Tuesday, February 27, 2018
But TOMS are about more than cute patterns and a comfortable foot-bed. They are about personality. They symbolize who I am. My TOMS tell the world, "This girl has a sense of humor!" I can practically hear the parrots on my classic Alpargatas say, "She's fun and upbeat!"
With a little self-psychoanalysis, it isn't hard to see why I am so taken with TOMS shoes. They are an aspect of my appearance that I can control. Over the past seven years I have lost control of my weight, my size and what kind of clothing I can wear. Jeans fall right off and finding clothes to fit in the woman's department is like hunting for gold. And the loss of control hasn't stopped there. I have been unable to halt the change in my face's appearance as I've lost such a dramatic amount of weight. Since my body has wasted, I have lost control of my hair and can no longer wear my contacts.
There is so much about my appearance that is out of my hands but I can still choose my footwear. I can still choose the shoes I walk in. Most importantly, I can still choose the Spirit in which I walk in. Regardless of my circumstances, I can choose to be filled with the zest and joy of Christ's Heavenly life because He already walked my road and cleared the way before me. While He walked to the cross enduring the most brutal pain and persecution He wore perfect peace and grace. Because He was walking in the very Spirit of God He took every step full of hope and joy. Even while suffering in the most unthinkable agony, tortured till He could no longer walk, His Spirit was all-together loving and holy till the bitter end.
Because Jesus walked to His grave with the assurance of Heaven and rose again in victory, I am free to walk in the glory of everlasting life. Because Christ is risen I can wear the peace of His salvation and be clothed in His amazing grace. Because the Lord God reigns today and forevermore, I can walk in all circumstances and in every pair of shoes, filled with the everlasting hope and overcoming joy of His Holy Spirit.
Sunday, February 25, 2018
Each time I embark on keeping a journal with the best of intentions. I make lists of supplements and treatments complete with dosages, frequency and the times taken. On day one I detail symptoms and general well being. But by day two my details always get fuzzy and by day three they are as precise as "yada, yada" and "blah, blah, blah."
In all of my years of attempted health journaling I've never made it to day four. Even cute notebooks and colorful pens have been unable to inspire lasting commitment. Now I am seven years in and I have not a single streak of consistent records to chronicle my sickness saga.
But I do have Pippy Love.
My "journaling" on Pippy Love began seven years ago, right about the same time my un-journaled sickness began. Writing here has been far from daily and it offers no recommendations on how to be restored to physical health but it is the most detailed record I have of the past seven years. It is the only faithful journal I've kept, and the most important one too, because this record details the journey I've taken with God to greater spiritual health.
This journal is a testimony to what I've found in seven years of searching and it isn't a way that leads to earthly healing. I have no answers to the questions that plague the physical body but I do have answer to the great question of the soul. I have discovered the one true way to spiritual healing: To simply be still in the presence of God.
Come what may of my fragile body, let the record of my journal show that the one and only way to everlasting healing is by the way, the truth and the life of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Wednesday, February 21, 2018
In 1992 my family moved from the Northern Virginia, Washington DC suburbs to Mom's home town in Northern Pennsylvania but they couldn't find a new house to buy. Anxious to make the move, they decided to rent a little white cape cod on a treed neighborhood street. The small house was quite plain, besides the black shutters and cement stoop. The landscaping was just as sparse. Suffice it to say, the home's curb appeal left much to be desired and inside wasn't much better. Orange shag carpet covered the floor. The kitchen featured mustard yellow counters and dark brown cabinets. The house was in need of some tender, love and care. Not to mention new windows, paint and an array of upgrade.
But this was just a temporary house. It was a rental. In a year or two (tops) our family would move to a home of our own with newer carpet and more space. Or, so we thought.
It didn't take long to realize that the location of that little, plain white cape cod was perfect for our family. Every convenience was within a few miles. Both elementary and high school were just blocks away. There was so much to love about that plain little cape cod that by the end of the year's lease the decision was an easy one to make. No more renting. No more moving. My parents decided to buy the small, dated house and transform it into their forever home.
Twenty five years have passed now and my parents and I still live in that little white cape cod, although, without pictures to prove it, you'd barely recognize it. The house at it stands today hardly resembles the box it was in 1992. Under new ownership, the cookie-cutter home has been transformed.
If it weren't for the images, it would easy to forget how plain and uninviting the home used to look. The old cement stoop is such a distant memory since it has been removed and replaced by an inviting front porch. Without pictures it is hard to recall the intensity of the carpet's burnt orange color or the exact shade of the kitchen's mustard yellow. All of those memories have been washed away with white cabinets and wood floors. What the hopelessly plain, worn home used to be has been replaced by the beauty of what it has become.
So it makes me wonder, which details and features of my life does God have planned to transform? What garish features of my life are going to be removed and which fixtures will be upgraded? What details of my life are going to be so completely changed that I won't even recognize them in the future?
God's transformative hand is already at work on my life. The moment He took ownership of my heart and infiltrated my life with the Holy Spirit, His marvelous demolition began. His stripped me of my most hideous features of sin and disobedience. He whipped me clean of every stain and flaw. Slowly but surely, God has been updating and upgrading every area of my life with Christ's finest of finishes and Heaven's most glorying features.
And the marvelous remodel isn't finished yet.
So grab your camera and snap a picture because some day soon, you're going to need it to remember what this old house once looked like.
Sunday, February 18, 2018
Last night my Mom borrowed my car. That wouldn't be a statement worth sharing if it weren't for what she did with my vehicle while it was in her possession. Don't worry, Mom made it home safe and sound, right after she made a special stop at the Country Fair Gas Station to fill my car's empty tank.
When she asked to use my car I hadn't mentioned my car's need for gas. I had completely forgotten that my dashboard's refuel warning light was burning bright. It wasn't until I saw my new, fully restored, filled-to-the-brim gas gauge reading that I remembered my depleated tank. Without being asked, my loving Mother graciously filled my empty tank. She braved the cold and the blustery winds to pump my gas for my car. Despite only having driven a few miles, she fueled the tank to its maximum capacity and even paid the bill. She returned the car without a single mention of gas or stations or the sacrifice of frostbitten fingertips.
It wasn't until this morning that I discovered my mother's gift of a filled tank.
And so it is with my All-Mighty Father God.
He comes to me in my need and fills the tank of my heart with the eternal fuel of faith and hope. Although I am always to blame for letting the fuel run dry, God graciously, faithfully fills me back up again. From the very beginning, before I was even aware of my need for the renewing life of the Savior, God prepared the perfect fuel to fill my emptiness. God sent His spotless Son to the station of His Cross to bring my tank to eternal fullness and pay the ultimate price. He rescued me from my spiritually dry, empty state and satisfied me with Christ's overflowing, abundant life.The Heavenly Father has given me the greatest, most undeserved, most perfect gift in His Son, Jesus Christ.
God never ceases to surprise me with unexpected fill ups. When I'm not looking, He infuses me with fresh joy in the presence of His Son, my Savior. Even when my prayers are weak and forgetful, He sees my every need.
Without the ongoing indwelling of Jesus Christ I am doomed to a life on fumes but, thanks be to God, He never loses track of my tank. He knows when I am empty and He knows just how to fill me up. By the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, and the power of Jesus' risen life, I am satisfied, and forever full with Heaven's Almighty fuel.
Saturday, February 17, 2018
Orchestrating it all from His heavenly throne is the All-Mighty Master, the Lord God. Everything is under His control and direction. Even the wind and waves rise and fall at the sound of His voice.
He points and stars shoot. He tames wild beasts and entertains the crowd with plenty of clowns. From the sea to sky, creation lives surrendered to God's creative control. His strength and power knows no bounds.
From the comfort of my spectator's seat, I've enjoyed watching this glorious show of God's majesty. I've especially enjoyed the squirrel's performances. They are an absolute marvel - not to mention a comical delight. And when the annual spring show is revealed I'm always on the edge of my seat, excited to see Him accomplish leaf-restoring and bird-revealing feats. I've even applauded the clowns.
But I certainly never wanted to actually be a clown - or any other circus performer for that matter. I wanted to stay in my comfortable seat and watch God perform great feats from afar. I harbored no dreams of walking the hire wire and I certainly didn't want to be that girl in a box who gets sawed in two!
But God had different plans. God had plans for me to get out of my seat and enter His glory.
God offered me a special spot in His company. God offered me a new life under His perfect, blessed control. He offered me eternal life in His perfect Son, Jesus Christ. His was an offer I couldn't refuse so I left my spectator's seat at the foot of His cross. I surrendered and told God, "I'm ready. Let your show begin.
As quickly as a squirrel can scurry up a tree, God's next miraculous feat was under way.
"And for my next feat I will prove my strength in this tiny woman's weakness."
Under God's creative control, I shrunk. I went down thirty pounds. I blinked and I was all skin and bones. Yet somehow I was sustained. Defying reason and even death, I was upheld.
And God's show didn't stop there.
God has taken this show on the road. I'm still watching His feats and they become more spectacular at every curtain call. God takes my body lower and let me waste further but every time His strength is proven greater still. He allows me to get weaker and at every performance He arrives to deliver me.
With every death-defying drop the All-Mighty hand of the Master has sustained my skeletal frame all the while showcasing His faithfulness in my very breath and life.
Human logic cannot explain the marvel that is this body. How it continues to function in such a dangerous, precarious physical condition defies the rationale of scales and even blood pressure readings. Only the power of God can claim the glory for He alone has accomplished the great feat that is my survival. The same God who makes the cardinals fly and sends the squirrel sailing up and down the tallest of trees is the God who sustains these fragile bones and conquers this broken body. At every performance God has defeated my weakness with the force of His death-defying strength. And for His next feat, He will do it again.
Tuesday, February 13, 2018
My foot has lost all of its lead. I could blame it on my health and write it off as just a natural progression of my body's wasting. Or I could give credit to a coming of age. Either way, I'd grown quite accustomed to the will and ways of lead foot and driving sure feels different with out.
I was born with the lead in my foot but the heaviness went undiagnosed until age sixteen. Then one day my foot came in contact with the gas pedal of a Mitsubishi Montero. At that moment lead was discovered in my foot and the need for speed in my racing heart.
Throughout my teens and early twenties I found joy in having a lead foot. I embraced its density and weight. With pedal to the metal I took pleasure in beating ETAs and yellow lights.
Maneuvering winding roads with my heavy foot was a thrill. I took twists and turns with the confidence of a Nascar Driver, imagining myself behind the wheel of a fiery red turbo engine convertible.
Laying hard into my lead foot, I drove with power and zip. I drove fast.
By a miracle, and way too much grace from God, I never did receive a single speeding ticket in all of my lead footed driving days. The consequences for my law breaking actions behind the wheel could have easily resulted in countless moving violations... or worse. By speeding and indulging my lead foot my ride could have ended in fiery destruction.
Thankfully, God's grace and protection was upon me and now my lead-footed days are behind me.
But my lead trouble doesn't end at my extremities. It didn't start there, either. Long before age sixteen I was diagnosed with a crushing load of lead within my heart. This burden of sin I carried from birth weighed me down, tempting me at every twist to travel fast and exceed the limits of the law.
When I embraced the heaviness of my lead heart, I pushed every pedal to the metal. I raced through life with reckless abandon. I accelerated when every sign from God said to slow down. At curves I didn't let up and at yellow lights I sped up.
I was a lead hearted, law breaking sinner on the fast track for a fiery crash and a destiny of destruction and I deserved hell's eternal ticket.
But God, in the most unimaginable, undeserved, unmerited act of grace, spared me the eternal ticket I deserved. The ticket with my name on it - my sin on it - was paid for by God's one and only perfect Son. Not once did He ever push the limits of God's law and yet He gave His life blood to pay the eternal cost of my damning crimes. On the glorious Cross of Calvary, Jesus Christ, the blameless, spotless Lamb of God, willingly took upon Himself my guilty verdict and my eternal punishment.
But His work did not finish there because Jesus Christ rose again. At the empty tomb of His Son God claimed the final victory over my lead heart. He spared me sin's penalty and saved me from its very power. He removed my dark, black, rebellious, sinful heart of lead and renewed me with His heart of eternal, redeeming love.
Physical weakness cleansed my foot of its lead but only the sanctifying blood of Christ could cleanse it from my heart. Only the perfect Lamb of God could carry my heart of lead to the grave and raise it to new life with eternal lightness of His love and life. Only the Son of God could save me from myself with Himself.
These days my driving style is more "lithium-footed" than it is lead-footed.
And, by the inexhaustible, life-saving, punishment-paying, never-ending, perfect grace of God, my heart is too.
Saturday, February 10, 2018
I was about three or four, and my most precious, treasured, teddy bear was lost. I'm sure at the time this teddy bear had a name although that detail escapes me now. What I do remember vividly is the garden green ribbon around the soft, fluffy white neck of my bear. His eyes were a little droopy and his nose was made of thread. I loved that bear and carried him with me everywhere.
Then, one fateful morning just a week before Valentine's day, my beloved bear went missing. I was devastated. At that young age, the loss of my cherished bear was the greatest I had ever known. I searched for him in the house but he was no where to be found. I retraced my steps back to the grocery store where I last remembered seeing him but a call to customer service resulted in more bad news. There had been no bear sighting. Teddy was gone.
With a distraught daughter at home, I remember my Dad did something unusual that chilly February night. He went shopping.
After hearing that teddy was last spotted at the grocery store Dad returned to conduct his own search. When he came up empty handed he refused to be defeated. Determined to bring home a bear he made a stop in the store's gift isle. With just a week to go before Valentine's Day the shelves were well stocked with red and pink packages. It was the perfect place to find a new perfect bear for a little girl.
When he arrived home that evening, Dad walked through the door wearing a big smile, holding a big, eighteen inch tall balloon. The balloon was clear and decorated with a festive cupid scene complete with hearts and swirls. But inside the balloon was the true treasure. Sitting atop a bed of glittery red and white confetti was a soft, white fluffy bear with gentle eyes and a heart on each paw. Inside the balloon was my new teddy.
In my four short years of life that was my first encounter with a stuffed animal inside of a balloon. To this day, I have yet to encounter a second. It was and always has been an incredible gift.
With my new bear to hug and hold onto the thoughts of my lost teddy faded away and into the distance. Captivated by the wonder of the gift I'd been given, what I lost became a memory.
My dear Valentine, this is just a glimmer of the beautiful love displayed by our Heavenly Father.
In our loss He comes to our side and satisfies us with His Son. Before the throne of God's grace He bestows the greatest treasure of His Son's Holy Spirit.
When a child cries out and calls on the name of Jesus Christ, the Heavenly Father does not delay. Swifter than a balloon floating down from heaven, He will come and lend His mighty aid. He will enter from on high and lift the burden of His precious child's frantic search. He ends the hunt at the foot of the Cross. In the gift of Christ He replaces sadness with His everlasting, eternal gladness.
Surrounded by the overwhelming glory of the Savior, captivated by His goodness and grace, every thought of loss fades away and even the most precious of teddies becomes a distant memory. Just simply being in the presence of Jesus Christ, that is truly the only "teddy" any of us will ever need.
Wednesday, February 7, 2018
I blinked and fog covered my cornea. I closed my right eye, blinked a few times in the left and checked again. Still just clouds and fog. There was a misty haze in my left eye while the view from my right eye remained clear and bright.
The change in my eye sight shouldn't have surprised me. Just weeks ago I had a painful bubble appear on my eyelid. What good did I expect to proceed such a troubling ailment? I suppose somewhere inside I held out hope that the strange bubble would burst and a miracle would occur. I would be restored to 20/20 vision, better than before. But, alas, my hopes were not fulfilled, at least not time.
Now I have a cloudy eye that is getting hazier, and harder to open, by the day.
I will admit that this is deterioration number two in the past month that has put the fear in me. Serious concerns overwhelm me when I consider losing the vision in an eye. Being blind, even in just one eye, scares me. Blind just sounds hard. When I hear that some is blind I immediately feel a heaviness for them. How difficult must it be to function in a world that depends so much on sight?
Now, blinking with a misty, hazy eye, I might soon be able to answer that question.
I know to some I might appear crazy allowing my body to deteriorate at such a rapid clip while continuing down the same road of treatments. To some this might appear to be plain foolishness. Or stupidity. Take your pick. I can certainly understand such reasoning. I understand the concern because I've had serious concerns, too. I've worried about the next deterioration and questioned if I'm on the right path. I've cried and been angry and experienced every emotion in between.
And then I blink; look up; and God is there. Without fail, as often as I turn to Him with my fears and concerns, He is there. He is always there and He is always offering me comfort and peace.
This is exactly what happened when I discovered the disrupted vision in my left eye. First I feared, then I blinked and there He was. God was in my presence and all around me. I didn't need sight to perceive His glory. His Holy Spirit overwhelmed me.
In that moment I stopped fearing the further loss of my sight. Why should I fear? What use have I for my eyes, anyhow? God doesn't require that I be my own vision. There will be no use for my eyes come heaven and God doesn't require them now. He can show me His way, His Son, and my Savior regardless of my eyes ability to see.
Fixated on the sight of Jesus Christ and captivated by His glory, I do not need to fear the lose of my left eye's sight. I do not even need to fear going entirely blind because God has supplied me the spiritual to see His perfect vision, the Lord Jesus Christ, and that is the only sight I will ever need.
Tuesday, February 6, 2018
Today was magical.
Today was a wonderful day that began at the Word and ended at the Cross. It was an ordinary day turned extraordinary by the sprinkling of God's marvelous presence. God dusted my life with His glory and dazzled me visions of His beauty. He spoke to me without words and comforted me with the sweetest of Heaven’s touch.
From the very beginning of the day, God was there amazing me.
In an early morning text He stirred me with His faithfulness. With an old childhood journal entry He showed me the splendor of His precious Son, Jesus.
From the scriptures of old I received the Lord's encouragement to keep fighting the good fight of faith. From an old photograph I felt God's loving embrace.
From the gift of an old rugged cross, I was wrapped in the peace of salvation and overwhelmed with Christ's amazing grace.
Today, at every turn, God’s Holy Spirit was there to greet me and captivate me. His glory had me on the edge of my seat anticipating the next splendor to be revealed, praying that today would play on endless repeat.
Today was just right. In God's presence it was just as it should be. With God in control, today was a wonderful treasure and a magical delight.
In the hands of God, today was perfect and, held in the grips of His grace, tomorrow will be too.
Oh Lord, I pray that this beautiful reality of your presence be my every day magic from now and forever more. Bring on the dusting of your presence. Reach out your hand and make your glory shine! Oh Lord, thank you for your Spirit and for shedding it richly upon my life.
Thank you for your presence. Thank you for today.
Friday, February 2, 2018
At the bottom of the screen, snippets of today's featured stories flashed across the blotter. "He sees his shadow! 6 more weeks of winter!" I had missed it. Punxsutawney Phil had already seen his shadow. His prediction was already old news.
In the great scheme of things, missing the very moment Phil made his Groundhog Day appearance isn't any great loss. The news stations will play clips of the celebration for the rest of the day. I will get my fill of Phil.
The truth is missing things is a familiar feeling for me now. In the past eight years I've missed a lot of things - celebrations, get-togethers, experiences. I've missed family vacations and birthday parties. I've missed more church services than I can count. I've missed opportunities and milestones.
Yet, at every miss, God has stepped in to fill the gap. In the presence of His glory everything I've missed becomes as meaningless as a Punxsutawney Phil winter weather prediction.
At every miss God has stepped in and supplied me with the greatest gain: just a closer walk with Thee.
In the presence of Christ there is nothing I miss. The sufficiency of His amazing grace supplies my every need. The bounty of His love is more than enough to satisfy me.
Consumed by the glory of His Holy Spirit, I have missed nothing and gained everything walking closer with THEE.