Friday, March 11, 2016

Mom...get your head out of the sand!

You need to be afraid of what your daughter is facing. 
Stop burying your head in the sand regarding what your daughter sees and is exposed to daily!

I feel like a paddle ball on a string most days when I assess the emotions of my teenage daughter.  

Her sphere of face-to-face influencers is small and her circle of electronic advisors is wider than any crowd I may fight at the mall on Black Friday.

We have daily conversations about who is sending nude pictures, short porn videos, dating rates and hates and nasty comments.  We discuss cigarette and pot smoking.  We chat about the latest parties and who brought alcohol and who snuck out through their basement window wells.

I watch videos unfold on her snapchat feed that depict nudity and crude comments and cotton-candy-like-smoke-clouds from e-cigs and 13-year-old's vaping.  

I watch girls dancing for their cameras wearing the latest Victoria Secret lingerie line and taking dares to run outside in just their bras and panties.

Who are these kids? Where do they go to school? Who are their parents?

These are your kids...they are my kids - they are in 8th grade and 6th grade and 11th grade and everywhere in between.  They are in public school and private school and home school! 

Get your head up and see what's happening in their worlds! 

You will spend over $200 during the spring break week ahead just to entertain your daughter at that movies
, bowling alley or shopping mall.  It will have no long term influence - she will not learn any lasting lessons about her value or her ability to set boundaries in relationships.  

 No one at the mall will tell her about how much she is loved by Jesus and why she matters.  When she picks up her shoes at the bowling alley, the lady at the counter won't want to get to know her or what makes her happy or stresses her out.  When she buys her popcorn at the theatre, no one will tell her that she is a precious jewel - created to be cherished and adored by her future husband or that there are other ways to manage her anxiety than through self injury or purging.

She will hear all of those things and more at this years PURITY IS NO COMPROMISE (PINC) girls retreat on Friday, April 8 & Saturday, April 9.  
Send your daughter!!!

Will she want to go? 
Maybe not.
Will she say she has no friends coming? 
Will she say it's weird because she'll learn about God?
But....will she feel loved - absolutely - it will be a respite from the craziness of the virtual world and 24 hours of validation of everything positive that she needs in a world that offers her 364 days of negativity.
Register NOW -
$38 - includes t-shirt.

You don't hesitate to drop her off at the movies when you aren't nuts about the content  -- why are you letting her call the shots about attending an event that you know could change her life. 

Friday, February 20, 2015

Fingers are for texting...

I love my teenager.  I really, really love her - I can close my eyes and picture her as an infant in my arms as I regularly rocked her to sleep.  I remember the thrill of watching her stand for the first time and toddle across the airport into Scott's arms when we moved back to the Midwest from Connecticut.   

However, things are changing rapidly.  The voluntary hugs are fewer and doors slam frequently.  There are more tears and frustrations and the cell phone  feels like another member of our's always there.  

As the days pass, I whisper to God with regularity, "Are you sure you assigned me to the right kid?  I'm not tough enough, strong enough, assertive enough....the words change by the mother this strong willed teen! She's more than I can handle - maybe you thought I'd be better at this by now...but I'm failing her miserably."

Every time I share my insecurities with my husband, he smiles and assures me that Abby and I are perfectly matched.  But I protest that she can be so stubborn, self-centered and ungrateful!  He knowingly shakes his head in agreement and reminds me that there are three of us parenting Abby....a mom, a dad and a Heavenly Father.

Tonight I brush off his observations and drone on about how irritated I am that I got a 'texting while driving' ticket this evening while running one more errand for a family who "doesn't appreciate their sacrificing mom."  I complained that I was 'only using my voice command to make a grocery list and I had to tap the screen because it wasn't spacing my list correctly! It wasn't even an actual text!'  Scott had the nerve to smile and teasingly ask me if I'd learned my lesson.  Are you kidding me? "You don't even understand me!" was my stubborn (unspoken) response. (Hey, I have learned to pick my battles in our almost 21 years of marriage.)

Then I blabbered at length about how frustrated I get when my GPS gives me an ETA that I clearly think is inaccurate and how I will see it as a challenge to shave off 2-3 minutes from the suggested time just to prove that I know better than Google Maps.  By this time, Scott is snoring away - probably for the best. 

As I stopped talking, God began doing some business with me.

Matthew 7:4 How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye’, when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? 5 You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.

Ouch! As you might imagine, this “vision” analogy speaks to my heart as I begin to see it – the reflection of my relationship with God through the eyes of my relationship with Abby.  I claim that she’s strong willed, ungrateful and stubborn.  My frustration rises when I feel like all she ever does is ask for things and can’t even slow down long enough to tell me a few highlights of her day or just to say ‘thanks for the ride’ when I drop her off at school.  I want so much for us to have a deep connection, but some days I have no idea where to begin.

The reflection of my relationship with my Heavenly Father is suddenly shifts into focus.  How often do I give Him the crumbs of ‘my best’ whether it’s a rushed prayer or a quick pass through scripture with my right hand while scribbling my ‘to do’ list with my left?

How about my arrogance?  What makes me think I should be exempt from a ‘texting while driving ticket’ when I struggle daily with ‘just sending one more quick note’ or my insane competitiveness to think I can outwit the GPS?  Seriously…Google Maps probably has 50+ satellites pointed at my chosen route at any time predicting my ETA.  To think I am important enough to break the law for the sake of a few words and abbreviations or to shave off seconds in my schedule, is the ultimate arrogance.

Suddenly my frustration with Abby feels different when I view it through the lens of God’s frustration with me.  In Titus 3:1 Paul says, “Remind them to be submissive to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready for every good work.”

It is clear that my attitude is not one of obedience or submission.  Some days (most days) I want my way with little (or no) interference.

However, as I wonder if I am the best mom that Abby could be matched with, that’s where the similarities in this comparison end.  God doesn’t wonder at all.  He knows without a doubt that He didn’t mix up our personalities or give one of us stubbornness and fail to bestow it upon the other.  We are perfectly matched, just as my Heavenly Father and I are forever matched.

I know I break His heart when I pull away and fail to sit with Him.  He must get so tired of my endless list of requests and very short one-liner of praises.

Isaiah 55:8  For my thoughts are not your thought, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord.

“Thank goodness!” is my immediate response.  Praise God that His ways are not mine.  He is confident that I am meant to be Abby’s mom, but it has very little to do with what I am supposed to teach her and far more to do with what God has to teach me.  Please forgive me Father for thinking I could ever manage a single hour without you, and thank you for providing the ultimate safety net of unending grace.

PS….don’t text and drive...learn from my mistake

Friday, December 12, 2014

My Grandma was a very poised and polished woman.  She dressed up when she went anywhere, refused to wear jeans and was a germaphobe long before the word even existed.

Grandma Mac was also a doer.  She loved to go out for dinner and would frequently fly from DesMoines to St.Louis to see us throughout my childhood.  Whenever I was with her in a public restroom, she had an odd habit that she insisted I help her with.  She always rolled up the pant legs of her polyester pants for fear that her slacks might drag the floor and end up in a mystery liquid.

Grandma Mac was a petite woman and frequently would hem her own pants and took great pride in her appearance.  The embarrassing part of this habit would occur for me, a tween at the time, when Grandma would forget to roll her pant legs back down and she'd be strutting down the concourse at Lambert International Airport with one pant leg  rolled up and one half rolled down.  She refused to slow down long to allow me to kneel before her and unroll her pants.  I would try my best to catch her and let her know, but she was a fast walker.

That sweet memory struck me this week as I began searching scripture for passages regarding Jesus' healing powers.
In Matthew Chapter 14, verse 35 it says ...."People brought all their sick to him (v36) and begged him to let the sick just touch the hem of his garment, and all who touched it were healed."

What I wouldn't have given for a chance to touch the hem of Jesus' robe this week just like I ran my fingers across the hem of my Grandma's slacks thirty years ago.

December 27th will mark the 9 month mark since my cornea transplant and the much anticipated time to begin 'stitch removal' and get a true understanding of what the actual vision prognosis is after refraction.

I have had no vision change and honestly don't pay much attention to it anymore.  One eye automatically closes when I type or read and I rarely experience redness or dryness and never pain anymore. Everything in my left eye is always blurry.  Sometimes a little less, sometimes a bit more, but it's my reality.

This week I had an appointment at the renowned Wheaton Eye Clinic to have my eye dilated and begin the plan for stitch removal. (Not all stitches come out at once - it's a methodical process that takes some trial and error to achieve the maximum balance of cornea health and avoid irritation.)

Going in to the appointment, I was in great spirits at the thought of putting this season behind me and working towards final resolution through a contact lens prescription or new left lens in my glasses.

I left feeling like I got kicked in the stomach.  The exam revealed that I'm in the throws of cornea rejection.  My eye is not accepting the transplant and we have to work to quiet it down before an infection appears.  Yesterday, I began a dreaded series of 12 eye drops a day - 10 minutes in-between to allow maximum absorption of the Predforte and Zirgan.

The best case scenario is that my eye will respond to the drops and we can turn around the rejection. Worst case scenario is that the rejection is irreversible and I have to have the transplant removed and they have to harvest a new cornea grafted onto the surface of my eye.

The primary reason for rejection is an immune system response in the body.  It is not lost on me that all the while my 'Primary Biliary Chirosis' is silently attacking the bile ducts in my liver under the heading of an 'auto immune disease.'  I haven't given that 2008 diagnosis much thought in light of my vision challenges, but it is still very much alive and active.

As the week has progressed and I've reflected more and more on that vision of touching the hem of Jesus' robe, I've been imagining what it would feel like to experience total healing.  In my head I've reenacted how the threads of His garment would feel in my fingers and it occurred to me that the greatest thing I can duplicate from those miracles of healing that we read about in the New Testament, is the physical pose of those followers of Christ.

It is impossible to touch the hem of a cloak when you are upright and focused on going and doing.  The only way to grasp the edge or fringe of a tunic is to be in a prone or kneeling position.
The only way for me to push ahead towards healing is to stay in relationship with God.  Everyday He longs to visit with me.  He waits and He delights in me. However, if I never sit in His presence, it will be impossible to even get close enough to touch His robe.

He longs to have me kneel before Him so he can pull my chin up and rest His eyes on mine.  He desires that for me and He desires it for you too.
Will you join me on my knees?
He'll be waiting.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Naked Vulnerability

Last night I did something I really didn't want to do, I shared a vulnerable story about my life with over 200 women and a few men.  They weren't all strangers, in fact, many of them were some of my dearest friends and family members, but I fought the notion of naked vulnerability until I stepped on stage.

I spend a lot of time and energy making all of the little things in life work well together.  Encouraging others is my passion and if I can share my faith through a smile or positive encounter, I'm all in.  I'll listen to you and ask questions and sympathize and try to make you feel like the most important person in the room, because I truly believe you are.

The downside, however, is that there are very few people that I share my struggles with.  I'm not good at being equally yoked in friendships.  I am a seasoned interviewer and I work hard to actively listen with follow up questions poised on my tongue ready to aim at any lull in conversation.

Sharing my weaknesses is hard. I know I've been more open than I am now at different points in my past 42 years, but rejection and disappointment have crept in and I've become guarded.  I've shared pieces of my heart with the wrong people at times, and have looked to friends for reassurance and comfort that only God can offer.

As I prepared for the talk I gave last night, I logged hours watching 'Ted Talks' on YouTube and analyzing messages by Christine Kaine, TD Jakes, and Francis Chan.  I studied speaking styles and watched monologues, I reviewed inspiring video clips and tried my best to drown out God's quiet whisper directing me to present my very personal story.

It was evident that He was insisting that I share my 24+ month journey that led me to my cornea transplant.  I waffled, I hedged, I even whined to Him that I didn't want to be that vulnerable!  Lots of people knew about the surgery, but it was done.  I was ready to move on and talk about something else.
He wasn't.

As the days got closer I refused to write down my speech.  I needed to fill a 25 minute time slot and I had nothing.  If I could have shared about talking to teens about abstinence or technology traps or the value of being involved in kids lives, it would have been a piece of cake!   I could fill hours with interactive and engaging lessons about loving yourself and the value God sees in your life, but ask me to peel back the onion of emotions surrounding my very personal and potentially permanent loss of vision? No thank you.

As the event approached, I cobbled together a loose framework completely dependent on a foundation of the Holy Spirit doing the talking through my red lips.  It was clear that this talk was dependent on my obedience to God and nothing else.

I knew if I could do the walking and get myself on stage, clip on the microphone and give Him the glory, He would do the talking.
He did not disappoint.  It was like an out of body experience to feel God 'steal the show' - and I loved every second of it.

As I crawled into bed last night, a feeling of relief and euphoria washed over me.  I felt like a giddy little girl who had been rewarded for dying to my fears and trusting God.  I walked by faith and not by sight, and I didn't wobble even once.

Monday, August 4, 2014

Desperately Seeking Joy


 Guilt spreads over me like sticky  juice flooding the countertop and dripping onto the floor from a freshly cut melon.  It eats away at my confidence and zaps my energy.  I feel its heavy weight from the second my eyes spring open in the morning light to the last few moments of a long day.

This hasn't been an amazing summer.  It hasn't been marked by beautiful moments of closeness and family togetherness.  It's been hard and exhausting.  There have been punishments and empty promises and lots of threats.  I've struggled with constant lack of vision in my left eye and I've cried myself to sleep as I long to be a better mom, daughter, wife and friend.

On the outside I run through the paces...shower, apply lipstick, tackle piles of laundry, make occasional dinner plans and schedule trips to the pool.  I host four small groups a month and drive my kids to camps and sleepovers with friends.  I walk the dog, tell my husband I love him and I pray.

I offer grace to strangers and friends for choices they make and confessions they share with me, but I keep myself locked in chains of criticism and doubt.
It's a double standard that I can't seem to unload. When I'm alone, I long to lift it off my shoulders like unlacing shoulder pads and squeezing out of them after a long football game.  Yet they won't budge.  It's as if the laces are all knotted up and I am fighting to release myself but I can't lift them.

I have spent so many days this summer in turmoil.   I've become paralyzed by anger, self disapproval and disappointments with the world.  I've allowed them to consume me and I've wasted precious time with my family. After brooding and lamenting I retreat to the only place that ever offers any solace...the Bible.

God whispers a reminder that I'm never alone and He gently guides me to the Old Testament book of Psalms.  He guides my thoughts to Psalms 4 and I begin to read about David as he cries out to God in his distress.  David reminds me to not get caught up in delusions and distracted by false Gods.  For me it's delusions of perfect children with perfect manners and perfect moms.  He warns me to not make my projects, my material things, my desire for human approval and guilt my 'false Gods' and there is a reminder to search my heart and be silent.

In exchange for my obedience in those areas, David promises God's hope will abound.  Only when I throw off the shoulder pads of guilt and the fear of the unknown and offer my 'people-pleasing-heart' as a sacrifice to Him, will I feel His light shine upon me.  When I shake off the anger that I can only see with one eye, the frustration that my kids aren't listening, and the fear of all of the unknowns of the techno-world, I begin to clear space for joy.

Father God, I ask for your forgiveness. You didn't create me to walk in the darkness.  Please take my hand and help me to rest in your presence and to find my value in you. This is a long journey and we weren't meant to walk alone.  Amen.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Anger Errupts

Things have been tough at our house this summer.  Gone are the carefree days of everyone wanting to spend the day at the park or the pool together.  The times when the petting zoo and a picnic provided all of the stimulation we needed to propel us through a warm summer afternoon with the promise of an hour of quiet time watching Little Bear or Magic School Bus have vanished.
Life has gotten complicated and I spend my hours negotiating activities and making decisions about appropriate geographical and metaphorical confines for my almost 13, 10 and 8 year-old all day long.
As parents, when did we decide to adjust the street boundaries of a bike ride Ethan takes with friends? How did we fall into the lazy repetition of allowing the Disney Channel to creep back into our lives for Libby to watch, when we fought so hard to cut it out of Abby's TV viewing diet when she was her age?
Perhaps most disturbing, when did we let down our guard enough to not notice access to social media we'd never even heard of had crept in on our watch?
A wise friend shared a thought with me years ago, and I think of it often. What we as parents accept in moderation, our children embrace in excess.
Is that true in your home? I give permission one time to let the kids take food upstairs while watching a movie...I never again am consulted on that decision.  They consider eating in the bonus room standard operating procedure.  As much as I object, they wear me down and remind me of 'the last time you said we could' and I'm too tired to fight.
My view as a singular 'treat' is viewed as the new standard and I go along with it to avoid the fight in the moment for 'an hour of peace'  - but I begin harboring anger.
The anger grows as I ask the kids to do simple thing...take a shower, put your clothes in the hamper, empty the dishwasher....all of the requests fall on deaf ears.
They do not respond the first time I ask or the second and maybe not even the third.  As I ask and am ignored, the only way to get a response is to yell and threaten and finally as my anger spills over like bubbles sliding down the edge of a too full boiling pot, they move.
They grunt or huff or say 'you don't have to yell, mom!' and they get angry at me.  It's a vicious cycle just as Emerson Eggerichs points out in his book, Love and
Respect in the Family.
It's easy for me to stomp, steam and threaten and all the while I am regrettably teaching my kids that anger is the only way to get results.  Yelling elicits a response and we have slowly moved into a hostile war zone.  We are on edge, ready to defend our actions at a moments notice and the smallest irritant, like turning up a song on the radio that another family member might not like, or a request to wipe off the counter, is met with immediate hostility....because I have inadvertently trained my kids that anger gets results.
Somewhere in the battle of wills, life has become a game of survival of the fittest. The one who can throw the biggest fit or launch the loudest counterattack wins, because I am exhausted.
Is there a solution? Have we failed our kids and lost the race?
Fortunately, there is redemption and grace for this tired mom.
 In his book, Eggerichs points out,
“My response is my responsibility…My child does not cause me to be the way I am but rather reveals the way I am.”
My response to my kids behavior  is mine to choose, and it comes fully loaded with the expectation that whatever I choose, will be reflected back to me in their responses to each other and to me.  If I choose anger, it is not a reflection of what they created in me, it is the emotion I choose to react with when I don't feel respected.  The 'crazy cycle' circulates when I expect them to respect me when I display behavior that is in no way respectable.  Should they respect me just because I'm mom, sure they should, but it's  easier to retain respect when you are acting in a way that honors God.
The story of the prodigal son is used often in relation to parenting.  The parable is sometimes relayed to offer hope to parents of children who have gone astray.  As I reread that verse as a broken mom, I feel God's embrace and comfort in these words from Luke 15:20 "So he got up and went to his father. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him."  As I gather my Kleenex pile and brush off my knees, I feel my Heavenly Father running towards me and reminding me, parenting is the hardest job on the planet and I chose you for this once in a lifetime opportunity.  Get back in the race, I've been waiting to run alongside you.

Friday, March 28, 2014

Transplant complete: no vision for many months


Today is the day after my cornea transplant.  What a journey this has been.  After waiting for 6 months to have the surgery, it finally happened.    I have been without any vision in my left eye, aside from being able to see light and darkness an occasional fuzzy shape, for almost 18 months.  I had adjusted to sight in only one eye, and at times during my wait, struggled with the idea of even taking the donor cornea, feeling that I could make due without it.  Making due, however, isn't all that God has for me, so at 6:30am yesterday I registered as patient #4 at the Wheaton Eye Clinic. 

I can't even begin to count the number of prayers that were being offered up on my behalf prior to and during my surgery.  Every single one made a difference.  I woke yesterday with such a calm  'blessed assurance' that it could only have been from God.  I even found myself praying for Scott that he wouldn't worry about me and for patients #1-3 who checked in prior to me once we got to the Surgery Center. 

They called me back and began the pre-op protocol.  The hairnet, the warm blankets (those are the best part...) and the IV.  Then the eye drops began...lots of drops.  I had no sedation and no calming meds at this point, but my relaxed demeanor was heaven sent.  At the prompting of a sweet girlfriend, I kept replaying the verse from the familiar hymn "turn your eyes upon Jesus, look full in His wonderful face, and the things of earth will grow strangely dim, in the light of His glory and grace"
It was perfect because suddenly nothing mattered but Him. 

As the surgeon came in, I remember her telling Scott and I how beautiful the donor cornea was.  My only concern was knowing where it came from.....a clue to this mystery family we'd been praying for over the past month.  All she knew was that it was from a 54 year old who had died of a massive heart attack.  Thankfulness swept over me and as I was wheeled into surgery my prayer changed.

I was awake for the surgery.  I had numbing drops and shots all around the eye to block the pain.  I felt some of it but I kept fading in and out as I dreamed of my precious kids, my amazing Scott and my donor.  I felt the stitching of the new cornea in place (see the tiny stitches in the photo above) and the final step was the worst, two shots directly in the eye to curtail rejection. 

What a journey, I sill have no sight, it will take months for this donor cornea to work in tandem with my eye, but I have no pain.  Tonight I am tired, incredibly grateful for my huge circle of amazing friends, my family, my mom who is taking care of two of my kiddos, my right hand assistant Abby, my adoring husband, a family who I have never met who lost their dear loved one this week, and the possibility of seeing a blade of grass again this summer.   Thank you for all of your support as I recover.