Every. single. beautiful. word.
As I stood in front of the mirror rolling my hair, the early morning sun shining through the window behind me, I noticed that my blue eyes looked exceptionally blue. Must be the blue dress I’m wearing.
My mind went to the sixth graders to whom I spoke last week. They were telling me what they like about their appearance and what they like about their inner qualities. One of the girls said, “I like how my eyes change color.”
“According to the time of day and what you’re wearing, you mean?,” I asked.
“Yes,” she nodded.
“Your eyes are lovely,” I affirmed.
I affirm each child as they tell me what they like about themselves.
And as I rolled the last section of hair it occurred to me that that is precisely why sixth graders love my talk.
I am God for them.
More precisely I am the part of God who delights in them.
Later in the lesson, as I point out the land mines that are lurking in adolescence, I am God’s voice saying, “This is the way, walk in it.”
And they appreciate knowing what’s what.
Later this morning, the bearers of the cross, the giant gold Bible, and the lanterns processed midway down the aisle and stopped, just as they do every Sunday. The Bible was opened and the deacon read from the gospels. And I love it. I love that the procession into the aisle represents Jesus coming among us. Jesus telling us His good news – not from afar, but from within our midst.
I jotted in my bulletin, “I want to bring an aspect of God whenever I speak – mercy, compassion, love, grace, guidance, delight.”
Wouldn’t that be something?
To bring God’s delight within a midst?
To leave each person with a sense that God finds him/her delightful?
Mr. Rogers was good at that.
I think I’ll make it my prayer.
For now, I’ll ask you what I always ask them:
What 3 things do you like most about your appearance?
What 3 things do you like most about your character/inner beauty?
Praise God from whom all blessings flow,
Praise Him all creatures here below,
Praise Him above ye heavenly host,
Praise Father, Son and Holy Ghost.
If you know anything about Dixie, you know that she was diagnosed with colon cancer in February.
If you don’t know anything about her, it’s time to catch up:
When I last wrote about my friend, I was cooking like her life depended on it.
And wondering whether she would be incontinent forever.
But then the blessings began to flow on two creatures here below.
On a little beagle and me.
Dixie is now pooping like a champ – well, almost like a champ. And that is a huge blessing right there.
But there’s more.
Wednesday morning I took her for the 4th of 6 chemo treatments – each 3 weeks apart. As per the protocol, her oncologist did an ultrasound and some chest x-rays prior to the treatment to make sure the treatments have been working. If not, he’d switch to something else.
The ultrasound results?
There is no sign of recurrence in her bowels or lymph nodes – lymph nodes are all of normal size.
The doc said a radiologist would look at her chest x-rays to confirm but he saw nothing obvious on them.
So he proceeded with injection number four.
And then yesterday his assistant called with the radiologist’s findings:
Her lungs are completely clear!
Good food, exercise and chemo are keeping the cancer at bay.
And Love. Lots of Love.
Love is healing her.
Praise God from whom all blessings flow…
She’ll get the final two injections and then she’ll be monitored from there.
Hopefully for many happy, healthy years to come…
I saw God once. He was sitting on a throne and He looked pleased. Contented. As though there were no terrorism or exploitation or child/animal/spouse abuse or abortion or addiction or disease.
He was smiling as though all is right with the world.
From His perspective, perhaps it is.
Perhaps what makes the world right in His eyes is not our behavior, but His.
He sits with a serene smile because all is right in His world.
We mock Him in our world and He loves us in His.
We exploit and terrorize here, He redeems and forgives there.
His conscience is clear because He has always done the right thing.
So He smiles.
I was a little like that when I was young, smiling at the world with a soft heart.
But somewhere along the way my smile became based on the behavior of others.
I was only as content as my husband was faithful, my child was grateful, my friends were loyal.
As my contentment became based upon things I could not control, I stewed more than I smiled.
I stewed because people aren’t being how they’re supposed to be.
I’ve been wanting to get back to smiling, even at an ugly world, and God has shown me how He does it.
He doesn’t smile because we are being how we’re supposed to be.
He smiles because He is faithful.
He smiles because He is grateful.
He smiles because He is loyal.
And because He has redemption up His sleeve.
“Look at them,” Jesus said as He looked out over the crowds of rich, poor, healthy, lame, righteous, grateful, unrighteous, ungrateful, faithful, adulterous, loyal betrayers at the start of Matthew chapter 5, “Blessed are they.”
“Blessed are they because I am here to do the right thing.”
And He did.
And now He smiles.
And I want to smile with Him.
Blessed are we.
One day you’re living in Hintzville, going for a warm, sunny walk and a week later you’re under the knife.
Last post I told you what I know about Dixie’s history. What I didn’t tell you is that she has had varying amounts of blood in her stool since the day we adopted her. Every stool, every day.
Finally, after multiple trips to the vet and two rounds of blood and stool tests to rule out parasites and infections, we were referred to a specialist for an ultrasound.
The ultrasound revealed a mass in her colon. And an enlarged lymph node. And a small spot on her spleen.
So at 8:00 this morning I dropped her off at the hospital for a colonoscopy – to give the internal medicine specialist and the surgeon a look at what they’re dealing with from the inside.
While she’s still under anesthesia she’ll go directly into surgery. To remove the mass and resection her bowel. And, if she hasn’t been under too long at that point, the surgeon will remove the lymph node and her spleen, too.
Just got a call from the hospital. They are about to begin. It will be about two hours. The surgeon will call when he’s finished.
I hung up the phone, got on my knees and asked God to fill the operating room. I asked Him to give the specialist and the surgeon insight and knowledge and skill beyond what they have. I asked Him to give the surgeon creativity in approaching the mass – since it is partially behind her pubis and difficult to access. I’m praying he’ll get clean margins without having to split her pelvis.
I’m praying the mass is not malignant. I’m praying it isn’t any kind of cancer at all. It’s possible that it’s a stricture. I sure hope so.
I’m praying for no complications.
I’m praying that the resection will not come apart one day and dump feces into her abdomen.
I’m praying she will heal quickly and live another happy, healthy five years. At least.
If it is a malignant cancer, the surgeon said worst case scenario she’ll have 3-4 months, best case she’ll have 1-2 years.
I’m praying it isn’t cancer.
I’m praying I don’t have to muster the strength, beg God for the strength, to walk another friend down this road again so soon.
I’ve already fallen in love with Dixie.
And I’m still missing Bebe.
I told you last week that Dixie had been bounced around a lot this last year after her “mom” moved into a nursing home. And that made it really heartbreaking to leave her this morning.
So I’m asking God to hold her close, to whisper in her soft, floppy little beagle ear that she hasn’t been abandoned. That she is deeply loved and she will be going home to Hintzville.
Just got a call from the surgeon. The colonoscopy showed that it is a mass, not a stricture.
Dixie’s being prepped for surgery and he’s heading into the OR.
Praying he gets it all.
Praying it’s benign.
Praying she heals well.
Praying, praying, praying.
And feeling sick.
Solomon told us to remember our Creator while we are young – before the days of trouble come.
“Remember Him,” he wrote, while you can still see and hear.
Remember Him while your spirit is still attached to your body,
while you can still offer up prayer
and your body can still hold the Holy Spirit.
Remember Him while you still have the strength to draw Living Water.
Remember Him before you are dust.
Of course, he put it poetically:
“Remember him—before the silver cord is severed,
and the golden bowl is broken;
before the pitcher is shattered at the spring,
and the wheel broken at the well,
and the dust returns to the ground it came from,
and the spirit returns to God who gave it.” Ecclesiastes 12
Today I was reading John 14 and I understood a few of Jesus’ words in a new way. Thanks to Solomon and Jeremiah.
“My people have committed two sins: They have forsaken me, the spring of living water, and have dug their own cisterns, broken cisterns that cannot hold water.” Jeremiah 2:13
Here’s what Jesus said that I think I finally get:
“Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father.” John 14:12
What can be greater than raising Lazarus from the dead? Feeding multitudes with a few fish and loaves? Healing leprosy, blindness, crippling physical and mental diseases with just a touch or a word? Forgiving sins?
I can’t do any of those things. Except forgive sins. I can forgive sins that are committed against me. But only if God works it out in me.
And that’s the point.
Jesus said that He only said what He heard the Father saying and He only did what he saw His Father doing.
So it’s not that I’ll do greater things than Jesus did, it’s that the things God does through me are much more impressive than the things He did through Jesus because Jesus was perfect and I am not.
I am a broken cistern, barely able to keep the Holy Spirit from leaking completely out. Actually, I’m more like a clogged pipe – full of debris that hinders the flow of the Spirit.
When the Father worked through Jesus He was working through the perfect human being. When He works through us He’s using damaged tools, dull blades, dim bulbs and clogged pipes.
And even so He is able to create masterpieces of love and good deeds.
Kinda’ makes me want to give Him ALL the glory.
A few weeks before Christmas my daughter texted me a picture of Sorel Slimpack II Waterproof Boots – in case I needed a gift idea.
I had already bought her gifts but I was tempted to buy just one more. Except the hub said we needed to scale back this year due to all the vet bills. So I resisted.
The Monday before Christmas I stood at the pharmacy counter with a prescription for a colonoscopy prep kit – the same kind my husband used back in October when he had his colonoscopy. The kind that is a lot easier to take than the Golytely jug I’ve used in the past.
“Your insurance doesn’t cover this one,” the pharmacist said, “it will be $100.”
“What?” “Is that how much my husband paid back in October?”
She checked her computer.
“He paid $86, he had a coupon. I’ll try applying that same coupon code to yours.”
With the coupon it would be $91. The price must have gone up she said.
“Is there another kind that my insurance will cover?”
She advised me to call the doc’s office and ask them to authorize a switch.
Golytely. The dreaded 4 litre jug.
Dreaded but 100% covered.
I texted the hub. He said go ahead and pay the $91.
But then I remembered the boots. I was willing to suffer for the boots.
So I took home the jug.
The day after the colonoscopy I went to Nordstrom to purchase the boots – for $145.
“I thought I saw them on sale on your website for $114,” I said, as the clerk rang them up.
As I was leaving the mall I spotted the same boots at another store – on sale for $109.
Back to Nordstrom to return, then back to Journeys to buy.
Those 8 hours of gut-wrenching misery – literally – paid for all but $18 of the boots. The hub could live with it.
As we were heading to the theater to see the matinee showing of La La Land the day after Christmas, I told my daughter the story of the boots – my own small version of the Gift of the Magi. Not because I wanted a medal or anything, but because I wanted her to know the depth of my love. And because giving a sacrificial gift felt so good, I thought receiving one might feel good, too. Judging by the expression on her face at the end of my story, I think it did.
Same Love, Different Scenario
That evening, after dinner, I said, “Time for family goodness.” (“Family goodness” = all of us taking the friends for a walk. One of us takes the hound, another takes the beagle and the third is on bag duty…”)
“It’s almost dark,” the hub said, sitting comfortably on the sofa watching some sort of sport on tv.
“Bring a flashlight,” I replied.
My daughter didn’t say anything, but the look she flashed revealed that she wasn’t thrilled either.
It was a rare 50 degree day in December and I didn’t want to miss the opportunity to walk the little beagle. She cannot tolerate the cold anymore and getting oxygen to her lungs is so important. I had been waiting all day for the rain to stop so we could take her. It was still drizzling when I made my announcement, but it was getting dark and the window was closing.
“Come on,” I said.
As my daughter put on her coat she said, “You’re never going to be satisfied with the manner in which I parent your granddogs.”
“I just won’t come over,” I replied.
She continued, “Because I’m going to treat my dogs just like the rest of the country does.”
It snowed 8 inches the weekend before Christmas. I bundled the beagle up and took her for a walk a few days later when the temp rose to 32 degrees. She begged to romp through the woods. “Sorry, little Be,” I said, “but your legs are too short, your belly will drag through the snow and you’ll get too cold.” I promised her that once the snow diminished enough we would take a walk through the woods.
And on that rainy, 50 degree day after Christmas when the snow was just about gone, we did.
The five of us took a walk through the woods, the hub carrying a flashlight and me using the flashlight on my iPhone.
It felt good to keep a promise.
It felt good to take my friends for a damp, drizzly, sacrificial walk in the woods.
It’s all the same.
I thought about my daughter’s comments as I was unloading the dishwasher the next morning.
It’s all the same love, baby girl, I thought. The same quality of love that bought your boots kept its promise to the Be.
It’s that way with God, too. The quality of His love is always the same – whether He is extending it to the saint or the sinner.
It isn’t about how lovable we are, it’s about how able to love He is.
And I so love Him. ❤