Tuesday, November 19, 2013


It's been said to me. It's most likely been said to you. It's engraved on key chains, wood plaques and bumper stickers.


I can barely type the words. It is a cliche' I have come to loathe. Here's why.

First of all, it is biblically inaccurate. Our Creator God, who lavishly loves His children, is not sitting on His throne with a magic pain-metered wand meting out heartache, illness and devastation.

The trite saying implies that God gives us just so much sorrow or cancer or financial ruin or emotional abuse and then He stops when we are surely struck down, but not quite destroyed.

What theological misspeak has been preached for generations that makes people think God originates pain? That, my friends, is Satan's MO. He has an army of terrorists prowling about like lions waiting to devour (1 Pet 5:8) God's kids, poised at all times to kill, steal and destroy (John 10:10).

Satan's MO. Not God's.

Does God allow hardship when He can prevent it? Yes. And I don't know God's mind so I don't know that WHY any better than you do. Sometimes I think he sees what Satan means for great evil, He will be able to turn to much good. Other times, I think God just lets our fallen, sinful world spin around itself, letting natural consequences land where they will.

OK, so what if the cliche' was reworded to: GOD DOESN'T ALLOW MORE THAN WE CAN HANDLE.

I still choke on it. Why? 

BECAUSE HE DOES allow more than we can handle sometimes. 

Can not all of you reading this proclaim that truth? That there have been moments so raw and so black that you thought you would never be able to crawl out of the darkness?

Ask the young widow with 3 children who watched her husband be incinerated in the Twin Towers. Ask my niece Rachel who saw the soft beating hearts of 4 unborn babies, none of which she got to hold. Ask the Filipino family this week, wandering in hunger and thirst having NOTHING left. No possessions, no home, no livelihood, no security, no community. Ask my aunt and uncle who buried their active vibrant son a mere 6 weeks after hearing a cancer diagnosis.

You ASK these people. Just ASK THEM. Was it more than you could handle? I can tell you what any of them would say: "Damn straight it was."

Can't all of us cite people (ourselves included) we know who have simply had too much to handle.....a plate handed to them overflowing with pain? I think we can.

And in that very dark place, I believe God knows that the ones who love Him will turn to Him to seek their sanity, their footing, their peace, and their comfort. They will trust Him to bring them back to a place where they CAN handle the pain. It is probably only in that knowledge....that He knows what He can do to rescue us....that God can stand by and watch what this shaken world and the master of it can dish out to His beloved followers.

If we never had more than we can handle, would we need God at all? If we never went over the edge into the abyss of heartache, would we ever really cherish God's provisions and healing?

The next time a typhoon of immeasurable devastation floods my life and somebody says to me, "You know God won't give you more than you can handle," I am armed with an answer quite different than my usual passive nods have been in the past. 

I will say, "You know what, my friend? That platitude holds only dead air. This grief IS more than I can handle. It is simply too much for me to bear right now, but God did not put ANY of this anguish on me. It is not His doing. And I have all the faith in the world that He will carry me to the place where I CAN someday handle it."

Seems about time that we Christians start having a voice about who our God is and who He is NOT. 

Monday, November 11, 2013


It has been a very difficult 2 weeks since the vitreous detachment in my good eye. Trying to adjust to the shadows and the blur and the "busyness" in my field of vision has taken me off my game. I am trying to learn a new normal, but the pleasure in reading or walking or driving or movies is quite limited. 

The specialist said nothing new. There is a surgery they can do which is 98% effective in helping reduce the floating vitreous, however, if you are in the 2% with a bad outcome, it would be far worse. Let's just say my odds for health have not been that great in the past 3 years. He wants me to see if my brain can do any accommodating to it first. It would be a tough decision, even at 98%. (Plus, most people who have it done need cataract surgery within 2 years)

On the heels of that, I had 8 days of bad stomach pain and pleurisy to deal with. Both of those things have cleared up for the most part, so I am left now with just trying to live this new life with limited clear vision. 

Sometimes I think that I have had my share, thank you very much, of attacks and problems, and I wish it would all just stop already. But I need to deal with what is.

I know God is my Healer and I have given Him yet another issue to heal, and to get glory from. I do not know His timing, but my faith is steadfast. Jesus was, after all, an eye healer. His specialty was blindness and eye disorders, so my faith is in the right person.

It is in the waiting on Him that I need strength and courage, and feel I have had little of both the past 2 weeks.

How I wished I had thanked the Lord every day of my life for my vision.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013


Continued from yesterday.....

I thought I had 36 hours of waiting. Sam, in his usual decisive way, shortened the wait.

My son was born with an opinion. I don't mean that he was willful or challenging. He was THE most compliant, sweet, loving, sensitive toddler and little boy I have ever known. He just always knew what he wanted and could express it well. If I asked him which lullaby tape to put on at bedtime, he immediately told me which out of about 25 he wanted. What kind of cookies should we bake together today? Which (of about 35) Thomas the Tank engines are you gonna put on the track today? Always an instant answer. He has always known what he desires, dislikes, and needs.

And he wanted to decide his own birth date.

He apparently felt that a Tuesday the 5th was more to his taste than a Wednesday the 6th.

At 3:00 AM on the morning of the 5th, my water broke and it quickly became the beginning of the end of waiting.

Back labor is something they don't teach you about. There are no stomach contractions to "breathe through." It is just constant back pain. I thought Dick's arms would fall off from all the pushing and massaging of my back that he did for all those hours. 

For a first baby, my labor was not long. At 11:21 that morning, our 5 lb 12.5 oz baby boy took his first breath and we stepped into parenting.

Nothing can prepare you.


There was no love we could equate with the love we felt for this tiny human. It was beyond any explanation anyone could have tried to impart to us. There were no words in the English language that could express the fierce, overpowering love we felt for this gift from God.

There still aren't.

Today at 11:21, Sam turns 22. He is still all that he was then----- sensitive, self-aware, loving-----and so much more. He is a young man of integrity and hard work. He loves the Lord. He is smart and funny and generous. 

Most importantly, 22 years later, the three of us are still woven into a family fabric that cannot fray.

We were only given one child. God gave us, on that cold and snowy election Tuesday, more than we could ever have asked.

Happy birthday, Sam! You bring us as much joy today as you did 22 years ago and every day in between.

We love you to the moon and back!!

Monday, November 4, 2013


Duluth was embalmed in snow. Like today, it was another Monday morning, November 4. 

22 years ago.

The 3 day "Blizzard of '91" had just dropped its last flakes of snow and the city was still paralyzed. 36 inches of snow, immense drifts everywhere.

I was grateful that I hadn't gone into labor over the weekend, as we would have needed a snowmobile to get me to the hospital.

My regular doctor's appointment was mid-morning on Monday and we knew that to get the car, Dick would need to shovel at least 4 feet of snow starting at our back door all the way to our garage which was probably 30 feet away. I was in no shape to help him. If we could just drive 50 feet downhill, we could be on a main drag and get to the clinic.

Yes, these are real pictures of that day!

We got to the clinic (my doctor was late because she had trouble navigating the streets) and I told her I didn't think I could take much more back labor. It had been a week since she took me off the Terbutaline to quell my pre-term contractions. After laying in bed for 6 weeks, I had been hopeful to have a quasi-normal period of time before the arrival of "Boomer." But I immediately started back labor and spent the week in great back pain, sleepless, delusional at night (the '91 World Series was fresh in my mind and I thought my pillow was Kirby Puckett.......wish we had THAT Twins team back.....I digress).

My doctor agreed that enough was enough and even though the baby would be almost 3 weeks early, she knew he was at least 5 pounds and she felt it was safe to induce. We set it all up for Wednesday, November 6. I was glad we would be able to get out to vote on Tuesday, the 5th, as the plows would have all the major arteries open. Our son was to be born on November 6!

We did not have a name for him, but we had his birth date. Nervous excitement blanketed us and as Dick left me at home and went to work, I was filled with wonder that the time was imminent and questions that all of a sudden surfaced:

What would my sweet boy look like?
Would I be a good mom?
Would Mom and Dad be able to make it into Duluth?
Would breast-feeding go OK? 
Would the nursery ever get done?

I had about 36 more hours of life as I knew it, but I had no idea that the life awaiting us after this baby boy would slide from my womb would be so amazing, so joyous.

I had no idea.

On that November 4th morning, I simply was anxious to have labor and delivery over and to see our son. 

The waiting began.