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What’s Your Strong Tower?

whats-your-strong-towerThe chemo was wreaking havoc on his body. He wasn’t able to eat and was weakened to exhaustion. Where do we go from here? We may be killing cancer cells, but at what personal cost?

It’s not easy to hear this from almost seven driving hours away. If I could teleport myself directly to Pennsylvania for these conversations, I surely would, but I was digesting my latest email update from my mother about my father, and God gave me this Scripture: 

Psalm 61:3, ESV, King David speaking

For you have been my refuge, a strong tower against the enemy.

I felt strongly that we could substitute the word “enemy” with “cancer” because God had been sustaining my father on and off since 1981 through six different battles with this persistent foe. It had once again rented my father’s body and officially moved in. An unwanted tenant, it was taking more than major surgery to evict it, and at this point, we needed more than the words of doctors to sustain us.

We needed a fortress. We needed to seek a safe place to cry out.

Every fortress where we huddle in and regroup must have a tower, a high place that shows itself strong and imposing on the horizon— Read the rest of this entry »

 

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Spilled Salad and Other Rough Days: Keeping It Real and Crying Out to God

Spilled Salad and Other Rough Days_I’m part of a group of online praying friends (we know each other in person, too, but our interactions tend to land mostly on private messaging) called the Warrior Princesses. We exchange a few messages almost every day, usually a callout from one of us to ask for a quick prayer about something we’re going through. What I love about this is that we’re all busy moms. Some of us are homeschooling, some are working at home, others still have small ones in the home and not in all-day school, some are going to school and working, and some are doing a combination of those things. We don’t have a lot of time to do long, monk-like prayers in the proverbial prayer closet. We are literally shooting up a prayer or two throughout the day while feeding the baby, washing dishes, straightening laundry, unpacking (two of us just moved), sorting through school papers, and feeding the animals—because even when (some of) our kids are gone all day, we feel compelled to care for God’s critters. We never seem to stop nurturing.

That said, like anyone, on any given day, when you take a screenshot of the lives of five people, there are all kinds of “Oh, God, please help me!”s going on—often several of us at once: traveling husbands, health concerns, a worry about our children, a pet in an accident, a difficult confrontation or situation we have to be in, a relational hurt, something gone awry in our job(s)—and the list goes on.

When this happens, and we find ourselves in a pile-up of wearying stress, we started posting this cute little icon to express ourselves. I think it was initially posted when one of us reported the stomach flu in her home. I really don’t remember, but you would think I would then have better context and understand it, but, no, I had to be different and see something else completely. It’s one of my fun little quirks.

Spilled Salad and Other Rough Days- Keeping It Real

Now, whenever I look at this, I do not see the apparent “vomit” image intended.

I see:

a spilled bowl of salad.

To understand why I make this association in my head, you’d probably have to appreciate how much I hate salad. It makes perfect sense I couldn’t discern the difference between that and throwing up.

Either way, it became a private joke in our group, and so whenever any of us has a really hard thing going on, we plop this icon onto the screen to let her know, sometimes without a lot of words: “I get it. I sympathize. That sounds awful. I’m so sorry. What a tough day! I don’t like that.”

It’s the middle age mom’s variation on a preschooler saying “That’s poopy!” except we’re more mature because we just use emoji.

What on earth is my point?

Well, today, I have a lot of them.

1. Dedicated time with God is an amazing thing. Talking to Him and giving Him our full attention is the most peaceful way to live. But life interrupts, and sometimes it’s the quick prayers throughout the day that keep the conversation going. My day often looks like this:

Wash dishes. “Oh, God, I just thought of ________. She’s really been waiting to hear an answer about ______. Can You please encourage her today? By the way, thanks for the awesome leaves turning colors on the trees and for healing _______.”

Fold laundry. “Lord, please comfort this particular child, _______. I sent him off today, and he seemed a little peace-depleted. Could You remind him You’re there and usher peace into his heart?”

Start writing blog. “God, I have no idea where we’re going with this. Should I go do something else for a while, or are You about to download something into my head and heart to write about?”

Take the dogs out. “God, You know what? Can I ask You again to be with my Warrior Princess _______? She is really going on no sleep amidst a lot of stress and needs extra measures of perseverance and strength today.”

More examples of this can be found in Not Just on Sundays: Seeking God’s Purpose in Each New Day.

2. Our days are sometimes yucky. It’s okay to admit that they are. I think a lot of times we are afraid to say they are because other people have it worse. That’s true. There are always worse scenarios out there, but it doesn’t make our situations less valid. I love my Warrior Princesses, other prayer peeps, and close friends because we don’t hide behind what we think others expect of us. We rock it real and raw, at times. Honestly, it doesn’t help me at all to see someone walk through a perfect or awesome day in great faith. What grows my faith and hope is when I see someone be honest about the trials and still manage to walk along—or even hobble or crawl some days—in faith and trust in God.

The extreme to this (and there is always an extreme) would be the martyr trip scenario, whereby we always have it awful, our pain continually trumps someone else’s, we are perpetually focused on ourselves, and we are consistently presenting the negative. That’s not what I’m talking about when I’m referring to honestly doing life together. I’m talking about not hiding behind masks of “my life is so perfect.” Those masks are so fragile anyway. When anyone bumps into us the slightest bit, I find those masks to fall and shatter. They really don’t cover anything up but our own pride and self-protection.

3. On the yucky days, we can often “spill our salad.” We can’t keep it all contained. We need a good friend or two to reach out to who can help be our gauge and also get us back on track again. But the best part is that those people aren’t afraid to see a tomato or radish roll out of our bowl. They’ve seen us without our dressing, and they know it’s not forever. They’re not afraid to walk up and pick up the leaves that fell out and put them back in. They’re not trying to add toppings—more slivered almonds, bleu cheese crumbles, or dried cranberries—in that moment. They know their timing. On days of celebration, they can do that. But today: They’re merely trying to help us keep the lettuce in. There are people in our lives who often want to reach in and throw the lettuce everywhere else. I need trusted loved ones to help me contain my lettuce some days. To collect pieces of my spillage and help put them back.

I love the women in my life who do this. Some are my online prayer group. Some are good listeners in person/phone who have my back. It’s a gift, a treasure. And it’s a tiny peek at the Father’s immense love for us.

4. God can handle “spilled salad.” He isn’t afraid to look at us on those days, nor does He turn His face away. He wants to hear about it. He gave us the example of King David in the Bible, who regularly cried out on Spilled Salad Days (and there were many since he was a wanted, hunted man at times, with a royal army chasing him).

Where can we cry out for help today? It can be: “Oh, Jesus, please help! I can’t get this done on time!” “God, help me get this relationship back on track!” “Lord, please hear me. I hate how my child struggles! Please send help!”

Or, we can wax poetic—and a bit long at times—like King David.

I end with a beautiful example of King David crying out in his anguish. He knew where to take his Spilled Salad Days. He didn’t mess around. Love me some David poetry. My heart groans right along with this some days. And after it, I include an anonymous psalm in keeping with the same theme.

Psalm 57:1-4, For the director of music. Of David. When he had fled from Saul into the cave.

Have mercy on me, my God, have mercy on me, for in you I take refuge.
I will take refuge in the shadow of your wings until the disaster has passed.
I cry out to God Most High, to God, who vindicates me.
He sends from heaven and saves me, rebuking those who hotly pursue me—God sends forth his love and his faithfulness.
I am in the midst of lions; I am forced to dwell among ravenous beasts—men whose teeth are spears and arrows, whose tongues are sharp swords.

Psalm 130:1-8, A song of ascents, anonymous

Out of the depths I cry to you, LORD;
Lord, hear my voice. Let your ears be attentive to my cry for mercy.
If you, LORD, kept a record of sins, Lord, who could stand?
But with you there is forgiveness, so that we can, with reverence, serve you.
I wait for the LORD, my whole being waits, and in his word I put my hope.
I wait for the Lord more than watchmen wait for the morning, more than watchmen wait for the morning.
Israel, put your hope in the LORD, for with the LORD is unfailing love and with him is full redemption.
He himself will redeem Israel from all their sins.

*This post has been shared at Mom 2 Mom Monday Link-Up, Blessing CountersChristian Mommy Blogger, Grace & Truthand Faith-Filled Fridays.

 

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