And To My Listening Ear

What a week! We have enjoyed some time at our lake home. I hesitate to call it “vacation,” since we are still actively online and phones and extra travel, but we are vacationing from the scheduled soccer and school. God’s artistry in sunrises, sunsets and everything else seems so beautiful when reflected on water.

photo

Reflections on water can lead to reflections on life.

I love “early morning fishing” with my kids. I select one (or sometimes two) of my children, put them in a canoe with a trolling motor, some poles and lures, and we head out to watch the sunrise, while we entice the unseen creatures below.

Why early?

At 5:30am, the lake is serene – no boat wakes or phones with which to contend, no schedules to compete for my kids’ time, just peace outside of two voices – theirs and mine. Oh yeah, and some say the fish bite more at dawn.

Why Photos?

The entire family doesn’t fit into our 3-seated vessel, so we share our victories via camera.  Sometimes, on a day without bites, it is fun to go through the photos, to remember the big ones will come!

photo

IMG_3951photophoto photoIMG_3954

But it’s not about the fish.

Mom, it doesn’t matter if we catch any fish today,” my 8-year-old serenely said as the trolling motor left a silent “V” sketched in the placid lake behind us. “It is just nice being with you.

It is a time of reflection – of the new sun off the mirror of water, and of my kids’ thoughts of this turning world. They ask questions in those peaceful hours that maybe get lost in our ninety-miles-per-hour  days.

“Do you think I am not catching fish today because I sin too much?”

Pensive.

“Is it ever ok to get angry, because… didn’t Jesus get angry?”

Fighting strong, but wanting answers with a friend along at 5:45am!

My kids’ discussion questions roll out with the line behind the boat.  I just want to make sure they know that I am here; I have a listening ear; I am ready with open arms when the storms send unsettling waves. If they don’t know that when they’re 8, they won’t know to look for it when they’re 18.

I LOVE our early times together.  I couldn’t help but see the parallel to morning quiet times with God.

Quiet Time with God

Why early?

Before the sun, the world is serene – no waves or phones with which to contend, no schedules to compete with the time (except for the pillow – the evil contender!)

Pen & Paper

Why Notebook?

Like a photo to share with family, a notebook records my wrestling moments, my tearful prayer requests, and the gut-wrenching thoughts that once prevented my sleep.  The answers received through these early morning times with Him are revealed when I read the journal years later. It encourages me: today’s resolution will come in His timing, too.

But it’s not about the ritual; it’s about the relationship.

It is a time when I can tell Him, “It is ok if I don’t catch anything today, I just enjoy being with You.”

Test Shot with My ESV Journaling Bible..

In His Word I am reminded that He is here. He has a listening ear; He is ready with open arms when the storms send unsettling waves – which sometimes are the lure that got me there in the first place.

“Don’t let your child be the ‘one that got away’,” is the advertisement line from Zebco fishing equipment. Maybe someone at that company had some good fishing conversations with his kids, too.

Girlfriend, don’t be the one who got away from God.  As Rick Warren says,

“If you feel far from God right now, guess who moved.”

Tomorrow: tell the pillow to have a good day without you.  Grab a pen, a notebook and a Bible, and enjoy a relationship with Him. Read, pray, speak and listen.

“Failure in my life almost always begins with a famine of God’s Word and prayer.” – Anne Graham Lotz

“It’s better to be sleep deprived than God deprived.” – Jill Briscoe

Eternally His,
Terri

Related Posts

The Stranger’s Sketch

“The stranger’s sketch was a little more like, …gentle,” she said, fidgeting her fingers, as she looked at someone’s sketch of her, based on the stranger’s description.

A friend sent this Dove commercial to me, and I thought it worthy of sharing. Take the 6+ minutes today, and see the points. But PLEASE read on, my friend.

The gist of the video is that a forensic artist who had spent decades sketching “bad guys” based on a witness’s description, used his talent to draw two separate sketches of the same woman. The first sketch was based on the woman’s description of herself, while she sat out of the artist’s sight. The second sketch was based on someone else’s words, describing the same woman to the artist through the curtain as he drew. Each completed drawing amazingly resembled the woman who was described, yet the resulting sketches, though of the same woman, were very different.

I smiled, and even teared up as each woman saw the sketch made from her own self-description compared to the sketch made from someone else’s description.

“I look more open, friendly and…happy,” one said, speaking of the sketch from the other’s description. No matter which woman self-described and then was described by another, the sketches came out as similar comparisons: the self-description sketch was not as attractive as the one drawn using another person’s description.

Maybe it was the sad background music, but I mused in retrospect, as my melancholy personality saw the gloom in it: “Yeah, but what if someone who had known me for a longer time – not the stranger in the waiting room – had described me for drawing? Then it would have been more true…uglier.”

Get thee behind me satan!

Beauty Tips

External beauty is not the goal and never has been.

I loved the video for pointing out to me (again!) how much the beauty dragon blows fire into our lives. Any time we are measuring ourselves and our worth based on bones in our chins, (yes, I’ll leave that plural for the fun of it), our skin tone or eyelash length, we are doomed for unhappiness. True joy doesn’t change.

What is neverchanging is our real worth. What really matters is not our self-description, but JR sermon notes_2who we are in the Lord’s eyes. “Whose we are” should radiate!

If we encourage another woman today, we can have the best facelift available (and give one too)!

If we are mournful of our sin, no one can take away our comfort! (Matt 5:4) And that is worth some crows’ feet to get there!

When I truly think that God, His son not sparing, sent Him to die on a cross for my sins, that I may be white as snow…then the number of imperfections of my face fades in comparison.

You are beautiful, my friend. You are a child of God. Any stranger can see it. No matter your past, the weight of the imperfections you try to carry, in Christ alone, you are perfect.

In his sermon yesterday, Dr. Stephen Davey shared that we are “…identity thieves. We have the sinless identity of Christ. It was His gift to us. Practicing our identity in Him is our gift back.”

So how do your eyes look now? Radiant! Just the way He intended. Much like His.

In love,

Terri Brady

P.S. How about these verses to douse the dragon’s fire?

1 Sam 16:7: But the LORD said to Samuel, “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The LORD does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.”

John 7:24: “Do not judge according to appearance, but judge with righteous judgment.”

Ephesians 2:10: For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.

Proverbs 31:30: Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised.

Recommended Reading:

Do You Think I’m Beautiful by Angela Thomas 

Related Posts:

For Fun: The Guy Version of a Stranger’s Sketch

Buffalos and Butterflies

Shout Out to Moms!

Out of My Mind (with a Brain Tumor) Part II

“Compassion is showing our scars to those with open wounds.” –Gary Hallquist

Dear Lindsey,

In my last letter, I gave Part I to this story. I originally hesitated from sharing this brain tumor journey: Was I afraid of dwelling in the past? Was I afraid I would scare readers into getting themselves checked for brain tumors? Or was it that my heart aches for so many people still in their “Holland,” with worse problems, bigger tumors, cancer in multiple family members, unrelenting back pain, life-changing car accidents, addictions, etc., but they are still living through them today? A friend reminded me that suffering is not a competition. If showing our scars can be helpful to those with open wounds, then sharing the past is celebrating God’s victories. So I continue to write:

When we last left the story, my insurance application had been rejected unless I would get another brain MRI.

September 6, 2008

I had the MRI early in the morning. I “checkmarked the box” so I could get the new insurance. The diagnostic center gave me the normal line about how I would hear from my doctor within two weeks to review the results. I knew from booking this appointment that the neurosurgeon was on vacation that week, so my follow-up appointment to review the MRI was scheduled for September 22. I was not worried, just like she had told me not to be at my previous appointment, months earlier.

The following week, the caller ID revealed the hospital’s number on a phone call. The kind woman told me that they needed to get another scan for clarity.

“I am flying to Salt Lake City in the morning,” I told her and we booked a time for the following Monday and ended our call. I figured my brain must have moved during its photo shoot, and blurred their view. (smile) It’s hard to hold still for 45 minutes – even if your head IS clamped.

The phone rang again within minutes. “I spoke with your doctor, and she said you should not get on the plane.”

“Is something wrong?” The dumb question escaped my mouth as my nerves escalated, realizing they had called that doctor on vacation –obviously, something was wrong.

“No, we just need a better view. It is actually not an MRI, but a VRI we will be taking,” she said as if that was a logical answer to my panicked question.

“So why can’t I fly? Is it the plane pressure? I am supposed to leave at 10am.”

“Well you could come in at 7am, and if the radiologist clears you, you could be out in plenty of time to make your plane.”

The following morning, I went back on the cold table into the tube. It screamed a sound similar to the old dot-matrix printer, seemingly through a microphone directly into my ears. Halfway through the test, the young (and obviously naïve) technician started my IV as normal and asked,

“So how long have you known about this?”

Known about what?! Went through my head, but I played it cool: “A while,” I said, not sure if we were talking about the same thing.

“Can they operate?” she asked, curious.

Oh. My. Word. Am I in a Twilight Zone? Did I miss a phone call somewhere? Last I had heard, this kind of tumor is common and no big deal… “Uh, I don’t know yet. I think that’s why I’m here,” my heart began to race as my mind wandered in “what ifs,” but exteriorly, I was calm.

“Is it cancer?” she asked me.

“I hope not,” I said quickly, as if the speed of my answer would bat that chance away.

“Well, you must be scared,” she said as she rolled the table with me on it back into the tube.

I lay on the hard, skinny table surrounded by my own cocoon for the second 20-30 minutes of the test. I thanked God that the technician was talking to me and not to some little old lady who didn’t know my God of peace. I knew the tech wasn’t supposed to talk to me like that, but regardless, the cat was out of the bag!

The radiologist released me, I guess, because I made the plane to Salt Lake City… with a headache.

In Salt Lake, we met with close friends and business partners. I told a small few, trying not to initiate panic, but asking for prayer and still hoping it would all blow over.

The following Monday, the 22nd, I saw the neurosurgeon, and she was less jovial than our first meeting months before.

“Your tumor has grown over 50%. This is a much more serious situation than I originally thought. It is compressing one of the two main veins to the brain. If it continues to grow at this pace, it is life threatening. It is unclear, but it looks like it is close to pushing your right brain to the left, which will cause seizures, so this is becoming an urgent situation. I wouldn’t touch it with a ten-foot pole. I am sending you to a specialist a few hours south of here. I assume surgery is your only option. We made you an appointment for next Monday. Bring your husband. You will want him with you.”

She handed me 2ft x 3ft films to hand-carry to the specialist neurosurgeon in the Detroit area. It felt like the entire office staff was looking at me with a, “poor girl,” glance as I walked out, but it was probably just in my head. (“Just in my head” began a whirlwind of puns, humor which Chris and I enjoyed to relieve the weight of the situation.)

I got to the car, dumfounded. Opening the humongous envelope that held the films

Not my brain, but similar tumor, opposite side.

Not my brain, but similar tumor, opposite side.

and spreading them across steering wheel, I could see a lot of gray matter – like any picture of a brain- except one big difference, the white, oblong golf ball on the side. It looked big for my small brain. I searched for my name and date to be sure they were really pictures of my brain.

As I drove home, my mind was silent. The chatter of “things to do today” was gone. The bother of the other drivers wasn’t registering on my new Richter scale.

.

Really? This could be IT?! The finish line is sooner than I thought?

But,… my “dash”?!

I remembered hearing Lou Holtz read the poem, “The Dash,” about the symbol on a tombstone between the birth date and the death date. The dash represented what was done with the life during the time on earth.

My dash may be done?! But I was going to make a difference in this world; I was going to raise my kids to be difference-makers; I was going to spread the Gospel: I was going to…

I drove past an abortion clinic, and I was reminded of how many in there didn’t have a chance to even start their dash. Life is not fair. I don’t deserve more than they.

What would I do differently? Ironically, that week I had just read the account of Hezekiah in 2Kings 20, where Hezekiah was granted another 15 years of life, after he was told he was dying. What would I do now if God chose to continue my dash?

In my quiet car that day, my priorities aligned, as if seeing a ghost of Christmas future and being pleased. What?! PLEASED? Yes, pleased. I did not think about where I could have been in the work place had I only held on to my position in engineering. I didn’t think of patents I could have owned or promotions I might have possessed. I realized more than ever that I was blessed to have invested the time of my dash (so far) into being a mom and wife and encouraging other moms and wives. I recognized the GIFT my husband gave me in being a stay-at-home mom! If God’s plan was that I would never speak again, I had no regrets of missed words with my children. I wish that for every woman who chooses to be a stay-at-home mom! If it were all over, I had no regrets.

I called Chris to let him know the doctor’s news, and by the time I arrived home 30 minutes later, he had a dozen coral roses on the kitchen counter, accompanied by his warm embrace.

As the week progressed to the appointment with the specialist neurosurgeon, my quiet times with the Lord progressed to depth. It is always during storms, when I seek the Son most.

Chris and I kept our secret, trying to protect our children, then ages 11, 8, 4 and 3 from fear. The night before the next neurosurgeon appointment, we decided to tell our parents of the impending days.

I had difficulty spitting the words out to my mother and father in Colorado, imagining they would feel helpless 1300 miles away, and fighting their own medical battles.

My mother immediately reacted as if packing her suitcase, “We will leave within the hour, and drive all night.”

I could barely keep her from hanging up the phone to pack, when I told them it was just a doctor’s appointment, and I would let them know if indeed surgery was scheduled.

Skull-base Neurosurgeon, September 29

“The fast growth rate of the tumor tells us it is likely NOT cancer; less than 4% chance.”

The appointment gained speed as the skull-base-meningioma specialist went through the options of treatment. “The brain surgery where the child is outside playing later in the day as seen in some commercial is not an option. The size of the tumor (3.6cm) exceeds the limits of our non-invasive radiation treatments. Waiting longer to see how the tumor acts [if it would shrink] is getting to a dangerous point, and we have zero data of a tumor that has ever grown at this rate and then stopped. In view of what lies ahead for you, if you have always wanted to go to Hawaii or something, now is a good time to go.”

I had never had to endure such a speech, and yet it continued.

“At your age and health, your body will handle the surgery well. However, due to the proximity to the vein, I don’t know that we will be able to get it all. I will use scissors so small that the tips can only be seen under magnification, but if even one cell is left, the tumor will grow back. Regular MRI’s will hopefully allow us to catch it small enough to use a radiation “knife” or other noninvasive options next time.”

He laid out a plan for future surgeries and radiation treatments dependent on my age at the time of diagnosis and size and growth rate of the tumor. This diagnosis did not look like it was ending… ever.

His informatory speech continued with how he would enter the cranial cavity (my head!) by cutting a football shaped piece, extract the tumor and then create a seal to replace the missing skull. The location of the tumor seemed to him far enough from the ear to be able to avoid hearing damage, but it looked like it was directly on the nerves of my mouth; one nick of a nerve would cause permanent paralysis and inability to use my mouth, so he would have a feeding tube team standing by for insertion.

“Is this why I have been choking?” I asked, grimly.

“The location could definitely cause swallowing problems.”

He continued to talk about the tumor’s location, also pressing on the main vein, as he gave us an anatomy lesson of the sinus vein and its relation to the body.

“I will not get close to touching that vein. I will get every cell I can –as long as it is not touching that vein. If it is nicked, bad things happen.”

My heart sank, knowing the tumor was visibly pushing on the vein in the MRI.

Chris excused himself, and I noticed that he, too, was going green in the face.

His absence didn’t stop the doctor’s progression.

“It is a two part surgery. The first is done by a vascular surgeon, who will go through an artery in your leg all the way to your brain, to put a “super glue” (for lack of a better word) into the tumor, to stave off bleeding. This pre-surgery often avoids the need of a blood transfusion. The second surgery is by my team, the following day. The head surgeon here [no pun intended] will want to be involved, due to the nature of your case, so we will schedule a day for both of us, although I am hoping only one will be needed.

You will be our only patient for the day. This second surgery will take 2-14 hours. You will be in ICU one night after the arterial procedure, then 1-2 more nights of ICU after the brain surgery, and 3-5 days in regular room. It usually takes two-three months to feel 80% healed and a year before patients feel 100%.”

It had been so long since I felt “100%,” a year didn’t seem like a long wait.

“So do you think this will take care of my headaches?” I asked, hoping he would give me a different answer than the last neurosurgeon.

“It’s hard to say, but the location of your headaches does not look related to where this tumor is. Unfortunately, I hate to say, but sometimes it can make headaches worse.”

I held the tears until Chris and I were alone in the car.

So let me get this straight:

If I leave the tumor alone, its growth will likely lead to seizures, paralyze me and end in death;

If I have surgery, there is a chance of paralysis or death.

If I go through the two surgeries and a hospital week, and IF I survive and happen to get myself back without paralysis, the chances are high, that I will not feel any better than I have for a year, and I may even feel worse.

– And this is likely not the last time to have to go through all this.

Surgeries were scheduled for October 14 and 15.

As I called my friends, it felt like I was dropping a bomb on each one. I hated to make the call, and yet, I found through their tears, the love of Christ in our friendships was shining. When talking with my friend, Tracey Avereyn, I was the one who broke down. Through tears, I tried to master the language of cry-talking. I said, “I know that all things work together for good, but is it sinful that I dread this SO much?!”

Being a sister in Christ, she didn’t hesitate to sharpen as iron sharpens iron, “Terri, even Christ went to Gethsemane.” In other words, even Christ asked that the cup be taken from Him, but yet He conceded to God’s will being done.

The Son of God does not shine so bright as when our world is in its darkest state.

I knew Jesus had been through worse.

…..……...to be continued…….

Related Articles:

What Does Love Mean? (Children Tell)

Dear Lindsey,

I got one of those cute-kid-quote emails recently. I had seen it before, but I loved reading it again, and I thought I would share some of my favorite parts as a Christmas letter to you.  Of course, I always enjoy audience participation, and these kids’ thoughts inspired some of my own, which I will include at the end. I would love to hear your own personal definition, or feel free to ask your children, or let them write a comment. It is such a thought-provoking question with such illustrative answers. 🙂

A group of professional people posed this question to a group of 4 to 8 year-olds, ‘What

Heart

does love mean?’

Their answers:

‘When my grandmother got arthritis, she couldn’t bend over and paint her toenails anymore, so my grandfather does it for her all the time, even when his hands got arthritis too. That’s love.’             – Rebecca- age 8

‘When someone loves you, the way they say your name is different.  You just know that your name is safe in their mouth.’     –  Billy – age 4

‘Love is when a girl puts on perfume and a boy puts on shaving cologne and they go out and smell each other.’     –  Karl – age 5

‘Love is when you go out to eat and give somebody most of your French fries without making them give you any of theirs.’     – Chrissy – age 6

‘Love is what makes you smile when you’re tired.’     –  Terri – age 4

‘Love is when my mommy makes coffee for my daddy and she takes a sip before giving it to him, to make sure the taste is OK.’     –  Danny – age 7

‘Love is when you kiss all the time. Then when you get tired of kissing, you still want to be together and you talk more. My Mommy and Daddy are like that.  They look gross when they kiss’     –  Emily – age 8

‘Love is what’s in the room with you at Christmas if you stop opening presents and listen.’     –  Bobby – age 7 (Wow!)

————————————————————-

Their thoughts sparked me to think of my own:

Love is… a mother who spends hours baking everybody’s favorite cookies for Christmas Day – even the cookies she doesn’t like.

Love is…a Daddy having a tea party with his daughter in the middle of the day.

Love is…a man showing his boys how to be men by living example.

Love is…my 9-yr-old daughter crying when I am crying, when she doesn’t even know there is something to cry about.

Love is…my dad eating my burnt peanut butter cookies because, “that’s just the way he likes them.”

Love is…my husband texting me every day while he is gone to tell me that he misses me.

———–

I could list forever, but I won’t bore you with my love stories…

Here is a definition of love that came in story-form, in a Christmas card from a friend:

Nativity Play

For many years, a Midwest town held an annual Christmas pageant where children in the town acted out the story of Christ’s nativity.  Wally, a special needs boy of 9, yearned to be a shepherd in the play that year, but the director gave him the role of the innkeeper, because he wouldn’t have many lines to say.   Wally was bigger than the other kids, and his size would make his refusal of lodging more forceful.

The night of the play, Wally watched the pageant unfold with fascination, totally caught up in the story.  When it was time for his part, he was ready to go.

“What do you want?,” Wally brusquely asked Joseph.

“We seek lodging,” replied Joseph.

“There is no room for you in this inn, replied Wally, looking properly stern.

“Please, good innkeeper, my wife is with child and needs a place to rest.  Surely you must have a small corner.  She is so tired.”

Wally, the innkeeper, paused so long the audience was tense with embarrassment.  “No!  Begone!” the prompter whispered from the wings.

“No!”  Wally repeated automatically.  “Begone!”

Joseph sadly placed his arm around Mary and they started to move away.  The innkeeper did not return inside the inn, however.  Wally stood there watching the forlorn couple, his brow creased with concern and tears streaming down his face.  And suddenly the Christmas pageant became different from all the others.

“Don’t go, Joseph.”  Wally called out.  “Bring Mary back.  You can have MY room,” Wally beamed…

———

That, my dear friend, is love.

From a recent devotional: too often we spend our lives seeking stars, and end up being disappointed to find only a stable; but when we seek deeply, inside the stable, we find the star: a King is born.

Whether you are blessed with stars or stables this Christmas, may you have room for the King.

Final definition: God is love.

God bless you as you celebrate His birth this week and always.

Merry Christmas,

Terri Brady

<< Luke 2 >>  The Birth of Jesus 

 

Small Enough to Be Used (Whose Baby is This?!)

The Bible says, “Humble yourself and you will be exalted.” I say, “Humble yourself, or God will do it for you!” Hee! Whether it was falling in the church parking lot last month, finding underwear on fire on my chandelier while I had visitors, or forgetting someone was coming to my house for lunch…that I cooked, these humbling experiences have all been reminders: I am not great.

Hudson Taylor, a 19th century missionary to China and one of the most profound Christian thinkers of all time had this to say about his life: “I often think that God must have been looking for someone small enough and weak enough for Him to use, and that He found me.”

It’s sad to me how often I have wanted to look better than I really am.  That is the next symptom of an ego problem in this series of letters about pride:

Trying to Look Better than Reality Reveals or…being stingy with the “sorry”.

Let me illustrate: A “Polly Pocket” is like a Barbie who has been zapped by the Honey I Shrunk the Kids gun, and her shoes were more impossible than Barbie’s to find in the grass. The Cheerios and raisins that were supposed to have lasted through all four soccer games had also been dumped into the said grass within this first game. The double-stroller was loaded with activities and snacks for my younger two (age 2 and 1 at the time) so my older two could participate in a soccer tournament.

Cover of "Honey, I Shrunk the Kids"

“I’ll take the baby and meet you at field 10,” Chris said, as he pushed the stroller along the sideline toward our second son’s game. I waited for the 9 yr-old to finish in the coach’s meeting, while I pretended to do a Seek and Find game from the Highlights’ Magazines of my youth, but it seemed impossible in this grass to find matching shoes for poor Polly.

I put the 2-yr-old on one hip, and the 9-yr-old and I walked between the fields, seeing “field 10” about four field-lengths over.

Thousands of people filled every soccer field’s sideline of this event.  The acreage spanned to allow for more than thirty simultaneous games, so I was grateful to only need to go a distance of four fields. I could see Chris, already a couple of fields-lengths ahead, struggling to move the stroller’s wheels through the wet grass. There was a game on my right and my left the entire walk, as spectators yelled for their kids in every direction, and I tried to squeeze between them.

Suddenly, the game on my right halted and the whistle blew. Three mothers went running onto the field. My heart sank; there must be a major injury. My mind raced, realizing I had never even seen ONE mother run onto the field, much less THREE! I watched with anticipation, wondering if someone was badly hurt, or if there would be a catfight. (You never know with us soccer moms. LOL!)

One of the mothers in the center of the field turned in the direction of the crowd, and said angrily, “WHOSE BABY IS THIS?!” as she held up a cute little 1-yr-old boy. To my horror, I realized it was MY 1-yr-old boy the stranger was now holding!!

I took a quick glance to see Chris still pushing a stroller a field away, not realizing his carrier was empty.

I forced up courage, and made my way through the sideline crowd to retrieve JR, and told the mean lady, “I know his mother.”

HAHA! Just kidding, I didn’t say that- but I bet I thought about it. How embarrassing! Not only did we lose a child, but we didn’t even know he was missing! Ugh!

I wish I had a video of HOW he got out of that stroller, because it is still a mystery to us! Thousands of people there and no one saw his escape? Wasn’t the stroller still moving? Did he fall, and then get back up and head for the field? Was he looking for me, or just chasing another soccer ball?

The questions all remain unanswered.

That feeling though…the one where I wanted to explain to everyone how faultless I was in the story…the one where my embarrassment actually slowed my legs from making the steps toward retrieving my own son…the feeling that I cared more about what those strangers thought of me than what God thought…the feeling that prevented me from saying, “Sorry!” which clearly should have been the first word out of my mouth, regardless of the fault assigned to their inconvenience…the feeling that I wanted to look better than actuality showed me to be…

That’s pride.

In my fun little “Brady classic,” it is amusing to think of the embarrassment in the situation. In reality, though, pride becomes a problem when we start worrying more about what man thinks than what God thinks. We start living a facade that we are great and never want anyone to think otherwise. We buy clothes we can’t afford, live in houses beyond our means and avoid the words, “I’m sorry,” because we’re afraid of how it “makes us look.”  We analyze fault to see if we believe ours weighs more than others involved, before we determine if we really have to apologize.

For me though, in real relationships with real people, there is nothing that “makes a person look better” than when he/she apologizes and truly means it. Sincere apologies represent quiet strength. When one admits wrong it clears air and allows others the confidence to admit their wrongs as well.  Stubbornness breeds stubbornness. As the song goes, “We all talk a different language when we’re talking in defense.”  Admitting wrong breeds comfort for those around you, removes their defenses and allows for more pure relationships.

May we be comfortable in being “small enough and weak enough” for God to use.

In love,

Terri Brady

Humble yourself before the Lord. (Don’t make Him get out His “Honey I shrunk the Kids” gun and bring us down to size!)

1 Corinthians 1:19 For it is written: “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise; the intelligence of the intelligent I will frustrate.”

Related Posts about Pride

Be still!–for your Ears’ Sake

“Both my noses are clogged!” my then 6-yr-old son woke me in the darkness of morning. I consoled the patient and dug for remedies, while my mind realized that it was “night time” to him, but this was my early morning. I was now not only

English: Alarm clock

missing my last couple winks of sleep before my alarm would sound at 5:30, but soon my exercise time and Bible time would vanish…again… while I coddled him, allowing him to get needed sleep leaning on me.

I always feel like I can’t fill the needs of my family until my needs have been met, and yet once again, I started my day of filling their needs, while my tank was “on empty,” despite my intentions.  The clock continued its never-ending race, while I ran the laps up and down the stairs to rouse children for their school day.

Breakfast- breakfast dishes- wipe the counters (after the 6-yr-old had already wiped them) – split up sibling squabbles – clean up dog mess – wipe tears over the “eaten” toy – get to the car to take the oldest to school, then back home quickly to get the other three started in their homeschool around 8:30.  This was the daily routine of this entire school year.

We had our family Bible time, then math, grammar, the regular subjects – I switched from one subject to the next, sometimes teaching one, while spinning plates in the background with two who didn’t have my full attention at the time. The day continued at breakneck speed.  I looked forward to after school, when all were settled, and I would have an hour of silence before heading with the taxi-full to evening activities.

That’s when the 11-yr-old said, “Can you cut my hair before pictures next week?”

“Sure!” I said, as if it were an easy task. The week’s schedule flashed through my mind. Weekend travel and week night activities, concerts, and the like made me realize that my “hour of silence” that afternoon would once again be taken by something more urgent: haircuts before pictures next week.

Cutting my boys’ hair began as a money-saving venture when we had one child. It grew into an ear-saving venture, when my second son wouldn’t sit still long enough and I was worried the “ear-ritated” barber would cut off his ear. (Sorry – I couldn’t resist the pun!) But at this stage in my life, the currency being saved was time. I could cut three boys’ hair in 45 minutes, which is how long I would have to wait before even starting at some salons.

I began with the oldest and worked my way down to the youngest. I probably should have used the opposite sequence, because by the time I got to the 6-yr-old with a cold, my patience had waned lower than his.

“Be still, please.” I said as I went over the top. He squirmed side to side, and tilted his head at every snip.

“Be still.” I said more firmly, worried I would clip his ear, but hardly slowing my scissors.

“Be still!” I practically shouted at him as I continued my race to get it done before the evening schedule commenced.

Ps 46:10 abruptly came to my mind: “Be still! And know that I am God.”

I smiled to myself thinking of God shouting to me to “be still!” with an explanation point, or He would chop off my ear.

Regret filled me as I realized how “not still” my day was. I felt like promising I would do better tomorrow. “Tomorrow, I will have a quiet time with You.” “Tomorrow,” I will have a less rushed day of motherhood.” “Tomorrow, I will BE STILL and KNOW THAT YOU ARE GOD.”

As quickly as I made promises, I wondered what part of my day I was supposed to have done differently.

Was I supposed to tell the sick child to “go back to bed! I want to be with Jesus now!”?… I don’t think so.

Should I have skipped breakfast or lunch so I could “have a quiet time”?!… Not necessarily.

Should I stop homeschooling, or take kids out of activities, so I can sit around with my me-time and make it God-time?

What am I doing wrong?!

A.W. Tozer in his book, Pursuit of God, hit me hard. I wasn’t born when he wrote the book, but his seeds were planted for a harvest in this year and eternity, I’m sure. In Chapter 10, he talks about ME!

The day of the haircuts was as though I was saying, “Sorry I have to do all of this menial stuff called life, but God, I want to be with You, and tomorrow morning, while it is still dark, THEN will be my sacred life.”

The conflict comes when I try to separate my “sacred” life and my “secular” life.

The “stillness” God wants from me is that my sacred life and my secular life are one. It is then that we truly can be still.

1Cor 10:31 says that whether we eat or drink we should do it all for the glory of God. It’s so significant to me that it says “eating and drinking” – such “menial stuff called life.”

Be still, and recognize the gift of motherhood He gave.

Be still and be thankful for the usefulness of my life; I have something to exhaust me every day!

Be still and praise God! …while I go to work, attend school, cut hair, drive the carpool, coddle the sick one.

But don’t wait for quiet time to do it. Believe me: I LOVE quiet time, and set my alarm clock early on purpose. But if God’s purpose for me wakes me before the clock, I can’t second-guess His plans for my day. It is then that I can be still, and know that He had it planned just perfectly, all along.

I suppose being still has little to do with cutting off ears, and more to do with opening them to hear God’s plan for the day.

May you enjoy this day the Lord had planned for you!

Terri Brady

Related Posts

No Orphans of God

37,000 orphans in Guatemala.

33 adoptions last year.

No orphans of God.

Dear Lindsey,

I am still in Guatemala. The heart-wrenching is good for the soul.  I haven’t had time to write every day, but I thought I would try to synopsize a bit so you can get the idea.  Feel free to skip to the “Thoughts to Ponder” if your time is too limited for reading my diary :).

MONDAY:

Dorie’s Promise, the privately owned orphanage on the property where we are staying, has 38 children right now.   That seems like a lot: to grow up with 37 siblings. 38 people at the dinner table. 38 people’s worth of laundry, food, sickness, chaos, etc. It breaks my heart that they don’t have a mom they can “go home to” and tell the story of their day.

Yet, I realized what a difference Dorie’s Promise is making in those 38 lives, when we went to the state-run orphanage, which has up to 1000 children under the age of 18. We focused on those most ignored:  sixty with special needs and twenty young mothers (age 13-17), who had been raped and left or abused, so they were brought to the orphanage by police.

We brought cake and activities. Smiles and hugs. We tried not to notice lice or deformed faces, not to think of how the baby’s arm was broken or how the mentally retarded girl now has a baby.  I tried not to flinch, when grabbed from behind, as they reached out only to be touched. Give me Your eyes today, Jesus. May I see them as Your children and lift them to see themselves that way.

One young retarded boy helped another in a wheelchair by taking his plate to the trash. He licked the other one’s plate as he walked, and I realized what a gift the cake must have been.  A young mother needing dialysis three times/week is about to be back on the street since her 18th birthday is approaching. So much “out of my control,” it’s hard to think about.

TUESDAY:

We woke to treat the “special mothers” (women who work long shifts here and love the children of Dorie’s Promise more than just a job) to a breakfast and devotion in our house, while we went next door to take care of the orphans. I LOVED reading a book aloud to the children (I’m sure my gringo accent was half of the amusement.), and they came running to fight for lap space as soon as I sat with the libro.  Painting nails, making beaded necklaces, coloring and finger painting were special activities for all. The other amusement was my camera that takes videos. “Por favor foto?” they would ask, and pose with different combinations of children to vie for the spotlight. This cutie, Hilary, surprised me with her belly dancing. Aaah!! Easy to love the lovable! Nayeli had a different interpretation of dance, but both RAN to see what I had filmed. 🙂

street entrance to dump

After the morning with Dorie’s kids, we headed to the city dump, a large area where another ghetto community has been built. The repelling stench increased our desire to stay on the bus, but our team, favorably greeted by residents, forced ourselves through the trash-sorting area to get to the community of 150 homes made of cardboard, cinder blocks and tin. Approximately 3 families per home lived in this community full of roaming children and dogs. The dirt paths were speckled with color, reminding me that we were standing…ie, they were living… on a mountain of trash. I could see the bottom of a Croc surfacing.  I pray the people don’t associate themselves with the trash beneath but with the God above.

Toddlers and babies everywhere made me see the burden of fertility and I was beginning to forget the blessing.  An old man, weathered as much from the sun as from the years, suddenly leaned down to kiss a baby who lay unattended, near where I stood. As the baby received the kiss, both the great-grandpa and the baby instantly yielded smiles, as if the weight of the world were lifted. “My great-grand-daughter!” he announced to me, proudly pointing to the baby’s married 16-yr-old mother beside him.  I felt like I had received a post-it note from God: “I am still here. Don’t grow weary.”

“Road” inside dump community

Part of the $975 cost to attend this trip with Forever Changed, included buying things to supply some needs of this area.  At the dump, the money was used for “pilas”. A pila is a 500-pound cement sink basin, which seemed like an odd request if they are not washing dishes.  However, a pila, to them, means income, because they can use the water to clean things that have been “dumped” there, and then sell the cleaned treasures on the streets.  As we delivered our gifts, I realized we were trying to live out the philosophy taught in the book, When Giving Hurts, so that we don’t hinder people by our gifts.

.

.

WEDNESDAY

At our own devotional time this morning, Joel told us that Dorie’s Promise was so

Mural on the play-yard wall.

named because an orphan, Dorie, who had been abused and moved from home to home, had been given a Bible and the words, “Jesus loves you,” by a missionary. She had hung to those words and The Word through much abuse afterward, but eventually devoted her life to giving back and helping orphans. Such a small seed was planted, and although the missionary never saw the fruit, God did, and still is.

.

After devotions, we went back to the ghetto today – the one we had visited Sunday.  This time we carried twenty water filter systems. (They look like 20-gal Britta filters.) One woman wept when she walked into the room and saw the filters, before we gringos even began to speak.  The woman from our team whose 10-yr-old daughter had raised the money for the filters (selling hair clips) also wept, while the recipients expressed their gratitude. It was as much of a blessing to give as to receive.

POINTS TO PONDER

1. United States is rich. I once heard that people on welfare in the U.S. have a higher average income than 85% of the world. In essence, Americans are all rich in comparison. I used to be judgmental of rich people, assuming they were materialistic and loving money more than God.  “Good people do good things with money,” my husband fought back when I tried to squelch his ambition to start a money-making business over a decade ago. “If good people don’t use their God-given ambitions, who will be there to help when a need arises?” he had asked me. No one on this missions team is unambitious: Surgeons’ wives, business owners, nurses and CEO wives were blessed by God to be able to help in time of need. I am so thankful for them!

2.  “What if it’s a scam?!” “What if your money doesn’t really go to helping anyone?” “What if the people are pretending to be poor, taking off their shoes when you arrive, just so you will give them more?” “What if they take your gifts and destroy them the next week, since they didn’t earn them and don’t appreciate them.”

People who have been here don’t ask those questions.

3.  I think a definition of “hell” for me would be to be surrounded by people with needs that I cannot meet. Hungry children. A teen with kidney failure. A diabetic grandfather who lives at the dump. A 60-yr-old woman who tumbled down the concrete stairs of the ghetto last week. A 5-yr-old with a tumor on his eye. Those have been the low points of this week. Yet, how prideful I am! To think that I am the only one who can help?! That I have control over whether needs are met?!  My pastor said it well:  “It’s not, ‘I do my best and let God do the rest.’ That’s wrong.” (I myself have been guilty of saying that!) “The real statement,” he said, “is ‘God does it all. Period.’

I am thankful that I do not have to carry all the weight on my shoulders. God has this. Every day of these people’s lives has been made by Him to make them who they need to be.  Maybe one of them will be the next Dorie.  I just want to be quiet enough they hear His voice. As our director, Joel, says, “I want to disappear, and let God be seen.”

One little stone changed two nations forever.  (1 Sam 17 – David and Goliath) That was our devotion one day this week. What little stone could you be throwing with God’s might behind it?! Today, Joel said in his broken English as he ended our devotion time: “You know those people who say they are going to change the world? And everyone thinks they are crazy? They are doing it.”

“God doesn’t respond to our needs, He responds to our Faith.” –Joe DarkAngelo

May the people of Guatemala have faith in Him.

Con carino de Cristo,

Terri

Blessings that Stick

Dear Lindsey,

I am in Guatemala!

“I don’t think I have ever smiled so much and spoken so little,” my friend, Susie said today. I guess that’s what happens when you dive into playing with children of an orphanage in a land of a foreign tongue. Jen, a Michigan soccer mom friend of mine extended her heart beyond imagination all the way to children in Guatemala. She has visited Dorie’s Promise, a private orphanage in Guatemala City, many times, and invited Susie, Tracey and me to go to the land for our hearts to grow. Forever Changed International is a charity which not only supports the orphanage, but also aids the poverty-stricken within Guatemala City.

Today was our first full day, and many apprehensions were cleared, while the chains of our hearts loosened. We are staying in an adjoining house that sleeps 20. We are with other Americans from Oregon, New York, New Jersey, Michigan, and California.

First thing this morning was church. After boarding a hired bus, about 20 of the 39 orphans came onto the bus and jumped onto our laps, clearly familiar with how the “volunteer team” works. The Holy Spirit transcended any language barriers in the 8am church service, as His name lifted the roof of worship for my English ears in a Spanish world.

Afterward, we took the orphans to the park where the laugh of a 3-yr-old child (whom I was teasing with tickling on the swing) was a universal language. Those children went back to their house, which runs like a never-ending daycare; except it runs 24 hours-a-day, 7 days-a-week and is so much more permanent now that international adoption is closed.

Next, our team of volunteers left the grounds to go to one of the many ghettos in Guatemala City. As we drove, Joel, the angel who works for Forever Changed International (FCI), and hosts and translates for us for the week, explained that ghettos begin when a group of a hundred just sets up a camp on city property. The sheer numbers prevent authorities from removing them. “They begin with 100, and some cardboard homes,” Joel continued, pointing to a relatively new cardboard ghetto as we drove past. “Over time, the people add more and more, and eventually end up with something like the ghetto we will visit today.”

When the bus finally stopped at the appointed place, we were immediately surrounded by children, so excited to see the “gringos” (slang for white people) bringing gifts. I began to wish they would not think it was the color of my skin that was the giver, but the God whom I worship who was giving them gifts.

Jen handed me stickers she had brought from the states, and I began giving them to the children, while she handed other gifts. We walked through the streets, followed by a crowd who loved “the day the gringos come” (first Sunday of the month for this particular location). We carried stuffed animals, food baskets and two piñatas to end our day with a party. I overheard Tracey ask Joel, “How do you say, ‘God loves you’ in Spanish?”

Perfect! I thought. I can tell these children God loves them, while I hand out stickers.

I continued handing out stickers. “Que dios te bendiga! [God bless you!]” I said as I pressed a sticker onto each hand and looked deeply into their eyes.

I hate poverty.

Seeing ominous clouds coming in our direction, I pictured what these homes would look like when the storm hit. This ghetto was more established than the ones we passed, so walls were made of cement, or built into the side of the mountain, but I could picture the noise of rain pounding on the tin roofs, leaking through, while ten people huddled in the middle with one square foot each. Each “building” was smaller than my 8-yr-old’s room, and I never saw a bathroom. Pots and pans adorned the shelf next to the bed, but I never saw food, except once: Corn hung from the ceiling of one place to dry. The woman grew the corn on her own in “free land” a mile and a valley away where she planted corn and hauled it back to dry, in order to grind it for flour to make tortillas on the open fire on cinder blocks in the “hallway”. She had tortillas cooking under her close watch, hoping to sell them tonight for profit. (The cynic in me couldn’t help but wonder if a president thought he had helped her start that business.)

We continued our walk, stopping at houses to meet residents and ended in the park for play and piñatas. Word got out that I had “stampas” and children flocked to me. I practiced my Spanish, asking if they wanted the princess sticker or the flower. “Que dios te bendiga [God bless you!],” I said with each gift.

A sticker brought delight to these kids who probably wondered when/if the next meal would come. One baby had a “crib” which was a blanket tied to the ceiling “beams” with rope, as a hammock above an adult bed. My legs ached at the hill climbing and uneven steps OSHA would never approve.

I still hate poverty.

Corn hanging to dry within the room

In my mind, I raced to solve the issues…a new roof for that one? Cement floors so the dirt doesn’t wash away under the leaky roof? Running water?

How did they get here?

Education? – if they only knew a better way. Do they know the Hiding Place where they can go? Do they know that heaven will be better?

Thoughts pounded, and children enjoyed our presence.

“Better is one day in heaven than a thousand on earth,” I thought. I am grateful for the volunteers here. “Well done, my good and faithful servant!” will surely be heard by Joel, FCI, Jen and the hearts that surround the work to make this place better for these 400+ children in this one ghetto alone.

But I look forward to heaven for those residents. One minute of eternity will erase all hunger pangs from a life here.

I prayed for the children while I watched them race for candy, a temporary joy amidst the struggle called life.

Suddenly, a group of young teen girls approached me, interrupting my thoughts. The four giggled incessantly, as though from my American neighborhood. They all looked on in anticipation, while they egged each other to ask a question. Finally, one stepped up and asked:

“Como se dice ‘Que dios te bendiga’ en Ingles? [How do you say, “Que dios te bendiga” in English?]”

“God bless you,” I answered. They each repeated it slowly, practicing, trying to cement it to memory to be retrieved later. I was overjoyed by their approach.

I hope that when the “gringos” are gone tonight – as the rain pours outside – that those children remember His name above all else.

God bless those children,

Terri

From Nate: Milking Allergies For All They’re Worth

Dear Lindsey,

My son, Nate, is my guest author today! My second born, he is known as a soccer player extraordinaire. He is full of personality and a spitting image of his father, in looks as well as scores on the Personality Plus test, which makes him extra lovable! You may know him for his license plate aiming, “reverse adult psychology” at age 3, and of course, his injured knee that took him out of soccer for the season last spring.  Nate is the one who has severe food allergies. (Humor story on that here.)  We have tried all of the doctor’s recommendations, as well as hours and hours and thousands of dollars into holistic methods, and there has not been relief.  Once on a long drive to see a “specialist,” he claimed he didn’t want to go, because he “liked his allergies.” I kept driving thinking he was just saying that to try to get back home to play, but his words below enlightened me to see his heart.

He wrote a paper last year, at age 11, for an online writing class through The Potter’s School.  The assignment was to write pros and cons of an issue. He chose the issue, made a list of pros and cons and put it into the essay below. I was surprised at what he saw from “his side of the story,” and I’m grateful that God has given him such insight! I pray it encourages anyone who deals with food allergies, (or any “thorn in a side” that won’t go away), as Nate shows admirable reframing of thoughts.

In his words (unedited…mostly):

After my sixth bite of the hamburger, I knew something was wrong. My throat felt weird and I felt like it was getting smaller. Then my eyesight went blurry and my face puffed up. I cried out looking for my parents, but they were nowhere to be seen!

I’m still waking up nine years later, having the same dream. I know that one false ingredient could cost me my life.  On the outside no one would guess that a sports fanatic kid like me could puff up and stop breathing after a couple bites of McDonalds burgers, but it’s true.  I mean it’s not bad. For instance I can’t eat most junk foods so I don’t have to worry about diets or anything. Although that can also be a bad thing, because junk food is awesome!  At least the junk food I can eat.  Since I’m allergic to milk and beef, most candy goes down the drain. 

.

My favorite part of allergies is that I feel that God made me a different unique creature. My worst favorite part is I’m always causing trouble for my mom. But it shows me that she loves me enough to go through what she does for me.  Folks might say that allergies are horrible, but to me, they’re a magnificent blessing.

No chocolate cake? No ice cream? How can you live? People say. It doesn’t matter to me because I’ve never tasted that stuff, so I’m fine without it.  I can’t say that at some dinners when my family is eating special desserts (while I’m eating strawberries) I don’t get a little jealous, but hey, who wouldn’t? It is very frustrating when some restaurants don’t try to cooperate with my mom about what I am going to eat. It causes my mom a lot of trouble, and usually we have to go to a different restaurant.  I’ve had my little brother and sister thank me before because we go to a restaurant that they don’t want to go to, and then I can’t eat anything there, so we go somewhere else -where they would rather go anyway.

 

Nate's Allergy testing.

Nate’s Allergy testing.

It makes me feel weird at parties when I can’t have the cake. Usually my mom gives me cupcakes to take. Unfortunately for my mouth, those cakes look good! I know though, that my mom made those cupcakes for me, and that makes them better than any cake could be.  I think that my allergies have made me come closer to my family. Because I know that they sacrifice a lot for my allergies. Sure I’d love to have a hamburger every once and awhile, and sure I want to be able to be normal at my friend’s birthday parties just once. Although if I had to choose one for a lifetime, It would undoubtedly be allergies.

My dad loves to go to Italy every summer and look at the historical buildings that were made hundreds of years ago. Unfortunately we still have to eat. If it was hard when we could speak the same language as the waiters and waitresses, it was even harder when we couldn’t speak their language. But after a lot of Italian learning, they can order me a meal!

I have passed on many birthday cakes, and I guess I will never taste ice-cream. Sometimes our family can’t even go out to eat for family dinners! I have never been able to get a kids meal at McDonalds. But  through my life I have seen that allergies aren’t all about what foods a person can’t eat; it’s about being who God created me to be and being thankful for my family who is willing to sacrifice for me.

What a special young man! I can honestly say that I had not seen the issue in the light that he shows in that essay. He is choosing to take the higher road of thinking like a champion.

In Paul’s second letter to the Corinthians, he talks about a physical ailment, a thorn in his side that doesn’t go away. Paul says: ( 2 Corinthians 12: 8-9)   “Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.”

By God’s grace, may we, like Nate (and Apostle Paul), rejoice in our weaknesses as the Lord’s power is made perfect.

Blessings,

Terri

Related Posts

When We Don’t See A Purpose


Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.
– John Watson (aka Ian MacLaren)

My friend and pastor, Tom Ascol, was struck by lightning in 2008 and lived to tell about it. Continue reading