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Reshaped by Love: The Cross Before Me

Reshaped by LoveBleary-eyed with bed hair still wisping across my path of vision, I glanced down at the floor in front of the coffee maker. A shiny glimmer caught my eye, and as I wearily bent down to investigate, I saw that it was our cross cookie cutter, sharp side up, looking abandoned and almost unrecognizable against the dark browns of the coffee floor mat. I hadn’t seen it in at least a year. It usually resides in the small utensil drawer where infrequently used items like bamboo skewers and honey stirrers keep each other company. It was clear someone haphazardly tossing clean items from the dishwasher had jarred it free, not noticing it took a slight plunge to the floor. I know the child capable of this, and it gave me a pre-coffee smile, which is admittedly very difficult to achieve.

It reminded me of another time I found a wooden toy snake slithering along my floor near a 4 inch wooden cross made at Vacation Bible School. I was struck that day by the reality of spiritual warfare and how that sneaky serpent had been trying to get the upper hand ever since the Garden of Eden. But the cross. Christ on the cross put that snake under the heel of Jesus.

But this cross…the one waiting for me on a sleepy Thursday morning? It was a very powerful reminder of the road to Calvary, the one my Jesus walked this coming week so long ago.

Like the cookie cutter cross that at one point shaped many preschool Sunday School lessons in Play-Doh, the real truth of the cross Read the rest of this entry »

 

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Diagnosis Sin: What Festers When We’re Not Looking?

diagnosis-sin-what-festers-when-were-not-lookingIt was such a relief to be wheeled into a private room (one of the benefits of an expected flu diagnosis) after a week of high fevers, chills, night sweats, vomiting, and massive body pain. God even delighted me with a feisty, redheaded nurse who got what little humor I had left in the humility of fluids coming out of me in all the wrong ways.

Earlier that day I had sought refuge at the clinic in town, only to find out I had been taking too much Extra Strength Tylenol for a few days. In my mind, you manage the flu by taking Tylenol around the clock as needed. I didn’t stop to realize Extra Strength Tylenol had different rules. Oops.

The visit there was an epic failure. The doctor spent more time berating me for my accidental overdose (later determined to not have damaged my liver after all) and treating me as if I had a pain med addiction than she did listening to my symptoms. Because none of my symptoms followed the logical order of the flu, she said everything was inconclusive and sent me home with strong orders not to take any pain meds for many days. Um, okay. Thanks for nothing. No chest x-rays ordered—just some blood work to make sure I shouldn’t be entered into a Tylenol recovery program STAT.

You see, she had tunnel vision. She was maybe six months out of med school with the script on her diploma just now drying. I am fairly patient with the learning curve, but she didn’t do her job completely that day.

As my husband can attest, I took my little plastic stomach acid depository in the car with me and contributed quite a bit to it all the way home uphill, in his very jerky stick shift car. I was in so much pain, it was all I could do. I threw fluids down my throat regularly and laid down again in agony, so defeated after a week of suffering and no answers, only to discover that without my friend Tylenol, my fever went to high levels; I was no longer able to manage my body temperature. I frantically called my husband back from dance and basketball drop-offs to collect the kids and get me to the emergency room. Operation Stop the Tylenol was not successful. Read the rest of this entry »

 

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When God Said: “Enough!”

when-god-said_I was doing laundry and packing for our upcoming trip to put my father’s ashes in the ground. Spring Break wasn’t exactly a cheery occasion for us to prepare for, but we were looking forward to finally laying my father to rest with a few of our own personal touches.

As I tried to pack in spurts, we were slammed with nonstop high school jazz band events and a nightmarish two weeks of seventh grade. The latter involved multiple projects, a massive genetics and cell cycle test, and endless homework, none of which was spaced out or staggered. My poor daughter was up until 11 PM most nights making sure she checked off her own assignment lists.

She went out the door one morning a complete zombie. She could barely eat, put her contacts in, etc. She was so rundown and discouraged. Her only sentence this particular morning was:

“I have to go back to school and get more homework to come home to.”

I finally put my foot down and respectfully told the guidance counselor: “Enough! She has worked conscientiously and nonstop for weeks. On my instruction she isn’t doing homework tonight. I’m just letting you know.”

[My husband and I are both products of public schooling and strongly believe in it, but we shouldn’t have to give our daughter an espresso drink to wake her up enough in the morning to head out to school. This is middle school, not college.]

My son, on the other hand, had a band event in which students were driving themselves and taking several other students along. Major highways. An hour away. Rush hour traffic. Seven teens in a van with a teen driver. I adore our school music program, but um, no! Because our car was in the shop, we could not drive. I gently asked our fantastic band director to please place my son with an adult driver, and if not, my husband and I were not comfortable sending him to the event. I hated confronting this, but this was my limit.

Enough already!

Sometimes, when we are beyond defending ourselves and fall weary in a heap onto the floor Read the rest of this entry »

 

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Is That God Waking Me Up?

Is That God Waking Me Up

I woke up in the middle of the night. An old wound reopened. My mind was rushing, and I could not for the life of me understand why certain memories were flooding back upon popping one eye open.

Didn’t I take care of that business, Lord? Why am I awakened by this?

Truth be told, I was having a hard time sorting out whether I was being tormented (which isn’t God) about something in the past just to derail me and disrupt my peace, or if God had woken me up to sort through something.

I was aware of the small trigger that had set off the memories, but I felt I had dipped them in His amazing peace, prayed them down, and stepped off the memory platform.

Apparently not so.

Ever have something come back and revisit, and you’re not sure what to do with it?

Yeah, me too.

Whenever this happens and old tapes play in my head, I have two choices (because ignoring them doesn’t work): Read the rest of this entry »

 

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Freeze, or Burn?

So, the other day I finally got fed up with a painful growth at the tip of my middle finger, that, because of it being my tallest finger, ended up bumping into everything with force, no matter how cautious I was about it. I was sure it wasn’t a wart. I didn’t think there had been a splinter or sliver of glass in there, but I also knew it had been there for two months with no improvement, but also no infection. I figured they’d send me to the dermatologist to get it sliced off and studied like so many other parts of me that lived near the equator for a few years. But I was wrong.

I went in early in the AM and had to quell my own laughter about my middle finger going up all of the time to protect it from getting knocked by accident. The PA who helped me was not amused, but I find I have to laugh in moments like these. Maybe it’s a nervous habit, like when the dermatologist is cutting something from somewhere normally clothed for a reason. I have to crack jokes or else I cry from the lack of dignity of the moment, and sadly, there are way too many of these moments. I am a dermatologist’s bread and butter! And I find dermatologists to categorically be a humorless bunch (if you’re a derm peep, I’m probably not talking about you). Maybe I provide some comic relief from staring at skin lesions all day, or maybe they are so narrowly focused, my stand-up comedy show is really unwanted. I’m socially awkward anyway, so I walk out of these situations at least having made myself laugh and completely unaware of the extremity of how awkward I really was.

Anyway, it hurt like a son of a gun every time it was bumped. She really had no clue what it was initially. She sliced off the top of the bump, saw no signs of wart “roots,” and decided it might be a hemangioma. So she said I could have it frozen or cauterized, and it would dry up and fall off, and maybe then the vascular bump at the end of my finger would be no more.

Um, okay.

Given the choice, I thought some medically induced frostbite would be the better way to go. And I’ve never been fond of smelling my own flesh burning with medical welding tools. No thanks. If we were going to go that direction, why not just hot-glue-gun my finger at home without the copay? Not my favorite thing. Since I’m a wimp, I assumed a needle of anesthetic would be presented. Nope. She barely asked me if I was ready (doesn’t she know I’d love an epidural just to have a mole removed?) and blast that arctic burn right at my finger for what felt like a full minute. I’m admittedly a real wimp with pain, so it was about two minutes before I could breathe again. I was so incredulous she wasn’t turning that thing off after 10 seconds. Really. I kept looking at her with complete disbelief in my eyes as if any second now she was going to turn that puppy off. Finally, between choking down some oxygen (told you I was a wimp), I declared: “Okay, then. I think I’m all set.” She was having way too much fun with her freeze-blast tool, and she looked like a superhero being told to go back to her secret identity when her services were proven no longer necessary.

And you know what? I got over it. I claimed a little social media sympathy over my little experience, sucked it up, and moved on. But it got me thinking how I wish my sin, insecurities, relational hurts, feelings of betrayal could all be heroically blasted like that. That a full minute of holding my breath and twinging would make it be over.

Oh, wait.

They already were. Over, that is. Those of us with faith in Christ believe they hung on Jesus for several hours. It wasn’t quick or painless or pretty, but “it is finished.” It is finished indeed!

John 19:30, Apostle John speaking
When he had received the drink, Jesus said, “It is finished.” With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.

So when I’m tempted to dwell on those things, I need to remember that I can live in restored, redeemed relationship with Christ, and therefore with others. My thoughts, my fears, my temptations, my hurts…all taken care of on that cross. Grace covering me like a blanket I never have to take off. I need to look at my finger (it’s tall and the middle one, after all, so hard to miss) and remember He took that all on for me so that I don’t have to dwell in a lack of peace. I can dwell in Him. And there’s truly no place I’d rather be.

What does “It is finished” mean to you?

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