin Space” even, when I look back, though I could not have told you that in the middle of it.  From health and wealth to hearth and home, we have been working like true pioneers, walking foot by painful foot, or heaving our hungry hearts and harshly hewn wagons over wintry ruts and winding rivers.

Did I hate it?  Oh yes, certainly, parts of it.  Was it worth it?  Oh… my…. a resounding and reverent “Yes!”

After this intro I will share with you an adventure both life-giving and life-taking.  An ongoing journey that is most incredibly God-centering.  I am humbled, yet more built up than ever.  The shallow parts of me that remain have been drained and dredged out into deeper pools which are being refilled, and I know God is not done yet.  I may yet be a reservoir someday.  I dance in thankfulness and rejuvenated hope.

More to come… and apologies (kind of) for the long wait between posts….

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Well-Worded Advice

God has seen fit to bless me with a five-year-strong marriage and three beautiful children.

Along with these areas of great blessing, I have had moments of great need — for support, prayer, help, and advice.  Over time, I have found the more incredible words from friends and my heavenly Father building up into beautiful inner dialogues, sometimes battling or encroaching upon my more negative dialogues, even eradicating them, but always consistently energizing me and keeping me going.  Praise God.  These words are as refreshing as a Texas water canal, filled to the brim, gushing into a vivid-green rice field in the middle of our dry, reddish-brown countryside.

Let me share with you some of these reverberating cheers of my soul.

My Mother-in-law: “Leave the crumbs where they are.”  She said this right after my toddler son dumped something all over the floor.  We were all having to walk all over it while trying to serve dinner.  I loved her for that grace, that kindness, and that relaxed attitude about the mess.  I try to extend it to myself when I have chunks of food on the floor, etc. and have so many other things to do…

Our marriage mentors: “Intimacy is not the icing on the cake, but rather the yeast.  And intimacy is not so much about a goal, but about being together.”  How much effort and stress that has saved me in the past few years!  I could say the idea of being together applies to any activity I am doing with my husband, or my kids!  The goal is being together, not just to do whatever activity I have planned.  It helps me to keep that in mind!

My sister in Christ: “One thing I wish someone had told me when I was a new mom… take 5 minutes every so often, and stop, and rest, and breathe.  It’s okay, and the kids will be fine.  I flew around everywhere trying to take care of everything.”  Enough said, right?

The Lord (direct tap): “Trust me.  And ask me first when you don’t know what to do.  I will help you.”  More recently, he also told me “It IS good enough, and so are you.”  I have this posted above my sink now.  Thanks God, for taking my inabilities and making things happen supernaturally.

The Lord (through Scripture): “You are blessed beyond the curse!”  In frustrating, hormonal, or tired moments as a parent, spouse, or woman (pregnant or not), this speaks to me deeply!  2 Corinthians 4:16-18 — “Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.”

Blessings, Friends.  Thanks for reading!

Something Old…

This last couple of weeks I have worked in our church library.  (I think some little-girl librarian still exists inside of me, the way I have burned with a passion on this project, and the way several books from the donation pile have found their way into my home.)  Well, it is not a church library, it is more of a crowded cast-off shelving area in one of the most-used rooms of our church: the prayer parlor.

Picture a large group of lovely women meeting together to read a passage of Scripture or muse on a good book, or to share Mom stories.  A trio getting together for accountability and prayer.  A couple of leaders praying with a new person to the church who is hurting a lot.  Conferences or classes trying to meet about serious matters.  Small groups planning the future of the women’s ministry.

Now picture the ever-hovering, inconsiderate piles of heavily breathing, noisy-title scattering, dust-ejecting, won’t-you-please-love-me begging, validate-me-with-attention scrounging, perfectly pathetic, utterly overbearing presence of 3 walls of…. BOOKS.  Books, threatening to undo the state of the room with their presence alone, like a narcissistic friend who can’t sit back and be there for you, but wants to take up your moment with tears of her own.  We’re getting ugly here, but seriously — I am not kidding about how disruptive these books were to me.

This is the first room I ever visited in the church aside from the sanctuary to hang out with other singles for the first time.  It’s where a lot of my hurts in life got prayed over as I attempted to become a healthier person.  When I got married, this is the room where my husband and I escaped for a few moments after our ceremony.  Thanks to my Mother and her sister, my Aunt, it became a very sweet moment with candles and scattered marbles in our wedding colors.  The lights were low and it was impossible to see… THE SHELVES — my God, the shelves!  I am so glad — that would have detracted… maybe… from our reverie.  The dusty shelves, stacked with decomposing books, which at some point in the past decade got sorted into a frustrated grouping by subject.  Thankfully, that is no more.

With the “snip-snip, bye-bye” sort of permission from our pastor over Communications — I can picture her saying love you long time to the bags of books sitting in our side foyer — I have been on a heavenly purging sort of mission that every introverted, organization addict needs.

What I have discovered is this:

Have you ever heard that statement “Everyone has a book”?  That is most emphatically TRUE.  In the past several days, I have read so many silly titles… How to Love Yourself.  How to Love Others.  How to Love God.  Books for widows, books for teens, books for pastors, and even one book lovingly but angrily entitled toward the church.  Recall those times you’ve heard someone say “That would make a great title for a book.”  Well, the book has probably been written.  I mean the sort of title where you get the sermon just from reading the spine of the book.  Yeah, they are out there already.  Have been for a while.  These books were beginning to crackle into pieces in my hands because they have been out there so long.

Let’s not forget the drop-offs.  People.  Seriously.  Garfield?  I found two aviation books which came home with me for my husband, as he loves that sort of thing.  But I don’t see people needing a Wright Brothers brush-up while they’re snotting into a box of tissues.  Let’s get real here.  Why do we have books for public educators from the 1980s?

I finally gave up and threw a few of the more silly churchy titles into a bag to review in the future, as I have time, just to make a comparison to the more recent materials I have read.  Maybe there will be a singular jewel of truth in there somewhere I haven’t heard before in church or in Sunday School or in conversation sometime.  And there were definitely some that I am looking forward to reviewing, as the subject intrigued me.

So… it’s humbling, as a writer, to see the amount of effort and publishing that has already happened.  I have received ridicule for wanting to write at times.  And, loving to sing I’ve been told also that singers are a dime a dozen.  It seems the world is out to get us for not being unique.  However, God does need the same seeds sown year after year, sometimes.  Teens who won’t read a 70s devotional book might read mine. So, we’ll see.  I trust God with that.

I was also musing how, for me, being raised in the church has already been conducive to seeing similar books, hearing similar testimonies, or being taught similar sermon points over and over, my entire life (and I’m only in my thirties).  The good thing about God is, He can show us new things (through old truths) as we go, and He knows how to keep it fresh.  The Word is not for reading only once, twice, ten or a hundred times.  His mercies are new every morning… and his mercies include new bread each day, hot out the oven.  I prefer mine with warm honey butter and a cup of hot tea or coffee…

I’m so glad.  I am so thankful that the Bible, being the oldest story I have ever read, the one I’ve read the most, is still fresh to me now.  I’ve learned that when I go to look at a passage again, my brain needs the fire rekindled — it’s not as if I’ve gotten that truth worked out in my life 100%.  There is always a new challenge, or an old one that needs reworking, or praise that needs singing again.  Thanks God, for not crumbling in my hands, for only getting stronger and clearer to me as time has gone on.

Thoughts?  Thanks for reading, Friends.

Thanks! from Pioneer Princess

Hi friends,

I just wanted to take a moment and say thanks for reading/following my blog this last year!  I appreciate your companionship on this writing road.

Pioneer Princess is an enormous creative outlet for me, and I look forward to writing more in 2012.  I seem to be hitting a stride of one new entry every month to two months.  That may not seem super exciting, but it flies by for me with these two beautiful kids.  I’m definitely not giving up or gone, though.

XOX and Happy New Year!  I pray rich blessings on this coming year for you, and may you know the embrace of the Father, in it.

Dottie