I’ve been asking you for a few weeks now what it is that you would have me to give up during lent and to be honest, I was hoping you wouldn’t answer. That I could pick something to fast from that I would truly never miss. I could have ashes wiped across my forehead and I could give up something meaningless and I could reach the other side of this 40 days prepared for nothing different.
But it’s not turning out the way I’d planned.
I was talking with Luke the other day about why it is that lent is 40 days and telling him about the 40 days you spent in the wilderness, praying and fasting to prepare for your ministry and ultimately your death. I told him about the devil following you into that darkness, about the ways that he tempted you and you stood firm.
I retold him the story as I had remembered it from reading, but as I did, I realized that I hadn’t just read the story. I had lived it. I was living it.
You set off for the wilderness and I followed you there. Intending and pretending to be searching for you, to be longing to know you. Ultimately, I just ended up betraying you.
The devil came to you when you were starving and he tempted you with the thing your body was aching for. You had gone weeks and weeks without food and he knew it because he could hear your stomach growl with it’s hollow echos. He set before you the rocks and he told you to turn them into bread, to turn those stones into the thing your body needed the most because surely, if God loved you, He’d never want you to know the pain of hunger.
He taunted you to eat, to give in to your flesh. And you didn’t listen.
But I did.
While the taste of my last meal was still on my lips and in my belly I bought into his lies. I believed him when he said I should never go without, that if you truly loved me, you’d never ask me to deny the things that bring me happiness. Like Eve before me, my pride devoured those stones and I thought that in my fullness I would find satisfaction, but it was never enough.
You didn’t listen to him.
But I did.
He took you to the top of mountain and he leaned in close till you could feel the heat of his breath and as he motioned you to put your toes up to that edge, he told you to fall, that if God really loved you He would send His mighty angels to catch you.
The devil dared you to test Him and you didn’t.
But I did.
I hurled myself off that mountain before he could even finish his sentence, partly believing that you would catch me and still not knowing if I even wanted you to. And while I was falling, I only looked up. I only looked at the place where I had been and the depths that I had fallen. I cried over what I had lost and I cursed you for letting me let you go.
The devil told me that you must not have really loved me or you would have stopped me from taking that first step over the ledge and I believed him. I thought you turned your face from me and I never once looked down to realize that it was you who, broken yourself, broke my fall.
And then, having been twice defeated, he took you the place he thought you were the weakest. He took you to the temple and he looked into your eyes and he wagered all he had on the one thing he thought was true of you, that your heart’s desire was to be the king of it all. And all was what he promised you. As far as your eyes could see and to the places they couldn’t, he vowed it would be yours if you would only bow down and worship him. But you never even flinched.
You didn’t for even a second consider it.
But I did.
I bowed to him. And not even at the promise of kingdoms and power and privilege. For very little and for nothing at all, I sold you out every chance I could get. I knew your Father’s words and once wrote them on my heart and sometimes on purpose and at times with out even knowing it, I looked you in the eye and I bowed to him. I knew it broke your heart and I didn’t care because my heart had been broken, too.
And here we are.
And I try to think of the one thing that I could give up to prepare my heart to remember your sacrifice leading up to His sacrifice.
And it’s overwhelming to me that the one thing that stands between you and me is me. The barrier. The desert. The wilderness. And maybe more than asking me to give it up, you are asking me to lay it down. To lay ME down. And maybe not just for 40 days, but forever.
Father, my prayer for this season and for those that follow is that you will empty me of me, that you will break me and recreate me so that I can be filled with you.
There are a lot of things in my life that I love. Things that I’d pick over all others and one of those things is rap music. I know what you are thinking. I’m a middle aged, middle class white girl who loves Jesus. I’ve never lived outside of the 765, except for back in the day when it was still the 317, but none of that matters. I may not look like the poster child for rap, but I totally am, because at it’s heart, rap music is about using words to tell a story.
Now here’s a little story I’ve got to tell about three bad brothers you know so well….
I remember the first time I heard that Beastie Boys song. It was on a cassette tape that my cousin Brandon had and it literally blew my mind. I’d never heard anyone talk like that or that fast. I grew up in a house where music was always on and I learned early that there was power in setting words to music to tell a story but I’d never heard it done like that before. From my very first listen, I was hooked.
I couldn’t get enough of it. I wanted to listen to every record I could get my hands on, which in the heart of the bible belt and in a house that allowed no swearing, let alone MTV, it wasn’t always easy. Run DMC, Public Enemy, NWA, Naughty By Nature, LL and Ice T and Nate Dog, they became the voice I had spent a long time trying to find.
I fell in love with words at the mics of Grandmaster Flash and Dr Dre and Snoop and Warren G. I’d certainly never been to California, but I was fairly sure I was straight outta Compton.
I wanted to learn how to master words like they did, how they could be rhymed and juxtaposed and how they could be used to make a person feel something. Words that crash through walls, cut through floors, bust through ceilings and knock down doors.
I’d spend hours listening to the greats, stopping the tape and rewinding to catch every word. There was something about it that resonated with me at my very core.
N.W.A was mad at the police and why I didn’t completely get it, I was mad, too. When Warren G said “Regulators…mount up” I knew he was talking to me cause you can’t be any geek off the street, you gotta be handy with the steal if you know what I mean, earn your keep.
One, two, three and to the four? You better believe it. With so much drama in the L-B-C, it’s kinda hard being Snoop D-o-Double G. I feel ya, bro cause I live and die for Hip Hop.
This is Hip Hop for today. I give props to Hip Hop so Hip Hop hooray…
While the other girls my age were spending their money on Surf Style hyper color windbreakers and Rachel haircuts, I was at Pro Audio getting Infinity Kappa’s and amps for my car cause I couldn’t make the music loud enough.
I didn’t just wanna listen to Rob Base and DJ E-Z Rock, I wanted to feel every beat of it because I get stupid, I mean outrageous. Stay away from me if you’re contagious, cause I’m the winner, no, I’m not the loser. To be an M.C. is what I choose. Or at least it should have been.
When Em said he speaks to suburban kids, who otherwise would of never knew these words
exist, he was talking about me. Ahem… excuse me! Can I have the attention of the class for one second?
And even though they told me in school that girls could be anything they wanted to be, I didn’t really believe it till Queen Latifah and MC Lyte told me so. The Miseducation of Lauren Hill and Salt n Pepa. Those were my girls and if they could craft words to tell their story then maybe I could to. After all, it’s your thing, do what you wanna do.
And so maybe it makes no sense for a white girl from the burbs to be down with OPP, but it’s where my heart will always be. Maybe I’ll leave the sick beats to someone else, but I’ll continue to attempt to write words that make people feel something because in my heart I’ll always be a rapper.
Maybe you didn’t understand a single word of what I just said, but I ain’t mad at you. It ain’t nothin’ but a G thing, baby.
It’s far too easy to look around this screwed up world of ours and see all the bad. The corrupt. The evil. The ugly. The things that make us long for another way. We pray those words:
Your Kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as in heaven.
But in the midst of the chaos and the noise, I’m afraid I’ve failed to notice the times when it has. When the things of heaven have tickled the earth. When kingdom things have happened right here in our midst. Right before my eyes.
I’m not sure why it is. Why it’s easier to see the bad than to name the good. I think maybe it’s partly because my eyes have just been desensitized to it. I think in a days time I see so much pain, I think WE see so much pain, that it’s dulled our ability to see the specks of good.
And I think that maybe the other issue has to do with pride. Not in a selfish way, not in a sense of me being too prideful but maybe just the opposite.
Maybe one of the reasons why I fail to name the Kingdom things that I see from day to day is because I still can’t, for the life of me,fathom why it is that God would chose to set them before me.
The one with little faith. The one with a short temper. The one with the hateful mouth. The one who casts judgement. The one who has loved the things of this world far more than she has loved the creator of it.
And so why not start now? Today. It doesn’t have to be huge. It doesn’t have to be something that shook the earth and broke chains and freed masses. It doesn’t have to grand or extravagant.
In fact, maybe it’s the little things that mean even more. Maybe it’s knowing that the tiny glimpse of the Kingdom that came in the middle of a very un kingdom like day was orchestrated at the hands of a God who would move heaven and earth to be near me, but knew he’d have to move the first grain of sand just for me to notice.
Today we had Luke’s case conference at his school to set in place the accommodations he will need at school because, on many days, his hands are far too weak and unstable to finish his school work. How do you prepare yourself for that?
I saw God today when I walked into that room. In the faces of people, most of whom I didn’t know from Adam, who were all there for one reason, because they wanted to help our boy succeed. Because they know his value is greater than any test or score or diagnosis.
He didn’t have to do it. God didn’t have to call that exact group of people with those exact personalities to match mine and those exact hearts for my kid. He didn’t have to use their smiles to comfort me. He didn’t have to place before me those specific Mom and Dads, ones who knew my heart like it was their own because they too know what it’s like to love something so much it hurts. He didn’t have to do any of it.
But He did. And through them, I saw a glimpse of the Kingdom today. It wasn’t shiny or sparkly and there were no streets of gold, but it was real. And it was beautiful.
And I’m guessing you’ve seen it, too. I’m sure it didn’t look like mine but it looked exactly the way it needed to for you to see it. And maybe by me telling you my Kingdom moment and you telling me yours, we will start to see them more often. And in seeing them, we can honor Him.
I’d love for you to share your Kingdom moment with me. Where did you see God move today? Where did He show up in the middle of your day to remind you that you are his favorite?
Let me start by saying a huge thank you to all of you who have been praying for Luke and have been asking how he is doing. It means the world to us to know that he is so loved.
Every part of who I am believes in the power of prayer and we certainly covet them. I just wanted to give everyone an update and let you know specifically how you can continue to pray for him.
You can read all about what has gotten us to this point here.
Since the last update, Luke had a muscle biopsy surgery in early December as well as a host of other blood tests. He and I returned to St Louis this week to meet with the doctors and get the results of all of the tests. Even though it’s not exactly a vacation, we try to always have some fun when we go to take the edge off.
He thought the hotel looked like the one in Home Alone: Lost In New York
Wednesday the temps were in the high 50′s, which was like bikini weather after the frozen tundra we’ve been living in for the last few months. Perfect weather for a trip to the St Louis Zoo.
When we went for the muscle biopsy in December, the doctor prepared us ahead of time that the test would probably come back clear but he thought it was still a good idea for us to go through with it just so we could rule some things out. Because it had been almost 2 months and I had not heard anything back, I was sure it meant exactly what the doctor assumed, that it showed nothing.
I’ll be completely honest, I was totally expecting to meet with the doctors and hear that all of the tests came back clear and that he was just going to be one of those kids who was weaker than others but with no real medical issue.
Well…. it didn’t exactly go as I had planned.
The muscle biopsy results came back as “abnormal, non specific” which is super helpful except the opposite. After examining Luke this time, the doctor felt like he had weakened some since our visit in November, which isn’t the best news.
Our primary complaint when we made our first trip to St Louis was weakness in Luke’s legs and hands but the doctor thinks that all of his muscles are experiencing weakness and showed a lot of concern over weakness in the muscles in his face. Who even knew you had muscles in your face?
While we were there he had another doctor come in to also take a look at Luke and to discuss what might be going on. At that point, it was kinda like an out-of-body experience for me. They were talking in medical words and acronyms and I think even Braille at one point. Mito this and stage 3 that? Letters and abbreviations and numbers? Really?
They both agreed that there is something significant going on, but they just aren’t sure yet what it is. Both doctors agreed that they should order some more testing on the muscle tissue that they already collected to test for a range of mitochondrial diseases and to begin some genetic testing.
They also made the decision to start Luke on a medication that is used to treat a very specific disease, myasthenia gravis. The medicine has very few side effects and since this is one of the things they suspect could be the cause, the doctor felt like it would be wise to go ahead and start the medication to see if he responds while this other testing is going on.
He said we should notice a pretty significant difference in Luke if this is, in fact what is going on with him. We are to follow-up with him about the medication by phone at the end of next week.
The doctor also suggested that he undergo a Cerebral Repetitive Nerve Stimulation test which is as horrible as it sounds. We are waiting to make the final decision on that.
After not getting the news we had expected, milk shakes were definitely in order before we began the 4 1/2 hour drive home.
We’d love it if you would pray with us that we would be able to determine clearly if this medication is working or not over the next few weeks. We are also praying that the tests they are running on the remaining muscle tissue would come back with a definitive answer as to what is going on.
In addition, we have his case conference with the school this week to determine if he qualifies as a student with a disability to get him the help that he needs there since his hand strength is so compromised making handwriting difficult and we are especially concerned about the standardized tests that are coming up soon.
Again, from the bottom of our hearts, thank you for your prayers and your love. We are certainly nervous about what lies ahead for him but we are trying to constantly remember that he’s in the hands of the One who loved him before even we did.