If you don’t know how much God loves you, read this!

 

The Renegade Bride

Homeless Angel by BanskyThis is not about that argument–beer. No, this is not an argument at all. I’m talking about God’s love.

I’m in pain, soul pain. I lift my head and see that we are finally letting loose the battle scars of self-sufficiency we have all had a turn holding. Now, we are bleeding as the infected stitches and the puss from our infections of debt, too much T.V., sex and sexy things and hurt kids that don’t look like kids at all has finally unraveled. Only, there is not a sterile hospital waiting for our arrival. No, we can’t afford a hospital.

I am—we are–outside in the wilderness, living with a leather strap as a tourniquet to keep our hearts from metaphorically bleeding to death; a place where creative survival is not enough. And why isn’t it enough? Because few of us know we are loved.

Like balm on a festered…

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Stumbling Upon a Fairy Tale

If you are just now joining us, please click here to start with Part 1, She has the Plague AND we’re Crossing the “Jordan River!?”

Friday morning, August 24, 2012, Sean dropped me off at the new house.  On our way to Aspen Springs a still small voice whispered, “”Your family needs you.”  I shook it off and said to myself, “Yeah, they need me to finish getting our house ready!”  I knew I was arguing with God and I wish I had listened…

I worked all day prepping the bathroom for painting the next morning.  That weekend we planned on putting in the laminate tile ourselves and the carpet was coming the following Wednesday.

I  huddled down for the night in our little camper Sean’s folks had given to us to use.  We had run out of money that month and the cell phone bill was one of the bills we skipped paying.  Sean had no way of contacting me.  I was just settling in to watch a movie when there came a knock on my camper door.  A sheriff announced his presence and informed me through the door that one of my daughters had been rushed to the ER and he was to transport me to the hospital.

When I arrived at the hospital, I entered the emergency room and found Sierra bright red, unconscious and covered in ice bags.  The nurse’s first words to me were, “She has a rectal temperature of 107 degrees.”  Oh God, her little brain, is all I could think as lectures from an undergraduate neuropsychology class slowly passed before my eyes.  I refocused and like a switch deep within me, I activated my faith and mixed it all up with a huge pile of denial.

It’s funny the things we tell ourselves in the middle of trauma.

I couldn’t believe this was anything but the flu until the doctor walked into the room with my husband.  Sean had witnessed the unthinkable.  He wept as he recounted the last few hours with Sierra and how he thought she was dead in his arms after having a seizure.  I had given Sierra a heating pad and wondered to myself if that wasn’t the cause of her high temperature.  Aren’t we good at blaming ourselves when one of our children becomes ill?  I hugged my two older daughters who sat in the waiting room watching TV.  I returned to an unresponsive Sierra.  More than anything, I just wanted to hear her little voice.  They had sedated her since she had a seizure.

Dr. Lewis was the ER doctor that night and as they worked to stabilize Sierra’s temperature, he worked to find us a hospital that could help.  One after another, we were refused.  Either the hospital didn’t have room, thought they didn’t have the facility or staff to support Sierra or thought our little hospital could handle it.  Sierra’s illness sounded like a simple fiberal seizure (a fever seizure) but her age along with the extraordinarily high fever became confounding variables and no one knew what to make of itone open door and closed doors

Dr. Lewis and his staff are the first moments of God’s hands moving– they are our first heroes on sight because he knew there was something very serious going on with Sierra.  It would be easy to get defensive or angry at those hospitals, but I don’t see it that way; I see a corridor of doors God shut with only one opened at the end.  God had a very specific group of people He knew Sierra needed. Saint Lukes, Rocky Mountain Children’s Hospital not only said yes, but they flew their flight for life team into our little airport in Pagosa Springs.  According to the ER staff, that is rare and most patients must drive to Durango, an hour away!  Every minute counted and God knew that.

A Modern Day Fairy Tale

Sierra and I arrived at the hospital under the cloak of night.  We were tucked away on the pediatric floor where a beautiful African woman named Elizabeth, greeted us.  She had the most beautiful accent and I felt a kindred spirit with this woman.  I curled up on the couch and Sierra and I slept for a few hours in the early morning light under Elizabeth’s watchful eye.

The day stretched and yawned and forced us awake as nurses and specialists began the daunting but necessary process of poking and prodding my daughter.  Dr. White entered the room, an intelligent beauty, and began with a series of tests and blood work and finished up with a spinal tap to rule out spinal meningitis.  That is one procedure I don’t mind never seeing done again!

Meanwhile, Sean, along with his parents and Sierra’s sisters were en route to Denver.  Since we were broke, my cell phone was off and we had no way to communicate, Sean had the foresight to bring our landline phone.  We turned our other cell phone into a landline and have a Verizon tower box that uses the cell phone towers.  This is so hillbilly and one of the many reasons why I love that man: he plugged that thing into the truck, brought the house phone and was able to call  every hour on his six-hour journey to Denver.  Miraculously, he had phone service the entire way.

Each time Sean or the girls called, Sierra would cry, “Where are you?  Why aren’t you here?  I need you.”   We all needed each other like never before.

After some more tests they introduced an antibiotic and Sierra crashed.  I had been helping her back and forth to the potty all day and this last time she crumpled up on the floor and her skin became bright red.  At the same moment, Sean and the girls arrived only to find Sierra in an even more critical state that before.  “What happened!?  Sean questioned, I thought she was getting better.”

Dr. White stood over Sierra, confounded at her reaction to the antibiotic.  I stood too.  That’s all I could do.  I didn’t pray, I didn’t cry, I didn’t know what else to do but stand in the knowledge that God was with us.

Stand firm, and you will win life.  Luke 21:19

The sun began to set and night began to play on the walls like Peter Pan shadows.  Then in walked the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU) doctor.  The two doctors stood over Sierra, Dr. White and Dr. Snow.  Incredulously I exclaimed, “Dr. Snow, really?”  Snow- White!?”  They looked surprised, never before putting together the Snow White symbology of their names.  The Snow White metaphor would mark a significant introduction to a series of love notes sent to us by God.  RachelWeiszSnowWhite1338

After that, Dr. Snow took over Sierra’s care and the reality that her life was hanging in the balance set in.  And I stood up. From the deep places of my chamber heart arose those familiar words once again.

Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”  Joshua 1:9

Sierra drifted between consciousness and unconsciousness as Sean and I held her little hands.  Doctors were introducing masks and gloves and robes into the environment as a precaution.  I silently refused to put on any gloves; I needed to feel her hand in mine.  Maybe I thought I deserved to get sick too, because I hadn’t been there.  The things we think….  I placed my lips close to her ear and sang our favorite song to her.  Her eyes faintly smiled and then she slipped into unconsciousness.

Angels dressed like nurses and ER technicians filled the room and began their work.  With nothing left for us to do, we returned to the pediatric floor.  By this time I had two hours of sleep in a 40 hour period.  My Dad, who lives near Denver, picked up Brianna and Tiarra while Sean’s parents found a room at the Ronald McDonald House.

Once everyone was gone, we held each other taking turns weeping in the room where Sierra and I had first arrived.

Our angel, Elizabeth, guarded our room as we found unsettled rest on a fold-out-couch.  At 3am Dr. Snow entered our room and explained that Sierra had severe septic shock.  She deduced that based upon Sierra’s symptoms and our account of earlier events that week that she might have contracted bubonic plague.

This time, we couldn’t get up and later that morning I initiated a call to arms and asked anyone I knew for prayer.

Without trying to sound cliché, this was our introduction to a  fairy tale with a real life threatening villain and a multitude of warriors fighting to save a princess– and who is the prince of this story you ask?Snow white and prince

Why it is He: the Famous One, the Glorious One– Jesus!

There is so much more to come… Next up, click HERE for Part 5:  Who Will Be My Brother?

My Buddy, Joshua

This is part 2 of the incredible miracle of how my daughter survived the bubonic plague and how our family became vessels for an infection of Love.  Please click this link to read part 1.

When friends would ask, What are you doing this summer?”  I would laughingly answer them with, “We’re crossing over to the other side and moving to Aspen Springs!”  Aspen Springs has a reputation for housing the rebels and rowdies of our community. I had no idea what I was saying until God started leading me slowly and intentionally through the book of Joshua.

Now then, you and all these people, get ready to cross the Jordan River into the land I am about to give to them—to the Israelites.  I will give you every place where you set your foot, as I promised Moses….  No one will be able to stand against you all the days of your life. As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will never leave you nor forsake you.  Be strong and courageous, because you will lead these people to inherit the land I swore to their ancestors to give them.  The Prophet Joshua 1: 2-6

Image

A reassigned desolate inheritance! Our new home with old Christmas lights and a rainbow to boot!

Why is that profound?  Because seven years ago we returned from a different kind of promised land.  We had moved to New England selling as much as we could live without following God to the east coast.  Our last toll booth was even called the “Canaan Toll.”  However, as it turns out, that was not our promised land and that is also an incredible story I will tell another time.  Now, however, at this moment God is all about restoring the land to His people; literal and spiritual.

Alone one night in the house, I called out to God and asked him to show me what He was doing.

 “Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the law my servant Moses gave you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, that you may be successful wherever you go.  Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful. Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”

Okay God, I remember thinking.  I am weak and tired and exhausted and poor and lonely, but I will be strong and courageous.  I would often stay overnight in our camper so I could get up early and work in the cool of the morning while Sean stayed with the girls at the other house.  Meanwhile, God continued to lead me through Joshua and every night that I soaked in the bible He would guide me back to these words

Be strong and very courageous!

I remember thinking to myself, Okay Lord, but this is just physical exhaustion!  I can do this!  We stripped walls, repaired holes, pulled out nails, loaded up a 28 footer trailer three different times with trash and heavy furniture that had been left by previous occupants.  I painted every single ceiling, primed one of the bathrooms (the master bathroom is still in its pre-livable state but the shower works!), repaired half eaten trim (pretty sure those were doggie bite marks), pulled out all of the toilets and the bathroom sink, the oven, the washer and dryer that were left behind and the list goes on. I was so tired.  In the midst of it all God gave me a scripture that I held onto for energy and courage.  I printed off those lively words and slapped them onto the fridge (the only movable appliance that remained in the house) where it still hangs today.

The fortress will be abandoned,

Sierra and I transplanting flowers and shrubs.

Sierra and I transplanting flowers and shrubs.

the noisy city deserted;
citadel and watchtower will become a wasteland forever,
the delight of donkeys, a pasture for flocks,
 till the Spirit is poured on us from on high,
and the desert becomes a fertile field,
and the fertile field seems like a forest.
 The Lord’s justice will dwell in the desert,
his righteousness live in the fertile field.
 The fruit of that righteousness will be peace;
its effect will be quietness and confidence forever.
 My people will live in peaceful dwelling places,
in secure homes,
in undisturbed places of rest.
 Though hail flattens the forest
and the city is leveled completely,
 how blessed you will be,
sowing your seed by every stream,
and letting your cattle and donkeys range free.

The Prophet Isaiah 32:14-20

I felt like Joshua and I were palls hanging out with each other from different dimensions in time.

This may be hard to believe, but the day after reading about the prostitute Rahab, (see Joshua 2, Rahab and the Spies)a woman,  labeled by neighbors as having similar talents as Rahab, rode her mustang onto the property.  She looked rough as she offered me her name and a drink from her whisky flask.  I declined as she introduced me to her mustang who she had rescued from a neglectful and abusive owner.

“I hope you will be my friend,” she said.   Those words awakened my conscience and deep inside of my spirit I understood that they weren’t really meant for me; they were meant for Christ.

Judgement.  I had plenty of it for that woman and with no room to judge if you knew my past!  When I sensed His heart for her I felt terrible about my judgement.  God reminded me that even the prostitute Rahab was given grace and the incredible honor of being part of the lineage of Christ.  I repented again.  Sadly, I haven’t seen her since.

Two months is all we had to get the house ready,

Brianna, Tiarra and Sierra saying hello to our neighbor's horses.

Brianna, Tiarra and Sierra saying hello to our neighbor’s horses.

and our time was about up!

My attention was definitely on my surroundings though, as God continued His object lessons for my benefit from the book of Joshua.  The next thing I knew, I was reading about the walls of Jericho and wondering what the heck God was trying to tell me.  I would find out, but not there; not in Pagosa.

Hang on!  It’s just gettin‘ good!  Click HERE to read Part 3, Of Lice, Skunks and Squirrels.