good but hard friday, harder saturday

April 7, 2012 § Leave a comment

saturday. a day of rest. the Sabbath.
the Sabbath was designed by God to remind of us on our dependence and rest in Him.

but that saturday, 1 day after Jesus died, the day He lay still and cold in a tomb, what an unbelievably hard day for His family, His friends.
they must have struggled to remember each word He spoke, like sorting through a massive jigsaw puzzle and trying to understand how they go together. and then discovering this horrible shaped piece, this crucified and dead piece, how does that fit in?
the presence of His absence must have been overwhelming.
how difficult to grieve for Him but also to be at such a loss to understand.

in the shadow of His horrific death, how hard to rest and trust, to Sabbath.
and how very much like our lives.

we struggle to make sense of what happens in our lives and just like the first disciples and friends of Jesus,

what we need is not fuller knowledge but fuller trust.

Easter is at work in the darkness, in the grave, in what appears to be dead and hopeless.

God does His most magnificent work in the dark, dead places.
the beauty of redemption lays hidden, waiting to explode in it’s Easter glory.


twenty-five to celebrate twenty-five

August 2, 2011 § 5 Comments

today is our twenty-fifth wedding anniversary! as a young bride (with dark brown hair!) i could not imagine how much more i could love him. but i do.
here are twenty-five things i love about david…

1. the first time he held my hand was as we crossed the street, for my “personal safety.” he has been my safe place ever since.

2. he introduced me to the city i love the most in the world, nyc, by taking me there to ask me to marry him.

3. he braved the flea infestation of the home i lived in when we were dating.

4. he knew a two week honeymoon with one week worth of activity was the way to start our marriage.

5. he knew you could love some one to wholeness through deep, dark struggles.

6. he agreed “bubba” was not an acceptable name for our first child.

7. that having four kiddos in six years sounded like a great idea.

8. he loved my mom and daddy as much as me and cared for them so beautifully at the end of their lives.

9. he watched the brave little toaster, beauty and the beast, cinderella, and batman repeatedly, just to be with his kids. he is the best daddy ever.

10. he never told me how much it hurt when i gave him shots in his stomach.

11. he values laughing and crying.

12. he works through hard stuff to wholeness.

13. that new places to live and new jobs are fun instead of scary, because we’re together.

14. he was so prepared for y2k.

15. he taught me to love aliens.

16. he learned to love sports as much (ok, maybe just almost) as me.

17. he waited 10 years for me to learn to cook.

18. he found his passion in fly-fishing and that a trout can make his eyes sparkle.

19. he is willing to take risks.

20. he will go to both NASCAR races and the ballet with me.

21. he encourages the artist in me.

22. he is willing to let me decorate the house with my crazy design ideas.

23. he makes our marriage his highest priority.

24. he believes in me more than i believe in myself.

25. he loves Jesus with his whole heart and inspires me to love Him more too.

keeping my gaze on Him

July 14, 2011 § 1 Comment

fifteen years ago i was a young mom with a 6 year old, a 4 year old, a 3 year old and a 5 month old baby. (not very well thought out i admit. when we announced that we were pregnant with our 4th child in 5 years, my dad told us we needed cable tv.) david and i were approaching our 10th wedding anniversary.

and we had no idea that david had cancer.

in january of 1996 he was diagnosed with advanced testicular cancer with tumors spread to his lymph nodes, liver and lungs. that was our first experience with md anderson. the weekend he began chemo my friends prissy and elizabeth went to a women’s retreat that we had been going to every year for 5 years. but this time i stayed home and nursed a baby and a violently ill husband. i remember crying a lot that weekend.

david and max

prissy brought me something the speaker at the retreat had given out: a bunch of blue index cards with scriptures on them sealed up in a ziploc baggie, a “peace packet.” those verses became a lifeline of survival for me. since then i have given these words out to many thousands of people. many of them are permantly set on my heart.

the first verse become my favorite and one i had never taken notice of before.

isaiah 26:3
you will keep in perfect peace 

those whose minds are steadfast, 

because they trust in you.

i realized i could do something with my thoughts, i could turn them to Him and then i would experience peace. here’s what that looked like:

at night while all the kiddos and david were sleeping, i would wake up afraid…that he was going to die and i would be alone with four kids to raise. and my mind would begin creating this little scenario as a horrible reality in my head. gently, the Spirit would remind me, isaiah 26:3, turn your thoughts to Me, to what is true. i would stop thinking about all the terrible ways life could turn and instead focus on the promises of God, that He would never leave me…that He would give me everything i needed…that He could be trusted even if the worst possible thing happens…He would be with me.

and peace would settle over my fears.

of course i had to do this a kajillion times. and i still do. through all sorts of challenges from more cancer to my parents deaths to job losses and the hardest of all for me, my kids struggling. isaiah 26:3 has served as His hand of love gently turning my face from my problems to Him. i will keep my gaze on Him.

one of the hardest days in these last two months was the ct scan/pet scan day. the morning began with fasting- no coffee!! torture. when we arrived at the hospital and i started chugging my first gallon of barium (disgusting liquid chalk) there was a very chatty couple in the waiting area full of unsolicited advice for the procedures. let’s just say the word “lubricate” was said repeatedly and i very graciously wanted to punch them. after all dignity had been destroyed in the ct scan department we headed over to radiology for the pet scan. not feeling so great, i took a little visit to the restroom. as i was washing my hands i noticed a piece of paper on the counter that looked like this:

i was stunned.

i have never seen a piece of paper with scripture on it in any bathroom in my life. and certainly not that verse. it was exactly the encouragement i needed.

how gracious that He sends gentle reminders at just the right time and in some startling crazy places, like a public restroom.

so thanks random person/angel who left that verse in that bathroom, at that moment, exactly when i needed it.

i will keep my gaze on Him. He gives perfect peace.

good advice

July 7, 2011 § Leave a comment

max left yesterday morning for a trip to nicaragua. he and five other teenagers and three adults will be serving with a variety of ministries there. (check out: we are super excited for him.

as our fourth kid, max has some disadvantages (older siblings as parents/tormenters, can’t trick the parents cause they’ve seen it before, hand-me downs etc.) and some advantages (we’re pretty laid back and don’t worry much. which really means, we’re old and tired.) our three older kids have been on many similar trips all over the world. so as we drove to the airport we gave max our standard good advice when traveling abroad:

1. don’t eat anything you find on the ground.
2. don’t get married or start a family.
3. don’t get any tattoos.

feel free to use this good advice for your own kids.

things i learned from the poodles about life and faith

July 5, 2011 § 1 Comment

1. rest as much as possible. you never know when a squirrel may threaten your safety or a ball may be tossed; resting makes the jumping and running easier.

2. be on the lookout for treasures. you never know where special treats might be found. even in trash cans. something wonderful might come disguised as garbage.

3. everyone is wonderful. no one is a stranger. they are just friends you haven’t met yet. whoever is knocking at the front door is fantastic. it is super thrilling to have people drop by.

4. don’t worry about looking stupid. if it more comfortable to lay on your back with your legs spread or curl up tight in some warm sunshine, just do it. who cares what people think!

5. your master is the only person who really matters. run to him. do anything he asks of you. tell him over and over with tail wags and lots of kisses how much you love him. he is the best.


June 24, 2011 § 2 Comments

john 1:16
from the fullness of His grace we have all received one blessing after another.

i am so thrilled to tell you that the results from last week’s mri confirmed the surgeon’s diagnosis: a massive infection in the perotid gland and lymph node which is resolving!! the mass was smaller than on the previous mri and he expects that given a little more time it will completely heal.

no surgery!
no tumor!
no cancer!

hooray!!! this is such blessing! but really, the blessing upon blessing is already ours – it is God Himself. the outcome of these circumstances, while fantastic, is not the source of my joy. He is my joy. and while i am so grateful for this blessing, i am most grateful for Him.

i can’t even find words to tell you how much we appreciate your concern. thank you so much for your encouragement, your phone calls, texts, facebook and blog messages, emails, cards and especially your prayers. they have been His hand of grace sustaining us through these last two months. david and the kids are especially grateful for the great meals that have been given to us while i have been sick. unfortunately, they now want me to cook.

i am looking forward to writing about things He is doing around me that have nothing to do with my health! i hope you stick around here for that. click on that little button on the right hand side and you’ll get these fascinating words delivered right to your inbox!

a blessing from may: liza's graduation!

let’s do the twist!

June 20, 2011 § 3 Comments

seriously, if i had known what these last two months would entail, i would’ve started taking dramamine. twists and turns are great for roller coasters, novels and dance moves but in life, it is…disorienting! (and why is the word “drama” included in dramamine? i must look into this.)

we returned to md anderson expecting to schedule surgery to remove the tumor. but instead, the surgeon informed us that the pet and ct scans of the tumor looked “ill defined” and he was reluctant to remove it due to the resulting facial scarring and deformity. (uh, HOORAY!) he thought that it could just be a mass of infection! (more HOORAY!) he and the oncologist decided that they wanted to repeat the mri and compare those results with the mri from a month ago. i had the mri on friday and now, once again, we are again waiting on test results.

since this health crisis began on may 2nd i have seen numerous doctors, had a kajillion tests and the diagnosis attempts have gone from staph infection, abscessed tooth, perotid stone, lymph node infection, tumor indicating lymphoma, benign or malignant perotid tumor and now back to infection, potentially perotiditis. i have seen more doctors in 60 days than i have in my whole life! and i am grateful to have had all of these wonderful minds try to figure this out.

though not loving the process so much, i have loved the way i have experienced God…in waiting rooms, in lots of resting(even napping!), in mri tubes, in loss of plans and in constant weakness. He is beautifully faithful.

i think the tendency is to try to understand why this is happening and what God is trying to “teach me.” this medical mystery was not my plan for may and june. among other things, i wanted to finish the book i am writing and spend july in uganda at musana children’s home. it seemed to me that both these fit nicely with “God’s will.” why would He then allow this? i have absolutely no idea.

i can’t understand His mind but i can know His heart. and i can trust and surrender my heart to His heart. His heart can orient mine in this disorienting life…

because He builds the best, most exciting and gut-wrenching roller coaster ride lives; He writes the most thrilling, page-turning stories in our stories and He gives grace to twist and turn to the best music ever written, His song of love.

one of the blessings of our trips to houston has been spending time with david's brother john (and his dog, ellis!)

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