Friday, December 31, 2010

Adventures in Wonderland: This is no fairytale, Part 3

In those moments immediately following, all I could do was pray and praise God that He had prepared me through multiple First Aid certifications. As a former lifeguard and police explorer, I knew I had had good training.

She was soaked to mid-thigh, crying, and approaching shock within the first thirty seconds. I snapped into adrenaline-fueled composure, picked her up, and set her on the stepstool. It should be said that she is around 60 lbs, and I knew that was going to be a significant amount to carry out. I planned in my head while I stripped off her boots, socks, and jeans. Her feet were freezing, so I put my gloves on her feet. I put my scarf around her neck (I was wearing a vest instead of a coat, so I didn’t have that resource), and her legs in the arms of her coat. Even when I zipped up the coat, it only reached mid-thigh, so I shook off the little bit of snow from the fleece blanket and wrapped it around her (which was a feat in itself, as I had to use one arm to pick her up and one to wrap).

By this time I was already exhausted… and I still had to find some way to get her out of the canyon.

I picked her up and carried her in front of my body. There was a sort of trail through the snow, but her squirming and shivering made things more difficult. She was still whimpering, and I knew I had to distract her, so I had her sing me songs. By the time we got to the bottom of the stairs, I was already completely out of energy.

I knew I couldn’t set her on the snow, but I couldn’t hold her anymore. I sat down on the snow-covered step, and held her on my lap. Thankfully, my parents had given me moisture-wicking long underwear for Christmas, because I was soon soaked through to the skin (they dried my skin soon after standing). The last thing we needed was to have us both wet and freezing. My muscles we already burning, but I knew I had to hurry to get her in the car.

I stood her on a step and put her on my back. I used one arm to hold her and one to hold onto the railing. The stairway was treacherous, and it wouldn’t have taken much for us to tumble down the stairs. Then we would be in REAL trouble.

At the top of the longest staircase, I could hardly breathe. I was berating myself for not being a gym rat, but I don’t think that would have helped much. I sat down and held her on my lap again until I caught my breath (thank you, lingering bronchitis). When I put her on my back again, she started saying she was scared and afraid I would drop her- it was a LONG way down. I reassured her and continued on.

We finally made it to the top of all the stairs. I just wanted to collapse. While I was carrying her the rest of the way to the car (in front of me know, because she was too weak to hang on), I thought of the car keys. I had her put them in her jeans pocket.

Her jeans were in the canyon.

Then I remembered that when we had come back to get her coat, we had switched the keys to her coat. Thank you, God.

I sat her on the hood of the car while I unlocked it (no remote here), and put her in the backseat. Thankfully, my coat was still in the car and was warm and dry. I found a towel in the trunk, cranked the heat on high, and climbed into the back of the car with her. I kept talking to her while I stripped off anything wet and re-bundled her. I blew warm air on her feet- praise the Lord they were pinkish red and not white. At that point I knew she was okay. After a hot bath, a good meal, and some warm, dry clothes, she was as good as new.

Now, looking back over the day, I praise God for taking care of us in so many ways.

We just happened to have left the tripod.

I just happened to bring the blanket and stepladder.

It just happened to be well warmer than usual.

I just happened to get long underwear for Christmas.

We just happened to go back for Belle’s coat.

We just happened to move the keys.

We just happened to leave my coat in the car so it was warm and dry, even though I’m usually freezing.

Since I don’t believe in coincidences, this looks like God’s work to me. He is so good.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Adventures in Wonderland: This is no fairytale, Part 2

One of our Princesses (yes, we have connections to royalty : )) has been staying with us this week. We are very close, and after living on the same street this summer, it has been some much-needed quality time. Josh and I don’t have any kids yet, but we have some that we absolutely cherish and love spoiling.

I recently photographed an engagement shoot at a local frozen waterfall, and I have wanted to take Princess there since then, and thought this would be the perfect opportunity. I felt a little unsure, like maybe it was unwise to take her to this place by myself (Josh was at work). What if I fell and broke my ankle? What if we got the car stuck? What if….?

But, not wanting to live in a spirit of fear, I ignored that little voice. After all, we can’t live our life by “what ifs.” It was 36 degrees when we left the house today, and I couldn’t dream of better weather for our little hike. I pack the car with coats (we didn’t even need them from the house to the car!), the camera (of course), a blanket, and stepladder (for the camera because we left the tripod at Josh’s parent’s house over Christmas). We wore two pairs of socks and boots, hats, gloves, and scarves, and I had my cell phone on me. We talked about going slow and holding hands and not touching the icicles and staying away from any running water. We were as prepared as I thought we could be.

We went VERY slowly down the dozens of wooden stairs leading down to the canyon. After we made it halfway down, Princess said she did need her coat after all; I was a little impatient at the time, but it turned out to be important. The stairs were solidly packed with snow, which made every step a little tenuous, but we made it just fine.

What awaited us was a beautiful winter wonderland. The weather was so warm that the giant icicles were starting to drip, and it was so silent that you could hear every drop of water.

We are planning on making a mini-scrapbook of her all the fun activities we’ve been doing since she came, so we snapped a few photos (you can view them here). We were having a great time, playing in the snow, and she was as in awe of this miracle of an ice waterfall as I was.

I went to put the camera on the stepladder so we could take a shot of the two of us for the scrapbook, when I heard


As I whipped my head around, “NIIIIIIIIIIIIIICKYYYYYYYYYYYYYY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!”

Princess was standing waist deep in snow: “It’s cold, it’s cold, it’s cold, it’s cold!!!!!!!!!!!!”

As I stepped to pull her out (I had only been about 10 feet away), I saw that she had been trying to get close to see the shallow river, and had stepped right through the ice!

Even though it was above freezing, getting wet increases your chances of hypothermia and frostbite exponentially. According to the United States Search and Rescue Task Force, cold water robs the body of heat 32 times faster than cold air. They define “cold” water as around 70 degrees and below, so I have no idea the effect of freezing water that has been right under ice. To say the least, I was scared, and there was nobody around to help.

(continued tomorrow)

Adventures in Wonderland: This is no fairytale, Part 1

Have you ever had a feeling you shouldn't do something, a feeling that doesn't make any sense? Don't take that meeting. Don't go on that trip. Don't move to that house. Don't make that investment. Things that, from a logical perspective, make complete sense.

I get these feelings all the time, more than I care to admit. I was raised on realist, empirical academia, and these "senses" as I call them (to delineate them from emotions) are not logically explained.

I tend to have a hard time knowing what to do with them. On the one hand, I know the Holy Spirit has often spoken to me in this way, and obviously I would want to heed those nudges. However, the enemy has a way of imitating that same sense, and filling me with unnecessary fear or worry. He wants to trick me. (If you think this sounds paranoid, you should read some books on spiritual warfare. I recommend "Waking the Dead" by John Elderidge.)

So what do you do? How do you know the origin of anxiety? How do you act on this thought?

Until the last few years, I would err on the side of caution. However, I know I missed opportunities as a result of unnecessary. Meditating on this verse changed my way of thinking.

"The wicked run away when no one is chasing them, but the godly are as bold
as lions." -Proverbs 28:1

In my Bible, I have written next to this verse "I will not live in a spirit of fear." I want to live boldly and dangerously for Christ and His kingdom. We are called to be warriors, and I am not willing to sit on the sidelines and let everyone else do the work. I think this attitude is what Christ demands, but I also think not having a black-and-white standard to err on the side of caution definitely complicates things. You must take each decision on a case-by-case basis, which definitely widens the way for errors. You get confused, and don’t want to live in fear, and instead ignore the Holy Spirit’s leading.

For me, many of these situations have been memorable. Injuries, arguments, and dangerous situations have occurred outside of what logic would predict. I won’t soon forget today.

(continued tomorrow)

Monday, December 27, 2010

What Do You Think?

Found this on a friend's facebook page- what are your thoughts?

Thursday, December 23, 2010

It Only Takes a Minute

Please take just one moment to say a prayer for all those who will be away from their families this Christmas. Whether missionaries, in the military, experiencing financial hardship, or whatever, it is always difficult to feel alone. This feeling may be exponentially emphasized during those times when you feel like you need to be with family. I know they will all appreciate it. Thanks!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

A Promise Worth Trusting

I feel right now like there are so many things that I would/could/should/want to/need to write about, but I'm just not sure where to start. I just finished my first graduate school semester two days ago, so that has taken up most of my life lately. And what a semester it has been. School itself has been GREAT, but...well, let's just say that more than once I've had the following conversation:

classmate: "I'm so stressed out! School is making me crazy!"

me: "I'm sorry to hear you're having a hard time. Is there anything I can do to help?"

classmate: "Not really, but thanks for asking. Aren't you stressed out too?"

me: "Yes, but not about this. Grad school is the least of my worries!"

There have been multiple times I have coped with some really stressful situations just by throwing myself into my work. I'm not sure that's healthy to do all the time, but in this case it was just what I needed.

We have dealt with a lot since we got home from Africa, and it looks like we will continue to, at least for the near future. We have chosen to commit to living the life God sets before us, and to not choosing something else out of fear of stress or the unknown. Therefore, we are often stressed and don't know.


Those who know me or read this blog know I am a bit of a control freak extremely well-organized (well, except during grad school finals) and I need to know what is going on.

Okay...I want to know. Working on that whole needs vs wants language. But sometimes it feels like a need.

I've gotten to the point that I can accept God has it under control and I don't always need to know- for a little while. But as soon as another layer of stress is piled on top of whatever avalanche we are already under, it seems like I'm back at the starting gate of fear and wanting control (and sometimes just trying to take it) and worry and despair. The consistency is not there yet. Sometimes it even feels like this act I can't get the hang of.

[BTW, I know I just ended a sentence with a preposition, but the alternative was to say "of which I can't get the hang." So you see my dilemma- please have mercy.]

Do you ever feel like you NEED to know what God is up to? What do you do when He doesn't share that with you?

My solution is usually to rely on Scripture:

"And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to His purposes for them." -Romans 8:28

Such a simple and familiar verse that it is easy to forget this is God's Word. It is His promise to us. Even when I'm scared and I wonder what He's doing, that's a promise worth trusting.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Um, Duh...

I'm not sure I have ever been so excited for a Monday. This summer I decided that I don't want to be one of those people who wish Monday's away; after all, they are 1/7th of our lives! If you follow this blog at all, you know that I often write about the struggle to be present, my struggle to be present. I refuse to wish life away...but it is a constant process and battle for intentionality.

But a recent Monday wasn't like that. It signaled to me the welcome beginning of a new week, and more importantly an end to the last.

It all started on Wednesday, when I got sick and had to take midnight trip to the E.R. due to lung and breathing trouble. They weren't able to find an exact cause, and sent me home with some medication, with the disclaimer it may not work (less than encouraging). [Note: this disappointing and unhelpful resulted in an $800 hospital bill- are they insane???]

Thursday brought more illness and exhaustion, but by late morning I was able to do some work on the computer. I found out that my financial aid was messed up (thankfully I have been able to take care of that), which definitely increased my stress levels. For some reason, money issues just have this way of seizing my sanity and peace in the moment. As I was working on that, my computer contracted a virus. After working on that for an hour without success, I had to take it into the shop. [Cost: $130 more- it was becoming a REALLY expensive week].

Friday dawned fresh and new, and I was *sure* the day would go better. Or not. During the afternoon, as I left my house to drive into town, a lady bug crawled under the sunglasses I had perched on my head. When I pulled them over my eyes, it bit me right below my right eye. Yes, I was attacked by a ladybug (I'm kind of glad I'm not a guy, or I'm sure I would never hear the end of that). And apparently I am allergic to them, because within 15 minutes I could literally see the swelling out of my own eye. I stopped into the student health center, and they fixed me up.

While I was waiting in the office, I decided to check in with Josh, and he let me know there is now some uncertainty about the future of his job. Of course, what I heard in my head was "he's losing his job and we will have to move and I won't be able to be in graduate school and we can never be missionaries or have kids or have any other dreams and they'll probably even kick us out of our families and America, too." Or something like that.

By this point, I was feeling a psychotic break coming on, so I did what every mature, grown adult does- I called my mommy. And then she put my daddy on. I don't know what it is, but my dad just has this way of reframing things that just calms me down and makes me feel all is not lost (believe me, Josh knows and takes advantage of this fact often). Things felt manageable, once again.

But that lasted only for about an hour. I had an online assignment due Friday night, and hadn't been able to get ahold of the professor. After the allergic reaction, they instructed me to take some benadryl and sleep for a while. That was at 3, the assignment was due at 8- I figured I had plenty of time. Around 6:30 or so, I drove to the school to use the computers at the library. But guess what? The library was closed! CLOSED! What university library closes at 4pm on a Friday? I didn't know whether to laugh or cry. I think I kind of did a little I'm-crazy-and-out-of-my-mind-right-now giggle, as no one was around (thankfully). After all, I am studying to be a mental health professional- the last thing I need is for someone to see me having a mini-nervous-breakdown and report that to my program. Ai, mon.

The weekend involved more ups and downs. When I got to school on Monday morning, I was about my weekend with a classmate who also happens to be a Believer, and she asked whether it might be spiritual warfare.

*Umm, duh...*

I told her I hadn't even thought of it. But it made sense. Just recently, Josh and I had been delving deeper with God, and making new commitments in our finances, marriage, and quiet times. We had been fighting hard in prayer for loved ones. It seemed to add up. We were a threat, and we were paying for it.

I can't believe we didn't see it. We have dealt with quite a bit of spiritual warfare before, but it didn't even occur to us that this could be the reason. We were blinded. We were lied to. The enemy is so sneaky...

But there was also something empowering about realizing that it was battle. We could fight back. We have the Victor on our side.

Sometimes I'll look at Josh and say, "Do you think this level of stress is normal?" By that I mean stressful circumstances, not our response to them. I mean, I work with people and their stress. I feel I have a pretty good handle on what may and may not be healthy levels of stress. We'll talk about it, and he'll remind me we have God and each other to rely on, and I'll feel better for a while. But one time he said something that changed my thinking:
"We have a target on our backs."
Josh is not afraid of the notion of spiritual battle. It's as natural and real and common to him as drinking water or breathing air. But I have to say I am much less aware, and often feel uncomfortable about it. I know it's true and real and have seen it with my own eyes, but I prefer to not focus on it. In truth, I prefer to pretend it's not there. I am like a little kid- if I shut my eyes against it, it can't see me.

Would that it were...

But it's not. We face the enemy everyday. We have a choice- to acquiesce, or to not back down from the fight. I would like to leave you with a quote from a 10-year-old girl who spoke to 11,000 college students at a Midwest conference.
"I'm not cute, I'm dangerous...and satan is terrified of me."

God, make us dangerous.