Here Comes the Life

There was nothing except excitement and love swelling within me that could not be contained. The church was huge, ornate, and movie worthy gorgeous. My church from birth hid our lack of money and lack of decorating in its every day stunning beauty. Something borrowed was my white designer wedding dress. One of my very best friends was married two months before me and graciously offered for me to wear the dress I could not afford. But from the outside, I was the bride beaming for my groom. 

The opening of the huge sanctuary doors demanded the audience to their feet. The wedding march boomed from the organ pipes. 

One step. I was twenty one years young and ready to wear a bikini on our Bahamas honeymoon. 

Slow step.  My groom was rushing me to the ER, praying over my convulsing body. 

The bride stepped closer to my groom. And there was a toddler running around my feet. I am distracted and tired but I smile up at her Daddy. 

Slowly, my white heel takes another step toward my love. I am yelling and frustrated and angry. He knows my sin and I know his. But I chose him now and he takes all of me. 

My white dress follows behind. The crowd stares and admires. My body has new scars. My hair has gray streaks. Our daughter is about to take her own walk. Her Daddy has been the finest example and now he will walk her to her own groom. 

I smile as I near my groom, one intentional step down the isle. I am faded and gray now. My body wrinkled and old. But I take my husband’s hand and I know now the deep love of the wedding vows. 

My final step and I am face to face with my groom.  We smile into each other’s eyes. It goes beyond the perfection of our young bodies. It is deeper than the moment of young love and a honeymoon vacation. We vow to love when it hurts. We promise to chose each other when we don’t want to. We make a covenant to always protect and always serve. And with our wedding vows, we are now one. One life. One body. One love. 

In my life, I have walked halfway down that church isle. When I look back, I see a much different girl that started that walk. And when I look forward, a much different girl will finish it. While things have changed, for better and for worse. With each step I take, I love my groom even more. When those doors first boomed open, I thought I could never love more than this. However, lessons have been learned and promises have been lived and love is so much more than a wedding. Love is life. 

Each day, I take a slow step forward and each step our lives change. But each step I take toward my groom and my promise of only him. And I now believe this life is our wedding ceremony. Our home is our covenant. We are standing and proclaiming our vows to the world.  Our love is rings exchanged. 

But when we turn and face the crowd and when the pastor announceds Mr. and Mrs., we will run down that isle and the real honeymoon will be in heaven. 

Because that is what God calls us to. To help each other on that way. In sickness and in health, for better, and for worse, we present the lives we led and the one that we became together. Encourage. Strengthen. Forgive. Serve. And most importantly, love. 

And one day, I will turn to the perfect bride groom and the life before us will be perfect eternity. I will be stunningly gorgeous forever. All my vows will be of tears wiped away and life beyond comprehension. My last tear of joyous disbelief will be lovingly wiped away, as my perfect groom admires me, and before all the hosts of heaven, I will proudly proclaim, “I do.”

Thank You Cancer

As a child at the age of fifteen, I was not scared of the “could be.”  The fact that we were waiting on test results did not phase me. When surgery was scheduled, I actually found myself excited. I had lots of treats promised my way and I was going to be asleep. I thought I would wake up from surgery and walk away with my free surgery treasures. The pain I awoke to still haunts me. It was the first time that I felt true physical pain. 

I have now had six Cancer related surgeries. They all have their own story and their own pain. I know the pain of Cancer. 

I know what it feels like to hug my husband and cry because it is happening again. I know what it is like to write a letter to my miracle baby, praying that I will be there for her life. I know the physical torture of the side effects of medicine, exercising through cut muscles, another scar that can not be hidden, trying to explain my past to a new friend with a glazed look of no comprehension, and medical bills that keep piling up.

Cancer is NEVER what I would have chosen for myself!  James and I never sat at a fancy restaurant on a Saturday night date as I offered, “Ya know, I was thinking about getting cancer. What do you think?”

“Oh what a wonderful idea,” he enthusiastically responds, “I think we should do that right away.”

Uhhhh, NO!  I don’t think anyone has ever done that. So, why am I the complete freak, idiot, deranged person that would title this article “Thank you Cancer”?????

Because it was too long to write:  Thank you that I appreciate my life, that I know from experience that my husband loves me in sickness and health, that I never take my daughter for granted, that I have new priorities in my life, and most importantly that I know the presence of God intimately. 

I know that humans, especially western culture, especially me, run from pain and suffering at all costs as quickly as we can. However, some of the wisest people that I know are those that have suffered the most. Some of the life stories that impact us the most are those of deep pain and suffering. And Jesus, God himself, brought forgiveness and salvation through the most intimate pain ever experienced. 

Therefore, while it hurts, while I fight and do all that is possible to rid myself of any suffering, I have much to thank “cancer” for.  (Yes, I believe Cancer is an awful thing and who I am thanking is Jesus, that he used something bad to bring something good….just artistic liberty here.)

So, thank you Cancer that:

I appreciate my life. From the young age of fifteen, I learned to value life. Each and every single day is a blessing that almost did not happen. And I love life!

I know my husband loves me when I have nothing to offer, when he has to give everything and get nothing in return. I have so much security in the love of my husband. I know without a doubt that HE LOVES ME!  When I need him, he is there for the nights on the town and nights at the hospital. For shopping for summer clothes and paying medical bills. For living and loving this life that has become one. My friends, I love my man!

Thank you Cancer that I never take my daughter for granted!  We were in for the long bumpy road. Pregnancy was supposed to take try after painful try. I was supposed to cry over many miscarriages. And it was supposed to end with the huge possibility that there would be no baby to grow inside me. And then she was supposed to share my fate of cancer. JESUS SAID NO!  As quickly and easily as could happen, I have a healthy, brilliant, beautiful daughter growing into a world changer!  I hold my girl close and I soak up every single minute and I am so very thankful to God in heaven for a miracle that sleeps in the little girl room in my house and daily keeps me on my toes!

Thank you cancer that you help me keep my priorities straight. I am so thankful for my life, I could care less what the popularity club thinks.  I am so thankful for my daughter, I have decided my career will not go first.  I see what this world has to offer and I say, “Yeah, no thanks, I chose Jesus.”

And, most importantly, thank you cancer that when I lay in pain when all I can do is moan, I know the comforting touch of the only one that can calm my soul, I know the miracles of a loving Heavenly Father, I do not doubt the one that has spoken to me in my dreams, I would never walk away from the healer of diseases, I know personally my God and my Savior. The one who made everything, knows everything, can do anything, LOVES ME!  And if Cancer was the only way for God to take me by the shoulders and shake me and get my attention and the only way for me to know my God so personally, then I have a lot to thank Cancer for. And I know the intimacy of the verse that God works all things together for good for those who love him. 

I Follow the Man that Heals the Sick

There is a man that knows my name. He knows each and every single tear that has rolled down my cheek. He was there when I almost died and he demanded, “not yet” and he was obeyed. There is a man that knows my body, he knows my spirit, he knows my soul.  When that man speaks, I will listen.

There is a man that loves me. I know he loves me because while I was a sinner, he loved me. He chose me and he saved me. He knows my darkest secret, he knows my past and my future, he knows my love for my family. He knows my needs and my every desire. How can I not fall madly in love with that man?

Some people set their gaze on money and they love this world. It is a meager beginning to the riches of heaven. Some stake their claim and proclaim, “I am my own god!”  Personally, I find myself lacking. Working, working, desperately trying to tip the scale of good works in their favor, some live their lives in terror of that judgement day. Working, working, hoping their good works will outweigh their bad deeds. And this has been offered to me. They knock on my door, wanting me to convert. Do you see you have nothing to offer me?  I have assurance. The bad on my scale has been washed away and this man laid his perfect life on the scale for me. I have been found innocent. 

There is this man. He knows how deep the sea reaches. He calms the storm and says “no more.”  He commands the sun to rise in the east another day. There is this man, there is no challenge he can not meet. There is no deed he does not see. And there is nothing impossible for him. 

One day he will heal every disease. Soon, he will take me to my mansion in heaven. Very soon, he will undo all the hurt in this world and there will be no more sadness, no more fear, and no more want. 

For me, there is no other option. There is nothing lacking in my God. If you want to know him, if you want to meet him face to face, if you want this love, come follow me. 

The Danger of Arrogance

Her hand touched the side of the bed and she glanced at me, “Stop pretending.”

The situation was too intense for me to be insulted, for even my protective husband to be insulted. He was after one thing:  an injection of hydrocortisone. 

She was not educated enough to know that particular medicine is nothing a druggie would want and she was not kind enough to assume the best of me. She gave my convulsing body a glance and told me that my shakes were not going to score me any medicine. 

My husband demanded her attention, “Listen to me. This is going to go from bad to worse really fast.”

Her response was practiced and arrogant, “Sir, you are not the only person in this hospital. You need to be patient.”

James took one look at my body that was beginning the signs of going into shock and stepped into the hallway, “I need someone in here that knows what the are doing, NOW!”

Cancer is the easy part. It is under control and non life threatening. But with the removal of both of my adrenal glands, I was left with Addison’s Disease. Besides taking tons of pills everyday and craving salt, I lead a normal life. 

However, if I get any kind of sick or hurt, there it gets a little complicated. I immediately need an injection of 100mg of hydrocortisone and my body returns to stable. If I do not get the injection, my body begins the process of going into shock. I have an estimated one hour before my body begins to shut down. 

The throw up bug had used my home injection and before we could get it refilled, here we were in the ER needing another injection and this nurse had labeled me as a druggie and stuck us in a room to wait. Wait with time we did not have. 

When James, with his pink cheeks blushing, asked me to go on our first date, God knew that on this day, his persistence and protection would save my life. He repeated his demand, “Get a doctor in here now!”  Was yelled in the middle of the almost empty ER in the middle of the night. 

The doctor rounded the corner and immediately saw, and more importantly, understood the situation. He ordered and delivered the injection within minutes and within seconds, I stopped shaking, I gained control of my body and was sitting up and discussing my health with the doctor. Quickly, I was in good condition and could return home. 

When our culture thrives on pointing out the faults of others, when society is quick to judge whomever they please, and when we are told to look out for number one at all costs, I am afraid that we are paying that very cost. Thank you Lord Jesus for protecting me when I could not protect myself. And dear Lord, please help me to learn from this situation that I do not know everything. I have so much to learn!  And the situation is so very often not what it appears to be.  Her arrogance, literally, almost killed me. 

I Have a Past

The words blurr before me, I blink and focus. “Do you have any of the following medical issues?”  

Cancer. I have cancer. 

I have a past, a history, a story. When it is explained, it doesn’t seem so bad. I am in the hands of the top doctors in the world under the supervision of the top elite equipment. I am monitored, scanned, and studied. At this point, it can be seen as a blessing. I am watched so closely that it is not life threatening. 

But the paper work does not ask for an explanation, it just asks for that word. That one word. I write it down. 

God, What Can You Do?

Man stands firm and confident and rubs his hands together.  He believes and dreams and wishes.  But with all his plans, nothing happens. He beats his forehead with his clenched fist and feels silly and stupid and upset with his failure. Man shouts, “God, if there is a God, what can you do?”

God snaps his fingers, and Earth appears. His hand rises and with it rise the Magnolia and the Palm, the daisy and the tulip, Mt. Everest and the Rockies.  His dancing fingers form Orion and the moons of Jupiter. Science is born. 

Man shrugs his shoulders and rolls his eyes. Man is not impressed and seeks more, “God, I am lonely and God I want more, if there is even a God at all.”

God breaths into the dust and the Earth is filled. Filled with lonely people seeking companionship. Filled with colors and races and languages.  Filled with doggies eager to play. Filled with enough to consume every day.  God spreads his arms offering his gift and smiles. 

Man turns his back, refusing to delight in the offering. He sits in the dust and throws a fit. Unable to create from nothing. Unable to know and understand it all. Unable to love perfectly. Man stands up and declares, “God?  There is no God at all.”

In Honor of the American Soldier

Ehhhh….do I have any right?….I shy away from writing the Memorial Day post. I have no right.  Return to my business of the family cookout and let someone else write that post. 

And I realize, I can return to the family cookout. I have my family. I have my freedom. I have the right to write this post…and that is why I have the obligation to write it. 

We are not a military family. I do have two grandaddys, that are now in heaven, that fought for their country during WWII. Their stories, although few that they could share, were awe inspiring. I have seen American Sniper and other movies that cause my soul to take a deep breath. But that is as far as my experience goes. 

Unless you have been there you can not understand!  I can not begin to fathom what it is like to see your best friend shot before your eyes. I can not begin to imagine the agony of a tortured POW. It is beyond my comprehension the sacrifice of leaving one’s family behind because it must be done. 

But I can begin to fathom freedom. I know what it is to practice the religion of my choice. Here I practice freedom of speech. I raise my daughter in a nation that I can chose her school, her church, and her doctor. 

This is not a post of the scares of losing those freedoms or of politics. But this is an article because today, and my whole past life, I live in America. I live in a land where Fathers died so their children could have those freedoms. I live in a nation where much sacrifice was given. 

And I want to say thank you. Thank you to the American soldier that knows the pain and suffering of battle so that I did not have to. Thank you American soldier and Happy Memorial Day. 

I Heart Science

Very tall for her age, even taller than her twin sister. She was long and lean, blonde and breautiful, and just as clumsy with her grace as any other fourth grader should be.  My fourth grade students were still babies, but I could see in their achievements (they were impressive) that they would be teenagers tomorrow. 

But for now, I soaked up their current love for their teacher (me), I fed off of their enthusiasm for learning, and I was blown away with their profound statements and questions. 

She raised her long arm. It was, with the rest of her body, jumping up and down in her desk from excitement. Her fingers twisted and turned through the air. She had something to say. 

I paused at the right time during my lecture (yes, I said during my lecture. Please note this was lecture and note taking time)….I paused during my lecture and smiled at Laura and nodded my head for her to go ahead with her question or comment. She proceeded with the attention of the whole class:

I (she pointed to herself)

Heart (her fingers formed a heart in front of her own)

Science (and she spread her arms out pointing and displaying the lecture notes that still covered the board)

She loved to learn. What a gift!  What a blessing!  It was learning that she was in love with, hard lecture notes at such a young age, but something had clicked and she could not contain the excitement and the joy she found in new knowledge. 

I believe that when we learn truth, we learn about Jesus. I believe that Science is the study of God’s creation. I believe that school should be hard work and not always fun, but at the end of the day the kids should beam with excitement from their new found treasure. Knowledge. 

And now I am not a teacher anymore in a classroom. I AM A MOMMY!  And it is summer break and Madison Academy is in full force. We have a list of classic books to read. We are going to conquer labeling all 50 states (she can label 30), by Fall, we will be able to list all the American presidents in order, our nature notebook will be full of sketches and information about plants in our neighborhood, and Daddy is going to teach the fundamentals of basketball. 

And this is where I want to thank Laura’s parents. Because I believe that love of learning begins at home. Yes!  A teacher can spark this or squash it. But almost always, I believe children, like Laura, come from homes where learning prospers and runs wild and covers the smiles of the whole family learning together. 

So, I take my daughter’s hand and I have the PRIVILIDGE of learning alongside her (trust me, I am learning also!) I have the joy of picking, “What do I want my girl to know?” And then teaching her!  

There will be late cookouts. She will have cousins spend the night and sleep in late. We will spend entire days playing at the pool. But perhaps learning just as much as in the classroom (or dare I say possibly more?) I now say with confidence, SCHOOL IS IN SESSION!

The Real World

Her little cheek pressed to mine and I could feel the warm tears pouring from her eyes. I scratched her back and rubbed her soft hair in my fingers. Her little eight year old body shook from the intensity of her cry. She hurt. Her little girl heart and soul ached. “Shhh.  Shhh.”  I did not say much, I was just there.

“Why?  How can that happen?”  Each word was spoken with difficulty because of the deep cry she fought to calm. I laid in my bed beside my daughter. 

At the age of eight, my daughter has given into the routine of bedtime. She is a hard sleeper. She prefers her bed full of stuffies and falling asleep in her own bedroom. At the rare request of sleeping on Mommy and Daddy’s floor, I knew something was pressing on her heart. With a request to cuddle, I prompted her to lay down on my bed and I slipped in beside her. 

She laid cuddled in the bed chatting away, like my Chatty Maddie does, and it took a little while for her heart to release the struggle within. “Why doesn’t she have a Mommy anymore?”

The Mother of one of her closest friends had thrown in the towel and walked away. It rocked Madison’s world. It rocked my world. Questions, so many questions. So much hurt that seemed to have no reason. Why should any little girl have to go through this?  

Madison hurt for her friend, wanting desperately to comfort her. My mind raced with the agony of how any mother could cause her own child so much pain. 

There are natural responses that spring up within me. I long to shield and protect my daughter from the hurt of this world. I want to ignore that it exists and spoil her beyond the thoughts of pain and suffering. I want to reason that this hurt could never come to my family. I want to assure her that we are safe from this possibility. I want to run and hide. And then I breathe. 

I inhale and I exhale and I say a quick prayer, “God, I do not understand this.  I need you to speak, not me.”  I focus and I realize. I am preparing my daughter for battle. I am raising a soldier. This life is hard and I long to raise a woman of God that is equipped for the difficulties of life that are sure to come her way. 

“Madison, I love you so so much. Daddy loves you so very much. But who loves you more?” And I continued to rub her back. 

Her response had been taught. She had learned it in the songs I sang to her as a baby, the answer was in the school we chose to send her to, the answer was in the nightly devotions, in the love of her bedroom decor, in nature walks, and sacrifices made so she could have everything to her benefit, even in the television shows we chose.  Her response was JESUS. 

“Madison. I do not know why this happened. But let’s do everything we can to help her so that she can know how much Jesus loves her and that no matter what happens, he is always there for her.”

You see, I never ever want my daughter to hurt. But it is a reality of this world. I do my very best to protect her, but I do not have to seek out these lessons, pain and sin are everywhere. What matters is if I teach her how to react. I long to teach her to chose right, how to help others, how to forgive, how to love, and even how to hurt.  

No matter how much I try to keep it away, my daughter will cry again. She will hurt again. I can shout at her to “toughen up” and harden her heart and steal that compassion that she has for others. I can ignore her questions and leave her scared and insecure. Or I can give her the only tool that will lead her to love, security, strength, and compassion:  JESUS. 

So, Madison, while your question pierces deep into my heart and soul, I do not know, I do not understand, but I know the one who does. And sweetheart, I can see that Jesus has amazing plans for your life and he has made you such a strong, sweet little girl that he is already using you to bring love and comfort to a little girl that no longer has a Mommy. And right now, I am so proud to say that YOU sweetheart are part of Jesus’s answer. 

The Two Rules of Parenting

Toddler Madison and I were waiting in a loooong return line at Target after a long day of shopping. Madison had reached her max and I knew it, although I watched her patiently roaming around and still staying close to Momma. 

And then she took me by surprise, I watched with confused eyes while Madison laid down on the floor and began to kick her legs and pound her fists on the floor of Target. I could hear the judgemental inhales and the eyes of those around me almost burned through me.  I walked over, scooped up my little girl and returned to the line. She sat on my hip, waiting…again…patiently. 

When the stares had turned away from us, I whispered to Madison, “What was that about?”

She smiled and whispered back to me, “I saw that on Tom and Jerry.”

“Oh.  OK.” And we continued on with our day. It was no tantrum at all, it was simply child’s play. 

I know my girl makes mistakes, some days more than others, but I wish that I could wear a sign that states, “I discipline my child for HER good, NOT FOR YOUR’S.”

I see children crushed when they are scolded and they don’t understand why, I see parents fold under the expectations of others, and I see judgemental eyes of those that think they know everything…well, ya don’t.

Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. “Honor your father and mother” – which is the first commandment with a promise – “so that it may go well with you…”  Ephesians 6:1

“Children obey your parents…so that it may go well with you.”  Children are to obey for the benefit of the child!  Not so life will be easier on mom and dad, not so mom won’t get embarrassed at Target, not so others will think well of us, FOR OUR CHILD!  Obeying is the best thing for the child!

I believe children need to constantly, I mean every minute, need to hear:



Generations/Personalities of parents tend to swing toward one or the other.  “I love my child too much to discipline them.” vs. the “because I said so” shouters. 

No!  A child needs someone to listen, someone to care, someone to explain, someone to buy them presents on a Tuesday just because they love them.  AND just as much, they need someone to love them enough to say, “you can not treat your friend like that because I love you,” “You can not have that because I love you.”

Being a mother may have taught me more than I have taught my daughter.  I have learned in almost every situation, if not every situation, I can turn the lesson back on myself and I see, “oh, that makes things make a little more sense.”

God says to me:  

1.  I love you.

2.  You can not have whatever you want.