Tuesday, December 30, 2008


Well, it’s been kind of a backwards year for me…get it? 8002? A backwards year? Anyway, I’ve been taking stock of all that’s gone on this year, and I thought I would share my experiences with you. Maybe it will help you reflect upon something in your own life; maybe not. But I couldn’t let this year pass without mentioning all of the incredible things that have happened in my life.

On the surface, the year looks really crappy. 3 CT scans, 3 ultrasounds, 1 x-ray, 2 MRIs, 2 surgeries, a bad gallbladder, poisonous spider bite, torn tendon, e. coli, surgical complications, ulcer from an antibiotic, severe concussion, torn rotator cuff, and that’s just the medical side! On the non-medical side, I barely graduated college because of a professor who wanted something more of a relationship with me and tried to really screw me over, there was an earthquake, I lost my dad’s belongings in the flood, and I missed about 4 months of church.

And yet, I will consider 2008 among my greatest years!


Well, despite the obstacles, I DID graduate with a college degree. I don’t care who you are or what fight you had to put up to get it, that is an accomplishment in and of itself.

And despite initial sadness at losing all of dad’s stuff, I find myself now free-er to live in the way I want to live, instead of letting the memory of him hang over me like a thick cloud. Instead of hanging on to him for dear life, I am now in a position to put him in whatever place I’d like him in my life, instead of feeling some dutiful obligation to let him stay where he always wanted to be.

In addition, I have done quite a bit of thinking and reflecting on myself and my own situation in life.

First, I saw some old pictures of myself with the buzzed haircut. What the heck was I thinking? Why did I do that to myself? I looked awful! But it was only a reflection of what I was feeling on the inside, and I am at a place now where I can recognize that. What’s more, I am enjoying the more girlish style I have taken on (and would like to follow the haircut with a better wardrobe when/if I can afford it). I have accepted my femininity and am now working to cultivate it. One day, I hope to take on the traits of the 1 Timothy woman: “For women who claim to be devoted to God should make themselves attractive by the good things they do…But women will be saved…by continuing to live in faith, love, holiness, and modesty.” (2:10,15b)

Second, I find that after looking hard at myself, I have been a terrible sister – not just to my biological brothers, but to my spiritual brothers and sisters as well. I have selfishly taken much more than I have given, and it has not bothered me until recently. Somewhere deep inside of myself, I felt like the world owed me something and I believed that people would love me no matter what. Some have, and for them, I am grateful, but I owe them so much more than I have given. Selfishness is not a good trait in anyone, and I aim to work on that in the future, though my struggle right now is that I feel I have very little to offer anyone else. That will change as I come to know myself more. For now, it is a simple matter of low self-esteem and high selfishness. So to those of you I have offended by not entering your stories as you have entered mine, I apologize, and I promise to work harder in the future.

Kind of along the same lines, I am working on forgiveness. I have discovered that I have very little forgiveness for anyone in my life, let alone myself. I have been a perfectionist, and I’ve expected everyone else to be perfect, too. I’ve not tolerated accidents. I expect that someone should pay for everything that’s happened. But no more – I am finding forgiveness in my heart and working every day to extend that to myself and others.

And then the coolest thing happened…

I have spent my life being afraid. Of everything. I’ve been sleeping with a nightlight since I was itty-bitty. I watch the shadows move across the kitchen floor at night (from the back porch light), just to make sure nobody is coming to kill me. I hide things so people can’t steal them (and sometimes, I can’t even find them), and I keep a bag packed with my valuables in case I ever need to get out in a hurry. It is, for all intents and purposes, the most severe of paranoia. But the other night, just a few days ago, I woke up in the dark with a storm brewing outside. In that moment, just before the panic set in, all fear left me. I mean ALL FEAR. I’m not afraid any more. Of anything. I have peace in my spirit, and it’s just the coolest thing. I don’t lay awake at night wondering if the doors are locked. I don’t watch the shadows in the kitchen. I went to the bathroom, and when I turned off the light, my eyes actually adjusted to the dark for the first time in my life. Darkness no longer blinded me; I could see, and I was unafraid. Still am. It’s REALLY cool.

And finally, I am getting tired of the excuses. MY excuses. It seems I’ve always had an excuse for everything. But no matter how justified I think I am, that doesn’t excuse ungodly living. And I think people have come to expect from me that I won’t do what I’m supposed to do because I will always come up with a reason not to. That’s just not cool. It doesn’t gel with my spirit. So I am working on that, as well.

So on top of all that, I am finding physical healing. My body is able to fight off most infections by itself now. Aside from a small bout of surgical complications, I haven’t been to the ER in over a year. I have gone from having 43 medications to now keeping NONE on my desk. As a matter of fact, the only things I’m taking right now are my birth control and an occasional anti-nausea pill, but God is even breaking my dependence on that.

Also in 2008, I finished reading the Bible cover-to-cover. There’s some pretty good stuff in there. My favorite books are James and Joel.

2009 is going to be MY year. I don’t know what’s going to happen, since I try to not put God in my box any more. But I have a few inklings, and they are all good. I sense a job just around the corner. There’s a young man I’ve been talking to who seems very interested in me, so we’ll just have to see where that goes. I anticipate further physical healing. I anticipate peace, the absence of fear, and contentment. It’s just going to be a good year.

That said, it’s not getting off to a terrific start. As it turns out, I have torn my rotator cuff in my left shoulder. I will find out tomorrow what kind of repair that will require, and then my challenge is to figure out how to get that care for myself with no insurance. And yet, as stressed as I am, I am also not worried. Because I know that God is going to handle this, too, and it will all be ok. And so, I trust Him.

And isn’t that what life’s all about?

So farewell to 8002, a sort of backwards year, and here’s to a brilliant 2009!

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Father? Abba.

I have trouble conceptualizing of God as “Father.”
At best, it’s sterile. Be honest. Does not the word “father” conjure up images of the von Trapp children? Very formal, very respectful, and while I do not doubt the love of their father toward his children (or the love of the children toward their father), it is far from what I would describe as a “loving relationship.” These children go to bed each night with a wave; no hug, no kiss, no bedtime story. A surrogate must provide all of these things for them.
At worst, “father” is distant and angry. I know this has been true in my own life, as a young child, and I am sure I am not alone. You know what I mean, when after a particularly harsh punishment or stern “no,” you wake up the next morning to find your male parental figure standing in the kitchen, smiling a good morning to you. You look up slightly, not wanting to be disrespectful, and, nodding, say, “Father,” then proceed as if he doesn’t even exist. You want him to know you still know he’s there, but you also create as much distance as possible between the two of you and the message is clear: you are angry.
Neither of these fits my image of God, but those are all I can latch onto when I think of “Father.” I think Jesus had it right, though. I don’t claim to be a scholar in Aramaic, but from what I have studied, Jesus’s word “Abba” more closely translates to our word, “Daddy.”
And isn’t that what we all want? A daddy. It’s so beautiful. He is the strong man who becomes your rock. You sit on his lap and absorb his warmth. You listen to his stories because you honor his wisdom. You seek his advice because you respect his judgment. When life deals you a tough blow, he scoops you up and restores your sense of safety. He gives you a name and a place in life. He is everything you need, and most of all, he is loving. He is an active part of your life. You share a two-way relationship.
Maybe it’s just me, but God as “Father” puts an unnecessary barrier between us. I can’t talk to a father. But I will run to a daddy. He’ll see me coming a mile away, but the force of my impact will still knock him down. We’ll laugh; we’ll cry; we’ll talk. Mostly, we’ll love.
So if God the Father works for you, then by all means, work hard to develop that relationship. But if you, like me, can think of nothing but childish protest or the von Trapp children, then maybe re-think your name for Him. I don’t think God minds one bit when I pray, “Hey Daddy…”
He just smiles and says, “Yeah, kiddo?”