a huge milestone day for my sis and our family

DSC_0004Over 7 years ago, my sister, Donna, had a massive stroke. She was 50 and her life changed forever. For  5+ years, she lived in assisted living facilities before moving in with her daughter and 2 grandchildren about 20 months ago. Today, she is flying with her daughter to MN where she will begin life again, this time with her oldest son, his wife and 3 young children.

I’m very proud of Donna and thankful for the steps she continues to take to recover. I’m proud of my mom who has been Donna’s primary cheerleader and caregiver during these challenging years. And, I’m thankful for Donna’s children who have opened their family lives to provide a home for her. We aren’t a perfect family, and we’ve never had a stroke victim before, so we’ve had many lessons to learn and relearn. God’s grace has taken us so far and I believe His grace will carry Donna and all of us so much farther.

Leaving her WA family behind~ Mom, daughter Jessica, son Caleb, and Jessica’s two precocious twins

 

 

 

 

a really great prayer

” Jesus have mercy on me,” the blind man called, even when others told him to be quiet.

“Jesus have mercy on us,” my family calls today as we prepare for my sister’s move from her life-long home to MN tomorrow. Saying goodbye is never easy…

“Jesus have mercy on our friends,” we pray for the family of our young friend who lost her battle with cancer last night.

“Jesus have mercy on our nation,” we pray as we watch a crazy election cycle, racism and injustice, and incredibly needy people suffer in our country.

“Jesus have mercy on our world,” we pray as we hear of atrocities, tragedies, disasters that impact real-life people.

IMG_7681“Have courage, He’s calling for you,” we’re encouraged by those who also cry “Have Mercy!” Invited into His presence we hear Him say, “What do you want Me to do for you?” And we answer, “Jesus, we want….” and fill in the blanks with the needs we experience and see.

Will He answer us as He answered the Blind Man? “Go, your faith has made you well.” Maybe that is what we want, what we really need: Faith.

Jesus have mercy on us… we want faith.
May we cry out to Him today,
may we ask for what we really need,
and may we walk into our lives knowing
He is with us and will never leave us~ we are not alone;
He will equip us for whatever challenge comes;
and in Him we can have His joy even when sorrow is kissing us.

(Reflection from Mark 10: 46-52)

sometimes, we have no idea what we ask….

Yesterday’s six-hour flight from Newark to Seattle seemed too long to me. I fidgeted and just wanted the flight to be over. If I could have gone to the front of the plane and spoken to the pilot, I would have said something like, “I want you to do what I ask.” 

The pilot might have replied, “What do you want?”

I would have said, “I just want this flight to be over!”

And the pilot would have looked at me, shook his head and said, “You don’t know what you are asking.” My request would have ended in death….

James and John went to Jesus with a serious but very silly request in Mark 10. Right after Jesus had explained that they were going to Jerusalem where He would die and live again, these two brothers ignored His Gospel message and said to Jesus, “We want you to do what we ask you.”

“What do you want?” Jesus replied.

“We want to rule with you,” they answered. That’s when Jesus told them they had no clue what they were asking. Their request, though they thought it would end in power, would ultimately lead to their deaths.

Like these two brothers, when we talk to Jesus, our prayers are often focused on ourselves; our needs and wants. I wonder how many of my prayers reveal that I have no clue what I’m asking because I’ve ignored Jesus’ Good News and have focused on myself, my needs, my desires; that my prayers are really asking for death and not life because I have no clue what I’m really asking for.

So, I’m spending a little time examining my prayers, asking Jesus to teach me to pray Gospel centric prayers rather than self-focused prayers. I’m grateful He wants to teach me how to pray.DSC_0030 (1)

 

 

 

there will be life at the end of the journey…

IMG_7675Tomorrow, Kevin and I fly to WA for 10 days with family and friends. Though we are thankful for this trip, we know there are going to be some very sad parts to this visit.

My sister, Donna, is moving to MN to live with one of her sons and his family. Leaving will be hard for her even as she is thankful for the home Matt and Martha will provide for her.

My mom will be saying another really hard goodbye. After several years of helping my sister live her stroke impacted life, she will be removed from Donna’s day-to-day life. This will be tough. But even harder will be not being able to see Donna regularly.

This goodbye will be traumatic for all of us, but especially Mom and Donna. It will come with a lot of loss and grief.

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But… that’s not all… Donna’s move will also bring a new life and new opportunities for her. And, even for my mom, the changes will bring new life from what will be a kind of death. I believe this is true because God is going with both of them.

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Jesus knows all about journeys like this. In Mark 10, He tells His followers that they are going to Jerusalem. He foretells the suffering and death He will experience:

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He will be delivered to His enemies
He will be condemned to death
He will be handed over to His killers
He will be mocked and spit on and scourged
He will be killed

But…that’s not all… He will rise again. Life will come from His death

And because He lives,
we can
live our journeys
that sometimes feel like death…that sometimes include death.

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What journey are you facing?
Is there discomfort?
Things like death? Death?
Can we embrace the journey knowing we do not go alone?
Jesus goes with us.
He never ever leaves us alone.
He says, “We are going…”
To whatever our Jerusalem is…
And, can we believe, trust and hope that
at the end of the journey,
because He is with us,
there will be Life?
Yes
We can!

I don’t have anything to complain about…

DSCF9742I read the headlines and realize, I have nothing to complain about. 500 migrants fleeing for their lives may have drowned at sea this week. Many people lost their lives or loved ones in Japan’s and Ecuador’s earthquakes. 207 people were killed by gunmen in Ethiopia, including 40 people who share the same church affiliation as I do. What do I have to complain about?

Nothing. Really. Nothing.

DSCF9745A friend will say her final goodbyes within days. Friends and family are facing many challenges that are incredibly disappointing and hurtful. What do I have to complain about?

Nothing. Really. Nothing.

Then, what do I do with my own painful, annoying, frustrating things? If I have nothing to complain about, how do I vent? How do I process? What do I do to blow off steam if I don’t deserve a pity party?

IMG_0618First- it helps to remind myself of all I have to be thankful for. There are so many gifts in my life- like our visitors this week. But, honestly- gratitude isn’t enough for me. It helps but I also….

Cast
as in give
release
throw
all
every single one
of my cares
things I worry about
things that annoy me
things that drive me crazy
DSCF9740upon Him
my God
my Savior
My Healer, Redeemer, best Friend
because He
the Almighty God
my Heavenly Father
cares for me
the one who has nothing
absolutely nothing
to complain about
1 Peter 5:7

And, I ask God to let me see His perspective. Somehow, with a bit of honest effort on my part, He takes my cares and comforts me with His care. From that place  of being cared for, He is able to help me see my pain from His perspective, and grow in trust that He is holding everything together…. my stuff, your stuff, their stuff….

 

we’re imperfectly happily married….

Yesterday, someone complimented me on my marriage to Kevin. She reflected that through all of our moves and the times that have been tough, we’ve had each other, and we do each other pretty well. She’s right. Kevin and I are really into each other and care deeply for one another and our marriage. Not a day goes by that we don’t pray for each other and our relationship, and, almost everyday, we both have opportunities to choose to love well, instead of live selfishly.

IMG_7660Yesterday was our Sabbath day and Kevin took me on a great bike ride. As I puttered in the house, he aired our bike tires, mounted them on the car, planned our route and took care of all the details for our ride. While we were driving, I joked that being married to Kevin is like being married to a butler, handyman, economist, bookkeeper. I have to say I’m very pampered and he makes me feel incredibly cherished.

More than the things Kevin does for me and our marriage, I appreciate our friendship. We really can be “naked and unashamed” with each other. Recently, I had to confess something to Kevin. As he listened and didn’t become angry or judge me, Kevin provided a safe place for me to be me, in all my imperfection. As I repented, he forgave and then he restored me by welcoming us to begin again. Our friendship allows us to be still with each other or talk till late. Our daily walks anchor our relationship to God as we pray together, health as we exercise together, and to each other as we share about our days. We really have a good thing going… and we know how much we have to be thankful for!

IMG_7657These are all great things, but as we lay in bed last night and talked about my friend’s observation, we both admitted that our marriage is far from perfect. Each of us has blind spots and areas of weaknesses that take us in negative directions like selfishness. We can be just as messy as any other couple, but our commitment to pray for each other and our relationship seems to keep us out of the deepest, darkest mess.

God really has held us together over our 42 years of marriage. He is the One Who has taught us how to do life with each other and our family. Through His generosity, we’ve been given everything we need for life and godliness. In our neediness, we’ve taken all He has given and benefitted from His love and grace in huge ways. How grateful we are to God for the gift of our marriage!