Monthly Archives: September 2012

Oh Stained Carpet. And People.

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The carpet in our apartment is very old.  The stain protection has long since worn off.  The professional carpet cleaner guy told us there is an old stain deep in the padding layer that gets drawn up with moisture.  That means, even if it’s just a water spill the stain turns black.  It’s sad.  Any little spill feels like a big deal.  Today as I was trying to deal with a water spill, our 4-year-old said, “Mummy, your words are scaring me.”  Oh dear.  I’ve let the carpet cage us.

This week a friend was talking to me about carpet and children.

“As long as there are growing children living in a home, there is no point in getting new carpet,” was her wise advice.

This is profound insight.  This is a vision worth embracing.

What if I valued stained carpet as a sign that my children were being well-raised?

What if split milk was a sign of children being given growing opportunities?

What if we had a vision about the messiness of life?  What if we prized stains and mistakes and the need for clean-ups?

As long as there are growing humans, there is no point in expecting to have a clean, stain-free community.

I’m looking at the stains in our carpet.  And I’m thinking about the stains in our lives.

I want to care more about my children than the carpet.

I want to care more about people growing than my desire to avoid annoyance.

Oh what a gift it would be if we all were given full freedom to grow!  Father God, make my heart more like yours.

Be humble and gentle. Be patient with each other, making allowance for each other’s faults because of your love. (Ephesians 4:2 NLT)

How did I get here?

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Looking back, it happened slowly.  But considering my past 5 months, it happened so fast.

I was in a wonderful wedding last weekend.  I had packed my own lunch and snacks. GF, DF, SF, SF, FF, MF, CF, MF… blah blah… all the food restrictions I’m on.  But I didn’t pack a dinner.  I just felt it was rude to be a tupperware carrying bridesmaid.

And that’s how it started.  There was feta on the salad.  Sigh… what’s a little dairy?  I had potato salad too.  Totally would have had dairy.  Then the champagne toast.  I must say, I skipped all kinds of amazing food including the gorgeous pie dessert.  And I was very proud of myself.

About two hours later my joints started screaming.  Hmmm.  There must have been gluten.

This week has been a weird one.  Our apartments have a new owner and we’ve been working through some odd lease wording and the question of whether she even wanted any of the current tenants to stay.  If there’s one thing that will freak me out every time, it’s housing.  My family went through a short period of what I now know is legally classified as homelessness.  Then as a new single female immigrant, I experienced a couple of years of uncertain housing times.  Since marrying my amazing man, our housing has been fairly stable.  Three moves in 13 years.  Not bad at all.

But this week stirred up some deep-rooted fears about roots and “home.”

It was the tipping point.  My brain was full of work, home, kids and I didn’t meal plan for myself or my family.  And then I thought, “When my skeleton has waves of pain already… why not just eat with freedom?”

Last night was an evening of shame and failure.  At my dear friend’s birthday party I ate homemade chilli made with canned beans, cornbread made with wheat flour that I smothered with dairy-based “I can’t believe it’s not” and… drum roll… are you ready? Oreo Ice cream cake.  Drool!  It was a ginormous piece. Huge. Covered in whip cream.  Oh baby.

My first huge dairy ingestion since April.  My first purposeful, rebellious eating of wheat flour.  Immediately waves of pain rolled in.  And the shame and regret wrapped around me like a blanket.

How could I be so weak?  After so many months of being so focused and disciplined?  How could I throw it all away for a few minutes of indulgence?  How could I choose to damage my kids’ mum’s lifespan?  How did I get here?

Know this about me: I am a quick learner and a deep thinker.  This situation, although not at all good for my physical self, speaks louder to me about my spiritual self.

– – –

My food infractions are such a good metaphor for sin.

What an amazing God is Yahweh.  He sets us free and guides us in the paths of life.  He gives us His Ways and His Truth.  He gives us vision and purpose.

And so quickly I choose to trade it for momentary things.  Tearing away from the things that bring life… and walking in things that are destructive and deceiving.  Sin.

And the damage happens.  Integrity: mud-covered. Freedom: scorned.  Love and Life: turned from.

But the pain and shame and regret are not to be permanent companions.  Our Savior’s embrace gives unending new starts.  Thank our Creator and Source and Lover of us!  Thank Him for new mercies every morning!  Truly He is the King of all kings and the worthy God of all.

This life is not a sprint that depends on every split second being perfect.  It is a long cross-country adventure marathon full of new chances and slates being wiped clean.

Oh how I treasure His mercy and grace!  What an amazing glorious God!

Praying: May my physical health journey be as glorious as the life journey He gives each of us.  In Jesus Name!

God’s loyal love couldn’t have run out,
his merciful love couldn’t have dried up.
They’re created new every morning.
How great your faithfulness!
I’m sticking with God (I say it over and over).
He’s all I’ve got left.
Lamentations 3:22-23 (The Message)

This cold is a good thing

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“This cold is a good thing.” My doctor’s words confused my snot-filled brain.

This cold had hit me hard and fast.  On Monday I felt fine at work.  I came home to our sick kids and within an hour I was huddled on the couch in misery.  What is it about the common cold that is so debilitating?!?

AGH. I could NOT afford to be sick this week.  Huge meeting on Wednesday.  Singing and playing keys on Thursday night and Sunday morning.  Huge event on Saturday night.  Sick kids who need my care.  I don’t have time to be sick.

I was ten years old when my raging tonsils were removed.  After that, all colds travelled to my lungs.  Bronchitis stayed with me long after the colds were gone.  Eventually I was diagnosed with asthma.  As an adult I was put on a life-long daily dose of inhaled steroid.  I’ve been taking this expensive medication for almost 15 years.  Four months ago, my new doc took me off it.  It took me a month to trust her and actually do it.  In the past, when I have run out,  I would have a chest infection within three days.  Also, I’m not able to take cold medicines because I get high heart rate and palpitations.  So I have to just let them run their course and run me down.  Getting a common cold means I’m knocked out for about a month.

And so, here I am, terribly sick with a cold having been of the asthma meds for four months.  I was worried.

“This cold is a good thing… because you can personally see that the treatment is working… your lungs are 100% clear!” My doc was right.  This cold is a good thing!

We’re heading into our long Fall, Winter and Spring Cold & Flu season.  Each year, even on the medicine, I would get several boughts of cold and flu.

This cold I’m battling now, that came to me at the end of summer, is a gift.  A gift for me to see that my body is healing.  A test to show that my immune system is so much stronger.  This cold is giving me evidence that this treatment is worth it!

Reminds me:

These trials are only to test your faith, to show that it is strong and pure. (1 Peter 1:7a NLT)

Humankind seems to be on a constant quest to avoid discomfort.  When hard things come our way… we squirm.  We question God. We wonder what we did to deserve it. We do everything we can to get away from it.  We get mad.  We get sad.  We really hate pain.

My cold is reminding me that discipline and trials are gifts.

A 3rd-grade math exam is to test whether a student has mastered the content and is ready to take on the 4th-grade math.  The student is not being punished.  The student is being given a gift: the evidence that they have what it takes to move on to the next level.  My cold is evidence that I can make it through the winter and that my expensive arduous treatment is actually healing my body!

The disciple and trials God allows into our lives are gifts.  They help us see how far we’ve come.  They show us how free we are from the past.  They prepare us for what’s ahead.

Do bad things happen to good people?  Yes.  Is God punishing them? Is God good?  Is God sovereign?  As I walk through this chronic lyme craziness with my Father Yahweh, I am being tested in so many areas.  Tested physically, emotionally, relationally, and spiritually.  Layers of fear are being peeled away.  Life-long questions are being answered.  My relationships are being stretched. My life joys are being boiled down to simple purity.  I am being stripped down, fortified and rebuilt.

Oh terrible snotty, sore-throat cold.  I really hate you but I’m grateful for you.  God is so good.