Questing

So I wrote this in May of 2012, over 2 years ago, and never got back to publish it.  I think I just got to a point in my life where I was just plain tired of thinking about things, much less writing about them.  It’s still relevant, and since I can’t sleep tonight, and life hasn’t changed much, in terms of lots of stuff going on, I’ll just start here and continue on…

This spring has been really hard.  Lots of things going on in my life, but I have to say that after this non-winter that we had, I knew that bug season was going to be tough.  Living out here in the woods, I know that come mid-May, the black flies will be biting, and the mosquitoes will follow.  And then there are the ticks.  I have barely ever paid any attention to ticks.  Hadn’t seen one- ever.  And in recent years they’ve become a source of major illness.  I’ve plucked 2 off my cat.

Recently I decided to read up on the little critters, kind of a “know your enemy” thing to see if my fears were realistic.  I don’t like to put poisons on myself or my children.  I’d rather not with Big Cat, but he’s the one who’s out in the grass and roaming the woods.  And he likes to sleep on my feet.  So I imagine ticks crawling off him and onto me.  It disturbs my sleep.  I tell myself just to kick him off.  I pray to God to protect me from ticks.  So far so good.

Ticks have 3 stages, and they only eat once in each stage.  A tick may latch on for hours, and the longer they’re on, the better the chance of transmitting disease.  Just a couple of random facts that I remembered.  What stuck with me most is their method of finding a victim meal.  We know they like to hang out in tall grass, and what they do is hang onto the grass with their hind legs and reach out with the front ones, waiting to grab onto the next warm body that comes their way.  This is called questing.  Seriously.  Questing seems like a pretty high-minded word to describe the act of waiting for food, especially when we’re talking about an insect.

Think about it for a second.  Tons of ticks, hanging off blades of grass waiting for a warm-blooded creature to roam by so they can end their quest for a meal by latching onto said animal (or human).  How many wait in vain?  Are there that many creatures running around in the grass that they can sustain a population of ticks?  Do these quests for food ever end in failure, with the tick shriveling up and dying?  (I wish…)

So I’ve been careful this season as I’ve worked at raking and gardening.  The most frustrating thing about ticks is the fact that you can’t feel them when they bite, and you can’t hear them coming, kind of the high blood pressure of the insect world, no warning signs.  And potentially very bad for your health.  So give me a whining mosquito any day, or the pinch of a black fly.  At least I know it’s there.  It really bothers me that these stealth-ticks can bite me and hang out for hours, sucking my blood, and I may never know it.  Totally creeps me out.  Lord, protect me from ticks!

And now, it’s July 2014.  Two weeks ago I found out that I have a real stealth-threat to my health.  I thought I had appendicitis, but a CT scan on the ER revealed an ovarian vein thrombosis- a blood clot in the vein leading from my right ovary.  Had I waited a few hours I probably wouldn’t have gone to the ER, as the pain subsided before I actually even saw a doctor.  Four days later I left the hospital with A pile of prescriptions for high blood pressure and blood thinners, including one that I had to inject into my belly twice a day.  Thankfully I am done with that one!

Any one who knows me well knows that I have a more holistic outlook on the subject of health.  I try to eat well, organic when possible, and I avoid using things on my skin that contain questionable ingredients.  In other words, if I can’t eat it, it doesn’t go on my skin.  I use organic shampoo, and lots of coconut oil, for brushing my teeth, deodorant, cleansing my face, and moisturizing my skin.  My hope is to help my immune system do what it’s supposed to do to keep me healthy.

Ovarian vein thrombosis is extremely rare, usually occurring within 6 weeks postpartum.  I am 15 years postpartum, and it’s pretty much unheard of at my age.  They don’t know how, or why it occurred.  And apparently they treat it with blood thinners and hope that the body will reabsorb it.  What they hope doesn’t happen is that a piece of it could break off and travel- become an embolus- which is highly dangerous, as a traveling embolus just keeps on going until it reaches a too small place where it lodges, and prevents blood flow to the heart, lung, or brain.  Bad stuff.

I saw on an ultrasound where the blood flow from my right ovary is severely diminished, compared to the swish swish and high peaks on the visual as she scanned the left side.  I go on each day, back to work, doing what I normally do every day, except that I’m seeing doctors at an alarming rate these days, and getting my Coumadin levels checked every few days.  Only God knows the future of that blood clot, and of my health.  My soul is a yawning pit wide open with no words, no expression of prayer, only trust.  What can one say to the Lord whose care and control over the situation are keeping me from fear and near panic?  I can continue on only because I know beyond doubt that He is in control, and whatever happens is completely within His will for my life.  I can say with Job, “Though He slay me, yet I will trust in Him.”  I don’t want to leave this life, although I am so wearied with all that is wrong with the world that some days I long for Heaven.  But I can’t help but feel that God isn’t finished with me yet, that His purposes for my life haven’t yet been fulfilled…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Awakening from the Nightmare

That foggy, disoriented, slightly unsettled feeling that you have when you awaken from a bad dream- that’s what I have lived for months.  When it really is a bad dream, you reason your way out of the fear in the pit of your stomach, and go on.  Back to sleep, get up for the day.  But when there is so much unknown, so much out-of-control, I don’t-know-what-to-do-next stuff going on, the nightmare continues.

The fog is lifting, however, and the fear is being replaced with a sense of confidence in God’s care.  Almost 2 weeks ago we saw a specialist in Child Development at Dartmouth, at the request of the school, so that they could better find placement for her.  Continuing there is out of the question, as her behavior has escalated to actually shoving teachers.  So we went, and were told that her epilepsy med, Keppra, is often referred to as “Kepp-rage”.  You get the picture.  She said that she would ask the epilepsy specialist (whom we saw in September) about changing to another.  (And he had wanted then to raise her dose because she is on a tiny dose- 500mg!  I refused, because it was working…)  She would call me that afternoon with the information.  This is critically important:  she didn’t call.  The next morning she called and he hadn’t looked at it yet, but she’d call that afternoon. Didn’t.  God intervened.  Friday night I had time to do some research.  I checked out epilepsy.com- THEIR site.  I read about seizures…and meds…and side effects…and the forums…where people wrote about their side effects…and made a decision that I would not subject my daughter to more and worse side effects. My go-to holistic site is earthclinic.com, so I hurried on over there.  I guess my feeling about epilepsy is that it’s one of those weird out-there kinds of disorders that you just don’t mess with.  Wrong.  Like everything else in our bodies, there are nutritional causes and effects.  There are some kinds of seizures that are more severe, that are harder to control, and I don’t claim to know all about it, but I am of the mind that we need to first do no harm- get the nutrition in order!  What I learned on earthclinic.com is that magnesium, in the form of epsom salts, can control seizures.  Coconut oil is also healthy for the brain, and has been shown to help in many brain-related disorders- like Alzheimers.  I also learned that MSG, in all its many forms, is an excitotoxin, meaning that it can cause seizures.  Kate is already gluten fee, and casein (milk protein) free, and MSG has been pretty much banned in our home for many years.  What I didn’t know is that food manufacturers have given it many names…many, many names to disguise it and deceive us.

Long story short:  I weaned Kate from the Keppra beginning that Friday night and started with the magnesium, and added fish oil for omega 3’s, Vitamin D, lecithin, and l-carnitine, an amino acid.  The following Thursday I was called to the school for an incident, and when I got there she was crying.  I had not seen her cry in a long time.  We all went into the vice-principal’s office to talk.  He said to Kate that he had never seen her like this- she was always so hard and angry.  I told him that he had never seen her when she wasn’t on Keppra.  That Friday, I gave her a final 1/4 dose of Keppra.  On Sunday afternoon she had a seizure.  I upped the magnesium.  Today is Wednesday- so far so good.

I also learned about neurotherapy last weekend.  Spent hours on Saturday on the internet.  Thank You, God, for the internet!  I e-mailed a neurotherapist in the area, and he called me on Monday.  On Tuesday, yesterday, she had her first session.  He said we should see results within 6 sessions.  In the meantime, my contrary Kate is back.  I’ll take contrary over raging any day!  And I hope and pray that this neurotherapy will help, not only with seizures, but also with the ADD.  The medical alternative is medications with severe physical and mental side effects.  Dartmouth finally called a week after her appointment.  I didn’t tell her what I was doing.  She said they wanted to switch her to Topamax.  It revs up the metabolism so that weight loss is a side effect, but it also causes memory loss, which she described as “annoying”.  She also said she wasn’t sure how that would affect her, given that she is so far behind already.  After she was stabilized on the Topamax, they would add an ADD med to help with her concentration.  Well, you can see where this is going..and where we are NOT going!

So the fog is lifting- for both of us.  The niggling fear is gone, replaced instead with renewed confidence and faith in God’s timing, His loving care for us, and ultimate control over the situation.  Good stuff!

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I am thankful for…

This post has been writing itself in my head for the last 24 hours or so, including all through the night!  It’s been awhile since I posted, September- the last 3 months have been tough.  Katie hasn’t transitioned to high school well, I got a really fun but time-intensive job doing costuming for a production of the Nutcracker, and of course, it was the holiday season.  I just keep on going, but at the same time I wonder about quality of life.  I wonder if I’m really connected to my soul.  I do what I have to, and my brain just tags foggily along.

This is distressing  to me, to feel like I’m not really emotionally connected to my life, but I think it’s a protective thing.  I might cry, endlessly, if I were to allow myself to feel.  I might die of embarrassment at my child’s mortifying behavior in school.  I would beat myself up for failing at life.  And sometimes I’m on the brink, but for God.

Somewhere in the depths of my being I know that God, and God alone, is holding me up.  I know that there is nothing that crosses my path that He hasn’t allowed, that He isn’t overseeing right at this moment and every moment, and that He won’t use for my ultimate good.  The problem is, I’m not satisfied simply with that knowledge.  I want to feel it, to know it on an intimate level, so that God supersedes all the  distressing feelings and I can go straight to peace-

Enter One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voscamp.  And her blog, aholyexperience.com.  Ann sought answers in the midst of pain and disconnectedness, and God showed her how to find joy in giving thanks.  She began to keep a list of gifts that she is thankful for, and out of that came the book.  Slowly, I have begun to think in thanksgiving.

Yesterday morning I went out to clear the snow from my car.  I decided to clear Sophie’s as well.  Now I have to admit that over the years Bob and I have done the majority of the snow removal work, including the kid’s cars.  I have a tendency to feel like they ought to be doing their own, especially since we receive no gratitude from them.  But yesterday I decided to clear her car as a gift, as an act of service, with no disgruntled attitude.  And as I began to brush the snow, I heard a phoebe call!  I didn’t know that they stuck around for winter.  If you’ve never heard a phoebe, it has a distinctive up/down whistle sound, which I can imitate.  They will call back, and I’ve spent many wonderful moments calling to phoebes and delighting as they answered.  Or maybe it’s the other way around?  Anyway- never in winter.  So I cleared her car, while cheerfully whistling with the phoebe!

So I made a mental note of the gift of the phoebe, since I haven’t actually started a list.  And a thought of a few more, which I can’t recall (mental lists don’t really work for me….)  And this post started wending its way through my head whenever I wasn’t occupied with whatever I had to do at any given moment.

So the journey continues:  taking what I know to be true about God, and combining that with the habit of giving thanks in all circumstances.  I have said that I am thankful, and prayed many times, thanks to God for Kate and her life, and I mean it because I know it’s the right thing to do.  But I want to feel it, to experience it as Truth, as peace, and as joy.

But on days when I am facing an unknown future, the uncertainty is unsettling.  Kate’s future is in the hands of the Superintendant.  Her behavior has earned her 10 days of out of school suspension.  She can’t stay at Gilford under these circumstances.  I can’t control what happens next.  In my flesh the fear is searing, unbearable, and I bury it deep under the facade of the knowledge of God’s care for her.  But it isn’t enough to simply know that the Word promises me this.  I need to know it in peace, to be comforted to the core with the knowledge, rather than pushing down the niggling fear that threatens to overcome me.   So I shall begin a list…

 

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Vacation…

It’s September- I have been waiting and longing for this week (18th through the 22nd) for months.  Bob and I have come to Ogunquit for a few days of R&R, with many thanks to our oldest daughter for this time in her timeshare!  One of my goals this week was to write, so here I am Wednesday morning, finally…

Parents never quite escape from their children: it’s a fact of life, I guess.  Not that I want to completely, but just a few days of not having to think about all the things that are a constant in my life would be nice.  My brain needs to relax, too!  Katie is staying with our friends, who love her and who are going above and beyond to give us this time.  I tried really hard to make sure I didn’t forget anything- but I did forget one critical bit of information:  to tell my friend about Katie’s seizure medication.  That’s new this summer, and I just don’t want to get into it all right now.  When I realized at 6pm Sunday evening, when my phone alarm went off, that I’d forgotten to tell her about it, I called- and had to leave a message.  Then I forgot to call later to make sure she received it.  She found it in Kate’s lunch bag the next morning, although Kate told her she didn’t know what it was for!?  She knows.  So it’s almost 7am, and Kate is trying to swallow the pill, but it didn’t go down.  Then she goes into a seizure.  Bumps her chin on the counter, and falls back into the wall, leaving a basketball-sized hole in the wall.  Once the seizure is over, I get the call, and now I have a really good reason to beat myself up and ruin the rest of my vacation.  But I have the best friend in the world, a true follower of  Christ, who assures me that it’s all okay, even the hole in the wall, and even though I feel terrible about my mistake, she doesn’t even need to forgive me, for she doesn’t hold it against me.  It was just a mistake.

So enough about the stressful stuff!  I want to write about the ocean!  I love coming to the ocean.  I don’t love sitting in the hot sun with hordes of sun-seekers.  I love the September ocean, when the summertime tourists have gone, the air is cooler, and I can breathe.  Monday we walked the Marginal Way, warm from walking, cooled by the breeze.  “Why is it that people are drawn to the sea?” Bob asks.  Why is it that we just sit and watch it, the waves endlessly coming in, and then draining back to the ocean, only to meet another swell coming in.  We speculate a bit- maybe because our bodies are 70% water…maybe because our ancestors crawled up out of the sea, Bob jokes.  And then evolved into apes.  We wonder how anyone can begin to believe that.

Later, we take our lunch and a couple of chairs, and our books to Wells Beach.  The tide is coming in, and the waves are pretty high.  We find a spot to plant our chairs, and bring out lunch.  We soon notice that all of the sea gulls within sight are facing us, politely waiting.  Directly in front of us is a really large gray one, beady eye unblinking, watching and waiting.  After awhile some lose interest, maybe because they know it’s the big guy in front who stands the best chance.  Watching them, we put words to their actions.  Isn’t it funny how we humans tend to do that, give human qualities to other creatures? (I know there’s a word for that, but I can’t think of it off the top of my head.)  The ones who tuck their heads back as they run along reminded me of stodgy old men in tails.  And the large gray one- he gave some rather harsh warnings to others, loud, open-beaked, body stretched long squawks that sent the others in a wide path around him.

Amongst the large gulls who stood waiting, ran a tiny little bird with a long beak, pecking at the wet sand.  I suspected he was eating tiny insects that we couldn’t see.  He looked so alone, all by himself, a dwarf in the midst of the gulls.  But I had a strong sense of his Heavenly Father, who was providing for him.  He just went busily about, making me laugh and marvel at the speed at which those tiny legs could take him, weaving in and out amid the gulls.

In a moment, they all scattered- and a large dog appeared, a yellow lab whose owners held securely on a leash.  He was obviously excited, but that leash held him, and they had a kind of harness that went over his nose and the back of his head.  My guess is that it would keep him from straining against his collar and choking himself.  They tried throwing a ball for him, but leashed, he couldn’t chase it well.  Inside I was saying, take the leash off, I want to watch him run!  They did, and he leaped for joy, so excited to be free.  They tossed the ball, repeatedly, and he ran for it, bringing it back,  dropping it at their feet.  The first time he actually had to go into a couple of inches of the surf to get it, he kind of leaped, trying to escape the water, like it was a surprise.  They did say that it was his first time at the beach.  He ran to us for a quick greeting, for which his owner apologized, and to others, and she kept apologizing, but none of us were unhappy with him.  It was fun to see his joy at just being who he was, and where he was.

Oh, that we might experience the same confidence in our Creator that the animals display:  assurance of provision, and joy in who He has created us to be.  Lord God, Father, thank you for Your joy and your provision.

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Catching up…

Have you ever had one of those nights when you felt like you were only half- sleeping?  Not quite conscious, but aware of the turmoil going on in your brain?  Last night was one of those nights.

In the past few weeks I’ve been through Kate’s IEP meeting, gotten a few details about her summer program, and witnessed her 8th grade graduation.  For the uninitiated, IEP stands for Individualized Education Program, and the meeting is where the Special Education  Team hammers out the plan for how she will be educated, including the modifications necessary to help her get through the school day.  The summer program is part of that; one of its main focuses is to transition the students into 9th grade by familiarizing them with the school building, the staff, and with each other , the other SPED students.  Life Skills are also taught and emphasized, through job shadowing, meal planning, preparation, and serving, gardening, community service activities, all with the goal of social skill building, conflict resolution, and job readiness skills.  Fridays they will have picnics and swimming lessons (Kate swims like a fish!), and field trips are planned to Boston, the ocean, and the White Mountains, as well as a canoe trip.  All in 6 weeks!  I am so happy that she will be actively engaged for most of the summer…unscheduled time is really hard for her.  She will also continue her Integrative Manual Therapy at Summit twice a week.

The conflict that exists for me, that is the crux of the turmoil in my brain, is that all of this points to permanence: there is no end to her issues, no brain change, no normalcy.  Writing those words is agonizing.  I’m not sure that I’m ready to face that, not sure I can give up so readily.    Knowing what I know about brain plasticity, about functional disconnection syndrome, about kids whose disabilities were lessened or even disappeared through brain growth, I can’t help but feel that I am missing something here.  I am being dragged kicking and screaming, so to speak, into the mainstream, where it is what it is.  The medical and educational systems do what they know to do for these kids, but I’m just not there.

Sometime this past week the thought came to my mind, a Holy Spirit inspired thought, I believe:  God will get the glory in this situation.  And that’s what I want.  I can only go from there, and look for the path He provides.  I can speculate on how He will lead, but I think that defeats the intent.  It is necessary for me to learn to walk without a plan, without my own desires and needs in front of me.  I need to learn to walk with my ear inclined to the Lord, and He will guide, whispering in my ear, turn this way, now go here, and here…

And finally, Kate’s 8th grade graduation.  She got a diploma.  Barely.  Eighth grade graduation happens because our little school only goes to 8th grade.  It’s a pretty big deal, with caps and gowns, awards, and girls dressed in the latest formal dresses, tottering about on grown up high heels.  It was so very hard to watch- the majority of the girls, fitting into the mold perfectly, thin, poised, beautiful hair and makeup- “normal-looking”.  Kate insisted she wasn’t dressing up, but I insisted that she would at least get some decent-looking sandals, so, 2 days before, we went shopping.  Kate has little patience for shopping, unless she’s looking at CDs, or posters.  But she announced that she wanted a dress.  Buying shoes at all is really hard- her feet are short, but very wide.  Most sandals, her feet spill over the sides.  We had gone to the outlet mall- bingo!  Lane Bryant and Dress Barn!  Flat, dressy sandals on sale for $12.50, dress on 75% clearance for $18.00.  Done in about an hour!  Thank you, Lord!  She was cheerful and happy throughout graduation, got lots of compliments on her dress.  Now I get to look forward to high school…

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New steps

The week after February break- kids are back at school, Driver’s Ed begins, the school schedule begins again.  At least we have a break from the sports schedule for a while- not sure when track begins…

But- I have decided to begin a new schedule for Kate and myself.  Since she’s usually up at about 4 (I think…) I have decided that I need to be in control of what she’s doing in those hours.  Rather than eat, and watch TV, or bounce on her ball and listen to music, I will have her do any or all of the following:  homework, a mile on the treadmill, brain balance exercises, and shower.  This morning she didn’t get up until 4:30, but I was already up.  I forgot to set my alarm, so I’m pretty sure the Lord woke me at 3:55, and I got right up so I wouldn’t fall back to sleep!  She was surprised to see me, so I told her that I was up so I could tell her what to do.  She didn’t say much, seemed a bit confused, so I told her that she needed to take a shower before Sophie got up at 5.  She said she didn’t need one, but I told her she did, so in about 10 minutes she finally got herself together and got in.  -And got out on time!

Okaayyy…not as easy as it sounds…  I told her I wanted her to go on the treadmill, and suddenly her homework is more important!  So where do I go from here?  Let her do the homework, or insist that she do what I asked her to do?  Insisting at 5:30 am may not be the better choice, given her propensity to protest loudly.  So I guess I’ll let her do the homework, and I’ll have to be right on top of her and make sure she’s actually working.  Then later she can do the treadmill- we have until 7:45 before the bus comes.   She will also have to  finish dressing, i.e. shoes and socks, clean shirt, brush hair and teeth,  make her lunch, and gather up her homework.  That’s 2 hours and 15 minutes.  It seems like a long time, but to someone who has no concept of passing time, and who can spend so much time doing absolutely nothing and think she’s busy, it will fly by.  So- I’m off to supervise…

Three months later…no, I’m not getting up at 4 am.  I decided that was a total waste of time, since she did more complaining and arguing about whatever I asked her to do than it was worth.  Several hours of that every morning is enough- I don’t need to add a couple of more to it!  These past few months have been a roller coaster ride-(and I don’t like roller coasters) emotionally.  Good reports from school, then an incident that lands her in ISS or detention.  I get encouraged when we have a few days without a call from the school, and someone says “Katie had a really great day today.” or “Katie worked really hard and got all of her work done.”  Then I get really discouraged by some bizarre behavior.  I won’t elaborate, to protect her privacy, but it does seem that the worst behavior follows some of the best.  It’s almost as if she’s refuting the evidence of the successes she does have by behaving in some completely weird way.  Her last “stunt” landed us in the ER waiting for 6 hours for a psychological evaluation.  I’m not kidding- we were there from 11 am to 5 pm.  I was really angry at the time I was losing at work, at the expense of missed time and gas to go from work to school and and back to the hospital and finally home.  I was angry about the fact that I had to sit for 6 hours in a little exam room with absolutely nothing to do except look at the one who made it happen, and the clock.  I decided that, in light of what I perceived as her desire for attention, I wasn’t going to let this experience be even remotely pleasant for her.  They took blood; I was happy that they would stick her.  A couple of weeks before she’d had a blood test done and it took 5 tries to get a vein.  This time she got it on the first try.  Darn.  The nurse offered food, which she politely refused.  Later, she wanted to get something in the cafeteria.  I told her that she had a perfectly good lunch sitting in her locker at school where she should be.  Eating in the caf would definitely be a pleasant memory for her.  So we did a talk a bit about the consequences of her behavior, and what some of the scenarios could be as a result of what she did.  She was considerably more sober leaving than when she went in.

Today is Wednesday- so far no calls from anyone at school!  There’s something wrong when you look at your caller ID and dread answering a call from the school.  Two more days this week…

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An Allegorical Fairy Tale

Once upon a time, a young couple had a baby girl, their first child.  (All the good stories begin with once upon a time, don’t they?)  They were pretty good parents, pretty much did what they knew to do, or what seemed right to them, in a world where nothing ever was perfect anyway.  Before too many years had passed, the little girl had 4 brothers, and they lived in a rather hectic household with very little order to it.  There were neighborhood children, a big yard and the woods to play in.  Dolls, painting, sewing, playing in the woods, reading, all the usual accoutrements of childhood filled her days.  She liked doing things by herself, and in order to escape the hubbub of 4 little brothers, not to mention their destructive tendencies, she began to build a fortress that would keep them out.  Now of course, it wasn’t a stone and mortar fortress in the backyard, but a place within herself where she could retreat when the outside world was pushing in too much.  She didn’t know exactly how it happened, and most people didn’t know it existed, but she had constructed a magnificent edifice that kept out everything that made her the least bit uncomfortable.  On the outside she just looked like a rather shy child, always smiling, never letting on that deep inside she was terrified.  And she didn’t even know that she was terrified, because not only had she protected herself from the outside with her imaginary fortress, she had also not allowed herself to feel any pain or unpleasantness.  So she grew up thinking that everything was normal and fine, except that whenever she was the center of attention, she turned bright red and felt as if she would just faint dead away.  Which, of course, made her avoid the spotlight as much as was humanly possible.  In her imaginary world, she dreamed of doing wonderful, amazing things in her life.  The possibilities, the giftedness, the desires were there, but when she ventured out to pursue the avenues of her dreams, she found that she had forgotten to build a door into her fortress!  Alas, it was sturdy and tall and she could see out the windows, but there was no way out.  Try as she might, she was chasing her dreams around and around in her prison, with no way to make them come true.

Unable to break free of the fortress, she resigned herself to living within its constraints.  It’s not that she never did anything of value, since she got married, and had children, but everything was kind of lackluster, like the lamp that needed to be shined before it could reveal its genie.  Or Cinderella, who needed the magic touch of a fairy godmother, and Sleeping Beauty, who needed the kiss of a prince to make her come alive.  Hansel and Gretel had to overcome the witch who planned to eat them by shutting her up into her own oven.  Like all characters that live in a fairy tale, who were in some sort of captivity, she needed to be rescued somehow, needed to be released from her prison.

Often the road to rescue was fraught with dangers and difficulties.  Dragons, witches, and all manner of magical and mythical hindrances dog the footsteps of fairy tale heroes and heroines.  And here’s where our story takes a different turn.    Fairy tales end with and they all lived happily ever after. The heroine is released from captivity, and her life becomes all that she imagined and hoped it would be.  Our heroine‘s release from captivity began with a touch from a real prince, the Prince of Peace, Jesus Christ.  But her story didn’t end there; in fact, the adventure was just beginning.

When Jesus touched her heart, and showed her that He was indeed true, and the real God, He transformed her heart of stone into a warm and living heart.  She saw, for the first time, the reality of the fortress within which she dwelt.  She saw it for the confining imprisonment that it was, keeping her from living the life she was born to live.  She imagined tearing it down, stone upon stone, thrown down, a pathway out of captivity and into a new life of freedom.  Soon the cares of life took over, blocking her view of the walls and the idea of freedom was forgotten, crowded out by the ordinary and mundane everydayness of life.

Occasionally she would catch a glimpse of the vision again, and begin again to tear down the walls.  The stones that were fear and faithlessness tumbled out of place, mortar crumbling into craggy piles at the base of the fortress.  However, it was an arduous process, hampered by the stuff of life, and true freedom eluded her.

The Prince, and His Father, the King, beckoned to her from the distance, but she faltered, and fell off the path.  Lost, she stumbled along, searching for the path again, struggling to find her way.   It seemed to her that it shouldn’t be this difficult to reach the Prince.   She longed to regain the warmth in her heart that she experienced at his first touch.  She longed to be free of the fortress that imprisoned her; the same fortress that once provided protection now held her captive.  In the distance she felt the promise of freedom and fulfillment in the company of the King, but the past held her tight, like a mythical tree with strong, sinewy branches, gripping tightly.

On she trudged, day after day, looking for Him.  It was as if she were traveling in circles, sometimes near, sometimes far.  When near, she could hear the roar of a waterfall, sometimes see it in the distance.  She knew that He must be on the other side, in a wondrous cavern, waiting for her to plunge through.  Once she was close enough to feel the cold spray from the cascading water, and the roaring desire in her heart to find Him drew her closer, peering longingly, hoping for a glimpse of the joy she knew awaited her.

Distracted, she stepped back, and the roar in her heart and the thundering water became a distant sound, replaced by the voices in her head and the routines of the days.  She took her focus off the wondrous waterfall, and fixated instead on the stony path beneath her feet, and the brambles tugging at her sleeves.  She found herself again plodding around inside her fortress, the waterfall a dim lament in the distance.  Sometimes she would lift her face heavenward, and recall the King and His Son beckoning to her, and she longed to find that waterfall and plunge through it into their waiting arms.

Venturing outside of the fortress yet again, feeling the familiar desperation and longing, she determined that this time she would find them.  She began to call out to them.  “My King, My King!  Where are You?  I have lost my way, and I need You to help me find You!”  Immediately, she heard the descending waters, and scrambled through a green pasture to the rocky cliff opposite the cascading waters.  Behind the water, endlessly falling from above, she saw their faces, shining, and arms outstretched, so close!  Suddenly she felt a surge of strength, and without a moment’s hesitation, leaped across the chasm, through the waterfall and into the welcoming arms of the King and His Son.  Joy as she had never known gripped her heart, and she realized that the fortress was gone, obliterated by the power of the King.  The prison that she had struggled so hard to escape was gone, banished in an instant, and she stood whole and cleansed, strong, loved, and full of dreams again.  And she lived joyfully ever after.

My sisters, beloved of God, this is what our Heavenly Father desires for us.  He wants us to come to Him to be cleansed of our unrighteousness, to be loved with an everlasting love, and to be free to be the women He created us to be.  Freedom comes without price, but the road before and beyond may be fraught with difficulty and pain.   His Word will lead us through, will light our path, and keep our feet from stumbling.  In His power He will sustain us as we seek Him, and seek to glorify Him in all that we do.

Commit your way to the Lord, trust in  Him and He will do this:  He will make your righteousness shine like the dawn; the justice of your cause like the noonday sun.”  (Ps. 37:5-6)

Commit (not a dictionary definition) – give oneself wholeheartedly, without reservation, without looking back

Trust (again, not the dictionary)- unswerving belief that God will never fail to do what He has promised.

Commit- and trust- and He will do this:  He will make your righteousness (which we have through Christ) shine like the dawn.  Close your eyes and imagine with me the dawn… those first rays of light as the sky is becoming visible again.  You begin to make out distant hills, and tree branches emerge out of the darkness.  For a brief time there is a rosy pink glow bathing everything, and before you know it, it’s daylight.  The darkness is gone!

“…and the justice of your cause [will shine] like the noonday sun.”  There’s no denying the sun at noon- it’s bright and relentless.  Our cause, our righteousness in Christ, will shine through undeniably when we are truly His.

For my regular readers, this is a departure from my usual posts.  This was written as  an entry for a scholarship to the Proverbs 31 She Speaks Conference, which is a conference for women who wish to improve their speaking, writing and leadership skills,  so that they may be used of God to connect women’s hearts to the heart of their God.  Information about She Speaks may be found here:  http://shespeaksconference.com/.  This particular scholarship is being offered on Ann Voscamp’s website, at this link:  http://www.aholyexperience.com/2011/03/how-christians-create-art-she-speaks-scholarship/

I am sorry to say that I have never read any of Ann’s work before, but I am so glad that I have found her.  I am in awe of her writing ability and her profound and uninhibited love for the Lord.  Please click through to her website- you will be in for a treat!

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