Tuesday, May 29, 2018

We are all the same

I have brown hair (well, most of the time), hazel eyes, and pale skin. The man sitting next to me has black hair, dark caramel skin, and deep brown eyes.

We don't look at all alike, but we came from the same place and we will end up the same. After all, the Bible tells us that we "all go to the same place; all come from dust, and to dust all return" (Ecclesiastes 3:20 NIV). 

So why do we treat each other differently? Why do we hold one group accountable for the actions of a few? Why do we spread hate based solely on skin color (or any other trait, for that matter)? Why do we put our guard up when around certain people, but not others? 

Is history really our best teacher? To learn from, yes - so we don't make the same mistakes again. But, to mimic history to create a future? Not in the slightest. 

Everyone has something to bring to the table. In fact, did you know that Jesus invited everyone to his table? He ate with tax collectors and sinners of all types. And, his disciples did, too. 

While Jesus was having dinner at Levi’s house, many tax collectors and sinners were eating with him and his disciples, for there were many who followed him. When the teachers of the law who were Pharisees saw him eating with the sinners and tax collectors, they asked his disciples: “Why does he eat with tax collectors and sinners?”

On hearing this, Jesus said to them, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.”  Mark 2:15-17 (NIV)

There are riches to be found in a melting pot. My family is a melting pot. When we sit down to dinner each night, we have a mix of different faces with different colors and different sizes - each with different personalities and different stories. In fact, we are just a whole lotta different.

Why would anyone want everyone to be alike? Jesus didn't ... and neither should you. 

Embrace everyone. 
Starting today.

Monday, May 14, 2018

My mom, the fighter.

This is something I wrote a while back about my mom. I wasn't sure what to do with it because it was a bit personal, but in honor of Mother's Day yesterday, and the journey my mom is conquering like a warrior every day, I wanted to share it with you. 
Have you ever given thought to losing your mother? I never did until she was struggling to heal. Though He already knows the plan, I begged God to heal her! And He did.

I fed my mom today. She was in the hospital bed looking at me, then at the spoon, letting me know she was ready for another bite of her strawberry yogurt. She is wearing her hospital gown and a high flow oxygen mask. Her right hand is wrapped in a soft cast due to a fall that cracked her wrist. Her face is swollen and bruised from that same fall.

She looks beaten. She looks worn. She looks tired. And she looks helpless. 
I went to pick her up the other morning for a doctor’s appointment. She was leaning on the table, hunched over, mouth open, and pale. As she would try to take in a breath, her shoulders would move her whole body. She was struggling. Instead of the doctor, she went to the ER and was admitted. That’s how we ended up here.

That first night was rough. Mom was scared. She had an oxygen mask on and spoke to me through her eyes. I felt her look of pure fear straight down to my soul. The lump in my throat was making it hard for me to even breathe.

I wanted to give her air. I wanted to show her peace. There was nothing I could do but put my trust in God that she was in good hands and that she was right where he wanted her to be.

A trip to the ICU and the head nurse fills me in… “your mom is very sick woman…her body has dealt with a lot of trauma... heart surgery can make or break her… may need to put her on ventilator… too weak to breathe on her own… explore all your options… extensive double pneumonia…. prepare for the worst…” All these words just came at me like sharp nails, as if someone rigged a nail gun to keep shooting at me.

Instantly, I was numb. I couldn’t talk. I couldn’t think. I couldn’t even cry.

What does he mean prepare for the worst?! Mom was going to be fine. She had heart surgery just a couple months ago – a triple bypass. All the people who had also had that surgery had been to visit her and told her how wonderful she would feel afterward. Sure, she has had some struggles with fluid retention and breathing since the surgery, but she followed all the directions and her scar has even healed beautifully!

I drove home for a quick shower and bite to eat with these words resonating through my mind. The tears came quickly. And I cried. A reality I hadn’t thought of just hit me on the head so hard.

I could lose my mother.

Not my mom. Not the woman who raised me… who made sacrifices just so my selfish, tantrum throwing self could be happy. The woman who showed me what it means to love another being unconditionally. The woman who bent over backwards more than once to make sure I was taken care of. No, my mom was going to be fine. She was going to get better and she would be home.

But, still, I cried. Because, what if I am wrong? What if she doesn’t get better? This could really be it. I couldn’t even believe my own justifications.

Until now, I had never even considered what I would do without my mother. She is the string that links me to my family. She is my phone call in the morning and another at night. She answers my questions about things I don’t understand – like cooking, how to get stains out of clothing, ways to hack almost any household situation. She has been my mom for 39 years. She can’t go anywhere. Not now!

From the end of the earth I call to You when my heart is faint; Lead me to the rock that is higher than I. – Psalm 61:2

I literally cried out to God. I begged him to leave her here and to heal her while at the same time knowing that my begging would not change his bigger plan – whatever that may be. I reminded him that she had all these things she planned to do, if she could just feel better. She was learning her way as an incredible, independent woman, since my dad’s passing. And I made sure to let him know that she was not ready to go anywhere.

Mom spent a couple of days in ICU. They pumped her full of antibiotics and diuretics and even drained fluid off her lungs. Before we knew it, she was breathing better. She is healing, albeit slowly. We began to see the light at the end of the tunnel. Exhalation could now come.

Heal me, LORD, and I will be healed; save me and I will be saved, for you are the one I praise.

– Jeremiah 17:14

I am sure it had nothing to do with my begging prayers and was all part of a more important masterpiece – but as beaten up as I felt through the whole ordeal, I know my mom was (and is) feeling like a warrior. As she should.

Sometimes we encounter these terrifying moments to make us step back and realize the intricacy of the world around us. What happens with one person can affect the lives of so many others. Even though she may not realize it, my mom has once again taught me lessons for life – who is important, what is important, just how vulnerable we humans are, and what it means to truly care for someone.

God is good. I love you, mom.

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