Because My Mother’s Heart is Breaking….

It happens almost every morning.

As he wakes from his fitful sleep that was interrupted by sweat drenching and gut wrenching, he curls his body around the gnawing ache in his stomach, the one that threatens to wretch and heave, and he clamps his eyes shut tight and prays desperately to God for the strength to rise another day.

He is eleven.

He is my son…and I cannot help him….and it is eating me alive.

I stroke his hair and back and pray healing over his body.

I pray “Lord, help my unbelief.” My head knows You can and do heal, but my heart doesn’t trust it.

My heart rises up to choke out the words, “It’s time to get ready for school,” and he clamps shuts his eyes and nods.  “Give me just a minute, Mom.”

Tears well up and I turn away and on the inside I rail at the world and at me and at God because dear God he is only eleven and yet every morning he makes a decision that I, in my age and maturity, would struggle against.

I am transported back to the morning just a few weeks after his sixth birthday. The morning I woke up to find him asleep on the bathroom floor with his pillow and blanket. It was the first time he had not come to wake us when he got sick in the night; the first time he closed the door so we could rest.  That morning, as I held his heaving body over the toilet for the third time in an hour, I realized our life would never be the same. And as I rocked him and told him he didn’t have to go school that day…we would stay home and rest, he took my face in his hands and looked me in the eyes and said,

“Mama, this is my life now. I can’t just stop living it.”

He was six….

And so wise…wiser than I.  And my heart rose up in my throat, and tears welled up in my eyes, and a mother’s bittersweet pride filled up my chest and I railed at the world and at me and at God.

This journey has been long and arduous, hard for our whole family, and we are not near the end of it.  We had the help of doctors and healers in the beginning…until there was talk of stomach tubes and elemental formula and a growing boy who can’t eat and my mother’s heart said no.  Then we traveled alone and have for the last few years….feeling out our way….having good months and bad months…and good days and bad days…..But now, it’s been six bad months in a row and countless bad days and every morning is the same heart wrenching and gut wrenching routine.

So would you pray with me today?  Pray for Xander’s healing first and foremost, but also for heart and head wisdom for our family.  It is time to walk the journey with others again and it takes a good deal of discernment to determine who those should be.  It’s time to make some really difficult decisions about our schedule and our routine and make changes that may be painful for all of us, and it is time to face the fear that we may have harder days ahead of us, and frankly, my strength for the journey has been sapped by the miles already traveled.

Thank you, Lord, for this absolutely amazing family you’ve given me stewardship over.  Thank you for the wise little soul you knitted into my son, and for the partnership of a man who is rock solid and yet tender and gentle at the same time, and for a place where my heart feels safe enough to say “I don’t feel good enough.” Thank you, Lord, for preparing us for this journey and for walking with us every step of the way. Lord, I know you heal and restore and redeem…I declare that by the blood of Jesus Christ and the resurrection and life of Jesus Christ, that my son will be healed.  Lord, I praise you and claim that healing now.  In Jesus name, Amen.

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Thank you for your prayers.  If you’re interested in learning more about Xander’s disorder- Eosiniphilic Esophagitis check out www.apfed.org and here’s a post I wrote several years ago about where we were on this journey. 

Testimonies and Timelines

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Sunday night I had an opportunity I don’t get very often.

I was asked to share my testimony with a group of about 30 prayer warriors.

All the ugly parts.
All the painful parts.
All the scary parts….and…
All the beautifully redemptive parts.

It is a gift to be given such an opportunity.

But it is hard….

To share my testimony is to become vulnerable in front of a stranger.  To share the full force of what God has done in my life is to open up and expose some terrible missteps and pray that you still offer me grace after you know who I’ve been.

It is a fearsome opportunity to show that God can and does deliver, heal and redeem in fantastic and wonderful ways.

Storyline

I have been working through Donald Miller’s book, Storyline.  It is an incredible adventure into discovering God’s plan for your life and your purpose in His Kingdom.  It’s been fun and interesting and hard and scary all rolled into one, but as I look over my timeline and use the positive and negative turns of my life to discern a theme, I see what Jesus has been telling me all along.

I am a wounded healer.  I have been redeemed. And I am to use my story of healing and deliverance to draw others to the same well of healing and deliverance.  Jesus will use my brokenness to heal others’ brokenness.

theme of my life

Sunday night was a confirmation of that theme in my life.

Of that purpose in my life.

Thank you to those of you who were there listening. It was a fearsome gift indeed.

I wrote this post in originally in December of 2010. Since then, my husband and I are blessed to have found a community of believers who live life alongside us in a way that naturally brings us closer to God. Still, this post sums up the necessity of strong community and God’s desire for us to experience it as part of our walk with Him.

Strings Attached Ministries

“Community is like a large mosaic. Each little piece seems so dull and insignificant.  As individual stones, we can do little with them except compare them and judge their beauty and value. When, however, all these little stones are brought together in one big mosaic portraying the face of Christ, who would ever question the importance of any one of them? Together in the one mosaic, each little stone is indispensable and makes a unique contribution to the glory of god.  That’s community, a fellowship of little people who together make God visible in the world.”- Henri Nouwen

Finding ways to engage the community of believers is the central teaching of Strings Attached Ministries.  Learning to plug into and act as a vital part of the Fellowship of Christ is key to truly deepening your relationship with God.

We have focused in the past weeks on deepening our quest for…

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When Fear Rushes In…

Courage can’t see around corners, but goes around them anyway.  ~Mignon McLaughlin, The Neurotic’s Notebook, 1960

I haven’t been posting around these parts for a while. I am sorry for that. Life has rushed in…no wait, not so much life…fear has rushed in.

I have been experiencing quite a few medical issues lately. Neurological medical issues. The good news is I have a team of doctors…doctors who love Jesus and pray diligently over each patient…who believe that these issues actually stem from an old injury that is healing. This would be a wonderful God promised miracle.

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But still there are moments…moments when a hand tremors uncontrollably and mind-numbing fatigue rushes in…moments when words are hard to remember and letters get hopelessly jumbled in my head…moments when fear sweeps in and doubt creeps up my spine and I wonder where God is in all of this.  I wonder  how to live a witness of faith and hope when what I am feeling is lost and alone.  I wonder if God is really Jehovah Rapha and Jehovah Jireh and all those other things that His word proclaims. And then I wonder if I am a heretic for wondering and a sweet mentor who loves Jesus reminds me that I am simply human.

And in the midst of all this fear rushing and doubt creeping, I cry out to Jesus, “Lord, help my unbelief!” 

Then I remember what a friend taught me a long time ago…

“When in doubt….WORSHIP.”

When doubt and fear overtake you, and questions and worries begin to rush over….worship.  Focus on the awesomeness, the wonder, the amazing love of God.

And so I turn up my radio and I sit in the floor of my kitchen and I sing loud enough to make a voice crack and I hug my knees to my chest and feel God’s presence fill the room.  Weight from shoulders lifts and heart begins to tentatively flap wings and by the end of the second song, I am soaring. Prayers fragrance the room and tears wash worry lines from my face and me and God…well we are on speaking terms again.

So next time fear takes over, or doubt yells loud its questions in your head, remember the antidote to fear is not always courage….is not always pull yourself up by your bootstraps and walk on….the truest antidote is WORSHIP

The Sound of Silence: A Preamble

I survived! Three days of silence on the mountain….and I came out sane!

What can I tell you, by way of introduction, that even begins to encapsulate the beauty and grace that I experienced….well, nothing.

God and I, we chatted and ate and wrote stories and played and watched caterpillars and even drew a little. It was poignant and tender and romantic and oh, so, so restful.

So, like I said, we wrote….a lot….so I will share some of that over the next few days.  I’m still processing so much and still writing so much, that I find it hard to sit and type it all out….my wrist aches from all the writing…

The retreat was a three day silent directed retreat held by Judy Turner of Christview Ministries at Little Portion Retreat Center in Eureka Springs.  Just as a bit of a preamble to sharing my reflections with you, here is what one of director’s, Gail Pitt of Dovehouse Ministries, says of silent directed retreats:

A directed silent retreat is an opportunity to take time away from the noise and distraction of everyday life, to rest and listen for God. God longs for relationship with us–a loving, growing relationship. God loves when we choose to take time away from the things that tug at us to be
with Him. He wants to draw near and to give to us. Prayer is relationship, and silence is simply making a space for us to listen to God. When a retreat is directed and silent, it means that the retreatant spends time alone with God in prayer and silence.

I was honored and blessed to be a part of this retreat.  I can’t wait to share my reflections with you.

Remind Me Who I Am: Reflections from Advanced Captivating

Two beautiful new friends from Advanced Captivating.

“When I lose my way, and I forget my name, remind me who I am.”

Twelve years ago I fell and hit my head.  Hard.

I wish I could tell you I was doing something really cool at the time, but I wasn’t.  I was just getting ready for work (I was in the army at the time), and I passed out and hit my head….on the toilet.  I know, glamorous, right?

I woke up completely blank. Like someone had taken a Magic Eraser to my brain. Full blown amnesia.

It. Was. Terrifying.

I knew nothing. Not my name, not where I was, what I was doing there. Nothing. I was paralyzed with fear. Climbed onto a couch that I didn’t recognize, with a blanket I had never seen before, curled up into a ball and began to cry.

My Battery Commander called my husband (who traveled out of state for work at the time) because I had not shown up for work and was several hours late.

As soon as I picked up the phone, he knew something was very wrong. My commander sent my platoon sergeant and my motor sergeant to pick me up. I did not know them.  I followed them out of fear and sheer obedience to the man on the other end of the phone who seemed to know me.

I was in a military hospital for three weeks with close to full blown amnesia.  It was one of the most frightening times of my life. A time made bearable only by the constant presence of my faithful husband…he stayed day and night. He talked slow and introduced people….people like my commander, my best friend, my sister…people like my mom.

And every four hours, when a nurse’s assistant would poke her head around the curtain and ask, “Lieutenant Kaufman?” I would look at my dear, dear Charlie and he would nod.

He would remind me who I am.

Photo by Melton Microfilms

Six times a day (sometimes more) for 18 days–such an intense act of love–he would remind me who I am. Dear God, I love that man.

(There is so much more to this story, but the rest of the tale is for another day.)

I went to Advanced Captivating last month with just a little touch of spiritual amnesia.  Do you get this?  Do you ever forget, in the hustle and bustle of life who you are in Christ? That you are Co-heir to the Kingdom of God? Knight and Warrior Princess?

That you are

Beautiful?

Graceful?

Loved?

I traveled to the heart of the Rocky Mountains…to the wonder of creation….and there, through the ministry of Ransomed Heart, through the beautiful, captivating women who traveled there seeking refreshment as well, through the ministering of the Holy Spirit,  God took me by the heart reminded me who I am–such an intense act of love–to remind me who I am.

“If I’m your beloved, can you help me believe it?”

Another song from the retreat…this song obviously resonated with me.  You, too?

Spiders and Bibles…the reprise

I wrote this story in March of last year at a time when I was just beginning a faithful morning Bible study.  That morning was the perfect example of God using a small, seemingly insignificant moment to teach his truth and convict my heart.  He seems to be teaching me the same lesson in new ways this year. Enjoy.

This morning the Lord woke me early.

Well, earlier than normal…I am ex-military and am often told that my early and the rest of the world’s early are two very different time frames.  Normally, when this happens I am ashamed to say I grumble like my second grader for “a few more minutes,” snuggle tightly into my husband’s warmth and, well, tell God to bug off until my usual 0530 wake up.

I am happy to say that today I was obedient. When my eyes popped open at 0445, instead of grumbling and rolling over, I asked, “What do you have to tell me today, Lord?”

His answer? “Plenty.”

So I rolled out of bed and bound down the stairs. I broke out Charlie’s cozy blue Snuggie (these are awesome by the way) and curled up on the couch with my new Bible study (“Live Intimately: Lessons from the Upper Room”), my Bible, my pretty prayer journal that I got at our retreat in November, and an open heart and mind. And I dug in…I tore into the scripture, I madly jotted answers and notes…really one of the best quiet times I have had in years. It was awesome!

Then, just as I am pondering an additional scripture reference….an uninvited guest joins my quiet time….and, well…it wasn’t so quiet anymore…

Across the pages of John 13:7-9 walks a ginormous, hugemongous spider….I ain’t gonna lie– I went full on girly-girl.  I shrieked like a banshee and threw the Good Book as far off my lap as I could heft it, jumped up, grabbed a house shoe and proceeded to beat the tar out that spider.

Uh-Oh…metaphor for life alert.

How many times have I abandoned the shelter of the Word of God because the message was something I didn’t want to hear or see? Because in my feeble mind, I was too afraid, too immature, too….undisciplined. Oh, too many to count. Like the spider crawling across the Bible, I use fear as an excuse to run away, or worse…to squash the messenger.

I felt the sudden tug of a repentant heart.  Repentance far beyond, “Lord, I am sorry I killed your spider…and threw your book on the ground,”

but more like-

“Oh, MY GOD, I am sorry that I run from your difficult messages. From my ugly places. From the light that you shine on my strongholds of sin. Please, forgive me for lack of discipline, my lack of strength, my lack of obedience. Fill me with Your light, Your strength, Your will. I’m scared to look…but I am ready. Show me.”

What I beautiful time I had with the Lord…scary, but beautiful.

Ok…so wanna hear even more God-coolness? In my brand new, super pretty, extra girly prayer journal every even page has a scripture verse. I opened the journal to write this epiphany down.  And I see:

“Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me.”- Psalm 51:10

Wow…I guess eight legged creatures are good for more than just killin’ mosquitoes afterall….

Has God showed you a life lesson through “metaphor” lately? I’d love to hear it!