Join Me In The Garden

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I have welcomed all of you to share in the joys and struggles of our family since our hearts were broken for the fatherless several years ago. We have now been home with our girls for about four years, and I cannot even begin to share with you how God has blessed us with our precious Chinese daughters. I have chosen to share our family’s journey with you for one reason, that is to give God glory, and that you may see that God uses ordinary people to do extraordinary things if we let Him.

God called us to adopt two older girls from China, and we have been blessed beyond measure by our obedience to Him. The road has not been easy, yet it is a path I would choose to travel again.

If you take with you one thing from my willingness to be open to you, I pray that it would be that God moves mountains when we step out in faith to meet the needs of those less fortunate than ourselves. We can count on Him every time.

May God do the miraculous in your lives, and may our story inspire many to step out in faith to love a child who desperately needs what only you can give.

Blessings!

What the Doctors Didn’t Tell Me

My fingers fumble over the keys now, straining to find their way again. They’ve lost that effortless feeling of gliding over the keyboard as they did before.

Just like my body lost its strength and my mind its memory of the summer months.

The doctors didn’t tell me that.

They didn’t tell me how much I would lose, or how much it would hurt to lost it all.

They told me it would be okay.

Somehow I believed them. I thought it would be okay too, and what else could I have done with such messy, angry, prolific cells multiplying inside me? I would do it again.

Perhaps the knowledge of the potential those wicked cells within me possessed created a desire in that deep, knowing part inside myself to trust those who knew the power of the beastly cells the best, the kinetic energy that pulsed and breathed and thrived inside their good turned bad minuscule bodies, the capacity they held to ravage tissues – and even my life. Perhaps, too, knowing the horrific potential those cells carried created in me a desire to be taken care of, a desire for the doctors to make it all okay again.

Certainly I must say even this is somehow better than that.

They tell me they have taken away the cancer.

Yet it’s not okay. It’s not okay now. Nothing about cancer is okay.

Nothing about having my breasts removed is okay. The scar stretches across my chest like a rope pulled tight from armpit to armpit, threaded right through those tender spheres that once nursed my babies and loved the gentle touches of my husband. And I feel them still. I feel them pulled taught by the disfigurement like a child’s gentle jaws clenching hard. I feel them yearning for the flesh and nerves and vessels that once fulfilled them, calling out for what once was and what never will be again. They burn like a fire that spreads across three quarters of my rib cage, from the base all the way up to my clavicles and reaching far like flames that scorch my armpits and my sides. They burn like two suns whose light has gone out yet still burn on in quiet darkness, a darkness no one can see or feel. They are burning embers that refuse to be calmed or quieted.

The doctors didn’t tell me it could be like this. They didn’t tell me I might develop a neuropathy that would stagger me. They didn’t tell me that I would bolt awake from a restless sleep each morning with the painful feeling of my nerves screaming out for relief from all that was severed from them. They didn’t tell me that every day, all day long I would feel the burning pulling of the scar, that the pain of nerves reaching out for what is no longer would stall me so. They didn’t tell me that the pain would bring tears to my eyes, two and a half months later. They didn’t tell me how my bruised, wounded bosom that is no more would hurt when my children nestled into the once soft flesh to hug me, or how they would flinch and pull away from the bare bones, scraped clean of the cancer but left bereft, that hugged them back.

The doctors didn’t tell me how the tears would flow in rivers of pain down my cheeks when I lay with my husband.

And they didn’t tell me that he would lose too. They didn’t tell me that my husband’s faithful eyes would never again rest on the tender rounds he once found so lovely, that his gentle hands would never again cup their fullness in his grasp. They didn’t tell me that his strong chest would rest against a hard, bony plate that burned with nerves firing frantically out of control on the inside, yet that could feel nothing but a strange tingling numbness when he touched it.

I didn’t know how I would feel the void, how the pain would feel like more than I can bear or how the grief would consume me.

I didn’t know how alone I would feel in a crowd, or how every time someone asks me how I am, I am compelled to lie because it’s all okay, right?

It’s supposed to be all okay.

They told me it would be okay.

I’m supposed to be okay.

Blessings,

My Prayer

Today I’m having a double mastectomy. 

I don’t think I’m afraid. 

I feel rather like my body is about to experience another deep blow, another intensely personal insult, like the weight of this world is once again bearing down upon me, pummeling me with all of it’s evil. The years of my life that inflicted the most wounds tumble through my mind in pictures with no sequence, without order, scattered, painful images of life’s bruises. 

My body bears the memories in physical form. The effects of years of high dose steroids wreaked havoc with my body and it doesn’t forget. The disease itself has left its mark in the loss of so much muscle mass and biopsies and weakness. My right leg carries the scars of the femoral shortening I had so long ago to make my legs even. Then there are scars I can’t share, scars too personal to write on this blog. 

I can still feel the pain of all of it. I can feel my muscles ache and swell from the disease. I remember every time I’ve fallen throughout the years because my core muscles and hips and thighs are so weak. I feel the smashing onto the ground and feel the pain of every hit. I feel the childhood embarrassment of not being the same as everyone else. My right femur still aches when it rains or the weather changes, a deep bone pain that I can’t reach and somehow still feels as though my leg is crying out for the pieces the doctors took out, for it’s lost parts. My legs are thick and heavy from the disease. I try hard to walk straight and strong so no one sees the weakness and pain within me. 

I’ve struggled with body image for most of my life. 

I struggle now as I go under the knife one more time to come out of surgery yet again with scars to add to the scars I still see and feel every single day. 

I don’t want this. 

Yet I know this. 

Jesus bore the scars of this world too. He bore them willingly for us. He’s carried me through every pain and insult. He knows my pain, and He knows yours. 

He was despised and rejected by mankind,

    a man of suffering, and familiar with pain.

Like one from whom people hide their faces

    he was despised, and we held him in low esteem.

4 Surely he took up our pain

    and bore our suffering,

yet we considered him punished by God,

    stricken by him, and afflicted.

5 But he was pierced for our transgressions,

    he was crushed for our iniquities;

the punishment that brought us peace was on him,

    and by his wounds we are healed.

6 We all, like sheep, have gone astray,

    each of us has turned to our own way;

and the Lord has laid on him

    the iniquity of us all.

Isaiah 53:3-6

Jesus took upon the pain of this world to bring healing and peace to our troubled souls. He came to make us one with Himself. He bore the pain to forever unite us to the Holy God and present us to Him pure and righteous, unblemished forever. 


For now Christ offers us a spiritual peace and oneness with Himself.  But there will come a day when our bodies will be weary no more, the scars and pain will be gone forever, and He will bring a physical healing and peace to not only ourselves, but to our world. 

Jesus’ pain was not futile. It wasn’t needless or an accident. His pain bore the ultimate fruit: forgiveness and eternal life with God. He came to suffer for us. 

So I guess, as I go off to surgery today, as I lay down on that stretcher for the doctor to inflict yet another wound on my weary body, that would be my prayer, that my pain would not be for nothing and that God would use even this to bring hope and healing and love to someone else through my own weakness and pain. 

I’ve got to run. Surgery is waiting. 

Blessings All, 

Diane

An Open Letter to my Kids

To All of My Precious Children, 

Time has such an insidious way of changing things. 

Somehow as I reflect here in this crepuscule obscure hamlet I’ve found myself in, my mind transcends time and space. It erases the years between, and all at once I hold each one of you in my arms, my infants and my bigger babies, warm and protected from the years that lay ahead for you and for all of us. It was easier then, My enveloping arms could heal all your hurts; your sweet snuggles could heal mine. I can feel your sweet breath on my neck as you rested your weary heads on my shoulders. The world felt safer then too. Hope and dreams filled me of the mother I could be to all of you, and dreams of the wonderful things I wanted to teach you and to give you. 


In what seems like only a moment, I find myself here at this place in my life where the path ahead is enshrouded in a deep haze. I can’t look down it and find my way. There is no map that shows me the curves and sharp turns that lay ahead for me, for us, only the faithful gentle calling of our Heavely Father, promising to lead me through and inviting me onward into the darkness, one tiny, faltering step at a time. 

In His unfathomable love and mercy, He’s called me to walk through a valley I would never have chosen. Yet here I am on the brink of a journey I don’t want to walk. I find myself filled with things I want to tell you all, things I may have forgotten to say, things I want you to know deep down inside of you forever. 


If having cancer has taught me anything so far, it’s reminded me of how fragile life really is. All any of us have is today.  Time is more precious, moments more fleeting. 

First, I want to say I’m sorry. I’m sorry for the times I wasn’t the mother you needed me to be. I’m sorry for the times I lost my patience and hurt your tender hearts in my feelings of desperation to get the work done or merely in my rushing to do the next thing, I’m sorry for the times I failed you in the secret places inside of you that only you know. I’m sorry for the birthday parties I didn’t have because another precious sibling was either on the way or had just arrived, or merely because I just couldn’t do one more thing. I’m sorry for the times I yelled when I should have stopped and gathered each one of you in my arms and prayed with you. 


I pray you can move on from all of my failures and move into the adults God has called you to be. I pray you can forgive me and not allow my failures to hurt your adult life.



I want you to know that not one of you was ever too many. I wanted every single one of you with all of my heart, and no matter how hard it gets some days, being your mother is still the one thing I want most in this world. I’m so very thankful that God blessed me with each one of you. You enrich my life and are God’s eternal blessings to me. 

I’m thankful God blessed me with your father, with a man who was willing to trust God for what our family looked like.  He gave me a gift that so many men aren’t able to give their wives. I want you to know that. I want you to know the gravity of that blessing he gave me. 


I want you to know that your worth comes from God, not from anything you do. He created you and loves you with a perfect, flawless love. You are His treasure. He sent His Son to die for you, for each one of you. If there were no other people on earth, He would have come and laid down His life for you alone. He has planted seeds of greatness inside each one of you, and He will water and grow those seeds inside of you in His perfect timing. 


Trust Him.  

No one is better than you. And you’re not better than anyone else. 

21 But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it— 22 the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction: 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus… Romans 3:21-23


Don’t let pride enter your heart. You can’t make your own heart beat. Even your ability to believe comes from God. Imagine you are walking on a thin veil that separates you from evil and God, with angels holding you every step of the way. At any moment if God withdrew His protection of you, you’d slip through that veil and be separated from God and His immeasurable love for you forever. It’s God who’s given you life, and it’s He who protects you every day, and not only you who know God, but all of your friends as well. The Bible says the Lord causes the sun to rise on the just and the unjust. Spend your lives sharing Christ’s love with everyone you meet without exception. 

40 And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.  Matthew 25:40-45King James Version (KJV).


Nothing you ever do here on earth will ever matter as much as what you do for your Heavenly Father. Nothing. Nothing. 

This world may seem like this is all there is, but it’s not. This world is temporal and all that it holds will fade away. Remember your life here is just a blip in the great expanse of eternity. There is a world carrying on just beyond the natural that is more real than anything this temporal world will ever be. Invest your treasure in the eternal world where you will be able to enjoy it forever. 

19 Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal:  20 But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal:    Matthew 6:19,20

Choose to honor God in every choice you make, and you will be blessed beyond your wildest dreams. 


And now, dear children, know that I love you, Every single one of you brings me the purest joy a mother can know. I’m so very proud of the people you have become and are becoming. I believe in you. I know you can do anything you set your mind to. Dream big dreams and believe that God is making a way where you can’t see one. 

And know, deep inside, that I love you and want for each one of you to fly strong and confident, with no thoughts of worry about me. God has me. I’ll make my life. Nothing will bring me greater joy than to watch you make yours. 

I’ve pointed you to the sky, to God, now it’s time to fly off into all that He has for you. Don’t look back. 


On Thursday,  I’ll have my surgery and begin my battle with breast cancer. I have no reason to believe that it will go anyway but good. Know that the God who made me is big enough to bring me through whatever darkness lies ahead for me. Trust Him to care for me. Rest in His eternal love for me and for you. 

Don’t halt your journeys because I have a different path to walk than the one we thought. 

Fly, sweet blessings. Fly into all that lies ahead for you and know that you are blessing me by doing so.


I love you so very, very much. 

Love, 

Mom 

Voices In My Head

My sister posted this photo on her wall today, and I thought that’s it. That’s exactly it. 

There are so many voices within me that won’t be silenced tonight.

I can’t do what most of America believes is exactly what I should do.

The Dr’s office called and scheduled my surgery tentatively for June 26, but in my mind every voice is telling me not to do it. 

And I can’t silence the voices. 

So I’m going to give them this blank page to speak their mind. Perhaps then I will be able to go to sleep.

I don’t agree with the approach traditional medicine takes toward healing people with cancer. I think it’s terribly harsh and toxic and unnecessary and cruel. I think patients have a better chance of surviving cancer than they do the drastic surgeries and poisonous drugs that are used to treat the disease itself. I don’t blame the doctors. I believe they honestly believe they’re offering their patients the best possible options. 

I do. 

The thing is I find myself here at this point in my life having arrived via a different path than all the educated doctors and pharmaceutical companies. I’ve come upon this place of illness after thirty years of health and nine biological children and after many early years of doing exactly what the top doctors in the field told me to yet having found all that they had to offer me wanting and inadequate. In fact, after I had followed every piece of advice they had given down to the minutest detail, they came to me at my very lowest and told me they had nothing else they could do for me. They were at a loss. All the years of steroids and chemotherapy had in fact not helped me but had left me so bereft of nutrients and any immune function at all that I could not function. I was so severly hypoglycemic that I fainted constantly and my adrenals were completely depleted of any ability to make adrenaline. 

Yet the disease raged on within me. 

My parents, who were at a complete and utter loss as well, ended up taking me to a biochemist in Princeton who began building up my system naturally with diet and nutritional supplements, some form of injectable adrenaline and electrical stimulation of my adrenal glands to get them going again after the years of steroids, and within two weeks I noticed marked improvement. Eventually my biochemist was able to wean me from the steroids, and the disease has remained in remission for most of my adult life. 

I went on to have nine children I wasn’t ever supposed to have. 

Heck, I wasn’t even supposed to be alive. 

So forgive me please for not seeing a bitalteral mastectomy with aggressive chemo and herceptin as a great way to heal my body of cancer. I have cancer because there is an unhealhty biological imbalance in my system, not because of some horrible hand of cards I’ve been dealt. And I can’t see how any of the offered treatments will support my body in healing my immune system and ridding myself of cancer. 

All I can see is that, IF, and that’s a big if, I am able to survive the chemo at all, I will have a chance at life and have to spend tons of money to rebuild my already fragile constitution from the damage these “wonderful” poisons have caused.

So, no, I don’t see all that the doctors are offering me as a good option at all.

I’d like to do something far more gentle and natural, that would support my body in ridding myself of the cancer cells on its own, but every time I even talk about doing something alternative, people look at me like I have three heads and insinuate that since I have a family that needs me, I absolutely must drink the poison and that I’m being selfish and refusing to fight for my life. 

I’m not proposing doing nothing.  I haven’t lived all these healthy years after a very serious and intense childhood wracked with dermatomyositis by doing nothing. I’ve lived this incredible life because I found a better way to heal my body than the toxic drugs that wreaked havoc within me. 

So, no, I don’t want to have a bilateral mastectomy when I know that if I don’t fix the chemistry of my body, the very reason that I have the cancer in the first place, the cancer will only return at some later date in some other form. 

And I certainly don’t want to weaken my body with poisonous drugs that are making the pharmaceutical companies vertually trillions of dollars a year at the cost of vulnerable people who are rushing headlong into treatments that are horrendous for them because they think they’re going to get well. 

I pray they do get well and stay well in spite of the toxic treatments offered to cancer patients today. 

But I really don’t want to drink the Kool-aid. 


Blessings All, 

But God

I joined a couple of Breast Cancer support groups yesterday. 

It was very sobering for me. I shared the type of breast cancer I have and the size of the masses.  

Call me naive, but somehow I’ve been believing that this bilateral mastectomy that is moving in on me like the tide rises on the shores across the globe would somehow be the end of all of this disruption in my life. But the confluence of people who commented on my post with my exact diagnosis all shared their very long and difficult journeys that they are still fighting. 

And of course, they all have had chemo and radiation and herceptin. 

I guess joining the groups and reading the women’s stories was just a piece in the process of my facing and accepting this new journey that I’ve found myself on. 

Of course it was painful to read the comments, but I couldn’t help but feel that this ugly thing called cancer had just opened my world to thousands of new friends who welcomed me with an uninhibited genuine sincerity and intimacy that I was not expecting. Cancer has initiated me into an exclusive club that separates me from so many and of which I never wanted to be a part but has also drawn me into a family of people with whom I now share something critical and deeply personal. 

How can I not see that as a blessing? 

God has just broadened my world. He’s enlarged my life. 

I already feel richer for the presence of these dear woman and their support in my life. 

One of my favorite books is The Christian’s Secret of a Happy Life, by Hannah Whitall Smith. Believe it or not, I read that book when I was a teenager, lying in bed and receiving chemotherapy and steroids for the Dermatomyositis I had. It’s been a long time since I read it, but the one thing that stands out in my mind and that I’ve always remembered as I’ve walked through life, is a picture of a young woman coming over and over again to the older woman, who I believe was the author, and telling her of all her very real and painful problems.

 

The older woman would listen with kind sincerety, and when the young woman had finished talking, the old woman would always say, “Ah, but God.”

 

“It is a law of the spiritual life that every act of trust makes the next act less difficult. Trusting becomes like breathing, the natural unconciousness of the redeemed soul.” 

― Hannah Whitall Smith, The Christian’s Secret of a Happy Life

Then she would send the young woman off again to find her way through the struggles of life. 

I remember as a young teen how profound those words became to me. Without a doubt, my life was beyond hard. Nothing about my life was normal, and no circumstance brought anything but the purest pain and endurance in my life. Yet, somehow by God’s incredible grace, I came to know a joy and peace that doesn’t depend on the circumstances of our lives. 

Of course I wanted the pain to end. Of course I prayed for God to deliver me from the hell I lived through. I begged Him. But in the midst of all of the pain and agony I endured, Hannah Whitall Smith’s simple words, “But God,” changed everything for me. Just knowing He existed changed the course of my entire life. 

I did get well. I went on to have a wonderful life. But I don’t think I could have experienced the depth of love and joy I’ve known without having trudged through some of the darkest valleys a child can know.

 

“A happy heart can walk in triumphant indifference through a sea of external trouble; while internal anguish cannot find happiness in the most favorable surroundings.” 

― Hannah Whitall Smith, The Christian’s Secret Of A Happy Life

So, I greet this mixed bag of pain and blessing with the words of Hannah Whitall Smith, “but God.”

And just like it did all those years ago, just knowing He exists changes everything for me. 

“we can and must love the will of God in the trial, for His will is always sweet, whether it be in joy or in sorrow.” 

― Hannah Whitall Smith, The Christian’s Secret Of A Happy Life

Blessings All!

The Meaning of Words

Words flood my mind now, so many words, words I knew before and words I didn’t.

The old words have taken on new meaning. They hover in the forefront of my consciousness, in that elusive place inside myself where feelings run rampant like unrestrained children, heightening my awareness of all of life, the good bits and the hard.



Dermatomyositis, biopsy, suspicious, mammogram, ultrasound, MRI, double mastectomy, calcium deposits, chemotherapy, malignant, metastasis, complicated… The words interrupt my thoughts over and over again.

Then there are new words that pop into my mind like a child playing peek-a-boo, taunting me, “Here I am too! Pay attention to me! Look. At. Me!”



Spiculated mass, hypoechoic, satellite lesions, discordant, and many more words that I’ve learned all in a couple of weeks.

The words spin round and round in my mind like the debris from an enormous tornado gathering force as it blows through what seems like the fertile ground of my life, the open spaces of my heart, the vulnerable, knawing, aching, yearning, raw spaces.


I struggle to absorb the words. They bombard me with their voracious momentum, but I can’t hear them. I can only process them in tiny pieces, in the small, ordinary moments of my life.


I felt a few of them when I hugged my seventeen year old son and kissed him goodbye as he abruptly flew off again to the ballet world that beckons him with such a loud, forceful call. I held him a little longer. I hugged him tighter. I kissed him more gently. Feelings raged inside me as I strained to hear the words and pinch off the tears from forming in my eyes. I felt afraid, but overwhelmingly thankful for the moment. It was somehow sweeter, the love somehow more intense for this son of mine whose dream is coming true at such a tender age.

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I felt the words too, as I pushed my littles on the swings last night, their young bodies full of kinetic life still waiting to be released somewhere out in front of them, their feet reaching high into the evening sky, stretching, pumping, growing, pummeling into the future faster than I could grasp the moment. I felt my heart swell, my lungs breathe deep, again shutting off the fountain that threatens to erupt in so many moments of my day.

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I feel the words besiege me when I hear the laughter of my teens and tweens as they clamor around the kitchen, giggling hard over jokes they share. They flood me when they’re talking quietly, strategically planning their next move in their game of cards. My heart soars higher, loftier at the sound of their voices.

 

This tornado of words that I’m still struggling to comprehend catapults me when I realize my oldest daughter is leaving again in mere days to work at a camp in the Adirondacks for the rest of the summer. I simultaneously want to pause the moments and greet them eagerly with a gratitude that is deeper than it was before, a thankfulness at the awareness that she is strong and ready to fly, and an aching feeling that her growth and strength take her away from me, and a deep knowing that it is all exactly as it should be.

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I so very deeply feel the meaning of the words when I reflect on all of our children who aren’t yet ready to fly away.

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They come blatantly into view, clear, bright, glaring like neon signs, when my husband takes me into his arms and tells me that he loves me. They stab at me, hard, suddenly causing every nerve cell to fire inside me leaving me with a barrage of emotions I don’t know that I can put words to.

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Words.

So many words.

Words so free, yet so loaded with the ability to trigger emotion more raw, more open, more vulnerable than before.

What do they want me to hear?

What do they mean?

What do they make me feel?

What is this mixture of joy and pain, of hope and fear, of gratitude and anger?

Can it be that this cancer that rages within me has more blatantly opened my eyes to the fragility of all life? The frailty of your life and mine? And can it be that its presence in my body has deepened the joys and more sharply branded the pains of life into the very core of who I am?

Could it be that cancer is a gift that I didn’t want yet that will forever remind me that every single moment I live in this temporal world is a gift far greater than I could have known without it?


Could this cancer, allowed into my body, my life, by the very Hand of God, breathe new life into my weary body and soul?

 

5 A man’s days are numbered. You know the number of his months. He cannot live longer than the time You have set. 6 So now look away from him that he may rest, until he has lived the time set for him like a man paid to work.

7 “For there is hope for a tree, when it is cut down, that it will grow again, and that its branches will not stop growing.

Job 14:5-7

Even cancer has no power to shorten or lengthen my days unless God chooses to allow it. 

All the days ordained for me

were written in your book

before one of them came to be.

Psalm 139:16

That gives God ALL the power and cancer none at all. 

Lord Jesus, reign supreme in my life. Fill me up with all of Yourself. Overflow through me. Use the very number of my days for Your glory, and help me to live every single moment with the awareness of life’s brevity and of the incredible gift that life is.

Blessings All!

Pregnant Teen the Victim of Hypocrites?

I don’t usually get involved in news articles gone viral or comment on newspapers that are more than happy to run an article that brings to light the fault of Christians while shutting their eyes to a multitude of sins of those who claim to be any other faith, or even of no faith at all. 

Yet, this time, I can’t let this one pass without offering my opinion. 

I’m sure many of you have seen the article in The New York Times, Pregnant at 18. Hailed by Abortion Foes. Punished by Christian School. 


Perhaps you’ve also seen the CBS News clip as well,  

Pregnant Teen’s Pro-Life Christian School Won’t Let Her Walk At Graduation.

Watch video here.

I lead an orphan ministry with my friend. 

We choose to love the children who are alone in the world. We save our money so we can help them come home to families. We have yard sales and tee shirt sales and we pray for the children, born and unborn. We adopt the children who are waiting for families. 

And we pray for their mothers. 

We pray for the young women who are so alone that they see no way to bear the child they’ve conceived. 

We pray that they would come to us with their fears and questions, in all of their aloneness, that they would not find judgment or shame, but rather love and support for the very hard and scary place they’ve found themselves in. We pray that they would not feel shame in bearing the baby God has chosen to bless them with in the midst of their humanity and weakness. We pray for the chance to love them, to share Christ with them. 

Of course I believe in abstinence before marriage. Of course I teach my children all the reasons why saving sex for marriage is God’s best for our lives. Of course I spend time in long converstations with my kids in hopes of helping them to understand that when we step out of God’s perfect plan for us, there are natural consequences that affect our lives often for the rest of our time on earth. Of course I share with them that God’s guidelines for our lives are there to protect us from unnecessary pain. Of course I remind them that God’s rules are because He loves us so very much, not because He wants to keep us from enjoying life, but because He wants to give us life more abundant and free. 

Of course. 

But when that child walks a different path than I would hope for them, I pray that they will know that they can come boldly to me, their mother, to their church or school, and find grace and love and support, just as all of us are invited to come boldly to Jesus, just as we are. 

Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.  – Hebrews 4:16

I can’t help but feel that the body of Christ has forgotten to love.

Have we so quickly forgotten how Jesus treated the woman accused of adultery?

He knelt down on the ground in the midst of those who would accuse her and wrote in the sand.  He spoke to the self righteous group of people about to stone the woman with gentle words. 

“He that is without sin among you, throw the first stone.”

At this, those who heard began to go away one at a time, the older ones first, until only Jesus was left, with the woman still standing there. Jesus straightened up and asked her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?”

“No one, sir,” she said.

“Then neither do I condemn you,”Jesus declared. “Go now and leave your life of sin.” ~Jesus, John 8:9-11

The treatment of Maddi Runkles by Dave Hobbs wreaks of the purtitanistic legalism that Hester Prynne endured in Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter. Have we learned no more about love all these years later? This is the type of behavior that gives Jesus and those who follow Him a bad name. Nothing about this is like Jesus. Of course the world believes we are hypocrites when decisions like this are made. 

Maddi Runkles must be hidden away in her home on home instruction and can’t walk across the graduation platform because she chose to keep her baby? 

Seriously? 

I can’t help but wonder what we’re really punishing when we choose such harsh and barbaric treatment of a Christian young lady who got pregnant and chose to give life to her baby. Maddi Runkles is long past the confession stage. What do we hope to accomplish by such harsh punishment and shaming? Do we really think the next young lady who gets pregnant will feel safe to come forth after she’s seen how Maddi’s been treated? 

Are we more concerned with making a spectacle of someone else’s mistake than we are about the unborn babies within? 

How can we, as Christians, hope to save the lives of the unborn when we treat our own dear daughters who choose to have their babies with punishment because they chose life?

And of course it’s her choice to have the baby that’s being punished. She could have had an abortion and walked across that platform. 

Maddi Runkles made the right choice, and that’s the choice that should have been celebrated and focused on, not the one she’s already confessed. 

The church isn’t condoning sex before marriage when they choose to love unwed mothers anymore than I am condoning lying when I choose to celebrate the fact that my children have chosen to come to me and expose their dishonesty instead of focusing on the sin.  Do you think for a moment that I punish them when they tell me of their failures?

Of course I don’t. 

I celebrate their choice to be honest and to confess their sins. 

I envelope them in my arms and praise them for their choice to come forth and tell the truth. 

This isn’t about forcing Maddi to take responsibility for the choice she made. She’s totally taken responsibility for the choice she made. She carries it every day. She wears it like a scarlet letter in front of legalists who choose to accuse her. She’ll live with the decision she made for the rest of her life. I wonder if people like Dave Hobbs really know the bravery and level of responsibility it takes for a young lady to make the choice Maddi has made. She should be supported and loved by Christians for her choice, and the new life within her should be celebrated. In God’s perfect love and grace, He chose to bless this young lady with a baby. The church needs to see it as such and celebrate this child’s life.

Mr. Hobbs is quoted as commenting in reference to his harsh consequences, “This is for Maddi.”

Can he be serious?

In response to this one, I’m compelled to say, “Come on Dave. For the sake of the unwed mothers and the unborn babies, it’s time to choose love and grace.”

A New Journey

Today is my birthday, and on it, amidst the business of caring for a family of 13, I begin a new journey. 


It’s not a journey I ever thought I’d have to take. 


Yet it is one God has allowed into my life for a reason. 


And I begin this path willingly and in confidence that God will see me through even this, as He has seen me through so many trials before. 


The doctors say that I have begun my battle with breast cancer. Yet, I know that we wrestle not with flesh and blood. This battle is not mine. It’s God’s. He is fighting for me and already making a way where I can’t see one. 

12 For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. – Ephesians 6:12

I don’t have breast cancer by some chance or by some random toss of the die. I have breast cancer because this is a path that God, in His infinite love and grace and provision for me, has allowed me to walk. 


I walk it for Jesus. May He shine brighter through me in my weakness. 

2Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters,a whenever you face trials of many kinds, 3because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. 4Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. 5If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. 6But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. 7That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. 8Such a person is double-minded and unstable in all they do. – James 1:2-8


This birthday, I’ve been given an incredible gift that will grow my faith, give me wisdom, and prepare me to support someone else who must also walk this path, and draw me closer to my Heavenly Father. 

What better gift could there possibly be than that? 

I praise God for this new journey, and I can’t wait to see all the miracles that lie ahead on its path. 

Blessings All! 

EFOs

“Who is Jesus?” She types in the translator only two weeks home from China. 

Her brand new daddy looks at me with eyes open wide, big and filled with the endless blue of the sea. For this moment we’ve prayed. He types into the computer screen, “He is the Son of God.”

My heart pauses, gallops in my chest, I hold my breath long, hard, tight, as if I’m trying to rid myself of hiccups. Oh, how I long to tell my sweet daughter about this Jesus Who is gilding all my broken parts together with pure gold, this Jesus Who is strong in my weakness, Who effortlessly transcends the natural and the spiritual, Who brought her home to me from China when I was so undeserving of the blessing that she is. I want to tell her of this miracle worker Who loves her more than she can even hope to ever be loved.

Scripture fills me. Yet, I wonder, how much can she take in all at once through an electronic translator? 

6You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. 7Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. 8But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. – Romans 5:6-8

My words are barren, deficient, found wanting to explain the miraculous. 

The skeptics say there are no miracles. 

Yet, I know Him, He Whose life was nothing if it wasn’t miraculous, from His birth to His resurrection, He lived, fully man yet fully God. If that’s not miraculous, then what is? 

A world without miracles is a world without hope. 

God’s Word fills me just as Jesus said it would.


The Apostle Paul answered the skeptics. 

12 But if it is preached that Christ has been raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? 13 If there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. 14 And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith. 15 More than that, we are then found to be false witnesses about God, for we have testified about God that he raised Christ from the dead. But he did not raise him if in fact the dead are not raised. 16 For if the dead are not raised, then Christ has not been raised either. 17 And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins. 18 Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ are lost. 19 If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied.
20 But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. 21 For since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead comes also through a man. 22 For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive. 23 But each in turn: Christ, the firstfruits; then, when he comes, those who belong to him. 24 Then the end will come, when he hands over the kingdom to God the Father after he has destroyed all dominion, authority and power. 25 For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. 26 The last enemy to be destroyed is death. 27 For he “has put everything under his feet.”[c] Now when it says that “everything” has been put under him, it is clear that this does not include God himself, who put everything under Christ. 28 When he has done this, then the Son himself will be made subject to him who put everything under him, so that God may be all in all.
29 Now if there is no resurrection, what will those do who are baptized for the dead? If the dead are not raised at all, why are people baptized for them? 30 And as for us, why do we endanger ourselves every hour? 31 I face death every day—yes, just as surely as I boast about you in Christ Jesus our Lord. 32 If I fought wild beasts in Ephesus with no more than human hopes, what have I gained? If the dead are not raised,
“Let us eat and drink,

    for tomorrow we die.”   1 Corinthians 15:12-32

Lord Jesus, give us the words. 

Eleven of the twelve disciples died a martyr’s death, and Judas fell on his own sword after betraying Jesus, for how does one live in the face of utter separation from Jesus? Would Jesus’s apostles die for a lie? Would not even one of them have bailed? 


Confidence fills me again. God’s Word breathes life into my impoverished words. 


She looks back at us, serious, her deep brown eyes wanting to know, longing for real answers, this child of my heart whom God placed in my arms from a whole world away. She is a miracle. Her life, her entire life is a miracle. The fact that she survived in a country where lives are snuffed out if they can’t check off all the boxes on the paper, if they can’t dot all the i’s and cross all the t’s, in a society where no one is safe if they are special.



Yet she sits before me, this child whose life transcends the natural merely by her existence, this child who survived for nearly fourteen years until she was finally placed in her mother’s arms, this child whose resilience staggers me, sits before us now and asks us to explain the miraculous. 

This miracle child who yearns for love inside that special place where hope lives and thrives amidst the most impossible of circumstances, inside that place that longed for a mommy and daddy, that lofty place that longs for meaning and purpose, for  eternity and God, this child asks us to explain the miraculous. 


Eagerly, she types on the keyboard in her lovely mandarin characters that translate to English instantly before our eyes. Her words snatch our breath from our lungs and our hearts race hard, Lord Jesus, gives us the words. 

“Does every nation know it?”

Does every nation know it? 

Her words rebound in our mind. 

Truth. It’s God’s truth we long to tell her. 

Her two week old daddy’s hands type the words that speak the truth. 

“No, sweet heart, every nation doesn’t know it.”

She shakes her head knowingly. I see the questions forming in her mind, her gifted mind that is beautiful and loved and yet is the  very reason she was so carelessly discarded at birth. I know the question I need to answer for her. I sit in awe, staring at this child who yearns for answers to the questions the whole world asks. And even though I already have nine biological children, I am suddenly aware of how brand new I am at mothering my newly adopted daughters. 

Her daddy, who suddenly seems so much less new to parenting an adopted teenager than I am, types in the words she yearns to hear. 

“But every nation will come to know Jesus. God loves every person in every nation in every culture all over the world. He came to bring life, more abundant and free, to everyone. One day, everyone will come to see Jesus as our Savior. The Bible tells us that.” 

After this I looked, and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and before the Lamb. They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands. – Revelations 7:9

6Who, being in very nature of God,

did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage;

7rather, he made himself nothing

by taking the very nature of a servant,

being made in human likeness.

8And being found in appearance as a man,

he humbled himself

by becoming obedient to death—

even death on a cross!

9Therefore God exalted him to the highest place

and gave him the name that is above every name,

10that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,

in heaven and on earth and under the earth,

11and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord,

to the glory of God the Father.  –  Philippians 2:6-11

She shook her head, her eyes wide with wonder. Then she typed in the translator, “I know this man. He is God. His people bring us clothes and candy and pray with us.”

Tears welled up in my eyes. My precious daughter already knew that miracles were real. There was no need for me to try to explain the supernatural to my little miracle girl. She already believed. Her life, too, was a series of miracles from the very beginning. 

This Jesus, Whose miracles athiests and skeptics have tried to explain away for years, perhaps because all of their wisdom holds them back from accepting the reality of the Risen Christ through faith alone, or perhaps because they do not want to surrender to an authority higher than themselves, had already been working His miracles to change the course of my daughter’s life, to bring her to Himself, to place her in our family, long before we even knew we would ever adopt. 

Jesus is as alive today as He was on the day of His resurrection, and He is still working His miracles today.  


There is no greater miracle story to tell than the story of God, coming to earth in the form of a baby, for the sole purpose of going to the cross, to pay for every lie we’ve ever told, for every angry word we’ve ever spoken, for every time we’ve chosen to put ourselves before Him, for every time we’ve refused to believe. He came to call us brothers and sisters, to share with us all that the Father has given Him. He came to unite every nation on the globe in love and peace and joy. He came to offer us a relationship with Him, and eternal life. 

That’s the miracle of Easter. 


Easter 

Forever

Offers

Salvation

Blessings All!

My Life In God's Garden

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Little Girl Lost – Monday Musings

As I’ve reflected this week on what miracle I would share with you today, I decided to travel back to my childhood and share another moment when God miraculously changed the course of my life.

My mind drifts back to the child that I was.


Sometimes, in that tiny space between consciousness and sleep, I can even see her, feel her. I can feel her sadness. I can feel her pain, see her longing for health and normalcy. I can feel that all encompassing desire and desperate prayer that my life would not always be as it was.

I am aware of a loneliness so big and so deep, so pervasive and inescapable that it set me apart from life and friends and the whole world like no normal preteen crisis ever could have.

Dermatomyositis,” I hear the doctor repeat the word that would change my life forever. He repeated it for my parents. He wrote it down for them to see. I can see the word written even now in his sloppy letters, erratic sloping curves like the waves of the tsunami that had just hit my life.

Dermatomyositis, the word echoed in my mind. Fear shot through my eleven year old body like lightning blasts through water.

Dermatomyositis. Steroids. Chemotherapy. 

The words fell on unknowing ears. I had no idea what any of the words meant. I could only feel their weight as they seemed to hover in the air, in the space between my hospital bed, my parents and the doctor, somehow harbingers of all that lay ahead for me then. I didn’t know how the disease would take over my life, or how many hours I would spend lying in bed, or being carried from bed to couch, and back again.

The disease began to take on a rhythm of its own that would remain in that same pattern for the next eight years of my life. The spring would somehow bring relief from the burning aching pain of my muscles. I’d begin to be able to sit up for periods of time and take rides in my wheelchair, but with the arrival of fall, the disease would flare again in all of its voracious devestation. I’d spend the winters in bed, barely able to hold my head up, reading every book that found itself in my room, writing in my journal and talking to Jesus.

I remember telling Him over and over again that I knew He could heal me; I knew it as clearly as I knew that I needed a miracle.

At one point the disease had been terribly active for months. I’d been on chemotherapy for over three years in an attempt to reduce the lymphocytes that were attacking my muscles including my heart, with no improvement or reduction in their numbers. The doctors felt they could not leave me on the Cytoxan any longer.


I’d begun to despair. Every blood test showed no improvement. Even the doctors had told my parents they were at a loss. They could not explain why the chemotherapy wasn’t working.


I prayed and prayed and begged God to heal me. One night in particular, I remember lying awake in my bed, completely immobilized by the weakness and pain. Sleep didn’t come. I felt a despair that I couldn’t bear. I pleaded with my Heavenly Father to make the medicine work.

The next morning the phone rang. It was Children’s Hospital. The nurse on the other end of the phone said, “We can’t explain it, her lymphocytes have dropped enormously. We’ve never before seen such a dramatic drop in numbers so quickly. I can only say it’s a miracle. I think your daughter should begin to feel better soon.”

I knew, in the deepest part of my heart, that God had heard my prayer and miraculously changed the course of the disease.

It wasn’t the end of the disease for me, but it was a brief respite from the pain, and God had most certainly made Himself real to me. It would take many more years and many more miracles before I could begin to live a normal life, but what God did in one of the darkest moments of my early years with the disease, changed my life forever and was a big part in the process of growing my faith to the place that it is today.

Years later, when I was seventeen, I wrote an essay that speaks to the loneliness and struggle of those years. I share it with you here.

God heard the prayers of the little girl that I was. He intervened to save my life.

And He hears our prayers today.

 


My Life In God's Garden
 

 

 

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Blessings All!

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