Something to Ponder . . .

Sometimes Twitter delivers. This twitter thread written by Jonathan Martin (@theboyonthebike) connected with me this past Sunday morning. I’m in Alaska helping my daughter with Arden’s care. Jonathan’s words touched a deep chord with me. They were all I got for church that day. I been reading and re-reading it ever since and sharing it with others. He just returned from South Africa. Perspective helps.

He gave me permission to reprint it here:

“On my way back to OKC in time for The Table tonight (5pm), & both my head & heart are full. It’s funny how sometimes you have to go halfway around the world—just to reconnect with your self.

All the optimism has been slowly beat out of me, which is a way of saying I’m finally learning what it is to be hopeful. Less contingent on particular outcomes, less certain that anything works out okay—more content just bearing witness to the beauty I’ve seen…

…for no other reasons than that I can’t unsee it, & because grace is the only truth that is left to tell. Tender, green, fragile, defiant…the shoot springs up from the stump.

That’s not even something I’ve chosen—life on the other side of dying isn’t something that you choose, just something that is. I don’t think much anymore about what to call what it is I’m doing, or what I want to do. I don’t think that it matters, because adjectives don’t matter.

What I know is that Jesus is the hole at the bottom of the sink that’s always got me swirling, dragging me toward the drain. I don’t try to resist the pull, because Christ is still where the wildness is for me.

We taught a wonderful group how to read Scripture for 5 days this week, & I laughed more than once at just how subversive the content was. The people I was with—folks like @jarrodmckenna, @steve_schallert, Rev. Rene August—are more dangerous than the so-called rebels are.

You can have your evangelicalism, your ex-evangelicalism, your garden variety new age, your right wing fear-mongering & your neoliberalism (or anything else that stops short of the kind of radical economic, political critique that threatens the foundations of everything that is).

To put it more simply: I’ve had the weight of the world on my shoulders long enough to crave some kind of shelter, to wish I could get out of the noise. I’m coming back ready to make noise again. The mischief is back in me. Or in other words—the Spirit.

I want to be where the flames of Pentecost burn the old world down, & with the people that light the matches. I don’t claim to be such a person yet—but I do know such people, & for this I am grateful.”

Jonathan Martin
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Ground Hog Day!

Saturday morning my iPhone alarm woke me up at 6am–exactly as it did the day before. I was at home in Sellersville, and my life was eerily on repeat…

I went through the same morning ritual. Showered, put on the same outfit, and ate the same breakfast cereal. The same husband was making coffee in the kitchen. He put my same bags in the car, drove the same route to the Philadelphia International Airport, kissed me goodbye, and waved the same sad good-bye as I entered the terminal . . . for the second time in 24 hours.

This crazy repeat was happening to him too.

I went through the same TSA check point. My ticket listed the exact same American Airline flight number. I went through the same wait for my turn to board. The same hassle finding a bin to store my carry-on. The same buckled up and ready for take-off . . . 

Then came the same captain’s announcement of “a mechanical problem,” along with the same reassurance that “it shouldn’t take long.” But it did. 

There was the same loooong silence while the clock ticked away and the same worried look on passenger faces, including mine. Then came the same follow-up announcement: “They’re looking for a part. Thank you for your patience.”

And for me, the same “Oh no! There’s no way I’ll make my connecting flight.” Same grabbing my bags and exiting the plane. 

It’s all pretty surreal.

Friday Frank drove back to the airport to take me home. Today, Delta came to my rescue. But even Delta faced a slight delay when a fuel truck broke down, temporarily blocking the plane from backing out of the gate. 

I arrived in Anchorage past bedtime and was glad to call it a day, although I missed seeing our two little grand-ezers, Arden and Avery, who were already sound asleep..

Sunday marks the start my two week stay in Anchorage to help Alli as Arden continues the first phase of her recovery with the Spica cast. She’s is schedule for recasting on May 28. Please keep Arden and the rest of us in your prayers as Arden’s ordeal continues. Pray especially for complete healing!

So for the time being, I’m in beautiful Alaska with our girls. That is, unless my alarm goes off again at 6am tomorrow, and I’m waking up back in Sellersville again, smelling the coffee. 

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ARDEN UPDATE #13: All Through the Night

Keep watch dear Lord, with those who work, or watch, or weep this night, and give your angels charge over those who sleep. Tend the sick, Lord Christ; give rest to the weary, bless the dying, sooth the suffering, pity the afflicted, shield the joyous; and all for your love’s sake. Amen.

One of the most beautifully soothing prayers in the Anglican Book of Common Prayer has been on my heart of late. It blankets with prayer the many kinds of things that keep people awake at night. We’ve all known those restless nights when in the silent darkness the mind begins racing and there are no distractions to mute the anxieties and struggles that rob a person of the rest and sleep they desperately need. 

While Arden is in this long first recovery phase in a Spica body cast, daytime is her friend. She has things to do, a sister for playtime, family outings (she’s been out a lot), and movies to watch. She’s been a remarkably good sport. But everything changes for our little champ in the night, after she’s snuggly tucked in and the lights go out.

During the night, her Spica cast confinement becomes a battle.

She sleeps, but then when the rest of us would toss and turn, she’s helpless to change her position. Frustration with the power of the cast (much easier to ignore in the daytime) overwhelms in the night. It wakes her up in misery. She’s in the dark and crying for someone—anyone!—to let her out. 

At this stage in the healing process, Alli is up multiple times in the night—calming, comforting, reassuring, and helping Arden get back to sleep—deprived of much needed sleep herself.

Some dear friends sent me a book, An Appalachian Trial: A Story of Struggle, Survival, and God’s Grace, written by a grown-up who survived a plane crash, but barely, and spent months recovering from his injuries, including time in a Spica body cast.

Daniel Lipsi’s story puts an adult perspective on Arden’s ordeal. 

Mercifully, Arden’s not in pain as he was, but he is candid about the terrible discomfort and limitations that the Spica enforced. A nurse’s intervention, imploring the doctors “to ‘have a heart’ and not put [him] in the double spica” spared him of what Arden is experiencing. His single Spica encased only one leg. Even so, he called it a “plaster prison” and speaks of “the long battle to negotiate a bed angle that was the least offensive” to his body.

Arden’s double Spica goes from her chest down to her ankle on the left leg and above the knee on the right. She isn’t negotiating anything. She’s stuck!

So for those who are praying for Arden, please pray for nights of true calm and quiet rest—both for Arden and her mommy. 

I’m traveling to Anchorage on Friday, May 17 to help out and will stay with Avery while Arden and Alli return to Seattle Children’s Hospital for Arden’s recasting (May 27-29). Her next Spica body cast will be above the knee on both legs and so slightly less confining.

Thank you! Many thanks to everyone who donated to Arden’s GoFundMe. With some donations made outside of GFM, we are thrilled to report that we’ve reached our goal.

Please keep our little one and her family in your prayers. She has a long way to go before she’s back in action and needs the healing hand of Jesus.

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ARDEN UPDATE #12: So far so good!

Just received the good news that Arden’s follow-up X-rays taken last Thursday in Anchorage show everything looks great! Dr. Blumberg, Arden’s surgeon at Seattle Children’s Hospital, told Alli to “Keep doing what you’re doing.”

We are thanking God for this wonderful news and grateful for family and friends who are praying for Arden’s healing.

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An Unexpected Hero!

How far we’ve come since the days when we sought to protect and cherish our women. . . . Have we forgotten that it is our glory to die in their place?Greg Morse

Some evangelical leaders are alarmed at the thought of a female hero. Every time Hollywood releases another blockbuster movie featuring a female superhero—Captain Marvel, Wonder Woman, or a bold protagonist from Disney’s animated collection of heroic princesses—naysayers come out of the woodwork to warn us that these movie heroines are a negative influence on women and girls. (See Morse’s “Behold Your Queen.”)

In the opinions of some, the notion of a female fighting battles (especially on behalf of men instead of counting on men to protect her) violates God’s design for his daughters. 

Instead, the truly alarming fact is that in the real world it is both foolish and fanciful to imagine that, when danger threatens, some man will step in and save us.

Recently, I listened as a father protested the mindset that his young daughters don’t need strong female role models and the false assumption that God won’t call them to fight tough battles, perhaps even for their brothers. His little girls are growing up in a world where #MeToo and #ChurchToo abuses happen—when daddy or husband or brothers aren’t around 24/7 and where sadly even the church can’t be counted on to be a safe place. 

If we socialize little girls to depend on others coming to their rescue, instead of to be strong and courageous, we are putting them at risk. 

Besides, female courage and valor aren’t Hollywood inventions. That kind of language describes women in the Bible. After all, God didn’t create his daughters to be dependents or spectators. He commissioned us alongside our brothers to be active kingdom agents. We bear his image. He empowered us at creation to represent him and to do his work in the world. This high calling comes with monumental responsibility. The creator commissioned his daughters and his sons to rule and subdue. That’s an explicit call to look after things in his world, to promote flourishing, to participate in Jesus’ rescue effort, and to battle for goodness and justice.

Need I mention that we are ezer-warriors?

The Origins of Female Heroes

We don’t need Captain Marvel or Superwoman to empower us. The Bible has already empowered us by giving us a strong line-up of bold, heroic female role models. Some of these heroes were very young teenagers. 

These women courageously answered God’s call, often risking their lives to engage the battle for his kingdom. Miriam, Rahab, Deborah, Ruth, Hannah, Abigail, Esther, the Marys of Nazareth, Magdela, and Bethany, and Priscilla are just the short list of women who refused to shrink back. And the men in their stories are not emasculated by their actions. They are beneficiaries. 

These bold female stories provide rich fodder for the kind of 21stcentury conditioning little girls and grown up women need for the struggles we face in our own stories and on behalf of others.

We are working hard to restore these courageous, yet all-too-often minimized, female stories to the limelight where they belong. And the good news is that now this courageous message is reaching little girls who face battles of their own to fight.

The Battles Little Girls Must Fight

I’ve just returned from Seattle Children’s Hospital where my 4-year-old granddaughter Arden bravely faced two major surgeries (over 12 hours total) for a severe case of hip dysplasia. To be sure, she was surrounded and supported by those who love her and who would trade places with her in a heartbeat. My daughter was by her side during some of the toughest moments.

Yet each time there was a point when Arden proceeded to the O.R. all alone or faced dimensions of the aftermath that no one could spare her. The road ahead for Arden won’t be easy. She faces over 2 months in a Spica cast, the inability to walk or do anything for herself, and weeks of physical therapy and wearing a brace to get back on her feet again.

Even at the tender age of four there are fierce and frightening battles to fight. If we fail to teach her to be strong and courageous, we do her an enormous disservice.

Already Arden is responding valiantly in ways that astonish me and would put most adults to shame. She’s my “Unexpected Hero”!

Recovering Rahab’s Story for Little Ezers

So the urgency of getting out the powerful truth about these biblical women’s stories could not be more serious. We need to affirm and embolden the youngest and the oldest among us. No one gets a pass. God’s call rests on all of his daughters.

The 4th volume in the powerful Called and Courageous Girls book series is the story of Rahab, An Unexpected Hero. These books are reaching young girls ages 4-7. Rahab is one of my favorite biblical heroes!

Storytellers Rachel Spier Weaver and Anna Haggard, along with gifted illustrator Eric Elwell, have done a masterful job of bringing Rahab’s story and the stories of Miriam, Priscilla, and Deborah to light for this promising young audience. 

This newest book corrects the typical mischaracterization of Rahab. Instead of being defined by regret and shame, Rahab emerges as a true hero. She alone in all Jericho dared to embrace Israel’s God and risk her life to protect the Israelite spies.

I wish I’d had these books when I was in that age bracket. I guarantee I would have looked at my own life differently instead of holding back. Even more, I wish I could have read these stories to my own daughter when she was that age. The good news is even mothers who grew up unaware that the Bible contains such empowering female stories can get the message by reading these stories to their children. It’s never too late.

Thankfully, the books have arrived in perfect time for my little grand-ezers, Arden and Avery (3). I’ll be taking Rahab with me when I head to Anchorage to help with Arden’s care.

Order copies here for every little ezer you love!

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ARDEN UPDATE #11: Entering the Anchorage Phase

Arden and Allison are on the plane and finally (and happily) on their way home to Anchorage.

We are entering the Anchorage phase of this ordeal: Long days stuck in a Spica cast (that is crucial to her recovery, but a tough confinement for an active little girl), multiple trips for x-rays to make sure everything is progressing nicely, and needing others to help with everything.

I expect she’ll find ways to keep busy.

Avery and their daddy Tony arrived in Anchorage yesterday and have been busy getting things ready for Arden—including assembling a new bed for her.

Even a three-year-old can and wants to help.

Please continue praying for Arden’s endurance (which so far has been impressive), for stamina for Allison and others who will help out with Arden’s care, and that God will do the kind of major healing we need for Arden to get back on her feet.

Reminder: Don’t forget Arden’s GoFundMe! She’s begun the long road to recovery from severe hip dysplasia. From what we’ve seen so far, we’re convinced she’ll go the distance.

Help us go the distance to our GoFundMe goal!

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ARDEN UPDATE #10: Heading Home!

Post-op X-rays this morning show that Arden’s femur remains in place!

One little person is mighty glad to be getting out of the hospital and away from all the poking and prodding and being wheeled into yet another exam or X-ray. She’s had a great morning. And this good news tops it for all of us.

The road ahead is long. 5-6 weeks in this Spica cast with more follow-up X-rays in between. Then a return to Seattle Children’s Hospital and to the O.R. for recasting in a slightly less confining body cast and another 4 weeks or so. Tony, Hilda, and I will be taking turns helping Allison with Arden’s care.

After the last body cast comes off, she’ll have physical therapy to learn how to walk again. Arden will wear a brace for anywhere from 3-months to a year after that to make sure everything stays in place.

We are more thankful than words can express for the love, prayers, and generosity of family and friends who are helping this little family get through this crisis. God’s mercies have surrounded our little one, and we are trusting his help in the days ahead.

Please keep Arden in your prayers. I expect to post more updates in the future as we continue the fight for Arden to walk and run and dance again.

Reminder: Don’t forget Arden’s GoFundMe! She’s begun the long road to recovery from severe hip dysplasia. From what we’ve seen so far, we’re convinced she’ll go the distance.

Help us go the distance to our GoFundMe goal!

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