Thirty-six hours

Thirty-six hours.

That’s all that stood between us and our family vacation to Mexico. Luggage is packed. House sitter scheduled. Last minute cleaning in progress. We were leaving for the airport about 2am Saturday for a 6am flight….on the beach in a short 48 hours.

And then this happens.

Entrepreneur decides he needs to go to the ER. A nagging headache that had been previously dismissed as due to stress, sinus or seasonal changes took a massive turn for the worse. Coupled with nausea and the belief his head would explode, we head to the ER. Oh, and he’s got the flu.

And then this happens.

With a four hour wait ahead of us in the ER, docs send him for a CT scan to try and narrow down the cause of his headache pain. I head to teach my class at the university, thinking I’ll come back to take him home with some meds for his headache. We’ll resume the Tamiflu regimen and be good to go later on Friday.

And then this happens.

He texts me and says it’s not good and is being admitted to the hospital. “We see what looks like blood and a mass in the right temple area of the brain.” I hear phrases like aneurism and brain tumor. I hear the words I never wanted to hear again…..renal cell cancer met. I hear these words, yet they don’t really fully register.

I’m numb and my brain is in a fog. Somewhere in the cloud the word surgery is spoken.

Surgery. Brain surgery. This coming Tuesday. Valentine’s Day.

So not how I’d planned to spend that day. In four hours, we’ve gone from eagerly anticipating a relaxing tropical family vacay….to surgery for a hematoma or possible brain cancer.

All foreseeable plans cancelled. He’s admitted and taken to his room. MRIs and more scans are scheduled for the morning. But those are only to help determine how to proceed with the surgery. He’s in severe pain as we settle him in for the night. The next day will be filled with neurologists, neurosurgeons, oncologists and other medical personnel. He settles into the bed, a nurse finds him some food. Pain meds follow.

I retreat home and begin sending updates to family and friends. No sleep ensues.

So, now, it appears we’re going down this path again. A path I knew might be a possibility but never thought it would ever be this soon,,,,or in this form. Odd how two words can shake me to my core….brain surgery.

Thirty-six hours.

quotography-thankful 72

Z is for Zacharias

Photo by Luigi Morante

Photo by Luigi Morante

You’re joking, right? Says Zacharias with a hearty laugh.

Now, you may think he is responding to a joke….but it’s anything but a joke. Zacharias is one of the temple priests in Jerusalem. As one of 7,000 priests, he travels to Jerusalem a few times a year and takes his turn living in the temple, carrying out his priestly duties.

One day, as he is burning incense in the inner chamber, the archangel, Gabriel appears beside the alter. Not really a common occurrence while serving in the temple, so Zacharias is caught a bit off-guard.

Gabriel had a message from God for Zacharias and his wife, Elizabeth. They have longed for children but life had not been kind to them in this area. Now they are older….well past child bearing years. Gabriel’s speaks and tells Zacharias they will have a son.

So now you can understand why Zach LOLed at Gabriel’s message. He has forgotten the story of Abraham and Sarah; forgotten that God tends to come in when everything looks hopeless; forgotten that God always makes good on His promises one way or another.

For a temple priest, this behavior is simply not acceptable. Because of his very vocal doubt, Gabriel strikes him deaf and mute, unable to hear and speak until after the baby is born. And that is a promise God keeps as well.

After Zacharias returns home, Elizabeth does conceive just as Gabriel said she would. Elizabeth and Mary, Jesus’s mother, are cousins and when the two pregger women get together to compare nursery room themes, the baby in Elizabeth’s womb jumps when in the presence of Mary’s unborn son.

Three months later a baby boy is born to Elizabeth and Zacharias, and Liz decides (with Gabriel’s prompting) to name him……John.

John? The neighbors and relatives are confused. John isn’t a recorded name in their family. What is she thinking? This son should be named after his father. Puzzled, they look to Zacharias for answers, who immediately grabs his writing tablet and tells everyone, His name is John. The meaning behind the name John is, the Lord is gracious.

Immediately, upon completion of the prophesied baby’s birth and dedication, Zacharias’ voice and hearing is restored.

We know this baby as John the Baptist…a cousin of Jesus who lived in the wilderness and prophesied about the coming Messiah.

Now back to Zacharias. Zach was obviously a man of God. He prayed and tried his best to be a good Jewish  man. With his and Elizabeth’s inability to have a child, he brought their petition to God. He continued to pray even as they aged and the idea of having a son began to look completely hopeless. In his heart, he may have simply given up…thinking God simply didn’t care or want him to have a son. His faith had been weakened by year after year of disappointment. This is when Gabriel shows up…to prove that nothing is impossible with God. That in the face of impossible and improbably odds, great things can happen.

But our situations are different, right?
Our situations are impossible to fix.
Our disappointments are too much to overcome.
Our lives are too messy to be straightened out.

Right?

Linking up with ABC Wednesday

And with this entry, my ABC-bible style collection is completed.
Click HERE to read my other posts.

Photo attribution: Photo by Luigi Morante, from IM Free photo site. Some rights reserved by Creative Commons license. Orignal photo was cropped and retouched for purposes of this post.

 

 

 

S is for Samson

photo credit: http://bit.ly/1jiM26M

photo credit: http://bit.ly/1jiM26M

Think of him as the Thor of biblical times.

Samson’s supernatural strength is legendary. It was promised to his parents that, as long as his hair grew, God would bless him with unparalleled, physical strength. He grew up during a time when the Israelites were being punished for ignoring God. After forty years of persecution by the Philistines, Samson’s calling was that he would begin the deliverance of the Israelites from the Philistines when the time was right.

Unfortunately, his legacy is tied to a woman named Delilah, and he looks like anything but a deliverer. In fact, he looks very stupid and gullible because Samson has this uncontrollable attraction to the wrong sort of women. Reading his life story is like reading a Greek tragedy. When he’s not falling for the wrong women, he’s running from the Philistine guards who are hell-bent on capturing him because of his great strength.

Enter Delilah. Beautiful beyond description. Samson falls hard for her and is deliriously happy. But Delilah has a serious character flaw. When the Philistine guards hear of the budding Philistine-Israeli romance, they go to her and offer to pay handsomely if she’ll find out the secret of Samson’s strength. She is more than willing to make a few bucks and agrees. So much for true love.

Delilah tries to trick Samson into telling his secret. And each time she has the guards waiting to capture him when he shares his answer. Each time her plan fails, she figures out Samson has lied to her. And being the queen of guilt, she plays the “you don’t really love me” card. Heartbroken at the thought that he might lose her, Samson finally comes clean about the source of his strength. “…If my head is shaved, then my strength will leave me, and I shall become weak and be like any other man.”

The deed is done. Samson’s hair is cut while he sleeps and his strength vanishes. The guards capture him while Delilah counts her money and waves goodbye. And just to add insult to injury, the guards gouge out Samson’s eyes. After all, a blind man really isn’t a big threat regardless of how strong he is, right?

Samson is presented to the Philistine king and there is great rejoicing in the kingdom, thinking the Philistine gods have delivered over one of their enemy’s greatest assets. Samson is shackled and forced to work in the mill grinding grain. And all the while, Samson’s hair is starting to grow again. And the Philistines forget that crucial detail. While he’s grinding away and his hair is growing, he has a few conversations with God about his sorry state of affairs. The conversation goes like this, “O Lord Godplease remember me and please strengthen me only this once, O God, that I may be avenged on the Philistines for my two eyes.”

During one of the Philistine pagan festivals, the king decides it will be great fun to parade his prized prisoner in front of everyone. So, Samson is called up from the mill to stand and face the jeers of the crowd. Now, remember, Samson’s hair has been growing the entire time he’s been grinding grain. As he stands in between the pillars of the temple, he braces himself between two of the main support columns. And begins to push.

His strength restored, Samson brings down the house…literally….and crushes all the Philistines. But, in a strange twist of fate, he doesn’t survive.

We might look at Samson and think, what a colossal failure. He falls for the wrong women; is blinded by lust and cannot see her true nature. He gives in to temptation and reveals the one thing about himself that can defeat him. He’s captured by an arch enemy, blinded for real and forced to work in a Philistine prison. Humbled and fallen, he works as a slave….until God chooses the exact moment to reveal his sovereign power. Samson realizes his only hope is to trust the God who gave him the gift of strength to begin with. Through his sacrificial death, he took his failures and turned them into victory…ultimately fulfilling his prophesied destiny.

How often are we blinded by the things we think we want and cannot see the bigger picture? How often are we humbled by circumstance and think we’ve failed? How often do those circumstances serve to remind us that God is always in control and working behind the scenes to fulfill a much bigger plan that we could ever imagine…when the time is right?

Linking up with ABC Wednesday
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R is for Ruth

Photo by Eli DeFaria

Photo by Eli DeFaria

She was the royal great-grandmother of King David. But it was not always that way.

Ruth’s beginnings are pretty rough. Her husband is the son of Elimelech and Naomi, who moved their family out of Jerusalem to Moab during a famine around 1100BC. Shortly after, Elimelech dies leaving Naomi and their two sons alone in an unfamiliar and less than friendly land. Moab lies in a mountainous strip along the eastern shore of the Red Sea. And historically, the Moabites and Israelites are not fond of each other, which makes the union between a love struck Moabite woman and an Israeli man all the more uncommon.

But, to make matters worse, both of Naomi’s sons die, leaving only Naomi and her two daughters-in-law, Orpah and Ruth, to fend for themselves.

No husbands. No male heirs. Being a widow without any sons to take care of her is hard on a woman in this patriarchal era. There are no hand outs. No welfare. No government subsidies. No food stamps. They’re completely on their own for survival.

Naomi announces she is moving back to the homeland. One daughter-in-law decides to stay put and take her chances of snagging another husband. But Ruth decides to roll the dice and accompany her MIL back to Judah.

They arrive in Judah without a penny to their name. Ruth searches a field gathering food that has fallen on the ground after the harvest. Jewish law prohibits farmers from picking up food that has fallen to the ground while they’re harvesting. This practice allows the poor to gather the leftovers so they can help feed their families. This field belongs to a Jewish man named Boaz, who is a relative of Naomi’s deceased husband. Coincidence or Providence. You can decide that on your own.

Ruth continues to *glean* the harvested fields and through some very skilled maneuvering on Naomi and Ruth’s part, Boaz notices Ruth. He is kind to her and allows her to *work* the field while providing water and the occasional roasted grain for her and Naomi. Further maneuvering results in Boaz taking a deeper interest in Ruth. Naomi sees an opportunity and encourages Ruth to seduce Boaz in an attempt to secure their future through becoming pregnant.

But Ruth wants more than just a fling. At just the right moment, she opts for a more permanent arrangement and proposes marriage to Boaz. Who accepts. They have a son who they name Obed. And Obed grows up strong and wise….marries and has a son named Jesse…who has a whole bunch of children, of which one eventually becomes the person we know as King David. And the rest, as they say, is history.

But why is Ruth so instrumental?

Ruth bucks tradition and takes risks throughout her life.
1. Instead of staying in Moab, she was loyal and chooses to relocate to a foreign land with Naomi…risking her security for a very uncertain future.
2. She adopts the Jewish faith and, in turn, becomes instrumental in helping Naomi overcome some major faith obstacles. Naomi probably felt abandoned by God after being relocated and losing her husband and sons. She fell away from her faith and felt God was not trustworthy in his promises. Ruth helped her overcome her bitterness.
3. She humbles herself and takes a lower social status by becoming a gleaner in another person’s field….taking what food is left behind on the ground. I’m sure Ruth felt she was better than this, but swallowed her her pride and did what needed to be done.
4. She walks away from Naomi’s more common *seduction for security* idea and opts to take the high-character road to success. There’s a difference between humbling and demeaning oneself to do what needs to be done. Ruth went against all cultural traditions and took a risk with her future….keeping an optimistic attitude that things would turn out for the best. And she is blessed for her noble character.

Ruth is one of only five women mentioned in the lineage of Jesus that we find in Matthew. Tamar, Rahab, Bathsheba, and Mary are the only other women listed in a predominantly male listing. All are noteworthy because of their faith and trust in God…not their social standing, accomplishments or, sometimes, questionable past.

God blesses us every day through ordinary situations and people. And through those ordinary situations and people, extraordinary things can happen….if we take the risk and have faith. If we learn faithfulness in the everyday, mundane events, we are more likely to keep faith during times of crisis.

Linking up with ABC Wednesday
ABCWed14

R is for Ruth

Photo by Eli DeFaria

Photo by Eli DeFaria

She was the royal great-grandmother of King David. But it was not always that way.

Ruth’s beginnings are pretty rough. Her husband is the son of Elimelech and Naomi, who moved their family out of Jerusalem to Moab during a famine around 1100BC. Shortly after, Elimelech dies leaving Naomi and their two sons alone in an unfamiliar and less than friendly land. Moab lies in a mountainous strip along the eastern shore of the Red Sea. And historically, the Moabites and Israelites are not fond of each other, which makes the union between a love struck Moabite woman and an Israeli man all the more uncommon.

But, to make matters worse, both of Naomi’s sons die, leaving only Naomi and her two daughters-in-law, Orpah and Ruth, to fend for themselves.

No husbands. No male heirs. Being a widow without any sons to take care of her is hard on a woman in this patriarchal era. There are no hand outs. No welfare. No government subsidies. No food stamps. They’re completely on their own for survival.

Naomi announces she is moving back to the homeland. One daughter-in-law decides to stay put and take her chances of snagging another husband. But Ruth decides to roll the dice and accompany her MIL back to Judah.

They arrive in Judah without a penny to their name. Ruth searches a field gathering food that has fallen on the ground after the harvest. Jewish law prohibits farmers from picking up food that has fallen to the ground while they’re harvesting. This practice allows the poor to gather the leftovers so they can help feed their families. This field belongs to a Jewish man named Boaz, who is a relative of Naomi’s deceased husband. Coincidence or Providence. You can decide that on your own.

Ruth continues to *glean* the harvested fields and through some very skilled maneuvering on Naomi and Ruth’s part, Boaz notices Ruth. He is kind to her and allows her to *work* the field while providing water and the occasional roasted grain for her and Naomi. Further maneuvering results in Boaz taking a deeper interest in Ruth. Naomi sees an opportunity and encourages Ruth to seduce Boaz in an attempt to secure their future through becoming pregnant.

But Ruth wants more than just a fling. At just the right moment, she opts for a more permanent arrangement and proposes marriage to Boaz. Who accepts. They have a son who they name Obed. And Obed grows up strong and wise….marries and has a son named Jesse…who has a whole bunch of children, of which one eventually becomes the person we know as King David. And the rest, as they say, is history.

But why is Ruth so instrumental?

Ruth bucks tradition and takes risks throughout her life.
1. Instead of staying in Moab, she was loyal and chooses to relocate to a foreign land with Naomi…risking her security for a very uncertain future.
2. She adopts the Jewish faith and, in turn, becomes instrumental in helping Naomi overcome some major faith obstacles. Naomi probably felt abandoned by God after being relocated and losing her husband and sons. She fell away from her faith and felt God was not trustworthy in his promises. Ruth helped her overcome her bitterness.
3. She humbles herself and takes a lower social status by becoming a gleaner in another person’s field….taking what food is left behind on the ground. I’m sure Ruth felt she was better than this, but swallowed her her pride and did what needed to be done.
4. She walks away from Naomi’s more common *seduction for security* idea and opts to take the high-character road to success. There’s a difference between humbling and demeaning oneself to do what needs to be done. Ruth went against all cultural traditions and took a risk with her future….keeping an optimistic attitude that things would turn out for the best.

And she is blessed for her noble character. Ruth is one of only five women mentioned in the lineage of Jesus that we find in Matthew. Tamar, Rahab, Bathsheba, and Mary are the only other women listed in a predominantly male listing. All are noteworthy because of their faith and trust in God…not their social standing, accomplishments or, sometimes, questionable past.

God blesses us every day through ordinary situations and people. And through those ordinary situations and people, extraordinary things can happen….if we take the risk and have faith. If we learn faithfulness in the everyday, mundane events, we are more likely to keep faith during times of crisis.

Linking up with ABC Wednesday
ABCWed14

Photo attribution: Photo by Eli DeFaria from Unsplash photo sites. Some rights reserved by Creative Commons license. Orignal photo cropped and retouched for purposes of this post.

Disappointments

diappointment72

God, when I lose hope, help me remember your love for me is greater
than my disappointment and your plans for my life
are better than my dreams.

How do you deal with disappointment and broken dreams? How do you overcome when tragedy takes the form of a medical diagnosis, loss of a loved one, career shift or troubled relationships?

Do we cling to hope and keep optimism alive? Or, do we give in to the depression that so often accompanies disappointment and sink further into despair about life? We all want to live a charmed life. We all want to be able to follow our dreams and succeed in everything we do.

Hope is a funny animal. On one hand, if our hope lies solely in career accomplishment and amassing “stuff” in life, we’re setting ourselves up for a huge FAIL.
But as I looked at everything I had worked so hard to accomplish, it was all so meaningless—like chasing the wind. There was nothing really worthwhile anywhere. ~Ecclesiastes 2:11

On the other hand, if we’re too afraid of being disappointed to try a new direction, there’s a good chance we’ll miss out on something fantastic…and perhaps unexpected.

Disappointments and Despair both begin with D, but they don’t need to be synonymous. If we let them, disappointments can build character and make us stronger and more resilient.
We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. ~Romans 5:3-4

Everyone experiences disappointment. We’re disappointed in our parents, spouses, children, friends. We struggle with our own setbacks and challenges to our dream life. We compare ourselves to others and come up lacking (especially compared to what is posted on Facebook). All too often, disappointments overwhelm us and drag us down into despair about the future.

And we look to the sky, shake our fist and ask “Why Me?” In reality, we probably need to re-evaluate and, instead, ask “Where do I go from here?” But that’s really hard when we’re broken-heartedly looking at shattered dreams and a life that looks like it’s in ruin. After all, our default position tends to be to place blame and complain how unfair we’ve been treated. It’s hard to accept, but we need to develop a flexible attitude about disappointments and realize it may be God’s way of telling us we’re headed in the wrong direction. If we can let go of our own stubbornness and trust in God’s direction, He will provide us with everything we need to be successful, regardless of which way we’re pointed.

The answer to our cries of “Why me?” are usually answered with “Trust Me.”

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. ~Romans 8:28

Linking up with Life Through the Lens and Sweet Shot Tuesday
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Spring finds me happy!

Happy redbud
texture by Kim Klassen: elevate 50% soft light

Most folks are about as happy as they make up their minds to be.
Abraham Lincoln

I found spring this week! And I’m a bit late but sharing it on today’s Friday Finds over at Kim Klassen’s Café.

I saw this quote and thought, yes, that is very true. Have you ever marveled at people who are obviously at odds with the world, but are happy anyway? People who don’t let life’s detours derail them? People who make lemonade from those pucker-face lemons?

I want to be like them.

I want to be able to…despite plans that don’t go my way…be able to find the happy things about my life. I want to be able to maintain a positive attitude, despite coming in contact with people who see only the bad things that have happened in their life. I want to rise above a bad day and be thankful that I had that day to begin with.

Not going to lie…I need a lot of work in these areas.

Today I had a 5-year-old home from school with a cold, a fussy 3-month-old baby who hasn’t slept for more than 45 minutes at a time, student presentation dress rehearsal feedback to write, and, oh yeah, work correspondence to maintain. And, Entrepreneur wanted me to clean the dog kennel so he could begin/finish some major renovations when he came home.

Pick any two or three and it might have been do-able.

But Spring is here and the temps will be in the 80s next week. So, I think I’ll just pour a glass of wine, wish everyone TGIF and call it a day.

Linking up with Friday Finds
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