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A day at the beach

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She is bold. She’s confident. She’s everything and so much more than I’d dreamed she’d be at her age.

I had big dreams. Dreams for her that she wouldn’t be wounded.

That she would learn to love. Love herself and keep her heart open.

She laughs without hesitation. She loudly gives her opinions. She’s not a wallflower.

I am happy and I am sad. I’m not losing her but I’m losing her.

This is what she’s supposed to do. Learn from me, learn from her dad, then spread her wings and fly.

Why, then, do I suddenly feel so sad? The emotion came out of nowhere like a tidal wave.

Like a sunny day at the beach, we are frolicking and laughing, then a thunderstorm came without warning.

Tears welled up but got stuck and stayed in my throat.

I want to stay playing in the sun forever, enjoying the beautiful day.

But reality beckons me, at the corners of my mind it calls me to the light rain that’s beginning to fall.

It’s all going to be ok, I tell myself, as I open my umbrella and walk into the soft sand.

 

Have you ever wanted to freeze a moment in time?

Maybe not just a moment, but a sweet season.

Our youngest is going away to college soon. I found myself declaring today how happy I am for her. A little too emphatically, and I realized that I’m really trying to convince myself that I’m not sad. But I am. I’ll miss her so much.

But today, I am thrilled with helping her with a school project. I happily listen to her voice as she does homework with a friend in the kitchen. These are the moments life is made of.

 

Christine

 

Strabismus surgery

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I’m having eye surgery tomorrow. So what, you ask?

  1. Please pray for me and for my surgeon for a successful outcome.
  2. This is an opportunity for me to be a voice for the goodness of God, even when circumstances aren’t so good.

For 3-4 years now, my vision has been impaired. Often times I cannot drive or do my regular activities because of it. Even so, I believe NOW, more than ever, that God is faithful and good.

One year ago, my eye doctor said that the impaired eye muscle was inoperable. This spring it has healed to an operable state, and I’m a good candidate for the strabismus surgery that I’m having tomorrow.

Did you catch that? God, in his infinite wisdom, has answered my prayer for healing. From inoperable to operable. What are you praying for and waiting for God to answer?

Will you trust in His goodness if He doesn’t answer the way that you are asking?

Whether my vision is impaired or not, God is seated on His throne.

Whether my vision is impaired or not, He is loving and merciful. Realistically, I shouldn’t even be alive, much less having a full and incredible life with people I love and an annoying vision/migraine problem.

Yet here I am.

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Here I am, alive, in spite of destructive choices, addictions, in spite of trying to kill myself when I was young, and years of depression. All because of Jesus and His mercy to save me and free me.

I’m praying that the strabismus procedure will be successful and that I can ditch the glasses for good.

But even if not, I will still praise and worship the great God who loves me and gave His life so that I could be saved and free.

Not problem free, but free from bondage. We may never be problem free. If your circumstances don’t ever line up the way that you desire, do you believe that you can have the abundant life that Jesus offers us?

 

Reflecting on Jos, Nigeria

The soft spoken teenage girl had been thrust into sudden adulthood. Her hair wrapped in a bright turquoise piece of long fabric, she looked young but protective of her newborn baby boy.

She came into our office at the hospital’s crisis pregnancy center. She had given life to a baby boy just a couple of short weeks ago. He hadn’t been eating and had been fussy lately. She couldn’t explain exactly why, but she knew that something wasn’t right.

I’ll call her Ruth. She’d come to our office months ago for a pregnancy test. She decided to keep her baby and raise him with her boyfriend and his family, in a village area not far from town.

Ruth was brave. In America, you face judgement and criticism as a pregnant teen. Or, conversely, you can be on TV on a reality show. It’s certainly not an easy road, no matter what. But in Nigeria as a pregnant unwed teen, there are more complicated matters. Like another mouth to feed and a high infant mortality rate.

Our center offered medical help for new moms and their babies, so I escorted Ruth over to the pediatric ward. We checked in and she began the long wait to see a doctor. I knew that it would be some time before the baby would be seen, and I headed back to our office.

Lunchtime was near, and I realized that we hadn’t heard anything from Ruth. I walked over to the pediatric ward, and saw Ruth in the waiting room. Her face was drawn and vacant, almost catatonic looking.

I asked her what was wrong and she softly whispered, “He died.” My gut felt like it simultaneously fell a few feet and tied in a knot. I couldn’t believe it. I asked her what happened and she just stared off into the distance, not speaking to answer my horrible question.

I was crushed and shocked at the same time. Tears began to flow immediately and I felt as if I was crying for this devastated young mom who remained expressionless. I asked the nurse, “Why? What happened?” She didn’t know.

Devastating, those three words. I don’t know.

My heart and mind demanded an answer. Why? What had happened to this beautiful new baby? He hadn’t been eating well, but to come to see the doctor and DIE?! NO!

The nurse sternly pulled me aside and chided me. “You need to stop crying. She doesn’t need to see that. She needs you to be strong!” I don’t remember if I said anything in reply, but in my heart I knew that it was right to cry. This great loss deserved tears to be shed.

As if walking through a bad dream, Ruth and I gathered her baby boy, still wrapped tightly in his pastel blanket, and drove him to the village for burial. Very few words were spoken on the drive. Tears said what I couldn’t say on that day.

I was honored to be with Ruth on the very dark day when she had to bury her newborn son.

Since then I have had other days with friends on dark days, and them with me. Many times I have said stupid, thoughtless things. Sometimes I said things that I hoped would make them feel better.

The reality is that sometimes nothing that we say will make it better at all. Sometimes the best thing that we can do when our loved one is hurting is to enter in to that sad place with them, and simply grieve alongside them.

I’m thankful for friends and family that do this with me on difficult days.

Jesus knew this and did it well. The account of Lazarus’ death tells us that Jesus wept. The shortest verse in the Scriptures, but so profound. Jesus didn’t weep for Lazarus’ death, because Jesus, being fully God and fully man, knew that He would raise Lazarus from the dead.

Could it be that Jesus wept out of empathy, compassion and care for his friends who were deeply grieving the loss of their loved one, Lazarus? I think that this is a great reality for us when we grieve anything in our lives: Death, chronic illness, a prodigal child, divorce, or loss of a job. Jesus enters into our grief with us.

He weeps with us. Not because He is caught by surprise, or powerless to change it. He is more than able. He himself was a man of sorrows and feels compassion with us. He is Emmanuel, God with us.

Read the entire story of Lazarus here.

Confessions of a Prodigal Mom

Venting the ugly stuff. We all have moments or times of less than beautiful thoughts that flow into emotion.

Who do you tell your most hideous, soul-bearing junk to? When your gut feels tied into knots, or your thoughts and feelings are more complex than a knot of hair that’s got gum stuck in it…

I pour out my heart to God. Cry the ugly cry that has more snot than tears. A guttural cry that comes from the deep place.

The sobs that rack my body, they overwhelm me and it feels like I’ll never stop, yet it’s over just a few minutes later.

I’m spent, yet raw with emotion. I find relief, knowing that He already knew the hurt, the frustration, the sadness that was there.

He didn’t need me to tell Him, but when I did, a knotted place in my soul emptied out and made room for hope.

My mind cannot comprehend His vastness, His great love, or what He could possibly be accomplishing through my life, and yet I know for certain that there is something.

This is my psalm to Him. Crying out, emptying all of my angst to Him, then looking up with expectant hope.

Yes, there is joy amidst the sorrow. For He is good.

 

If you’ve ever been broken: Kintsugi

Are you broken? Suffering, hurting? Going through a trial and wondering how it could all work out okay? If you feel that your situation may be beyond repair, then consider kintsugi, the ancient Japanese art of mending broken pottery:

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The 400+ year old Japanese art of kintsugi (golden repair) or kintsukuroi (golden joinery) is a pottery repair method that honors the artifact’s unique history by emphasizing, not hiding, the break.

An art form born from mottainai – the feeling of regret when something is wasted – the cracks are seamed with lacquer resin and powdered gold, silver, or platinum, and often reference natural forms like waterfalls, rivers, or landscapes.

This method transforms the artifact into something new, making it more rare, beautiful, and storied than the original. source

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Wood-fired broken bowl

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Wood-fired bowl restored with gold

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I am broken. Yet God has put me back together and mended the broken spots.

If someone were to look at my life before I surrendered my life to Jesus, they would have simply seen broken shards, like pottery in the picture above.

You would assume that these broken pieces were useless, and not fit for repair. You would throw them out, without further thought, and even be responsible in doing so.

Some pieces of my life were thoughtlessly or maliciously broken by others. There was rejection, abuse, and degradation.

Some of the fractures were caused by my own doing. Self-harm, bad choices, self-loathing, and destruction.

No matter how many tiny pieces of shattered fragments were scattered along my life’s path, God has filled in the missing places with His healing resin, His presence and peace.

Even now, there are hurting places that don’t make sense to me. I am sure, because of the kintsugi type of work that God has done before, that it will result in something more precious, even though I cannot yet see it.

You may feel beyond repair, but you have a Great Potter, God, who says that you are surely not, and your pain will not be wasted.

If you and I submit our hearts to God, He will restore and mend our broken places. He will ensure that our suffering has a purpose and our lives will be a beautiful display.

Will you allow God to come in to those broken places? Like kintsugi, your life and story is even more beautiful and has more value when it has been restored.

Kintsugi is a process. At first, it simply looks like what it is, broken pieces glued back together. It must be refilled with resin and sanded several times before it’s ready for the gold dust to illuminate and beautify the scars.

When we allow Jesus’ presence and peace to come into our broken places, He will redeem them and our lives will gleam with the gold of His healing touch. Our pain need not be wasted.

Just ask Him to come in, and He will.

 

Christine

 

 

 

But if from there you seek the Lord your God, you will find him if you seek him with all your heart and with all your soul. Deuteronomy 4:29

Isaiah 64 says:

Yet you, Lord, are our Father.
We are the clay, you are the potter;
we are all the work of your hand.

Read all of Isaiah 64 here

 

 

3 things running has taught me about discipline

3 things running has taught me about discipline

If you ask me, running 13.1 or 26.2 miles is a little crazy. I’m not a total weirdo…the only reason that I started running 14 years ago was that I was bored with cardio machines. But training for these runs has taught me some great truths about discipline that applies to all of life!

If you’re not a runner, you can still glean insights from this, but without the sweat and pain!🙂

Here are my top three:

1.To accomplish hard stuff (like running a half marathon), you have to do some hard stuff. This is for real. There’s a reason that only about 1.9% of the population has run a half-marathon this year. (source)  And only .05% have run a full marathon. (source)  The reason is that it’s hard. 

Long runs in sweltering summer months are brutal. Sweat pours down your forehead and into your eyes; it stings.You swallow gnats while running. When there’s no bathroom in sight, and you’ve gotta go, you (ahem) improvise. Sometimes it’s just hard.

2. Running a marathon or half marathon requires sacrifice. Training runs often start long before dawn breaks. It’s not always easy to go to bed early on Friday nights to get up for a 6:00am ten or longer mile run on a Saturday morning.

3. The sacrifices made now will pay large dividends later. Here’s an example: Last Sunday was the race day for the Houston Half-Marathon. I knew that I’d be running 13.1 miles. However, on my regular shorter training day, my running partner couldn’t join me.

Words can’t express how much I didn’t feel like going on my own. In fact, a slow and heavy sense of dread covered me. Here’s what got me out there to do it…I knew that the race on Sunday would be affected if I didn’t do my regular training run. In other words, I wasn’t running for Thursday as much as I was running for Sunday’s results.

THIS is my very favorite thing about running and the most important truth about discipline that running has taught me. I decided to push through the dread and the not-wanting-to and did it anyway!

Plus, there’s nothing quite as satisfying as completing a long run when you just didn’t feel like it. This is true for all disciplines. You don’t have to WANT to do it, or FEEL like doing it. However, if you do it ANYWAY, you’ll reap the benefits!

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Long runs have their benefits! Quiet and beautiful sunrises like this one.

 

 

 

 

Women of the wailing wall

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We are all different, from several generations.We are the women of the wailing wall.

We are rich and we are poor. Worn hand-me-downs and crisp new trends. Some young and vibrant, some with weathered skin and silver hair, like me.

Although we are diverse in every way, we come in solidarity for one purpose.

To seek answers from G-d.

Purposefully I stride, in my trousers, with large handbag in tow. I pause to grab Torah, the very words of G-d, and slow down as I approach the wall.

Old and feeble, but strong in prayer, beseeching for my granddaughter.

She breaks my daughter’s heart as she is lost and tries to find herself.

I weep, sobbing softly for my daughter’s pain, and cry out for my granddaughter to change her course

To come back to the place that she knows is true.

My heart bows low in reverence though my posture remains standing.

My hands shake as they always do. I gently roll up the message that I’ve scrawled out with my request, tenderly and firmly sticking it into a crevice in the wall.

My lips move as I pray and silent tears fall. My cares and anxious thoughts of the day seem to fall to the ground with each tear.

I look up in thanks. Thankful to the One who hears. The One who sees. The One who cares. I bow my head and smile, then gently walk out backwards.

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I wrote this in July when visiting Israel and going to the Western Wall. I was struck by the variety of women that I saw.

Eastern and Western worldviews, from every socioeconomic group and age. Yet many seemed so earnest in their pursuit of an answer from God.

I was struck by the thought of each woman as an individual; each woman had a story, a prayer that they earnestly prayed and wrote, putting the prayer requests into the wall’s nooks and crannies.

I saw many women crying. Some quietly and reverently, some alone, and some with friends or loved ones. I imagined a woman, weeping with expectant hope that God would answer her fervent prayers for her granddaughter. She is the woman I wrote about.

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