Shunt Surgery Update

My sister Grace, who is at the hospital, said,

“Levi is doing pretty well. He just had his shunt surgery and the doc said it was good. Still be praying for this boy, we want things to stay good! Thanks for all the support :) ”

I love this photo because Levi’s eyes are open.


Half-Empty : Optimism, Pessimism and Realism

John writes:

I’m getting pretty sick of people with the whole optimist outlook. Call me rude or whatever else, but isn’t it appropriate at times to be angry, upset, etc? I see optimists as people who don’t have the sense to take off the sunglasses when it starts raining.

Now, some people call this pessimism. I, however, argue that I’m a realist. I see the world more or less as it is.

Some say the glass is half empty; others say the glass is half full. I simply say the glass is too big. Maybe the person was expecting too much. I have at this point begun to see the world with resignation. Things are neither good nor bad. They just are.

Thoughts, gentleman?

Dear John,

Bad things happen, and they happen to good people. We live in a fallen world. It is a wonder than any of us are okay at any given time. From a spiritual perspective, I wrote about this in my post regarding the earthquake in Haiti.

While we don’t have control over what happens in life (and giving up control to God is very liberating), we do have control over how we react to them. We can choose to push back in anger, as if we are owed happiness and perfection — or we can accept the circumstances, make the best of them, and praise God anyway.

Another thing we can do is make a habit of doing good to others, even people who are not kind to us. As you pointed out, bad things are never in short supply. Consider for a moment, then, the impact you can have as a person by doing good things to others. Quite simply, it is shocking, heart warming and compelling to the recipient. It is unexpected.

My friend Nate started a site called ItStartsWith.Us — a “club” of sorts (free membership) where a mission is given each week to do something that will make a difference. It could be as simple as putting someone’s cart away in the grocery store parking lot (hmm… might have to suggest that one to him ;) ) or writing a thinking-of-you note to a child who is suffering from terminal cancer. Please take a moment to check out the site. Consider the Change the World statement and the idea behind it. We’d love to have you join us.

Since being intentional about helping others, I have realized just how far a little kindness will go, and how strong it is against the “bad things” in this world. Bad things can happen, but a little bit of love goes a long way.

We cannot see the love in this world if we are only looking out for ourselves.

SJA ;)

PS: You can follow Nate @itstartswithus. Please mention my name when you introduce yourself :D

November Giveaway Winner / My Lost Passport & Wallet Story

Elizabeth Hull from Binghamton, NY, is the winner! Congratulations!

She is a mom of four, ages ranging from 15 to two newborn twin daughters. Her husband both plays guitar and sings in the band Old Friends. Elizabeth occasionally lends them her vocal talent.

Elizabeth is currently on hiatus from her job as a nurse practitioner as she cares for her new babies. She recently decided to take up blogging and her debut posts at In Heaven, I Want to Be A Cowgirl are about the natural full-term homebirth of her twins!

(The best part of the monthly giveaways for me has been getting to know my readers!)

After the drawing this morning, I decided to share a “bonus” story about my passport and wallet — which were lost (and found) the night before my solo trip to meet Tom in Tokyo. Enjoy!

Unemployed, Broke and Scared: A Prayer for Heather

Recently on Facebook, I reconnected with my friend Heather from college.

We shared the same women’s dormitory, Hauser Hall. She lived across from me. Fun-loving, always smiling and with a slight edge, she brought levity to shared classes and to our residence.

We chatted about great memories like doing up our hair for the Christmas Banquet, as well as scary ones – like when a paramedic had to be called because she had an allergic reaction and her throat closed. (Obviously, she’s still with us!)

As we caught up on ‘where we are now’, her story broke my heart.

She was unemployed, unable to pay bills, and was really struggling. Heather was coming to terms with some things in her past, but combined with her current situation, it was all overwhelming her at once. She couldn’t sleep. Her nighttime was my daytime, so I talked with her until Facebook Chat became to get too flaky to continue.

Not wanting to end the conversation, I wrote her a note. I prayed as I wrote, and jotted down my prayer. I imagined I was sitting right next to her, holding her hands in mine as we prayed together.

Today, she IM’d me with this news:

I am now working 4 days a week as a nanny and my boss is amazing. She is an old family friend and told me if I EVER need to take out a loan towards my paycheck she does not mind at all because she knows me and believes in me. That was such great comfort! I was about to lose my cell phone cause I could not pay the bill and instead she added me to her plan where I only have to pay $10 a month. I can honestly say I think about you every day and what a huge blessing you were that night because I was at a COMPLETE breaking point.

My eyes filled with tears as I read this. To get such a wonderful answer from God! And, to be working for someone so kind and giving! We only want what God has in store for us… nothing else is as good.

I asked Heather if I could share my note to encourage my readers who are in a similar situation during these hard times. She said that she didn’t mind at all, and that I could use her first name.

Dear Heather,
Send me your resume, and I’ll help you brainstorm.
Get some rest!!!! ♥

Dear Heavenly Father,
Thank you for my friend Heather. It is so good to reconnect with her! Thank You for not giving up on her in hard times, but instead drawing her close to you. Thank you for your mercy to all of us. It is humbling to recognize sin and to repent of it – thank you for sending your son to bear our sins so that we can even do this in the first place. Thank you for the encouragement of Heather’s honesty and transparency. So many times, we try to pretend that all is well when it is not, but you know our hearts.

You are the keeper of all of the money in the world (Haggai 2:8), you made all of the food in the world. You have the power to move mountains and change the hearts of kings. Lord, I ask that you please provide for Heather’s needs during the time of hardship – financial and even basic needs like food.

Please show her the job that you would have her to do – we only want what you have in store for us, not things because we forced them to happen. Help us know when to push for things, and when to be patient and to wait on you.

Lord, please comfort Heather and keep her faith strong. Help her to physically rest, as she rests in you. In the words of Victor Hugo, “God is Awake”. You are handling things even while we sleep.

In Jesus Name, Amen.

If you’re reading this and need some hope and encouragement, please send me an email. I’d like to help if I can. It’d be an honor to pray for you, too.

Remember, as Heather did, the Bible says, ” You younger men, likewise, be subject to your elders; and all of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, for GOD IS OPPOSED TO THE PROUD, BUT GIVES GRACE TO THE HUMBLE. Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you at the proper time, casting all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you. Be of sober spirit, be on the alert Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. But resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same experiences of suffering are being accomplished by your brethren who are in the world. After you have suffered for a little while, the God of all grace, who called you to His eternal glory in Christ, will Himself perfect, confirm, strengthen and establish you. To Him be dominion forever and ever. Amen. ” (1 Peter 5:5-10)

Photo Credit: Syna and Summer by Hlkljgk via Flickr.

What Do You Do When a Bible Verse Hurts Instead of Helps?


After I posted this, I caught something as I watched again — I said that we aren’t justified through faith. That’s not quite what I meant. To clarify, before someone else catches it:

Galatians 3:7-9 Understand, then, that those who believe are children of Abraham. The Scripture foresaw that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, and announced the gospel in advance to Abraham: “All nations will be blessed through you.” So those who have faith are blessed along with Abraham, the man of faith.

Ephesians 2:7-9 so that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God;not as a result of works, so that no one may boast.

My point was that faith by itself is meaningless. It’s what we have faith in that justifies us.

Have you ever gone through a hard time, read the Bible, and then felt more condemned than encouraged?

Here, I offer some thoughts on what to do in this situation based on the temptation of Christ as recorded in Matthew 4 .

I’m interested in hearing your thoughts and feedback.

Do you think this interpretation is correct? What do you do when scripture hurts?

RE: A different kind of writer’s block

9/24 Update:
Surgery date is set for October 21

9/12 Update:
Myomectomy (and uterine reconstructive surgery) instead of hysterectomy!! While the short-term recovery for the abdominal incision will be the same, there will potentially be less long-term health issues, as it is not as harsh on one’s body.

Met with Dr. Glassner at Mainline Fertility. I did not want to have a hysterectomy, and it took a great deal of tenacity – talking to various doctors – to find Dr. Glassner, who is so skilled (at least 300 myomectomies a year!) that his patients are able to get pregnant afterwords — granted, it is a high-risk pregnancy and birth is via c-section.

I am considering a tubal ligation during the surgery.

To some women who have never had a child and have “endured it all” to have a baby, a high-risk pregnancy is a risk they may be willing to take.

However, I do have five children already. I am concerned about jeopardizing my health (uterus is very thin and distorted because of the tumor – even though it’ll be “reconstructed”), the health of a baby during pregnancy, and the well-being of my family should something go seriously wrong with the pregnancy.

I do learn a lot from some of my Quiverfull friends, but I have also said that it cuts both ways. We must trust God for the number of children that we haveeven when He is saying, “you have your quiverfull, it’s time to be done.”

I still have not decided what to do about this. I am asking the Lord for wisdom.

From a note I wrote to my pastor this weekend:

Dr. Glassner’s office had framed articles featuring him, from all over the world, as well as TV stills, on his walls. The impression that it gave me was, “this person is a recognized expert in his field.” In the time that I had the ultrasound and was waiting, he had thoroughly read my file. He knew the names of my children, husband’s name, exact symptoms of the fibroid, test results and even that we were moving to Japan later this fall. He wasn’t shuffling through the file while he talked – he had memorized it. He said he does at least 300 Continue reading “RE: A different kind of writer’s block”