Tuesday, March 23, 2010


Tonight, I am tired and angry and sad and frustrated and worried ... and ... asking why? Why has God not healed Hope?

Hope is one of my beautiful nieces. She was born with Treacher Collins. And, over the past 5 months, she has endured countless surgeries to form ears where previously she had only buds. The first ear went great and the doctors were very confident the second would go just as well.

Tomorrow, my niece will face yet another surgery. I have to be honest and tell you ... I've lost track. I can't remember exactly what number this procedure is in the miles she has walked. But, tomorrow afternoon, she will walk away from her parents, holding the hand of her friend ... a nurse who will take her into the operating room. She will, yet again, trust her doctor and her God ... to take care of her while she closes her eyes and lets the sleepy medicine do its work.

Hope knows on the other side of tomorrow ... there will be pain. There will be several days filled with silence. She can not wear her hearing aid after the surgery. Without her aid, noises are muffled and weak. The stitches will hurt and itch. There will be nausea and vomiting from the surgery.

She is just a little girl ... a little girl who wants ears. Ears for her MP3 and for earrings ... why hasn't God given them?

Do you ever find yourself asking God ... why? When that happens, what do you do ... where do you go for strength?
I don't have all the answers. I don't know if tomorrow will be the final surgery in this process. I don't know for certain God will choose for Hope to have two ears ... or just one ... I don't know those things. But, I do know this ... I've learned so much by watching my sister and her husband ... watching both my nieces ... and by watching God work His perfection.
I know that tomorrow ... isn't about me. It's about Hope and her mom and dad and big sister. It's about encouraging them when they need us and waiting patiently while the doctor uses the gifts God has given him.
And ... it's about knowing that whatever tomorrow holds ... God's holding tomorrow.

James 1:12 "Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him."

Hebrews 11:1 "Now faith is being sure of what we HOPE for and certain of what we do not see."

Saturday, March 20, 2010

How Will They Know Me?

A beautiful smile and bright eyes. A face that reflected peace, joy and acceptance ... that's how I recognized her.

Jerry and I took the boys to a ballgame. Half time, the seniors walked to center court ... escorted by their parents. There she was ... looking the same as she had in high school, walking her 18 year old son to center court. I recognized her immediately.
She was the girl 2 years older than me, always smiling and ready to encourage someone else. No matter what she was going through ... there she was, ready to listen and pick somebody up when they were down.

I stopped her after the game and we talked for only a few minutes. It was good to see her, to find out what was going on in her world. I probably won't see her again ... for another 17 years ... but that chance reunion left me thinking.

How do people recognize me? How will they know me ... in 40 or 50 years? When my hair is no longer brown but gray. My eyes are hidden behind wrinkles and no longer bright and green. If my smile is a little weak with age ... will anyone know me? What am I doing now to make sure my "identity" goes beyond my outward appearance?
My prayer is ... they will know me by my love, compassion, mercy ... the attributes I so often strive but fail to achieve. I pray they will look beyond the things I fail and see my heart.

John 13:34 - 35 "A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another."

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Spreading Her Wings

March 10th ... That date has held special meaning in my life for the past 20 years. It's the date I started "going steady" with Jerry Willis. I was 15 and crazy about a brown eyed boy who made my heart skip. Every year, I remember the day and it's special meaning. The day God marked my future with Jerry.

This year, that day will take on another meaning. On March 10, 2010, our niece will leave for basic training. She'll leave the safety of our family and travel to a place full of strangers. Her mom will come home and the house will be quiet without Tori's laugh.

Tori loves new experiences and her future will be marked by this adventure.

Tori will be miles away from us ... instead of a 15 minute drive. She won't be at the ice cream stand this summer and she won't be in my kitchen as I make homemade pizza on the weekends.
She's spreading her wings. I've always known this day would come for each of the children in my life. I'll miss her ... the things that make her unique. I'm proud of this choice she is making. I'm proud to say Tori is going to protect the country I live in, the freedoms I enjoy.
Sure, she'll come home on leave. She'll have holidays to come home ... to come home.
That's the best part of leaving home ... you can come back.
Tori will take all the things that make her the unique person she is ... she'll take them with her to this foreign place. Everything our family has taught her, everything she has become ... she'll take that with her.
That's exactly how God is for us. He raises us, he gives us a foundation to build our lives on. He nurtures us until He knows we're ready to venture out and do His works.
I pray that's what Tori has ... a strong foundation built with family bonds. Bonds that will support her on days when she is tired, weary and maybe even second guessing her choice.
He let's us spread our wings and fly. And, at the end of the journey, when we're tired from the adventure, He's there. We can hang our coat and hat and call Him ... Home.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Sometimes I Stay Longer

He's the first one up ... always.

I'm either in the kitchen getting my first cup of coffee or sitting at the dining room table reading my bible ... and ... he's there. Still fuzzy with sleep, he shuffles up and gives me a hug ... a hug that is especially James (7 years old and too tall for his age).

As I hug him, I whisper ... "Guess who you are?"

"I know ... your favorite 7 year old." He giggles soft.

"That's right. And, there is no one else just like you." And, I kiss his rumpled hair.

This morning was different. He was still the first one up, still the hug while I sat at the table ... but he held on longer than usual. That's what was different ... holding on longer. I let him because it felt good and I could feel he needed it.

My boys are growing up. There are no more toddler cuddles, mixed up funny words and silly dances. So, I take what I can get ... and, this morning it was the extra long hug ... his face pressed against my neck and warm breath on my cheek.

Sometimes I need that extra time with Jesus. I need to wrap my arms around His neck and stay ... stay longer than usual before I start my day. And, He lets me. Because He loves me. He knows I need Him, I need the extra time. He wants that extra time. He knows the world has its demands, my boys need their mommy, my husband needs his wife ... and He knows I'll come to Him. When I do ... He's there.

He says ... "There is no one else just like you. I love you."

Psalm 139:15-16 "My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place. When I was woven together in the depths of the earth, your eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be."

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

House on the Rock

"Sorry Mr. Willis, but there's no way we're gonna get that house set by this weekend." The contractor looked at my husband and understood frustration was setting in.

"What? You've got to be kiddin' me. We keep getting different dates from everybody!" My husband motioned toward the still drying foundation and then the two halves of our double wide ... parked in the empty field next to our lot. Parked in the same spot for over 2 weeks.

"Hey, I can't help it. Wolfe's crew messed up on the measurements. This foundation isn't gonna work with the frame of your house." He swiped at his brow. "You're frame is built to step down on the north end and this foundation isn't set for that."

Our contractor went on to explain the problem. For us, all that meant was more waiting. Waiting to move into our first mortgaged home.
The minute we walked into the lot model 4 months prior, we knew it was our house. Everything from the colors to the room sizes ... and most of all ... a beautiful step down living room and master bedroom. AND, the price was reduced because it was an expired lot model. It was perfect. But this ... this foundation issue ... not so perfect. The floor plans we gave to the contractor had everything listed. He passed it on to the concrete company and somehow ... there was a misunderstanding. The first pour of concrete didn't allow for my beautiful living room. Without that foundation, the house wouldn't set right.

We'd been waiting well past the initial "ready to move in date" ... It was nearly Thanksgiving weekend and we were guaranteed a move in date of no later than mid-September. I was running out of patience.
But, in the end, our contractor was right. We couldn't rush this step in the building process. If we did, there would be problems later. Problems that would prove costly, stressful and frustrating. So, we waited and within a few short weeks, we were in our new home.
According to the contractor, our foundation and frame fit "like a glove".

We are like that house ... we have to pick the right foundation ... Christ. Without that solid foundation, things may look good in the beginning ... but in the end ... it won't work. Nothing can truly work without Christ as our Foundation.

For me, having Christ as my foundation means spending time with Him, reading from the word and putting that word into action, basing my everday life on His word and my faith in that word. Sometimes I mess up, sometimes the winds blow and I'm a little afraid of the storms ... but, in the end, I can stand up against any storm ... because I have a True Foundation.

Matthew 7:24-27 "Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash."

Monday, March 1, 2010

The Handrail

"Don't make me, Mommy! Please!" He begs and I tell him it's ok for what seems like the hundredth time.

"James, it's ok. I'm right here. I'll hold you just like I held Kregg." I hold out my arms and wait for him to jump. His baby brother, Kregg, is already floating around in the water with his cousins.

"NO!" James shouts and takes his 5 year old body out of the pool as fast as possible. He runs into a towel held by my husband. My husband ... who is standing a safe 10 feet away from the swimming pool.

Two summers past, my sister-in-law put a pool in her backyard. It's only about 4 foot deep from any point in the entire circle. But, for James ... it might as well be a mile deep. He's afraid of swimming pools ... not really the entire pool ... just anything beyond the steps and metal handrail. For him, the steps and handrail mean safety. As long as he is holding on to those things, he feels safe.

Over the July 4th weekend that summer, we made plans to have a cook out and go swimming. James was excited. He talked non-stop about jumping into the pool and swimming all around. So, Jerry and I were both really surprised when James wouldn't budge from the pool steps.

I tried everything I could think of to get James past those steps. I tried to carry him out into the center of the pool. I pried his hands from the rail and took him crying into the "deep" water ... I thought once he got there ... he would realize it wasn't so bad ... that didn't work. I tried to let him float on a tube ... tried to let his big brother carry him ... nothing worked. James knew I was right there ... waiting. James knows how much I love him. He knows I would never let go of him.

I'm a lot like James. All too often, I let my fears get in the way. I stand at the handrail ... at the steps ... I watch while my friends and other believers play in the deep end. I want to do what they're doing. I want to feel secure enough to let go and jump into the water. I know Jesus is right there waiting for me. He would never let me drown. He would never let me go into water that wasn't safe. But still ... I hold on to that handrail ... not wanting to let go of what I think is safety.

In reality, HE is my safety. It doesn't matter how deep the water is ... what might be beneath the water's surface ... HE is bigger than those things. His love is deeper than any pool of water, bigger than any fear waiting beneath the surface of any pool.

He won't force me to go into the deep water ... He'll wait there for me ... holding out His hands and saying ... "It's ok, I'm right here."

Are you holding onto the handrail today?

Job 23:10-11 "But he knows the way that I take; when he has tested me, I will come forth as gold. My feet have closely followed his steps; I have kept to his way without turning aside."