She dresses just for me, in yellow stripes, a 3 year old niece's way of saying, "I love you". A little sunray of joy, waltzing about my messy house, so proud her message came across clear and beloved.

I've been thinking about my writing, and the life that it reflects, and I think there needs to be more yellow stripes written about here. I learned about a concept a few weeks ago that made little sense to me. So, ever the scientist, I decided to test the theory. The concept is called "mindfulness" and it means fully doing what you're doing without trying to your brain or with your body. I know it's necessary for raising children. If you have a fussy child and you try to keep typing while comforting him, or keep stirring lunch on the stove instead of meting out consequences to the group of twisted sisters claiming the same toy, you'll do a poor job at both. However, in other areas of my life, I felt that I was a master of multitasking and that it greatly enhanced my effectiveness.

I tested it, and I was wrong. When I work on one thing at a time, I am faster, more thorough, and more joyful. I never expected the joyful part. There is something about throwing yourself 100% at a problem, at writing a paper, at preparing a meal, that enhances the pleasure in the task and the completion of it.

I realize, slowly, that I've been rushing my whole life. This realization has been dawning on my slowly over a year's time. I wrote about it last year. Rushing to the next entertainment before I hardly finish the first. Rushing from one sorrow to the next, until they pile up in such a stack that they overwhelm me as they teeter in my consciousness, threatening to tumble down. Rushing from one crisis to the next, feeling the next crisis coming long before it begins.

God gives me the weirdest trials. I spent my teenage years fainting, my college years in heart failure, almost died at 22 from a random heart event, spent the last of my 20's on cancer, 31 on more heart problems and a pacemaker, and this year on PTSD, depression, anxiety, "losing" even more weeks to the hospital. And that's just me.

My husband and children have been through all kinds of horrific infections, and always seem to react worse to them than the average person. In the midst of Amy's year of encephalitis and epilepsy, God doubled up our trials and I suffered a traumatic ectopic pregnancy loss in the two weeks she wasn't in the hospital. Then infection upon infection and surgery after surgery.

I've come to accept that my trials often aren't the average ones. I've come to accept that we all seem to have giant targets on our backs when it comes to our health. But I fear I've leaned too hard into martyrdom, leaned into the shocked reactions of others as validation for my sadness, fear, and loneliness through these trials.

God's best for me is not sadness, fear and loneliness when I face trials.

It is easy to get trapped by suffering. It is tempting to throw out half of the Bible and believe promises don't apply to you and yours. Even in the minutiae of life, it's easy to focus on the child who fussed, disrespected, and disobeyed all morning, so that your eyes are so busy seeing through the scars of the morning you are blind to the same child who is cuddly and cute in the afternoon. The memory of a grandma gone all wrapped up in a beautiful moment in the afternoon sun, boy cuddling great-aunt, their laughing like music fills the front room and I watch and I am filled with joy.

In recognizing the cathedral in the moment, the temple in the experience, the feast set out before me by my Father, Lover, Friend and King, the scales are falling off my eyes and His love is breaking through like the morning sun.

Every evening I sit in the dark, listening to the cricket song, and feeling the breeze. It soaks in for a minute, and then thoughts crowd in and I shake off the blessings like raindrops from a wet, shaggy dog, only a moment on my skin and never finding the path deep into my soul.

Today, I am shaking off martyrdom. I am sick of focusing on the trouble. Although I can't pretend my life is completely normal, I want to quit shaking off blessings to care for burdens. Doesn't He say cast ALL your cares upon Him, for He careth for you? (I Peter 5:7)

A series of verses, very dear to my troubled heart over the past 3 1/2 years of cancer, is written in permanent ink on a card on my windowsill:
Rejoice in the Lord always -delight, gladden yourselves in Him; again I say, Rejoice! Let all men know and perceive and recognize your unselfishness, your considerateness, your forbearing spirit. The Lord is near - He is coming soon. Do not fret or have any anxiety about anything, but in every circumstance and in everything, by prayer and petition (definite requests), with thanksgiving, continue to make your wants known to God. And God's peace shall be yours, that tranquil state of a soul assured of its salvation through Christ, and so fearing nothing from God and being content with its earthly lot of whatever sort that is, that peace which transcends all understanding shall garrison and mount guard over your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. And my God will liberally supply - fill to the full - your every need according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus. (from Philippians 4 Amplified version)
I sit in my bed, typing this, looking out the window at the yellow birches among the green maples and oaks, catching sunrays, grass dripping with dew now burning off in the sunlight, ground mist casting rainbows on wheat. I am content with my earthly lot, of whatever sort that is, and peace transcends all understanding and garrisons my heart and mind.

Cancer, treatment, new depression meds and the fire red hair from a box all collide and my hair falls out in great handfuls, my scalp is raw. My hair has been my crown, truly - the only feature I really believe is beautiful. Now I wonder if it will all fall out, or if it will just be thin, if it will grow back? No one has an answer.

Instead of another calamity, I am wearing my hats and thanking God that I'd started collecting them again in the last six months, for no particular reason. God winks at me and I know there was a purpose in my hat search. I marvel at the magenta pile in my hand every morning, brushed from my pillow. But for once, instead of wondering if He'll heal me, I'm wondering what He's up to. It's a curiosity filled with joy, instead of dread.

Pray help me, Christ, to take my cup and drink it without drowning in it's dregs. Help me be a light, a beacon of one-mindedness, always focusing on your giving and leaving the taking to You to solve.

Arches of reaching limbs 
Crickets sing secret hymns 
Over all of us 
Tickle across our palms 
Lit up like diamonds drawn 
From the black above 

Awake my soul to live this moment 
Awake my soul, give thanks and hold it 
Dear now 
God is here now 
Awake my soul 

Day ends 
And brown eyes smile back at me 
She wipes my kiss from her cheek 
After last “Amen” 

Hush away the hurry 
Put to rest the worry 
Come to quell and quiet me 
In this moment given 
Slow and fully live it 
Drink up all the passing peace 

~Awake My Soul, Shaun Groves~