Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Calling ALL Prayer Warriors!

Anne is having a very difficult day. She woke up with an infection and a fever of 101.6. She is back at Dartmouth waiting to be admitted for blood work and a CT scan to determine whether or not she may have an abscess. If so, this may require a third emergency surgery if it is determined it can't be treated with antibiotics. 

Thus far today she has been mute, motionless, and unresponsive other than to squeeze fingers when asked (but even then she doesn't open her eyes.)

Will you please cry out with me on her behalf and also ask for the floodgates of mercy and comfort and all-surpassing peace to swing wide and engulf her family in supernatural strength and grace?

***I will update throughout the day as more information becomes available.


Update 4pm: Anne was sent into emergency surgery shortly after 2 pm. This is her third surgery.


Update 10:45pm: Surgery is complete. Anne is stable, and the infection has been "washed out." They are keeping her for the next 4 days to keep her on a steady flow of antibiotics. Please continue to pray for a strong recovery.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Tucked In

I probably shouldn't continue to give further and further evidence of my oddities, of which there are plenty for sure. But I suppose I would have very little to say if I only mentioned my more "normal" moments, so there's that. ;-) So anyway, here's today's weirdness: I realized recently that I have a little bit of a strange obsession with tucking my kids in at night. ("Well, that's not *that* weird," you may think.) No, for real. It's weird. Because for some reason, I can't just do it once and be done with it. I go and tuck them in as soon as they're ready for bed. You know the drill. Make sure the doors and windows are locked. Make sure they have enough blankets. Turn the big lights off and the little lights on. Pray. Hugs. Smooches on all 4 cheeks and 2 foreheads. That sort of thing. And then as I'm walking out the bedroom door to close it behind me, we try to see who can be the last one to say "I Love You." (Macy always yells it one last time after the door is closed, which I treasure more than she knows. :-D) At this point, the girls are all set. They're happy and cozy and likely to drift off to peaceful sleep in just a few minutes. I literally do this every single night we're in the same house together. I can't sleep if I don't.

After this, Jared and I usually stay up for at least a couple more hours. (Ok, who am I kidding? More like 4 or 5. Who needs sleep anyway?) But no matter how long the girls have already been peacefully sleeping, I can't sleep myself until I have gone one more time into their room for that last little "tuck in" and prayer before I lay down my own head. 

I wonder how much longer they'll let me do this. They're 10 and 12! It's not like they can't put themselves to bed. But I'm finding these days that tucking them in has much more to do with securing the edges of life than the edges of blankets. It's about hemming in those flailing moments of uncertainty with solid places to land and rest from time to time.

This is easier said than done, to be sure. But maybe that's why I'm so adamant about taking every chance I possibly can to get it right. One more prayer that I'll say the right things when the hard stuff comes. One more hug and kiss and smile to help them understand how much I love them. One more moment of giggling together. One more opportunity to build trust just by "being there" with them. One more chance to do something right in raising them. One more chance. I always need one more chance. Thank God it comes every day. 

I wrestle with the tangle of paths they face (WE face) each day. I can't hem them in completely. I know this. But surely I am responsible for building hedges of safety. I can help re-route around dangerous areas. I can illuminate the dark corners and shed light on areas where they insist on further investigation, all the while allowing them to form their own identities and learn to embrace truth for themselves. 

Shudder. Can I really do this? Let them make their own decisions? Let them investigate the scary stuff? Let them learn a few things the hard way?

This is terrifying! I can't do it. I can't. At least not without the promises of a sovereign God, who loves them more than I ever could.

And so, what I think I'm learning through all of this is that the reason I crave that last little moment in my day so much--one last prayer over my sweet girls and maybe one more little "tuck"--is that it's in this moment that God tucks in the edges of my heart. Do y'all know these edges? The ones that are flayed open to be destroyed by the tiniest thought of any harm that might come to your children? I don't even mean the really bad stuff. It could be as simple as worrying that someone might hurt their feelings tomorrow. Does that thought have the power to destroy the edges of your heart? It does mine. I need those edges tucked in. Every single night. By my Comforter and my Keeper and certainly the Keeper of my children as well. Thank you, Lord, for loving them better than I ever will! And thank you for securing my heart every night as I secure blankets. Maybe my girls won't outgrow their need to be tucked in. It doesn't seem their mother has. ;-)

Friday, October 25, 2013

Fall Favorites

Well, the trees are mostly nekkid now. So I'm pretty much in limbo. No more crazy gorgeous fall foliage, and I'll probably have to wait a bit for the beautiful, peaceful snow-covered landscapes. Each year when fall begins to wind down, I always wish I could have gotten a few more pictures, but I think I would feel that way even if the colors lasted a full 3 months and I got to take pictures every single day of it. For now, here are some of my favorite fall (and almost fall) shots. Hope you enjoy!


Wednesday, October 23, 2013

The Good List 10-23-13

10. The sound of studded snow tires on pavement. Weird. I know. I admit it, but I still like it.
9. A good, sharp chef's knife. Changes my entire cooking experience.
8. What a perfectly snuggly weekend we have to look forward to!

7. Gracie wrote me an acknowledgement on her science fair project board. Not sure I've ever seen anyone do that before, but how sweet is that? ;-)
6. We had such excellent visits with most of Macy's teachers at the parent-teacher conference last week (I think we met all but 2). Very impressed with each of them. Looking forward to a great year!
5. A "just to encourage you" gift from my treasured friend Barbara in which she somehow read my mind and put together a bag of all my favorite things. Feeling unworthy but extra blessed. So grateful for the way God loves me through his people.
4. This picture of Anne and her son Mark dancing down the aisle at her daughter Ally's wedding roughly one week after her first brain surgery. It's a bit of a long story, but just trust me when I say there are SO MANY LAYERS of special captured here. 

3. Rachel and Chris are married! So grateful for them and can't wait to see the many ways God uses them in our church and far, FAR beyond.

2. My people!!! How blessed am I? (Thank you for the picture, Andrea!)

1. My friend Anne had her second brain surgery on Monday. Today I got to spend some time with her. We held hands, strolled around the hospital hallway (even climbed a few stairs during PT), had prolonged sweet conversation, and shared several hearty laughs. This felt like a miracle to me, and it was all kinds of awesome. Maybe even *every* kind.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Prayer Time 10-22-13

Below is one of many prayers I've uttered for my friend Anne and her family in recent weeks. I'm so grateful that God welcomes and longs for relationship with us through prayer. What an overwhelming comfort to know that He doesn't just listen; he cares. What are the requests of your heart that I can bring to the Father on your behalf today? Feel free to leave them in the comments section here. (Comments on this post will not be published publicly for the sake of those concerned with privacy.)

Psalm 121:4-5~
He is always watching, never sleeping. Jehovah himself is caring for you!

{Jehovah HIMSELF! Thank you for doctors, Father, and may you guide the work of their hands, but PRAISE YOU, O LORD for caring for Anne as only you can!}

Deuteronomy 31:8~
The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.”

{Lord, may Anne and Jeff and Mark and Ally and Nick sense your presence in every millisecond of this journey. And not in some vague, warm fuzzy way. But in the MIGHTY POWER that only your Spirit can bring!)

1 Peter 1:3~
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,

{Thank you, Jesus, for eternal life with you! Thank you for the promise of glorified bodies that will never suffer pain or disease of any kind. Thank you for making this possible for us through your death, burial and resurrection.}

Isaiah 41:10~
fear not, for I am with you;
be not dismayed, for I am your God;
I will strengthen you, I will help you,
I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

{Lord, may your peace that passes all understanding rest firmly upon this entire family tonight and in the days ahead. Help them to find their strength in you and to cling to you for their help.}

Revelation 21:4~
He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”

{Father, this is so hard and painful especially for this family, but also for the ones who love them. May we run straight to you in our troubles and look always to the cross and the hope it gives us in you. Help us to fix our eyes on this promise and embrace it with our whole hearts as rock solid truth.}

2 Corinthians 4:7-9~
But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us. We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed;

{This is possible only by your grace, Jesus. Lavish it upon this family until they are filled to overflowing with gleaming hope.}

Isaiah 55:8-9~
For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord.
For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
so are my ways higher than your ways
and my thoughts than your thoughts.

{Lord, help our unbelief when we don't understand. Thank you for your sovereignty. May we rest in the knowledge that you have not been taken by surprise by any of this. You are fully in control. That is difficult for us to understand, but we know that you love Anne far more than any of us could ever hope to and that you will never let her go.}

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Prayer Vigil for Anne--Can you spare an hour?

Anne will have her second surgery tomorrow morning at 7:40. I have set up a 24-hour prayer vigil so that we might keep her and her family covered in prayer in the hours immediately leading up to the surgery and then of course during surgery and recovery. Time slots are an hour each. If you would like to sign up, you can do so using the link below, or feel free to message me any way you'd like, and I'll fill in your name for you. OR certainly you can pray without signing up. Just trying to get round the clock prayer support, and it is helpful to my heart when I can see something tangible. Hoping it will have the same impact on Anne and her family.

Thank you to all who have already shown so much love and support for this family, even many who don't know them personally. I am so grateful, and I know I speak for her family as well when I say thank you from the bottom of our hearts. Please don't stop praying for miracle upon miracle!

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Anne Needs Your Prayers!!!

Due to continued swelling and severe pain, Anne is on her way to have emergency surgery tonight. (This is the surgery which was originally scheduled for Monday.) The goal will be to remove as much of the new growth as possible as well as all dead tissue (portions of the tumor which chemo and radiation have already killed) without damaging surrounding healthy brain matter. This will eliminate a great deal of pressure on her brain, which should give her back some of the basic functions she has lost recently and also provide a cleaner, more direct path for the meds to do their work post-surgery. 

Her husband Jeff is with her. Her son Mark is flying in tomorrow, and her daughter Ally and son-in-law Nick are flying in on Wednesday.

We beg for your prayers for this entire family.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

The Good List 10-16-13

10. Macy and Grace have developed a new language in which they use little more than Brian Regan quips, quotes from Sam and Cat, and things Jared and I have said that they find funny (usually in a completely different context than what we intended.) They can carry on entire conversations this way. Not gonna lie. It's pretty impressive.
9. The very "Thanksgivingish" turkey dinner I made last night, which reminded me to be thankful on a day that I was really having to work at it. 
8. Pretty amazing sunrise this morning. New mercies.

7. Watching people create art in pretty much any form. Painting, sculpting, composing, whatever. I can't even describe what it does to my heart. If I were a therapist, I would assign this activity to all of my patients. So healing and calming and inspiring.
6. When Jared makes me dinner. I love to cook and never mind doing so, but there's something sweet and special about a meal prepared by my man.
5. My Gospel Transformation Bible. Genuine leather, no less! (Jared got 2 comp copies for his contribution, one hard copy, one leather. He gave me the leather one! Feeling spoiled. ;-)

4. Gracie has her first flute lesson today. She's SO excited!
3. Sadly, Jared has officiated enough funerals since we moved to Vermont that I stopped counting. BUT this weekend, he will officiate his first wedding here in Vermont, and INDEED, this is worthy of celebration! So grateful for Chris and Rachel and the gift they are to our family, our church, and our community!
2. What is the female equivalent to the Paul/Timothy relationship? Whatever it is, I'm grateful for so many of them in my life. Sometimes I get to be Paul, but most of the time, I'm still Timothy, and the Pauls in my life are some of the most caring, wise, gracious, lovely women I've ever met. Precious to me. So grateful.
1. The resounding, lavish, gleaming kindness of God in the midst of difficulty. Over and over again these last few months, waves of grace and mercy crash into me and press me to my Rock. (I LOVE that word picture from my friend Lore!) He is everything.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Lord, Hear Our Groanings!

Will you please join me in fervent prayer for my friend Anne? An MRI yesterday indicated growth in her tumor, so much so that it is now reaching into her right frontal lobe (it originated in the left) and interrupting many of her most basic functions. Doctors have decided to discontinue all treatments immediately and perform surgery again as soon as they can in order to remove as much of the growth as possible. No details on that just yet.

I'm all out of words, but I'm grateful that God doesn't need them to hear the desperate cries of my heart.

Monday, October 14, 2013

A PSA and Some FAQs

Just a little warning for my fellow 802ers (or any of the rest of you who might travel into this area any time soon.) It has been a rough several months around here. God has been amazing, so hear me say that loud and clear, but it's a difficult season for our church and more specifically, our family. Lots of scattering. Lots of rushing. Lots of time apart and/or time in such constant activity that "together" doesn't feel so together. And so--I keep promising Macy and Grace that rest will come. I'm honest enough to tell them I'm not sure when, but I'm confident it will come. 

GET THIS. They approached me a few days ago and asked if we could put up our Christmas decorations early. (My girls!!!) Macy said, "The lights make us all so happy. Why not?" And Grace said, "I feel like we snuggle more when the Christmas lights are up." WELL. That pretty much settles that. So fair warning: There's a pretty good chance you'll see some twinkling lights through our windows toward the end of October.

Here are some FAQs we always seem to hear once the lights go up, so I'll save you some time:

Is there something wrong with you?

~Oh, for sure! But the Christmas lights help calm the voices in our heads, so we're really doing you a favor by putting them up early.

Is this some kind of protest against Halloween?

~Nope. Not at all. In fact, I'm in search of the perfect silly costume for Jared to wear on the green as the little munchkins walk over to the church from school later this month.

Do you hate Thanksgiving? Why skip it?

~No. Actually, it's one of our favorite days of the year. And we're not skipping it. We'll just enjoy our Thanksgiving dinner in the glow of candlelight and Christmas lights.

Isn't this a waste of energy?

~Can't say I've done a study of kilowatt usage, but we tend to use our Christmas lights and candles *instead of* rather than in addition to our main lights, so I'm thinking it's pretty much a wash if not a savings. (We don't get all Clark Griswold. Not that there's anything wrong with that!)

Why is this so important to you?

~Two things. 1) My family (by which I mean blood relatives and brothers and sisters in Christ) is all spread out. I mean, ALL spread out. From coast to coast and even in other countries. But within my boxes of all things Christmas, there are precious reminders of so many of those people. Decorations they've given me as gifts, cards and pictures that keep us connected even though we may not have seen each other in person in years, etc. This is how I surround myself with friends and family as we lead into the holidays. 2) There is just something about the sights and smells of the lights and candles that encourage peace and calm and stillness in our house. Feels like we need that these days.

Isn't this annoying to your husband?

~Nope. In fact, we are trying to honor him with our decision. He hates the process, but he loves the finished look, so we are hoping to get everything done while he is out of town later this month. ;-)

Do you hate the people that are bothered by your decision to do this?

~Nope. Not at all. But may we respectfully suggest that perhaps you should find more important things to worry about? :-D

OK. I think that about covers it for now. Happy Fall! Happy Halloween! Happy Thanksgiving! Merry Christmas! and Happy New Year!

Friday, October 11, 2013

Things I Don't Regret

Disclaimer: I'm trying to put a positive spin on this, but you may also read between the lines that I very much regret the opposite of many things on this list, and sadly, I'm probably better at doing the opposites. (sigh) But I'm grateful for God's sanctifying work in my life, and by his grace, I'm hoping the "non-regrets" will become much more frequent occurrences.

~A good workout. To be clear, I can't say I'm always 100% motivated to begin with, but I never regret it afterwards.


~Holding a sleeping baby long after they "need" me to. 

~Staying up WAY too late (repeatedly) because I was in the middle of a conversation with a friend or sister that I didn't want to end.

~Tasting guacamole again a few years ago after a lifetime of thinking I didn't like it. (Totally addicted now.)

~Tucking my kids into bed at night. I do this literally every single night we're in the same house together. Sometimes several times a night. ;-) I wouldn't have it any other way.

~Stealing my sister's dog. I didn't even realize how much I loved that little dude until we "gave him back" for a couple days while we were away from home. Man, did I miss that little buddy! ;-)

~Listening more than I speak. And praying even more than I listen.

~Looking my children in the eyes when they are telling me their stories.

~Burning candles. (What is this weird thing we do with storing them in a closet or attic until they melt or break or lose their scent?) Light those bad boys! They are meant to be enjoyed.

~Stargazing. Especially under the Vermont sky.

~Planning surprises or giving spontaneous "just because" gifts. I LOVE seeing people react to such things.

~Forging what I feared would be difficult relationships only to learn they would become some of my favorite friendships. Isn't it just like God to do that for me?

~Putting up my Christmas tree way too early so my family can snuggle in the glow of the twinkly lights. (Hush. You do you.)

~Saying "I love you" to people I love.

~Moving to Vermont against all common sense arguments. Some of them were very smart arguments, but sometimes the way of Christ doesn't seem very smart to the world.

~Giggling to the point of tears.

~Singing in worship loud and strong with complete surrender and abandon.

~Lingering dinner parties. I'm pretty sure my heart is fullest when my home is filled with people I love talking, laughing, and sharing a meal together for hours.

~Planting a vegetable garden. I didn't have time even to consider it this year, but I never regret it when I do.

~Hurrying to the bathroom door when Grace gets up in the middle of the night so that as soon as she opens it, I'm standing right there to pick her up and carry her back to bed. Not sure how much longer I'll be able to do this (she's almost as tall as me), but I refuse to stop until I'm physically unable to make it happen anymore.

~Adopting our Compassion child, Lorena. We've had her for 11 years now. 

~Preserving memories. I'm pretty addicted to the whole photography/memory book situation (it's a little bit of a sickness), but when I look back at those moments, I never regret having taken the time to collect them. It's especially sweet to "happen upon" one of my girls sitting on the couch with one of my scrapbooks in her lap and a huge smile on her face. These are my love letters to them. Awesome.

~Digging into Scripture.

~Holding hands with my man while we walk. My sister makes fun of me and says this is an activity for 12-year-olds. Maybe so. I still don't regret it. ;-)

~Making super special after school treats for my sweet girls so I can watch their eyes light up when they get home.

~Giving grace. Also receiving it, which is sometimes even more difficult, but always well worth the awkward discomfort.

~Calling my parents or one of my sisters.

~Walking away from a house full of dirty dishes and laundry and a million other things that "needed to be done" so that I could look into a friend's eyes one last time before he left this earth.

~Time spent in prayer.

~Saying "YES" to Jared.

~Every single moment of walking with Christ.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

The Good List 10-9-13

10. Black olive tapenade. A cracker's best friend. YUM!

9. Ginormous willow trees. There is something so sweet and gentle and inviting about them. And a little bit whimsical. Kinda like the Granddad of trees.

8. Rest. Which, in my opinion, is terribly underrated these days.
7. Macy's classes end at 2:14. Grace attends Young Scholars on Thursdays, which ends at 3:00. The distance between Macy's school and Grace's YS school requires a 45 minute drive. This is some very important math, especially when Jared is out of town. ;) Thankful.
6. Right now it's 39 degrees and brilliantly sunny at my house. In other words, the perfect fall day. (For those who know my cold-natured self, you probably think I'm crazy for enjoying 39 degrees. To that, I have to tell you that I don't know how it works, but somehow that temperature feels different here. It's certainly crisp, but it doesn't feel cold, especially when the sun is blazing. I don't know if I'm getting acclimated or if there is a perfectly logical scientific reason for this, but just thought you should know. ;-) Carry on then.)
5. The Vermont night sky. It's that special kind of dark that makes every star an exquisite display of glory.
4. We finally got some hard copies of Otherworld in the mail last week. So much fun!

3. Gracie's new adventure. She has decided to try her hand at the flute. Excited to see what happens! 

2. Macy has her first Vivace chorus performance at her school tonight. A sweet night of music is always welcome.
1. This is one of the best moments of joy I think I've ever seen. Beautiful Arabella. Daughter of our friends Heather and Joel. Gorgeousness.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

The Good List 10-2-13

10. Yesterday my driver's side front window decided it was all done rolling back up. So I drove around with an open window and wild woman hair on a perfectly clear, gorgeous sunny day until we could deliver the car to our mechanic. Today the window is being fixed while it rains. Sometimes "good timing" is a really big blessing. ;-)
9. October. I love this month. Fall colors. Crisp air. The fun and sweet anticipation of upcoming holidays. Coffee and hot chocolate. Soups and stews and chili. Boots. Scarves. Hoodies. Fire pits. Snuggles. Good stuff.
8. This CD has been such a heart boost for me recently. So good.

7. I have a date with my friend Andrea to go photograph the fall foliage next week. Good times. Good times.
6. Our "calm before (and after) the storm" weekend that Jared had the forethought to plan for this weekend. Life has been a little nuts, and his schedule is about to get crazy with travel and other engagements, so he planned a little getaway to love on his family before all the separation begins. Desperately looking forward to it.
5. That this is our back yard. I hope I never get over it.

4. Celebrating back-to-back birthdays with my crazy little nephews last weekend. (Jack on Saturday, Ty on Sunday) They're growing up WAY too fast, but I'm so glad they're doing it right down the road from me these days instead of a world away in Texas.

3. Being married to someone who is so good at making me laugh. What a gift. It's fun every day, but it's especially special on the difficult days.
2. Ladies' Bible Study is back! Water to my thirsty soul. We're studying the life of John this time. Eager to dig into the word and fellowship with these special ladies.
1. Seeing this on facebook this morning from one of our most treasured friends in all the world. Made me cry.