Culture, Faith

A never fail diet.

It’s been a hard few weeks if you live in the state of NC, especially if you happen to frequent social media and have friends/acquaintances on both sides of the Amendment One issue.  My heart breaks over the hateful/inflammatory comments from both sides, the pain felt by people on both sides, and the division.  Especially the division amongst Christians.

I considered writing about the amendment and my perspective, but 1) I’m not sure I can do that right now, and 2)  I’m not sure it’s necessary.  I do feel a need to continue to process, but that can be done privately and given the current state of affairs, probably should be.  I don’t presume to think anything I have to say on these topics needs to be heard right now, at least not via a blog or social media outlet.  I think that is one of our current problems, trying to have serious, heartfelt discussions on heavily-charged issues using superficial forums like Facebook.  That’s another post though.

Related to all of this, however, is how to deal with the range of emotions all of this conflict has resulted in both personally and vicariously.  My heart has been heavy and I’ve vacillated between sorrow, anger, and feeling almost numb.  Today, as I continue to ponder all of this, I am doing it in between homeschooling, cleaning, and taking extra care of my 2 year old who seems to have a cold complete with runny nose and  fever.  As lunchtime rolled around, he initially only wanted yogurt to eat (one of his all-time faves) and I could tell he was in desperate need of nap (read:  SUPER CRANKY).  I found myself hoping he would eat something else but reminded myself that the yogurt may be all he can manage right now.  Thankfully, as he watched his sister gobble down a piece of peanut butter and jelly toast, my little guy decided that it looked rather appealing and managed a piece of PB&J toast as well.  I breathed a sigh of relief and recalled a few weeks ago when his 4 year old sister had a 24 hour stomach bug and could barely eat anything for a few hours.  Then I think back to when I was nursing both of them and how one of my biggest struggles as a new mom was worrying that they weren’t getting enough milk, that their growth was somehow being impacted, or that they would become ill or malnourished.

Even as they grow into toddlerhood and beyond, however, and their health and growth is much better established, our responsibility and desire for their continued nourishment and well-being does not change.  As parents, we know that eating healthy foods and getting enough water (and milk) is critical to their growth.  When it appears that they are not receiving adequate nourishment, whether sick or for another reason, we do our best to give them what they need, be it through encouraging, imploring, begging, bribing, supporting…we do what it takes because we know what can happen if their nourishment is inadequate.  They become weak, frail, and growth slows.

As I made my son his peanut butter toast, I had the realization that just as I am concerned about my kids’ nourishment, my Father in heaven is concerned about mine.  There are many scriptures that talk about our spiritual nourishment; one of the most significant ones to me is John 6:35: “Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst.”  This verse alone is absolutely incredible when you really think about what it means.  When you factor in all the verses about the word of God serving as nourishment, such as Matthew 4:4 (But he answered, “It is written, “‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’”) and you equate the fact that in John 1:1 Jesus is described as being the Word (“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God”), the enormity of what it all means is overwhelmingly wonderful!  Jesus is the bread of life, He is also the Word, and we are instructed to live by every word from the mouth of God.  We live by Christ.  He is our sustenance.  He is our nourishment.  Without Him, we become weak, frail, and our growth slows.  And ultimately stops.

This is not a new concept to me personally- I have heard sermons on the above scriptures and have read through them multiple times.  But no matter how many times I think about the above truths, whether it be the first or the fiftieth, the beauty and significance of those truths grabs a hold of me tightly, yet in a way that frees me.

What did catch me entirely anew earlier today as I made lunch for my kids is the thought of how God may feel when we choose not to eat the Bread He offers us.  How my Father feels when we are too sick to eat, or too picky…thinking something else will satisfy.  Or, in the most desperate of times, when we don’t believe we deserve to be loved and feel so much despair that our interest in eating wanes and we slowly punish ourselves by depriving ourselves of the One Thing (Person) that would bring peace to our souls and joy to our lives.  I believe He is concerned for us, He encourages us, He implores us to seek Him.  To find our fulfillment in Him.  To satiate our deepest hunger and quench our never-ending thirst, and to answer our soul’s cry of “Am I loved?” with a resounding, passionate YES!

Without Jesus, the Bread of Life, the Word of God, all the heartaches, misunderstandings, sinful situations, and conflict would be overwhelming, hopeless, and spirit-crushing.  Only through seeking Him in the current situations we are facing do I find peace, the truth that is to be gently taught, and the love in which we are to show to others to point others to HIm.   And truthfully, I say in love that ultimately, Jesus is the answer we are all seeking and only through Him will you find the sustenance needed for your soul.

Faith, Family


This past weekend, Will and I loaded up the kids, a bunch of Mercer Mayer Little Critter books, a Veggietales cd, and some toys to entertain Asher, and praying for safety and the preservation of our sanity, we headed down to the little town of Kershaw, SC.  A good majority of family from my dad’s side lives in that area, including my grandfather and many great-aunts and great-uncles.  We were going down specifically to see my grandfather.

Ever since my grandmother passed away this past April, my dad and his three brothers have taken turns going down to spend weekends with my grandpa.  This past weekend was my parents’ turn to travel down, so Will and I decided it would be a good time to also head down so that we could spend time with my grandpa without trying to juggle looking after the kids, cooking, and other things all at the same time.  We had also learned in the week prior that my gradpa’s cancer had spread further throughout his body, and I don’t want to miss opportunities to see him.

The three hour or so ride down wasn’t too bad- Eila remained pretty occupied and Asher was able to take his morning nap during a portion of the ride.  It felt great to arrive and get everyone out of the car.  I had been praying on the way down that God would help me know what to say and how to manage seeing my grandpa in pain and looking so unlike the strong, active man I have always known.  As I walked inside his home, I looked into the living room where I knew he would be, sitting in his chair, wearing his pajamas.  He smiled and I could see the mix of happiness and pain in his eyes.  The cancer that is wreaking havoc on his body is showing itself now on his neck, where he has a bulge about five inches long and a couple inches deep.  He remains on oxygen and is very weak, using a cane to walk.  He naps for long periods each day and misses his wife with all of him.

And yet, his spirit is strong within him.  Or rather, His spirit is strong within him.  The light in his eyes, the hope that continues to shine forth, radiates from his faith in the Lord, and from that faith only.  As we sat and talked about his love for my grandmother and all the tests he had to endure, in addition to the radiation treatments that would be coming fast and hard in the next few weeks, I couldn’t help but ask my grandfather if he wanted to go through the cancer treatments.  My great-aunt Rita, my grandfather’s sister, had also asked him that question.  He replied, “I’m halfway between Verdie (my grandma’s name is Verda) and my boys…I’m going to stick around longer for my boys.”

The love he has for my father and my uncles outweighs his pain and desire to see my grandma again.

After eating dinner with my grandpa, my great-aunt, and my parents, Will and I put the kids in their pajamas and prepared to head for home (we knew we wouldn’t pull into our driveway until close to 10pm).   Eating dinner at the table with us had taken all of my grandpa’s energy, so he was lying down in bed by the time we had everything gathered to go.  I went down the hallway with the kids to say goodbye to him.  As I held Asher and bent over to give my grandpa a hug, I fought back tears as I felt like he was saying goodbye.  I told him we would see him again soon.  And we will, whether here on earth or after he has joined his wife and his Savior in heaven and it is our time to leave this earth to be with them as well.

It wasn’t too long after we had gotten back on I-95 that we decided we’d better stop and feed Asher one more time before we hit home.  We stopped at the same church parking lot we had stopped at on the way down and Will and Eila got out of the car while I fed Asher.  As I looked at them through the window, I observed my sweet husband running with my daughter in the grass and swinging her in his arms.  And I burst out laughing.  Because I saw this:

One of the saddest moments I had experienced that day was having that conversation with my grandfather before we left, as he laid on his bed in his navy blue pajamas, looking so small.  But how like our God to allow me my happiest moment looking at my little girl, also in pajamas, hers covered in pastel-colored whales, as she played and rejoiced in her father’s love.  One life near its end, the other at its beginning.

At least, on this side of heaven.