Today’s Goal: Low & Slow

I have this unexplainable desire to drink in every moment today.

Maybe it’s because my eldest had her first babysitting job last week. As I watched her traipse out of the house with her “fun bag” draped over her shoulder, climbing into the car of her employer for the evening, my chest tightened. Lately, conversing with friends trumps building legos with siblings. She is blossoming, learning, pulling away, coming into who God is creating her to be.

Perhaps this urge to press in sparked in Target this week as I stood in line with deodorant for our second born after catching a whiff of her passing by me earlier that day.

Possibly, this newfound margin of time that exists because all four kids can dress themselves, clean themselves, and wipe their own bottoms ushered in this fervency to mentally record the passing moments.

Whatever the cause, my mind’s ticker tape is recording “LOW & SLOW” rather than “HIGH & FAST.”

By low I mean I want to see the details that come into view when I crouch down to examine a specimen-or look into my child’s eyes.

Look at everything as though you are seeing it for the first time, with eyes of a child, fresh with wonder. Cornell

By slow I have in mind that I want to think before I answer. I want to ask another question before I rattle off. I want to move toward people in relationship rather than away from them into my own interests. I want to take that walk after dinner, rather than migrate to a chair for some indoor entertainment.

I ran across this great quote today:

Never be within doors when you can rightly be without. Charlotte Mason

Observant [children] should be put in the way of things worth observing. C.M.

I prefer us adventuring outside more than lounging inside this summer.

What if I lived out Psalm 131 this summer?

“…I am humbled and quieted in Your Presence. Like a contented child that rests on its mother’s lap, I’m Your resting child and my soul is content in You.”

Asher-happy, satisfied, content, and blessed.

What if I went LOW and SLOW with Jesus this season? Walking, moving, trusting as if Holy Spirit was perched on my shoulder. What if I only moved off my Abba’s lap when He gave me a nudge toward something or someone rather than barreling headlong into whatever nudge I conjure up at the moment.

Hence, friends, whether you are sitting on a plane traveling to your next job, or throwing in the seventh load of laundry for the day, or just turning on the lights in your office, I pray we would travel LOW and SLOW with ourselves and those around us. And I pray we move LOW and SLOW with our friend, Jesus. I pray our pace would be marked as quiet and unhurried; so much so that we actually feel in our core what it means to experience Acts 17:28:

“…in Him we live, and move, and exist…”

Dear friends, as the sun falls behind our home casting long shadows across the faces of my kids and their friends, let us drink in the quiet un-hurry of LOW and SLOW.

Running beside you,

Johanna

 

Posted in Intentional Summer, Ramblings | Leave a comment

Apparently, It’s Not About Me (Again)

This is what I know.

This morning I begrudgingly threw my legs over the side of my bed an hour after my alarm because, frankly, I wasn’t too excited to have my quiet time with Jesus. There are days I fling my covers back at the first bleat eager to cozy up with caffeine and the Bible. On these days, I thirstily search His Word and welcome His peace invading me while the sun rises. Even if that peace only lasts until the fourth child ascends the staircase.

Today was not one of those days. Perched at my kitchen table reading, writing, and drinking (just coffee, mind you) I was overcome with how tangled up I am in my own sin. I recognize I do not have two “free” thoughts strewn together during the day. That is, thoughts that are free from my own agenda, my own fleshly desires. The majority of my cogitation travels on my brain’s super highway paved by years of selfishness, self pity, and entitlement.

Super slick highway in my brain.

I was keenly aware of my encumbrances this morning because a friend of mine and I were meeting a sweet woman to pray over her in three short hours. Can I get my act together in that amount of time? Negative. How am I, a woman engulfed in my own sin, going to sit in this gentle woman’s house, lay hands on her, and expect God to answer my prayers?!

As I traveled from my dwelling to hers I thought, “God, You are going to have to show up, because I’ve got nothing. I don’t have the right formula for you to revive this lady. I don’t know the perfect verses to speak over her that will usher in healing and freedom. I feel like I am unable to grasp true freedom in my own life, how am I supposed to call it down from heaven for someone else?

So, what happens? We show up. We talk. We settle into our chairs, lay hands, close eyes and look upward. And, guess what? He. Showed. Up.

I drove away in thankful awe. It, this life and the happenings therein, have NOTHING TO DO WITH ME. IT HAS EVERYTHING TO DO WITH HIM.

As if to drive the point home, He gave me another dose this afternoon at a “cosmetic” (read: facial hair removal) appointment. Sitting among wax and papers, this warrior of a single mom and I were hugging and tearfully begging God to show up with His protection, His healing, His Husband and Father-like character in her life.

Does He stop there? Nope.

Hours later I’m sitting in a coffee shop watching the sun set because Fun Dad and Discerning Husband knew “The Look” on my face and whisked the little darlings out of my presence and onto a sledding adventure so I could be an adult for a few hours.

While listening to the first lecture for my class this semester (ironically entitled Helping Relationships) God brings an oldy, but a goody kind of friend to my chair. Moments later she and I and a new Spirit filled friend who happened to be perched alongside us are deep in prayer begging God to reach in and do what only He can do.

So at the end of a day where I woke up burdened by my own heart’s sinful pallor certain I was a useless twig destined for the fire, I am humbled and grateful to my Abba that He gives me the privilege of seeing Him work. I don’t know what He has planned for all that transpired today, but I do believe He led this day. Hence, a plan exists.

How many times must I drink in this lesson? Apparently, one more: It’s not about me at all. It’s all about Him and His glory.

These days aren’t about me striving to be good enough, sinless enough, strong enough, funny enough, smart enough, valued enough.

It’s about Him being good enough, sinless enough, strong enough and loving enough.

Why do I even write this?

Not because I’m great and did great things today. I write it because I’m a hot mess, but He is GREAT, and I believe did great things today. And I write it because next week when I am deep in my mire of my daily life again I want to remember what transpired today.

I hope this is encouraging to you, Dear Friend. Evidently, He loves us no matter what when we are His. Equally apparent is that He knows all our junk, but still thinks we are usable. So. Grateful.

For the past month, I have clung to the song featured below. I may or may not sing it in the shower, sing it out while walking our blessing of a dog (a few weird looks through windows on that one), and blare it through the radio while cooking.

I pray it blesses you, encourages you, causes you to cry the tears you’ve been shoving down deep with in you and brings you to your knees in grateful awe of our Daddy who uses us despite ourselves.

I have taken to signing off my emails the way my first dear Mentor does hers because it resonates truth within me and makes me feel like we are all in this life together.

And that is-

Running beside you,

Johanna

Posted in Life, My Heart, Ramblings | Tagged | Leave a comment

To Cherish: Lessons from a (Puked on) Linen Sofa

First off, I don’t live in a linen couch kind of life. I have four kids under 10, the two youngest being boys, and a hunting dog that refuses hunt. Dirt doesn’t stay outside. Sticky fingers aren’t detained at the table until wiped clean. Puke doesn’t hit the toilet. I don’t know why I insist that we dwell in a Pottery Barn picture.

That’s a lie. I know why I insist on it.

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Pottery Barn Picture

To set the scene, at least one of my children has been sick since Sunday past. A week of croup, phlegm, puking up phlegm, longer naps, less eating, more crying, less activity, more movies. As much as I loathe altering or (gasp!) canceling any scheduled appointments, this week was divinely timed.

The first child awoke just as I entered REM sleep with the dreaded croupy cough planting him on my lap in our bathroom inhaling the first of many steam baths. While we cuddled my heart began softening for an unexpected journey with the Lord.

This week I began asking a few new questions in my quiet time,

“How does God see me when He looks at me as a little girl?”

“What were my needs at that tender time in life?”

One by one the children have entered the infirmary that is my bedroom.

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During their convalescence, picture germs and memories spewing into the atmosphere, swirling around in the air of our home and the muck of my mind. Suffocating at times. One moment a feeling of drowning in a myriad of memories-what do I do with these? God, bring relief!

Seven days later, I am awake at 3:30am with a child who is ready for the day because he chose to fall asleep at 3:30pm yesterday. So, here I sit with my Bible and journal asking the same questions to my Father God again. Asking Him to reveal more of me to me.

This moonlit morning He breathed this phrase into my being:

THE NEED TO BE CHERISHED

If you would, digest the complete meaning with me as stated in the old Webster’s dictionary (a fav of mine).

  • to treat with tenderness & affection, give warmth, ease or comfort
  • to hold dear, to embrace with affection, to foster, encourage
  • to treat in a manner to encourage growth, by protection, aid, attendance, supplying nourishment
  • to harbor, to indulge & encourage in the mind

Guess what this old school dictionary gives as an example sentence-

1 Thessalonians 2:7 (KJV) (gotta love old school)

But we were gentle among you, even as a NURSE (mother) CHERISHETH HER CHILDREN.

AHA MOMENT: Combing repeatedly through these words the light bulbed switched on to reveal the truth: I can cherish people for who they are not what they do.

I find no REASON for the cherishing in these four explanations.

No-because you did this, I will treat you in this way-train of thought.

Just cherishing.

Just because the person is alive and can be treated thus.

JUST BECAUSE I AM CHERISHED BY A FATHER JUST BECAUSE I AM HIS DAUGHTER.

As a child, was I cherished simply because I was a daughter, a gift given by God to my parents? Was I treated with tenderness, affection, held dear, encouraged and allowed a safe harbor just because I WAS, not because I DID (or DID NOT) do something? The answer, which I assume is true for most, is sometimes yes and sometimes no.

As far back as my memory goes, I have been striving and yearning, craving and clawing for acceptance. Maybe that’s why I’m a doer. Maybe it’s not a spiritual gift, maybe being a doer first is a spiritual flaw. Because DOING without understanding just BEING seems to set all of my actions on a flimsy foundation, doesn’t it?

I asked God to meet this need in me. I asked Him to fill me with His cherishing just because I’m His daughter.

Then I thought of my own daughter, then my other daughter, then my sons. My face cringes at the countless times, I have visibly shown my un-acceptance of them to them because of a behavior of theirs. A BEHAVIOR. My gut churns at countless examples of how I cherish my children (and my husband for that matter) well….when they act in a way I deem deserving of cherishing.

God’s revealing, my admitting, my asking, His filling of something warm in my belly.

Suddenly, the opportunity to live out my newly learned lesson.

No sooner had I finished my time of cleansing and refreshing, I hadn’t even shifted in my chair, than my son, who’s been content to rest on the couch entertaining himself by drawing his letters in the air, THROWS UP ON OUR NEW LINEN COUCH.

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It isn’t just bronchial mucus. Why? Because the poor boy hasn’t eaten in 12 hours and I’m out of honey toast, so I give him what he wants-mango juice and chocolate chips, the breakfast of champions for weakened immune systems.

Instantly, I morph from holy daughter basking in the presence of my Father into Monster Mom who crushes the spirits of little kids with her disapproving eyes.

While googling how to clean such a pukey puddle off light linen, I’m fuming! How could he do this! Why didn’t he have the sense to puke over the side, or get up and go to the bathroom? He’s five years old, isn’t he?

Oh yeah, He’s five years old.

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He stands, with his head down, fingers in his mouth while I scrub, blot, mentally blame.

“I feel like you’re mad at me,” his sweet voice mumbles.

I stop scrubbing, my thoughts crumble. Is this not the perfect opportunity to cherish just because of who he is, not what he has done?! My flesh fights-fights against what the Spirit wants to restore, to redeem.

I take his innocent face in my hands and tell him I love him. I confess I am mad at him and I wish he didn’t puke on the couch. But we all make mistakes, and please forgive me and sometimes it’s hard to hold in the puke until you get to the proper place.

Isn’t it hard to puke in the proper place even as an adult? Catch my drift?

May it be that writing out the lesson will impress it upon my core more so than just leaving it on the chair in my journal.

And may it be that today, I’ll hold in my innermost parts for the first time what it truly means to be cherished by my Father in Heaven just because I’m His daughter on earth. And maybe, just maybe, that truth will fill me up to overflowing so much so that it spills over into relationship with my husband and kids.

If you are looking for a place to turn after skimming this while driving might I suggest reading through 1 Thessalonians? Five chapters of pure goodness that seeps into the cracks of broken hearts and heals.

Lastly, I don’t think life is supposed to resemble a beautiful linen sofa. I think it more resembles an ancient leather sofa filled with character cracks and wrinkles. Wrinkles made by years of people sitting, lying, jumping while talking, laughing, and crying with one another.

Let’s shoot for the leather sofa together, shall we?

And, Mom, remember when I was a teenager confidently plowing through a life filled will self inflicted activity? Do you remember standing across the table from me, looking me in the eye and telling me, “Johanna, I love you no matter what you do.”? I do. Thanks for that. I Love you too.

Posted in At Home, Life, My Heart, Parenting, Ramblings | Tagged , , | 7 Comments

My Jubilee Jesus

Learning of Jewish culture is, to me, a thick slice of warm cinnamon bread slathered with butter from the bread shop. I just can’t get enough of it. Upon partaking of it’s yumminess, I walk away full, fat, and happy.

I recently stumbled upon a website entitled HebrewsforChristians.com and got myself lost up in there, clicking away, for hours. Studying about the rich importance infused into special dates on their calendar is especially lovely to me.

Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement)

Tonight (September 22nd), for instance, actually begins the holiest day in the entire Jewish calendar, the Day of Atonement, or Yom Kippur.  Around dusk, a 25 hour fast will begin. During this time, it is customary for those participating to not eat or drink, cease from mundane tasks, attend extra services at Synagogue and most importantly, repent. Repent of all the sins that have built up throughout the year, cleanse the heart of the developed sludge that has taken residence there marring much of daily activity.

Historically, this was the day one Priest had the honor of entering the Holy of Holies to offer a blood sacrifice for himself, then for the nation of Israel. This was the day Zachariah saw an angel in that place that changed his life (Luke).

Perfectly, as these days land, Yom Kippur is the last day of The 10 Days of Awe which begins on Rosh Hashanah (Jewish New Year). The first ten days of a fresh year spent in repentance in hopes of having one’s name written in the book of life, rather than the book of death.

Lending to Yom Kippur an even greater impact, the 10 Days of Awe follow the 30 Days of Teshuvah, a complete season each fall set aside for reflection, repentance and restoration.

WHAT IF I DID THIS EACH YEAR OF MY VAPOR LIKE LIFE?

What if I set aside 40 days each year at the beginning of fall (my favorite season anyway) to cease from extra activities in order to free up space to reflect on my relationship with Jesus, my proximity to Him and His Heart.

While most family life is barreling down the freeway toward sports, extra curricular and school preparatory activities, what if I and my family took an off ramp instead sending us meandering through His beautiful creation on a lazy country road? If these precious forty days were built into the rhythm of our year, maybe, just maybe I wouldn’t miss so much of life that seems to be buzzing by me. That was my thought, anyway.

Back to Yom Kippur. This year’s celebration of this highest of holy days is particularly fantastic as many believe it is also the first day of the Year of Jubilee in the Jewish Calendar.

Year of Jubilee

Now, the Year of Jubilee just gives me goose bumps.

For 50 years men, women, children, lived, planted their fields, bought and sold property, accumulated assets, sold assets, gained and lost. Some did well for themselves. Some did poorly, so poorly in fact, they may have sold themselves into slavery just to pay the bills.

God knew this. God knows us. WE ACCUMULATE, WE GATHER DEBT. We rarely keep it simple. He figured on us needing a wild card.

Shabbat (Rabbit Trail)

Resultantly, lovingly, He built rests and resets into the ebb and flow of our quick little lives. One of them being the well known Sabbath, our Sunday, their Saturday-Shabbat. A day of rest. Warm fuzzies fill me when I read the romantic accounts of how a true Shabbat is fleshed out in community.

shabbat

Dusk hits on Friday evening, dinner is prepared, the candle is lit, family and friends gather and join in conversation, in relationship, and the calm that is contrary to the world outside their door.

Could you imagine?

Candlelight dancing on warm Challah bread, your favorite people surrounding your table. Sounds glorious, doesn’t it? Maybe some of you have this ritual imbedded within the fabric of your circle. Well Done. In that case, text me, my family and I would like to join you.

Sorry, sidetracked. Listen to me-Shabbat, Yom Kippur, Teshuvah, Jubilee-this German’s gone Jewish today, folks!

Year of Jubilee, Yes.

When the shofar blew on this day, rejoicing was heard. Debts canceled. Slaves freed. People raised their heads and went home to their family’s heritage.

Bent over the wheat, the field your sweat has watered for years-back breaking burden-then it comes. The shofar blast fills the air around you-releasing you, redeeming you, restoring you. Stand up and go home.

And this is where it gets good, friends!

JESUS IS OUR JUBILEE.

He is our blood sacrifice, our life for a life given so we can live. He paid our debts on the cross. He set us free from slavery to Satan. And when we die, we are free to go home, really HOME, our perfect home in Heaven. Is there a tear in your eye at the thought? Maybe a chill up your leg not induced by too much caffeine or the coolness of fall out your window?

Jesus releases us. Jesus redeems us from the slave market of this life. He restores us to reality, that is to really living.

How beautiful is that piece? That piece of peace. So beautiful in fact that ministries are named thus.

Yesterday we waded through the meanings of these precious celebrations in our sweet community of 46 families and haystacks of kids. Upon completion, we stood up and danced. We danced to the Newsboys song below. If you like, listen to the words, then maybe replay it, at an unreasonable volume, and then maybe sing along. It’s the goods.

Finally, may you see, feel, realize and KNOW Jesus as your Jubilee, your release into Freedom, Liberty, and true Life.

Plowing through this field of life all dirty, dusty, but in rest alongside you,

Johanna

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_MbcYyOsF50

P.S. Maybe Father God will ask you to set aside time, food, activity over the next 24 hours to “reset” your relationship with Him. If He nudges, please say yes. So much richness in the yes, I promise.

P.P.S. I realize this letter is not rife with the Scripture to back up my claims. I’m ok with that, today. If it is unsettling to you, Dear Berean, take your Bible into your lap and dig. For truths are found within in abundance.

Posted in Life, Ramblings | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Pallets + Power Tools = Peace?

Warning to you, Beautiful Reader, below you will not find the carefully chosen words of a wise and weathered mom who has mastered the spiritual art of dying to self in service to others.

Rather, an accurate synopsis of the words written would be that of a struggling heart knee deep in diapers, school books, food, and questions.

Sometimes, I am restless. OK, more than SOMETIMES.

Cabin fever comes to mind. When a person who was once in the work force decides to trade in dress clothes and routine hygiene maintenance for stain resistant duds and occasional showers during a PBS kids episode, who also home schools her progeny, cabin fever should have a different name….CABIN SUFFOCATION, perhaps?

I realize it is the timeless battle between two enemies, the Flesh and the Spirit. The internal clash between fitting in in a success saturated society versus living counter culturally as a simple servant is a war I know well and one in which I often engage.

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Please don’t misunderstand me, I adore my children.

I am grateful for this season of dwelling at home with my kids as they grow. Yet, I confess, days on end of wake up, start the coffee, just crack open the Bible as the first deary stumbles sleepily down the stairs, breakfast, chores, school, “Practice your instrument…not so fast, or I’ll make you do it again.” clean up messes, “Stop peeing in your pull up!”, lunch, “Get your finger OUT of your nose!”, more school, “Girls, please empty the dishwasher again.”, what to make for dinner, hide the chaos-dad will be home soon, “Go play outside for a while.”, “Hey, how was your day?”, dinner, family time, “No, you can’t play on the Ipad, we are bonding right now.”, get ready for bed, “Brush your teeth again, I still see food.” read Farmer Boy (our recent read aloud), pray, go to bed, ahhhhh silence….wake up one child for one last trip to the latrine, drift quickly into a coma only to awaken to the sound of a crying child, move said kid into bed with us, half doze half fight new bed intruder until the alarm sounds, wake up. Repeat makes this flight risk of a mum want to charge a plane ticket and flee.

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I admit the above picture isn’t a flattering one. Glamorous isn’t my objective, truth is. I’m often tired and disheveled as shown by the greasy orange mop dappled with gray hairs standing at attention atop my head, and the bags under my eyes that defy all makeup techniques. But, this is life right now in this season. Precious.

I have absolutely NO grounds for entertaining lies of discontentment. I know this.

Foremost, my problems are first world frivolities. “The lines have fallen to me in pleasant places…” (Psalm 16:6) often floats through my brain.

  • Kids healthy, check.
  • Husband comes home at night, check.
  • Bills paid, check. 
  • Roof over craniums, check.
  • Clothing, check.
  • Food, check.

Secondly, totally unbiblical.

Even so, as the walls began to close in around me again this past week, I scrubbed dishes, checked out to romantic comedies (the Christian woman’s porn-I swear) spawning additional feelings of unsettledness, prepared sorry excuses for meals for the family as I shoveled plastic disguised as food into my own maw, took frequent jaunts up and down our lane leaving my children to destroy the house as I begged God to haul my brain out of a very familiar rut. I begged for His eyes to replace mine. I begged for His omnipotent perspective to flood my finite inclinations.

And He answered.

Unsuspectingly, He used the elements of pallet wood and power tools as the tow ropes to drag my soul out of the tomb of self pity in which I had buried it. Utilizing a fancy that somehow I, who does not know the difference between a jig saw and a skil saw and who is equally unversed in the various personalities of wood, could create something of worth catapulted me out of the walls that were closing in on me into the vast opening of His creation that surrounds our home.

Crow bar and hammer in hand, I and my flock ambled out to the decrepit pallets beside our barn. Watching four sets of little hands wobbly pry and pound as we commenced our enterprise did not invoke feelings of peace and clarity. Strangely, yanking rusty nails from old lumber did.

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Once inside the shed out of the rain, the experimental process of wielding power tools began. Standing over aged boards awaiting their new identity my gloved hands holding a jig saw for the first time, the thought ran through my head, “Just try it.” So I did. Things happened. It wasn’t pretty.

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Yet, as the hours passed, worship music crooned, nails pounded in boards only to be pulled out again, saws buzzed, kids ran in and out with questions and exciting finds, MY MIND CLEARED, MY PACE SLOWED, MY HEART REORIENTED.

Two days later muscles that haven’t been sore in years throbbed, swollen from work and thankfulness.

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Fortuitously, Psalm 42 and 143 surfaced in my quiet times this week. It was comforting to read words written by the “friend of God” David who also struggled with his soul repeatedly-

Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me and why have you become disturbed within me? (Psalm 42)

He begged God to intervene-

Answer me quickly, O LORD! My spirit fails; Do not hide Your face from me, or I will become like those who go down to the pit.  (Psalm 143)

He reminded himself of God’s greatness-

I remember the days of old; I meditate on all that you have done; I ponder the work of your hands…(Psalm 143)

In the midst of the chaos swirling in his mind, He chose to praise Him-

Hope in God, for I shall again praise Him for the help of His presence. (Psalm 42)

Lastly, he asked the only source of Hope to tell him what to do-

Teach me to do Your will, for You are my God; Let You good Spirit lead me on level ground. For the sake of Your name, O LORD, revive me. In Your righteousness bring my soul out of trouble…FOR I AM YOUR SERVANT. (Psalm 143)

It seems a five step process to me:

  1. Acknowledge the truth of where I am at and why I am there.
  2. Beg God to intervene with His truth and perspective.
  3. Remind myself of His goodness toward me, the multiple places where He has proven to be faithful in my life.
  4. Choose to praise Him even if I don’t feel like it.
  5. Ask Him to tell me what to do-and here’s the clincher-FOR HIS SAKE, NOT MINE.

Because, sadly I ALWAYS, make it about me. It-LIFE- just flat out isn’t about me. It’s about Him.

The final truth in Psalm 143 induced my heart to vibrate like a massive bell recently rung-

I am Your servant.

It simplifies the battle, doesn’t it? It disarms the enemy of self, when I am not my own servant, contrarily, I am His.

So many other truths jumped off the pages and glued themselves to my heart in these two brief Psalms. They really are worth the 6 minutes it takes to read them slowly.

I recognize and respect that there are a vast many of you, Dear Souls, who cannot add a check to some of the situations listed above, leaving your heart wrung out and weary from worry and wondering. Wondering when will He show up, when will He bring change.

Might I be so bold to suggest that He is there, with you, right now. Things may appear horrid to the naked eye, but, Sweet Soul, THERE IS A MIGHTY HAND AT WORK IN YOU as you wake up each day and press on through IT-whatever IT may be.

He promises to go before us in all things-

The LORD is the One who goes ahead of you; He will be with you. He will not fail you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed. (Deuteronomy 31:8)

He never wastes a hurt or trial in a Beloved’s life-

…you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good.. (Genesis 50:20)

…the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction so that we will be able to comfort those who are in any affliction with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. (2 Corinthians 1: 3b-4)

Be still, wait patiently, give your soul, all you are to Him, let Him hold you, take your hand and lead you. Let Him fill you with His whispers of comfort.

He loves you so. I love you so.

This song spoke much peace into me this past week, may it do the same to you,

For, LOVED ONE, HE IS ON OUR SIDE.

 

 

 

 

Posted in At Home, Homeschool, Life, Ramblings | Tagged , , | 3 Comments

A Bonafide Miracle: The Story of Our Mighty Mia

It has been a while since I have written. Often I have thought about carving out the time as I do so enjoy struggling through my thoughts, making them palatable to the interested reader.

Yet, since the last post, people’s hearts who are close to mine have been run through the meat grinder. Consequently, I can’t seem to find a topic suitable for contemplation. Most categories rub as trivial when weighed against a human life, a baby’s life.

View More: http://mirandamurdockphotography.pass.us/mia-kennedy-birth

So, maybe, with the permission of my dear niece and nephew, I will share their personal, recent meat grinder experience. Because, I saw God there. I felt the God of Angel Armies in goose bumps while surrounded by family digesting the words spoken by the uniform in the NICU that our new little family member was not going to live.

Truly, I am weak. A frail faith is encased in this orange headed six footer. Moments like these strengthen the scaffolding of my belief structure by proving (AGAIN) His existence to me, unfolding His truth in new ways. The truth that He is here. He does Love us. He does intricately care about His kids. I would never ask for trials like these, but I am thankful for them.

Here is their story and the story of their daughter Mia Grace, known in our family as Miracle Mia.

It began at 22 weeks. An ultrasound to check why the swollen belly was measuring small, fluid level and fetal movement had decreased.

Every female who lays on this table loathes that look from the medical professional standing bedside. The re-measure, the second glance at the numbers in the file, the, “we better take another look” wrinkle on the brow. Days later another ultrasound revealed that my niece’s second pregnancy may very well not yield a living baby. The doctor stated that the once healthy and growing little girl was very small and had only a sliver of one kidney which was failing. This expert said she would make it to about 32 weeks in utero.

In disbelief and shock, we began to cry out to God.

Weeks later a third ultrasound was performed to see how the little patient was fairing. Praying for her the day before, I was reminded of God’s word ZOE used 135 times in the Bible. I love the depth of this word in the original Greek.

ZOE: the absolute fullness of life; real life, genuine, a life active and vigorous, devoted to God…it always (only) comes from and is sustained by God’s self-existent life (portions of the Greek definition)

I wanted the reminder of this rich word to be a promise that this precious little girl would LIVE and LIVE WELL. But God doesn’t seem to work that way, meaning in a way that is humanly predictable. Abundant, overflowing, ZOE life could be a promise in so many DIRECTIONS, so many DIMENSIONS.

Nevertheless, stopping out at the family homestead the morning after the appointment, I was elated to hear the news that a decent sized pocket of amniotic fluid still existed, her small, dark, abnormal kidney was functioning, and her little body was growing.

        32 weeks

Fast forward to 38 weeks of pregnancy. She was alive but beginning to struggle. Minimal amniotic fluid led to a scheduled induction. On Thursday, January 8th at 5:15PM, she was born. Research for a special name yielded these two powerful words:

MIA: ONE WHOSE WISHED FOR
GRACE: UNMERITED FAVOR

Four pounds and breathing Mia Grace came. Medicine decided she needed a ventilator. Testing began to see if she was healthy enough to make the trip to Denver to begin dialysis. The first X-ray revealed one lung had a hole while the other was struggling.

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We stood, sat, paced, cried, and PRAYED.

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I prayed words I am not certain are legal to pray to the God of the Universe, words like “I demand…”.

Forever embedded in my memory is the image of Grandpa Matt standing over a precious, wide eyed Mia with one construction weathered hand cupping her infantile head while the other held an IPAD (Bible app open) praying. The perfect grandpa.

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The second X-ray summoned the family together into her tiny NICU room. Her lungs were ruined, filled with holes. She could no longer breathe on her own. She was too sick to be considered as a candidate for her only shot at life with one weak kidney. Sympathetically, the staff relayed to my niece and nephew it was time to hold their baby and say goodbye. The sob that came from this young, beautiful mom who just bore this delicate gift physically moved an organ in my chest. EXCRUCIATING.

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Grandpa didn’t believe it. The night before he had had a dream. Mia would be born, there would be issues, but she would be fine.

Our loving Abba Father who hems us all in had also given confidence to one of Mia’s aunts. Praying faithfully for her from the first devastating ultrasound, the aunt felt the Lord had given her a confidence she would be OK. So resolute her assurance, she was ready to throw a baby shower.

Sitting there, absorbing all the medical diagnoses being given, one aunt to this baby girl was encouraged by the One who cares in her prayers that long night by Exodus 14:14 which breathes:

“The Lord will fight for you while you keep silent.”

For aunt #4 (I married into a marvelously massive family), the prayers for her brother’s family began a year ago. She felt the Lord impress upon her that her brother and sister-in-law were going to walk a really hard road. He loved them enough to start the prayer covering months before they were to sit in these chairs in this anguish.

When my husband and I left, the staff was about to unhook Mia from all medical devices. The chaplain had left fulfilling his commitment of soothing words. They were ready to bathe her, clothe her, and take her final pictures. She was given 15 minutes to live.

At home we couldn’t sleep. My husband and I cried. We prayed. I kept checking my phone for the text, “She’s gone.” Hours later, in the black of our bedroom, my husband began to pray,

“Lord, just make all things new in that little girl.”

Morning came.

“How is she?” I text.
“SHE’S STILL BREATHING!” blinked back.

Other astonished messages went out to loving family members…

Lisa text

When medically all hope was gone, Mia Grace was placed on her momma’s chest. Then her daddy’s chest. Then her aunt’s chest who continually sang over her, then a friend’s chest, then her grandpa’s chest who prayed. And the rotation began, holding, singing, praying all night long.

Then God did His thing.

Twice the doctor was sent for by the family asking for Mia to be reevaluated as she did not seem to be dying. On the contrary, she looked like a completely healthy newborn. The doctor disagreed stating that any reevaluation or assistance would only prolong the inevitable and that it may take up to 24 hours for her to pass away.

At shift change, it was time to convince a new doctor to take a fresh look at a living, breathing baby. He showed fatal X-ray #2 from the previous night to the family proving Mia’s lungs were incapable of supporting life. But she was breathing all on her own.

Reluctantly, he reevaluated her with a blood gas test.

Welcomed back into the room the extended family met the eyes of a tearful doctor. What he saw in her file did not match the new round of tests-which were perfectly normal. My niece and nephew said they will never forget the look on that doctor’s face. Mia now had lungs, fully functioning lungs. Throughout the night, God gave her new lungs.

He makes all things new.

An aunt humbly questioned the stunned professional, “Do you believe in miracles, Dr.?”
“Sometimes things happen I can’t explain,” he confessed.

New lungs jump started the doctors into action. Approval from Denver Children’s Hospital bought Mia her first airplane ride. Squeezed into her NICU room one last time, we sang the Doxology and prayed. We praised God for allowing us to keep her.

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As she flew away and I drove home all I could pray was, “Lord, heal her up and bring her home.”

Mia landed in Denver with her dad weighing about 3.5 lbs with new lungs and one presumably failing kidney. Her first round of tests lended a creatinine level of 5+. This level, along with her potassium and BUN levels, would indicate when dialysis would need to begin. Her creatinine level was very high (1 being a normal level), but not high enough to begin dialysis.

The waiting and praying continued.

Over the next few days I kept thinking about the description of Epaphras’ prayer life in Colossians. He loved the people so much that he labored earnestly for them in prayer. Night and day he prayed for them. His concern didn’t cause him to shoot up arrow prayers while going about his business, it seemed he made it his business to lift up his friends to the foot of the cross consistently, thoroughly. I also thought about the many verses written about how I should pray so that He would hear my cries, because especially now I wanted to be heard.

A few days later it was decided the family at home should gather to pray over Mia on Face Time. After four days in Denver her levels were slowly dropping, but she was still considered weak medically with only one small kidney. Sitting together waiting to make the call on the computer, an aunt’s phone registered a text. It was from Mia’s grandma who was in Denver. Astoundingly, an ultrasound anounced two kidneys. Many ultrasounds and tests over the months showed one small, dark, abnormal kidney. She now has two, not perfect, but two kidneys.

He makes all things new. AGAIN.

Unbelievingly, we exchanged looks unable to hide smiles and tears. Was this all actually happening? Could it have been a medical misdiagnosis? The nephrologists believes so. They cannot believe that a newborn with nonfunctioning lungs can have new lungs nor do they see that she who once had one kidney now has two. However, despite their doubt, the rest of the professionals monitoring Mighty Mia knew these were miracles. There were no scientific answers for what they were witnessing.

We prayed over that sweet little face on the computer screen thanking God for all He has done and asking Him to do even more, to heal her up completely and bring her home. And we prayed for all who come in contact with Mia that they would also encounter a living, caring God who loves them as much as He loves her.

Psalm 118:17 was beautifully written and taped to her crib which declares,

the verse

Mia spent three more weeks in Denver. During that time an official diagnosis of her condition was given. In her medical charts, it reads that Mia Grace has a small deletion on the short arm of her fourth chromosome known as Wolf-Hirschhorn Syndrome. This missing genetic material can result in severe developmental delays, and may include a variety of other birth defects. It also states that she is deaf. I pray that these two titles will only ever be words on paper never manifesting in her life. I am praying God continues to make all things new in her. He has done it with her lungs and kidneys, now we ask for ears to hear-first His voice then all other voices that surround her throughout her life.

one month mia

At the end of her first month of life, Mia Grace was strong enough to come home. The day before she left the hospital she was examined by a myriad of professionals. One of whom was a woman who walked into the room and felt peace. She looked at Mia’s grandma and said she knew Mia was going home to a loving, peace filled home where she would thrive. Her words sent a wave of calm washing over hearts filled with anxious details about how to care for Mia at home.

at the airport

And now she is home with her family.

Maddie & Mia

Her journey is not over, INDEED IT HAS JUST BEGUN.

home again

So, to all of you who bowed a knee before the throne and handed Mia Grace Kennedy up to Jesus in prayer, WE THANK YOU WITH ALL WE HAVE WITHIN US.

To all of you crying out to God right now, begging Him for answers to your heart wrenching present situation, please know we would love to pray for you right now too.

We pray the God of Angel Armies reaches down,

lifts you up,

places you in His lap,

spreading His protective wing over you while He speaks His love and Truth into your ear.

Below is a song that brought peace to my soul causing my thoughts to reorient to True North each time new information led me to doubt. May it comfort you as well.

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