Friday, January 20, 2012

Dream On, Kid

   Today is a blog-worthy day, simply because Caleb is celebrating another birthday!
   He woke up this morning with a tremor in his voice and dragging his feet because I had scheduled  a doctor's appointment for him and the only slot they could fit him into was today.
   In my big deal. Nothing invasive or scary in the line-up. No shots. No finger stick. No need  to even wear the dreaded green gown.
   Lately, instead of biting his nails, he has been literally chewing his hands, enough to leave big, red, open sores on his knuckles and around his fingertips. After a quick exam and a few questions, his doctor seems to think it's a behavioral issue instead of an actual skin problem. Her question to me was, "Is he under any stress? Anything going on in his life to cause anxiety?" really.

    But the hand chewing did start several weeks before his appointment in DC in December. The one he lost sleep over and worried about until we finally got through the IV placement and CT.    
    And he does seem to be concerned for his little buddy, Drew, who relapsed with brain cancer in the spring and is undergoing more surgeries, chemo and radiation as we speak. I don't tell Caleb much about Drew because I don't want to scare him. But he still seems to know his friend is fighting for his life.
   Caleb had a dream a few nights ago, and in the dream, he and Drew were in heaven.......together........and he knew it was heaven because there were "multiple angels flying around.....and God was there".
   Last Sunday Jeff found a prayer card in the offering plate. Written on it, in Caleb's big block, second grade scrawl, was D-R-E-W. Nothing more. Just a simple plea for prayer for someone he cares about. Someone he shares a common bond with.
   I was thinking, as Caleb's 8th birthday was upon us, that we are getting further and further away from his cancer diagnosis every time we blow out those candles on his cake. Maybe this will be the year that he will stop introducing himself to strangers as a "cancer survivor." And maybe he will stop seeing every visit to the doctor's as a need to push the panic button. The smell of rubbing alcohol still makes him gag, and watermelon reminds him of getting sick on the sidewalk at the Ronald McDonald House during radiation.
   But I suppose I should stop waiting for the year when it will all be erased from his memory. It is, after all, part of Caleb's story now. And he does have quite a vault full of good memories associated with his disease. Meeting Goofy on the Disney Wonder, riding in a mile long limo, Camp Fantastic with all of it's magic, and a long list of incredible, new friends, not to mention playing the Wii in D.C. while waiting for the contrast drink to light up his insides.

   I can't hope to erase the dark side of cancer without erasing all of the happy files that go right along with it.
   And speaking of HAPPY......once we had the doctor's visit out of the way, the birthday boy was bouncing in the back seat of the van, urging us to please hurry and get this party started!
   We headed for the Golden Corral with one of his good friends buckled in beside him. After multiple trips to the buffet for fried chicken, cantaloupe and chocolate covered everything, we made our way over to Monkey Joe's for several hours of inflatable fun!
    Soon we will head for home to open his presents and dish up his favorite dessert....chocolate fudge cake layered with peanut butter frosting and some Moose Tracks ice cream!                            
   As a newly minted eight-year-old he's not looking too far ahead. He did say that he hopes to grow up, have a family of his own and then take them all to an amusement park.
   Dream on, kid. I do believe that one just might happen.

Monday, January 16, 2012

He Came First....For Me

   A  few nights ago I had a dream. It was one of those endless movies where you feel like it lasts the whole night long. And, due to the nature of the dream, I woke up completely exhausted.

   I spent the entire night trying to prepare for an important event. I remember distinctly my mind working overtime in the dream, trying desperately to pull together something that was out of my league to accomplish. I was panicked, but not to the point of inaction. Instead I was in constant motion, determined to make it work....whatever "it" was. But the more effort I put into it, the further behind I became in my pursuit of getting ahead.

   It's clear to me why I had such a dream in the first place. In less than nine weeks I will board a plane for Africa for a twelve day journey that has been a dream of mine since I was a little girl. And I am not ready.

   Of course I am busy with the endless list of documents to acquire before I go. Passport, visa, airline tickets, shots, not to mention the daunting task of packing only three bags at 50 pounds or less for each one. (Mine no doubt will weigh in at exactly 49.9 lbs each.)

    There are phone calls to make and papers to sign.  I'm scrambling to raise the funds needed to go, and busy shopping for gifts for my three Compassion sponsored children I will meet while there.

   But my sense of being not ready comes from more than the physical details presented in a trip of this magnitude. I am not ready.....because I do not deserve to go.

   Where does this line of thinking come from? That I should not be given the gift of my deepest heart's desire? Or that I am unworthy to be handed something that God created me for in the first place? How is it that I am intent on flying across the ocean to make sure three little girls know they are adored by me and the God who created them, and yet my own heart shrinks back from some of the extravagant gifts God offers to all of us.......grace........mercy........forgiveness.. ....and love.

   I am reminded to be careful with how I handle God's generous heart towards me. Yes, He wants me to share with and be involved in the rescue of children without hope. But He never intended to bypass me...or get to them. He was first in coming a very long way to tell me how much I am loved and that I do matter, even to Someone in such a high place of honor as He. I have to remember that He came first....for me.                                                     

   "If you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry and satisfy the needs of the oppressed, then your light will rise in the darkness and your night will become like the noonday.
   The Lord will guide you always; he will satisfy your needs in a sun scorched land and will strengthen your frame. You will be like a well-watered garden, like a spring whose waters never fail."
Is. 58


Wednesday, January 11, 2012

I Can Sleep Now

 ***UPDATE***  Erick Has Been Sponsored!! By A Man!! Thanking God for His Perfect Timing...           1/13/2012
   I have fallen in love with more Kenyan children in the past two weeks than I have all year long. It's dangerous for me to go on the Compassion website and look at all the kids up for sponsorship. Their faces tell a story, as do the clothes that they wear. It's never the full story, but I read what's there. I want them to have what my own sponsored children have; someone to write them letters and remind them constantly that they matter. That they are not just one of millions of needy children, but that they are THE one, chosen and loved and thought of on a daily basis.
   But of course I can't choose them all. And even if I could it wouldn't be right. Someone else would miss out on a relationship that God had intended for THEM.....not me.
   I am more than convinced that God is involved in matching waiting children with their new sponsor. And this little boy from Kenya belongs to someone.....maybe one of you.

   The picture is a little grainy, but it's pretty obvious that he is hungry. His name is Erick and he lives with his mother and six brothers and sisters in Mahaya in western Kenya, an area that is overwhelmed by aids orphans and is very, very poor. He turned seven on October 6.
   If your heart is stirred and you feel God calling you to rescue Erick from the lie that he is "just another poor, African boy", then by all means click the link above to respond to that call.
   I was determined when I published this blog not to overwhelm my readers with a parade of Compassion children needing a sponsor. I have been fighting the notion to post Erick on here for two days now. I lost that fight tonight and made myself sit down to share his face with you. I can sleep now.......
   Don't hesitate to ask me questions about Compassion International or for sponsorship details!
    Up next: The Challenge; To Eat What My Sponsored Children in Africa Eat.......For 40 Days.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

The Place God Calls You

   I enjoy being able to interact with the authors of some of the blogs I follow. Those are my favorites; the ones where I feel like I am stopping by for a cup of coffee, a few laughs, or a chance to share my heart on whatever topic is swirling around for that particular day. Sometimes a thought they have shared hits so close to home in my own life that I am compelled to stop and comment. To let them know that I know exactly where they are coming from, or that their words shook something loose inside of me, bringing me to a place I never expected to go.                                            And sometimes the message speaks so personally to me that I am unable to respond publicly. I would be revealing too much if I expressed my thoughts in the comment section. But I leave that place knowing that God had something to say, and I am always in awe that He would speak at all. To me. At that moment. Just what I needed to hear.
   Many times I will visit a blog and not really read what is written. I'm scanning for content that interests me, and I'm almost always in a hurry or have one or two kids needing me to save them from some imminent crisis....which always ends up being not a crisis at all. Or the phone is ringing, the dog needs out for a pee NOW, and supper is quickly becoming a three alarm fire. I know you know where I'm coming from.
   So my invitation is simply for you to feel at home here. To freely leave comments when you have something to say and duck out unnoticed if you'd rather stay under the radar.
   I am convinced that we were each created by God with eyes to recognize a particular need and a heart to want to do something about it. Think about the vast scope of suffering and pain and loss that is present in every corner of your life and in the world at large. Everywhere you look, someone needs help. We ask,  "Where is God?" And I say, look in the mirror.                                                                  
    You will find that my particular eyes and heart are drawn to those who are living without hope and those who believe the lie that they don't God......or to anyone. And I am always on the lookout for the one who is lonely, or hungry, or lost. Especially if they are a child. For if there is ever a time to step up and speak up for someone, it is while they are young. Children are small, vulnerable, and often voiceless. If you happen to stumble across a little one in need, well then, be the answer to their prayer. Be the face of God and act. This is the heart of what God calls me to do and I cannot change it anymore than I can change my short toes. Your call may be completely different than mine and you most likely have longer toes than I do. But if each of us responds....

   "The place God calls you to is the place where your deep gladness and the world's deep hunger meet." -Frederick Beuchner-

 Where is that place for you?
   (Suggestion: In the comment section you need to subscribe to "replies" in order to be notified when I have responded to your comment.)

Sunday, January 1, 2012

You Are Here

   I must admit, I am terrible with directions. I often meet new people and tell them right up front that I am "geographically impaired". I don't want anyone to have higher expectations of me than what I am capable of. Do not ask me how to get to wherever you are going. I will not be able to even remotely point you in the right direction. It's that bad.
   I even have trouble with those big store maps in the mall that try to be helpful by pasting on a little square that says, "You Are Here". They do not help me in the least because I can never tell where "Here" is. I stand there trying to look at it upside down because I am sure that their "Here" is looking at the stores from the east instead of the west. Or maybe it's the north instead the south.
   What I CAN tell you is that YOU have arrived HERE. "Come to My Rescue" even has an address!  This is an historical moment, friends. At no other time in all my years on earth has it ever been safe to "follow" me anywhere. No telling where we would end up.
   But here and now I am officially inviting you to follow me as I use my voice in written form to bring hope to those who are in need of RESCUE. I am not the Rescuer, not by a long shot. In fact, I am an expert on the process of BEING rescued. God is the One who I have learned is the ultimate Lifeguard, and and I.....are the means by which He chooses to throw the rope; to someone next door, a total stranger across the ocean, or a life ring with your name on it. 
   I would be completely honored to have you join me on this journey of hope. I know without a doubt that I am not meant to go it alone. That together we are going to encourage each other and be a part of His life at a time.