Friday, December 24, 2010

merry christmas!

"Who is a God like you, pardoning iniquity and passing over transgression for the remnant of his inheritance? He does not retain His anger forever, because He delights in steadfast love. He will again have compassion on us; He will tread our iniquities underfoot. You will cast all our sins into the depths of the sea." (Micah 7:18-19)

"And He shall stand and shepherd his flock in the strength of the LORD, in the majesty of the name of the LORD His God. And they shall dwell secure, for now he shall be great to the ends of the earth.

And He shall be their peace."

(Micah 5:4-5)

Sunday, December 5, 2010

sweetness in the sour - lyme disease diagnosis

For those of you who have been praying for my health for so long (thank you!), here's an update. We're coming up on four years since my cluster headaches began and are somewhere in the middle of my eighth year with acute migraines, but I have never been so aware of the faithfulness of God and His power to sustain and keep a girl together. Yesterday, I tested positive for Lyme Disease; a disease which, YES (!! happy dance !!), can be treated. The doctor who has stuck with us for the last 19 years believes this is the answer to most of my pain.

Over the years, we've seen doctors all over the country and and have thought a lot of different diagnoses and treatments were "the answer." Of course, this one may fall through as well, but it feels so good to hope, you know?

Last night, after my mom started talking with friends who have fought their own cases of Lyme, we discovered that just one month of antibiotics would probably not get rid of my headaches. Once symptoms become neurological, and if you've had the disease for a long time, it may take two years before they go away. Those 'two years' began to feel like an eternity as another cycle of cluster headache episodes kicked in around 4:30 yesterday afternoon. The idea of knowing I'd keep experiencing that kind of pain was so overwhelming, I started crying when a waiter asked how I was doing. I'm fine.

This morning, I woke up to the words of Psalm 125: "Those who trust in the LORD are like Mount Zion, which cannot be moved, but abides forever." Who do I trust? What do I long for? Where is my hope? In doctors, in the dream of a pain-free life, in myself? As long as my trust is all over the place rather than in God alone, I'll not only move, but experience has shown that I'll completely fall apart.

"I don't know when this season of pain will be over. Maybe, in God's grace and wisdom, He'll say, 'Enough!' and banish the pain within the hour. Or maybe He'll say, 'Enough!' allowing me to step out of this long-disabled, deteriorating temporary housing into my 'building from God, an eternal house in heaven, not built by human hands' (2 Cor. 5:1).

"In the meantime, these afflictions of mine - this very season of multiplied pain - is the background against which God has commanded me to show forth His praise. It's also that thing that I am to reckon as 'good and acceptable and perfect,' according to Romans 12. God bids me that I not only seek to accept it, but to embrace it, knowing full well that somewhere way down deep - in a secret place I have yet to see - lies my highest good.

"Yes, I pray that my pain might be removed, that it might cease; but more so, I pray for the strength to bear it, the grace to benefit from it, and the devotion to offer it up to God as a sacrifice of praise. My strength in prayer these days is scant - I'll confess that. So for all the concentration I can muster in prayer, I must not dissipate it in seeking physical blessings only. Rather, I must spend a good portion of it seeking spiritual growth and praying for Christ's kingdom to go forth into this dark world. For such prayers are a way for me to know God and to know Him deeper, higher, richer, wider, and fuller - much fuller than if I comfortably cruised through life in my wheelchair.

"To this point, as I pen this chapter, He has not chosen not to heal me, but to hold me.

"The more intense the pain, the closer His embrace."

(Joni Eareckson Tada, A Place of Healing)

"Those who trust in the LORD are like Mount Zion,
which cannot be moved, but abides forever.
As the mountains surround Jerusalem,
so the LORD surrounds His people,
from this time forth and forevermore." (Psalm 125)

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

and a lovely thing she is, too.

On the first day of December, a fourth grader said to me . . .

"I can't find my scorpion."


But let's rewind. The story begins with an abandoned tub of butter. (It always does, you know.)

Late one afternoon, a worn out bus driver weaved through the last neighborhoods of her daily route and yanked the brakes in front of a house with white pillars and bright Christmas-colored ornaments hanging above the door. To the right of the driver’s window, one smushed nose stared out at the sweet elderly man scooting down the street. As the nose backed away from the window and the sun shined through the glass to display the resulting print, the nine year old (C2) I babysit, passed in front of the bus and hopped onto the sidewalk. As he bypassed the nest of leaves stacked on the stone walkway, it became obvious he was up to something.

“Did he bring it?” Hey, C2.

“Hey. Did he bring it?” Did who bring what?

An answer worked its way to the front of his mouth but appeared to get stuck at the end of his tongue, as C2 picked up a tub of Country Crock butter and peeked inside. “Guess what kind of pet’s in here?” Oh no.

He walked into the house keeping the container steady and placed it on the coffee table. With the alarming tap of plastic-containing-critter against wood, the race to build a habitat was on. “Katie. Go to the computer and find out what kind of food it eats.”

As I walked from one side of the house to the other, C2 took off running. He sprinted up the stairs and slammed a few cabinet doors then latched onto the banister and slid down and spun in circles around one very dizzy kitten and flung open the back door and jogged back and forth, back and forth looking for sand – “NO SAND?!” – and waved as he ran back inside and back upstairs and then finally sat down and looked at me. “So, what does it eat?” I read to him from the website, and he nodded. “That’s not a problem.”

He went back to his pet – What’s its name? “Corpus.” – and I dug through drawers for the cotton ball that C2 planned to use to hydrate Corpus.

I soaked both ends of a Q-tip with filtered water and listened for the shuffling of my mini-arachnologist. “I would watch where you step. I can’t find Corpus.” Ohhhh no.

I looked down at the carpet and saw it: the sand-colored scorpion crawling into the kitchen.

C2’s gaze started at my elbow and slid down my forearm to my finger to the floor.

“Oh, fudge.”

He crouched down, but that critter had tasted freedom, and heck, he was going to get it. As the two of them square-danced on top of the tile, I snapped pictures. The flash of the camera startled them both: “You’re not going to show my mom, right?” Seconds later, Corpus landed in his container.

As we sat on the couch and stared somewhat incredulous at how well the scorpion blended in with his surroundings, C2 explained that he found the escapee while he was hunting during Thanksgiving.

Oh, Thanksgiving, you have left so many reasons for gratitude: the discovery of “the coolest thing ever,” the joy which comes when a potentially poisonous arachnid is no longer loose in the house, the duct tape that keeps a lid down, and the awe of a nine year old boy completely amazed by the handiwork of our Creator-God, whose birth we’re celebrating this month.


Okay. So it's not as pleasant as a partridge in a pear tree. But it's a scorpion from under a log. That has to count for something.