The Summer Files: Day 13

The valley days roll along as tumbleweeds and Arizona is working up to full summer boil as it does every year, but One thing has awakened us to the brilliance of seasons: Miracles haven’t stopped coming. They’re coming, friends.

During our third trip to the Healing Room, remembering God is the same God who healed all those people a few thousand years ago, Our Son kept tugging at me, trying to get my attention. After shushing him so as not to interrupt the prayer volunteers, he finally stood forward and announced that he felt this “hand” on the back of his neck. At first, he thought it was the Guy leading the prayer, but the Guy, standing a few feet in front of him thought it might have been a more celestial hand.

Over the next several days, including the few the Son endured with a long prep and a few tests at the children’s hospital, joy burst from his seams.

“I feel good, Mommy.”

I won’t go into detail on how no one would be feeling good after what he just experienced, but the joy kept rolling in like a protective halo.

Shortly after coming home, we found out his bowel disease is gone.

It was a twisty road, friends. We prayed, we doubted, and prayed again. Many people prayed for us. Thank you, to all who did. Somewhere in there, we believed. I often wonder why miracles don’t happen more often…maybe we’re too distracted by, “but will He?” thoughts. Maybe we put more faith in modern medicine than in God. He does say, “…because of your faith, you are healed.”

We are also a culture of intellectual pride. How can an educated, modern society believe in miracles? If we can’t see them, touch them, prove them, do they exist?

Modern medicine is a blessing. Thank the Lord for our Doctors and Nurses. I believe God uses them in many beautiful ways.

But that wind. It pushes in tumbleweeds with its invisible hands. It cools our sweat with its merciful breeze. We can’t see it, but we know it’s there. Why is it so much easier to count on the arrival of ugly, poky sticker bushes, than the breath of Heaven? Even fellow believers tried explaining the healing through logic and spiritual doubt (What kind of solutions come from spiritual doubt?).

But our Son just experienced an invisible hand, illogical joy and healing. Those weren’t tumbleweeds that blew our way.

They’re coming.

Rise

My son is convinced that one, just one, of his nightmares was real. When the night spills over the blue sky, and the house creeks to the tune of the witching hour, he remembers it. “Do demons look like aliens?”

The same question, always. “They can, but Jesus will make them go away.”

“I know, but He took a long time to make them go away.”

We discuss the settling of houses, and how they have to get comfortable at night just like we do. I remind him that shadows often look like scary things just like clouds can resemble bunnies. These conversations almost convince him it was just a dream. Was it?

But, the dark haunts all of us, morphing worries into nightmares. Failures are monsters. Most people in my line of work experience so many failures, they often lose sight of their purpose underneath all the wounds. Success is intangible; a ghost, and sometimes is takes a very long time to get a clear look at it.

I worry about my little guy and the scars he’s developing at such a young age. But as we talk about shadows and monsters, holy week creeps by us and taps me on the shoulder, “Remember the curtain torn in two, the earthquake, rocks splitting open…the bodies of holy people rising from their tombs and appearing to many people? (Matthew 27).”

They weren’t the monsters—they weren’t aliens, or zombies, or anything that dwells in the dark splatter of night. They were spirits of victory. It took a lot of pain and blood for them to rise…it took a moment at 3 o’clock in the afternoon when God stepped away…and oh, did it seem like he was gone too long; utter forsaken agony, when all seemed lost…

…for Jesus to slay the nightmares. We must remember the nightmares have already been defeated.

As we carry our own crosses with monsters dumping humiliation after fear after pain upon us, and God seems so far away—we can take faith steps. We can breathe in faith and blow away the impossibilities, nodding our heads at the scary things rising, that are, in fact, signposts to victory.

Our Wonderland of Clouds

Noah got a telescope for Christmas—a beautiful white Christmas it was; magical, like those you see in a shaken snow globe. But those clouds wouldn’t lift, and it wasn’t until a week later that we had a clear night in which to gaze at the moon.

The kids pressed their faces to the eye piece, the moon pulling the corners of their mouths up in smiles like the coming tide. Bumpy spots and rocks and stuff, cool!

But those clouds, they hid the moon again, so we wait longer to see oursnow-1022667_1280 mysterious moon.

Underneath those gray clouds, I’m reading the Bible, trying to wrap the Miracle phenomenon around my brain. Healings, signs and wonders; a pause for the sun. We see things today, but I sure wish God would lead me as a pillar of cloud for the confusing days and a pillar of fire for those dark nights. I’ve heard of missionaries experiencing wonders, but…not so many in the United States of Comfort.

I come to Acts, where Peter and John are released from prison. This when Christians are so harshly persecuted that many leave Jerusalem. But when the two men gather with their fellow believers, Peter and John don’t pray for safety—they pray for boldness.

I pray for safety all the time—for my family, my friends. I also pray for good health and deliverance for those suffering. Sometimes I pray for boldness, but I include in the same prayers for safekeeping.

In our snow-globe wonderland, we live under a protective bubble… perhaps that’s what keeps us from seeing many things far beyond what we could imagine. Feel welcome to post your theories in the comments.

A Single Beautiful Thing

There was a man in my college photography class who taught us how to capture a beautiful shot from anywhere. “Zoom in,” he said, “It’s about focus.” When he propped his photo up on our critique board, I saw a shadowed arch, eye-catching in its imperfection flowing through a gray sea. I didn’t think crack in a sidewalk until he told us that’s what it was.

I’m not sure what got me thinking about this seventeen-year-old memory; maybe some of you can relate, but when you become a parent, focusing on any single20160516_091434 thing becomes folklore. A crack in the sidewalk becomes a collection point for Cheerios overflowing beyond the crevice— milk and all— onto my freshly mopped floor.

Maybe it’s my son with the indeterminate illness, and my friend with the cancer diagnosis. The hard things like to come at once, so how do we manage to focus on a single beautiful thing amidst cold, hard reality?

If Peter had kept his eyes on Jesus, his feet would not have slipped through the water. He saw the storm, the waves–he even suspected Jesus was a ghost. But the few moments he focused on the Lord, he got his miracle—one that’s been documented to help us through every one of our hard seasons. An old reminder of what could be.

Jesus traveled with a team—I’m thinking of all of you right now. Let’s climb inside this boat together and fix our eyes on our King.

What we can learn from Batman

Our Easter began with a service by Watson Lake and ended with Batman vs. Superman. The first was beautiful and peaceful–the breeze and sun couldn’t have 20150803_092538been more lovely. On a perfectly placed current soared a bald eagle which was a special treat for my son who had recently asked when he would see one again.

The second half of our day was exciting–a few hours of grown up time is a rare gift, especially when it’s a movie with an edge to it. Lecture me not, because I’m okay with a little violence and fantasy. It actually got me thinking about the whole spectrum of superhero fandom. Why do we get so excited about characters dripping in unreality? Why do we embrace these stories soaked in red capes and heroes that can fly? Our culture can’t get enough–we arrange babysitters for our kids so we can get away to watch grown-up movies which, in reality, are childlike stories.

So what really comes with Easter and Batman?

This is where Christians fail to be like kids (don’t laugh–it’s an order from God Himself: “And he said: Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” Matthew 18:3)
It’s not good to be afraid of fantasy (what is it, really?). It’s not okay to put ideas of God in a box over here, away from the exciting stuff that happens over there. Do you remember what happened after the Resurrection?

“When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues[a] as the Spirit enabled them.” Acts 2:1-4

What else happened after the crucifixion?

“At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. The earth shook, the rocks split and the tombs broke open. The bodies of many holy people who had died were raised to life. They came out of the tombs after Jesus’ resurrection and[a] went into the holy city and appeared to many people.” Matthew 27:51-53

This is the kind of stuff we put over there, in fantasy, but it’s not. It’s reality friends (okay, except Batman, but it’s a good movie). That supernatural world we crave is here!

Maybe God sent the eagle over our Easter celebration because a child approached life with the perspective God wants us to have. Who knows? Maybe we’d see more of God’s superpowers if we didn’t write things off as coincidence. Maybe we’ve forgotten who God is and who we are.

 

What do you think?

 

Dreaming

I hate today. I’m on the couch as I write this, sipping out of a water glass my sweet four-year-old can’t fill quick enough. This is the first time I’ve had a fever since I can remember, and I’m unproductive. What a waste. A big, fat, ugly day filled with piles getting bigger, research not getting done and muscles getting flabby. I consider my weights in the closet—the ones I haven’t used nearly enough because the past few months of busyness have leached a good portion of my time. I curl up under my tea-sloshed blanket and scowl.

I don’t have time for this.

I sift through my email and social media. Everyone seems to be thinking about success today. What is it, really, and how do you know you’ve found it? Am I supposed to consider this as I camp out on my couch, not getting success done? I click on another blog and there it is again.

I just finished reading a book on the meticulous ways to map out a novel before beginning writing—“this is where you find success”, the author said. I think I yawned 2.5 million times before I was half-way through. I couldn’t give that book away fast enough. And extreme organization is a great way to suck the life out of a story if that’s not how you’re wired. I’ve tried it. Success is not found in changing the way God wired you.

Several years ago, someone insinuated that I needed to go back to school. My job didn’t pay enough, it wasn’t prestigious enough, and they insisted I would find success in getting a degree like theirs. They said my idea of advancing in the arts was unrealistic.

Says no one who dreams big.100_3848

Thankfully, I ignored them—otherwise I would never have completed and published my novel (and since then, that person’s priorities of prestige and $$$ ended up landing them in a world of hurt). Success is not found in a bank account or in the opinions of others.

My daughter keeps a notebook everywhere she goes—in the car, on her bed—being a sensitive soul, she needs all kinds of creative outlets to express herself. When her glass is half-empty a little too long, I encourage her to write about the things she’s thankful for. Somewhere along her words, she finds her answer—and I find mine. I pick up the paper she handed me before school this morning and delight in her wisdom on the art of ballet. Here is a condensed version of Chloe’s rules for being a successful ballerina:
Be good.
Keep your back straight.
Don’t bend your knees unless your teacher tells you to.
Keep your balance.
Have strength, courage and Faith.
Never give up.

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There it is—in the word she capitalized—Faith. That’s where success is. I think many of us feel like a good portion of our time is spent in between Good Friday and Resurrection Day. It’s dark, confusing, and feels like all we have invested our time and energy into has been sealed inside a dark tomb—going nowhere fast.

When success comes, it looks nothing like we thought it would. There are scars. The steps we take from now on require strength, courage and a whole lot of Faith. But someone carries those scars for us, and He’s not the product of human realism. He’s supernatural.

So there’s the answer. Our only option is to dream big.

What is your dream?

No place for Bah Humbug

The first holiday I spent alone sucked. It was Easter, during college – I can’t even remember why I couldn’t go home, I just knew I couldn’t wait for the day to pass.
A local friend invited me to her home. It was a nice gesture, we ate lots of ham and to spice it up, her mom tried really hard to argue with her dad, but he didn’t bite. He spewed peace from his pores. The tension was interesting enough to keep me from feeling sorry for myself for a few hours.

When I got back to my dorm room I lost myself in a book. I crawled into that historical novel like marshmallows in a peep.

I don’t even remember if I thanked Jesus for The Cross.

You never know who needs a Christmas snuggle.

You never know who needs a Christmas snuggle.

If I had given Him my day, I would have seen that Easter was not about me.
I imagine the shepherds felt much the same. In biblical days, they often didn’t have families to miss because their lifestyle didn’t make room for them. They lived in pastures and caves, watching the stars twinkle in the lonesome nights.
How would it be to have a family of wool without the ability to say, “Good Morning”, and “I love you?”

At least they could keep their shepherds warm.

Maybe that’s why the angels appeared to them. Their ears would be ready to listen, their voices aching to proclaim miracles.

Christmas is the whole story…families, singles, the creatures that silently walk with us.
But most of all, there’s no exclusion…everyone is invited to celebrate with Jesus.

The ideal place to be is right where you are.

Harriet Tubman

I could almost feel the snow flakes lilting over the audience.
3D glasses and my favorite little girl made for a snapshot of wonder inside the theater when the world outside was living inside lines drawn by control freaks.
I was 5 again with Chloe and wanted nothing more than to stick out my tongue and catch a snowflake. I could see it, sense it, but a few hours later we were back outside dreaming of fantasies and legends left behind in the darkened room.

How soon we forget that we do live in a world of fantasy, but not how the dictionary defines it.

Fantasy: noun. The faculty or activity of imagining things that are impossible or improbable.

In comes my latest research read – a book on Harriet Tubman.

If your memories of history class are dulled by forgotten dates and blank spaces, take one day to know Harriet Tubman.
She was a slave, a hero, Moses and the stuff of legends.
Her story is absolute truth and full of events you now find only in fantasy books.

And the Bible. It’s amazing how we can read something so much that we forget the main point.

A vital part of The Underground Railroad, Harriet Tubman escorted approximately

Photo from Wikipedia

Wikipedia

300 slaves to freedom. Every time she journeyed to collect a new group of slaves she knowingly risked her life.

When she was a child, she received a blow to the head which caused narcolepsy. She would, without warning, fall into a deep sleep, unable to be awakened until her body said so.

Here’s where God turns tragedy into miracles.

When she was “out” she claimed that she had visions of places she had never seen before, but later came upon in real life. These places she would find when escorting people out of slavery – she recognized them from her dreams and would know where to lead her group to freedom.

How many times have I wished I knew which direction to go? Yep, a bold sign in 3D would be the ticket.

“Miracles only happen in the Bible.” How many times have we heard (or thought) this?

Well, Harriet Tubman came long after The Bible was written. A skeptic? Here is a good, free ebook on her life, along with plenty of documentation about her gifts: Get it here.

I think she saw the extraordinary for at least one reason – she dedicated her life entirely to following God’s voice. No worries about saving up for a comfortable retirement or an epic vacation – just walking each day with God. When she had a vision, an inkling, a prophetic dream, she didn’t rush to the mirror to find “crazy” in her eyes, or find the civil war version of Dr. Phil – she followed God’s instructions. Not her own American dream, but that of her brothers and sisters.

What a country this would be if we could flip our “Me” theme to a God theme. The story of others, brothers, sisters, the neighbors, our families, that tear – streaked face in the grocery line. We could put aside ourselves, discover our mission, and clearly see the God-sign say:“GO.”

Do you have your own miracle-story? Share it with us in the comments.