Ready or Not

Snapshot_20140902_12While waiting for the Five-minute Friday prompt to appear I check my flight itinerary again. Next weekend I’m flying home for my high school reunion and to visit my family. The prompt appears and I laugh out-loud.

Ready.

Ready or not, here comes my THIRTY year high school reunion. 30. Yes, you read that right. I’m sure you must be glancing at my author-ish picture posted on here and feeling shocked because I appear SO much younger than that. Right? Right? But indeed, I’m going home as an old lady to visit my old friends in my old hometown.

SCAN0286 (2)Now take a look at this picture I ran down and pulled from my senior-year scrapbook. One of my senior portraits. I can only chuckle at the irony that my hair has undergone multiple style changes over the years but has evolved back into something so similar to my high-school look (although I’m not sure anyone can accurately achieve that giant 80s hair quite like we did it back then).

Look at those innocent eyes. I was so ready to graduate and get on with my life. Ha! One can almost see the fear as I thought I really needed to have life all figured out upon graduation and I could not even check anything besides the “undecided” major box in my college applications. I did not feel ready for college!

As long as we’re talking about ready, let’s move on to getting married. I wanted to get married, but was I ready? Motherhood. I loved kids but didn’t’ feel ready to be a mom with all the commitment and responsibilities. Three kids? Seriously. Who is ready for that? Anyone ready for a child with leukemia? How about for the death of a student or a best friend? Who is ready for the loss of a family member or for moving across the country?

THIRTY YEARS! Thirty years since those innocent eyes smiled upon thoughts of graduation. I didn’t feel ready then, and I’m not sure I’m ready for what’s next now.

But my “not-feeling-ready” stuff is different now because I know that maybe I will never quite be “ready” for the next thing. In fact, most of the time, I won’t even know what the next thing is going to be. But it’s okay.

I know that I don’t really have to do much. I’ve got a God who’s got everything ready for me. He’s already been where I’m going and He will never leave me. With that thought in mind, I can be ready for anything.

I’m excited to see my old friends and classmates. I’m sure none of us are going to look old. It’s certain we are not nearly as antique as the 30 year alumni were back in 1984. THOSE people were ancient! I can’t wait to hear friends’ stories and catch up on our lives.
Ready or not, here I come!

Join us at Kate Motaung’s place for some Five-Minute Friday fun!

Ready to Rest Under His Wings


Underhiswings

I’m ready, Lord, to throw in the towel.
You know how caregiving
weighs on my soul.

You know how often I try to
provide the cure and
not just the care.

You know how I enter hyper-super-warp
speed overthinking of every detail
when disaster strikes.

Help me to remember that
you have me covered
with your mighty
wings.

You stand ready,
waiting for me to say,
“Do, Lord, do it all!”

You wait for me to relinquish my
spot as superhero (I never really had
it to begin with), supermom (I have no
claim to that one either) and superChristian
(nope, that one doesn’t apply, either)

I can’t solve the world’s problems.
I can’t solve my students’ problems.
I can’t solve my friends’ problems.
I can’t solve my family’s problems.
I can’t even solve my own problems.

I’m ready, Lord. So I’ll stand still
and stretch out my limbs and
luxuriate in the assurance that
I’m under your wings.

I’m joining Kate Motaung and other brave bloggers for Five-Minute Friday.  You can find the details and join us by clicking here!

This I Know


lightening
Jesus loves me this I know.
I’ve always wanted the lightning strike, the booming thunder-voice to reverberate across my confusion and direct me in the way I should go. I’ve begged for God to yell, to force my path, to throw a boulder to block me into safety.

For the Bible tells me so. I’ve prayed for guidance on huge decisions and gotten the still, small voice that that was promised.

Little ones to Him belong. I didn’t want the still smallness. I wanted the giant kaboom. The giant crushing feel of His arms around me.

They are weak but He is strong. In the midst of my biggest sorrows and times of need, I get the whisper.

Yes Jesus loves me. At times I’ve been frustrated; I’ve lived my life under God’s guidance, why is He still whispering?

Yes, Jesus loves me. But in those quiet God moments, where love and promises filter through my troubled soul, I can look back over my own little personal history and see that God’s whispers have been gigantic.

Yes Jesus Loves me. The little whispers through my life have comforted, celebrated, encouraged and even directed.

The Bible tells me so. I believe I’m right where God wants me to be, doing what I should be doing, becoming who I need to become. A gentle loving whisper.

I’m linking up with Kate Motaung for another fellowship-filled Five-minute Friday. Join us!

Come Away With Me

comeawayHave you listened to the lies so long that you fear they may be true—that you are lazy, unable to change and utterly hopeless? Have your heart and mind formed a new reality that feels like a dark prison cell, and escape seems impossible?

Jesus whispers hope. Have you listened lately? “My child, I’m in the business of setting captives free.”

Do you struggle with the mind movies from your past that haunt your every turn and interrupt all attempts at normal?

Jesus whispers words of transformation. “My child, I can turn red to the purest white. I can rewind and erase the power of the past.”

Does the rock of your anger rise more often than you want, choking out your rational thoughts and spewing words you wished unsaid on those you love the most?

Breathe deeply and listen for the whisper of the one who loves you most of all. “My child, give your anger to me, and I will set you free.”

Has life taught you that you must be all things to all people and you feel you’ve lost yourself bit by bit in an insane attempt to please everyone?

“Relax,” Jesus whispers to your weary soul, “come away with me, and learn what I want for you.”

Listen for the whispers in the wind, in the silence, in the thunder and the rain. Jesus whispers words of promise. Listen(click to tweet)

I’m linking up with Kate Motaung for another fellowship-filled Five-minute Friday.  Join us!

How do I Know?


dontbeafraidI’m not obsessed with hummingbirds. Really. Ok, wait, maybe my friends and family (and much to my chagrin, a perfect stranger in the Wal Mart bird feed aisle) have reached the limit on what they want to hear and see about these delightful creatures.

And I know this blog is primarily about being a caregiver, and the miracles God has brought into our lives, but part of recovering from my caregiver journey has been a foray into photography and a burgeoning fascinating with birds (some might call it an obsession).

But something about birds and the way the Creator carefully crafted them feather by feather in a startling array of beauty and precision engineering causes me to reach the same conclusion over and over again: God cares for ME. I have no need to be afraid.

After all, that’s what Jesus tells us. He assures us that not one sparrow (one of the plainest of all the birds) will fall to the ground outside the Father’s care (Matthew 10:28-30).

CAHUsfemaleJust consider the miracle of migration. Our Creator hardwired birds to travel thousands of miles each year—and along the way, birds arrive at just the right time to harvest just the right fruits or pollinate just the right flowers or eat the insects.

I know God cares about my comings and my goings and he’ll be with me in each journey I undertake. Continue reading

Room at the Feeder for Everyone


Feeder FightsThe excited chatter turns to an angry buzz and I hop out of my chair to see what caused the commotion. Tail spread and wings beating furiously, a female Rufous Hummingbird approaches and stabs her beak into the neck of the Black-chinned Hummingbird who peacefully feeds at the feeder hanging outside my window.

It seems as if they have an unwritten rules of engagement that only they understand. The Black-chinned Hummingbirds avoid conflict, for the most part. The Calliope Hummingbirds sneak in between the dash and clash of the Rufous Hummingbirds, while the mere high-pitched bell-like sound of a male Broad-tailed hummingbird will clear the feeders from fifty feet away.Broad-tailed Hummingbird

If fewer than eight hummers vie for space, a grumpy, territorial Rufous can easily keep them at bay—but not necessarily because she wants nectar—simply because she can. She’ll spend hours perched nearby, ready to swoop in and stab and poke and harass those who dare approach ‘her’ feeder.

Meanwhile, the glimmer usually zooms around the house and drinks their fill at the feeder hanging on the back deck—until Ms. Grumpy wonders why she has no one to argue with, and goes in search of the rest. The process then reverses itself.

community5Occasionally, someone bigger or smaller (but more intimidating) will put Ms. Grumpy in her place, and the hummers come in to the feeders and drink their fill in peace—usually politely taking turns.

A strange thing happens when the community grows. I’ve noticed that the more hummers that join the feeding frenzy, the less likely any one hummer will succeed at defending ‘her’ territory (don’t they understand that it’s all really MY territory—and that I want them all to get along and partake until they’re full?). A strange unity of purpose forms in the larger community around the feeder as they lap up nectar as quickly as they can in order to double their weight for their arduous migration.  Continue reading

Tell Me It’s Not Melanoma!

I have a MOLE?!

I have a MOLE?!

Last week, when I stood up from the gliding rocking chair in my home office, I felt a pain/itch on the back of my left thigh. I wandered into the bathroom to check in the mirror and see what hurt (I was hoping I hadn’t picked up another tick—I had THREE tick bites this summer).

Due to the location of my owie (half-way between the bikini line and the shorts line), I ended up using my phone and the three-way mirror above the sink to snap a photo. Much to my shock, it appeared that I had a MOLE! A pencil-eraser sized, asymmetrical mole with an angry red border and uneven surface.

I texted the photo to Pedro—who had left that morning for a business trip, and asked him if he thought I should be concerned. Well, we both know our ABCs of skin cancer, and he confirmed that maybe I should get it checked out.

My uncle died of melanoma back in the 70s. I drove to urgent care (50 miles away). The physician’s assistant on duty took one look at it and said, “Hmmm. I think I would get that checked out by a dermatologist as soon as possible.” He left the room and returned with a 40-pound medical school reference tome. He flipped to the page on melanoma and showed me the photo of typical melanomas—the THING on the back of my leg (which hadn’t been there several days earlier) looked just like the first photo illustration.

The PA handed me an info sheet on melanoma and I started calling dermatologists. At 4:50 in the afternoon, I could only find one open. The soonest emergency appointment available wasn’t until the following Monday—registration day at school. I took it.

I got back into my car for the drive home with images of me hobbling around on one leg and learning to run with one of those athletic prosthesis legs. Next, I imagined all of the bills piling up (we’ve been through cancer once already, so those bills loomed large and real).

My family! What would my family do if I had melanoma?! I racked my brain (and resisted the temptation to research melanoma on my phone whilst driving) trying to remember which was the ‘good’ kind of skin cancer to have—Melanoma? Carcinoma? Neither sounded pleasant. The hour-long drive home went by in a daze while my overactive imagination ran through every possible worst-case scenario. Continue reading

Filled…and Running Over


filled

 

I feel like I’ve been filling feeders nonstop for the last week. In a mere 12-hour period, the little hummers drain FOUR cups of nectar. When I put up my first feeder at the start of last summer, we had six or seven regulars that stopped by throughout the day in between sitting on their nests and catching insects—mostly Black-chinned Hummingbirds.

This summer, even though I spent six weeks away from home, first my mom, and then my husband faithfully filled the feeders because they know how much I love watching the wondrous little creatures.

When I returned home last week, I discovered that fall migration had begun. Along with the usual suspects, three other species of hummingbirds had stopped off at our ‘avian rest area’ for free coffee, um, nectar .

And so for the last seven days, I rush to watch the feeders whenever I have a spare moment (and maybe whenever I should be writing lesson plans or cleaning my classroom). In between times, I make more nectar (they’ve already gone through two gallons).must stop

I stand on a bench in my home office in the late afternoon when the sun leaves a soft glow over our lawn and open the window next to the feeder. I aim my telephoto lens at the action (it reminds me of a scene from Star Wars with pod racers on a quest) and happily snap away.perfectruhu

Between the buzz and chatter of the birds and click of my camera, I find peace from the chaos in my life. When my arm gets tired and the light fades, I rush to download the photos to my computer and marvel at the details that our Creator included in this particular model of bird.

By beholding, I become changed. My heart rate slows. I find myself breathing deeply and even laughing as I watch the territorial Rufous hummingbirds try to fend of fifteen other hummers. It doesn’t work, and eventually they settle down and drink their fill.

Today a Broad-tailed Hummingbird with a beak deformity landed on the feeder, and the normally pushy Rufous left her alone.damaged bill

When life seems crazy and full of chaos, bad news and challenges, I know my Creator will fill me with exactly what I need—it could be a tiny bird, a gorgeous sunset or the smile of a stranger.

I cling to his goodness no matter what life hurls at me. I am filled. (tweet this)

You Can’t Cure Anyone


youaren'tthecureDear Friend,

The weight of anxiety over a friend or loved one who needs your care may have pressed the last dredges of flavor from your life. You may find the strangest things make you cry (coffee commercials, for example) at the oddest times (during a staff meeting).

You may shake your head (or your fist) in frustration over circumstances—the glacial movement of insurance company decisions or the light years it takes to schedule an appointment with a specialist when the one you care for needs help YESTERDAY.

You might wake up each morning filled with self-blame because NOTHING you seem to do makes any apparent difference in the life of the one you love. The plumped pillows, folded laundry, rides to appointments, phone calls made—none of them seem to matter to the one you slavishly pour yourself out for. If only you tried harder, you think, my friend or loved one wouldn’t be in this condition.

Or perhaps you’ve given advice to a girlfriend in crisis—and she never seems to take it and always lands back in the same crisis. Over. And. Over. Again. You might find yourself reacting with impatience to yet another plaintive plea for advice from a hurting friend. If only my friend or loved on tried harder, you may think, he or she would be well by now.

And so you suffer in silence because you either aren’t doing enough, or the one you care for doesn’t do enough—whatever the case, you feel worn out, frazzled, at your wit’s end.

Jesus offers rest for your weary soul. “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest” Matthew 11:28 (NIV). Continue reading

Why It Took Me 14 Years to Climb a Mountain


right for others
Standing on the top of a mountain called Craig’s Lookout, I felt triumphant, proud and, for the first time in years, I felt like ME.

Craig’s Lookout is not like Pike’s Peak or anything famous. It’s not even all that amazingly steep, nor dangerous, nor high. It only took me one hour and five minutes to hike up and 45 minutes to get back down. Not a big deal to some; it’s just a mountain behind the school where I once lived and taught. It’s just a mountain I’ve wanted to climb for 14 years.

I had heard about Craig’s Lookout for years from my husband who hiked it many times throughout his childhood. When we moved to that school I told myself I would climb up there, but I had a hefty newborn, a toddler and a five-year-old and taking that little troupe up steep hills and across a ravine with a large drop-off just didn’t sit well with this mama. Then, around the time that hefty and healthy baby could climb too, leukemia struck him.

I dropped everything to become a caregiver mom.

Actually, that’s not true.

I was still a mom to three children. I was still a teacher. I was still the wife of a busy principal of a boarding school. I was still the Sabbath School teacher for the cradle roll division. We still had students over to our house (when we could) and staff parties to host. And I was the main caregiver to a neutropenic, restless and hurting, leukemia-ridden precious four-year-old. His treatment protocol lasted three and a half years.

Climbing mountains was not on my agenda.

In fact, I was not on my agenda. Continue reading