Eighteen days

Tuesday morning, I was delivered a ton of bricks in the face by my daughter. So to speak.

She said joyfully, “Oma and Opa will be here three weeks from tomorrow!”

My parents (aka Oma & Opa) will be taking care of the kids while their daddy has a brain tumor removed. In eighteen days.

This sudden reminder brought my busy day to a halt, and I sat there dumbfounded with a knot in my stomach.

On October 14, the love of my life, the better half of this ‘one flesh,’ will go through an extensive procedure to remove a “very large” tumor at Vanderbilt. It presses on his brain stem, which the surgeons will take great care to preserve. Considered one of the longest brain surgeries, it will take all day (usually 14 hours or so). Following surgery, he will be in Intensive Care for 24 hours, after which he will remain in the hospital for several more days, possibly up to a week.

Statistics reveal that he will probably have some facial weakness on one side of his face, that he will have difficulty balancing (due to the fact that the nerve which helps control balance on his right side will be necessarily severed and removed during surgery) and may need therapy. Hopefully this will be temporary. He will be completely deaf in one ear, have a large scar, and it will take him about six weeks to function somewhat normally again.

I prefer to deal with things as they come: up front, getting it out of the way, moving on. But this time, it’s not an option. I see the steamroller, and it’s 100 feet away and gaining. I know (beyond miraculous intervention from God, which He is more than capable of) that the steamroller will indeed flatten me (I speak of my emotional duress, rather than my husband’s physical pain, which will surely be incomparably worse. This is my own perspective).

I also have the extraordinary advantage that I know I will recover. But that does not remove the flattening.. It will be painful, recovery will be slow, but once we pass this hurdle, life will go on virtually intact.

My choices are at the moment to either watch the giant, looming threat bear down on me, or look around and enjoy the scenery around me as I wait.

On that note, the scenery is pretty spectacular. We have seen the hand of God moving on our behalf, we have felt His presence when fear threatens to overwhelm. We have found His grace to be sufficient even at moments like this–especially at moments like this.

and somehow, I must say, there’s no place I’d rather be than here, less than 100 feet away from an advancing steamroller. This is where God is.

I have prayed many times that God make me into the person He wants me to be. This slow, painful wringing-out of my reserve seems unbearable sometimes, yet I know it is with express purpose. He must increase, and I must decrease. His plan is what matters, He’s the Author of our story–and the finisher! In His mercy, He has let us in on the secret: that the end of the story is good, and we have much to look forward to!

So, trembling a bit, I observe the scenery, knowing the God who made it is faithful, and He doesn’t make mistakes.

The God I know loves me too much to prevent what is good for me.

The Map and the Compass

I am repeatedly struck by the absolute necessity of balance in the Christian life:
that is, balance between the Word and the Spirit.

To clarify, it is my belief that one needs the Word of God–that is, the Bible itself–and the constant flow of the Holy Ghost to navigate this life.

I once heard it put so eloquently:

The Bible is the map, and the Holy Ghost is the compass.

With the map, you see where you need to go, and the general impediments and route that you must take to get there.
The compass identifies where you are in relationship to the map.
Without one, the other is useless.

“Marvel not that I say unto you, you must be born again!”

These words were spoken by Jesus to Nicodemus, a man well educated in the Scripture (to that point, namely the Law), yet not yet acquainted with the Holy Ghost baptism & New Birth. The extensive knowledge he had of the ‘map’ was not enough! He needed to be born again. He needed the Compass, the tool by which ‘all things, yea, the deep things of God‘ are explored.

The Holy Ghost enables us to unearth the treasures of Scripture; It leads us into all truth!

The Word of God defines, divides, identifies absolutes in black-and-white, and the Holy Ghost shows you your position on the map.

Spiritual GPS! 🙂

the best investment

I can be rather selfish with my time. I tend to prefer not to commit to anything until I feel like it’s either absolutely necessary, or just that great of an idea to spend that much time on.

The drawback in this quirk of mine is that sometimes, having been noncommittal about whether I plan to do ‘x’, I’ve made no other plans either, and end up spending time on nothing.

It’s like the twenty in your pocket that gets whittled down into a dollar and you have no recollection of how it all got spent.

But if you had made plans for that twenty before leaving it in your pocket and proceeding with your day, it might have gone to something useful. It might have been invested in something worthy, which might have brought a return down the road.

Even greater, I’m convinced, is the value of time. If I decide not to commit to spending two hours studying, those two hours are likely to be splintered into fragments of random nothings…internet fluff, daydreaming, magazine thumbing. And now, I’m two hours poorer.

God, please help me to remember that today is fleeting…that you can’t bless what I’m not doing, and that an investment of time is the most valuable one I can make.

You are what you eat

Your body can only handle so much unhealthy junk before it–er–rejects it. If it’s in small enough doses, it processes it as best it can, though cancer and disease may well be down the road.

This is the danger of ’empty calories’* and overprocessed food that has seen much change since it left the grower (if it can even be traced back that far). There’s so little nutritional value left in it that it does more harm than good.

*Ah, the myth of ’empty’ calories… they’re not really empty, are they? They are actually packed with toxins and chemicals and synthetic residue ready to cake our insides with filth.

(And am I the only one who looks at the small print and is a bit incredulous that what was supposed to be cheese is really “processed food product”?)

See the parallel? (“She’s gonna turn this into something spiritual, isn’t she?” Yup.)

Have we gorged ourselves for so long on the pre-packaged, hyper-emulsified, low-sodium version of the Original that we have completely lost our taste for the Real Thing?

And YES, He’s REAL. (Whew! I could take that rabbit trail right now. But I digress..)

Hosea was an Old Testament prophet to the Northern Kingdom of Israel. In the 12th chapter, he writes,

Ephraim feedeth on wind, and followeth after the east wind: he daily increaseth lies and desolation; and they do make a covenant with the Assyrians, and oil is carried into Egypt.

He was speaking to the ten tribes of Israel, admonishing them for making alliances with Egypt, and espousing its idolatry. Note that while they were ‘feeding on wind,’  it wasn’t simply air they were taking in–it was the spiritual poison of idolatry. In fact, the reference to the “east wind” here points to “the simoon, blowing from the desert east of Palestine, which not only does not benefit, but does injury. Israel follows not only things vain, but things pernicious.” (JFB Bible Commentary)

An important point here, I think, is that often we view time spent on entertainment as time simply lost or wasted. More likely, not only have we wasted time; we have exposed our minds to the unfruitful works of darkness, that which does not edify God…we’ve been ‘feeding on wind.’

What seems a harmless indulgence is rarely harmless, or without serious consequences. Truly hungry, we make a hasty choice and gorge ourselves, feeling full for a moment, but few minutes pass before we are hungry again. Synthetic* goes in, never satisfying, and the spiritual man starves.

This has not only to do with entertainment, but includes various theological arguments that carry little weight and take the Bible out of context.

*synthetic = teachings that vaguely resemble biblical truth, but upon closer inspection, are found to be full of error. These include ‘heaven on earth’ theology, prosperity doctrine, and the sloppy tolerance, greasy grace idea.

What am I saying? I am saying:

Beware of anything that adds its own spin to Biblical principles, distorting the Truth. Do not eat it. This is your bread, and it must at all costs be without artificial additives, and it must be the whole loaf. Eat that which is pure, and you will be pure. Eat that which is holy, leaving nothing out, and you will be holy.

Beware of the all-consuming addiction to entertainment that would steal every free moment and starve your soul.

God, please let me carefully consider what I’m feeding my spirit, and let me refuse the food of convenience that, not only empty of Your Truth, would also poison my soul. Rather, let me choose the ‘sincere milk of the Word,’ and the meat you prepare for me. Let your presence be my rest, and my entertainment above reproach.

Let me be vigilant, too, about what my children are eating. They depend on me completely for their sustenance.

Truth and originality

Even in literature and art, no man who bothers about originality will ever be original: whereas if you simply try to tell the truth (without caring twopence how often it has been told before) you will, nine times out of ten, become original without ever having noticed it.

C. S. Lewis (emphasis mine)

Homeschooling Tips from Gospelmom

First things first. Always start with prayer, Bible reading, and Scripture memorization, no matter what. This has a huge impact on the rest of your day, and shows your children what matters most. We use the One Year Bible for Children and learn one verse per week (of my choosing).

Cover the basics. Bible, Math, Language Arts. That’s it. Don’t worry too much–at least at first–about all the electives. It’s very easy to get overwhelmed about all you could teach your children. Just get the “Three R’s” covered, and supplement with ‘living books’ to peak their interest in further subjects.

Follow the rules (state laws). Every state has different laws that pertain to homeschooling: you may need only to select a church-related school, or you may have to jump through flaming hoops on roller skates (hopefully the former). Go to the HSLDA website to find out what your state requires.

Have a plan. Decide now how much of each subject you want to accomplish per week, and estimate how long it will take. Think about how this will fit into your day. A great book to help find a schedule that works is Managers of Their Homes by Steve and Teri Maxwell. I use this, and love it.

Find a network. Google your city and “home school support group” and see what comes up. You may also consider an online support group or email loop, where you can ask questions and partake in discussions about everything homeschool-related. Yahoo groups are a good resource. I can’t stress enough how much it helps me to bounce things off other homeschooling moms. We’re all in this together!

Study. To put it in perspective, people spend years studying how to teach one age group–even one class! You will be teaching your child every subject, and if you’re like most homeschool families, multiple levels at the same time. Research what’s out there and available to help you teach, and to inspire your kids to learn. You can do it!

Housework is schoolwork. Don’t underestimate the power of a chore done right! Your children will learn the pleasure of consistency and neatness by doing laundry, math/measuring by helping you cook, physics by vacuuming and biology by disinfecting toilets…;)

You’re in control. Too much too soon? Slow down. Are your kids bored to death? Speed up. It’s your foot on the gas.

It’s OK to quit. If you decide a certain curriculum isn’t working for you, stop using it and find what works. This is why you homeschool!

Foot off the brake! There are lots of ‘right’ ways to teach a given concept, and there are innumerable online resources to tell you how. Decide which direction you’re going, and hit the gas. Just do it!

Pat yourself on the back. You’re doing a good work, and though it’s not easy, it’s worth it!

Kidisms

DD (dear daughter, age 5), at breakfast:
“Mommy, can I have second dessert?”

Me: “Do we really have second desserts?”

DD: “I’m just kidding. Can I have a donut?”
Teehee!

I asked the same DD the other day what the Ten Commandments were. Her response:

“Um, hear O Israel,
you shall not steal,
You shall not murder,
You shall not rip people apart… umm,…
You shall milk the cows, or the pigs, or whatever state you’re in.”

By this point, I was laughing too hard to hear the rest. 🙂

What I tell my kids about Healing

God is the Healer…

All have sinned and come short of the glory of God. (Rom.3:23)
The wages of sin is death. (Rom. 6:23)
It is appointed unto man once to die, and then the judgment. (Hebrews 9:27)

So from the moment we’re born, we’re on a road toward death. It’s every person’s lot. But still, when we’re hurt or get sick, many times we recover. Why is this, when the sin in our bloodline has marked us for the grave?

Isaiah 53:5 “He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities. The chastisement of our peace was upon Him, and with His stripes we are healed.”

This means that because Jesus paid our penalty, He miraculously heals people all the time from horrible pain and sickness. People have even been raised from the dead.

It also means that every time even a little cut heals, rather than following the slope of illness toward death, our body recovers just as miraculously, because of Jesus. When we come through a nasty cold or flu, His stripes have prevented our death. The effect of sin has been effectively rolled backward for a time.

Why does it matter that we get better, if we’re all going to die anyway?
It is the mercy of God that delays the consequence of our sin in hopes that we will look to the One who endured the Cross on our behalf. (Hebrews 12:2)

Doctors have some knowledge and tools to treat sickness and pain, but God is the One who heals.

The fact that we are healed at all, from any diease or injury, is direct evidence to the God who heals. That our bodies, appointed to die, can recover, is a gleaming image of mercy…

The hand that could crush us at any moment rather covers and protects us, touching wounds and wiping away illness, just so that we can see Him and lift our eyes to Him.

You think this is an over-spiritualizing of the natural process of life and the progress of medicine? Let’s not forget that the “heavens declare the glory of God, and the firmament shows His handiwork.” (Psalm 19:1)

Look around you…the elements are saturated with His presence, and His fingerprints are everywhere. All of creation obeys His command, operating in a constant rhythm of instinct that He placed in every particle. He is Truth, and the source of all knowledge. The fact that He shares some of that with doctors–those who diligently seek truth–is testament to His grace.

As we head to Vanderbilt next month, I am so thankful for His grace that has allowed us the advances in medicine to treat something like a brain tumor. In centuries past, this would be a horrible descent to an early death, and an unspeakable tragedy for all who love my husband (and there are many).

But God has made the miraculous possible: to remove this ugly thing and live a virtually normal life thereafter. Our hope is in God, the Healer, the author and finisher of our faith.

Please shoot me

if you ever catch me using these words/phrases:

maneurisms“…that is, a mispronunciation of “mannerisms” confused with “aneurism.” I’ve only heard this used once, and it was shocking and appalling. Painful, actually. How would you even define such a word?

I don’t care to…” Do you not mind, or do you not want to? I’m confused. (this is a southern thing, I think)

irregardless.” Sigh. I hope I don’t need to explain this one.

I could go on and on…” Well, why don’t you? In specifics. No? You can’t remember details? I thought so.

I said all that just to say…” hmm..why didn’t you just say the short version an hour ago?

To make a long story short…” see above.

“Needless to say…” again, see above.

Tremendous!” This is only acceptable when combined with a Plankton voice (from Spongebob).

But anyway…” this is only irritating when used more than three times in one sentence.

Like I said…” If what you’re about to say is just like you said a minute ago, I probably don’t need/want to hear it again.

There are lots more, I’m sure…these are just some that come to mind at the moment. Stay tuned for updates. 😉