August 28, 2010

The Tortoise and the Snail

Since it's almost time to flip the calendar to September, I was a bit surprised to note our kitchen calendar still proclaimed July. The sun was coming up and I'd just come in from a run, feeling a bit deflated. Thinking I'd run a clean 3 mile course, I mapped it out only to discover it was 2.5 miles. I keep accurate milage of all my trails and was so confident of this one I never formally looked it up. I don't know what made me check the route today, but I was thoroughly disappointed.

My tardiness in flipping the calendar turned out to be a good thing, however, because July's cartoon did me a world of good. Like a little girl holding a freshly popped ballon, perfect timing prompted me to look up at the happy tortoise donning his little blue sneakers. With the daunting sign on his left that read Marathon Race Today, his friend and co-competator, the cheering snail, accompanied him on his right. Both would traverse the race slow as molasses, but this detail didn't effect their attitude. Entering the race to do their very best, they focused on the task and not their shortcomings.

Knowing the fairy tale tortoise was one of the slowest members in the race yet won due to sheer perseverance, my spirits began to lift in tandem with the new day's sun. Staring at the month of July a half mile shy of my goal, this little gem reminded me that though I may fall short in some of my endeavors, it isn't my job to win as much as it is to do my best. I'm not responsible for the result as much as my attitude and effort during the process, a welcome life lesson at any age.

Our kitchen calendar is still paused on July because I didn't have the heart to flip it. I'm sure August has a valuable lesson to learn but I want to ponder the tortoise's perseverance a little longer. My heart needs to carefully meditate on the accompanying verse as well.

"As you know, we consider blessed
those who have persevered."
James 5:11a

The word "blessed" in this verse means: happy, to beautify, and pronounce fortunate. The word "persevered" means: endure, to stay under, remain, bear trials, and abide. With this in mind, we can read this verse with the understanding that when we determine to endure through trials of life, God will pronounce particular blessings upon us that make us happy and beautiful. Like the notoriously slow tortoise and snail, we will not look at our shortcomings or intimidating obstacles, but by faith run the race to the best of our ability with happiness and contentment as our foundation.

What race are you running today? Perhaps you're running up a vicious hill and your legs are killing you or you're in a torrential down pour cold and soaked to the bone. Maybe you are suffering great physical or spiritual pain and feel as though you can't finish the next 15 feet let alone complete the race. If this describes your life's race I encourage you to persevere. Don't give up or lose focus. Keep your eyes on God for He is our creator and sustainer. I pray this all the time in both physical and spiritual runs, "Lord, grant me a renewed strength so that I can carry on. May I not give up but rather persevere for your Name's sake."

Whatever life is dishing out to you today remember God is waiting to pronounce a multitude of blessings upon you. Blessing that will make you beautiful, happy, and content. Perseverance, however, is the key. When we determine to endure through life's trials God's character traits are honed within us, molding us more into His image and blessing us all the more.

Let's learn from the tortoise and snail. No race is too difficult with God at our side for it is because of Him we've already won!

August 20, 2010

Abby Update

I received an update on Abby today and if all goes well she'll be going home tomorrow. She's gained a few pounds for the first time in weeks and her little body seems to be accepting the tube feeding with her new medication. The doctors said the best thing for her now is to get home and begin school with all the other children. After a month in the hospital, that's the least this sweet child deserves.

Apparently after Dani gave Abby the nail polish and lip gloss set last weekend, Abby enjoyed a fresh manicure and began asking for the lip gloss and lip balm. Prior to Dani's gift her mother said they couldn't get her to let them put anything on her lips and it was very frustrating. I'm so glad I listened to Dani's insisting that we buy the little girly gift pack versus the purple nail polish I had picked out. I thought I was being hip and modern suggesting such a wild color. Now I feel like an old fogy.

To all of you who prayed for Abby...THANK YOU...and please don't stop. She faces so many obstacles on a good day and has a long road of recover ahead of her. Nothing, however, will set her on the road toward healing like getting home to her friends and the ability to gain some weight. Continue to keep her family in your prayers as well. They are dedicated but exhausted.

If you have an extra prayer in you, ask God to help Dani learn to smile when a camera comes as opposed to reducing to tears.

August 15, 2010

Dani Visits Abby

A few months ago Dani met Abby at a festival here in town. Abby's mother is a co-worker of mine, so we were sad this week to hear Abby was in the hospital. She's been sick with an unknown intestinal disorder and her mother thought it would cheer Abby to see Dani. Since the children's hospital is familiar stomping grounds for us, Dani happily went bearing gifts and was quite ready to share a little love.

We had sent three Hawaiian leis to Abby a couple of days before our visit, so Dani wore her favorite pink flower lei to the hospital. She loaded her wrists with seven colorful bracelets and I encouraged her to think about giving Abby a few when we arrived. Dani had also picked out a girly gift pack of pink nail polish with two lip glosses and proudly carried her gift bag on her arm through the hospital.

Upon arrival we were greeted by
Abby's wonderful grandmother, Mary.

Dani gave Abby her present
and Abby picked five of her favorite bracelets.
Dani cried when the camera came out,
which is normal for her,
but she was also concerned that Abby had an IV.
She thought it hurt.
Abby was being silly with her favorite doll.
Time to slow down and rest.

The girls said their good byes and
we prayed with Abby and her grandma before leaving.

Please pray for Abby as the doctors attempt to diagnose her rare disorder. Jimmy and I have been where this family is and it's a difficult road. The days are long and the nights even longer. There is nothing like watching your child battle an illness that puzzles the experts as it steals your child. It is an indescribable grief that seems to suspend time.

In the midst of it all, however, we cling to the knowledge that God is good. He never forgets even one of His children. He loves, protects, teaches, and guides us every inch of the way. He has not forgotten Abby or her family and has a special plan for them. Jimmy, Dani, and I feel privileged to lift them up to God during this time and encourage them to the best of our ability. Bringing Dani in for a visit was the least we could do.

"Comfort, comfort my people, says your God."
Isaiah 40:1

August 8, 2010

Race for a Cure

Kansas City hosted its Susan G. Komen run today and 25,000 runners joined in to "Race for the Cure." My mother died of breast cancer in 2006, making this event extra special to me. The pictures speak for themselves, so enjoy.

My friend Debbie pins the
"In memory of My Mom"
sticker on my back.
A good friend always has your back.

Debbie, myself, and Shauna, before the race.

Heading out.
There were so many runners
I had to wave to catch Jimmy's attention.

Kansas City's meteorologist, Katie Horner,
reading "In memory..." stickers at the start of the race.
That's when I started to cry.

The beautiful mass or runners.

Race for a Cure (cont.)

As Dani waits for her mama to come back,
she poses for this picture
with the humongous pink pig donation bank
in the background. She loves pigs.

My best friend and prayer warrior, Debbie,
and me after the race.
It was HOT!

One of the thousands of touching memorials
to victims of breast cancer.

Dani holding her pink dog balloon
freshly constructed by a pink clown.

I look forward to the next "Race for the Cure." You might consider getting involved yourself. It's a good thing!

August 1, 2010

Exceptional Family Time

Friday morning I packed up and left for St Louis to meet with a few parents who have special needs children and are fellow bloggers on Exceptional Family TV. Jimmy stayed home with Dani to keep her on schedule, so I was footloose and fancy free.

Prior to leaving I had the best time wrapping presents for the children and their parents because, even though we'd never met, we are linked by a special bond that requires no introduction. I was eager to take the trip and arrived to no disappointment. We were all welcomed into the Oswald's home with open arms, given our own part of the house to spend time together and get acquainted, and fed some scrumcious food.

Driving in from Tennessee came Susan, Exceptional Family's CEO and Executive Producer. She and I had spoken many times over phone, on Skype, and through emails, but nothing takes the place of a personal meeting and it was a pleasure to see this talented lady. What cracks me up is how different Susan and I are. She's a global thinker who dreams BIG dreams, while my brain resides comfortably in a box, struggling to accomplish even the smallest of tasks. Her big ideas used to intimidate me but I've learned to respect the talent God has granted her. After all, if she were me, Exceptional Family TV would not be the success it is today.

I also met for the first time Tara Ecklund, eFamily TV Sales Representative and mother to sweet little Lilly. Tara and I hit it off from the get go, even though I'm not sure how anyone could not get along with her. She's simply beautiful inside and out, and what a terrific mother. I don't know how many times I watched her care for Lilly and prayed I'd done half as well when Dani was that age. Tara has a great sense of humor and was a great air mattress filler upper. She worked hard to adjust my bed to fit my needs and we were like two silly girls as she filled up my mattress a second time and took advantage of the moment by blowing me in the face with the blower. I like cheap fun and that was a hoot. Once settle in for the night, Tara and I talked in the dark about all sorts of things, just like roommates in college.

Then there's the Oswald's who opened their home to our tribe. They have five children in all, one of which is Katy who has special needs. Their home is a true home filled with love, discipline, and respect. Their generosity made our weekend a success and for that we say thank you!

Here are a few pictures of the journey.

Heading out at dawn.
If you look real close you can smell the coffee.

God's signature sunrise.

A storm off in a distance,
God's way of spicing up things.

Continue below...

Exceptional Family Time (continue)

Rest, play, and talk time.

Tara enjoys the Oswald's black labrador, Hope.

The girls play the piano.

Todd smoked ribs that were so good Susan nearly cried and
Michelle's sopapillas almost reduced me to tears.

Lilly and Katy at dinner

Thanks for a wonderful weekend everyone. When can we do this again?