All posts by admindeb

Oh, the People I Meet and the Stuff I Learn – On Twitter

Blog - Twitter3 years ago, I opened a Twitter account as part of a new job as a communications strategist. Prior to this, Facebook was pretty much the extent of social media I regularly used. Entering the trendy Twittersphere has brought me a bit of good-natured grief from my way cooler young adult children, but I stand my ground.

Twitter reminds me of how I felt first reading Dr. Seuss’ Oh, the Places You’ll Go! “You’ll get mixed up, of course, as you already know. You’ll get mixed up with many strange birds as you go. So be sure when you step. Step with care and great tact and remember that Life’s a Great Balancing Act. Just never forget to be dexterous and deft. And never mix up your right foot with your left.”

I have learned so much from the folks I follow on Twitter (and by default, the folks they follow). They are writers, musicians, theologians, moms, social activists, film makers, entrepreneurs, teachers, artists and athletes. Even how I take in world news is now affected by how these I follow comment on events. It’s surprising how rich a 140-character opinion can be, especially when I am pointed to a link that fills in the rest of the story.

In a world gone texting, a 140-character tweet is really quite substantive.

For the unconvinced of those friends of mine, I want to introduce you to some of the people I follow…just a few, there are many more. What I learn from them each day is well worth the time spent on Twitter. It, like all other social media, can be addictive, so it’s wise to be judicious in how often you check Twitter, but, again, I am thankful for these voices. They have helped me thrive in this world of so many messages. For with Twitter, like Facebook, I choose who I learn from, rather than being bombarded with so. much. noise.

Here are just a few of those I follow and their recent tweets:

Dena Dyer ‏@motherinferior2 34m34 minutes ago

McFarland, USA is a feel-good, inspirational and family-friendly movie–you take your whole family to see it. #supporthegoodstuff

TED Talks ‏@TEDTalks 19m19 minutes ago

#TED2015 begins in 3… 2… 1…

Russell Moore ‏@drmoore 2h2 hours ago

Can’t wait for #cafo2015! Will you be there? http://www.cafo2015.org

[CAFO – Christian Alliance for Orphans Summit April 30-May 1, Nashville, Tn.]

Micah Fries ن ‏@micahfries 2h2 hours ago

I’m pretty sure the New Jerusalem will be a bit like middle Tennessee today; 78, sunny & 30% humidity.

WSJ Sports ‏@WSJSports 2h2 hours ago

Who’s going to win in #MarchMadness? The Madness Machine will guide you through your bracket: http://on.wsj.com/1EkwGVW 

Intl Justice Mission ‏@IJM 3h3 hours ago

Thanks to @AmazonSmile, your shopping can help rescue slaves. Go here (http://smile.amazon.com/  ) + choose us! #YouShopAmazonGives

Business Insider ‏@businessinsider 3h3 hours ago

Amazing photos of a Pacific island nation just devastated by a monster cyclone http://read.bi/1HVSivB 

Mike C ‏@blogboy2 3h3 hours ago

7 Tips to Turn Your Clutter Into Cash Through Garage Sales: http://ht.ly/Koub3  #realestate

Trevin Wax ن ‏@TrevinWax 9h9 hours ago

Repentance has a fragrance; hypocrisy, a stench. http://ow.ly/KmjTB

Brad Hambrick ن @BradHambrick  ·  22h 22 hours ago

Video Overcoming Depression-Anxiety A Responsibility Paradigm (Step 9 of 9) STEWARD all of my life for God’s glory

Marilyn Gardner @marilyngard  ·  16h 16 hours ago

Christopher Yuan 袁幼軒 @christopheryuan  ·  Mar 14

Study: Parents who are absorbed by smartphones have more negative interactions with their children http://yuan2.us/288

Drew Daywalt retweeted

Penguin Books Canada @PenguinCanada  ·  Feb 28

The crayons are coming! The crayons are coming! The Day The Crayons Quit Is getting a sequel: http://bit.ly/1LLRLi6 

How to Sign Up for Twitter

@debmillswriter

 

Routines, Rituals, & Rhythms of Life – 10 Disciplines that Can Help Us Reclaim Our Life for Good

2015 March Blog on Routines  Spring flowers 007 - use this one (2)

When our children were small, we set routines in place that carried us for long years of relative sanity. We set routines for two reasons – 1) to give them a sense of order and loving boundaries, and 2) to provide a consistent infrastructure in our own lives as their parents. We all knew what the rules were, and what we, the Mills, were about as a family.

If we don’t set up routines in our lives, then our time and energy can be taken captive by the whim of others. By our own brain-in-neutral “me-time”. Or, in my case, just an inescapable drive to do too much, such that if I’m not careful, I accomplish little well. It’s lifelong learning here for me…

In talking about routines, it’s not those of snacking late and falling asleep every night in front of the t.v. Those happen with little effort on our part. It is setting routines in place that reflect God-inspired values…the kinds of routines that will take us right through our elder years; routines that our children will remember and may want for themselves…because those routines mattered; they were good and life-affirming…they are still – no matter the times and culture in which we find ourselves.

The 10 disciplines listed below speak to routines in the rhythm of life. There are rituals that can be set in place to help us be more successful in turning disciplines into a lifestyle. This list is not meant to be prescriptive as much as it is to be descriptive of what we want for our lives. We fail at them regularly, but we aim at these goals daily.

1) Quiet Time in the morning – A friend of ours grew up with a dad who had the philosophy: “Bible before breakfast”. Setting a routine of prayer, Bible reading, and journaling in place can transform our personal lives and our families (even where there are small ones – this is the most challenging time to set this routine; if it’s before the babies come, it’s easier to maintain). It requires getting up early and going to bed early enough to get up early, but it is so worth it. So important for every other part of our daily life.

2) Live life in an orderly way. “A place for everything and everything in its place” is a wisdom statement whose origin is ascribed to several including Benjamin Franklin. As a piler (if my projects are put away, it’s as if they don’t exist), this is a life-long battle, but I work at it everyday. Especially the common areas of our home, the dishes, and the laundry. This could also relate to our email folders, but I won’t even go there on this one.

3) Tithe and avoid debt. Being generous toward God and toward others makes for a truly satisfying life. Living within our means and being thrifty help us develop the margin wherein we can exercise generosity. We have never had big salaries or huge debt, so we don’t know the temptation or struggle, respectively, of either of those. We have seen this principle of giving at work in our lives and that of others more generous than us. It is life-infusing, for sure.

4) Worship God. You can see there is no order to this list of 10. Worshipping God as a lifestyle can permeate all the other routines of life. This is not just about attending church; it’s really worshipping God, corporately with the church, as well as completely alone. Keeping a Sabbath makes for a huge jumpstart in a lifestyle of worship – setting aside a day of rest, as He has instructed us, and then using that day to reflect on Him. Amazing grace comes out of that. Then as we make remembering God a rhythm of life, all that happens to us and to those around us is set in the reality of a good and loving God.

5) Honoring Communications: This can be a prickly subject as our current technology has really not helped with communication as much as we think. We almost communicate, at best. When our children were growing up, we visited more, talked around the dinner table, and had guests in often. It can be a stretch for our introvert family members, but genuine, wholly engaged communication yields great gains for everyone involved. So…given where we are today: Answer those texts. Make phone calls when a situation is time- or message-sensitive. Write cards especially for those older, harder hearing, and far away. Deal with business communication in a timely manner. Exercise courtesy. Treat others in good faith. ‘Nuff said. I fail here regularly, but it’s always on my radar.

6) Work with your hands…whether it’s in the garden, or working in the kitchen, playing an instrument, or making things. When our children were young, they would sometimes complain of being bored. We would always tell them, “Go do something.” That seemed a simple instruction, but it seemed to help them rally, sort of “snap out of it”. I don’t understand boredom, really; there is so much out there to learn and do. I admire friends and family of ours who tackle challenging skillsets, figure things out, and create something of beauty or usefulness. Working with our hands makes a big difference in our lives. I know this experientially whether the science supports it or not.

7) Take time to be kind. Slowing down is really a requirement to being kind – to hold a door for someone, or make a meal for a new mom, or show care for someone instead of going straight to the business at hand. Time is a limited resource. Guard it…don’t squander it. Or redeem it – slowing down may not always be an option, but we can definitely restructure how we use our time. Have regular bedtimes and morning wake-up times. Healthier lives give us the fuel for both using our time better and showing kindness to those around us.

8) Honor your parents. I have had the great blessing of generous and wise mom and mom-in-law. They loved both Dave and me with open hands, encouraging us to watch out for both sides of our families. We gain so much in those relationships. We have a friend who talked to his elderly father every single day. He read the Bible to him over the phone when his eyesight got too bad to read it himself. His father has gone on to be with the Lord, but what a blessing that was for him, for them. Are you setting up routines in your life that serve those who loved you most?

9) Pray instead of worry or fret. You know what I’m talking about here. At night, I have a discipline of going back over the day with the Lord, placing people and situations in His hands. Then I can sleep. I try to do the same on waking, training my thoughts to God rather than stressing about the day ahead.

10) Be good stewards of your mind, body, and relationships. This is where all the healthy living stuff might come in. So much more than that though is the intentionality of being a good steward of your over-all life. For instance, life-long learning must be part of our routine or we really go into “slow”. Still another friend of ours has a routine of 45 minutes of reading a day (beyond his quiet time and reading at work), just for the purpose of learning. Regarding relationships, we can intentionally build routines that connect us with people. Breakfast clubs. Community Bible studies. Weekly prayer groups. Volunteer teams. Regular dates with friends (including our spouses or roommates and family). Just like our bodies and minds, our relationships require tending, and we will reap a harvest in how we steward them.

A few years ago, Jen Hatmaker wrote a book entitled 7: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess. It was a great help for me to examine the excesses in life that keep us from establishing life-giving routines. There are many helps for us out there, but her book came at a time when I was searching for more balance, more space, in life…it’s available to us as we determine to build in routines and rituals through the rhythms of life.

Blog - Routines - 7 by Jen Hatmaker

Routines will happen. Just be intentional on making the ones you truly want to happen. Do something. Do the next thing. Do the right thing. Serve somebody.

7: An experimental Mutiny Against Excess by Jen Hatmaker

How Changing This One Bad Habit Changed Our Home for Good – Complaining

Routines, Rituals, and Rhythms by an English Mum

Rhythms, Routines, & Rituals for Homeschooling Families

Family Routines and Rituals – A Context for Development in the Lives of Young Children

Finally, Spring

2015 March American Idol & Spring Blog 027“So let us know, let us press on to know the LORD. His going forth is as certain as the dawn; And He will come to us like the rain, like the spring rain watering the earth.”Hosea 6:3

Our first March in this house, and we are surrounded by the gray, brown, and dark green of winter. After the cold dreariness of winter, you wonder if Spring will ever come. Then, the miracle of life unseen, nurtured somehow under the topsoil, unfolds itself pushing through to the sun. With the melting of our last winter snow, came the first flowers…as if by magic. 2015 March Downton American Idol  Trip to Georgia  Papa 099 (2)

This time of year is such a mystery and a marvel to me. For months, the ground is gray-brown, seemingly barren. Dead. Dormant. Then the first signs of life, and each day more pop up, heralding another Spring. A picture in nature of the faithfulness of God – “as certain as the dawn”.2015 March American Idol & Spring Blog 0012015 March American Idol & Spring Blog 0022015 March American Idol & Spring Blog 011Most of the green shoots appearing right now we didn’t plant. The last homeowner left us a beautiful garden that we now tend and make our own. Dave, the resident gardener who is my husband, has an idea of what all these plants are. For me, it’s enough that they are growing, inches a day, with the promise of flowers soon. It’s part of the wonder of Spring: what all must happen underground to yield all the green we see now, and the amazing colors we will soon see.

Dave did plant irises for us last June – they were a gift from our neighbor, Liz, who has a yard full of purple-blue, bearded irises. These remind me of my mom’s yard. She loved irises and I love them because of her. 2014 May Flowers 004These iris shoots are coming up, and whether they bloom this year or not…just seeing them has given me that springtime hopefulness.2015 March American Idol & Spring Blog 028

When we lived all those years in Morocco, Spring came early. By March, the temperate winter weather and soaking rains had already produced fields of flowers. We had pots of flowers on our apartment balcony all year round. I miss Morocco…and the glory of those early Springs.2006 March -- Boys at full size

Here, we plant in our gray-brown garden beds in March, trusting that just like with crocuses, daffodils, irises, and daisies of Springs before, we will watch seeds and bulbs do what they are created to do…grow and grow and grow.2015 March American Idol & Spring Blog 033

2015 March American Idol & Spring Blog 015

We moved into this house the end of May last year. After living for decades in city apartments and rented houses, this was our first summer to enjoy a yard of our own. It was so beautiful, and we look forward to the return of all those flowers from last year. We will not wish one day away from Spring, though. Finally, it has arrived.2014 May Flowers 0212014 May Flowers 0432014 May Flowers 0372014 June - Visits with Friends 013 (2)

Worship Wednesday – Thriving Through the Unknown Because of Who’s Known – Mark Hall of Casting Crowns

Blog - Mark Hall asking for prayer

But now, thus says the LORD, your Creator, O Jacob, And He who formed you, O Israel, “Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name; you are Mine! When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; And through the rivers, they will not overflow you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be scorched, Nor will the flame burn you. For I am the LORD your God.” – Isaiah 43:1-3

Don’t you love it when a familiar Bible verse takes on new importance for what you’re going through right now? Or the lyrics of a song that’s been out for months, all of a sudden, resonates with just what you’re currently going through? As if you were reading/hearing it for the very first time? Just a few days ago, I heard the song “Thrive” by Casting Crowns and I thought it was a new release. Out a year already, and the lyrics just registered on this hearing.

Later that same day, the news came out that Mark Hall, Casting Crowns’ singer/songwriter, had been diagnosed with a mass on his kidney. He would be undergoing surgery on March 11 to remove the mass and determine whether or not it was cancer. It seems after hearing that news, “Thrive” has played on the air and in my head repeatedly.

Mark Hall is presently dealing with this terrible unknown, yet what is known to him is a loving, merciful, Healer God. Whatever uncertainty he faces, he faces it certain of a God who loves Him and calls him, not just to survive what he’s facing, but to thrive within it… What I know of Mark, he will…because of Who he knows.

“Joy unspeakable, faith unsinkable
Love unstoppable, anything is possible.”

Blog - Casting Crowns - Mark Hall family

Pray for Mark, his family, his band and his church today…

and worship with me:

Here in this worn and weary land
Where many a dream has died
Like a tree planted by the water
We never will run dry

So living water flowing through
God, we thirst for more of You
Fill our hearts and flood our souls with one desire

Just to know You and to make You known
We lift Your name on high
Shine like the sun, make darkness run and hide
We know we were made for so much more than ordinary lives
It’s time for us to more than just survive
We were made to thrive

Into Your word, we’re digging deep
To know our Father’s heart
Into the world, we’re reaching out
To show them who You are

Joy unspeakable, faith unsinkable
Love unstoppable, anything is possible*

Blog - Casting Crowns - Mark Hall

*LyricsThrive – written by Mark Hall and Matthew West, Casting Crowns

Christian Post article on Mark Hall’s Situation

YouTube Official Lyric video of Thrive

YouTube video of Thrive – live performance by Casting Crowns

Story Behind the Song Thrive

Just Be Held & Mark Hall’s Testimony a Year Ago Reflecting Where God Has Him Today – Held.

#PrayingforMark

Mark Hall Twitter page

Mark Hall’s Full Testimony

Casting Crowns Website

Photo Credit – Mark Hall asking for prayer

Photo Credit – Mark Hall Family

Photo Credit – Casting Crowns band

 

 

Food Favorites Cross Cultures – but Not Always – Hilarious Foodie Videos

Blog - Foodie Videos  #3

“Culture, when it comes to food, is, of course, a fancy word for your mom.” – Michael Pollan

Food and culture are such an important part of each other. Our relationships and our memories are flavored by the food we share. It could be Thanksgiving dinner in our home in Morocco (photo above), or Thanksgiving on my Mom’s buffet in Georgia (photos below).Blog - Foodie - use this one too

Blog - Foodie - Use this one

When you think of holidays, certain favorite foods always come to mind. At my mom-in-law’s table at Christmas, it’s brunch together.Blog - Foodie Videos #6

Blog - Foodie Videos #8

MomMom is well-known for her strawberry salad which only sounds healthy but it’s so yummy.Blog - Foodie Videos #5

Our family had the great blessing of living in North Africa for our children’s growing-up years. With the living, came the friends, food, and memories of those wonderful places. The British are well known for their afternoon tea, and rightly so. Less may be known about a Moroccan tea, but that’s the one I know best.Blog - Foodie Videos - #13

I have learned hospitality from some of the best women in the world, in the US, and across North Africa. The Egyptian table, although very different from that of my childhood, felt very Southern to me. Blog - Foodie Videos - #16

Blog - Foodie Videos - #15

Now, that your tastebuds are all geared up and your mouth is watering, if you love food of all kinds, here is the hilarious deliciousness of cross-cultural dining.

This morning, a South African friend posted a Buzzfeed video skit portraying Americans trying South African snacks. I laughed out loud. Then, as happens with the internet, other videos followed. It was so much fun finding the videos below.

Enjoy…and I would love to hear some of your favorite cross-cultural food experiences through the comments section below. Here, in Richmond, Virginia, we don’t have a Chinatown or Arab Quarter or anything like that. However, we do have wonderful little restaurants that serve up authentic Moroccan, Armenian, Ethiopian, Bosnian, Pakistani, Japanese, Thai, Indian, Cuban, Greek and Korean food. What else, fellow Richmonders?

YouTube Video – Americans Try Southern Food for the First Time

The Way Folks Were Meant to Eat – by Ray Blount, Jr , from book Long Time Leaving: Dispatches from Up South Essay & AudioFile – Do NOT Miss This. So much fun, whether you’re from the South or not.

YouTube Video – Irish People Try Irish Stereotypical Food

YouTube Video – Chinese People Try Panda Express for the First Time

YouTube Video – Americans Try Persian Food with Their Driver

The Most Famous and Greatest Food Quotes of All Time – not sure this is necessarily so, but fun list nonetheless. My own children have made pretty hilarious comments on food over the years. Put people around a table, and you get a lot of good from it.

Blog - FoodieOualidia, Morocco – Restaurant L’OstreaBlog - Foodie #2Our first sea urchins – let the adventures roll on!

Today is What We Have – Fight for a Soft Heart Today – Praying for Kara

Blog - Kara with hairNo posts from Kara & Company over the weekend, and I was holding my breath. Kara Tippetts is one of the loveliest women I’ve never met. She is a Christ-follower, pastor’s wife, mom of 4, writer, and amazing sister and friend. How I know her is through the cancer she battles, through her faith,  and through her writing…this is how I know her and how I love her.

Today, exhaling, a post came up on her Facebook page. She was writing about a friend, Jay Lyons, who was producing a documentary about her journey through cancer. She linked to the documentary as will I.

In the documentary, she talks about having to leave the party early.

[Sidebar: I write about sad things sometimes. Don’t leave the party early yourselves, dear readers. Her life is so rich, so real; I want you to know Kara. So hang in there with me. Her journey right now is so much more than sad; she has so much to teach us about life…don’t miss it.]

Kara says, “I know I’ve got cancer. I know I’m going to die of it, but I also know I have today, and so in this today, I get to live well.”

She talks about her husband, Jason. “Jason shows me the best of what life has to offer mostly in encouraging me to fight for a soft heart.”

Finally, she talks about the cancer and her Father, God: “I want to be able to share this story, that suffering isn’t a mistake and isn’t the absence of God’s goodness, because He’s present in pain.”

When Kara talks, those who doubt the goodness of God have no place to speak into her experience. She trusts God for today.

Pray for Kara and Jason today. Pray for a soft heart…for her, for them…for all of us.Blog - Kara & Jason near the end

Kara Tippetts – Facebook page

Kara Tippetts Blog – Mundane Faithfulness

Dying with Grace – By Faith Magazine Interview with Kara

Kara Tippetts Documentary Trailer

Kara’s book The Hardest Peace

Documentary Indiegogo Project Funding

Photo Credits – Kara & Jason Before Chemo and Kara & Jason After

Worship Wednesday – Greed, Gratefulness, & the Generosity of God

Blog - Tithing pic

Jesus looked up and saw the rich putting their gifts into the offering box, and he saw a poor widow put in two small copper coins. And he said, “Truly, I tell you, this poor widow has put in more than all of them. For they all contributed out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty put in all she had to live on.” – Luke 21:1-4

Years ago, an opportunity was afforded to me to teach at a very prestigious university. It would mean relocating to a new city, leaving family and friends, and taking a cut in pay. My current job had allowed me to live very well as a single woman, but I didn’t think a drop in salary would be that much of an adjustment. Unknown to me then was how much higher the cost of living was in the city where I moved. It wasn’t long after beginning life there that my finances were a mess. Running out of money well before the end of the month, I changed as much as I could to pull out of this situation. Eating oatmeal for dinner was one of my get-to-the-end-of-the-month strategies, and stopping giving money through the church was another. For the first time in my adult life, I didn’t tithe. It did not improve my situation.

During this time, there was this young graduate student I noticed at church who seemed to eat a lot of peanut butter sandwiches. As we became friends, he told me that he, too, was challenged financially, living off of a graduate school stipend. However, there was a big difference. When he received his check each month, the first thing he did was write another check…his tithe to the church. Then he lived on the rest, frugally, until the next check came. If I hadn’t noticed his simple meals, which brought us into conversation about finances, he would never have commented on his own situation. It was what it was, and he was grateful.

I would one day marry this young man.

This story was not to put him on any sort of pedestal but to consider three spiritual principles at play here.

1) Greed – Growing up, we probably all heard our parents say, “There is a big difference between want and need.” Along with that, need can turn into greed, if we are not careful in managing our heart’s desires. Through that financial downturn, I experienced great clarity. It was a scramble, but I finally got past that season of debt, bounced checks, and not tithing. Tithing is returning back a portion of our income (10% or more) to the Lord, in obedience to Him, for the sake of others in need. God doesn’t need our tithe. I need the tithe. It is a stewardship of what God has given me – obeying Him in tithing, then obeying Him with the rest of my resources follows.

Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal;  but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. – Matthew 6:19-21

Where your treasure is measures where you heart is. Not only that, my husband will say, but you can use your treasure to lead your heart. When you invest your treasure (whether it’s the stock market or to BGR, for example), you are going to pay attention to what’s going on with it. Where we put our treasure is where we tune our hearts. As we remember the heart of God toward those who need Him and toward those with other great needs, the resources He gives us become an extension of His hand of love…as we release them. Somehow, in our obedience (even when our heart is not fully in it), God will change our hearts. Hallelujah!

2) Gratefulness – Our children grew up with VeggieTales. The Madame Blueberry video about thankfulness was one of our favorites. The moral of this cute story was that being greedy can make you grumpy (adult talk: never satisfied). Also, the song goes with the story that “a grateful heart is a happy heart”. There is so much more to life than “the stuff”. Being grateful is a condition of the heart that can be cultivated. There is, after all, so much for which we can be grateful.

3) Generosity of God – God is wholly and perfectly generous toward us. He even challenges us to test His generosity (Malachi 3:10). We have sure found Him faithful. There may be long and difficult times of financial leanness in life. However, as we let go of a tight-fisted control of our money and what we want to do with it, God moves. Not always in ways we may “want” (again, it’s a letting go of control), but in ways that will truly satisfy, changing our hearts to be more like that of Jesus’ heart.

Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord, as His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue. – 2 Peter 1:2-3

Share Your Story: Tithing – The High Calling

The Open Hands of the Gospel

Generous Giving: Questions about Generosity

Gratefulness and Tithing – Unlocking the Floodgates of Heaven

Tithing – Gratitude or Greed?

Generosity vs. Greed

Tithing, Giving, and Generosity

Be Generous with Your Master’s Money

Generosity Begins at Home

 

 

 

Cancer, Hospice…and All Those Beautiful Moments

Blog - Hospice - Kara TippettsA good writer does more than draw you into her story. A good writer can illuminate parts of your own story, as you resonate with hers. Kara Tippetts is a young woman I only know through her writing, but, because of her writing, my understanding of God and life and love has become even richer. It’s improbable that we will meet this side of Heaven, but I know her as if she were a good neighbor…or even a close friend. She is that transparent…and more. Kara is luminous; she is full of light and shines that light into a dark place.

For you see, Kara has a breast cancer that will not let go of her. Still she will also not let go of God. She was diagnosed not long ago, just in 2012, but not two years later, and all the treatments have been exhausted. Barring a miraculous touch from God, she will die of this disease. Yet, Kara is one of the most alive women I have ever encountered. Read more of her story for yourself.

Where I resonate with her story, at this moment of my life, relates to her experience with hospice. When you think of someone needing hospice, you might not think of a young mom, deeply in love with her husband and four children who is still writing and squeezing every bit of good out of life. However, this is where Kara is…needing hospice.

My mom, only in the last 3 days of her life, had hospice support at home, and we were so thankful. Even after many years as a cancer nurse, it meant everything having those good and kind people around us. We leaned on them, especially I leaned on them. No matter what competency I had in care-giving…it was my mama this time, and my mind was numb. Now, years later, my dad has his turn with hospice. His cancer, diagnosed 10 years ago, has returned, and no more tests or treatments are planned for our dear 92 years young dad. Hospice is again our (and his) strong support.

Back to Kara, I want to leave you with her beautiful insight about having no more treatment options and fully supported by hospice:

It felt like a huge blow when my oncologist said it was time for me to enter hospice care. It felt like quitting. I felt like my body had failed and I was being pulled from the team and being benched. Benched in an awful permanent way…I was wrong. Hospice care has been truly amazing…It’s just an adjustment. A hard adjustment to go from treatment, tests, and fighting to not knowing and comfort…Now my fight is a passive one, now I’m fighting for good moments. My fight is for time and tenderness with my loves. My fight is to embrace the good moments hospice is giving me and loving my people well. It’s important – these moments.

Pray with us all for Kara and her family. She even signed a contract recently to write another book (or two). I so want to read that book. Also I want to express gratitude for all you who care for patients and families “in the midst of life’s hard“*. For many years, it was my joy to work alongside you. You extend the hands of God to those who need His loving touch.Blog - hospice - hero - from Survive and Thrive Cancer Support Groups

Photo Credits – Kara Tippetts’ Blog & Survive and Thrive Cancer Support Groups Facebook page

Kara’s Breast Cancer Story

*Kara Tippetts’ Book The Hardest Peace – Expecting Grace in the Midst of Life’s Hard

Survive and Thrive Cancer Support Groups – a life-affirming cancer support system in Kingsport, Tn. Many, many years ago, I helped lead a support group called Take Time…to Help, to Heal.  Really, those patients, families, nurses, and friends taught me so much more than I did them. The Survive and Thrive groups came out of that earlier group, under the continuing leadership of Kathryn Whitt Visneski.

Blog - Blessings & Hospice

Worship Wednesday – You Love Me Anyway – with Sidewalk Prophets

Blog - You Love Me AnywayBut God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. – Romans 5:8

“…and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.” – John 8:32

Not knowing what is ahead can be a very uncomfortable place to be. Sometimes, it could be better than knowing, but the uncertainty of not knowing sits like a rock in the pit of our stomachs. Will I have a job after this company reorganization? Will I pass this exam? Will our church survive this downturn? Will my struggling friend find her hope again? Will we ever know that we did enough…that we were truly faithful in loving God and our neighbor?

What a morning! As I was wrestling with God through these actual right now situations, and looking up the song I had planned to use for today’s Worship Wednesday…You Love Me Anyway came up in the search list.

“You love me anyway.”

David Frey and Ben McDonald of the Christian band Sidewalk Prophets wrote this song about how our sin, that of every single one of us, was borne by Jesus on the cross. Such love! He loved us knowing us completely –  every impure thought; every selfish act. He loves us anyway.

As I listened to that song, it wasn’t condemnation that brought tears to my eyes; it was the amazing truth of His love…a love that sets us free…in Him. Though we struggle with situations facing us that seem more than we can bear, what He bore for us should give us enormous confidence…and peace.

The not-knowing about jobs, exams, church, relationships is still in front of us, but peace has returned to my heart right now. The puzzle of have I done enough or will I do enough isn’t meant for me to solve. The answer to the question I didn’t ask is that “He’s done enough.” He loved us always and He loves us still…no matter what. It is the love of God through Christ that lifts our heads (Psalm 3:3).

Now…in this moment, with perspective restored, “I count it all joy” (James 1:2), and “we do not lose heart” (2 Corinthians 4:16) Beyond the cloud of these days of uncertainty shines an every-present Light – the glorious Person of God who speaks the truth of His love into every dark place of our lives. Hallelujah!

Worship with me:

You Love Me Anyway*

The question was raised
As my conscience fell
A silly, little lie
It didn’t mean much
But it lingers still
In the corners of my mind

Still you call me to walk
On the edge of this world
To spread my dreams and fly
But the future’s so far
My heart is so frail
I think I’d rather stay inside

(Chorus)
But You love me anyway
It’s like nothing in life that I’ve ever known
You love me anyway
Oh Lord, how You love me
How You love me

It took more than my strength
To simply be still
To seek but never find
All the reasons we change
The reasons I doubt
And why do loved ones have to die?

Chorus

I am the thorn in Your crown
But You love me anyway
I am the sweat from Your brow
But You love me anyway
I am the nail in Your wrist
But You love me anyway
I am Judas’ kiss
But You love me anyway

See now, I am the man that called out from the crowd
For Your blood to be spilled on this earth shaking ground
Yes then, I turned away with this smile on my face
With this sin in my heart tried to bury Your grace
And then alone in the night, I still called out for You
So ashamed of my life, my life, my life

Chorus

You love me, You love me
You love me, You love me
How You love me
How You love me
How You love me

YouTube Lyric Video – You Love Me Anyway

YouTube Video – You Love Me Anyway – Sidewalk Prophets

*Lyrics to You Love Me Anyway – Writers: David Frey & Ben McDonald

Story Behind the Song – You Love Me Anyway

Sidewalk Prophets Website

YouTube Video – Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir – Thou, O Lord

Photo Credit: maxresdefault.jpg for YouTube Lyric Video

Blog - Sidewalk Prophets

Satisfaction & Contentment – a Journey and a Destination

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You open your hand; You satisfy the desire of every living thing.
 The Lord is near to all who call on Him, to all who call on him in truth.
 He fulfills the desire of those who fear Him; He also hears their cry and saves them. – Psalm 145:16, 18-19

Godliness with Contentment Is Great Gain – 1 Timothy 6:6

A summer day in a good book can change the course of your life…at least, your mind’s course in life. That morning, I was sleeping in a bit while our two-year-old slept on in her bed upstairs. Mine was a fitful sleep sorting through the conversation Dave and I had had the night before. Weeks away from having our second child, the CEO of our medical center had given me the opportunity of a lifetime. He offered me the directorship of the cancer center of our hospital. My husband and I had already made the decision together months before that I would stay home with our children. Having continued to work for the first two years of my daughter’s life, I was excited to dig into this new season of life. Then…the offer of an altogether different job…

Our conversation that night didn’t go well. How could I argue for a job that would take me away from our children not just during the day but into the night with other responsibilities pulling at my attention? The children are grown now, and I was with them growing up, but in those days, cancer nursing was my professional world with all that went with that. Purpose, capability, accomplishment…it was deeply rewarding and gratifying work. Mothering was still so foreign to me. Being a stay-at-home mom was a whole other life and I was afraid of it, really.

That morning, I came wide-awake, when Dave touched my arm. He was dressed and ready to leave, but he had a book in his hand. He asked me to read the chapter he marked in it, then he kissed me bye for the day, and was out the door.

It was Jerry Bridges’ book The Practice of Godliness. The place marked was a chapter on contentment. Bulls-eye! Right on the strained condition of my heart. On that sunny summer day, reading that chapter, the Lord helped me wrestle through the struggle of discontent and the idols that separated me from peace with God.

[Sidebar: This has nothing to do with whether a woman should work or stay-at-home with children. My circumstances allowed me a choice in that. We as a couple, he and I together, decided that this is what we wanted and could make happen for our family. It is possible I could have become the director, hired a nanny and a good administrative assistant, and still be on a Godly course in life…but I knew deep down that the struggle was a heart issue and a faith issue.]

Discontent was my problem and it would become my family’s, if I didn’t deal with it. Jerry Bridges wrote, “In all of the areas in which we are called upon to be content – whether possession, position, or the providence of God – the grace of God is the ultimate solution for our discontent.

I didn’t take that position, but stayed with the job of stay-at-home Mom. It was one of the most challenging, glorious undertakings of my life.  I am glad that Dave had the love and the courage to speak truth to me through that book that day. Cancer nursing is still a great love of mine, and my colleagues of those days are still heroes of mine. Still, having had these years with my children growing up, me with them, has been so much more valuable to me than the “what would have been.” I learned to be content in that and still have all kinds of impulses through life to remind me that content is where I want to stay.IMG_0068

Contentment is a destination. It applies to whatever situation we find ourselves. Satisfaction, as an experience somewhat different than contentment, is a journey. Beth Moore, in Living Free, talks about a soul hunger in all of us, created by God. She says, “The most obvious symptom of a soul in need of God’s satisfaction is a sense of inner emptiness. The awareness of a hollow place somewhere deep inside – the inability to be satisfied – ought to be a flashing caution light to every believer.”

We are meant to find our satisfaction not in possessions or position or even the providence of God*, but in God Himself. When we try to satisfy our longings in anything but Him, the emptiness continues to gnaw at us. The search for something, besides Him, to fill that void is never satisfied. A friend of mine shared with me just today how satisfaction is to contentment as joy is to happiness. It’s mining the deep riches of the Person of God. The more we know Him, the more we want to know Him. He fills us completely. He satisfies our souls. We don’t have to “chase after the wind” or try to “feed on ashes“. In times of spiritual hunger or thirst, it is God Himself who satisfies. Nothing else is ever enough.

Not that I speak from want, for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am. I know how to get along with humble means, and I also know how to live in prosperity; in any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need. I can do all things through Him who strengthens me. – Philippians 4:11-13

Blog - Satisfaction - Beth MooreBlog - COntentment

Living Free by Beth Moore

The Practice of Godliness: Godliness Has Value for All Things by Jerry Bridges 

*Notes on Contentment from Jerry Bridges’ The Practice of Godliness

Satisfaction Versus Contentment from Watchman Nee’s book The Normal Christian Faith

Contentment Vs. Satisfaction from Seriously? No, SERIOUSLY blog by a young mom named Kas