Oh, What a Song to Sing

On this morning of my surgery to remove the Melanoma, I woke up to Chris Tomlin’s song “Nobody Loves Me Like You” on my heart.

It serves as a great reminder that He who has created this day and given me the breath to live it, loves me more than anyone and in a way that only He is able.

He came down to restore me and today is a day of restoration.

3 The LORD sustains them on their sickbed and restores them from their bed of illness. 4 I said, “Have mercy on me, LORD; heal me, for I have sinned against you.” Psalm 41:3-4

Being Still

They stood on the banks of a pond, fishing lines in the water.

“This is not what I was expecting when you told me you wanted to teach me mindfulness,” she said to her friend.

“Being still comes in many forms,” he replied.

Upon hearing those thought provoking words, I paused the show, and the character, who just said words that spoke volumes to me.

When did I decide that “being still” meant only sitting in a quiet room praying and reading my Bible? Why did I define it so rigidly?

Being still means being in His very presence, listening for him, focusing on Him and all things by Him.

So, be still on the banks of a pond with a fishing line wavering in the water.

Be still while moving through the trails of a nature reserve.

Be still on a morning walk.

Be still wherever and however you desire to be.

Find your space.

Be still.

Another Battle to Fight

The words on the other end of the phone call were not what I expected to hear. Everything had led me to believe that it wasn’t anything to worry about. Yet, there I stood, cell phone in hand, learning another lesson in the agony of unmet expectations. I was caught off guard and I felt the air leave abruptly from me, knocked out in one sentence.

Melanoma.

Again. 

My first diagnosis was May 23,2011, a first look into an unknown fear. I tried to process it. I cried and called out to God. Finally, after a whirlwind of emotions, I finally said to God, “Don’t let this be in vain. Let me be able to help others by using this for good.”

Now, here I am. April 24, 2020. Here in a time when Covid has been my fear, I am faced with the harsh reality of having a Melanoma diagnosis again. A new fear in the same arm as last time.  Just above my wrist is going to be a scar – a Battle Scar. 

Melonoma is not just a battle against a cancer trying to attack my skin, it’s a battle against emotional and spiritual enemies. I fight against the devil trying to steal my joy and against letting the diagnosis define me. 

In the past nine years, I have won this battle, fighting diligently through the highs and lows that come with it. I can list for you every blessing I see in this just as much as I can list every fear and reason for frustration.  I see that as a good thing. I never want to lose sight of the blessings that shine even in the darkness. 

So, why I am writing this? What is the point?

Well, I am writing this for YOU. Whether it’s a scary diagnosis, unexpected bad news, or unmet expectations …. YOU have a  God who is right there with you. A God who created you to feel every emotion instilled inside you,

Let yourself feel what you feel. Give permission to yourself to feel and process everything. And when you have, bring them to the Lord, who walks beside you, upholds you, and brings you to the green pastures to lie down to rest and the still waters to rest beside.

So, as I go forth with surgery next week to remove it, the blood tests to make sure it hasn’t found its way in, and the x-rays to ensure my lungs are clean . . . I will prepare for battle.  

Just as was told to King Jehosophat and all the people of Judah in 2 Chronicles 20:15:

Do not be afraid or discouraged because of this vast army. For the battle is not yours, but God’s.

The army may not be vast in this case, but it is still something on the attack. I will not retreat as long as my God is on my side. 

He will always fight for me.

He will always fight for you.

SWEET PERFUME

As I was driving to work yesterday, the radio DJ asked this question:

“If happiness was a scent, what scent would it be for you?”

This was a great question! It is amazing to me how the power of a certain scent can invoke a memory, taking you back to a specific time or place. For me, there are a lot of scents which happiness could be: black coffee, incense, the smell of old books.

My answer to this question though would be the smell of a rose.

When we were younger, my little sister discovered a rose perfume she could dab on herself . . . or more accurately, douse herself with. The aroma of roses would fill our home and to this very day, more than 30 years later, the smell of roses reminds me of her at that age. It always makes me smile. (although, I didn’t smile back then when I smelled it)

In the Book of John,  Mary takes a pint of very expensive, rare perfume and pours it out on Jesus’ feet. The fragrance of this perfume filled the house.

This is such a beautiful moment. I can only imagine how much this pleased Jesus and how the sweet aroma filled up his nose as He breathed it in. 

I believe our prayers are like that too. Our prayers are the pleasing aroma which God breathes in. How sweet, how pleasant this fragrance must be to the God who loves us. 

As a child, I loved the smell of incense in church. I loved to watch, and still love to watch when I can,  the smoke work its way out of the Thurible. It rises, carrying the prayers of the Saints in its aroma.

Like the blossoming vines of the fig trees spreading their fragrance, our prayers, rising in  rich aroma, must be the scent of happiness for God.

“And another angel came and stood at the altar with a golden censer, and he was given much incense to offer with the prayers of all the saints on the golden altar before the throne,  and the smoke of the incense, with the prayers of the saints, rose before God from the hand of the angel.” Rev 8:3-4

A Place to Belong (Thank You, Dad)

Isn’t it funny how so many simple things, like a smell, a specific phrase or one word can invoke a memory?

This just happened to me. I was reading a devotion, here on the morning of the five year anniversary of my father’s death, when a word jumped off the page and instantly played a film in my head about a 12 year old me who experienced her first, very real, introduction to rejection.

This is not about my father rejecting me, but about him rescuing me, just as our heavenly Father does.

“Come to Him—the living stone—who was rejected by people but accepted by God as chosen and precious.” 1 Peter 2:4 The Voice

I was trying out for my first ever select soccer team. This was the club to be in and I wanted to be on that team more than anything. As part of the tryouts, I played on their indoor soccer team. I did very well, even having the honor of being the team’s leading scorer. How could I not make the team after this achievement?

When the coach called me to tell me I indeed did not make the team, I was devastated. I did not understand how this was possible. I remember my dad, who didn’t understand either, calling the coach to see if he could get an answer to this mysterious why.

He came into my room and told me that he thought the reason I didn’t make the team was because of him. My dad had already been a somewhat successful assistant soccer coach in the area, but I didn’t understand what that would have to do with me. My dad did not elaborate on this reasoning of his, and I didn’t ask him to elaborate. Besides, no amount of reasoning would make me feel any less rejected.

The next thing my father did changed me from a young girl feeling completely rejected to one who was invited to be accepted, loved and to have one of the greatest times of her childhood. He offered to coach a team for me. (Side note: he would continue to coach me for years)

He started a team for me, one made of a couple girls like me who had experience, but the majority were ones who had never played before. Looking back, I remember how much he believed in each and every one of these girls, coaching them to become good soccer players. He gave all of us rejects – rejects from other teams, rejects from other sports, rejects from social classes, the list goes on – a place to belong.

That sense of belonging, not wanting to feel rejected, is something we will always have. I am so happy my father gave me that place, but I am overcome with joy in knowing that we have a wonderful, beautiful, loving and compassionate heavenly Father, who welcomes the least of us, the lot of us misfits, into His loving arms.

In Him, and with Him, we will always belong.

But now, this is what the Lord says—
    he who created you, Jacob,
    he who formed you, Israel:
“Do not fear, for I have redeemed you;
    I have summoned you by name; you are mine.
Is 43:1

This piece is dedicated to my dad, the world’s greatest soccer coach and to all the members of that wonderful team of misfits back in 1985 – Paradise Valley Sting.

MY SACRED SPACE

On January 29, 2020, I renewed my library card. That was the last day I had set foot into the library. It closed shortly after due to Covid-19.

As the days went on, I found myself missing my more than once weekly trips to this beautiful establishment. No longer could I linger at one of the small tables with my headphones playing Nat King Cole as I worked on my writing. No longer could I stop to check out a book on whatever my interest was that day. To me, this library was a world created just for me – a sanctuary from the busyness of life and nothing but a doorway to knowledge, adventure and imagination.


“Do yourself a favor and love wisdom. Learn all you can, then watch your life flourish and prosper!” Proverbs 19:8 TPT

Although it opened back up with very specific parameters, I couldn’t seem to find my way back. Until today.

I walked into the library and found only myself to be in there among the two employees. I was the proverbial kid in a candy store. I wanted a book from every section, to pause before each genre and load my arms up with more books than I could handle. I was back in my little piece of Heaven where I stood wide-eyed and grinning from ear to ear beneath my mask.

I had it all to myself. I walked each row, each genre and forced myself to a limit of only books I could carry in my arms. 10 books to be exact. I found my sanctuary again. I found a quenching to the thirst the vacancy had created.

It seems silly, doesn’t it? To miss a simple place like a library and be saddened by its removal from your life. It was my place. My place to go to escape, to learn, to dream . . . my sacred space. Outside the doors was a busy, chaotic, stressful world surround by demands, but here was peace.

We all need a place to escape to – a healthy place. A place to call our own. I wonder, what is that place for you?

30 Word Writing Prompt: Syzygy

We are a syzygy –

connected by experience,

aligned by pain our hearts hold.

Now we float,

in the only realms

we can understand.

Life on earth,

is a distant memory.

WRITTEN MEMORIES

I spent every childhood summer at my grandmother’s house, the house my father grew up in. It’s a small, but charming house which sits just across the banks of Lake Oneida, or as my family and I affectionately call it, “Grandma’s Lake” in Bridgeport, New York.  Every year we would travel from wherever we were living at the time up to this family home to enjoy a family reunion and Independence Day.

As a child, this summer tradition was one full of excitement and exploration. The time was filled with fireworks, bonfires, swimming, boating, fishing, and my absolute favorite – catching fireflies on the grassy bank of the lake.  

It was a magical and fantastic place full of mystery and intrigue.

It had been 27 years since I had stepped inside this family home.  It took me that long to make it back to this special place, but it was exactly the perfect Godly time in which I was meant to be there. July 4, 2014 is forever imprinted in my memory and engraved on my heart.  

There was no way for me to know it would be the last holiday I would spend with my dad.  

There was no way to know that the last face-to-face conversation I would have with him would be on that very date.

We sat across from each other at a small table, covered in a vinyl tablecloth, just he and I. We discussed our favorite mutual authors, Douglas Adams and Stephen King, quoted “Hamlet” and “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner”.  We shared our passion for writing and the genres we were working in. He gave me his latest short story, “Chicken Little: The Truth Revealed” to read and provide honest feedback. 

I headed home after the trip with the absolute conviction this was indeed the best conversation we had ever had. I treasured it from the moment it happened. It was just he and I, sharing our love for the written word. 

Almost exactly a year later, he would be gone. 

That conversation, that moment, echoes in my soul  forever.

I am grateful to have in my possession the very story he shared with me that day. What a blessing it is to work on something which meant so much to him. As always, my prayer is to do his work justice and to use what I learned in that conversation to write as he would write. 

As I sit at my kitchen table, thousands of miles away from that magical place, I can feel his very presence sitting in the empty chair across from me. 

And I begin to write . . . “Let us begin by righting a terrible wrong and clearing the name of a true hero. You will soon learn — being Chicken is a good thing.”

Writing in Loving Memory

It’s July 1.

I created a tradition for myself where I spend the month of July working on my Dad’s stories for him posthumously. I also step out of my own comfort zone and work on stories that he would enjoy. It’s always an emotional process for me, but one I look forward to each year.

I never know where this journey will take me, but I am inviting you along for the ride.

Wrapping My Arms Around Wisdom

It wasn’t until a few years ago when I finally understood what it meant, and how important it was, to pray for wisdom.

In The Voice translation, Proverbs 3:18 describes wisdom this way:

She is like a tree that produces a satisfied life for anyone who can wrap their arms around her;  happiness waits for any who hold her tightly.

This may just be my favorite visual in the Bible.

I imagine wisdom as this strong and mighty Oak, whose trunk my arms barely fit her embrace. I wrap them tightly around her, pressing my cheek against her bark, and listen for the voice of wisdom. Atop, the canopy protects and shields me from all harm, always allowing thin streams of sunlight through. Never leaving me completely in the shade, the darkness. The branches extend in varying directions, guiding the different areas of my life with wisdom and instruction.

And the happiness waits for me who holds her tight.

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