I am here & wonderfully alive

My appointment with my cardiologist yesterday was unfortunately uneventful. Meaning he cannot fix me - beyond waiting for the Cardiazem to kick in and keep my heartrate under control. I was instructed to stay in bed for the next three days while I wait. So I am trying to do that as much as possible.

The nightlight is back in the bathroom (so I can tell if my vision is darkening during the night - the sign that I am about to faint). I sit at the edge of the bed for 5 minutes before getting up to the bathroom. All so I do not break another toilet with my head

A few pictures of joy (making pies with my children a few short days ago) - because that is what is in me as I lie in bed. Fear swells as my heart races, and Christ calms the fear with a whisper...for every heart beat, however fast, means I have been given the gift of another hour here. I am so grateful. When my heart slows again, the fear returns, for your heart feels silent and still when it beats normally after so many quivering, flipping beats so much more thunderous to your sensation. So I close my eyes, and breathe in and out, a kind of "pinch me so I know this is real" motion that I do for myself. Yes, I am still breathing. The world is still spinning. And I am still conscious, on it, aware, wonderfully, blissfully alive another day.

To the ones with wild hearts

I am off to the pacer clinic at 11 a.m. and then to see a nurse practitioner and finally, my cardiologist. All are confused as to why my heart is acting up. Please pray they will be able to figure it out, and that if I need to have the pacemaker altered or replaced, that would be very clear to them. There is always the chance of a defective pacemaker or wire, and I am sincerely hoping they can discover if that is the problem today.

For those of you interested in the actual technical details: basically, my pacer is not "capturing" my heart's rhythm (so my heart continues to beat unnaturally fast), then kicks into a different mode, trying to "capture" the rhythm in the base of my heart. This works, but my own rhythm is still going in the top of my heart. So the top of my heart and the bottom of my heart are not beating in synchrony, which feels very uncomfortable at first and then causes chest pain because the blood leaving my heart is not fully oxygenated. It needs to be fixed - and hopefully the diltiazem (Cardiazem) I'm on will fix it. For now, it is still acting up.

This song - from Psalm 25 and 30 - encouraged me deeply in July when I had a different, equally horrible health event. My dear friend Amy singing it to me over the phone from Phoenix is in my "top 10" memories from my lifetime.

Since I am so sick
Since I am in need
Since I have no healing within me

Oh my God be mindful of me
You are my help and my Redeemer
Oh my God be mindful of me
You are my help and my Redeemer

Unto you O Lord
I lift up my soul
In Your lovingkindness I believe

Surely those who wait on You
Will never be ashamed
And all of those who call on You
will know the faithfulness of Your name
~ Since I Am So Sick by Waterdeep (buy here)

A good cover of the song on Youtube:

*Photos from an impromptu lunch date a few weeks ago courtesy of my mother with all my children and sister-in-love Melissa and her two sweet babies.

Today, I am thankful for impromptu love-fests at small town restaurants, friends singing encouragement across the long miles, Psalms that speak comfort in a stinging soul and aching heart. He is here, and not silent. Make Your presence known, Jesus, to all who watch us through these gut-wrenching days. May our peace be our testimony of faith when all else fails.

Linked with joy to Ann's campaign for gratitude:

Back and forth

Illness is the night-side of life, a more onerous citizenship. Everyone who is born holds dual citizenship, in the kingdom of the well and in the kingdom of the sick. Although we all prefer to use only the good passport, sooner or later each of us is obliged, at least for a spell, to identify ourselves as citizens of that other place. ~Susan Sontag

My aunt was only sick a few weeks.
Her sons couldn't bear the sharpness of spaded dirt falling on her in the grave.
They dug with their hands instead,
leaning deep in the hole to drop gently on the beloved.

It's a different world, a different part of me whispered in the flat hushed land of the reservation. I think these men do intuitive better than most. Rules matter less here.

I remember them both...lovers in old age, uncle with the chaotic overgrown eyebrows and curly hair and twinkly eyes that I thought maybe my grandfather had also, though I never met him. Aunt with the quick laugh and the tiny, tight body and the curling linoleum kitchen.

At her funeral, my pacemaker went crazy and I fought for peace of mind on the long drive back to a hospital after the luncheon. Then let pill after pill of nitroglycerin burn the space under my tongue on the ambulance ride to a bigger hospital, as my heart flip-flopped in and out of a dangerous rhythm that had the paramedic silent and sweating.

Long ago, before children, I came to terms with this kind of thing.
But the terms have changed.

Four children and a husband later, the pacemaker is still not working right, and I bit my lip and stalled back tears of pain as my chest ached yesterday. The doctor tells me I have to come to the hospital every time that pain comes. But I can't live at the hospital. So I hide pain and try hard, and fail often. Last night, to the hospital I went at 1 a.m. with my mother and aunt as "someone nice for company". Slept peaceful with the pain gone once they gave me the nitroglycerin they refuse to send home with me (wouldn't it be easier without the I.V. and the million questions and the night on the uncomfortable cot?). Tomorrow I go back to the cardiologist with Aaron's presence to try again to sort out this mess. 

I need protection. (my heart flutters dangerous sometimes)
I need strength. (I have never been so tired)
I need peace. (so I can give peace to these precious children)

Pray for me?

Empty places

Grief became to her like breathing; she couldn't rise or go to sleep without the pressing feel of it against her heart, the weight of it like a suitcase she didn't know how to unpack. ~Karen White, On Folly Beach

The holiday season descends and with it the joy of the circle of family. Empty seats hover like ghosts - we don't set them, but they are there, in our hearts, as we look around at the beloved faces and the mind constructs a list of those gone now for this season. I read that some people set the places, an empty chair, a plate never dirtied; I wonder if those people know better how to unpack the suitcase of grief, that they can stare it in the eyes at the dinner table.

The circle of life continues though we resist the gravity of time's passing. I wonder, too, at God's wisdom that He empties and fills the pitcher at the same well, that we of finite passions could not possibly hold all the love for all those we lose and all we gain. Yet do the loves we lose ever really vanish, or is it the lacework on the tablecloth of life, the beauty around the edges that pulls hard at the heartstrings? The last lingering refrain of a song so plaintive we close our eyes hard against the joy and the still deeper pain of hearing the notes?

God is personal but also propositional; beyond our knowledge, and yet we can know (Ephesians 3:19). Human life is not a test of worthiness or a vale of suffering we must somehow rise above. It's a quest, and creation is a mystery - both in the wonder-full sense and in the Agatha Christie sense: a marvelous work, and a problem with a solution. ~from Janie B. Cheaney's August 14th article in World

Christmas Card Outtakes 2010

Sometimes the outtakes are the most fun.

Who'd she inherit that hair from, anyway?

Your guess is as good as mine!
Amy's jammin', Katy's giggling, Caleb's confused, and Rosy's hamming it up. 
Could they possibly look in the same direction for 2 seconds??

Rosy looks like the perfect child who sneaked into the photo session with the crazy family.

And here...not so much!
What is Caleb doing? Winking?
Katy looks like a cartoon character in this one with that grin.

Annnndddd....the inevitable "action shots" of family photos with a 2 year old boy!

Next week, you'll get to see the "nice" photos as I review Christmas card services, both print and online. 

Pluck, pluck, BLECH!

“Mother ducks pick feathers from their chests to line their nests.”

I wake up almost every morning before I would like to.

I cook when I would rather be working on a school project.

I sing and read stories in the precious moments I want to spend talking to my husband.

I wash floors crusted with milk that I didn't spill.

I clean toilets that I don't sit on. (feel free to fill in the missing consonant for a giggle!)

I wipe noses instead of wrapping the piling-up presents.

I clip 50 toenails and 50 fingernails every single week.

I put away toys I don't ever play with.

I stood under a tree looking up, through my camera, at the frozen crab apples that no one picked (they were delicious still). Caught in the branches was a piece of goose down. The kind mother ducks pluck from their breasts to line their nests. Having plucked ducks and geese, I know that with every pluck there is a little dot of blood, a piece of flesh torn out, too. I had just listened to a speech that used this analogy to capture motherhood - yes, it is difficult; yes, it hurts; but where, exactly, do we expect the nest building materials to come from, if not from our own bodies? From the trash? The discards? Do we really want to live in a nest built out of leftovers and unwanted pieces? 
What struck me, looking up in this tree, as I counted the ways that I sacrifice every day, is that I did all that for pay, once upon a time. For children who weren't my own. For children I didn't truly love.
Ridiculous- embarrassing - humiliating is the fact that I would ever begrudge my children the same.
In the past few days, I have started praying about and thinking over all the news we received during Amelia's hospital stay at Mayo. In a nutshell, the fact that this might not be something she will outgrow. Yesterday, I finally met with my cardiologist and learned that I did, indeed, suffer some heart damage during the episode a few weeks ago that may have been a mild heart attack. Unfortunately, the damage lies right beneath the wire that connects my pacemaker to my heart, making it less effective and explaining why I have been so under the weather the past three weeks. In addition, my thyroid cancer suppression is too high again, raising my resting heart rate to 120 beats per minute (mine is normally less than 60, so this is double my normal). While most people think being hyperthyroid means losing weight and having lots of energy, the exact opposite is true for most thyroid cancer patients...being too high on your meds means horrible, bone-aching fatigue and a diversion of all your body's resources to the core, keeping your heart racing day in and day out.
I have to accept the fact that God asks me to keep giving under these circumstances. Rectify my expectations with the reality of my life. 
Even when (fill in the blank)...I will still give to them. And through them, You, Lord.

I am willing to receive what You send,
lack what You withhold,
relinquish what You take,
suffer what You inflict,
do what You command,
be what You require.
~ Prayer by unknown author ~

Giving full vent

I never had a temper until I had children. At least, so I thought.

Katrina at 9 months
Besides occasionally getting frustrated in heavy traffic and bemoaning my singleness to a God who seemed callous to my fate, I rarely experienced anger. I thought of myself as a "peacemaker", and "even tempered" would have been part of my self-description.

Then - despite proclamations from multiple physicians regarding my eternal infertility - God gave me four children in four years. And before I was even half done bearing them, I found out I had a temper.

A bad one.

Yelling was part of my daily coping. Doors were slammed and laundry flung here and there, and sometimes I even dressed my kids roughly instead of tenderly. I remember pulling my fingers deep into fists so tight my chewed-short nails left imprints on the life-line of my palm. I often spoke through gritted teeth - my jaw so tightly clenched that I went to bed with an ache there in reminder.

Katrina & Rosalie in May, 2005.
I hated it. I loved my children, and realized - perhaps even more than most - that they were a gift to be treasured. But everything orderly about my life went out the door the day I brought my first child home. It took a few months to get things under control, and about the time I learned how to integrate the extra laundry and tasks into my day, I found myself pregnant again and tired beyond belief, vomiting every hour and searching endlessly for something nutritious that I wouldn't throw back up.

It was while potty-training my third daughter that I realized I really needed some help. I'd been praying about it for years, and I wasn't gaining any ground against this temper of mine. Another child was on the way...and this 3rd one would only be 15 months when the new baby arrived. I was already far beyond my human ability to cope with all the diapers, disobedience, and disarray. I didn't want my children to remember me as an angry mother spitting out commands, retreating in tears, and begrudging every chore she ever did for them. I wanted them to remember love. I wanted it to drip from my body like the blood of Christ, freely given from a heart that longed to be united with those little souls, my children.

A not-so-sweet mothering moment - all dressed up & nothing but tears!
And so I sought an older woman of the faith (Titus 2). I went to her because I heard someone say once that she used to have a temper. You'd never know it to see her now...one of the most soft-spoken women at my old church. If anything, she was one of the kindest and gentlest people I knew - someone I definitely longed to be more like. She smiled a sad little smile when I told her my plight, gave me a hug, and prayed over me. Her eyes spoke words she didn't say aloud, I know this pain. I know what it is to long to change...and to fail. I know what it is to wound the ones you love most.

Thul girls, Christmas, 2007; you may notice #3's mischievous expression!
She gave me a few Proverbs that helped her, and suggested I put up a few notes around my home to remind myself when I was tempted to yell at my children. It helped...a little. Then something really strange happened. I had been praying daily that God would take my temper away for about 1 month when I was diagnosed with cancer...in my throat. You know, where yelling comes from. Right in front of my voicebox. I had surgery to remove the cancer. And I lost my voice. Totally. I couldn't yell...I couldn't even speak! All my words were whispered, for weeks. I had to teach my children a special "family whistle" so that I could summon them in crowds or get their attention in noisy public places.

One of the signs on my kitchen windowsill reminds me of this, to this day. Verses written out, along with the words, HE gave your voice back - use it wisely!

The purpose of the Proverbs is to teach - not to argue or debate; and to provoke thought. Proverbs is a compendium of wisdom, the sum of the moral wisdom of man, a group of wise and weighty sayings that reflect the truth of the world. Many people take Proverbs as a series of commands (1 + 1 = 2). Yes, all Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness (II Timothy 3:16). But there are books written specifically to different people at different times, there are commands and there is wisdom, there are judgements and there is story. The Proverbs are classically viewed as "wisdom" - guides for our moral and ethical behavior as Christians. Julian Rivers, a professor at Cambridge and Göttingen universities, has this to say about how we use and view all kinds of Scripture:
We do not read the Bible flatly as a book of rules for right living; rather we take full account of its literary and linguistic forms. We do not read it as merely an ancient source of pious thoughts; rather it is the true story of God and his people, which tells us how things really are and commands us to abandon our self-centredness and live for him. We do not think we must do exactly as ‘they' did; rather we seek to understand what was right about the judgements the texts make in their historic cultural contexts. We do not proof-text, taking a single verse or passage to have concluded the matter; rather we place it within a coherent and overarching view of God's entire revelation. We do not think that the Bible is simply a starting point, to be left behind as the Christian tradition unfolds; rather it points forward – and back – to Christ, who is the centre of our lives. And we do not read the Bible simply to know what is good and pleasing to God; rather we read it to be caught up into it and then to live it out.
I am thankful that God spoke through Proverbs and personal trial to my heart. The triumph of my story is that I did get caught up in it...and my temper is largely a problem of my past. I wish I could point other mothers in the midst of their own struggle toward a "magic bullet" of Scripture that knocked the teeth out of my temper. Unfortunately, it wasn't just something I read, something I prayed, or something I changed that brought the beast of my temper under control. It was the Spirit of God living in me and changing me. For each of us, that process looks a little different. I can simply pass on hope that this, too shall pass. Get on your knees, deep in your soul. Beg God for change. Stay deep in Scripture, so that it runs through your mind like an infinite stream, conscious and unconscious, eroding the architecture of you into ruins and exposing the beauty of the marble out of which He is building a new creation.

With His strength, you will be able to laugh in the face of the worst of times, and have peace when nothing in life seems right. (Proverbs 31:25)

A few of the Proverbs that helped me most in my hardest times:
A fool gives full vent to her anger, while a wise woman keeps herself under control. (Proverbs 29:11)

She who is often reproved, yet stiffens her neck, will suddenly be broken beyond healing. (Proverbs 29:1)

In the fear of the Lord one has strong confidence, and her children will have a refuge. (Proverbs 14:26)

Whoever is slow to anger has great understanding, but she who has a hasty temper exalts folly. A tranquil (healing) heart gives life to the flesh, but envy (jealousy) makes the bones rot. (Proverbs 14:29-30)

This post linked to Ann Voskamp's thankfulness campaign:

Missing Sissy

She was one of the neediest patients I ever took care of. Being trapped in her isolation room in the hospital for 12 hours at a time was a very good preview of motherhood, actually. Putting someone else before my own needs...real professional needs at that time - I needed to chart, to give her meds, to check her heart function. She didn't want her meds, and didn't care about her heart function. She just wanted to sing the songs from Annie and squeeze my hand while I rocked her, endlessly, for 12 hours at a time. "The sun'll come out tomorrow...bet your bottom dollar that tomorrow, there'll be sun..."

She had hypoplastic left heart and tetralogy of Fallot, two heart defects so severe that the only thing that gave her hope was a heart transplant. She got one at age 2. But her mom wasn't very good at giving her medications, and she went into rejection and was abandoned at our hospital front doors in a high-speed drop-off so well-planned that we didn't even have a license plate number for the car. Just a tiny little 4 year old, golden curls blowing in the April breeze, big blue eyes already smiling at the staff coming out to rescue her.  

She never asked for her mother. Not once. Instead she asked for that particular song, "Tomorrow", over and over and over again. And for cuddle. "Will you cuddle me?" Any hour of the day or night, you might hear her plaintive call from the Vail bed where she lived out her days.

And so I sang to her, reluctantly and self-consciously at first. Jesus whispered constantly over my shoulder when I sat at the computer typing those long notes, so I spent a lot of time unzipping her Vail bed prison and rocking her, just because isn't that what you do to show love to a motherless child whose heart is dying inside her? I took a lot of heat from the other nursing staff, the ones who didn't care to rock children all night long. They worked in the ICU for the intensity of it - the caring for silent, paralyzed fragile bodies whose hearts beat visibly underneath Goretex patches and whose dozens of IV pumps made their tiny bodies almost invisible in the chaos and demand of the medical treatment.

She got her second heart transplant after 9 months. Every one of my shifts during those 9 long months was spent caring for her, and sometimes her roommate - usually a "breather" or "feeder" (a NICU graduate who just need to get the hang of feeding or breathing before they could be transferred out of the intensive care unit). One night I came to work and she wasn't in her bed. The evening nurse was cleaning up the various toys she had amassed, getting them ready for transfer back into the general playroom toy population. 

At first I thought she died.

But she was in surgery, getting a new heart.

She was on the heart-lung bypass machine for two months and I couldn't even go in to see her. As a float pool nurse, I didn't have the special training necessary to care for the most acute kids, the ones who came back from surgery with a silent heart, their blood going in and out of their body to a machine through giant snaking tubes taped to the floor. I peaked in one day, and I knew she wasn't doing well.  The next time I peaked in, I put my reputation on the line and sang the chorus of "Tomorrow" from the doorway. There was some giggling at the nurse's station behind me, but the little child swollen and bloody on the bed twitched just once to let me know she heard.

Two days later, she was off the heart-lung bypass, and I was her nurse again. More long months, this time with an anxious child in pain, trapped in her bed by wires, cords, feeding tubes, and ventilator tubing. I tried to sing to her, but it didn't calm her much. The only thing that really worked was stroking her head. Even better were the few shifts when I convinced another nurse to come help me untangle her and put her in my arms in the rocking chair. I would put all her syringes of nightly medications on one table, and the suction equipment and oxygen on the table on the other side of us. And rock all night long. One night I thought I was going to pee my pants. But it was the only time in all those months of healing that this little girl slept through the night, totally limp and peaceful. I was afraid to move a muscle.

They finally took the breathing tube out of her six months after her heart transplant. I applied to become her medical foster parent. I dreamed at night that she would someday really be mine.

It's a boundary nurses are warned about crossing. Taking the relationship built in stone during a patient's hospitalization outside the walls of the hospital risks harm to the nurse, her professional reputation, and the person she reaches out to. What if things don't work out? Where does that leave the patient? 

Then sometimes common sense trumps professional codes of ethics. The social worker who handled my case could see the benefits to this child, and approved my application. I was nervous...my roommate was not excited about having a high-needs child in our previously childless home. I had only talked to my parents about it briefly. So, with papers in hand, I went to the hospital to tell the only person who was going to be totally excited about my plan. 

I heard the code blue alarms all the way from the entrance to the hospital. But it wasn't until I heard them again while walking onto the pediatric ICU that I realized it was one of our kids. I asked at the desk who it was, in street clothes, wondering if I should try to help.

They told me it was her. She'd been down for over 30 minutes.

I sat at the nurse's station and waited. For another hour. An hour and a half before they "called it". I showed the charge nurse the papers in my hand. She was genuinely sorry, tears and all. She held my hand as we walked over to the now-quiet room that had just been vacated by a full team of respiratory therapists, doctors, surgeons, nurses, and anesthesiologists. There were needles, clamps, and surgical drapes littering the floor. One of the defibrillator paddles hug askew off the edge of the crash cart. The crash cart stood open, syringes emptied, paperwork in piles. The nurses would be back in a few minutes to clean up. Transport had already been called, to zip my little girl up in a rubber bag, cover her in a sheet and take her down to the morgue.

She looked just the same. Except she'd been carved now out of marble, a blue-veined  beautiful marble that Michelangelo might have chosen for his next sculpture. Her lips were bright scarlet red, the color they turn when someone dies that way. Parted over teeth, two of which were broken when they tried to put a breathing tube down her throat with the metal introducer.

I hugged her and I cried like I never cried as a nurse. I cried for a dream and I cried for the futility of it and I cried because I felt so alone and lost and without Jesus that afternoon when I held a little girl I thought I might adopt someday.

The next few days were numb. She was buried in the prairie grass of South Dakota. Her grandmother came to drive her home. Her mother never attended any of the services. I dream of her still. My Antonia on the prairie, prairie hair in prairie grass. I understood slowly what she meant to me. Someone who could smile with a heart that pumped sludgy dark blood through stiff veins, someone who laughed and cuddled when death was slowly creeping up the limbs and squeezing everything vibrant out of her, inch by inch. She loved me from the first day I walked into her room,  simply because I would sing when no one else even heard her request.

I learned I can't predict this Consuming Fire I serve. He taught me sunset is a beautiful view...if you enjoy it just for the view. If the beauty of sunset is only enjoyed because of the promise of sunrise, you will lose so much. It doesn't matter where sunrise occurs, on earth or in heaven, the sun does come up Tomorrow.

The sun'll come out
Bet your bottom dollar
That tomorrow
There'll be sun.

Just thinkin' about
Clears away the cobwebs,
And the sorrow
'Til there's none.

When I'm stuck in a day
That's gray,
And lonely,
I just stick out my chin
And Grin,
And Say,

The sun'll come out
So ya gotta hang on
'Til tomorrow
Come what may
Tomorrow! Tomorrow!
I love ya Tomorrow!
You're only
A day

I hope Jesus lets me be her Mama in heaven. I've got a whole mansion there I'd love to share with Sissy.

The last best day

Have you ever experienced the sharp intake of breath as you revel in a moment of pure joy and beauty...and fall like a roller-coaster car over the precipice of anxiety as you wonder if this will last? Anything can be a last, after all. Children grow and change. Bad things happen. People grow apart. Distance separates.

It comes to me like a thief in the night, unexpected. I wonder if it's always lurking there, this silent thief of joy, the heaviness of temporariness that robs me of moments I intended to savor. The last night with Amelia in the hospital. She was awake until 1 a.m. The previous late nights in the hospital were excruciating, because I didn't know how many more late nights stretched before me. But the last night...it was different. It was pure sweetness. Amelia's husky little belly laugh, her antics in bed at midnight, even her "tapping" (i.e. swatting with quite a bit of force!) her itchy spots on her head. I can go one more sleepless night. I can last one more bleary-eyed, sensory overload, nerves like frayed copper wire day. It was worth it to cuddle, stroke her face, listen to her talk, watch a girlie movie together.

Amelia at midnight on 11/15/10. Seriously. She was THAT awake!
But as her big kalamata olive eyes focused intently on mine, as she rubbed the web between my pointer and thumb like she always does when she's falling asleep, and her lips parted in a half smile as the breath slowed and the eyelids drooped heavy, that thief snuck up on me. What if Amelia is going to get sicker again? What if she doesn't recover, what if she has something she won't outgrow, something medicine won't treat? What if this is the last best time? 

A million questions follow the first ones. Did I do a good job as a mother to this child? Have I dropped the ball along the line? What regrets will I have? Have I saved up enough memories to get me through grief? Would I be any good at grief? What if that's what God prepared us for? We've wondered it together, Aaron and I. It took us years to put voice to the whispers inside, as if by acknowledging them they might become real, like the monsters in your room after dark when you were a child. Just close your eyes, maybe they'll go away. Just don't look. Don't look. Don't look. He told me, before we got married, that he was pretty sure his life was going to be tough. I said, Likewise. Mine already was tough. But we didn't go into specifics. Just enough to know that we were united in it, that we weren't dragging the other person down a road of torture they didn't want to go down. When I got cancer, the monsters in the room came to life. In one sense, we rejoiced: the good kind of cancer? Something with good 5 year odds?? That's it?? That's what we've been prepared for. Not as bad as we expected, then. Maybe nobody is going to actually die. Okay. We can deal with this. That's not so bad, God. Thanks for the handout!

Then my cancer didn't go away. Boom. We fell another level, like in Mario Brothers when the little guy goes thudding with a little electronic down spiral in the music as his figure blinks a few times and grows smaller. Then Amelia got sick. Then I had a tubal pregnancy and we lost a baby under horrific circumstances.  My husband and son nearly died from a "routine" stomach bug, in the midst of an intense week of personal and family tragedies. I underwent surgery after surgery, from complications from the tubal pregnancy to insertion of my pacemaker.




Level, level, level, always wondering if we're at the bottom yet or not.

How do you live like that? People ask us all the time. Sometimes we just look at the floor, laugh nervously, because we're not really sure. Sometimes He puts an answer on our lips (I Peter 3:15).

The only way, really, is to call a spade a spade. Understand that joy-thief that sneaks up on you and whispers that you should be afraid is a thief. A messenger of the evil one. Cast him out, with the power of the blood. The power of the blood is, "What's the worst that can happen to us?" Whoever loses his life shall find it, and whoever hangs on to his life shall lose it (Matthew 16:25).

If this is the last best time, then praise be to God my Father for the BEST time.

Linked up to Faith Barista for Thursday's Faith Barista JAM.

Coming undone {Mayo Day 6}

Step 1. Remove dressing & netting around head.

Step 2. Soothe child with favorite thing (in this case: bottle).

Step 3. Remove tape, gauze, and electrodes from head using acetone (sting!).

Step 4. Understand why child has been screaming & itching head for last 48 hours.

Step 5. Finally: the awaited-for-a-whole-week bath.

Step 6. Try another bottle.

Step 6. How about some Benadryl for that itching?

Step 7. Go HOME!