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The Greatest Day

The concept of The Greatest Day isn’t new. I’ve heard the phrase a handful of times. I was reintroduced to it during my Bible study’s exploration of Not A Fan by Kyle Idleman, which ended last week. In it, a brush with death causes the main character to re-evaluate his life through a before/after narrative. I have a few Greatest Days, awe-inspiring turning points that lend themselves to new understandings and new beginnings. The day my husband proposed, our wedding day, and the birth dates of our children are all examples of Greatest Days. But, when it comes to my faith, I have another Greatest Day.

I was baptized when I was 9 in an LCMS on Reformation Sunday. I doubt I would remember the date if it was a regular Sunday, but Reformation Sunday is a big deal at the Lutheran church. In the weeks before, my parochial school teacher shared the story of Patrick the Pumpkin and how his light went out due to his sin. I was fearful; and, so I was baptized. I wanted to make sure God’s fingerprint was upon my forehead forever, the kind of mark that wouldn’t wash away.

Then, when I was 20 I chose baptism by immersion out of assuredness. I was baptized at a  BASIC retreat, acknowledging His work in me and vowing to turn my life around. And, I did. (I also met my husband about this time; “As for God, his way is perfect!” (Psalm 18:30).)

God has been real to me for a long time. And, I had been a fan for a long time.

January 19, 2015–Blue Monday-–My Greatest Day

I was depressed.

It was January 2015 and I was five months postpartum with our first set of twins. We had five children in total and only one was old enough for school. The twins were 15-months younger than the next in line who was 20 months younger than the only brother who was four years younger than the oldest. Four kids three-and-under and a 7-year old . The four youngest were home with me. Just me. I was always home with them. It was just me and the kids. The hoard of kids. And me. Always. At home.

Did I mention I was always home with the kids?

My husband loved me and loved his family. He worked diligently and quickly became an asset in his workplace, leaving for his job around 7am and not returning home until close to 6pm most nights. I resented the time he spent with other adults. It was deeply painful for me to hear good things about his day because I desired them for myself. I, in my misery, pushed away the thing I most wanted—my husband’s time with me.

In the home, life was uncomfortable, mundane, and redundant. We had three in diapers. I would feed kids, change kids’ diapers, change kids’ clothes, change my shirt, change burp cloths, and wash bottles. Fix. Feed. Fill. Repeat.

Everything was the same. Everything was too much. Everything was not enough. Too much work. Too little time. Too much pressure. Overcooked, underdone, too bland.

Life was busy, hectic, messy, and I was not handling it well. I was drowning in the lies of my real failures, and I was bringing all my relationships down with me. While I accepted the fact that my broken-headed baby was still alive and here with us, I could not grasp the hows and whys. I had proven that I alone could not keep her infant body safe enough to prevent such a terrible accident. I also could not keep a house, and I was a shoddy cook. Also-also on my list of disqualifications, I was an angry and resentful wife.

Why did God pour two more people into my lap for me to care for? I was doing a terrible job with what I had. I was on birth control for several of these children! They were not supposed to happen. Why did God give them to me? Why me?

To say I was in over my head would be an understatement. I was a mess in the flesh. I had limited my showers to once a week; I had to look decent enough on Sundays. I was eating anything I could shove into my mouth; I didn’t care about the taste. I was always behind on laundry and dishes; my husband bought paper plates for a time but then the garbage was constantly overflowing. I was neglecting everything: my family, our home, and myself.

I didn’t doubt Him or what He could do. I doubted me. How could He do this good work in me?

One of my New Year’s Resolutions was to seek Him and find Him.

I felt far from God. I did not feel His closeness. I did not have His perfect peace. But, He hadn’t left me. I soon realized I had left him. I doubted me in His plan and his purpose for me. This was a reckoning. This was a battle over the trajectory of my life, of resetting my internal compass to point to Him in everything. But, I couldn’t see myself as He saw me. I was surrounded by my shortcomings; they stared back at me as piles of clothes on the couch, dishes toppling into the sink, crying children, sticky floors, and extra weight around my hips. It caressed my face every time my husband left for work and arrived home each evening from the job we used to do together, but that I had to walk away from.

It was difficult. I grieved.

His Word says “seek, and you will find” (Matt. 7:7). So, I started seeking. I endeavored to read scripture every day. I asked around, downloaded a few Bible and women’s devotional apps but ultimately decided on something with more punch and fewer frills. I started waking up early with my husband so I could tell him how much I loved and appreciated him, and I took a shower every morning. Before I knew it, I was three weeks into my new routine and it was Blue Monday.

The devotional verse that day was Luke 12:6-7 (NIV):

“Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? Yet not one of them is forgotten by God. Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.”

God does not forget them. God did not forget you. This small flock of sparrows that is worth mere pennies, and yet each sparrow in that flock is valuable to God. You are valuable to God. In fact, you have more value than the sparrow to God because you were created in His image (Gen. 1:27). You are very good (Gen. 1:31). You are not forgotten (Matt 28:20). He knows you (1 Cor. 13:12).

my sink

I read the verse five times through. Then, I stood over the kitchen sink and stared at the mess in the backyard, at the mess in the kitchen–at the sink once again overflowing with dishes—and I understood that I had value apart from the state of my mess. Or, rather, in spite of my mess. That the mess has value and worth in it. That I was afraid I was worthless if I wasn’t a teacher, if instead I was a messy, over-extended wife and mother. I melted into my mess. I was an utter mess. Messy messy mess mess.

My head dug this verse from my heart:

1 Corinthians 10:31 (NIV): “So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.”

Whatever I do. Whether I wipe butts, change never-ending diapers; whether I make boxed mac ‘n’ cheese everyday of the week; whether I bathe myself once a week or once a day; whatever I do, do it all for the glory of God. All of it. Not some of it. Not most of it. Not all, but. Every single thing.

Kerry reading with kids

His purpose for me is in this mess. This mess is where God is glorified. On The Greatest Day, He met me in it.

He will meet you in it, too.

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Bronchospasm

Cough–one
Freeze–two, three
Clutch–four
Seize–five, six
Black–seven, eight, nine
Heart beats inside head–ten

Gaaaaaaasp

The longest ten seconds.

Cough–one
Freeze–two
Clutch–three
Seize–four
Black–five, six
Neck aches–seven
The darkness is still—like a mini death.

Gaaaaaaasp

That time–seven seconds before the next breath.

Cough Cough
Two quick breaths, then another.
one, two, three, four, five
Regain control of the lungs with a throbbing head.


Breathe. Breathe.
one, two, three, four, five
Cough

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Reflections on IF:Gathering 2020

 

I love the story of a good year. I especially love a good year that is filled with trouble and heartache and yet comes full circle to the things that matter–namely Christ and how our lives reflect His glory.

Since my last post in April 2019, He has done a good work in me to reveal darkness within me and bring it to light. During this time the Lord refined my marriage and further revealed his love, glory, and power to redeem our family for Himself.

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“For whatever is hidden is meant to be disclosed, and whatever is concealed is meant to be brought out into the open.” Mark 4:22

All of that brings me to my purpose today.

Last weekend I attended a simulcast of IF:Gathering 2020 at an IF:Local church. Almost every song at IF was about breath, breathing, lungs, life, etc. But, I could not sing. I could not stand. I did sit there and worship my God with every breath in me and my irritated, swollen, contracting bronchi and alveoli. I am an asthmatic and currently experiencing a “severe asthma exacerbation.” I have been in and out of urgent care several times over the last several weeks (stepping into week 6, hello!). Child care was arranged specifically for my children so I could attend so in spite of my inability to speak I went. I praised Him for the realization that there is always something we can do for the kingdom so long as there is breath in our lungs–cue asthma attack.

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The overarching theme for the event was Romans 8. Most speakers referenced Romans 8:1, then went from there. It’s a turning point in the book of Romans. Specifically in Romans 7, Paul writes at length of the war between the flesh and the spirit, of the good we know we ought to do yet the inability of the flesh to do it. Depravity. It is great. Suddenly, chapter 8 opens with, “therefore.” Romans 8:1 is a peanut shell packed perfectly with the truth of the fullness of Christ. “Therefore, there is now NO condemnation for those in Christ Jesus.” If you are in Christ, you are not condemned!

This verse packs a wallop with me. Last year in May 2019, I shared Romans 8:1 on Facebook with these words:

Image may contain: outdoor and nature, possible text that says 'THEREFORE, THERE IS NOW NO CONDEMNATION FOR THOSE IN Chnit Jesus ROMANS 8:1'
“Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, 2 because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you[a] free from the law of sin and death.” Romans 8:1-2

A friend shared this verse with me this week. I’m sure I’ve read it a handful of times before but I hadn’t applied it to myself.

It makes me think of this worldly piece of advice:

“Don’t cling to a mistake just because you spent a lot of time making it.”

If you are in Christ Jesus, you are a new creation. I am in Christ Jesus and I am a new creation. I am not condemned. I have eternal life through the life, death, and resurrection of Christ Jesus.

Stop living in condemnation if you are in Christ. He has come to set you free.

“It is for freedom Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.” (Galatians 5:1)

The Lord would eventually prune that friend from my life. But His truth remains. The character He revealed through Romans 8 is breathing-taking, even when my lungs cannot hold breath. Here He redeemed His word for himself in my broken, miry, and contrite heart. Here he (re-)set my feet upon the path of righteousness, for His name sake. Here He redeemed a moment for Himself. Here in a two-day event that I could not speak at, sing at, but was at, filled with songs and imagery of lungs and voices and Good News. Here.

The last slotted speaker at IF 2020 was Sadie Robertson Huff. I had never heard her speak, though my parents loved Duck Dynasty. The theme leading up to her time focused on hope for the coming generation. She referenced her Passion 2020 message, then qualified it by referencing John 21:15-25 when Jesus “redeems a moment with Peter.”

The moment being redeemed is this: Peter’s denial of Jesus three times before the rooster crows in John 18. The reference of the first denial is John 18:17, then Peter stands among them “warming himself” (v. 18 & 25). This is followed promptly with two more denials around a fire in John 18:25-27. Three times Peter has denied Jesus in John 18. Then, the rooster crows (v. 27). Scripture moves to the scene where Jesus is before Pilate, where the people ask for the release of Barabbas over the one on whom there is charge against.

In this first moment, we see the self- as the driving force. Peter denies Jesus for himself. How would it look if they knew he was was Jesus’ friend and disciple? Peter stands among “them” keeping warm by the fire. This coldness strikes me as loneliness and despair more than an actual absence of heat. Similar to the kind of cold I feel when I am sad and prefer to remain wrapped in blankets with a sweater on. The chill of wretchedness. The chill of the condemned.

Scripture does not tell us here that Peter is condemned. Peter himself does not tell us this. The last word on the matter of Peter is that the rooster crows just as Jesus said it would. It is the loudest I told you so that no one said.

But, God through His son, Jesus, redeems.

Image may contain: Kerry Young, smiling, food
My son with a catch of about 20.

 

How it is redeemed: in John 21, at least five of Jesus’ disciples are out by the Sea of Galilee (v.1). Peter, who struggles with being still decides that he is going fishing (v.3). Then, Peter on John’s realization that this man who has appeared on the shore is the Lord Jesus jumps into the water and crosses about 100 yards to get to Him, leaving the others to follow behind with the boat in tow (v. 8). They notice there is “a fire of burning coals there with fish on it, and some bread” near Jesus (v. 9). Then, Jesus tells Peter to get some of the fish he just caught, so Peter goes back into the boat and drags the net filled with large fish back to shore. There are “153” fish in that net. Scripture says, “but even with so many the net was not torn” (v. 11). After the nets are hoisted into the boat, Jesus says to them, “Come and have breakfast” (v. 12). The fire in this situation is for Jesus to feed his disciples.

After breakfast—after meeting self-preservation needs—Jesus asks Peter three times if Peter loves him. ‘“Yes, Lord,”’ [Peter] says, ‘“you know that I love you.”’ (v. 15). Jesus says to Peter: “Feed my lambs.” After Jesus has appeared out of nowhere, enabled the disciples on the Sea of Galilee to hoist 153 large fish, then prepared a charcoal fire and some  grub, Jesus reminds and redeems Peter from the condemnation he has put on himself.

In verse 16,  “Again Jesus said, “Simon son of John, do you love me?” [Peter] answered, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.” Jesus response this time:  “Take care of my sheep.”

Do not deny my sheep, Peter! Feed them, Peter! Break bread and eat fish with them, Peter! 

Yet, a third time. One. Two. Three. Three times Jesus asks Peter—do you love me? This time—Peter is “hurt.” “Lord, you know all things; you know that I love you know that I love you,” Peter says (v. 17). Again, Jesus says, “feed my sheep.” Peter, here is a tangible example of what to do and how to do it. Feed them; give them fish. Feed them; forgive them.

In verses 18 and 19, Jesus says some things Peter probably doesn’t want to hear, so he allows himself to be distracted. Now that his attention is elsewhere, not on the things of Christ who is there in the flesh in that moment fulfilling Peter’s physical and spiritual needs, we read that “Peter turned and saw” John (v. 20).  Jesus is having a moment with Peter, and Peter turns his focus and is distracted by someone else. Peter is in the presence of Jesus Christ and yet he is distracted. That is us. Jesus is redeeming the moment. Three times Jesus asks Peter if he loves him in John 21 as if to counter the three times Peter denied Jesus back in John 18. But, Peter is concerned with his neighbor. Jesus, in verse 22, reminds Peter of his supremacy with, ““If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you? You must follow me.”

Rather than that being the end of the issue, now a rumor spread among the believers that this disciple would not die.” That disciple being John, the “disciple whom Jesus loved.”

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Distraction. Condemnation. But, redemption.

Recap: Christ appears on the shore, he makes a fire and feeds his disciples, he redeems the moment, and yet Peter is more concerned with “the disciple whom Jesus loved” rather than the command Jesus has given to Peter—to “follow me!” When Christ corrects this, the other disciples decide that Jesus’ words must mean something else, so a rumor ensues under false pretense. This is part of Christ’s redeeming work but we—like Peter, like the other disciples—are too concerned with ourselves, with the actions we have taken that condemn ourselves.

Christ says, “follow me.”

Paul says in Romans 8:1-2, “Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death.”

Christ has set you free.

There is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.

There is no darkness within you that He will not illuminate.

Do not get distracted.

Follow Him.

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“Tea Tonight?”: Our Family Recipe for Intentional Conversation

tea time tasting
Our secondhand tea set and loose-leaf teas

“Tea tonight” is code in this house for intentional conversation. It’s deeper than a check-in, at times painful and emotional, and always lasts about an hour.

We lay our burdens on the table next to cupfuls of loose-leaf tea in this secondhand tea set. My husband picked it up years ago after we suffered through the first few years of marriage marred by inconsistent and ineffective communication. My love language is Quality Time; His is Acts of Service. This tea time is the perfect blend of time, talk, and service to one another.

What Is The Process?

Someone must boil and brew, clear and set the table, pour into cups, then rinse and wash the servicewear after tea. It’s a process. Whoever is having tea helps set up for tea. The invitation, “tea tonight?” is open to whomever would like a seat at the table. Some times we ask one another directly; some times we don’t. It depends on what needs to be said and to whom.

After a couple years of using these talks to strengthen and edify communication within our marriage, we started using this strategy with the kids, too.

The phrase–“tea tonight”–can be used as a question or statement. Anyone may suggest tea tonight. The process of making and setting up for tea is part of the conversation, too. Generally, small talk occurs here while everything heavy happens with a spot of tea. The water must be boiled, the tea chosen and brewed. Then, once the tea is poured, it has to cool enough to be consumed.

Which Topics Are Covered?

My husband and I sip tea as we discuss which vacuum to drop $100+ on, which route to plot for a cross-country vacation, which school to send the children to, and to air our grievances with one another. We do not leave the table until we have an action plan, but not necessarily a final decision.

For my pensive husband, this typically means a standing tea date on the same topic in a week or so. This builds patience and prayerfulness while refuting impulsiveness. It also teaches our children that we don’t have all the answers already, and that we have to work some things out, too.

For the kids, this means there is accountability, both to themselves and to the family. Right now we have three kids in the same school with two more at a different school on the same campus. The five kids have the opportunity to pass each other in the halls, meet up in the bathroom, select one another as reading buddies, and more. They spend time together at school and at home. They call each other out and report back to Mom and Dad, and we all discuss what did happen, what could have happened, and why the situation occurred in the first place.

The Kids Have Tea, Too

Yes, the kids have tea time talks, too. When one is missing too many assignments, or begins to settle into a routine of shedding tears, or opts to skip bath nights with increasing frequency, or when they crave individual attention, we have tea.

Our oldest is always asking to “go do something.” In my own quest to learn what it means to ‘be still,’ I have tea with my daughter. It’s a bit of time I can set aside without spending a penny or making arrangements for the family to function without me.

We work on “I” language and try to move away from “you” statements. We underscore personal responsibility while promoting situational awareness for how our words (and actions) affect others, whether that is the intention.

What Are The Ground Rules?

  1. Talk to each other with open hearts to hear one another. We share this time to bear one another’s burdens—including increased workloads, tween drama, and having a clean sink while also needing four pots for dinner.
  2. Extend grace and compassion, and speak from forgiveness. Everyone at the table agrees when the discussion at the table is over. One person cannot get up and leave. Part of being at the table is processing words and emotions together.
  3. Be prepared to come back to the table.  In our few short years of using tea to bring us into conversation, one conversation is rarely enough. It is standard practice to have multiple teas on the same topic. Occasionally there is tea multiple times a week. Most often, however, we have tea biweekly. It is rare that we would have one tea on one topic and never discuss it again. In fact, I cannot think of one to share. Know that conversation and getting to the heart of whatever is happening will take time to discover, resolve, and restore.
  4.  Pray for one another. It would be easy to leave the table and push these conversations away in our minds. (Actually, it wouldn’t be easy. I’m a dweller. Yikes!) But, lift these burdens–your and everyone else’s who was at the table–to the Lord. Pray for the Holy Spirit to move in you, to grant you wisdom, understanding, and for His presence to revealed through this situation, whatever it may be.

Ephesians 4:29-32; “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.”

tea and cocoa 2019
My tea, my daughter’s hot cocoa

Variations of Tea and Conversation

I share our method so that you may have a tool for conversation. I am sharing this after listening to another mother share hers. Each time I share, others offer how they make intentional conversation with their spouses and children. The name may be different, but the goal is the same.

One friend has a handful of teen/preteen girls at home. She invites her daughters to intentional conversation with “Tuesday Talks.” She gathers the girls–two at a time–into her room to sit upon her bed and talk about their week. This has become routine on Tuesdays and a weekly ritual. These young women are navigating conflict with support and emotional safety. They are learning how be vulnerable, how to express themselves, and how to listen.

Mentor Mom Marilyn uses “Talking Chairs” to provide a safe space of open communication with her husband. They practice this strategy with their children, too.

However you do it, carve out time for intentional conversation. You will benefit from speaking and listening. You will not always leave the table with an answer, but you will leave the table feeling heard and hearing the other person.

🍵

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“Woman, Start Apologizing!”: My Response to Rachel Hollis’ book

These chocolate chip honey grahams. They appear a little worse for wear, don’t they? But, look at them sticking together. Those dark spots might be scars. They might be bruises and brokenness baked in. Apart from the graham, the chip just is. Together, they’re a sweet snack of crunch and sweet goodness. We would be hard-pressed to separate chip from graham, graham from chip.

My Apology

I’m sorry.

I didn’t read Rachel Hollis’ book–and I do not intend to.

The old me struggled with regret and self-depreciation. The old me never would have apologized–not even to myself. The old me would have never apologized. The old me would have fought to be right, even when she was very, very wrong.

I’m sorry, old me. I’m sorry I allowed you to breed contempt within yourself. I am sorry your self-loathing permeated to your children, your husband, your relationships.

I am sorry. I apologize.

Not A Sorry-Sayer

While I was working through the “Not A Fan” study, I had journaled I would stop saying “I’m sorry.” I am not a sorry-sayer, but I wanted to stop finding myself in situations that required an apology, especially by way of mouth. By my opening my mouth. The Holy Spirit, he delivered. Conviction came within the week. I waited a few days, prayed about it, then made the “sorry” phone call.

The woman on the other end of my sorry was appreciative. I did recognize that my  words were scathing and hurtful, lacking love. She was gracious and forgiving and self-depreciating. This apology was about me and for me as much as the words I had spoken were about her. The sorry call built a bridge for us both. I called myself out, and she supported me in that. She then called herself out and I–lovingly this time–supported her in it. I endeavored to do better. Through this situation, I meet my pride face to face. I had to apologize to her and to myself.

Pride and Myself

Kerry face in car

The old me–pictured here at 18–lived in a lawfully righteous house of pride… until I didn’t. The old me pridefully wrote internal legislation to remain righteous. The old me tried to rationalize every misstep as intentional. Not that God would work out all things for His glory, but that I would glorify myself as things did not work out.

“I meant to do that.”

“If I hadn’t done that, I wouldn’t be here–and I like where I am.”

True enough, but these statements glorify the wrong thing–the wrong person. They glorify myself, my pride, my risks, my sin. They do not glorify Christ. They are about the dead man–the old self–inside of me. They are not about the new creation that is me in Christ (2 Cor 5:17).

I continue to do and say things I wish I wouldn’t. In my head and in my heart, I know better. In my flesh, I do not (Rom 7:15). Therefore, the less aware I am of me and the decision-making process between flesh and spirit, the more damage I do. When I am out of step with the Spirit, I find myself especially lacking self-control, gentleness, and kindness. I think too fast, speak too fast, and cause harm to others too fast.

Saying ‘sorry’ is one way I put others first. Reflecting on my thoughts, words, and deeds enables me to behave differently when a similar situation occurs. I imitate Christ best when, with gentleness, I slow down and am reminded of His perfect and holy character.

Words Like Honey

I have also learned the sweetness of a good, sincere sorry. Not the kind of sorry that leaves a bad taste in your mouth, but the kind of apology that enables reconciliation. The kind of apology that yields growth, change, and discernable repentance. The kind of apology that is like honey: natural, sweet, and good. The kind of apology that helps fight off those old thoughts of regret and self-depreciation.

Proverbs 16:24

“Gracious words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones.” (NIV)

“Kind words are like honey–sweet to the soul and healthy for the body.” (NLT)

“Gracious words are like a honeycomb, sweetness to the soul and health to the body.” (ESV)

Regret some things. Know that your value doesn’t come from how hard you hustle, how little you apologize, or how your choices brought you to where you are today. Praise God that through the life, death, and resurrection of his son, Jesus, you are a new creation–and that you are free to apologize. Your worth and your value are in Christ.

 

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Don’t ‘Let Go and Let God.’ Stop Fighting and Be Still.

chair in weird black and white

“If I let go, I have to pick it back up again. When do I pick it back up again? How much of it do I pick back up again?”

It was freshman year of college and I continued to meet with my accountability partner biweekly. We had been in the same small group Bible study through high school and continued being accountable to one another in college. We met once every other week. I had a car and she walked to campus from her house so I always drove. Sometimes we went out for food. Sometimes we took a long drive. Sometimes we went for a walk.

This particular day was rainy, too wet to walk. I opened with, “How is your heart?” In my car, the windows had fogged over from our talking. Apparently my question had been an answer to prayer, urging her to bear her soul. Her prayers until then had all focused on her heart, so when I asked how it was she lost it.

“I don’t know what to do. I don’t know how much of it to give to God. I can’t just do nothing. I have to live with it everyday.”

I did know. I knew exactly what she was talking about because I had a similar struggle. I do not remember the advise I gave then, hopefully it was biblical, honest, sincere and helpful. However, the advise I would give today is this: stop fighting–be still and know.

Knowing God’s Faithfulness

There is peace in knowing He is faithful. Peace is more than a feeling, it is knowing serene. When the battle, the chaos, the mess rages outside of you, peace is knowing that God’s got it without you having to give it to Him.

I am His.

In Exodus 14, the Israelites appear trapped by the sea after being chased by Pharaoh’s army. Yet, the Lord in his faithfulness provides a way by parting the sea. It is written, “the LORD will fight for you while you keep still.” (Exodus 14:14) The Israelites did not need to try to part the sea. They themselves did not have to fight Pharaoh’s army to cross the sea. Rather, God made a way for his promise to be fulfilled. Moses led God’s people out of the land of slavery, not because He decided it was finally time to intercede, but because it was His plan and purpose for His people all along. 

The Psalmist writes, “’Be still, and know that I am God! I will be honored by every nation. I will be honored throughout the world.’ The LORD of Heaven’s Armies is here among us; the God of Israel is our fortress.” (Psalm 46:10-11). Be still and know. Know that He will be honored throughout the world. Know that He is here with us. Know that He is our fortress, our protection from all that wars around us. 

We are not the ones who must fight. He fights for us. We must be still.

In the new testament gospel of Mark, Jesus tells a storm to “be still.” The wind and waves oblige. They calm and quiet. Jesus then says to his disciples, “Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?” (Mark 4:40) After walking with Jesus, interacting with him daily, his disciples have doubts, they are not fully confident in God’s faithfulness realized in Jesus. 

Therefore, stillness does not mean inaction. No, stillness is realized in active prayer, in crying out to God. It is realized in faithfulness.

Stop Fighting, Let Go of Your Plan

Stop fighting.

Do not let go of your faith. Do not let go of hope. Do let go of pride. Let go of your plan. He is working things out for you in a way you would not comprehend.

A friend of mine is enduring a horrific trial. It had seemed the desire of her heart had been fulfilled, but God changed the circumstance. Now this blessed and beautiful thing is marred by tragedy, still blessed and beautiful but also completely broken. My friend is hurting. She asked those two questions recently: 1. How do I let go? and 2. When do I pick it back up?

I shared with her how I loathe the phrase, “let it go.” I dislike it specifically for the follow-up question, “when do I pick it back up?”

My answer, my advice today is that you don’t. You never pick it back up because you never let it go. Instead, you stop fighting. Be still. Allow the Holy Spirit to move you. This trial isn’t about you. It is happening to you. It will refine you–but it isn’t about you. It is about God the Father. It is about Him. It is about knowing and trusting His faithfulness. It is not easy. It is okay to doubt yourself, but do not doubt your Creator. I am sure it feels so, so awful. Know that He is doing a good work in you. Know that you are loved and supported. Know that you have a rich church family that is on their knees crying with and praying for you. Don’t “let it go.” Don’t struggle with having to pick it back up again. In His time, he will strengthen you in your weakness so that His power is made perfect in you. Be still and know these things.

I encourage you to “be still and know.” This experience is awful. It is terrible. It is sad and depressing and feels unfair. Feel it. Own it. Be sad as David, a man after God’s own heart, was sad. Your God loves you. Your family loves you. Your church family loves you. I love you. Be still.

The apostle Paul writes of his own hardsips in 2 Corinthians 6. At verse 10 of this list of every trial, he says he is “sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; poor, yet making many rich; having nothing, and yet possessing everything.” That to me is stillness. Having sorrow–because life is sad and difficult sometimes–yet rejoicing in the faithfulness of God, knowing that He is making something glorious of this mess, of this war. 

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Ash Wednesday & Why I Am Not Giving Up A Single Thing

valentines cookies

Chocolate? Sugar? Coffee? Smut TV?
Apologies? Overtime? Pride?

What are you giving up?

For if the blood of goats and bulls, and the sprinkling of defiled persons with the ashes of a heifer, sanctify for the purification of the flesh, how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without blemish to God, purify our conscience from dead works to serve the living God.

Hebrews 9:13-14 (ESV)

We’re not talking goats here, but we are talking sacrifice. We’re dealing with the issue of whether Jesus’ sacrifice of death upon a cross was enough—and whether forty days of additional sacrifice from me adds to its sufficiency. No, if Christ’s death upon a cross was sufficient, then additional sacrifice is not necessary.

On Ash Wednesday folks may walk around today with ashen crosses on their foreheads as a symbolic confession of sin. Fish Fridays will pop up at McDonald’s and other fish menu items will begin to appear with greater prominence.

The sacrifice of Jesus’ blood on the cross and the glory of God at his resurrection is more than enough. Jesus paid it all. There is nothing I can give up that He doesn’t already hold in His perfect and holy hands.

I’ve seen it quoted that the scripture that supports giving something up for Lent is found at Luke 9:23 (ESV), “Then [Jesus] said to them all: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me.” Therefore, if we are followers of Christ we ought to deny ourselves daily—as it is written—not once a year for just forty days.

empty chair

Rather than give up any one thing, I will strive to consciously deny myself each morning over these next forty days–forty-six when you count Sundays. The season of Lent culminates with Holy Week: Palm Sunday, Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, and Black Saturday. Easter stands apart from Lent though it is the ultimate result of it. On Black Saturday, the day before the Easter celebration of Jesus’ resurrection, will I be able to look back at these forty days and judge myself by my heart? Will I have died to self each day? Will I appropriately judge that I carried His cross each day? Will I deny myself for season of forty days or for the rest of all my days?

But he was pierced for our transgressions;
he was crushed for our iniquities;
upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace,
and with his wounds we are healed.

Isaiah 53:5 (ESV)

Forty days.
Forty days from Ash Wednesday to Easter.
Forty days of Jesus being tempted in the wilderness (Matthew 4:2).
Forty days between Jesus’ resurrection and ascension (Acts 1:3).
Forty days of rain to flood the earth (Genesis 7:12).
Forty days of provocation from Goliath before David prevailed (1 Samuel 17)
Today is forty days since I reopened my home for coffee and brunch for mommas to meet with their children and share life together.

jan 24 2019

In forty days (including Sundays), a new twin momma was able to eat breakfast with both her hands while two other mommas held and fed her three-month old babies. Together we shared stories of our scars and swapped surgery stories. Together we rejoiced with a momma’s recent pregnancy, and we lamented the risks and the long, high-risk journey ahead. We made plates for kids that were not our own. We split bagels. We share our hearts though we are a slightly different group each time. We have denied parts of ourselves in trust and humility and invited each other into our struggles. We are made vulnerable. We come together for each other.

That’s a small part of what God has worked in me in forty days, and it didn’t require a single sacrifice. It required total sacrifice—picking up my cross daily, digging into the Word, swallowing my pride and my failures to open my messy home to others mommas as two hours of respite from the mundane daily grind to togetherness, to one another each other in every trial. We share our past experiences and His enduring faithfulness through it all. Gratefully His faithfulness lasts longer than forty days.

Maybe you will deny yourself. Maybe you will deny one thing in your life. Maybe this forty days will mean something. Maybe it will mean nothing.

My prayer for you is that you will have been made more aware of the perfect sacrifice of Christ Jesus. In that truth, may the Spirit convict you, move you, and refine you over the next forty days. May He continue His work in you for more than forty days.

Forty days is a start. Do not allow it to be the end.

Kids · Uncategorized

Broken-headed Baby

Today is the anniversary of my rainbow baby’s broken head.

When she was about eight months old, our family attended a dinner party with a close knit group of friends. Our oldest daughter was about six and knew mom and dad had a strict rule about her carrying her baby sister.

Among this group of friends, our family was the only one that had children in it. Millie was being passed around from friend to friend when our six-year-old asked to have a turn holding her sister.

As the switch-off happened, the adult got up from a seated position on the couch and handed baby Millie to the standing six-year-old, who then turned around and took a step, placing her foot on a throw pillow on the ground. The inertia of that whole movement caused the six-year-old with eight-month-old Millie in her arms to crash onto the ceramic tile floor.

Both of the girls cried, but for very different reasons. The six-year-old cried because she felt guilt and shame, holding her baby sister was against the rules–and she had fallen with the baby. Additionally, she was hurt from the impact.

But, eight-month-old Millie’s head bore the brunt of the impact. We heard it. We heard the pop-crack of the tile and her skull. It made a distinct sound. We examined the floor and did not see that the tile had cracked. When we looked over Millie’s head it, too, appeared intact.

Her tiny body sobbed–wailed–for mere minutes. We checked her out, applied ice, and finished dessert. My family went straight home did our best to adhere to concussion rules. We made sure Millie stayed awake for at least another hour. Her pupils looked normal, and she really didn’t show signs of distress. She only cried for a few minutes, as a parent might expect a child would cry if they hit their head without anything terrible happening.

Neither girl had any blood or bruising. Both were back to themselves before we made it the 7 minute drive home.

My husband and I checked on Millie throughout the night. We put our hand on her chest and in front of her face to make sure she was breathing. She slept well–like she normally did–without any Tylenol or ibuprofen. We didn’t suspect a thing.

A few days later I brought the three kids and myself to our weekly AWANA meeting. I went into teach a Sparks class while the Commander doted on Millie. This was a weekly routine that had been established so that each of us could perform in our roles for the AWANA program.

But, before the end of the evening, the Commander asked what was wrong with Millie’s head. Once she pointed it out, I could see it. The one side of her head was bulging. It didn’t have any discoloring. It didn’t look like a bruise. But, it was definitely bulging. Her head was lopsided.

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

Shocked and embarrassed, I could not reason the cause. I took a picture and sent it to my husband right away. We deliberated what might have happened in the last day or two to cause that reaction on her head. Neither of us could pinpoint it. When we arrived home from AWANA, my husband took to himself Millie; he hugged her and loved her and her bathed her while I dialed the on-call pediatric nurse.

Millie was not lethargic; she was eating normally; she wasn’t complaining about her head; she was not tugging at her ears; she was not crying; she had a low grade fever but she was not in any visible pain. Our sweet Millie was the same as she had always been. She was loving, affectionate, playful and sleeping through the night.

The nurse scheduled a next-day appointment first thing in the morning for the doctor to examine Millie. I was operating a daycare that enabled me to care for our two youngest children at home. We sent the six-year-old to school, greeted the daycare kids, and soon enough my husband left to bring Millie to her 9 AM appointment. He took a half-day from his work as a teacher. We did not expect all that happened next.

I remember my husband’s call, somewhat frantic, and 9:30am that morning. He relayed that they were being sent immediately to the ER for MRI and CT scans. The doctor had supposed that the story of the fall from 3 to 4 days earlier aligned with this kind of skull fracture and now brain hemorrhage. The hemorrhaging would explain the bulge on Millie’s head that we couldn’t see until days later. I wasn’t negligent, this is how the human body works.

So, off they went to the ER.

I wouldn’t hear back from my husband until 12pm, when he said he took the entire day off work. This was quickly becoming more than we anticipated.

Around 2pm, he called to say the doctor met them in the ER after receiving the MRI/CT images. The doctor and radiologist were amazed Millie was alive at that moment and could not fully explain my baby’s apparent lack of pain regarding the injury.

She would be life flighted to an a half hours away to the nearest and largest Children’s Hospital. My husband would accompany her, Fearful of heights as he is, to be a medical decision-maker should anything terribly tragic occur in transit. Because the pediatrician, ER doctor, and radiologist all testified knowing adults and other children with the same head injury who didn’t make it. They died. Everyone these medical professionals had seen with similar injuries had died. Dead. Gone.

Our baby was dead. Everyone else with this was dead, ergo our baby was dead.

Job 1:21 (NIV); “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked I will depart. The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; may the name of the Lord be praised.”

The medical community was telling us that our child was a deadman walking. Everyone they had seen with this injury to the extent of this injury had died. She was dead. Except, she wasn’t. She was totally normal.

The pediatrician warned us that when we arrived at the larger hospital, CPS and the police department would likely interview us. Not because we were guilty, but because many infants with this kind of head trauma receive it from abusive parents. That was not our story. And our doctor was respectful and gentle and relaying this information.

I didn’t want my baby to be dead. I was also watching a handful of other babies in my home didn’t care. And, my oldest child, that six-year-old, was at school. I contacted everyone to mother and father and expressed to them the dire situation that my family found it self in. They were all very accommodating. Everyone came and picked up theirs children within the hour. At this point, it was nearly 3pm. I collected the 6-year-old and loaded up the van with some essentials, including my husband’s cpap machine.

We didn’t know how long we would be there. We didn’t know how Millie would go home with us, if she would be alive.

I didn’t want her two older siblings to live life without her. I didn’t want to miss her 1st birthday, her first steps, her first sentence.

I, I, I.

Then I realized I didn’t want Millie to die because I was selfish. I love her. She grew inside of me. I endured excruciating sciatica for her. Me, me, me. But, it isn’t about me. Millie’s life and her purpose on Earth isn’t for me or about me. Millie’s life on Earth is for God, to glorify His kingdom. I was sure that if Millie died, she would go to heaven. I wasn’t crying for her–I was crying for me. I didn’t want to not have my baby.

It’s a little bit under a 3 hour drive from our home to the hospital she was flown to. I pulled into McDonald’s to get the two older kids a happy meal as we officially began our drive around 5pm, after everything was packed and loaded up. They don’t really know what was going on. I had told them the bare minimum, that something happened to Millie and that she had to go to a bigger hospital where they could take care of her best. But, I was in the dark about a lot of this information too. My husband did his best to tell me everything as it was happening, but a lot was happening and everyone in the medical community was amazed by how unaffected Millie was and that she was still alive.

I remember driving through the desert while it was raining in the dark. I remember sobbing while Frozen played through the van’s DVD system. I cried not because I was sad for my daughter but because I was sad for me. I was sad that this tiny human which had been entrusted to me by God was being taken from me.

Me, me, me.

Before Millie, my husband and I endured a miscarriage. That was a dark and difficult time for our marriage, for our family. It was a stressful season in the first two years of marriage, and we were still learning each other. We were learning how to communicate with one another, how to be husband and wife, how to define our household roles, and how to be parents to our children. If we hadn’t miscarried that baby, Millie would not have come. We miscarried between March and April and became pregnant with Millie between August and September. Millie was our Rainbow Baby, and now she would be taken from us, too. My momma heart was broken.

I called the pastor of the church we had been attending. I cried. A lot. He spoke scripture into my hurting heart and prayed over our family. He assured me that our prayer request had already been shared with the congregation, and that if we needed him for anything he would make himself available, even if that meant meeting us hours away from home.

Psalm 34:4-5 (NIV) “I sought the LORD, and he answered me; he delivered me from all my fears. Those who look to him are radiant; their faces are never covered with shame.”

Whatever the outcome, Millie’s life would glorify God. Our suffering through this would glorify God. Her living through this would glorify God. We would not be shaken and we would glorify God.

Jeremiah 17:8 (NIV); “They will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream. It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green. It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit.”

Being hours from home also meant that our support system wasn’t with us. Knowing this, I called my parents, crying. They used to live in the same city as us, but had recently moved out of state. I explained that all the feedback from doctors was terrible and that Millie would be in a large hospital until further notice due to this head injury. They hopped in the car and drove 15 hours to be with us. Having the extra two adults around enabled me to spend time with my husband in the hospital. It was RSV season, so our other two children we not permitted to visit Millie. My grandparents helped us by purchasing a hotel suite for a few days so that financial portion was not something we had to worry about as everything unfolded. Without the help of my parents and grandparents, my husband and I would not have been able to be in the hospital room at the same time focusing on Millie.

When she was cleared to eat and drink, the hospital provided her with a bottle that she refused to use. They had assumed this was an effect from the trauma. Then, When I was able to visit Millie I brought a sippy cup from home and she finally drank! Poor baby hadn’t used a bottle in a couple months and must’ve forgotten how to suckle the nipple. That, or she missed her momma. Knowing she was in good company with her daddy, I think she simply forgot how to use a bottle.

Later, it was determined that Millie’s injuries were consistent with the trauma as we explained it and she was free to leave. After a stressful 40 hour stay at Sunrise Children’s Hospital, Millie was going home alive and well. She had arrived Thursday evening and was discharged Saturday morning. She was stable and remained stable. The bleeding on her brain had stopped and was in the process of being reabsorbed by her body. The PICU doctor said to expect a “weird shaped head” and bruising, but Millie didn’t experience either of those things.

Two weeks later, you would have never guessed the harrowing line between life and death her tiny, precious body had walked.

James 1:17 (NIV): “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.”

A couple years passed and I was babysitting for a family that was new to town. I sang our family pediatrician’s praises for his knowledge, experience, and gentleness as our family endured hearing worst-case-scenarios from the medical professionals we encountered, brief questioning by the police and CPS, and both physical and emotional trauma as we sat at our baby girl’s side. I do not know whether this mom chose him to care for her family, but she definitely threw it back in my face that our precious Millie was a “broken-headed baby.”

You’re right. Her head did break. She should have died. It is a literal miracle she is here today.

Hallelujah, praise the Lord! He’s not finished with her yet.

Philippians 1:4-6(NIV); “In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.”

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Redeemed from Shame

“and my shame is undone…” — in the song “Holy Spirit” sung by Francesca Battistelli

Our shame is undone because we do not live there any more. We’re out of there! We are redeemed! (That was the key word at Mom Life recently.)

As I consider shame in my own life, I see the image of Lot’s wife turning back to look at what she was leaving behind. But, when she did that, she was turned into a pillar of salt!

It’s *only* taken 6+ years, but I’m done looking back. Thank you, Jesus, for not turning me into a pillar of salt. I’ll flesh out this topic in an upcoming post because I am working on reviving the blog. So, looking back enough to pick up a good thing, but I DO NOT live there any more.

Romans 10:11 11As Scripture says, “Anyone who believes in him will never be put to shame.”

Got it! Never! You DON’T LIVE THERE ANYMORE! When we live outside of shame, it is because of God’s grace, which is lavished on us! On US! Lavished! Generously, extravagantly, luxuriously! Lavished.

Ephesians 1:7-10 7″In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace 8that he lavished on us. With all wisdom and understanding, 9he made known to us the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure, which he purposed in Christ, 10to be put into effect when the times reach their fulfillment-to bring unity to all things in heaven and on earth under Christ.

In the meantime, search your heart. Does shame still live there? If so, invite the Holy Spirit into your heart to know how He lavishes us with His grace, for Jesus’ sake.

Check out this ditty from Francesca Battistelli (2014):

 

Kids · Uncategorized

Cabin-ing!

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We brought the kids–and friends–camping in a cabin! There’s a sky island about an hour from our home where the temperature averages 30 degrees cooler (F) in the summer. While our city was battling temps in the 110s, we were up in the mountains with day time temps in the 80s-90s. At night, the outside temp dropped to the lower 60s! It was wonderful to sit outside and not feel your lungs bake just breathing!

The first thing we did was start a fire with twigs and sticks that were just lying around! As it were, all shops up there closed early on Sunday and didn’t reopen until Tuesday or Wednesday. Jude was an excellent helper in gathering kindling and firewood. Sometimes you need bigger arms to help carry the load, though.

 

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We rented a cabin for two nights, but ended up staying overnight only once. Boy, that first night was a doozy. As often as I say I’m unorganized and that we don’t have a routine or schedule, the kids proved otherwise. As a family, we were definitely out of our element but we were having fun…until we weren’t.

We had 3 double bunks to fill. Rather, we filled the king size mattress topper we brought with us for the floor. Now we know that next time we do not need such a large cabin, even with extra friends and family. When I tried getting onto the floor with 5 of our children plus a friend’s child, it was half a catastrophe! All 4 of the twins wanted to be on top of me. When I moved to breathe, the 3 on my chest and abdomen wailed with displeasure. When the singular child of ours who was not on the mattress pad on the floor needed a drink of water, it devastated the masses when I removed them from me, stood, and walked across the cabin into the kitchenette. Upon my return, the 4 twins had stolen my spot, trying their best to compensate with and console one another in my brief absence. I tried singing, but I don’t know all the words and my voice cracks… and sometimes that woke the children. Or, someone liked a particular song so they attempted to sing along and then their voice cracked and someone else awoke… an hour later, they were all sleeping.

The 4 adults enjoyed some adult-time on the cabin’s porch talking, laughing, and watching the bugs buzz by. We set up a flashlight behind a jug of water that illuminated a healthy portion of the porch. We made friends with a hundred moths, one hungry praying mantis and an eager grasshopper. We stayed up until crash time!

Of course, as the 4 of us arranged ourselves for the night one of the baby twins awoke. I cuddled and snuggled her, but she wasn’t having any part of it. After three long, hot, sticky, stuffy, sweaty hour, she started falling asleep. The cabin, while wonderful during the day when we kept the windows and doors wide open, was stuffy and miserable at night. Had the kids been older, or had we brought baby gates (definitely doing that next time!), the night could have gone very differently. But alas, they are young and we did not bring gates.

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Morning came too soon. Nellie chomped on a BBQ bagel and I slept in an extra 15 minutes compared to everyone else, roughly compensated for the hours I was awake at night. The park ranger came by to inform us of the day’s fire risk due specifically to the high winds and said no pit fires allowed. Bummer.

During the morning romp on the playground, elk were all around! One of the elk was calling to the others. About fifteen minutes later two or three more elk came down from the hillside. The first elk’s call must have worked!

On the playground, a sturdy pine branch was slouched on the inside of the gate. I figured it had to be a Jeffrey pine as it had that same sweet vanilla smell as the pines in Lake Arrowhead, CA where I spent many summers of my youth. I was brought back to my personal hay days of archery, lanyards and boondoggles, KP duty, campfire skits and songs, and friends only seen once a year.

All that playing and nostalgia tuckered me out, and while everyone else went for a hike, the babies stayed at the cabin with me. They travelled a trail at the top of the hill nearest our cabin. It took them about an hour from start to finish. In that time, the babies and I took a nap!

Lunch was quick and easy–turkey, mustard & mayo sandwiches, pb&j, carrot sticks, plums, Capri Sun…

Then, round two of the playground… that lasted for hours. Back and forth, back and forth. Jeff tried to sneak in a nap of his own when the big twins went down. It was siesta time!

“I have to go potty.” “I’m thirsty.” “Me too! I have to go potty, too!” “Wait, mom! I forgot something! I’ll be real quick!” “I want to go, too!” “Where’s Jude going? Can I go, too?” “I’m still thirsty.”

Dinner preparations began promptly at 4pm. It took about an hour to prepare, cook, and serve dinner. Beef roast in a cast iron skillet in the great outdoors with sweet peppers, onions, and carrots. It was an invigorating dinner of wilderness champions utilizing electricity over friction. It was delicious! Jeff used a coffee-cocoa-garlic rub from Trader Joe’s on the meat and, yum! (I can’t wait to try it with brisket!)

After dinner, without clearance for a fire, we ditched s’mores and had an oatmeal chocolate chip cookie (the bake-from-a-bag kind) in the cast iron in the oven. A whole lotta yum and a little bit rustic.

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One friend left, then another, and Jeff and I started thinking of leaving early, too. With the fire alert still high and a day’s ban on open fires, there wouldn’t be much else for us to do. Plus, I had an awful night’s sleep that night so I was itching to get into my own bed… and we decided to start packing up and leave that night also.

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The kids hit the playground one last time, then I called them in by twos to shower (forgot towels but had blankets!) and put their jammies on while Jeff loaded bins and packed the van. We’re an efficient team, if you ask me. In about two hours’ time we were pulling out of the campground. Of course, everything was closed so we had to drop the cabin key in the main mailbox.

Now, the drive down the mountain can’t take longer than fifteen minutes, but I started feeling queasy once we were a little more than halfway down. At the bottom, I had Jeff pullover and I dry heaved a bit. Another mile or so down the road, he pulled in at a gas station to pick up drinks for the drive home. When he came back to the van, I took my turn and hit the toilet. Literally. That was the end of that delicious dinner for me. The next few times I’d see (and smell) it, it would make my stomach turn (again). We figured I was dehydrated and Jeff bought Powerade (Gatorades are too salty for my liking) for me to sip on.

Along the way, Jeff dropped something and pulled off at the nearest exit. (Now, Jeff has a history of making a 3 hour drive take 7… but that’s a different blog.) However, it turned out this exit was a series of sandy roads that lead onto more sandy roads. We travelled several miles and nearly a half hour before we triple checked the GPS to see the web of dunes–where people actually LIVE!–and did our best to retrace our steps. The lines the satellites  deemed public roads were sand mounds with “Private Property” signs strewn about. Many roads were simply nonexistent in our 2×4 van. The roads had those tiny ridges in them from the tractor tires that plowed them. *uh uh uh uh uh uh uh uh* And, I was still barfing.

Jeff was able to navigate back to and drive on paved roads, and we passed a tractor trailer whose cab imploded. It was a solemn scene to drive by in the dark after having just made it out of the set from The Hills Have Eyes. And, I was still barfing.

We made it home, brought the kids inside, and I barfed one last time–this time in my own toilet. All the kids transferred soundly to their own beds, and it was midnight. The day is done!

I’m pretty sure I was dehydrated and that I’m again anemic. It happens. I’m taking an iron supplement already. Those two things together made the trip home awful for me–probably Jeff, too. Thankfully I wasn’t sick up on the mountain. I’m not sure how efficient a team Jeff would be without me in those circumstances. I know I’d fare far worse if he had fallen ill just the same. However, sleeping in our own beds and waking up to our own house was picture perfect, and my favorite part of the trip! I like to say we had so much fun we came home a day early, because that’s exactly what happened.